Sunday 11 November 2012

Mercury Class Battlestar 'Pegasus'

I love this sculpt and casting. Its a monster model of the Pegasus from BSG and fits in scale with the Titanium Galactic available as a collectable.  The model is cast in pewter by Jim Fox of Fox Miniatures, a stand up guy who goes the extra mile for his customers. 
I'd recommend his range over Ravenstars, they often use the same masters but Jim's casts are superior, particularly his pewter casts which are TOTALLY worth the extra £££s. I have two of his new basestars as well and they demolish Ravenstar's version (future post to come). 
The only disappointing thing about this model is that the detail on the engines is quite soft compared to the sharp details elsewhere. This takes the model from a 10 to a 9 in my opinion. 
I painted the Beast in the same manner as the Valkyrie. I know some people like to add colour to their battlestars but I'm actually quite a fan of the plain grey. I saw that in the cannon the hangar entrances have red outlines but after painting this on went over it with grey. It was just too much red and looked cartoony.
 I did however ass a splash of colour to the engines and did a touch of basic OSL (not that visible here).
I even painted the internal hangar lights! if simplistically. When/if I get some airbrush skillz I intend to buy another and paint it with tons of OSL.
 Wish I'd had the presence of mind to change my background to a star field!

Group shots below to give you an idead of just how big this monster is and how it looks alongside the other minis.

Valkyrie Class Battlestar

Finally took some pictures! Not the best but they're better than I've managed for the best part of 5 months. First up is a Valkyrie class Battlestar. 
This one is from Ravenstar and is in resin. Frankly I'm really not a fan of Ravenstar's castings and find them to be very rough (even if the original masters were stunning). I had to rebuild the engine nozzles on this as they had come out mishapen and airbubbled. 
The detail on the model is otherwise outstanding and took drybrushing fantastically. I used vallejo Granite for the base and then drybrushed with light grey and light grey mixed with white. The highest points then got a highlight with thinned pure white. The running lights on the hangars etc were done using the 'gem' method. They don't show up much in these pictures but look good in person.
A quick shot WIP shot of Kobol from BSG. I'm planning to do a day side and night side to the planet as I think It'll look a little more realistic/interesting. The planet is from CorSec, sort of money for old rope but just easier than hunting down the right size sphere from a different source. Also don't have to worry about mounting as it comes with a hole and stand. 
The stand is from CorSecs omnisystem and seems to do the job nicely, no chance of that snapping!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Sorry, I just stepped outside for a while...

and now I'm back, well... not quite.

I'm still around but haven't blogged anything for months; I was writing my dissertation and then started a new job which is extremely demanding (who said public sector workers had it easy!)

I've been doing some hobby related stuff but not nearly as much as I'd like. As ever something shiny caught my eye (this time on the pendraken forum) so I'm currently painting up some 10mm AWI figures for Maurice, so far so good but I'm not making nearly enough progress!

I've also got the itch lately to do some moderns or sci-fi  so I may return to 15mm sci-fi (although I really need to get an airbrush... christmas present to myself perhaps?) soon.

I'll stop blabbing and take some pictures this weekend, its been too long!

PS. I've noticed than even though I havent posted in four months or so I'm still gathering followers that stumble on the blog. Welcome: I'll try and be a better host in future!

Friday 24 August 2012

So, its been a while... interested in T-34s?

I've been writing my dissertation this past month so all hobby time has ground to a halt. I can't remember the last time I painted something. I've also moved house so everything is packed away. This time of sorrow is over though a week today, so expect some more pictures of shiny things at this point!

Anyways, I was on TMP earlier and for those who missed it we've had the bi-monthly 'why did the Nazis lose the war/why didn't they build more tanks?' shindig. For those who can't be bothered to trawl through this stuff, and I don't blame you, it just serves as excellent procrastination for myself, I found a gem. The following is a report done by a group of Russian? and American engineers on the T-34 as they put it through its paces in the US. Its an interesting read and serves to put the T-34 in perspective. German field commandeers famously asked the War Ministry for T-34 copies; the following document reveals that there were undoubtedly a number of modifications which would be required before a T-34 copy would have been particularly useful. I knew the T-34 was not a perfect machine but the way about which it is spoken makes it seem the 'be-all and end-all', this report seems to give a more balanced view and reflect what I thought I knew about pre-war (and wartime) Soviet industry. 

"Evaluation of tanks T-34 and KV by workers of the Aberdeen testing grounds of the U.S."
(from the Tanker's forum, posted by Misha Veksler)

(Footnote 1 -- reads, "The full name of the document is, "An Evaluation of the T-34 and KV tanks by workers of the Aberdeen Testing Grounds of the U.S., submitted by firms, officers and members of military commissions responsible for testing tanks." The tanks were given to the U.S. by the Soviets at the end of 1942 for familiarization.")

The condition of the tanks
The medium tank T-34, after driving 343 km, became disabled and could not be fixed. The reason: owing to the extremely poor air cleaner on the diesel, a large quantity of dirt got into the engine and a breakdown occurred, as a result of which the pistons and cylinders were damaged to such a degree that they were impossible to fix. The tank was withdrawn from tests and was to be shelled by the KV and its "Z/ 3" (?) -- by the cannon of the M-10 tank. After this it would be sent to Aberdeen, where it would be analyzed and kept as an exhibit.
The heavy tank KV is still functional. Tests are continuing, although it has many mechanical defects.

The silhouette/configuration of the tanks
Everyone, without exception, approves of the shape of the hull of our tanks. The T-34's is particularly good. All are of the opinion that the shape of the T-34's hull is better than that of any American tank. The KV's is worse than on any current American tank.
A chemical analysis of the armour showed that on both tanks the armour plating has a shallow surface tempering, whereas the main mass of the armoured plating is made of soft steel.
In this regard, the Americans consider that, by changing the technology used to temper the armoured plating, it would be possible to significantly reduce its thickness while preserving its protective capacities. As a result the weight of the tank could be decreased by 8-10%, with all the resulting benefits (an increase in speed, reduction in ground pressure, etc.)
The main deficiency is the permeability to water of the lower hull during water crossings, as well as the upper hull during rain. In heavy rain lots of water flows through chinks/ cracks, which leads to the disabling of the electrical equipment and even the ammunition.
The Americans liked how the ammunition is stowed.
Its main weakness is that it is very tight. The Americans could not understand how our tankers could fit inside during winter, when they wear sheepskin jackets. The electrical mechanism for turning the turret is very bad. The motor is weak, heavily overloaded and sparks horribly, as a result of which the device regulating the speed of the rotation burns out, and the teeth of the cogwheels break into pieces. They recommend redoing it as a hydraulic or simply manual system.
KV-1 heavy tank at Bovington Museum (England) (photo by […])
The gun of the T-34 is very good. It is simple, dependable and easy to service. Its weakness is that the initial speed of the shell is significantly less than that of the American "Z/ 3" (3200 feet versus 5700 feet per second).
The general opinion: the best in the world. Incomparable with any existing (well-known here) tanks or any under development.
The Americans very much like the idea of steel tracks. But they believe that until they receive the results of the comparative performance of steel vs. rubber tracks on American tanks in Tunis and other active fronts, there is no basis for changing from the American solution of rubber bushings and pads.
The deficiencies in our tracks from their viewpoint results from the lightness of their construction. They can easily be damaged by small calibre shells and mortar bombs. The pins are extremely poorly tempered and made of poor steel. As a result they quickly wear and the track often breaks. The idea of having loose track pins that are held in place by a cam welded to the side of the hull, at first was greatly liked by the Americans. But when in use under certain operating conditions, the pins would become bent which often resulted in the track rupturing. The Americans consider that if the armour is reduced in thickness the resultant weight saving can be used to make the tracks heavier and more reliable.
On the T-34, it is poor. Suspension of the Christie type was tested long ago by the Americans, and unconditionally rejected. On our tanks, as a result of the poor steel on the springs, it very quickly (unclear word) and as a result clearance is noticeably reduced. On the KV the suspension is very good.
The diesel is good and light. The idea of using diesel engines on tanks is shared in full by American specialists and military personnel. Unfortunately, diesel engines produced in U.S. factories are used by the navy and therefore the army is deprived of the possibility of installing diesels in its tanks.
The deficiency of our diesels is the criminally poor air cleaners on the T-34. The Americans consider that only a saboteur could have constructed such a device. They also don't understand why in our manuals it is called oil-bath. Their tests in a laboratory showed that:
– the air cleaner doesn't clean at all the air which is drawn into the motor;
– its capacity does not allow for the flow of the necessary quantity of air, even when the motor is idling. As a result, the motor does not achieve its full capacity. Dirt getting into the cylinders leads them to quickly wear out, compression drops, and the engine loses even more power. In addition, the filter was manufactured, from a mechanical point of view, extremely primitively: in places the spot-welding of the electric welding has burned through the metal, leading to leakage of oil etc. On the KV the filter is better manufactured, but it does not secure the flow in sufficient quantity of normal cleaned air. On both motors the starters are poor, being weak and of unreliable construction.
Without doubt, poor. An interesting thing happened. Those working on the transmission of the KV were struck that it was very much like those transmissions on which they had worked 12-15 years ago. The firm was questioned. The firm sent the blueprints of their transmission type A-23. To everyone's surprise, the blueprints of our transmission turned out to be a copy of those sent (?). The Americans were surprised, not that we were copying their design, but that we were copying a design that they had rejected 15-20 years ago. The Americans consider that, from the point of view of the designer, installing such a transmission in the tank would create an inhuman harshness for the driver (hard to work). On the T-34 the transmission is also very poor. When it was being operated, the cogs completely fell to pieces (on all the cogwheels). A chemical analysis of the cogs on the cogwheels showed that their thermal treatment is very poor and does not in any way meet American standards for such mechanisms.
Rolling friction clutches
Without doubt, poor. In America, they rejected the installation of friction clutches, even on tractors (never mind tanks), several years ago. In addition to the fallaciousness of the very principle, our friction clutches are extremely carelessly machined from low-quality steel, which quickly causes wear and tear, accelerates the penetration of dirt into the drum and in no way ensures reliable functioning.
General comments
From the American point of view, our tanks are slow. Both our tanks can climb an incline better than any American tank. The welding of the armour plating is extremely crude and careless. The radio sets in laboratory tests turned out to be not bad. However, because of poor shielding and poor protection, after installation in the tanks the sets did not manage to establish normal communications at distances greater than 10 miles. The compactness of the radio sets and their intelligent placement in the tanks was pleasing. The machining of equipment components and parts was, with few exceptions, very poor. In particular the Americans were troubled by the disgraceful design and extremely poor work on the drive/ gear/ transmission links/ blocks (?) on the T-34. After much torment they made new ones and replaced ours. All the tanks' mechanisms demand very frequent adjustments/ fine-tuning.
Conclusions, suggestions
1. On both tanks, quickly replace the air cleaners with models with greater capacity capable of actually cleaning the air.
2. The technology for tempering the armour plating should be changed. This would increase the protectiveness of the armour, either by using an equivalent thickness or, by reducing the thickness, lowering the weight and, accordingly, the use of metal.
3. Make the tracks thicker.
4. Replace the existing transmission of outdated design with the American "Final Drive," which would significantly increase the tanks' manoeuvrability.
5. Abandon the use of friction clutches.
6. Simplify the construction of small components, increase their reliability and decrease to the maximum extent possible the need to constantly make adjustments.
7. Comparing American and Russian tanks, it is clear that driving Russian tanks is much harder. A virtuosity is demanded of Russian drivers in changing gear on the move, special experience in using friction clutches, great experience as a mechanic, and the ability to keep tanks in working condition (adjustments and repairs of components, which are constantly becoming disabled). This greatly complicates the training of tankers and drivers.
8. Judging by samples, Russians when producing tanks pay little attention to careful machining or the finishing and technology of small parts and components, which leads to the loss of the advantage what would otherwise accrue from what on the whole are well designed tanks.
9. Despite the advantages of the use of diesel, the good contours of the tanks, thick armour, good and reliable armaments, the successful design of the tracks etc., Russian tanks are significantly inferior to American tanks in their simplicity of driving, manoeuvrability, the strength of firing [reference to speed of shell], speed, the reliability of mechanical construction and the ease of keeping them running.
Signed -- The head of the 2nd Department of the Main Intelligence Department of the Red Army, General Major of Tank Armies, Khlopo… (end missing: Khlopov?)"

The webpage is currently available from the good ole WayBack Machine

Sunday 5 August 2012

Scratchbuilt and Painted 15mm Sci-Fi Terrain

I've been in the mood for building terrain lately. I haven't a board or space for one, so its a little pointless, but I do enjoy it. Here's an air defence emplacement I've been working on for a while now. 

The main structure is made from a deodorant bottle lid and the top from a jar of pills (I wish I'd disguised the latter component a little better now on reflection). 
The reinforced door is made from 0.5mm plasticard, as are the support struts along the bottom of the structure.
The gatling gun is from an old tau model and the targeting sensors on the top of the mounting are some 40K part or another. The mounting is made entirely from plasticard and wire and the gun rotates and can change elevation.
I painted the heavy gattling cannon (and the rest of the building and gun mounting) to look pretty worn and beat-up using washes and the 'blister pack' method for chipped paint. 
The bunker slits were a bit of an afterthought - the sides of the building looked quite plain and were in need of some detail, so I obliged with a little plasticard. 
I'm quite pleased with the wear on the gun sensor cowling you can see here. This was done using blister pack foam dipped in paint and smeared in the direction of conceivable wear. 
 The building is mounted on a 2mm MDF base from warbases, the FOW large size.
The various numbers and letterings on the model are from a free set of sticker I got from Hasslefree at Salute. Initially I though they were decals but as stickers they turned out to be just as good with a little dirt added.

I figures that seeing as I'd started making buildings some freestanding modular wall section would come in handy for providing some cover during a firefight. I knocked up a simple prototype using plasticard and had some fun weathering it and adding alien graffiti.
The base was done as concerete rather than my usual desert basing as I thought I might eventually get round to doing an urban board, in which case these pieces could serve double duty.
 I tried to paint the 'No Prawns' sign from District 9 on this bit, sort of worked.
 The two pieces fit nicely together side-by-side.

Here's a few pictures to give you an idea of scale and just for a bit of fun! Looks like those mercs have their work cut out defending that air defence installation...

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Micropanzer Krystrial Warriors: Review and Painted Pics!

Another test figure. I'm useless at painting useable forces, but I do love a good test figure!I decided to do this as a bit of a review as well as I've so far never seen a review of these models (or many of Micropanzer's) on the interwebs before. 

First things first, this is a Krystrial Warrior from Micropanzer Wargame Studio's Slipstream project.  Jason has had a hard time getting the company going but seems to be getting there with it. I'm really excited about this company once they get going as their minis have a unique flavour that offers a nice departure from the 'safe' and sometimes unadventurous offerings of some other companies currently out there. 

The Warriors come in a pack of 8 and retail for $20 (although it appears he has since re-organized the range). I got mine in a sale for $15, bargain! These prices might seem a little steep at first for only 8 15mm figures (usually around $6) but they're real brutes and stand at around 24-25mm. Bulk wise they are easily the equal of 3-4 15mm minis, so the price is actually quite fair. 
The detail on these figures is excellent. The armour is crisp and smooth and the muscles are reasonably well defined. The clothing is also also nicely sculpted. 
The figures came with virtually no flash or mouldlines. Of all the 15mm figure manufactures I've bought from (GZG, CMG, OG, BF ), including many 'heavyweight' companies, these have required the least cleanup i.e. around 30 secs each. Superb casting/quality control work here.
The figures are very easy to paint. I'm always dubious when I hear this assertion but I think I actually understand what is meant now. The figures have such character and well defined features that they almost paint themselves.
I kept with the bluish skin tone and metallic armour from the website pics but decided to add a few more splashes of colour as contrast. I also decided and to move the blue skin tone more towards a deep turquoise. I'm very happy with the skin tone overall as its something a little bit different. I went quite bright with the palette overal, including the use of metallics, to try and reinforce the idea of the Krystrial as an 'alien' race, contrasting heavily with the 'hi-tech' looking figures I've already painted. There's something slightly steampunkish about the archaic guns and armour on these which I find really appealing. 

Ok, back to the review. Here's a comparison shot to give you an idea of size. These minis are 'supersize' 15s and whilst they certainly tower over their opponents they seem to be at the edge of what size is possible before they simply become '28mm figures being used in a 15s game'. I plan to stat them up as extremely heavy infantry, the organic equivalent of heavy power armour. 
From Left; CMG Recon Trooper, GZG 6mm something or other, MWS Krystrial Warrior and CMG Ayame Scout Walker (modified).
Overall I would highly recommend these figures. If you're thinking about getting them, go for it!

(Note: I'm in no way affiliated with Micropanzer, I just really like these and think they deserve some acclaim!)

Sunday 15 July 2012

Scratchbuilt Buildings for 15mm Sci-Fi

I've been having a bit of a flurry of activity lately on the modelling front so thought I'd show you the fruits of my labours with the styrene, wire and bottle tops. 

I'm not entirely sure what it is that I've built - I think its some kind of military outpost with a comms relay, defence turret and some kind of power generator gizmo thingie. I just sort of cut out the base and started sticking things to it...
The turret is from Old Crow and is the same as the nose cannon I put on my heavy dropships. It rotates, of course!
 Power cables were done using guitar wire as usual.
The circular things used on the turret ring and power gizmo are the same washers I use for my basing. The rectangular thing at an angle is a Tau leftover from yesteryear I had floating around.
Antennae and such to give this building a sense of purpose. The main mast is a paint brush handle from a brush which bit the dust.
 Reinforced door to keep out the nastiness, complete with sensor lens and keypad.
I plan to paint these up in an off white/tan kind of colour and do the base in my usual desert style. I need to find some decent white primer first though as the plastic these are made of is a nightmare adhesion wise - I had to do a lot of sanding and scoring.

I have a couple more buildings in the works as well, including a heavy AA turret that looks like it could certainly down some heavy dropships.

Now I have to work out where I'm gonna store this...

Saturday 14 July 2012

Autosentia Mech Part 3 (finished)

For your viewing pleasure I present XCV1001010101001, or as its known to Confederation forces, the Autosentia 'Jackel' class light assault mechanoid. This has been a long time in the painting, I think I started it about 3 months ago and did all the base colours but then lost interest. I was using GW's old Snakebite Leather as the base colour and the coverage over the grey primer was depressingly awful. 

I used slightly different methods to my other Autosentia, namely Agrax Earthshade instead of Army Painter strong tone, and I vastly prefer the finish I can get with this. Highlights are done in four stages using Snakebite Leather all the way up to pure Green Ochre on the raised edges. 
The lenses are done using my standard method and I seem to have got it down now, practice makes perfect!
The grey parts were done using German Grey, washed with Nuln Oil, then highlighted with Basalt Grey and Basalt Grey and Light Grey 1:1. Not the best but I was going for 'armes length' effect over closeups. 
The bases was done using the same methods as usual, the piece of stratified rock is a piece of rotten wood, not sure how much it looks like rock rather than wood but it got the 'good enough' seal of a approval.
Here's a quick close-up on the legs, as you can see I used some of the weathering ideas 'The Dwartist' was kind enough to email me about. In this case I went for a chipped paint effect with some bare metal showing through using a blister pack sponge for application. Quick, easy, and seems to get across the intended effect. I kept the weathering limited - heavy on the feet and lower leg, and a little on the elbows,  knees and thighs. I still wanted to maintain 'high-tech' feel overall so no rust and only a little dust on the feet.

Here's the 'before' shot with the converted face/sensor piece. In the end I was glad that it seemed to merge into the rest of the fig and not stick out as much as this pic would suggest. 
A final comparison shot just to get a sense of height and scale. Certainly not the biggest mech in the world but definitely not an adversary to be sniffed at!

I have two more of these to paint and am looking forward to it. I think I might even have a go at some FX on them, inspired by Spaceman Spiffs awesome mech collection. So far I'm thinking I'll have one letting rip with one of the 'arm cannons' and do some kind of blue plasma bolt thing and one launching a few missiles. I'll need to figure out how to do OSL first so that could present quite the challenge...

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