Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Beastly Beasts!

A quick entry to show that yes, I do indeed do fantasy subjects every now and again, in this case a bit of a vanity project of mine, a Chaos Beastman horde built up using every beastly beast of a bestial beastman figure I could scrounge up from my mountain of unpainted lead for your consideration:

The Horde itself (but a bit understrength at the moment due to some annoying breakages discovered after unpacking for a quick photo shoot!). Beastly beastmen in the center, two Chaos Monstrosities on the right, and a pack of Chaos Hounds on the left surging forward to the attack! 

Now for some closeups of individual figures and units:

Now for the leadership of the horde, a Great Beastlyman (female Gnoll, actually, and a really big and MEAN one too!), and a shaman. The former from Wizards of the Coast's Chainmail series IIRC, and the later a Games Sweatshop figure I picked up a few years back when I was considering in a moment of weakness to jump back into Warhamster Fantasy Bumble Latest Annual Edition (then came to my senses as no sooner had I all but finished this horde, when the Beastman army book changed all over again, eliminating a whole bunch of my troops altogether):

Here are the two Chaos Monstrosities, one truly monstrous (the classic Chronopia Dwarf Dark Tusk Totem beast), and one truly a running jest in our family about the continuing delusions of grandeur of our Yorkshire Terrier, Seth:

Yes, that is an actual 28mm scale Yorkshire Terrier miniature, made by my old gute kameraden Josef Ochmann and available through Obelisk Miniatures as part of a set of contemporary urban gangsters Josef makes for his Obelisk GangStars line. The assorted casualties who made the mistake of getting in Seth's way are a mix of old Citadel Miniatures (dead Chaos warrior), Heritage Lord of the Rings (dead humans), and Grenadier Miniatures (dying Gnoll; clearly Seth isn't too selective as to his victims, it being provocation enough that they got in Seth's way!).

One last closeup, and it's a wrap for tonight:

Thanks all for stopping by! Next up, a visual tour through my Great War collection of French and German forces, from chars legere to stosstruppen! Here's a sneak peak:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Starship Size Comparison as Promised on TMP

OK. So a recent conversation on The Miniatures Page aka TMP concerned the relative sizes of the classic 1970s vintage starship miniatures from the Starguard! game universe still produced by Reviresco and more current offerings from various sources including Ground Zero Games. These particular ships were made for one of the very first published sets of wargame rules for starship combat using miniatures, Star War 2250 A.D., which was first published in 1974. 

Being the generous sort of furry reprobate, I promised I'd post a few pix of these old classics of my misspent youth with more modern offerings. After flailing around in our storage unit, I failed to locate my dratted GZG ships, but I *did* locate a few others that will do the job I reckon, so without further ado, here are the photos, and pardon any roughness, as I was using my iPhone-from-Hell to get the job done, and that infernal contraption isn't always as cooperative as the nice man at the Apple store promised it would be:

So here in this group shot we have from left to right, top to bottom the following ships and their makers:

First Row:

1) Silent Death: The Next Millennium (SD:TNM) Stingray class 
     warhound (escort).

2) SD:TNM Ushas class bulk cruiser.

3) SD:TNM Saladin class escort carrier.

4) Irregular Miniatures (UK) Hunter class scout.

Second Row:

5) SD:TNM Eagle class gunboat.

6) Reviresco Amazon Needle Ship with auxiliary drive pod.

7) Reviresco Amazon Needle Ship with assault pod.

8) Reviresco Federation Light Cruiser (on the Reviresco website 
     the Federation frigate and light cruiser photos have been 
     swapped, so caveat emptor!). This one has been painted to act
     as a stand in for a House Tokugawa light gunboat in SD:TNM.

9) Reviresco Federation Battlecruiser. This too has been repainted 
    to serve as a proxy for a House Tokugawa heavy gunboat in 

10) Monday Knight Productions Entomalian Mantis class 
      battleship. Also of late 1970s vintage, this ship and its 
      counterparts were originally made by Superior Miniatures. 
      After a number of years out of circulation, Monday Knight 
      Productions brought them back to us thanks to the efforts of 
      Mr. Bill Char of Hawaii, to whom many scores of starship 
      gaming fanatics such as myself are eternally grateful!

Third Row: 

11) SD:TNM Djinn class heavy fighter. 

12) SD:TNM Stinger class light strike fighter.

13 - 15) A trio of Reviresco Rep-Com Armed Merchants. This is a 
              super handy generic cargo ship suitable for Traveller 
              RPGs or convoy scenarios for Full Thrust or SD:TNM in
              equal measure. Here's a closeup shot of the Rep-Com 
             Armed Merchants painted up as House Red Star proxies 
              for SD:TNM:

The other two miniatures are (left) the Chupacabra light fighter and (right) the aforementioned Djinn heavy fighter from SD:TNM

Continuing the countdown, here is the original group shot for reference again:

Bottom Row:

16) SD:TNM Jii medium fighter.

17) SD:TNM Chupacabra light fighter.

18) SD:TNM Night Brood Manta heavy fighter.

19) SD:TNM Night Brood Tiger Moth fighter.

20) SD:TNM Night Brood Shaggai light fighter

21) SD:TNM Death Wind medium fighter.

22) SD:TNM Havok class medium fighter.

Now for some closeups:

The last photo in this group includes the Sigurd Archdiocese Longboat from SD:TNM, and yes, it is essentially what you get when a starship crosses with a Viking longboat…

One last closeup comparison, the two variants of the Amazon Needle Ships confronting the Night Brood bioships from SD:TNM:

So hopefully this quick and dirty blog entry will help anyone who is wondering how the classic starship miniatures from the earliest days of science fiction miniature wargaming compare to more modern offerings. I promise I'll have another crack at our storage unit from Hell to see if I can locate my GZG ships for some more comparison shots. In the mean time, the bright yellow Entomalian Mantis-class battleship is mounted on a Geo-Hex movement base for Full Thrust, and as Geo-Hex was once upon a time the U.S. licensee for GZGs Full Thrust line, the bases were designed for GZG ships from the get-go, so those of you who have examples of the Geo-Hex bases should have a very clear idea by now as to the size and proportions of the vintage starship miniatures from the classic Starguard! game universe.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

WW2 Winter Wonderland Warfare in Miniature!

So somebody asked me if I was up for painting AFVs and such for the Eastern Front during the winter. This question prompted me to attend to a neglected photo shoot today of a work-in-progress project of mine, a vanity project of sorts that was started by the acquisition of a whole pile of miniature display snow covered pine trees and such for 70% off the normal retail price…

So, without further introductory delay, here's what I've done so far, with more on the way and infantry being the one big purchase I'll need to make to wrap up this little foray into the dreaded Russian winter of 1942-43 in 1/72 scale…

"Scouting for the fascist invaders…"

"… we seek them with caution, ever vigilant to alert our gallant comrades of their presence…"

"… where could they be, those loathsome invaders of our beloved Motherland?"

The Luftwaffe is on the prowl...

… and spots the Bolsheviks up to no good!

"They are Red heavy tanks! Quick! Alert the kampfgruppe commander at once!"

"The jig is up, comrades! Forward! Make haste! We must close with the enemy before their air force can stop us!"

"Za Rodina! Forward! To the West!"

"Crush the fascist vipers! We will show them a thing or two in our new gifts from the British workers!"

"We are Red Guards! Fear us, oh vile fascist invaders of our Motherland! Forward! For the workers and peasants!"

"Achtung! Bolshevik panzers!"

"Armor piercing! Traverse turret to 2 o'clock! Engage the lead tank!"

"Panzer grenadiers, vorwarts!"

The panzer grenadiers have already debused and spread into the woods...

A Red Army anti tank gun waits in ambush for the panzers to come into range...

While a desperate German Wehrmacht deploys catered Russian field guns to try and cope with the better armored Russian heavy tanks...

"How dare you invade our Motherland! Die, you fascist viper!"

"Gutentag, mein herr!"

And there you have it, a mix of Pegasus fast build KV-1S's, BA-6s, HaT Industrie F-22 76.2mm field guns, a Skytrex 57mm anti-tank gun, repainted Corgi die cast Panzer IV Auf. F and Churchill Mk. IIIs (and one with a Foundry Russian tank commander suitably attired for winter!), Esci Sdkfz 251 halftracks one armed with a captured Russian PTRD anti-tank rifle, a lone PST kit of the massive KV-2 "Dreadnought" also suitably crewed by a Foundry Russian tank commander figure in an appropriately snug sheepskin coat, an Airfix Focke-Wulf FW189 "Flying Eye," and a Revell Polikarpov I-16 (to which I added some underwing rockets). 

One of these days I'll finish this project, and actually run a game or three set in the bitter Russian winter on the Eastern Front during the dark, freezing days of 1942-43. The goal is to have a Russian force comprised of a hodge lodge of AFVs none of which is a T-34, and an equally desperate German force the infantry of which look particularly miserable and desperate due to the sub zero temperature of the Russian winter, equipped with a gaggle of under gunned and outnumbered panzers.

Next up: Darkest Star Games has begun a Kickstarter to push the expansion of their plans to upscale all of the classic Adler 6mm sci fi vehicles and figures to 15mm, and I just got my grasping talons on a bunch of them, and those very models are outside, having been sprayed several hours ago with their primer coat...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Saved From the Internets!

So I was looking for something else, performing an image search and lo and behold from the mists of the internets emerged a long lost photograph of a long sold off kit bash of mine. Refining the search parameters, I succeeded in locating and rescuing various and sundry photos of past projects done for fun and profit in years past while in Texas in what now seems like another lifetime ago. For your amusement and consideration, a trip down the memory lane of Recycling With an Attitude, beginning with an anti grav tank made from an empty deodorant container with a dental floss container for a turret:

The figures are a Metal Magic Space Lords Wartech (gunmetal grey armor) and a second generation Warhammmer 40,000 Rogue Trader Space Marine figure with his bolter enhanced by the simple expedient of adding the "male" half of a barrel clasp to extend the barrel of his otherwise ridiculously stubby gun!

The next vehicle is an anti-grav tank hunter made from a plastic container the origins of which I simply cannot remember, with lots of 1/35 scale tank stowage added for an extra layer of realism for a sci fi armored fighting vehicle:

Next up, some anti grav speeders made from travel size shampoo bottles, assorted plastic beads, model parts, and whatever else wasn't able to escape my grasp from the parts box:

And when one gets ahold of an empty full sized shampoo bottle, large anti grav attack craft are as likely to emerge as starships or aerospace fighters:

While I ran my little side business at the Frisco Merchantile, I made a run of imposing war walkers thanks to coming across a bargain priced line of Lego robot toy construction sets that made the perfect basic set of legs and robotic feet for walking mechanical fighting machines of the far and distant future:

While I was running Grayhawk Studios at the Frisco Merchantile, in addition to ready made models for collectors and wargamers alike, I took orders for custom built models from private clients. I would build a particular model to serve as a stand in for a particular game system, the only limitation being that the execution of the model was left up to me, but otherwise the model was made to be as close to the physical size as the original, and the armament and such would be easily recognizable to the onlooker. Here are some of those custom projects for your enjoyment, starting with a Victorian sci fi (VSF) steam tank made originally for Ed Teixeira of Two Hour Wargames:

Finally, one of my guilty pleasures in life is painting up French tanks of the two World Wars, as their colorful, even downright garish camouflage patterns simply cannot be beat, with the added bonus that the tactical markings used by the French were also uniquely colorful to say the least, so the end result is also a piece of eye candy on the tabletop! Give me a pile of French tanks to paint up from either World War and I'm a very happy little fellow indeed! As it was, I painted up quite a few sets of the HaT Industrie 1/72 scale fast build format Renault FT-17 light tank and sold the results through Grayhawk Studios during the years in the wilds of North Texas, including a number I converted to the modified World War 2 standard of rearming the machine gun armed FT-17s with a 7.5mm Reibel machine gun replacing the First World War vintage Hotchkiss machine gun that comes with the HaT kit.

The little two man 6 ton Char Legere Renault FT-17 is the granddaddy of the modern battle tank. It was the first combat tank to incorporate the layout of crew and revolving turret containing the main armament of the tank forward, engine to the rear that virtually every tank since has followed. Some 3,000 of these were made during the First World War and in the immediate years after the Armistice, and the FT-17 turned up in numerous armies after the First World War ended, and again in the French Army during the opening years of World War 2. The following are a mix of 28mm scale Char D1 infantry tanks from BEF Miniatures (now IIRC Warlord Games), and the HaT FT-17 kits finished in a mixture of Great War and Early World War 2 styles of camouflage and markings. You can tell the World War 2 variants from the Great War variety of FT-17s by the presence of the tricolor French cockade (aka roundels) on the later refurbished vehicles:

The last two photos in the series above are the 28mm scale Char D1 with their distinctive inverted "V" radio masts, and 1/76 scale Matchbox Char B1bis 32 ton assault tanks I painted up many years ago when these were the only decent plastic model kits of this unique French combat vehicle available. I finished these Chars B1bis in batches as I managed to procure the kits in ones and twos, relying upon the best available color guides I could locate at the time. The irony was that the finish of French tanks during the chaotic period of French rearmament and the disastrous six weeks of fighting in May-June 1940 that ended in a spectacular German strategic victory was varied, from monotone green or gray to elaborate multi-colored patterns applied at different factories or at the unit level. 

The result is the hodgepodge of colors and patterns seen in this group, from the prewar "plucked grape stem" ocher over army green outlined in black in the group in the upper right of the photo, to the horizontal bands of colors, to basic drab army brown over army green in the rear and lower left of the photo, to one-off schemes based upon the needs of experimentation or propaganda. An example of this is the case of the Char B1bis named after the famous French First World War commander of colonial troops, General Charles Mangin. This unique Char B1bis was painted in an overall khaki sand color echoing the khaki uniforms worn by Mangin and his soldiers from France's Armee de Afrique. 

The lone Char B1bis in the lower right of the photo is the best representation I was able to produce at the time based upon one (1) photograph of the Char B1bis "Mangin" I located on the internet on a French website. This group was sold off when I began to receive the splendid (and noticeably larger) 1/72 scale white metal Char B1bis kits I commissioned from Reviresco, as I had reached the end of my patience with not having a proper 1/72 scale model of the Char B1bis available here in the U.S., and felt that we American hobbyists deserved to have nice toys too, so I simply took matters into my own hands... 

I finished the D1s in the most common pattern seen on these obsolescent three man infantry tanks in May-June 1940, a peculiarly French pattern of horizontal bands of various camouflage colors. The Char D1s were very simply marked during this period, usually only a marticule (military serial number) and white two-digit tactical numbers. They performed surprisingly well for so aged a design, their short 47mm main gun proving quite lethal in 1940, and even in 1943 when the last D1s went into action with the Free French forces in North Africa against the Afrika Korps after Operation Torch, one of the old dinosaurs actually knocking out a Panzer IV during one engagement!

The remainder of the recovered photos are a grab bag of various subjects, from a shot of my 1/72 scale ArmourFast Sturmgeschutz III to assorted sci fi and fantasy figures I've painted over the years. There are Khurasan Miniatures 28mm Garn, a Dorvac powered armor suit model kit converted into an intimidating Imperial mecha for Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader, a whole brigade of large armored hovercraft made to order for Mr. Dean Shaw complete with everything from troop carriers to a mobile recovery and repair workshop vehicle, and various spaceship miniatures and models I've painted up for Silent Death: The Next Millennium, mostly classic starships models from Star War 2250 A.D. from Reviresco.

 Like all the rest of the photos I've rescued from the forgotten corners of the internets, I share them with you all now in the hope that it might amuse and inspire you all in equal measure:

Khurasan Miniatures 28mm Garn. The Garn in the left foreground has had his gun modified into something much nastier by simply adding a plastic bead and model part to the front end...

"DIE, YOU SCUM SUCKING ALIEN HERETICS!!!" Dorvac anime fighting suit model repurposed into a menacing and cry large Imperial war walker for the grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader…

So my old buddy Dean Shaw showed up one day with a box full of old early technology cellular phone cradles and said, "Make me a bunch of hovercraft for Starguard!" So, I did just that...

Everything in the brigade from soup to nuts, from a command vehicle to dedicated tank busters and personnel carriers. It's amazing what one can do with a box full of old telephone cradles...

ArmourFast 1/72 scale Sturmgeshutz III, a part of my slowly growing late WW2 German kampfgruppe. These were built straight out of the box, and they are good, solid, easy to build kits of this ubiquitous German tank destroyer from WW2.

Dwarf Dark Tusk Clan Totem beast and handler from back in the days of playing Chronopia, which was/is actually a fun game to play (and my Dwarves didn't do all that badly despite my atrocious die rolling!). I still have my Dwarf army and old Harly here, as it's a very large and impressive model of a giant werebeast with an attitude...

Plastic 28mm scale Space Rangers from back in the day. EM4 Miniatures of the U.K. produces these now, and they are still good value for the money even if the poses are limited to one trooper and one officer. Several different guns besides the basic assault rifle shown here are included, so there is some variance in appearance possible despite the otherwise static pose.

Travel shampoo bottle turned into a handy military transport ship for Silent Death...

Reviresco Federation Stonewall Jackson class battlecruiser repurposed as a proxy for a House Tokugawa heavy gunboat or heavy military transport as required. Sometimes the conversion is all a matter of the paint job...

This is a Fletcher class destroyer from Silent Death painted up in the colors of House Colos. Would you all believe that I made this picture by placing the actual miniature on my old flat plate scanner, then laying an Astronomy Magazine calendar image on top of it, and scanning the two like a page from a book? I kid you not!

Reviresco Imperial Terran Wasps painted as Hayabusa proxies for Silent Death: The Next Millennium, and a plastic mini model of a White Comet Empire attack bomber from Space Battleship Yamato. This ship that looks like a horseshoe crab with guns comes with another such mini fighter kit include in the original injection moulded plastic model kit of the Earth Defense Forces Main Battleship kit still available currently from HobbyLink Japan. The battleship itself is quite a nice kit for a 70s vintage moulding, and great value for the money at less than $5.00 U.S., and makes a great large warship model for games of Silent Death or for that matter, outdoor games of Full Thrust if you can work out the movement stands! You can look them up here:

Necessity is the mother of invention, and all I had to do to convert a Constellation class frigate into an FTL tender for the Silent Death: Campaign System was add some detailing panels left over from another project. Bam! Instant FTL Tender.

Thanks for stopping by and viewing the assorted blasts from my model making and wargaming past! Next time 'round I'll be doing a number of posts in succession focusing on specific historical subjects, a sort of photographic housecleaning/chronicling of different subjects from my collection, starting with showing you all what happens when I acquire a whole bunch of snow covered model pine trees for dirt cheap at the local Michael's craft store on closeout sale…


Another search revealed a few more long lost photos for everyone's consideration and hopefully, *inspiration* to Recycle With An Attitude!

I believe everyone remembers the destroyer Jericho from House Red Star, my trusty kit bashed escort ship made for Silent Death: The Next Millennium out of an empty deodorant container. I could be wrong here, but I don't believe that I have previously posted this image, a view of the Jericho in all her menace passing under your hull, thundering into action with all the bravado one expects from Red Star braves!

These little 1/72 scale gems are for Starguard!, that granddaddy of all science fiction ground combat miniatures games. I made these from a pair of empty mini mint containers from Target, and to this day I deeply regret not having bought an entire case of the dratted things, as they make the perfect anti-grav skimmer platforms as you can see. These two are made up as fire support/fast attack skimmers for the Ameron Republic from Starguard! The Amerons are the religious fanatics in the Starguard! universe inspired by the friendlies from Gordon R. Dickson's classic military sci fi series of Dorsai! novels from the '60s and 70s. The Amerons rely upon mass of numbers and intensely held religious convictions to make up for their lack of advanced technology, as well as a heavy dose of ancient human asymmetric warfare chicanery and a willingness to use their planet's natural resources wealth to play one rival off against another. 

I adapted weapons from a variety of sources to arm up these lil' nasties, and some Ameron basic figures cut from their cast on bases and bent to fit their seating. These were very easy to make, actually as are all grav vehicles, really, and drat it all, WHY DIDN'T I BUY A CASE OF THESE MINT CONTAINERS WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE?!!! AGGGHHH!!

Here's a very handy warbot made from a simple plastic kit aimed at younger hobbyists. The 'bot was very basic, like a stick figure, and I just added more firepower from my bits box to achieve the final result. The figure is a 28mm not-Han Solo from waaay back in the late '70s made by Garrion Miniatures IIRC, part of a series aimed at players of Traveller. I acquired a small set of these classic figures from my old friend and sci fi wargaming mentor Ray Phillips, who has since retired from gaming to enjoy his status as grandfather and patriarch of his extended family, and remains a respected mentor and friend to this diehard practitioner of the fine art of making things out of things. Ray's own kit bashes for Starguard! so long ago inspired me to pursue this creative activity as I have, his use of a Roco Minitanks T-34 chassis, a gum ball machine toy capsule bubble, two Ralnai, and a pintle mounted laser cannon stay etched in my imagination to the present day.

I may have posted these before, but just in case I didn't, this is what happens when an empty dental floss container meets a travel sized shampoo container, and one adds the classic pennant colors of the Royal Tank Corps to a brass wire radio antenna...

A heavy 28mm grav tank made from an empty cheese container for the hull, a plastic Christmas ornament for a turret, and a figure base and ear exam cone from the doctor's office for a neutron ray energy cannon as the main gun.

Anyone remember those ancient Budget Gourmet microwaveable dinners from the 1970s? Well, those early microwaveable plastic plates were hard plastic, and when one glued two together an armored hover or grav tank hull instantly emerged. On this particular model I used an empty medicine inhaler I found in a parking lot in North Texas one day, and a large action figure rail gun rifle I found at a garage sale for the main armament. The intake fan covers located in each corner of the top hull deck are worn out electric shaver blade covers, a handy little item that makes for perfect intake fan covers whether for building ventilation systems or the lift fans on a hover tank such as this beast. A few other few-gaws and model tank stowage bits, and here you have an instant heavy hover main battle tank for sci fi wargaming. 

When Iw as running Greyhawk Studios in Frisco, texas, I had a client request for a Land Raider proxy. My solution was the Grav Raider, an anti-grav counts-as-a-Land-Raider brute of a machine for my old client's Ultramarines chapter contingent complete with Terminator honors, twin heavy blotters in the TC's cupola, a Hunter-Killer missile, and custom main armament of Lascannons paired to autocannons on the sponson mounts. The hull was a single piece, a container for a Lego robot toy I picked up for a song at a local Ross or Marshall's store (or T.J. Maxx, as all three were frequent favorite localities for my kit bashing materials hunts in addition to the neighbors' recycling bins).

Wow. I was a busy little fellow while we lived in the wilds of North Texas...