Saturday, 25 September 2010

Exclusive Preview: 6mm Super Heavies from Plasmablast

I'm lucky enough to be able to bring you another super 6mm exclusive preview now, this time of the as yet unseen Super Heavy tanks to accompany the developing Sci-Fi range over at Plasmablast Games.
The ever-gracious Marios Damoulianos over in Greece was kind enough to send me some pre-release samples of the new Super Heavy Tanks that will complement the available Progenitor and Orbital Combine vehicles, so I thought I'd share them with you all prior to their planned debut in approximately a months time.

As you can see above, in the company of their respective Heavy and Medium counterparts, these new vehicles are definitely impressive; truly 'super', and climbing towards the Ogre range of things, I think!
That is not to say, however, that they are crude or ugly in any way however, indeed, as you will be able to see in the photos in this post, the detail, interest and quality of these minis is second to none.

We can see below the two side by side, and the dimensions are immediately apparent, easily filling a 50x50mm square:

First up, let's take a look at each from the ground up, as it were, here the Orbital Combine version, perhaps a hover or GEV unit:

Each vehicle comes with separate weapons and utility turrets, in the case of this one, a main and subsidiary turret, along with two nifty missile launchers:

Its counterpart, a more conventional tracked type:

Its weapons fit, again a main and subsidiary, with in addition two rather cool gatling and missile combo types:

Let's see the Progenitor Super Heavy complete with the weapons in situ; a front view to give you an idea of the definition that you might expect from the production models when available - obviously these are advance copies, so according to Marios, might still be a little rough around the edges. (although I can't see where!)

I think the turrets and weapon-fits as such, whilst following on faithfully from some of the innovative designs already apparent from Plasmablast, might not be to everyones' taste, but being cast separately, could of course be mixed and matched as required:

In any event, whatever your preference, the proportions and balance of the individual turrets are spot-on, and they slide easily and sit comfortably into the pre-drilled mounting holes. As usual with Marios' work, there is no flash or venting remnants to dispose of, and whilst mould lines are apparent, I don't think they are particularly obtrusive.

Attention to detail is the key here, with every surface having had some thought applied to it; I believe Plasmablast have gone down the route of using 3D computer software for their initial designs, and this pays dividends in the overall appearance:

The Orbital Combine version has similar qualities, even down to the individual missile launch tube covers in the two smallest turrets. (Remember, all photos are 'clickable' for a close-up view.)

The only issue that did cause me some concern was the fact that when the main and subsidiary turrets are mounted together, the overhang from the main weapon systems on both vehicles means that when they are pointing forward, they rest directly on top of the fore-turret.
This serves to sadly obscure the smaller turret entirely, both losing a view of the excellent sculpting, and to some extent making the vehicle as a whole look slightly less realistic. (If you can use such a word in the case of such wonderful monsters!)

Of course this issue could be solved by some clever posing of the individual turrets when making them up; or even perhaps putting a small shim below the main turret to lift it up a little - but this would necessarily spoil the nice conformal fit that Marios has produced.

That one issue aside, these are great pieces of kit, and if you are disposed towards some serious firepower having a place on your table-top, then these will definitely fit the bill.

Finally, let's take a look at each model up against its smaller team members once more:

I've go to give Plasmablast top marks for continuity of vision in the depiction of these two factions, and think that it is great to see them making an effort to develop and widen their ranges - we all have our favourites from the established companies out there, but these additions can only serve to re-inforce that one weakness of almost all Wargamers -the need to add to the Lead Mountain!

I for one will be very happy to see these available in a month or so's time, and look forward to keeping an eye open for more from the company in future - If you are of similar mind, feel free to bombard Marios with demands for more of the same!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Save the USS Olympia!

A post over at TMP, by porfirio rubirosa, has alerted me to the fact that the USS Olympia, surviving veteran of the SpanAm War, is in serious need of some TLC, and the Navy apparently does not have the funds to see this through (a scandal, I tell, you may fire when ready!).

Please, any Pre-dreadnoughters out there, take some time to consider a donation - there aren't too many of her kind left, and it would be a tragedy to see her sunk after all these years!

(Photo above from my collection).

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Aquanef/Nemo/Pacific War: Militarist Monitors etc....

I've been playing around with tying up the various loose ends of the half-conceived 'started as Aquanef - became Pacific War 1879 - turning back to VSF' project, so thought I'd commit some ideas to paper, as it were.
As you can see both above and below, the Peruvian Monitor Mano Capac has been joined by her sister ship in the shape of the Atahualpa, here in a contrasting scheme of grey and white:

This is for no other reason than to provide a bit of interest, as I've no historical sources for an accurate scheme, so went with what I felt fitted best. This pretty much finishes off the Pacific War 1879 part of the project, in that we now have most of the major surface combatants as provided by Tumbling Dice in 1/2400th.
I suppose I could look at doing some of the transport/civilian vessels of the time, but this is likely to be very much in 'back burner' territory for the time being.

Now the ships as they are can obviously be used historically, and also, as originally conceived, might combine to go up against the various scratch-built vessels of a Nemo-led fleet of Anti-Militarists.
As things stand, the Allies of Nemo have their own submarines depicted whilst surfaced, but I am afraid the daunting task of re-creating the Nautilus in whatever form so far eludes me; I guess it's hard not to be influenced by the iconic depictions we all know so well - to the point of being intimidated enough to give up before getting started!

So, in the meantime, as you might remember from a previous post here, I've been considering using some of the Aeronef vessels from Brigade Models to stand in as a response by the Miltarists to the superior technology of Nemo.
Think of them as contemporary Monitors on steroids.
Now of course, the perverse wisdom of taking maritime-inspired flying-ship designs and converting them back to some rudimentary form of surface ship seems, well....perverse, yet that is what I have been doing, primarily to take advantage of some of the really nice sculpts from Brigade.

I chose three Aeronef, all with an ostensibly South American pedigree, and have got them to a rough approximation of what a 'super' monitor of the time might look like:

They are as yet a work in progress, but as you can see, we have at top, the VAN-803 Gustavo Sampaio from Brazil, the VAN-1401 Sanchez Carillon of Peru, and in the foreground, the VAN-805 Pernambuco, again of Brazilian pedigree according to Brigade.

These have all had the rear stabilising tailplanes removed, and their rounded hulls filed flat to enable their conversion into surface watercraft:

They are looking a little raw at the moment, but sometime soon, I'll hope to complete and base them, with the largest becoming the 'Huascar II' of Peru, the middle one becoming the 'Arturo Prat' of Chile, and the smallest will become the 'Bolivar' from the nascent navy of Bolivia itself. (Which historically, of course, had no vessels of its own to speak of)

To give an idea of the scale, we see below the Huascar II alongside the wooden Corvette, the Chacabuco:

Followed by the Arturo Prat:

Finally the Bolivar alongside the Atahualpa:

Hopefully, then, these upgraded Monitor types will provide some VSF-inspired muscle to take on Nemo, and also serve to move the project as a whole in a roughly forward direction....

The final, alright who am I kidding? - the next stage, is the re-introduction of a more Aquanef angle, and again, in the absence of any off-the-shelf models, I've raided the Aeronef catalogue once more to look for likely submersible craft, and come up with the following:

We have the VAN-4001 Pirate Cutlass Spar Torpedo Vessel, and the VAN-2005 Turkish Yarhisar Torpedo Dig. To my eyes, these have the greatest potential to be deployed in the guise of true submarines, although I dare say more types could be found amongst the ranks of available Aeronefs.

Finally, again, to give an idea of comparative scale, the two proto-subs up against the Atahualpa once more:

Just how these two vessels will figure, whether as further Militarist super-weapons in response to Nemo, or as part of some yet unconceived mystery contender, I've yet to decide - and that's to say nothing on how Robur's Albatross might get involved, or how the Bolivian Balloon Corps might be deployed to counter him!

More to come on all this, I fear.... ;-)

Friday, 17 September 2010

6mm Rapier Greek Mythology: Painted Examples

Yes, you guessed it - I just couldn't resist putting brush to mini when it came to those Mythology figures from Rapier. I may have plenty of other projects on the go, but I am afraid they got pushed aside so I could have a crack at these little beauties!
Not that they necessarily ended up that beautiful after I'd been sloshing paint in their direction - but for what it's worth, here they all are!

First up, the excellent Medusa - I think she is Gorgon-gorgeous, although I found that the positioning of the bow in this sculpt is a little stiff - perhaps it would have been better to have a more active pose, although I do like the predatory way she is leaning forward whilst reaching for an arrow from her quiver:

I decided to go for a full-on viper/rattler snakeskin approach for her tail - I'm not so sure it came off entirely, but looks better than being, say, uniformly coloured:

The pavement-style base was just a quick daub to provide contrast in the photos - I think I will probably go the whole hog with these figs and do some vignette-style scenic bases - the Medusa, in particular, would look good surrounded by a few people turned to stone....

Moving on, we have the fantastic Cyclops - a really nice sculpt to work with, although I must say, I seem to have turned his menacing horn into something more resembling a quiff - oh well!

Make a cute couple, don't they?

Next up the Bull-headed Warriors; being on the large size, these are a relatively straightforward proposition, although I found it quite hard to bring out any character in the faces, this in spite of the sculpting being quite detailed - if anything, my spear armed ones turned out looking more like goats than Minatours....

Next up, the Hydra in all its scaly glory - having attached the extra three heads, quite an imposing figure:

The only thing I found difficult with this was the actual join between the body and these extra heads, it needed a bit of filing and filling to get mine it is menacing the diminutive single warrior:

If anything, this isn't a problem of a bad fit, it's just that the angle it meets the main body at is a bit acute, and to be honest, I probably was too energetic with the needle file in the first place, so had to fiddle around to get it to sit just so.

Finally, let's look at the Centaurs:

The horse-armoured pair are simply lovely to work with, and someone who has more experience and skill at this scale could make a lot of the detail that is present here; I was in a justifiable rush, given my excitement, to get these done, but a more considered approach would really pay dividends, I think.

The 'horse' archer figure obviously has a little less going for it in terms of detail to the sculpt, depicting a more basic outfit than the others, but a nicely proportioned one, nonetheless:

I just hope that this nascent range has enough interest behind it to see it put into production, hopefully with some more width and variation to subjects that might make good armies in themselves, such as these half-horses, half men, and the Minatours; but of course, I would love to see more individual monsters, as well!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Exclusive Preview: 6mm Rapier Greek Mythology

A special treat for all you 6mm fans now, with a sneak preview of a future range from Rapier Miniatures: Greek Mythology!
The other day, Paul over at Rapier was kind enough to send me some advance samples for a new line of 6mm miniatures they are considering, and should be showcasing at this weekend's Colours Wargaming show here in the UK.
To chime with their debut, then, I thought you'd all like an advance look at some of the new sculpts that will hopefully be available soon - and they are real crackers!

I was lucky enough to receive a six-headed Hydra, which has a separately cast trio of heads, four Bull-headed Minatour-style Warriors, a beautiful Harryhausen-esque Medusa, a small sword carrying warrior (Perseus or Jason, perhaps?), a fantastic boulder-wielding Cyclops, and three amazing-looking armed Centaurs.

Let's take a look in more detail:

First up, the Bull-headed Warriors, I'm going to call 'Minatons'. :-)

These are lovely, detailed sculpts, and appropriately bulky, given their species - we have a sword and shield armed leader, two spearmen and a drummer.

I make their height measurement from bottom of base to top of head just shy of 11mm, so as you will see later, they can easily intimidate a 6mm Greek Hoplite or similar. The height to the top of the spear comes out as 26mm, so some imposing pieces, and great fun; you can see the detail on the reverse:

Moving on to the Hydra, this is again an impressive piece, with the snake heads nicely animated - I suppose the separate trio gives you the chance to scratch build some new heads growing in once the originals have been lopped off -as per the original Myth. :-)

The scales are very well sculpted, and the pose is nice and threatening; overall height to top of the topmost head, I make 20mm:

Next we have the rather hard to photograph Medusa and Warrior, which are simply superlative (You can tell I'm excited about this range!), the snake-haired monster in particular will be very familiar to fans of those iconic fantasy adventure movies of yesteryear - I think it is a little masterpiece at around 7mm in height - reaching behind to draw a deadly arrow from her quiver:

The rear view gives another good idea of the level of detail included by Rapier onto these minis:

Here she is up against a command stand from the same company's 6mm Classical Ancients ranges; GRE002 Hoplites in muscle cuirass:

Also some lovely figures, BTW!

Next we have three Centaurs, a bowman, and two shield and spear-wielders; the former is the classic type with a nice quiver by his side, the latter are nicely sculpted with armour and helmets, and moreover with Clibinarius-style armoured horses, one full, the other partial:

These again have an excellent level of detail, and are nicely animated and proportioned, if a little slight.

Here's one up against a ROM006 Auxiliary Cavalry, again by the same company:

Let's finish up with some group shots to give a better idea of overall 'scale', next to a strip of those Greek Hoplites, GRE002:

Again, here with a view of the single horned Cyclops and his boulder, a feisty looking foe, if I ever saw one.....Rapier have told me that there may be more of his ilk in the pipeline.....

As yet, as far as I know, these minis are not yet available, but hopefully the lucky few who were able to attend the Colours show may have seen these, and perhaps others in the flesh - I am sure that the level of interest they will arouse will persuade Paul and Co. to go into full-scale production!

There are, of course, a number of 6mm fantasy lines out there, mostly based around a Tolkein-esque paradigm, but I think these as a whole are something entirely fresh to the market, and offer up a wealth of possibilities - yes there are centaurs and monsters available - but these ones are properly rooted in their Greek Mythological form, and would look the absolute business next to any 6mm Classical army.

The minis appear here in the form that I received them - the only flash I cleared up was some small nubs present on the bottom of the bases, and some supporting strips on the Centaurs, - these were removed just to enable the photographs - each of the sculpts is clean, well-proportioned and full of character - if anything, these pics do not do them their full justice.

(Remember, all photos should be 'clickable' for a larger, Macro view)

The only slight criticism might be that the Centaurs are rather on the delicate-looking side, and I'm not entirely sure who the diminutive sword-equipped Warrior is supposed to be, but he is well-modelled all the same.

It's great to see some new sculpts on the cusp of appearing, and even more rewarding given their unique subject matter - I suggest you spread the word and get e-mailing Rapier, if this is the kind of thing that floats your Trireme is certainly very buouyant at the moment, anyway (Oo-er!).