Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adding to the Gaming Project List

Holy cow, it’s the last day of July? Where is the summer going?

The other day I actually started compiling a list of gaming wants. Not really the same as needs, mind you. But wants. Some things to fill in gaps in existing projects in the hopes of kickstarting them. Some things for projects that barely got off the ground. Some scenery items. Actually, that last bit would really help if I ever actually did do a game. Specifically I’m talking about some ACW and WW2 stuff from Paper Terrain.

Suffice to say, the outcome was rather scary. Do I really desire that much stuff? Especially when there is so much to do as it is?

So I did the only logical thing. I placed an order to Eureka USA.

I’ve never actually had any Eureka minis, so that was a factor. But so was their line of Teddy Bears. Yes, you read that right: Teddy Bears. I have two daughters, remember? And, believe it or not, right now they are on a Yankee Doodle kick. They sing the song relentlessly. And make up words. Riding on a moose? Called it spaghetti? I have showed them some videos of fife and drums playing the tune, and they seemed to like it. So I ordered some SYW Teddy Bears fifers and drummers to paint up for them, with an ultimate goal of someday getting more and teaching them a rudimentary game of some sort.

At the same time, I ordered some Marbleheaders for my AWI project that I have had my eye on for several years, as well as some SYW Saxons to serve as Brunswickers on a future Saratoga project. Woe to me when the Perrys release their AWI plastic British and I can put Saratoga hats on them!

Finally, I threw a couple packs of Aztecs in their for kicks. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I have a very small collection of Aztecs I have thought about selling. But upon digging them out, they are pretty nice and I was rather proud of the paint jobs. Then somewhere I read it may be possible to adapt Saga to Aztecs. That’s a long-term project for sure, but just add it to the list.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fast Friday: 1984 Danny Ongais March 84C - in 1/64!

Sometimes you just need a fast and fun little project to get things moving. Such was the case with this fantastic little slot car kit from FastBodies. I think I mentioned a while back that I had acquired an old '70s vintage slot car track, and started collecting a few cars to tear around it. Well, as I am primarily an Indy fan when it comes to motorsports, that's where my eye wandered. I discovered this guy selling resin bodies designed to fit on an AFX chassis, and away I went!

I ordered two bodies, and he also tossed in a couple extra "miscasts" that I can also play around with. Very nice. These are really superb. Very simple, yet possessing quite a bit of detail for this scale. The rear wing structure is actually separate to be mounted directly to the chassis, which while that limits versatility, does make it look a lot better.

I really didn't do much in terms of any filling or prep work, just dove right in. I did sand the rear wing down to look like a speedway wing, but left the front wings in road course configuration because I was a little worried about strength in the event of the car flying off the track. Those are notorious for breakage on Tyco cars. So this is a bit of a hybrid, but it looks cool.

I used Tamiya white primer, with a top coat of Testors lacquer. A bit of automotive polish, then on went the decals from Indycals, which went on as smoothly as usual. The whole thing was topped off with a coat of Future.

With the exception of the chassis, here's everything you get in the kit.

I have one more chassis, but I may have to get some more. These are great fun! And it only took me a few days!

For the record, Danny Ongais drove this car to 9th place at the 1984 Indy 500. Ironically, that's the only race I have missed since 1980. I did make it to time trials, though, and the Michigan 500, so I did see this car run I'm sure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dead in the Water Projects

Excuse the pun, but today let's look at one of those projects that I'm sure all gamers have that is simply dead in the water. You know. The kind entered into with great enthusiasm. One that perhaps struck a chord as one of your primary interests. One that got started, but then never went anywhere.

Such was the case with 1/4800 WW2 naval for me.

The original concept seemed sound. Replace the counters in the classic Avalon Hill game Bismarck with 3D minis. At the time (keep in mind by "at the time," I mean circa 1994. Yikes!), I had dug out the venerable old game from my 80s stash and reintroduced it to some colleagues. We actually had a couple good games out of it. For those who may not know, the advanced rules in the game are for all intents and purposes a miniatures rules set, building on the board game aspects of the basic and intermediate rules.

So somehow, and honestly I don't recall precisely how this small fleet came into my possession, I acquired these C-in-C 1/4800 miniatures. Lovely minis, actually. They painted up well, and look good mounted on thin card, a la the original game counters. I probably used Testors enamels at this stage. Clearly the Hood is in the mix, along with what looks like the Repulse. Then a few cruisers of indeterminate class, and some destroyers. Destroyers never played a huge role in the game, but I figured they could be useful for something.

Problem is, I never got around to acquiring any German ships. So these have sat in a small box all these years, following me on multiple moves. I occasionally wonder, "what's in that box?" So I get them out, look at them, then back they go, tucked into some dark recess of the cabinet. Sad, huh?

I probably should just order some other ships, but then I wonder who would I play? And with so many other projects vying for my time, well, you know. But it probably wouldn't take long to paint up a handful of ships. I just haven't been inspired yet. I mean, all I  really need are a Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, right?

I've always liked ships, and naval subjects. And the Bismarck campaign is nothing if not fascinating. There's also the issue of that Airfix Hood waiting patiently for me to build.

Some day. At least these are small and don't take up much room.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gettysburg: 149 Years and a Week or So Later

I really should have posted this photo a week ago. One of my favorite minis, Dixon's representation of General Lewis Armistead as he would have appeared at the height of Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, hat pierced by sword an all. Alas, Armistead was mortally wounded in the ensuing assault on the Union positions. Somewhat limited then in tabletop possibilities, but a joy to paint.

I've also included a couple other shots of another random Confederate regiment completed some time ago. Again primarily, if not all, Dixon minis. Painted with the usual assortment of Vallejo and Testors paints.

I wonder if I will ever be able to sit down and paint all of those ACW minis languishing in the unpainted pile. Much less ever put them on a table in action. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I've Been Reading: Moon Shot

I finally finished another book over the weekend, and it was a good one: Moon Shot, by Jay Barbree with Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton.

Shepard and Slayton probably (I hope, anyway) don't need any introduction here. Jay Barbree was a news correspondent throughout the golden era of space flight, from Mercury through the shuttle, and his insider's view is evident throughout the book.

While I thought it was mostly going to be about the Apollo program, the book covers pretty much everything from "Hey, we got these German rocket scientists, now what?" through the Apollo-Soyuz mission. In addition to outlining every mission, the book infuses some personal stories of the astronauts and what makes them tick. Suffice to say, these are not your average folks. Test pilots are indeed a rare breed, and their coolness under extreme pressures is something to behold.

As an aside, you have probably figured by now that I am a race fan, and I've always thought race drivers share many of the same attributes as astronauts. That aspect is also considered in the book as the friendships that developed between the astronauts and Indy 500 winner-turned-car-dealer Jim Rathmann are examined.

Another fascinating topic is the rivalry between the US and Soviet programs. Barbree introduces the various cosmonauts and takes a look at some of the most notable missions, something I knew relatively little about.

Overall, the book is written in what I would almost call a magazine feature story style, making this an easy read for the lay reader with an interest in the space program. It's probably not techy enough for the true space enthusiast, but is a great overview for most people wanting the highlights in an easy-to-read format.

The book was obviously written in the mid-70s (it alludes to Skylab and hints at the forthcoming shuttle program), but has been revised somewhat since. To wit, it does not exactly praise President Obama's space policy in its concluding chapter. But NASA has been something of a political hot potato since day one, so I could overlook it regardless of my personal positions on the various issues.

I picked this up when I visited the Huntsville rocket center this spring. So yes, I have been on a bit of a rocket kick lately. Just last night I finished my second rocket of the year, and hope to launch it soon. I will wait until the replacement parts I ordered for my old rockets arrive and I can fix up the fleet. Pics forthcoming.

Also, maybe its the wargamer/modeler in me, I have been left a little unsatisfied with the selection of rockets available from Estes and others due to their, I guess we'll call it fantastic nature. I'm more for historical accuracy. So I just ordered a Dr. Zooch kit of the Mercury Redstone. That looks like a fun, old-school type of kit and I'm looking forward to it. Watch this space! (No pun intended...)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hobby Fund Update

The current round of ebay selling is over. Not everything went, but the big items did, and I ended up making just a tick under $300. That's gross ebay sales, not including shipping charges (which, of course, are mostly added on top of the sales price), ebay fees, paypal fees, etc. So I've been making multiple trips to the post office. The big boxes go out today. Can't wait to see what they cost! I suspect I undercharged on shipping on those. We'll see.

But the hobby fund is very grateful for the infusion. Of course, I've already spent about half of it! Mostly on items to upgrade the slot car track, including new track, new parts, and, most exciting, some new resin March 84C bodies and decals from Indycals. I'll need to do a real slot car post one of these days, but suffice to say I'm approaching it more from a modelling standpoint than a "how fast can I make this go" standpoint. I also ordered some bits and pieces to refurbish some old Estes model rockets I had lying around so I can get that fleet up and going before the end of summer.

There's a number of other things I have my eye on (WW2 Belgians from Warlord Games, anyone?), but I need to finish some current projects first, I think.

For now, I'll take a short break from ebay, but I'm sure there's lots more that could go...