Monday 16 June 2014

Imperial Guard: Heavy Weapons Team (Mortar)

Although I've been a bit off my game lately I did manage to get a mortar team finished just a little while ago. Looking at it now, it's unintentionally a colour scheme from the IG Codex before last. I've run out of that shade of green, so there'll not be another team in the same outfit.

Friday 13 June 2014

Book Review - Flashing Steel, Flashing Fire: A Short Story Collection

Flashing Steel, Flashing Fire: A Short Story Collection

First, a disclaimer: several years ago I met the author on the alternate history website he mentions in some of his introductory pieces, and later in person. He's a nice chap.

The book comprises ten short stories, each around 20-40 pages in length. They cover a wide range of topics: alternative history (or alternate history), horror, science fiction and fantasy, often in combination. Two of the stories (Coil Gun and Picking up Plans in Palma) are set in an alternative world in which a racist Boer empire takes the place of our history's Soviet Union in opposition to the United States. They are quite different in tone, as one is adventure-filled and surprisingly romantic, with a clear villain, while in the other the prevailing feeling is that both sets of protagonists are real people faced with terrifying choices.

Lord Giovanni's Daughter is a rip-roaring yarn in the mould of Robert E. Howard's Conan adventures, featuring a barbarian hero who comically subverts expectation by planning to buy a library with the money he aims to get for rescuing the beautiful princess from the villainous snake-men. Two of the stories (Nicor and I am the Wendigo) deal with the two different perspectives of monsters feasting on men - the men it hunts in Nicor and the beast itself. The protagonist in Nicor has a disturbingly close-to-the-bone epiphany, which echoes in one's head as one finishes the latter story. I recommend reading the two in sequence to get the full force of it. Melon Heads takes urban legends and runs with the idea for a story that is truly disturbing on several levels, while making you wonder whether the humans are as bad as or worse than the monsters.

Illegal Alien and Westernmost Throne deal in different ways with protagonists in circumstances beyond their control, who are still trying to master their bleak situations. Both have to make hard choices to survive. Lord of the Dolorous Tower is a delightful story about two young adventurers exploring an ancient warlord's ruined tomb, and getting rather out of their depth. The Beast of the Bosporus is a fun and creepy homage to the Lovecraftian canon in an oft-ignored historical setting. There are some very telling depictions of human character in these tales, particularly in Coil Gun, but Matthew's main strength is in zippy, entertaining - and often rather alarming - tales. I heartily recommend this work. It's available here on Amazon, in both paperback and in electronic format for the Kindle.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Terrain: Barn Built

Inspired by the excellent Terrain for Hippos, I decided to put together a thatched building. I realised toward the end I'd forgotten to add a chimney or any hole in the roof at all, so this'll be a barn. I cut out some walls and roof sections, pinned and glued them together on a 7" by 8" base. Then I cut some balsa strips to make the supports, door and window, and glued on strips of a recently-deceased towel to make the thatch. I secured the thatch by painting watered-down PVA glue onto it. After that I applied some filler to the walls for a bit of texture, and some sand to the base for the ground. Then I got out the paintbrushes and gave it a good going over, finally adding three shades of static grass and some clump foliage in a couple of spots. Here she is with a couple of 28mm lads for scale. A Copplestone palaeontologist and a Great War miniatures BEF officer. I have a lot of towel left, and found some of that much recommended teddy-bear fur upstairs when doing a spot of cleaning at the weekend, along with a roof for a building I never finished. So watch this space for a few more of these!

Monday 2 June 2014

1/72 Kettenrad and Kuebelwagen

Digging through some bits and bobs the other day, I turned up this adorable pair of Wehrmacht vehicles. I decided to make the car a lot muckier, as though it's been on a cross-country dash through the lines. That must be how it lost one wing mirror and the windscreen. I wonder where they have ended up. The Kettenrad, by contrast, is pretty clean, and must have been sitting around an aerodrome somewhere in the desert. These two must have been sitting around for years. I remember as a student I had some idea of doing a "What if?" game set at the Maus testing facility, and I had a few of these small vehicles around primarily for colour. As with so many plans, nothing came of it, but the vehicles are still sitting about. Unusually, they're only in three places, despite numbering about twenty. Unusually restrained storing behaviour on my part!

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