Sunday 27 May 2018

"What a desolate place this is."

Just the briefest of posts to document some of the terrain pieces that can be seen in the earlier episodes of this themed month.  ‘Combatzone Scenery’ produce a range of resin, impregnated plaster pieces to compliment the Imperial Assault boards.  They are simple and durable, but have the added advantage of making the table pop!
For ease, I simply airbrushed mine a base colour that I felt matched the illustrations on the board pieces and then just added a series of washes and drybrushed effects until they took on a semblance of desert rocks or moisture vaporators. 
Fortunately, the desert world of Tatooine is a tough, unforgiving place and so rough and ready doesn’t seem to look out of place, at least that is what I told myself anyway!
The problem with these pieces is that there are as addictive to buy as the booster packs and I am currently in a battle with my willpower over whether or not I ned the Smuggler’s Hideout set!
The pieces on show are from the Desert Skirmish set and the Cantina Skirmish set, although I haven’t got round to doing the bar set.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Who shot first?

Greedo, a Rodian Bounty Hunter, was one of the second wave of action figures that young Master Awdry readily exchanged for his pocket money.  Like many other small boys at the time, I was mesmerised by the Cantina scene in Star Wars.  The fleeting glimpses of so many wondrous beings were almost too much to assimilate, but with their immortalisation in plastic, we were able to relive our favourite scenes over and over again.  In fact, the only difficulty was deciding which one of the many alien creatures to collect first, Greedo, Hammerhead, Walrusman or perhaps even Snaggletooth?
Not surprising then that this was one of the Imperial Assault miniatures that I was really looking forward to painting, not least because sculpt for Greedo is a real belter, with the Bounty Hunter in mid draw; although one hopes that the outcome is slighter better than in the film.  When it came to painting, I hurried off to the appropriate Sorastro tutorial and was guided through the intricacies of zenithal highlighting, another new technique for me!
Slowly, but surely, the character started to emerge and again, I have nothing but praise for the clarity of Sorastro’s presentation.  As with previous efforts, Sorastro’s calm and methodical approach resulted in me producing something that I was truly happy with, the man is certainly a talent.
With another miniature safely finished, please excuse me as I indulge myself with a bit of a rant!  Never has there been a clearer insight into a hero’s character than when Han Solo is cornered in the Cantina by Greedo.  A tense passage of the film ensues, revealing a little of our hero’s back story.  Knowing that there is no way out, the smuggler carefully releases his blaster from its holster before terminating the Rodian’s contract.  There is no doubt in my mind that Han Solo does what is required, in fact, the question itself, who shot first? is somewhat redundant, as there is only one shot and the man who fired it, gets up and walks out!
That is until the 1997 special edition!  Why, oh why, does George Lucas feel the need to revisit this scene?  In the newly remastered scene, we are left without any doubt that it is Greedo who fires first.  Is this a bout of intergalactic political correctness?  Perhaps the Director, wanted to remove any stain from the scruffy looking nerf herder’s character?  I appreciate that it is his film, but in the words of D. H. Lawrence,

“Never trust the teller, trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.”

Friday 18 May 2018

"This is no cave..."

The X-Wing Miniatures Game remains a firm favourite at the school tabletop gaming club, a combination of simple, fun rules and great looking models sees it played on a regular basis.  It has been great fun building up the fleets to include special abilities, but I was keen to broaden the range of scenarios available in the time that we have allotted, enter 'Mr. Chompy!'
This Giant Space Worm is from 'Combatzone Scenery' and is made from plaster that has been specially impregnated with a resin to make it more durable and comes primed and ready to paint.  The detailing is such that having airbrushed the basic colours, I simply added further colour by dry brushing before picking out a few details here and there.
Although the space slug comes in a few piece it is fairly simple to put together.  That said in my enthusiasm to get it ready for painting, I forgot to pin the head and tail, all seems fine and secure at the moment, but I am worried that I may come to regret that somewhat hasty decision.
At some point, I might try and mind some clear plastic rod to replace the rather obvious black one, but it is fine as it is for the moment.   
This is a fun addition to any game, with unwary ships likely to be missing a chunk or two if they fly too close! The additional rules allow the 'Mr. Chompy' to attack up to range one, causing another variable to an already fun game.  

Monday 14 May 2018


With the crash landing of the beleaguered droids’ escape pod on the desert planet of Tatooine, we might have been forgiven for thinking that their troubles were over, but alas nothing could be further from the truth!  After a tactical disagreement, the two decide to go their separate ways, but all too quickly run into more difficulties.
The jabbering language of the faceless Jawas* always brings a smile to my face.  Their glowing eyes, the only discernible feature under the shabby, brown cowls.  Jawas are a native species to Tatooine that scavenge for a living and were clearly thrilled that R2-D2 had strayed into their path.
*Apparently drawn from several African languages, most notably Zulu.
This rather diminutive model wasn’t going to require the most sophisticated of paint jobs, but during an intensive bout of web based research, I happened across a rather fine example of imaginative base work using salvaged parts.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to find the original source for the creator and if anyone can point me in the right direction, I would love to let them know how their work inspired me to do the same.
My parts came from ‘Zinge Industries’ and were simply littered on the base before the whole thing was painted brown – thank goodness for the glowing, orange eyes to break the monotony!

Friday 11 May 2018

We’re doomed!

Having safely received the blueprints for the Empire’s new super weapon, the Death Star, R2-D2 and C3-PO need to make their escape from the stricken Tantive IV. An escape pod proves the obvious method of egress and with no life signs scanned, the Empire takes little notice of the discharging pods. Did our beloved astromech know that just below the unfolding space drama was the very planet that the intended recipient of the plans inhabited?  Good luck or careful planning aside, the two droids find themselves lost in the inhospitable desert wastes of Tatooine.
This, then, represents the pair’s crashed escape pod and is from ‘Combatzone Scenery'.  I had already bought some of the Skirmish terrain, perfect for use with Imperial Assault*, but when I saw this I found it very hard to resist.  Although not required for the game, it does add something to the feel of the table and I have justified the purchase, by suggesting that it could also be used for all manner of post-apocalyptic scenarios!
*More of that in another post.
Made from a resin impregnated plaster, the main piece is quite a lump and, with the addition of a few additional resin retro-rocket nozzles, is simplicity itself to put together.  One of the company’s boasts is that the material requires no priming, but I was a little concerned when my initial layer of colour seemed to struggle to adhere to the surface in a couple of places.  
There was nothing to do but press on regardless and what followed was a delightful period of drybrushing, with only the smallest details picked out with a brush.  I had made the conscious decision not to use metallic paints and so what you see is purely built up with greys before adding some dust and damage, again with a drybrush technique. 
Great fun to do and with my initial fears regarding the material allayed, I am absolutely thrilled with the results, but wait!  What was that stirring in the dunes?
"Don't call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease!"

Tuesday 8 May 2018

One Million Page Views!

We interrupt this scheduled month of Star Wars posts to acknowledge that '28mm Victorian Warfare' has past one million page views!  Now there was a time when page views were very much in the forefront of my mind as I would check back, with alarming regularity, to see if anyone was actually reading this inane drivel, all the time inadvertently adding to the tally myself!  With the advent of 'bots' and our friends from the East, there seems little point in getting overly exited by these numbers, but I would be lying to you if I didn't admit to feeling a little swell of pride with this latest milestone.
'28mm Victorian Warfare' was conceived as way of charting my progress through this most wholesome of hobbies and I have been very fortunate that along the way, I have met many like minded souls that I am proud to now call friends.  It is to you, beloved readers, that I dedicate this achievement and thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.  

Monday 7 May 2018

These ARE the droids you have been looking for.

One of the joys of diving headlong into Imperial Assault was opening a big box and finding a mass of Star Wars characters in it, add to this the prospect of enhancing the core box with booster packs and I was transported back in time to that young boy who greedily ripped open the packaging of his action figures; not appreciating that to keep them in mint condition was the way forward!  
Greed is worth reflecting on here, as there is a danger that we end up coveting the next big thing without really considering if we actually need them.  I certainly didn't need to be buying booster packs, but I unashamedly wanted them!  Having acknowledged that Imperial Assault was always going to be pure self indulgence, thereby absolving me of all guilt, one of the fist packs that I picked up was that of R2-D2 and C3-PO; two of the most iconic characters in the franchise.* 
*I have to confess that I don't like the word franchise here, I appreciate that it is a financial concern, but like to think of Start Wars as something more special, at least to me anyway.
I immediately ripped open the packet, taking care to keep the proof of purchase badges,  although for the life of me I don't know why, and put the cards and skirmish map to one side.  As I picked up the plastic miniatures, I could immediately hear the chirps and beeps of the loveable R2 unit and the heavy clunk as C3-PO gave his rumbustious counterpart a kick - oh the joy!  
Of course I now needed to paint them and at this point I need to make special mention of the 'Sorastro's Painting Tutorials'; I can sit and watch this series YouTube videos for hours!  Never patronising, Sorastro's commentary is clear and deceptively simple as he takes the novice painter through a series of stages to produce wonderful results.  He does, however use a lot of 'Games Workshop' washes, glazes and specialist paints which I didn't have.  A little bit of web based research unearthed a paint matching chart and I was heartened to find that I could match most of the colours that he used used with my Vallejo pots, but the subject of the washes was a sticking point.  In the end I decided that I would give them a go and ordered some up, by my word the price made my eyes water!
I shall refrain from detailing the painting process here as I simply followed the tutorial to the letter.  I did, however have to come to terms with a white undercoat, a departure from my using method, and looking at the photographs I am somewhat frustrated to see that my tired eyes missed a substantial mould line that runs down the front of R2D2.  I shall share one joyous moment that whilst painting  C3-PO silver I was instructed to coat him with sepia wash, it was as if I had learnt the secrets of alchemy as the golden body of the much maligned protocol droid magically appeared in front of me!
So my fist efforts have hit the table and I have to say that I am rather pleased with the results; more to follow shortly! 

Friday 4 May 2018

May the 4th be with You!

Along time ago, in what feels like another galaxy, young Master Awdry was quietly getting on about his business.  Action Man, a loyal and worthy companion, was deployed on daily missions as diverse as forward observation roles in his scout car or perhaps journeying to the bottom of the ceramic lined bath in Seawolf.  Home was a small town in idyllic Mid Wales, but it might as well have been a million parsecs away from excitement and adventure; all that changed in 1977.  

I have always been a daydreamer, in fact some might say little has changed, but the ability to withdraw quietly into one’s own space and amuse yourself with fictitious imaginings is, I believe, a great gift.  There is no doubt in my mind that the advent of Star Wars brought about a very definite seed change to those thoughts, now whole galaxies were at my disposal, an infinite amount of possibilities to be explored.  Rides around the park became dogfights in space as I desperately tried to shrug off swarms of TIE Fighters, the piece of junk that was my second hand bicycle, lovingly restored by my father, was no longer an embarrassment, sure she didn’t look like much, but she had it where it counts, whilst my Grandmother’s bamboo canes took on magical qualities that caused them to hum and crash during lightsabre battles in the garden. 
Treasures from the loft.
To this new awakening came the introduction of merchandising, something the Awdry household had been blissfully ignorant of up until this point.  Imagine, if you will, a time before the internet, YouTube and the power at your fingertips to dial up all manner of information and images.  The only way to recapture some of the magic that we had seen on screen was to either go and see it again, and many did, or invest in the merchandise.  Favourites included bubble gum cards, stickers, annuals and of course the much loved action figures.  These were, quite simply, a revelation and transformed the Awdry toy box.  During this period Action Man was initially confined to barracks, but ultimately discharged in favour of the new, compact action figure.  Away too went the regiments of Airfix plastic warriors as a different type of Stormtrooper took centre stage.  Model aircraft were cut down from their cat gut restraints as spaceships now soared into the skies over a bed, bedecked in matching Star Wars duvet cover and pillow set.  The march was relentless, brushing aside all resistance.
 I had reached my teenage years when Return of the Jedi, the third instalment, hit our screens.  Even with the inclusion of the somewhat bemusing Ewoks it was clear that change was in the air, both on the silver screen and at home.  Life was becoming more serious, more complicated and a simple pleasure like spending your pocket money on action figures was becoming harder to justify.  Ultimately they were packed away, as if frozen in carbonite, to be released one day… perhaps?  
If the truth be told Star Wars was never totally abandoned, just hearing the opening refrain of the Imperial March would illicit feelings of joy and happiness; the certain promise of excitement and adventure to follow.  As pocket money was replaced by a regular wage, the occasional action figure would be bought and of course there were the prequels to contend with!   So why mention it here?  Last summer, and in a fit of shameful, sheer indulgence, I bought into world of Fantasy Flight’s Imperial Assault.  This had been on my radar for some time, especially having enjoyed the wonderful X-Wing Miniatures game, but the last thing I needed was to buy into another game system with yet more plastic miniatures. 
It was a series of posts made on the thoroughly entertaining 'The Game Cupboard' that caused the already strained resolve to start to crumble; I was weak and most definitely seduced by a stronger force! My initial reluctance to commit had been that this appeared to be a game for two or more players, but Steve guided me, with exceptional kindness, through the possibilities of playing Imperial Assault as a solo venture. Several expansions quickly followed and a wonderful summer holiday was spent battling across the sands of Tatooine or aboard a fearsome Star Destroyer, reunited with the characters from my youth. With the start of the new academic year everything was put away, but the recent release of The Last Jedi on DVD, has seen a further awakening. To that end, I have decided to dedicate the month of May to Star Wars and hope to showcase some bits and pieces that I have finally attacked with the paintbrush. So go strap yourselves in, I'm going to make the jump to light speed!
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