Sunday 29 November 2020

Turrets & Transfers

I'm currently chalking off some easy wins in terms of painting as real life is not conducive to spending lots of time with a brush in my hand. 

Therefore, this week I've painted a 3d printed turret to transform my T-34/76 into a T-34/85.

The turret was kindly printed for me by Pete and fortunately the connecting piece is exactly the right size to work with the hull of my resin T-34/76. My plastic T-34 has a much smaller hole for the turret to sit in, and so if I'd been converting the printed turret for that, it would have required much carving and swearing.

Here it is next to my plastic T-34/85 and I think it looks great. However the barrel did need replacing as it was at least twice as thick as it needed to be.

Fortunately, I had an unused SU-100 barrel from when I built my SU-85 (the kit allows a choice between the two), and it's exactly the same size as a T-34/85 barrel.

Eagle-eyed aficionados of the blog will have spotted that I've also grubbied up the transfers, as you can see on the original T-34/76 turret.

I do this by using a torn piece of sponge to dab green paint on top of the transfer to look like the paint has chipped. Then I simply pop a wash over it to dull the colours.

Here's the same trick on my mobile artillery support. The SU-85 I mentioned earlier and, my favourite Soviet armoured vehicle, the SU-76 (or, as Russian crews called it, 'little bitch' or 'bare-arsed Ferdinand).

I also revisited one of my T-26 turrets, which involved a little more work as I was removing the Chinese transfers I'd applied and replacing them with Soviet stars.

I've had a bit of a talk with myself about the idea of starting another Bolt Action army. Not only is a Chinese force fiddly to build, it's actually a lot of (repetitive) work on plastics that I don't like building or painting to ultimately cause my other armies to be used less.

Additionally, the Chinese have less historical opponents (basically Matt's Japanese, and I can use the Soviets against them) and I think I'd prefer to just add more interesting a varied units to my Russians, Fallschirmjager and possibly even Operation Sea Lion British.

Therefore, with this decision made, I've not only painted one model (the turret definitely counts as a separate model), I'm also palming off giving some plastic sprues to my friends that I'd gathered for starting the Chinese project. This means that the 'acquired' total has taken a bit of a kicking just in time for a Christmas invasion.

I might just break even this year...

Acquired: 189
Painted: 259

Sunday 22 November 2020

Ancient Evils

After what's been a difficult week, I wanted to get some easy wins under my belt. And the most straight forward painting I could find to do was this mummy and nefarious henchman.

These are possibly the first additions to 7TV: Pulp project focussing on archaeological expeditions in Egypt and the inevitable disturbance of ancient curses and undead monstrosities.

I don't currently have any terrain for this project, and the only miniatures I have that might get used for it are some plastic British desert infantry from an issue of Wargames Illustrated. Therefore this one is likely to be a slow burner.

The mummy is from Crooked Dice and I picked him up whilst supporting one of their smaller Kickstarter campaigns.

The sculpt is clearly based on Lon Chaney's portrayal in a series of films in the 40s, and one of the things I love about the model is the fact that the bandages are clearly a costume which fits neatly and reveals the actor's face, rather than any attempt to actually look like an ancient corpse.

This is a miniature I have mixed feelings about. It's from Pulp Figures and is part of a set of henchmen I recieved as a Secret Santa gift several years ago.

It's a very characterful sculpt with a cartoony style. Unfortunately, the cartoon in question is probably Tintin, and the miniature repeats some uncomfortable racial stereotypes that were all too common in texts of the pulp genre. 

As a 'pulp' figure, it is undoubtedly based on contemporary representations, but it does beg the question as to whether such representations are just part of history to be understood and engaged with (in the same way that WW2 gamers play as the SS), or whether these kinds of images should be left in the dustbin of history.

Mind you, now I think about it, perhaps having a game where the entitled colonial looters of ancient treasures are presented as 'heroes' is equally problematic? 

This is probably why my first choice for a Pulp setting involved dinosaurs. You always know where you are with a dinosaur...

...on the menu...

Acquired: 217
Painted: 258

Sunday 15 November 2020

The Weird and Wacky World of 80s Cartoons

As I progress through the cast of characters of 'He-Man and the Masters of the Universe', the ways in which times have changed since the 80s becomes increasingly obvious. 

The past, as they say, is another country. The characters I've painted this week emphasise that in a variety of ways.

All four are from the same sculptor who did the original set of characters from Quest Miniatures, although he is no longer working with that company and these were a private commission.

From left to right we have the villains Fakerand Jitsu, and the heroes Mekanek and Sy-Klone.

'He-Man'was famously a toy led cartoon (in fact the cartoon was created purely to convince Mattel to make the toys) and perhaps no character reflects this more than Mekanek. His design was clearly influenced by the desire to create toys with 'action' features combined with the limitations of 80s manufacturing techniques.

Blessed with the lamest superpower in the universe, Mekanek has the ability extend his neck to see over thing slightly taller than himself. In the 2002 remake there's even an episode where he has a crisis of confidence over his embarrassingly weak gifts.

In game, his powers present an issue as his neck potentially could give him line of sight anywhere, but he has no ranged weapon to exploit this. I'm thinking of using a pre-game mechanic which link to his ability to recon the battlefield.

The series was cheaply made, re-using the same animation clips repeatedly. The design of Faker reflected that a similar attitude was applied to the toy line, as he was clearly made using the same mould as He-Man (and the same accessories as Skeletor) just with a different coloured plastic.

Amusingly, the only time he appeared in the cartoon, he wasn't blue, but was exactly the same as He-Man. His toy's blue design does present some problems for Skeletor's plan to have the 'Evil Robot Impostor' impersonate He-Man and ruin his reputation. However, nobody on Eternia is bright enough to work out that He-Man is Prince Adam in different clothes, so perhaps a bright blue impersonator might actually fool the dimwits.

Ah. Jitsu. The karate-chopping, samurai-styled, ever so uncomfortable reminder that racial stereotypes were not only common, but were happily promoted on children's TV. In a cast of fish people, lizard men and talking green tigers, Jitsu was the only 'human' character that wasn't white.

I suppose he represents the growing popularity of martial arts in western culture. Something that the release of the 'Ninjor' toy at the end of the line built upon. Making them both villains doesn't help though. 

At least when Thundercats came along, the samurai Hachiman became a hero after first appearing as a villain. It's funny how both Eternia and Third Earth both seem to have a Japan tucked away somewhere.

Sy-Klone is not a character I'm that familiar with, as he's from the later releases of the toys. He at least had a genuine power in the ability to manipulate the winds.

He was a bit of a bugger to paint with the heavy use of yellow and the radar scanner in his chest (how does he use it?), which Mattel achieved with a handy sticker, but I had to paint freehand...several times.

I'm pleased with the four of them as they are ticking off those key characters that I want to get to 'complete' the project. Mekanek and Faker are specifically characters that I felt that I was missing. Whiplash and Buzz-Off are now the last two remaining on that list of 'must-haves'.

Progress is slower at the moment as I'm very busy with work, but at least still moving forwards as lockdown is having an impact on my purchases.

Acquired: 217
Painted: 256

Sunday 8 November 2020

The First Taste Is Free...

Miniature Wargames, like many magazines had a free miniature with it this month.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that I'm a sucker for free stuff.

This is a Barnabotti, an impoverished noble, from the TT Combat game Carnevale.

Carnevale is a skirmish game set in a fantasy version of 18th Century Venice. A portal, called 'The Rent'has opened in the sky. Lovecraftian Monsters haunt the canals, vampires stalk the streets and debauched nobles carry out violent masquerade purges.

I know all this from the article in the magazine.

Yes, TT Combat, your cynical marketing ploy appears to be working on me.

I really enjoyed painting this miniature...something that isn't helping me to resist buying in.

It's a single piece cast in resin, which required very little cleaning and is really detailed. The cloth takes washes very well, and the raised details are clear and easy to pick out, which suits me.

In terms of colours I went for blue, purple and gold due to the connotations of wealth, nobility and privilege. This was due to the fact that the Barnabotti are essentially henchmen in the Patricians faction and represent the ruling classes of Venice.

I'm currently very tempted to buy more of this game, if only for the painting and terrain building aspect. I don't know whether it's a game I'd get to play much, but increasingly (as with my 80s cartoon projects) that's not something that is dictating whether I buy and paint models as I really enjoy taking my time over individual, brightly coloured character models rather than churning through the rank and file.

Only one done, but none bought. That's progress.

Acquired: 217
Painted: 252