Thursday, March 31, 2011

Number 1 Threat: Bears

::::::News Flash::::::

Reports are coming in of large armed bears taking over towns.
Let us be clear: we do not mean bears with large limbs, we mean bears brandishing large caliber firearms.
We repeat: Bears with Guns.

A spokesman for the NRA was quoted as saying, "We are not claiming responsibility for this. It has been our mission to support the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the right to bare arms. Of course we know the difference between bare arms and armed bears! But I don't think I need to point out that the Amendment does not preclude bears with firearms. If these bears are citizens then they are doing nothing wrong and have our support. In addition, let's say I own a bear, then by extension it is my right to give my bear a gun. Don't forget that any right not limited or removed by the constitution or federal law is a right held by the state or people. To my knowledge these bears are breaking no laws."

Photo shown of one bear who was kind enough to pose for a photo:

Williamsburg sheriff stated "He's breaking no law I know of. He has a carry licence and the firearm is not concealed. He is violating the ordinance against smoking within ten feet of the entrance of a public building, but that is a misdemeanor and a law I've never personally been fond of".

National news personality Stephen Colbert stated, "This is a tragedy of the highest order. I was right all along. You were warned America! You were warned!".


Khurusan Miniatures included a teaser for this 'Ursid' on their blog today.

I want some bears.. in a big way. I am hoping for several poses & weapon options.
These are brilliant!
Hmm.. support them with some Russian tanks? An obvious choice.. yes, it must be done.

Update: These are available now!
Very nice... I hope they'll be coming out with more poses & weapons too.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What is in a Name?

...That which we call our team
By any other name would bash as hard.
Hello my name is...

And yet naming a Blood Bowl team is a real art and helps enhance the experience.

I can't claim to be the best at naming teams, and of course everyone has their preferences of style to team names, but in having played many teams, and painted many times more teams, and thinking of team names while doing so, (and since sneezing is preventing me from painting at the moment), it seems right to put some of these ideas down.

I tend to favor team names that fall under one of these conventions, in no particular order or preference, or better yet, combining these conventions:

Maybe it is the barely civilized barbarian pagan in me, but I love the sound of alliteration.
Surely sounds soothing, or so some say.

Team names like:

Picnic Pillagers
Black Bay Buccaneers
Lothern Lions (a friend's team)
Sewer City Slayers

Warhammerizing: Names of Real-World Teams done in Warhammer Style.
Take a team you like, or just like the name of, and 'warhammerize' it. GW did this for many of their 3rd 3edition box set teams. I don't tend to do this one myself, since I'm not a sports fan, though my high elf team is the Lothern Seahawks.

Team names like:

Orcland Raiders (taken: pick something else)
Greenbay Hackers
New Orc Giants
Blackmoor Ravens
Lothern Lions : Bonus! Combines Alliteration with Warhammerizing.

A pun is supposed to be the most intelligent form of humor. Often the most painful as well.

Teams names like:

The 4-foot Miners (dwarf obviously): Bonus! Combines Pun with Warhammerizing.
Mon Amis Dauphines (if I ever do a Bret team this is them)
Marienburg Prophets
Eyes on the Pies (Halfling team apparently)
Phoenix Sons (Khemri of course) Bonus! Combines Pun with Warhammerizing.

Have a Mascot.

One thing I'm not a fan of is 'conceptual' team names.

If you can't throw a "THE' in front of the name and easily see an icon of the mascot, then something went wrong.

I feel the same way about real-world teams. Like Green Bay Packers... no wonder they just have a big 'G': they have no mascot, other than some strange cheese hat... would they really have an icon of a warehouse worker lugging crates? Yeah, didn't think so either. And there is a team named "Heat'.. really? That's the best they could come up with? Or are the cops chasing them? What is next if that continues? The Portland Rain? The San Francisco Fog? How about The Los Angeles Smog? Maybe The New Orleans Humidity? Or The Paris Ennui? How about The Brooklyn Indigestion?

But Green Bay Hackers.. ok, I can picture an Orc with a Choppa: good enough.
But a Raven, Lion, Knight, are even better... inanimate objects like a hammer, dagger or even a pie is better than something so conceptual that it's not obvious what object would represent the team.

My next team? The Chernobyl Knights. (category: Pun.)

What are your favorite team names you have used or played against?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Machines of Phobos Roll Out

The atmosphere of Venus is quite humid and there is fear of corrosion of the machines of war among the mechanics, so the order has gone out to paint a protective coat over any non-moving part, predominately the armored hulls.

Is-Caerten Eenka Vojik inspects the machines of 2nd battalion:

The tried and true Tanket J-3, affectionately known as a 'long snout'. There are few who do not have grandfathers who told stories of serving with these, and those lucky enough will tell their own grandkits as well someday.

Scrambler, ready for service.
A pair of crackers. Not much can withstand the shelling from even one of these machines, and that which can will wish they hadn't if these get closer.

2nd battalion's walkers: 2 walkers with 6 pound cannon, experimental Rotary Scout Lt.Walker, and Lt.Walker with Gatling guns.
Walkers and tank, ready to support the infantry advance and secure our claims on Venus for the prosperity of Phobos.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quar Light Tanks

Bullets zipping, shells booming, how is a young Quar who'd like to keep his head unperforated expected to get to the enemy trench line? Why not ride in style in your own personal Light Tank?

The Fifth Mechanical Corp of the Royal Phobosian Light Expeditionary Brigade are pleased to report that B.I.D.B.I, or 'Bidby', the Break It Down/Build It of Solar Sail Transport Vessel 2, Stage 3 is complete and two Light Tanks are ready for service (or will be once they're painted).


I made these from the RAFM Cyclopse Land Wheeler
Cyclops land wheeler
I saw a similar conversion on LAF, and loved it, kept it in mind for mine.
I bulked it out by extending the under-carriage, since it looked a little slim and hard to imagine a Quar fitting inside it.
I also built new boiler exhausts, which freed up one of the metal smoke stacks to serve as a cannon!
All in all a simple and quick conversion.
Here is one standing ready with a Quar soldier.
I think this makes a nice light tank!

I think it has potential for 15mm service as well:
Here it is with a 15mm Draco and a GZG Bulldog. The tech is very anachronistic for sci-fi, but that's not a bad thing necessarily. In fact, I have a rather pulpy 'British Royal Lunar Marines' army planned that these might work very well for!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beyond the Slotta-Base

I've been in this hobby long enough to remember when the Slotta-Base was new.
I remember thinking 'why would a metal miniature have a plastic base?"

It really was original thinking.
They are so common now it is easy to forget that once nearly all (if not all) miniatures had integrated bases.

The Slotta-Base has a lot of advantage for the Hobbyist:
1. They are uniform in shape & size
2. They create a flat surface once the miniature is glued in place.
3. There is room underneath to add weights or magnets.

The Slotta-Base isn't the only option however.
There are now a host of high quality resin base manufacturers. But I'm not going to talk about those now.
Maybe sometime I will- I've had some good experiences with several, but for now I'm just going to talk about the alternatives to the Slotta-Base that are in the same price range or less than our old friend the Slotta-Base.

First, the 'Rounded edge bases', sometimes called 'display bases'.
I first saw these with Warmachine and was duly impressed. The Cadillac of Slotta-Bases.

They have several nice features:
1. Still has room underneath for weights and magnets.
2. Fancier curved rim looks nice and gives more surface to pick up the model by the base.
3. They have a slight depression for the surface, so your basing material sits 'in' the base, rather than on top of it.

These are now being made with a flush bottom and the entire base being a cavity, so that you can build it up inside, allowing for deep water. This is nice if you want to 'sink' large items in the water, but if you want a water base these are fine just as they are. I've been making swamp bases with these for a long time, the depth it provides is plenty.

Here is a miniature I'm working on for Impact!'s site.. I have got to find the time to get around to finishing them..
Believe it or not, that depth is plenty to make a nice rich swamp.

Next up: MDF or Masonite Bases:
These are high density pressed fiber bases that are available from many hobby supply stores such as Litko & Gale Force 9, as well as many sellers on Ebay.

Gale Force 9 sells them by the pint or quart. Those are empirical measurements for all those outside of the U.S. where we still measure as the middle ages intended...
as Grandpa Simpson said 'My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it!"
To put it in terms the Brits among us can understand, you can get 2 glasses (pints) of beer worth of bases for $15. $15 right now is about 35p. Or soon will be.

Suffice to say: these are cheap.

The main advantages beyond price are:
1. They have more weight to them than plastic slotta-bases.
2. Easy to drill into them to pin miniatures or basing bits.
3. The surface area is greater than the same size slotta-base.

This last point is why I first bought some, and why overall they are my favorite type of base.
The edges are perpendicular to the base, not angled like slotta bases or round-lip bases.

A Slotta base's bevel is about 1mm wide. It doesn't sound like much, but for a 20mm base, that means 10% of the surface area is missing.
A Round-lip base's rim is 2.5mm wide. So a 30mm base has only a 25mm square surface.

Sometimes this surface area is desperately needed, especially when you consider the scale creep that miniatures have been experiencing.

The first project I used these bases for was my Bayou Elves. I wanted more surface area since elves come on 20mm bases- and there just isn't much room on them for doing much scenic work. Having 10% more room sounded good to me.
This mini would have been impossible on a Slotta-Base. The rim of the pond is where the bevel would be, as is his foot and reeds in the back.

The other advantage is units are not having their ground work broken up by V-grooves of black bevels

I'm using the same kind of bases for my Quar:
Quar come with integrated bases that are nearly the size of a slotta-base's surface. These bases gave me more room to work with for scenics as well as some extra room to even out the 'bump' of the integrated base.

Lastly, they smell like a campfire! So nice.

The only real downside is that since they are solid, if you want to use magnets you'll need to drill out a hole for it. Not impossible, but certainly more work than gluing a magnet to a slotta base.

Similar to the masonite bases is Plasticard. This is a nice cheap way to make bases, especially for element-bases, if you don't mind cutting a lot of plastic card, and you're careful about doing it right.

The last type I'll mention, and probably the cheapest bases: washers & coins.

Of these two similar materials, I prefer coins.

Coins, especially the penny, is ideal for 15mm skimish bases.
I'm doing all my 15mm sci-fi with coins whenever possible. Why?

1. The are cheap.
2. They are smaller than slotta-bases.
3. They are thinner than slotta-bases.

This last reason is the most important to me. 15mm minis are smaller than 28mm, of course, and so to my eye, look a bit odd when based on slotta-bases: the bases are just too thick. Add to this that 15mm minis have integrated bases in their casting, and it makes the bases even thicker for a 15mm mini than for a 28mm mini.

Pennies are much thinner and very suitable to 15mm minis.
Here are a couple minis that I based on pennies for 15mm Sci-fi.

One precaution I take however is to 'paint' the edge of the penny with thinned acrylic modeling paste. Paint is easier to scratch and ding off of coins than other metal, but after a coat of modeling paste I haven't had any problems.

Overall, even without going to the more expensive, but admittedly very nice, resin bases, there are several economical choices for basing that give you a bit more for options than the standard Sloot-Base.

Thanks for wading through some Blithering!
I should have a 15mm vehicle review and some more for the Quar as well as some Blood Bowl heading your way soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quar Airships

The Royal Phobosian Light Expeditionary Brigade is tasked with exploring Venus to assess and secure its natural resources. The backbone of the army is its infantry, but to explore, they need to be able to move around.
Therefor I decided they must have several walkers and a healthy presence of cavalry: the only real options right?

The rules the campaign uses Martian Empires from Oozlum Games & Black Hat Miniatures, and the GM modified it for 28mm and a setting on Venus. Looking through the army list I realized that it allowed for fliers.

Great Googly-Moogly! Fliers!

I was struck by Deja-Vu-Thoris: Barsoomian Airships! How can I resist?
See, I grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs. And my hands-down favorite was Barsoom.

Easy enough to background-fluff it: Quar are from Phobos, they've had wars with Barsoom before, captured airships and modified them to fit their technology.
Reasonable. And more importantly it gets me airships!

The only question remained: how to make scout airships for Quar?

I started with a Star Wars toy:
This is the skiff that Luke & friends use to rescue Han, where Bobba Fett's agent clearly dropped the ball, because that death scene was far too weak for such a cool character.. but I digress.

The scale of the toy, judging from the size of the people that come with it, is about right for 15-18mm. Too small for 28's, but not bad for a 2 man flier! I rigged up a Quar crusader heavy shotgun team to be the gunner and pilot. I won't glue them in, so that I can potentially use the airships for other things: I'm thinking 15mm sci fi & someday I'd like to make a VSF Ottoman Empire Army... well, on to the pictures:

This is just a temporary stand to take the picture.
The first thing I wanted was some wings. A Barsoomian Airship may not need wings, but the Quar may require them, and it makes them look a bit more VSF in style.
I added a boiler exhaust for the same reason, and of course lots of rivets.
I placed a clear flying base at the back here, because I'm wondering if I should give it a propeller.

What do you think? Propeller yes, or no?

An airship doesn't really need a propeller, it uses the propulsion light ray.. but I don't know. I'm on the fence.

I still need to design a flight stand for the airships, I'm thinking I'll use double flight rods, for stability.

And of course I need to find time to paint them. It's pretty easy to find time to assemble & convert, it's relaxing after a day of commission painting.. painting after a day of painting though is a bit more problematic.

For painting I'm thinking a light grey/white painted armor plating with heavy use of the bronze & iron metal like I did with the Scout walker. What do you think?

Next stop, the skies of Venus!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quar Scout Droid Painted

I finished the first mini for the Royal Phobosian Light Expeditionary Brigade.
Truth be told, it was a very fast paint job: quick & easy, but I'm very pleased with the result.
Here is the Quar Scout Robot:
I'm liking this simple duo-metal. I had thought to paint the converted warjack & peacekeeper as painted armor plates, similar to how the tanks will be, but now I'm second guessing that in favor of doing them like this too. Undecided as yet.

We are not alone: Scout Automaton of Phobos Spotted

"Explain how you came by this soldier." Demanded first lieutenant Phineas Trundlebed, holding the photostatograph.
"We came across Corporal Wainscoting's photostatogal apparatus as well as other items from yesterday's scouting patrol a half-day's march west of here. Knowing Corporal Wainscoting's diligence in his maintenance of his gear and other sundries, I found the careless placement of his device upon the ground quite uncharacteristic of him if I do say so and I don't mind telling you."

Phineas Trundlebed raised one eyebrow at the brusk personalism but merely replied,
"Yes. Quite."
Shifting his attention to the photostatograph,
"But what is of equally distressing weight is just what the devil is this contraption which his device has captured the visage of?"

"I would not be so bold as to speculate sir," replied the subordinate. "But it matches no mechanization I am familiar with and certainly is beyond the craft of the natives. I would say sir, that it would appear we are not alone here on Venus."

Phineas Trundlebed raised one eyebrow again, giving the soldier a pointed look,
"Yes. Quite."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quar Recon Robot Conversion

The Quar of Phobos are nothing if not resourceful.

Their mission is to secure land & resources on Venus. Their own supplies, budget and quarpower are limited however. Their ships were designed to be dismantled on landing and made into base camps, wagons and machines of war. This is one such robot. A robot designed from communication equipment and cargo assisters. Versions of these have served as scouts for decades. They are fast, fairly agile and able to transmit messages over long distances. It has been weaponized as well: As it moves, its legs build up a static charge in its internal coils which it can discharge through its antennae. Its simple cargo arms can be used for defense when needed.

I started with the Star Wars miniatures droid you saw in the last post.
It had 4 soft, warped legs. I knew those would need to be replaced or reinforced. I first thought of making it a tripod: I loved the idea, but it was a bit more busy than I wanted. When sizing it up as a biped I thought it looked much better, as well as more awkward: just what I wanted.

I started by removing all four legs.
I then removed the center section of the two legs I would use.
The center I replaced with a paperclip and plastic tubing.
Drill into the leg & the foot for the paperclip support.
The finished legs on the right, original on the left.
Where the legs used to be attached is where the arms will come out from.
Drill in and attach a paper clip and plastic tube just like the legs.
This is the basics of the arms. a hole drilled through a plastic rod, and at the opposite end, a hole is drilled down the shaft (which you can't see in the picture). The paper clip will serve as the joining piece as you see below.
Leave a little of the paperclip sticking through the plastic rod, this will serve as the bolt.
The forearm is longer than upper arm, to add to the awkward appearance.
A close up of the pieces for the simple claw hands.
Almost finished! You can see a glued hand on the right. An old 40k Ork buggy radiator and exhaust looks very steam punk, especially when placed out like a spine.
Attach it with the same paper clip & plastic tube method used before.
Attach the body to the legs, hands to the arms and added rivets.
Must have rivets.
He's now ready to scout the jungles of Venus and zap any wayward Blue Planet Imperialists!
The 3 Walkers so far.

More Robots for the Quar

Last night was the first meeting for the Venus campaign.

This looks like it will be great fun. It is using a modified Mighty Empires for the campaign and Martian Empires for the armies & battles. Since I was a latecomer to the campaign, joining after it was set to launch, Captain Kneemo, commander of an international league of idealists and their robot troops, welcomed my Phobosians as comrades: we'll be splitting the number of banners & characters.

There are 8 players then in 7 initial nations. 6 fairly quick turns were run as the banners made planetfall, the offworld ships landing in succession and their forces moved out to scout. Each nation got 3 base camp villages and 3 native villages. Some nations saw combat, disease and other misadventures befall them as they explored. Fate shows it smiles on those with noble purpose however as the Kneemo-Phobosian alliance scouting moves revealed only 1 village which was unable as yet to see the benefits of joining us, but 12 villages and 1 mountain city joined our cause: some really lucky rolls!

Checking out the other forces, there were some really fun ideas with various minis & toys for creating VSF walkers, tanks & robots. As they get fielded in battle you'll likely see them here!

The Quar clearly need more machines, since the Scrambler walker I made seems to be best suited to being a light gatling walker, which is good.. but I need something with a bit more punch too. So here is the Cracker:
Similar to the Scrambler, but a bit slower, able to withstand more punishment and armed with a 6 pounder cannon.
"Come get some"
Made from a Warmachine Khador Berzerker. Cut the axe pommel off the left hand, cut the hand off the right arm, build a cannon, simply don't add all the extra squared shoulder armor plates & spikes (Quar do not strike me as a chaotic type who want spikes on everything), cut off what spikes are already there, and the head is placed on upside down, with spike removed... upside down looked more appropriate for the genre.

The conversion was very easy and surprisingly fast to do.
No one messes with this Quar, not when he has such backup!

What is on the horizon:
I picked up some Star Wars minis very cheaply, less than $5 for 3 models... have to love that.
I'm planning to replace the legs, give it some lower tech weapons...
I love it! What changes I'll make exactly I'm not sure... but it has so much potential.
What would you do with it?

Stay tuned and thanks for checking it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quar set solar sail for Venus

Stockholm Observatory Reports Sightings of Vessels Departing Mars
"We confirmed our original sightings last night," Announced Professor Bornholdt, Director of Research and Ocular Exploration at the Stockholm Observatory. "Beyond a doubt a small cluster of vessels have left the region of Mars and are on a trajectory that will take them inwards toward the solar center."

Amidst worries of an invading fleet he replied, "Highly unlikely. Their path indicates that they will bypass our planet altogether. In fact, Earth shall be on the other side of the sun as they cross our orbital path. No, all indications are their destination is Venus."

Of what impact this may have on the expeditions to Venus of the various world powers he would not speculate. "One curious item of note however, is that while we are aware there are civilizations on Mars, there is some indication that these vessels came not from Mars itself, but from one or both of the Moons. Whether this suggests that there are civilizations on the Moons of Mars or merely the presence of Naval Bases, I shouldn't hazard."

I recently became aware that the VSF Venus campaign that I've been following with interest on the Armored Ink blog is actually local to me and looks like I'll have an opportunity to take part!

I had two ideas for possible armies to use: my Draniki, the Lizardmen of Venus (sounds ideal) or to use my Quar, from Zombiesmith, with a similar idea I had for my 'Planets in Peril' background which situates the Quar as rivals on the moons of Mars. Since the GM of the campaign is running the natives of Venus, that left the Quar as my best choice, and the one I was leaning toward anyway, because they'd be the most similar to the armies of Earth, and it gives me a chance to make some tanks and robots... and who doesn't love tanks and robots?


The Royal Phobosian Light Expeditionary Brigade has requested and been accepted for a daring mission to Venus. Phobos has been in a constant state of war with Demos for several centuries. The two worlds have reduced each other to misshaped rocks. If Phobos is to come to a final victory it needs resources. Mars is close, but very contested for little gain, plus the eyes of Demos would be upon us. Earth is rich in resources, but has a population that is thick with a violent species. These men from the blue planet have recently come to Venus, which has many untapped resources. If left unchecked, Venus may fall to the claims of the Earth men nations.
The time to strike is now! Fortune favors the bold!


Unfortunately, my Quar are not painted yet, and I have precious little time for painting my own projects, being occupied with many commissions, but I try to have an hour or two a night for my own hobby projects, which helps me stay fresh for motivation for all projects. So hopefully the Quar will see some progress.

The rules being used is Martian Empires, which has been modified for 28mm minis.
Units tend to be on 4 stands of 30mm x 60mm with 2 or 3 miniatures on each stand.
Since my Quar are based for skirmish on 25mm round bases, they'll have room for just 2 minis per stand.

I knocked out some stands to fit the theme of Venus. These were fast & simple. It was very nostalgic for me to do something with thin dense card, sponge flock and plastic plants. A project on the cheap and easy like all my projects were ten to twenty years ago.

Here is a group of 4 stands, with some unflocked areas in the center to place some blue-tack to hold the minis with some stability.
The unpainted (for now) Quar stepping foot for the first time on the Green Planet.

The Scrambler.
A well armed walker of recent design. Its thick armor protects it as it crosses the battlefield, raining lead with its twin heavy machine guns. The Quartermaster of the Royal Phobosian 5th Army has approved the requisition of a Scrambler for the mission to Venus.

Though designed for the rough ground and trench combat of Phobos & Demos, its design should prove beneficial in the jungles of Venus as well.
The Scrambler was made with a Peacekeeper from Malifaux. Instead of the front arm and harpoon gun I've made heavy trench machine guns.

For King & Country & the honor of our Phobosian Ancestors, our next footfall is Venus!

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