Friday, August 4, 2017

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

My favorite piece of art from the whole series 
Over the last couple years I have been slowly reading Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, a manga retelling of the popular animé show.  Set in the Universal Century year 0079, the story follows a now standard trope of inexperienced youths thrust into military conflict by circumstance, and then growing to excel in various roles as the war progresses (itself a type of Bildungsroman).

The animé was first broadcast in 1979, and this manga was started in 2002 and is written and drawn by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, who was the original character designer for the TV series. Rather than being a strict retelling of the TV show, The Origin adds considerable material and restructures some of the TV show events into a more plausible order.

In 2013 Vertical started releasing the books here in the US in a hardback format.  These are amazing books made in the aizōban style, which means that they are thick hardbacks, super high end paper, numerous color pages, and generally a limited release.  Each volume also has accompanying essays about the importance of Mobile Suit Gundam in Japanese culture or in the anime/manga industry.  Ending with 12 volumes, the work is quite spectacular. Really recommend this series.

Zenon forces at the battle of Odessa

The Blackstars

The two main characters at Gibraltar

Gundam at rest

Battle Scene from book XII
War in the Gundam universe is mainly fought by small warbands of mechs, 60 feet tall, with short range automatic tank caliber guns and close combat weapons, which are prevalent due to the hand-wavium of "Minovsky particles" which prevents such things as radar from working at all, and degrades higher frequency sensors as well.

Gaming the Gundam universe is probably best suited by a set of rules that allows for detailed skirmishes between the warbands, where each Gundam is perhaps treated more like a fighter plane with pilots of different skill rather than using detailed mech rules.  Since ranged fire is only for eliminating mooks and large targets, some sort of dueling skill would be needed to dice off the close combat.  Tanks and infantry and so on are prevalent, but then are often mere annoyances to be swept aside with a single hit.

In terms of figures "Gunpla" is a huge source that can not be ignored.  The term refers to the hobby of building scale models of Gundam (and other robots), and there is such a huge market in Japan (and elsewhere) for these figures that they are available for all configurations of Gundam seen on screen or page, and probably more that never were.  Kits range from your standard plastic model from the early 80's to the totally poseable HG (High Grade) kits with internal skeletons, replaceable hands, and pieces molded in multiple correct colors to minimize or eliminate the need for painting.  The majority of the kits are 1/144 scale, which roughly equates to N/12mm, which is a bonus given the popularity of that scale for model railroad buildings.  Happily this also works well with the boom in 10mm scifi gaming, at least for terrain and civilian vehicles, if one is a purist about military vehicles.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Must be summer

Nearly a month without a post?  And that basically an advert?  Well, between being sick, dealing with sick people, the heat (41 yesterday), holidays, kids out of school, and other malarkey, I just have not been doing much in the way of hobby.  I put a brush to a miniature for all of 20 minutes in the last couple of months and it was not even that satisfying.

Fortunately there are always blogs to read, and Ebay... well, maybe that last one is not so fortunate.  (and strangely coupled with the former)  I did contribute to my first Kickstarter, in the shape of Reaper's Bones IV, and oh dear, that is another advert isn't it?

Hope to return to form soon, and I do have a few posts cooking... just not much in the way of progress.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Long Awaited Landsknechts

Warlord finally released their plastic landsknechts, over two and a half years after they were sculpted for Pro Gloria.  After Pro Gloria sold out to Warlord, the kit seemed to languish in development, until today!

Originally the Pro Gloria release was going to have 24 figures, with 20 regular pikemen/spearmen/halberds and four command, but it appears that when Warlord reworked the figures, they increased the total number to 30, while altering the options to allow you to build either entirely pike or a few Arquebusiers (and reducing the number of heads available as well)

These seem to be well suited for their intended purpose, and would also go nicely in an old school Warhammer Fantasy Battle Empire army, which is where any I bought would end up.  Unfortunately with the demise of WHFB, sort of a low priority for me (and I have half a dozen regiments to paint first anyway) but something I will certainly keep an eye on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rey of Sunshine

It has been rather hot here (40°+ every day), so not much hobby has been accomplished.

However, it was my beloved wife's birthday, and I did manage to convert and paint a Star Wars Rey figure for her.  I used a Hasslefree miniature as the base, which with the correct head selection and some work to the staff and robes makes for a passable Rey figure.

Pose is a bit hard to photograph

I nearly had a heart attack when my daughter started shaking the wrapped box to try and figure out what was inside. 

Bit of a hasty superglue frosting on the base here

Now contained in a golf ball box
Unfortunately I ran out of matte spray after completing the figure, so I did not get the Inquisitional team finished, but they are nearly there.

 I did also help to "run" a murder mystery dinner party for her birthday, and wrote an additional character for it, so I guess that counts for hobby as well, but there really is not anything to show for that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Shadow War: Armageddon Play Aides

As you may recall, I actually played a game recently, so expect a lot of posts having to do with material from that glorious morning, in one fashion or another.  In this post are some play aides I made for the game, although only the cards made it in time. 

First then are character cards for each of my warband members. (Inquisitor shown).  I made cards in MS Publisher with the relevant information, and added a few of the rules details to help me keep track of them.  I then added a picture of the figure in question for a bit of recognition, and printed them out on off-white heavy weight paper.  These proved to be useful during play, although I only got a few of the pictures added before I printed them the morning of the game. 

The second item are these lovely status markers created by JB the Asslessman, and modified by me to fit a US penny [19mm, and roughly the same size as a UK, Euro, and Canadian penny].  I had a whole sheet of these printed out prior to the game, and asked my lovely assistant to cut them out for me.  "Isn't that why we have a Cameo?" she replied, and thus they did not make it to the game.  I did glue these six together, and I think they look lovely next to my figures, so I will make a few more sets of them... for a cost of just pennies.  Ha.

I did finish the painting and basing for the figures, so they are just awaiting a matte spray before I photograph them for the blog.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Shadow Wars: Armageddon

This weekend some chaps and I had a three-way... game of Shadow Wars: Armageddon (SW:A) that is.  As you are no doubt aware, SW:A is a Necromunda based rule set that allows one to take forces from any of the main 40k armies, and fight it out, with a gentle and quick campaign if you like that sort of thing.  Sean and Dai, of Sean's Wargames Corner and The Lost and the Damned and the Stunted respectively, had kindly invited me to join them at Dai's house for a game or two of SW:A, so I got in a game for once.

To start, here are some preview shots of my Ordo Xenos crew (and a couple of extra specialists unused as (spoilers) I did not make it to game two). I rather frantically painted these (and their cut paper bases) this past week, and did not quite make it to completion prior to the game.  Consequently they are still in the "gloss ink" stage, and need a few touch ups, base work, and then matte spray to be finished.

I did not take any notes of our game, and also took fewer pictures than I really should have, but here are a couple pictures and some words to go with them.

First off, we played a three way scenario with a reliquary in the middle.  Winner would be the team which took off three counters, or which remained in possession of the field after the other teams were eliminated/bottled. We played around 5 turns, and including setup that took about 3.5 hours... lots of hemming and hawing and looking things up in the rule books/mis-remembering from Necromunda, but it was great fun.  Dai had a chaos warband using the Inquisitor list, and Sean had Genestealer cultists.

Main table layout, with a bit more deployment area on the far left (which is where my force started).  Objective is the reliquary in the center, which will have six counters surrounding it

Deployed in three groups, with CC forces in the center, and shooters planning to move up to overwatch the objective. 

Mid game shot of a daemon "crusader" murdering poor sweet Lesya.  He was then pulped by a team up of the pilot Yuri and the tech priest.  Just off camera to the upper right is a dastardly chaos squat with a storm bolter shooting everyone up.

Inquisitor Kzimir doing what Inquisitors do best and murdering a downed Genestealer Hybrid

Acolytes Pasha and Sova, already heroes of the game for downing and killing a number of foul xenos/chaos, are seen here legging it off the battlefield with two counters.  I already had one, so if they made it out, I would win the game.

Unless I rolled above a ten on the bottle test...
With the failed bottle test, and Sean's genestealers having fled directly before I rolled this, the game was over and Dai was the winner.  I think we collectively rolled about a dozen bottle tests, and Sean and I failed in the same turn...  Anyway, I had a great time, and will certainly add a copy of SW:A to my buy list (and maybe a few acolytes with stormbolters too).

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cut Paper Bases

In preparation for the SW:A game tomorrow, I designed a set of base toppers using our Silhouette Cameo.  Inspired by the sort of contemporary future bases you see on Infinity or other models, I knocked out these designs pretty quickly, and then wasted some time fiddling around with other things that did not turn out as well (a truss, hex grating, tiny letters etc.). The version you see here is cut from heavy weight paper, and is about .1mm smaller than the top of the 30mm bases I am using. Super glued to the base and then painted, they will be quite durable.

After this picture was taken I dressed up the bases quite a bit more, but you will have to wait to see how they turn out when I post my Inquisitorial Kill team next week sometime.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

3d Printing II

In the midst of my extremely busy week last week, I managed to get a bit of time to head down to the downtown branch of the local library and try out their new maker lab.

The lab just opened less than a month ago, and aside from open hours, they also will set up appointments to meet with people anytime during the day.  They have two Makerbot Replicator +, machines which are fairly large, and faster than the older models at the other 3d lab in the library system.  Both of the labs allow you to print without cost, although they do recommend that users donate filament if they are using the labs frequently.

After a bit of an adventure finding parking, I met with the assistant librarian in charge of the lab, and loaded up a model I created in TinkerCAD.  This model is a building facade, designed to fit three buildings wide on a 8 inch frontage.  In actual terrain building, I would probably cast these in plaster, and attach them to a carcass for strength. As the model is not very large, it printed in approximately three hours, most of which time I was absent reading a book.
First layers of the raft being laid out

About an hour later

Final product, still with raft

Detached from raft, and compared to my usual test figure
Some numbers:
   Time to print ~3 hours (and about 10 minutes to set up)
   Material used (with raft) 43g
   Material used (without raft) 26g
   Cost of a 1kg spool of PLA ~$22
   Cost to print this model (if I paid for material) $0.95
   Actual cost: $20 for parking
  Comparative Shapeways cost: $21.89

Now I want to finish this model with some sanding and filling, and ultimately see how well it casts.  As I have another dozen or so models already finished in TinkerCAD, I am already trying to figure out when to go down to the library again...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend progress

Tiny bit of hobby progress this weekend after the timely arrival of a bitz order from Ebay.

Not much to look at here, but I have a few more warband members for my upcoming SW:A game.  Now I just need to paint the lot of them, and survive this upcoming very busy week.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Star Wars: The Visual Encylopedia

As long time readers of this blog probably already know, I tend to get every Star Wars book that the local library gets.

The latest I have read is Star Wars: the Visual Encyclopedia (2017) This is a newer version of what is now a series of books (mostly labeled visual Dictionary).  It appears to be complete as of its publication date, and as such has material from the third season of Rebels and from Rogue One.  Content (other than the pictures) is rather slight, and many of the pictures are very small as there are so many per page.  For instance, I have wanted to see the frieze from Chancellor Palpatine's office in detail for a while, but in this book it was only about 1 inch by 4 inches high!  Even with high resolution printing, that did not help much.

An interesting part of the book for me is how much material comes from the two cartoons, and further how very good it looks in the book.  It makes me suspect that the Clone Wars tv show in particular is actually much higher visual quality than it appears on TV, making me wonder about DVD or other ways of watching it where the sharpness of the images come through.

A few useful pictures (which are probably worth viewing full size)
Star Wars Alphabet
Various alphabets from the SW universe

Blasters (pistols)

Blasters (long gun)