Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hawk Wargames Terrain

Hawk Wargames, makers of the hot new 10mm sci-fi game Dropzone Commander, is coming out with a lovely line of buildings made from cast resin tiles.  The tiles are made in either commercial or residential sizes, and have a sort of vague 1930's art deco sci-fi look to them that I really fancy.  By mixing and matching the various lobby, wall, and cornice tiles, you get a pretty unique look for each building that still looks coherent.  Tiles are 36mm wide by 17mm or 21mm depending if they are commercial or residential, and the ground floors are double height.

Here are a few pictures linked from their site.

Expensive at roughly 75p a tile, but they look great, and while filling up a town would be costly, they could probably be used to "sci-fi" a N scale cityscape pretty easily, and certainly a backdrop of just building facades could be done reasonably.

Wish someone made this sort of terrain in 6mm... although I am afraid I would have to buy quite a lot of it if they did!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Festung Hohensalzburg

Our next stop in the retrospective tour through Europe is the fortress of Salzburg, known as the Festung Hohensalzburg.  The site looms over the city on the Mönchsberg, and was occupied by fortifications as early as the 1070s, and the major fortifications date from the 1500s.  The fortress was serviced by a cargo funicular as early as 1495, and had another funicular added in the 1890s to bring tourists up to the site. 

Here are a few pictures of the fortress, one of the remaining city gates (Sigmundstor), and the bastion across the river. Clicking should make them bigger.

Tourist Plaza

Capped battlement crenellations on this tower

View from the tower in to the garden

The fortress is pretty high up

Interior wall battlement

Looks pretty... until you see the machicolation above the gateway

Battlement drainage

As you can see, cannon could range the whole city

Hilt of an arming sword

Salzburg was always a most Catholic City

Festung over the town

Catacombs in the mountain side

Sigmundstor, cut through the mountain

Bastion wall watch

Fortress view from bastion

Former cannon port on bastion

Stairs and more stairs up the mountain

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

On our recent family holiday, we drove down from Frankfurt to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Rothenburg is in northern Bavaria, and has a particularly well preserved medieval old town, and of interest to this blog, has its original walls.  These survived the end stages of the war due to an understanding on both sides of the historical value of the town.

We were not in town very long, but we did manage to see the town center, St. James, and walked a bit of the wall before we had to hurry on our way. I must say that I really wanted to work on a 10mm castle after seeing this town!

 Here are a few picture highlights for your Saturday perusal:
Pedestrian Gateway.  Check out that stone work, not as regular as you might think from looking at models.
St. James' doorway with inset smaller door
Narrow streets
Altar cover in St. James'.  Interesting for the costumes depicted aside from its beauty

Tower over the gate
Gun loop in the wall
Some lovely tile texture ideas here
Wall walk
This view of the wall shows how it has changed over the years, and that it probably had a fighting platform previously.
Wall with fall ivy
Cobblestones around an old well
I have some more of these if there is interest in any of the particular subjects.
Upcoming: faux-castles, a fortress, and the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The lure of Chaos

A current development in the "Games Workshop Hobby" (as they like to call it) is that there are both people willing to buy individual plastic parts clipped from kit sprues, AND that there are people willing to set up and manage web or ebay stores to enable this.  I have long been a buyer of "bitz" to use the GW parlance, and when the company decided that it did not want my money in that way anymore, I gradually turned to online suppliers to meet that need.

Sometimes when perusing lists of bitz, you notice that there is enough commonality to make it worth while to buy a kit outright.  Instead of spending $20 on parts to get 50% of a kit, you could buy the whole thing for $30 and so on.  The risk (besides spending more money) is then that you become interested in the original purpose of the kit, that is to build a certain unit for a certain army, and before you know it, you are setting out on the path of building a new army, something few need to do in this era of belt tightening and other responsibilities.  Anyway, looking for chaos knight bitz led me down the darkest of dark paths, reawakening a desire for a chaos army.
I have long harbored desires to have a chaos army (something I clearly need in addition to Dogs of War, Empire, Dwarves, Goblins, and various random things), and looking for bitz made me start thinking about the kits, and the army, and now here we are (that the current White Dwarf has a few new Chaos kits does not help).  I already have a Marauders as Dogs of War Northmen unit (converted to have great weapons and to look more like vikings) and most of a box of chaos warriors.  I also have a mounted wizard (as a White Dwarf subscription bonus, from the last time they had those), and most of a unit of Bestigors, which in 6th edition can be added to a Warriors of Chaos army as allies.   So I only would need a few things to make a valid, if under powered army.  Enter the chaos battalion. 
This particular battalion is one of the few left that gives pretty good value for the money.  For $110 retail, you get 20 marauders, 12 warriors, 5 knights, and 10 hounds, which would cost $128 if bought in their own boxes, and you get a "free" sprue of marauders as well.  Not at all a bad deal by GW terms, as you are paying only $2.34 a figure.  To that I would add another box of marauders, a box of marauder horsemen, a box of beastmen, and a box of three Tomb Kings chariots to convert to nurgle marked chariots.  So for about $260 retail, I could have a sizable army ($2.85 a figure including 20 cavalry figures and three chariots), which would be 99% plastic, and easily expanded when the new rule book comes out in 2013.  And have a substantial bitz box contribution as well.
In the past I might have already reached for credit card, but now I am made of sterner stuff, as well as being all to aware of the massive backlog of figures to build (let alone paint) that I already have.  But I still WANT one. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Workbench

For my birthday this year I got a new desk to serve as a workbench.  Previously, I had either been using my painting desk, or moving things around from closet to kitchen table and back.  Not ideal, and it really has held a few projects back. 

When we were able to allocate more room in our house to hobbies, the wife and I discussed how to lay it out, and having a real workbench with a roll top desk to cover up the mess was discussed.  Thanks to her instigation, and hard work searching craigslist, my parents bought a beat up used desk for my birthday.

 A number of coats of wood cleaners, sealers, and wax, some reassembly of drawers, major unpacking, and we have this:

Note the cool art my wife got for me.
Quite nice, and I find that just having it open starts to give me ideas on converting figures, and now I am itching to build up some kits too.  It is not completely organized, and obviously the drawer pulls need to be fixed, but it is coming along nicely.

Here is what I currently have on the workbench:

And yes, I do actually have the baneblade I have been yammering on about for the last... nearly 3 years. Needs some final finishing touches, and then it is off to primer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Freikorps Werdenfels

I noticed that Tsuba miniatures had released figures for Frikorps before I left on vacation, but other than admiring the figures, thought little of it.  Today I was browsing around the web, as one does, and noticed that there was more information out on them... hmm, the unit was from Bavaria, and further, was raised from Garmisch-Partenkirchen (then just Garmisch and Partenkirchen), which is one of the places where I stayed on vacation!

Aside from the pictured figures, there are two packs of riflemen, a heavy machine gun, and one of "specialists" which includes a medium machine gun, a standard, and a figure with a hunting horn, so you could easily build up a little force with the produced figures.

Anyway, these are great looking figures, and aside from their strictly historical uses, they would be excellent for a variety of interwar or pulp actions.  German volunters for a VBCW?  "Alpine" units in a 1930's general war?  Who can resist Paul Hicks figures in lederhosen?  And for € 7.50 not too expensive either.  If they sell well, there are plans for civilians too...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Inquisitors ho!

After re-reading the Eisenhorn and Ravnor omnibus volumes (both by Dan Abnett), I am raring to go on converting some inquisitorial skirmish action. (and eagerly awaiting the new trilogy)

For those of you not in the know, Inquisitors in the 40k universe are something like their historical namesake, with a bit of detective, Batman (vigilante with gadgets), Punisher (vigilante who kills people), and Jedi (roving trouble shooter) mixed in for flavor.  They operate outside of the regular Imperial governing structure, and have ultimate authority, up to the level of ordering planets to be destroyed (subject to paperwork of course). Then they have retinues of helpers and minions, such as astropaths, navigators, acolytes, interrogators, servo-skulls, weapons servitors, death cultists, bound psykers, and daemonhosts.  On top of that they have access to the other more military branches of the Imperium, and can bring in anything from a single space marine up to a full army for a fight (including the aforementioned planet killing when needed).

Making things even more exciting, Inquisitors are by no means a monolithic group, with a spectrum of opinion on using the enemy's own weapons against them (Radical to Conservative) and a number of mutually conflicting philosophies on what the purpose of being an inquisitor is all about.  Philosophy aside, structurally, there are there are three main branches, or Ordos, of the Inquisition, concentrating on the three main threats to mankind.  (Xenos, Daemons, and Witches) Further, the size of the Imperium is such that the Inquisition is subdivided by sector and even sub-sector in wealthier/more populated regions. The end result is that far from being a uniform group, Inquisitors can be sub-divided until each stands alone with only their personal allies.

When you have independent investigator/destroyers with unlimited power and their own private military, and conflicting ideas on how to get things done (and even what should be done), you have plenty of potential for armed conflict.  Some of the other Imperial groups could also be in competition with the Inquisition, such as Rogue Traders, the Adeptus Mechanicium, the Ecclesiarchy and more to add further flavor (and conflict).

So Inquisitorial skirmish.  Games-Workshop themselves started this off with the game Inquisitor, which used 54mm figures in a sort of quasi-role play/hyper-detailed skirmish system.  Neither fish nor fowl, and using comparatively expensive figures that needed their own terrain, the game never really took off.  I happened to get the rules and a few boxes of miniatures from one of the Troll Boss Bob sales (I so miss those), and got the bug for large figures.  I ended up with about 30 or so figures in various states of conversion... none painted.  At the time $15-$20 a figure seemed expensive, working in metal difficult, and my interest fizzled out a bit. [which does not preclude me from hauling around a file box full of the figures of course]

Enter Inquisimunda/Inq28 and similar skirmish games using the concepts, and some of the rules from Inquisitor, in a more approachable scale, and using the massive expansion of plastic figures to make the modeling side easier as well.  Suddenly collecting a few little warbands is both achievable, and attractive, and there has been a flurry of interest about this on the various forums and blogs.

On top of that, Fantasy Flight games has come out with a number of role playing games set in the Warhammer 40k universe, which help to flesh out what equipment is available, what sort of missions could be undertaken and so on.  Dark Heresy addresses inquisitors specifically, and all of the source books and other rule books would be useful.

Figure wise, aside from the massive opportunities created by Games Workshop's own figures and the conversion of the same, the Reaper Chronoscope range is overflowing with figures that could be useful with a few GW bitz, and the Dark Heaven line could come in useful as well (wizards and such make for good psykers).

So being a visual person, I have started putting together a pinterest board of inspirational pictures for this project, and eagerly went 81 pages deep on the DakkaDakka Painting and Modeling Blog board, looking for ideas to, er, borrow.  Then, in the midst of organizing my new work table, I sorted out the horde of figures I have acquired that could be suited for this purpose.  I have held on to some figures for over 16 years, and now they will finally have a clear use.

I am very excited about this, and there will certainly be more posts to come!