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…