Thursday, July 23, 2020

1/72 WW1 Aircraft and Mini-Rant

Germans F-R: Fokker DR-1, D-VII, Roland C.II. Brits F-R: Sopwith Camel, SE-5
The lockdown produces some strange hobby obsessions, to be sure... in this case it's resurrected an ancient collection of 1/72 aircraft that (I think?) the group gamed with once, long ago. In digging around for some other hobby stuff I came across two unbuilt kits from that long-ago time, so on a lark I decided to build and paint them!
This is an Academy 1/72 Sopwith Camel, price on the box was marked "$3.25" (!) Flight stand is an excellent Forgeworld example that they produced for Aeronautica Imperialis, years ago.

Pilot with the Groucho Marx nose was sculpted by me, and provides the opportunity for a mini-rant. WHY OH WHY do plastic kit manufacturers produce model aircraft with open cockpits and NO PILOT??? It would drive me nuts to have to game with a pilotless Camel so I kneaded a pilot out of greenstuff. I know he looks terrible but at least there's a body in the cockpit.

Can't say much for the kit, I think it was less than 30 parts. Decal sheet was atrocious though - there was a decal provided for the tri-colour rudder but the colours were in the wrong order, so I had to paint it instead.

This is a Heller 1/72 Roland C.II. It's a pretty cool-looking aircraft that was known as the "Walfisch" (whale) due to its peculiar streamlined shape.

Unfortunately I'd already raided the decal sheet years ago to use the crosses on a Games Workshop Shadowsword, so I had to freehand the crosses on the Roland.

Heller included crew figures which was nice!

Roland pursued by SE-5. Did you know that Albert Ball's first aerial victory was over a Roland C.II? I'm sure you did...

Anyway, there's two more dusty old kits built up. Of course, building and painting the Camel and Roland reawakened my passion for Great War aviation so I promptly went out and bought three more Roden kits to build - another SE-5, a Bristol fighter, and a Fokker D-VI. They were 25% off even! We'll see how long they last in their boxes. I'm currently reading "Canvas Falcons" as well so that should keep the juices flowing.

Tally ho and stay safe!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Star Wars Legion - Breaching Enemy Lines



Game 4 of my ongoing Star Wars Legion campaign play test. This time I ran the Imperials, and used Crabbok’s solo AI card deck to run the Rebels. An Imperial Officer led some Stormtroopers and Scout bikers, accompanied by the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett. Han Solo and Chewbacca led several Rebel squads and a light walker. The Rebels outnumbered the Imps by 20% in points, to make up for their card-driven tactics.



Imperial Officer (50 + 0 = 50)

Boba Fett (140 + 12 = 152)
- Hunter (6), Endurance (6)

Stormtroopers (44 + 41 = 85)
- RT-97C Stormtrooper (26), Stormtrooper Specialist (15)

Stormtroopers (44 + 24 = 68)
- DLT-19 Stormtrooper (24)

Stormtroopers (44 + 24 = 68)
- DLT-19 Stormtrooper (24)

74-Z Speeder Bikes (75 + 0 = 75)

Ambush (1), Whipcord Launcher (1), Pinned Down (2), ZX Flame Projector (2), Z-6 Jetpack Rocket (3), Coordinated Fire (3), Standing Orders (4)

Total = 498 points

Rebels (Run by AI card deck):
Han Solo (120 + 7 = 127)
- Duck and Cover (4), Environmental Gear (3)

Chewbacca (95 + 8 = 103)
- Duck and Cover (4), Tenacity (4)

Rebel Troopers (40 + 30 = 70)
- Z-6 Trooper (22), R5 Astromech Droid (8)

Fleet Troopers (44 + 23 = 67)
- Scatter Gun Trooper (23)

Rebel Troopers (40 + 22 = 62)
- Z-6 Trooper (22)

Rebel Pathfinders (68 + 28 = 96)
- Pao (22), Duck and Cover (4), Recon Intel (2), A-300 Short Range Config (0)

AT-RT (55 + 20 = 75)
- AT-RT Laser Cannon (20)

Total = 600 points


Each side set up within 6” of their respective table edges. The goal for each side was to get their unit leaders into the enemy deployment zones. As an added bonus, Boba Fett was trying to obtain a bounty on Chewie, garnering an extra VP if he defeated the Wookiee.

The table was a Scarif-like beach setting. I counted the 13 squares that were covered in water as bad going. This would not hinder the bikes (which hovered), Chewie (he is immune to such effects), and Han (who was equipped with suitable environmental gear).


The game quickly devolved into a series of close-range firefights, as both sides tried to get past each other. The turning point was mid-game, when the biggest Stormtrooper squad split its fire and in one turn managed to gun down the remnants of 2 Rebel units. Their Stormtrooper armour even allowed a couple of them to survive!











I kept a Stormtrooper squad within its own setup zone, to draw Rebel fire. This worked, but they ended up fleeing off the table.






By the game’s end , no surviving Imperial unit had more than a couple of members/wounds left, but they managed to get one more unit leader into an enemy deployment zone than the Rebels, squeaking out the win. Boba Fett was denied a bounty, as Chewbacca survived all the shots fired his way.

Losing all their forces but the walker, Han and Chewie will be hard pressed to accomplish any further sabotage against Imperial facilities...

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Ork Dakka Jets For The New Aeronautica Imperialis

Ork Dakka Jets from GW's "Aeronautica Imperialis" buzz the countertop in my kitchen.
The summer weather continues to slow my painting, but I'm still messing around with a few small "projects" for the summer - one of these will be "Aeronautica Imperialis", GW's aerial combat game set in their Warhammer 40k universe. These are models of Ork "Dakka Jets", plastic kits from GW that came with the initial (re)release of the game last year, the "Wings of Vengeance" set.

These new models are much larger than the previous versions...but also very, very nice, I have to say.
These models are new to me, but the game itself is not totally new. "Wings of Vengeance" came out last year, but "Aeronautica Imperialis" itself is even older than that. It was originally a set of rules released by Forge World many years ago - Dallas picked up a copy, and the Conscripts have enjoyed many games of Aeronautica over the years.

Overheard view.
The original version of the game was a nice, clean and fun set of rules. It made use of the old Epic range of flyers, models which were subsequently sold through Forge World for a time. Dallas has an excellent collection of the old metal ork and Imperial fighters and bombers from the long-departed Epic game, augmented selectively with a few resin flyers from Forge World. The Forge World collection, back when it existed, was ostensibly the same scale as Epic, although the flyer models were much larger.

Much simpler scheme on this model.
This new version has built on that tradition - indeed, many of the rules will be familiar to anyone who has played the original version of Aeronautica Imperialis. But there are two significant changes. First, the movement and maneuver are now hex-based, instead of using the card template system in the original rules. Personally, I think the card template system is better, as it frees you from needing a hex-marked gaming surface. At the same time, it is easier and easier to get different game mats marked with things like hexes, so that is not such a big deal. Certainly, I think you could play without the hex map, as long as you have some hex-shaped markers to help with the maneuvers.

This one makes me think of the old US P-47 Thunderbolt from WW2 for some reason...
The second big change is found in the models themselves. In a move that will be familiar to fans of "Adeptus Titanicus", GW up-scaled the models when they re-issued Aeronautica (in fact, they are supposedly in a scale to match the new range of Titans). The new models are absolutely gorgeous, but they will not really fit at all with any of the older models...not an issue for me, but this will certainly turn some players off, no doubt. These Dakka Jets are two or three times larger than the old metal Ork fighters from the Epic game, and I suspect they are a health portion larger than the later resin models from Forge World.

Another view of the formation...those fancy flight bases will need to be painted!
The "Wings of Vengeance" box is set amid the campaign around the Ork invasion of Rynn's World. The box comes with a small selection of models for the Orks and Imperial air fleets to get you started. These "Dakka Jets" are the basic fighter/interceptors for the Orks - fast, maneuverable but not very armoured. They can be augmented with bombs and rockets to give some extra punch.

The models are very nice, faithful recreations of the strange look of GW's 40k Orks. So many rivets and random plates, all bolted/slapped together. It's a sort of shabby-clap-trap-but-still-somehow-scary Ork "technology", stuff that seems to work mostly because the Orks believe it will work. I haven't painted much Ork stuff over the years - it was fun to try (and mostly fail) to come up with checkerboard type markings, but on the whole, I'm pleased with how these turned out.

The bases are quite fancy - but a little annoying. They are so prominent that they will need to be painted at some point, I think. But they do not come apart very easily in order to facilitate priming and that will be a tricky business. I think I'll save that step for last.

You can see a couple of bombs peaking out from beneath the wings - giving this Dakka Jet some ability to hit ground targets.
Earlier this year GW released another Aeronautica set, "Skies of Fire", set during the Taros campaign and involving the Tau. While I am much, much keener on the Tau kit than the Ork stuff, but Orks are fun, and I thought they would be fun models to practice on in order to get used to painting these small model aircraft. My goal for the summer is to get through the Ork and Imperial models from the first box set, and we'll see where things go from there.

Thanks very much for reading, hope you are having a great summer!

Monday, July 13, 2020

The 28mm Mandalorian: "The Child"

Once I had painted the Mandalorian for my Star Wars Miniature Battles collection, of course I needed to have The Child to accompany him. Master of all things 3D printed Conscript Byron kindly obliged by printing me several models at varying scales, just to see which painted up and looked the best.
I went for the biggest of the lot, because these models are tiny!

The little fella has some great detail though, especially on the bassinet. Even the interior of the crib is detailed.

I chipped up the outside a bit for somewhat of a worn look.

How cute is this little guy? Files for The Child are available pretty much anywhere you get print files for miniatures (so I'm told) and I'm really grateful to Byron for printing this one for me. Now the only thing left is to have a game... someday...

Friday, July 3, 2020

Primaris Experimentus Circumspectus

Squad of Primaris Intercessors for the Crimson Fists Chapter of Space Marines - figures from GW.
The summer has finally - finally - arrived to my corner of the world - yay! With the arrival of scorching temps and sunshine, along with what would appear to be something of a lull in the pandemic (at least around here - I know it is getting worse elsewhere), the amount of hobby time has declined somewhat. But the brushes are still going, and here is something a little different to share - a squad of new "Primaris Intercessors", plastic figures from GW, painted in the colours of the Crimson Fists Space Marine chapter.

Intercessors carrying "auto bolt rifles" - I love the drum-style magazines on the weapons.

Emobssed shoulder pads are from older kits - and they still work fine on the new "Primaris" models.
The "Primaris" models are hardly news anymore, having arrived back with the release of the 8th edition of GW's Warhammer 40k rules. For an old Rogue Trader grognard such as myself, the Primaris versions of the Space Marine did not hold a lot of immediate appeal. The narrative setting and story around the appearance of "Primaris" marines in the 40k setting was lame (subjective, of course, YMMV). The Imperium of Warhammer 40k is grounded in a certain blend of high technology and feudal superstitions..."innovation" is, at best, suspicious. A newer, tougher Space Marine with improved armour and cooler guns would properly be considered some kind of abomination. Those advocating for the adoption of such technology and "improvements" would be sent to the recycler! After all, The Emperor himself came up with the Space Marines. Anyone saying "hey, I improved the Space Marines" is claiming, somehow, to be better than The Emperor...seems like a career-limiting move to me!

If you are going to check your email, always draw your pistol first...

Just one example of many different options for poses/looks in the Intercessors box.
But of course Warhammer 40k is not just a story, but a business, and from a business perspective, an entirely new Space Marine is a big gamble for GW. But, in many ways, and I can see how it might be a sensible approach for GW to take. Space Marines are THE big product that underpins the whole 40k product line, and if you can take a central product line into new and better places, well, it's great for business, right?

Sergeant - a fun pose, again, another example of the neat poses from the kit.

No harm in sneaking a VII Legion decal on this group, is there?
So, leaving aside the turd-like narrative aspects, and just looking at the new models,  I thought I would give them a try. I purchased a pack of "Intercessors" last summer. I thought I would paint them for the most recent edition of Curt's "Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge" - and indeed I did start them in late December of 2019 - but assorted distractions and other projects left them unfinished. They never made it to the Challenge. They were about 60% done, sitting on my painting desk, until this week.

But this delay is not due to disliking the figures - it is due to a desire to focus on non-40k projects. In fact, I quite enjoyed these figures...GW is at its best when doing these multi-part plastic kits, and the Intercessors have all sorts of nice options - for weapons, for poses, for accessories. I like the notion of the "bolt rifle" and the three different types you can choose to equip the figures with. I opted for the "auto bolt rifle" for most of these Marines in this unit as I like the look of the drum-style magazine. There are a couple with "stalker bolt rifles", and two of the Marines also have auxiliary grenade launchers.

A (fuzzy) example of a "stalker bolt rifle".
There are lots of options for arms with knives, arms swapping out magazines, arms point, checking scanners etc as well as tons of little add-ons like relics or parchment seals etc. These things are familiar from previous Space Marine figure kits, but they are taken to a new level here - it is well done. I only used those sparingly here, as I wanted to get a sense for what a "basic" Primaris marine would be like. But there are tons of options for anyone who would like to try them out.

Auxiliary grenade launchers mounted on bolt rifles - with grenade rounds loaded into the slings...neat details.

A small amount of extra fire support for the squad.
The other benefit that I did not expect was the extent to which you can still use components from earlier ranges of "classic" plastic Space Marines - or even the Horus Heresy stuff if you want. I mean, obviously the Primaris' legs are huge, so limited options there...but shoulder plates in particular, as well as many arms, the backpacks and the helmets can swap back and forth between "classic" Marine models and the new Primaris figures. That means, for example, that you can put the riveted shoulder pauldrons of a Mark III armour suit, or the cool "beakie" style helmet on the model and it will still work. You can even go the other way - using "bolt rifles" on classic plastic marines - I experimented a bit with some 30k Space Wolves (not perfect, but I still liked the results). If you want to see much, much, better examples, of how bits from the more classic kits can look great on the Primaris marines, check out the cool "Gatebreakers" over at the amazing "Death of a Rubricist" blog

View showing the rear packs and leg armour.
Are there downsides? Well, one familiar frustration is decals...the decals that came with the box were perfect if you were painting Ultramarines, but otherwise you were SOL. I think GW is improving on that now, and you can get kits to further customize your Marines to a number of specific, well-known chapters. In the case of these figures, I just used some spare Imperial Fist/Crimson Fist embossed shoulder pads and then used the Ultramarine decals for tactical symbols, painting over the bright white of the Ultramarine's symbols with a red that I feel is more appropriate for the Crimson First Chapter.

Another thing to be mindful of with these figures is the posing of the arms...I wouldn't call this a "flaw", per-se...or if it is a flaw, it's me, not the models. You can get some super-cool poses with the plastic Primaris Marines, but also some awkward-looking ones. The issue can stem from a very small thing, a not-quite-right pose of the arms or the head...look closely at a couple of photos here and some of Marines look a little awkward with their weapons. Just take your time, and you'll be fine.

One final negative for me is the lack of heavy weapons. Don't get me wrong - there are new-generation Space Marines with heavy-style weapons, such as the "Hellblasters", but I miss the single heavy-weapon Marine with a missile launcher or lascannon. The designers seem to be taking the Marines away from the vision of the "tactical squads" that could do a little bit of everything. Instead, there are more specialized squads, with specialized armour/weapons etc. Oh well. 

Auxiliary grenade launchers on the end of the battle line.
But overall, these were fun to experiment with. It is clear GW is intending to replace the entire Space Marine line with new "Primaris" figures. GW denies this, of course - that is one way you know it is true! But you can also see the writing on the wall in that every new Space Marine model released by GW since the arrival of the 8th edition has been a "Primaris" variant of some sort. While the grognard in me grumbles, at the end of the day, most of the new figures look neat - different, yes, in many ways, but still clearly Space Marines, neat to assemble and paint, and surely fun to put on the table where they can get run over by Orks and other xenos threats of the grim and dark future of 40k...

Thanks for reading, hope you are able to be safe and enjoy some summer and some hobby time of your own. Cheers!