Saturday 31 December 2011

Last update of 2011: a second silo rises

I turned up a second Laphroaig container and made a few refinements to the design. The support struts are now simpler, the ladders between levels are rather better, and the tread-plate and so on for the levels looks a lot nicer. The mid point and near-top levels can both hold a little more than 10 models with one inch bases, and one can fit seven or more models onto the actual top. With something as tall as a Laphroaig container, one has a hair under 12" of height to play with, and the teetotaller's equivalent, a tube of Pringles, is just over 10" tall. One could actually add in several levels, and end up with two or three times more playing space than is usual. I'm going to look into making some other bits of terrain with multiple levels like this. The most obvious use of terrain such as this, of course, is to create new firing lanes and block off others in skirmish games, but that is not the only use. If you have a large contingent of infantry, a piece of terrain like this allows one to concentrate it in a much smaller area of table. I'm quite keen on having an Apocalypse battle where I can just stick the infantry somewhere and shoot it, while focusing on moving the vehicles around.

Anyway, I've also decided to review an old series I was quite keen on back in the day, Ally McBeal. I'll go into more detail on that in future. For now I'll just remark that I was a fan of it back in the '90s, bought the boxed set the other year, only to discover that it wasn't quite what I remembered: there was more (melo-)drama than comedy. I wasn't happy dealing with that sort of emotional stuff back then, but earlier today I thought I'd give it another go, being rather sunnier in disposition this year! Indeed, I'm not fleeing in fear this time! :-D I'm quite enjoying it. In fact, I have just realised why I watched it at the time, and why it's appealing now. The titular heroine doesn't really know what the devil is going on or where she's going. It was comforting back then to know someone else had no idea what they were about.

Granted, it didn't do much to help! I doubt anyone who has lived through those vexing teenage years will disagree with the remark that a single TV show is going to sort out all the confusion in one's head at that age. Still, I was quite a lovesick sort of chap back then, and maybe it does one good to have a fictional character who (rather implausibly) shares one's ability to screw up everything. :-D Of course, my problem back then was as much  a total lack of confidence as an utter ignorance of what to say. Today it's more the latter. This is the last day of the year, and those of you familiar with Roman mythology will know that our month January is so named for the literally two-faced god Janus, who gazed forward and backward simultaneously. So it seems appropriate that as I cast my mind back to those rather bleak teenage years I know with utter certainty that things will only get better this year. In fact, I would be prepared to lay odds that this year will be my best year yet. I know what I need to do. I have excellent options ahead of me. I have confidence and self-belief up the wazoo, and I have family and friends who love me. Or at least tolerate me from time to time! I don't know for sure what this year will bring, but I do know that it will be the best yet.

This is my last post of the year. In a little while I shall head off to Sheffield, where I shall be ringing in the New Year with some good friends. I hope all of you have as good an evening ahead of you! Happy New Year to you all, and may it be as good for you as I anticipate it will be for me!

Friday 30 December 2011

A shack, a tower, a moon and a planet!

Per ardua ad astra, as they say! I was a bit over-eager with the grey moon here, and didn't allow the GS to set, so it came loose. I shall have to get some more GS or similar before I can fix that problem. I have given the Plumbing Planet a basic colour scheme, and dabbed on a lot of pale grey and white to represent cloud cover. It's outside now, its varnish drying. I also based and painted a wee shack for my Wild West set-up, which I will get back to properly in the New Year. Lastly, there is now a way up part of the Silo of Scotch. I need to base it now so I can knock up a similar ladder stretching up from the ground to the first walkway. I hope you like the pics, folks.

Planets and towering silos

As I believe I said yesterday, I finished off the last of my Greenstuff, which mainly served to provide some small continents for my medium-sized planet for Star Fleet: ACTA. It's undercoated, and I shall probably paint it (or at least begin to) a bit later. I also found some more snooker balls, and realised that I ought to set them in a holder when drilling to ease the difficulty of getting a good straight line. While I was doing that I suddenly had a flash of inspiration - or of the blindingly obvious. Christmas baubles are all around, and are pretty much round, and I want round things for planetoids and so forth. Yes, it was a flash of the blindingly obvious, wasn't it?

I was checking out Frontline Gamer's site the other day, and very taken with the reviews he's been posting lately of the new Sarissa products. If I had a spot more money, I would definitely be buying a few of those pretty new things! One of the products he reviewed was a silo. As I say, I'm trying to avoid spending money on fripperies right now, but I do have things lying around all over the place. So I gathered an old container for a bottle of Scotch and decided to put it to good use. I added strips of cereal box cardboard up the side. I will rivet those later. Then I added a pair of rickety-looking walkways, halfway up and at the top of the edifice. So far I have also added a cover for the top and some supports for the walkways.

As a closing note, I said I would report on the success or otherwise of those foam asteroids, and I do so now. It's "otherwise" that I have to report. They lack the structural strength to bear all that sand well, so I have switched over to the polystyrene. I shall try to get some pics up next time. Right, be well, folks!

Thursday 29 December 2011

The British Expeditionary Force and Stellar Debris

I think I have a new name for Prince and his backing group. Now then, yesterday I revealed my first stab at terrain for Star Fleet, and today I shall continue in that vein. After yesterday's post I cut out a spot of 2mm plasticard to the same approximate size as an old chocolate box lid I had set aside ages ago, and glued some stands to each. These little circular blobs will serve as asteroid fields. I will be making some more individual asteroids so I can have a varied table, but a spot of mass terrain never hurt! As well as this, I also went looking round the house for large spheres that I can make into planets. In Star Fleet these are representational, and diameters range from up to 3" all the way up to 10" or more. I have a couple of things that sit in the middle of that bracket now: an old globe, which was once a sort of piggy bank, if my memory of childhood serves me. I'm sure there's a second of those somewhere! The second large sphere I found was a spare bit of plumbing. It was sat in the back of the house, thickly clad in dust, resting after its one outing: I wore it on a chain as part of a ghost costume from a childhood party. Let this be a lesson to all: never throw out childhood rubbish, as it will be useful some day!

Smaller asteroids and rocks are made from torn up foam. I made this decision because the substance adheres well to superglue, but I am honestly a little worried how PVA will work with it when I come to try to glue sand to these things. Next time I shall cover that experiment. I have some polystyrene standing ready in case of disaster. Picture 7 shows a very peculiar thing: the matte varnish applied to my fifth and final Klingon caused the grey paint to retract, exposing the black undercoat. I have never experienced that before. The white spots you can see are a common enough result of the spray, at least insofar as they happen quite often, but not enough for me to tear out my hair in rage. So I at once took the ship aside for some touch-ups. Then the right nacelle came off. Again. After I had superglued and GS'd it in place. I shall superglue it again, and if that fails, I will despair, and drill some bloody great holes in the wing and warp engine so I can pin it with a staple. I'll then have to disguise the pin as a support strut or somesuch.

Anyway, the next picture shows my two planetoids of note, the new one is evidently some sort of iron-rich, ferrous thingummy, and the other one just a dusty ball. I think the third of these will be grey, then if I decide to make any more, then I shall opt for something like our solar system's moon, Europa, which orbits Jupiter. If I find something a bit more malleable as a material in future, or I have by then some more GS, I shall try my hand at sculpting an impact crater. All the GS I had has been used up, as I intend you to see tomorrow. The BEF HMG chaps are coming along. The photographs here were taken before the Devlan Mud wash had dried, so that's why there are some oddities. Anyway, until next time, people!

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Klingons, moons and the BEF

Wilkommen, everyone! Today and yesterday I have been wandering a little off the beaten track of Trek. I had a headless Marine Scout who kept serving duty as a scale model, and I felt like painting something blue, so behold him in several pics below. He's got some really bold, appealing highlights in the flesh, er, plastic, but these zoomed-in pics make him look messier than he would on the table. I intend to remedy his Christopher Walken-esque deficiency in a few days, provided nothing else overtakes me. As well as that little blue man, I spotted some Renegade HMG crew hiding in the detritus of my desk as I cleared it yesterday. So I've pulled them out and given them a little attention. Also among the detritus was a Steel Legion Lascannon missing the two forearms of its tripod and a plastic Cadian HW Team tripod. The two don't match exactly, giving the gun an upward tilt. I rather like this, as it personalises the gun.

As well as that, I have begun work on some terrain for this Star Fleet game. Years and years and years ago I covered a gold ball in sand, intending to make a temple for it to chase Indy through. I never got further than painting it and Indy: the temple remains an idea. So I secured this with superglue and Greenstuff to a resin base I had lying about by means of a lance I bought for my BEF cavalry yonks ago. I never did get round to finishing said cavalry, but their lances are great for pinning things! I dug around the attic the other day, and turned up a load of old snooker balls. If you look just above the reflection of the flash, you should be able to discern a small hole. I took a GW base, drilled from a hole underneath, filled the hole underneath it with some GS, built a small mound of GS above, and planted the lance. Once it had dried I was able to superglue the snooker ball in place. It will receive similar treatment to that given to the golf ball, but in a different colour, I fancy.

Now for the main event. Four of my five Klingons are now varnished and ready. Behold them here with a Cadian chap for scale purposes. It is a little annoying how the flash washes out the detail. I might in a moment go back and hit them with a wash of something around the red coils. In the final picture the smallest Klingon vessel orbits a small moon, trying to reach the Cadian on the other side. I hope you like all this. I know I do!

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Squadron complete: Long live the Federation!

And her surprisingly capitalist society. Reading the rulebook for the game one gets a sense of the very distinct differences between TNG's post-scarcity economy and the Star Fleet (as opposed to Starfleet, I suppose) Universe, which is explicitly capitalist and thus rather more sensible-seeming. I suppose someone might burn me in effigy for that remark, but it seems a common enough quibble about Roddenberry's utopia! Anyway, the five Star Fleet ships are now complete. I'm rather happy with them, though I could doubtless reprove myself for not mastering the art of painting names and numbers with a size 10/0 brush! I don't intend to, so enjoy the pictures. The ships are, in order, USS Drake, a wee frigate, USS Wales, an old light cruiser, the renowned USS Enterprise, the battlecruiser USS Kirov and the dreadnought USS Dominion. Lovely models, I say once again. Thanks to my friend who purchased me these for Christmas, and to the good folks at Mongoose who produce the line. On a related note, tomorrow I'm popping round to a friend's for a spot of that Artemis Bridge Simulator that I mentioned a few weeks back. Geeks ahoy, Captain! Enjoy the pics.

Monday 26 December 2011

Star Trek: Fleets about to leave the shipyards!

You know when you work really hard on fine details, think you've done a good job, then take photos that magnify the work ten times and you realise you've made all sorts of errors? Well, that's only true if your opponent has magnifying glasses for eyes or, er, if you put up large photos online. Well, I'm doing a bit more work on these lads in light of these pics, so judge me none too harshly! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, unless it's still going on where you live. In that case, I hope you're still having a lovely Christmas!

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