A blog about miniatures, wargaming, and the people driven to ruin by them....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls Night Out

...to eat meat, to eat flesh, its their destiny.

Ok, enough of the music backflash.  I planned on getting something else posted, but this weekend turned busy and brutal, and didn't get around to it.  Then, about three hours ago, a little before I started cooking dinner, I decided to grab a few miniatures and just do ANY painting on them.  What I grabbed were 3 Ghouls (well, 2 Ghouls and a Ghast) from Reaper that I bought years ago (like 7 maybe?).  These were sprayed with a grey paint, and have been shifted from one box to another since then. 

As part of a project I am working on, they recently were pulled from obscurity.  They were originally bought as monsters for D&D.  They now will serve as ghouls in a different setting.. the ghast filling in as a ghoul leader.

Like I said, three hours ago, interrupted while I started and finished cooking dinner.  Relied on very fast drybrushing for most of it, otherwise I never would have finished them tonight.  I did employ heavy washes of dark brown paint for the remnants of victims, followed by hilights of antique white for the bone and bright red for the bits of flesh left hanging on. Obligatory skin breechclout for one of the fellows, acquired green cloth breechclout for the leader.

I have not decided on the flocking (if any), I likely will wait until I have some other figures for this project finished before I choose the flocking... so they will appear more uniform.  Obviously not going to win and golden demons with these, but I was impressed I could work them up so quickly, and while occupied too!  BTW, luckily my wife saved dinner once when I almost let something cook over.  But otherwise, I completed dinner on time too.

These figures are very nice, the detail is solid.  For someone taking more time, these could turn out very well.  For me, the hardest thing to paint were the intestines.  I have seen gut piles before, there is something about that glistening grey-white tone that is very difficult to replicate with paint.  I ended up using a light bright blue mixed with a tiny bit of medium brown, and while not exactly right, its good enough for me.  In the images, the color is too close to the flesh of the Ghouls, but it looks distinct in the "flesh" so to speak.

And it looks like my new take on a light box is working better, but its still crude.

Thanks.... another project started!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Giants ... Lost and Found

As I slowly unpack, I continue to uncover and reclaim forgotten treasures.  Undoubtedly many of you out there have gone through the exact same process. Though this post is not terribly exciting, I thought I would share one set of miniatures I found again.  The Giants.

I used to game Warhammer frequently with friends, at homes, at stores, in basements, sometimes all night long.  Ahhh.. the energy of youth.  For Warhammer and D&D I collected all kinds of mythical creatures and monsters.  What I have here are three Giants, all of which for the time they were issued were quite large miniatures.  Many of the Giants in the early days were pretty small (note the paradox).... and of course these days you can find Giant miniatures that are enormous (note the redundancy).

These had been packed away, actually in storage at my previous home for a few years even before I moved, not exactly lost but certainly out of sight and mind.  I really have no use for them anymore, probably I will take them to Cold Wars and try to sell them, but before I do that, I wanted to look them over.

Here are the three Giants, flanked by two old GW Wood Elves (from the Scarloc's set) to give a sense of scale.

The miniature I had the longest was this Frost Giant, pretty sure this is a Ral Partha from the mid 80's I think.  At the time I was learning to paint, so accents and hilights are definitely missing here.    But its a decent model, has some action and menace in its pose, and is suitably large.

The next one is from Grenadier I think, a bit later.  Its sculpted well, but the pose is somewhat passive.  I think it is a Storm Giant, so possibly the pose is intentional, showing the Giant's magnanimous poise.  Its the heaviest of the three Giants.  I can see how I was experimenting with accents, some hilight, some drybrushing...

The last is a Giantess from Grenadier, part of the Fantasy Warrior line.  I don't remember, but I think it was part of the Amazon range for Fantasy Warrior.  Some of those were very nice, I liked the Amazons and Barbarians and Wood Elves... probably should have fielded an Amazon army.

Anyway, this is my favorite of the three Giants.  She is not sculpted "cheesecake sexy" which I think is a good thing.  There are some distortions to her proportions in some places (arms for example), but I like her pose, greatsword prepared for action.  The screaming face of rage is a nice touch, she looks like she is both ready and willing to fight any and all...  I still wasn't with the latest on painting skills, but its nice to see I was starting to dabble with the "gems and jewels" accents.

Now, digging out a couple of those Wood Elves has me rounding up the rest of that army (which is currently based for Fantasy Rules! from Chipco).  My good friend Doctor Merkury wants to help me out with my photography, some tips and maybe an actual light box.  Perhaps after that I can share some photos of the rest of the Wood Elves.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Riffi Gallery ... Paints and Photos

Sometime back (waaaaay back) in the mid 80's a friend bought me a copy of Frank Herbert's Dune.  I was hooked right away.  The term "science-fantasy" may have existed at the time, I don't know, but whatever genre included Dune and Star Wars was something I wanted to tap into.

Well, this inevitably (ahhh.... decades later) led me to commission a line of miniatures inspired by the imagery evoked by reading these types of books.  I named them Riffi, partially as a nod to the fiercely independent Rif who waged war to remain independent in north africa.  Now that we are finally settled in, I will be returning to work on supporting these Riffi, they need opponents (other than each other), and they need a completed rule system.

What I have here are a few images of some of my Riffi that I have painted.  I have photos up on the Disparate Games store site, but I have been trying to improve both the quality of the paint jobs and the quality of the photos. This batch I painted while between houses last summer (right before Historicon)... and they turned out pretty well.  My painting is better than my photography, but neither is equal to the pros out there.  Since I am trying to catch up on everything, thought I would share these too.

Here are several Riffi on an appropriately alien looking background...
And a few pairs together... notice the unique Riffi daggers, capable of being used in the punch, or as slashing weapons.  I bought my daughter 3 Megalodon teeth for her 4th birthday, to add to her fossil collection.  The size, shape, and menace of those teeth are all impressive.  What wonderful weapons they would make, if only a slightly different shape...
The oversized swords are captured trophies from the Wels, the primary offworld opponent of the Riffi.
And finally individual Riffi... here we see an indigenous pistol.
Ultimately, I need to create time for these fellows... after all, they won't take care of themselves!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Persian Gulf Wars: Iranian Armor

OK, so I didn't intend to post again on my Iran Iraq War project so soon.  I am going to be very busy getting ready for our attendance at Cold Wars 2011 and finishing up the work on our next release, Man Among Men, a supplement for Seek Out Close With and Destroy detailing troops and equipment for gaming Rhodesia.  I took the time to inventory the vehicles I have for both my Iranian and Iraqi forces.  Now, for the Iraqis, there are "mass quantities" of vehicles available in 20mm, 1/72, and 1/76, especially the Soviet armor.  For the Iranians, things are a little scarcer.  In the later war, I will have an easy time working in some Soviet or PRC vehicles to support my Pasdaran.  My early war regulars, on the other hand, need Chieftains, M60A1s, and M113s.  The gripping hand:  those M60s.

Years ago, in a convention flea market, I bought some resin kits produced by Cromwell, the Combat Ready series.  Amongst some other stuff, I picked up 2 Chieftains and 2 Scorpions specifically to support my Falklands era Guards in the event they had to be deployed to Europe with the BAOR (my 80's era Soviets get frisky now and again).  I didn't think about it at the time, but I believe these Chieftains were meant to be P variants used by Iran, though I painted them up for British service.... and they have proved too useful at knocking out Soviet T-55s and BMPs for me to repaint them now!  Plus, I'm lazy.  These are excellent models, I'd recommend them to anyone, and I'd buy them again.  You might notice a few nice Combat Miniatures from FAA, painted up as Scots Guards.
What I have to work with for my Iranians is a little less swell.  I bought a large lot of 1/72 and 1/76 tanks off of ebay for a great price, sold the Leopard 1s and AMX-30s, plus the WWII stuff, and it still left me with a box of tracks, including a few Airfix Chieftains.  These are painted drab, and have seen some use.  I hate building model kits, so for now I can live with the less than perfect condition of these.  Painting will be difficult, they are not going to look great, but once they are in appropriate colors, with some details, they'll be ok.  I bought 3 diecast M113A1s, painted for Vietnam.  As "Booze Hound" in english is about the last thing I think I'd see on a post-revolution Iranian vehicle, they definitely need repainted.  I might keep them in a lighter drab green, but likely they will get a desert tan.  I bought Vietnam era vehicles as later M113s tend to have too many accessories.
OK, the problem children are the M60 Pattons.  Actually, in almost any scale other than micoarmor, obtaining M60 or M60A1 variants, without Blazer/ERA/etc is a real problem.  My good friend Doctor Merkury is having difficulty finding a M60 for use with his 28mm 1980's USMC (anyone have a suggestion for 1/48 1/50 1/56 let the good Doc know).  What I currently have to work with (from the same lot the Airfix Chieftains came with) are three Airfix toys in 1/72 scale, not models.  I believe they marketed these as simply Patton tanks, which of course, is somewhat vague.  Patton Tank covers quite a few things.  Here are the facts (see below), the turret doesn't look right for an M60A1 (maybe the initial M60 production), the gun looks like it might be 105mm (not like the 90mm for early M48s), and hull definitely looks like an M60 (see the straight sharp forward edge of the hull, not the M48 style curved hull).
They need some cleaning.  Based on the ebay prices, these are cheap to obtain in the UK and expensive in the US.  The paint on them is flaking off, I have to thoroughly clean them before applying some bonding spray paint... and I feel the headache of having to defend my use of them, BUT, show me where I can get the right ones.  I was hoping to see some of the M60A3 (no ERA) offered by Altaya IXO, thought I could repaint them and look ok, however, I have had no luck in finding anyone I could purchase any from.  Actually, they supposedly have a huge range of modern diecast, too bad....

Now, for some happy news to finish.  Probably like some of you out there, for me its not always the biggest or baddest toy in your army that you get the most excited about.  Sometimes, its just something that catches you the right way.  For me, for the Iranians, its a pair of 106mm RR armed jeeps I purchased from Liberation Miniatures.  They are not "armor" but its my blog.  Likely these poor fellows will eat it from small arms fire in every game, but I like the idea of very fast tank killers, even if they have no protection.  I should find some dirtbike models and make RPG-7 tank killer teams too, they would fit in perfectly with the way I like to game.  These jeeps won't see painting or assembly until well after Cold Wars.
There definitely will not be another Iran Iraq War update for some time, though I will try to keep up with other posts.  Later, I will go over the Iraqi vehicle inventory, and eventually show some completely finished platoons.  Thanks!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heart of Darkness.. Lite!

A fellow gamer expressed interest in participating in an African themed game after re-reading Heart of Darkness.  I used to put on some safari style games , but hadn't for some time, so I dusted off the miniatures and starting writing a simple scenario.  The idea was a lucrative ivory trading station falling out of contact, and several competing factions sending expeditions in an attempt to claim the station and its trade routes for themselves.  With no boat or appropriate river terrain, all would be hoofing it.

I decided to use our  Where Heroes Dare! pulp gaming system.  Since I had all of the miniatures to be used, and wanted to keep the skills and equipment "semi-realistic", I worked up all 4 teams before hand, letting each player choose the team they would run.  I would take the left over.

The WHD! Dare Encounters tables included in the rule book are great, but its always fun to create your own tables that are specific to the feel or theme of the game you are running.  So I whipped up some tables full of African style encounters and misfortunes.

The teams were the English Party, led by Hatterson and his companion Brigitte O'Malley, with Askaris and the Welsh Ladies Choir for followers.... the Slavers, led by Blucher and his companion The Baroness, with Arab Slavers and Ruga Ruga as followers.... the British Empire, led by Johnston and his companion Penelope, with Askaris and soldiers as followers... and finally Teddy "Ladykiller" Roosevelt and his companion Olivia, with some American Cowboys as followers (I would get "stuck" with Teddy's team).
All of these figures are from Foundry, mostly the Darkest Africa range, with some Old West.  The hostile natives used later are from Old Glory... most of the animals are plastic toys, or resin elephants.  Where I borrowed images from Dieter (he ran the British Empire Team), I'll keep his captions. 

"Lions and tigers and cowboys, oh my!"  Teddy was off to a good start, running into an ambushing Lion that managed to maul Bill before being put down.  In fact, only two of the many animals encountered --a gorilla, and a zebra--didn't try to kill someone.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and also explorers, evidently.
"Eek!"  Brigitte and the Welsh Lady's Choir stumbled upon the only unusual creature encountered in the game... an over sized arachnid.  They calmly produced revolvers from their parasols and dispatched the beast.
The Empire and the Slavers worked their way towards the center, dealing with various calamities, including bands of fierce hostile natives.  Most were taken down by rifle fire, but one group caught the Baroness by surprise.  However, she proved a formidable melee opponent, and eliminated them all.
"I reckon we done heard enough of that"  Olivia initiated a fire fight with Hatterson that would eventually strip both of them of their followers.  Brigitte led the Choir forwards, and attempted to rout them with Eerie Singing (Laughter).  Teddy and his cowboys were unmoved, and opened fire, bringing down one of the singers.
"Bully shot, I say.  I took that one on the run."  Realizing that the Empire was about to claim the station, and wanting to break the deadlock on her side, Brigitte decided to charge past Teddy towards Olivia.... but Teddy, with his Lightening Reflexes managed a clean shot to bring her down, bagging a "trophy" wife.
At the end of the game we realized that Teddy's tally was one lion, and two women.
Penelope covered the flank (killing a white rhino, and eventually Olivia) while Johnston entered the Ivory Trading Station.  Blucher rushed up, only to provoke an angry elephant that charged into his group, crushing his Slavers to pulp before he was able to slay the pachyderm.
Undaunted, Blucher pronounced Johnston to be his Nemesis, and waded forward to challenge his old enemy for control of the station.  In the swirling melee that ensued, the enraged Blucher killed all of the opposing Askaris and wounded Johnston, but eventually succumbed to multiple wounds.

While Johnston had enjoyed the support of Penelope, Blucher could not rely on the Baroness.  Most of the teams met various animals that they quickly dealt with.  Unfortunately, the Baroness managed to contract Malaria (missing a turn but avoiding a loss of Dare!)... then became Lost! for another turn.  When she emerged from the jungle, she encountered another elephant (the 4th of the game) that ground her Ruga Ruga into the mud, and finally stamped her out for good.
In the end, it was easy to determine that the British Empire under the leadership of Johnston had won the game.  Blucher had accumulated some victory points by collecting informative rumors and tales... but he and all of his comrades were dead.  The English Party and the Americans had spent most of the game fighting each other, and only a few other points had been scored from trophy animals claimed from the Warthogs, Crocodiles, Zebra, Gorilla, and other animals encountered. 

The 2nd place would have gone to the elephants as they killed more explorer models than any of the human parties... in fact, the Slavers lost only one model (Blucher) to rivals, the rest were killed by rogue elephants!  The players surmised that not only were the elephants a concerned party to the reactivation of the abandoned ivory trading station.... they were obviously willing to voice their complaint!

It was a fun game, and though I did tailor the details a bit, it proved again how versatile WHD! is.  More importantly, it satisfied a friend's interest in the gaming subject... I was happy to oblige, this is after all a fellowship, and hope to use my Africa miniatures set more often in the future.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Persian Gulf Wars: Iranian Regular Infantry

One of my projects that was sidelined these past two years, was my Iran-Iraq War set.  Over the course of a year, I read, looked up photo references online, and ordered a pile of 20mm miniatures from Liberation.  I decided to form a regular Iranian platoon armed with G3s and MG3s (A3), an irregular Iranian platoon armed with AK's, an Iraqi mechanized platoon, and an Iraqi Republican Guard platoon.

The irregular Iranians could have been Basij or Pasdaran, eventually I settled on Pasdaran and will be painting them with bright green headbands (mixed with some painted on helmet bands).  I am still unsure about the Iraqi forces, given the development of what we consider the Republican Guard... but until I actually start painting them, I can continue to vacillate...

I contacted Liberation about using the 80's West German Bundeswehr, and was delighted to hear that there were some Iranian miniatures, with G3s and beards, in US style helmets.  There were no Iranian MG3 models, so I did get a pack of the German LMG models.  Also, Liberation had M47 Dragon gunners.  I ordered some extra RPG-7 gunners in M1 helmets, which could be mixed in with the regular Iranians later in the war.

The models are nice, the poses look good next to each other, personal equipment is appropriately scarce, and the beards are definitely full.  Unfortunately, the MG3 gunners are correct for 80's Germans not 80's Iranians, so have HUGE backpacks on them.  I will be making do, as conversion would be significant.  Besides, I already have the bonus of most of the Iranian infantry looking exactly right :)

Here are how some of the miniatures look prior to starting...

... and they are in front of a stack of some of the books I obtained and read for this project.  I'd recommend The Lessons of Modern War for anyone, volume II is for the Iran Iraq War.  The Longest War is the other book on the must read list.  There are of course obligatory Ospreys for specific vehicles.  There are about 15 more books or references not in the stack, but...

I have grown more fond of factory produced basing options as time goes on.  However, most of my collections are based on hand produced bases.  I measure the backs of miniatures packs (look for Combat and Minifigs in the next photo), cute them out, then affix magnetic material to them.  I then place them on sheet metal that has been affixed to board, and those become my carry trays.  Its cheap, esp recycling the backings of packs, but it has added time to every project.  The miniatures, after sprayed black, are affixed with a white glue and sand mixture.

I use mostly Ceramcoat paints on historical miniatures.  I worked up my paint list for the regular Iranians, figuring on the early war US drab uniform, and lighter webbing:
Uniform:  equal Timberline Green and Dark Forest Green as base, mix in Light Timberline for  drybrush
Boots:  Black, with Charcoal Gray for hilight
Bases:  Spice Tan (matches fairly well with the sand)
Webbing and Helmet Straps:  Mudstone
Skin (this one was tough):  Autumn Brown base with Toffee Brown accent
Beard:  Black with Payne's Grey accent
G3:  Black, with Storm Grey hilight
Helmet:  1 drop Dark Forest Green to 1/2 drop Timberline, little Light Timberline for accent (this makes the helmets close in color to the uniform, but different enough to look correct)

Overall, I think my color choices are good for the uniform I was aiming for.  Its the lighter green/drab, not the darker green/drab.  However, my hasty drybrushing of the uniform hilight is sloppy.  I was trying to finish some quickly, and they definitely look ok on the table.  When you look closer, well, it would have been better to take more time and do more deliberate accents rather than pell mell dry brushing.  Or make the dry bursh a little darker, so it matches better.  Take a look:

So, they are definitely not my best work.  Still, they are painting up very quickly, which more and more is important to me.  Example, in between typing parapgraphs, I am currently cooking dinner, and running up to check on things, ha ha.  So, I suppose if I want to complete the projects, I will have to cut some corners.  On the other hand, if you are working on something similar, you may want to take a little more time.

Basing is not done, but likely will only be a very light brown wash, and no flock.

I will give the Pasdaran and Iraqis more time... but at least I can say that this project is officialy started.  I don't see that the Iranians are listed as available from Liberation at this time.  Possibly there might be some laying around... I am already considering getting another pack.  Can never have too many :)  OK, off to finish dinner!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Where to Begin... Way Up North

I originally planned to jump on the blog bandwagon last year, but with selling a house, having to "stay elsewhere" for a couple of months while we plugged away at purchasing the new house, finally moving in... well, never got around to it.  So, my first post references a game I ran at our local club last year.... I titled it Way Up North.  Luckily I managed to find the photos I took from that game.

When I was doing my research for The Long Road South (our Vietnam supplement) I read of the armor woes experienced by both sides. The North in the latter part of the war made more extensive attempts to participate in armored combat, utilizing PT-76s, T-54s, plus Chinese vehicles too.

My scenario was centered around a USMC platoon, supported by an M48, encountering dug in PAVN forces when attempting a sweep through a small valley. The PAVN were able to bring up a PT-76, and a T-34/85, the latter suffering from engine troubles (it would remain immobile the entire game).

This was a "quick game" designed for fun, that allowed us to bring a few armored vehicles into a Vietnam game.   Since the PAVN did inventory T-34/85s (most that tried to move south were obliterated in air attacks... I don't know of a single episode of one actually seeing combat in South Vietnam), I chose to include one.

All of the infantry are from Battle Honors, I mix some of their US Army miniatures with the US Marine miniatures for variety.  Of the Vietnam miniatures I have seen in 25mm / 28mm, these are my favorite.  The M48 and T-34/85 are 1:50 diecast from Corgi, the PT-76 is a resin model (1:48 I think) owned by Keith, not sure of the manufacturer.

The valley:  dirt path, muddy paddys, some heavy growth, high grass, and a small village.

The Marines started along the valley path, but move quickly once the ambush is sprung.  They take fire from PAVN infantry and also PAVN emplacements.

The M48 takes aim ....

... and dispatches the lightly armored PT-76 early on.  The PAVN platoon command lurks in a forest section, immediately behind a squad sized earth-and-log bunker.

Unfortunately, while the T-34/85 couldn't move, its 85mm gun still worked.... destroying the American tank.  Notice the Marines in the lower right hand corner of the image, as they proceed to conduct a grenade duel in heavy growth against a PAVN squad.  The Marines eventually won the woods, perhaps pushed forward by the burning M48.

In the end, both sides had taken a number of casualties, and while the PAVN were in no position to repel the foreigners, the Marines were unable to dislodge the communist forces.  The Marines held a slight edge, but the game was effectively a draw.  A fun game for all 6 players, its doubtful that anyone would have received medals or recommendations.  Sometimes you can't claim victory, and have to go with the best that you can do.