Sunday, January 17, 2021

Work Servitors from the Grim Dark Future

For 'The Golem's Haunt' I have six tireless (or is it forever tired?) work servitors for my 40K/Dark Heresy collection. 

MikeF scooped me on this theme (good one Mike!), but I thought I'd stick with it as I needed to complete these models as they've been balefully looking at me for the better part of a year.

These rather dolorous chaps are from Wargames Exclusive, an eastern European miniature company, whose products I've always really enjoyed. All their figures are made from resin, quite delicate and beautifully designed.

For those not savvy to GW lore, servitors are essentially cyborg slaves who's biological bits have been harvested from criminals, dissidents, and those poor souls thought to be undesirable. 

The reason for creating servitors rather than just building robots is that, in the distant past, the Imperium suffered a long, nasty war caused by rebellious machines with artificial intelligence (or 'Abominable Intelligence'). So now, they manufacture 'thinking' machines using repurposed cerebral cortexes and other bits grafted to machine parts. Yep, pretty horrific. In the grimdark future, mankind has become a big supporter of 'social recycling'.

I really like that these figures are not combat orientated, but rather designed to dress a domestic scene on some Imperial ship, or perhaps a compliant world. I especially like the fellow furiously polishing, perhaps the shoe of some dignitary, or maybe drying off a worthy's favourite pet; and the other servitor, pale in 'hand', cleaning a window, admiring his reflection: deus ex Machina indeed. 

Next Up: Hmm. Not sure. Either a teleport, or a peek into the Chamber of Darkness...

- Curt

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

GRR Martin and a Patiently Waiting Fan

I was thinking hard on what to do for 'The Pit of the Pendulum' theme. This one Adam had developed, and I was stumped at first, but then the 'torture' aspect resonated with me and I had an idea. 

I remembered I had a series of models from Dark Sword Miniatures depicting characters from George RR Martin's 'Game of Thrones' books. My enthusiasm for the figures had soured over the years, matching my growing irritation in waiting for him to finish the series until I finally ignored both.  That is when the idea struck: The torture of a fan waiting for him to finish his work. Perfect.

I used to be a big fan of Martin's series until he transitioned from a writer to essentially a celebrity grifter. I don't want to get into the long story of GRR Martin's inability to deliver the goods, but I'll provide a brief synopsis to explain my entry.

I, along with many other readers, waited for years after Martin's third book ('Storm of Swords') for him to complete the series. Updates on his progress turned into excuses, excuses to obfuscation, and obfuscation to, well, pure fiction, I guess. 

To put this in perspective, his first book was published in 1996, with the following two being published over four years. Pretty good pace, right? But then it took him 11 years to write the next two books (really, it's 1 and a half books). It's now been another 10 years and his suckers for punishment fans are still waiting for the next book in the series. Yep, 25 years for 5 books. Martin says there will be at least two more to complete the series. Riiiight. Suuure there will. I hope his afterlife provides for a typewriter...

As a counterpoint, JRR Tolkien completed 'The Lord of the Rings' over a 13 year span (1937 to 1949) while also working full-time as a university lecturer (and throw in a world war for good measure). Proper work ethic there.

Anyway, as everyone knows, HBO bought the rights to Martin's work and just plowed along to complete the series. They ended up filling-in the yawning gaps (over 3 seasons) which Martin had yet to complete, knowing full well that they couldn't count on him to give them the goods. After this, he has the temerity to say that the HBO ending was not 'faithful' to his vision. Wow, and what vision would that be precisely?! Gee, let's see. Oh, a blank page! So you have no vision Mr. Martin - how shocking... What an egotistical, tone-deaf git. 

So every time I hear about GRR Martin's pathetic excuses for his delays in completing 'Game of Thrones' I just roll my eyes and wonder what new torture he's putting his fans through.

Dark Sword Miniatures did a special vanity vignette depicting Martin as (get this) a Maester writing on some scrolls. *eyeroll*

The irony was just too great, so this is why I've left the sheets of parchment on the table completely blank. It seems fitting.

Oh, and I also did up a cobblestone base with a new roller from Greenstuff World. Fun!

Modeling clay and rolling pin - it's like being in preschool...

...and these ones to still try out...

The gibbet is from Reaper and is a very nice little model (though I almost snapped my crayons getting the rope rigged through the guides and tying
 it off). My only real criticism is that the bars on the cage are a little too beefy, making it very difficult to see the figure inside. 

The 'fan' is a little ropey, but I like the overall pose. I popped the whole thing on a 60mm base and added some groundwork to blend it in (there's even three skulls tucked away in there Barks!).

Next up: Something for 'The Golem's Haunt'

Thanks for dropping in!

- Curt

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Saruman And His Fighting Uruk-Hai

For the past year I've been slowly re-reading (and in the case of some of the more esoteric titles, reading for the first time) the entire Tolkien oeuvre. I think I'm at six or seven books now, and am just finishing 'The Two Towers'. Gosh, they're just so darn good - it's kind of humbling to reacquaint oneself with the fountainhead of epic fantasy literature.

Reading Tolkien is a complete nostalgia trip for me as I have very fond memories of reading the trilogy while on a month-long family camping trip in the Prairies. I keenly remember burning out several flashlight batteries reading late into the night. So good. Anyway, here we have Saruman and four of his Uruk-Hai orcs (the nasty ones, you know, the ones with serious anger management issues). Such great models due to the fact that they are the old, rare metal ones which I adore. The colour scheme for the Uruks are from my good friend Nick who gifted a few of these to me a couple years ago.

Next Up: A Sci-Fi take on a Golem.

- Curt

Monday, January 4, 2021

Czech Paratroopers from 'Operation Anthropoid'

Here are figures representing the Czech paratroops, members of 'Operation Anthropoid', who were trapped and killed in the Church of Saint Cyril and Methodius in Prague on June 18, 1942.

My grandfather was raised just outside Prague and emigrated to Canada when he was a boy. In around 1940 he received a draft notice from the German-controlled Czech government  calling him 'home' to serve in the army. Being a new Canadian he pointedly ignored it. When I was a teen he told me of the Czech patriots that killed Heydrich along with its heavy cost. Being young, I really didn't know much of what he talked about, but I knew it made him very sad and yet proud. It wasn't until I watched the excellent movie 'Anthropoid' a few years ago that I understood what this event may have meant to him.

Poster from the 2016 film

As a bit of background, 'Operation Anthropoid' was a Special Operations Executive (SOE) mission whose objective was to assassinate SS Obergruppenfurer Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in the spring of 1942.  

Heydrich was the head of the SS security service and was the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia. In addition to being soullessly ruthless (he was the chief architect of 'The Final Solution'), he was also regarded as a brilliant administrator and a savvy politician. His influence and position within the Nazi party made him an obvious target for the SOE, who wanted to make the point that any Nazi leader, no matter how powerful, could be found, targeted and killed.

In light of the despondency and acquiescence of many Czechoslovakians to the 1938 German occupation, the Czech government-in-exile was eager to show its commitment to the overthrow of Nazi Germany. They wanted to be seen as active participants in the war, and were enthusiastic to be involved in a bold strike to salve their national pride and bolster their credentials in any postwar reconstruction.

As such, a team of SOE-trained Czech paratroopers were dropped into Czechoslovakia, and after several setbacks and false starts, succeeded in fatally wounding Heydrich while he was being driven to work in his open-topped staff car.

Heydrich's staff car after the attack. Note the bomb damage on the rear running board.

The Czech commandos were given sanctuary in the Church of Saint Cyril and Methodius. Nonetheless, their hiding place was ultimately discovered by the SS through torture and treachery. 

Approximately 750 SS troops laid siege to the church. They tried numerous times to simply force an entry, but were bloodily repulsed. After several hours of fighting they managed to force the surviving paratroopers down into the lower crypt. The SS then used tear gas and then began to flood it from firetrucks brought to the scene. Recognising that their situation was hopeless, the last remaining paratroopers committed suicide rather than being captured.

Memorial plaque at the Church commemorating the Czech and Slovak paratroopers killed in the siege and the church's clergy who were subsequently murdered by the Nazis. 

As expected, the reprisals for the assassination were swift, brutal and without any sense of proportion. The Nazis arrested thousands, and the villages of Lidice and Lezaky were effectively wiped from the map. It is estimated that approximately 5000 civilians were murdered by the SS, with many being interred and later executed in concentration camps. The clergy from the church where the paratroopers were hidden were summarily executed. 

The believed necessity of Heydrich's assassination weighed against the resulting reprisals is something which is still debated today - it certainly isn't an easy question to rationalise or square with. Yes, 'The Butcher of Prague' and the architect of the Final Solution had been brought to justice. It did cause the Nazis to increase security in their rear areas, which meant less troops serving at the front, and it did steel the Czech's will against their occupiers, but the cost of these gains was so very high that it brings into question the decision to mount the operation in the first place.


The majority of the figures I used for the paratroopers are 28mm partisans from Artizan Design and Wargames Foundry. Nice, simple and characterful. 

I used fairly large bases with sloped sides so I had space to paint in the names of the seven paratroopers. My script is a little off here and there, but it serves alright.

Sorry for the rambling history lesson, but thank you for dropping in!


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Gentlemen Adventurers for the Great Siege of Malta

Today I'm revisiting my 1565 Siege of Malta project. I started work on this collection last year and I thought it high time to add another unit to the defenders.

These hard-bitten arquebusiers represent a group of Christian 'Gentlemen Adventurers' who played a significant role in the Great Siege. These were essentially companies of Spanish and Italian mercenaries, drawn to the Siege through the winning combination of base avarice and religious zeal. They made up a good portion of the defenders, outnumbering the well known Knights of Malta several times over. I have an impassioned priest trying to keep their bodies and souls focused on killing Ottomans for the Faith. (The barbaric actions of both the Ottomans and the Christian powers in the Middle Sea is not really a great endorsement for organised religion - but I digress.)

These figures are from Wargames Foundry's El Dorado range, sculpted by the talented Mark Copplestone (his models seems to be an unintentional theme for me these past few weeks). Like the rest of my Malta stuff, these are based up individually as I envision the games will be more skirmish based.

Nonetheless, wanting players to be able to move their groups quickly, at least at the onset of the game, I had Byron cut up some sabot bases that I had I sketched up. I designed this one to indicate skirmishers, or missile troops, spread out in a loose formation. Players can have the command stand at the front or the rear to suit their aesthetic sensibilities.

A brave and righteous man of the cloth leading from the front...

...or one with wee less conviction.

As you can see, I'm amortising the use of my Vatican Enterprises walls with a cameo appearance here.

Out of their sabot bases and manning the walls.

Next: Something from WWII