Friday, August 23, 2013

Some Darkest Africa figures

Armed natives are always useful chaps to have on the board, and I was lucky enough to uncover a batch of Foundry Miniatures bought five years ago. High time they were taken off the lead pile and fixed to my painting block. I should have them done in time for a game sometime in the next two weeks, work permitting.

I have eight of these fellows to paint, along with a nice Foundry Intrepid Explorer chappie who somehow wound up in the same batch. That's him on the right, with bristling mustache and rifle. To the rear of the block are two fantasy figures from Reaper Miniatures, who produce very nice sculpts. 

On the far left is a pack of 100 washers bought at the local Restore (Habitat for Humanity) charity outlet for a few bucks. They have all kinds of nice (and cheap) stuff and their stores are well worth a visit. I now have enough washers to provide figure bases for some time to come. 

Below the block are a few posters for AVBCW, run off my color printer now it's decided to work. I'm in the process of constructing paper/card buildings to populate the tabletop for a game, something else I hope to do soon, and the posters will be glued to them for a splash of color.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Norfolk Special Constabulary

I had a pack of ten Pendraken SCW Republican Guardia de Asaltos kicking around since my previous order and couldn't figure out what to do with them. I'd had a vague idea of making them a kind of BUF unit with a "black and tan" theme to them, but for various reasons discarded it. 

Looking at the figures anew recently I thought they looked more like rifle-armed police with the now-standard modern peaked cap, so that's the way I went. I painted them in the traditional British Bobby's dark blue with a hodge-podge of army webbing garnered from military supplies, as part of the Norfolk Special Constabulary.  

The Special Constabulary are uniformed part-time volunteers who assist the full time police in their duties. The war has led to their being armed, the better to pursue their duties in the current climate. Since I'll get some of Pendraken's (relatively) new British coppers in helmets, the Specials will look the part alongside their full-time colleagues.
Inspector Herbert Lark leads his men on another desperate venture 
in the name of the law.

And so to the fluff.

British constabularies have long been apolitical, keeping away from party politics so they can better serve the public in an unbiased fashion. At least that's the way it's supposed to be...

In the Very British Civil War this apolitical stance comes under severe strain. The extreme-right wing government has its own paramilitary force of Blackshirts, and few constabularies can resist its interference in what are strictly law enforcement matters. Numbers of police officers across the country have resigned in protest at being required to arrest citizens for purely political reasons. The same applies to areas controlled by factions opposing the government.

Fortunately, a solution arose in the form of the  Treaty of Basingstoke, an agreement formed by most of the factions which gives non combatant status to the police, fire brigade, St. John's Ambulance and the car clubs such as the RAC and AA. The treaty effectively outmaneuvered Mosley's government and allows the police to protect civilians as much as possible from the fighting.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Wave of the Future?

My wife brought an article on the Quartz site to my attention. It's on a subject which I feel will have a major impact on our hobby.

"Here’s what’s holding back 3D printing, the technology that’s supposed to revolutionize manufacturing and countless other industries: patents. In February 2014, key patents that currently prevent competition in the market for the most advanced and functional 3D printers will expire, says Duann Scott, design evangelist at 3D printing company Shapeways."

Read the whole article here

In effect this means the costs of producing 3D printing devices and the raw materials used in the process will drop dramatically from next year. It's already happened in one aspect of 3D printing. When the patents on Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) expired, the cost of the basic machine dropped from $14,000 each to just $300.

I think the implications for our own hobby are staggering. An influx of cheap 3D printers from China (where else?) will lead to democratization of the whole model manufacturing industry. Up to now it takes weeks or even months for a figure to go from a concept to production model, and requires specialist skills. With 3D printing it'll take only hours, and, to borrow a phrase from the publishing industry, it'll be Print On Demand (POD). No need for a lot of storage space with shelves groaning under the weight of white metal. Figures could be printed ready-based to any specified rules set, complete with flocking effect. One chore removed with a few strokes of a laser!

Yes, the quality of 3D models isn't quite there in some respects, but technology advances at such a rate it won't be long before there'll be printed models comparable to the best sculpts. And let's face it, hard plastic figurines are already making inroads into the traditional metal figure market.

Will the current figure manufacturers buy into this? Could it mean cheaper figures on the market? Will the means of producing models spread to encompass the hobbyists themselves, perhaps with a club or group subscribing to buy a machine and the relevant design software? Interesting times lie ahead. 


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