Sunday, November 12, 2017

Zulu War Artillery and Officers

I've been moving slower on this project than I would like, but I've finally gotten a few more items off the painting table.  First up is a 7pdr gun from Empress Miniatures

The cannon included no instructions, so it took some investigative work to figure out how to assemble it. Overall, I found the assembly to be a bit fiddly and I ended up damaging one of the axle ends during the build.  However, I think it still looks reasonably good in the end (though not sure I'd want to assemble another one).

As with my infantry uniforms, I struggled trying to find the right blue among all the variations seen in images online. I opted to continue on with the Dark Sea Blue I had used previously. It ended up looking a bit grayer than I planned on, but I think it will still get the job done.

The officers are also from Empress and and in my opinion look like proper toffs, in particular the one with the monocle. While I like the sculpts overall, the helmets appear to have four panels rather than the correct six (same with the artillery crew). As a result, I've done my best to file the seams down and paint them to better match my plastic Warlord figures.

I've now reached the halfway point on this project, and my aim is to try to have it complete by the Christmas holidays.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Zulu War Natal Native Contingent

My British army continues with a group of Natal native warriors.  As with the European soldiers, these are plastic figures from Warlord Games. The figure frames appear to based on the Zulu plastics, but with changes in the heads and some of the arm detailing. 

The frames have four body types in total, just like their British counterparts, but the variety of head and arm options are much better.  All the figures in the below photos are built off the same bodies, but as you can see, the resulting variability is pretty good.  For this particular unit, I've opted just to use melee weapons and forgo the firearms.

As is often the case with plastics, there are areas of soft details and some of the poses look a bit wooden or awkward, but en mass I think the overall effect is going to look good on the table. And at around $1 US per figure, you get a lot of bang for your buck. So while these will never be your star figures, I would not hesitate to recommend them.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gundam: Titans vs. AEUG Amongst the Wreckage

So my youngest has been itching to give the Gundam Collection 1/400 Tactical Battles system a go and today we tried our first battle.  He decided he wanted to field the Earth Federation Titans and I went with the Anti Earth Union Group rebels. Being new to the system, we used the simple rules and ignored formations and New Type actions.

Titan Mobile Suits:
 RX-110 Gabthley
RX-139 Hambrabi
RX-121-1 Hazel Custom Gundam

AEUG Mobile Suits:
MSA-005 Methuss
MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki
RGM-79N GM Custom

The battlefield was an orbiting debris field  from a destroyed space station.  The Titans spread themselves across the battlefield, while the AEUG decided to stay close together and try to pick off the enemy mobile suits one by one.

The AEUG were the more aggressive at the outset, rushing forward while the Titans' Gabthley hid in the wreckage and waited. The Methuss charged the Hambrabi, but came up short and was unable to deploy any weapons.

The Methuss quickly paid for this mistake.  The Hambrabi scored a critical hit with its beam gun, and the damage was severe enough to destroy the Methuss in a single turn.  

 The Gabthley turned to face the arriving AEUG Hyaku Shiki, while the Hazel Custom in the background rushed to support the Gabthley. The Gabthley was unable to do any damage with it's beam saber, while the Hyaku Shiki reduced it to half strength with its counter-attack.

The Gabthley managed to disengage and retreat, allowing the Hazel Custom to take a shot at the Hyaku Shiki, but it was a critical miss.

The GM Custom dodged the fire from the Hambrabi and caused some damage with its machine gun.

 The Hazel Custom made up for its earlier miss with a critical hit on the Hyaku Shiki.  The damage was severe, with the Hyaku Shiki barely surviving. The Hyaku Shiki attempted to return fire with its bazooka, but missed.

The AEUG's GM Custom continued it's attack on the Hambrabi, with the Hambrabi and Gabthley unable to do any damage in return.

 The Hazel Custom charged the Hyaku Shiki hoping to land a death blow, but though nearly crippled, the Hyaku Shiki evaded the attack and delivered a damaging counter-attack with its beam saber in response.

 Being stronger in melee, the Hambrabi assaulted the GM Custom with the Gabthley in support. The GM Custom took damage and had no melee weapons with which to respond.

 In response, the GM Custom successfully disengaged from the hand to hand combat, but was unable to do further damage to the Hambrabi with its machine gun.

The Titans' Hazel Custom also broke of from melee and scored a shot with its beam rifle, bringing the Hyaku Shiki to an explosive end.

 The Hambrabi and the Gabthley also scored victory, with their final shots destroying the GM Custom.

The Titans were victorious, and their commander couldn't help but revel in his win.

The verdict: Both my son and I had a fun time with this game.  The rules are simple enough for kids to pick up (though we discovered a few holes we needed to fix with house rules), and game play was about 45 min, which was a perfect length for him.  He's already asking when we can have our next game.

For those interested, the rubber trading figures are no longer in production, but can often be found on the second hand market. Some of the later figures never had stats released in English, but by looking up their specs on the Gundam Wiki and comparing them to other figures, you can create something reasonable from scratch. 

Lastly, the special effects were added using the Effects Cam app for the iPhone. The picture resolution sadly goes down when using it, but I couldn't resist trying it out.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gundam Collection 1/400 Tactical Battles

My boys have recently developed an interest in the 1/144 Gundam models, which of course I'm encouraging. I loved building model kits with my father and am happy to provide the same opportunity to my kids. 

But in addition to these larger models, we've also acquired a small collection of the 1/400 rubber pre-painted figures on our various trips to Japan over the years that my boys now want to play with. 

These smaller figures actually have a set of wargaming rules back in Japan, which have been translated into English by the Facebook Group.  While I appreciate the effort of these translators, I have to admit I found the Word file lacking in visual appeal and some of the wording and organization a bit confusing. 

As such, I thought I'd take a stab at updating the rules before trying out a game with the kids.

If anyone else is interested in trying out my updated version, You can access it here: Gundam Collection 1/400 Tactical Battles Rules.  Please note that it doesn't have the stat cards for the various figures.  These still need to be downloaded from the Facebook Group.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Zulu War British

 For my African gaming I've previously focused on WWI era East Africa. But with the release of "Death in the Dark Continent" and it's large variety of armies, I thought it was time to move a bit father back into the Victorian era.   A few years ago I had an order from Warlord go missing, and they were kind enough to throw in a few free sprues of their Zulu War British with the replacement package. Though they wouldn't have been my first choice for a new army (I would have preferred Sudan era troops), who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Looking at online references, there seems to be a lot of variety in the red and blue shades people are using for the uniforms.  I eventually settled on the following Vallejo color triads:

Red 70926, Carmine Red 70908, Scarlet 70817
Black 70950, Dark Sea Blue 70898, Dark Sea Blue/Field Blue 70964 Mix

The sprue doesn't come with a ton of options, which is a tad disappointing considering there seems to have been enough open space to add more.  I would have liked to see a couple of more heads and arm variants, such as can be found on the new Perry set

 Warlord does not have a plastic command sprue like the Perry set, so you're forced to buy command from elsewhere.  I had read the plastic figures were designed to match the Empress Zulu War range, so got a pack of their officers. They are a bit more slight with thinner bases, but I think they'll blend in fine once painted.

While Perry's seem to be the better of the two sets, overall I am happy with the final figures.  Warlord recently had a 50% off sale on loose sprues so I went ahead and picked up another squad (plus some Natal warriors).  Northstar is also working on a VSF set of rules, so I expect these will be pressed into service there as well. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dark Age Farm Elements

I needed something besides trees for my Saga gaming terrain, so I've assembled some elements to let me build a farm settlement. 

The buildings are Saxon and Anglo-Dane dwellings from 4Ground.  They are a bit too clean looking for me right out of the bag, so I've opted to repaint them and give them a bit more of a lived in look. 

The fenced in farm plots were built using the wattle fencing kits from Renedra. I used four frames in total, giving me a large pasture (animals still to be painted), two garden plots and a small grain field.

For the gardens, I used various HO plants from Walthers SceneMaster line.  I'm not sure if the crops I found were actually present in Northern Europe at that time, but I figure your average person  isn't going to be an expert on ancient farms.

The grain field was created using 6mm pull-apart static grass from Bachmann.  I went with the Alpine grass, as it has little flecks in it that I thought might pass as ears on spring grain. 

I've probably built too much for a small table, but it will give me a some variety in my games.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hong Kong Shop and Restaurant Signs

I was recently in Hong Kong for vacation and used the opportunity to collect some more street signs and other architectural details for terrain construction.  All images are free for personal use.  

The initial set of elements comes from the Hong Kong Museum of History, which is well worth a visit. There are reconstructions of various buildings and street scenes from the 1800's and early 1900's that can provide a lot of inspiration.  Unfortunately the lighting is very dim in most of the halls, but I've done my best to lighten up the elements.

Traveling Chinese Opera show:

Taoist Shrine:

Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank:


Pawn Shop:

Chinese Medicine Shop:

Clothing Shop:

Tea Shop:


In addition to the street scenes, the museum has some beautiful model ships and interesting diorama of the Chinese destruction of British opium that kicked off the First Opium War

Lastly, here are a few signs from the streets of Kowloon.  These are modern, but I think could still work for the early 20th century.