Friday, May 28, 2010

Another touch of sci-fi

The building model featured earlier on this blog had been sitting around unpainted for four months. After posting photos of it I decided it was high time I finished it!

The satellite dish was made from the plastic cap off a soy milk carton, with a pin forming the receptor stalk. A length of plastic tube made the support strut, with the pin bent at a slight angle and threaded through the tube to pierce the foamcore. I added a drop of craft glue to anchor the whole thing to the building.

Most of the paints I used were Craft Smart acrylics, found in Michael's and similar hobby outlets. First coat was a mix of 23620 Terracotta and 23631 Mustard Yellow. Once dry, I highlighted the texture with a dry brushing of mustard yellow followed by another of 23608 Ivory. Lastly I gave the whole building a wash of sepia brown mixed with a very little Indian ink.

Before I began the groundwork I coated the whole area around the building with a thinned coat of craft glue which I then sprinkled with sand. Foamcoare is smooth and the sand gives the lightweight spackle a keyed surface to grip on. The spackle was also thinned with water and spread into place with an old brush before more sand was sprinkled on top. Once dry, I painted the whole with a solid coat of 23630 Espresso brown, followed by a dry brushing of 23608 Ivory and a final, very light dry brushing of Vallejo 70918 Ivory.

On to two citizens of Keynes County, the prospector Not-So-Lonesome Charlie Reynolds and his girlfriend, Deputy Tina Ozamba. Charlie's prospecting vehicle is a mish-mash of parts and components built on what was once a civilian air-cushion design. Rugged and (usually) reliable, it's a useful means of exploring the Outback regions of Fomor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sukiyaki Corp.

Over now to one group that often drops in on Fomor, to "further the company's interests" there. Sukiyaki Heavy Industries has fingers in a lot of pies across human space. Sometimes those fingers probe where they're neither popular nor wanted, which is where these boys (and one gal) come in. Lightly armed and armored, they act in a variety of roles, usually recon or security for company special agents and assets on the ground. Backed by a potent Wakizashi-class recon/support robot, they're usually a match for most opponents.

But that hasn't stopped the Keynes County Militia handing them their heads on a plate on the two occasions they clashed...

Figures again by Ground Zero Games. The robot is a Battlemech (TM etc.) from an unknown manufacturer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Keynes County Militia

Here we have the boys and girls of the Keynes County Militia, a stalwart band of citizen-soldiers, sworn to defend their community against all comers. They're very much tech-light, relying on sound tactics and tried-and-true weaponry over exotic gizmos and battle armor. Led by Captain Jason Stone, they've had a few brushes with trouble, both human and otherwise, and lived to tell the tale.

Their most sophisticated weapons are the laser sniper rifle and a multi-shot bazooka. All platoon rifles are license-built Stellar Arms ACR 227s, a simple and rugged projectile weapon design that fills a similar slot to the modern AK47. It follows the principle that few hostile things in this universe can't be dealt with by a direct, concentrated application of kinetic energy. Largely made of ceramics and pressed metals, the ACR 227 is an easy weapon for frontier world industries to make.

Transport consists of Shank's pony, a couple of horses, and a wheeled APC as armored back-up.

Group photo. Capt. Stone is in the middle of the pic, with cigar-chewing Sgt. Andy Klugman to his left and unit sniper Corporal Lindsey Brooke to his right. All figures are by Ground Zero Games, who seem to have a penchant for females in low-cut open necked shirts. I play using my home-grown Blood Among the Stars rules, a semi role-playing set designed for small-scale actions.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A touch of Sci-fi

Over now to another of my wargaming interests - sci-fi.

I'm not one for Warhamster 40K/AT-43 style games with hordes of mutant armor-clad soldiers and overblown war machines set against a background of eons of constant warfare. My taste is toward skirmish level games, where warfare gets downright personal. The kind of game with a scenario or plot, requiring thought more than brute force. The kind of small-scale action where the ground-pounder has to figure out what's over that next hill, or in that building - and whether he/she will get the chance to kill it before it kills them.

With this premise in mind I built up a modest collection of 25mm figures, mostly from Ground Zero Games in the UK with a sprinkling of other makes.

The action in my games takes place on the planet Fomor, an inhabitable Earth-size world with a warm-to-hot overall climate, a few, small oceans and quite a lot of land much like the Australian Outback. Fomor's star-system is located out on the Human Frontier, where folks learn to fend for themselves and make the best of what they have - or perish. That's not to say the planet is ignored. Quite a number of polities and organizations have vested interests in the quadrant, and Fomor is a handy-dandy place for those interests to clash...

In the middle of it all is the Keynes County Militia. A platoon-size outfit with an average of thirty or so personnel, it's charged with defending their neighbors in the nascent colony against all comers. When the alarm sounds, Militia members are expected and required to drop everything and pick up their rifle. Sometimes they face human foes: sometimes not.
* * *
My buildings and some vehicles are mostly scratch-built, with a leavening of the excellent vehicles produced by Old Crow Models in the UK.

For now I'll turn my attention to a building constructed from Hirst Arts blocks, mostly from their Gothic range. Just because it's the future doesn't mean to say there aren't retro touches in architecture to be found here and there.

The building shown in the photos below is intended to be a focal point for games. It could be the access point for an underground complex, or a bunker, or even a civilian dwelling. In time I intend to get the starship component molds from Hirst Arts so I can build starship modules and underground complexes to skirmish through.

We know you're in there, ET! Come out with your appendages up!

Three members of the Keynes County Militia aid a local cop.


The model was built from Hirst blocks and foamcore and took only a couple of days. It's not finished - I have to add a few components like air-con/filtration system boxes and uplink antennae. The gray panel on top was made using that molded packing material cookies are stacked in inside tins. I decided not to have it so the roof lifts off, although it's entirely possible to make it this way. Now, what color to paint it? I'm leaning toward a sandstone/limestone effect. None of the gray gritty grimy oily color schemes to buildings on this world unless they're industrial premises.

Anyone home?

Nope, he ain't back here either.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A dirigible model for GASLIGHT - part 5

Some better photos of the dirigible, now I've sorted out the camera functions. The model itself is complete. All that needs to be added are the two crew figures. The national marking on the rudder has the right number of stripes but there was no way I was going to paint 35 or so stars without going "batchy" in the process. In the end I settled for a representative trio.

The stand is made from a pair of craft sticks glued in cruciform pattern, with a length of plastic tube stirring stick set vertically to take the end of a kabob skewer. I wrapped paper around the tube to reinforce it and add stiffness. It also takes paint better this way. As a further reinforcement and extra weight I added a rough cone of modelling clay around the base.

So there we have it, a two-man scout dirigible attached to a cavalry command somewhere in the Old West. The craft has seen heavy use, judging from the weathering of the gasbag fabric, but the stars and stripes are kept bright and fresh!

Some thoughts on construction. I think the model turned out okay. It was a learning curve - after all, this is the first dirigible/airship model I've made. There are some things I would (or will) do differently on a similar model. The fins would be about as long but turned 45 degrees to run along the rear of the gasbag, more like historical prototypes. I would also come to a better arrangement for the engines and mountings, as this one is a little weak for a gaming model. The only other thing I would do differently is to make provision for the stand to be inserted in the gasbag. Food for thought - for another time.
Below are four characters from Dixon Miniatures' Old West wagon train collection. The two guys with shotguns are train guards, but the duo of "Cookie" and customer for coffee are my favorite.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Off the reservation!

I've got a heap of Western native figures, mostly Apache as seen above. Far more, in fact than I need for my own project, so the above lot is up for sale. I have a lot of unpainted figures, both mounted and dismounted natives and dismounted US cavalry for sale too. Contact me for details.

20x Apache Indians on foot, 25mm Dixon's Miniatures (no huge heads!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

A dirigible model for GASLIGHT - part 4

On with the motley. Cotton thread was glued lengthwise along the top and sides of the gasbag to represent various rigging lines and joins in the fabric. I painted the whole using a 400ml rattle can of The Army Painter color primer (bought for only $1 sale price in a local model store!) It's listed as Color Primer Necrotic flesh yet it makes for a decent canvas color.

Everything has now been glued in place and painted. Although I used a tripod to steady the camera, for some reason the images have still come out blurred. Huh! The nose and tail cones are made from air-dried modeling clay, painted with the excellent (and cheap!) Folk Art acrylic, in this case 664 Metallic copper. It covers well even in one coat and gives a nice rich lustre.

I added some scratch decals using a computer word processor program, which I printed off then cut to shape. The paper was treated with a thin coat of sepia ink to get the worn canvas appearance, and pasted into place when dry. To ensure the ink didn't run or smear I gave the paper a coat of Future/Pledge polish. The whole gasbag was then given a thin coat of sepia ink to get that weather worn appearance. I may paint the struts between the fins a different color, perhaps light or mid-gray.

The pennon came from , a useful free source of flags from combatants through the ages. The writing on the side of the gasbag reads US Aerial Cavalry, a Victorian ancestor of the famous Sky Cavalry. Underneath is the pennant number of 001. Just below the copper nose-cone (and barely visible) is the vehicle's name - Bird Dog. I figured it would be a good name for an aerial scout vessel designed to sniff out the enemy.

All that remains to do for the model itself is to paint the rudder in a variant of the pre-WW2 USAAC tail colors. I'm thinking in terms of a broad vertical stripe with alternating red-and-white stripes running horizontally to the edge of the rudder.

I've got various ideas for mounting this model. The choice is clear acrylic rod, bamboo kabob skewer or even a telescoping car aerial, all of which would be fixed to a weighted base. The two crew figures will be painted separately. At the moment I have some work coming up so they may have to wait for a while. When all is done, I'll post pictures.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A dirigible model for GASLIGHT - part 3

With the gasbag drying out and hardening, I turned my attention to completing the gondola. Two small tubes cut from a q-tip have been positioned across the gondola at the back and between the two figures. These tubes will take the wire struts connecting the gondola to the gasbag. The boiler has been glued in position, with the "smokestack" pointing out over the stern. Two more tubes have been glued at 45 degree angles from the boiler to provide support to the engine nacelles, the idea being that steam is fed from the boiler under high pressure to turn the propellers.

On to the painting stage. I decided on a coat of British racing green for the body of the gondola, as this will set off the copperwork of the boiler and nacelle supports. The wire struts have been threaded through the tubes and the ends bent, ready to insert in the holes drilled in the sides of the gasbag. With hindsight I would've left these off until later in the construction, since they tended to snag and hook anything and everything.

Shown in the photo below are the propeller nascelles and the propeller discs. The nascelles are short lengths of drinking straw, capped with small wooden plugs of the type used on the boiler then stuffed with air-drying clay for rigidity. The propeller discs are cut from plastic packaging. Although not quite visible these have been lightly scored in a circular pattern using glasspaper to give the effect of fast spinning blades. The bosses are two more plaster components from a Hirst Arts mold. Alongside are four sacks from the dungeon accessories molds, which will form the sandbag ballast attached to the sides of the gondola.

And on to the next stage. The photo suffers from a bit too much flash, but it shows the fins have been glued to the gasbag using hot glue then given additional support from basswood strips. At this stage, having glued the fins in place, I decided to leave the top fins the same length but to reduce the rudder by about a quarter-inch to enable the model to stand upright. Luckily I could cut it without trouble. This is a learning curve! The next step will be to paint the gasbag, attach nose and tail pieces and thin ribs along the upper half of the gasbag.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A dirigible model for GASLIGHT - part 2

Some progress on the dirigible. I drilled four holes in the side of the bottle to take the struts that will hold the gondola. The ends have now been glued in place, the gaps between the round cap and the body of the bottle filled with card. Tissue paper was pasted over the whole using thinned-down white tacky glue. Once this was thoroughly dry, I began to apply a coat of watered-down lightweight spackle.

Spackle takes some time to dry and harden thoroughly so I turned my attention to the gondola. The basic shape had already been made. I added a boiler using a section of foamcore, topped with a pressure drum made from two small plaster components from the Hirst Arts dungeon accessories mold. The small round object is a turned wood wheel-hub piece from a packet bought in Michaels. Below you can also see the "saddle" on which the dirigible's two-man crew will sit back-to-back. It's made from thin card over a section of drinking straw, the concept being the tube acts as boiler water supply-cum-trim tank.

The photo below shows the body of the blimp covered with the thin coat of spackle. I advise using pegs or wire to mark the places of the holes in the side of the model to avoid losing them under the spackle coating. The fins are cut from thin basswood using a card template. As construction went on I realized they're a smidge too long, so I'll cut them down by about a quarter inch to make a more squared-off shape.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A dirigible model for GASLIGHT - part 1

Being a tad weary of painting up figures I turned to a model-making project for a change of pace - a two-man dirigible for GASLIGHT VSF rules. Forming the basic shape is an empty vitamin tablet bottle, the two halves of a plastic Easter egg, and the small support "table" from a large pizza. The two figures at the fore are US cavalry riders from the Plains Wars era.

I began by stripping the label from the bottle. Not as easy as it sounds due to the impressively strong adhesive used by the bottling plant. I wasn't able to remove the whole of the adhesive but since the bottle will be covered over with PVA and tissue paper to form the hide of the airship it doesn't matter. The photo below shows the rough position of the components, with the pizza stand hot-glued in place over the bottle top to form the base of the fins.

I followed this up by hot-gluing the more pointed half of the egg into place on the base of the bottle, having first roughed the bottle with glass paper to give a better surface for the adhesive to grip. The rounder end of the egg has been left off for now so I can stand the bottle on an even keel while drilling holes in the side for the gondola struts.

The gondola itself was easy to make. I cut two matching rectangles with rounded end from cereal packet card for the base. The front and sides were formed of another strip of card which I bent around the curved end of the base to make a kind of bathtub shape. A square piece of card to close off the open end and a round piece to make a kind of foredeck finished off the basic construction. It was at about this stage I decided to replace one of the figures with another in a better pose.

Next up, adding a steam engine power plant to the gondola and shaping the fins for the lifting body.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A truly amazing model

I'm a fan of the Hirst Arts molding system, and always find something to inspire me from the photos posted on their forum. Today I came across pictures of a model made by a lady in the UK that fair took my breath away. It's a replica of Bag End from The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings.

See it here!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Off the painting block - 4

The last batch of figures I'm painting for a fellow gamer are finished. In the photo above are General Custer in two variations, his brother Tom, two officers and a native guide, all by Wargames Foundry. A Dixon's Miniatures guidon bearer lurks in the background. Looking on is a figure I call "Aunt Ella," from Dixon's Old West range. From all accounts Custer no longer wore his hair in long flowing locks as he'd done during the Civil War. Rather it was said to be close-cropped, so the above figures are a touch romanticised.
Next up on the block will be the rest of the gang from the Old West collection, and some ACW Union and Confederate infantry. After that, I have plans for a small, two-man airship for GASLIGHT. Watch this space...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Proper Old School wargaming footage

Some interesting footage here of the late, great actor Peter Cushing, indulging in his hobby of wargaming. Using H G Well's Little Wars rules and fought out on his study floor, you can't get more old school than this!

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