Sunday, 26 October 2014

A general update

Well no eye candy (you already got it) but a lot of talking. 

Recently I was trying to rationalize my miniature holdings and looking at my projects. I have too many, but this is common, I have some that probably are dead... but also this is sadly common. Certainly I need to better link rules, troops, and scales.  So I decide to rationalize what I am doing both to avoid duplication, and its associated wastage, and to focus my effort in finishing some thing for once. 

The first thing I need is to have a rough list of the things I am working on on the miniature side of the Forward HQ.

At the moment the active projects are:

15mm   Europe 1944-45. Well this is almost completed.  The soviets are done, I only need to retouch on the new standard some mortar bases, and paint two 45mm guns. Germans are as done as they can be. I have to bring myself to paint some Normandy fortifications to empty the last bits. Said that I do not see what I can add to them, I have everything. Well I have some primed dismounted tank crews to finish in the spare moments. The British are almost done. 2 more infantry sections to do. Then they are done. Done.  DONE! The US troops are a mess but more orl ess I have only to fill gaps and finishing some painting. Sot his is good and covered. The rules linked to them are IASBM and Chain Of Command.

28mm Autumn-winter 1944-45. Boys... done. I finished the last infantry squad of my German platoon three days ago.  I have a German platoon, an US platoon (you saw the pictures here), one British para platoon. I am satisfied. Only thing I would like to put are a US 57mm and a german 75mm anti tank guns, and probably a Panzer IV (plastic). Burt more importantly I want to break them out for some gaming. The rules I plan to use for them are Chain of Command of course but also NUTS if I want some squad size action.I have also Rules of Engagement and Disposable Heroes and they both look useful and convenient for some small games.

Lion Rampant. I have got the rules recently, after some chart on BGG with Dan Mersey. They are excellent. More to the point they allow me to do what I like to do with 28mm, namely a relaxed games with plausible outcomes and not too many troops on the table so I can have a certain feel. 15mm os smaller scale are for long battle lines, 28mm has to have characters. I have plenty of stuff that only wait to be completed. I am almost done with my first War of the Roses Retinue (usable also for the WOTR variant of Sharp Practice, well probably that will be its main use, but Lion Rampant gave me a quick way to throw together a sensible retinue).

Modern 28/15mm. I love contemporary forces, I have a big collection in both scales. My problem is rules. I started with Ambush Alley/Force on Force for 28mm ( I settled on them after having tried other sets) and I like them. Yet I realized that if the original scenarios in the original edition were all squad sized nowadays the scenarios always end up being more or less on the platoon side. Nothing wrong, the rules perfectly works... but let's face it with the prices and my budgets it is a bit unwieldy. To that there are two other issues. One is cramming of of the table. Yes you can have a reinforced platoon supported by several AFVs but in 28mm it looks weird. The second issues is that I am not really happy to paint so many troops on the table in 28mm. The current sculpts are wonderful, but if you simply fill the table with them you do lose their character. They also require you to paint hordes in camouflaged uniforms. The answer is to use 15mm for  the larger scenarios (I just painted a T-72BA platoon in 15mm!)  and keep the outings in 28mm at squad level. And, if you use few miniatures why not simply using Skirmish Sangin? Well this has been a quite effective way to do things. It saved me a lot of headaches and, even better, gave me strength to push forward and to rationalize two overlapping collections. I have dubbed the 28mm effort project Sangin and and the 15mm one... Project Force!

Cold War Contemporary 6mm (and 3mm). Another long term project (started at the turn of the century more or less...). I have now sizable forces for several nations in several variations (as you have seen here last week).  When I started I was focused on platoon scale sets (mainly Modern Spearhead), recently I got interested in company scaled actions. The advantage of the latter is that you really have the supporting assets (artillery for example) on table and you can easily maneuver a division.  I have reworked my 1987 US Forces for that and I am quite satisfied. One advantage is that battalion and regiment/brigade actions are still doable. One issue is that... I fallen in love with 3mm models from Oddyzal Osmy. Probably they are better suited for this level of gaming. Especially you can reduce the discrepancy between troops and ground scale and one of my pet peeve, road width! I enjoy painting them and they are quite affordable. The main doubt i have now is basing, going for singles or having 2 or 3 tanks per base?  I was thinking the latter, but I have seen wonderful single bases around the blogs. Here I need to experiment more.

Well this is just a preview of where I will focus my painting efforts in the next months, so you can expect more details soon. 

Empress USMC, the specialists


I am slowly chronicling my efforts to complete my small group of Empress USMC that I got as just reward for my kickstarter last January (ugh... so long ago how time flew... it is starting to look cold and gloomy again here...). I called them the specialists because they are not a a fire team, it is just random mix of Marines with specific weapons, a M240G, a M249, a M39, and a vanilla M16A4. Now do not get me wrong, they are lovely sculpts, but I find the mix quite useless... well I can even complain on the lack of a SMAW pack while we got an 81mm Mortar... lovely sculpt again, but what is its usefulness in a sensible 28mm table (except in some adaptation of that pathetic excuse for a rule set called  Bolt Action an 81mm mortar minimum range is more or less your average gamin table) ?

Anyway back at the miniatures. Here we have the group shot:

Well sculpted as we are now used with the team at Empress with lovely details. The flash suppressor of the M249 was bent out of shape and while trying to bend it back I broke uit, but I was able to repair it (more or less, I am more worried with some damage to my Chinese rifles... again finally scaled miniatures have some problems, problems that I aggravated in storage...).

Now let's talk of the guys in detail. The Machinegunner is prone, and it was quite nice to paint. I reminds me of the nice one I did for the US Army set.

The SAW guy, the Automatic rifleman, is also nice. I am not realyl sure it is a good firing pose too. I had dealt with the SAW in the past and just one year and half ago I was physically reminded of its weight (and seeing girls trying to lift one of them and assume a proper firing position was... well I was looking at the girls and not so much at the SAW... but they complained a lot).

Well, the barrel does not even look too bad. The knelling rifleman is one of my favourite, I like his face.

Finally we have the marksman. Another good pose with a nice feel.

Now... they were a joy to paint even if the pack seems a bit thrown together.  The range lacks a Javelin and a SMAW for sure... and maybe even a ground mounted TOW.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Well... I had another thing to show you...

The 8th Infantry Division is complete but now I am working on another 6mm Divisional project. The 24th Mechanized Infantry Division for Desert storm. Again I am re-using older pieces giving them a new and fresh paint job. A quite spiffy one If you ask me. The division is a bit more than half done (two brigades done, one to go, no artillery or support) but still a work in progress, so this is more a teaser than anything else. When operation Desert Sabre, the 100 hours war started the 24th Mech had two of its brigades, a separate brigade attached (the 197th from the Infantry School at Fort Benning, because the National Guard Brigade that was supposed to fill that role was awfully unprepared...) and a full Cavalry Regiment under operational control (OPCON). The division had all its tank battalion equipped with M1A1 Abrams and its three organic mechanized Battalions equipped with M2 (the majority A1) Bradlely. The two mechanized battalions that came with the 197th were still with M113.

what you have just seen is just a teaser of the whole force, the equivalent of one brigade in company scale or an armor heavy team in 1 to 1.

If I want to play in platoon scale...
 I just need to add one M106 mortar carrier (you can see it) and one more M1A1... to have a full Tank Heavy Task Force as 1-64 Armor. Now... you have also seen that there is a change in the style of the label attached to the bases... well I got bored to paint them and now I design them on my laptop and then print. Save a lot of hassle, plus the division badges are much easier to do this way!

All the sculpts are Heroic and Ros, and are, in my unbiased opinion, quite nice. They are not doing an M2A2 plain (they do the one with attached ERA blocks) but the A1 they do is quite nice

 Especially considering that I redid these so they have basically two layers of paint! (and yest I could have cleaned the flash... my fault...
 I think the command base is particularly nice. There is an M577 and an M1A1. Usually I drybrush the tanks, but for these two I instead picked up the edges. I think the effect is much better. The M2 were dry-brushed because they have more raised spots, but the relatively flat Abrams and M113 benefit more from the hard edge technique. Of course I then did the black-lining on everyone!

Yes I like M1A1!

Before disappearing again... I want to update you on my 6mm Modern Italian Project. Freakazoitt the Talented 3D modeler that did the Centauro has now done also the Ariete tanks.

Here you can see his work:

 They are available in a pack of 3 or 5 and to save money in a pack of 10 with 3 Centauro.

Have a look at his shapeways shop he does some very nice pieces (also some WW1 one tanks that are awesome) in different scale, 6mm, 10mm, and 15mm. Support his work!

For today it is the end. There are still some news lining up... but today was a quite bust blogging day. As the Commander of the Forward HQ I need to go away...

Germany 1987 a new project (using old collections...)

We stay in the modern era but we are now going back to the cold war. Back in time I built a large collection of 6mm miniatures for the Cold War. At the time the rules of choice were Modern Spearhead. I still like them but recently I have been caught by the Cold War supplement for Planetary Operations. You have companies instead of platoons, this means you can have artillery on table and have a bit of air battle. It does not require any rebase (ok the rules suggests some new bases taken stright out of FoW... but I keep mine) and this is good. I can play Planetary Ops, MSH, CWC, A Fistful of TOWs, and, when they will be out, also I Ain't Been Nuked Mum. With a full division I have plenty of stuff to create smaller units. The negative part was that my US Army collection dates to several years ago when I started painting 6mm... so I took the opportunity for changing some liveries...

Here for your perusal it is the entire ground force from the 8th Infantry Division back from Germany in 1987. The Cobras are not there, I will take the pictures another time. The vehicles are all Heroic and Ros except the M1 (vanilla) Abrams that are Scotia (and a nice model to be blunt). Now plain M1 are available also from H&R.

Well this is my division box... being an American unit battalions for infantry and tanks are 4 companies strong (with infantry having an anti tank company too), three batteries strong for artillery and variable for other specialties. In 1987 the 8th Infantry was still switching to new equipment, thus there is a quite a lot of variation.

Two tank battalions and the Cavalry Squadron had still M60A3:

I have painted them in Verdant MERDC scheme.

One Battalion was still equipped with M1 Abrams, painted in CARC overall forest Green. The models are from Scotia. They have moulded on MGs (bot Commander and Loader) and some stowage on the turret bustle:

Finally two battalions had already received M1A1 Abrams in three colours NATO scheme. They H&R Vehicles have separate MG but only for the commander.
Here you can see all the sample tanks together, in company scale it is the equivalent of a brigade of four battalions:

The infantry was still moved by M113 and an ITV, here in Autumn MERDC.
Beside the maneuver units the division was supported by artillery with M109 and M110, Enginneers with M728CEV, M163 PIVADS and finally M113ACAV in the Cavalry Squadron. Also you can see the Division command stand with several vehicles in it.

The ACAVs are from Scotia. Not a great model, but at the time it was the only one available at decent prices and the old GHQ was at the same level anyway...

Well for this mega update it is the end. Goodbye from the commander at the Forward HQ until the next because it is time for me to sleep writing on the blog is tiresome!

Project Sangin, update

Ok... I was hoping to have the first part of my review of Skirmish Sangin, but instead I have finished my HMMWVs in 28mm. Three vehicles, all from Empress (technically two were bought still from Imprint) equipped with different weapons. They are the basic light mobile support for both my Marines and Army platoons. I plan to use them mainly in Skirmish Sangin and Force on Force. They will be used in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, in the Andromeda Galaxy (WHAAAT!), and in the fictional island of Baraqui (and yest the last two are teasers...).

Only the one in the foreground is new, the other two were already around and had already made an appearance here. In the end they are two in woodland camo and one in desert sand. I think it it a good mix and allow me to operate in different environments.  They are quipped with a TOW launcher, a 40mm MK19 GL, and, finally, a M2 Machine Gun. The Empress Hummers are probably the best on the market, the detail is crisp, and they paint up really well. I went for a very subdued and worn woodland pattern. I am pleased with the effect. Here you can see the details:

But I went for faded colours. By the way the last picture has been taken with flash and the window glass are not really nice. Probably I need a new camera... but they turned my manuscript down (usual answer it is good and the argument strong and convincing, but at the moment I have so many books to follow that I need to disengage... the only good part is that probably the review had been done by Dale Andrade... so it is encouraging; anyway stop with real life digressions!)

One parting top view:

I hope to have them in action very soon, stay tuned!

Number 2 Platoon...

Well one week has passed from my last post... another British infantry platoon is done. Only one more to go... thanks god! I like the figures, but painting so many troops in the same uniform without interruption is stressing, I have now changed subjects... anyway we are almost done so it is not too bad. The company HQ has already been done, the individual squad leaders too. Just another platoon...

This time, as already discussed I have used FoW rural bases. They are quite nice but In the end I decided to add some foliage clumps, not the sea of grass as in some other pictures (well what is the point of having sulpted bases if you drown them in grass?), just to add some colour.  As already mentioned... the holes are too small for the miniatures... PSC of FoW does not matter, they are too small. I had to cut the circular figure bases to size... the holes are too small even for their own inserts... go figure. My comments on the PSC figures stay, they are very nice as you can see from the details:

 This is one of my favourite bases. The fence is a nice touch.

Platoon commander with medic.

Ok we are done for this British Army update, I hope you like them.

Monday, 13 October 2014

6mm Centauro B1 from shapeways.


I cannot sculpt... but I can beg... so I asked a Shapeways modeler if he could have done some 6mm modern Italian vehicles, specifically Centauro Armoured Cars and Ariete tanks. The first results are here.

I like them. They are in FUD and a bit pricey, but they are detailed models. They are an huge improvement over the old H&R model (I was hoping the new management would have redone it). If you are interested you can order them here:

Shapeways shop

Now I do not get anything from them. But I think the modeler, Freakazoitt deserves a bit of advertisement (he has some good and nice WW1 tanks too, in different scales).  More interests could also lead to more models and in different scales (15mm anyone?)

I will post more when the Ariete are ready and I will get the models.

And some german airpower...

To close this WW2 parade I took pictures of a diecast Me262 fighter (1:144, I think it is from Model Power postage stamp collection, I got at the newsstand in a Del Prado collection eons ago). The paint job was, frankly uninspiring... so I simply primed it black and...

 ... did this in a late war livery.
 Yes... I messed with the stand... I already corrected it!

all in all painting it was quite nice and fun. Nothing really difficult to do (I used masking tape for the splinter camo) and very relaxing.  And my late war germans have a late war flying machine!

British Infantry, No 1 platoon.


and I am back... as I said earlier Saturday was a sunny day nice to take pictures. I also took images of my first completed British Infantry platoon. No 2 Platoon will be completed, hopefully, tomorrow, and then, once recovered, it will be No. 3..

 Here we have our first group shots. The stalward troop from the Irish Guard have been provided by The Plastic Soldiers company. It is the first of their new generation release and, I have to add, an extremely good one. Ok note... I am also adding individually based section leaders and I have only three... the box is short of Sten-armed figures... both for section and platoon leaders. This is my only criticism. The figures are in the late battledress and I supposed, under the scrim and netting they carry the MkIV turtle helmet. They are armed with Enfields rifles, Bren LMG, and some Sten SMG. The figures are perfect matches for Battlefonr ones,  well rounded and well detailed. They are almost all a single piece sculpt with the exception of the prone figures (one of the two Bren pose + loader, Piat operator + loader, 2" mortarman + loader). I have used (except for three) Flames of War rubble bases. I had still some lying around and they are quite nice. The PSC troops are a perfect match for the holes, their new round bases fitting nicely in the rubble bases. The rural bases that I am using on the Number 2 platoon are another matter; their holes are a bit smaller and do not fit PSC of FoW miniatures... thanks good with my plastic cutter it is very easy to shape plastic... much better than lead.

 Close shot of the platoon support weapons.
 The poor bloody infantry.

If you look closer you will see two FoW figures, they sized perfectly with the rest of the gang, incredible!

Well No 1 Platoon is done.

Thanks for viewing!