Monday, August 14, 2017

Federal Republic of Gambusia Armored Battalion

This past week I managed to work on some projects. The rebels got a some additional firepower in the form of a Russian M1944 100mm anti-tank gun. Sorry no pictures at this time. The Federal Republic of Gambusia now has a battalion of more modern tanks in the form of the Vickers MK III MBT. Here is a thrown-together shot of the battalion:


In reality, the anti-aircraft tanks and the tank destroyers are in separate companies, but I spaced them out for ease of photographing them.



The table of organization of the FRG is somewhat similar to that of many modern nations where the largest standing unit is the battalion. Units are combined depending on the mission. The AA company is attached. The 3rd battalion's mission is dedicated to fighting such foes as Northern Chalupistan rather than going after rebels.

Each company is represented by a different colored thermal sleeve.  The command tanks are represented by having antennae and either a tank commander or just a machine gun.

Vickers Mk III MBT
 The minis are old Skytrex ones, which are now sold by Heroics & Ros. This is their second paint job. Originally, I had a wash on them, but they looked awful. So, I repainted them with a basic gloss green  that I bought at Lowe's, and decided to skip the wash. They still look pretty glossy despite the coating of Vallejo clear flat. I would spray them with Dullcoat, but it's been awfully humid out. They are not the best models, but they are the only representatives of the Vickers Mk. III, so they will have to do.

The tank destroyer company is made up of the FV 120 Spartan MCT (Milan Compact Turret). These are Heroics & Ros models and they painted up rather nicely.


The AA battery is made up of the French AMX DCA with two 30mm AA guns. These are C in C models. I painted them up a long time ago before I really decided on a paint scheme for the FRG. These are probably among my best paint jobs for micro armor in terms of highlights and shading.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Back From China and Inner Mongolia

I am finally back from a week in Chicago and about two weeks over in China visiting in-laws and doing some sightseeing. This isn't intended to be a long travelog, just some pictorial highlights.

We spent the first week of our trip in my wife's hometown, whose name I cannot remember, but it is in the Hebei Province near the larger city of Chengde, which is about 4 hours northeast of Beijing.

Hebei Province. Chengde is the region in the northern part of the map.
Source: Wikipedia
Chengde was home to a summer palace for the Qing emperors. Like most of China, it is very rugged. Some relatives took me to a shrine that was on top of two pillars of rock. How the monks managed to climb up there is beyond me.


A common feature of all cities and "towns" are the enormous apartment blocks. The view is a stark contrast from the temples and various monuments that were in the hills.


The big highlight of the trip was to Inner Mongolia.

Source: Wikipedia

This is the part of Mongolia that is on the Chinese side of the border. My wife's college roommate is Mongolian from the region and set up a college reunion in the city of Ordos. The reunion was a pretty big affair with banquets with lots of drinking! We also took a couple of sightseeing tours.

Genghis Khan is revered and is said to be buried in Inner Mongolia not far from where we were staying in Ordos. There were lots of statues commemorating Genghis:


Even though no one knows exactly where his tomb is,  there is a large shrine that is dedicated to him. The shrine contains his saddle, bow, and a number of other artifacts pertaining to him and his wives.

The Shrine

Statue located at his shrine.
 
Our trip began and ended in Beijing. Whereas Inner Mongolia was heaven in terms of heat and humidity, the weather for the most part of the trip was hell. High temperatures and humidity made sightseeing a drag. Even though the subway system is air conditioned, it doesn't help when we were packed into cars like sardines.  There were a lot of crowds of sightseers in Beijing that was something I didn't notice the last time we were there. We went to the Summer Palace in the early evening, which turned out to be a blessing temperature-wise. One of the things I got to see that I don't recall seeing last time was the famous or infamous Marble Boat.


It was built by the Empress Dowager Cixi in 1893 using funds earmarked for the Chinese Navy.

There is my much shortened highlights of my visit to China. It is still crazy almost a week after we got back. We are still suffering some from jetlag and the kiddos are back in school, with my son starting kindergarten, and me trying to get ready for upcoming classes and preparing a poster for a scientific meeting. I hope to get back into the swing of things hobby-wise soon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Post for the Sake of Posting

I was on a roll in May, but then came June. I've gotten almost nothing done. It has been endless driving to tennis tournaments and then a five day vacation to Florida and Legoland. Legoland is not a monstrosity like Disneyland or Universal, but there are plenty of things to do. One of the cooler parts of the park is that there is a number of dioramas built out of Legos. Most are various cities in Florida and in the US, but there is a series of scenes from Star Wars:

Cantina scene

Fighting off storm troopers
Chewie at the controls

There were plenty of figures to go with all of the dioramas, but the interesting thing was that instead of the usual Lego mini-figures, the people were built out of separate Lego pieces. They still had plenty of character to them.

My boy and his current favorite superhero

I managed to start a few things, but nothing worth taking pictures for. Just before I left for Florida, I decided to strip the paint off of my Vickers Mk III MBTs. As much as I hate stripping paint from figures, I was not happy with how I painted them for the Federal Republic of Gambusia. They sat in a jar of Simple Green for about 6 days. That was enough time to do the job. It didn't hurt that they don't have much detail to them. The paint came off pretty quickly when using an old tooth brush. If I have a chance, I will add some commanders to them to indicate that they are company HQ tanks.

This will probably be the only post until August. Next week we head to Chicago and then off to China and Mongolia to visit the in-laws for three weeks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

6mm Head Swap

I've made lots of head swaps for 15mm medievals, but this was both 1000X more tedious and felt weird. One of the riders of the MT-LB was missing his head, but I didn't notice it until I primed the model. So, I cut off the head of another mini and glued it on.

Before:

Can you spot the new head?
After:


Not perfect, but good enough at this scale. I just hope it stays on. Another piece of hardware for the Gambusian rebels!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Curvaceous Thief

I bought a role-playing adventure party from a Shapeways shop called Small Ox Miniatures.


They were a little expensive, but I wanted to see how good 3D printed minis could be. After washing them a lot, I primed them with acrylic gesso. The last time I primed a 3D model with spray paint, it melted on me. Plus, the gesso helped reduce the surface graininess.

Here is the first to be painted.


She is either a thief, or an assassin, I am not sure. She seems to have a lot of heavy plate armor on her. She also has the curves, not that there is anything wrong with that! I would like to have seen some side arm like a sword, and a quiver for her crossbow bolts. If you look at the above picture, they all seem to have rather large heads in proportion to their bodies. I assume all but the Dwarf are humans, but the look a little on the Gnomish side to me, maybe it's the big heads.

Small Ox has several other lines of fantasy figures, but they seem be a little on the expensive side for the price.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Harpoon: Captain's Ediion

There are a lot of wargames that were published in the good old days that are now out of print that I wished I had purchased. So, I've been picking up a number of them. One reason is to have some board games available if needed. The other is looking at them in terms of converting them into miniatures games. This is nothing new for me. Way back in the late 70s, my buddy Mark and I used the rules for Avalon Hill's Midway as the basis for a very simple naval game using handmade ship miniatures. We also once tried using AH's Panzer Leader to have a microarmor battle.

I've been focusing on naval and air board games because there are few miniature rule sets out there compared to land-based games. My latest purchase is Harpoon: Captain's Edition (H:CE).


Unlike Harpoon rules, H:CE is a board game that takes place during the 80s. The rules are pretty simple, but not simplistic. They are also pretty clear cut and well organized. I read them in about 20 minutes and didn't feel confused about any particular part. I noticed that some of the mechanics are very similar to those of other modern naval rules, Shipwreck in particular. I think these can be easily converted into a miniature game. There are only two minor drawbacks. First, weapon stats is somewhat abstracted.

Sample of ship cards for H:CE. Weapon and defence stats on the right.
As seen above, there are anti-aircraft/anti-missile defenses, anti-ship weapons, and so on, but you don't know specifically what the weapons are. The weapon systems for Rory Crabb's Naval Command is the same way. I prefer to know exactly what each weapon does so that I can build my own boats. However, with a little work, I can figure out weapons data.

The second issue is more of general complaint of a number of modern naval rules. Many rules seem to focus on the "big ships" and leave out smaller ships. For example, there are no Soviet missile boats such as the Komar or Osa, or even the larger Nanuchka-class and Tarantul-class missile corvettes in this game. I can forgive H:CE as it has a narrowly focused scenario that takes place in the Northern Atlantic. However, I don't understand why other rules sets do the same thing. Not to pick on them, but Naval Command is an example. Interestingly, I've seen this in some WWII naval rules regarding destroyers. It's as if they don't exist. Again, I can work out the stats for these smaller ships, but it would be nice if they were already done by the author of the rules.

I need to get back to my 6mm miniatures. I have been making some pillboxes and small bunkers out of polymer clay. I will give a report on those soon.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rebels in a Box

Here is my generic rebel army with most of its technicals: