Friday 31 December 2010

Ruminations at the Year's End, and a Vote of Thanks

Dear All, just thought I'd close the year with some thoughts on what is to come Blog-wise in the near future, and also give a well deserved vote of thanks to all those who have dropped by during 2010.

I can't say that I have served the dedicated reader all that well, given my tendency to dance all over the place and hop from one project to another, but I suppose that the scatter-gun approach does at least bring in a lot more potentially interesting subjects, even if each proves little more than a diversion!

If I were to make a NewYear's resolution worth the paper it was written on, it would be to make an effort to give a more complete picture of a smaller number of developing projects, rather than jumping forward each time some little progress is made in one area or another.

Quite a lot often happens off-Blog, so to speak, and is normally not chronicled because instead of photography, I've moved on to some priming and prep on other minis - good for lead mountain reduction, I s'pose, but not so hot in terms of chronicling my efforts.
Hopefully, then, I'll be trying a somewhat calmer approach - although I won't promise that there will be no brief and unheralded dalliances with whatever takes my fancy...

Of course, the original intent of the Blog was to act as sounding board and organisational tool, so I also want to do more to showcase those future projects that are glimmering faintly on the horizon. Some are appearing brighter than others, and have quite a lot of concrete research behind them already - so you should see more photos in the vein of the Pre-Dred Pic posts, albeit on a totally different subject in the near future.

To gasps of shock and disbelief, no doubt, I am also thinking of stretching the Small-Scale boundaries a bit by moving into some slightly larger sizes of tiny troops, to whit 6 and even 10mm, that have actually formed a decent part of my wargaming activity, but have yet to see any real representation on this Blog.

2mm or smaller afficionados, though, shouldn't worry, my commitment to the tiniest of tinies remains, and next year should see some further work on the 'TNBT' project - 'The Next Big Thing' which will probably form a long term stream of work involving either ACW, the Crimea or Napoleonics.

I'll close then, by wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year, and by saying thanks once again to all those who have taken the time to read the Blog, and moreover, to sign up as Followers, or discuss it further afield - I really can't say how much your support, debate, criticism and cajolery has meant in motivating me to do more.

So as the Ship's cat aboard HMS Renown wonders just how the crew intend to set off the first of the New Year's fireworks (not with the 15" guns, surely?), I'll sign off and hope to see you all again next year!

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: More BSG Shenanigans

In spite of the irksome interruption (Bah! Humbug....) of the Christmas festivities, I've still managed to get myself mired into more project creep with regard to the Fleet Scale BSG vessels - ably aided and abetted by the Christmas sale over at Brigade Models.

I thought I'd share a couple of pics of the completed Studio Bergstrom Baseship, which paints up nicely - I went for a darker drybrush shade to contrast more with the Galactica, and appear a bit more menacing:

One small fly in the ointment has been my complete inability to locate a parcel of small rare-earth magnets that I was going to use for basing the various craft; in particular the fighters, allied with the trio stands available from Brigade - this has meant that they have yet to be undercoated, as this is best done when already glued in situ - fruitless searches amidst the lead pile continue...sigh....

This did not stop me from casting around for some more candidates to beef up each side, which although not strictly canonical, should do the trick; first up the CDSU Chengzu battlecruiser, SFS-503 from Brigade:

Seen above in its straight out of the packet condition, I think when painted up, should make a good fist of appearing as a class of modern Colonial Cruiser alongside the Galactica et al - the nose shape, I think fits the general design concept, and for that matter, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine it with added carrier bays, either.

For the Cylons, I went for the slightly enigmatic Welsh Dewi class heavy cruiser, SFS-821, which I think has a strong echo of the design of the Cylon fighter about it, as well as in the Cruiser class, scaling quite well alongside a Baseship - I think in the series and spin-offs, there are Cylon heavies that are pretty much one saucer half of the former ship, but I think these will add more interest, and have a certain elan:

So then, a little off track from where I wanted to be right now, but I'm sure it won't be long before these new additions join their respective fleets - now I just need to find those "frakkin" magnets! ;-)

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 13

A bumper pre-Christmas treat for all you Pre-Dreadnoughters out there, in the shape of another instalment in this occasional series of views from my postcard and image collection. Nothing fancy as such, nor with any particular theme this time around, but just some interesting views from either side of 1900.

Above, to kick things off, a nice posed shot of a Royal Marine crew practising with a 6" gun - no clue as to the vessel, I'm afraid....

Next a lovely shot of the French Battleship Charles Martel, with nifty, almost Art-Deco style font for her nameplate on this post-card view:

A slightly smaller vessel now, in this Gale and Polden postcard image entitled 'A piquet boat armed with Whitehead torpedoes' - I love the Heath Robinson nature of this - I don't know if this image actually shows such a practical deployment of weapons like these, or is merely a view of a test firing; certainly the jack tars belaying the torpedo with ropes don't really make for an efficient launcher!

Belching smoke and with a bonkers level of bow wave, (I've heard of 'running awash', but this is ridiculous...), a German postcard shows just why such attacks were often hit-and-miss affairs - "Target, what target - all I can see is spray, Herr Kapitan!"

Talking of belching smoke, a cracking colourised image from a French postcard by A. Bougault, showing the firing of a 27cm gun; don't know on what ship, but likely a fairly early contender:

Following up, another, more posed view of the loading of a piece on the Redoubtable by Edition Giletta of Nice - some notes on this Central Battery ship can be found here, alongside a slightly different angle photo of this same gun:

Continuing with the French, a nicely detailed image of the Jaureguiberry:

followed by the Admiral Aube:

Next, ploughing (literally) her way into the Adriatic no doubt, the Italian Re Umberto class Battleship the Sicilia:

Turning to the East, a nice early image of the HIJMS Mikasa, with a good view of the characteristic identification stripes on the funnels:

She is accompanied by the Chitose; a clear depiction of the Japanese doctrine of lots of Quick-Firing guns, ranged along her broadside:

and finally, that veteran of the China station, flying the flag for the Royal Navy, HMS Barfleur:

Friday 17 December 2010

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: Galactica Progress

The Battlestar Galactica, here in the shape of the sculpt from Studio Bergstrom, is all but complete, so in the spirit of recent posts, thought I'd share the images ASAP - so no one was left wondering how she turned out....
As I thought, the particular mode of sculpting made dry-brushing a dream - if anything, you had to reign yourself in somewhat and not overdo it - the various lumps, bumps, inscribed lines and pits easily picked up the mix of Vallejo neutral grey, silver grey and white that was applied in various quantities and coats - an ink wash then sealed the deal as far as I was concerned.

Detailing used red, orange and a Vallejo brass, dotted on here and there to give the impression of running lights and other illuminated windows etc:

The Drive or engine exhaust areas were done with a swedish blue, then a lightened swedish blue patch in the centre, and finally a splodge of white in the centre of that - this approximates an 'Ion Drive flare' (or some such technobabble), without the need for getting too master-modeller about it - that's not really my style, after all! :-)

The characteristic red coloured recognition stripes on the carrier bays were by necessity, rather roughly lined in - the sculpted surface is just too busy for straight lines - so these had to go in over the top regardless, but don't look too bad at gaming distances.

Next up, I've been considering what else to add in to the Rag-Tag Fugitive Fleet, with the beginnings of some civilian vessels, as well as a further Colonial Military one.

On the left in the foreground, we can see the Brigade Models SAC faction Bantu Destroyer, SFS-630, which is going to stand in as a class of Light Cruiser, to help fend off the Cylons, and next to it two further vessels by Irregular Miniatures:

In the centre, we have the old SH4 Human Cruiser, which should do a good job of representing a transport of some kind, and on the right is the SH1 Human Freighter, which will be, well, a freighter, I suppose...

I've found that my choice of the Bergstrom Galactica has somewhat limited the range of off-the-shelf vessels I can use to support it, as most of the available ranges, such as Hanger18FASA, Orion, Ravenstar, Titanium etc, are built on a considerably larger scale - my diminutive Battlestar will most likely need some scratch-builds to complete the fleet.
At the moment, I'm thinking in terms of doing a Colonial Movers vessel, an Agro-ship, a Mineral ship and probably the Foundry ship, depending on whether I can find some suitably small bits for the usual messy scratch build.

Cylon Basestar and the fighters should be seeing the workbench soon, so more to come on this before the end of the year, no doubt.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: Quick photo update: Caprica's last Fleet

A quick photo update on the Battlestar Galactica Colonial vessels, just to show the direction things are going in; somewhat breathless, I know, but there's just something about these little ships that make you want to press ahead and get them painted.

The Irregular Battlestar is all but done, and the old fashioned 'Gunstar' stand-in from Brigade is pretty much there; Bergstrom's Battlestar has had a base coat of black, and the first rough dry-brush of neutral grey applied.

We see below, then, the pre-Cylon War Nova Class Gunstar, the 'Albion', alongside her replacement in the development of the class, the Battlestar 'Olympia':

With the Olympia, I wanted to pick up on some of the white-with-red-trim vibe displayed on the Colonial Vipers in the original BSG, and following this train of thought, allowed for some more red and white on the earlier Albion.

The larger vessel has suffered somewhat from that bane of the dry-brusher, 'frosting' - probably too much white in the grey, allied with a rather heavy-handed use of the brush - not so clever on a figure, but here, I don't think it looks too bad; an ageing metal hulk that has been round the frozen depths of Space one too many times would look like this -no?

The Albion began with a black undercoat, then a dry-brush of Prussian Blue, followed by another with a mix of the blue and some white, and then finally a light go-over with light grey with a spot of the original blue in it. I wanted her to look simpler, as if from a previous era in terms of iconography, with just the final detailing colours as before - not entirely happy with how she turned out, but not bad given the pace I find myself working at!
Both have had a final diluted ink wash applied, but I didn't want to be too heavy with this, so it is fairly subtle - might add more layers later....

Finally, a closer look at how the Galactica is shaping up, against her predecessor once more:

Obviously at a fairly basic stage as yet, but will be receiving a lot of attention now that the other two are pretty much launched; I found the deep greeblies and pitting that characterise the Bergstrom sculpt quite difficult to work all the base coat into - my undercoat brush is pretty mashed as a result.... and I think I'll have to make the following coats of grey lighter than on the Olympia, to give her the properly modern feel familiar from the series.

So there you go; I'll just sign off with a couple of website links; an academic and well researched discussion article on the names of Battlestars can be found here:

and a lot of amazing general info can be seen here:

See you all on Kobol! ;-)

Sunday 12 December 2010

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: Progress Update

A quick progress report on the Fleet Scale Sci-Fi/Battlestar Galactica ships; as you can see above, I couldn't resist having a look at the Irregular Miniatures' DYC8 'Pre-' Battlestar miniature, and in addition have added a new contender for a proto-Battlestar in the shape of an interloper from Brigade Models.

I was thinking along the lines of a pre-Cylon War early Colonial vessel, perhaps we might call it an Attack-star, which served as a prototype for the larger and more capable early Battlestar, which then developed into the classic BSG era 'Galactica' et al.
Rootling around in some recent purchases from Brigade, I remembered the new Pacfed Faction Barramundi Class Destroyer (SFS-730) that I had bought, which had some nice carrier pod style booms - this, with the addition of a small Drive section made from some scrap, will fit the bill:

The Irregular mini needed quite a lot of cleaning up, before I could be let loose with the paintbrush; both the Bow and the Drive section were pretty rough, as you might have seen in the photos in my previous post, and the longitudinal axis of the hull has a raised mould line, but I left this as is, rather than file away any of the detail in this area.

I also decided to remove the gun-like projections present either side of the nose - they seemed a bit unbalanced to me, and I think she scrubs up rather well without them - the detail elsewhere, and in particular the panelling visible on hull and carrier bays is very good.

Paint-scheme wise, the early Battlestar that I am calling the 'Olympia', began with a base coat of Coat d'Arms flat black, followed by a rough dry-brush of Vallejo neutral grey, then another dry-brush of the grey mixed with white, then a lighter dry brush with just white.
This has seen the addition of various white panel detailing, and I'm going to go on to add some areas in red, as well of course complete the detailing of the bridge windows and various other greeblies overall. So far, so good, anyway!

Moving on, I dug out the GZG candidates for the fighter craft, as you can see below, to whit the ORC faction FT1201 fighter as the Cylon, and the New Israeli FT1501 fighter as the Colonial Viper:

These are pretty much the best stand-ins you can find as 'not' BSG products, outside of the Studio Bergstrom ranges, and if you're UK based, certainly save on the postal charges from the 'States....
As with all Fleet-scale craft of course, the proportions of these are way off in actual size terms, as you can see when posed next to the Olympia below:

However, they will obviously be on stands or bases as representative squadrons, or even fighter wings, rather than individual craft, so will definitely do the job.
Much more to do with all of these, naturally, but thought I'd share the progress so far....

Thursday 9 December 2010

Small Scale Naval: Generic Dockyard

The recent successful construction of Fort Humpter had me thinking what else I could add in terms of scenics for the various Small Scale Naval projects that I currently have under my belt. Given that this is a range that now covers everything from 1/4800th Napoleonic to 1/3000th Pre-Dreds via 1/2400th Pacific War and now ACW Monitors, I wanted to have something that was generic enough to be of use to all, and whilst it might horrify scale purists, would make use of various buildings I had collected in scales between 1/3000th to 1/900th.

I decided to go for a Dockyard scene that eventually could sit on some coastline terrain pieces, and would allow the depiction of various eras in a general way.
The starting point, as always, was an amalgam of various bits of card and scraps, to be initially populated by some dock buildings that I obtained long ago from Navwar when ordering for the 1/3000th Boxer Rebellion Naval project, alongside some miscellaneous spars, timber and boxes, etc from Langton Miniatures in their 1/1200th range:

Navwar's 3MH5/5a Sailing Era strips of Store Houses and extensions, as well as the 3MH6/6a Workshops, made for a good base of various types of building, placed amidst the detritus provided from Langton's M47 Dockyard Misc. pack - overall not mixing too badly in purely visual terms.

These base pieces were then reinforced by the following motley crew:

In the foreground, we have three of Irregular Miniature's IKS10 2mm single house models, here with a 'Tudorised' paintjob that was originally for the 2mm ECW project.
In the centre, from Navwar's 1/3000th Harbour Pieces, the 3MH7/7a 20th Century Factory or Warehouse, and the Oil Tanks Group, which are somewhat basic, but paint up well; and finally in the rear, some of the smaller items from Langton's 1/1200th buildings range, I think here a combination of his M5 and M7 packs.
Adding in these in different combinations, then allows the 'feel' of the Docks to change with the era......

From Sail and Steam:

via Steam:

to Coal, Oil, and the dawn of the 20th Century:

At least that is the plan!

I've also got some small Dockyard cranes and a Coaling Dock from I forget exactly which manufacturer, (Scotia?) and these also might see the light of day once I can extract them from the depths of the Lead Mountain, which should really ensure a good span of possible uses for this scenic base.

Monday 6 December 2010

Spaced out with Fleet Scale Starships........!

I once said that I needed a new project like I needed a hole in my head; in fact, I think I mentioned like two holes in the head.... so I guess the neurosurgeon must have been visiting SteelonSand Towers with his trepanning kit lately, because here I go again!

I'm of the generation of course, that cut its teeth on Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and all points in between, but for some reason I had mostly avoided putting a love of all of these together with wargaming, apart from the small scale Sci-Fi seen elsewhere on this Blog. So where are all the Galaxy-spanning Capital ships, full-thrusting their way across the emptiness of space, C-beams a glitter?
Well, you might well ask, as in typical fashion, it appears they have crept onto my sensor screens in the guise of the 'Ragtag Fugitive Fleet' from the original BSG.

I'd always had ideas about modelling this iconic collection of ships, but it is only recently that these have become more concrete, thanks to some guidance I picked up over at the excellent Star Ranger Forums:

Now there have been a number of great scale models, collectible ships and gaming miniatures available for a number of years that are representative of the craft in question, from the Titanium BSG ships to the amazing Ravenstar sculpts, but as always, I was looking for something that would be within budget for my 'subsidiary' project limitations, and have taken as my starting point Irregular Miniatures in the UK, as well as the brilliant and affordable creations of Studio Bergstrom in the 'States.

Now there is a lot of well informed and technical debate out there as to the canonical proportions of Fleet-scale ships, but in my usual way, I wanted to go with something generic and 'looks right to my eyes' rather than anything more formal; hence the Irregular Minis DYC 8 Dreadnought Supercarrier and the Bergstrom 'Galactics' look-alike Carrier we see below:

Between them, I think we have a nice facsimile of a certain famous Battlestar, as well as what might be an earlier model of vessel - the 'Pre-' to the iconic Dreadnought perhaps?

Both ships appear in these photos in their as-delivered states, hence the obvious flash on the Irregular offering. Certainly, it would bear some conversion work, whilst the Bergstom example is just calling out for a good thrashing with the dry-brush to highlight all the various greeblies on its hull:

The Irregular vessel comes with separate carrier-bays, which again might allow for fielding differently-styled versions:

So having started off with some contenders for the leader of the Ragtag Fleet, I couldn't resist getting in the Bergstrom version of the baddie, to whit the 'Zylon' Carrier; this comes in two parts, as you can see, in order to form the upper and lower saucer sections:

and has a nifty tongue and groove arrangement for joining the two parts together:

All the surfaces have some lovely detailing, with visible carrier/ launch bays in all directions:

Seen up against its fellow from Bergstrom, I'm sure you can share my excitement over this 'yet-another, yes, that-really-is-too-many projects' Project:

These should be tremendous fun to paint and will always look great for display, even if they never get off the ground, gaming wise - although I am sure someone out there has already done their Stats for one of the widely available rulesets......

In the near future, I'll be looking into some likely contenders for the other ships in the fleet, a useful list of which can be found here:

as well as thinking about some fighter stand-ins lurking amongst the GZG catalogue, so stay tuned, Space freaks!