Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Sci-Fi Terrain - GW's Crashed Shuttle

Crashed Aquila Lander and pilot from GW's "Battle for Macragge" Box Set - FINALLY painted after years, and years, and years...

Another overdue finished project from the late summer to share - here is a crashed shuttle, along with pilot. This model of the wreckage, and the pilot, are plastic sci-fi terrain from GW's 40k setting. The shuttle is a crashed version of the Imperial "Aquila Lander" (a flyer model that was, at one time, available from Forge World, although I think it is gone now). 

Rear section - one engine has detached.

Another view of the smashed components.

This terrain set is quite came from a box set called "The Battle for Macragge". This was back in the time of 40k's 4th Edition...which was quite a while ago - and back in a time before GW issued a new 40k edition every other year. The box set included Tyranids and Ultramarines - neither were of interest to me at the time, but I do remember seeing the crashed shuttle and the pilot, and thinking they were cool. Downed craft and pilots always make for great scenarios, and I thought it would be great to have these items for my collection. I went to eBay (remember, this was a long time ago) and just ordered the bits for the downed shuttle. I recall at the time regretting that I did not get the pilot...just the downed shuttle...but I never did follow up to get the pilot.

"Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing - right?"

The eBay order arrived promptly, and I promptly...did nothing with it. Unpainted miniatures and models are a fun thing to joke about, but wow, did this ever sit. For years. I am terrible when it comes to painting terrain. Just terrible. I think this thing was sitting in my pile for like...13 years? Something insane like that. I would come across the bits, determine that I would paint them, them promptly get distracted by something else. At the same time, I would never throw the components away fact, they moved house with me in a primed, unpainted state - TWICE. Sheesh.

Another view of the pilot...probably hoping to scavenge something else from the wreckage...

So, it's 2021, and I have had the crashed shuttle bits primed, but not painted, for more than 10 years. A participant in Curt's Painting Challenge named Stuart L posted a submission which included a copy of the pilot figure from the Macragge box set. I made a comment about how I wished I had picked up the pilot figure back when I had the chance all those years ago. A few weeks later, totally out of the blue, a small package shows up in the mail - from Stuart L himself, and inside was a spare copy of the pilot figure!

This was a rather solemn signal from the hobby gods. So I painted the pilot, then dug out the crashed shuttle, and finally painted it too. Here are the components, completed at last.

Some detail on the front section. Many similarities on the nose design between the Aquila Lander and the more common Valkyries.

Most of the port side wing assembly is still attached...emphasis on the word "most"...

GW really does do a great job on their terrain, and there are many neat terrain kits and models out there. Several continue to...sit on my shelf, as I promise myself I will paint them one day (hello Void Shield Generator box). I wish I wasn't so useless at getting terrain painted, but this shows that I can, in fact, get it done - it is more than a theory! Hopefully it will inspire more terrain work later this year.

The crashed shuttle terrain and the pilot nice addition to my collection. Useful as an objective, or just an extra model/piece of table flavour for a scenario. Anyway, a BIG thank you to Stuart for the generous gift - I hope he sees this blog post. I also hope this terrain can be part of a 30k or 40k game with friends some day - the hobby spirits among these bits will add a bit of extra fun, I expect. 

That's all for now - cheers!

Monday, September 27, 2021

28mm Prussian Infantry for 1870 - Perry Plastics

Back to the Franco-Prussian War! 28mm Plastic figures from Perry Miniatures. Flag from GMB.

Hello again! Funny how when you stop posting on the blog, it is really easy to...stay not posting...isn't there some smart saying out there about a how a blogger at rest remains at rest? I have all the usual excuses...late August weather was just so lovely, I even managed to get a visit to Winnipeg in, being busy with work etc. etc. And then the NFL finally got going know...all sorts of excuses...but through it all, I have been doing some painting, and I'm glad to share it now that I have finally made some progress worth sharing! Here is a unit of Prussian infantry for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. These 28mm figures are plastics from the new FPW range being released by the prolific Perry Twins.

The main unit figures are assembled from the "marching" frames, while the skirmishers are assembled from a "firing" pose frame.

If you are keen on a period, it is always great news when the Perry Twins take an interest - and this case, it is somewhat interesting because one of the only reasonably complete 28mm ranges for the Franco-Prussian War is found with Wargames Foundry, and it was sculpted by...the Perry Twins. So I guess they are "re-entering" this period now, all of these years later!

Another view from the front of the unit.

These plastic multi-part figures were one of the first figure sets released for the new range. Those who know me will know I am quite the grouch when it comes to historical plastic figures. But I must say, these are quite nice. There is a choice of poses (firing or marching, with the mix depending on the box you select), an assortment of heads allowing a range of options (can be regulars or Landwehr), and even different variants of picklehaube - so the little details are all covered. Thus, while I continue to believe that there are no plastic figures which would not be better off as metal figures, I will say these are brilliant - if you like this period, buy these figures.

Another view of the command group - officer, colour-bearer, drummer and trumpeter - the flag is from GMB.

View from the back, showing the rolled greatcoats, and fascine knife. On close examination you'll see how much trouble I had painting the frigging "swallows nests" on the shoulders of the musicians.

Assembly is pretty straightforward - just watch the fascine knife (hanging on the left hip), as that is a pretty tiny little bit, and will disappear easily into any flooring if you don't glue it just right...

WIP of an early test figure.

Another view of the test figure.

Do I have any quibbles? Well, plastic bayonets seems like a terrible idea...but I don't have any better suggestions let's just hope for the best :)

My newly-reinforced Prussians await the call to battle from their assembly grounds on the living room map table...

It has been over a year, at least, since I have added a 28mm unit to my Franco-Prussian War collection - and boy, was I rusty! It was slow going at first, and I found that I was often distracted by my squirrel-brained desire to either paint even more 30k stuff, or just paint something else entirely (watch future posts for more on that) these fellows took a little longer to finish than I might have liked. But they are now finished - 24 figures all together, based for Black-Powder type rules, using the same basing system I adopted when I first started this project in late 2017 - 20 of the figures are grouped together to represent the bulk of the unit, and four are based individually, placed on the table to represent deployed/detached skirmish companies.

The line advances, with skirmish groups deployed out front...

It has been great to revisit 1870 on the painting table, and I'm sure it won't be long until I'm back at it again...the new Perry Range looks like it will be lovely, and there are already a number of new figures for it that I can't wait to add to my collection. Watch for more as we head for another winter here in Canada. That's all for now - thanks for reading!    

Friday, September 24, 2021

28mm Great War Auto-Car Machine Gun Carrier from 1st Corps

This model had been on my radar for some time as an addition to my Great War Canadian force. The Autocar machine-gun carrier, while ultimately just a footnote in the development of armoured forces in the Great War, was a uniquely Canadian innovation and a neat-looking supplement to a wargames army.

Raymond Brutinel, the architect of the Armoured Autocar (and incidentally, one of the main drivers and tacticians of Canada's machine gun service) was an ex-French Army lieutenant who emigrated to Canada and made a fortune in mining stocks. He kept up an interest in military affairs, too - particularly as related to the machine gun. On the outbreak of the Great War, Brutinel contacted Sir Clifford Sifton, a wealthy Ottawa businessman who had served as a cabinet minister in Laurier's government, to put forward his idea of creating a force of machine-gun-armed armoured vehicles. Sifton thought this was a capital plan indeed and resolved to raise the money to create this unit for Canada's armed forces.

Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence, approved the plan on 13 August 1914 (!) and Brutinel decamped for the USA to find appropriate vehicles. These he found in New York City, in the form of two-ton trucks manufactured by the Autocar concern in Pennsylvania, and used by the American Express company as transport vehicles. The large sum of money contributed by Canadian business benefactors ($150,000) allowed Brutinel to contract with Autocar for eight armoured machine gun carriers, five support vehicles for carrying ammunition and supplies, a fuel and oil tender, and four unarmoured "roadsters" for officer use. Autocar itself contributed an ambulance. 

Brutinel then contracted with the Colt Firearms Company of Hartford, Connecticut for twenty Colt Model 1914 machine guns and accessories - sixteen to mount on the Autocars and four spares. While the Colt was a poor weapon, the superior Vickers gun was in short supply at the time. However, by 1918 the Colts had all been supplanted by water-cooled Vickers guns as shown on my model.  

The fully equipped Autocar weighed three tons and was powered by a 22hp flat-twin water-cooled engine mounted under the driver. Top speed was 15mph. The armour plating was a mere 5mm thick and hardly bulletproof, despite the representations of the Autocar firm. The two machine guns were mounted along the centre of the rear compartment, and bins along the periphery carried 12,000 rounds of ammunition.

Its service history was somewhat mixed. By the time the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade reached the Ypres salient in June 1915, terrain conditions were not conducive to vehicles at the front lines. Brutinel changed tack and innovated a new role for his machine guns - indirect barrage fire. In this he was quite successful and eventually, he was appointed to Corps Machine Gun Officer, having control of all heavy machine guns in the Canadian Corps. 

By January 1918 Brutinel considered the Autocars obsolete and Sir Arthur Currie, Corps commander, endorsed his proposal to remove their armour and relegate them to a transport role. But before that could be done, the Germans launched the Kaiserschlacht offensives and the Autocars did yeoman service in zipping here and there to support the hard-pressed British troops. This brought a reappraisal of the value of the Autocars in "mobile warfare", and the unit served admirably in the Hundred Days campaign that ended the war. Four of the armoured Autocars survived the war. Two were returned to Canada in 1919 for possible use in quelling civil disturbances such as the Winnipeg General Strike. One of these disappeared after being sent to Winnipeg. The other was eventually used as a training vehicle for a time, and ultimately accessioned into the collection of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where it can be seen today.

I quite enjoyed building and painting this model from 1st Corps, although the customer service I received was pretty poor. At first, there was no acknowledgement of my order - just an email from Paypal confirming my payment. After ten days or so I sent messages with no response - eventually I got a "yeah it's been sent" message through Facebook. However, when the order arrived, it didn't include the crew models shown on the 1st Corps site - instead of the standing crew member, I got a second gunner. Emails and Facebook messages asking about this discrepancy have not received a response. So - great models, lousy service. Disappointing, because I think a previous order of some Curteys Miniatures knights from them had come through fine. Oh well.

As noted, the model is great - resin body with metal guns, ammo boxes, coolant canisters, and wheels. The driver is cast in metal as one piece with his bench which makes for easy painting access to the cab. There are a couple of armour plates in resin too but despite there being no instructions included, assembly is easy enough to figure out from reference photos.

This 24-page book is an invaluable resource for information on, and many photos of, the Autocar. It's available from Service Publications for only $10CAD. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

More (Much More) Star Wars Legion - Hoth

Soo... haven't been posting much in the past couple months but I have been painting a bit, so I'm gonna vomit up a huge lot of painting in this one post.

The subject, of course, is Star Wars Legion. As noted in a previous post, I'm trying to minimize the insanity of the new project by concentrating on a bite-sized chunk - the Battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. I've already posted about the first squad of Rebel Veteran troopers and my 3D-printed characters, so now we're turning to a Rebel heavy weapon and the first of the Imperial assets. 

This is the 1.4 FD Rebel Laser Cannon Team - or as Star Wars grognards would know it, the Radar Laser Cannon. 

Like all of the Legion stuff I've painted so far, it's a fantastic model, well-sculpted and easy to put together. The only difficulty I had with it was remembering what paint colours I used on the crew.

The base might be a bit oversize but allows for some diorama-ing. Plus you'll likely only have one on the table at a time anyway.

The equivalent Imperial heavy weapon is the E-Web Blaster. I was a bit less enthused about this model owing to the bendy plastic used for its parts. The barrel had a warp and would not straighten no matter what I did - boiling water quenched in ice water didn't even help. I complained to Asmodee but two weeks later received an email saying "not our problem, complain to the retailer you bought it from." Well, in this time of Internet shopping that ain't gonna happen, is it? So I straightened the part as best I could and carried on. 

Looks pretty good as long as you don't study it too closely.

The crew looks awesome too, which brings us to...

...the first squad of Snowtroopers. You get seven in the box, each a multipart model made of hard-ish plastic. No sprues though as the parts are all in baggies and cleaned up ready for assembly.

The squad leader looks pretty cool.

Three troopers firing - the middle one has some sort of heavier blaster.

Trooper on the left is carrying a flamethrower, which I think looks awesome.

Back of the squad leader. I love these models and they're super easy to paint too.

I also picked up the Imperial Specialists box and General Veers (centre). The Specialists box includes the officer at left and comms trooper at right, as well as a medical droid and astromech droid (not yet painted). 

General Veers looks pretty cool. I like his camo green helmet and body armour.

Maybe not dressed exactly for the weather but I think they look fine on snow bases.

Quite the comms rig on Jimmy there!

Lastly, what would an Imperial force be without Lord Vader?

This is a really nice Vader sculpt, somewhat let down by materials. The saber I had to replace with brass rod as the plastic original was wavy as hell. The replacement looks fine I think, as I chamfered the tip with a file. I've attempted some rudimentary OSL here which I think turned out "OK" but not great. 

Like I said, a pretty cool sculpt.

The duel on Hoth that never happened!

Anyway, that brings us bang up to date with my SW Legion painting project. Next up will be some more rank and file for both sides before I get at the Scout Walker, that'll be fun as well.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

A Billion Suns

A few months back Osprey released another set of wargame rules called A Billion Suns. It was by the same guy who did Gaslands (Mike Hutchinson) and promised to be a spaceship fleet battle game. I eagerly pre-ordered it and was quite excited when it arrived. The excitement dropped a bit as I started reading the rules and realized it wasn't "really" a fleet combat game. The game is model agnostic which is nice, but the object of the game isn't necessarily about combating the fleets of other players. In the game each player represents a corporation (it's like our species has an instinctual fear of future corporate power). Each corporation competes to complete various contracts using the fewest ship resources as possible. The contracts are actually more like bounties, which is a bit strange for some of the missions. There's no tender process in the game univers, a job is simply paid to anyone who completes the terms. This makes sense for contracts involving destroying rival corporate assets, but why would you pay a bounty for an escort or evacuation missions? Wouldn't you want everyone to cooperate to get the job done? If you want a rival corporation’s communication satellites hacked to steal their data, why would you want multiple factions competing to complete the job? Wouldn't you want as few people involved as possible? Anyway the game needs to happen, so don't think about it too much. In terms of game play, the contract system encourages players to use the least number of the smallest ships available. Ships like battleships are prohibitively expensive and likely won't see much game play in small games. This is a disappointment for fans of Full Thrust or Battle fleet Gothic who want to see big ships duke it out. This isn't to say that the rules are bad or the game isn’t fun, it's just different from my initial assumptions. Folks on YouTube speak highly of the game, so I persevered and tried to learn how to play. One thing that struck me is that the contracts require players to have a fair amount of "stuff" to represent freighters, satellites, space stations and other things for your ships to interact with. The game can scale to any size, but small games will only see players deploy fighters or frigates. If you want to use large capital ships, you need to play a bigger game to justify the expense. This then requires you to buy more "stuff" to represent the extra contracts. This is something I could see GW designing! I have lots of warships in my collection, but none of the non-combat assets needed for a game. Luckily, there are several companies on Etsy that make resin and 3d printed components for the game. I ended up getting some space stations and tokens from Etsy as well as some utility ships and satellites from Brigade Models. The paint jobs aren't fancy because these are really just glorified objective markers. Hopefully I can put on a game, though the list of games we would like to play is quite long already.
Thanks for visiting!