Monday, September 9, 2013

Stuff to Hide Behind: A Frankenstein Box

A few months ago I made a nice order with Warmill, a British terrain company specializing in 25mm sci-fi MDF kits. Warmill's stuff is unusually characterful, in a field of generally serviceable MDF terrain providers. Their kits tend to come complete with wry humor and detail that's pretty welcome, in sharp contrast to the grim dark future most folks seem to want to portray.

I needed some more mid-sized terrain for my Infinity table project, Bachs Freiberg, so I grabbed a fast food restaurant ('Southern Fried Watersnake') and a couple of bio-vending machines ('ORBs'). The latter are largish vending machines that a user can employ to give themselves various cybernetic upgrades, at low cost but apparently some risk.

The kits arrived across the pond quickly enough, and nicely packaged in slim, sturdy boxes, with a pretty picture on the front! Cracking one open, I found three frames and a baggie with lots of clear plastic bits for signage:

Also included were fully-illustrated assembly instructions, Ikea-style. I couldn't wait to get these puppies together!

4"x5" Clever Booth assembled, with Hellcat for reference

The kits friction-fit nicely together, perhaps just a little too loose not to require gluing, but at least I didn't have the tab-snapping frustration that I did with some of the Micro Arts Studios kits I've put together. The material is lightweight but looks sturdy and did not fray or split when I punched them out of their frames. Everything came together very nicely; I would rate the kits as somewhat complicated but the instructions are clear and it's pretty hard to put bits in the wrong way, although you have to pay attention to which side the detail is etched onto (as I found out to my chagrin at one point). 

Unfortunately in order to paint the damn thing, I had to take it nearly completely apart again. The front tray is designed to slide back and forth, and must be painted separately. This is not a design flaw, but a personal picadillo - I just don't enjoy painting subassemblies. Despite my neurosis, however, painting and reassembly wasn't a problem, and I'm satisfied with the final result. 

I have been experimenting with dry pigments and since I don't have an airbrush, I figured this would be the medium to test things on. I like the pastel finish a lot and think that this technique will provide a nice backdrop to the more saturated tones of the figures themselves. As you can see there is a detachable waste bin on the back (in case something goes terribly wrong with the bio-upgrades!) which makes for some useful additional scatter terrain. The sliding tray in the front is also fully articulated although I had to wiggle it around for a couple of days as the paint dried ;) 

So that's Warmill's ORB 2.0 Clever Booth. I'm currently engaged in the finishing up the rest of my haul, but I'm looking forward to adding their new releases to my collection - I still have room on my table for a Surgery Shack! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Napoleonics Redux: 25mm Napoleonics, Speed Painted

So I'm back at the Toronto Historical Miniatures Gamers club lately, and one of the guys wanted to play Songs of Drums and Shakos this week. "Sure," I said, though I'd never played and have no painted figures. Then I went rooting around my drawers to see what I could find.

I turned up a few suitably skirmish-y Foundry figs that I picked up from who knows where, and a couple of dismounted Perry dragoons that came in the Historicon 2010 loot bag. "Can I use these here dragoons as Light Voltigeurs with Carbines instead of muskets for 39 points each?" I asked (I had 78 points to spend). "Go for it." So I went for it. and decided that this would be as good a time as any to try the Army Painter Quickshade technique. Here's what 6 hours' work gets you:

I am super happy with the results, considering the time put in. As my buddy Anthony said, they did indeed look like a complete mess until 2 minutes before finishing. But the matte spray worked its miracle.

The technique:

1. clean the models and spray with your base color. I used Army Painter Crystal Blue, which looked -terrifyingly bright at first. Don't worry, the Quickshade fixes that.
2. Block paint the figures in the most mundane way possible. Complete coverage is the goal, even over precision. Bright, saturated paints are preferable. I used different whites for the uniform and the webbing, but I'm not sure anyone can tell the difference.
3. Brush on the quickshade, dealing with any obvious pooling right away. I think it's possible to be too sparing with the shade, but you don't want to drown the figure either. (I used the Strong tone).
4. Let it dry 18-24 hours, then spray with matte sealer. Army Painter makes one, but I think Testors Dullcote will work too. I sprayed each figure individually with a glove protecting my off hand because I wanted to make sure got full coverage.
5. Apply final highlights and details as necessary.

-I added a few details (like the red piping) afterwards, but I think for the next batch I will completely finish the models before shading them. I expect they will still need subsequent highlighting anyway, but a finished figure will look better imo.
-I'm considering priming the French white instead of blue, since a) there's more white than blue on the uniform and b) it's easier to paint blue over white than vice versa.

So like I said, I'm thrilled with this technique, and have already started on the Victrix line infantry that have been sitting in my drawer for 3 years. At this rate, I may in fact have a 25mm Napoleonics army before I'm dead! :D

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stuff to Hide Behind

Clockwise from top left: Telecom booths, Municipal Pollution Scrubber, Advertising Boards, Front Stoops, Advertising Boards (again) 

Last month I made a nice order from Antenociti's Workshop for some of their modern and sci-fi terrain. I've had the booths for awhile, and wanted much more clutter on the table, and these kits looked just the thing. I'm working on several more, including some customized Micro Art Studios buildings, but here's what I've finished so far.

I mounted these pieces on platicard in the case of the front stoops. The other bits are based on either 6cm round GW bases or 2" steel washers, faced with textured polystyrene sheeting in either case. I prefer the wider diameter of the GW bases, since it's easier for a 25mm-based figure to nestle up to the terrain piece, but I was cowed by the $2 price tag. The extra weight of the steel washer adds ballast to the pieces despite their smaller diameter.

I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to detailing these pieces. I want to get the job done, not have it be totally perfect, and I'm hoping that having a tabletop full of stuff like this will be appealing in aggregate.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Duelin' Spitfires 2: Wildcat

Hector Hernandez

Look, the press eats up the stories the other 'cats tell, and I don't blame them. The Hellcats get all the glory, all jumping into hot zones and saving the Princess stuff. And if you want a working-class hero, it's always a Tomcat that tells the tale: skilled professional nerds with flinty gazes and nerves of steel, the lot of them. Or so they say.

But you wanna know who does the real work around here? It's us Wildcats. Every time they need a VIP protected, and not just rescued, who do they call? The Wildcats. Need a drop zone cleared and held for a MASH chopper? That's our bailiwick. Need to prosecute a real fight instead of a snatch and grab and who gets fingered? Yeah that's right.

So next time you hear about some kitty-jumper leaping from the sky to snatch some hostage out from under the noses of the bad guys, just remember that the hostage in question is more likely to be some rich lady's pooch, and the real work happened at ground level.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Duelin' Spitfires 1: Aswang

My second Aswang started as a conversion using the very similar arms from a Boarding Shotgun Gwailo. At the time there was no Shasvastii Spitfire model so he began life as a simple Boarding Shotgun wielder - my first Aswang is a Combi Rifle conversion so I lacked that loadout. When I saw the Spitfire in my Corax blister I knew what had to be done, and hacked this guy apart five minutes after I got home from the store! Though he shares the same body pose as my other Aswang, I think that the radically different arm and weapon positions give this figure a unique appeal.

There seems to be some consensus that the Spitfire Aswang isn't worth the point upgrade over the regular dude, perhaps compared to the Noctifer and perhaps because he loses some synergy with his abilities and the standard-loadout ADHL. However I've found that another 1 SWC heavy weapon, especially one with Combat Camo, is extremely useful to hold down or delay a flank, and anyway my attempts to use Protheion have been costly and lackluster.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Malignos Sniper


The dark pool edged closer to his nose, seeping languidly into the sand like a summer tide.

Odd that I’d finally get poetic, so close to the end. Sgt. Wayne suppressed a wry chuckle at the thought, then fought hard against the wracking pain that followed that first effort.

It wasn’t that he was so much fascinated by his life-blood darkening the dirt around him. He literally couldn’t look away; the last time he glanced around, watching his rescuers cut down by the unseen sniper, he took a second round to the leg. For good measure, it seems.

He’d been thoroughly briefed, of course. That’s what got him into this mess. A veteran soldier, he’d never ask of any man what he wouldn’t do himself, and especially not the Ariadna-fresh recruits that had been assigned to him. This patrol through ‘sanitized’ territory was meant to be more training than practical, but of course there was no safe ground against a literally invisible enemy.

So he took point, and so he was the first to be cut down. A canny human sniper would have let the point man go past, to get at the meat of the patrol. A canny Shasvaasti sniper thought differently, perhaps believing that humans shared their alien psychology and going for the first available target, surgically wounding him. Expecting that racial preservation instincts would override good sense and that rescuers would inevitably present themselves as targets.

The alien was wrong about the motivation, but not about the results. They’d tried to get to him twice, and lost four in the attempts. At the edge of his field of vision Wayne could just barely see the still-steaming pile of meat that was once an eager 18-year old kid. He wished he could look away. Wayne hadn’t survived the ambush by chance; the sniper was keeping him alive. As bait. Thank god his men had gotten the hint after the second futile attempt, and left him for dead. If he played possum maybe they’d lose all hope and just go away.

And so they waited; he and the sniper, separated by race, distance and purpose, united by circumstances in this deadly game. All he had to do was wait a little while longer. The sun hung low and red in the sky, dripping languorously ever lower, beating on his face, baking the sand and dust onto his parched lips. Soon it would be dark, and then maybe he could risk putting a hand to the wounds on his leg. It itched so badly.

His gaze was fixed on the dark, expanding pool beneath him. Wayne suddenly realized that the sound of crashing waves was his own pulse - blood rushing past his ears in the near total silence - and he laughed at the absurdity of it all. The chuckle turned to a cough, blowing dust softly into a tiny column, at once affirming and betraying his existence.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nomad SAR: Valeria, HMG Hellcat

Here's the start of a new project I've had in the works for over a year now.

Why do we have such hi-vis uniforms? We get that question a lot, actually. If we're supposed to be this high-tech, elite commando unit, why does Nomad SAR wear uniforms that make us look like traffic cones?

One reason is that in today's tactical environment, camo is pretty useless. Between thermosensors, satloc, heartbeat locators and all manner of detection equipment I can't even talk about, squiggly brown lines on your pants aren't going to matter very much. So we wear what we want to wear. And these duds look pretty flash.

Of course, there's a few tactical reasons for blaze orange, too. First of all, we want everyone to see us coming. If we're on a rescue op, the guns are security, and we're hoping that the vics are looking for us as hard as we're looking for them. If we're on an opposed retrieval, sometimes the bad guys see us coming and suddenly reconsider their decision not to negotiate. The smart bad guys, anyway.

And also, when we do need to do a hot jump, we want to be able to see each other quickly. Our uniforms pop in our peripheral vision, so in the chaos and madness of a lightning op, we know where everyone is at all times.

But honestly? We wear orange and red because it doesn't matter if we're spotted. By the time you see us, you're dead already.