Thursday, January 31, 2013

Something Old Something New & All 15mm!

15mm Mania!

My first encounter with 15mm sci-fi figures was waaay back in the 1970s when Martian Metals introduced their officially-sanctioned line of figures for the classic sci-fi roleplaying game Traveller.The figures were so intriguing to me at the time, especially as I also came across a copy of R. Mark Ratner's Space Marines rules for sci-fi ground combat. I already had a growing collection of the classic 1/72 scale Starguard! figures from McEwan Miniatures and was satisfied with those for their intended game, however as there were no official figures for Space Marines to be had, and the new offerings from Martian Metals looked a bit more techie and appropriate for the human factions from Space Marines, I tried to collect enough figures to have a go. 

Alas, it was not to be. While the Zhodani and Terran troops were quite nice, I could never seem to run to ground enough blister packs at the local game stores to build up my forces to the level I wanted. This was further stymied by my suffering from the all-too-common miniatures gamer affliction known as "Oh! SHINY!" which drew my attention to newly emerging distractions like Ral Partha fantasy figures, new Starguard models, and the latest Grenadier Models Gamma World miniatures. After a number of false starts, I eventually sold off my accumulated Martian Metals figures enmasse at a convention flea market several years later, and resolved myself to stick to Starguard!, a resolve that collapsed in the 1980s with the arrival of Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader and 28mm sci-fi figures.

Well, now we fast forward through several thousand 28mm figures sci-fi, fantasy, and historical to 2010, and the sudden rise of such 15mm sci-fi makers as Khurasan Miniatures, Rebel Miniatures, Blue Moon Manufacturing, and the rediscovery o fthe classic 15mm Laserburn figures from the UK, the later of which in fact I'd acquired a few random sets of during my first unsuccessful foray into this handy scale (and sold off along with all those Zhodani and friends from Martian Metals). The level of sculpting, the amount of detailing, and the production quality of the offerings from these new, upstarts was breathtaking, so much so I decided that I just had to have 'em, as 28mm figures were beginning to take up too much space since the Significantly Better Half and I became empty nesters, returned to California and downsized our living quarters to discourage any of the Ungrateful Offspring from trying to return to the parental nest. The price points were also extremely attractive, as one could get an entire squad of 15mm troopers for the cost of a single 28mm figure! 

And so it began, my frenzied acquisition mania for 15mm figures! I scoured EBay as well as watched TMP The Miniatures Page with baited breath for the latest announcement from Khurasan Miniatures concerning Jon's splendid and highly imaginative figure lines (as of this writing, I am hoping he'll be releasing the Wave 2 of his Kark troopers, alien sharkmen of whom I already have a small brigade's worth of basic riflemen, and who now need some fire support to be a properly balanced op-for for my assorted human detachments). I also began to revisit my sci-fi gaming roots once again with the art of "Mottainai," otherwise known as kitbashing to create the necessary vehicular support for my growing 15mm hordes.

What follows are some of the results of my efforts these past two years now to build up enough 15mm troops, tanks, and such for some serious mass battles the like of which I haven't managed to run in years. The collection continues to grow, built from various resources including commercially available figure lines, converted toys, and kitbashed original vehicles of every sort.

First of all, cheap diecast toy vehicles can be your FRIENDS when it comes to 15mm sci-fi wargaming! so these buggies are what happens when Matchbox toys run afoul of my bits box, a tube of crazy glue, and a deranged mind:

Two are armed with an auto-fire capable heavy grenade launcher system, while the one in the center of the group has a heavy caliber recoilless rifle:

The crew figures for these buggies are from the classic Laserburn line still produced in the UK. The recoilless rifle was built up from a piece of tubing, a plastic bead, a spare engine vent, and the gun shield was part of a tiny "box scale" kit of the Apollo space capsule(!). Cheap as dirt, and a fast and easy conversion to build up and make ready for deployment on the game table a handy fast attack asset. Of course, the poor footsloggers need to get around, so I turned to some old Matchbox armored trucks for a handy and simple conversion to produce some dual purpose weapon carriers/personnel carriers:

 The troops in this shot are Khurasan Miniatures Garn, large spacefaring T-rex with guns larger than a human and a helluvalot MEANER to say the least. Garn are according to Khurasan Miniatures willing mercenaries if you can meet their fees (and keep them fed!). Six Garn need the space a dozen fully loaded human soldiers would normally occupy, just to give you an idea of the scale of the Garn and the vehicles they're approaching for a ride:

Obviously, the Garn are too big to hitch a ride on the dune buggies:

The point of this force is ultimately that the vehicles will be part of a much larger light mechanized low to mid tech combat brigade. The brigade will when finished include armor, artillery, anti-aircraft, command, and motorized infantry as well as the recon buggies and the weapons carriers shown here. I had acquired some perfect conversion candidates for the tanks and personnel carriers, some cheap as mud diecast tanks and 4x4 armored cars attached to a tube of candy found in a Big Lots store:

I've finished these since I took these "before" shots of th etanks and APCs, but you'll just have to wait until Part II of this installment! Stay tuned, space possums!