Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Monday, 27 January 2014

Giveaway Loki Style

I really don't want to tell you but Loki is having a rather excellent Giveaway over at the Great Hall with a great selection of prizes. Keep your hands off Napoleon though, I want's him I do, my precious. Oh and a few boobs are also on view but lease don't touch. 

Kickstarter Monday

It's kind of funny as both the Kickstarter's that I backed have reported updates on the same day for the last two updates. After I reported the points that both seemed to share in common they have since stated to show two rather different stories. 

Baker Company have for instance sent out around 160 parcels over last week and today and whilst still way behind schedule (still do not have their own casting machine back up and running) are working hard on getting as much out as possible and even have started work (externally) on the next Kickstarter, that being the Balkan's during WWII something that appeals to me and something I am likely to back again so as you can see my confidence is growing in this one.

Red Republic Games also are making progress but one month into their last extended deadline (1st Quarter of 2014 release) has now been replaced with no deadline offered. Simply they are unsure when they will be releasing their figures.

A quick look at the chart above will tell you why. 16 models are either in hand or in production. The other 20 are not, so given the time scale they have worked to this point it's fair to assume that the figures may not be ready in 2014!!! Seven of those twenty are at least at the caster for prototypes and if all goes well then may well be ready in this quarter. Only two more are advanced enough to possibly be done in this quarter but ten are Sculpt In Progress. I have see some of these and they look reasonably along the way but I doubt the figures, rules and other items have much chance of arriving before they are a year plus overdue. 

The good news is that I am more confident on this happening at some point than I was a couple of months ago. I don't mind waiting as it's not a project that is at the top of my list and was looking to be a bit of a distraction if it arrived around now. A distraction it will be as the figures look excellent and need to soak up a lot of tie to do them justice. I even think removing unrealistic release dates is a positive move, what worries me is that they may have thought the date was realistic. I at the time blogged that I would be surprised if they made first quarter and that I was so right about. The figures though are just lovely and when they do arrive will make a big splash.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Snipers of Stalingrad ASL Style

As you already know, I had some Snow Effects for Christmas and wanted to have another go with them and had promised a fellow ASL player a set of Stalingrad Deluxe Snipers, that was well over a year ago but I have finally started work on them and this is the result of the Russian.

This is not the base I showed the start of a few weeks ago, that is for the bonus round in the painting challenge. Timing has never been my strong suit so here you find me spending hours on just the one figure rather than getting the lead out but I don't mind at all as I have been having a blast and indeed I can feel my painting batteries recharging as I go.

The power lines and pole are all fully scratch built. The pole being two paintbrush handles with balsa added to one pole with brass pin heads pushed in. Fuse wire then makes up the cables painted Black Grey with bits showing through silver. The walls and pavement are Linka again with Model Display Product clay bricks added for the loose bricks, often broken into pieces to keep to scale with the undersized Linka.

To sink the base of the figure into something I made a door (see the door knob?) cutting out a section and then later covering with snow allowing it to escape easy detection. This was pinned to a stack of bricks and also gives the needed height. I used an old business card to add wallpaper and hide all the joins in the wall pieces.

I draped a loose power cable into the building to give the impression that a fair sized part of the roof and upper floors were missing to help explain the snow in the room. I like how the wall has come out looking really dirty without looking over worked, one of the few times I stepped away from a process without wishing I had done it sooner.

On standard Sniper Reminders, the figure is the main attraction but on these they tend to take second place to the scene you are trying to set. So far I have only done a total of four of these and right from the start I planned never to repeat a scene so these are certainly one off's. I may use the downed power line again but never in the same way. 

The window is from a pack provided by Warbases and is in fact two separate windows. One I have cut most of the window sections out and the other I have shaved the corner off one third of the second window and stuck in to give the imprecision of an open window that fits the frame. 

Again I have used snow effects to cover up joints and help set the scene, I really like the snow effects and will be getting a lot of use out of them when the Baker Company Kickstarter items start to arrive.

Hopefully the customer will like him and it will bring him luck when he play's, well unless I ever get to play opposite him LOL.

So all in all a very fun distraction that was more of a modelling exercise than paint up. I have another one for Stalingrad to do, this being the German and one in France in the Bocage both of which have the figures almost finished and I know what I plan to do for the bases so it's just putting them into reality.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Building of the Week Timber Shack and Block House

Yes a double header this week. These are two of the new buildings that Leven Miniatures are previewing on their Website. Both are also part of a fairly large expansion of the ACW range which should be very welcome news to some of my followers.

Lets start with the Timber Shack (ACW07) this has a covered area leaving the entrance in shadow (it was REALLY raining so took the shots on my painting desk). It's an all wood affair and a reasonable length running at 48mm and has lots of angles.

I don't see many uses for this building outside of America so have no plans for buying any of these for myself (these are being painted up for Mikes own use). However it's a nice building to work on.

As you can see it's full of interesting angles and also a new feature, that of a plastic (?) chimney that allows it to be a nice thin round piece that will not break off as would a resin piece would of the same thickness.

So another good looking building for Leven to add to the range and one that I suspect will see a lot of sales. Indeed Leven have been very busy this last few months and I have a lot os their farm buildings and outbuildings to buy during this year.

The roof shot gives you an idea of the different aspects this building has. I would love to see a farmhouse in stone with the same format, especially one clearly showing different stone work so it would look to have been extended. 

The Blockhouse (ACW06) by comparison is by definition a rather square, there is not a lot you can do with a square block like structure but still Mike manages to inject the required feel he has in all his buildings and again whilst it's not a building I will be adding to my collection it's still a good looking piece, just the wrong wars for me.

The other two sides are a repeat of the none door side to the point they have the windows all in the same positions but the timber work is not identical. Sure a small detail but it makes such a difference.

Here we have both buildings for scale. I can't be sure when Mike will release the buildings but I am thinking it could be as early as February. I have four more buildings from this range at various stages of painting and hope to have them all finished and on the blog over the next two weeks. I then have the other buildings that Leven will be releasing to do and will try and get all of the on the blog over the next six or so weeks which has got me thinking. Well we all like a challenge so I am considering trying to get 100 buildings all painted in 2014, what do you think, can I? Should I? As always at the start, it seems a good idea to me.

Friday, 24 January 2014

StuG's for the Bonus

The bonus round was vehicles and I was one of those unimaginative ones who went with we a vehicle ;-) or as it turned out three of them. My mate Lee, ever thoughtful supplied the three StuG's for my painting pleasure. I will admit I was more than a little under pressure having not painted a German vehicle since about the age of 17, that's 30 years ago almost. That last German tank was really bad as well.

These are three plastic models from the Open Fire set released by Battlefront as a starter set to get more wargamers (and Fantasy Converts I think) to have a go. It certainly comes with a lot of kit and represents good value for money, though generally that's not something you hear about most of the Battlefront models as they seem to be priced at a premium but unlike GW you have a lot more choice in who to get your figures and models from.

Here are all three parading over the table. That night they gave great service with them taking out most of the American armour for the loss of just one StuG. One thing that grates on me was the fact it was just as easy to hit as a Sherman which has a much higher silhouette. One of many fixes to make the game play faster but experienced tread heads know is wrong, oh well.

In the end I was quite pleased with the result and can see me painting more stuff up in the future though it's probably going to be Russian as they have the most stuff and it would help Lee out with the amount he will want to put out on the table. That is of course if we settle into the rules. With all the 28mm we have coming though as well as the need to paint up all the figures for Waterloo I can see this being intermittent at best.

Worse still not only will my painting time be reduced over the coming 20+ days but I have already had to say no to a couple of wargame opportunities as I have to give the time to a mix of family and work, hopefully things settle down before March arrives.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

28mm Sniper Reminders - The New Batch

It's been about a week since these were shown on Curt's blog so I guess it's safe to show them now  ;-) I have to admit that I am struggling with time to blog, paint and do the normal stuff. My working day has me in near constant contact with China, especially the morning when I am either on Skype or traditional phone trying to get information or more often items in my mitts. Right now it's crazy daft as The Chinese New Year looms (31st January) and that means no new shiny for six weeks so it's very hectic and lots of working late or more often very early starts (China is eight hours ahead) meaning I am busted for the evening. Worse still I have a trade show coming up in the UK where I am away for five nights then it's off to Frankfurt the following day for four days so I am guessing I won't be doing much painting, oh um.

But I have managed to turn out some figures at least. these are all Black Tree Miniatures unless I say otherwise. I have to admit to being very happy with the quality of their figures and the level of detail they add to their figures. I am planning on salting away money every month till they have another 50% discount and then I am going to order big as they so rarely disappoint on quality.

As you can see, you often get a lot of kit to paint, no basic sculpting job here. However they have a few niggles. With a lot of the figures you get a mixed selection so often it includes lying down figures and with the Russian's a mix of summer and winter uniforms. I don't know about the mixed uniform but I asked for no lying down in my last order and was rewarded with standing and kneeling only so it's quite possible you would get the same level of service with uniform. Certainly I would have no qualms ordering the army deal with a few requests in an attempt to get what I required.

These paint up reasonably fast and the paint flows well allowing the folds of the uniform to come to light. The guy on the right looks a right slow burner, the body language and expression on his face really make you think he is having real trouble reloading that rifle, maybe he was the one who had to pick up the rifle?

Again just lovely looking figures and plenty to get your teeth into. The range is reasonably large so you can get a lot of figures without worrying about too many repeats.

The stars on the caps are soft enough that you can ignore them, or simply file the detail off but here I painted it on. The figure on the left is my favourite of this batch and I am tempted to keep him. I am looking forward to seeing how the Baker Company early Russians size up in case I can mix some of the Blacktree into them if required.

The tufts are all the Tajima1 ones I blogged about around a week ago but I have mixed up the sizes and I am as happy with these as I was with the earlier ones I have used on the 6 and 15mm figures.

Here we have the one Artizan figure (I think) on the left and I have had a go with the Scenic Snow by Deluxe Materials that I blogged about just after Christmas. I am planning on doing the Winter War miniatures with a similar amount of snow on the base as these as it looks more interesting than full snow and looks better for it as well I think.

Just the one on the right has winter clothes with the other having to mate do with a fur hat, at least he has better kit than the poor Germans.

The last three are all in snow smocks and so I added more snow effects to their bases but I don't think it carries as well. I enjoyed doing various white tones to the smocks and in real life you can see the different shades that bit better.

The true winter figures were actually Sniper sets and not in the normal mix and I have painted some of these with the brown sniper outfit in the past so they work both ways anyway.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Kids Go Western AAR

The kids finally got time to get down and dirty with the cowboys and they were really happy to have a go. My daughter picked the bad guys for her team and my son was happy to be the good guys, after all the good guys always win.....right?

The rules are Dave D's Blazing Dice available as a free download from his great A Town Names Serenity blog

Anyway after several turns of running from one side of the street to the other, rather than closing with each other, they finally decided to try going down main street.

One of the bad guys was killed with a shot to the chest whilst the Sheriff took a flesh wound to the arm, things look bad for the bad guys as they face five townsmen.

Two bad guys take shelter in a building, one with a rifle takes up position in the window, will it be enough. At this point both kids were having a wonderful time, and were doing their own measuring and remembering how many dice, well most of the time.

With all his men in the street my son decided he wanted to protect the wounded guy and moved him into a building. Unfortunately he did not move him to a window so it was just like he had lost a man.

A turn later and both had another one down with serious wounds, would they be able to get back up and into the game?

Well it was so much fun watching the kids have so much fun I forgot to take more shots. The bad guys lost the gunfight in the house on the right, though the winner was lightly wounded. Things turned in the favour of the bad guys when the guy with the shotgun opened up. Even though the severity of the hit drops one my girl seemed to know when to roll a six. Add to that she seemed only able to hit the chest and soon lots of good guys were hitting the deck. In the end the two guys in the building got away leaving only one townsman on his feet. It was past bed time but they went to bed happy and demanding more. My mission is done  ;-)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Building of the Week Leven Large Town House

Could not quite get any of the new Leven Miniatures buildings finished in time for today so dashed off a quick long standing building off, this being HOU01 Large Town House at £2.00 Even by Leven standards this one's good value. I have now painted three of this building up and all three look different with this one being painted in stone. 

My excuse for not getting the new stuff painted? Well my son went to a party this lunch so have been entertaining my daughter. A little painting of figures followed by the latest Chipmunk film and then back to painting. In a short while it's out with the cowboys and so I guess my painting will have to wait till they have gone to bed.

So I got this one out of the pile and quickly added some paint, as you can see it does not take much to turn out a reasonably painted building from a Leven casting. All told less than 20 minutes, though I have yet to base it for my town.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Chatter Behind The Bike Sheds - Profits Are Down

Over at Trouble At T'Mill a nice little chatter has been prompted by Mike's reporting of Game Workshops reduced profits. It's fair to say that the majority of the comments are from people rather enjoying Games Workshops troubles. Lets face it though, how many Wargames Companies would give their back teeth to be as profitable as GW is now, never mind two years ago etc etc.?

Games Workshop remains an extremely successful company who has made millions on a business model that is as clever as it's ruthless. It's worked for decades and it's possible with a little tweaking it can run for a few more. The question though is the downturn in part, or even in total down to the recent tweaks? 

One Man stores for instance could be a major factor. Of course this does not mean that only one staff member is employed, rather it's ran with just one staff in at a time. Lots of issues here. First up security for both staff and product but also customers. Games Workshop sell mostly to younger customers, these tend to be cash rich and what's more too often it's ready cash. GW sell items at slightly (cough) inflated prices. These cash rich customers have until recently been coughing up the money no problem making the stores high on the cash holding side, perfect for the walk in and demand money by menace thieves. Why not, after all it's ONE member of staff and maybe a few kids, it's not going to be a tough job. Expect them getting hit as word spreads and I suspect it will.

Another bigger issue (for profits) is that less events can be ran, less interest from the now reduced staff who's morale will be dropping as holiday cover, illness cover and all the extra duties combine to lower the will to go that extra mile. Events and energised staff sell product, they have less of both now, maybe the same number of events but they will be worse ran.

Lets not be hasty and blame it all on the madness that is one man shops. How about that decision to limit who can sell GW products, including pulling the plug on your favourite hobby store when GW come to town? Or  stopping supplying the on-line store where you got those great discounts? Hell I know, whilst were at it lets have some products that you can only buy from us? Yes GW has always cared what it's customers think of them, well they would if they did not expect them to spend like crazy for 18 months before finding girls and giving up on the hobby.

Whilst were going down the road of looking ugly in the face, figure quality V price. Yes lets look ugly! As much as you would have stood on your historical high-ground and looked down on all that Fantasy malarkey you had to give it to GW they knew how to cast even if they also knew how to charge. Don't get me wrong they still make some excellent figures with excellent quality but boy do they produce some shit! Unfortunately the price tag remains the same. Finecast has been a big PR ball drop. Whilst other companies have amazed with what you can do with resin, GW seems to amaze with what they are willing to churn out. 

The only company that can have a price war with the rest of the hobby thinking that raising the prices at inflation dwarfing rates is the winner! Linked to quality issues you can see why gamers start to look elsewhere for other options for their figures.

All these things can and will contribute to their problems of the moment and all of them could be at least to a point reversed and a turn round in sales possible. However another reason has been that the target audience is turning their backs on tabletop games in favour of the digital. Really? Are you telling me something new has come onto the marketplace? I will except that it's possible a sliver of new punters have found it impossible to find the GW shops from the glow of their consol's but no I reject that's the real reason. Can anyone say Flames of War?

The new kid on the block rocks, what's more you can get into playing for a lot less than you need to spend for any of the GW options. Of course it also is a whole in the table that you can sink a fortune into and the new gamers are doing just this. I think Dad's will also encourage this direction over Space Marines etc. for the veneer of history and Dad's memories of Airfix.

It would be interesting to see Battlefronts profit return for the last six month's, I have a hunch it's all about growth. So will GW recover their market share? I have my doubts, how many clubs the kids go to are based in schools? I bet the school on learning about FoW would be more comfortable about a WWII game than one with Orcs and dark magic - well at least till the SS start being plonked on the table  ;-)

GW needs to start looking at ways to regain those new customers who are being drawn into FoW and try and retain the customers they do have. How many are starting with GW and then being drawn into this other cool game?

Expect GW to do something WWII related, maybe Woflestien style, of course it may be five or ten years time before they start suing Veteran Associations for copyright breach for them using their old regements names or numbers, but that my friends is another chat.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Base Work

Well in the middle of the painting challenge and suddenly slowed right down as I build a rather large base for a sniper reminder. This one will be set in Stalingrad and it has me testing a few ideas as well as expanding a few methods I learnt about a year ago.

Using my old favourite Linka I am building pavements and walls. In the foreground is the floorboards, at this point just a sheet of balsa.

The window was originally a Warbases full window but I like to smash them up a bit as you can see. These are surprisingly strong but reward the effort with realistic damage when attacked with scalpel and pliers.

I also added some of the Model Display Products (MDP) bricks to the base, though I was to add more at stage two. The bricks are oversized when used with Linka but most of them were reduced in size before being added.

The balsa in place to check the fitting. You can see from the cut out where the figure will be seated, saves cutting him off the base.

Something that really made me happy was that I was able to use the vice my Dad had made in this project. Sometimes I really miss him such as these as I never got to show him that I have become something of a model maker like he used to be and so little pleasures like this have to be taken when possible.

Basic painting job and some more landscaping to follow, and hopefully before the weekend some more figures entered into the Challenge.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Black Scorpion Cowboys

It's been a long time since I last painted a cowboy figure. In fact it's been over thirty years but given the fee for the Painting Challenge I had reason to wave a brush at a few just because.

First up is the entry fee, this was actually from one of the Tombstone packs rather than a stand alone figure. It was kind of funny as I did not select a figure for Curt, rather I realised part way through that this one was going to be sent as I painted him. By far he is the most colourful of the lot.

I also bought the outlaw pack, though surprised there is only the one pack. I painted all of these with the same colour long coat to identify them. These will be used by my daughter in games she will be playing against her brother, that should be fun.

Some of these guys are packing serious hand cannons though the one with the shotgun is more like me. They were relatively quick to paint. Dave D recommended the Black Scorpion figures and I was pleased he did as they are a joy to paint.

My son needed something to take on his sister so here they are. A more mixed bag with the figure on the far left an extra Lawman figure I bought as a single with a separate arm. I am really hoping the kids like playing cowboys and will be using Dave D's rules for the games. If all goes well, the future will have more cowboys in it. Well it's assured really as Lee want's a go with them after playing at Blog Con. 

So thanks to the challenge and Blog-Con I am at the start of a new diversion, so it's still early January and it looks like I have two new periods to add to the one new I started last year, well bought into last year at any rate.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Somewhere in Belgium a FoW AAR

Yes really, I have played a game of Flames of War, and it certainly had it's moments. I went into the game as open minded as I could manage and whilst I looked forward to it I was not expecting too much Indeed we had been chatting at what other rules we would  be able to use with the figures based as they were!

I arrived to find Lee in the middle of finishing putting together the last of the three building bases we were to use. He still had a row of three semi derelict to make up that was not going to be ready in time. Lee had been out that day to Caliver Books to buy them as the 20mm buildings were too much of a stretch to be of use.

Lee also bought a load of walls and fences also 4Ground and a bunch of hedges and barbed wire that both of us felt was rather over priced and not really finished, though Lee just wanted new shiny for the game. Our final thoughts on the subject, 4Ground good, Battlefield in a Box, er not and expensive to boot.

So with Lee spilling well over £100 on the day for terrain the pressure was on to come out of the day with something positive, no pressure then LOL.

I got my first reinforcements before Lee got his. In may case three StuG's I had the idea that these would be able to hold the American's in place whilst my all infantry force attacked on the left flank via a wheat field and woods.

All this was based on no knowledge of the rules or how powerful each sides troops were but based on many years of playing ASL. Note the force working it's way through the corn.

I was advancing directly into the face of four HMG's (at this point anyone who has played this game will be wincing). In my defence my 81Mtr's were missing with my hoped for smoke.

The result was as brutal as it was predictable but lead to rant number one. I was facing MG fire of 24 D6 dice that hit on a 4! It was a slaughter. This in my mind at the time and still remains lodged is way to powerful. If it gets to fire under this sort of situation it's very rare it's opponent won't me mashed and this is far worse when they are in bulletproof cover as return fire is far less likely to get kills. We need to play more games to get the feel for it fully but at the moment it's a major concern.

In an attempt to try the rules, Lee moved five Stuarts onto the hill facing me only to find their guns could not penetrate my StuG's front armour. On the other hand my StuG's had no problem punching through theres. I took out four in one round leaving the commander to run for cover after passing his morale check.

Lee on his next reinforcement brought on the Sherman's (5) in an attempt to get revenge. Rather than rant I just paid note of another difference to ASL. A Sherman and StuG are classed the same as each other for purpose of ease of hitting or being hit whilst ASL has the StuG slightly harder to hit than the average and the Sherman one easier but then again it's a 2D6 rather than 1D6 system but it rankled a little. More of an issue is that a moving vehicle gets to fire on a stationary enemy before that unit gets to fire and has the same to hit as if it was stationary, though in most cases gets less dice to throw.

My last reinforcements finally arrive and have a long march to the battle and indeed never got there. On the other hand my StuG's and PzIV's had polished off all but one of the Sherman's whilst only losing the one StuG.

Meanwhile my HMG's, 81Mtr's and two PzIV's had taken out two American HMG's and pinned the rest. I now had far more fire going into the town than coinmg out though I did lose a HMG just before an American rifle platoon were driven back.

When we called the game, Lee still held the whole line but was facing overwhelming fire and had to expect my Pz'IV's turning the flank and hunting down the last tanks. We preferred to dissect the rules than pay a few more turns.

So our thoughts?
It's a quick play game system with a veneer of chrome to make it WWII. But it works well enough if you don't peer too closely. Not that we think it necessary works well. We won't be playing competitively so won't be looking at how to get the most out of our points.
The HMG's seem to powerful, especially when defending in bulletproof cover vr's attacking in softer cover. But we need to play more before thinking of doing something about that.

Lines of tanks. I hate it, but it happened in our game. Very much in part to the short command radius, that's something I would like to see increased to see if that encourager to break up tank platoons more.

Terrain, we need more, I think the table needs lots of objects to break up the battlefield so both sides have to use it better.

All in all a better experience than I had expected and something I am really keen on having another go at. At this point I won't be buying any kit for this but once I have my mountain reduced I will probably get into it to a point. I think my buying and painting up a load of Russians would be good for the cause, given how any are required it may well help Lee out of selling the house to buy all he needs but first things first, those French and Prussian Naps.