Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review, and Plans for 2012

I don't imagine my ramblings here will be of much interest to anyone but me, but I do find this to be a somewhat motivational process, so I shall indeed continue with this totally unoriginal idea.  If nothing else, I've dug out a few old photos to include that you may not have seen before. 

2011 was sort of a rebirth in the hobby for me.  I bought about ten times as many figs as in 2010, painted a couple hundred more than I bought, and played twice as many games (6, as opposed to 3 in 2010).  Still, when compared to years past, it was just not like the old days.

Some projects saw a lot of progress, like my 15mm moderns, others like Vietnam, and much of my sci-fi interests were stuck in stasis.  I've also considered that I may need to further streamline some of my interests to ever have hope of completing anything ( I purged 12 other periods a few years back).  I'm going to drop a few things to start this year, see how things progress by mid-year, and make some bigger changes if need be.

20mm Vietnam
Riverine terrain- Added palm trees and some foliage pieces.
Village- completed the two Britannia hoochs that I have.
Riverside Bunkers- Completed some research, and might have enough to build from, but no model work completed.

No progress was made on the following, so all of the following are on the slate for 2012:
The Old Church
M113 and M48- Completed, but need re-weathered due to painting mishap
Gun truck
Troop Trucks- Purchased
Also for 2012, I'll add to the list:
OV-10 Bronco- Purchased

15mm World War Two
Add decals and weather about 70 US vehicles- No progress in 2011, other than  Decals have been purchased.
For 2012:
US infantry- Fill in a few voids for my armored infantry company, and motorised infantry company.
57mm AT guns- Again to complete the armored infantry company.

15mm Modern Africa (and elsewhere)
15mm Modern Africa and 15mm modern in general is where I made my biggest gains.
T34/85- Completed master and cast and painted a company plus for modern Africa.
BTR152K- Completed last of a company of these early in the year.

M2A2- Completed casting and painted a platoon, with the rest of the company still awaiting paint.
AAV7A1-  Completed master, cast and painted enough for my Marines
ERC-90- Completed master and painted a platoon with the rest of the company awaiting paint.

Also completed:
Added around 50 15mm militia troops.
Mugabia Air defense- Completed SA8, SA9s, and a variety of towed AA guns (57mm, 23mm, 14.5mm)
T-55- Completed a company plus of T-55
PT-76- Completed a platoon of light tanks.
US Marines- Painted a company of Marines
Cuban Advisers- Painted a platoon of "advisers"
VBLs- Painted enough VBLs for a recon company
M1114 Humvees- Finally assembled and painted my own Humvees, around 25 of the various models.
Presidential Guard- Painted the Mugabian Presidential Guard, about 30 figs.
Aircraft Stands- Built my first aircraft stands.
Aircraft- Completed 2x Strikemaster, 2xG91, 2x Mig21,  and a C-47.
Uwanda Air Defense- Completed two M42 Dusters to give Uwanda some defense against against Mugabian aircraft.

For 2012:
Uwanda Helicopters- Are setting on the bench right now to be built.
Presidential palace

Panhard M3

15mm Afghanistan (Soviet-Afgan War)
DRA Infantry- Completed a platoon of Afghan troops to fight along side the Soviets.

For 2012 (still):
Gaz66 - Complete master and cast a bunch of trucks for Soviet convoys and various duties in Afghanistan and Africa. Slightly more than barely started.

28mm Science Fiction
With the exception of my post-apoc terrain, my sci-fi projects were completely ignored in 2011
Post Apocalypse Terrain - I've made great progress on this, but had to put it aside in February, and haven't been able to make any significant progress since.  I'm planning for it to be a winter project, so hopefully, I will make some headway soon.

For 2012:
"Out West Town" - Complete the buildings that I have had half done in the basement for the last two years. Think route 66.

"The Hood" - Based on part of my childhood stomping-grounds, will provide the core of an inner city for contemporary/near future/ post apoc games. Involves completing several buildings already started and adding a few more.

Some of the buildings that I started some time ago for "The Hood". 
All made of sheet styrene.

 Birdman Museum - Complete the birdman museum for the "Out West Town". The museum is inspired by those many roadside tourist trap museums that I saw as a child and will feature artifacts of the ancient "birdmen". Much to the surprise of the town's people, the birdmen will be coming for their holy relics.
Scavenger Village Expansion - Additions to my post apocalypse scavenger village will include a couple ruined  buildings/hovels, debris/junk heaps, and other various detail items for the village.
Contemporary Police Station - Build a police station for "The Hood". It may or may not double as a station for the "Out West" town.

A game set-up using some of the "scavenger village" pieces.

A close-up of one of the modular bunkers/towers. 
The whole thing comes apart allowing the bunkers and towers to
 be use separately as well

Near Future Police station - Build either a new structure or more probably a futuristic addition to the contemporary police station for various near future scenarios.

Zombies - Buy and paint the Cold War Zombies.
Wasp CS Aircraft - Build the "Wasp" close support craft that I designed a couple of years back. It was literally inspired by watching a couple of wasps that were hanging around the back porch a couple of years ago.

Beetle Utility Transport - Build the "Beetle" transport aircraft , a companion to the Wasp, for my Imperial troops. Sort of a sci-fi "Huey".

Imperial APCs - Still need to scratch-build APCs for my "Imperials".

New for 2012 (Because I don't have enough on my plate already):

The Cold War gets Hot:1977-1982
I'm a child of the Cold War, and I guess in a weird way, I miss the stability of the constant threat of nuclear incineration.  As a kid, I was aware of the threat from a fairly young age ( heck, I was 5 years old, when I began considering whether I was going to go to Vietnam or Canada, when I got drafted), but never seriously believed that the adults of the world would do something so stupid as World War III.  Silly me.  Anyway, now that it is all a memory,  I want to play out some the battles that never were. Despite being behind on everything that I wanted to do in 2011, I got a jump start on my Cold War project.  The advantage of this project is that many of my Afghan war and African items can be used in the Cold War era games (Soviet armor and infantry, older US equipment, etc) So here is were it stands and the plans for 2012.
Completed in 2011
M113A1- Master completed, company cast, platoon painted.
US Infantry- Infantry Platoon and some support units painted, missing a few figs, but basically done.

For 2012 (Vehicles involve either making a master and casting them or buying the miniatures):
Soviet MR infantry- Round out 2 Soviet MR companies
Soviet Airborne- Round out one Soviet Para company

28mm Colonial Adventure
Some years ago, I had put together a colonial era adventure game (that I simply called "Ponape") set in the Pacific, largely inspired by the movie "Nate and Hayes", greatly expanded, and with a touch of Victorian sci-fi added in.  I ran the game several times at  local HMGS conventions and at Origins once, but got put-off a bit after run-ins with the "not historical enough" crowd.  Some outside circumstances impacted my convention going opportunities about the same time, and the game has been stacked in the corner of my garage for the last 7-8 years.  I almost sold off the stuff a couple of years back.  Anyway, I think I'm going to start sorting through the stuff, give some of it a face lift, and move it from my "never played" games to my rotation of "hardly ever played" games.

An early version of "Ponape" from the native side of the island. showing the
native village, jungle, and town, and Spanish fortress in the background.

A better view of the fortress, with one of the the 28mm scratch-built ships in
the foreground.

Research Project: Kursk.
I've recently taken a particular interest in gaming Kursk in 1/285, and after poking around on TMP and elsewhere, have put together a reading list and list of other resources to go through.  I already have a large portion of the miniatures that I'd need,  so this will primarily be a terrain project if it comes to anything.

France 1940 Terrain Project 1/285:
If Kursk does not materialize, I may go back to one of my long time interests, and build one of the 1940 battlefields that I've wanted to do for so long.  Stonne is a possible target, as are six other locations. The research is done, as are the majority of miniatures.  I actually started this a few years back, ordering a bunch of micro-scale buildings, but they had so many air bubbles, that it was faster to scratch-build my own, than fix the purchased models.  I ended up getting burnt-out on the buildings, and benched the project.

Some of the 1/285 buildings that I made during my first go at a 1940 battlefield.

Though,  they weren't all on my list at the start of the year, I managed to complete 22 "projects" of varying scope during 2011.  A tremendous increase over the 6 completed in 2010.  Hopefully I can improve further on the trend for 2012. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

15mm Odds and Ends: M42, S-60, M113A1

Not getting too much done on the hobby front with with the holidays happening and all, but thought I'd post a few pics and whatnot to sort of tie up some loose ends.

First up are a couple of pics of the  Quality Castings M42 with a basic paint job:

The figure in the top photo is from Peter Pig's AK-47 line of figs.  Below is pic from overhead comparing it with a Quality Castings ZSU23/4 and a QRF ZSU-57/2.

Next up is QRF's Soviet S-60 57mm anti-aircraft gun from their Post War line of vehicles and figures.  Last I checked, QRF didn't have a photo of this on their site, so thought I'd post one.

This is actually quite a nice model, and I did not do it any justice.  It is very busy, with very nicely detailed,  finely cast parts.  It is fiddly, and I left a few pieces off, rather than break them off later.  Still, the photo gives some idea of the quality of the model itself.

Lastly, I finally added my M113A1 to my website at:

It is cast in resin and comes unpainted and unassembled in 7 pieces.  The commander's hatch can be positioned open or closed, and can be built with or without the gun-shield.  Note that the gun mount is fiddly, and that I had best success in building the model by gluing the the mount to the gun, and then gluing the gun assembly onto the commander's cupola. 

Hope everybody has a Merry Christmas and great Holiday Season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dragons for my Cold Warriors

Though I'm behind on most of my gaming projects, I ended up working ahead a little on infantry for next year's Cold War project.  For the most part I decided to use Old Glory Vietnam figs for my late 1970's US troops.  One of the things that is missing from the OG Vietnam figs (if being used in the late 1970s and early 1980s) are M47 Dragon anti-tank weapons. 

As it turns out, there are not a lot of options for M47 Dragon gunners in 15mm for these late '70s Cold Warriors.  Not too long ago, I was reminded in a post on another blog, (though it is referred to as a Command Decision fig, I think it is the QC pose)  about Quality Castings 15mm Dragon gunner figures.  The Dragon gunner is one of the poses in the Post-WWII American infantry pack captioned "Modern 1980's Infantry AT/AA Weapons. I got mine through Warweb at 24 figures for $8.00.  There were six Dragon gunners in the pack.  There are also figures with Stinger AA missile launchers, an M72 LAW rocket, a prone figure firing what I think is an AT4 on a tripod, and a kneeling spotter with binoculars.  Since they are not pictured on the Warweb or Quality Castings sites, the following three photos show the figures from the pack.

The first photo is from slightly above the figures, the last two show both sides of the figs from a directly in front of the figs.  The figures are cleanly cast and pretty well detailed.  The figures are depicted with mid 1980s PASGT helmets that replaced the M1 steel pot.

Older Quality Castings figures tend to be a little smaller than most other manufacturers figs (I have about 1200 WWII infantry from them purchased between 1988 and 1992 representing six nations).  I purchased some of the QC Modern Soviets a few years back,  mostly gun and heavy weapons crew type figures, and they were clearly shorter and  more slight than the QRF and MJ Miniatures Soviet infantry that I had.  So, I figured that I'd compare the QC Modern US infantry to other makes of  Vietnam era and modern US figs that I had.

The figures are shown front and back, and from left to right are Old Glory Modern US, Peter Pig USMC, Quality Castings  M47 Dragon Gunner(kneeling), Old Glory Vietnam US Infantry with Helmet, OG US Infantry  (might be from the Command and Weapons pack), QC Stinger gunner. 

The last fig, the QC Stinger figure is a touch shorter than the other standing figs and more slight in stature.  It is very similar to the OG modern US fig, and noticeably smaller then the Peter Pig Marine, the heftiest of the bunch (also with the bulkiest body armor and gear.

With respect to size, I don't think the Dragon gunner looks particularly bad next to the Old Glory and Peter Pig figures. As a matter of fact, I think it looks fine next to the others.  The Stinger figure might  look a touch small, but I think would pass if used with the OG modern US figs.

Originally, my intent was to do head-swaps with the Dragon gunners, replacing the QC heads with the more modern PASGT helmets with heads from Old Glory figs with M1 helmets.  But the more I looked at the QC figs, I don't think I'm going to do the head-swap. 

I assume that the Old Glory figs have the MICH helmet (though at this scale, they could be also be the PASGT).  I think they were released prior to the introduction of the ACR, but could be wrong.  The Quality Castings figure is sculpted with a PASGT  based on when they were first produced, but the  details of the helmet are not as dramatic as those of the OG helemt, and though not quite as deep, they are not tremendously different from the M1 helmet on the Vietnam figs.  Since the Dragon gunner's helmet is cast into the side of the M47 launch tube, I going to save the time of cutting away the helmet and shaping the replacement, and just paint them as late 1970s/early 1980s figs in M1s with the Mitchel pattern covers.

Hope the photos might be helpful to others.

AAR7: Uwanda Strikes Back

In Uwanda, the elections were held, and a new face became  president.  President Danganyo was a charismatic man, who stressed that leadership and decisiveness was what had been lacking in dealing with Mugabia.  Once he had assumed office and been briefed on the situation, he decided that it was time to punish the ULF for opening the door to war.

Uwanda would strike back at the ULF by destroying one of its basecamps.  A camp near the town at Objective B11 was selected, not too far inside of Mugabia in Pettu territory.  The Uwanda airforce had been overflying Mugabian airspace, almost without interruption, and had good information about the base. 

View of the camp, the Uwandan commandos enter from the left.

The attack plan was simple, Uwnadan commandos would be inserted via helicopter near the the camp, make their way there in the early morning hours under the cover of darkness, and attack at dawn.  As it turned out, the president's plan was more aggressive than the helicopter pilots, who had "difficulties" until just before daylight, only crossing the border at about the time the attack should have started.

View of the camp from the southeast.

Another view from the southwest.

Still, the Uwandan troops were inserted without incident, and moved toward the base.  Everything proceeded well, until they bumped into a foot patrol outside the camp.  The advancing Uwandans had seen the ULF patrol moving generally away from them, but the patrol suddenly changed direction, and were very surprised after a moment.  Both sides shot simultaneously, but the Uwnadans had the innitiative and hit both of the ULF fighters.   There had been sounds of gunfire through he morning, as ULF men were on the range getting in some target practice, so the alarm wasn't immediately sounded.

The ULF foot patrol.

Unfortunately, only moments later, and with the Uwandans still out of position for the attack, one of the ULF guards managed to spot movement in the underbrush.   He watched for a moment before firing his RPG; the Uwandans were still not in position.

A watchful ULF guard.

Though the Uwndans had the first casualty, they quickly made progress against the surprised and confused ULF troops, who had no real expectation to be attacked at one of their bases.  Their primary reason for guarding their base was to keep locals from stealing food and medicine.

Though there was a lot of shooting, the Uwandans didn't start taking casualties until crossing the stream at the west end of the camp.  As they made it to the emplacements around the perimeter of the camp, they were surprised by the volume of fire, and by the Mugabian army advisers that began directing the defense.

Mugabian commandos advancing into the west end of the camp.

The fight was chaotic, as  half of the Uwandans never really got into the camp, and ULF fighters were running every which way, trying to obey the Mugabians and figure out where the Uwandans were.

The Uwandans caused a great deal of damage, peppering the camp with LAW rockets, destroying a jeep and buildings, and killing most of the ULF and Mugabian leaders and officers in the process.  Unfortunately, they were taking more casualties than the plan allowed for, and they could not advance on the retreating ULF fighters.

The camp with most of the leadership dead; ULF fighters begin to retreat.

The camp housed 53 ULF fighters and 9 Mugabian advisers at the time of the attack, 22 fighters and 6 advisers were lost, as were 11 Uwandan commandos; four would be seen in a seen in a hospital, having been taken prisoner.

In the end, the battle was not seen as a success by the Uwnadans.  Their pilots were not equipped for night operations, and on the ground their luck had not been great.  Still, the raid was a useful propaganda tool, and Mugabia now had to face that they did not, and could not control their airspace.  A rush was made to procure air detection and defence systems, but little was available, and it would take months of training before these could be brought on line.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

AAR6: Enter the Separatists

This is an After Action Report for the sixth battle in my African Imagi-nation campaign.  The last AAR was:

Mugabian leadership had long supported the ULF rebels, as both parties wanted the Pettu tribal territory in  Uwanda to be re-united with the Pettu region in Mugabia.  This support consisted of both training and the supply of small arms and ammunition.  As the conflict between Uwanda and Mugabia heated up, regular conveys began visiting the rebel training camps.

While the ULF rebels were getting support from Mugabia, the Separatists were not.  A sub-group of the Pettu people, their goal was to free followers of their faith from the control of both  Uwanda and Mugabia, and they burdened both nations equally.  Without support, access to weapons was limited, so the Separatist leader authorized more aggressive actions to rectify the problem.

Akida had been selected for this important mission because of his training in the colonial militia before the independence of Mugabia.  A natural leader with good tactical vision, he was one of the brightest stars in the Separatist forces.

A view looking east, the Mugabian convey has just entered the table.
Separatist forces are in the woods to the left of the "S" curve.

The action was to be an ambush of the Mugabian weapons convoy to the ULF camp.  Though the convoys had escort by light armor and/or troops, thus far, they had met no resistance, and the Mugabians were expected to be complacent.  The plan was simple, destroy the escort, take the supplies.

A view looking west, as the lead AML60 saw things. 
The Separatists are ahead in the forest to the right.

Akida took 20 men for the Ambush,  if the convey was typical, they would let the lead armored car pass, destroy the infantry leading the trucks and  that following the trucks to trap them, kill any resistance, and take the supplies.

Separatist fighters from Rebel Miniatures

" Ahh, the convoy is as we expected.  Abdu is a good shot, this should go well.  Here they come. Let them pass...wait...armored car...wait...infantry carrier...wai...what is he doing? Not yet! Not yet!"

The lead AML60 as the convey proceeds through the "S" turn.

Abdu fired his RPG true, and hit the side of the BTR-60 just before it got to him.  Unfortunately, this put the convey too far east, and put the trailing armored car almost out of range of the other RPG gunner.    The hit was catastrophic, destroying the APC, and killing or injuring three quarters of the squad inside.  Those that could, bailed out, and immediately found themselves in a barrage of small arms fire.  Meanwhile, the rest of the separatists opened up on the convey, trying to immobilize the trucks.

The BTR60 is hit too soon by the RPG7 gunner.

Up ahead the lead AML60 turned around and began peppering the RPG launch pointed with 60mm rounds.  At the rear of the column, the separatist RPG gunner missed the trailing AML60, who in turn did not.

As seen from the trailing AML60,  ULF fighters disembark to engage Separatists in the forest to the right.

From this point, a gruesome exchange of small arms and 60mm fire, all at close range, killed and wounded most troops on both sides.  ULF fighters bailed out of the last truck,  surprising the Separatists, and adding to the carnage.  The Separatist reserve of six men moved toward the rear of the column, one of them found the RPG, still in serviceable condition, and hit the rear AML60.

The ULF fighters as seen by the Separatists.

At the front of the column, the AML60 and RPG gunner exchanged misses for a little while, before mutually annihilating each other.  Akida was hit in the process, and though he would live, would fight no more battles.

The Mugabian infantry were quickly killed, as were half of the rebels, whose surviving forces ran into the jungle.  The separatists probably would have broke as well, but the fight happened so fast, that they didn't have a chance to retreat.

Towards the end of shooting,  just before the ULF fighters retreat into the forest.

Suddenly it was quiet, and only the cracking fire and moaning of injured men was heard.  Only five separatists were left unhurt, out of the original 21 men.  Four ULF rebels lay dead, as did 9 of the Mugabia infantry; two were still alive, but badly wounded.  Dogo decided that they would live, should God will it, and that the Separatists had better get on with their own business.

Originally, the plan was to take only what they could carry, but there were eight wounded separatist fighters.  They loaded supplies and the injured into the former rebel truck, the only vehicle still serviceable.

As they left, Dogo thought, "If this is victory, I do not wish to experience defeat."

When word of the Separatist attack reached the Mugabian leadership, they were outraged.  This had not happened before, Uwanda must be behind it.  They would pay, for attacks in Mugabian territory would not be tolerated.