Monday, August 14, 2017

Federal Republic of Gambusia Armored Battalion

This past week I managed to work on some projects. The rebels got a some additional firepower in the form of a Russian M1944 100mm anti-tank gun. Sorry no pictures at this time. The Federal Republic of Gambusia now has a battalion of more modern tanks in the form of the Vickers MK III MBT. Here is a thrown-together shot of the battalion:


In reality, the anti-aircraft tanks and the tank destroyers are in separate companies, but I spaced them out for ease of photographing them.



The table of organization of the FRG is somewhat similar to that of many modern nations where the largest standing unit is the battalion. Units are combined depending on the mission. The AA company is attached. The 3rd battalion's mission is dedicated to fighting such foes as Northern Chalupistan rather than going after rebels.

Each company is represented by a different colored thermal sleeve.  The command tanks are represented by having antennae and either a tank commander or just a machine gun.

Vickers Mk III MBT
 The minis are old Skytrex ones, which are now sold by Heroics & Ros. This is their second paint job. Originally, I had a wash on them, but they looked awful. So, I repainted them with a basic gloss green  that I bought at Lowe's, and decided to skip the wash. They still look pretty glossy despite the coating of Vallejo clear flat. I would spray them with Dullcoat, but it's been awfully humid out. They are not the best models, but they are the only representatives of the Vickers Mk. III, so they will have to do.

The tank destroyer company is made up of the FV 120 Spartan MCT (Milan Compact Turret). These are Heroics & Ros models and they painted up rather nicely.


The AA battery is made up of the French AMX DCA with two 30mm AA guns. These are C in C models. I painted them up a long time ago before I really decided on a paint scheme for the FRG. These are probably among my best paint jobs for micro armor in terms of highlights and shading.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Back From China and Inner Mongolia

I am finally back from a week in Chicago and about two weeks over in China visiting in-laws and doing some sightseeing. This isn't intended to be a long travelog, just some pictorial highlights.

We spent the first week of our trip in my wife's hometown, whose name I cannot remember, but it is in the Hebei Province near the larger city of Chengde, which is about 4 hours northeast of Beijing.

Hebei Province. Chengde is the region in the northern part of the map.
Source: Wikipedia
Chengde was home to a summer palace for the Qing emperors. Like most of China, it is very rugged. Some relatives took me to a shrine that was on top of two pillars of rock. How the monks managed to climb up there is beyond me.


A common feature of all cities and "towns" are the enormous apartment blocks. The view is a stark contrast from the temples and various monuments that were in the hills.


The big highlight of the trip was to Inner Mongolia.

Source: Wikipedia

This is the part of Mongolia that is on the Chinese side of the border. My wife's college roommate is Mongolian from the region and set up a college reunion in the city of Ordos. The reunion was a pretty big affair with banquets with lots of drinking! We also took a couple of sightseeing tours.

Genghis Khan is revered and is said to be buried in Inner Mongolia not far from where we were staying in Ordos. There were lots of statues commemorating Genghis:


Even though no one knows exactly where his tomb is,  there is a large shrine that is dedicated to him. The shrine contains his saddle, bow, and a number of other artifacts pertaining to him and his wives.

The Shrine

Statue located at his shrine.
 
Our trip began and ended in Beijing. Whereas Inner Mongolia was heaven in terms of heat and humidity, the weather for the most part of the trip was hell. High temperatures and humidity made sightseeing a drag. Even though the subway system is air conditioned, it doesn't help when we were packed into cars like sardines.  There were a lot of crowds of sightseers in Beijing that was something I didn't notice the last time we were there. We went to the Summer Palace in the early evening, which turned out to be a blessing temperature-wise. One of the things I got to see that I don't recall seeing last time was the famous or infamous Marble Boat.


It was built by the Empress Dowager Cixi in 1893 using funds earmarked for the Chinese Navy.

There is my much shortened highlights of my visit to China. It is still crazy almost a week after we got back. We are still suffering some from jetlag and the kiddos are back in school, with my son starting kindergarten, and me trying to get ready for upcoming classes and preparing a poster for a scientific meeting. I hope to get back into the swing of things hobby-wise soon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Post for the Sake of Posting

I was on a roll in May, but then came June. I've gotten almost nothing done. It has been endless driving to tennis tournaments and then a five day vacation to Florida and Legoland. Legoland is not a monstrosity like Disneyland or Universal, but there are plenty of things to do. One of the cooler parts of the park is that there is a number of dioramas built out of Legos. Most are various cities in Florida and in the US, but there is a series of scenes from Star Wars:

Cantina scene

Fighting off storm troopers
Chewie at the controls

There were plenty of figures to go with all of the dioramas, but the interesting thing was that instead of the usual Lego mini-figures, the people were built out of separate Lego pieces. They still had plenty of character to them.

My boy and his current favorite superhero

I managed to start a few things, but nothing worth taking pictures for. Just before I left for Florida, I decided to strip the paint off of my Vickers Mk III MBTs. As much as I hate stripping paint from figures, I was not happy with how I painted them for the Federal Republic of Gambusia. They sat in a jar of Simple Green for about 6 days. That was enough time to do the job. It didn't hurt that they don't have much detail to them. The paint came off pretty quickly when using an old tooth brush. If I have a chance, I will add some commanders to them to indicate that they are company HQ tanks.

This will probably be the only post until August. Next week we head to Chicago and then off to China and Mongolia to visit the in-laws for three weeks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

6mm Head Swap

I've made lots of head swaps for 15mm medievals, but this was both 1000X more tedious and felt weird. One of the riders of the MT-LB was missing his head, but I didn't notice it until I primed the model. So, I cut off the head of another mini and glued it on.

Before:

Can you spot the new head?
After:


Not perfect, but good enough at this scale. I just hope it stays on. Another piece of hardware for the Gambusian rebels!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Curvaceous Thief

I bought a role-playing adventure party from a Shapeways shop called Small Ox Miniatures.


They were a little expensive, but I wanted to see how good 3D printed minis could be. After washing them a lot, I primed them with acrylic gesso. The last time I primed a 3D model with spray paint, it melted on me. Plus, the gesso helped reduce the surface graininess.

Here is the first to be painted.


She is either a thief, or an assassin, I am not sure. She seems to have a lot of heavy plate armor on her. She also has the curves, not that there is anything wrong with that! I would like to have seen some side arm like a sword, and a quiver for her crossbow bolts. If you look at the above picture, they all seem to have rather large heads in proportion to their bodies. I assume all but the Dwarf are humans, but the look a little on the Gnomish side to me, maybe it's the big heads.

Small Ox has several other lines of fantasy figures, but they seem be a little on the expensive side for the price.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Harpoon: Captain's Ediion

There are a lot of wargames that were published in the good old days that are now out of print that I wished I had purchased. So, I've been picking up a number of them. One reason is to have some board games available if needed. The other is looking at them in terms of converting them into miniatures games. This is nothing new for me. Way back in the late 70s, my buddy Mark and I used the rules for Avalon Hill's Midway as the basis for a very simple naval game using handmade ship miniatures. We also once tried using AH's Panzer Leader to have a microarmor battle.

I've been focusing on naval and air board games because there are few miniature rule sets out there compared to land-based games. My latest purchase is Harpoon: Captain's Edition (H:CE).


Unlike Harpoon rules, H:CE is a board game that takes place during the 80s. The rules are pretty simple, but not simplistic. They are also pretty clear cut and well organized. I read them in about 20 minutes and didn't feel confused about any particular part. I noticed that some of the mechanics are very similar to those of other modern naval rules, Shipwreck in particular. I think these can be easily converted into a miniature game. There are only two minor drawbacks. First, weapon stats is somewhat abstracted.

Sample of ship cards for H:CE. Weapon and defence stats on the right.
As seen above, there are anti-aircraft/anti-missile defenses, anti-ship weapons, and so on, but you don't know specifically what the weapons are. The weapon systems for Rory Crabb's Naval Command is the same way. I prefer to know exactly what each weapon does so that I can build my own boats. However, with a little work, I can figure out weapons data.

The second issue is more of general complaint of a number of modern naval rules. Many rules seem to focus on the "big ships" and leave out smaller ships. For example, there are no Soviet missile boats such as the Komar or Osa, or even the larger Nanuchka-class and Tarantul-class missile corvettes in this game. I can forgive H:CE as it has a narrowly focused scenario that takes place in the Northern Atlantic. However, I don't understand why other rules sets do the same thing. Not to pick on them, but Naval Command is an example. Interestingly, I've seen this in some WWII naval rules regarding destroyers. It's as if they don't exist. Again, I can work out the stats for these smaller ships, but it would be nice if they were already done by the author of the rules.

I need to get back to my 6mm miniatures. I have been making some pillboxes and small bunkers out of polymer clay. I will give a report on those soon.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rebels in a Box

Here is my generic rebel army with most of its technicals:


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Another COIN Aircraft and a RPG

It's been a long hiatus of doing much hobby stuff, but finals are now over. Today was commencement. Fortunately, I had lunch right after the ceremony with good friend and colleague. Usually, I am rather melancholy for a few days after commencement, but the lunch was a pick-me-up.

Anyway, I've started back into working on stuff. First off, a COIN aircraft for the Federal Republic of Gambusia:


It is a Hawker Sea Fury from MSD Games. They have some really nice models that are probably a little better than Heroics & Ros. 

Like the Kiowa Warriors, this plane painted green brown but now with Middlestone camo. The roundel looks like a british one, but the center is actually green. The rockets are modified C-in-C Sidewinder missiles. I have another Sea Fury that I plan to put more modern rocket pods on. I don't usually do anything with the panel lines, but this time I did and it turned out well. 

Onto the RPG gunner.....
I noticed that my rebel units are pretty skimpy in the basic riflemen category, so I've started beefing up those. I seem to get obsessed with various weapons and this time is the Soviet/Russian RPG-29:

Source: modernfirearms.net

Pretty simple: a tube. But it's a tube that can really punch major holes in modern armor. According to Wikipedia, it has taken out MBTs such as the M1 Abrams and the Challenger 2. It's secret is that it has a tandem warhead that can defeat ERA or modern composite armor. An avid converter who posts on one of the microarmor groups on Facebook made one out of a RPG-7 gunner, so I thought I could too.Here are some pre- and post-painted pictures:


I used a RPG-7 gunner from GHQ's Bush Warrior pack. First, I tried cutting off the entire RPG off, but the gunner's head came off along with it. Then I cut off the front and back ends on another victim. I then glued two pieces of an 8 mm styrene rod. Hopefully, it won't bread off. I plan to mount this guy in the center of the base with two other figures on either side of him. That should protect him. The back part of the barrel is a little warped, but overall it looks pretty good. I think I got it pretty close to the proper length scale-wise. 

I don't really have any sort of story as to how Gambusian rebels got a hold of one. Northern Chalupistan doesn't even have them in their arsenal. It will be a one-off weapon, so probably not a battlefield game changer. 

When I get closer to completing the rebels, I will post a group portrait. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Federal Republic of Gambusia Infantry Battalion

I finally completed the Federal Republic of Gambusia's infantry battalion, more or less.  All of the infantry is from Heroics & Ros new 80s British infantry. At first, I was going to go with GHQ's Bushfire Warriors (TW8 & 9), but I didn't want them to be armed with AK-47s. Then, I considered their 3rd World Regulars (TW12 & 13). They are armed with HK G3 rifles and sport US WW2 M1 helmets. The FRG gets most of its equipment from England and France, plus they are all armed with RPG-7s for their anti-tank weapon, so I rejected them.

When H&R came out with their 80s British Infantry, I knew that those were a perfect fit. These guys are a big improvement over older H&R infantry, not that I mine the old ones. Besides their British kit, what attracted me to them is the variety and options you can choose from. In addition to rifle armed infantry, they have troops firing a Carl Gustav, a light LAW, machines guns mounted on both bipods and tripods, snipers, scouts armed with submachine guns, light and medium mortars....you get the idea.

I follow Fist Full of TOWs 2 for making up the TO&Es. Each stand represents a platoon. On paper, the battalion is supposed to have three anti-tank platoons, being made up of either the PV-1110 recoilless rifle, or the Milan ATGM. I only managed to make one RR stand. Also, there should be a third 81mm mortar stand, but I can't seem to find the third one. Here is the group shot of the 3rd Mechanized battalion:


 APCs or transport is interchangeable. The 3rd MI uses the Alvis Saracen APC for its infantry platoons. All other support stands either uses trucks, or a RG-31 Nyala to pull the RR.

Infantry

1st Platoon; company command
Another shot of the first platon. The Carl Gustav can be better seen
The first platoon of each company is considered to be the command platoon. It's not a big deal in FFT rules, but it is for Cold War Commander, if I chose to use them. The command platoon has a 84mm Carl Gustav RR for it's anti-tank weapon. The other platoons have the M72 LAW.


Remaining platoons in each company
Besides the lighter M72 LAWs, the remaining platoons of each company has a man armed with a Bren Gun. The Bren gunner can be seen in prone position in the middle of the stan.


Heavy Weapons


Each company has a heavy weapons platoon. It is armed with a L7 GPMG medium machine gun, and a light mortar. Presumably, it also has an M72 LAW. They also make a L7 GPMG on a tripod, but I opted for the bipod. It seemed to go better with the dude firing the light mortar. Older versions of FFT had specific rules for light mortars, but in the 3rd edition, they seem to have disappeared.


Anti-tank Units
PV-1110 RR with RG-31 to tow it.

As I said above, the anti-tank platoons vary as far as what they are armed with.  Going over my TO&E, I noticed that some infantry battalions have the 120mm Wombat RR mounted on a jeep. This battalion happens to be armed with the PV-1110 RR. Why the PV-1110? Why not? According to Wikipedia, the Swedes made 1,600 of them, so it's conceivable that some have found their way to the FRG. I am not sure if the RG-31 would be used to carry the RR and its crew, but I figured it might as well as a truck seemed too big. Whereas the gunner as the spotter are H&R figures, the recoilless rifle and the RG-31 are from Scotia-Gendel. Scotia makes several different sized generic RRs. The PV-1110 is only a 90mm weapon, but it has a rather long barrel so their large RR fit best. When I get around to it, I will paint up and base the H&R Milan team. 

Battalion-level Artillery

Each battalion has a company of 81mm mortars stands. The third stand is probably buried somewhere under all my junk on my work bench. I should have taken a picture of, but I also had a GHQ Soviet 82mm mortar team that I was working on. The size difference is really noticeable. The GHQ mortar looks like a 120mm mortar compared to the H&R's 81mm mortar. 

Air Defence

Blowpipe MANPAD


The most pressing enemy that the FRG currently has to face is various rebel groups that persist on the borders with the two Chalupistans. Therefore, air defense is not a big priority. Nonetheless, they are reasonably prepared. The battalion HQ has a Blowpipe team, and a 40mm Bofors AA gun platoon. I plan to make a Blowpipe team based, but I see so many pictures of MANPADS being fired out of tanks and APCs that I couldn't resist mounting one on the back of the Saracen. I can't remember who makes the Bofors, but I don't think its from H&R, maybe CinC. Also, this stand is intended to be also used by Southern Chalupastan, so it's gunners are not painted the same colors as the Gambusian troops. 

The Gambusian are pretty much ready to go. Next up is to add to my rebel army. I do have some units, but they are vastly overwhelmed by the Gambusians, or everyone else for that matter. I recently primed some of GHQs Sub-Saharan Irregulars (TW14), and plan to pain them up. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nerd Fest a No Go

Not sure what happened but a few days before my spring break, I saw a bunch of flyers up on walls for Nerd Fest. The date was March 25. I had no time to get anything ready. I spent my spring break working on research in Kansas.

Apparently, my game last year was forgotten by the student committee who runs it. The faculty/staff sponsor might have asked me, but she's been having a lot of major health issues lately, so I suspect Nerd Fest has not been on top of her list of priorities. It would have been nice to have been asked if I wanted to run another game this year, but not the end of the world.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kiowa Warrior #2: WIP part 2

Last post on these choppers, I showed the incomplete Kiowa Warrior #2. It had fell apart thanks to trying to glue a magnet on the bottom. Well, I did my best to patch it up but I am not 100% happy with it:



Issues:
1. The rotor had broken off. I had to insert a thicker base to the rotor to hold it on. I used a styrene tube. It's a little taller than originally, but it is not too obvious. 

2. The rocket launcher is way too large. It should be the LAU-68 launcher that fits only seven rockets. I planned to use a styrene dowel rod, but all the ones I had were either too thick or too thin in diameter. The closest hobby shop where I can get a better matching rod is almost an hour away. I punted and used my old standby toothpick technique. The toothpick-sized launcher looks good on fixed wing aircraft; not so much on a helicopter. 

3. The 50 cal machine gun looks kind of smallish even though it's a spare from a GHQ model. Maybe the rocket launcher makes it look smaller than it is. Also, there was no way I was going to try to model the ammo box that sits on the side of the fuselage nor the ammo belt between the two. 

4. Finally, and my biggest gripe, is the canopy and windows. I got a lot of feedback on Warrior #1 from the FB 6mm groups. Several said to paint them silver and then apply some Tamyia clear green on it. I did this, but I don't really like how it turned out. For one thing, I couldn't get the silver paint smooth, so there's little chunkies in it that made the green puddle around them. Second, I felt I didn't have much control over the green paint. It reminds me of the elytra of a metallic green beetle:

Source: www.bugguide.net


Here is #2 next to his brother:


I will repaint the canopy and windows with my light blue. The light blue looks sort of fakey, but it looks aesthetically pleasing to me. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Thinking About Nerd Fest 2017

It's never too early to plan for what is for me, the only "gaming" convention I go to. Our spring semester ends early this year, so Nerd Fest isn't that far down the line. First, should I put on another mass fantasy battle, or do something different? As an alternative, I was thinking about a WWII microarmor game. I envision a very loose interpretation of the Battle of the Bulge...emphasis on very loose interpretation. Basically, the Germans have three or four objectives and must accomplish them in a set number of turns that represents when their fuel and supplies run out. I'm not sure what rules I'd use, but something that is fast and easy for participants to pick up.

If I do put on another fantasy game, I might have a different scenario that involves more participants. Also, do I stick to my slightly modified version of Dragon Rampant, or give another rule set a go? I am sort of leaning toward sticking with Dragon Rampant since I know from last year what worked, what didn't, and how fix what didn't.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kiowa Warrior #2 WIP


Disaster struck when I was trying to glue a rare earth magnet onto this Kiowa Warrior. This was the one whose Hellfire missile rack fell off. Well, the other rack fell off, the rotor broke off (at right of the chopper) and the landing skids got all bent out of shape. Morale of the story, glue the magnet one long before you complete the model.

So, I decided to make my own weapons pylons. Those at the two white things sticking off of the bottom of the chopper's body. I made them out of thin styrene.

The right one is going to get a cylindrical rocket launcher; the left will be a 50 cal machine gun. For some reason, the machine guns are required to be on the left side on a Warrior. The missile launcher will be easy to make. It probably won't be perfectly to scale, but I'm not overly picky about that. The machine gun might be another issue. Some are contained within a pod, but I am planning to have it exposed:
Source: http://www.arabic-military.com/
I am not sure how I will do the ammo feed. Also, the only free Browning 50 cals I have are from C-in-C. They are ok, but the barrels are a little spindly. Even if they are more in scale, I'd rather have a GHQ machine on it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mr. Surfacer


I waited about a month for this stuff to get here. I think it came directly from Japan. A lot of folks on my various Facebook groups have been using it as a primer. I have bottle of the Mr. Surfacer 500, but that is more for gap filling. The higher number equals thinner stuff. As much as I prefer spray primers, it's been difficult lately to go out and spray things and I am really not that crazy about Gesso. This might be a better option for a brush on primer.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kiowa Warrior


During my search for the missing painted up infantry units, I found this guy and his brother primed and sitting in a storage drawer. His bro had his Hellfire missile rack broken off, so he is still unpainted. It's from GHQ.

These are designated for the Federal Republic of Gambusia. Not sure why they would have them, but I've already painted them in the FRG's standard aviation color of Vallejo Green Brown. I really like this color and if I had paid attention to it earlier, I would have used it for Southern Chalupastan. But alas, I am not going to strip battalions of tanks and APCs. It was ugly enough doing it for about 18 APCs.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Article on Technicals

I found this interesting article on Technicals and their tactics on  the Modern Warfare group Facebook site.  Worth a look:

Technical Notes: A Primer

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Test Shots

I am pretty tired of taking pictures of my figures on my workbench, so I set up a photography station using some work lamps and LED bulbs based on a member of the Facebook 6mm miniatures group. Initially, I had a white cloth backdrop, but the picture came out too yellow. I bought sheet medium grey cloth that seemed to work a little better. I think the type of bulbs are what give the pictures a yellow hue. Here are some test shots using various 15mm fantasy figures.

Essex Late Medieval with sculpted shield
The knight above was photographed with the white dropcloth as a background. Both he and background have a yellow hue to it.

Same background but I color corrected it. This is  much what it naturally looks like, except it seems like it was a little desaturated.

Ral Partha Lady Paladin
Here is another with a white background. Again, color corrected.


Below are photos taken with the grey dropcloth. I did use the color correction mode in Photoshop, but differences were not nearly as dramatic.

Demonworld magic user

Essex fantasy foot knight