December Project Update

New month, time for a little update. Seeing as last month was really the intro to all the projects on my plate, this month is a bit more of a check in.

Monday evening painting sessions are going ahead, and forming a nice bit of routine in my week (even if I’m struggling to maintain it the rest of the time). It’s also been nice as a hangout/chat-the-shit time, especially important as I live by myself. It’s very easy to start disappearing into the box.


Project ENFORCERS

So November plan was to get the Enforcers assembled which is done! They are also undercoated and ready to start painting… which is where I hit the problem. I’m still not 100% on the scheme, and not quite ready to put paint to plastic. Perhaps this will be what I end up painting over Christmas. But all the models are ready to go, sitting in my “to-do pile”.


Project Fantasy

Fantasy ended up being the thing I spent most of my time this month. Mostly this was due to finishing off assembly on several kits (Godsworn Hunt to back up my Warqueen, the Tree Revanaents and my Dark Elf Corsairs) but there was also some rebasing work (as you can see above) and even painting the new figures. They are always a nice change from other projects.

With this month being deal month, I was really excited to see these two boxes on eBay at a heavy discount. If you remove the outright Age of Sigmar elements, then there are plenty of pieces to use for generic fantasy gaming. It also includes a baseboard in each box, ideal for setting up a quick game. I’m saving the full game for Christmas but this is a nice start. However, it’s reminding me I definitely need to get a spray booth set up for the airbrush.


Project WW2

So speaking of “deal month”, there as an accident at Warlord Games during their Tanksgiving promotion. My love of Churchills is well known, so the concept of having a full platoon of them (as well as an additional one to set up as an AVRE) is something I’m very excited for. One of the things I was looking forward to by being in Yorkshire was getting a chance to play more Big Chain of Command games – Having a tank AND infantry platoon for this is a good step. Also a trio of Churchills is a pretty horrifying proposition to see rolling across the board if you’re a German player in 1945.

I’ve also started doing another piece of the work on the platoon – setting up the details of the various officers and NCOs that are in my forces. I’m leaning towards realistically fictional, so I can do all the details for each character (as well as setting up excuses for them to be in a whole host of engagements from Normandy to Hamburg). After reading several WW2 accounts and rewatches of Band of Brothers and The Pacific, as well as looking at the excellent and characterful figures from Paul Hicks, I’m already having the fun of setting up the personalities.


There is also another project, coming later this month, that I’m looking forward to. It’s going to require a lot of experimenting and tinkering (as well as lots of new skills and tools to learn) but the sheer possibilities from it are very exciting. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make something good using it!

November Projects Update

It’s time for a new month! And with the UK about to re-enter national lockdown (not that I’ve noticed much different), there is probably going to be a little more hobby time. As you’ve seen, I’ve really enjoyed posting my little updates, helped especially by the Monday painting sessions with my Dastardly Regular Opponent among others. But one thing I have missed is talking about ongoing projects, using a post as a sort of summary/catch up/reminder of how things are going.


Project Space Marines

The big boys first – I actually painted a squad worth of dudes last month. These guys (and girls) have been waiting around for a while so it was really good to get them cleared off my to-do list. It was also a nice change to paint, with big chunks of smooth armour and detail to be painted over.

The next step is to finish off my character figure (Cypher from GW range) in a paint scheme that matches his allies but is also a touch more dramatic to mark him out as a character. I’m planning on getting him painted up this month, and then I’ll turn to look at rest of the Marines I have. These guys don’t have quite as fancy armour, so I’ll need to work out what I’m doing with the silver shoulder pad. I’m also going to try and resist the urge to buy any more marines, but the Heavy Intercessors would be really cool. The downside is I would need to buy a chunk of Deathwatch Conversion packs to get enough armoured shoulders for the heavy armour, meaning I’ll have a load of normal power armour shoulders left over…

Oh dear.


Project Enforcers

The main project I think is next is getting my Enforcers/Space Mercs assembled. I’ve worked out a few rough lists, now I just have to nail down and assemble the remaining guys. I’ve still got plenty of heads and plenty of bodies to do, but I am really enjoying the assembly stage. The Enforcers are definitely designed to fit together in one specific way but you can do a few tweaks if you try hard enough.

Ideally, I’d love to have all these guys painted up by the end of the month but it’s not a hard and fast timeline. The scheme I’m thinking for them is a little more military than the yellow scheme GW uses. In part, it’s inspired by the classic 8th Cadian colour scheme, with a bit of extra grime.


Project Fantasy

Urrgh okay. So Fantasy has been on the backburner for a good while. I had a really good start in the beginning of the year, getting a good few of Northstar’s excellent Frostgrave/Ghost Archpelgio models painted. I also grabbed a few classic GW figures and then… well I moved and the world went to shit and my motivation disappeared through the floor.

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As I have fallen hard into GW’s embrace, I have repeatedly been tempted by Warcry, Games Workshop’s most innovative game for a while (in no small part to a friend up in Edinburgh talking about it). What sealed the deal for me was the release of a new box including my favourite type of Elf (shadowy and stabby). Coming with two forces and a ton of scenery, it looked like a pretty good deal (and perfect to given as a combined christmas/birthday gift in the new year). So that will be waiting for me under a Christmas tree.

But of course, if I have a new ruleset and figures then I can just use all my current stuff right? Yes (after I make up some profiles with the help of a friend’s tool). However, there is an issues with bases. All my old figures are on the Frostgrave standard totally-not-a-2p – anything new will be on GW bases. I have also moved some GW figures to the thinner bases and… man they look bad. So, during a bout of insomnia/mental fatigue, I decided to rebase all my figures onto the correct size of GW base, flared out bottoms and all. For the metal figures this was an easy job of just popping the super glue and pulling. For the plastic… there is a little more work. I’ve done off the metal, so the next step is sitting down and doing all the various troops and zombies.

One part of this however was seeing my painted minis (whose bases have been swapped and rextured) up close again. I really like the paint jobs I’ve given them so far, and the impulse to paint more leather and steel is slowly returning.


Project WW2

Ah my offt loved, sadly forgotten project. It was going so well – the groundswell of support for it coupled with playing a campaign of it over in York was getting me slowly ready to sitting down and painting up my British Platoon. But then York and Leeds both got Tier 2 status and so that idea came to a screeching halt.

However, I have not been idle on it. I have now reached the point where I have enough metal Empress figures to make a full platoon plus 2x Vickers supports (very useful against an entrenched foe with MG42s). I have also been hard at work (as you can see above) doing a few conversions to prevent my army looking too much like a group of clones. Some are pretty minor – covering up a shovelhead with a bugle, or swapping a grenade hand with a revolver to make an NCO. Others have been the classic head swap, requiring some green stuff work to cover the gaps and a steady hand to do the deed in the first place. The set I’m happiest with are the tweaks where I’ve removed the helmet and replaced it with some crude greenstuff work to make some cap comforters. These guys are additional to the main platoon and so will probably end up as engineers or other support – however, I think they will do very good work in scouting pair, sneaking through the mud to find the enemy during the patrol phase.

Project WW2 is ongoing but not currently a priority – this is mostly because I can’t really do anything with it (and therefore lack the motivation to finish it) until I can return to fight my friends t’up north (such as the wonderful christmas game) or I get my hands on enough Jerry to make a rival platoon.


Project Modern

Moderns are kind of the old standby for me. There is always plenty to work on (far too much to work on) and with Spectre releasing new stuff, it’s very easy to add to the pile. I’ve picked up the new additions and will (along with the old militia on my shelf) get them undercoated and based to match the rest. I’ll probably then get the new Tier 1 guy done and in the display case with his buddies, mostly because I quite like them as a group.

Moderns is on the low simmer, so I’ll paint what I fancy. I do want to get a solo game in though – the Sangin rules need testing, and I quite fancy using the Germans I painted up ages ago…


Project Murder Elves

I continue to be intimated by my tiny collection of Dark Eldar figures and will get them at some point. Mainly because I haven’t decided on a paint scheme for the little devils.


Project adalet

Okay, so I may have mentioned that I have been suffering bouts of depressive episodes on and off for the past year or two. Well deep in the midst of one last week, I finally pushed the button on a project I’ve had in the works for a while. To put it mildly, I love the new Battle Sisters squad. The models are incredibly strong visually, and GW plastic kits are really well designed. I’ve wanted a squad of my own for ages (not a full army!) but really wanted to do something special for them.

I am also a massive fan of the game Overwatch and one of my favourite heroes is Pharah, the Egyptian lady in flying power armour. I’ve had quite a few thoughts about making some sisters different from the typical Catholic nun and the skin above (labelled as Bedouin in the game) has given me several ideas for the mix of armour and cloth. I’ll write more details in a proper post once I begin work on it (which won’t be until after I finish the enforcers) but I’m really looking forward to what this project will be like.


That’s the project update for the start of November. As you can see, I have a fair amount I can pick at when I have time (and I haven’t even mentioned the MDF yet) but I’m slowly getting back to a place where I have time/energy to put into hobby stuff. I will say, having a fixed hobby time and friends to do it with has really helped my mojo, so I’m very tempted to keep it even when things go back to ‘normal’.

I’ll be back next month with another project update post but until then, keep your eyes open for more SITREP posts.

Project Fantasy Skirmish – Update 1

So it’s been a while since I last talked about Fantasy Skirmishing. Mainly because, like a wargames butterfly, I was distracted by something shiny and disappeared off into doing non-wargaming things for a bit (as well as losing motivation). However, this didn’t stop me picking more models and continuing to think about adventures

Name Change

First of all, you may notice the name of this project has been changed. The reason is pretty simple – after finally settling on a story or setting, I realised dungeons would end up only being a little part of the games I’d want to play. Sure progressing through a maze of tunnels is fun, but so is ambushing carts on a forest road, brawling in the local tavern or even sneaking past the town guards through the streets of some fantasy town.

The other reason was the lack of chandeliers in most dungeons.

Setting

I mentioned setting above. Well, I’ve been talking with a friend, often about story ideas, and we came up with a fantasy setting to base some of them in. The world takes a lot of inspiration from other fantasy settings, along with a few twists of our own. Now, it’s still in development, so lots of things keep changing with it. You might see a few names change even between posts on this blog.

This is the continent of Eutanica, one of many on the Lonely Sphere. It is split between two rival kingdoms. In the North, the King of the Dark Elves rule – his navy crosses the seas to bring back slaves and plunder from other continents while worship of the twin Elven gods of War and Shadows powers his armies. In the South, the Queen of the Iron Kingdoms gives praise to the Morrigan, her nation a patchwork quilt of smaller kingdoms united under a common ruler. It advances ahead thanks to bottling lighting and using it to power a host of machines, from weapons of war to great Iron Ships. These two powers, once almost close to being united through friendship, were torn apart by a flashing blade and now exist in a state of semi-war.

And in between these two superpowers? The Marches.

Comprising of multiple smaller nations, The Marches are what have stopped these two greater powers from attempting to wipe each other out. None of these independent kingdoms has the might to challenge the Dark Elves or the Iron Kingdoms but neither would they be simple to overrun and subject. Instead, this separation has started a cold war, with both superpowers seeking to improve their influence over the buffer, gently pushing the balance of power. Both powers send their agents, such as the dreaded Dark Elf Shades and the Swordmasters of the Iron Kingdoms to assemble alliances, impress the locals and generally push their agenda forward.

And this is where the players come in.

The idea

I am a fan of narrative wargaming, to put it mildly. So my concept for this project is that each fantasy skirmish will be wired together to form miniature campaigns. Each “campaign” will represent a single quest, with the players picking small groups to represent their adventuring companies. And like every quest, each will begin with a meeting (sometimes in a tavern), progress through the mission’s various stages (with smaller battles) and usually end in some terrifying finale against a dangerous foe (ranging from rival agents to the undead to servants of the Elder Gods).

The actual battles will probably be fought using Open Combat, giving a versatile tool kit to build everything from a ratman with a knife up to Greater Demons of the Dark Prince (…maybe… if something goes very VERY wrong for the players). I’m only aiming for small battles so we don’t need to deal with things like ranked up groups. Open Combat is also relatively easy to bolt stuff onto, so weird effects like magic shouldn’t be too hard to stick on.

Painted Figures

Of course, all these games need figures. More importantly, my collection is full of unpainted fantasy figures that someone bought and the painting logbook is merciless. Let’s take a look at what I have done so far.

Iron Kingdoms Ruffian

Ruffians, rogues, scum of all kinds. A good recruiter will find them throughout the Marches, even if their quality does vary from soldier to soldier.

First model painted, this is a Ghost Archipelago crewman. The main thing here was getting used to contrast paint for the skin and painting things other than camo. There are going to be a chunk of these Ruffians assembled and painted. Mainly because these guys will form the core of most adventuring parties or (if not chosen) be causing havoc while working for rival employers.

Lacelle “Gordelan” O’Dicca, Swordmaster

Swordmasters are the Iron Kingdom’s main agents in the foreign lands. Trained in the ways of the blade and the wit, Swordmasters travel around to push their Queen’s agenda. Lacelle is one such Swordmaster. As fast with her tongue as she is with her blade, O’Dicca is notorious for causing havoc and mayhem wherever she goes.

One of North Star’s Swordmasters, this was one of those models I just had to have. Painting the puffy sleeves (in Iron Kingdoms red and white none the less) was especially fun. She may not be on the board very often, but I guarantee she will cause havoc.

Benfrey Jochman, Swordmaster

Perfectly paired, Benfrey is the yin to Lacelle’s yang. While she is fast talking and emotive, Benfrey is usually quieter, lurking in the corner of the tavern waiting to tell the poor saps she has hired exactly what they will be doing. In battle he works perfectly alongside the quick strikes of O’Dicca, often delivering crushing final blows.

The other Swordmaster, painted up to be contrasting with Lacelle. At the same time, the red and white cloth at his waist shows off his allegiances.

‘Mouse’, ThIEf

For many in Eutanica, poverty can often be a bad harvest away. Luckily, ‘Mouse’ has developed a very special set of skills to assist her in redistributing wealth in her advantage. And for a fee, she’ll join your adventuring group to use them for other purposes.

I really like this little figure. Small than the others in the range, she just looks the very model of a fantasy thief.

Syghilda, Dark Woods Wanderer

Between the lands of Siccarius and Ruskov lies The Dark Wood. Many leagues across, this dense forest is a place of superstition and danger. Some say that the Elder Gods themselves stalk between those trees, their servants living alongside humans who fled into there thousands of years ago. Occasionally, denizens of this forest venture out to live among the more civilised people of Eutanica. With pale skin covered in strange eldritch markings, they are worthy warriors, unnaturally tough and strong.

This was a fun model to paint. Lots of exposed flesh to cover in my attempt at tattoos and then a bright vibrant hair colour to draw the eye. She fits the Celtic barbarian idea that the Dark Wood’s inhabitants are supposed to evoke, even if she is a little bit more refined.

Ser Renault, Knight of Fransya

North of the Iron Kingdoms, Fransya is ruled by a monarch but the individual peasants owe the fealty to one of 12 Knightly Families, each with their own traditions. Blood matters little to these families – a knight must prove themselves worthy of the name, often by embarking on quests elsewhere in the Marches.

Honestly, super simple to paint but super evocative. I love everything about this model, from the posing to the mix of armour and cloth. I went for a simple tabard, as this questing knight hasn’t earned the right to wear his house’s full colours.

Zarqaa, Farisian Demon Hunter

Hailing from a land across the sea, the Farisian Demon Hunters travel the world to slay creatures of the Elder Gods wherever they may be found. Painting their skin in ash to hide their presence from the beasts, they have many tools to banish or trap their prey. The gold on their cloaks can attract wandering eyes, but the large sword is often warning enough.

Another evocative model, whose back story was written while painting. The mix of weapons and layers of clothing were fun to paint – a light coloured lower cloth is probably all she would need back home but the other layers hold back the chill. Plus, I’m excited to introduce this sort of character into quests.

The Old Lioness, Iron Kingdoms ADVENTURER

Not all heroes can settle into a quieter life. The Old Lioness is one restless soul, happier travelling the roads than settling down to live by a fireplace. Strangely, records of a woman resembling her have existed for centuries, leading some to question just how old she really is…

One of the Heritor models. I really like this set, and for her, I went with the old adventuer look. Drybrushing on the grey hair is fun, but also adding touches like armoured plate beneath her clothing to lure in the unaware

Death Knight

In ancient places, far from home,
In tattered skin and browning bone,
Metal rusts, fabric decays, all goes below,
But Evil is a hardier foe…

I don’t have to say much – this figure is one of those that got me out of my funk and back into painting. It reeks of evil and malice, standing taller than most other figures, thin but also worrying. This is an enemy that will appear in the finale, the corroded metal and exposed bone there to terrify the players…

Cultists of the Undead

The dead should say dead, say the Covenant of the Iron Kingdoms. However, dark magics exist in this world and some mortal men wish to put the dead to other purposes. These necromancers often form cults around their work, offering immortality in exchange for service.

These were fun models to paint. I think my gold was a little too thick (I’ve lost some of the detail on the masks) but it is a nice contrast to the black robes and corroded metal. Plus great weapons to smash apart those goodie two shoes wanting to interrupt their master’s work.

Skeleton Cultists

Although skeletons with rotting clothes may have a certain visceral horror to them, loyal acolytes are much better when dressed as they were in life. And returning them as the undead means they are much less likely to tell the local constables exactly what their master is up to when captured…

These guys. Skeletons in robes have a glorious comedy to them even while looking horrifying for the part. I had great fun painting the bone thanks to how easy washes and well-sculpted figures make it.


So that’s the new update done. Obviously, I have a lot of painting ahead of me, and a lot of games to plan. I’m in the progress of planning the first few adventures (which is mostly assembling generic scenarios and working out the right bad guys for them) but the main thing is going to be finishing off the figures I have while trying very hard to not buy any more. One of the advantages of fantasy is just how many ranges full of shiny things there are…

And what’s next?

Elves. Damn, dirty, scheming Dark Elves

WW2 Project: Introduction

There comes a point in most wargamer’s life where your eyes start to wander towards collections of tanks and men armed with bolt action rifles. Afternoons spent watching war films, trips to the library to pull down the hardcover book full of black and white photos or endless nights of Call of Duty suddenly lead you to looking at collecting books of reference material and eyeing the various ranges of chaps in steel helmets and woolen uniforms.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your frame of mind), it is my time to take a trip back to WW2 and build my own army up. Although we had been talking about it for a while, the decision by my ‘friend’ Peeb’s Gaming Nonsense to gift me a Churchill tank for Christmas was really the straw that broke the camels back and unleashed the whirlwind.

(It should be noted that I got him back by gifting him some additions to a possible WW2 British Para Force. So guess what we’re playing in September)

So, what am I doing in my World War 2 project? Well, my first interest in WW2 came from Operation Market Garden, but there is a distinct lack of Churchill’s amongst the elements of XXX Corps speeding up Hell’s Highway (mainly due to the speeding requirement).

So my eyes drifted to the Reichswald and then into 1945. Mud, blood and hard fighting, everyone reaching the breaking point as the war begins to draw to a close. This time period also lets my opponents pull out the weird and wonderful toys to play with, while I potentially get to mix Paras and Churchills, Tommies and Comets as the final offensives get underway.

Because of this, I’ve decided I’m going to make a force for this period. Pulling on the feel of things like Fury, (and helped partially by my wash heavy painting style) I’m going to making these guys into a platoon of British infantry somewhere in Northern Europe in the early stages of 1945. Everything is muddy and wet, you can feel the cold in your bones, and still, bloody Jerry won’t simply pack it in and call time for this long game.

To take inspiration from the period, and get the right mood, I’ll be using the name “When This Bloody War Is Over” for it. Having listened to the tune above, it seemed appropriate for the time period. I’m also collating a few more books on the subject to try and capture some of the feel for the actions and tactics of the time.


With that target laid out, I’ve already made my start. The most obvious thing is the Churchill tank, now fully assembled and with a few tweaks to make it look unique. It was a bit strange building plastic kits again, but the Warlord product is really nice. I do have opinions on the fact it comes with two turrets and only one turret rear basket but it wasn’t enough to ruin the kit. More on it once it’s painted.

The bulk of the force, and something else that pushed me over the edge was the announcement that Empress had a range of late war British coming soon. Sculpted by the incredible Paul Hicks, from the first photo I fell in love with them. It’s something about how crisp they are as well as the proportions. The assault jacket and decorated helmets are also a strong outline

I picked up the Bren teams and two each of the two rifleman sets. My intention is to do some modification to the duplicate poses. These will probably be minor, removing some of the pioneer tools (of which there are many) and rotating a few heads, building on the scrim everyone is wearing around the neck to cover over any gaps.

However, there is also the matter of another few packs coming out soon which Empress released at Hammerhead this past weekend. The PIAT is a must, while the kneeling rifles and sten gunners should help to bring my force closer to the core platoon being comprised entirely of Empress figures.

Of course, I had to have a little play with a few other things as well. Arnhem and a Bridge Too Far weigh heavy on my mind when thinking about WW2, thanks to the inspiration it had in getting me into history. Despite focusing on the poor blooding infantry, I couldn’t help but pick up a box. Both for sourcing possible conversion bits, but also to let me possibly start building a second platoon in my collection. Also, plastic kits are something different from the piles of metal I usually have to handle.

In addition, I picked up the Winter British Infantry (mainly for the greatcoat look) and to act as an additional infantry section. Finally, I really like the ghillie suited snipers and will be making them into a sniper team, one soldier having his rifle replaced with a sten gun. More details on these guys as I work my way through them.

For anyone interested, here is a rough look at the Empress and Warlord figures side by side. The Warlord guys are definitely chunkier but should work well as an attached squad (maybe some of those Canadian fellows).

I’m also using the British Paras for an idea that GetWhimiscal, Peeb and myself talked about at Christmas – modelled patrol markers for Chain of Command. This should help to make pre-game phase a little more visually appealing, as well as reminding the players just what the markers represent. It’s also a chance for me to break out the converting skills and learning something new. Above is my first attempt, a pair of paras patroling forward, one of whom has recovered an MP44. There is a lot of work to do before they are ready but I’m really looking forwarad to working on them. Also the lack of pointing right hand on the para sprue is irritating.


With this idea, what am I actually going to play? Well, Chain of Command has really grabbed me, in part due to the feel of the game. The patrol phase and the jumping off points especially make me feel like an infantry commander in WW2, rather than an all-seeing general. I look forward to breaking out the support lists and getting a few more games in

However, I was lucky enough to get my hands on Radio Dishdash’s Ultracombat Normandy, the latest ruleset from Skirmish Sangin’s developers. Having had a read through it, it’s got some really interesting ideas that I can’t wait to put into practise.


Overall, I’m really excited about starting an entirely new setting. I have a tentative goal of getting a force ready for September (even if the equipment isn’t technically correct for Operation Garden) but I’d like to get plenty of games in before then. And of course, it may make sense for me to get some opponents for them at some point…

As this project continues, expect new posts every time I finish something. Meanwhile, I have to go read up on painting camo suits and using rifle/gun team combinations rather than my beloved fireteam arrangement.

Project Dungeon Crawl – The Additional Players

Ah time to catch up on some of those side projects…

Oh.

As you might have guess by the slow down on the main blog, I just didn’t have time for very much other than moderns for the last little bit and so my fantasy adventuring plans have gone literally nowhere. I still have a pile of unpainted models on my desk and I have yet to even play a single game of Open Combat.

However, that wasn’t going to stop me picking up some sprues and creating a few more adventurers to go into the dungeons. Kicked off by the arrival of single spures on ebay for the new female soldiers, I quickly grabbed some off eBay and got to work.

ghost archipelago Crewmen

Hailing from the more tropical realms of Frostgrave’s sister game Ghost Archipelago, these 5 figures have a bit more of a tropical pirate vibe to them. However, I think they would work pretty well as the townsfolk of this northern town once they are indoors or in the underground. For this reason, I decided to go with the less “sea dog looking heads”. These are going to be the poor peasants or workers, suddenly interrupted by the appearence of cultists or barbarians (or maybe worse)

Assembly wise, it’s obvious there is the same feel to them as the other Frostgrave kits. I didn’t try any cross assembly but it might look a little unusual with the difference in clothing styles.

Let’s take a look at what I assembled, going from left to right

  • Simple bowman – maybe someone to be encountered out in the woods near the city, moments before something nasty appears.
  • Big axe, bag on back – either another woodland dweller or maybe a merc hired to cut through obstacles before grabbing the loot.
  • Bandana, beard, sword – simple cannon fodder. Ideal for a bar fight.
  • Mohawk, sword, simple clothes – another sailor ideal for throwing into the mix
  • Okay, this guy is my secret favourite. Floppy hat, club in hand, closed fist. I am willing all my luck

I’m actually tempted to pick up some more sprues of this, especially if I decide to add some docks to the city for the opportunities. So expect to see more of these guys.

Female Soldiers

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on these girls for a while, especially after seeing the original previews. I really like the style they have gone for, continuing the wrapped up warm look that the original figures had while being sculpted to still look feminine. These all look like tough practical fighters working in winter conditions.

Options wise, there is the same mix of kit as the original spures, everything from bows and crossbows to various swords and spears. There is a great selection of heads

So lets look at who I assembled. Again going from left to right

  • I went for a classic adventurer look here, here striding forward, resting on her spear as she treks into the mountains.
  • This one is probably going to be used as the leader of the adventuring party. Cape hanging off there back sword held low as she advances, her mouth covered in a cloth against the environment.
  • An experienced fighter, axe in one hand and a bow in the other
  • Big lady with a big axe. This figure also has the two-part ponytail head, slightly moved to give her some motion
  • I think the hood and crossbow makes her look like some form of tracker, ideally suited for living up above the snow line

Overall, this is a really nice alternative to the normal soldier sprue if you want some additional variations. There is a good selection of parts and they do look different to their male variants – it’s definitely more than just a headswap.


So where do we go from here? I really like both of the sets I’ve take a look at, and I’m tempted to play around with the crewman sprues a little more to make some more civilians.

Next step: Actually do some painting.

Project Humvee – Weapon Options

Last time we looked at Project Humvee, we’d just finished adding another chassis to our convoy. In this post, we’re going to add some more weapon options. When running scenarios, it’s nice to be able to pick from a selection of gear, so the hot-swappable turret system is perfect.


But first, I needed to add an upgrade to Humvee Alpha. Up until this point, the only variant that had space for a spare wheel was the SF upgrade. For anyone using the regular variants, there was no mounting point available. From reading the Haynes guide to the Humvee, this is actually a pretty common occurrence. However, seeing as I haven’t covered my vehicles in bags handing off the side, I was looking for a way to make these vehicles look a bit less factory fresh and more utilitarian.

I’ll admit, there isn’t much too it

As part of the last wave of releases, Spectre has released HMV Upgrade Delta, inspired by the tire carrier seen on military Humvees. This is a simple two-part kit, comprising of a one-piece frame and a spare tyre. This is actually a different style to the tyres included in the basic vehicle, with a much deeper central recess. The frame glues into a locator lug on the back of the vehicle and then rests on the rear of the bumper. Its position means you can easily mount the spare tire frame even if you have installed oversized aerials on either side.

I really like this upgrade, so much that I think I’ll be picking up another one to add to my other normal Humvee. The frame sits away from the back of the vehicle which had me a little worried about how much support it would have once assembled, especially once exposed to the rigours of the gaming table. However, the resin actually has some flex to it – not enough that it’s weighed down by the tyre but enough that catching it on a building edge or dropping it shouldn’t be a problem.

I should also point out that mounting the fuel cans onto the frame is not technically accurate. Although a perfect space, this would cause issues using the mechanical lifting system (needed due to the sheer weight of a Humvee tyre). On the other hand, it does look cool.


Right, that’s the utility out of the way, lets move on to the cool stuff.

Three generations of M2 mounts

As the War on Terror has rumbled on, a key element of modern vehicles that have come on leaps and bounds is the weapon mounting system. In 2001 Humvees were rolling around with ring mounts and no protection but after combat usage in Iraq, they were soon mounting armoured shield and turrets to protect the gunner from being shot.

Of course, the safest place for the gunner to be is inside the vehicle. Remote weapon stations (or RWS) remove any need for the gunner to stick their head out of the vehicle while also adding some additional features such as improved optics or smoke grenade launchers to assist in the role and improve survivability.

Spectre’s range of RWS comprises of a mix of weapon systems and mounting platform. The heavy variant comes with thermal optics and smoke dischargers and can mount the M2 HMG, M240 MMG and the MK47 AGL. If you’re wanting to mount them on a smaller platform (such as a technical or a modified SUV) there is also the light version – it’s currently only available with the M240 and lacks the smoke dischargers of it’s bigger brother. However, it is more suitable for less military roles.

Having two of the heavy mounts you can see the similarities. The turret ring is a modified version of the one that comes with every HMV, and so assembles the same way. The actual gun mount (complete with ammo box and mounting system) is actually similar but slightly different for each gun so I wouldn’t recommend trying to hot-swap them. The smoke dischargers are small, but not small enough to cause an issue with attaching them.

I currently leave all my turrets loose, letting me easily swap between them. By default, the RWS attaches with a pin and socket system. Although stable, I could see an issue with so many loose parts – to this end, I decided to magnetise it. Of course, being a man of limited patience and skill, I ended royally bungling the job leading to several slightly drunken looking guns when rotated too far. Luckily this was easily fixed with a bit of filing.

The M2 is sort of the classic weapon for an RWS system, easily able to engage a mix of targets from infantry to lightly armoured vehicles. The thermal cam and zoomable optics make it even more of a threat.

I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for the MMG. The AGL is a useful weapon system but I’m much more of a fan of the MK19 – the MK47 is slightly too snazzy for most forces using the Humvee. The M240, on the other hand, is a much more refined tool, easier to balance as a scenario writer and slightly less terrifying to go up against.


Speaking of things terrifying to go up against, let’s talk about the GAU-19. If you’ve followed this blog, you know I’m a fan of all things rotary, even modding the Empress Humvees to mount a M134. Combining rotary with .50cal, and you’re about to see something pretty nasty to go up against. I know for a fact that Spectre is currently still working out the stat line for the GAU-19 and looking at for Skirmish Sangin, I think it’s first burst is going to be an incredibly emotional event for anyone downrange of it.

Assembly is actually something worth covering. The pack comes with the weapon, a box of ammo and the basic mount. Unlike previous miniguns, the scope is actually part of the main body of the gun. Additionally, the pack doesn’t include the turret ring, which means it can be used on all the various turret styles if you’re willing to slightly widen some of the slots in the armoured plates.

More interesting is the change in material. Unlike previous weapons, this gun is actually resin. But more importantly, the belt is resin. This makes it much easier to shape and mould after a bath in hot water, especially compared to the metal one that came with the M134 Minigun.


Of course, it was also time to assemble something a little more basic, perfect for the MENA forces or those less well equipped. For this, I grabbed a simple M2, an unused turret ring and a small piece of the pylon that comes with the M2 gun. Trimming down the turret mount slightly to make the pole fit flat, this turret is a bit of a classic. Change the door design, and this vehicle would be ready to roll around Mogadishu. On the other hand, this version is better suited for internal security, either rolling around military bases or city streets.


These new additions help to open up the options I have for using these Humvees. With a good selection of weapons, a limited number of vehicle bodies can fulfil many roles. As you can see above, the same weapons also work pretty well on the Empress vehicles, although the new RWS will need some tweaks to fit the roof flush due to the box at the front. Perfect for upgrading an M-ATV to sling .50cal rounds down range.

Next time on Project Humvee I’ll be adding some personality to my Humvees with the addition of some turret gunners. In addition, the local forces will be getting their first turret, perfect to upgrade the MENA regulars with something more than just a pickup truck.

Project Humvee – Vehicle 3

In the last Project Humvee post, I has a chunk planning out Vehicle 3 in the project. Well, this week I managed to get around to assembling and painting it in preparation for next week’s game.

First stage was assembly. This was exactly the same as mentioned in back in the first post of Project Humvee. Vehicle 3 is actually the exact same setup as the Vehicle 1 (using HMV Upgrade Alfa) except with the addition of two rear mounted aerials. One is from HMV Upgrade Charlie while the other is the FLIR setup from the Comms and Countermeasures pack included in the Version 2 of Spectre’s stowage

In the past, when buying items from Spectre, I usually get everything I need in the first wave and so only see items from the original casting run. This time, the delay has allowed Spectre to iterate on their resin process and so this vehicle is actually slightly different from the original release. I noticed that the detail on this vehicle seemed much crisper than the original run. This helped with assembly as the armoured window pieces seemed to fit much more easily into the slots. More importantly, some of the mould slip and air bubbles that I noticed on the original vehicles are no longer present. On the other hand, there did seem to be a bit more material to clean up on the underside. It’s always easier to remove material than try and fill out elements, so if it means a bit of extra prep time it’s a price I’m willing to pay

However, I did have a slight issue in the latest delivery involving the rear door and the rear cover from Upgrade Alfa. Both seemed to be fractionally oversized compared to the chassis, leading to some misaligned tabs and small gaps. Having compared the chassis with my other HMVs, it seems that it was the correct size so the other elements were at fault. However, this wasn’t anything that couldn’t be solved with an application of a craft knife and liquid green-stuff and so I got the vehicle built up anyway. I’ve mentioned this to the Spectre team, and they are investigating.

Painting on this vehicle was the same as the other Humvees. Literally the same. Go check out my method in the previous post.


The other part of assembling Vehicle 3 was setting up the turrets to go with it. I picked up a pair – one designed to go on the new vehicle and another to give me options for the SF truck.

As in the last article, I decided to go with the combination of an automatic grenade launcher and medium machine gun for one of the turrets. This lets the gunner pick between the weapons depending on the situation. The MMG is mounted on the weapon position from HMV Upgrade Charlie, with a small hole drilled into it. I skipped the stowage on this seeing as it already has a lot going on.

For turret two, I picked up the minigun. As I couldn’t bend the belt enough to allow it to drop into the turret, I decided to mount it on one side. True it covers up the side port and requires the hatch to be removed but on the plus side, it does give the gunner easy access to the ammo box. Again no stowage as it looks uncomfortable enough.


Aden Defence Force troops (along with SOF advisers) head out on patrol

And with that, the convoy is ready to go in next week’s game. The HMV continues to a fun kit to build despite some of the issues I had. I’m really looking forward to getting the three vehicles out on the board.

The next step? I’m not 100%. Crew figures are still coming and I need to decide if I want to use them and lock that turret into a specific group like the Task Force Operators which I presume are coming. I’m also interested to see some of the other weapon options coming, such as the remote weapon stations. Finally, it might be time to setup some non-US weapon systems.

Next week, tune in to see how they fare in their first game.

Project Humvee – Stowage and Painting

Last time in Project Humvee, we took a look into the basics of the Spectre range and assembled the chassis for the first two vehicles. This time around, prompted by the need to get some vehicles ready for an upcoming game, we’re going to cover the next step for this project. Adding some details, getting the current vehicles painted and then sorting out the next set of chassis and turrets.

Stowage

So in between the first post and now, I’ve actually done a few tweaks to the vehicles. Starting with Humvee One, the standard one. Seeing as this is designed to be the “normal” one that will probably end up being used by the regular forces, the base vehicle hasn’t had any add-ons installed. I did adjust the positioning of one of the armoured windows I mis-installed and filled in a gap I created on the rear bumper.

Up top though, the turret got some improvements. After looking at the some of the pictures, I realised I had mounted the .50cal a little too low and would have caused some gun depression issues. To correct this, I installed a small column to life the gun up slightly. From the stowage kit, I pulled out the large ammo box and stuck it to the side of the turret. This was inspired by a picture from HMMWV in Scale, and made a lot of sense – after all, it means the gunner can grab a reload much faster than having to drop down into the vehicle. I also added a LAW tube on the interior of the turret – perfect for when something needs stopping and the .50cal isn’t working out.

As you might expect, the SF Humvee had a bit more stowage added to it, seeing as that whole rear section is designed to be filled with kit. Starting with the exterior, I added the ever useful sand channels to the side of the vehicle, which should visually balance out the spare wheel and M240 on the far side. In the turret, I decided to keep things simple just adding a small Pelican case to the rear of the interior. Mentally, I see this as somewhere for the gunner to store all the kit they might need when running the turret, such as pen flares or tools. With the new launcher pack, I’m tempted to add an AT4 tube on the back of the turret but this will be painted and assembled once my next order arrives.

Inside the rear section, I’ve added a pile of stowage items perfect for giving the crew a bit more firepower while also making sure there was plenty of space for anyone using the M240 to move around. The list of additions are.

  • Large Pelican case: General stowage, anything from personal effects to medical or comms equipment.
  • Rifle case: More firepower, can be used to stand in for any stored equipment
  • LAW tube: MORE FIREPOWER
  • Small ammo box: General stowage, anything from ammo to additional grenades.
  • Hardened laptop: In gameplay terms, I’m going to use this and the aerials as a way of signifying improved comms for off-map assets or long-range co-operation. This helps to show off this ride as ideal for a SF advisory team, able to act as a force multiplier when working alongside other forces

Finally, I added two items on the rear bumper. The rucksack was put in place to cover up some damage caused by an air bubble, with green stuff filling in the bulk of it. On the other side, a jerry can helped to balance out the look.

Painting

Painting on these vehicles was very similar to some of the other US vehicles I’ve done. Black basecoat, Humbrol desert spray and then touched up with a brush version. Other details were then painted before being washed in Agrax. Rather than leaving to dry as I usually do, I instead dabbed it off which prevented some of the strange patterns I had to deal with on earlier vehicles.

I have a love-hate relationship with painting vehicles. It’s very easy to make them look bad but modern paint schemes means no faffing around with camo. Painting was done in an evening and although there are a few things I could touch up (like the central hubs on the wheel). I’d say these things are ready for the tabletop.

Humvee Three

So, with these vehicles finished, let’s look ahead at the next vehicle I’ll be assembling. The goal with this is to create another Humvee that can be used with regular army forces, so it will be using HMV upgrade Alfa and the partially armoured doors.

This time, however, I’m going to make it a little special and outfit it with the FLIR camera from the new stowage set. This is partially inspired by the LRAS vehicles. A variant I learnt about from the book “Red Platoon”, these vehicles have powerful observation equipment. Instead of the turret mounted system of the real version, the rear mounted camera does the job of marking the vehicle out as something similar without requiring a specific turret change. I’m looking forward to using this in-game.

Of course, the exciting bit is up top – the turrets. I find building .50cal turrets to be a pretty safe bet. It’s a multi-role gun, easily able to take out infantry and light vehicles a like. However, as various scenarios have told me, the automatic grenade launcher is also pretty common. I was planning to wait until Spectre made a Mk19 (much more suitable for Big Army, especially when playing games in the near past) but having seen more photos of the Mk47 in action, I guessed it was time to get one on the board. I am thinking of using the spare M240 I have as a secondary weapon in the turret, letting the gunner engage closer targets where a hail of 40mm would be unsuitable.

That said, I do also like miniguns. Having already used the Spectre minigun when modifying turets for the Empress model, it was time to add another one to my collection. I can see it being used a lot on the SF vehicle, so I think I’ll put it in Turret Bravo with the greater protection. The main challenge is deciding where to put the ammo box.

Finally, as I buy more vehicles, I’m slowly building a collection of unarmoured turret rings. As you might expect, this setup really isn’t suitable for most modern locations. However, it might be useful to have a few armed ones for less combat focused operations (such as interior policing or base defence) so at least one is having a .50cal added to it.

Conclusion

As you can see, work is progressing on. Having a deadline for a project is really handy as it helps to focus the mind and add a sense of urgency. I’m really happy with how these two vehicles turned out and can’t wait for them to both be reduced to burning wrecks as is tradition for newly painted models.

Next week will be another entry in Project Humvee as I frantically try to get vehicle 3 assembled and painted in under a week. I’ll also be looking at at the new stowage options and even getting one or two onto the vehicles.

EDIT: Change of plans – I totally forgot to order the FLIR unit so next Project Humvee post has been delayed. So the first time you see it will be in the next battle report!