Terrain Talk Pt. 16 – Makin’ Rocks In The Hot Sun

Carrying on from our discovery of how you can use old CDs as basing material for scatter terrain, I’ve been occupied with upcycling ALL of our trees.. this is what lockdowns are good for, folks! But to keep myself sane I decided to vary things a little and create some rocky clusters after checking out an old battle report that GW put online recently. Catching a bit of classic 90s flava and updating it to fit the look of our table – and to be fair, this is a really simple and effective build.

So, as before, take your CDs and put them in a bowl. Boil the kettle, pour the water into the bowl, leave for about ten minutes or so. This will soften the plastic enough that a normal pair of kitchen scissors will be able to cut through it – it’s a bit of an art but you’ll get the hang of it. I cut random curved lozenge shapes out of it – you don’t want to make anything too recognisable as a geometric shape like a circle or oval. It won’t look natural, it’ll distract the eye and bug you like hell.

Well, it would me.

Anyway, next step was a couple of nicely sized and shaped stones from the garden – I disinfected them (can’t be too careful these days), and glued them onto the CD base using a generic “No More Nails” knockoff (something like acrylic caulk or hot glue would probably work just as well). I pressed some cat litter into the excess glue splodges around the big rocks for some extra detail, then stippled home made texture paste (PVA, filler powder, sand, water and black paint) onto the “ground” of the piece (not the rocks themselves though).

After all that, the whole thing got primed with cheap black spray paint and the “ground” areas got a drybrush with burnt umber, brown and then a final drybrush with bone craft paints. I painted the rocks with Granite Dust house paint from a tester pot I got a few years back:

It begins…

Next up – leopard spotting! This involves daubing on first a yellow wash:

Oooerrr.. THAT doesn’t look right

Followed by a brown wash:

Ooooooooeeeeeeooooeeerrrrrrr…. that REALLY doesn’t look right!

Followed by a black wash:

Oh… OK, I see where this is going

And then a bone drybrush to bring everything together:

Oh, NOW I get this!

Finally, flock! We’re both sworn adherents of Mel The Terrain Tutor’s 3 tone flocking technique, with the addition of Jarvis JTF 1 as a cover tone and Garage Floor Dust (TM) drizzled on as a final touch. Then it was out to the shed for sealing – two coats of PVA thinned 10 parts water to 1 art glue (or thereabouts).

And finally, pics of the finished article in situ!

On it’s own..
With friends around…
And finally, in a scrap! The Hazzard People’s Front take on Da Skooderia..

And there we go folks, a nice quick, cheap, easy build! I’ve got five more stands of trees to do so I’ll be banging out some more rocks to help keep myself sane during the build process… at the very least, when this lockdown lifts we’ll have a VERY pretty to scuffle over…

Till next time, stay safe, stay thrifty, someday soon this will all be a memory…

Terrain Talk Pt. 15 – Next Gen Trees

Spurred into action by my compatriots ridiculous ingenuity! Seeing as lockdown has left me with custody of most of our gaming terrain, I thought I’d take the opportunity to “upcycle” some terrain pieces that had been bugging me for a while – the woods.

Now, these were just model trees meant for railway picked up off eBay some years ago and glued to some thick cardstock which was painted dark brown and flocked. And it looked, y’know, OK... for a while..

But cardboard warps. And monotone flock, with no ground texture.. Oh no. That doesn’t cut it any more. And after discovering a new basing material from a fellow blogger, I got to work…

The magical new basing material? CDs! Turns out that if you soak them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes or so, you can cut them with common or garden kitchen scissors – and once you’ve got your shape cut out you’ve got a perfectly stable, warp-free base. Now, this may be old news for some of you out there, but it was a revelation to me! First under the scissors, a disc of drivers for a printer that died in about 2014. I put it in a bowl, boiled the kettle, left it for five minutes, came back and got stuck in cutting bendy irregular shapes out of it.

Next up, I pulled the trees from their original cardboard bases and hot glued them in place on the CDs- this can be a bit fiddle, you need a big dob of hot glue on the CD and another generous glob on the tree, hold them in place until they set…

Trees on their new home

Once that was done, out to the shed and stipple on some home made texture paint (black craft paint, mixed with PVA, sand and filler powder).

Texture paste added

Once this was dry I sprayed the whole thing black.

With this stage done, on to painting and flocking! I started with a “wetbrush” of dark brown (specifically Folk Art 476 Asphaltum, looking at the bottle), before a drybrush with Americana Honey Brown and a further drybrush with Americana Buttermilk.

For flocking, we’re subscribed to the Terrain Tutor and his 3 tone flock system, with the added drizzle of Garage Floor Dust (TM) – the trees got painted with PVA and dunked in Jarvis clump foliage flock. So, to the pics!

The old…
The new!
And some friends…
And a blast from the past.. a DIY tree from 2009, pipe cleaners and pan scourers!

When we do finally get to share a table again, at the very least we should be able to show y’alls some good pics 😉 stay safe, stay thrifty out there, we’ll see you soon!

DIY Epic Infantry – Yes, You Read That Right.

Right, that’s it, Seven weeks into lockdown and every single surface in my house and garden has now been painted. I’m now allowed to down paintbrush and have some hobby time. So what’s a Dan do now he’s at a loose end?

…

I know, I’ll paint something.

I wound up with custody of our DIY Epic Imperial Guard contingent when lockdown hit and for a while I was wondering what to do about the infantry contingent – I mean you can’t have the Guard without Guardsmen, right? Massed ranks of lasguns just battering the enemy into submission through sheer force of numbers? I checked out Onslaught, Vanguard, Brigade, Ground Zero Games.. some lovely stuff out there, light years removed from the old 90s GW stuff (which you can still find on eBay, but truth be told, you’re better off hiring a for-real mercenary company for the prices they go for).

And then I chanced upon this guy.

And, forgive me, but I fell in love. For those who can’t/ won’t click the link, this is an utterly brilliant concept called Granny Grating Armies – basically, you cut little shapes from plastic mesh to represent different types of soldier, and you rely on the paint job to carry the illusion. It’s incredibly ingenious, and incredibly cheap, and I absolutely love it. Links to some other projects:

Lord Of The Rings Isengard army

More of the same.

So, I came, I saw, I fell hard. As luck would have it, I still have most of a sheet of granny grating in the store cupboard (Find some here for those of you who have no idea what this stuff is or where to get it). Following the instructions in the YouTube video, I cut out what is basically a cross shape with an extra horizontal layer at the bottom (watch the video, this is som much easier shown than described) and hot glued them to a 20mm x 20mm square of cardstock cut from the back of a notepad (this stuff is called chipboard by our transatlantic cousins.. hello, Wyloch!). A Guard infantry company in 2nd Ed Space Marine has three platoons of ten stands each, plus a command section of two stands and a Rhino – yes, we had Rhinos back then. At five guardsmen to a stand, that’s 160 granny grating soldiers…

…Barely even touched the sides. With more than ¾ of my A4 sheet of granny grating still intact, I chopped out a couple of poles and glued them to the command stands to represent battle standards, and then out to the shed for a quick coat of black primer – no special reason for black other than that’s all I’ve got at the moment.

I spent a few minutes pondering the paint scheme and was suddenly hit by a brainwave – I’ve still got those little tester pots of Wilkinsons’ emulsion that I use for terrain, and amidst them was a very light grey called “Granite Dust”which would serve as a base coat. Splodge on with a big brush all over all the lads, followed by a tan coat with craft paint, Vallejo German Grey dotted on over the chest to represent flak armour, silver on the upper horizontal to represent the lasgun, and a thin black wash. Then a dab of flesh tone on the “faces” and “hands”, with a light wash of Vallejo Skin Wash, and a dab of either red, blue or yellow craft paint to the helmet to mark out which platoon was which, and that’s pretty much it.

For basing, I painted burnt umber craft paint over the black primer, and when dry, a coat of PVA. Drizzle a little flock over it, followed by just a pinch of Garage Floor Dust (TM) and we’re done. All told, about three evenings, an hour or so a time – result, one full strength Imperial Guard Infantry company, cost £0. THAT’s how you keep to a budget.

Epic experts will know there’s still the Rhinos to build, but that’s basically the same as how we did the Vindicators last year, plus every Guard company also comes with a Commissar (and his own Rhino) to keep the lads in order, but they’re coming….

Meanwhile, pics:

“J” company on parade!
Even up close they’re not too bad..
Commissar and Rhino
With GW Marine stand for scale – it’s pretty close!
The full force so far

I love these little buggers. Are they a patch on any of the outrageously beautiful and detailed 6mm masterpieces makers like Onslaught or Vanguard offer? Hell no. They’re not even close to the old GW stuff. But from 2 feet away, who cares? They scale well, and you can make hundreds of them for about £5 in materials! Jim, you’re going to love these… and oh, yeah, that’s the third paintjob on the vehicles, that same Granite Dust with first a green, then a brown, and finally a black wash with just a little drybrushing. Never let it be said I’m indecisive.

Granny Grating Armies is a real thing, check out some links here and here – even if you don’t want to make the models, you’ve got to love the ingenuity.. and it’s surprising how you start seeing the world in grid patterns after you’ve been doing this for a while! Up next, Commissars, a Heavy Company and some Rough Riders! Till then, stay safe, stay thrifty, see you soon.

Armies On Parade: Heretic Heroic Renegade Rebel Scum Freedom Fighter Terrorists (The Hazzard People’s Front 237th Freedom Brigade)

It’s probably fair to say that one thing EVERYONE on earth has in common, is that 2020 is not playing out the way the wanted or expected it to.

Or if it is playing out the way you wanted, well, f*ck you and the horse you rode in on.

In any case, the lockdown has robbed me of gaming buddy (not a COVID casualty, mercifully, just being careful and following the rules – getting pissed and playing soldiers with your mate hardly counts as essential travel business) , so in his absence I’ve been busying myself with readying a new faction for One Page Rules Grimdark Future / Future Force Warrior / 40k. You’ll have already seen their armour contingent, now here are the lads themselves!

As I mentioned, I think the “Rebel Guerilla” faction are meant to represent the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars, but I kind of like the idea that 40k and Star Wars kind of represent two sides of the same coin.. Luke Skywalker and co. might think they’re fighting for freedom, but in fact they’re just dupes of the Chaos Gods, killing for Khorne, fulfilling the machinations of Tzeentch, their defiance feeding Nurgle.. as for Slaanesh, I guess Leia snogging her brother in Empire Strikes Back ticks that box! Meanwhile God-Emperor Palpatine knows the TRUE nature of “The Force” and knows that only brutal repression can prevent mankind’s corruption at it’s hands.

So with that in mind, pics!

I began with a box of old Airfix WW2 commandos, some greenstuff, cardboard.. and hope!
And we’re ready for primer!
As with the tank, spray primed black as that’s all I had, and then a couple of coats of tan craft paint to get the base coat on
Washed with Vallejo smokey ink thinned with Windsor & Newton acrylic medium
And here they are! The Hazzard People’s Front 237th Brigade (Hazzard People’s Front? F*CK OFF! We’re The People’s Front Of Hazzard..)

I even had a bit of a backstory for these lads – originally part of a PDF territorial reserve unit tasked with internal security operations, these lads were sent to arrest a cell of four individuals tasked with Warp/ Force sorcery… but when they arrived to round them up they found they couldn’t quite remember why they were there, and their CO suddenly found that he bitterly resented propping up a corrupt and inefficient administration that had one law for the many and one for it’s cronies. Ever since then, they’ve been on the run, existing as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them.. maybe you can join The Hazzard People’s Front!

Building on the idea of “baddies who think they’re goodies”, I went with a paint scheme inspired in equal parts by Return Of The Jedi, Rogue One, and the Vraksian Renegades from WH40K. Craft paint tan for the base uniforms, washed with thinned brown and black inks, webbing done with Vallejo Olive Drab. I think it came out rather well, something sinisterish about it but without overplaying it. These lads don’t know they’re baddies yet, remember- skulls and spikes all over everything might give the game away!

Here’s the roster:

Commader – Q 4+ D 4+Carbine 18″ A1, Energy Fist A2 P2, Camo Cloak (Stealth) Wings (Ambush, Flying. Hero, Tough 3 (65pts)

4 Rebel Psychics – Q 5+ D 5+ Pistol 12″ A1 CCW A1, Hero, Psychic 1, Tough 3 (4 x 50pts – 200pts)

Simian Champion Q 4+ D 4 + Claw Gauntlets on Massive Fists A6 AP 1 Rending, Furious, Hero, Tough 3 (55pts)

2 x Rebel Squads – Q 5+ D 5+ 4 troops w/ Carbines 18″ A1, CCW A1, 1 w/ Missile Launcher 48″ HE A1 Blast 3 AT A1 AP3 Deadly 3. Camo Cloaks (Stealth) (2 x 85 pts – 170 pts total)

Striker Squad – 3 Strikers Q 5+ D 5+ Shotgun 12″ A2, Energy Sword A2 AP 1 Rending (105 pts)

Sniper Squad – 3 Snipers Q 6+ D 6+ Sniper Rifles 36″ A 1 AP1, Sniper CCW A1 (95 pts)

2 x Bounty Hunters Q 4+ D 4+ Plasma Rifle 24″ A1 AP2 , Camo Cloak (Stealth), Wings (Ambush, Fling, Hero, Scout, Tough 3 (2 x 65 pts – 130 pts total)

Assault Vehicle – Q 4+ D 2+ Fusion Cannon 24″ A1 AP4 Blast 3 Fast, Impact (6) Tough (6) (180 pts)

Total 1000 pts

Aaaand pics!

Commander Khorr Bynn, former PDF reserve officer, now a fearless warrior in the cause of social justice!
Simian Champion – Loretta, known amongst the crew as Stan
Rebel Psychic cabal – who could arrest these poor innocent souls, merely yearning for a better life and casting the odd spell to try and make it happen…
Sniper squad – basic conversion, just added greenstuff cloaks to the WW2 Airfix Commandos. I can do cloaks. That’s about it though.
Striker squad – these lads like to get stuck in with shotgun and energy swords…
“Look at their glands!” The Millibandorian boys – greenstuff cloaks, cardboard wings and added FN FALs to represent plasma rifles
Finally, the grunts! Rebel Squad 1 and Rebel Squad A, led by Brian and Reg respectively
And one last shot of the 237th ready for action! Although Commander Bynn isn’t at all happy about some of the logos the lads have been daubing on the tank, the psychics – sorry, “differently abled” – all agree that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about..

So there we are, another army to get stuck in with when freedom reigns again! I’m quite pleased with these guys, they should get in close and hit hard – how will they do against Da Skooderia? Or the Hazzard 1977th? Only time will tell!

Stay thrifty out there, but most importantly stay safe, stay healthy and to quote Mel The Terrain Tutor, “Keep Calm And Crack On”! See y’all real soon now

New Project Inbound! Guerilla Renegade Tank

A quarter of the world is on lockdown (as of Thursday – probably more now). Try and wrap your head around that – a quarter of the world. We are living in unprecedented, historic times as coronavirus wreaks its’ havoc across the globe. Indeed, as I write this the UK is locked down, all non-essential travel forbidden.

Which kind of rules out our regular games night. Pretty certain going to play soldiers and drink beer with your mate doesn’t count as essential travel. So this has left me picking through the pile of toy soldiers we acquired in an eBay haul waaaaaaay back in 2012, with an idea in mind.

I’ve long fancied doing a “renegade” army, Chaos but without featuring Chaos Space Marines (as to my mind, they should be as rare as Loyalist marines) – just as the vast bulk of the Imperium’s battles are fought by the Guard, surely the vast bulk of Chaos forces will be cultists? But all the Codex stuff leans heavily on Traitor Astartes or full on Daemons.. not what I was looking for.

However, the good folks at One Page Rules have got you covered! Their Renegade Guerilla force – I believe it’s based on the Rebels from Star Wars, but it looks like a pretty good fit. We dig their Grimdark Future game, having had a couple of good scraps last year (plus it includes solo rules for when you’re missing your gaming buddy). Plus I liked the idea of a Chaos cult not really understanding that that’s what they are – having been educated in the Siege of Vraks by the excellent Arch Warhammer (a great listen while you’re cleaning, painting, decorating etc) – the rebels initially had no idea they were fighting for Chaos, initially believing they were the true loyalists… and that fits into a vague idea of the Star Wars and 40k universes being the same thing from different perspectives, Star Wars rebels thinking they’re noble freedom fighters against the repressive Galactic Empire, the Galactic Empire knowing that repression and stringent restrictions are the only way to fight Chaos/ The Force….

…or indeed coronavirus…

So I planned my list. I’ll show the infantry when they’re done, but let’s start off with the armoured component of the force – a Creighton-pattern light assault vehicle, a design native to the world of Hazzard Prime.

Remember those 4D “3D puzzle”tanks from 2017? Pair the M1 Abrams turret with the T-72 body to break up the silhouette, cut down the 120mm cannon t represent a short range “fusion blaster”.. then decorate with cardboard and stowage..
Fusion cannon made more sci-fi with the addition of guitar string… targeter? Cooling device?
Comin’ atcha…
More stowage on the rear of the turret, plus a guitar string antenna
And then, I watched “Fury”! So greenstuff sandbags suddenly became de rigeur..
Front and rear, naturally
That’ll stop those laser cannon beams, no problem
Primed! Added a commander figure in the hatch from the pack of Airfix soldiers I recruited for the infantry.. more on them in a separate post!
Painting! Slapped cheap tan craft paint over the black – never mind two thin coats, this bastard needed four, but hey, it’s not like I’ve got a deadline :-/ Camo triangles were done in Vallejo Olive Drab and the whole thing got a wash of Vallejo Brown Ink thinned with W&N matt medium.. the “freedom” sigils were stippled on with red craft paint.
Pin wash with Vallejo Smokey Ink, followed by sponge chipping Vallejo German Grey… in the heaviest weathered parts I went in with the teeny brush and put just a tiny stripe of Vallejo Silver in to represent paint and primer coming off – all this freedom fighting leaves precious little time for maintenance, you know.
Done! In situ with tank commander painted..
..and here facing down it’s nemesis, the Hazzard 1977th PDF Leman Russ, the mighty “General” himself!

I’ll be showing the infantry soon, and then it’ll be nice to have another faction to scuffle on Hazzard Prime – plus these guys will probably count as “baddies” (whether they agree with it or not) which will provide a nice bit of balance when we next do a REALLY BIG GAME – and we will… things might seem grim now, but it’s not forever.

Till next time, stay home, stay safe, wash your hands and don’t do anything stupid. If you’re NHS and reading this, then thank f*ck for you and may any and every deity protect you going about your duties. The world will turn soon enough, hang in there folks.

Apocalypse Earth: Black Ops Playtest – Sweep & Clear

For a while now we’ve been playing with the idea of “scaling” the Apocalypse: Earth setting for different games – just as back in the day GW had Epic, 40k and Necromunda for massed battles, intermediate and small scale skirmishes with different levels of detail, we’ve been toying with the idea of a 6mm mass battle version as well as an intimate, up-close-and-personal RPG (of sorts) set in the shadows of the Apocalypse: Earth universe.

To begin with, we thought we’d shift the focus from Allies v Holy Soviet Empire, and shine a light on some of the small scale behind the lines security.. Now, one of the factions that we haven’t explored too much on the tabletop are the extraterrestrials – the iconic Greys! If you’ve read the fluff, you’ll know that the main reason the Atlantic Alliance has the jump on the other sides in terms of technology is due to an alien spacecraft crashing in the deserts of Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Ever since then, Alliance scientists have been busily reverse engineering every aspect they can, creating the UNIVAC artificial intelligence to run the everyday infrastructure (and maybe more..) of Alliance nations, and the ARPANet instant electronic communications network, as well as the antigrav tech that powers things like the Silverbug gunships.

But although we haven’t seen the Greys in open battle yet, behind the lines it’s a different story, as elite security teams drawn from the best Allied combat units fight desperate small unit actions against alien infiltrators!

Accordingly tonight’s game pitted our gallant Alliance Special Forces team against an unknown foe, sweeping across an abandoned industrial sector..

The battlefield laid out.. SpecForce team in bottom left, with four objective markers four the team to check out and clear
The team deploy into cover
The team approach the first objective, cunningly concealed behind the two crashed cars..
Specialist Stewart trains his weapon on the objective, setting overwatch as Specialist Hill moves in to check the objective..
..we roll on the threat table, and out come two Mind Slaves with light weapons!
Clearly taken by surprise, Hill’s rounds go wild, missing completely!
Mercifully, Stewart is on overwatch, dropping a mind slave instantly. The second one attacks Hill in close combat, but the specialist has clearly recovered his composure and takes it down swiftly and brutally!
The team move cautiously toward the next objective..
..but the GM has some nasty surprises in store! We’re trying to figure out a way to simulate sod’s law in combat.. this is getting us some of the way there!
To Specialist Hill’s immense relief, Objective 2 turns out to be blank!
Hill and Moss clear Objective 4, but Objective 3 spawns a pair of mind slaves with pistols, stunning both Stewart and Hunt, and wounding Hunt’s leg into the bargain!
Thankfully Hill is on overwatch, and despite being hit with a jam, he clears the stoppage and takes down the two mind slaves with a couple of clean head shots.

And with that, the game is over! A resounding victory for the Special Forces team, but bear in mind that this is the lowest threat level, and would be an encounter that takes place at the start of a campaign. A fun, and at times pretty tense mission, looking forward to more playtesting on this!

Till next time, stay thrifty (and dry..) out there, see you soon!

Could It Be.. The End? Hairy Japanese Bastards pt. 5,23,658

His brush quivered in exhausted fingers that functioned on little more than adrenaline. The final wash. The final drybrush. The final details and basing. After countless hours, the endless had ended. The numberless hordes of miniatures were painted.

He felt a strange lightness- trepidation almost. For what, now, was his purpose?

He paused, trying to remember a life before this. Visions of sunlit uplands and glorious blue skies fuzzed into an imagination too long neglected, sacrificed to the demands of such a project.

As abruptly as it came, the fear left him.

You are free

“I am free” he whispered, not daring to believe it.

“I am free” he whispered again.

“I am free” he said, more confident now.

He drew a deep breath and threw his face to the heavens.

“I AM FR-“

And with that final roar, his heart beat its’ last.

Yes, it’s happened- these are THE LAST RATMEN! Finishing a project begun in something like the 4th century BC, this is a good feeling – four boxes of Miniknight Ratmen (available here, from the looks of it) bought with the intention of creating a proper old-school Warhammer Fantasy Battle Skaven army.. just a bit smaller. These fellas clock in at 1/72 or 20mm, so about 4/5 the size of a GW miniature… but a lot less than 4/5 of the price. This whole horde came in at under £40.

Anyway, this last tranche had been waiting in the “to do” pile for some considerable length of time as I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with them. I knew I wanted to include as many of the bonkers Clan Skyre special weapons as I possibly could, and thankfully the Age Of Sigmar reboot hadn’t changed them much, so I modelled a pair of each of the Warplock Jezzail, Ratling Gun, Warpfire Thrower and Warp-Grinder Drill teams. Now you’ve already seen the first three, but I got started on the Warp Grinder operators…

..and was just about to pat myself on the back and have a VERY large glass of wine to celebrate finishing the behemoth of a project, when a cursory rummage revealed these two f*ckers that had been hiding!

NOOO! They’re BREEDING!!!!!!

Made worse by the fact that I’d run out of grey and white primer, so these little fellas got a spray of black, followed by a basecoat of bone craft paint… this actually worked surprisingly well, so I’m a little turned around on black primer! I then basecoated tan, washed the models with Vallejo Smokey Ink (talent in a bottle) and drybrushed back up with the original bone. After that, I blocked in the flesh tones and details. Vallejo skin wash brought everything to life and the craft acrylic I used for the red was already pretty translucent so responded to the underpainting pretty well. I wonder if I’ve perhaps stumbled on to a secret formula for cheap Contrast paints here! Anyway, here are the results:

I didn’t actually convert these guys (as my will to live had largely checked out) but painting the blades yellow, washing in green, and highlighting yellow seems to give a nice warpstone effect.

We’ll be using these for Sigmar, old style WHFB, Age Of Fantasy:Regiments, and as the Virum Nascii for Hyperian Wars – and these lads have been smacking DOWN in our HW mini campaign last summer!

Right, if you’ve made it this far congratulations on reading a post about how I painted TWO tiny model soldiers X-) and here’s a group shot of Lord Ratticus’ mighty horde:

Of course, no wargaming/ modelling project is ever truly done… I’d like to add flags and battle standards to these guys, as well as my planned DIY Doomwheel, Plague Catapult etc, but for now I’m drawing a line under these guys and calling it done B-) Of course, in the event I have to self-isolate, I’ll at least have something to do!

Till next time, stay tuned and thrifty! (and try not to cough on each other…)

And Still They Come.. Hairy Japanese Bastards Pt. 3,147,923

So yeah, we’re not dead.

After Endless January, it seems like February has been swallowed almost entirely by 1:1 scale, also known as Real Life, problems. First car – and trust me, there are not enough swears in the world to cover my feelings toward that f*cking thing at the moment – then nature – Storms Ciaran and Dennis have been wreaking havoc and even here in dear old Leicestershire, we’ve not been immune. Although it’s nothing to what some people have been suffering in places like Wales, it was a bit disconcerting to see a lake forming on my kitchen floor, while Dan suffered tiles blown off and a leaking roof. Clearly, more offerings to the sun god Ra are in order.

So that’s why we’ve been a bit quiet.

But in between the mayhem, we’ve still managed to slip in a bit of hobby time… and after the Virum Nascii were slaughtered ignominiously in their last outing, we decided a bit of exra firepwoer was in order. So with the last few models from the four boxes of Miniknight Ratmen we bought in a fit of madness back in 2018, we’ve been busily converting to create special weapon teams inspired by and similar to (but definitely not the same as) the Clan Skyre teams from Warhammer Fantasy/ Age Of Sigmar.

Basic tools of the trade – cocktail sticks, guitar strings, drinking straws, greenstuff and sprue bits
Basic colours applied after priming.. priming was a mix of grey and white sprays as we were scraping the barrel in terms of materials… followed by a thin black wash and a white drybrush – our attempt at underpainting! To be fair, it actually kind of worked this time – as always, we use a mix of cheap art shop acrylics thinned with water and some Windsor & Newton acrylic medium, and for special occasions the odd Vallejo colour. Washes are Vallejo inks and Army Painter Green Tone, thinned as before. It seems to work picking out small details on these wee little 20mm fellas.
Jezzail / Vrilrifle (depending on your chosen ruleset) – the rifle carriers originally armed with halberd, a bit of greenstuff and a guitar string as well as a triangular shield. I modelled an eyepiece with greenstuff onto the spotter.
Ratling gun teams – same halberd model, this time encased in a drinking straw. Filled in the end with greenstuff and poked a wee bit of guitar string in there. I was hoping to get six in there for the “Gatling” look, but, nah, not happening. So this is more like a rat/ Maxim look. Ammo belts are chopped up IDE cables – originally got the idea from Zrunelord on TMP to use them as tank tracks, but I think they do OK here too. I’m happier with the loader on the right as I thought to bend his around a pencil!
Warpfire/ Vrilfire (again, depending on your rules) thrower teams – these were built the same way as the Ratling gunners, but I left the barrels on the straws open. Added fuel tanks on the backs made from bits of sprue, and added a feeder hose made from a guitar string and bodged in place with greenstuff.
Master of Engineers! Well, that’s his title for now – this chap got his arm cut off and reposed, a mask added with greenstuff and is sporting an ancient mystic Vrilfire pistol that looks awfully like a Sten gun….
The lads on parade!

Unbelievably, however, we’re still not done! There are still two guys awaiting conversion to a drill team, and after that there are the war machines! Currently there’s a prototype Doomwheel lurking in the cupboard made from two peanut butter jar lids… so if the real world could leave us alone for the next few weeks, maybe we can label this project as “DONE” – inasmuch as any gaming project ever is!

Anyway, stay thrifty out there, and our thoughts go out to anyone who’s taken a real hit from the weather these last few weeks.. See you soon!

2019 – A Year In Review

It’s 2020. The future is HERE. And as our hangovers recede from biblical to manageable (and we plan something BIG….) it’s time to review our 2019!

The year kicked off with a trip back to 1993 as we played through the Warhammer 40k 2nd Ed mini campaign, Marines vs greenskins in the ash wastes of Armageddon, but we did find time for a diversion to Central Europe of an alternate 1954, for a quite ludicrously violent scrap set in the early days of the Apocalypse War as Stalin’s legions flood across Central and Western Europe. As it turned out, this made for a cracking backstory for the origins of the feud between Lt. Grant and Lt. Polikarpov!

As the 40k campaign wound down, we turned our attention back to Apocalypse: Earth, with a new unit for the League of European Nations that I’d been looking forward to knocking together for a while. By this point we were firmly into springtime and the D-Day celebrations were looming large on the horizon. We both wanted to do something to commemorate it (as we both had grandparents who had participated) and as a result our most ambitious terrain build ever began! This laid the groundwork for our biggest Apocalypse: Earth game yet, as Lt. Polikarpov led a vanguard of the Holy Soviet Army in the shock 1956 invasion of Scotland!

This is definitely something we’re going to have to revisit, as Lt. Grant is currently a POW residing in a Holy Soviet internment camp somewhere on the Orkneys, so a definite game on the horizon will be the insertion of a Special Forces team to break him out, reconstitute Buffalo 2-7 and save Britain from the dastardly Soviets! Something to test our Black Ops game with, I think…

The Virum Nascii (totally not Skaven army that we went crazy and bought four boxes of in 2018) have got a good few games in this year too, in various rules systems – Hyperian Wars and Age Of Fantasy: Regiments from One Page Rules, including an epic slaughter against the Sky Marines that won the approval of none other than Gav Thorpe himself!

Speaking of One Page Rules, after watching our hobby sensei Wyloch we decided to give them a try- Grimdark Future and it’s skirmish cousin, Grimdark Future Firefight. Although we weren’t 100% converted, it’s a fun and quick system thoroughly well suited to a pickup game – no codexes, everything free, no rules bloat.. it just works! In fact, it’s managed to be everything 40k would like you to think it is, but isn’t (if that makes any sense..).. it’s also inspired a project for this year that is pretty high on the ambition scale… DIY Adeptus Mechanicus! More on this as it starts to take shape.

Oh, and speaking of ambition – THIS happened.

Counteracted by THIS. Scratchbuilding escalation in Epic scale!

So – busy year all round, really, lots of games played, lots of terrain made, lots of miniatures made and painted. On the horizon for 2020?

Well, I mentioned DIY Adeptus Mechanicus in 1/72, but I also fancy getting some reinforcements for our “legit” 40k armies – most likely in the form of Patoroch papercrafts – as well as more Epic shenanigans, the Virum Nasii to finish, and maybe, just maybe….. just maybe…. we’ll get some more of our rulesets actually put together and published!

So what about you out there in hobbyland? What goals have you got this year/ decade? Send us your comments, and stay thrifty out there!

EDIT: Forgot to mention – one slight negative, this was our first year on record where we had fewer views and visitors – 325/ 81 in 2015, 4095/ 1897 in 2016, jumping up to 18358/ 10297 in 2017 and 21124/ 11324 in 2018.. but down to 16399/ 7578 in 2019.

That said, I’m still pretty pleased as we had an absolute record number of likes and comments, so I’ll take that as a win – clearly more people have realised what we do and made the decision as to whether or not they’re into it, but the ones who do dig what we do are clearly keen! So shout out to Pete S/ SP, John@justneedsvarnish, Imperial Rebel Ork, Davekay and all the rest of you guys out there in hobbyland, keep ’em coming!

Do You Like My Leetle Tanks? DIY Imperial Guard Vindicator Company

EDIT – I began this post before Christmas, but life kind of got in the way.. hope you enjoy this belated post!

Two sleeps til Christmas – but amidst the festive lunacy, we’ve still found time to complete a project! These lads are one of the first steps to having the Epic Imperial Guard Army I always wanted but could never (and still can’t afford)..

Anyone interested in the build process should check here first, a this post is going to be all about the paintjob and finishing off the last steps of this project. Now, I’d struggled with a camo pattern for these lads for a while, and regular visitors to the blog might notice some changes since their last appearance.. So I’d hummed and hawwed about how to paint them and eventually decided on an 80’s BAOR/ NATO inspired three tone camo. A few simple steps:

Prime grey.

Basecoat with Vallejo Russian Green.

Stipple With Vallejo German Grey.

Detail with Vallejo US Olive Drab

Wash with thinned Vallejo Black Ink

Drybrush with bone craft paint

Metallics with Vallejo Silver

Pin wash with Vallejo black ink, and wash the metallics.

Tactical symbols freehand with bone craft paint

Drybrush mud with GW Bestial Brown or craft paint equivalent.

And the results?

The lads on parade! Note the red hatch and antenna on the HQ tank – because nothing is more tactically sound than making it totally plain to the enemy which one is your command tank…

Spot the real GW Rhino! Commissar rhino, and artillery company command Rhino shown for scale..

Squadron markings on the front mudguards – red, blue and grey

These lads got a lashing over on Dakkadakka, but TMP members seemed to dig them, and personally I’m quite pleased – they’re a bit darker and more indistinct than I intended, but it’s a relatively “believable” colour scheme and the tactical symbols (which I copied from Google Image search for “FV432 camouflage”) give them a bit of life. They’re sure as hell not perfect, but from two feet away they look pretty good, and I’m looking forward to getting them on the table!

Meantime, Happy Christmas to one and all out there in the blogosphere, here’s wishing you all a fantastic Christmas and New Year!