Friday 30 December 2016

Odds and Ends

Tidying things up at the end of the year, I find a few photos sitting around that I have yet to share. Some are old bits of work refreshed, others are wholly new. Without further ado, here we go. First off, a huge load of hedges I made some months back. Quantity was the watchword with these, not quality, but they look better up close than in this distant photo. I came up with three heights (10mm, 40mm and an intervening one I forget right now as it isn't in this picture), and produced six feet or so for each height. These aren't the only hedges, mind you.

Next, an unsuccessful river experiment. I cut up a rubber doormat as a base, and gave it banks and texture with some squeezy acrylic goop from a tube. I painted over the top, and painted some cheap varnish over that. The idea was that the rubber would let it conform to terrain. As it turned out, the varnish still hasn't entirely set over a month later. I don't know if it's a problem with that cheap varnish or what. I may experiment further this year.

Third, 1/72 Polish, French and Prussian cavalry for the failed attempt at a wargaming do back in the summer. When that fell though I understandably lost the impetus to get the models done, so large numbers of models are stuck to painting sticks literally gathering dust.

Last of all are two pieces of scatter terrain. The former has been finished about nine years or so on from its creation. A simple bit of light cover is all it is. The other is made of "granny grating" and some of those till rolls I have mentioned in previous posts. I envisage it as part of a larger complex, which has fallen into disrepair.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

The Force Will Be With You. Always.

Farewell to a wonderful lady. As an actress a delight - from gunning down Stormtroopers to telling off Bruce Dern like he was a a little boy. As someone who worked hard to take the stigma away from mental illness a champion. A brave woman, but none of us live forever. May the Force be with you, Princess.

Monday 26 December 2016

Sunday 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

Greetings of the season to you all, whatever your religious faith or lack thereof. :)

Friday 23 December 2016

Sandbags a la The Terrain Tutor

Inspired by the ever-excellent Mel, I made a handful of experimental bits of sandbags, some for 28mm, and others for 15mm. I based them on his Youtube video, which you should check out. They've turned out pretty nicely, and I mean to make some more. I'm going to make the 28mm ones a bit taller, too. I made these with air-drying clay, but future ones will probably have a top layer of Milliput so that the most visible bit looks better. If you look closely at these, you can see some cracks in the top layer of sandbags because the clay dried before I was done. If I apply a layer of sandbags made of Milliput over the top of that, it should look much nicer.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Where we're going we need roads

A while ago I mentioned how useful two things I'd found in my local pound store would be for making roads. The first was black sandpaper and the second was vinyl tiling. Inevitably, I combined the two, and made a large quantity of double-sided, verge-less roads for 6/15mm. There's some diluted PVA on the "tarmac" side to ensure that I don't end up with black grit everywhere, and a light spray of grey to take the harshness off the black. On the other side, I applied some cheap varnish, then some weathering powders, then a matte varnish spray to give the stone roadways a bit of character. Here's a few shots of planning and the results.

Monday 19 December 2016

Retro Monday #4: USS Saladin conversion for ACTA: SF

This nostalgic entry is filling me with a desire to play a game of ACTA: SF at some point over Christmas, provided I can persuade my brother to lend me his admiralship. This little ship is quite sweet, and I really enjoyed making her. She deserves another outing!

Saturday 17 December 2016

Terrain Tutorial: Cheap Oil Barrel Fuel Dump

A handy little recycling tip here. Until about six months ago I was working in a local store, and we used to get through lots of receipt rolls. At their heart they have a plastic cylinder. I have made use of these ere now as columns, when building a mausoleum, but they also have a handy roll (boom-boom!) to play here. They are about the same diameter as 1/35 (and 40K) fuel drums, and about twice the height. So you can either saw or slice them in half or use some of them intact.

First off, grab a hot glue gun, and secure them to the base and to one another. I formed mine up in rough squares. Don't worry if you cut them imprecisely and end up with different heights. You can either rationalise it thus: some are in depressions or on rises in the ground - or fix it in the following step. At this point I also glued a single 1/35 barrel to the base.

Second, get some tissues/newspaper/similar, PVA, water and a cheap brush. Mix up the PVA and water. I think I used a 50/50 mix (you can add some paint to this mix if you like or wait until later; you can see I did on one fuel dump and didn't on the other). Apply to the tissue, and place that over the fake barrels. Apply it more thickly over the shorter barrels now, if you want to equalise the heights. If you've used a single proper barrel model, don't cover it over. It's there to suggest to the eye that everything on the base is an actual barrel.

Third, once that's all dried, apply some sand to the base, secure it with PVA, and let it dry. Next get plenty of gauze bandage, dip it in a PVA/water mix, and apply it over the tissue layer. Tear or cut a few small bits of paper, and place them atop the gauze. Once that's dry, you can paint everything, and add what ground cover you desire. I knocked these up as I felt I didn't have much in the way of fuel dumps, so when I went to deposit them in the attic terrain store I naturally found masses of the things. Anyway, here's how they look.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

The Return of Time Commanders!

In the Beginning...

Some years ago, to their mutual advantage, the folk who designed Rome: Total War managed to persuade the people at BBC2 to put on a series of episodes based on their game. You can't advertise on the Beeb, so the game engine was not mentioned, but you didn't need to be Hannibal Barca to work out what it was.

There Was A Lot of Shouting

The format involved a team of four people running an army against an AI force. Two of the players were theoretically generals, in charge of the overall strategy, and two were captains, in charge of the tactical disposition of different wings or troop types. In practice, sometimes one general seized the reins, and the second sat around like an inept Roman consul. On other occasions the generals both flailed about, and their adept captains won the day in spite of them. Each pair would bellow at the other across the studio.

Enter the Experts

Dr Nusbacher of Sandhurst and weapons and tactics expert Mike Loades were on hand to set the scene in terms of the wide sweep of history, the reason this battle was fought when it was, and they also kept us supplied with educational snippets about the correct employment of the Roman pilum or Dacian falx or what have you. As the battle unfolded, they would offer a running commentary, complimenting or criticising the players for the benefit of the viewers at home. At the end of the battle, they told us how things actually turned out.

The King is Dead. Long Live the King!

After a long absence from our screens, the show has returned. There have been some changes. In addition to our experts in the studio, some re-enactors in an indoor riding arena (I think) gave us some delightful demonstrations of bashing people with wooden swords, and how effectively a pilum penetrates a shield, and how useless it is for throwing back after it's been thrown once.

More signally, the teams have been cut to three (a general and two captains), and no longer play against an AI. This excellent change to the situation sees the teams playing against one another, each on opposite sides of a huge screen (or rather pair of screens) dividing them. As before, they get to fight a skirmish prior to the main battle, and this is still against an AI.

The Battle of Zama

In the first episode, a team of nerdy Southern board gamers took the field as Scipio's Roman army against three Scottish wrestlers. The production team deserve congratulations for this delightful match-up of two very different teams. It isn't often one gets to watch a chap shouting "By Jupiter!" as he throws in his triarii! Both played a skirmish beforehand in which the Romans had to seize a small town from the Carthaginians, and I don't want to spoil that for you, because even that introductory bit was very amusing. After that they moved on to the main event.

It was truly fascinating to see how both sides reacted to the introductory skirmish. On the one side, ideas were reinforced, and on the other certainties were abandoned. Somewhat frustratingly, both sides responded to the situation with a surfeit of caution. I recalled a passage from Featherstone's Complete Wargaming, in which he remarks on the unreality of the wargame in which both sides "go gaily forth to meet one another", whereas in history one tends to have an attacker and a defender. The experts in the background remarked on the reasons why both sides should be rather more aggressive.

After the initial hesitation, things got a move on. I won't spoil it with any details, but it was just like the old days of this great show. A team would make a move that made sense to them. The experts would criticise their failure to notice this. I would expostulate to myself that they needed to do this or that. All too soon it was over. There are another two episodes, I understand, in this series, and - by Jupiter! - let's hope the viewing figures are as good as they need to be to justify to Auntie the recording of some more shows.

In conclusion, I want to say how wonderful it was to see Dr Lynette Nusbacher and Mike Loades back again. It just would not be the show it is without those two! If you want a rating out of 5, it's 5! If you have access to it, do watch it.

Monday 12 December 2016

Retro Monday #3: A guest post on writing by my friend, Matt

Welcome to the third in my new Retro Mondays series. The third most popular post on my blog is not by me, but by a friend who is a writer! So journey back to the heady days of summer 2013 and enjoy his words. :)

Monday 5 December 2016

Retro Monday #2: a bunker fit for your 40K squad

Carrying on with what I hope will be a popular retrotastic addition to the blog, here is the second of our Retro Monday features: a bunker fit for your 40K squad. Last week we featured the teeny version of this, which houses just a Heavy Weapons team (or something with a similar footprint). This week, quake at the majesty of the large version, which could hold something like a platoon of Guardsmen, if you squeezed 'em in real tight.

Saturday 3 December 2016


From the same Tamiya 1/35 Mesozoic Creatures pack, two Parasaurolophi. Again, one as the box suggests, and t'other sliced up and rearranged. Note that I have avoided the use of flock and static grass. Grass didn't exist way back when.* Arguably, if one's hunting dinos on Challenger's Lost World, it should or could be present, but maybe just call me eccentric!

EDIT: A good friend has pulled me up on this. It turns out that although grass didn't become common until the Oligocene or Miocene, long after the dinosaurs, the earliest evidence for grass is in the form of Cretaceous coprolites from India. Our good blue friends below are from that very time, so they could indeed have espied the rare tuft of grass!

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Tyrannosaurus princeps

'Cause, you see, a princeps (prince) is below a rex (king)? Guys? Guys? No? Aw, man.

Anyway, these are 1/35 scale infant tyrannosaurs from Tamiya's Mesozoic Creatures pack. I rather liked the colour-scheme of the tiger, so adapted it somewhat. No feathers on these old-style models, mind you. One is built out of the box, and the other has been cut up and repositioned so I don't have two identical models. For scale is a 28mm WWI BEF officer. Yes, 28mm and 1/35 are not the same, but one can happily posit that the 1/35 scale infants are merely a little less infantile in 28mm.

Monday 28 November 2016

Retro Monday #1: Simpler Mini Bunkers for 40K

I fancy starting a new feature on this blog. In a word, I will unearth popular posts from the past, and shine a fresh spotlight on them. This first one is the most popular post I have created thus far in the whole blog. I was pleasantly surprised to find it on Pinterest some time ago. Without further ado, I present to you Simpler Mini Bunkers for 40K.

Friday 25 November 2016

Shipping Containers

I made a shipping container the other week, you may recall. Truth be told, it seemed a bit big. So this time I used smaller boxes as the framework. They worked out pretty much perfectly. Here's the kind of box, and here are the four I have created so far. I may make six in all, as that seems like a good minimum number for a shipping yard.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

CD-case-based ruins

An experiment gone awry

I tried this a few months back - before I was aware of UHU glue. I glued foamcard to CD cases with PVA glue, and carved it to form a mound. Then I pinned the walls in place with, er, pins, to secure them as the PVA set. Wanting the buildings to look like Tudor-style homes, I used slices of balsa to duplicate their appearance.


As it turns out, the bases didn't care for the PVA and so curved up. I am quite happy with the majority  of the work, but not so much the bendiness. I found it a bit dispiriting, but am almost ready to give it another go with UHU.

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