Sunday, 1 May 2016

"Salute 2016" - Loot - Part Two

Blake's Seven WIPs - Space Commander Travis, Servalan and Kerr Avon
The first of my pre-orders collected at "Salute 2016", these superb likenesses by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" of Brian Croucher, Jacqueline Pearce, Paul Darrow and Michael Keating will make welcome additions to my "Alien Verses Blake's Seven" project, even if I do already own miniatures of Travis, Servalan, Kerr Avon and Vila Restal.

Fortunately all of these new sculpts by Ernst Veingart depict the 'Federated Security Command' personnel and 'Freedom Fighters' in post-Season One attire. Indeed Avon and Vila both appear in their Season Four costumes. Whilst my 'second' Travis now gives me the opportunity to field the Space Commander as either the Terran Officer ordered to destroy Blake (as played by Stephen Greif) or as the disgraced Federation renegade from Season Two... or perhaps even as both?
"Crooked Dice" WIPs - Two differently posed Claws of SHIVA and Vila Restal
Servalan's figure did admittedly cause me to momentarily pause before purchasing her, as despite wearing the costume seen in the second series story "Weapon", it would once again need to be painted white. Obviously I didn't want to own two miniatures of the same character in similar-coloured dresses, so have decided to paint her clothing bright red instead; bearing in mind that was another popular choice during her later televised appearances.

In addition to my science fiction figures, I also picked up a couple of packets containing the company's Claws of SHIVA sculpts. These 'razor sharp fighting clawed' henchmen would arguably make a good proxy for a lightly armed Shredder (of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Hero" fame). But for now the four formidable-looking minions will form part of my increasing legion of unfinished martial-artist miniatures I am currently collecting...
Bull Snapper WIP - This large metal miniature has been super-glued to a 40mm circular base
Undoubtedly a spur of the minute buy, and one of several "Privateer Press" models I ended up coming away from "Salute 2016" with, this impressive Bull Snapper is the first of a small Gatorman warband I hope to put together for the new "Hordes" rule-set when it's released later this year.

I've always liked the idea of gaming with some alligators, though if I'd known how difficult it would be to glue this heavy multi-part metal 28mm scale model together I probably wouldn't have bothered. Indeed, despite my best efforts with grey-stuff, there are still a few flaws to the figure's joins which I am hoping my paint-job will predominantly cover up. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

"When Is A Door Not A Door?"

"One stupid mistake in your life and you never live it down..."
These three 28mm plastic pre-painted "Wizkids" miniatures are part of the five-man "Heroclix" criminal gang I intend to field alongside the Riddler in my "Cosmic Cube Wars" campaign. As they're to represent the super-villain's Mole Hill Gang, I've painted them in similar colours as to that worn by Edward Nygma's alter-ego.  

The models consist of two Lackey figures, both number 019 from the New Jersey-based company's "DC Comics" Hypertime range, and a Thug, number 013 from their "Marvel" Infinity Challenge set. I did however convert one of the Lackey's into a gun-wielding goon by replacing his crowbar with the gloved pistol hand taken from a spare Henchman (number 016 from the "Marvel" Infinity Challenge range) I own.
"Da wire is cut, Boss."
Unsurprisingly all three of the miniatures were essentially painted the same way, with their trousers, tops and hats each being treated to a combination of either "Vallejo" Heavy Violet and "Citadel" Druchi Violet or "Vallejo" Heavy Green and "Citadel" Thrakka Green. Any metallic areas, such as the hand-gun, belt buckle, shades and crowbar, were given a coat of "Citadel" Ironbreaker before being washed with Nuln Oil.

With over half of the Mole Hill Gang complete, I'm currently making good progress on the final two members; a second crowbar carrying lackey and an unarmed Thug. As with their criminal associates these henchmen will be dressed in purple and green attire.
"Wizkids" WIPs - Two more additional goons for the Riddler and Franklin John Rock
Lastly I hope to spend the next month finishing off a number of partially-painted miniatures I have littering my table. These are predominantly "Heroclix" models, and the first to receive some long-needed attention is a figure of Sergeant Rock from "DC Comics". I actually started work on the World War Two veteran at the start of the Fifth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge way back in 2014, and thought the non-commissioned officer would be the perfect choice to lead Easy Company during my mass super-hero battles "Cosmic Cube Wars" campaign using the "Age Of Sigmar" ruleset by "Games Workshop".

Sunday, 24 April 2016

"I Suppose You Could Call It A Galactic Weed..."

"...Though it's deadlier than any weed you know."
This 28mm metal model of a Failed Experiment Minion is from code SKU: 26 by “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio” and is one of many miniatures I’ve painted up as part of my (badly overunning) Zomtober 2015 “Doctor Who And The Seeds of Doom” project. The figure will represent a hapless staff member of botanist Harrison Chase, who has been partially infected by the Krynoid's deadly extra-terrestrial virus and is thus slowly ‘turning’ into one of the alien invader’s plant-zombies.

Having first pinned and superglued a Failed Experiment Head to the torso, as well as a spare plastic “Games Workshop” mutated hand, I gave the hapless Chase Manor Security Guard an undercoat of “Vallejo” Heavy Blue. I then picked out the ‘infected’ monster's zipper and name badge clipper with “Citadel” Iron Breaker before washing both these metallic areas and his jumpsuit with Nuln Oil.
Mole Hill Mob WIPs - The majority of these henchmen simply require some washes before being finished
The goon’s spiky appendage was painted using a combination of Vallejo “Heavy Grey”, “Citadel” Thrakka Green and Carroburg Crimson, and “The Army Painter” Strong Tone Quickshade. This formidable vegetable growth was then dry-brushed with more “Vallejo” Heavy Grey. The former human’s flesh was painted using Heavy Skintone and some watered down “Citadel” Reikland Fleshshade.

I've also made some good progress on the latest "Heroclix" criminal gang I intend to field during my "Cosmic Cube Wars" campaign. These three henchmen will form part of The Riddler's Mole Hill Mob, and are thus being painted predominantly green and purple in order to match their master's colour scheme. Once I have completed five of the garishly-hued criminals, they'll join Black Manta and Two-Face in the first of my mass super-hero battles using the "Age Of Sigmar" ruleset by "Games Workshop".
Crossbowman WIP - The soldier still has quite a bit of work left to do. But is making some steady progress
Finally I am still pottering away on the last couple of figures I need in order to field a Witch's warband for "Frostgrave". As a result I have been making some progress on one of the crossbowman made by “North Star Military Figures”. This multi-part hard plastic miniature has proved incredibly time-consuming to 'get right' on account of all the additional pieces of equipment I added to the soldier's torso, after becoming somewhat disillusioned with the original softly-detailed sculpt.

Fortunately, after much grimacing, I am finally making some good headway on the model's numerous layers of clothing, equipment and pouches, and hope to be paying this noble stooge 50 gold pieces in the near future in order to field him alongside another crossbowman I painted at the end of last year.

Friday, 22 April 2016

"Salute 2016" - Loot - Part One

Time Robbers WIPs - Randall, Robin Hood and Wally have all been appropriately undercoated
The first of my impulse purchases at "Salute 2016", these incredibly characterful 28mm white metal "Time Robbers" are made by "Northumbrian Tin Soldier", and proved an irresistible temptation on account of them being based upon the band of dwarves from the 1981 motion picture "Time Bandits".

This "fantastic new range" currently includes all six of the diminutive treasure-hunters, as well as John Cleese's incarnation of Robin Hood from the film, and can either be bought singluarly or in a group (as I did). Somewhat disappointingly though, despite these models' excellent detail I have found them to be somewhat larger than advertised. Indeed, the heroic green-garbed outlaw actually stands a formidable 40mm in height, so unfortunately they won't easily fit with the vast majority of my 28mm-scale collection as hoped...
Time bandits WIPs - Plenty of work left to do these instantly recognisable sculpts
The Time Robbers Set is not however the only range which "Northumbrian Tin Soldier" produce, as Martin Buck has "wonderfully sculpted" a load of similarly-sized goblins, faeries, imps, gnomes and other assorted creatures as part of the company's dark fantasy Nightfolk miniatures catalogue.

As a result I'm hoping to paint up Randall, Figit, Og, Strutter, Wally and Vermin reasonably quickly, and then hopefully begin collecting some of the sword-wielding teddy bears and heavily-armoured big-eared gnomes which the manufacturers currently produce; alongside any new figures for which they cast their Time Robbers range.
Robo Hunter WIPs - Having undercoated and washed Hoagy with Black shade, the robot now needs dry-brushing
Equally as impetuous an acquisition were these two old "2000 A.D." themed models by "Wargames Foundry". Sold by "Warmonger Miniatures" these sculpts of Sam Slade and his idiotic robot assistant Hoagy are somewhat taller than I anticipated, with Robo Hunter standing a disconcertingly 35mm in height. As a result, much like my Time Bandits, I strongly doubt I'll be able to use them alongside many of my other 28mm miniatures.

In an effort to reduce Sam Slade's height, I did actually attempt to remove the (pre-slotta) metal model from his incredibly thick base, and inadvertently ended up costing the "cigar-smoking bounty hunter of robots" his entire left foot; which snapped away at the ankle. Fortunately, having removed the same limb from a "Heroclix" A.I.M. Agent I had going spare, I was able to pin a replacement plastic foot onto my Robo Hunter and then fashion it into a similar shape using some grey-stuff...

Friday, 15 April 2016

"The Most Startling Swamp Creature Of All!"

"Whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing"
This 28mm pre-painted plastic model of Man-Thing is by “Wizkids” and can be bought as number 063 from their “Heroclix” Marvel Mutant Mayhem range. “A former scientist who was transformed into a creature composed of vegetable matter through the synergistic interaction of mystical energy and swamp mutagens”, the large, slow-moving empathic humanoid creature was created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and artist Gray Morrow, and first appeared in the "Marvel Comics Group" publication "Savage Tales" in May 1971. The incredibly strong ‘heap’ has formed many long-lasting partnerships with his fellow super-heroes over the years, such as Howard The Duck and Benjamin Grimm (a.k.a The Thing), and is currently one of the “Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Standing an impressive 45mm in height, the beast was initially given an undercoat of “Vallejo” Heavy Grey in order to ‘mask’ its sub-standard pre-paint, and was then heavily washed first with “Citadel” Thrakka Green and then later with “The Army Painter” Strong Tone Quickshade. Once finished Ted Sallis’ alter-ego was dry-brushed with more “Vallejo” Heavy Grey before his eyes were picked out with a combination of Dark Vermillion and “Citadel” Bloodletter. I then indiscriminately dabbed more of the Strong Tone Quickshade over the Man-Thing’s limbs and torso.
"Dum Dum" Duggan WIPs - The S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander's boots, belt, holsters and trousers are finished
 Having completed the “accidental hero” I have now set my sights on completing the commander of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s team dedicated to handling the “stranger aspects of homeland protection”, Tim Dugan. This oversized “Heroclix” miniature of the Life-Model Decoy is already proving a little tiresome to paint on account of all the operative’s white webbing, belts, boots and gloves. But having finally laid down some final layers on his footwear and holsters, in preparation to wash these areas with “Vallejo” Pale Grey, I’ve taken some time out to both paint and ink the bottom of his all-blue uniform.

Dishearteningly I have five similar-looking, though no-where near as large, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to complete after “Dum Dum”, in order for the elite S.T.A.K.E. strike force to have at least some back-up on the tabletop. I do however have a little incentive to get these ‘foot soldiers’ completed soon as I’ve been able to source both a model of Manphibian and Nick Fury from across the Pond; along with some other S.H.I.E.L.D. reinforcements.
Imperator Furiosa WIPs - Having lost her arm, the road warrior is finally being painted 
Lastly I have made a little progress on my “Mad Max: Fury Road” mini-project by finally chopping off my converted “Copplestone Casting” Imperator Furiosa’s arm, and replacing it with the sword hilt of a spare “Wizkids” Silver Samurai figure I found. As a result the short-haired road warrior now appears to have her famous hydraulic mechanical left arm… or at least will once I have finished painting the artificial limb with some metallic colours.

Indeed having finished this simple alteration, I’ve subsequently managed to finish painting Furiosa’s shoe and sandal, heavily dry-brush her trousers in preparation for a “Citadel” Nuln Oil wash, and get some initial layers done on both her huge firearm and flesh.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Zombicide Report: Alien Verses Blake's Seven - "Lifeboats" - Part Two

“The story so far… On an orbiting Federation Weapons Research Facility Roj Blake, Jenna Stannis, Vila Restal and Space Commander Travis have encountered a hostile Alien lifeform which has completely wiped out the top secret base’s scientists. Realising that the extra-terrestrials pose a genuine threat to the safety of the Terran Administration, the freedom fighters decide to blow up the station. However before they can do so the party must first deactivate its computer-controlled lifeboats. Having teleported down into a series of cramped corridors, Blake and Jenna have positioned themselves close to the Control Room and established a ‘kill zone’. But Vila and Travis, busy exploring some abandoned space debris elsewhere within the complex are about to experience a much more personal close encounter of the third kind…”

Blake tapped his communications bracelet, and having given Travis some instructions (and a free action), aimed his space rifle at two oncoming Aliens approaching his position and brought one down in a spray of acidic blood. Jenna, realising that they might be momentarily overrun, moved east and made her weapon ready. Up ahead she could see two of the creatures reach the Red Junction, and something was making strange dog-like noises in the shadows further away.

Vila, desperate for a decent weapon searched the Green Room and discovered a glass bottle. Disappointed it was empty as opposed to being full of alcohol, the cowardly thief called out for Travis. Hearing his colleague’s voice, and sensing he was about to be cut off from help by the Aliens climbing out of the air ducts to the south of him, the Federation Officer bravely moved towards the hissing extra-terrestrials and blew one away with his sawn-off shotgun. However the Space Commander’s shout of triumph was cut short as he realised the additional experience he had accrued meant he had levelled up, and as a result the number of creatures the entire party would now be facing would be increased. With a curse Travis ran west back into the Green Room. Whilst behind him another three Aliens scrambled out of the ventilation system.
Blake gave Jenna a quick instruction and then, levelling his space rifle at two more of the slimy monsters rushing towards him, brought both down. Stannis, taking out the third and final Alien at the Red Junction with her blaster pistol, rushed East and then headed North towards the Control Room airlock. Behind the smuggler, the corridor was becoming increasingly thick full of squirming monsters, including a couple of dog-shaped fast-moving creatures which were racing towards her from the South.

Travis, tossing a space Pistol to a petrified Vila, fired with his Laseron Destroyer (pistol) and killed the closest extra-terrestrial chasing him. The Space Commander then had a final look around the Green Room and found a flashlight. Restal meanwhile, unhappy with the small firearm he had been given, rummaged around his surroundings once more, and was delighted to find a submachine gun. Gripping the formidable firearm tightly, the thief headed North towards the Red Room.
 Blake, fearing Jenna would become fatally separated from him, called out for her to re-join him and took down another two Aliens with his Space Rifle. Puffing, Stannis returned to his side, and exasperatingly asked “Where’s Vila!?!” A call from the West end of their corridor answered her query, as the breathless thief appeared from inside the Red Room. Travis meanwhile was slowly making a fighting retreat, his sawn-off disposing of another extra-terrestrial as the Space Commander moved North out of the Green Room.
Blake tapped his communications bracelet again, electronically sending Travis his location’s co-ordinates, and then killed two Alien hounds (Runners) which had been tearing towards him. The Federation Officer meanwhile, eager to re-join his hated foe, fired his shotgun into the packed Green Room, emptying the place of living extra-terrestrials, and taking some satisfaction in his work headed North, then East after Vila.

Staggering up towards his Liberator crewmates, the flush-faced thief reacted to a flick of Roj Blake’s head, and instead of joining them, moved up towards the Northern airlock, and using his Break-In skill (free action) opened the door. All around the shaking gambler could be heard the hisses and growls of the fearsome extra-terrestrials, as three more reached the Red Junction, two appeared from the South-East corridor and four Alien Stalkers emerged behind Travis… And what of the animalistic growls emanating far away in the direction of the Green Room?
Realising they may soon be overwhelmed, Blake gave Vila a quick briefing over his wrist bracelet and once again successfully killed two Aliens with his space rifle. Hearing the carnage behind him Restal raced up to the Control Airlock and picking the opening mechanism (free action) gave a sigh of relief as the heavy-duty shutter silently raised upwards. Behind it two snarling Alien Hounds growled hungrily at the stammering thief…

Finally approaching his arch-rival’s side, Travis prepared himself, along with Jenna, for the oncoming onslaught. Numerous monsters were fast approaching from both the East and West, including several of the larger dog-shaped creatures. It was doubtful that the freedom fighters would last long against such odds despite their firepower. Vila meanwhile was too busy being attacked by the Alien Hounds who leapt upon him from inside the Control Room. The gambler took two swift wounds, and grimly realised he was going to have to take some more if he was to survive, as the savage animals were too close now to avoid their acidic blood…
Blake tried to give Restal some encouragement over his communicator, before shooting down an Alien Stalker and a hound. Jenna also poured fire into one of the snarling canines (having Plenty of Ammunition) and finally brought down another of the dog-shaped fiends. Moving West Travis opened up upon the extra-terrestrials approaching from behind him with his Sawn-off Shotgun and managed to lessen their number. But there were even more slimy black shapes emerging from the corridors around them…
With an anguished cry Vila opened up upon the two Alien hounds savaging him, and his submachine gun took them down with a hail of lead. Twice more though the thief was wounded, as a result of his foes’ acidic blood. Gasping, and near to death, Restal staggered into the Control Room and de-activated the secret base’s lifeboats. The Liberator crew had won… for now.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

'The Cosmic Cube Wars' - WIP - Part Two

"Heroclix" WIPs - "Dum Dum" Dugan, Will Magnus and Platinum
Somewhat inspired by the recent “Marvel Worldwide” comic book series “Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D.” I’ve spent the past few days re-basing and undercoating a number of appropriate “Heroclix” plastic miniatures so as to field my own team dedicated to handling the “stranger aspects of homeland protection” on the tabletop.

To begin with I’ve dug out my extraordinarily over-sized “Wizkids” model of the strike force’s commander “Dum Dum” Dugan. The figure comes from the Marvel: Secret Invasion range and despite being a supposedly 28mm scaled sculpt, stands close to 40mm in height and requires a similarly sized circular base. There’s no doubt that in the comics the World War Two veteran is a big chap. But not that big. However as the publishers have recently revealed this version of the character is an advanced Life-Model Decoy (i.e. an android), I can live with the size. Plus I do like the way the old warhorse’s size makes him tower over his underlings.
S.H.I.E.L.D. WIP - This well-armed trooper will be painted blue and white 
In addition to Nick Fury’s long-time team-mate I have also started painting five S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers to use as the bowler hat-wearing soldier’s initial squad until such time as I can either finish or source some of the official commandos like Man-Thing and Manphibian. I’ve initially undercoated these terrifically dynamic models with “Vallejo” White in order to get a good head start on their boots, gloves, belts and webbing.

I have also started work on five SWAT Specialists, to use as additional support not only for my S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives. But also for the numerous Police and National Guard models I plan to field. As these figures’ uniforms and equipment will be predominantly black and blue, I’ve applied a coat of “Vallejo” Heavy Blue to each figure for now.
SWAT WIP - This well-armoured specialist will be painted black and blue 
As far as “DC Comics” personalities are concerned I’ve given in to temptation and finally purchased the Will Magus and Platinum jointly-based “Heroclix” model I needed to complete my collection of The Metal Men. This super rare Crisis sculpt was rather costly on its own, but recently came up for sale on E-bay as part of a significantly cheaper job lot. As a result I’ve given the two figures a quick undercoat of “Citadel” Abaddon Black, and started work on Platinum with a layer of the OOP Mithril Silver.

This desire to build a few more units for my “Cosmic Cube Wars” project seems particularly timely, as it has coincided with the release (and immediate acquisition) by “Games Workshop” of the two hundred and eighty page “Grand Alliance Order” unit rulebook for the company’s “Age Of Sigmar” game; the very rules I intend to adapt and use for my large scale super-hero themed battles.