Monday, 28 November 2016

Attractive Basing

I bought a painted Nashorn on eBay on a whim - it looks nice, but for £7 it would be an expensive way of building a substantial force, also it feels a little like cheating. It came with a small rare earth magnet underneath, embedded in some green stuff out of sight, so it will stick to metal, and that got me thinking. I already use steel bases, so why not magnetise my tanks? That way they can sit on the bases, for games where I want them mounted, but they can also be used au naturel. The more I thought about it the more options occurred. I could use different bases, so the same tank could serve in the desert or in Russia. I could use the same bases for different tanks at different times, so I don't have to base them all. The magnets are remarkably cheap, maybe 15p each for a suitable size.

The first thing was to do a trial, as I had half a dozen magnets sitting around, I can't remember where from. I used Das air-drying putty under five GHQ Pz IVHs, which I painted years ago and had never based. I pushed the magnets into the putty, but most came out when I tried sticking them on metal bases, so I glued them in with superglue. A couple of the putty interiors came out of the tanks, but again glue solved that. I made up six bases, for the five tanks and the Nashorn, and I think it has worked pretty well. I will see how it goes in use in a game, and if it works OK I will decide on how best to use the idea.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Adler Command

While I was painting my Baccus UK Paras, I needed some extra variety in the command figures. I ordered a couple of command strips from Adler, and while I was at it I picked up two command strips each of Wehrmacht, Waffen SS and FJ. Each strip has four figures - the poses vary from one range to another, though in every case one of the four is a kneeling radio operator.
So in each group I had eight figures in four poses. I used one set to make a four-man command team in a 1" square base. The other four figures I put on coin bases - two singles and one pair including the radio. Good figures and they paint up well - and they have the advantage of being available in small quantities if you need them to make up a unit or for some particular purpose.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Baccus Paras

At Joy of Six in July I picked up a number of packs of Baccus British Paratroops - two of the standard infantry packs of about 100 figures (one each of Advancing and Firing) plus some of the support packs - MMG, PIATs, 2" Mortars. The support items come based on small discs about the size of a 5p piece, and I left some just like that, while others I based on my usual 1" square steel. The individual infantry come as strips of four figures - you get four command strips and 20 line strips in each pack. The command strips are the same in both packs, though the line strips are obviously different (one firing, the other advancing). So in the two packs I got 32 command figures in four poses, and 160 line figures in 8 poses.
It would have been nice to have a little more variety, though the figures themselves are very well sculpted, perhaps the best at this scale I have tried (competing for that honour with GHQ and Adler). For the basic infantry this wasn't really a problem, but I wanted a little more variety for the command, so I ordered a couple of Para command strips from Adler (as well as some other command figures, for which see another post). All told I made seven 1" square Command bases, and 23 infantry bases. I painted them in a three colour camo pattern - a base of khaki with spots of desert sand and a terracotta brown.
In addition I had been playing some IABSM, which really needs individual Big Men. So I made a dozen single figures, mostly command but also a few from the basic infantry, based on 5p pieces. Previously I had thought that single figure bases in 6mm was a bit too far out, but in fact with the quality of these figures it works perfectly well. This opens up the possibility of skirmish games at this scale, which I had previously ruled out.
Overall I would rate these figures very highly. Slightly more variety would be nice, but that's not a big gripe. There were a few casting problems with figures having one leg gapped at the ankle, and I lost 2-3 figures that way - not a high percentage. I have a lot more Baccus to paint - British and German infantry - and I see that they have just released a range of German infantry in the smock.
The pictures show a variety of the units, support weapons and single figures, and at the end a couple of pictures of the whole lot in their container.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Joy of Six 2016

Across the Pennines to Sheffield for this show, possibly my favourite. It's not huge, though today was the biggest so far, I think - 22 games at least, and 8-10 traders. The big factor is that all those traders are selling 6mm figures or scenery, so every one is of interest to me. I think I bought stuff from nearly every stall. The venue is the Heartspace in Hallam University - a fancy name for the atrium in a large building, about five stories high. With glass walls and roof it is a nice bright airy space, and it is in the centre of the city so plenty of places to eat and drink. In fact the worst aspect of the day was the drive over - the A57 was being resurfaced and I spent an extra hour in the queues. I went home via the M1/M62 and that was fine.
As I said, lots of games going on. The ones that really caught my eye were, first, the First Day of the Somme, on a large table right below the entrance stairway. This was next to the Time Cast stand and it seemed to have a lot of their scenery, notably their new trench lines. Another one right in my sweetspot was the Bridge at Remagen, using simplified Spearhead rules - linked to the film, with points for improving on the performances there. A Cold War Commander fight occupied another large table in the centre of the room, and a really large battle of Dresden was in an alcove to one side. With the expansion of the number of games they were also using two side rooms, for the first time I think.
After lunch - ribs and a pint in the Head of Steam - I started on the serious business of purchasing. I got five packs of GHQ Italians - gun crews and a variety of tanks - for the Western Desert. I then went to Baccus and picked up packs of most of their new British Paras. From H&R I got various command strips and vehicles, German, British and Italian, to provide command stands. On the scenery side I picked up about ten buildings from Leven - mostly industrial or railway. I got some bridges from Time Cast, and I picked up a good number of hedges and walls from a firm called GS Miniature Workshop. Their main product (at this show anyway) were "modular forests" - these have a base with tree trunks, and then there is a separate canopy of green foam which sits on top - the idea being that you can put your troops inside and then replace the canopy. They look very nice, but my figures on 1" square bases wouldn't fit between the trunks.
That was it - and after one more circuit, with my little remaining cash desperately trying to jump out of my pocket, I left. A very good day, and now to get on with the painting. I need to get the Italians done first, but there are the Paras, those command stands and the buildings all winking at me.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Hammerhead 2016

Down the M6 and across the A50 to Newark for Hammerhead 2016. A new show to me, but it has a bit of history and one of the bigger ones on the circuit, I think. The venue is a large exhibition hall on the Newark Showground, so vast amounts of parking all around. The building is suited to the event, not surprisingly as a purpose-built exhibition hall, so plenty of space and light, though you wouldn't say it has a lot of character. The food was supplied by the "Bistro" in the building, but "Caff" would have been a better name - chips with pasties, burgers and sausage rolls, and bacon baps. Fine by me, as it happens, but not a lot of choice if that's not to your taste.
As for the show itself, all the games were designated as participation-based, and as far as I could see they were mostly busy, though a few at the far ends seemed quiet. There was a good variety, from witch racing through WW1 to sci-fi with 3D printed models. There seemed to be quite a few aerial games - Wings of Glory, at least one jet combat game, and a nice looking one with Japanese planes attacking a US AA destroyer in 1943. The ship model in that one was quite large, but not as big as the one in another game using the third dimension. This featured an underwater frogman attack on a ship which only appeared in the form of the bottom of the hull, which formed the "roof" of the playing area. The divers moved up and down below this, presumably trying to attach limpet mines.
There was also a good selection of traders, all around the outside of the space. Personally I was slightly disappointed because there was no 6mm WW2 - Wargames Emporium and Magister Militum weren't there, and Baccus did not have any of their new WW2 infantry (I have a couple of these on order and due to arrive soon). I was also hoping to find one of the printed battle mats - Cigar Box or something like that, but there were none on show - just some plain coloured blankets. Still I managed to collect a fair amount of booty, on show in the picture below.

Centre rear is some stuff for the airbrush - a stand and some primers in various shades. To the right is some other paints - Basetex for the bases on my 6mm infantry, and a couple of metals for the bigger models. In front of those are two items from Ainsty for my Pulp games, and a Renedra Arab/Adobe house ditto. Then three terrain items in 6mm, fields and town bases, from The Baggagetrain. To their left are two packs of Pulp Figures, sailors for the ship I painted last month.
On the extreme left are the new rulesets which I always wind up buying at a show. I have finally cracked and bought General Quarters 3 (WW2 naval). For decades GQ1/2 has been pretty much the default ruleset for 20th century naval wargames, certainly for me. The new rules, which were a long time coming, are supposed to be much more detailed, which is not necessarily a good thing, in my view. Anyway, now I will get a chance to judge for myself.
The other rules are Lion Rampant from Osprey - Medieval skirmish/small battles. I've been thinking about these for some time, and I was persuaded by my other purchase, a box of Teutonic infantry from Deus Vult. - plastic and lots of mix and match heads and arms. I am looking forward to making and painting those, and they gave me an excuse to buy the rules, and vice versa. So there's 2-3 different genres there, plus the WW2 6mm, and I'm not sure which one will run away with me in the near future.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A Life on the Ocean Wave

Browsing the web I chanced upon the TTCombat site, and their City Scenics range. Ironically, despite the name, the item that caught my eye was the Cargo Ship. This is a good-sized model, 50cm long (so a scale 25 metres, roughly), though in real terms this would be a very small vessel, a small trawler rather than an ocean-going cargo ship. Nevertheless it looks the part, with most of the length taken up with an open cargo deck, and an open fo'csl at the bow. At the stern is a two-level superstructure, with a plain cabin on the lower level, and a bridge complete with wheel and control above. I have built it so the roof and first level can be removed for access during a game. My idea is to use this for a fight between two leagues out at sea - I will probably need to adjust movement and ranges for the confined space. It will also come in handy as part of a dockside scene; a good location for a plot point in a larger table layout.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The sound of jazz, the smell of the newsprint

I have just finished painting up two of my Christmas presents, Pulp Figure packs from their Gangland Justice range. The first one is a set of five News Hounds, though they're not all reporters. It looks like we have two actual reporters, one male and one female, plus a photographer, someone who is probably the editor shouting instructions in the office, and a newsboy selling the resulting papers. All nice figures, as I have come to expect from this line, and they'll be useful as bystanders and colour in big city scenarios. They might even make a Pulp league of some sort.

The second pack was Jinx Johnson's Harlem Jazz Quartet. As the title suggests you only get four figures, though the fifth is represented, in weight of metal anyway, by the double bass. Again, more likely to be background for a scenario in a nightclub, though I can see possibilities for them as a gang for some Mr Big.