Saturday, 23 November 2013

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Future of Pre-Dreadnought Miniatures

The future of Pre-Dreadnought Naval Miniatures has well and truly arrived in the form of the new ship line just released by War Times Journal.

Jim at WTJ has been working for some time on presenting a range of CAD designed, Rapid Prototype Plastic miniatures, and not to overstate it, has in one fell swoop moved the world of naval miniatures one giant leap into the future.

I was lucky enough to be given access to a preview in the form of a 1/1800th scale Sissoi Veliki, as can be seen in the photos here, and boy, was I impressed - these new miniatures have an unparalleled level of clean and clear incised detail, and are designed with beautiful proportions and shape - these have gone from gaming pieces to scale-models overnight.

The miniatures come in a hard plastic that has none of the unsightly lines of Shapeways-style printing processes, nor the odd granular surfaces of the likes of 'White Strong and Flexible' and similar mediums; WTJ has an explanation of what was involved in their creation here:

Now as ever, my basic photography skills do these new ships little justice, although given that they are transparent, I suppose I can plead some mitigation in my defence - you definitely need to see them in the flesh to appreciate their overall quality.

What is even more exciting about this newly innovated line is that it is not limited to a single scale, WTJ will be producing the same miniatures in four different scales! - Yes, that's the classic 1/3000th, alongside 1/2400th, 1/1800th and even 1/1500th ships - enough to cover the needs of most of us Naval enthusiasts out there, and a few others besides.......

The ships are available for order now, although it has to be stressed that their is some lead-in time as they have to be sent away to be processed, so are definitely a 'bespoke' product, although I am very happy to report that the prices of the line are in no way excessive, given their quality, and are in my opinion, definitely cheap at the price, even in the larger scales.

I really can't praise these models highly enough, and as you can probably tell, am pretty excited as to how the range will be developed - I know that things like all four international variants of the Garibaldi Class being available is cool enough, but then knowing WTJ are about to produce an expanding range of South American ships of the era just about blows my mind........  ;-)

What more can I say, but get yourself over to WTJ as fast as possible and feast your eyes - and moreover give Jim all the support he so richly deserves in pushing the boundaries of what is available to the Pre-Dreadnoughter, and spoiling us all with such an excellent product!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

6mm Dr Who: Creepy Crawly progress.....

Thought I'd share the progress so far on the 'Green Death' and 'Them!' front, with some shots of how they are all shaping up; still some finishing off to do, but a lot of fun so far!

The plastic, or more accurately, rubbery ants can be seen in varying colours below:

After a quick wash with soapy water, the acrylic colours went on easily enough, but I soon learnt that any handling just as easily sloughed off the dried paint from the rubber surface - so some spray varnish definitely a must here - the larger ant, being a harder, more traditional plastic, was no problem.

I had originally intended a black paint scheme, but found that the large ant came out looking ironically a bit spider-like, so jazzed up the existing red colours with some more banded details on the legs and abdomen. The 'spideriness', however, of the smaller ones when left black with just the eye detailing, led me to try a couple of other colours - a sandy brown and a 'fire ant' red to match the larger one - not entirely sure which scheme I will go with for the balance of the rest - I quite like the exaggerated contrast of the eyes on the black ones, and the reds stand out well -perhaps different colours could denote differing types - soldiers, workers, female drones etc?

These are based on some rectangles of textured plasticard measuring 40x30mm, with the large 'Queen' on a 40x40mm - had to trim the ends of the large ant's legs to fit, but I didn't really want to make the base any bigger - don't think it loses anything in appearance, anyway....... and talking of basing, let's move on to those pesky maggots and the giant fly:

The fly in the original Dr Who episode had bright red eyes and some yellow markings on its back, but I just somehow wanted my irradiated mutant to live up to its name, so went with a wash of green on the wings and the body, with the corresponding eyes - for some reason, the plastic of the eyes wasn't too happy about being painted on, leaving a rather patchy finish, so will have to finesse this somewhat in the near future, and again protect it with some varnish.
The fly had a hole drilled into the bottom to accommodate the standard peg-topped flying stand, but this is looking a little dull, as well as flying a tad too high, I think, so this will also need some more attention.

The maggots themselves were of course in metal, so easy to paint, also with some exaggerated 'greening' to look the part - initially the heads matched the bodies, however at this scale they seemed a little bland that way, so I painted the heads black as a contrast, but again, I think they need something extra just to make them stand out......not quite sure yet what will do the trick.....

The maggots are placed on what is to become my new 6mm Sci-Fi basing standard (more on this in an upcoming post), namely a ubiquitous GW-style round plastic slotta base, mounted on a steel washer to enable magnetic storage.

This can be seen with the recently re-based Time Lord, Companion and Tardis as below:

The ant bases had to be a compromise, as they were too large to really fit more than one insect per slotta base, and I wanted a sort of 'horde' look to them, rather than just being singletons......

A similar treatment to the Doctor's base can be seen here, with the Alien Infestation Squad deployed to deal with some squirming, irradiated chemically enhanced nuisances of the maggot kind:

Finally of course, we have the villains of the piece, namely two intergalactic masterminds in the persons of Kang and Kodos:

These Monopoly pieces are beautifully modelled, even down to some drops of 'slather' falling from their mouths, and have turned out rather well, if I do say so myself....... although the bases still need some attention and tidying up - just was in a rush to show them off and couldn't wait to photograph them!

So, hopefully a suitably creepy, crawly and evil bunch on their way to completion, and if not all strictly 'canon' at least some interesting adversaries to pit against the Doctor and his chums.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

6mm Dr Who: The Green Death.........and Them!

Indulging myself in some more 6mm-related plastic madness at the moment, inspired by the 'Pound Shop' find of the instant army of 'creepy' ants seen above. Having done some Dinosaurs for the Dr Who project some time ago, I was casting around for some other monsters that I could add in to the mix when I came up with these - now of course they are not 'canon', although I think an early Doctor did meet some giant ants once (The Zarbi?), but are inspired by one of my favourite 'B' movies, namely the stupendous  "Them!"

You've just got to love giant ants taking over the world - I need of course,  to Anglicise it and have U.N.I.T. fighting them instead of the U.S. Army - I added in another plastic insect that came with a job lot of stuff from Ebay, and hey presto - the evil Queen and her minions:

The larger ant is a relatively hard plastic, however the small ones are made from a sort of rubber compound, and a bit squidgey, so not quite sure how well they will hold paint, but to be honest at this scale just a pair of menacing googly eyes should do the trick, rather than any special detailing.

Here's how they line up against some commonly available 6mm Sci-Fi troops, left to right, a Brigade Models Germy 6mm trooper, a GZG New Israeli, a Brigade 6mm Power Armoured chap, and finally a DRM Pax Arcadia Light Infantryman - the ants look suitably menacing, I think:

Getting back to things more directly Dr Who related, I've also dug out a plastic fly from the same old Ebay job lot - this should make a nice candidate for the one from probably the first adventure I ever remember watching as a child from behind the sofa, namely 'The Green Death' at the close of the John Pertwee era:

"But Doctor, it's exactly your cup of tea - this fellow's bright green apparently, and.....dead!"


Of course, I needed some of the armour plated giant maggots to go along with the fly, and for this I could have done scratch-built ones I suppose, but then remembered that I had some 10mm Dungeon crawlers that used to be available from Pendraken in their Fantasy ranges - I think these have been superceded now by a variety of new sculpts - but these should definitely fit the bill, and scale well alongside the 6mm miniatures:

*Edit: The crawly types have popped up again in the newly re-vamped Pendraken Sci-Fi ranges, see them here:

So, just what calculating and perhaps Alien intelligence could be behind this sudden upsurge in monstrous threats to the peace of the Earth............ I wonder...............?

Just for fun, courtesy of one of the ubiquitous boardgaming spares vendors on Ebay, I am going to add in some Simpson's Monopoly pieces, namely Kang and Kodos - you've got to have some Evil Masterminds behind it all!

So, some slightly left-field but hopefully fun bits and bobs to paint up in the near future - so stay tuned for some Sci-Fi related shenanigans to come!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Latest 6mm Greek Myth Figures from Rapier Miniatures

The other day Rapier Miniatures were kind enough to send over a few samples of the latest additions to their 6mm Greek Myth range, something that I was keen to see expand, as the figures so far have been full of character and are an unusual addition to the usual military types more commonly available.

This new set includes a Chimera, a Griffin, a 'Hen Party' (!) of Harpies and a some Bi-clops - just like the previous minis, these are very well sculpted, nicely proportioned, and have some great detail, that I'm afraid these photos really don't do justice to.
I'd thought I'd take a look through them , and give some comparison views alongside examples from the pre-existing range, and also against some 6mm infantry as adversaries.
All the minis are shown in their out-of-the-packet state, and as usual with Rapier are clean and crisp castings - some small areas of flash are visible, but nothing too hard to deal with by a few quick passes of a file.

First up, the new two-headed Cyclops (making him a Bi-clops) alongside the original, about to chuck his rock:

These two-headed chaps are slighter than the original, but are similarly detailed, with raised fist, hefty club and some nice hairy goat-like legs with cloven hoofs - they certainly look like they could do some damage in a fight, and appear suitably ill-tempered - probably each head arguing with the other.....

Seen against some of Rapier's 6mm GRE002 Hoplites in Muscle Cuirass, they are appropriately monstrous in size:

Next up, the Chimera - another excellent sculpt -seen here with the Hydra from the original sets - there is really a lot of intricate detail on this new mini - and it is quite an achievement to properly model all three heads, the wings and scorpion-style tail in well balanced proportion - the faces of the three heads are particularly well done:

Next we have Medusa meeting up with the new Harpies - these are the smallest of the new sculpts, but in spite of this are nicely modelled, with suitably harridan-like faces, raised talons and some great bird legs with claws:

Against the Hoplites once more, you can see how well they fit in with the infantry figures, although I think with my level of painting skills, they are going to be quite hard to paint well enough truly bring out their character:

Moving on, we have the Griffin, meeting up with an armoured Centaur - this new monster is in classic pose, and has some lovely feathered wings - it would obviously have potential beyond the Greek Myth range - would make some great statuary if painted appropriately to go alongside other 6mm or even 10mm figures:

Having a disagreement with some Hoplites:

Finally, a group shot with, on the left, a command strip from Rapier's own 6mm Early Imperial Romans, and on the right, the same from Baccus:

You'll see that all of the new figures scale really well with the contemporary infantry miniatures, and that they don't disappoint in terms of their detail or character.

My only small gripe would be that their diminutive size will make it hard for me to paint them well, but otherwise they are a great addition to the existing range, details of which can be found here:

Comparing them with a handy list of Mythological creatures that I found online, Rapier have done an excellent job with these; all we need now is a Kraaken and a Talos, and then we are good to go on a Ray Harryhausen style adventure!

As regular readers might have noticed, all things Blog and Hobby related have been on hiatus over the Summer, but I hope to get back and into the swing of things soon, and have certainly found these new 6mm quite inspiring, so more to come on a regular basis in the near future, all being well!

"Oi! - come back 'ere you 'orrible 'arpies!"

Friday, 24 May 2013

Plastic Fantastic - Dimestore Spaceships Trial Painting

Just finished putting together some trial paint jobs on a selection of the plastic Dimestore Spaceships - mostly just a bit of fun, with a couple of detailed ones, and others that were little more than dry-brushing with some detailing to see how paint would sit.

Must say, I'm quite pleased - certainly no complaints for what was a quick test run - these ships painted up easily, and I think would support a number of complicated techniques or stages of painting if you were so inclined.

To start off with, I was looking long and hard at the Flying Saucer design, and it reminded me strongly of the semi-mythical late war Nazi design of the Haunebu or H-Gerat:

So I went for it in Luftwaffe Green including some hand-daubed iron cross insignia - a bit rough, but I was too excited to bother with time consuming decals - something I will correct at a later date:

The Flying Dart shaped ship I just gave a dry-brush of bronze over the black undercoat, and then did a minimum of detailing - I was thinking that these might be a secret Allied design to combat the German 'Wunderwaffe' - maybe a bit of Luft '46 might be in order employing these - they would go nicely alongside 1/300 aircraft, I should think - throw in a few ME262 and the odd all-white 616 Sqn Gloster Meteor and Bob's your uncle!

Next I went for a simple grey scheme on what I am calling the 6mm Gunship, just with some red detailing - although I realise I forgot to finish the canopy before taking the photos - tut, tut!
The Flying Horseshoe got a sort of alien purple with the odd bit of colour - very quick and rough again - but definitely speaks to the potential they would have as Fleet-Scale Sci-Fi:

I think there was a race in the Babylon 5 universe that it would fit the bill for; was it the Vree?

Talking of on-screen Sci-Fi, the next craft, the ones with the trio of domed protuberances, I did to go alongside my Late Republic / Early Imperial Ships; here with an Irregular Star Destroyer and a Brigade Models' Insidioso:

I think the domes reminded me of the ones on an Interdictor Class, so perhaps these are an early, smaller scale fore-runner.....

Finally, just to show the scratch-building potential - I lopped off the two side sponsons on the ship I have dubbed the Rocket Sled - came away nice and easy with a quick chop of a craft knife - I was thinking fixed upright, they would make good moisture collector towers for 6mm stuff?

All in all, then, great fun to throw paint at, no problems to deal with, and a few good ideas as to how to employ the various designs - obviously a couple more to play with yet, so hopefully more to come on these......

Monday, 20 May 2013

Plastic Fantastic: Dimestore Spaceships

More Plastic Fantastic madness, now, not in the shape of the usual strange conversion fodder, but rather these so-called 'Dimestore' Spaceships that I ordered via EBay from the USA.

Yes, rather than doing strange things to bits of plastic to turn them into something resembling Fleet Scale Sci-Fi, we have here seven separate designs of various craft that come in bulk - to whit: 144 of the blighters! I went the whole hog and bought them en masse, although I shared the cost and went halves with a fellow gamer and Blogger who could also see the potential in them.

Of course, not all the designs are immediately obvious as your standard Spaceships, but I feel they are ripe for conversion, and might do duty in a number of scales.
The major positive is that unlike previous incarnations of similar toys, these are neither made from rubber, or from a weak, bendy plastic, but rather from a good, hard styrene-like substance, so once washed with warm soapy water are ready for undercoating.

Made in China, the bulk shipper based in the US sends them out in random samplings and colours - you can't order specifics, but I received pretty much twenty or so of each craft, with a few more of a couple of designs thrown in to make up the total.

The variety can be see below, against a mat with 1cm square grids for size:

Immediate stand-outs are of course the Flying Saucer and the Horseshoe-shaped craft, whilst the Gun-ship type in the bottom left hand corner looks like it wouldn't disgrace a 6mm Aerospace environment; the remainder are somewhat more esoteric - if I was feeling critical, the ship in the upper right corner is a bit of a strange one - sort of a rocket sled with apparent seating for a pilot - although the side pylons look useful for removal and conversion.

All in all, the details are crisp and nicely moulded, plenty of greeblies and ridges apparent on the surface, and also on the underside as you see below:

As ever, not entirely sure how these will be utilised - I bought them cheap before a recent price-hike on delivery by the USPS, so was blinded by the fact that the unit cost had come down to about twelve pence a ship - and therefore didn't worry about such fancy considerations as where they might serve!

That said, I've got some ideas for some sample craft and some hopefully interesting identities that I will be working on soon - I've already undercoated a few, and found it easy to cut away any of the extraneous detailing, tails and guns to give the following:

They take paint well, and also superglue, as you will see with the addition of a circular rare-earth magnet on the base of the dart-like ship seen bottom right above.

The extraneous parts cut away easily and in one piece, so could be saved as further scratch-building material - I'm certainly looking forward to playing around with these, so watch this space for some developments soon!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Brigade Models New Buildings Range: Comparison Photos

Returning after a long absence from Blogging, (Apologies!)  - thought I'd kick off proceedings by taking a look at a recent development in the world of small-scale wargaming, namely the new and expanding range of buildings from Brigade Models.
These new scenic items are ostensibly meant to go alongside their Land Ironclads miniatures, and the company themselves explain that they are designed at 1/1000th scale, but obviously would happily sit alongside 1/1200th Aeronef whilst also being in the right ballpark for Irregular Miniatures' 1/900th or 2mm ranges.

Now Brigade have as usual excelled themselves in introducing these new products to the consumer, and have been particularly good at providing clear photographs of the various sets as they have come available, so I do not propose to duplicate their efforts here.
Rather I'm going to put the contents of the two original sets, English Village Houses and English Churches, alongside similarly sized or scaled buildings that I know both I and others have used with small-scale miniatures between 1/3000th via 1/1200th up to 1/900th.

I'm hoping that these photos will help me to decide how I should re-assess my vast collection of tiny buildings to accomodate the new range, and ideally this post will also be of use in deciding where these 'new kids on the block' fit in with what has previously been available.

First impressions of all of the buildings that I have seen so far, is that they are extremely well sculpted in terms of architectural details and proportions, and are of a quality rarely seen before at this end of the wargaming scale; I think that they could easily be used for a variety of purposes, but I will start the comparison by putting them alongside some 3mm buildings that were originally produced by 'Simply Six', but I believe are now available from Pico Armour to be used with the Oddzial Osmy ACW range:

As you can see, these new Brigade buildings are definitely true to their description of being of a smaller order, although of course it would not preclude their use if you wanted to depict 'Built Up Areas' rather than individual buildings for a 3mm set-up.

Next up, the ubiquitous and ever-useful plastic Monopoly buildings, that in various forms have been an economical and easy option in the past when no other alternatives were available; again, you will note the discrepancy in terms of proportions and size, so they would not sit well together on the table-top:

Following on, we have what up until now has been the best option for detailed buildings in the smaller scales, the excellent 1/1200th Napoleonic items from Rod Langton:

I have found that depending on which building you buy, there is some variation in the sizing of these pieces, and in the past that has meant they have fitted comfortably next to a range of models, whether small scale naval or even land based 2mm. I think it is interesting to note that it appears that the Brigade 1/1000th pieces look smaller in proportions alongside the majority of the Langtons - perhaps I need to have a re-think about which minis I currently use these with - although I certainly wouldn't give them up, as they are great items, given their tiny size.

Next, a slight curve-ball in the form of a couple of Navwar's 1/3000th terrain pieces, namely some Wharehouses - these are obviously meant to represent very large constructions, but look correctly much smaller against the new stuff from Bigade:

Moving on, we have some examples of the 2mm houses from Irregular Miniatures, that form part of a slightly different approach to scenic items that has been discernible  in their recently available items, away from the original 'Area' terrain pieces (of which more below) to larger individual pieces:

In theory, these building should come the closest in terms of appearance, and although there are obvious differences in detail, they are in the right area, but to be honest would struggle, I think, if placed alongside what has probably been a quantum leap in quality now provided by Brigade.

The next phase, of course, is to set the new contenders against the original, and for many years, the classic weapon of choice for small scale gaming, Irregular's scenic items:

The difference in approach and 'identity' if you like, is of course obvious, so I think I will be torn in the future as to which type to use in my set -up, perhaps the new Brigade might go with my 2mm forces, whilst the Irregular will be used to populate the world below high flying Aeronef or even 1/600th aircraft?

This is again re-inforced when they are seen with the plastic villages from GW's Mighty Empires:

Hmmm, I suppose I should not be complaining about being spoilt for choice, as it were, but these new items have definitely put the cat amongst the pigeons with regard to my pre-conceived scenic inventories; proof positive seen in the following shots next to 2mm troops:

To conclude this quick ramble through the small scale urban landscape, I would probably say that for me, the quality, proportion and precision of these new items are very much in 'game-changer' territory, and I think I will have to look long and hard at what I have been using in order to better match troops to their surroundings in future; all of the various contenders detailed here have their pros and cons; whether price, availability, ease of painting, or representational qualities as how you decide buildings are to be depicted, but I think as this line expands, they will be hard to beat - great quality, flexible, and reasonably priced.....

Maybe I'll give up on these ruminations, though, and just keep using them all..........

Although not at the same time.........