Friday 12 July 2024

Colonial Paddle Steamer

This fabulous kit has been in my collection for far too long, lying unassembled and unloved in the pile of procrastination, until last summer when I was determined to put on a game for my good friends Bullcher Feb and the Dark Templar.  I had a notion that I wanted to return to the Congo, a rule set that we had all enjoyed a few years back, and what perfect way to explore the dense jungles than by a riverbourne cruise in a paddle steamer.

As with all 'Sarissa Precision' kits there is a quality that exudes from this model, it is simply so well designed that I knew it was going to go together well.  When starting a build there is also a sense of apprehension as there will always be a point when you have to make a decision about playability over construction and as I tend to do so much of my planning on the fly this moment often cripples the construction process by causing me to overthink to point of inactivity.  There is also a point in every build, and I appreciate that this might be just me and my fat fingers, when there is a sickening snap as some integral part of the structure is fractured or broken due to my stubbornness to yield to the fragility of MDF!

So it was with this build.  I had taken the boat to school to work on in the evenings that I wasn't on duty, all was proceeding well when I had to make a decision about whether to stick the decks together along with the roof panels.  In the end I decided against it believing that it would make it easier to paint and accessorise when I got home.  Following this hiatus a sickening snap was heard as I tried to drive home part of the substructure, but my familiarity with this type of kit allowed me to adopt a far more pragmatic approach than to throw the model across the office and simple repair was effected without any obvious loss to aesthetic or dignity. 

It is a shame that the same couldn't be said for the cardboard funnel, which I butchered beyond all possible explanation.  This would clearly need a little more thought later in the process.  Finally completed the launch returned home and sat idly by as I found new dustractions*, but as the playdate loomed ever closer it was clear that I needed to get it finished.  It was at this point that I realised that my poorly assembled funnel was also poorly sited causing it to look as if would topple over in a stiff breeze.  I briefly considered removing the offending piece and building it again from scratch, but instead decided to embrace my mistakes and incorporate them as part of the wear and tear of a working vessel.   

*Dustraction - a new, shiny hobby related project that after initial excitement is relegated to gather dust.

I had great plans to accessorize this fabulous kit to within an inch of its life, but I was rapidly running out of time, so instead limited myself to some rigging, to hold up the toppling funnel, and a tarpaulin for the rear deck.  All of this was undercoated so that painting could start.   

The painting itself was a breeze as having primed the model, I fired up the trusty airbrush and attacked the hard to get to areas with a light grey.  The planks were then drybrushed and with some accents of colour it was complete.  The weathering was achieved by using various washes, but looking at it now I could probably have pushed this a little further.  Still all things considered a passable job and great to see the model assembled and painted - now on to the characters needed for the expedition! 

The ever growing flotilla of 'Sarissa Precision' kits.

Sunday 30 June 2024

Cantina completed

I have finally got around to tinkering with a few photographs of the completed Cantina build.  I populated the space with a mixture of different Star War miniatures including miniatures from Legion, Imperial Assault and even some Dave Stone of ‘Wargames Terrain Workshop’ originals.

The alcove tables are the top of a hose pipe attachment which was then finished with a transparent plastic base and lit from beneath with LEDs

Great to finally share this project with a wider audience and just seeing it is making feel the need to dig out the plans to see how much more I had intended to do.  Sadly this will have to wait for the time being as currently visiting another desert for a completely different project, news of which I hope to bring before too long. 

Thursday 27 June 2024

Cantina build

A long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy far, far away and long before, James and I were building Bavarian Castles, we collaborated on an unlikely project that was to sow the seed for future endeavours.  James was fascinated by my efforts with my toy soldiers and asked if there was anything that I 'needed' that he might try his hand at building.  As you can imagine this could have been a hugely long list, but given that Star Wars: Legion was my then focus, I suggested the Mos Eisley Cantina.  

James was aware of the cultural phenomena that was Star Wars, but was not a life long fan of the space opera that bewitched young Master Awdry.  That said, he threw himself into the project and after an initial discussion we decided that we were looking to create a modular playing area that whilst drawing on the original plans allowed for some artistic licence to make the build more manageable. With the concept decided upon James set about drawing out the initial floor plan and before you could say twelve parsecs we were underway.  James is a prodigious talent, in that he is able to draw using his software of choice as effortlessly as I can with a pencil.  Not only that, but he seems to be able to solve complex construction problems in his head.  As a result it wasn't long before fully fledged designs had been drawn up and test cutting had begun.

What follows is a roughly chronological order of how the build then progressed.  What I find interesting is the shift from James' meticulous planning and measurements to my rather crude scratch building approach that finds unlikely solutions to build issues that arose along the way.  This first image shows an initial pass at a layout, the squared base was just there to help with geometry, although it did occur to me that to have it etched in this way might be a useful device for gameplay.  
From very early on, James was interested in how the model would be used and, not least, viewed by the players.  I have to confess that I had only really considered it as a fabulous terrain piece and so was only interested in line of sight, which as we can see from below was deliberately restricted by doorways.  Also visible in this early version are sliding doors at the back of the bar that didn't make it into the final model.  
The image below shows the level of thought James gave to the aesthetic of the piece.  These vaulted ceilings could be lifted out to allow access to the various bar areas.  Similarly the modular construction meant that each area could be broken down further for photography or even role playing adventures as the need arose. 

A shot of the component parts assembled and ready for the next stage of the project.  You can see the recess at the top of the walls that has been designed to allow the roof to sit flush on top.  Also visible are the curved walls of the entrance that employ a different cutting technique that allows you to bend and flex the MDF.

With the build effectively complete, it was time for me to take the reigns.  As I mentioned earlier, this was a more instinctive approach than James' measured planning, but I knew that I wanted to achieve some form of stone texture, heavily weathered by the wind and sun.  I had various texture pastes that were pressed into service for the exteriors and a simple sprinkling of sand onto a layer of PVA glue was used on the interior wall sections.   
Whilst James had been cutting, I had been on the hunt through the 'bits box' for anything that might prove useful to add some character to the walls, along with a couple of purchases specifically for the build.  These included bits of old foam, plastic rod and a child's drinking straw set.  'TTCombat' had some very nice generators and fans hidden amongst their MDF ranges with the coiled wire and bulkhead lights coming from 'Zinge Industries'  and finally the A/C Greebles from ‘Combatzone Scenery’.

With everything affixed and dried the whole piece was then given a diluted PVA glue protective coat, before being primed using the airbrush and a suitable sand like colour.  Layers were built up with various washes of colour, but this was deliberately kept simple.  A few flourishes, like the Imperial recruitment posters helped to add a little character to the piece. 

Sharp eyed followers will have spotted that very little has been mentioned about the roof, a feature that initially proved to be the one stumbling block to our build.  James had envisaged creating this using vaulting techniques, but for whatever reason this got held up, probably a set of reports needed writing or some such trifle, but whatever the reason I needed to come up with a solution.  The flat roof section had already been cut and fitted perfectly, but it needed its characteristic dome.  This was achieved in the end with a large polystyrene ball that I simple cut it half and glued to the surface.  I layered some hessian material on these sections before covering with the same texture pastes used earlier.  This gave the illusion of reinforced elements of the construction and when washed with ink suggested that the whole thing was quietly rotting away.  More bits and pieces that I had left over completed the look and with that the build was complete!   

I was, of course, thrilled with the outcome and couldn't thank James enough for his outstanding craftsmanship, but in his usual modest way he was already considering 'mistakes' that he felt he had made and thinking of a new project to get his teeth into.  Just as an aside, I tried to do a little bit of digital drawing to create the droid detector that is seen when our heroes first enter the cantina.  This should have been a relatively straightforward design, but it took me several attempts as shown below, a testament indeed to just how easy James makes the whole process look.

Although James and I no longer work at the same school, we still keep in touch and I delighted to report that his modelling skills are still being gainfully employed and can be enjoyed at his fabulous youtube channel, Bexhill West.  Whilst I am not a model aficionado by any stretch of the imagination, I do enjoy a good track layout, and equally I find myself mesmerized at how James continues to make all elements of his project still look so easy.

If you have the time then do pay him a visit.  Included amongst the videos are a series of 'How To' films that introduce CAD for the beginner.  Next stop... 

Bexhill West


Monday 20 May 2024

The Doctor will see you now

A very quick post today, just to show off another completed miniature for my Start Wars: Legion collection.  The 21-B Medical Droid is a useful support for any Rebel Team as it can remove wounds from injured troops.  

In an attempt to make a metallic colour I tried to mix silver with the base colour and certainly got close to what I was aiming for.  Not sure I nailed the translucent middle section though?  I seem to remember that the action figure that I had as a small boy looked great, but just wouldn't stand up very well due to there not being any feet, as such.  Not a problem here as I have stuck him firmly to a MDF base! 

Saturday 11 May 2024


 I have mentioned before how The Empire Strikes Back had me transfixed from its opening scene as the adventures from a galaxy far, far away unfolded for a second instalment.  We had had to wait three years for the second film and were eager to drink in all the details and atmosphere of this beloved franchise.  

Within minutes we were transported to the frozen planet of Hoth, a stark contrast to the twin suns of Tatooine, but nonetheless are intrepid hero, Luke Skywalker was been attacked and knocked cold from his Tauntaun!  Of course blink and you miss it, the roaring maw, a clawed arm swiping across the screen, the action unfolded so quickly, I remember being terrified and bemused in equal measure.  What was that?   Without the power of the infoweb at our disposal it took a while to learn of the Wampa, a native species to the frozen wastelands, even longer to hear of the deleted scenes that coloured its legend.  That aside the creature had become a firm favourite and so I am delighted to finally have a miniature version for my Star Wars: Legion collection. 

My Wampa was a gift in the form of 3D print from my good friend the 'Dark Templar'.  This is something that I am keen to try for myself, but so far have only managed to amass lots of files rather than the actual equipment required to magically turn them into physical items.  It would appear that I can horde just about anything!  

Ultimately this was a quick win from the painting point of view.  Essentially it was primed in grey then some initial coats of white built up before picking out the final details with a brush.  The basing followed the same colour scheme as my 'Rebel Veterans' to help tie everything together.  

Once completed, I used my now 'go to' technique for snow which is the AK Terrains Snow Acrylic lightly dusted with the AK Snow Microballoons.  The final flourish was some gore to represent his last meal. 

Saturday 4 May 2024

Wookie Warriors

I wasn't planning a themed month, but I have unearthed some more photographs that have yet to be shared and with today being the 4th May, it just seemed the thing to do.  Chewbacca, Han Solo's co-pilot and long time companion, was always a firm favourite of mine growing up.  It didn't seem to matter that his growls, roars and barks were incomprehensible, we just instinctively knew exactly what he was trying to say.  A gentle giant around those he trusted, we were frequently reminded of a Wookie's propensity for violence,

 "That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their socket when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that."

 Armed with his trusty bowcaster, this is a classic Chewbacca pose and a much needed character addition for my Star Wars: Legion forces.  I painted the weapon in a flat blue/black colour as a nod to the action figures that I so adored collecting.  Having tinkered around with a suitable colour palette for the fur, I decided to apply a similar treatment to the additional Wookie Warriors that were waiting patiently for their turn under the brush.  Not as happy with these results, but a relief to get them ready for the table. 

Monday 29 April 2024

Shoot 'n' Skedaddle

Just the briefest of posts to share some of the photographs taken of our game of Shoot 'n' Skedaddle.  Sadly the details are somewhat lost to the ravages of time, but essentially this is a fun, fast paced skirmish game that we played as a three header.  Each player had assembled a posse or gang of characters and charged around the board trying to capture the objectives whilst ducking waves of lead fired from an opposing player.  My understanding that these rules are free to play and can be found here.

An overview of the completed table, something that I found hugely rewarding and just revisiting the build in this series of posts has made me quite keen to add and develop it further.

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