Sunday, August 23, 2015

MWAAHAAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!! LIFE!!! GIVE MY CREATION LIIIIFE!!!!


Just a sneak peak for those of you who are paying attention to this little blog of mine...

Remember these:


This just in:





Stay tuned for further, as this is just the beginning..... 

IGOR! WAKE UP THE WORK GANGS, AND BRING ME MY LATEST PLANS OFF MY DESK!! GO ON, GET A'MOVIN' YA SLACKERS!! THERE'S WORK TO DO!!! 


ZATHRUS!! DON'T JUST STAND THERE, MAN!!! GO TURN THE REACTOR UP TO 200 PERCENT, AND DON'T SPARE THE ISOTOPES!!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

More Blasts from the Past: Metal Magic Done Long Ago!

Yup. Some Metal Magic Space Lords figures I painted up for my friend Paul Ryan roughly 30 years ago, a mix of Wartech SECS Troopers and a trio of Yoydyne Humbe "GELF" ("Genetically Engineered Life Form") troopers for your viewing pleasure:


A group shot of the Wartech SECS Troopers and the civilian space merchant figure painted up as a WH40KRT planetary governor or other personage of importance within the vast Imperium of Mankind. Now, we move on to some closeups from the group:



The uniform and body armor colors in this particular group were inspired by WW2 German Army patterns and colors found on their armored vehicles and the field grey uniforms common throughout the Wehrmacht. I even carried the whole Germanic vibe as far as the prevalence of fair skin tones, blonde hair, and Germanic names for each figure lettered by hand on their bases.

Next up, here's the three Yoydyne Humbe "GELF" troopers, two hand-to-hand specialists and a Humbe packing a "grapeshot cannon" which I take to mean a really large bore single barreled shotgun-type weapon:


Yes, that's right, I painted them like a variety of python, and named them after snakes:



My reasoning was that they were a blend of human and reptilian genes conveying some tremendous physical strength of a constrictor and the various alleged advantages of human DNA. My hands were so steady and my eyes so keen so long ago I even painted their poison fangs visible in their little mouths...

Finally in this quick installment, the best of this batch, the Wartech SECS grav bike armed with twin miniguns:




The flight stand is a standard plastic flight stand with an hexagonal base mounted on a steel washer, covered with paint and flock and the upright base spire concealed underneath reindeer lichen. 



Frankly, I think this remains one of the best rendered sci-fi flying bikes of all time, right down to the twin built-in machine guns, the miniguns, and the overall layout especially the way the rider sits on the vehicle.

Next Episode: More Metal Magic plus More Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader Nostalgia, and I mean there is still a lot more to go, so stay tuned to your TBD receivers for the next alert from the fringe of the Known Universe!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rogue Trader Nostalgia...

Over on the Lead adventure Forum more than a few members have been waxing nostalgic over the grimdark whimsy that was the original Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader game universe, indulging their wistful flights of past miniature gaming fancy by dusting off old and forgotten Rogue Trader figures and painting them up using current skill sets and techniques. The end results have been impressive to say the least, and so much so that I myself was not immune to the siren song of nostalgia for sci-fantasy wargames past.

Roughly 30 years ago I painted a great many figures for quite a few people including my old friend Paul Ryan. We were discussing some various and sundry topics last week and two of my gaming-related brain cells had a collision, and I asked Paul if he still had any of those figures I painted for him so long ago. As it turned out, he didn't have merely some of them, but damn near all of them including the many Rogue Trader era Space Marines, Inquisitors, and other fun things sci-fi and miniature. 

I wasted no time and arranged to set up and execute a photo shoot, to chronicle my work of years past, so here now for your consideration and viewing pleasure are some of the many official and proxy Rogue Trader figures I rendered so long ago when my eyes were young and much keener, my hand much steadier, and my imagination running wild in the grimdark universe of a galaxy at war in the 41st millennium! 

We begin with a number of Warzone figures and a wayward Grenadier Miniatures Traveller Vargr figure all adapted to serve as various WH40KRT proxies...


A Bauhaus hero adapted as a high ranking Imperial Army officer in carapace armor wielding a Bolter. Within the original Rogue Trader canon Imperial Army officers could and did have access to much better wargear that the hapless enlisted ranks of the vast hordes of lasgun-wielding cannon fodder of the Emperor of Humanity...

Next up is a Traveller Vargyr adventurer figure from Grenadier Models, repurposed as a faithful Beastman companion to a Rogue Trader:



I replaced the original pistol with a WH40KRT plastic plasma pistol, and painted his vest as a surcoat bearing the sigil of his Rogue Trader master befitting his elevated status as the loyal inner circle minion/bodyguard of so powerful (and eccentric) an archetype of the Rogue Trader canon.

Next up are several more character figures from other manufacturers repurposed as various denizens of the Rogue Trader universe, starting with a junior Imperial Army officer with a bionic eye, Bolter, and Carapace Armor, an Urban War figure who also makes a more than passing Imperial Assassin with the right paint job:



One of the Warzone heroes of the religious warrior order from that competitor wargame canon, here repurposed as a Rogue Trader wearing Carapace Armor and wielding a Bolter and a Power Axe:


Here's a quartet of Urban War Syntha androids repurposed as generic robot soldiers of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but breveted out to an Imperial Army unit (hence the graffiti courtesy of the wits amongst the rank and file who fought alongside these mechanical servants of the Emperor):




Next comes a heroine from the Firefight aka Ion Age line repurposed as an Inquisitor armed with a plasma gun and assorted built in weapon system in her custom-built powered armor suit:


Second generation Space Marine Terminators and an Inquisitor in Terminator Armour sporting a bionic leg. The Inquisitor has been finished as an Inquisitor turned Rogue Trader character, while the Terminators are finished in a custom-to-order livery that nearly drove me barking mad to execute back when I was twenty-something, steady of hand and keen of eye:


Finished in a connected theme was this Rogue Trader era seated Space Marine vehicle rider figure adapted to serve as a rank and file Space Marine suitable for the wargame table rather than just as an accessory to a finished Rhino APC:


 The knocked-out Khornate war robot the Marine is using for a barstool is a Grenadier robot from a boxed set that has been brought back into production along with its fellows by Mirliton of Italy.

Next comes a bit of Rogue Trader whimsy and a bit of figure ancient history, a Gretchin minefield clearance squad made up of old Citadel Miniatures fantasy goblins kitted out with assorted 1/35 scale cut down white metal muskets and flintlock pistols, and some 1/35 scale plastic WW2 German helmets:



The banner is made from the lead foil that used to be used for sealing wine bottle tops, with some brass wire for the flagpole and crossbar, and a spare white metal skull from Dragontooth Miniatures (IIRC the skull's origins!).

Up next are Shamus and O'Malley, two Imperial Army Squat troopers full of blarney and ready to knock out the heavy armored enemies of the Emperor:


And to end this installment with a bang as it were, an original Rogue Trader Terminator Marine, finished as a member of the Legion of the Damned complete with a lengthy slogan that I freehand lettered back when I was young (and had more guts than brains!):


This ends the first installment of this photo chronicle. There were no less than five (5) Chessex figure boxes full of painted figures to sort out, and my camera battery gave out on me (#$%@@^!!!!). Even so, I took a great many photos, and the result is that the next installment of this humble blog will be all about the Metal Magic Space Lords figures I rendered for my old Friend Paul, so stay tuned until next time, because in addition to those five storage cases I mentioned, there were other boxes as well, and a castle that has to be seen to be appreciated!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Confessions of a Shameless Treadhead: Part Trois Le Cold War

OK. As promised, here's the last batch of photos I shot during my last tour of the collection of the late Jaques Littlefield. This batch covers the Cold War era up to the first Gulf War in its scope, and includes some unusual subjects to say the least showcasing the continuing evolution of the modern armored fighting vehicle.

So without further ado, here they are for your consideration:



Among the first machines to greet arriving visitors was this M113 ACAV armored cavalry personnel carrier, a Vietnam War modification of the ubiquitous M113 personnel carrier. 

A former Russian-made East German army armored reconnaissance  car was also located outside the main buildings, cut away to expose the internal layout of the interior. Even for such a relatively small combat vehicle the interior is cluttered to say the least:



A 16-inch naval shell outside the main building.... 


 And representing Her Majesty's armored forces outside of the main building was a pair of Gulf War One vintage Alvis FV103 Spartans...



One of the Big Dawgs on display in the yard was this Israeli M60 Patton tank... 


The Israelis of course modified this tank to suit their own needs and ideas, including the installation of a mounting bracket for a machine gun over the main gun to use for rapid sighting of the main gun...




The most interesting feature of this tank is the actual battle damage that disabled it during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Usually when an historical vehicle is restored any battle damage is repaired at least cosmetically, however the decision was made to leave this bit of battle damage in place as an example of how a shaped-charge warhead actually works. The tiny hole in the left center of the photo at the base of the tow hitch is where a Russian-made RPG-7 rocket propelled anti-tank grenade struck the armor and burned through, gutting the engine in the process and knocking out the tank.... 



 Inside the hall sharing the parking spaces with the previously shown tanks and armored fighting vehicles from the World Wars are more than a few weird and wonderful machines from the Cold War era. Here is a childhood favorite of mine, the EBR-90 armored car with its distinctive eight wheeled suspension incorporating an inner pair of axles with solid steel rough terrain wheels...



The innermost steel rough terrain wheels were on an hydraulic system so they could be raised or lowered depending upon how much traction or speed the vehicle commander of driver needed...



Historically the French Army was a keen early user of armored cars, and this continued through the Cold War (as it does today). The French also exported a respectable number of armored cars to various foreign end users. Among the more commonly exported designs were those from Panhard. The South African Eland 90 seen here is the result of the South African government procuring a production license for the Panhard AML, then developing their own spin-off two-thirds of which was made up of indigenous components. Externally the Eland 90 looks much as its French progenitor, but optimized for operating conditions in Southern Africa:


Next up is a late 1940s design that just missed combat in WW2, but went on to leave its mark in several postwar conflicts. The Iosef Stalin III was an evolutionary development of Soviet heavy tank designs driven forward in reaction to the menace of the German Panther and Tiger tanks. Mounting a 122mm main gun and featuring an inverted frying pan style turret that came to characterize Cold War Russian tank designs ever since, the IS-III is a menacing machine whose lean lines and big gun hide some significant design and technical shortcomings that only became apparent when the IS-III was used operationally:


One of the distinctive features of Soviet heavy tanks and assault guns starting with their late WW2-era designs was the fitting of a 12.7mm DShk heavy machine gun on an anti-aircraft mount on the turret roof. Although first developed in 1938 and adopted as the standard heavy machine gun of the Red Army and red Banner Fleet before WW2, the DShk is a weapon that looks almost like a weapon from science fiction with its distinguishing cooling fins running the length of the gun barrel of this massive air-cooled weapon:


The Western NATO powers reacted to the revelation of the new Soviet heavy tanks (IS-III and later T-10M) by producing their own superheavy tanks sporting massive 120mm main guns to overcome the thick armor of the Soviet heavies. Here is the British answer to the Soviet heavy tank challenge, the Conqueror. This is a rare machine indeed, and seen in person close up one can fully appreciate the aura of sheer brute power and mass of this beast. I was struck by the sensation as I stood looking over this tracked kaiju up close and personal that it practically shouted "HEAVY!" in a deep, mechanical bass voice:



The first of the new generation of U.S. main battle tanks (MBTs) to counter the assumed Soviet tank menace was the M48 Patton. This particular version has the boxy night vision sight mounted over the main gun barrel, and lacks the distinctive commander's closed machine gun cupola that characterized the later models of the M48 and M60:


Soldiers are soldier no matter when or where we're talking about, and that includes a soldier's sense of humor. Here is an example of that, some artwork on the side of an armored recovery vehicle that expresses the sentiments no doubt of recovering heavy, disabled armored vehicles under field conditions:


 Ever seeking an advantage in the technological arms race that was the Cold War, the U.S. Army concluded in the 1960s that a guided missile was the best means of knocking out a heavily-armored Soviet main battle tank, so they cooked up the 152mm MGM-151 Shillelagh gun/missile combination. Able to fire both the MGM-151 missile and a 152mm caseless shell, the weapon proved troublesome as a matter of course. The weapon was first mounted in the M551 Sheridan, then later applied to the M60 in a revised turret designed to accommodate the new weapon and deduce its target profile at the same time. 

Dubbed the "Starship," the M-60A2 was not a particularly successful design. First entering service in 1974, the "Starships" were phased out of service in 1980:



The West German Bundeswehr needed an armored personnel carrier, and went one better developing the sleek and effective Marder Infantry Combat Vehicle, (IFV), setting the standard that all armored infantry combat transport vehicles have had to follow ever since. Featuring a low profile remote control weapons fit that included a 20mm auromatic cannon, a 7.92mm machine gun, and smoke grenade launchers, the vehicle has like the M60 "Starship" an almost science fiction quality to its design aesthetic:




Necessity is the mother of invention, and the Israelis being ever practical creatures were quick to marry necessity to WW2-vintage U.S. surplus M4 Sherman tanks and create a stable of unique modernized M4s fitted with extra equipment and heavier, more modern main guns to give their tankers a fighting chance with the more modern Russian tanks being used by their Arab nation opponents. Note the extra armor plates welded in front of the hull over the driver's and radio operator's stations, the additional external stowage, and the French 90mm main gun adapted from the weapon found on the AMX-13 light tank also used by the IDF:








A sad sight! This is what happens when the sublime is taken to the ridiculous in legislating. These .50 cal. heavy machine guns were being rendered almost into little better than junk to satisfy very specific federal requirements to ensure the weapons could never be used for their original purpose. 

To me this is a reasonable precaution taken to an extreme that shows neither respect for the importance of preserving historical artifacts nor simple common sense, as far less effort would have done the job to render these guns permanently inoperable:




I've saved one of the best of the collection for last, a real bruiser of a super heavy tank, the M103 Heavy Tank designed like its British counterpart the Conqueror as a reaction to the Soviet IS-III and T-10M heavy tanks. Mounting a massive 120mm main gun that was so hefty it required a massive turret and a second loader to help handle the shells for this armor-smashing brute. 

An unsuccessful machine in many ways, the M103 soldiered on into the 1960s, finding its way into the hands of the U.S. Marine Corps in the fine old tradition of the Army handing the Marines their hand-me-down weapons, this example has been restored to include its original turret art from its last days as a Marine Corps vehicle:










Like the Conqueror the M103 is MASSIVE seen up close and in person. Its distinctive hull and turret design is almost retro science fiction in styling, and i for one think the M103 would be the perfect basis for a sci-fi conversion project!

Finally, showcased in the parking lot of the main buildings is a machine that nearly got the late Jaques Littlefield in some serious hot water with the U.S. Customs and federal law enforcement authorities when it turned up on the docks here in the U.S.! This Scud mobile missile launcher was in fact a perfect non-functioning copy of an operational Scud, being designed to train the maintenance crews of the Scuds, so every (non-functional) component had to be visually identical to the working version, and in precisely the exact same place in relationship to all the other bits. 

Needless to say, when this beastie arrived on the docks, all kinds of alarms went off, and Jaques had to do some explaining even though IIRC he'd already briefed his contacts of what precisely was coming and no, it does NOT actually work, so everybody remain calm!

Again a massive machine iconic of the Cold War era and of the first Gulf War, this is the last of my photos from my final foray to the Littlefield collection before it was sadly broken up:



Next up: Works in progress, more recovered photos, and other mischief: