Wednesday 29 May 2024

Cold Warriors

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have the slowest of slow-burn niche nostalgia projects constantly running in the background in the form of slowly collecting and painting versions of the characters from Freedom Force, a superhero tactical RPG from 2002.

Things had been quiet on this front for a while until Crooked Dice released their Cold Warriors pack, generic Soviet era soldier primarily aimed at Cold War Spy-Fi.

You might spot that I've not exactly gone for era appropriate uniform colours.

This is because these models have more than a passing resemblance to the goons of one of the key villains of the game: Nuclear Winter.

The Frost Warriors and Ice Troopers show up when a Soviet agent gives ice-themed powers, Nuclear Winter, freezes part of Patriot City to get hold of a nuclear submarine.

Our heroes, the eponymous Freedom Force, have to battle through a veritable legion of these freeze-ray-armed henchmen to get to the big bad and save the day 

As you can see from my Ice Troopers, the Cold Warrior models are not an exact match for the game models, but they are a close fit, and I particularly liked the piping on their coats.

Rather than attempt to give them goggles, which I'm sure wouldn't be too difficult, I've opted for giving them ice blue eyes. I didn't attempt any gun modification either, instead choosing to just paint their AK-47s blue.

All in all, the are close enough, which has been the core ethos of this project.

The Frost Warriors are a little bit tougher in game and I'm actually torn on whether I like what I've done with this model.

On the down side, the coat being longer means there's no grey trousers to prevent the red with white piping giving somewhat of a Commie-Santa vibe - he comes down the chimney and shares the presents out equally.

The grey beard and the snow aren't helping.

However, I am deeply amused by the fact that with a grey beard he looks more than a little like Jeremy Corbyn, the teensy-bit left wing former leader of the Labour party.

This now gives me a usable Nuclear Winter cast for games of 7TV. I'm not sure if I'd get to 30 ratings yet (a star, a co-star and 4 henchmen), but I can always add in my more generic thugs, who are found working for Nuclear Winter before he transforms.

There are a couple more henchmen to pick up for this bad guy: Shurales (yeti-type monsters) and Snow Men (you can guess what they are), which should bulk out the cast appropriately if I can lay my hands on suitable models.

I'm due a bit of an influx of minis usable in Freedom Force minis from a Kickstarter I back a while ago, and so it's good to get moving on this project again.

Acquired: -100
Painted: 267
Lead Mountain: 683

Monday 27 May 2024

Show & Tell

I'm not sure why, but I don't get to as many wargames shows as I used to. It might be due to having a less historical focus to my painting (as most shows lean that way); it might be my relentless focus on reducing the Lead Mountain; it might be that my regular companions for these sorts of things are knee deep in 3d printing.

Whatever the reason, Matt and I made the decision to get ourselves to Partizan in Newark last weekend.

There's something timeless about most wargames shows. Mainly the same companies with stalls in pretty much the same places, selling largely the same stuff.

They're more of a market than a show.

Which is not a bad thing.

Of course, there are the display and demo games, representing a significant level of effort and commitment from the groups that put them together.

Due to the work required, there are obviously games I've seen before as if you have a 20'x8' board of Indian Mutiny terrain and miniatures, you're not going to just leave it packed away forever.

There are also new things to see, such as this much larger scaled game of Battlefleet Gothic, demonstrating the power of 3d printing and one of the impacts it's going to have on the hobby.

This game felt like a massive (and I used that word deliberately) combined effort from a gaming group and it's hard to convey the impact they had just in photos.

This was probably the only game that made us really stop to look, as it was truly different and a visual feast.

However, I was left wondering whether the original scale of the game was a better indication of the distances involved that this upscaled version.

But that wouldn't have looked as good.

I do get a bit jealous of some of the terrain on display and always ponder the idea of making a proper terrain board myself.

Then I remember that I'm a flighty wargaming butterfly who'd never maintain the level of focus required to bring something like that to fulfilment. Not to mention the fact that I have nowhere to store such a thing.

I could go for a smaller scale, which would tackle one problem and go sone way towards the other. 

However, despite the care that goes into smaller scales, I'm just not stirred by them in the same way.

Perhaps I should focus on increasing my collection of scatter terrain, as there were plenty of displays that did just that and still managed to be visually impressive.

I did do a little bit of shopping. I picked up a few brushes, paints and bases. I also grabbed half a dozen miniatures that are going to be used in my oft-forgotten Freedom Force project, which is due for a splurge of activity soon.

Obviously, I also got given the traditional 'how the hell am I going to use that?' free miniature on the door. This time it was a Norman noble, Sir Walter D'Isgny, who I'm not entirely sure is a historical figure.

I have done a little bit of painting this week, but I'm not happy with it.

I put together a couple of Wargames Factory (the sprues are now owned by Warlord Games and used in their Project Z game) Zombie Vixens to use as proxy Feral Ghouls in Fallout: Wasteland Warfare.

However, not only have I messed up the painting to a point I'm not happy with, having now played Fallout 3, I know that the Feral Ghouls shouldn't have hair, and it bugs me.

At least they don't have noses, and they'll do. I'm not overly keen on the official miniatures either, so I guess I'll live with them.

You'll be no doubt delighted to hear that I have 'finished' Fallout 3 and so can turn my attention back to painting, which given that it's half term is a good thing.

Acquired: -100
Painted: 263
Lead Mountain: 687

Saturday 18 May 2024

Rats Get Everywhere

It's a myth that you're never more than 6 feet away from a rat, however, when it comes to fantasy, sci-fi and other fictional settings, it doesn't take too much digging to unearth the telltale signs of verminous creatures scurrying around the foul underbelly of whatever world you inhabit.

Whether you're looking for something to bullseye in your T-16 on Tatooine; need a new general for the mutants on Third Earth; or just clearing out the innkeeper's cellar at 1st level, there are always rats, rat-men, ratkin, were-rats or sundry other variants lurking in the shadows.

Obviously, Skaven are the poster-boys of rat-related villains in fantasy settings, and those of you with adequately functioning memories may remember that I made a rather rash commitment to paint up my long neglected Skaven contingent.

Technically, I said I would paint them up for Warhammer: The Old World, but after all the work I've done so far on three other armies that feels like something that would be surplus to requirements.

Therefore I've started to look for other ways to use my small band of Skaven (admittedly this is over 50 models) across other games...

...such as Necromunda.

I know, you're probably thinking, "there are no Skaven in Necromunda," and you'd be right. But there are Giant Rats, and there are Wyrd Beastmasters who can be hired by gangs.

Therefore this pack master and three rats might just find their way into the Underhive if we ever get round to actually playing that campaign again.

I also used these four miniatures as test models for future painting, trying to find a quick and effective way of producing decent looking miniatures using mainly contrast paints, and I think I've found a process I'm happy with.

Also, with Skaven being the newest poster boys for Age of Sigmar, the I may switch my 'paint an army' focus in that direction and finally get round to trying the game out (if I can find someone to play).

I was also pleased to find that there are rats lurking in the recesses of the Fallout setting, mainly because it gives me a chance to use up some of my many Giant Rats, and some of the happily Fallout: Wasteland Warfare sized bases that I have picked up (I think from Wizkids D&D miniatures), but also add to the number and variety of Wasteland creatures that are available for narrative gaming purposes.

Initially I had intended to paint them as Rad Rats from the Nuka-World add-on for Fallout 4. However, Rad Rats are hairless and white and that just didn't work on the furred miniatures I had available.

Apparently, in case you are interested in such things, there are some more game accurate Rat Rats available in one of the STL bundles Modiphius provide for the game.

Therefore I changed focus to the Giant Rats that appear in Fallout: New Vegas (which I haven't played). They are also largely hairless, but by playing with contrast paints and drybrushing I think I've got reasonably close to making my rats approximately right.

I'm not amazingly happy with these two bases, but I am pleased that I've been able to use bits and pieces to add some visual interest to what are essentially beige models on a beige base.

In game I will probably initially use the stat cards for Radroach Swarms, however, with the newer fast-play game Fallout Factions being set in Nuka-World, I wouldn't be surprised to see Rad Rats get statted up soon.

In other news I sold a big bundle of miniatures (mainly 5th edition Bretonnians and Lizardmen) that I wouldn't use. Despite the fuss about Warhammer: The Old World, they didn't make that much money, probably because both of these armies have newer (and arguably much better) miniatures readily available.

However, this does mean that there are some real inroads into the Lead Mountain for the first time this year.

Acquired: -107
Painted: 261
Lead Mountain: 683

Sunday 12 May 2024

The Gang's All Here

Whilst I've been plugging away through Fallout 3, I've also slowly finished off my last three Raiders for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare.

Admittedly, getting distracted by looking for my dad, looking in every filing cabinet in Washington DC and being a goddamn hero (must be true, Three Dog said so) has impacted on my painting pace, however I was reluctant to approach these three due to the volume of straps combined with bare flesh (which is hard to fix if I mess up the straps) made them something I wasn't overly keen to dive into.

However, once I began I found these three to be more uniform than they initially appeared, clearly having been based on the same 3d model in the sculpting process, which has simply been posed differently and had head and weapon swaps.

This meant that once I'd been through the first, I could ignore the concern that I would miss straps given that I knew where they all were.

After realising this, they seems less daunting. Therefore, after painting the skin (Gulliman Flesh or Wyldwood - any better suggestions for a contrast paint suitable for darker skin tones?) and picking a coloured for the trousers, I simply picked out all the straps in Mournfang Brown and the metal in Leadbelcher and gave everything but the skin a wash in Agrax Earthshade.

I still might go back and pick out some of the tiny cords round their legs in a brighter colour, but I'm concerned that this will draw attention to how similar they actually are.

Of the three, I prefer the pose of this one, a 'Psycho'. Not only was it significantly easier to paint, but it's also quite imposing. It's also significantly less likely to loose its fragile weapons than the other two.

I once again went for Hexwraith Flame on the single eye-lens to add some contrast to and focus to a model without a face.

And here's the completed Raider Core Box, along with my ancient Grenadier model, who fits in pretty well. Close up he's a bit bulkier, but his face not being visible (and highlighting the different sculpting aesthetic) helps him to blend in.

I think I'll be using him as a Psycho Outlaw, which is a tougher version of the Psycho profile, to explain his much more muscular physique.

That means I've now painted all the Fallout minis I own, and I can field four factions to a decently playable size. I am interested in picking up more in due course, especially now I know who some of the named characters are. However, I'm going to try to get some games played before investing too heavily.

Having said that, I do have an idea to add a bit more life to my wasteland in the form of a couple more proxies creatures based on the contents of my Lead Mountain.

Acquired: 28
Painted: 255
Lead Mountain: 828

Monday 6 May 2024

Sisterhood of Steal

One of the things I like about Fallout is that despite retaining lots of 1950s sensibilities and style, the game designers have wisely jettisoned most the discriminatory attitudes of the era regarding race and gender (although there are a number of female characters whose role appears to be 'servicing' men's needs).

Therefore, the bloodthirsty raiders you regularly encounter who want to dismember your corpse and string the remains up from a nearby bridge are just as likely to be women as men.

The same is true of the miniatures in the Raiders Core box from Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. Three of the five miniatures are female, including the leader, a Veteran Raider in salvaged power armour.

I should note that the racial mix is equally diverse, although I've opted to go for Caucasian skin on both of these miniatures as I wanted some contrast on these fairly dark models.

I'm starting to get the hang of painting Raiders now. Pick colours for trousers and top; pick out leather straps in Mournfang Brown; paint all metal in Leadbelcher; wash in Agrax Earth shade; do skin and other details.

I've taken to giving a very light drybrush with Ushabti Bone when I'm doing the bases, just to pick up a few more details and give them a dusty look.

I could arguably spend a lot more time on these miniatures, but the level of detail is good enough that I'm able to get away with a simple approach.

The Veteran Raider was a bit more involved that the Brotherhood of Steel models in Power Armour. The reason is that Raiders living in the wastes are much less likely to have the expertise or equipment to maintain their suits properly, something that's reflected in the reduced effect of Raider Power Armour.

The first step was giving it a coat of a darker metal Leadbelcher again) and a wash with Agrax Earth shade to give it a dirty, almost rusted look.

I then picked out a few panels with Brass Scorpion, washed them again and hit them with some Nihilakh Oxide to creat a corroded effect. I also popped a few patches of Typhus Corrosion which Was drybrushed with Ryza Rust. Finally I gave the whole thing a light drybrush with a brighter silver to hit the edges.

The hair was done pink to imitate the box art (which I presume was done for contrast) and then I added a bit of warpaint to make her a bit more feral.

I'm again pleased with how the Raiders are coming along. I have four of the seven done, but I'm going to take my time with the other three as there's a fair bit of exposed skin which means I'll have to be a bit more careful.

Acquired: 28 
Painted: 252 
Lead Mountain: 831

Sunday 5 May 2024

Wasteland Vermin

As mentioned in my last post, I picked up some Raiders along with my Brotherhood of Steel as part of my post Fallout TV show impulse purchases.

Having actually started playing Fallout 3 (I've not played any of the games before), I've come to realise just how often you run into them, and a few other forms of vermin, as you wander the Wasteland.

Progress has been slower on the Raiders for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, not only do the models have more to them than the Brotherhood of Steel, but given that they are meant to be somewhat ragtag, thought needs to go into colours to stop them being too uniform.

Secondly, did I mention I've been playing Fallout 3, and I've been quite engrossed in looking inside every desk and locker in Washington, which has an impact on painting time.

As stated previously, Raiders are a ubiquitous threat, popping up all over the place. They also seem to draw their influences from Mad Max (which seems to be the default setting for post-apocalyptic wastelands).

For example, whilst most of the gun toying savages I've slaughtered in game look like they should be worshipping Lord Humungus, the Scavver here seems to be styling himself on Max, with an outfit straight out of Main Force Patrol.

However, the Psycho has the big hair of Beyond the Thunderdome. In fact, the multi-coloured and wackily-styled hair seems to be another trope of grim dark futures, which suggests that even in the worst circumstances, hairdressers will always have a secure future.

I went with a more vibrant hair colour (and the glowing eye lenses) to give a bit of pop to what was otherwise a drab colour palette, and I'm.pleased with the outcome. It suits the crazy vibe of someone who gets hopped up on drugs to go on a murderous rampage (mind you, I shouldn't judge, I'm currently addicted to Med-X, Buffout and Jet).

Bloatflies were the first denizens of the Wasteland I encountered upon leaving the vault (the Radroaches were encountered before leaving), and as I've had this metal fly knocking around in my bits box for a long time, it seemed fitting to add to my own corner of the Fallout universe, particularly as it seems to be pretty much the same model as one of the official resin ones.

I've gone off piste with the paint job, merging the green eyes and black body of different types of Bloatfly, but I like the contrast. It's pinned to the rock, which is actually cork coated in texture paint, from a hole in it's feet, suggesting the fly from larger model.

However, I'm pleased to add the Bloatfly as what I'm short of in my collection are the denizens of the Wasteland. I do have a suitable large substitute for a Radscorpion and some Giant Ants (although these don't have profiles in games), but given that I'm more likely to play Fallout: Wasteland Warfare solo, I'd like more gribblies for the sort of wandering/exploring encounters that make up a lot of the game - a Bloatfly fits this brief perfectly.

Acquired: 28
Painted: 250
Lead Mountain: 833

Sunday 28 April 2024

O' Brother, Where Art Thou?

When I picked up the Fallout: Wasteland Warfare starter set on a Black Friday Deal five years ago, the first model I painted was Aspirant Goddard of the Brotherhood of Steel. 

Sadly, Goddard saw very little table time as he was the only member of the Brotherhood that I owned...

...until now!

Due largely to the impact of the excellent Fallout TV show on Amazon, birthday money came and went rapidly on a couple of boxes of miniatures for the tabletop game.

I picked up the Frontline Knights box and the Raiders Core box to give me two more useable factions, alongside the Survivors and Super Mutants, to offer variety in my games.

The box contains three Knight Patrol (or Blades?) to accompany a Knight, who are all armed with laser rifles and are really characterful sculpts.

Notably, these are resin miniatures that are a real step up in quality from the PVC models in the starter set, and make me feel better about the price tag (although I did also get these at a good discount).

In terms of painting, I did them backwards to how I would usually approach a miniature. I started with the uppermost layers, drybrushing and washing that armour first before filling in and picking out details.

They were remarkably straightforward to do, and in fact the sculpted bases probably took about the same amount of time as the miniatures.

I really like the bases on this range as there's a fun game of, "What the hell is that?" to be played. The broken lamppost on this model really gave me pause.

It also gave me the opportunity to paint something a coppery colour and whack verdigris (or Nihilakh Oxide technical paint) all over it to see how it came out. I'm quite pleased with the outcome.

The Knight himself was even more straightforward than the patrol, which was the reason I began with Goddard five years ago.

Actually, the trickiest part of painting him was getting his armour to match Goddard's, as I'd clearly messed about with different silvers and washes.

Here they are together.

I'm looking forward to getting these guys on the table. I think I might have approaching 500 points of Brotherhood of Steel, although don't quote me.

Here's the Brotherhood assembled together.

However, I'm more likely to engage in some solo games as Fallout: Wasteland Warfare has a really good AI system for solo games and a campaign mode.

You know how I am about campaigns.

Acquired: 28
Painted: 247
Lead Mountain: 836

Monday 22 April 2024

The Scavenger

Have you seen the Fallout TV series on Amazon?

It's good. Even if you've not played the games. This is a hard recommendation to watch it.

Naturally, this has spurred me to paint some miniatures for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. The only problem being that I don't currently have any unpainted.

What I do have is a handful of 30mm bases that are not only the right size, but also don't have the height of GW bases and so fit well with the Fallout range.

I also have a bitz box and a Lead Mountain to scavenge through; leading to these four...

Basically I had a rummage to see what I had that might conceivably work in the Fallout setting with inspiring howls of outrage about getting it wrong (mainly from Matt and Pete).

The thing is, what I've learned as a relative newcomer to the setting, Fallout has quite a specific look. It shares quite a few post-apocalyptic tropes l, but with a 50's slant, meaning that you can't just include any old Mad Max wannabe.

Also, the guns and other technology are very specific to the setting, ruling out another chunk of models.

However, these four miniatures are me taking a stab at trying to get it vaguely right.

First up is this Grenadier/Mirliton Miniatures Future Savage that I've had for decades, who was clearly designed at the height of the popularity of the Mad Max franchise. I had to replace his blade as his original knife had been removed as he'd been destined for life as a Goliath Juve in Necromunda and was meant to gain a gun.

I'm using him as a Raider (a faction which have more than a touch of the road warrior about them), and as nods to the setting, I've given him blue leggings taken off a vault dweller (or was he originally a vault dweller?) and a Nuka-Cola badge.

Although his mohawk is probably a bit much, and he's probably a little to muscular compared to the miniatures in the range, this works for a potential leader or key henchman in a Raider gang. 

I'm calling him 'Scorpio' due to the symbol on his medallion.

This kid has clear roots in Mad Max and came as a free stretch goal when I backed the 7TV: Apocalypse Kickstarter a few years ago.

There's nothing that rules her out of the setting, except perhaps the pith helmet, but if Super Mutants can wear leather flying helmets, I'm allowing this.

I like her matter of fact stance, and I have a mind to use her as a Scavenger (hence the variety of items I've added to her base) or a Free Tech, as she is actually wearing a tool belt.

This is an attempt to create a specific character, and as such is most likely to be declared wrong, even though I've tried hardest to get her right, using the Wargames Factory female survivors sprue I've had for years.

The character she's based on is called Cait and is a substance abusing put fighter (I think) who can become a companion in Fallout 4.

I've broadly got the outfit, look and equipment right, but it's the details such as the boots and belt that miss the mark. It's not something that bothers me, having no attachment to the character, and I'm just pleased to be able to add a bit more variety to my Survivors faction.

The model I'm least happy with is another Wargames Factory creation. She's not based on anyone in particular, her clothing is a bit too modern, the pose lacks any real dynamism and the shotgun is wrong.

However, nothings so bad that the model is going to jar against the main range, I'm just less happy with her. She's probably best used as a Settler, and as such is not likely to stay on the table long.

All in all I'm happy with how they've turned out. The slightly different scaling of heads (especially on Cait) is noticeable, but only if your looking for it. Also, as a pit fighter you might expect her to be a bit more thick set.

However, I've scratched an itch, added to my models for the setting and killed time whilst waiting for an order of official miniatures to arrive.

Did I not mention that?

Of course there's been an impulse purchase in direct response to watching a TV programme. I'm a slave to pop culture.

Some Raiders and Brotherhood of Steel will be entering the vault under Lead Mountain very soon.

Acquired: 17
Painted: 247
Lead Mountain: 825

Sunday 21 April 2024

The Longbeard's Tale

These seven Dwarfs are certainly not dopey, but do look somewhat grumpy.

I've really been enjoying painting older metal miniatures recently, and so I took the opportunity to continue painting some 1980s Citadel Dwarfs: which include some of the very first miniatures I owned.

The range of Imperial Dwarfs were released in 1987 and I think I must have picked up my first pack of three around that time, making them almost 40 years old.

They are great, dynamically posed sculpts that hold up against modern cad designed miniatures. They just seem to have more life and personality about them.

The blue and white colour scheme is a nod to Wayne England's Dwarf Longbeards, featured in White Dwarf #135, which to my mind have always typified how Warhammer Dwarfs should look.

This mailed chap was actually on display in the history of Warhammer display when I went to Warhammer World last week. I'd painted him the night before.

It's a bit of a reminder that you are getting on in years when your childhood toys feature in what is essentially a museum. It also emphasised that I needed to finally get the rest of them out of the paint queue.

One of the downsides of randomly packed blister packs was that you ended up with duplicates, especially when your only supplier was a model shop that only had a single small rack of GW miniatures available.

I took what I could get.

The duplicate Dwarf came in a pack of Norse Dwarfs that included this berserker and an 'ulfhednar' that I no longer have.

I don't think the Norse Dwarfs are anywhere near as good as the Imperial Dwarfs as the sculpting is not as good. The left side of his face is a bit mushed up and the whole miniature is just a lot less crisp.

This fella is the most venerable of the bunch. He's from the Citadel Dungeon Adventurers box (BDD01), part of a range released in 1985 to accompany Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The box featured one of each type of character you could play and name on his tab is 'Dwarf'.

He was one of six miniatures I think my brother was given before I was collecting, and so is probably one of the very Citadel Miniatures I ever set eyes on.

He's great.

Packed full of detail and character, perfectly encapsulating the stereotypical Dwarf D&D character. At some point I'll use him as my PC mini.

The final one of the bunch is the youngest. He's a Marauder Miniatures Giant Slayer released in the early nineties. As such there's a slightly different look to him.

I used to drool over the Marauder army deals that featured in White Dwarf, but I was never able to afford them. However, I believe the metal Trollslayers GW are re-releasing for Warhammer: The Old World are from this same range, and do he might end up with some friends.

I'm not sure if this is going to turn into an army. I do have a few equally old plastic Dwarfs to add, but nowhere near enough to make anything that could be described as an army. However, I am really enjoying painting them so this might be something I add to...slowly.

In other news, it's my birthday.

I think I mentioned in the last post that I took the opportunity whilst at Warhammer World to pick up reprinted copies of the two Realms of Chaos books that I foolishly sold some years ago (although, technically I've made a profit on the exchange).

I also picked up six Questing Knights, and the Green Knight for my Bretonnians as birthday presents as I'm really enjoying painting metal and they are great miniatures. However, this does mean I've technically made no progress.

Finally, it's not a present, but Matt has kindly printed out my V Shuttlecraft from the 7TV 80s Kickstarter, but this acquisition is cancelled out by me giving the Stormcast wizard I had from the first issue of Stormbringer magazine to the Cheapling to encourage her new interest in painting.

It's in her Lead Molehill now.

Acquired: 17
Painted: 243
Lead Mountain: 829