Thursday 25 April 2019

Never tell me the odds!

The core box of Star Wars: Legion supplies the would be Rebel Commander with none other than Luke Skywalker to lead their troops, dressed in his fatigues and brandishing his father’s lightsabre. What better hero to get you started? That said I knew that my opponent for our first game, Mike, the Dark Templar, Reynolds would be fielding the Dark Lord himself, Darth Vader. A formidable opponent at the best of times, Darth Vader with all his additional skills is truly devastating in Legion. Luke might have been able to hold his own in more seasoned hands, but I was no match for Mike and his vice like grip of the rules; no I needed something that would keep him guessing.
Han Solo does just that, with several unique skills he poses just enough doubt in the mind of your adversary to keep him wary of what the former smuggler is up to.  The Legion model is a wonderfully dramatic pose, with Han threatening with his blaster, the duster coat flowing behind him.  Once again Sorastro came to my rescue with the painting and although I may not have undergone quite as many layers of highlighting, I was still pleased with the results.
As for the game?  Well Han Solo certainly kept the Rebels in the fight.  Initially seen skulking around the bunker he launched forward, with charismatic abandonment and caused such a commotion that objectives were snatched in the nick of time to force a draw.
Never tell me the odds!

Friday 19 April 2019

Endor Terrain

So having completed the core troops, I was wanted to give the game a go and fortunately Messrs Bull and Templar were keen to oblige.  A convenient date was scratched into the diary and we all set about trying to get to grips with the rules ahead of the meeting, some more than others.*  I had envisaged using my swamp mat, which at 4’ x 3’ was a little smaller than suggested, but as this was our first venture I thought that it would pass muster.  Similarly I thought that I could use some of the jungle terrain created for the Congo board to represent the forest landscape of the Sanctuary Moon, Endor.
*I am really bad at this sort of preparation, it feels too much like homework! 
All of this would have been more than adequate, but then it happened again…

Before I knew what I was doing I had placed a not an unsubstantial order for elements of 4Ground’s Jungle Set. This was pure indulgence, but as it had happened so quickly the pain was superficial, at least until it duly arrived in the post.
From the outset, I should stress that I am normally a big fan of 4Ground’s terrain; innovative design, pre-painted pieces and good customer service - there is a lot to like. This set, however, was not as I had hoped. It is kit bashed from several other ranges in order to provide you with an idea of the treetop dwellings inhabited by the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Consequently not everything was as good a fit as it could have been and the instructions required several leaps of faith in order to get to the desired result. Now you could argue that this ‘loose’ approach to construction allows you more freedom to interpret the kits to your individual requirements and I think this is definitely the way to approach them, but I couldn’t help thinking that with a little more time and effort, I could have created something equally comparable by following one of the many YouTube tutorials, and for a lot less money!
Grumbling aside, the kits did serve a purpose and certainly saved me considerable time.  The quality printed bark textures, to wrap around the cardboard tube tree trunks, worked well and the bunker, albeit it simple, was perfectly serviceable.  So whilst the Jungle Set may lack some of the production values that one normally associates with the company they do a job and I have to say helped ‘sell’ the idea of battling for supremacy in a galaxy far, far away.

Although I didn't record the battle, so to speak, Mike did and his report,  The Empire Invades Pevensey, can be found here.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Rebel Troopers, Star Wars: Legion

I had resisted Star Wars: Legion for a good while, frustrated at the initial reports that the miniatures were not compatible with those that I was amassing with Imperial Assault, also by 'Fantasy Flight Games'.  However the idea of playing fully fledged skirmish games in a galaxy far, far away was always going to prove too much of a temptation. 
It wasn’t until Mike, ‘The Dark Templar’ Reynolds succumbed and bought the core box that I finally found my own resolve falter.  Mike has always had a thing for the dark side, and so what better excuse did a chap need to start a rebel force than to halt this evil oppression in its tracks?
The core box was duly ordered for what I thought was a reasonable price only to be told that there were not enough miniatures to field a full army list, really?!  There was nothing for it, but an additional box of troopers had to be ordered!  Assembling was straightforward enough given the designers attention to detail, each arm, leg or torso had a different homing slot to reduce mishaps.  I had been forewarned about the material used and the need to use superglue, so all in all a successful start.  There were one or two gaps at the joins, but these were easily filled with Greenstuff, although I have subsequently found out that matt varnish has the same effect.
When it came to painting them, try as I might, I couldn’t see past the Rebel Commandoes, led by Han Solo in the Return of the Jedi.  Once again the incredibly talented Sorastro came to my rescue with a tutorial that explored creating camouflage patterns, by layering washes on to areas of water, allowing the colours to bleed and run into each other.  It is well documented that my attention span is not of the highest order when it comes to batch painting, but fortunately there was enough variety in the effects used to keep me on track.
Still smarting at the scale discrepancy between the two ranges, I couldn’t bring myself to use the unnecessarily tall bases included in the core box.  I can’t explain why, but I have taken against them, perhaps because I prefer to base my wargames miniatures on a lower profile to fit better with the terrain?  Whatever the reason I made the decision to base my efforts on my usual 25mm MDF disks from ‘Warbases’.  I happen to think that they look better and given that I am unlikely to be entering any tournaments, I am not overly bothered what anyone else thinks!

So with a final coat of varnish my first completed miniatures for Star Wars: Legion, a full three squads of core troopers.

Friday 12 April 2019

What's that coming over the hill... it a Monster?
Way back in the mists of time, March 2018 to be exact, the entries for final bonus round of the ‘VIII Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’ were posted.  Monstrous was the theme and wonderful opportunity to present a veritable cornucopia of monstrous beings – the legendary Universal Monsters!
From the silver screen’s infancy there has been a desire to shock and scare the audience out of their seats.  Drawing inspiration from literary greats such as H.G. Wells, Victor Hugo and Mary Shelley, Universal Studios created a stable of monsters that would terrify and delight in equal measure.  Such was their popularity that the long running franchises are still revisited today.
My tribute to this golden age of cinema hail from ‘Studio Miniatures’ and were yet another of their Kickstarters that I supported.  A couple of them required assembly, namely ‘Frank’ and his wife, but the rest were lovely, crisp, single piece castings and an absolute joy to paint; although the preponderance of black did strain my eyes a little!  I had, albeit briefly considered painting these in greyscale, but my experience of this is rather limited and if memory serves me correctly it is a lot harder to pull off than you might imagine.
The question now is what to do with them?  Well these may yet prove the perfect villains for a certain crew of mystery solving teenage detectives, perhaps just the ticket for a 7TV crew?  Either way, I am thrilled to have them completed and were a fitting final theme for last year's challenge.

Monday 1 April 2019

Guinny & the Grail Seekers

It seems incredulous to believe that these were entered as part of the 'VIII Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge', particularly as with have just finished the IX Challenge last month!  Still as part of my drive to catch up with the backlog of posts, I am happy to present these here as my submission to the then ‘Musician’ bonus round.
I have to confess that this round had me stumped for a while and I was initially thinking along the lines of tartan clad pipers or drummers in bearskins, but fortunately I happened upon these minstrels and my direction was made clear.  The Medieval Mayhem range by ‘Studio Miniatures’ really are a joy to paint, beautifully sculpted and requiring very little in the way of preparation.  The likenesses are clearly inspired from the celluloid exploits of the Monty Python team and it was very hard, nigh impossible, not to hum the tune to, ‘Brave Sir Robin’!
Of course every band needs a front man, or in this case a front woman; I present the Queen Guinevere.  I had a little accident with her crown and so resorted to filing it down so that it was even, but I feel that her regalness is still preserved. 
Finally, then the Forest Knights, fabulous fun and based so that collectively they look like they are standing in a shrubbery.  I’m not sure how they fit into the band, monosyllabic backing singers perhaps?  So allow me to present Guinny & the Grail Seekers, my submission for the long past Musician bonus round.
Of course every band needs their breakthrough album and so how about some track listings?  Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below, but to get us started how about the following?

Please Release Me (Tall Tower remix)

I Ni Ni Need you Tonight

Knights in Prestatyn

… and just because I couldn’t resist, I have taken a couple of shots with the various characters reunited with some of the Knights from the previous year.

Bravely bold Sir Robin
Rode forth from Camelot.
He was not afraid to die,
Oh brave Sir Robin.
He was not at all afraid
To be killed in nasty ways.
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin.

He was not in the least bit scared
To be mashed into a pulp.
Or to have his eyes gouged out,
And his elbows broken.
To have his kneecaps split
And his body burned away,
And his limbs all hacked and mangled
Brave Sir Robin.

His head smashed in
And his heart cut out
And his liver removed
And his bowls unplugged
And his nostrils raped
And his bottom burnt off
And his penis
"That's, that's enough music for now lads, there's dirty work afoot."
Brave Sir Robin ran away.
Bravely ran away away.
("I didn't!")

When danger reared it's ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
("I never!")
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.
("You're lying!")
Swiftly taking to his feet,
He beat a very brave retreat.
Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!
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