Monday, 20 March 2017

28mm Space Fighters: Finished

Introduction

Remember this?


A while ago, I mentioned that I had found a couple of starfighter kits very cheap and that these were perfectly-sized for 28mm miniature figures.  I wrote a work-in-progress article, though at the time I didn't have any firm plans as to how the models should be finished.  Well, the pair are now complete; here they are!


Klingon Attack Shuttles


As you can see from the picture above, I've painted these craft in Klingon livery.  They've come out slightly dusty-looking; that's my varnish not working as well as I'd like.  I'll just have to claim that they have frost forming on them due to the cold atmosphere of the planet on which they have landed.



The first model I built had the canopy glued in place, but I did something different for the second kit.  The canopy on this model has a tab attached to the back of it; it can be slotted into position either open (see above) or closed (see below).



It took me quite a long time to paint the first fighter.  This was not because they are in any way difficult, but rather because I dithered over the colour schemes; I took weeks to decide.  Eventually I settled for a very dark green, with dusty green and red oxide details.  Of course, the second model was much simpler as I didn't have to go through this again!



So, how will I use these shuttles?  I've no idea, really.  They could be static, ground decoration in pretty much any science fiction game, but they could also be suspended above a game table and used for ground support.  I'm sure there are many other ways they could be employed as well...

Monday, 13 March 2017

Perilous Island 2: Final Flight

Introduction

After one of the longest set of intro articles I've ever created for a scenario, we finally played the second game in our Pulp Alley campaign!

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, or who wish to remind themselves of the details, here are the earlier posts:
If you're not interested in reading all this background, then here's the short version: we're playing the Perilous Island campaign for the Pulp Alley wargames rules.  4 leagues are involved [Tarzan's jungle alliance, Stahl Helm's Nazi doom squad, Sir Henry's safari and the Snake Cult of Al Masudi].

Game 2 in the campaign is designed for two leagues, so we picked Sir Henry and the Snake Cult [mainly because the players were both available].  When we get around to playing game 3, which is also designed for two leagues, we'll use the other two groups instead.

Final Flight

A quick description of the scenario: Lumbasa airport is mobbed with crowds; there are rumours of a revolution and many people are trying to get on board the last scheduled flight out of the country.  Sir Henry is trying to find Lady Elaine, the campaign's central character and help her onto the aircraft ("Old family friends.  Knew her cousin at Harrow, don't you know").  On the other hand, the Snake Cult is attempting to prevent her and the plane from leaving altogether.

Setup


The scenario description dictates that each league follows a trail of clues, ending with the passenger aircraft.  Each clue/plot point will only be placed on the board when the previous one has been achieved.  These go as follows:
  • Sir Henry: retrieve the tickets and other travel papers from a local "fixer" => locate Lady Elaine in the crowd => board the aeroplane.
  • Al Masudi's Snake Cult: search for a smuggled bomb that is hidden in the baggage => find a previously-bribed, corrupt mechanic => sabotage the aircraft.
Normally, a game of Pulp Alley would have a number of perilous areas to make things difficult for the players.  In this game, we decided to have the following:
  • The area around each of the spinning propellers of the larger plane were extremely perilous.  Should be pretty obvious, really...
  • A large number of bystanders were set up in groups around the airfield.  Most of these were unarmed, but each player was permitted to place 4 neutral models who were wielding guns.  Anywhere within 2" of one of these models would be perilous, as the gunman/woman might attempt to interfere with either player's figures.  Why?  It might be self-defence, an attempted robbery, a tragic mistake or some other reason.  Tempers are frayed, everyone is on edge...
Note 1: it's not always easy to spot a gun-armed figure in a crowd.  I wonder if either of the players will fail to notice one and run accidentally into some unwanted bother?
Note 2: the perilous bystanders are an entirely different concept from the line of soldiers on either end of the table.  The latter are merely decoration, present to mark the edge of the playing area and to remind the players that a hostile act may result in a character being hunted down and arrested.

The Leagues

Sir Henry's Safari

Consisting of:
  • Sir Henry: Strong, rich, handsome, dashing.  A thoroughly decent sort of chap.  He's brought along his old school tie, hoping that this symbol will allow him to get on the plane without any questions.  If the pilot or steward is an Old Harrovian, it should count for something, right?  "Old boys' club" and all that...  [In game terms, Sir Henry used some of his wealth to purchase a "gadget X" piece of equipment]
  • Alan Quartermain: legendary crack shot, hunter and guide.
  • Captain Goode: retired naval officer and best friend, though not especially competent.  A bit of a duffer really.
  • Lady Constance:  Minor character, a young lady.  I'm not really sure where she fits in.  Perhaps she is Sir Henry's ward, a family friend, a pushy reporter or something else?
  • As well as his normal; 3 ascaris, Sir Henry used some local contacts to bring along a couple of extra shooters.  With 5 riflemen to back him up, it's obvious he's expecting trouble...

Al Masudi's Snake Cult

As follows:
  • Al Masudi: Crafty, strong-willed, intimidating.  Your standard wannabe evil overlord, really.
  • Taguerjah, the serpent: An enormous and strong snake.  Very dangerous.
  • Jasham, Nadeem and Saeed: sidekicks/lieutenants.  One specialises in sharpshooting, one in stealth and one in wrestling, though I can never remember who does which.
  • As well as the usual crew, the cult leader used his dominion to attract 3 local dacoits/bandits.  It looks as if Al Masudi is expecting trouble as well...

The Game

The leagues entered the table from opposite corners, so for the initial couple of turns they just stormed forwards without much else happening.  The first real excitement happened when Sir Henry approached the fixer who had the tickets:


A dapper gentleman in an evening suit took offence and started to draw a pistol, but he subsided quickly and backed off when Sir Henry stared him down [yup, the Cultist player had placed a perilous bystander right beside the fixer].
"Have you got my documents?" asked the Englishman.
"What documents?  What are you talking about?" came the startled reply.
"The travel warrant for the lady and I"
"Listen, buddy: I don't know no ladies and I haven't got anything for you.  Get lost, willya?"

The cultist player (and I, as the umpire) laughed a lot as poor Sir Henry drew a "red herring" card - he had questioned the wrong man.  The real fixer was 6" away.  I suppose that it's an easy mistake to make in a crowd.



Elsewhere, Al Masudi was rummaging through the baggage that lay on the airfield, looking for the dynamite.  He was discovered by an armed guard [another perilous bystander] who tried to stop him.  However, the cult leader was strong; he managed to overcome his assailant without attracting any more unwanted attention.


The smile was wiped from his face when he discovered that the package over which he had fought so hard didn't contain dynamite after all.  Instead, it was a consignment of cosmetics and ladies perfume.

Turn 3


Finally, Sir Henry spotted the correct agent in the crowd.  Flanked by many of his squad, he stormed forwards and had no difficulty at all in securing the travel documents for himself and Lady Elaine.  Now he just needed to find her and ensure that they were on the aircraft before it left.  But where was she?



Not wanting to be left behind, Al Masudi looked around for the explosives.  His minions discovered it lying in the middle of the runway, where someone had obviously dropped it carelessly.  With a grunt of satisfaction, the cult leader strode over and collected the dynamite.



And here's where it all kicked off!  One of Sir Henry's ascaris caught a glimpse of a cultist through a gap in the crowd.  Without hesitating, he raised his rifle, drew a bead on the enemy and shot him down.  [Note: from this point on, we used the "bullet" markers to indicate that a model had engaged in combat and was therefore wanted by the authorities, as per a special scenario rule].



In response, one of that group of cultists drew his sword and ran forwards, trying to hide behind a group of nearby bystanders.  The young man with the orange hair took fright at the stranger who was apparently charging him whilst waving a machete, so he pulled out a pistol and shot the cultist dead.  [Oh, dear!  Remember those civilians who have weapons?  The cultist didn't spot this one and ran straight into a peril].



Both leagues now collected their second plot points without difficulty, though both had to backtrack somewhat to find what they needed.  For the cult, Taguerjah (the snake) discovered the crooked mechanic and subdued him with hypnotic eyes and swaying body.  Elsewhere, Alan Quartermain spotted Lady Elaine and rushed to her side.

For the followers, it was a very different story.  The cult minions scattered and sought cover as the ascaris opened fire at every opportunity.  Interestingly, the cult seemed to want to stay on the right side of the law (they didn't shoot back), whilst Sir Henry's followers didn't care a whit and blasted away.



Egged on by their leader, several cultists then made a determined run for the aeroplane, but the enthusiastic ascaris just shot them down.  Where were the colonial police?!  Why didn't they intervene?  [The ascaris were unusually lucky in passing their "wanted" tests and the cultists' health checks were below average in success.  Also, by this time Sir Henry's followers outnumbered the remaining cultists by about 2 to 1.  Oh, well...].



Eventually, a couple of the ascaris were arrested and hauled off by the authorities.  However, there seemed to be plenty more who were willing to join in the brawl!
  • Captain Goode ran into the wingtip of the aircraft and knocked himself down.
  • Sir Henry spotted the cult leader, Al Masudi himself.  Being afraid of no man, he charged at the evil fanatic and delivered a swift upper cut.
  • In the background, Alan Quartermain led Lady Elaine towards the plane.  It looked as if nothing could stop her from boarding and making her escape!


Quartermain's first attempt to board the plane ended in dismal failure.  He evaded the earnest young man with the pistol easily enough, but the gendarme at the door was quite firm: "did he and the young lady have the correct papers?"  "Well, no - Sir Henry has the tickets; he's just over there..." .  Quartermain attempted to push past the official, but he must have tripped and fallen over the steps; he ended up dazed and lying on the ground.  [As might be imagined at this potentially game-winning moment, the cult player used every possibly opportunity to play peril cards].



Meanwhile, Sir Henry continued to pummel Al Masudi.  His fists sent the cult leader reeling, unable to respond.



...then the snake approached, with the mesmerised mechanic tagging along behind it.  Bravely, Captain Goode stepped up to engage it.  Now, in previous games the giant snake has proved to be a match for anyone and the death of many lesser foes.  However on this occasion it must have been distracted because Goode fought it to a standstill.  Both he and the snake were still just about upright at the end, though both of them were significantly battered and bruised.


Turn 7


In the final turn of the game, Alan Quartermain made another attempt to board the plane with Lady Elaine.  This time, the foreign youth knocked him down, claiming that the last 2 seats on the aircraft were reserved for him and his sea captain friend.  Aargh - so close, yet falling at the last hurdle...



"Look out - he's got a bomb!"  As a last act of defiance, just before he blacked out, Al Masudi threw his dynamite towards Lady Elaine.  This didn't have any material effect on the game since all of the Safari had already taken their final turn and couldn't get her onto the plane, but it just felt right...



With that, the pilot took fright, opened the plane's throttles and set off down the runway, leaving the remnants of the squabbling leagues to be picked up by the authorities.


Conclusion

This was a slightly odd scenario for 2 reasons:
  1. The terrain/crowd setup is really a bit dense for an airfield (most of which are noted for their vast expanses of empty space, after all).  I didn't have enough figures for a real crowd, though even if I had, it would have been difficult to find the players' figures amongst them.
    I had considered using card "standees", perhaps in strips or rings, instead of models for the crowd, but my early experiments at making such an element were disappointing.  Perhaps there's mileage in this idea for all that?
  2. The "wanted" special rule is in play, whereby any model which shoots or brawls becomes liable to be spirited off for questioning by the authorities.  The cult player tried very hard to avoid this, whereas the safari gleefully attacked his enemies on sight.  As it turned out, the cult had seriously overestimated the consequences of becoming "wanted"; by the time he started to fight back it was too late.
So, who won?  Each side retrieved 2 minor plot points with relative ease, though the double red herring basically set each of them back a turn.  Neither managed to achieve the major plot point (the aircraft), although the safari came close.  Perhaps if Sir Henry had thrown his old school tie to Alan Quartermain near the end then this might have allowed the latter to get onto the plane more easily?  Ah, well - we'll never know...

By the numbers, it's a draw: 2-2!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Zanzibari Slavers: the Characters

Introduction

One of the four columns (i.e. "Army Lists") in the Congo rule book is for a trading group from the Sultanate of Zanzibar.  Long before Europeans became interested in the interior of Africa, expeditions from Zanzibar had been travelling there in search of riches.  Often, this involved slave trading; it seems that the Zanzibaris weren't particularly interested in increasing the wider world's scientific or geographical knowledge.

Of course, not all Zanzibaris were greedy traders in human misery, just as not all white men were morally pure.  But this lot are...



The Boss


The leader of my Zanzibari slavers is a cunning, ruthless, old fox.  Yussuf al-Omani is not a nice person: he's sly and devious and you'd have to be very sharp indeed to get the better of him.  He runs his band with ruthless efficiency, but he's feeling his age now and has considered retiring when (if!) he deems his succession is secure.

The Son


Abdulrahman ibn Yussuf is the boss's son and heir apparent.  He still clings to sheds of his youthful idealism and has a lot to learn about the realities of the family business.  However, he is fiercely loyal to his father and won't tolerate any criticism of him.

The Executioner


Othman al-Tammar does what he's told, which often involves cutting the heads off those who have failed the boss.  He has no imagination or feelings about this; it's just a job...

The Slaver


Omar ibn Khaldun is the expedition's slave master.  He is very good at cowing spirits; he can recognise incipient rebellion from a person's body language - often before the slave realises that they about to fight back him/herself.  Omar is a brutal sadist who takes out his anger on all "the goods" for the scar that was once given to him by a Bantu farmer.

The Brute


Mussa al-Rasheed is the expedition's enforcer, responsible for discipline.  He ensures personally that the boss's orders are followed and that there is no trace of dissent.  His beard is stained red with henna, though it seems unlikely that he has indeed been on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The monkey is evil too...


Conclusion

This group forms the core of my Zanzibari column for Congo.  They're a rough bunch of really nasty people.  I've probably depicted them as rather cliched stereotypes, but this doesn't worry me much.  I'll look forward to seeing them thrashed in a game - unless I'm playing the Zanzibaris, of course!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

USS Matakishi: Away Team

Introduction

Many of my recent posts have been about "classic" Pulp miniatures: 1930s aircraft, archaeologists, Nazi agents and the like.  However, I've always had a hankering to do some space opera as well.  In this genre, Star Trek is probably my favoured setting (although Flash Gordon, Retro Raygun or similar has considerable appeal as well).

For quite some time, I've been quietly collecting miniatures that are suitable to represent a ship's crew or an away team.  My Klingons come from Space Vixens from Mars; it's not a huge range, but still very useful.  Other aliens are harder to come by, but I'll keep trying...


Of course, for a human-centric story, it is necessary to have Federation figures as well.  I'm aware of just a few current sources of these (excluding legacy stuff from FASA and the not-yet-released Star Trek Adventures game from Modiphius):
  • Victory Force Miniatures has a large range of "Spacefarers".  I have a number of these still in their original packaging.  One day, I'll get round to painting them...
  • Matakishi's Tea House has a small collection of what are essentially 25mm crew figures, but with a more recent 28mm Captain/Admiral sculpt.
  • There are small numbers of pre-painted, "Heroclix" crewmen available.  Board games such as Star Trek Expeditions include these, though I understand they can be obtained separately as well.
I just finished painting up my Matakishi models, so here they are.

Science


To represent the science division, we have Lieutenant Gupta and Doctor Forester.  The former is using a tricorder to look up something, whilst the latter is talking urgently into his communicator whilst wielding a phaser.  Evidently his Hippocratic Oath doesn't prevent him from at least threatening to use force on someone or something!

Command


In the second picture are Captain Hunter and his faithful assistant, Yeoman Brookings.  The captain clearly has his arms open in the universal gesture of welcome.  He hasn't put down either his communicator or his weapon, though - so he's not completely trusting ("We come in peace.  Shoot to kill"?).

Unusually, Hunter is an older gentleman with a grey beard and a bit of a protruding belly.  It's not obvious whether he is wearing a visor for medial reasons or whether he just has some funky sunglasses as a style thing...

The relatively-small yeoman is dressed in the traditional mini-skirt & thigh-length boots and has an appropriate regulation beehive hairdo.

Security


Not much point in giving these guys names, really.  Life expectancy for a security guard on an away mission is negligible...


Conclusion

The Matakishi miniatures are good figures, but somewhat dated and not really up to the standards of today's best sculptors.  But hey - all my models are just playing pieces, right?  They're perfectly acceptable as that, especially given the rarity of "not Star Trek" figures.

This is a small (but significant) start to my Star Trek collection.  In due course, I'll build and paint the Victory Force miniatures I own; that will give me the opportunity to add some alien crew members.  Not all Federation members are human, after all, so I can play with lumps and bumps on the heads as well as different skin & hair colours.

But there's still the problem of where to find suitable enemies...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Final Flight: the Airport

Introduction

Most of my last few posts have been Pulp-related (this won't continue forever; if your interests lie elsewhere then keep hanging on and I'll post other stuff in due course).  This recent series of posts detail my preparations for the "Final Flight" scenario from the Perilous Island campaign for the Pulp Alley rules:
Aircraft?  Check.  Shady characters?  Check.  Baggage, crates &c?  Check.  That's all very well, but the scenario I'm targeting is set at an airport.  What about airfield-related buildings?  Don't worry, I've got that covered too!

Lumbasa Airport Terminal

The problem with making a model of a real airport terminal building is that they are huge!  Even a serious, metropolitan airport in the 1930's would be a very substantial affair, far beyond my intentions for game scenery.  I could go for a simple, grass field "flying club" setup, but I'm aiming higher than that.



Fortunately, there is one kit which is about the right scale and which isn't too large.  This is the Plasticville terminal, intended for O gauge model railway layouts.  There are several things about this model which make it suitable for wargaming:
  • It's relatively small; representative of a terminal building rather than strictly realistic.  The terminal is nominally scaled for O gauge layouts, but that's American O gauge (which is smaller than British O gauge) - and even then it is smaller than might be truly accurate for such a layout.  That suits me just fine!
  • The Plasticville range is at the toy end of the model railway market, rather than the finely-detailed, super accurate end.  Consequently, the parts are nice and chunky (so they won't break easily with handling) and the models are easy to assemble.
  • It's not easy to find these models outside the USA, but it can be done.  My terminal came from a model shop in Germany (via eBay) and although it cost more than I would have liked, it wasn't prohibitively expensive.



I made a few adaptations to the kit as I was building it.  The first of these are apparent here:
  1. The terminal building has been glued to a base (and I've added a separate, grassed & fenced area to hold passengers as they walk to their aircraft).
  2. I carved off the heavily-contoured "PLASTICVILLE AIRPORT" lettering from the panel over the front door.  Instead (after painting the model), I applied a home made decal for my chosen name "LUMBASA AIRPORT".  I imagine this to be somewhere in Africa, though the precise location isn't really important.



I've mentioned size before, but how does this building work with 28mm figures.  The picture above includes one such model, whom you may recognise as "Betty" from my recent Pulp Women post.  In my opinion, the doors to the terminal are a little too large,, but the building is a bit too small.  It'll do...

You can also see from the ruler that the building's footprint is about 26cm (10.25") wide and maybe 20cm (8") deep.



Here you can see another of my modifications to the kit.  The original ladder was a single piece, but I wanted to be able to remove the roof from the control tower.  I cut the ladder in two just below the level of the roof.  This left the lower part hanging loose, so I added a small piece of plasticard outside the tower window frame to hold the lower part of the ladder in position.



Finally, I made 2 cuts to the upper wall, one either side of the clock.  This freed the roof of the terminal building and meant that it could be removed for access to the inside.



So, after a few simple modifications, the terminal comes apart and allows figures to be placed in it.  Of course, I haven't added any detail to the interior of either the main building or the control tower...


Conclusion

I'm looking forward to setting up my "airport" table and playing a game on it.  Everything is ready now, I think - but I daresay that I've forgotten something...

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Pulp Women: Archaeologists and Missionaries

Introduction

My mission continues: to build a suitable number of Pulp figures from which to form a crowd at an airport (for scenario 2 from the Perilous Island scenario book for Pulp Alley).  I've shown some of the men I have collected already (here); now it's the turn of the women.

Female Archaeologists

These four figures come from Copplestone's "BC19 - Female Archaeologists" pack.  BC-19 is currently available from North Star, who have (I believe) taken over the selling of all Copplestone Castings figures.  Mind you, I'm not entirely sure what makes any of these women "archaeologists", as not one of the miniatures has a trowel or a small brush...



Henrietta Smith is a thrill seeker who relishes the chance to live by her wits, beyond the reach of normal law and order.  She likes animals, plays chess and enjoys discovering lost worlds.



Betty Pickering is the daughter of a rich Kenyan tea plantation owner.  She found finishing school in England very restrictive and now wishes to travel the world, in first class (of course).  She likes fashion, tropical sunsets and thinks that honest men are few in number.



Jean Cameron comes from a long line of Scottish antiquarians.  Somewhat more adventurous than her ancestors, she has decided to apply her talents and knowledge to some archaeological digs in the more remote parts of the empire.  She likes hard work & frugal living and abhors liars.



Cassie DeLancy comes from Ireland, though much of her adult life has been spent in the Far East.  She is quite the innocent in many ways and doesn't understand why so many men with questionable morals pursue her.  However, she is practical enough to know how to fend off their advances with a .45 pistol.  Cassie likes singing, cooking and breaking up criminal enterprises.


The Missionary


Lady Isobel Poppington is another North Star figure, though this time from their own-name range rather than the Copplestone Castings brand.  The model comes with a display base of luggage which includes a chest, African tribal mask, ivory/tusks & other souvenirs on it and is topped by a bible.  I've chosen to place this luggage on a separate base (not shown here); it will make an excellent plot point or piece of scatter terrain in games of Pulp Alley, Congo or the like.

She's a rather stern looking woman, dressed in an old-fashioned style and drinking a cup of tea.  Lady Poppington likes tea & singing hymns and won't tolerate bad manners!


Conclusion


Traditionally in Pulp adventures, a woman is just there to scream when the bad guys/monster/... appears so that the hero can then come to the rescue.  I think this started to change from the 1970's onwards with space operas such as Star Wars and video games like Tomb Raider.

I'd like to think that any of my heroines were more than simple, helpless damsels.  Each of these characters could hold her own against whatever the world throws at her, though I suspect that they would all have very different approaches!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Frostgrave: Small Demons

Introduction

It's strange: I'm frantically busy building and painting models, as well as working, looking after the family &c, but I just don't seem to have much time for blogging these days.  I want to give more attention to blogs - both my own and those of other hobbyists - but there aren't enough hours in the day for everything I'd like to do.  Oh well, I'll just need to keep things in perspective: many people in this world have far worse problems than I do...

Frostgrave Imps

I haven't written about it much recently, but that doesn't mean that I have given up on Frostgrave!  Here are some new monsters I painted up recently.

Demons in Frostgrave come in 3 different sizes: man-sized, smaller than a man and larger than a man.  In the latter category, I am already quite well provided, with a couple of Reaper Bones models: http://colgar6.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/frostgrave-demon-bones.html .  I have used one of these older models as a regular, man-sized demon before, but he/she/it is really a bit big for that.



As part of my Christmas present to myself last December, I bought a Mantic "crazy box".  This is a random assortment of models, but at a much cheaper price than if they were bought at list price.  You pays you money and takes your chances...

On this occasion, one of the items in my crazy box was a sprue of hard plastic "Lower Abyssals"; classic demons with goat's feet, horns and a tail.  Excellent - I built up a pair of these to act as my man-sized demons in Frostgrave.



The sprue has (from memory) 5 of these demons on it, so I could build another three if I wanted.  However, just the two will do for now.



As well as the man-sized demons, each Lower Abyssal sprue has a few much smaller creatures on it.  These will make excellent Imps, I think.



The Imps are quite small figures and are probably a little bit fragile - especially the winged one, who is only touching the ground with one foot.  We'll just have to be careful with them.


Conclusion


I would never have thought to look in the Mantic catalogue for such creatures, but I think they'll work very well.  I believe that the same faction (for Kings of War) has larger creatures of a similar form as well.  Those would make excellent large demons for Frostgrave, if I was so minded.

Overall, I'm very pleased with these models apart perhaps from the Imp with the staff.  The varnish on that model has frosted slightly - though I suppose you might just say that the creature was caught in a snowstorm and being slowly encased in ice.!