Monday, 12 February 2018

He-Month: Surprise Reinforcements

So it turns out I’m not at work today, due to a sudden blanket of snow last night, and that can only mean one thing...

...more He-Month painting!

This time it’s Duncan, a.k.a. Man-at-Arms, the Master of Weapons. I think this might be my favourite sculpt from amongst the Quest Miniatures as it suggests the wrist lasers he used all the time, and has a really characterful face.

One of the reasons I didn’t do him earlier is because I’ve been pondering about his orange armour, considering whether to go with a brass  metallic colour (which I’ve used on his mace). In the end I decided that orange is how I remember him and the Ratskin Flesh paint I use for brickwork isn’t too vibrant and gaudy.

I also tried to give be him the blue helmet the toy had, but combined with orange, green and red it was all a bit too much and so I settled on silver, which combined with a couple of silver details on his armour lends him a bit more of a mechanical look.

Having painted Man-at-Arms, I can’t shake the feeling that he looks like a Bloodbowl player, and so don’t be too surprised if you see a team appear in these colours.

I am on the lookout for suitable models to use as the Eternian Royal Guard, and so this paint scheme may get rolled out quite a bit if I can find some.

I’m now staring down the barrel of running out of miniatures. I either need to leave Beast Man alone for a few days, or get planning and scheming...

...ah well, planning and scheming it is!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

He-Month: “I’ve had the time of my life...”

...and I feel EPIC!

Yes, I know I only posted yesterday, and I know that I had a delivery of only six models for a project that is supposed to last all month, but...

...I might have got a little carried away.

I’ve now painted four of the six Quest Miniatures and I’m loving it. A combination of really well sculpted models, bright and bold colours, and a healthy dose of nostalgia is making for one of the most enjoyable painting projects I’ve done for a good while.

Teela was the first model I did after He-Man and mixed two colours I often have issues with, white and gold.

However, the sculpting if her armour makes the gold work, and the fact she’s based on a 2D character helps with the white.

As ever, photos highlight things I might need to address, and the left shoulder might need a little work.

If you’re have any sort of grip about the model, it’s the fact that the reverse side of the shield is featureless, but again, I might go back and add some straps to it.

Enter the big bad himself, Skeletor.

The original character has a really, really simple colour scheme which I decided to liven  up with some detail taken from the 2002 cartoon version, such as the colours on his chest logo, and the black staff with an actual skull on it. I think that they liven up the character and break up the wall of blue and purple.

On the subject of the blue, I know it’s a bit dark. I’m toying with going back to it, but actually it’s growing in me. This project isn’t an attempt to totally copy the cartoon or the toy line anyway, and there will be more significant differences than this (Merman, for example), so I’m tempted just to say that this is ‘my’ Skeletor.

Evil Lyn has proved the trickiest model to paint so far, and this is mainly due to the detailing on her outfit.

Following on from Skeletor, I’ve also been more willing to vary some more of the colours to add greater variety to the overall look.

The additions have includes white fur at the top of her boots, silver arm bracelets and a pink orb on her sceptre, all aimed at making her more visually interesting.

I’ve given her a dark grey cloak, rather than black, but this was more about the deep hatred I developed for highlighting black cloaks during all my Batman painting.

I also decided to take a slightly better lit photo of He-Man.

Overall, I’m having a great time painting these models although there is a slight issue on the horizon. My rapid production rates will potentially leave me without models to paint later in the month.

I do have Beast Man and Man-At-Arms still to do, Orko and Trapjaw will potentially be delivered in time, and I have more scenery to work on, but I’m already turning my mind to certain other characters that I can add to my collection.

Watch this space.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

He-Month: “I have the power!”

Yep, the postman cometh.
On Thursday I took delivery of the excellent Masters of the Universe miniatures from Quest Miniatures and immediately set about meeting my target for the week with the man himself, He-Man.

This excellently dynamic sculpt painted up ridiculously quickly, largely thanks to being based on a cheaply made cartoon from the 1980s.

The only real issue I encountered was the fact that the sword hand was missing from my order (the only issue in what are a stunning range of models), and so, being both impatient and a resourceful sort, I raided my bits box to solve the issue.

A Bretonnian Man-at-Arms (very appropriate, I thought) drummer donated the hand and axe haft that allowed me arm He-Man with his battle axe (which comes with the model), and a sword hilt added to the scabbard meant that the sword of power was present and correct too.

All in all, I’m delighted with how this has turned out and really looking forward to getting the other models from the set done: Teela, Man-At-Arms, Skeletor, Evil Lyn and Beastman.

As a piece of advice to those thinking of ordering from the UK, the import charges I got hit with added £20 to the price. It might be worth exploring the cost of ordering in three sets of two miniatures, as paying triple for the shipping might work out less expensive than paying the customs charges.

However, it should be noted that even with the extra cost, these models are well worth it, and still work out cheaper that the individual characters from the Batman Miniatures Game.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

He-Month: It’s All A Bit Fishy...

Yes. He-Month.

Leon, from Eclectic Gentleman Gamer, and I have decided to do another new project. This time it’s focussed on one of my favourite cartoons of the 80’s, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and to motivate us were publicly declaring that February is ‘He-Month.’ Each week we will be striving to complete something He-Man related, be that miniatures, rules or terrain, and perhaps even games by the end of the month.

Now it should be pointed out that the frankly excellent project name has been ‘borrowed’ from the Carrion Crow and Rantings Under the Wargames Table blogs, however, they’re cool with us using it and we’d missed ‘He-January’ and didn’t want to wait for ‘Marchsters of the Universe,’ or even ‘Masters of the Juniverse!’

And so back this week’s fishy goings on. Why ‘fishy’? Well, three reasons...

Fishy Goings On 1: Merman

My first miniature for this project is my attempt at Skeletor’s aquatic henchman, Merman.

Masters of the Universe inspired miniatures are not exactly thick on the ground and so my proxy-radar has been in overdrive recently to enable me to locate suitable models. Merman seemed an easy place to start as he’s essentially in the same ball park as Lovecraftian Deep Ones.

The other advantage is that the design of the character in different mediums has varied considerably, with particularly his head showing significant difference between the Mattel toy (which was one of the first I owned, along with Skeletor), the 80’s cartoon series, and the 2002 cartoon series. This means that there’s more wiggle room for what can be an appropriate stand in.

Ultimately I plumped for a Deep One Reef Breaker from Achtung Cthulhu by Mophidius Games. He has the fins on the side of his face like the 80’s cartoon, but teeth gathered at the front of his mouth, which is fairly similar to the toy. I replaced the pipe he was wielding with a serrated (and harpoon-like) sword, as the toy came with one. I was going to create a trident instead, but the pipe was to bulky to make the bit in his hand be part of the haft.

When it came to painting, I wanted to evoke the character I remembered even more, and to I tried to keep somewhat close to the colours used in the toy. A rich green skin tone, the same orange for the loincloth and around the eyes and the sword in gold as yellow was a step too far. I was conscious that the model didn’t have armour, however I have painted the dorsal fins yellow to further link to the colours of the original.

Overall, I’m really happy with how he’s turned out, and I also put more effort into the base than. I usually do, trying to capture the idea of either the sea bed or the shore line. The modern girder is also appropriate as Masters of the Universe mixes Hyborian high fantasy and pulp sci-fi with wanton abandon, and so nothing’s really off the table in terms of ‘historical accuracy’ - if you can use such a term in this context.

Fishy Goings On 2: Jungle Terrain

These two terrain pieces are the beginning of my attempt to create a useable amount of terrain for pulp adventures and lost worlds. However, they’ll do sterling service as Eternia too. I intend to use them as impassable blocking terrain and so I wanted them fairly densely packed. 

I received excellent guidance on how to create them from Michael of  28mm Victorian Warfare, who also linked to some YouTube tutorials. The bases are actually resin pieces I picked up from Wargames Emporium with the rock formations and ground texture already moulded, and they saved me a lot of work. After painting I added bits and pieces I have lying around - GW ivy, lichen, static grass and some plastic fish tank foliage (hence the fishy connection). 

They’ve also served as a proof of concept for me to attempt some larger pieces once I pick up a few more raw materials.

Fishy Goings On 3: A Project Without Miniatures

Currently, Merman is the only model I own for this project and I’ve run out of much of the bits I used for my terrain and so meeting next week’s target could be tricky. I am off to Vapnartak tomorrow and I’ve also got a few orders inbound, and so I should be okay.

However, my emergency fallback is to raid my bits box and try to make Trapjaw, even though a suitable model for him is one of the orders I’m waiting for, but, a target is a target.

By next week, if I’m writing a post about rules, you’ll know my plans have gone as badly as Skeletor’s.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Out Of The Blue

Less than a month into the new year and I’ve already started a new army.

These are the beginning of a German Fallschirmjager (paratroopers) force for Bolt Action. I’ve procrastinated about started a new army for Bolt Action for a long time, and have actually already bought (well, most of it was a freebie) and sold a German army before even assembling it.

However beginning the Operation Sea Lion campaign has prodded me into action as some of the scenarios feature Fallschirmjager landings and as none of us already had them, that was all the impetus I needed.

As an added bonus the Fallschirmjager were present in pretty much all areas of the war in Europe and so they’ll be suitable against numbers of opponents. What’s more, being a veteran force means I won’t need many of them, in fact, these 12 already make a legal 250 point force, so it won’t take much to get them to a playable level, which always help with motivation.

I’ve been quite wary of German forces, gauntly due to the use of camouflage, however, I’m quite happy with how this has come out. I found a painting guide done by Artizan Designs (the manufacturer) of these models and have been able to get a close approximation of one of the official Fallschirmjager camp patterns.

One thing I have done is use brighter colours than I should, such as the base brown of the camo smock, and the blue of the Luftwaffe uniforms. My aim with this is twofold, I wanted to create contrast so that details like the camo pattern could be seen, and I tend to shade with washes rather than highlight up, so I was keen to begin with a brighter base.

I’m sure there are some that will question my use of silver for the weapons, as they were likely nearer black. However, this is purely personal preference as again I wanted contrast. However, the MP-40 sub machine guns above may need revisiting with another layer or two of black wash, as they are a bit shiny.

As I was building this army for Operation Sea Lion in 1940, I was intending for this to be an early war force. However, when I piped into my FLGS (Wargames Emporium), they only had a few packs of Fallschirmjager available, one of which featured FG-42 assault rifles (below) which were introduced long after the invasion of Britain was cancelled. In early war games I’ll just treat them as regular rifles.

The plan now is to pick up a few more packs of miniatures at Vapnartak next week. I’m going to stick to metal miniatures from Artizan Designs, Crusader Miniatures and Wargames Foundry because I genuinely prefer painting metal, I have lost all patience for assembling plastic, and buying 30 minis in one go will probably overface me and make me give up.

Bite-sized chunks is the key.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Russian The Objective

Greeting comrades!

As you may remember, I used some money of the money I was fortunate to receive from Santa to buy a Soviet BA-6 Armoured Car from Warlord Games for the glorious knockdown price of £10 (thanks to the judicious application of vouchers and free shipping offers). Well, here it is...

Nothing too special in terms of painting, but it was a fun kit to build and I finally added some transfers to one of my vehicles - although I can’t shake the feeling that the starts look like targets (more on that later).

I also took the opportunity to use spare transfers to spruce up my truck and my SU-76. The SU-76 is having some more work done on it, but here’s the truck.

This sudden flurry of activity on the Eastern Front was prompted by a 750 point game of Bolt Action against Pete’s Germans. We used Operation Barbarossa lists (that’s 1941) and I decided to go for a ‘red horde’ approach by using a lot of inexperienced units.

My army was as follows:
  • Inexperienced Second Lieutenant & 1 man
  • Inexperienced LMG Squad (12 men)
  • Inexperienced LMG Squad (12 men)
  • Inexperienced Rifle Squad (12 men)
  • Regular NKVD Squad (8 men)
  • Regular MMG Team
  • Regular Anti-Tank Rifle Team
  • Regular 45mm Anti-Tank Gun
  • Regular Medium Mortar Team
  • Anti-Tank Mine Dog Team (2 men)
  • Regular Truck
  • Regular BA-6 Armoured Car
Pete had something along the lines of:
  • Regular Second Lieutenant & 1 man
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular MMG Team
  • Regular Light Howitzer
  • Regular Sd.Kfz 222 Armoured Car
  • Regular Panzer I Tank

The mission was ‘Top Secret’ which meant we had to try to get the objective from outside the house and of our own table edge. In the first turn we both struggled to get some units on, my AT Gun, AT Rifle and NKVD Squad all failed orders tests, whilst Pete’s Howitzer and MMG Team weren’t too keen to enter the fray. In fact Pete’s MMG Team continuously failed to come on until the very last turn.

Here’s the state of play at the end of the first turn...

Both of us had opted to push our infantry forwards in a surge towards the objective. Meanwhile, my BA-6 has suffered the curse of new models and completely missed a flank shot on the Panzer I, before being one-shotted by the Sd.Kfz 222.

I’d pushed a truckload if inexperienced troops up the road towards the objective. In retrospect I probably should have gone further onto the objective earlier in the turn and aimed to snatch it before the Germans got into position. As it was the truck was destroyed at the beginning of turn two and the troops took a couple of turns to shake their pins.

By the end of turn two my infantry was massing near the objective whilst the German squads used fire and move tactics to move up and put irritating pins on my ill-trained rabble.

By this point there weren’t really any vehicles left in the game as the curse of new models struck Pete, and the Panzer I was detonated by a single mine dog, and the Sd.Kfz 222 was hit by a mortar shell, pinning it enough to essentially take it out of the game. It would survived to the end but didn’t pass any orders tests. Pete realised he should have been rallying it too late.

On turn three my Anti-Tank Gun showed up, but with no vehicles left to worry about it began pumping shells into the side of the house.

Casualties began to mount as we began the struggle for the objective in earnest. My squad on the right poured fire onto a German Squad which had broken cover to attack my Rufke squad, almost destroying them.

The aforementioned Rifle squad had made a break for the objective, but was shot from several directions and assaulted by the Germans in the house, leaving the objective in German hands.

And so began the desparate race to stop the German escape. I assaulted and wiped out the unit in front of the building, but not before they had handed the objective off to the squad that followed them into the house.

I fired everything I could at the retreating Germans, desperate to get even a single pin that might cause them to fail an orders test, however it was to no avail.

When Pete moved a squad across into the line of fire towards his unit that was retreating with the objective, there was no longer anything I could do.

At the start of turn five, the Germans moved the objective off the board to win.

Ultimately, it was a close game. Me being a bit more aggressive at the beginning, orders dice coming out in a different sequence, or just a little bit of luck in that final round of shooting could have changed everything.

What I have learned is that inexperienced troops aren’t as bad in 2nd edition Bolt Action as they used to be, mainly due to the changes to the rally action. I may aim to ask more of my free Rifle Squad in future outings. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Operation Sea Lion: D-1, Brandenburger Coastal Raid

20th September, 1940, a combined Franco-Italian fleet stage a diversionary action at the western end of the English Channel, with the aim of drawing the Royal Navy away from protecting the vulnerable south-east coast of England. The way is clear for invasion the following day, and the unstoppable forces of the Wehrmacht stand ready to trample another nation under its already well-travelled boots.

That evening, ahead of the invasion force, covert teams of Brandenburgers, Fallschirmjager and elite Heer units set out to strike at vital targets along the coast, aiming to disrupt any defence that the depleted and demoralised British Army can muster. Little do they know that it is not only the British Army that stand in their way...

And so the stage is set for the first battle on what I hope will be an ongoing campaign charting the invasion that never was, using the Bolt Action Operation Sea Lion campaign book from Warlord games, the aim of which will be to play though the scenarios of the campaign without being too competitive about it as most of us have forces that will be appearing on both sides in the upcoming battles.

For this first action we played two 500 point patrol games in which the Germans were seeking to destroy a fixed target of strategic importance to the invasion.

I played Matt and both of us wheeled out our underused VBCW forces for the occasion. I would take the role of the stalwart ad hoc defenders of Blighty, whilst Matt would be those sneaky cads, the Brandenburger commandos.

British Coastal Defence Volunteers
Senior Home Guard Commander & 1 man
Home Guard Section (10 men)
Home Guard Section (8 men)
Royal Navy Section (8 men)
Royal Navy Section (8 men)
Civilian Vehicle with MMG

Brandenburger Infiltration Commandos
Leutnant & 1 man
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (6 men)
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (5 men)
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (5 men)
Brandenburger Sabotage Team (2 men)
Abwehr Agent (1 man)

Although I had the advantage of numbers, and my inexperienced Home Guard units were backed up by veteran Navy Seamen (yes, we did make ‘that’ joke, repeatedly), I was facing an entirely veteran force, bristling with SMGs who were also disguised, preventing me from shooting them until either they came within 6” or they shot at me first.

However, the onus was on the Germans to move quickly as they had a limited amount of time available to use the hohlladungwaffen hidden amongst their units to destroy the British communications hub (the phone box).

The scene is set, rumours of activity along the coast have meant that local forces have been called out.

The Wortley-on-Sea Home Guard advance to take up static defensive positions along the road.

Meanwhile, a Navy shore party patrols the surrounding area.

Whilst Major Rumplington wonders whether they should have parked the Home Guard’s transport somewhere else.

The Brandenburgers advance towards their target, wearing their ‘authentic’ British disguises.

Alerted to the movement, the Shore Party advance to challenge any would be invaders, and immediately come under sustained fire from several directions.

The Home Guard fire haphazardly into the trees where the firing is coming from.

The bloodied remnants of the Sailors charge towards their attackers, but come off worst in the encounter.

Outnumbered, the Home Guard also come under fire, but valiantly stand their ground.

Reinforcements arrive in the form of the boys of Greybridge School Cadet Corps and a second Royal Navy Section.

Shortly joined by a converted van sporting a machine gun for mobile firepower.

After his aide is shot, Major Rumplington finds himself facing down the German commander. He immediately makes use of his Great War experience and runs back to the safety of HQ to file a report.

Despite the reinforcements, the shady and unsporting Abwehr Agent finally reveals himself and attempts to destroy the phone box. Fortunately, his hohlladungwaffen fails to do it’s job.

The Home Guard take heavy casualties, but continue to hold their ground and delay the enemy.

The Greybridge boys and the armed van pour fire towards the enemy commander to no avail.

The lads from the Royal Navy surge forwards and wipe out a Spahtrupp. They don’t like it up ‘em. 

However, the Brandenburger Sabotage Team make it to their target. All they need is time to set their charge. The Navy boys assault again but in a colossal failure they are wiped out to a man by the two saboteurs.

The Home Guard finally succumb to their vicious foes.

In a last ditch effort the Greybridge boys heroically charge the saboteurs before the fuses are lit and despite losing almost half their number, manage to dispatch the callous bounders, saving the day. For good measure, the sailor manning the machine gun finishes of the dastardly, and seemingly indestructible, German commander.

In the end it was (a somewhat pyrrhic) victory for the British. Getting to activate two units (the hapless sailors and the heroic schoolboys) before the saboteurs, allowed me to intercept Matt’s last chance to destroy the target as despite still having two Spahtrupp still active he was out of hohlladungwaffen and could not score enough points by killing units to win. In the end the score was 9-4 to me, but the game was much closer than that score looks.

In the other game, Pete’s Heer veterans were mown down in short order by Wes’s rookie Americans (who aren’t officially in Britain, shhh!) as they tried to take out a bunker.

With both games won by the allies, the campaign is off to a good start for them.

The next game should be somewhat larger and feature a full on beach assault. However, I don’t know when that will be as we need to work out what we’re going to do for landing barges...or a beach...or the sea!