Friday, September 11, 2015

You Know You're a Gamer When...

OK, so there are lots of examples. But here's today's. A friend buys me a bag of chocolate malt balls:

And I think:

I guess I could eat the candy, too.

So let's hear your stories. You know you're a gamer when...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Invasion! Or, At Least I Painted Something

Ah, summer. When gaming and painting take a back seat to, well, just about everything. I have been busy. I hope to provide an update on some of what I've been up to here soon. (Teaser: Mustang...)

But for now, I did squeeze in some simple painting. These are 1/600 LCMs and LCVPs from Pico Armor. I'm not really sure what I am going to do with them, but aren't they cool? The general thought is to work them into a coastal game somehow, but the details remain fuzzy at this point.

Simple blue-grey paint with a wash, but it's something, right?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Rare Practical Application of Useless Knowledge Learned in Gaming

My wife often says it's too bad I can't put all of my (mostly) useless knowledge and interest in history and gaming to use making money. Well, the other day there arose a rare opportunity!

I work at a marketing/ad agency, and a colleague wrote an ad for a wine bar and asked me to review it. The wine bar was touting a new cocktail it offers, a French 75. The ad indicated that according to legend it was invented by a WWI pilot, and was named after the French 75mm artillery howitzer gun.

Umm. Le soixante quinze is a field gun, no? Oddly, I was the only one in the agency who caught that! :) I proudly told my wife and, of course, her response was "who knows that stuff?" Gamers, that's who.

I had design make that change, but opted not to get into crediting Raoul Lufbury for the drink's creation. I think the whole Lafayette Escadrille thing would really confuse these people.

So on that note, to illustrate the difference, I dug out some of my 15mm WWI French artillery pieces. The 75s are Peter Pig, and I think the howitzers were Houston Guns, crewed by Peter Pig.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy Fast Friday 2015!

For those that may not know, Fast Friday is the final Friday of practice before qualifications for the Indianapolis 500. It's the day teams really start to let things hang out, and we tend to see some really fast speeds.

But the way things have gone so far this year, I think we will all be happy to simply see all the cars keep the tires on the ground!

In recognition of Fast Friday, I present a couple of the HO slot cars I did up over the past year. These are resin kits from Fast Laps (Gary Fast) and are a joy to assemble and paint. Decals are from Indycals, which are always top shelf quality. Add a chassis, and voila!

The black one represents Al Unser Jr.'s 1984 March, while the white one is Howdy Holmes' 1984 March. Holmes is a cool story. Michigan guy like me, sat on the front row at Indy, and is now CEO of Jiffy Mix. Which, by the way, makes the best cornmeal mix and pancake mix you can buy. ;)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Racecars and Ancient China

How's that for a headline?

While the main purpose of my trip to Indianapolis last weekend was to see the Grand Prix, I had the wife and kids with me so the day after (Mothers Day), we visited the Indianapolis Children's Museum. We've been before, and for any of you with kids, it's highly recommended!

Anyway, one of the hands-on exhibits showcases the Chinese terracotta warriors. Since this was part of the recent Kickstarter from Watchful I that I pledged, I was particularly interested. What really caught my attention was the paint and color detail that has been uncovered. In fact, there is an entire interactive display showing the user how they ground various stones and mixed the powders with egg whites to make the pigments.

Of potential use to others looking to paint an army from the Chinese Warring States period, Qin or otherwise, I snapped a few photos. One is a recreated, fully painted statue (the middle one - the kids are mine!), and the other is my feeble attempt at a photo of an image. The final shot is just a cool picture.

Oh, they also have "broken" statues of foam rubber for visiting "archaeologists" to reassemble like a puzzle. Very cool and very interesting!

Friday, May 1, 2015

It's May!!!

Borrowed from another site, but it sort of sums up the feelings of race fans everywhere entering the month of May:

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With IndyCars speeding
And tenderloin eating all washed down with beer
It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's the hap-happiest season of all
With the yellow shirts yelling and souvenirs selling
We’re having a ball
It's the hap-happiest season of all

There'll be TrackForum posting
And Camp-and-Brew hosting
And guys telling girls what to show
There'll be scary crash stories
And tales of the glories of
Races from long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
Some days might have raining
But we ain’t complaining
‘Cause soon skies will clear
It's the most wonderful time of the year

There'll be checkered flags waving
And bricks for the paving
With 33 cars in the show
There'll be scary crash stories
And tales of the glories of
Races from long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be IMS filling
The start will be thrilling
When race day is here
It's the most wonderful time
Yes, the most wonderful time
Oh, the most wonderful time of the year

Friday, April 17, 2015

"Chewie, we're home."

Who hasn't seen the second trailer for Star Wars Episode VII yet? How awesome is that? It's been a while since I've been this excited to see a movie.

In fact, between this and Star Wars Rebels, I have been in a Star Wars mood lately and have been off and on working on my old Grenadier Star Wars 25mm figs. In celebration of that trailer, here's my version of Han and Chewie finished not long ago.

I've been thinking about using these in a game using the Pulp Alley rules. Heroes, sidekicks, allies, followers - it just seems a perfect fit. More to come!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Another Kickstarter: Ancient China?!

Perhaps against my better judgment and good sense, I pledged to another Kickstarter yesterday.

Thus far I guess I would say I am 1-1-1 in Kickstarters – one win, one loss and one still waiting. To be fair, that latter one includes the katyusha the other day, and I am confident that will turn into a victory sooner rather than later. The loss, well, even if I do ever get my Winter War items, I’m not sure I can ever count it as a true win since it has taken so long.

So what did I do this time? Ancient China! (Insert little yellow minion going wha? here.) Watchful I Studios is off to a great start. here.
You can see the details

Basically, these are for the Warring States period, or Qin Dynasty (you know, the terracotta warriors), or roughly 475-221 BC. I know next to nothing about the period, and don’t even know which warring state army I will choose to paint, but these just looked so cool. Ah, the curse of the gamer.

As for rules, I’m hoping something like Saga or Lion Rampant can be adapted. I’m not sure I want to get into the big battle stuff!

I went back and forth on whether I wanted to support another Kickstarter, but in the end decided this has the looks of a winner. It is run by Joe Krone, who also wrote the Osprey rules “Land of the Free,” among other strong experiences in the hobby. It really looks like he has done his homework with this.  

Another element (ha! See what I did there?) that convinced me is the fact my daughters seem interested in Chinese history, at least as much as two six year olds can be. We just went to EPCOT in Florida, and they were fascinated by the terracotta warrior exhibit. And the fu dogs just blew their minds to the point I had to buy a set. Of course, meeting Mulan was a nice bonus!

Where this goes, I have no idea. Maybe it will spark a big game. Maybe it will languish in the lead mountain. But it’s different. And it’s cool.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Not One, But Two Packages in One Day!

Well, well. What have we here? Not one, but two boxes waiting for me after getting home from work? One was expected. So let’s start with the other one – the smaller one.

Inside we find… a katyusha! Didn’t see that coming! This is part of the pledge I made with Mad Bob Miniatures Hungarian tanks Kickstarter last fall. I had thought it would all come in one bulk package when everything was ready, and I know he’s been working on getting crews cast for some of the other vehicles, so I figured it would be a bit longer yet. But this is cool!

Upon initial examination, this is a very nice model indeed. Very cleanly cast, and it looks super easy to assemble. It really is a remarkable design the way Bob went about constructing the rails and the rockets. Working with 3D printing and computer design has certainly revolutionized development of things like this. Based on my mockup, assembly should be a breeze.

I’m not sure exactly when this will perc to the top of the paint pile, but it is a more than welcome addition. Right now my eastern front plans are centered on the Slovaks against the Soviets, so I’m not sure where a katyusha fits in. But this was too good an opportunity to pass up, and I’m sure will look fantastic when done. That might mean more later war Soviets, start some Germans, and… there we go. Down the slippery slope again!

In the meantime, I can’t wait to see the Hungarian items from this Kickstarter, and the Pz. 38t’s that are destined for Slovakian service. Great stuff from Mad Bob!

(As for the other box, watch this space!)

Friday, April 10, 2015

More Tramping About the Peninsula

I'm a bit tardy on this, as this took place about three weeks ago, but better late than never, right? (OK, maybe not exactly the phrase to use on a battlefield, but I digress.)

These photos are from the Black Powder game put on by Jon at Rider's in Flint back in March, the one where Sharpe's Rifles were watching the Spartans beat the Cavaliers on the "big screen" in the village square.

Before we go any farther, I must make one thing clear: I DID NOT MISPLACE ANY HIGHLANDERS! That alone is an accomplishment.

It was a fairly straightforward scenario - British and French fighting over a river crossing at a small town somewhere in Spain. No word on if it rained in the plains. (Groan. It's Friday. It's been a long week. What can I say?)

My British did better on the command rolls in the beginning, and I was able to quickly advance over the bridge and establish a position with my light artillery and things were looking good. Then, not so much. I had one bad roll that did not allow one of my units to advance as far as I wanted, leaving an exposed flank. Jon took advantage, and things got bogged down between the buildings. It became a bit of a slogfest from there, until we ran out of time with the issue still very much in doubt. As I did hold the river crossing, which was the objective, I shall claim at minimum a minor victory. Would have been better if the French left completely, but it could have happened with more time!

This is an interesting game, and I'm slowly starting to get my head around it, but should play more. We'd like to maybe try it with some ACW. However, I've also been told you are not really a wargamer until you do Napoleonics, which very nearly led me to purchase some Russians, but so far I have been able to resist. So many other ongoing projects!

Without further ado, some photos, all of which show off Jon's ridiculous talent with a brush. None are mine, sorry to say! He even scratchbuilt the buildings!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Exploring History on Travels in Florida

First, let’s be honest. The primary reason to leave Michigan and go to Florida in late March/early April can be summed up in one word: Weather. Here, it sucks. There, it’s awesome.
So yes, there was plenty of time spent on the beach, visiting the land of the Mouse (more on that in a bit), visiting dolphins and movies stars at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and (for me, at least), watching racecars tackle the streets of St. Petersburg.

History tends to take a backseat on trips like this. Oh, I would love to stop at some Civil War sites along the way, and the Dade battle site in Florida has been on my list for some time, but there just isn’t time, and it would surely bore the heck out of the rest of the family.

However, almost purely by chance on the way home, I stumbled on this. Fort Fanning on the banks of the Suwanee River, a Seminole Wars historic site. The main priority was a bathroom break/picnic lunch stop, but still it turned into something for me to at least get a look at and think about. The sign in the photo pretty much sums up what it’s about. I can’t help but think this must have been an awful place to be posted back in the day. Isolated. Hot. Buggy. God knows what lurking in the swamps, human and other. Must have been like Vietnam – or worse.

Seminole Wars have been on my “to do” list for quite some time, and as luck would have it, just a few weeks ago I started painting some. The Seminole figure is actually a maroon, most likely an escaped slave from Georgia who joined the tribe. He is from Conquest miniatures. (Now available from Warlord Games.)

The other fellow is actually a frontier militia figure from Knuckleduster’s War of 1812 line. Certainly he looks the part for the First Seminole War, and possibly beyond. I also have some US regulars from the 1812 range that can be used for the First Seminole War. Second Seminole War will most likely require regulars from Old Glory, as I am not aware of any other manufacturer.

The intent is to adapt Muskets & Tomahawks to this period. Should be doable – small groups groping around in the wilderness.

As for the land of the Mouse – we visited Epcot this time after seeing the Magic Kingdom two years ago. My daughters were mostly interested in princesses, but much to my surprise they were utterly fascinated with the China exhibit. (If you don’t know, a significant part of Epcot is given over to various country displays, sort of like a permanent World’s Fair type of deal.) Of course, meeting Mulan helped, but they were amazed at the terracotta warrior display, and the other historical exhibits. But what really caught there attention were the Fu Dogs at the entrance, and the story behind them. I ended up having to but a set for them! Anything to get them learning about other cultures and the history of other parts of the world is good by me. So who knows, maybe now I need a Qin army…

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Heading South

Counting down the minutes until 5 p.m., then it's out the door and on my way to Florida with the family.

While there are no excursions to historical sites - particularly ACW sites - planned for this trip, here's a shot of a Confederate general from Dixon to sort of set the mood.

There is so much on my painting table right now, I don't even know what else to say!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

220, 221. Whatever it takes.

Bonus points to anyone who gets that headline.

But what we're really looking at here is a 221. Sdkfz 221. German armored car. Sort of. At least the pieces for same. Lots of pieces. Lots of metal pieces. Lots of heavy, metal pieces.

This is the Sdkfz 221 from Black Tree Design, listed at 25mm, but it looks closer to 1/50 or even 1/48 than 1/56 to my eye and compared to the Warlord Games vehicles I have, including the Sdkfz 222. I'll try to get a comparison shot at some point.

I've actually had this for probably 10 years or so, but have never had the courage to attempt it. Now, with my German motor pool finally growing, I think it's time.

As you might suspect with an all metal kit, fit is, well, a relative term. At first it appeared horrible, but as I started filing and sanding last night, it started to get better. Not great, or even good, but not as bad. I think I can make this work. It's going to take quite a bit of epoxy, plenty of squadron putty and lots of good old fashioned elbow grease, but I think in the end it will make a reasonable armored car to support my blitzkrieging early war Germans. (Which, by the way, I thought I had three squads, but can only find two! Another order, perhaps...)

And yes, I've been slacking in the photo department, but I have completed six motorcycles (four with sidecars), a Pz Ib and a Skfz 221. I have a kubelwagen almost done, and am well along on an Opel Blitz truck and a Hanomag. The Hanomag is a Warlord plastic kit, considerably lighter than the BTD 221!

On a related note, I have also prepped and primed a second Belgian squad, so maybe soon there can even be a game.

So did you get the headline?

Monday, March 23, 2015

March Madness

How about those Spartans?!?!

Once again, Tom Izzo, Mr. March, has them playing their best ball of the season and they are on the way to the Sweet 16 again. That seemed a long way off in January or early February, but it just shows again that Izzo has forgotten more about basketball than I will ever know.

And this team has really caught on with the fans. Even the 28mm variety. Even the 95th Rifles had to pause to watch yesterday's game! Appropriate that they are dressed in green, no?

Actually, this was a Black Powder game put on by Jon at Rider's in Flint. For the second year in a row, it conflicted with a Spartan game. Than goodness for smart phones and NCAA March Madness apps. The outcome this year was a little better, too, with the huge win over Virginia.

I'm sure they would have set up large screen monitors in the Spanish villages to watch, just like they do for soccer, had they been able to. Right?

More on the actual game later, but I just liked this photo and had to get it posted. Go green!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More Confederates

Still just going through some photos of my ACW troops. A couple more Confederate regiments for today. First one appears to be Dixon, second mostly some old Wargames Foundry. Usual mix of Testors and Vallejo.

Other than that, not much exciting, other than the usual mix of all kinds of crazy things on the bench. More soon!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Some Yankees

Just two of the Union regiments I now have. A bit on the small size, perhaps, but maybe they've been around a while?

Friday, February 20, 2015

I Wish I Was in the Land of Cotton...

I had originally planned on posting some photos of some Union troops today. But it being cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey this morning (-23F), I really wish I was in Dixie. Anywhere warmer, actually.

So instead, here are a couple regiments from what I can only assume would be a warmer place. Tennessee? Georgia? Alabama? Yes, please.

I've also been trying to inventory the ACW collection. I'm realizing I need to put some effort into a project like this that already has a lot done. Still, I'm not 100% settled on a ruleset. I may go back and look at adapting The British Are Coming again.

Dixon figures, painted some time ago with the usual mix of Vallejo and Testors.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Mardi Gras from Wheat's Tigers

Seems like as good a day as any to post these. I won't go into the unit histories, but suffice to say no ACW collection is really complete without these guys - the 1st and 2nd Louisiana, better known to history as the Tigers.

I finished these guys up last fall, but just got around to taking some pics. The pants were a bit of a pain, and it's why I kept procrastinating! In the end, though, I think they turned out pretty well. Dixon 25mm figs, the usual Vallejo and Testors paints.

This is probably about as close as I may ever get to New Orleans, so happy mardi gras!

Monday, February 16, 2015

President Grant On Presidents' Day

Yeah, Presidents' Day isn't one of those "cool" holidays. More of an annoyance, really, with banks, schools and government offices closed while the rest of us working stiffs march on.

Actually one of the best descriptions I heard is it is the day the President goes outside and if he sees his shadow it means one more year of bullshit. Sounds about right!

Anyway, when looking at my ACW stuff yesterday, I realized I had a president in the mix. OK, so not the greatest president. OK, OK. One of the worst. But still. Here is U.S. Grant still in his guise of Union general. I have a George Washington mini somewhere that may have been a better choice, but this photo was immediately accessible, so here he is. Old Dixon, 25mm, the usual assortment of Vallejo and Testors paints.

More on the ACW coming soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Flintcon 2015: The Wrapup

Now that I've showcased the games I played in at Flintcon, a few thoughts on the con overall.

This was the inaugural event, and one I hope continues for years to come. Overall, it seemed to be a big success for all concerned. There was a good turnout with plenty of great looking games. The event was held at a church in Flint, about an hour away from me. It was easy to get to, and there was plenty of room for all the activities. And it also had a concession stand that ran all day with reasonably priced goodies, from donuts to pizza! Perfect fuel for gamers.

The con was set up on an intriguing model. An organizer explained to us that as a member of the church, he was able to obtain use of the gym at no cost, with the agreement that the church could keep all admission fees and concession profits. The result seemed to make everyone happy. He got to put on a fun event, and the church made some money relatively easily. Win-win.

One other item I thought helped make it a success was the welcoming of all different types of games. Now I am pretty much strictly a historical person, but have no issue with what others may enjoy. In particular, I thought the Star Wars and Star Trek games looked fantastic!

I really only have two minor quibbles with the whole thing, neither of which should detract in any way from the overall achievement. One is that it took place on the same day as the annual model show I like to attend. Oh, well. You can't be everywhere and do everything - and you can't arrange things based on what others are doing. Second, there were no vendors other than a flea market table. This wasn't all bad, as it curbed my spending! However, hopefully vendors pick up on this opportunity in the future. I do need to give a shout out to Rider's Hobby Shop of Flint for handing out coupons and sample copies of Wargames Illustrated.

In the end, a hearty well done to all involved!

With that, some photos. Unfortunately some were blurry and unusable, but this gives a good sampling:
Russo-Finish with Chain of Command. Tempting to play in. And I couldn't help but wonder if those are Baker Company minis from the Kickstarter from which I have received NOTHING yet.

Hearty Finns.

Star Wars. Cool. :)

Napoleonic age of sail.

Bolt Action - Eastern Front.

Slovak cavalry. Slovaks!? I thought I was the only one crazy enough to paint up Slovaks!

Star Trek.


Meanwhile, back in Flinland...

Those dastardly Russians.

WW2 naval - with computers. Looks pretty intense.

Slovak armor!?

Another shot of the Slovak cavalry. I need to get going on mine.

Stargate, I think? Way cool terrain.

Another view.

And another.

Star Wars again - the rebels.

And the empire.

Star Wars in action.

Star Trek again.

Battle of Fort Erie in 15mm, I believe.

Some WWI action.

Lake Peipus - this is tempting.

Another view of Lake Peipus.

Another Bolt Action game, this one in Normandy, I think.

Another view of the WWI trenches.