Saturday, January 28, 2017

Kablooey! Exploding 'Star Wars' Rebel Starships - 7th Submission to AHPC VII

Ever since seeing 'Rogue One' over the holiday break I've been having a wonderful renaissance delving into all things 'Star Wars'. I feel like I'm eleven all over again (if only my hair follicles would follow suit)!

This resurgent interest made me dig-up my copy of 'Star Wars: Armada' by Fantasy Flight Games. For those who are not familiar with the game, 'Armada' is a fleet-level miniatures game, where players get to control the huge starships and fighter squadrons that are so iconic in the films. Rebel Blockade Runners, Star Destroyers, Mon Calamari 'Pickle Ships', swarms of TIE fighters, you got it, they're all a part of the game. It's super fun.

Our group is just about to start a campaign using the new 'Corellian Conflict' expansion that came out a few weeks ago. The guys are busy creating their fleets and so I thought I'd add some colour to the tabletop with some bits and bobs. What we have here is a pair of critically damaged ships for set dressing. With these models, victorious admirals will have the satisfaction of seeing their crippled adversaries drift across the table instead of the original models simply being removed from play.

The Rebel frigate is hit amidships and begins to break apart.
These two ships are from the Rebel Alliance. One is the famous Rebel Blockade Runner, or CR90 Corvette, that was seen carrying Princess Leia in 'A New Hope', and the other is a Nebulon-B Escort Frigate which was first glimpsed in 'The Empire Strikes Back'.

Both of these models were downloaded from Thingiverse (thanks Danesgift!), tweaked/re-scaled, printed off on my 3D printer and mercilessly bashed-up for effect. The stands are prints as well.

Below are a couple raw prints, with all the supports still needing to be removed and sanded down. Yes, they are SUPER orange when they first come off the printer.

The explosions are 3D fractal models, designed by Aeron203. 

I re-scaled and sliced the fractal models to make varying sizes and textures of explosions. I added some blown-out debris from thin plasticard, and for the Nebulon-B I gave it a turbo laser hit (with a bit of painted steel rod) for a bit of drama.

The raw 3D models above provides you a hint of the upcoming Imperial ships which will be getting the same treatment - but that will be for another post.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Viet Mihn, 1954 - 6th Submission to AHPC VII

As promised, here is an update to my long-neglected French Indochina project.

From 1945 to 1954 the French fought a long, bitter campaign to regain control of their colonial possessions in Indochina. During the struggle, the French and their allies lost over 134,000 in dead or missing in battles across Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. This sacrifice was all for nought as the Vietnamese people had tasted independence and would not be assuaged from it. 

The climatic battle of the war was fought in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu, a small mountain valley hamlet. Here, a large, well-equipped French force was encircled and destroyed by the Viet Mihn over a two-month siege. The Vietnamese victory shocked the world and allowed Ho Chi Mihn to negotiate from a position of strength at the Geneva Conference later that year. 

Unfortunately, even though the French were compelled to withdraw from the region, their ally, the United States, refused to allow the Vietnamese their self-determination. American interference escalated to police action and then to undeclared war, plunging Vietnam into another 10 years of conflict which cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives. In the end, America withdrew, Vietnam was united and the Vietnamese achieved what they had set out to do: gain their independence from foreign control.

These 28mm figures were sculpted by Paul Hicks and are excellent models. They are armed in a variety of weapons, reflecting the ad hoc supply structure of the Viet Mihn at that time. Some are armed with Mosin Nagant rifles while others have variants of PPSh and PPS submachine guns

The different shaped bases denote, officers/NCOs, infantrymen and specialists. I do this to help spot them on the tabletop.

This range is available from FNG Miniatures and Empress Miniatures.

Flag from Empress.

Thanks for dropping by folks! To shake things up a bit, next week will be something from 'Star Wars.'

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Spanish Civil War Miliciana Standard Bearer and AAC-1937 Armoured Car - 5th Submission to AHPC VII

I know I had promised an Indochina post, but these two practically leaped onto the table demanding brush and paint, so here they are.

This past summer saw the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and this autumn marked when Republican Madrid held fast against Franco's Nationalist forces. 

A significant amount of credit for the city's resistance was due to the arrival of reinforcements from Barcelona, led by the charismatic anarchist Jose Durruti. His force, known as the 'Durutti Column' became famous for its assistance in fending off Franco's hardened Moroccan professionals. The anarchists took particularly heavy casualties, including Durruti himself, fighting in the Casa de Campo (Madrid's largest park).

Durruti, in car crudely marked with 'C.N.T.', with his column heading west in the autumn of 1936.

Durruti's ad hoc column of Republican fighters on the move.

Durruti's death is still shrouded in controversy. Some say he was killed by enemy fire, while others contend he was a victim of friendly fire.  A few go so far as to say he was killed by Soviet-led Communists who saw him as a threat to their leadership within the Republican cause.

So, seen here is a miliciana standard bearer, wearing the distinctive blue workers overalls (el mono azul), giving the Republican clenched-fist salute and holding aloft an anarchist flag. The flag is emblazoned with 'Columna Durruti' and the acronyms of the two largest anarchist workers militias, the C.N.T and the F.A.I.

The figure is from the Empress Miniatures' range and the banner is from Flags of War.

Behind her is a AAC-1937 Chevrolet armoured car. This vehicle is often mistaken for a Soviet BA-3/6, but in fact was built in Valencia, using a Chevy 6x4 chassis as a basis. This one is armed with a hull machine gun along with a 37mm gun with a coaxial MG. It saw service in the later part of the civil war.

Many of these vehicles were captured by the Nationalists, or confiscated by the French during the Republicans' final retreat into exile. Oddly enough, many would see the end of their active service as German armoured cars on the Eastern Front.

This vehicle is, again, from Empress Miniatures. A nice, simple and clean kit. I've given it a fairly basic paint job in dark olive green, which seemed to be a relatively common colour  for vehicles at the time. It has 'U.H.P.' on the upper hull, denoting it's crew as supporters of the Uníos Hermanos Proletarios (United Brothers of the Proletariat) a socialist workers organization, part of the alphabet soup of socialist-anarcho-sydicalist trade unions that were (and still are) popular in and around Barcelona. 

Next up: Indochine (no really, it is, I promise) 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New WWII Skirmish Rules, 'Rattenkrieg!'

My good friend Alf over at Barrage Miniatures has recently released a new set of WWII skirmish rules titled, 'Rattenkrieg!'.  

Over the past few years Alf has shared with me several of his design concepts for these rules and I must say 'Rattenkrieg!' is  one of the most detailed and nuanced rulesets out in the market today. 

As a thumbnail description, I would say that 'Rattenkrieg!' is much like 'Advanced Squad Leader' for miniatures, but with even more tactical detail. Yes, these rules are for the dirt-under-your-fingernails grognards who don't mind going through a few charts and tables to get the results they desire. 

Alf has kindly allowed me to show a few pages from the beautifully designed rulebook. You will quickly see that these rules exhibit tremendous amount of research behind them and have been a labour of love.

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details of tactical warfare, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of these rules. They are worth every shell casing.

'Rattenkrieg!' can be purchased in PDF form through the Barrage Miniatures website.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Francis I and Montmorency Surveying the Investment of Pavia, October 1524 - 4th Submission to AHPC VII

For our 'Armour' theme, I've returned to the Italian Wars with a vignette of Francis I of France overseeing the investment of Pavia, October 1524. 

Francis is seen here with his helmet under his arm, discussing the proposed dispositions of the French siege with one of his advisors, Montmorency, Marshal of France. The two men have recently arrived in front of the city and have placed a map of Pavia on a makeshift table made from a wagon wheel set on a tree stump. A pair of Francis' hunting dogs, Alaunts (a breed now sadly extinct), are at his side.  His banner-bearer, bored out of his mind, stands at the rear, holding the Royal Standard. Francis' attendants have brought out a stool with a refreshment of wine in pewter goblets.

Francis' figure is roughly based on an oil-on-wood painting from an unknown artist which was contemporary to the battle. In the painting he is depicted wearing gold armour with a red surcoat emblazoned with a large central cross. 

I kept the red surcoat, but instead painted him in his tournament armour, which in real life is  beautifully detailed with representations of fleur de lis on the knees, elbows and helmet (which, of course, nobody can see now due to the placement of the figures. Doh!). Francis' armour can be seen today at the musée de l’Armée, Les Invalides. 

The figures of Francis, Montmorency and his standard bearer are from the very talented Oliver James over at Steel Fist Miniatures.  These were part of a Kickstarter which I participated in a year or so ago and are now available on his website.

The two Alaunts were sculpted by Steve May as a private commission for Simon over at le Jay Emprins, who kindly provided me with a couple sets (Thanks Simon!).

Alaunts at the kill of a wild boar from The Grimami Breviary, 1490
The tree stump, wagon wheel, stool, wine bottle and goblets I printed off on my 3D printer (I LOVE that thing).

Francis' brave banner is from Pete's Flags.

As a historical postscript, the French siege of Pavia went on too long and a Imperialist relief force was dispatched to attempt to raise the siege. After a bold night march, the Spanish Imperial army smashed Francis' forces on 24th February, 1525. As the ultimate disgrace, Francis himself was captured and sent to Spain as a prisoner to negotiate his own release.


Next Up: I think something from Indochina is in order.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Spanish Civil War Falangist Infantry - 3rd Submission to AHPC VII

As a nod to the upcoming inauguration of the new POTUS and his Alt-right supporters here are ten fascists, er, Falangists from the Spanish Civil War, wearing their distinctive blue shirts, tasseled gorrillo side caps and khaki jodhpurs all fighting hard to 'Make Spain Great Again'. 

The Falange was a Spanish right-wing political movement that rose to prominence during the Spanish Civil War. They were fervent supporters of General Franco in his bid to wrest control of Spain from it's Republican government.

The Falange was an organization built around strict authoritarian ideals, believing the nation state should have close control over all aspects of Spanish society. They were patriarchal monarchists who were anti-communist, anti-liberal, anti-intellectual and ant-capitalist (although they smartened up with this last one, quickly seeing the realities of competing in a world market). Yeah, these guys were real forward thinkers, but hey, they had sharp uniforms and won the war, so they couldn't have been all that bad, right? Riiight.

After the Civil War the Falange became a significant political force during the 1940s, extending later into the postwar period. Nonetheless, they  began to steadily lose influence as Spain had to adapt to an increasingly secular, technological world. Upon Franco's death in 1975, the Falange broke up into a number of splinter groups, each politically negligible, each bickering with the others to (get this) claim the name of 'Falange'.  

Today the descendants and supporters of these d-bags can sometimes be seen giving Nazi salutes at their pathetic rallies and generally being useless wastes of skin. But I digress.

These 28mm figures are from the comprehensive Empress Miniatures range. Wonderful sculpts from the very talented Paul Hicks. The flag is (I think) from Flags of War.

Next up: Back to the Renaissance with something French.