Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Charlies Edges Towards the Water

If you've noticed most of my recent posts have been about new arrivals, rather than any progress on projects, it's been because I've had a mass of vehicles on the table for 3mm Vietnam (Charlie Don't Surf rules). It's been slow, getting a bit done on all of them every night, but I've now wrapped most of them up, and have some pictures to show off.

As always, clicking on the photos brings up a larger version, really recommended for some of these.

Here's everything en masse:

The NVA get their armour at last, some T-55's (top) and PT-76's (bottom):

I think the T-55's are some of O8's nicest stuff.

The riverine forces are starting to get ready too, here are 5 PBR's, the first one is South Vietnamese, the rest will get American stars as decals later.

I should have done a second one for the South Vietnamese navy, but I do have a sixth PBR that I forget to prep the first time around (everything else comes in 5's, but the PBR's in 6's - it was an honest mistake!).

M60 (top) and M48 (bottom) tanks. Some of the M-48's are done on urban bases, for Hue.

Some of my M113's and MCAV's, I need to do another 10 of each, but need to order them first.

Mortar carriers, can work for either M106's or M125's.

M109 SPA, LVTP-5's (have another 10 to do), and some trucks. Trying to decide if I should paint road lines on the pavement bases.

Some of the jeeps, some with RR's or MG's. They look better from a bit further away.

More trucks.

And I've also been working on the US helicopter fleet, but it's still a work in progress - weapons, unit markings, canopies (I hate canopies), and decaling are still needed.
Everything on the table right now.

Front row: OH-6, 2 Frogs, 2 Hogs, OH-58. Second row: 8 x UH-1D's. Third row: 6 x CH-46 Sea Knights. Fourth row: 2 x 2 Cobras.

Four OH-13's, 2 Cobra's in camouflage, 2 Frogs in camo, and 2 Hogs in a different colour scheme.
Nice close up of some of the slicks.

I also have to begin on some follow-ups for the air fleet - Chinooks, UH-1B's (medevacs, command ships, more transports), Choctaws, and all the close support aircraft. I also have some surprises coming for fans of 1980's TV.

And the next phase is now underway. After touching up my bases for all the above, I used the spare paint on the palette to begin the bases for my US infantry company.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bad Pictures of Good Mini's

All of my recent orders have been coming in on top of each other, today's arrival was a test batch of ships and things from Shapeways, a Dutch company that does 3D printing on demand for other companies. That probably doesn't make sense, but basically, someone uses a CAD-like program to create an item in 3D, such as oh say a spaceship miniature, then uploads it to Shapeways, who handles the printing (using one of those expensive rapid prototyping tools) and delivery, and the creator gets to set his own commission as well.

A bunch of guys have started creating miniatures through Shapeways, there may be others, but I've only come across the spaceship ones. The Star Ranger site also provides a good listing of what manufacturers are around, and now includes the Shapeways companies.

So I placed a test order from most of the companies, in the basic material (white strong flexible), which I knew going in does come with a kindy of grainy texture that apparently is ok once painted and viewed at a normal distance. Have seen the texture in person now, it is kinda like the feel of a sugar cube. There are other materials, but they cost more, and I spend too much on this stuff already!

There is generally very little flash, maybe a bit of sanding along edges is all a couple of them need. It seems like they really come ready right out of the box; apparently you don't even need to prime them.

So the project these mini's are going to is my own VSF universe, which is to include Iron Stars for spaceship gaming, Aeronef for aerial gaming (as well as some Sky Galleons of Mars), and Land Ironclads on the ground. Most of this order was for space, but I also got some ironclads, as you'll see.

The setting combines a few things, a lot of Space 1889, but with that setting's Martians moved to Venus, and Wells' Martians occupying their proper planet. There are Moonmen, really from other star system, Jovians (white ape-like sentients), and a mysterious murderous race from beyond (tentatively GW Ork-like).

Once I got today's order, after the obligatory fondling of the miniatures, I tried taking some pictures, and now see that they mostly suck. I forgot to put on the close-up option, but I think the real problem is how white and reflective the material is, they have a lot more detail to them than these pics show. Anyway, till I get these painted, here's what I got:

Two shots of a gothic destroyer from "Objects May Appear". He actually has some bigger ships (BB and CV), but I thought they might be too out of scale with my Irregular Heirs of Manacus and Uranus ships. I can probably go bigger, but this is a nice ship. I was going to make it German, but seeing the pagoda-like structure on top, and relative simple lines, I may make this style belong to one of the Chinese factions in my universe. Probably Imperial. Oddly enough, when sketching out my universe, long before I saw these ships, I'd noted that the Chinese ships had castle-like lines with buildings on the "deck".

I picked up OMA's Ether (left) and Air (rightx2) frigates as well. Unfortunately as the store images suggested, they're very similar, so I can't use the "Air" line as one faction, and the "Ether" line as another. I'm going to go with the Ether line, if I get any of the Air ones I'll call them sub-variants. I will get the Air SSBN though, as my universe calls for the French to have sub-like ships. These frigates will belong to the URA (my universe's USA - there's also a CSA).

This is "Irrational Designs'" Belter Attack Cruiser. I'm not sure which nation will use it, I'm leaning towards the Ottomans, but the Austro-Hungarians are still with a ship line (since I canned the "Air" faction per the previous paragraph).

At the top is ID's Jovian Schild Cruiser, which will either go to Germany or the Black Nippon, a militant Japanese splinter group that disappeared into the ether years ago, and supposedly left the solar system and came across some very high tech. But since I took away the Gothic Destroyer from the Germans, they need something as they're a major faction, and I like the look of this.

Below is one of ID's Martian ships, but I'm giving it to the Moonmen, who came from another star system hundreds of years ago, crashed on the moon, and have been there every since, enslaving the local Selenites. Now that they've run into humanity, they're getting back out into the stars (since some humans are conveniently trading with them for raw materials).

Although I gave away the Martian's saucer, they do get this rocket, from Pat and Walt's Starship Emporium. This is a small R-rocket. I'll get some bigger ones as needed, I wasn't sure how this big this would turn out to be.

AOTRS only makes one in the line, and it is pretty cool. I think it's kinda Japanese looking, so either for Japan proper, or the Black Nippon rebels.

Pat and Walt also have their Mulcien line, which I'm giving to the unknown aliens from beyond. The main fleet will be bigger than this, as with everything, I was testing sizes. The holes in the side of the ship, as well as some other depressions, take the weapons parts shown here as well.

The weapon and comm equipment on sprues are really neat. If my math is right, 112 bits came in the order, 8 of the large 10-item sprue, 4 of the 8-item sprue (there's some overlap between the two). Besides outfitting my X aliens, I'll be using these bits for other projects:
- secret VSF project "New London"
- orbital space fortresses (I got some small space stations from OMA too, but this is for some Battlefleet Gothic type stuff)
- armored WWII trains (see last week's post - this wasn't even planned but now I have turrets!)
- the satellite dishes are PERFECT for 3mm Vietnam firebases; I was wracking my brain as to how to do one myself...

And then finally, some land ironclads. Maybe Russian, maybe German (the gun is a German thing). These are from OMA, there's some other stuff in the range, but nothing quite as cool as these.

So all in all an interesting future direction for miniatures, at least in part. I think the output would be too soulless for figures of humans or creatures, but certainly for mechanical things this is great. Hopefully more people start offering product this way, who may have never done so via traditional lead or plastic. I don't want to see those disappear, but for those odds and ends that would never be profitable to sell that way, here's an option.

And if anyone is reading this who wants to do 1/600 and 1/300 aircraft this way, have I got a wish list for you...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Microform Models Out of the Wrapper

A year or more ago I came across a link to Microform Models on GHQ's forum, they're an artchitectural model company in Massachusetts who make models in a multitude of scales. Scales relevant to the smaller scales are their 1/20" (really 1/240, which I'm testing vs. 1/285 and 1/300 as their 1/25" line is small), 1/50" (1/600), 1/100" (1/1200), 1/200" (1/2400) and 1/500" (1/6000) lines.

After procrastinating for a year, I finally put in a decent sized order to see what things looked like at all those scales. I was mainly thinking of civilian background vehicles or targets, but I had some military conversions in mind as well.

One reason for the size of the order was they ship via UPS, and I knew I was going to get nailed with a brokerage fee, so I had to add that into a shipping estimate. I don't mind paying the taxes too much, and for a courier I could even live with the $5 they charge to collect the taxes, but can someone explain the other $36 they need to collect (it wasn't the shipping fee)? Even the post office doesn't do that.

Anyway, I'm going to ask before future orders whether USPS is an option. It's not like I'm in that big a rush. Shipping was fast though, and my order was actually packed even before we spoke on the phone to finalize the credit card info. To order, I prepared my shopping list in Excel, so I could calculate costs, pdf'ed the final version, e-mailed it to them, and they called shortly to get the cc info. Easy as pie and nice people.

All in all they look pretty good. They're a bit low on detail compared to say Oddzial Osmy's pieces, but I knew that going in (and Marcin spoils us with his work anyway). Anyway, at this scale, a decent paint job will make this look really good.

So I'll start with the pseudo-6mm stuff, which I calculate to being about 7.5 or 8mm.

Here are they are up against a GHQ Sherman. They don't look too bad, a bit big, but I can live with it. On the left is a bus for modern battles, and in the middle is an SUV, which I think could also be painted up to look like a WWII era car too.

Next up is all of the 3mm (1/600) stuff, for Vietnam and some fictional African countries for AK-47. This is an overview shot (click on it for the full sized version) of some of the figures, I have a lot more:
On the left is a tractor trailer, next is another bus, in the middle are a couple of favourites - a VW Beetle and a convertible. I picked up multiples of these, so some will show up on the streets of Saigon, and the convertible (pink, I think) will also be a warlord's personal vehicle for AK-47. Could probably also double for a WWII Mercedes convertible. Not shown here are the civilians and patio sets I got for a Saigon sidewalk cafe, but these cars will be parked beside it for some urban action. For scale a Walker Bulldog is next in the photo, and then leaning against the stickypad is a bulldozer, which will serve as Rome plows for Vietnam. Finally there's a tramp freighter for AK-47, which will go with the Skytrex coastal pieces I also got this week - quay, warehouses, Nissen huts, etc.

The bulldozer is leaning against the stickypad because some of these pieces come with little pegs on the bottom, presumably for architectural models they get popped into the base. I'll have to cut or bend these off, but the metal is soft enough to work with (not as soft as say Irregular, but easier than O8's white metal; maybe Tumbling Dice's metal is the closest).

A close-up of those vehicles. I think the Bug will be metallic red, like my parents first car, and the convertible will be a sky blue for Saigon.

I also picked up some targets for 1/600 gaming (and even 1/300 WWI I supposed, but I haven't thought that far ahead). For low-level tactical attacks, strafing and the like, I picked up enough pieces for 6 1/600 trains:

  • - modern passenger train
  • - modern freight train
  • - two WWII freight trains (need to add smokestacks, I guess architects don't need retro trains!)
  • - Russian armoured train, with turrets etc. added
  • - German armoured train, also modded up.
Pictured above is one of the WWII freight trains, with a Tumbling Dice Typhoon for scale. I'm actually using their diesel-electric locomotive model as the caboose (far right).

I also got targets for medium (1/2400 trains) and strategic/high level bombing (1/6000 trains and ships). The 1/6000 trains are those two little strips, the one on the left is on its side, the one of the right is right side up. I plan on creating a little railyard base, with these two trains on it. The 1/6000 freighters (I got 4) will form a dockyard. The 1/2400 train is between the Typhoon and Lancaster, for scale. The full sized version of this picture will show more detail of the small stuff, you can tell the flat cars from the tenders from the locomotive from the box cars on the 1/6000 train, pretty cool. I might make the paint job a bit more colourful than historical just to show it off better.

I got two 1/1200 freighters to see if they'd fit in with the 1/1850 Axis and Allies War at Sea miniatures I've been collecting, since the A&A auxillaries are a right pain to find. This is the Microform freighter (foreground) against the German freighter from A&A (background). It looks pretty good, just a bit wider than the A&A ship.

Here are my three freighters side-by-side - 1/600 for AK-47 (some warlords treasure ship), 1/1200 for Bag the Hun over the open seas, and 1/6000 for a dockyard in a port.

I also picked up some 1/1200 train engines that I'm going to add legs to, to turn into walkers for Land Ironclads like I saw in one of the GURPS steampunk books IIRC.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Christmas in July

This morning, while contemplating getting out of bed or having another 9 minutes of sleep, I heard the outer front door slamming, suggesting a parcel being placed between the doors! Bounding downstairs, I found a small, but heavy, package with Royal Mail markings - my latest Irregular order had arrived!

Risking being late for work, I spent some time fondling the new arrivals at the breakfast table. This order was my biggest yet, and was all over the map in terms of projects (hence the ridiculous label list for this post). Actually it was so big and spread out, I can't even remember exactly all of what I ordered until I cross-check the codes with the master list.

But, some early comments and plans...

VSF in Space - I like the Iron Stars rules, but have never been jiggy with the miniatures; to be honest, I've always liked the look of the Battlefleet Gothic ships for VSF. But not their prices. So I picked up the Heirs of Manacus (and expansion) and Heirs of Uranus fleets - look good! There's a new maker of ships in plastic (via Shapeways) of Gothic ships, hopefully that can be a third fleet for my VSF in space ideas.

Star Wars in 2mm - I got a bunch of the basic WWI/WWII infantry and MG/missile stands for troops, and some of the 2mm sci-fi support weapon stands too. I picked up the two and four legged walkers, and I think I'm going to prefer the Ground Zero Games/Germy walkers. Irregular's two-legged walkers look good, but are bigger than the GZG AT-AT clones, so they wouldn't match up (would be ok as AT-ST's on their own though). So I think the Irregular walkers will join the land ironclads I also ordered for some Land Ironclads gaming (they'd look good bronzed up).

WWI in the Air - I picked up the 1/300 WWI aircraft Irregular makes that no one else does, and some others that were just cheaper. This is a case where I can't remember just what that was though, although the Taubes were pretty obvious!

WWI on Land - Picked up some 2mm WWI tanks, either for a future If the Lord Spares Us project, or to trick up for Land Ironclads.

WWII on Land - To supplement my GHQ and CinC stuff, I picked up a fire engine as background fluff, and the steam train, it looks pretty sweet. I also got the doors, windows, roofs, stairs scenics pack, to try making some of my own buildings.

19th Century - Picked up more artillery for my fictional setting, but also for...

18th Century Imagi-Nations/SYW in India - I'd like to do the SYW in India (maybe in Europe too) in 2mm, so I picked up British and French SYW army packs to get me started. Also picked up additional artillery pieces, the army packs tend to be a bit short on that. I plan on using the King of the Battlefield rules, though I also picked up the new pdf of Might and Reason recently too, more for bigger 18th Century battles in Europe though, not India.

Kull and Imaro - Finally, I ordered a ton of codes to get further ahead on my 2mm fantasy projects. Lots of elephants and war mammoths, and infantry. Will have to make another larger order (e.g. 70+ of some codes, times two or three figures per code...) later this year. I messed up my polar war chariot order though, forgot the wolf chariots are single items, so only ordered 3, when I need 6 (see my There's no basing like sno' basing post for the start of the stands). Some of the elephants (the non-Howdah) ones are going to be converted to gunkwu's, I'll see how that goes, it's going to involve a fair bit of chopping.

Anyway, happy, happy!

July's order will be some more Splintered Light Miniatures (they're having a sale), some Calvacade samurai dwarves (another sale), and an order from an architectural model supplier, for 2-6mm civilian stuff (cars, small trains for targets, transport trucks).