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Σάββατο 10 Μαρτίου 2018

Against The Giants, Part II

As promised, I'm back. The image hosting issues have been thankfully resolved, so here is part deux of Against The Giants (on the cheap).

After the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, intrepid heroes who survive are expected to take on frost giants (and yetis, and white dragons, and a remorhaz) in the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. I had an ancient Ral Partha frost giant, at this point about 15 years in my possession. It was sculpted in Ye Olde Days of true 25mm, and whilst a bit old and clunky, I really liked it. I've stripped it and repainted it twice, always with blue skin and blonde hair. Still, I'd need more than that. Surfing the web, I came across a Russian company called Tehnolog. You can get some of their stuff on eBay, for what seems like pennies, especially if you're a hardened war gamer. They had some promising 54mm figures (1/32 if you cut your teeth on old Airfix). Cost including shipping came to roughly £1 per figure, which was exceptionally reasonable. I ordered some to use for both frost (Vikings) and fire (undead and paladins) giants. Allowing 6-8 weeks for delivery, this is what I got:

Whereas they won't win any prizes, and they have the occasional ejection pin marking, they are highly serviceable. The Vikings soon got based, primed and block-painted. This is what they look like:

They most definitely look the part. There is a Varangian set available as well, and that should give me enough miniatures and poses. Let's face it, if the players are facing more than 10 frost giants a time, it usually results to lots of Wish and Raise Dead spells. In other words, It Does Not End Well (and I know at least one reader of this blog who will get this reference).

Defeat of the Jarl gives the players the opportunity to travel to the Hall of the Fire Giant King. The fire giants needed some more work; namely beards. I've only finished one, as a proof of concept. I originally dallied with the idea of painting them red-skinned and black-bearded, like the fire giants in the Rules Cyclopedia. I went with the classic AD&D black skin and fiery beard instead. Why mess with perfection?

Ok, my lava painting skills leave much to be desired, but these are impressive miniatures. How do they scale up? Pretty darn well.

They even scale up well to my old Ral Partha figure, which works well for 15mm.

So, is that all? Yes for now. There are lots of other giant-kin seen in the G1-3 series. Cloud and stone giants, even a Titan. There are female giants as well; some of the Tehnolog sets include females that can be utilised. The only other giant I could find was an ettin. Actually two, a Reaper Bones one, and a MageKnight one.

Both look the part, and I'm happy with them. I also did myself a small conversion of one of the least known kinds of giants, using two MageKnight minis and lots of green stuff. I really liked the athach from Rules Cyclopedia, so here is my 15mm rendition of one:

That's all from the Greek Geek workbench for now. 

Σάββατο 24 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

Against the Giants, Part I

Yes, I'm alive and still painting (and as usually, overworked). So, if this comes up on your feed, rest assured, the Greek Geek is still well and painting in an undisclosed location in London.

So, Against the Giants. For me, running the G1-3 series has been a Holy Grail of sorts. My normal gaming group never got to the levels required to run it, although I had converted some of it for third edition D&D. My son visited the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, and then decided to adventure in other parts of the Flanaess. But like all Holy Grails, a good portion of the fun in the chase.

In planning for it, I had to find giants, and lots of them (and in 15mm no less). Oh, there are some in the market. Ral Partha has some in their old 25mm line and in their Demonworld series. Alternative Armies has several frost, hill, and stone giants. Older sculpts, but I'm not bothered much by it. Splintered Light has them as well, but shipping from the U.S. plus taxes would be a killer. So, what to do? Research, improvise, and overcome (the thrifty gamer's motto).

So, Hill Giants. Lots of stuff there. Almost any 28mm ogre would make a passable, if not excellent, hill giant. Reaper Bones comes to mind, and they have some lovely sculpts.

These are properly semi barbaric and primitive. Almost like giant humans, but different, and menacing . Next stop was my MageKnight collection.

Not quite the same level of sculpting, but they are even cheaper than Bones (merely gathering dust in the old Bunker), and easy to paint. I don't even bother stripping the Chinese paint jobs. Prime over them and just crack on.

So, how do they look next to a 15mm human?

Suitably scary. Maybe a tad on the large side, but they are giants after all. That is all for now. Expect Part II soon. Sooner than two years that is. Keep on painting! And gaming!

Σάββατο 7 Μαΐου 2016

Here there be dragons!

Back again. My absence was not force upon me by lack of painted lead, but rather because I did not have the time to sit and write anything. Finally, after over a month, I have a full weekend at my disposal, and thus some time to post stuff.

After forty Afghans in various shades of white, cream, grey and sand, I decided to get involved something more colourful. I was not in the mood for Sikhs (which would have been colourful enough) so that meant going back to my fantasy projects. The idea of wargaming Middle Earth (and particularly the area around Mirkwood) has been in my mind for a while. I had originally wanted to do this in 28mm, but 15mm has been my love. I have found most of the miniatures for it, except for good wood elves. I've painted Gandalf the Grey, Beorn, Bilbo and some more of the characters, as well as goblins, but I'll save these for another time. Looking for some minutes, I came across a Ghoul Dragon in 15mm.co.uk, one of my favourite sites for 15mm fantasy and sci-fi goodies. It looked like it would be a lovely wyrm for Mirkwood. Not Smaug, and definitely non canon, but its old Saxon look was close to what I had in mind for my Middle Earth.

I envisioned this as a forgotten wood wyrm, and painted it in a variety of dark greens and black that would match the oppressive environs of Mirkwood.

It is a lovely figure with lots of detail. The wings are separate pieces and attach easily enough. I glued mine with epoxy glue and used green stuff to smooth the joints. The only problem I had was a casting feeder on the back and some loss of detail around it, but that was solved easily enough with some filling and resculpting with a sharp X-Acto knife. It does look the part, and at £10, it did not break the bank (one of the reasons I like 15mm).

Since we are on the subject of dragons, here is one more, painted a few months back. It's a red dragon by Reaper. It comes in their Bones series, and thus also cheap. It did not look like a red dragon in my eyes, but more like a blue, and thus it became a blue dragon. It would not have been a great wyrm in 28mm, but it is more than respectable in 15.

I am happy about the way both turned out. The second won't have much of a place in my Middle Earth games, but it would work pretty well for any other fantasy setting.

Here is a comparison shot of both:

That is all from London for now. Game on!

Κυριακή 29 Νοεμβρίου 2015

Halfway to Kabul

Halfway to Kabul indeed. Well, figuratively. I am still in England, where I plan to stay for a long, long time yet. I even like the weather. However, my plans for some colonial wargaming are coming along rather well. I managed to complete two more units of  the Honorable East India Company and very soon I will have a solid core of forces to take on the Afghans, Sikh and, later on, the mutinous sepoys.

Naturally, I have gone for the coolness and not the complete historical accuracy factor. And what can be cooler than the uniforms of the Bengal Horse Artillery? Maned helmet? Check. Blue, red, white and gold uniform? Check. Dinky 6-pounder guns? Check. So I went ahead and ordered some in 15mm from Black Hat Miniatures, together with a set of their gorgeous 6-pounder guns.

They came out quite well, especially considering they are 15mm. One was slightly miscast, but nothing some "modelling skill required" could not fix. However, I did have trouble with one of the gun carriages. In cleaning  the flash between the spokes, I broke a couple. OK, more than a couple. I binned it and in my next order I'll get some 9-pounders instead as the Bengal Horse Artillery used some in the Sikh Wars. Purists may also note that the gunner handling the shot will have a pretty rough time sliding it down the scales 6-pounder barrel. We don't like gaming with people who notice things like that.

Another part of my order was some Sepoys. You are spoiled for choice. Covered, uncovered shako or foraging cap? Winter or summer uniform? Personally, I like the winter uniform, with the smart blue pants and their red stripe. More like a dress uniform. I also went for covered shakos in order to cut down on the gold braiding. In choosing poses, I prefer the advancing pose. It looks good whether the troops are marching, forming a line or engaged in combat. A command pack, a flank company pack and troop lack gave me my first unit. I painted them up in batches of five each (roughly two afternoons work per batch). In choosing a regiment (which would affect the colour of my facings), I went with the 31st Bengal Native Infantry. A regiment with a long history that fought in the Mahratta Wars, First Afghan War, the Sikh Wars, and the Indian Mutiny on the side of the British. You can read about the regiment's history on Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Queen_Victoria%27s_Own_Rajput_Light_Infantry).

I downloaded some regimental and John Company flags, resized them, and glued them on the poles. Yes, the regiment number is wrong, but if you like to bring up things like that when you are gaming with me, I will throw my dice at you. Hard.

I still need to get some more infantry for my force (British regulars this time). I got tired of all the braiding, so I ordered some Gurkhas from Irregular Miniatures. They'll be part of the Sirmoor Battalion fighting the Sikhs, the sepoys, or general unrest in the frontier. I know they did not fit in Afghanistan during the first war, but they look pretty nice with their rifleman green uniforms. However, they have no faces (not the best work I've gotten from Irregular, although they paint up nicely). The Afghans that were a part of the same ordered look quite handsome, and I'll paint some up soon to see how they measure up. 

That's all for now from rainy old England. Model on!

Τετάρτη 4 Νοεμβρίου 2015

We are the Law!

Back to science fiction again, and this time with a very British subject; Judge Dredd.  He's been a seminal character of the British comic book scene, and although he is well represented in 28mm, his first appearance in wargaming was in 15mm. Back in the day, Laserburn included some not-Judges in their miniature line. These are still available from 15mm.co.uk and, despite the age of the sculpts, they are rather nice figures. I got some of them a while back, more on a whim than a desire to wargaming the conflicts of MegaCity One. I painted them and found the, to be excellent figures, full of character, so I ordered some more and now I have a pretty complete little force. I will probably get some Judges on motorcycles with my next order plus a few more codes to round out things out.

Here is my force as it stands now. In the foreground are four troops in a riot police load out. Shields (with some weird projection in the front which could be anything from a tear gas nozzle to a static field projector), batons, sidearms and body armour. 

Following them are police officers with grenade launchers. These can be used for anything ranging from teargas, non-lethal rounds for crowd control or plain old grenades or shotgun pellets. Some are dressed as the riot police squad (I think these are the sergeants, but you can use them as plain old riot cops) and some have partially open face shields and no body armour.

The final row includes a cyber mastiff and a figure I use as its handler,  and two more miniatures armed with sidearms. These I plan to use as a force commander and a sergeant.

As I said, these are very good miniatures, especially when you consider their age. They need some cleaning up (the riot police in particular),the detail is not as refined as the newer stuff and they may look a little anaemic and short when compared with newer offerings. However, their detail is great for table top standards, they paint up like a dream, and I never pay too much attention in size discrepancies. At any rate, if you hunker for some 15mm Judge Dredd action, it's all you're gone get. 

That's all from foggy London and the Greeg Geek workbench.

Κυριακή 25 Οκτωβρίου 2015

The Yellow Boys

It's funny how we end up starting projects. Last year's visit to the Imperial War Museum cured me of historical wargaming for quite some time. Their WWI exhibit is a sobering experienced and so is the stamp collection on the Falkland's dead. I could not bring myself to paint anything historical after that.

A couple of months back, I picked up a book on the First Afghan War, more on a whim than anything else. It was 3 quid, hardly a sum to break the bank and the conflict did offer some minor interest. The book was "The Return of a King" by William Darlymple and it offered a very exciting glimpse into India and Afghanistan of the 1830s and 1840s. The description of one of the cavalry regiments, Skinner's Horse with its commanding officer Sikander Sahib (James Skinner) was particularly evocative. 

Yellow tunics, red belts and turbans, lances and matchlocks, what's not to like? I spent sometime debating whether I really needed to start collecting miniatures from another time period (seriously?) and after some debate, I spent roughly ten pounds to order three packs of Skinner's Horse from Lancashire Games. These are for the Sikh Wars where the regiment also fought, so they were close enough to what I wanted. 

Needless to say, unpainted they don't look like much, especially the horses. But the detail was there and these are aimed to mass combats, not skirmishes. Whatever faults would be hidden by the mandatory three feet of distance and the unit itself.

Not wanting to spend more time or money than necessary, I did not order an Osprey Book on the Honorable East India Company or the Sikh Wars, I looked around on the web. Lots of images around, including some from a reenactment group. Google them, they are spectacular. This however, from, the Army Museum if I am not mistaken is breathtaking.

These are probably of Skinner's Horse at the time of the Afghanistan invasion. Needless to say, the figures I have did not look like that exactly. However this has never been a problem in the past, nor will it be in the future. After about a week of work, I had my unit.

As you can see, they fall into that much maligned wargaming category; they paint up well. However, they will more than look the part on the gaming table. I am not sure I did justice to the regiment's original colours (the yellow does not look close enough to the one in the paintings but it looks closer to the one the reenactors use). The white trousers are barely visible, but these are one piece castings, and reaching all the details was not easy. I painted the saddle blankets red, yellow and white, having seen all colours used.

I like the end result. Painting Indian skin tones was an interesting exercise. So was manoeuvring my brush to reach all crevices. Will I paint more First Afghan War miniatures? Yes, they are very colourful and the unit histories are fascinating. I ordered some Bengal Horse Artillery (whose uniforms have to be seen to be believed) and some Sepoys. Will I game them? Maybe. I am thinking about getting either Colonial Adventures by Two Hour Games or Larry Brom's The Sword and the Flame. My units will be based so that they can be used with both of these systems.

That's all from the Greek Geek workbench and London.

Πέμπτη 15 Οκτωβρίου 2015

Micro Machine Madness

Despite not writing for quite some time, things have been busy on the Greek Geek workbench. Three more warbands for Song of Blades and Heroes have been completed, but real life barely allows enough time for me to paint.

If you are marginally interested in science fiction and not been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you probably know that a new Star Wars movie is coming out right before Christmas. The franchise has fortunately been acquired by the Mad Mouse company, something that might do away with some of the political incorrectness of Episodes IV-VI but will hopefully help us get rid of the complete and utter nonsense that came to movie screens with Episode I (and the crap that followed). Another thing that the Mouse company is well known for is milking a franchise for all its worth. That means tons of merchandise, including some very useful Micro Machine sets. Now, SW and MM go way back, and searching eBay will help you net tons of figures and vehicles, some at reasonable prices, some at perfectly silly ones (but, hey, it's your money). A recent visit to the local toy store netted me a pack of three micro machines, just shy of a five-pound note. Naturally, these were washed, dried, repainted and mounted. 

Here is the first figure, an Imperial Scout trooper on his jet bike. It was an easy enough repaint and it is based for skirmish war gaming. I plan to get at least one more, as the reconnaissance element of my Imperial force, when I get around to painting one. 

The Rebel Commando was a bit trickier, as it is originally painted as Luke Skywalker. The information on Rebel Commando uniforms during the raid on Endor is not great either. I just took a look at picture from the movie and just improvised. The uniform may be a bit off, but it looks the part, and it's all I am going for.
Both jet bikes and riders were roughly 18mm in scale. That makes them large 15s or small 20s, but as they are mounted on bikes, the difference will not be noticeable under war gaming conditions.

The final figure in the set was an AT ST walker. This is closer to 6mm scale and it was based for Horted of the Things. Using some other Micro Machine sets and some 6mm figures, I think I can make a creditable effort in reproducing the Rebel and  Imperial forces for the battle on the planet Hoth. It is an interesting side project and one that won't be exceptionally pricey. 

Finally, I have started a slow return to historical war gaming. By accident, I read a book on the First Afghan War and got hooked on the history and diversity of the units involved. As a result, I ordered some 15mm lancers for Skinner's Horse from Lancashire Games. The order was small, but three working days later, my 12 horsemen had arrived. They are old school, one piece castings, with lots of character and good war gaming detail. More information to follow.