Monday, August 13, 2018

With a Little Help from my Friends: Italian Wars Stradiot Light Cavalry from DaveD

A couple of years ago, while we were lucky enough to take in the Partizan show in Newark, DaveD very kindly agreed to paint up a unit of Stradiot light cavalry for me. Being a gentleman and a scholar, he sent back the beautifully completed models just before last year's Painting Challenge. Now that the hurly burly of the Challenge is well behind us I  thought it high time to get them based and ready for action. So, here they are in all their wicker-hatted glory. 

The Stradiots were mercenary light cavalry which fought in south and central Europe from the 15th to the middle of the 18th century. Very well regarded by those who served with them, they were typically recruited from Albania, Greece, Serbia, Dalmatia and Cyprus. 

These are 28mm metal castings from Perry Miniatures' 'European Armies' range. 

I really admire how Dave's painting has made each figure unique, differing their shield devices, the colour of their garb and their lance pennants - it all serves to highlight their status as irregular troops.

It took a little bit of trial and error to get the basing colours similar to my other units, but it came out alright in the end. 

Thanks so much Dave! They are an absolutely wonderful, and a prized addition to the growing host. Magnifico Bellissimo!

Next up are some infantry reinforcements and this time the talented brushwork originates not only from another continent, but another hemisphere!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Trio of Baddies for Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Continuing on my Star Wars riff, here's a trio of Imperial baddies to help make our our heroes, well, more heroic.

I found these to be quite nice miniatures on the whole. Great animation and while they're a bit softly cast in a few places, they usually have fairly well-defined detail.  My only real caveat is that each set only offers one pose. So, in an effort not to bore you with a bunch of duplicates, here are a few single samples from three separate sets: an Imperial officer, a stormtrooper, equipped in desert gear, and a snowtrooper (or a 'cold assault stormtrooper' to the SW anoraks out there).

The officer is depicted in a 'commanding pose' which seems straight out of Central Casting: an outstretched hand pointing to some impossible objective which will probably get both him and his minions ignominiously ventilated. Come to think of it, he does look a bit of a dick.

I painted him in the classic olive green of the Imperial Navy. His two colleagues (apparently off camera, polishing their boots or practicing getting force-choked by Sith Lords) are done in black for the Stormtrooper Corps and white for the Intelligence Bureau.

Next up, I found the snowtrooper a doodle to paint: brilliant white armour with cream for the fabricy bits, then apply a diluted wash and finish up with a quick highlight using the original colours = done. 

I've always had a soft spot for snowtroopers. Not because they're necessarily that interesting design-wise, but because they're intrinsically linked to 'The Empire Strikes Back' - arguably the best movie of the whole franchise - cool in both setting and association.

The last figure is my favourite of the batch, a stormtrooper equipped for desert operations. I weathered him up a bit so he looks like he's been scrabbling around Tatooine for the past few days looking for droids. Definitely one of the iconic figures from the first movie.

I like how he's tucked right into his blaster rifle, ready to miss everything that's put in front of him. Really, you almost feel sorry for these hapless gits. They sweat their bollocks off galloping around the desert on huge lizards in scorching heat wearing armour that probably chafes like a sonofabitch, then they get completely played by a dusty old hermit, miss all the action at the cantina, only to get humiliatingly drilled by some small-time smuggler and his walking rug of a co-pilot. 

Good gravy, what a bunch of pathetic mutts.  

Nonetheless, even in light of all of this, they're still the cat's pajamas in my books - so go figure.

Next Up: Something for the Renaissance collection.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Trio of Heroes from Star Wars Imperial Assault

For a bit of pulp summer reading, I picked up 'Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View'. 

Wow, what a page turner!  I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying it. The book is comprised of 40 short stories, all centred on the original 1977 film. Sure, some of the stories are a bit hackneyed, but most are quite inspired and a few are absolute genius. All of them do a great job in making readers of <ahem> a certain vintage very nostalgic for that innocent, bright-eyed, thrilling tale which came from 'a more civilized age'.

So, with all these wonderful stories percolating in my mind, I thought it a perfect excuse to get a few more figures painted for my Imperial Assault collection.

Here are three intrepid Rebels, eager to take the good fight to the Empire.

Saska Teft is from the 'Twin Shadows' expansion. She's a tech type of character, being very handy at hacking into Imperial systems while providing support for the rest of the party.

Fenn Signis is from the core boxed set, a weapon's expert, being specially good at laying down heaps of suppressive fire and causing mayhem amongst any close-clustered Imperial targets. 

I've run out of clear acrylic bases so I just went with gloss black for this group. I actually quite like nice, clean, minimalist look so I might just run with it in the future.

Gaarkhan is also from the core set, he's a Wookie warrior (yeah, obviously) who, not surprisingly, deals out loads of pain in close combat. 

The plastic used for these figures is quite crisp on the whole, and reasonably hard, but some of the longer weapons still suffer from being somewhat al dente in their aspirations of being straight and true, so I try to replace these bits with brass rod to give them a bit of rigidity. 

I also added a bit of length to Gaarkhan's halberd as I thought it would better suit his imposing height.

I'm doing up a series of Imperial types which maybe I'll bring out in a future post.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

SAS / JTF2 Operators & Defender Series 1

A few more special forces operators to add to the collection, plus a venerable Land Rover Defender Series 1 for them to roll out in.

The figures are from the Empress Miniatures SAS range, though I think they'll stand in nicely for Canadian JTF2 as well. I've painted them in my (very rough) facsimile of the CADPAT AR (Arid Region) camo. 

I quite like these figures, especially the guys in the soft hats. The poses are perhaps not as dynamic as what Spectre offers, and their weapons are a bit beefy, but their overall look appeals to me. 

The Defender was a 3D print file that I found on Thingiverse (thanks UHStech3). I manipulated it slightly to get the scale closer to around 1/50. It still may be a touch big, but I'd rather that than having it too small.

After the print it was just a matter of a quick airbrush and some slapdash weathering to get it sorted for the tabletop.

Now it's ready for some hard-bitten mercs to pick up an arms shipment, or perhaps for a posh mom to get the dry cleaning and grab a quick cappuccino before collecting the kids from soccer.

Next up: Some more modern OPFOR

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Some Modern Vehicles & 'What a Tanker!'

I've been fairly busy with work, outdoor stuff and some home renos, but I've not entirely neglected the hobby desk and have managed to get a few more things added to my ACWII project.

I figured that if I'm going to build a modern miniature collection, I really needed to beef-up my vehicle park to help set the stage for more urban scenarios. Nonetheless, doing this using wargaming-designed resin models is a fairly costly proposal, so I put on my thinking cap to see what alternatives were out there.

Card vehicles were definitely an option, as many of the available kits look quite good and are inexpensive, but I gave them a miss as I thought the whole cut, fold and assemble thing spread over 20-odd vehicles would make me snap my crayons, and they might be more susceptible to wear and tear over the long term. 

Hmm, okay, diecast vehicles was another possibility. They come painted, have a nice heft  to them and generally look petty nice. Nonetheless, sourcing civilian vehicles that are close to 1/56 scale can be a bit tricky, and often the final cost is not that much different than resin once you factor in shipping. 

In the end, I came up with the idea of using railway models after looking at some attractive  layouts at a local model shop. After scurrying home and doing a bit of research, I discovered that O Gauge is a fairly close fit for 28mm figures. So I scanned through eBay and found several Chinese suppliers who will happily provide bulk lots of painted plastic vehicles at very reasonable prices. I ended up getting 15 cars for $30 including shipping - that's about the same cost of a single resin model.  Score!!  To be honest, there's an inordinate number of BMWs in the lot I received, so I may have to acquire a few diecast domestics to better round out the collection, but overall its turned out to be a very economical way of filling up a street or two with traffic. 

While I was in the eBay vortex, I also purchased a couple transport trucks which seem an ubiquitous feature on any North American road. 

These are Tonkin 1/53 diecast models. While they are quite nice, they can be a bit pricey. Nonetheless, if you're patient you can find some for reasonable money (around $25), especially if you're willing to take on ones that have open packaging, or have minor bits missing. 

Okay, that's the civilian stuff pretty much sorted, how about the military gear? Well, let's start with some paramilitary kit in the form of a couple of armed trucks, or 'technicals'. 

This light duty truck is a resin kit available through Empress Miniatures.

Its designed to fit a wide number of weapon loadouts, from rocket launchers to heavy machine guns. Here I have it armed with a nasty ZU-23 automatic cannon. 

To provide a more North American idea of a technical, I also did a light conversion on one of the larger police trucks from the excellent 'Walking Dead' scenery set. 

To mask the roof police lights I used a bit of putty to mock-up some tarped stowage I then made a few base inserts for the truck bed so I could drop in whatever heavy weapon I wanted them to roll out with. The first few pictures are of it with a 50 cal HMG and... 

... another(!) ZU-23 automatic cannon.

Finally, I finished painting a 1/48 scale BMP-2 that I picked up from Empress Miniatures a few years ago (originally an HLBS kit). I did it up in a relatively generic three-tone camo pattern. Fairly quick work with an airbrush - it looks okay, but I think I'll dirty it up some more to make it more of a battered old veteran. Still, a pretty scary vehicle for an infantry skirmish game. 

To close off, I just wanted to mention that this past weekend we played our first game of 'What a Tanker!' . 

I mashed together a simple game using my old 15mm FoW North African collection. Well, what a hoot! The rules are very easy to pick up and quick to dive into. The activation mechanic is reminiscent to Chain of Command, with a nice crew advancement system for follow-on games. I'd like to see it expand to include armoured cars, anti-tank guns and perhaps something that abstracts infantry support. It's a bit 'popcorn' perhaps, but I think it gives a great game. Highly recommended.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hellllo Ladies! Modern Female Operators

In the interest of equal opportunity, here are five female operators working towards gender-balancing my ACWII collection.

Similar to the Russians from my previous post, all of these figures are from Spectre Miniatures. 

I quite like the mix of both civilian and paramilitary gear on these figures as it allows them to fit in with a wide variation of settings. 

I also appreciate the sculptor's effort to model these women on realistic forms and poses, as opposed to some of the fantastical spotty-faced-boy-in-the-basement stuff you often see in the market.

They are armed with a variety of weapons including a Glock holdout pistol, PP-2000 SMG,  HK416 assault carbine, a Kriss Vector SMG and a Kel-Tec assault shotgun.  Yup, definitely NOT damsels in distress.

There is at least one more pack of female operatives I'd like to add to these, but they'll have to wait as future reinforcements.

Next up: Some vehicles!