Saturday 31 December 2011

Year End Greetings to All!

"Pedal faster Heinrich, pedal faster - we have to be in England by dawn!" - or something to that effect, anyway....

Just wanted to offer my thanks and appreciation to all those who stuck with the rather slow and spotty progress of the Blog during 2011, and particularly those who signed up as Followers or offered comments on what I was up to.

Various circumstances have meant that I have been unable to offer either miniatures/project work or the Blog much attention over the last six months or so, and I realise that what has appeared is largely as a result of the interest shown by regular readers serving as inspiration, so a hearty thanks to you all.

There is, as always, a lot on the back burner planned for the near future, but I don't want to be making promises I can't keep, so I'll just close the year by wishing everyone a happy and miniatures-filled New Year, and hope to see you all again in 2012!

Friday 23 December 2011

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: Trekkin' about over Christmas...

Well, having found it very difficult in the latter part of this year to concentrate on spending quality time with miniatures, and in particular advancing the various detailed projects I had on the go, I've decided to have a bit of fun and keep things simple to end 2011.

It looks like hulls and nacelles will be a relatively easy option rather than trying to struggle with uniforms and all their accoutrements, so I'm going to indulge myself with some classic Trek, in the shape of some recent Ebay scores and a few craft from Irregular Miniatures.

As you'll see above, I've managed to lay my hands on a FASA style Klingon D7 and D18, alongside a trio of Romulan Birds of Prey, as well as a pair of already painted craft from Irregular's Sci-Fi range - not strictly canon, of course, being the DYO 13 'Black Star Liner', but I think they look good as proto-Romulan ships - perhaps a developmental stage we never actually saw on-screen...

These are countered by three of the Imperial Faction DYE 11, Perry Class Frigate (Revised) from Irregular, which come with separate old-school style warp nacelles, which as you have no doubt noticed, allow for a variety of mounting options.

Above you can see the basic hull with the nacelles mounted three differing ways - from the left, raised erect in classic Enterprise/Constitution Class stylee, followed by a flat mounting with the miniature's saucer section placed upside down, and then a conventional flat mount, probably as intended by the manufacturer. You must excuse the currently rather clumsy looking application of plasticard that is visible in bracing the latter mountings - I found I needed these to beef up the join, which has to fit into a rather small cut-out in the body of the main hull.

To be fair, the saucer section 'underside' of the miniature is a bit rough in terms of sculpting, but I wanted to use one upside down to add to the available range of vessels - all of course are rather on the small side, so definitely in the Frigate category, but then that should make the match-up with the Aliens all the more challenging....

Not that I am in really in a position to launch these into a gaming scenario in the near future, I merely wanted to paint some cool ships!

The timescale for these is very much immediately post 'The Original Series', I think, or at least will involve ships in combat away from the glamour of Kirk's flagship adventures....

I won't be aiming for super-detailing with them - there are some amazingly talented people out there using micro-decals and such like to produce tiny masterpieces, but I'll be happy with something representative and characterful, with any luck.... of course the Ebay finds mean that I can even cheat on the overall painting process, with most of it done already!

Irregular's current pricing puts the DYE11 Perry (revised) at just £1.20 each, which even given their relatively diminutive size, is pretty darn good, considering how much Trek-related stuff normally costs, so I am quite pleased with these 'not-Trek' stand-ins, and will proudly use them to fly the Federa.....ahem, I mean 'Imperial' flag....

Monday 12 December 2011

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: A Flying Sauce!

Well, if not a flying sauce, then at least some flying cheek in presenting a few photos of the quickest and cheapest Fleet Scale Sci-Fi fleet you can imagine - namely Flying Saucers!

Not only are these the simplest of projects, but I can't even claim any credit for either the concept nor the construction - these ships were created by David Crook of 'A Wargaming Oddysey' Blog fame, and merely accosted by myself during a previous Lead Mountain exchange.

David came up with the brilliantly simple and elegant idea of using various makes of flight stand, principally including the GW flying bases as used in Battlefleet Gothic, paired and inverted as 'saucers', topped off with discs cut from wheel sections of cheap plastic AFVs from a boardgame!
On paper, they shouldn't be much to look at, but are so cunningly contrived in reality that even a quick blast of spray black undercoat and some silver gunmetal dry-brush thrashings produced quite a decent fleet in a veritable instant:

Not the finest of photographs, but you should be able to discern the differing types, from large command vessel, fighter carrier (Where David cleverly divided the saucer sections with a plastic slotta base) and plain saucers; a few blobs of various bright colours break up the outline as running lights or perhaps Death-Ray launching ports:

If you have a few such flying bases and stands languishing in your bits box, I heartily recommend this method for creating instant vessels of such an iconic shape - with my leisure time at a high premium recently, these were perfect for the quickest of projects, and the minimum of fuss...

Now, whilst time permits, I'm off to play Invasion of the Saucer Men -

"Keep watching the Skies!"

Thursday 1 December 2011

Back to the Blog: Predreadnought Photos 15: SpanAm

Back to the 'Blogface', with hopefully a bit more regularity after a period of enforced absence; hoping to ease my way back in to things somewhat gradually, so please indulge the rather soft post, namely another foray into the Pre-Dred photo collection.

These views are all of Spanish-American War U.S. vessels, and I think are unusual in that they show the ships in their wartime grey, rather than the white peace-time scheme so often seen in photos of the time.

Just to kick things off, a quick view of the vessel that started all the ruckus, namely the USS Maine, seen above in a colourised postcard view in a tragically sorry state after being raised as a wreck in 1911-1912.
The photo is by Harris and Brothers, Havana, and is subtitled "as it appeared at 25 foot level". Sadly, the remains of 36 crewmen were found in the wreck, which was re-sunk having been posing a threat to navigation in her original position.

The always informative Spanish American War website has an excellent article here:

First up then, a close-up from a stereographic view from 1898 by B.L. Lingley of the USS Brooklyn on her return from the war at Hampton Roads . Interpreting colour from black and white photography can be problematic, but I think the white flying bridge is a nice guide to provide the contrast showing the wartime grey; the majority of photos of these vessels seem to be from during the 'Victory tour' post the conflict, when they had been spruced up back in their white, so interesting to get a sense of how they actually went into battle:

Moving on, another stereographic close-up, this time the Battleship Indiana, Photograph by James M. Davis for B.W. Kilburn and Co.

A nice head-on view, an Underwood and Underwood stereograph published by J.F. Jarvis, titled U.S. Battleship 'Texas' in her "War Paint":

(did someone forget to paint the bow torpedo-tube cap cover - or maybe just the sun glinting off of it?)

Finally a fine view, copyrighted in 1898 by Strohymeyer and Wyman, we have "Our Grand Battleship Oregon - aft", again from Underwood and Underwood:

A huge stars and bars flying at the stern, and a lovely angle on those gun turrets too!

More photo-sessions to come during this month, including a Chemulpo special, so stay tuned!

(Just a quick note - not too happy about this new fangled Blogger interface "click on a photo and get a slideshow with small photos" guff currently in operation- don't know if it will work for you, but I find if you position the cursor not on the photo itself, but close to its border and then click on it, you get the old style fully clickable close-up that we all know and love.)