Monday, August 18, 2014

28mm 'Raketrucksacktruppen' Squad for Pulp Adventures

So, my thinking is that if paratroopers are cool, and rocket packs are cool, then a whole squad of badass German fallshirmjaegers with jet packs strapped on must be the absolute tits. 

I call them 'Raketrucksacktruppen'. (With deepest apologies to my German friends for my appalling 'Sgt. Rock Deutsch'.) I thought the name fitting with the comic book nature of these guys.

These figures are from Bob Murch's excellent Pulp Miniature range. I swapped out their original oxygen tanks in favour of rockets packs as, well, it just seemed the sensible thing to do.

It looks like I'm going through a bit of a 'Blue Period' lately, but I thought these fellas would look good in cool tones, similar to the early-war uniform of the Fallshirmjaegers.

Anyway, I'm hoping these Raketrucksacktruppen will create suitable mayhem in our 'Strange Aeons' pulp adventures. 

Next: Back to the first weeks of the Great War...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Duel: Dancing or Villainy - Which is your Favourite?

Last night Sarah showed me the recent Johnny Walker Blue Label commercial 'The Gentleman's Wager' which I found quite fun, smart and very stylish. Thinking I was quite 'up on things', I showed it to a young, hip female colleague at work who watched it quietly and then dismissively said that Tom Hiddleston's 'Villain' ad for Jaguar was much better. At first I was a bit gutted, but then I recalled that this particular staff-member believes Mr. Hiddleston is hands down 'The Perfect Man' striding upon this green earth and so I surmised that he could be selling radium-infused baby seal eyes, gift-packaged in hollowed-out elephant tusks and she'd still be enraptured with whatever he had to say.

Nevertheless, I went home and watched the Jaguar commercial to see for myself. 

Well, it's very good. It has great presence, it's sleek in a bond-like way and is unashamedly cheeky. I freely admit that Tom adds a lot of sex appeal to the ad (and that F-Type Coupe sounds bloody amazing), nonetheless I think it lacks the subtlety, depth and elegant restraint that Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini bring with their performances in the Johnny Walker commercial. [Spoiler] If you watch 'the Gentleman's Wager' again you'll see from the start that these two men have probably been trading this boat back and forth for years. There is a charming playfulness between the two that is very fun to watch.

Anyway, for a bit of silliness, I think we should have a little poll to see what you visitors think. Here are the two ads - give them both a look:

Tom Hiddleston's 'The Art of Villainy' 

Law & Gianni's 'The Gentleman's Wager'

Sorry JF, I really think Hiddleston gets pwned in this matchup. But, hey, that's just my opinion. What do you folks think? Give a click for your favourite on the panel to the right. 

I'm going to have a nice, neat glass of whisky on Sunday while I wait for the final votes...

Addendum: The final vote tally was: 14 votes for Law & Giannini's 'The Gentleman's Wager' whereas 7 votes were cast for Hiddleston's 'The Art of Villainy'. I think the dancing girls buffered the votes a bit (and why not), but there you have it.   

Sunday, August 10, 2014

28mm Spanish Civil War Republican Guardia de Asaltos (Assault Guards) and a Spanish Romanesque Church from Barrage Miniatures

In an attempt to be somewhat simpatico with our recent hot weather I thought I'd feature some more Spanish Civil War figures, this time a few squads of tough-as-nails Republican Assault Guards.

The Guardia de Asaltos were a large body of para military police created by the Republican government in reaction to increasing instability throughout Spanish society. The Assault Guards were primarily tasked in maintaining public order in urban areas whereas the Guardia Civil's jurisdiction focused on rural areas.

When civil war broke out in Spain in the summer of 1936, the majority of the Assault Guards remained loyal to the Republican government. They quickly proved to be a highly dependable force for which the government relied on time and again in its struggle to control the cities of Spain. They were particularly effective during the siege of Madrid and it has been mentioned several times that of the Assault Guards that were in uniform in 1936, very few remained alive by 1938, being ground-up in the vicious street fighting in the intervening years.

These guys arrived from Empress Miniatures less than a week before my game with the guys from The Fawcett Ave Conscripts and so being a complete idiot I decided to try to get them done in time for kick-off. After several extremely late nights I managed to get the sixteen of them done and ready for deployment. 

Of course, as these things always work out, they never even made it onto the table as they kept missing their reinforcement rolls. Sigh. Anyway, they are now sitting in the wings, gnashing to get at the Nationalists. I know Peter has been chomping at the bit to get stuck-in commanding the Republicans so I think this is the unit for him. 

Also seen here is a 1:56 Spanish Romanesque church, a very generous gift given by the vastly talented Alf from Barrage Miniatures. This was part of the loot that I managed to smuggle home after visiting his workshop in Madrid earlier this past spring. 

This resin-cast building is inspired by the very picturesque 12th century Sant Quirc de Durro church found in the Vall de Boi, Catalonia. 

The church is a wonderful model, with loads of deep relief for easy of painting/drybrushing. Like a dolt, I first primed it dark brown, but then realized by looking at photos of similar mediterranean buildings, that the mortar used is typically cream coloured - so I traipsed back outside to respray it a light khaki. 

I can't say that I'm completely happy with my efforts, but I finally decided to throw in the towel and call it done. Nevertheless, it will be a welcome addition to the growing SCW and Napoleonic Peninsular terrain collection.  Thanks so much Alf!! 

Finally, I want to give a big shout out in celebration of the debut of Wargame Bloggers Quarterly which was launched this past Saturday. WBQ is the brainchild of the ever-industrious Millsy, one of the famed contributors of Canister & Grape. I had the pleasure to witness the whole production unfold (being characteristically lazy, I can't say I helped that much) and can attest to the high standard and tremendous level of work that has gone into this publication. So, please download the premier issue and enjoy! I understand that the editorial duties of WBQ will change from issue-to-issue so there should be a wonderful variety of articles and viewpoints as the Quarterly moves forward. Congratulations Millsy - this is a real triumph!

Monday, August 4, 2014

One of the 'Guns of August': 28mm Great War in Greyscale French 75, Caisson and Crew (& Major LaBossiere)

August commemorates the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. So to mark the occasion I thought I'd finish a set of models for my greyscale project that have been sitting in the wings for quite some time, something fitting for those first terrible weeks of the Great War - a French 75mm gun with its crew and caisson. 

The Matériel de 75mm Mle 1897, or simply 'the 75', became legend amongst the French as it along with its crews carried a tremendous burden in slowing the German advance on Paris in 1914. 

The 75 was a relatively light gun, easy to maneuver and capable of keeping up with infantry in relatively difficult terrain. It was a weapon which embodied  the French cult of the attack which was prevalent at that time - the Attaque a Outrance ('attack to excess') demanded massive, high-tempo assaults and many officers at St-Cyr believed this was the perfect gun to accommodate this aggressive doctrine.  

The '75' also had a very quick rate of fire (approximately 15 rounds per minute, with a capable crew) which allowed it to lay down a deadly carpet of high explosive and shrapnel on exposed troops. 

Nonetheless, once hostilities began, many of the perceived strengths of the 75 proved to be double-edged. While the 75 could indeed put out a terrifying volume of fire in close support, the crews were prone to run out of ammunition quickly - especially in those early weeks of the war. This often left the gun vulnerable and many crews were found dead next to their guns, with their ammunition expended.  Also, while the 75 proved to be an excellent anti-personnel weapon, it did not have a heavy enough shell to be effective for trench bombardments so as the war progressed it became more and more evident that heavier guns were required  - so the 75 lost it pre-eminence in the French arsenal. Nonetheless the reputation (and mystique) of the gun lived on and it was used by several nations at the beginning of the Second World War.  

This model is from Scarab Miniatures. Not a bad kit but it was a bit fiddly to assemble. While I like the crew well enough, they are a bit doughy and muppet-like in some of their features (and their uniform is the later design). I really need to get the new(ish) early-war set offered from North Star as it better fits the rest of my collection.

On a lighter note, it must be mentioned that the French gun's fame was such that it even had a drink named after it, the "French 75" - or perhaps more correctly "Le Soixante-Quinze"!

Beware, like the 75mm Mle 1897, this cocktail may seem lightweight, but it actually packs a ferocious kick...

Finally, I include a French infantry officer of 1914, resplendent in his red jodhpurs, laced kepi and St. Etienne revolver. I've named him Major LaBossiere (one for you J). 

When I look at him I think of a grizzled veteran of 'The Debacle', perhaps wounded at Sedan as an officer Aspirant, leading his young troops from the front, furious that General Joffre would presume that his men lack in fighting spirit. 'Vous n'aurez pas l'Alsace et la Lorraine!'

This figure (a 28mm casting from Great War Miniatures) is for my friend Nick over at Moiterei's Bunt Welt, who kindly painted me a beautiful Viking warlord for my collection and wished a greyscale French Poilu in return. I decided to do a quasi 'Sin City' colour effect on him to add a bit of punch. Here you go Nick, I hope you enjoy him and thanks so much again!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

1:56 Spanish Civil War Hispano Suiza Armoured Car & 28mm Moroccan Regulares Tank Hunter Team

'Pretty' or 'sexy' are not words you typically associate with an armoured vehicle, but I think those words just might apply to this wonderfully curvy and characterful Hispano Suiza MC36.  This 'tiznao' (roughly translated as 'smudgy' in Spanish - thanks Juan!) was a cannibalized armoured truck manufactured by the Republicans during the early period of the Spanish Civil War.

This model is from the very talented folks at Minairons Miniatures in Spain. In a flurry of credit card induced euphoria I picked up this kit at Atlantica Hobbies in Madrid this past spring. The model shown here is 1/56 scale, but it's also available in 1/72 and 1/100 as well. It's a very simple kit, with perhaps 10 parts in total, including a nice up-gunned variant which features the turret from a T26 tank. 

Compared to my good friend Greg, who is a complete whiz with painting and detailing vehicles, I always have a tough time getting my head wrapped around how to best approach the buggers. Probably if I worked on more of them it would get easier. Anyway, I plodded along and went with a Soviet green foundation and weathered the bejeezus out it, thinking it appropriate based on the rustic environment of Spain at the time. The decals were a bit of a bear to work with, and while not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I do admit they certainly help to finish off a model.

I put on a SCW game last week for a few of the guys from the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts and Dallas rolled out this bad lad for a bit of mayhem. Funny thing is it didn't even blow up, which completely floored me, being a new model and all. Of course this means it will end up as a expanding gas cloud sometime during the next scenario...

I also completed a few other units in the lead-up to the game. One was this Moroccan Regulares tank hunter team. Excellent Paul Hicks sculpts from Empress Games. 

You know, nothing says hardcore like a of pair of loons who think effective 'tank hunting' means being solely equipped with a crowbar, pistol and a couple sticks of sweating dynamite. Yup, completely mental.

Pistol? Check. Crowbar? Check. Dynamite? Check.  Right, we're off.  Now, where's that pesky tank...
These guys are a welcome addition to my existing Regulares unit

Next up: Something for August 1914 and then Guardia de Asalto!