Distant Stars – Air Support

Before I launch into the content of this post, to all those whose blogs I follow, please accept my apologies. I have been SO busy with one thing and another (which I won’t bore you with) that whilst I have read your recent posts, I haven’t really had a chance to comment on them.

Recently, the EuroMillions Lottery prize had reached a staggering £1.7 Million and they had stated that someone had to win it, so along with every other bugger in the UK, I bought a ticket.

And won! Yay!!!

But only £2.90. Boo….

However, as these were MY winnings (according to my wife), I was allowed to spend them on whatever I wanted…

So I bought a Snowspeeder – specifically the Revell 1:52 ‘Easy-Click’ model (the one that comes in a bag), because it was only £5.00 in Hobbycraft.

Image result for revell snowspeeder

“Oooo, shiny!!!”

Now, I had broached this subject in a previous post, as I had read online that this model had been used as a proxy T-47 Airspeeder for Star Wars Legion, as it was roughly the same size AND Michael Awdry of 28mm Victorian Warfare had used one for a Star Wars inspired diorama and I wondered how it would scale in with my 28mm figures, as Legion’s figures are somewhat larger. I was assured that it should work fine and it kind of does – but took some Carrion Crow ingenuity to “make it so”, as you will see.

So, if you plan on getting one to use for YOUR Star Wars gaming, if you’re intending on using it as a crashed terrain piece or aerial support, you will have to paint over the cockpit glass, as the pilot and gunner figures clearly indicate that the speeder is too small.

To demonstrate this, the picture below shows a 28mm Future Skirmish figure from Moonraker Miniatures and next to it the Rebel pilot from the model kit – who I’ve just noticed seems to be grinning inanely…perhaps he’s soiled his flight suit like deformed Jelly Baby he is.

As my initial plan was to “just” replace the heads of the pilot with a suitable head from my multi-part “Dominion” figures, this clearly would not work.

However, after offering up one of my previously built Outrider figures to the model’s fuselage and the cockpit, I came up with a cunning plan…

The ‘speeder’ was obviously too small to be a two man craft, but could become a one-man “assault skimmer”, as the only thing that really scaled it was the pilots and the rear gun. As my Void Junker figures were multi-part, surely one could be adapted so he could fit within the cockpit? After some cutting, filing and gluing, I ended up with this first stage.

The control column is actually one of the backpacks from the Junker sprue, cut down to fit. As this looked like it was going to work, I continued with the build.

As you can see from the above picture, the craft looks more rounded than in the first picture. This is because as this model comes in a bag, rather than a box, the top part of the fuselage was a little warped, which was rectified when the underside was glued in place.

And almost done – including the flight stand.

On which it does balance very well.

However, the issue I had now was that the transparent canopy, which comes in one piece, wouldn’t fit  – as my Outrider was sitting too high. I could have just left it as it was, as it does look pretty cool already… but that’s NOT how I roll, is it? So, some scoring, snipping, cutting and filing later, the canopy was re-purposed as a rear and front screen, like so.

“Eat hot plasma, Union scum!”

These have not yet been glued in place, as the intention is to undercoat the whole model in black spray first, carefully paint the other transparent bits to match the overall paint job, then attach them. But before all that, I have to remove a few gluey fingerprints that I managed to get on the model – C.S.I. Hoth, anyone?

And as you may have gathered from the title, my alternate Star Wars project will now go by the name of Distant Stars – as in “a galaxy, far, far away.”

Join me next time – which will hopefully be before the end of the month – for more Distant Stars fun, after which I will be celebrating 50 years on this planet by saying things like “I remember when wargames was all cardboard chits, rather than your fancy 3D printed bollocks…”

Jez

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“These ARE the Droids I’m Looking For…”

Regular visitors to this site may have noted that I haven’t been particularly active over the past few weeks.

Well, gaming-wise, at least…

I have been busy doing other stuff. Like making my first visit to Scotland and the town of Edinburgh. This was a planned trip, probably the last holiday I’ll have with my entire family, as my oldest has now moved out and my daughter has just started university.

So, four days in Edinburgh, during which I climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat (251m) getting to the top before every member of my family…

“Smug? Me? Naahhh…”

And on the suggestion of Stevie, booked an excursion BELOW Edinburgh, into one of their famous underground vaults, which was very atmospheric and mildly spooky, as you can see from the picture below:

20190904_1534499081575897302429384.jpg

I also took a fair few photos, mainly for reference purposes, but shan’t bore you with lots of pictures of interesting buildings, bits of Edinburgh Castle and Potter-eque alleyways, until such time as they become ideal for whatever tale I’m telling. However, this warrants showing – a genuine hexagonal Victorian postbox:

Not only did I have a nice break in Edinburgh, this was followed by moving my daughter into her halls of residence down in Portsmouth, which was a full-on busy day, so you can understand why I may not have been particularly active hobby-wise.

However, I have managed to get a few bits done on my ongoing alternate Star Wars project.

I realised that whilst I had my Dominion and Union troops, I needed a few characters to make my universe more rounded. So, looking through what multi=part plastic figures I did have, I created a ‘Protocol Droid’ by taking off the distinctive handlebar from one a Warlord Games Cyberman, combined various components from both a Void 1.1 Viridian Marine and a Junker with a few other bits to make a ‘bounty hunter’ and put together my free Legion of the Black Sun Necromancer to be a corrupted ‘adept of the Dark Side’. Once these have been fully painted, they will receive full in-universe designations, but for now this gives an idea of where I’m going with them;

But wait, there’s more!!!

Having found myself with an unexpected free evening, rather than waste it trying to find something specific for this project online (which I finally managed to do – see later in this post), I bit the bullet, got the paints out and sat down for a bit of an undercoating session – and achieved a fair bit.

The Union Militia were all undercoated in Docrafts Linen, their weapons in Docrafts Noir and a couple of them had their armour painted in Docrafts Jungle Green, as I’d decided that the Militia colour scheme would be predominantly tan and dark green, so inspired by the Rebel Commandoes, but not an exact copy. Skulking in the background is a GW Adeptus Arbites, which I intend on becoming another ‘bounty hunter’ for this universe.

My Dominion Legionnaires had an undercoat of Docrafts Noir, then were spirited off into my garage and were sprayed with some Poundland Gloss White, to try and give a bit of fast shading – which kind of worked. It does give a better indication of how they will end up – and yes, there are a couple more than there were last time. Remember, the Dominion IS Legion…

Incidentally, the ‘corridor’ I’m using as my backdrop is the free sample of the Dungeons & Lasers modular scenery that I mentioned in my previous post. I decided to de-sprue it and have a bit of a play. It’s good stuff solid, robust, well-detailed and how it goes together is really clever and simple. I’ll definitely be getting some of this stuff when it’s released, but if anyone wants to ‘late pledge’ for the Kickstarter, go here.

My Dominion Outriders were also given a similar treatment to their more heavily armoured brethren. I also shortened the Sharpshooter’s rifle, as once it had a lick of paint, it was obvious that it was too long. I still think they’re pretty cool and am looking forward to painting them, although for a full squad, I need to build three more Outriders, as the Sharpshooter doesn’t count.

Finally, I added some paint to my character models, although things did not go quite according to plan with some of them.

My ‘bounty hunter’ got an undercoat of Docrafts Dark Grey with his gun then being painted Docrafts Noir. The ‘protocol droid’ I had issues with – it had an undercoat of Docrafts Bronze, then a coat of Docrafts Shining Gold. However, for some reason the silver-grey plastic it was made from was still showing through the paint, so I then undercoated it again with Docrafts Noir and it now is the dirty brass colour you can see below. Archon Corax, my Vader surrogate, I tried to be clever with, by undercoating him with Gunmetal spray.

This was NOT a good idea, as this type of metallic paint relies on small particles to reflect the light and whilst this works fine on a larger model, like the bunker, it obscures the detail on figures, so I had to get out the nail polish remover and cotton buds to remove most of the spray paint. I left it on the lightsabre blade, as I thought this would help making it ‘shiny’. However, the rest of the figure got an undercoat of Docrafts Noir.

The final figure was the corrupted ‘Dark Side Adept’, who got an undercoat of Docrafts Dark Grey (which is actually quite light, as you can see from the pictures) and his pistol painted in Docrafts Noir.

Having read this far, you might be wondering how the title of this post relates to any of the preceding subject matter.

It doesn’t.

However, I will now explain. As this project progresses, I find myself populating my Star Wars-inspired universe with various figures to serve as proxies for the various troop types and ancillary characters. I have my Rebel trooper proxies and I have my Imperial Stormtrooper and Scout Trooper proxies. I also have Jedi proxies, both Dark and Light (although you haven’t seen the light one yet) and a couple of bounty hunters. I also have my first droid, but this was, up until recently, a bit of a stumbling block.

Humanoid robots are relatively common from several manufacturers, so finding figures for protocol, assassin or combat droids is quite easy. However, if you want proxy Astromech-style droids, you would have to buy either Fantasy Flight Games or the old Star Wars Miniatures game ones – which could prove a bit pricey, or make your own – which could prove to be a bit fiddly. I did find and download a template to make 1:50 scale papercraft R2 Units is a variety of colours, but this looked like it would try the patience of a saint – which I am not.

But Master Crow’s Web-Fu is strong…

Way back in May of 2018 Michael Awdry, of 28mm Victorian Warfare fame, was painting up some of his Imperial Assault figures and happened to mention a company called Combatzone Scenery, who made/make resin-infused plaster scenery for Imperial Assault, with which you can replace the cardboard tokens that come with this game. As I was not involved in a Star Wars-y project and did not own the game, I didn’t pay this much attention at the time.

However, my extensive practising of my Web-Fu in search of suitable proxy Astromech droids flagged up this picture:

IMG_2292

Following the link back, I found that this was the Robot Accessory Set from, you guessed it, Combatzone Scenery, in which you get 14 robots cast in resin “compatible with 28mm skirmish games such as Star Wars Legion, Warhammer 40,000 or Infinity”, available to purchase for £15.00. That works out at about £1.07 per robot. The cheapest official Star Wars Miniatures Astromech droid (R5-D4) I could find was £2.99. Okay, so they’re not exactly right if you’re a Star Wars purist – the MSE droids are too big, the GNK droids have their legs in the wrong place and the R5 units have the wrong number of eyes – but for my purposes, they’re ideal. They look close enough to the source material that you will be thinking Star Wars, but fit in with my slight tweaking of the universe. And they’re £1.07 each…

Incidentally, if you play Imperial Assault, Legion, X-Wing or Armada, check out Combatzone Scenery, as they have a wide selection of products that will enhance your games. Similarly, if you play Super Dungeon Explore or other Chibi style games, they have a whole section devoted to this genre too, so well worth a look and very reasonable too, compared to the cost of the actual official game components.

Join me next time for more Star Wars inspired fun and remember, just because you happen to bump into me at a wargames show, doesn’t mean I’ll let you take my photo…

Never Break the Chain

One of the problems with being a wargamer is that you can be influenced by other gamers, be it in person  – at your FLGS or local club – or online – in a forum or on a blog such as this.

Whilst the majority of the time, this can be a positive experience, where you gain insight into a new painting style or have a manufacturer brought to your attention that you weren’t aware of, who stocks items that fulfill a specific need in your current project, there are times when something catches your eye or imagination and you suddenly find yourself having shelled out for a new game or figures from a new genre or scale, which are sufficiently different from your normal wargaming fare that you either put them to one side and promise you’ll look at them “later” or you stutter to a halt, as the overwhelming nature of the new project causes your brain to spasm

In other words, you broke the chain.

In my experience, in order to be successful and productive in our wonderful hobby, you do need to maintain momentum, as a two-week “break” from the hobby can easily slip in to a month or even a year if you’re not careful. This hobby momentum I refer to as the chain, so I can cheekily use lyrics from the Fleetwood Mac track of the same name for the post’s title, but also because is IS a chain – if you use it correctly.

Now, this is just MY theory on how to maintain momentum in your hobby pursuits, so feel free to disagree, but it works for me, so I’d thought I’d share it with you.

If you concentrate on a single genre or project for an extended period of time, unless it is something you are committed to or are extremely passionate about, you will experience burn-out. This can lead to a loss of momentum or, in the worse-case scenario, a loss of “love” for that particular project or genre.

Which is not good.

I find that having a small handful of different projects, which share a similar scale, means that I can easily transition from one to another when I start to become jaded with one particular project. It does help that the majority of my projects have an element of the macabre, so whilst I game Victorian Fantasy/Horror, Japanese Medieval Fantasy, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters and the current Alternate Star Wars project, some of the figures I use will turn up in multiple genres. And as Superhero gaming covers every possible permutation of genres and this was my first ‘love’ when I returned to gaming from the wilderness, it has kind of influenced the way I look at every other genre – so most of the projects I do are a blend of more than one thing.

Because there is this transition, this ‘sharing’ of resources and figures, I can easily slide from one project to another if I feel myself becoming “bored” with a particular project, so I don’t fall out of love with it, lose hobby momentum and break the chain, which, according to Fleetwood Mac, you should NEVER do.

Now, this transitioning can also be used in writing posts for your blogs. Sometimes, I’ll read a post which covers so many different projects or genres that it as though the author has just opened his head and spilled the contents on to the screen, without any concern or forethought as to how all these disparate parts come together. It can be somewhat jarring and reduces my enjoyment of reading that particular post. But, if there is some underlying theme or link between everything you’ve included in your post, then you can cover multiple genres or projects in one post without anyone even realising.

I’ll show you what I mean and you can judge for yourself how successful I’ve been…

So, way back in April of this year, I trotted off to the Excel Centre for the annual Salute wargaming convention and, being one of the first 5,000 through the doors, got my goodie bag with various freebies.

As a gamer with a limited budget, I am a fan of free wargaming stuff, although I sometimes can’t think of a particular use for the item when I first receive it. This happened with last year’s freebies, which ended up being sent to Stevie, as he’d missed on on Salute that year and was drooling over the free figures – and I had no use for them.

We’re gamers – that’s what we do.

Anyway, one of this year’s freebies was this;

This was a promo figure for Archon Studios new planned game Starcide, a sci-fi skirmish game, namely a Necromancer from the Legion of the Black Sun faction.

At the time, I had no real use for him. However, as I considered the various factions within my Star Wars-inspired project, I speculated on what would happen if a member of the Order of the Sentinels fell completely and started using their powers to siphon off the life-force of others to prolong their own life. I think they’d end up looking like a Legion of the Black Sun Necromancer…

Now, Archon Studios also had some promo examples and leaflets for their next project to be launched on Kickstarter at Salute, a hard plastic modular scenery system called ‘Dungeons & Lasers’, which allowed you to build either dungeons or sci-fi complexes out of set of interlocking components. Looked pretty cool and exactly the kind of thing I’d be interested in, so I grabbed a couple of leaflets to read up on it.

After the show, I visited their website and signed up for their email newsletter, so I could be kept in the loop. Prior to the launch of the Kickstarter for this new project, anyone who’d signed up for the newsletter received an email asking if they’d like a free sample of the new kit…

As I’ve stated before, I LIKE free wargaming stuff… so said yes.

This is what I got;

So, this sprue/frame contains enough components to create a small corridor with two walls… and an animal companion. It’s a fairly substantial bit of kit, as each floor section approximately 3mm thick and each wall section about 5mm thick. Floor sections are single-sided, with tabs that the rectangular connectors on the sprue clip on to, to ensure they don’t shift about. The wall sections are double-sided and in the production version will have different styles of either the fantasy or sci-fi decor on, so you can chooses which side you want showing. The way the bits clip together is really straightforward and the product is pretty robust.

The Kickstarter launched on 13th August 2019 and has now been successfully funded, but late pledges can still be made here. Lowest scenery pledge is $99, for which you get one base set of your preferred genre choice AND three extra rooms of your choice.

I know that I’ve previously stated that I’m not a fan of Kickstarters, but on this occasion, having seen the stuff in the…er…plastic AND if I had the cash, I would definitely buy in to this. Have a look yourself, as it might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

I also received another unexpected email recently, from Keith aka the Angry Piper from Dead Dick’s Tavern & Temporary Lodging. He’d sent me a photo of an item he thought I might like and asked if I wanted it.

Free wargaming stuff? Oooh, yes please…

Anyway, this is the item, which arrived yesterday morning.

Yeah Baby… you know who to call..

28mm Outrider figure for scale purposes, as my Ghostbusters are currently packed away… somewhere. (There was something else in the box, but the less said about the better, right Keith?) A very generous gift, especially when taking into account the shipping costs, and one that I am extremely grateful for.

Just need to find a way to pay him back somehow…

Right that’s all for this post, which not only had tied into my current project, but also a once and future project and was all linked together with a single theme.

It’s almost like I planned this…

“He says there’s a secret entrance… On the other side of the ridge.”

As the end of August can be seen lurking in the distance, creeping ever closer, and this is when The Angry Piper’s TerrainTime 2019 challenge finishes AND my Star Wars-inspired terrain piece was almost complete, I decided to crack on with the roof. Once this was completed, all I’d need to do was give it a couple of passes with some spray paint and job done.

So, first order of the day was deciding on what to use. Looking at the original inspiration for this terrain piece, the Endor Shield Generator Bunker;

Related image

the roof is pretty thick and also stepped, so the first order was to scout out some 5mm foamcore to make the lowest tier of the roof. As my intention was to use an aerosol spray paint on the entire model, the exposed foam along the edges would have to be masked, otherwise the spray paint would melt it. Potentially useful if trying to replicate a weird energy weapon attack, not so good when just attempting to undercoat a model.

A rectangle that matched the approximate footprint of the model was cut out, and the sides covered with clear sticky tape, angled at the corners to avoid overlap.

The next stage was to add an additional tier, slightly smaller, cut from mounting board and a third and final tier, the corners of which were trimmed, as were the centres, to give a bit more interest to the basic roof structure, before adding any external greeblies.

A quick raid of my box of bits and two end caps from flat pack furniture, two push pins, a plastic flanged nut of some description and a spare token from HeroScape (which has the HeroScape emblem on) were dry-fitted, then stuck in place, once I’d decided where they were going.

All well and good, but what did it look like in situ?

Not too bad…

Not too bad at all…

But obviously, as it stood at this point, all the disparate elements were clearly visible, so out into the garden it went and was given a liberal coat of matt black primer.

yes, I did say matt – the only reason this is looking shiny is that the picture was taken when the paint was still wet.

As I wanted a playable interior as well, the inside was given a coat too. The interior will gain some detail, possibly utilising some of the decals from Diorama Workshop. These are designed for 3.75″ actions figures, but re-scaling them and printing them out on sticky-backed paper and you’ve got instant Star Wars “wallpaper” for whatever environment you wish to re-create.

The next step was to use some Wilko Gunmetal Spray Paint, which gives a nice subdued dark grey-ish metallic effect. The idea was to try and utilise the technique known as zenithal shading, to try and create some simple highlights without too much effort. However, I don’t think I got it quite right, so my bunker model appears to be the same colour across its entirety, except for some possible darker shading in the doorway.

However, my Dominion troops seem to like it and for a relatively simple and inexpensive project, I think it’s come out looking pretty good.

If you’d seen the finished article prior to seeing how it was built, would you have guessed what it was made of? Or just assumed it was 3D printed or something?

That’s all for this build, but join me next time as this project continues. I think we may be off to the Droid workshop…

Jez

“Chewie and me got into a lot of places more heavily guarded than this…”

So, my intention for the month of August was to continue with my Alternate Star Wars project AND take part in the TerrainTime 2019 challenge being run by the Keith (aka The Angry Piper) over on his blog Dead Dick’s Tavern and Temporary Lodging. I had already bought one of these;

Wilko Half Size Propagator Lid 17.5 x 21cm Image

which is a Wilko Half Size Propagator Lid (17.5cm x 21cm) for the absolutely HUGE amount of…75p! Bargain!!

The idea was to use this vacuum-formed plastic cover as the basis for an Imperial-ish bunker, similar to the ones found on Endor or Scarif. Relatively simple plan – trim the rim so it was flush with the ground, tart up the exterior a bit, spray the whole thing, weather it a bit – shouldn’t take too long and should be pretty simple, right?

If I’d stuck to my initial plan…yes. However, I overthought this little project and ended up trying to make a recessed door (like the one on Endor). Over the next two and bit hours there were indications that things were not going according to plan, but rather than listen to these subtle hints from the Universe, I struggled gamely on – until I realised I had well and truly Fucked. It. Up. 

Once you’ve reached THAT point, all you can do is sigh and consign your efforts to the bin, because no amount of remedial work will miraculously resurrect your idea.

However, lessons were learnt from this;

  1. Don’t overthink or over-complicate your builds,
  2. Cheaper is not necessarily better, and
  3. Vacuum-formed plastic can be a pain in the arse to cut straight lines out of.

Of course, in between my epic fail with my first attempt at a Star Wars-inspired terrain piece and this post, this was previewed by FFG;

Image result for star wars legion bunker

Yup, the OFFICIAL Star Wars Legion Imperial Bunker – RRP seems to be about £69.99…

As we all know my particular opinion on FFG pricing, I won’t reiterate that here, but seeing this item reminded me that I had seen a plastic object with similar detailing knocking about the house somewhere – namely this;

This is a hard plastic fitting wedge, used when installing laminate flooring. It’s usually used to offset the ‘planks’ when laying the flooring, to ensure that it’s square with the walls…or that’s the general idea. Anyway, these wedges are 30mm wide and 70mm long/tall and I thought I could use them to clad a simple box, to make a substitute bunker. However, I only had a couple left over that I could locate, and needed a good 20 or so.

A quick search online and I discovered that B&Q were currently selling off packs of the Diall brand of these wedges, as they were being discontinued, for the low price of £1.00 for a pack of 22. So I bought 2 packs.

Now I had my ‘cladding’, I just needed my walls, so the remains of a cereal box was press-ganged into service and a basic structure built – with the recessed doorway being pre-planned this time, rather than an afterthought.

That’s one of my Dominion Outriders to give an idea of scale – the structure has a footprint of 18cm x 12 cm and is 7cm tall, so as to fit in with the multiples of the individual wedges.

After a certain amount of gluing, the exterior of the structure was clad, as shown below.

As the reverse of each wedge is divided into a 3 x 5 grid of oblongs, I decided to use two of these reversed to create the inner walls of the recess, with the intention of adding a control panel at some point, once I’d found something suitable.

Which then looked like this;

Looking at the original wedges that had started this train of thought and project rolling, I realised that they were from a different manufacturer AND had a different pattern on the reverse – which looked like blast doors to my eyes, so these were glued in place, like so;

All in all, it took about 40 minutes to do this, including building the cardboard structure. Cheap, simple and, in my opinion, looks pretty good.

So, the next stage is to build a roof, add a few external bits and bobs – such as the afore-mentioned control panel and some sensor domes – then give it a liberal coat of black spray primer, followed by a spray of Gunmetal (bought to refurbish a mirror frame, but gives a nice subdued metallic finish) and it will be done.

The interior will have to wait, as the end of August fast approaches and it needs to be usuable/finished by then, so I’ll just concentrate on the exterior.

And I’ve still got another pack of these wedges and am wondering whether they could be used as internal walls, if they were glued back to back…

There should be another post to finish the bunker off, before we move onto how I’ve worked out how to cunningly and cheaply make my own Astromech droids.

You KNOW it’s going to be another potentially Genius idea, so make sure to tune in…

Jez

“We Are The Dominion, And We Are Legion.”

It has been a while since I’ve posted on the Buffet, due to work and family commitments that have resulted in no real hobby-time and, therefore, nothing to actually post about.

However, I have now reached a state of equilibrium, whereby home, work and hobby time will be more equally distributed, so hopefully that will see a few more regular posts here.

Now, before I continue with my Alternate Universe Star Wars project, I wanted to address some points raised regarding my last post, regarding the cost of Star Wars: Legion. Some people felt that I was being overly critical of Legion’s costs, stating that it does represent pretty good value, especially the base set.

Okay, the cheapest I can find the Star Wars: Legion boxed set online was £53.99. This has the rules, dice, measuring sticks, barricades, 15 rebels (including Luke), 15 Imperials (including Vader), 2 Speeder Bikes and 1 AT-RT. So, 30 figures and 3 vehicles for £54 – which works out as roughly £1.64 per figure. Can’t disagree that that’s good value.

However…

It had been pointed out in various reviews that the Legion boxed set is not a complete wargame, i.e. you need more expansions to fully appreciate the game. Okay, so let’s add an additional set of Rebel troopers and Imperial Stormtroopers, at £16.50 each – which adds an additional 7 troops to each side. So, 47 figures for a total of £87.00 – which works out as £1.85 a figure. Still pretty reasonable, right?

However, if your gaming budget is quite small, as mine is, dropping £54.00, let alone £87.00, is a non-starter. And because the Legion figures are sooooo nice, I’d want EVERY Imperial expansion.

The point of my last post was not to denigrate Star Wars: Legion, but to point out that you don’t have to buy it to play in the Star Wars universe – or Alternate Universe. And the advantage of doing it this way is that you have a wider choice of miniatures you can use, as you’re not tied in to a specific scale or rules system, so don’t need the official models and cards to play.

I’m just one person, doing things MY way, so if you’re happy to buy Star Wars: Legion and play your SW games with it, then who am I to say you’re wrong? I’m just presenting an alternative option, which could end up cheaper overall – or might not – but the cost can be spread over smaller individual purchases, which can be easier on the pocket or budget for some gamers.

Right, let’s move on…

So, in my previous article I mentioned that I had ordered some sprues of multi-part hard plastic figures from Scotia Grendel, one of each of the Junkers and Viridian packs, giving me enough parts to build 20 figures for £13.25 – so 66p a figure, which no-one can argue isn’t excellent value for money. Ordered on the Sunday night, arrived on the following Thursday, so a pretty quick turn-around. Let’s take a look at the Junkers sprue first;

Each sprue has enough components to make two figures and you get: two torsos (which come in two pieces), two sets of legs (differently posed), two right arms, two left arms, three heads (two helmeted, one with a breathing mask), two combat shotguns, two swords, two shields, two backpacks and four shoulder pads.

The Viridan sprue follows the same format:

But you get two ‘carbines’ and two machine pistols, instead of the shotgun and sword combination of the Junkers.

Now, the cool thing about having both sets of sprues is that you use whatever parts you want with whatever figure you’re building, although due to the collar on the Viridian torso and the flared rear part of the Junker helmet, these parts won’t really work together. This was my initial plan regarding building my not-Stormtroopers, as I felt that the Viridan helmets were a bit comical-looking in the painted examples I’d seen, like a crab sitting on top of the armour;

Image result for plastic viridian marines

Or possibly a techno-owl…

Then I saw this:

Image result for plastic viridian marines

Which is all kinds of awesome and is kind of what I hope my troopers end up looking like.

So, having decided that the carbine suffered from “over-sized gun syndrome”, the shoulder pads were too Space Marine-y and my troopers wouldn’t use shields, I put to together a couple of test figures, using the ‘combat shotgun’ from the Junkers sprue:

Quite happy with how these came out, so these will be the backbone of the Dominion’s forces, the Legionnaires, which are the equivalent of Imperial Stormtroopers.

Next, I decided to see what I could build with the Junkers sprue. The intention was for these to be the equivalent of Imperial Scout Troopers, as they are have less armour and are less bulky when compared to the Viridians – so actually reasonably realistic, if you can say that about fictional plastic spacemen…

I decided to not bother with the shoulder pads, shields and backpacks – and arm them with the ‘machine pistols’ and swords. I then added some grenades handing from their thigh pads/pouches from some GW Kroot. As the Imperial Snipers are drawn from the Scout Troopers, I decided to see if I could knock up a sniper too, using the same body configuration, but withe the addition of a metal sniper rifle from (I think) the Shock Force range and a Kroot ammunition belt.

I’m still trying to decide if the sniper rifle is a bit TOO long – I think it just looks a bit big because of the way the figure is holding it and the fact that everything is so light. Once painted, it might look a bit better – or I’ll just shorten the barrel. These will be my Dominion Outriders and Sharpshooter.

Of course, if we’re going full NOT Imperial, we need a Darth Vader analogue. So after much searching for a length of plastic of the right diameter, shape and length, and then constructing a handle for it, here he is;

And to give an idea of how everything scales together, here they are with one of Grenadier’s Future Skirmish Troopers (sculpted by Marks Copplestone), which are going to be my Union Militia;

As you can see, they all scale together pretty well, with the Outriders being the slightest, due to their jumpsuit and minimal armour and the dominating figure of Archon Corax, previously of the Order of Sentinels, but now leader of the Dominion.

So, I now have my troops (although I do need to assemble a few more), so the next stage is to paint them. Michael Awdry of 28mm Victorian Warfare fame had mentioned the Youtube videos posted by Sorastro, in relation to painting SWL figures, and having found these videos to be useful, interesting and in no way smug (which can be a problem in some painting ‘tutorials’), I shall be attempting some of these techniques to “Imperialise” my Dominion troops.

On a related note, I do have a question for anyone who cares to answer. When posting articles regarding how I’ve painted a particular figure, I usually include the manufacturer’s name and particular paint name in the description. Now, as most of my paints are either really old GW paints, which are now called something different, or non-hobby paints, so unfamiliar to those who read this blog, does anyone really need to know which specific hue I’ve used? Or am I just wasting precious time on something that no-one really cares about and causes your eyes to start to glaze over? I’d be interested to hear people’s opinions.

And while I’m at it, a question for Michael Awdry himself. You used one of the Revell T-47 Airspeeders in one of your vignettes, stating that it was a little smaller than the official Legion one, which I believe is a touch undersized for the scale of the Legion figures. So, my question is, will it work for 28mm? I know it’s 1:52 scale, but various online reviews seem to suggest it might be closer to 1:72 scale and whilst it’s a quarter of the price of the Legion one, it would be useful to know if it’s suitable before I buy one.

Right, that’s enough for this post. Join me next time, when we shall be continuing our journey to a galaxy far, far away – but off to one side a bit – AND combining this with Keith’s TerrainTime 2019 challenge to create a cheapass “Imperial” Bunker…

“You weak minded fool! He’s using an old Jedi mind trick.”

A long time ago…

Well, 1977 to be exact, George Lucas unleashed the first movie in what was to be one of the longest running and most popular sci-fi franchises of all time.

Being a young lad with an unfortunate haircut and a predilection to wearing dungarees at the time (it was the 70’s, after all), I thrilled to the exploits of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and the rest of the Rebellion’s heroes, as they squared up against the might of the Empire, with their white-clad Stormtroopers and the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader. Any long object, be it a garden cane, cardboard tube or French stick became a lightsabre in my hands, sliding doors were opened by the use of my Force powers, rather than the automatic sensors and it was acceptable to wear a dressing gown in public, as this was the garb of Jedi Knight.

And if you wanted to recreate the daring adventures you’d witnessed on the screen from the original trilogy, you had 3 3/4″ action figures of all your favourite characters, from the lowly Power Droid up to Boba Fett, plus all their vehicles and some pretty inventive playsets.

Now, confession time – I always preferred the Imperials. Not due to their ethos, but due to their uniforms and vehicles. They just looked cooler than the Rebellion’s outfits – probably because they were sufficiently different from what we had seen before. An X-Wing was basically a jet fighter, but TIE fighters were like nothing we’d seen before.

And I loved that the Empire had specialist troops, with a unifying look and colour scheme, so you knew that these were Imperial forces. A New Hope gave us Stormtroopers and TIE Fighter pilots, The Empire Strikes Back gave us AT-AT Drivers and Snowtroopers and The Return of the Jedi gave us Scout Troopers. All slightly different, but similar enough that you knew they were part of the same organisation. The two ‘anthology’ films Rogue One and Solo added to this, by giving us Death Troopers, Shoretroopers, Patrol Troopers, Range Troopers and the rather crappily named Wet-Weather Troopers. All slightly different, but sharing the same aesthetic.

Now, from a wargaming perspective, if you wanted to recreate ground=based battles in the Star Wars Universe, up until 1991, you had to find suitable proxy figures. However, in 1991, West End Games released both the Star Wars Minatures Battles rules and accompanying 25mm metal miniatures. These was succeeded by Wizard of the Coast’s Star Wars Miniatures game in 2004, which upped the scale to (apparently) 34mm, the figures for which are still available from online sellers, but expect to pay a pretty penny for the rarer figures. The WEG metal miniatures are rarer than hen’s teeth, so you’re unlikely to find them for a sensible price anywhere.

Fast forward to today.

If you want to play official tabletop miniatures games set in the Star Wars universe, your only real choice is Fantay Flight Games, who offer Imperial Assault – a “a strategy board game of tactical combat and missions” or Star Wars: Legion – “a miniatures game of thrilling infantry battles.”

Now, both of these games require an initial “buy in” of the core boxed set, then offer you various supplements to expand your universe. Both Imperial Assault and Star Wars: Legion have a recommended retail price of £89.99, but by shopping around you can get them significantly cheaper. However, as both games are scaled larger than 28mm AND Legion’s figures are bigger than IA’s, they are not really compatible with one another or any other figures. Basically, if you want to play a tabletop miniature game with official Star Wars figures, you HAVE to buy they product. Which, whilst the initial buy-in might seem quite reasonable, when you look at the supplements and expansions, can get somewhat pricey. Fine if you have the resources to invest into these games, but for those of us with a limited gaming budget, our initial reaction was to coo over the miniatures, make a list of what we’d like, tot up the overall cost – then go and weep in a corner.

However, just because FFG hold the license for OFFICIAL Star Wars tabletop miniatures, does this mean that you can’t play a Star Wars themed game utilising other available miniatures that are significantly cheaper? Of course not!

But, it will be down to how much of a purist you are. Prior to the release of the Sequel Trilogy, which began with The Force Awakens, there existed something called the “Expanded Universe.” This was made up of various creator’s visions of what occurred prior to or after the original trilogy. All of this work is now considered non-canon and had now been dubbed “Legends” to separate it from the “Official” timeline. So, any characters created for the Expanded Universe won’t be showing up in any of FFG’s games.

But if we take the general premise of the Star Wars universe – a militaristic organisation dominating the galaxy, an alliance of free worlds that are resisting this expansion and a quasi-religious order of psychic warriors who choose either side depending on their moral compass – could we not create our OWN version of the Star Wars universe, using a suitable set of rules and miniatures? Think of it as an Alternate Universe, rather than an Expanded or Canon one.

So, where can you find suitable proxy miniatures to enable you to do this? Read on and I will show you…

Firstly, I shall be concentrating on 28mm miniatures, as this is my preferred scale, so if someone usually games in 15mm and wants to do this, you might have to do your own research.

Our first port of call is North Star Military Figures and their Rogue Stars range. This is heavily influenced by Star Wars and has energy sword-wielding psionics, dodgy smugglers, combat robots and a few interesting looking aliens.

Psionics

Packs are £6.00 each, in which you get either two normal figures or one big one. However, as some of these were sculpted by the extremely talented Mark Copplestone, if your go to the Copplestone Castings section, you can but some of these figures individually.

Next stop is Hasslefree Miniatures, who have several ‘Mystic Warriors’ (i.e. Jedi), in their Sci-Fi Humans range. Incidentally, the miniatures listed as ‘Kami Riko’ and ‘Larran Jax’ do bear a striking resemblance to Rey and Finn from The Force Awakens

However, this has to be my favourite Not-Jedi figure they do;

HFSF107 Mystic Warrior Panda

Prices are about £4.50 per figure, so you won’t be building an army from here, but you might want to pick up a few heroes (or villians), so worth a look.

On the topic of Not-Jedi, Ganesha Games (who are distributed by Alternative Armies in the UK) have their Psi-Paladins;

Four variants, £3.00 each. Designed for their expansion to their Post-Apocalyptic rules Mutants and Death Ray Guns, entitled Psi-Paladins and Techno Barbarians. Also worth looking at the rest of the range, for additional characters.

This covers the named characters, but what of the troops? Those faceless minions of the authoritarian government or the hardy partisans resisting them? Well, as you need a fair few of these, you don’t want to be paying TOO much per figure, do you?

So, for our not-Rebels, I would suggest Moonraker Miniatures and either the Troopers from their Future Skirmish range, of which there are 14 variants, including three heavy weapons, at £1.75 each.

28mm Near Future military miniatures for Kill zone, Combat Zone, Starship Troopers, Imperial guard, and any gaming system or RPG

Or the Yoyodyne Shigaru from the Spacelords range, three figures for £5.50, with several different variants;

28mm Spacelords Yoyodyne miniatures for any science-fiction game or RPG  Space Samurai

You might also want to look at the Yoyodyne Elite Skychargers, if you wanted a unique Don Quixote-esque Not-Jedi;

28mm Spacelords Yoyodyne miniatures for any science-fiction game or RPG  Space Samurai

Having already got some of Moonraker Miniatures Future Skirmish Troopers, these will be MY Not-Rebels or, in my Alternate Universe, my Union of Free Worlds troopers. Here they are, waiting to be suitably repainted;

For your Not- Imperials, you could use Moonraker’s Future Skirmish Troopers in NBC suits;

28mm Near Future military miniatures for Kill zone, Combat Zone, Starship Troopers, Imperial guard, and any gaming system or RPG

Or the same company’s Cybertech Bunkerbreakers;

28mm Spacelords Cybertech miniatures for any science-fiction game or RPG

However, as I’ve seen the Reaper Bones Nova Corp Soldiers;

Nova Corp:Soldier (3)

painted up as proxies for Clone Troopers;

And they’re only £5.99 for three figures (albeit in the same pose), but there are five variants, this should give a good range of different troops.

However, if you want mult-part hard plastic miniatures, which work out at less than £1.00 per figure, go to Scotia Grendel and their Void 1.1 range. You have a choice of Viridain Interdict marines, £5.00 for enough sprues to make 10 figures;

3191402 - 5 Viridian plastic sprues and bases

Or Junkers, £8.25 for enough sprues to make 10 figures.

3191401 - 5 Junkers plastic sprues and bases

Or buy one of each and mix-and match the parts, which is what I’m going to do. These will be my Dominion troops.

The only thing missing is a Sith Lord, as whilst the Not-Jedi I have found are good for heroic Jedi, those seduced by the Dark Side of the Force tend to be masked. As the Jedi Order is inspired, in part, by Samurai, using a suitable masked Samurai subtly modified and painted appropriately should work.

The Heroclix Death Demon or Samuroid could work;

Image result for heroclix death demon

Image result for heroclix samuroid

Alternatively, using either of these Armoured Samurai from Ral Partha Europe (£4.00 for both figures) with the addition of lightsabres would also work, especially the one on the right;

04-306 Armoured Ninjas (2) - Click Image to Close

However, it is all down to personal choice – what do YOU think a Dark Jedi would look like? Perhaps one of the Psi-Paladins shown earlier, but with skin colouring similar to a Drow?

However, as I had TWO figures representing the same character, one of which is the classic version of the character and one an ‘updated’ version, which I didn’t like as that character – but WILL make a good Not-Sith, I am using this HeroScape Doctor Doom figure. All he needs is a lightsabre and a repaint;

“I find your lack of pants…disturbing.”

So, I have scenery, I have my Rebel Union troopers, I have my Dark Jedi Black Rukh and my Imperial Stormtroopers Dominion Shocktroopers are on their way. I just need to finish my initial draft of the revised Feast of Crows rules and I’ll be able to play my first Star Wars-inspired game.

And for an initial outlay of less than £20.00 on my part.

To paraphrase Watto from The Phantom Menace – “I’m Carrion Crow, your marketing tricks won’t work on me.”

Until next time.

Jez

Corvuscope – A New Place to Visit

After my last post, The Doctor and the Crow, it occurred to me that whilst I did want to post reviews of tv shows, movies and books, this blog wasn’t really the ideal platform to do so.

So rather than interrupt the regular (or semi-regular) posts regarding my exploits in the wargaming hobby arena, I’ve decided that a separate blog should be created that will just feature the content noted above.

It’s called Corvuscope – which roughly means “What the Crow saw”. I know it’s not 100% grammatically or linguistically correct, but Corvuscope sounds a bit cooler than “Visum Corvus”.

Just an introductory post on there at present, explaining the purpose of the blog and not currently searchable via Google – it takes a while for it to pop up on the search engine – but once it does, it will probably be the first choice, as my previous search on this name only came up with two results.

So, if you are at all interested in my views on those fictional worlds that are created on the big or small screen or within the pages of a book, join me over there, where I will give my considered and honest opinion of them, in my own inimitable style.

You may agree, you may disagree, but hopefully you’ll find it entertaining and it just might point you in the direction of something you haven’t heard of and encourage you to give it a try.

The Greatest Breakthrough in Travel..

…since Mr. Rodney Tricycle thought to himself “I’m bored with walking, I think I’ll invent a machine with three wheels and a bell, and name it after myself.

Behold, the time machine…

As I am now the proud owner of the surrogate figure I’m planning on using to represent Lord Edmund Blackadder (circa 1999), in order for him to visit the London borough of Blackwell, I decided that some additional work was needed to complete his time machine.

However, as I’m sadly lacking in my very own Baldrick to delegate this task to, I’ve had to do it myself…

When we first saw the machine, it looked like this;

The initial box was crafted from an Amazon cardboard ‘envelope’, with a circular hole cut in the front and the drawbridge-like door cut into the left side. A smaller disc of card was then covered in baking foil (dull side up) to create the clockface, then glued to a larger disc of card and fixed behind the hole, giving a bit of depth to the model.

All four sides and the top were then given a covering of textured wallpaper, to represent the canvass sides of the machine. A rubber washer, topped with a smaller plastic washer and then a plastic cap were glued together and added to the top of the device, to represent the viewing port of the original machine.

This made it look a bit like a washing machine with a hatbox on top of it, but as with most modelling projects, it’s all in the details…

The machine needed four decorative ‘spires’ on each corner of the roof, some feet, a cog or fly-wheel protruding from the right-hand side of the device and some rungs on inner surface of the door, so our intrepid time travellers had stable footing when alighting – so my bits box was raided and various beads, screws and washers were affixed in the relevant places, resulting in this;

And another shot showing the fly-wheel;

I also decided to add several cut down cotton-bud stems to represent the frame that the canvass is attached to.

It’s not exactly the same as the original design, but it’s a pretty good match and I’m happy with it.

Now, as it was fairly evident that it was cobbled together from a variety of disparate parts, I decided to give it an undercoat of Docrafts Linen, in order to blend them all together.

The bases and feet were given a coat of Docrafts Burnt Umber and the frame a coat of Docrafts Classic Gold. Referring to the Blackadder: Back and Forth, I then painted the roof spires, viewing port and clockface in GW Shining Gold, and the shallow trench around the clockface with Docrafts White. And this is the result;

The exerior requires dry-brushing with a dark pink, the ramp needs a coat of brown and I need to add the numerals, decorative marks and hands to the clockface, but it’s progressing well and should be finished…in good time.

I just need to base and paint Blackadder himself and he will then be meddling in the affairs of the residents of Blackwell.

Until next “time”…

A Visit to the Workshop

As previously mentioned, I will be attending Salute again this year, but will be doing so on the other side of the fence, as I will be assisting Dave Stone of Wargames Terrain Workshop on his stand. So, I felt that I really should meet Dave in the flesh prior to April and therefore arranged to visit him in Gloucester last weekend.

Dave was a very welcoming host, plied me with copious amounts of coffee and treated me to a very interesting insight into the creative process behind the models he creates for WTW. We also managed to get a game of Death Match in, in which my Revilli Gladiator managed to slay her Ceratid opponent, TWO of the released beasts, then got pounded into the dirt by a Horned Hominid. If you haven’t had a chance to play this game yet at a show, make sure you visit the stand at Salute, where we will be running demonstration games for most of the day.

When I left, I was presented with a few items to take away with me. Some I was expecting, as these were prizes from the Death Match competitions run on The Game Cupboard last year, but Dave had very kindly added some extra items – namely a few bits that I’d enthused about when he’d shown them off on TGC.

Now, as a beneficiary of Dave’s generosity, I thought I’d take the opportunity to show some of the items Wargames Terrain Workshop does or will be releasing in the future, but with a standard 28mm miniature in the pictures, to give you some idea of scale. As the majority of the time, we gamers buy online, its always good to know exactly how big some of these models actually are…

First up, one of my competition prizes, the Creminisci;

This aquatic race was designed by Tarot Hunt for the Death Match universe, and are a race of fish-like mystics, who can harness their mental power to produce a variety of effects. As the DM range is nominally 32mm scale for standard humanoid races, you can see that the Creminisci are roughly the same scale as a DM Human, but are larger than the 28mm figure in the picture.

I asked for mine to be cast in translucent blue resin – because I’m an awkward bugger – but I believe the general release figures will be in opaque grey resin.

Next up, my winning contribution to the Death Match universe, the Nisari;

The Nisari are a sect that believes that ‘The Games’ are an abomination and have dosed their most fanatical warriors with a potion that increases their effectiveness as warriors, but also burns them up from the inside, hence the bloodstained bandages.

As you can see from the picture, the Nisari tower over a normal 28mm figure and are still pretty big in comparison to a standard DM human. But they are supposed to be, as they are Traventians, who are bigger than the humans in the game. The two figures shown are the Nisari male and the Nisari Priestess, currently milking a Dust Viper for its venom. The Nisari female comes with separate arms and as I’ve not attached these yet, I decided not to show her.

Now, as you may not be a Death Match player, you might be thinking why would I buy these models? The Creminisci would quite easily fit into any fantasy or sci-fi game of your choice. As for the Nisari…could you imagine Conan facing this in the wastes of Stygia? Or your Pulp Alley league being menaced by this because they opened the wrong tomb? Or maybe your Tomb Kings army needs a giant freaking insane mummy, because…well, who doesn’t?

Now, these aren’t on general release yet, but I’m sure Dave will let everyone know when they will be available.

Next up, the Venucian Man Eating Plant, which has been released;

The figure in the picture is one of my Victorian thugs from Ironclad Miniatures, which gives a good indication of the size of this terrain piece. Three open ‘traps’ and one currently digesting an unfortunate victim. If you play Congo, Pulp Alley or, to be frank, ANY game that ventures into the jungle, be it terrestrial or off-world, get this piece. It’s well-detailed, versatile and only £6.00.

Next, a model that came about from a conversation I had with Dave about monstrous pigs…the Grice;

I had mentioned in my ongoing Tales of the Black Museum a previous case featuring the ‘Black Pig of Awdry Gardens’. Now, I quite fancied having a model to represent this, and mentioned to Dave that I had not yet found something suitable. He queried what sort of beast I was after and after much to-ing and fro-ing, he’d got a good idea of what I was after. Thus was born the Grice. The name is actually that of an extinct Iron Age pig that was common in Scotland, but as this beast was supposed to represent a monstrous swine, either demonic or primeval, artistic licence was employed. The Grice is now an official part of the Death Match universe, but can be used wherever you need a bloody great porker. Available now for a very reasonable £7.00.

Next up, the Digestion Pool;

Designed for the Exuvium race in Death Match, which they use to break down the bodies of the animals they catch into a delicious and nutritious soup, this terrain piece has so many other uses. It’s reminiscent of the architecture in the Alien movies, but what the fluid bubbling away in it is, is entirely up to you and your paints to decide. As you can see from the picture, this is currently being scanned by one of my Ghostbusters, so it may contain psycho-reactive ectoplasm of ‘mood slime’. A nice solid bit of terrain for £5.00.

Finally, a lovely surprise for me – the Falcon Interceptor. Now, this is actually a “off-cast” (not sure if that’s the correct term). Basically, this was a model that Dave couldn’t sell, as it was mis-cast. You can’t see it from the picture, but there are a few cavities on the underside that will require filling. I’d commented that it would make an ideal alternative mode of transport for my Vin Diesel inspired Ghostbuster, especially with the tanks at the rear, but would need a light bar for the roof. Dave was already in the process of creating one of these for a new futuristic car, so Vin-Buster is now the proud owner of his very own Ecto-V8;

“It’s got, like, a cup-holder and…everything.”

He looks pretty pleased with it and it’s going to look awesome once painted in the appropriate livery.

Hopefully this post has given you an idea of how these particular items scale up against standard 28mm figures and maybe added a few items to your online or Salute shopping list.

Next time, we will definitely be back in Blackwell…