Η λίστα ιστολογίων μου

Κυριακή, 26 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

Giant Cat Spotted Fever

Happy Holidays all (or y'all as they would say south of the Mason-Dixon line). Work is over for a few days, I'm catching up on my sleep and more than catching up with my food. Blame my mother in law. Her cooking is excellent.

With work being hectic before the holidays I did not have much time to complete any of my ongoing projects. However, I did manage to finish painting and weathering one of Italeri's quick-build Panther Gs. Great kit, easy to build. My main problem was the lack of schurtzen, but that was easily rectified with plastic card.

I've opted to go with the late war "ambush" type camouflage. As usual, I washed with Devlan Mud, did some drybrushing with a medium grey, and some weathering with diluted British Dark Earth. I plan to make an almost full troop of 3 tanks. For games in the Western front, this will be very difficult for the Allied player, as Panthers tend to dominate due to their long range, good mobility and sloping armour. But for Eastern Front games, with those nasty T-34/85s in large numbers, a troop is not too bad. Two of the models will be the Italeri easy kits and one the more detailed Revell Panther G. It's a great little kit and very easy to build despite the large number of parts.
Here is the "to do pile" on my modeling desk. A couple of Pegasus T-34s, 2 Russian light tanks, some terrain, an Armourfast Hanomag and one more Panther G. I hope I'll get at least some of them done by the end of my vacation (although the Mrs. has other ideas as to what constitutes quality time).
Finally, this being Plane Month and all, I could not avoid posting a picture of an airplane, although this particular model was was completed a couple of months ago. This is an Airfix Hurricane Mk. II, a rather old mold (probably older than me) but a very satisfying build regardless. There are tons of Hurricane decal sheets out there and I have more than a few. This was done as an all-black Mk. IIb night intruder. If you have not build an Airfix Hurricane, go out there and buy one. With some TLC you'll have a great model for the shelf or the wargames table.

Now I'm off to get some some soda to help with the indigestion. Have a great night y'all from Athens.

Παρασκευή, 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

Sturmpanzer IV

Sturmpanzer IV (otherwise known as the Brummbär by the Allies but not by the Germans) is one of the most misunderstood tanks in my part of the world. First of all, we've seen whole platoons of StuPas take the field. With only 300-some built, whole platoons at battalion or regimental-level games is kinda strange. Even a platoon might be stretching it in fact. The weirdness reaches new levels when the StuPas take the field and are used as heavy tanks. Yes, that's a mighty BFG they are packing (150mm L/12) but it fires low velocity rounds. They might ruin your day if they hit you, but you have to move real close to have any chance of getting a hit on a mobile target like, say, a tank. So far, I've never heard or seen of a StuPa being used for what it was originally intended; providing close support and reducing fortified buildings and strongpoints.

Still, its an impressive tank and a beautiful one, in a weird, boxy way. I'm pretty sure that Dragon or Trumpeter has issued a brand-new, highly accurate Brummbär but my favourite model has always been the old Esci kit, the first one with length-and-link tracks I've ever built. When Esci went the way of the Dodo, the molds went here and there, ended up with Italeri (or Italieri as it was then known). It's an easy enough kit to build. The tracks are not up to Revell's standards, but with some care and choice swear words everything fits.

The kit offers some interesting marking options and I tried to do the one from Caen from (Sturmpanzer Abteilung 217) but my airbrush skills are not up to it. So, I made the best of the situation and made a fictional, yet interesting camouflage. I followed up with a layer of Future (called Pronto in Greece), a wash of Devlan Mud, drybrushing with Dark Gull Grey to dull the colours and blend everything together and then some very diluted British Dark Earth to dirty things up even more. A final coat of matte varnish made my Stupa look like its been through intense and long combat. Considering the low number of vehicles manufactured, this is not an unlikely proposition. The tracks were painted black, drybrushed with Boltgun Metal, washed with diluted Rust and then drybrused with Boltgun Metal again, but more lightly this time. The figure was from a Preiser set.

So, that's my Sturmpanzer IV. I'll only build one of them, and this was a lot of fun. Brought a lot of memories back from my childhood years too. I hope you enjoy it as much.

Πέμπτη, 9 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

The Germans are coming...

I finally put the finishing touches on my late-war German platoon. Total of 33 figures. Mostly Pegasus Waffen SS (Sets 1&2) with some Italeri Elite German Troops and Caesar Panzergrenadiers (Sets 1&2). This allowed for a great variety of poses. The command element is from Elhiem Miniatures (Panzer Lehr Command Group and Medic). All the figures were painted in Oak Leaf pattern camo.

All in all it was a rewarding experience. Pegasus and Caesar figures are a pleasure to paint. The Elhiem figs are a bit chunky but perfectly serviceable for wargaming. What next? Well, the yanks' second squad is primed and ready to be painted. I also received a few company-level assets for the Germans (sniper, spotter, FAO team, sustained-fire MGs, 81mm mortar, etc.) but I'll probably wait a bit till I get around to them. For now, I'm trying to finish some of the backlog of armour on my desk. I put the last touches on an Esci Brumbar (StuPa IV; pictures to follow soon) but I think I'll be back to painting figs soon.

Δευτέρα, 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

Helping out the Mrs.

Mrs. Greek Geek is a high school arts teacher. That means that she has a sympathetic eye towards my wargaming and modeling hobbies. I also means that I have to put up with weird comments about colour selection and composition when it comes to camouflage.

She has been trying to find new projects for her high school classes and so I recommended trying out paper terrain. I had recently downloaded a few free paper terrain files from DriveThroughRPG and so we printed them out in black and white on plain paper. Mrs. Geek was ecstatic. She would print the files and have her students paint them, glue them together and make a small medieval village.

Off I was scouring DriveThroughRPG and The Miniatures Page trying to find stuff and reviews (how often will the wife actually ASK you to spend money on modeling stuff?). I settled down to Dave Graffam Models. Sure, WorldWorks terrain looked absolutely spectacular but we're after a town here... And Dave's paper models have an added advantage; many are layered models, meaning that although you buy one model, you have the option of changing its appearance. Pretty big deal if you ask me. Also, you can resize the files printing terrain for 15mm to 30mm. Most are fantasy models (also suitable for medieval Europe) but there are some that are good for WWII and many for sci-fi.

So, look around and see if anything works for you. We got a couple of buildings and I'll probably spend some of my Christmas holidays making a village for my fantasy wargaming. I already have Solomon Kane painted up. All I need to find is some witches (or ratmen, or fishmen) to burn.

Τετάρτη, 1 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

My Life in Ruins

Let's face it, I don't have Thanos' talent when it comes to making terrain. But being overworked and underpaid, I can't afford cool resin terrain, so I have to make best of what I have. What I had was a bunch of leftover pieces from Matchbox/Revell kits and a small Italeri kit aptly named Walls and Ruins. And several crappy CDs I'd gotten with the Sunday edition of Greek newspapers. Here are the results:

Here I've used the brick wall from the Matchbox Hanomag, a section of wall from (I think) the 17-pounder set, the sandbags from the Airfix Forward Command post, some plastic card, balsa wood and various kinds of sand used to make the ground base.

Here is just a section from the Walls and Ruins set. I've filled the back with plastic card and filled and sanded the joints between the 2 pieces.

I have a couple of more pieces like that in the works. They might not be the best looking terrain out there, but they are useful and highly resilient. Each one can house about half a squad or a crew-served weapon (mortar or machine gun).

That's all for now from Athens (still uncomfortably warm, still walking around in t-shirts).

Δευτέρα, 29 Νοεμβρίου 2010

Miniatures of some fame (Part I)

Going through some of my figures, I've come across several that have been "inspired" by movies, TV series and books. Here are some of them:

Indiana Jones: Or rather, the "not-Indiana-Jones" available from Elhiem Figures as the American Adventurer. Elhiem Figures has a whole bunch of interesting pulp miniatures and some great WWII stuff. Plus they are super to deal with. I removed Indie's gun and created a whip from thin copper wire and superglue. The knife on the left hand is sculpted rather awkwardly, so I cut it off at the wrist and repositioned it. Other, than that, it's a great miniature to paint and at a price that is hard to beat. Now, let's go kick some Nazi butt.

Mizz Whip: Again from Elhiem Figures. Although not from any particular movie per se, hot Nazi chicks with whips are a mainstay in the pulp genre. Real easy miniature to paint and an excellent foil/love interest for Indiana.

Flash Gordon: Wargames Supply Dump has a series of heroic 28mm miniatures (essentially 30-32 millimeters tall) set in a "not-Flash-Gordon" universe. This is Dick Garrison, a.k.a. Flash Gordon. The miniatures offer excellent value for money and Roger, who owns Wargames Supply Dump, is great to deal with. One of the friendliest persons I've met on the miniature business to date.

Ming the Merciless: Or rather, Khang the Compassionless. Again, from the Dick Garrison series. For it's price (a bit under 2 British pounds) this is an excellent figure. Great sculpting, tons of detail and clean casting. If you are into pulpy sci-fi, you can do much worse, but not easily better.

Alien Queen: "Seventeen days? Hey man, I don't wanna rain on your parade, but we're not gonna last seventeen hours!" Ah, the queenie from Aliens. Sculpted in 15mm scale by Khurasan Miniatures, its one of their Space Demon line. There are several different sculpts on this particular line, some inspired from the Alien franchise and some from Pitch Black. Highly recommended if you are into 15mm science fiction.

That's all for now from (still unseasonably) warm Athens. Goodnight to all.

Σάββατο, 27 Νοεμβρίου 2010

Non-conventional fantasy

By definition, all fantasy in non-conventional, however elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins have become a mainstay of the genre's literature and wargaming. Not so with lionmen. Other than the old (but very good) Red Steel box set for 2nd edition AD&D and Thundercats, humanoid big cats have not featured in any major books or games (if I am wrong, please enlighten me).

So who should my Lion Men face against? Are they good or are they evil? Where do they live? Who are their neighbours? After utilizing my powers of Google-Fu I've come up with a lot of potential enemies and allies for my warband. Rhino-men, hyena-men and jaguar-men, oh my. Before deciding on adversaries, I started to visualize the corner of the world where the battles would take place and how the Lion Men would fit in the greater scheme of things.

Lion Men (and Lion Centaurs) are a group of tribes or hunter-gatherers living in a great savanna plain, somewhere south-east in my fantasy world. To the north lie tall mountains with forbidding heights and treacherous passes. To the south, near the equator, sweltering dark jungles. Due to the image that the lion has in our culture, Lion Men are good and noble.

So who are their opponents? Hyena-Men are definitely good enemies. Splintered Light makes them and I've ordered a skirmish pack from them already. Hyena-Men are the age-old adversary of the Lion-Men. They are cannibalistic, vile creatures that prey on lion cubs (a delicacy for the Hyena-Man palate) and have tamed Terror Birds (think of them as big ostriches) to use as mounts. For centuries the slow war between Hyena-Man and Lion-Man has been waged across the savanna with no side being granted an advantage.

To the periphery of the savanna, I've placed high mountains and forbidding jungles. The mountains are the home of the Lynx-Men and Gryphon-Men. Again, noble and good creatures and allies of the Lion-Men. The jungles are dominated by the Jaguar-Men, distant cousins of the Lynx-Men, given to dark sorcery and necromancy.

Some interesting options also available are Meerkat Men (available from Magister Militum), Dogmen (from 15mm.co.uk), Rhino-Men and more Lion-Men (from East Riding Miniatures) and Snake-Men (from Armies of Arcana). There is still plenty more weirdness out there (Duck-Men anyone) but I think I'll pass for now.

Next step? Make a rough map of the area and start making some scenery. Patches of high grass, copses of trees , a village surrounded by a zarreba... All of this is rather easy to make and not specific enough to limit their use to fantasy wargaming or the particular area (as far as I'm concerned trees are trees). And paint up those Hyena-Men when they show up.

Δευτέρα, 15 Νοεμβρίου 2010

My Lionman Warband

I really like the Song of Blades and Heroes game system. I've started off with the basic rule book and expanded with most of the supplements available. If you are into fantasy skirmish wargaming I highly recommend it. If you are into other periods, they offer a Napoleonics and a Modern version as well. I've gotten both (it's hard to resist at the prices Andrea is charging) but I haven't had a chance to playtest them yet.

Initially I tried to game with 20mm figures. Unfortunately the amount of figures available for 20mm fantasy wargaming is rather low. Lots of humans are available, but the amount of non-human races and monsters available is anywhere between low and pathetic. So I decided to try 15mm-scale figs. After window-shopping and asking around at The Miniatures Page, I settled down to ordering some figs from Splintered Light Miniatures. They offer some skirmish packs, I guess for Song of Blades and Heroes (although you can stat any miniature, SoBH has some lists in every book). I ordered some singles from the excellent Archer Collection, a big troll and the Leonine Blood Pride Warband. Ten figs of Lion men including a Lion Hero and a Lion Centaur Hero, 2 Lion Warriors, 2 Lion Centaurs and 2 Smilodon Warriors. The figures arrived in little time and needless to say I was highly impressed with what I saw. Crisp sculpting and excellent casting with very little flash. In no time they were primed and painting commenced.

Now, when I was thinking of a scale other than 20mm for fantasy wargaming, folks were dead-set against 15mm for skirmish wargaming and RPG use. The figures are too small, they are difficult to distinguish on the table and so on and so forth. Apparently, these aren't. I went for simple bold colours and simple patterns, a wash and highlighting. The results are great for a pack that costs less than many 28mm single figs.

Here are my Lion Centaurs

Here is my my Lion Hero with one of the Centaurs

All in all, great figs for a very very good price. The pack gives you close to 500 points, quite a bit considering the average SoBH is 300 points. The figures are all good solid melee fighters, with high mobility (in the Centaurs) and hard-hitting power (the Smilodons). Ranged firepower is missing, but I'm thinking of getting the Leonine Dark Pride Warband as well. This will provide me with some adversaries for my Leonines (in the form of the "evil", at least in my mind, panthers) and some lions for harassment.

I'll try them out against my dwarven warband when I get the chance (and the gaming table cleaned up). That's all for now from unseasonably warm Athens.

Παρασκευή, 12 Νοεμβρίου 2010

My German TOE

I'm almost finished with my late war German WWII platoon. I still have 6 figures left to paint. My current Table of Organization and equipment is as follows:

Platoon HQ: Junior CO and NCO, 2 runners, medic, radio operator. I've based all of them singly (on 22mm round steel washers) except the medic who is based on a 4X4cm base with a wounded figure. I plan to use the medic more as a marker, going from squad to squad as needed.

Infantry squad: Squad leader (with MP-40), assistant squad leader (with MP-40), rifleman (with MP-40), 4 riflemen (with Kar-98 rifle), machine gunner with MG-34 or MG-42 and assistant gunner (with Kar-98 rifle). All figures are based singly on washers except the machine gunner and assistant gunner who are based on a 4X4cm base. The platoon will have a total of three squads.

The TOE is more indicative of a German Grenadier Battalion (as seen on www.bayonetstrength.150m.com) than an armoured of panzer grenadier battalion. However, I plan to use it for Gepanzert and Grenadier platoons alike. I think that the 2 machine guns present per squad in the armoured platoons would be a game breaker, regardless of the amount of terrain present on the board. I'll probably playtest the 2 MG version eventually, but for now I'll settle for one.

I still have to paint some figures with Panzerfausts, but I'll not bring the total force of each squad to more than 9. I'll probably reduce the number of figures available per squad in scenarios anyways, as I find units at 100% unrealistic under combat conditions.

Τετάρτη, 10 Νοεμβρίου 2010

Break out the 88's

Managed to find sometime today and snap some pictures. Here is the brand new Italeri 88mm Flak 37 with crew. The kit is highly recommended for wargamers. It comes in hard plastic, it is relatively easy to assemble and comes with an almost complete crew (8 instead of 11 which is the full complement). There are some disadvantages though. The gun can only be modeled deployed (unlike the old Airfix kit). The crew is clothed for North Africa. There are some unsightly mold marks in hard to fill places. And that's all that's bad for this kit (not much in fact).

Wanting to get the most bang for my buck I decided to paint the gun in the good old Panzer grey scheme and the crew as Luftwaffe gunners. I like Panzer grey a lot more than the later schemes because it weathers so well. This allows me to use the figs and model from Poland to (probably) late-war France and Ostfront. Whereas it is true that Panzer grey had been replaced by Dunkelgelb by mid '43, Luftwaffe Flak divisions might have stayed with the older colours longer. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The figure with the tropical cap might look a bit weird, but let's say he is just eccentric. I also plan to make an emplacement and some ammo markers for the gun as well. Although not a 100% correct, I'll just use some crates from the Airfix Forward Command Post kit. They look like they are the correct length. That's all for now, from warm and humid Athens...

Τρίτη, 9 Νοεμβρίου 2010

Projects Galore!

Despite life, I've been able to get quite a bit of modeling and painting done lately. I don't maintain the blog as much as I would like, but work, family and assorted woes have seriously cut down on my time. I hope that this will change with the new year.

I finished today my Splintered Light Blood Pride Warband. The mrs. borrowed the camera today so it might be a few days till I get some pictures taken. The miniatures themselves are really easy to paint. With 15mm figs I prefer to go with bold colours followed by a simple wash and the occasional highlight. This way they paint fast and look good enough on the tabletop. I think I'll be ordering some more stuff from Splintered Light Miniatures for Christmas, or a bit earlier. I'm contemplating of either Dark Dwarves or Dark Elves for my next choice.

I've also made significant headway on my WWII projects. My Germans are coming along nicely, with the third squad, medic and platoon command on the bench. Hopefully I'll be done with them by the end of next week. For my table (4'X6') a platoon is pretty much all I need. Of course, I plan to give them several assets. A couple of tripod-mounted MGs, a couple of 8cm mortars for off-table support, a couple of PaKs and a Panzerschreck team or two... But this will have to wait till the opforce of US Infantry gets painted.

My 6mm fantasy army is on the back burner for now. But I think I'll be starting with it again after the Germans are done. Expect pictures soon (hopefully).

Σάββατο, 26 Ιουνίου 2010

My Orc Army

I finally received the (almost) final installment for my 6mm orc army. I initially went with the Irregular Miniatures Orc Army pack. At GBP11 it was hardly a major expe
nse and it provided me with the basis of my units:In Fantasy Rules 3rd Edition using 15mm basing (40X40mm) and ranges is recommended when gaming with 6mm figures. In this case I've broken each unit in two 40X20mm sabots, allowing me to use the figures with either Warmaster or HOTT if I later use any of these sets.
With everything included in the Army deal I was able to make:
  • 2 HeavyChariot Units
  • 2 Light Cavalry Units
  • 3 Handweapon Units
  • 2 Skirmisher Units
Not bad for 11 pounds worth of stuff. To add to this I ordered the Orc Brutes from Microworld Games (Steve is a great guy and his miniatures are topnotch), some more stuff from Irregular and the Goblin Hordes from Baccus. With all these I plan to make an additional 2 skirmisher units, 2 handweapon units, my 2 elite handweapon units, 2 (or maybe more) goblin mobs, 2 more light cavalry units and one more heavy chariot unit. Considering that the average FR!3 game is around 1000 points this is (massive) overkill, but it is easy to get carried away with 6mm stuff.
What else is left? The heavy hitters. Large and Small Monsters in the form of giants and trolls will provide bowfire and melee support, behemoths will provide long-range firepower, together with catapults and a siege tower. I initially didn't want to include heavy cavalry because the Irregular chariots looked so good, but Microworld Games sent some free samples with my order that included excellent boar-mounted heavy goblin cavalry, so that will be included with my next order.
Before I sign off; I'd heard horror stories about Irregular's sculpting. True, they are not up to the standard of Microworld or Baccus figs but they are hardly horrible. They paint well, as can be seen below, they have interesting units and they are practically indestructible, all of which are important points for me.
That's all for now. Hopefully I'll finish my dwarven warband for Song of Blades and Heroes soon so I can post those pics.

Δευτέρα, 21 Ιουνίου 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

After a period of inactivity, due to unforeseen, unavoidable and unfortunate events, I returned to my wargaming and modeling activities. However, the events of the last few months have changed the way I saw my hobby and forced some changes on my plans. First and foremost, I settled down to 2 scales for my gaming needs; 20mm for skirmish games and 6mm for massed battles.

I know that for a lot of people 6mm is not a viable scale, however the (significantly) lower cost and most importantly the time spent painting them is minimal compared to 20mm, let alone 28mm. I've also settled down on the rule sets I'll be using, for now at least. For WWII I'll be using Blitzkrieg Commander for massed battles and Hit the Dirt and Force on Force for skirmishes. For fantasy, Fantasy Rules! 3rd Edition for massed battles and the lovely Song of Blades and Heroes for skirmishes.

By having more realistic expectations for my projects I have managed to complete some of them. Granted, some ingenuity is needed especially in fantasy wargaming, but that's nothing new. I'll be posting pics of my progress soon.