Thursday 30 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [34]

Not much to report but I have basecoated the bases in Vallejo English Uniform and left them to dry out, so that I can drybrush them with Foundry Base Sand tomorrow. This will finish off the Back of Beyond project and allow me to clear the decks ready for the next one, which I've decided will be the 15mm AK47 Dictatorship army.

This is mostly ready for undercoating but I've decided to add a few extra bits before the whiole lot gets undercoated. I'll set out what I'm planning to cover later but it will be the focus of my efforts during the up and coming activity week. I think I'll be able to get the bulk of the army donr in the five days I have available, especially if I shift some units beforehand.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

AK47 Battle Of Wanayani Bridge

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Tuesday 28 June 2011

NEWSFLASH: Zumatan Invasion of Nbuto (Reuters)

A FART armoured car retreats from the Wanayani border zone (AP)

From Our Correspodent in Mtwange

Reports are coming in of a major military offensive in the Mtwange - Batufu Corridor by armoured and amphibious units of the Zumatan Army. Initial indications are that a rapid withdrawal of FART units from the Wanayani bridgehead is underway.

Eyewitness accounts suggest a significant reversal for the armed forces of the Independent Republic of Nbuto, with heavy gunfire and a number of explosions being heard from the direction of the Wanayani border crossing.

A spokesman from the Interior Ministry has vehemently denied claims of a crushing defeat by the Zumatans, despite photographs of destroyed FART armoured vehicles and retreating troops being published in the international press.

Latest reports from the frontline indicate that Zumatan forces are continuing their advance into the disputed Mtwange - Batufu corridor, with minimal resistance from retreating units of the Force Action Rapide Territoriale.

Further after action bulletins will be published when the situation is clarified by UN observers.

Monday 27 June 2011

Submarine Safari Sea Monsters [1]

I have three players signed up for Submarine Safari, which is great as it means I can crack on and get some prehistoric beasties to use with my HLBS hard hat divers. There's a fair selection to choose from with plastic models by Safari, CollectA and Schleich being available on ebay if you hunt around a bit.

I've started with a rather scary looking Dunkleosteus from Safari, which doesn't look too impressive in terms of size until you stick it next to a 28mm figure. It's actually not far off scale either, which makes it a pretty nasty proposition, given it's armour plating and rather large bite.

In the rules it's rated as follows:  Move 8" / Agility 3 / Toughness 12 / Damage 20 / No Critical Hits

This means that a speargun or knife armed diver has no chance of even penetrating the armour plating, although a well aimed harpoon might just do the trick. I think I'll need to think up some more powerful weaponry if the hunting party is to stand a chance against this monster.

I need to add a flying base to make it 'swim' and it could do with a wash of some sort, followed by some painting in certain areas but it's not bad for less than a fiver. I've ordered a small selection of other species so will be able to give the hunters some sporting targets once they're ready for sub-aquatic action.

NEWSFLASH: Nbuto - Zumata Peace Talks Collapse (Reuters)

From Our Correpondent in Botufu

In a sign of renewed tension between the Independent Republic of Nbuto and the Peoples Democratic Republic of Zumata, talks between the representatives of the two neighbouring states appear to be reaching collapse.

Despite the valiant efforts of the United Nations mediator, Mr Makousa, the peace negotiations in Botufu have ended in deadlock. The President of Zumata, Dr Kenko Gold, has walked out of the conference claiming that the issue of sovereignty in the disputed Mtwange - Botufu corridor cannot be resolved.

FART border post on the Wanayani Bridge (AP)

In response, an interior ministry spokesman for the government of Nbuto has confirmed that military units of the Force Action Rapide Territoriale (FART) have been strengthened in the disputed border zone, as a deterrent against Zumatan aggression.

Zumatan Border Guards on the banks of the Chokwe River (AP) 
The situation remains extremely tense as both sides prepare for an imminent clash in the border zone adjacent to the Chokwe River, with little sign of any political compromise in this long running regional conflict.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [33]

I had another crack at the bases today, using a slightly different approach. I decided to have a go with the HMG base using a basecoat of Vallejo English Uniform, followed by the usual Foundry Base Sand drybrush. I had to play around with a bit of additional drybrushing to make the rocky bits look less like lumps of vanilla ice cream, but the end result isn't too bad.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [32]

I had a crack at the bases tonight, well only one actually but it's a start. I decided to try out a 50:50 wetbrush of GW Charadon Granite / Khemri Brown as a basecoat, followed by a three stage drybrush of Foundry Base Sand. The end result is OK but not great.

I added a couple of Swamp Tufts from The Army Painter range to finish it off. I haven't used these before and I was pleased to find that they're very quick and easy to apply. A blob of PVA and it's job done. I think they're a bit too green for the desert but, who cares!

AK47 Airpower

I took the boys to see Kung Fu Panda 2 in Eastleigh today and, on the way to the cinema, found  a new model shop in one of the side streets. It was mainly model railways and RC cars but there was a decent selection of plastic kits and a good range of scenics too.

I picked up a 1/100th scale Tamiya kit of an IL28 Beagle for use with my prospective AK47 Dictatorship army, for the extortionate price of £2.99. I already have a couple of these kits stashed in the loft so they may all end up as scenery on an airstrip of some sort, once I get round to scratchbuilding one.

I was inspired by the erstwhile gaming opponent, Jon, whose terrain modelling skills have resulted in a number of top notch bits of AK47 scenery, including a full on airport with control tower, departure lounge and even an airliner.

Anyway, for £2.99 it's a bit of a bargain, even if it gets consigned to the big box of bits in the loft along with the rest of the squadron.

Activity Week 2011

I have a school 'enrichment' week in a couple of weeks time during which I'm running a Warhammer painting and gaming activity for a handful of kids. I've only got six sprogs and a couple of hangers on this year, rather than the usual twenty odd, so it'll be nice a quiet.

As a result, I get time to sit and paint up an army of my own figures while the sprogs glue themselves to bits of plastic and hack chunks out of themselves with craft knives. This year I've decided that, rather than start something new, I'm going to finish off some of the various projects from previous years.

So, this time I'm going to be completing the paintwork on my PITS / Death in the Dark Continent Dervish army. This only needs a little bit of work, including some lining in, detail painting and some flags to be complete. If I finish that I'll either do the TD Victorian Ironclads and the Rapid Fire! leftovers, which have been hanging about  a bit, or tackle the AK47 army that's based and ready for painting up.

It should be a productive week!

Friday 24 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [31]

I've textured the bases ready for painting up tomorrow, using  a mixture of sand, grit and PVA. I'm thinking about the colours I'll use but will probably go for a Foundry Drab approach over a base of dark earth, although the exact details are  a bit sketchy. If I have the time, I'll knock up some mdf bases for the vehicles too but that might be a bit ambitious, given my usual weekend preoccupations.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Submarine Safari...continued

The Tiger Miniatures ex-HLBS hard hat divers arrived in the post yesterday and very nice they are too. They're about the same size as Copplestone 28mm figures but a little on the slim side and perhaps less well sculpted. However, as the only show in town, they're more than acceptable and will paint up very quickly. I have three packs, one with tools, one with knives or harpoons and one with spearguns, so there is no shortage of potential prehistoric fish food.

I've put out feelers at the club via the website to see if anyone would be up for a game of Submarine Safari some time in the Autumn. Thus far I have one player interested so it looks like a feasible project, give or take a little encouragement to get a couple more signed up. As a result, I've decided to start hunting for suitable beasties to use in the game, with a rather scary looking plastic Dukleosteous as the first addition to the underwater menagerie.

I'll have a crack at painting up the divers when I get a spare hour or so in the next few days but, as things are a bit busy at the moment, I might have to wait a while before I get to put paint to lead.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [30]

I've finally finished off the last of the figures for the Back of Beyond oil prospecting expedition. Result!

I added a little wash to the bits that I didn't like and then spray varnished the lot to tone everything down a bit. If I was any good at painting I'd try to add some miniscule dots to the eyes but I think that would be a bit too ambitious for me. Anyway, I now need to add some PVA and sand to the bases before wrapping them up by the end of the week.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

East Africa

I was really pleased to find a copy of this for a very decent price on ebay the other day, especially as it's no longer in print and costs a fortune second hand. It's a book I've been meaning to get hold of for ages and is packed full of useful line drawings, contemporary illustrations and informative explanation.

It's definately got me thinking about In the Heart of Africa again, a project that's been waiting in the wings for several years now. It's not something I'm going to start now but it may well get tackled in the Autumn, once I've finished off a few things that I've already started.

In the meantime, it's on the reading list!

Back of Beyond Campaign Characters

Colonel Algernon Utterly-Barkinge Esq.

As mentioned previously, I've included rules for individual characters in the Back of Beyond campaign but modified the rules to enable them to be attached to specifc factions on a one shot basis. Each turn I'll roll a D6 for each of the players and, on a lucky roll of 6, they will be allowed to field a special character.

These individuals each have a particular trait or characteristic which is of advantage to the commander of the force to which they are attached. The characters themselves are based on the outlines in the Back of Beyond supplement, athough I've made a few changes and added a few extras. The six individual characters include:

Colonel Algernon Utterley-Barkinge, big game hunter (British Museum) 
Le Comte de Camenbert - famous desert explorer (French expedition)
Major Percy Armitage-Shanks, MC and Bar - British spy (British Army)
Eddie 'The Eagle' Eagelberger - WW1 ace and barnstormer (Oil Prospectors)
Vladimir Ilyich Proletarkski - Cheka agent (Bolsheviks)
Herbert Maximoff - dodgy arms dealer (Chinese Warlord)

I have figures for most of these characters, who must be deployed on table to have an effect on the game, but I may need to borrow one or two from other players to make up the number or paint up a couple to fit the bill. It'll be interesting to see how the characters affect each game and whether the players make use of them.

The character for my army needs to biplane to fly around in, so I'll need to build another of my stockpile of 1/48th scale kits - perhaps a Camel, SE5A or a Nieuport. I have an Ansaldo SVA5 that is assembled and ready to paint for my unfinished Japanese army, so that would be the quickest option.

Monday 20 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [29]

I did a rush job on the figures for the oil expedition tonight and have pretty much finished them off. I'm not too happy with the overall end result, especially the hair and the lining out on the webbing and clothes but I really can't spend any more time on them than I already have. I'll give them a matt varnish tonight then do some final finishing off once they're dry tomorrow. 

All that remains to do know is to texture the bases, paint them and add some grass or tufts. I'll try to do this over the next few days, which means my plans to tackle the Rapid Fire! figures and carriers may have to be pushed to one side. I may still get then done at the weekend but I'm not counting any chickens. It may well be that next Tuesday's game will need to be swapped to an AK47 clash if I can't get the stuff done in time?

Sunday 19 June 2011

Back of Beyond Campaign Turn One

Vladimir Ilyich Proletarski
(Individual Character)

I've been far too busy to get any painting done this weekend but I have managed to set up the fixtures for the first turn of the Back of Beyond campaign, including written briefings for each of the half a dozen players involved. I've been attacked by the Bolsheviks, so better get the Texan Oil Prospecting Expedition finished off pretty darn quick!

I've incorporated the use of individual characters in the system, so that there is a chance that each army gets to field a special advantage in a turn. This is based on the characters outlined in the Back of Beyond supplement but simplified to fit the campaign that I'm running.

As a consequence, anyone who gains the extra assistance of a character (as determined by the umpire rolling a 6 on D6 for each player) can deploy them for that specific turn, thus benifitting temporarily from their influence.

I'll see how this works in practise in the current turn, where the British Museum archaeologists have enlisted the assistance of Colonel Algernon Utterley - Barkinge Esq, big game hunter extraordinaire. In the meantime, I'll be finishing off the figures for my own army in time for a game with the Reds.

Friday 17 June 2011

To War with Wellington

I'm afraid I broke my cardinal rule this week by not finishing a book that I've started reading after getting past the first chapter. The shame! However, I have an excuse, a pathetic one but an excuse nonetheless. I've temporarily shelved Band of Brigands and picked up To War with Wellington by Peter Snow, primarily due to the fact that I'd read the first few pages in Waterstones and couldn't put it down.

I was a bit dubious when I picked it off the shelf to be honest, not being a great fan of TV history pundits with overblown swingometers. However, it's very well written and full of atmospheric narrative, much of which is based on eyewitness accounts of the campaigns, with a well balanced emphasis on History from Below tempered by the usual top down bibliographical coverage of Wellington and his various hangers on.

I've been absorbed by the description of Talavera in particular, which really brings the battle to life. So, highly recommended, even though I'm not a big fan of Napoleonics ( a bit too much like toy soldiers, unless it's at skirmish level, in my humble opinion).

Thursday 16 June 2011

Submarine Safari

I dug out the old back issue of Wargames Illustrated with the aptly titled Submarine Safari article by Chris Peers, after a bit of a rummage in the loft and a fair bit of colourful language. If you're interested in getting hold of a copy it's Issue 224 from June 2006.

The article consists of some background ideas plus rules for underwater combat, stats for different types of prehistoric creatures and some encounter tables, all for use with the Saurian Safari rules.There are no rules for submersibles but I'm sure I could work something out if necessary, using a bit of common sense and some mechanisms based on the existing rules.

I'm thinking about the viability of this as a club participation game, given the fact that it's a fairly simple system that I've used many times before but with an interesting new twist. The only problem would be getting hold of enough underwater beasties at a reasonable overall cost to my bank balance. I've found plenty of cool plastic toy aquatic creatures on ebay but, if I got a decent selection, it would put me back a fair few quid.

I think a little selective purchasing would be fine, however, especially if I could get hold of some cheaper figures from charity shops, discount stores and the like. I think I need to do a little bargain hunting to see what I can get hold of then decide if I'm going to splash out on some impressive big beasties from ebay. I don't really need yet another project but...why not?

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Deep Sea Divers!

I've been looking for these for ages! They're the old HLBS figures that are now being produced under licence by Tiger Miniatures. There are loads of interesting 28mm things on the Tiger Miniatures site, so well worth a look:

I stumbled across them today while looking for something completely different, so snapped up a couple of packs for underwater prehistoric monster hunting using an underwater variant of Saurian Safari that was published in Wargames Illustrated ages ago.

I now have suffucient figures to run a couple of hunting parties, so perfect for a club participation game. If I can scratchbuild some sort of submersible that would add another dimension to the game, preferably from bits and bobs that I have knocking around. I have all the terrain I need using my existing aquarium plant jungle, so it's just the monsters that need to be found to complete the set up.

Time to hunt around....

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Back of Beyond Campaign Begins

I was supposed to playing a game of The Rules With No Name at the club this evening but, due to a mix up by the Ministry of the Interior, I've found myself car-less and stuck at home.

To cheer myself up I've been revising and editing the player guidelines for the Back of Beyond campaign that I'm umpiring. This will kick off in July, so I need to get the orders in now so that I can process them and set up the players with their opponents.

 These are the key players in the Race to Kashgar:
  • Commander Lostagaine - French Citroen Kegresse Trans Asia Expedition
  • Colonel (Retd) Cholmondely-Warner - British Museum Archaeological Exploration Party
  • Generalissimo Wu Tang - Chinese Warlord
  • J.R.'Jock' Ewing Sr - Texan Wildcat Oil Prospector
  • Commissar Tchestikov / Commander Wanderov - Red Army Propaganda Detachment
  • Lt Col Bannister VC - Indian Army Flying Column (Bannisterforce)
This gives a nice balance to the campaign and will allow us to have three battles per turn between us, so plenty of action to look forward to. I still need to type up some individual briefings for each of the participants, to give them some additional campaign background, but will get that done when I've got the time.

Monday 13 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [28]

I did a rush job on the Copplestone Garford Putliov this evening, just to shift it out of the way so I can get on to the remaining figures tomorrow. It was weathered with a three stage drybrush of Foundry Rawhide, the tyres were painted in Foundry Granite and the machine guns given a coat of Foundry Tan Shade followed by a splash of GW Flesh Wash.

I managed to scrounge some decals from the spares box to add some colour but couldn't find a suitable non-Soviet slogan to add to the turret. Never mind, I think it looks OK as it is. The paintwork is a bit sloppy but I'll tidy that up at a less hectic pace another time. However, the camouflage pattern plan has been consigned to the 'that sounded like a great idea at the time' bucket, as I just can't be bothered!

Next, I'm going to see if I can wrap up all the painting in no more than two sessions, leaving only the bases to be textured and painted.

Return to Rapid Fire!

I've had a very busy weekend, hence the absence of any posts over the last seventy two hours but normal service has now been resumed. On Saturday we had a ninth birthday party to organise, followed by the arrival of some French relatives for the weekend. The whole of Sunday was occupied with sightseeing in Bath as a result, despite the terrible weather, so no painting has been done and I'm a bit behind schedule.

However, I have managed to arrange a game of Rapid Fire! or possibly Armies in Crisis for later in the month. This will involve my 5th DCLI battalion with armour support from a squadron of the Sherwood Rangers against a scratch Kampfgruppe of Jon's Panzer Grenadiers. It's therefore imperative that I finish off the last carriers and figures to complete my battalion for the 28th.

We've both got Armies in Crisis and thought it might be interesting to try the rules out as an alternative to Rapid Fire! The rules are based on Contemptible Little Armies so the mechanisms should be quick to pick up and easy to work with. I've also loaned my copy of Rapid Fire! to a chap at the club so will be a bit stuck if I can't retrieve it by the end of the month (although I could print out the .pdf).

I'll try to round off the Back of Beyond figures and the Garford Putilov this week leaving the Rapid Fire! stuff for the week afterwards. I've still got quite a lot to do but the added impetus of a game at the end of the tunnel should help me shift things along.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Too Fat Lardies Summer Special

I was really looking forward to the Toofatlardies Summer Special this year and I'm not disappointed. Not only does it feature an Eastern Front scenario for Bag the Hun and a whole riverine warfare supplement for Charlie Don't Surf, it also has a set of WW2 coastal warfare rules aptly titled Coastal Patrol.

This is a project that I've always wanted to dive into having played countless solo games of MTB, the old TTG card based ruleset, in my mis-spent youth. I've also enjoyed several games using Action Stations! at the club  over the last few years. However, despite a good stockpile of my own 1/600 scale models from Skytrex, PT Dockyard and good old Airfix, somehow I've never got round to starting my own set up.

One day I'll get my act together but, in the meantime, I've been reading through the rules and thinking about how they work. On the plus side, they use the established blind system as a very effective means of repilacating concealment reminding me of Bag The Hun but also Bulldogs Away!, which has a neat mechanism for radar detection.

The rules also emphasize the role of command decisions really well, through an initiative and order system based on a die roll at the start of each turn, modified by experience. This is  something which I think is missing from a lot of naval rules and would add a great roleplay element to the game. If you have read around the subject you'll recognise the significance of an indivudual commander's decision making based on a combination of skill, experience and luck, something that most rules seem to ignore.

There's also a clear and simple system for firing, which gives the option of individual fire or full broadsides, together with a comprehensive and realistic damage table to reflect the specific impact of enemy hits on the hull, superstructure, bridge and so on. There's also a very original random events chart to add some additional confusion to the already fairly chaotic proceedings.

I think they look like a very promising set of rules especially as they are bundled with the Summer Special which, at a measly fiver, is superb value for money and full of excellent material for a shedload of TFL rules.  

Hawker Hart Film

This is great! I particularly like the pilot's handlebar moustache. This airfield is only twenty minutes up the road from me too. I wouldn't be surprised if my grandfather was posted there at some point. Who knows, he might be one the erks wheeling out the aircraft at the start of the film? I'll have to check his records to see.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the show.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [27]

I've given the Garford Putikov it's basecoat of three stages of Foundry Phlegm Green tonight. It looks a bit dodgy at the moment but I'm sure it'll look better once I've done a bit of drybrush weathering. I'm still thinking about camouflage options but will wait and see how the next bit goes before I decide what to do. I should be able to wrap it up tomorrow, given a bit of luck.

I've also finished the DH2 spotter plane for the expedition with a bit of drybrush weathering and a  wash of GW Devlan Mud over the wooden bits. The decals are a combination of 1/48th scale Blue Rider RCW Soviet roundels with 1/72 scale RFC white lettering overlaying the red stars. The idea is to replicate the Texaco logo in some way and it seems to have worked, although I might overpaint the roundels in white to make them stand out a  bit more.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [26]

Not a lot to report today as I've been otherwise engaged with workload issues, so have had little time to get any painting done this evening. I have, however, sorted out the barrels on the truck with a judicious layer of GW Blood Red wetbrushed over the offending bits. I've also added a couple of spare decals from a Company B sheet, just to make them look a little less dull.

I have also undercoated the Garford Putilov armoured lorry with the usual GW Matt Black spray. I'm thinking of giving it the tried and tested Foundry Phlegm Green wet / dry brush approach but perhaps with a bit of a funky camouflage finish, so that it's a bit more colourful. This sand and green ripple effect is what I might try, if I can summon up the courage to have a go.

I'm keen to wrap this project up in the next week or so as it's taken up enough time already, which is at a bit of a premium at the moment. I'm also getting itchy fingers and want to move on to one or two quick mini-projects that I can finish off in a couple of days each, just as a form of refreshment rather than anything too serious. I have a couple of ideas for this already but need to dig out the relevant stuff to check what I've got.

Monday 6 June 2011

Pulp Miniatures Guns

I've been thinking about the unarmoured trucks for the Back of Beyond expedition which are supposed to be armed with machine guns but, as yet, are toothless. To remedy this slightly ridiculous situation I've ordered a pack of light deck guns by Pulp Miniatures from the Miniaturicum webshop, consisting of two each of the above. 

It was a bit pricey (!) but I think it'll be worth it, both to kit out the trucks with pintle mounted light or medium machine guns and to stockpile the 37mm cannons for my Darkest Africa gunboat, whenever I get round to scratchbuilding one. I'll post some pictures of the guns when they arrive from Germany, hopefully in the next week or so?

Hawker Hart Hunting

I've been looking for a model kit of a Hawker Hart since I unearthed my Grandfather's photo collection last week. I really like the idea of making a model of the aircraft that he flew, K2129 No 5 of B Flight, 38 Squadron based at Rispalpur on the North West Frontier.

Unfortunately, apart from a hard to find 1/72nd scale kit of a Hart from AZ Model, no one seems to make an off the shelf version. I'd really like to build one in 1/48th scale but that's not an option. There is a 1/32 scale reesin kit by Silver Wings but it costs about £100, which is way out of my league even if I knew how to stick it together.

A final option would be to build a 1/18 scale rubber powered flying model from a kit I've seen on Ebay. I'd not bother to use it for flying but would detail it up to make it look as much like a scale model as possible. In the meantime, I'll be saving my pocket money to buy one of the restored Hawker Hinds that were found on a scrap heap in Aghanistan.

They're a bargain at £80,000 but I think I'll just get one rather than a pair.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [25]

I finished all of the unarmoured trucks today using various shades to cover all the remaining bits. As you can see, I also added some resin cargo bits and bobs so that they look a little more business like, although I need to matt varnish the barrels to tone them down a bit. I also have canvas tilts in a fetching shade of soft plastic brown that I could paint up and use but I'm not sure they'd hold the paint without it flaking off. I now only have the Garford Putilov to paint and the figures to detail before I'm on to the basing.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [24]

I've started on the unarmoured trucks for the expedition including the tanker and the three flatbeds. The tanker was washed in future gunge then lightly drybrushed with Foundry Artcic Grey. It needs a lot more work but it's on the way.

The three trucks were spray undercoated in black then two of them were wetbrushed in three stages of Foundry Phlegm Green, whilst the other one was wetbrushed in GW Shadow Grey (nice shade!) with progressive highlights in 50:50 Foundry Arctic Grey /  Shadow Grey and pure Arctic Grey.

Next, I tackled the flatbeds and unditching beams in three stages of Foundry Chestnut followed by a drybrush with Foundry Canvas and Canvas light. When this is dry, I'll give the woodwork a wash of GW Devlan Mud to add some shading.

I'll tackle the other details and the weathering tomorrow if I have the time.


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