Thursday, February 27, 2014

Don't Ever Sell Anything, AKA, My Fun With PicoArmor


First off, please understand these are a work in progress, not finished troops, but I was so excited by how they're turning out I felt like hanging them here to show everyone.  So, I'm starting a new project, this time in 3mm.  I know what you're thinking: Jack, you have all those beautiful (yuk yuk) 10mm armies, why on earth would you ever want to use a different scale?

Well, as it turns out, Mrs. Jack is over halfway pregnant, with another little Prince on orders to report in this summer.  What does that have to do with 10mm and 3mm armies?  Well, I could be wrong, but more than likely these developments mean I will be spending a lot less time painting and playing, and when I am playing, odds are that stepping upstairs for 3 to 5 hours to my playroom probably won't go over very well.

I don't have everything figured out exactly, but my plan is based on the very successful "drawer gaming" of my good friend, Mr. Shaun Travers.  My plan is to have a 2' x 2' playing area and two armies, assorted terrain, dice, rules, etc..., that I can play on my living room coffee table and store in a drawer of said coffee table.

I haven't figured out what I'm going to do about rules yet.  I'm pondering using my "Insurgent Commander" rules, a variation of Cold War Commander, a variation of IABSM, a variation of Chain of Command, or using my (as yet) unnamed (and unpublished) rules I was using for my "All Americans" campaign.  Knowing me, the rules will end up an amalgamation of all of them.  What I do know is the games will be modern, small (maybe a dozen stands per side), solo (as always), and 'skirmish' level, meaning one vehicle is one vehicle and one infantry stand is a 4-5 man rifle or weapons team.

Regarding the statement, "Don't Sell Anything," my very first miniatures purchase was from PicoArmor.  I bought quite a bit of modern US and USSR for some "Team Yankee"-type games, and my father and I got in quite a few games in the garage using a modification of Blitzkrieg Commander.  I then bought quite a bit of WWII stuff, and we had a few games of that.  Then I got into 10mm (I'm purposefully leaving out my first and second forays into 15mm, which cost me quite a bit of money and is sitting, uncherished in the garage), and all my Pico Armor (minus my sizeable collection of aircraft) sat in the garage.  Someone on TMP was looking for some, and so I sold off my 3mm collection.

Then the pregnancy happened and I began thinking of how to do something portable.  I started looking around in my various boxes of odds and ends and. lo and behold, I found five M-1 tanks, 10 T-72s, and 15 BTR-60s (not sure how these escaped the load I sold off).  I painted glued them to pennies, sprayed them black, then set about painting them up, and I like what I see!  Convinced I was on to something, I put in a pretty decent sized order to John at Pico Armor, and just received them in the mail today.

So, what do I have/plan to do?  Mostly a bunch of hypothetical stuff, with a tiny bit of historical thrown in.

1.  I want to do some 'what-if' stuff with a Marine 'super' MEU set during the 90s.  My very limited background is that, following the Gulf War the US military did an even greater draw-down than occurred in real-life, so there's only one USMC MEU floating around (as opposed to the usual three at any given time), so my guys will be reacting to various catastrophes, cataclysms, and earth shattering events, worldwide.   I bought tanks, AAVs, HMMWVs with TOWs and HMGs, infantry, CH-46s, a UH-1, and two AH-1s (I already have F-18s if I need them, would really like a couple AV-8s), will paint half in NATO 3-color and the other half in desert colors.  I got a bunch of T-72s, BMPs, BTRs, assorted AA/SAM/Recon/ATGM, then a few Technicals and armored cars for Third World/asymmetric to run against them, both 'green' and desert.

2.  I want to do a 'what-if' of Germany vs. USSR, not a NATO vs. Warsaw Pact, but kind of a "Germany goes it alone against its historical enemy," with Leopards, Marders, Fuchs, Gepard, etc...  Bad guys will be the 'green' Warsaw Pact equipment above.

3.  Then I decided for a little historical stuff, but still in a goofy/fun way: I bought five M-48s and five Shot-Kals (Centurions), and my plan is to play some Arab-Israeli stuff during the Yom Kippur War, with a friendly little rivalry between two Israeli platoon commanders to see who can take out more Syrian and Egyptian tanks.  I know it's goofy, but it's mine.  Bad guys will be 'desert' Warsaw Pact equipment above.

Okay, you've waited long enough, here's some pics.  Again, these aren't perfect/finished, just some test jobs I did to see if I liked the look.

A platoon of five M-1 Abrams.  I love it!  24 inches by 24 inches on the coffee table, with little tanks popping off at other little tanks, it's gonna work like a charm.

And did I mention that's 3mm!  I won't say I'm a good painter (obvious by the white showing on my ballast), but this proves I'm a much better painter than I use to be.  Sorry, just a bit too proud of myself.

Pic from the fore.  Again, you can really see the ballast that I failed to get with the paintbrush, but overall I like the effect.  I glued the minis to pennies, spray-painted the whole mess black, painted the minis, white-glued ballast on, then painted it (you can see I used different shades of green, think I like the back left one the most).

Another look.  Sorry for pics of the same stuff, I don't have that many in suitable condition for photo-ing.

A T-72 (right) and BTR-60 (left).  I like the basing, and the camo turned out great.  You can see I use a dot of light blue for windows and sensors/optics, and silver for machine guns.

Another look.

Another 'green' version of the T-72, though I haven't put the light blue or silver on this one yet.

Opposite.  Well, I actually painted up a T-72 and BTR-60 in desert colors, and I think they look pretty good, too, though I apparently didn't take any pics of them...  Don't fret, this is just my first 'WIP' set of photos, I'll get proper photos up when they're done.

Stay tuned, I'm looking to do less painting and more gaming this weekend.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

For My Dear Mssrs Ronan and Le Manchou


This is the last of the armies I have finished, though I do have a work-in-progress that I'm going to photo and hang here tomorrow.  So, without further adieu, here is my latest army; and what are they?  They are Early War French, circa 1940.  What was the inspiration for this army?  I must tell you that I previously had very little interest in Early War, and even less interest in having a French force.  But my friends Ronan and Le Manchou have been putting on a campaign featuring France vs. Germany in 1940, using the Lardies' Chain of Command rules.  I've really enjoyed reading the battle reports Ronan has posted, which piqued my interest in Early War.  To be honest, I still wasn't particularly interested in the French, figuring any attraction to them was strictly due to the fun and interesting batreps.  But I began reading up on Early War, and the more I read the more I saw the French troops are generally given short shrift regarding their fight against the Germans, and that, contrary to popular belief, there was actually some very heavy, pitched fighting that occurred.  Well, that was enough for me, so I must give a hearty "Merci Beaucoups" to my friends across the ocean for sparking my interest.

As always they are 10mm, and this particular force is 100% Minifigs.  It's funny; pretty much everything I own is either Pendraken or Minifigs.  I have a good amount of troops from both, and in some cases, I happily mix the two.  Most importantly, I've found Leon and Dave to both be great guys that go out of their way to help you out and get you what you need.  So, the funny thing is, whenever I post a new army I always feel a bit self-conscious if the force in question is available from both companies.  There's no problem if I get something from Pendraken that Minifigs doesn't have, or vice versa; the internal stress comes when I buy something all from one company even though both companies have troops to offer.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, I love you both! ;)

Having said all that, I went with Minifigs' French because my Early War Germans (as well as Soviets, Japanese, US Marines, and Brits, for that matter) are Minifigs, whilst my Late-War Germans (and US, Brit Airborne, Brit 8th Army, German Afrika Korps, US Ardennes, and German Ardennes) are Pendraken.  My moderns are mostly Minifigs, largely due to Pendraken just now getting around to the Post-Vietnam period.

The entire force: armor on the left, with a single Char B, two Somuas, and three R35 tanks.  Heavy Weapons and HQ in the center, with five officers, a 75mm gun and horse-drawn tow, two 25mm AT guns, four MGs, three mortars, and three AT rifles.  On the right are the infantry, with my customary fifteen stands of riflemen.

The armor force, with R35's in the front, Char B at top left, Somuas at top right.

Another view.  I'm not in love with my camo job on the Char B...

But I like the camo on the Somuas...

And I love the camo I put on the R35s.

This photo reminds me that I lied...  It's not 100% Minifigs, because I put a Pendraken tank commander on one of the R35s and on the Char B.

Closeup of Somuas.

The Char B.

Showing off the tank commander, which is actually a Brit.  I put brown on them, trying to make it look like the leather jackets and helmets they wore, but I'm not sure it worked very well.

Heavy Wpns and Officers.

The French '75.'

25mm ATGs.

French MGs.

AT rifles.

81mm mortars.

The French officers.  Not sure what color the kepis should be, I used a sand color.

The infantry.  Five platoons of three squads.

Another view.


Some closeups.  This one really irks me; the gent second from right (with binos) was meant to be an officer, but I was one rifleman short, so he went on a rifle stand...

More rifles.

And another set of rifles.  I really like the poses, and the castings are fantastic, very crisp, detail is great.  I'm really proud of these little guys.  I won't say they're the best paint job I've done, but I sure spent a lot of time on them, using quite a few colors, despite them not even having camo uniforms!

Well, one more set of photos to go, then I need to get some fightin' in this weekend, so stand by for more!


Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Friendly Faces, AKA, Perplakistani Gov't Troops


I've been yearning for some Perplakistani Government troops, both to fight alongside the Legionnaires, as well as perform services as potential turncoats, and so I got these guys finished up.  As always they are a little spout of 10mm goodness, in this case entirely from Pendraken.  I used a bunch of the Aussies from the Vietnam range, and I also used the RPG gunner with bush hat from the Vietnam range.  I used my normal, patented desert basing scheme, but instead of using bushes I used tufts, and I think they turned out pretty well.  I also used a more orangey-color for the bases, as opposed to the normal desert sand color.  I really like how these guys turned out.

I can see using these for a whole host different forces in modern/semi-modern Africa, so pay attention all you "AK-47" fiends.

The whole force, with eight officers and fifteen rifle stands.

Side view.


And now for some closeups.  I really need to stop being so lazy and clean up the sides of the bases...  Here's a couple of the Aussie officers.  The Aussie figures are really perfect, what with the bush hats, light web gear, and the FNs, though there are a few M-16s sprinkled in.  Actually, there's some kind of SMG sprinkled in too, looks kind of like a Sterling.

A rifle base, sporting two poses with M-16s and two with FNs.

Ugh...  Sorry for the blur.  At far left you can see the RPG gunner.  Not sure why I put yellow on the nose; just wanted a bit of color I suppose...

Another rifle stand, with M-16 on far left, RPG center right.

Because of the various projects I have going on, I split a few guys off and did up some singly based troops.

Another look.  I have this idea for some modern Special Operations type-stuff that I want to use these guys for (as targets).

Another look.

Complete with the sentry and puppy that needs to be put down.  Dammit, I meant to put some black on the dog, not just leave him brown...

Other side of the dog and handler.

Well, another force completed.  I've got quite a collection going on; my wife says it's a sickness.  She might be right...


Last of the Tumorians...


I finally finished up the last of my Tumorian troops.  As with the Tumorian regulars, I used some Minifigs NVA I had lying around, though this time I didn't mix in any Arab Insurgents.  I painted them in the same uniform as the regulars, then gave them black shirts.  I can't say I'm perfectly happy with how they turned out; I tried a couple different things, mostly with dark blues, i.e., tried a blue shirt, tried black shirt with blue trouser, etc..., but nothing really sat that well with me, so I stuck with the black shirt and sand trousers.

The whole point is to differentiate them from the regulars.  I figure I'll use them as some sort of paramilitary/IRGC/Fedayaeen/Basij-type forces, just to have a different troop type and stats on the table.  They're not great, but I think they work for that.

The whole force: 2 officers and seven rifle stands.

A different angle.

The opposite.

A closeup of a couple rifle stands.  The figures are decent, but I really dislike the RPG-2 (bottom left), desiring to have the larger, more visible rocket of the RPG-7.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Pack of (Desert) Foxes


Well, hello there, it's been awhile!  Sorry for that, I've had a big bag of real life on my hands, primarily centered around some business trips to Oklahoma City and Washington, DC, with all the requisite Family Time that falls on either end of those trips.  I haven't gotten in any gaming lately, but I have taken advantage of the spare minute to hour here and there to be a painting and basing fool, so I figured I'd post the recent fruits of my painting loins (disgusting).

So, what do we have here?  It's a DaK battlegroup/army/force, AKA some of Rommel's finest for the German Afrika Korps for the Desert War in North Africa during WWII.  The entire force is Pendraken 10mm.

 Here's the entire force, with infantry on the left, armor in the center, and HQ and Weapons on the right.

Let's start with the infantry.  I've got fifteen stands, or 5 three-squad platoons at one stand equals one squad.

 A closeup of a DaK rifle platoon.  As always I used bathroom tiles for the basing, then my own proprietary blend (yuk yuk) for desert basing.  I paint the guys on popsicle sticks, pop them off, and superglue them on the tiles (which I usually spray-paint khaki or brown, first).  Then I smear Elmer's Glue all over the base, dip it in sand, then flick off the excess.  I let it dry awhile, usually overnight, then paint it sand or yellow.  Once that's dry I throw a wash on the figs and the base, then I use Elmer's Glue to stick bushes on, which are clump foliage of the model railroad variety.

A closeup of a single stand.  Great figs from Pendraken, with an MG-42 LMG team on left (I love the fact they are moving, which is perfect for my rifle squads), far right is from one of the rifle packs (they actually have two, and each has two different poses!), and the next guy in is from the MP-40 pack (which, sadly, has only one pose).  Painting wise, you can see that I never paint my Germans in a uniform manner.  For these Afrika Korps fellows I mixed and matched tunics, trousers, and hats/helmets in a mix of khaki (far left and far right trousers), sand (almost off-white, far left tunic and MP-40 helmet), desert yellow (far right helmet), and a faded olive green (obvious, I hope).

Moving on to the HQ folks...  At far left is the CO (with Sdkfz 250 on the base), center is three company commanders and the FO, and at right are nine platoon commanders.

 Closeup of the CO.


 The company commanders and FO (top right, though there's no practical distinction, I just chose the one with two kneeling figures).

 The platoon commanders.

Heavy Weapons.  Two 75mm field guns, two Pak-38 50mm ATGs, one FlaK-36 88mm ATG, three sustained fire (tripod) MG-42s, three 80mm mortars, and three 50mm light mortars.

 The dreaded '88.'

 Opposite view.

 The two PaK-38s.  I love the fact Pendraken is now providing three crewmen per gun; I could be off base here, as it seems to me this is new, that I recall only getting two crewmen per gun in the past.  In any case, it's fantastic!

 The two 75mm field guns.  I'd previously done a good job of ignoring field guns in my forces, but now I've got them and there's no looking back (I also bought a pair for my 'normal,' i.e., non-DaK Germans, and I bought some 75mm pack howitzers for my US troops.

 The three MG-42 teams.

 Three 80mm mortars.

 And three 50mm mortars, though I should have one per platoon, so need to get some more.  Also, I didn't get any AT rifles for my DaK or Desert Rats.  I figure by the time the Brits and Germans are going at it in the desert they've become obsolete (if they weren't when the war started!).

The armored fist of my Afrika Korps battlegroup.

The recon element, with a Sdkfz 234 and two Sdkfz 222s.  It might bother you that I did them in different colors; it wasn't the plan, just ran out of spray paint, and I'm more of a 'what else do I have around so I can get this done?' type of guy then a 'let me wait until next week when I can get to the store to get the proper color' type of a guy...

If the different colors on the recon vehicles bother you, check this out: not only am I impatient, I'm cheap to boot!  If you look closely, you'll see that only one of these is actually a PzIVD.  One is a PzIVG I had lying around, which I simply snipped the barrel off of to make a short 75mm.  The most heinous of the group is the top right; this was actually a PzIVH, i.e., not just a long 75 but also side skirts on the chassis and turret.  Snipping the barrel and getting the skirts off the chassis were no problem, but I had to conduct some serious surgery to cut/file the skirt armor off the turret.  Looking closely you can see the remainder on the bottom of the turret, which I just couldn't get off (without doing real damage to the turret itself as the turret skirt armor is molded on).

I can't believe I 'outed' myself as an impatient cheapskate, but in your hearts you already knew, and besides, at least I have my integrity ;)

Lastly, there are four PzMkIIIJs, which are some of my favorite tanks.  They just look damned cool to me.

As you can see, I picked up a pack of Pendraken's German tank commanders.  They're pretty damn cool, too.  I like to use them to delineate platoon commanders, so I need to put one on one of the PzIVs and on the Sdkfz 234 as well.  As you can also see, I'm using washes on everything now, but I need to get better at it...

Well, that's my Afrika Korps battlegroup, hope you like them.  I've got four other groups finished that I need to photograph and post here, which I'll get done this week, so keep your eyes open!