Friday, 31 December 2010

Friday Firefight: Hanger 14

Thought I'd give my Harkonnens one last outing before they are upgraded with new figures and end the year with a bang!

04:220. Mudd Eisley. A maintenance door in Hangar 14 sighs quietly open. Two figures slip inside like ghosts. They take the stairs to the third floor where there's an inspection balcony above the repair bay.

"It's all clear Spartan. I've got you in. 
Now it's up to you to get that ship".

"By the Gods of W'skas!

"Take COVER!!!"

"Get it prepped!
I'll cover you Spartan"

"By All the Herring that's Holy!
"Combat droids!"

"Can't hold!"

"Save yourself Spartan!


Happy New Year!


A Blast from the Past. Naboo Hanger Action Set

Several weeks ago, Master Chef and I found that we'd reached an impasse of sorts. Due to work we found that we had less and less time or energy for set piece games in the evening. Any new ideas needed new terrain and even if you are playing on a 2x2 or 3x3 foot table you still need plenty of it to make the visually interesting and tactically challenging.

The growing number of superb 'character' figures available in 15mm, such as Critical Mass Games' Merc series has also led us to want to play more quick and dirty character based skirmish games. Set up quickly, we can have two or three games in an evening with plenty of time to enjoy a drink and a chat.

The secret of how to accomplish this came from playing Mass Effect 2 on the XBox. Analysing the action, we found that whilst some of the sets were very elaborate, there was little in the way of running gun-battles. Instead the characters moved from one action point to another (normally identified by lot's of low cover to hide behind!), where they slugged it out with the bad guys and moved on.

Even though we all like the idea of a big table, let's face it - whether you are deploying a company, platoon, squad or just 2-3 guys per side, what it boils down to is a bit of long range sniping, a lot of Panzerbush syndrome as the figures move in a clump from cover to cover until the final denoument an hour or so later where it's fists, claws, and Blasters at point blank range.

So I thought - "Pizza bases!" We could capture all the action if a 15mm or 20mm skirmish game within the area of a 12" pizza base. A 'simple' action can be fought on one pizza base, whilst a more sohpisticated game could be fought across 2 or 3 pizza bases. More on these anon......

With the seed firmly planted in my mind, I remembered that Star Wars Micro Machines once produced some roughly HO scale action sets. Lo and behold! I found a Star Wars Episode 1 Naboo Hanger - Final Combat set on Ebay for around a fiver.

It arrived the week before Christmas. Heather and I were at home when the parcel came, and I am not ashamed to admit that we were transported back to being kids again. It was like a Christmas morning 35 years ago, the two of us excitedly opening the box, putting it all together and then dualling with the plastic figures included, makinge Lightsaber and blaster sounds. I guess you had to be there, but it was a real blast!

Seriously though - if you can get your hands on the Action Fleet NABOO HANGER - FINAL COMBAT  set for a reasonable price - do. It's instant terrain at it's best.



Saturday, 25 December 2010

Life, Work, The Universe...... Merry Christmas

 If Star Trek did Christmas!

"Captain Kirk! Sulu's been on the Cranberry Sherry again!"

"Phasers to Stunning Mr Sulu!"

"Mistletoe? Illogical Commander"

"Warp slactor......"
"Warf flactor, hic!......"
"Fuck it, Impulse power Mr Sulu"

Have a great Christmas. Safe journey. Enjoy!

Mark & Heather

Sunday, 12 December 2010

INCOMING....... Hotz Dirt Planet Game Mat

Following on in quick succession from his inspired Moonscape Felt Game Mat, Eric at Hotz Artworks has brought out an equally visually attractive and versatile Dirt Planet Felt Game Mat.

The rust-brown 'dirt' scheme was chosen by Eric to match NASA photos of Mars, but can equally represent any number of planets, moons and asteroids in your chosen universe.

You can't get instant terrain that's more instant than this. A major plus point all by itself. These mats are easy to store, carry setup and pack away. All you need are the figures! Also, remember that you decide how many and what size of craters come airbrushed onto your game mat. No two need look the same. 

In the opinion of the Dropship crew, these mats are a great leap forward for the Sci Fi gaming community, presenting reasonably priced and affordable Sci Fi terrain that breaks away from the Kent/Surrey kitchen garden we still too often see beautifully painted 15mm Grav Tanks fighting over.

If you don't have dedicated Sci Fi terrain of your own, I can only recommend that you give Eric's products serius consideration.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

In The Pipe........ Revolutionary Firepower

Way back when, in my early days of playing 15mm Sci Fi with classic Traveller: Book 4 Mercenary, 1977-80,  I conceived the idea of an orbital-dropped, 'spider-legged', A.I. battlefied MRLS artillery drone battery to support my ground troops. 30 years later, following some discussion, the combined talents of Jon at Khurasan and John Bear Ross, have brought my vision to life and gone a step further to realise a family of Near Future and Sci Fi combat drones.

I can exclusively reveal the "Automata of the Revolution" series war robots developed by Nova Respublik to give the infantry mobile heavy firepower. They are all given heroic revolutionary names, but the soldiers think of them as beloved girlfriends or doting mothers because of their helpfulness on the battlefield. Fondly called the "darling little robots," each type is given an unofficial nickname by the grunts by which they are more commonly known.

The Marka is an MLRS variant and can fire 20 high explosive rockets by direct or indirect fire. The original idea grew from a book I received one Christmas which had a dramatic photo of a T66 'Honeycomb' 4.5" rocket launcher being used by US Marines in Korea.

The Olyusha ("darling little Olga") variant has eight heavy anti-material missile tubes to take on enemy tanks and walkers. This is Jon's baby. Inspired by the Pentomic era M50 Ontos, with a little input from yours truly.

The Zhenia ("darling little Evgenia") is an ammo carrier robot capable of  resupplying any of the other Darling Little series. The front of the Zhenia is designed to feed ammo directly into the rear of the shooter bots.

The Svetlana robot mounts two 25mm autocannons for direct fire support.

The "Little Darling" series are approximately 28mm tall, and they will be ideal as either heavy infantry support robots in 15mm/20mm scale or sentry robots in 28mm scale. They are scheduled to be available in late winter or early spring.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

INCOMING....... GZG 15mm Crusties Heavy Weapons

Jon at GZG brings tidings of good cheer with some new releases with just enough time to get them before Christmas and add to your order to take advantage of GZG's pre-Christmas special offer.

GZG 15mm Sci Fi: SG15-X13 
"Crusty" Support Heavy Arc Gun (HAG) teams 
(2 teams - 2 weapons, 4 crew) "2.50

GZG 15mm Sci Fi: SG15-X12 
"Crusty" support launcher/mortar teams
(2 teams - 2 weapons, 4 crew) £2.50

GZG 15mm Sci Fi: SG15-Z13
NI (New Israeli) Heavy Plasma Gun teams
(2 teams - 2 guns and powerpacks, 4 prone crew) £2.50
GZG 15mm Sci Fi: SG15-Z14 NI (New Israeli)
RAFRAM mortar teams
(2 teams - 2 mortars and bases, 4 kneeling crew) £2.50

All packs should be available on the GZG webstore now, or shortly after.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Critical Mass Games - Christmas Stocking Filler

If you are looking for a quick and simple stocking filler for Christmas, Critical Mass Games will oblige with their newest releases, which will be available on Monday.

First up, MERC11: "The Freakshow" Mercenary Fighters - 5 unique figures for £2.90. Five really different freakishly humanoid Mercs, bounty hunters or degenerate scum of the universe.

MERC11: "The Freakshow" Mercenary Fighters
5 unique figures for £2.90
(click on image for larger picture)

I'm sure everyone will have their own favourite and mine is the Terminator'esque 'Gatling Freak' on the far left, with a half human, half android/robot skull.

Next for release on Monday, Merc 12: Protolene Mercenary Fighters - 4 unique figures for £2.90. Four very nice 'Space Doggies' with a mix of weaponry that makes them a decent group of adventurers or ships crew. They could also be a discrete unit of Mercs operating on their own or embedded amongst the humankind.

MERC12: Protolene Mercenary Fighters
4 unique figures for £2.90
(click on image for larger picture)

Finally, the first two packs of a new alien race, the Praesentia. We took a look at the Praesentia, how they were conceived and developed, back in October (click here).

PREN1: Praesentia - Englightened - 6 figures, 3 poses - £3.70 per pack
PREN2: Praesentia - Englightened - 6 figures, 3 poses - £3.70 per pack

These new Praesentia speak to me - they remind me of the covers to Frank Herbert's Dune novels from my teenage years. I'm not sure whether they should be far future aliens or the warriors of Victorian Mars. But of course they can be both.

Again, fine, sharp detailing, great casting - everything we've come to expect from Critical Mass Games.


INCOMING....... Khurasan 15mm Garn Flesheaters

One of Khurasan Miniatures latest Garn figures. A Garn hero/champion "Flesheater!" with heavy weapon. He's a big Muvva!

10mm wide, 22cm to the top of his head, fantastic beast armed with a fusion gun demonstrates the best that Khurasan can bring to the table! This guy is the Arnienator of the Sci Fi lizard world! Together with his pal who is carrying a flamethrower, these Flesheaters make fearsome oppositio.

Jon also sent me a Garn Hegemon. The Hegemon is a 20mm tall high command figure. A tech wizard studded with electronic optics, powerfists and shoulder mounted cannon. I'm finding it difficult to take a photo that anywhere near does him justice, because of all the gizmos that he's carrying. Will be a joy to paint.

If you wanted an alternative 'PREDATOR' the Hegemon is the model to choose. The shoulder mounted cannon screams "Get to da choppa!" In fact, Alien vs Garn - oh so do'able.

 With Christmas just round the corner and little time to choose, I'm going to order 3 packs of TTC-1102 Garns firing assault weapons and then see what else I want from the range.


Blackadder in Space!

The one redeeming feature of Rebel Minis latest Earth Force Armoured Troops is the bareheaded leader figure.

I've not quite fully captured his profile in the photo, but believe me, he makes a great Edmund Blackadder character - 
"A man may fight for many things. His country, his friends, his principles, the glistening ear on the cheek of a golden child. But personally, I'd mud-wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn."
- interstellar renegade, mercenary, hero, pirate, bounty hunter and coward, all rolled into one!


Sorry, I had to revisit this entry. What about the rest of the Earth Force Armoured Troopers? In one word, disppointing. I'd been quite encouraged by these minis when I saw the photo on the webstore. OK the poses were cheesy, but they had a certain 1970's Traveller'esque appeal to them.

How right I was - The minis are only 14mm foot to eye, which makes them half a head shorter than the Earth Force Marines - they match RAFM's ex-Citadel classic Traveller miniatures designed in the 1970's, which themselves are smaller 15's.

The detailing is soft and not as crisp as the Earth Force Marines, though to be fair there's plenty of it. The helmet on the firing figures, doesn't look right and overall they are simply amateur when compared with other leading figures on the market, even by the same sculptor.


Life, Work, The Universe...... The Snow of Ages

With Heather home safe, the trains messed up, lorries jack-knifed on the A90, and we took the day off. Despite clearing the Landy in the early hours of the morning - just in case immediate dust-off was required and I had to go rescue the taxi party - I had to clear snow from my windscreen again, with a shovel!

This is the Dropship valley looking NorthNorthEast. We live just off camera to the right of the trees in the middle foreground. To the left you see the gateway to the glens.

The photo was taken in the lee of a Roman camp. I always go a bit Fall of the Roman Empire when the countryside looks like this.

A slight turn to the east and we have the lair of the Ice Giant. These hills tell of an ancient land and have 'faces' as distinctive to me as any on Mount Rushmore. High Kings lived and died beneath their peaks eg Kenneth II. They really impress upon you how ancient this land is and conjur tales of Black Douglas, Beowulf and Grendel.

An hour later, we are across the valley and in the shadow of the hills in the top photo, looking East(ish). The geography is unsurprisingly glacial. Geology shows that the great glacier came down the North Sea and turned SW to carve out the valley. Our village is in the middle foreground and behind those hills, a bare 10 minutes as the crow flies, is the sea.

By Friday there were no trains at all. I dug out my elderly neighbours and helped others clear snow to allow them to get to work or pick up their 'messages'. The local Council have been doing a great job even though it's an impossible task with snow falling every half hour or so.

If I was to go out and take photos today, all you would see is a blanket of white - the last vestiges of green have all but disappeared from the land. But I'm staying indoors to 5S my study and just catch up with myself.


Friday, 3 December 2010

RAFM 20% Off Christmas Sale


RAFM 20% off Christmas Sale now running from today, Friday December 3rd until Sunday December 12th. Use coupon code: CHRS2010 in the webshop.

Ex-Citadel classic Traveller 15mm Sci Fi goodness.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

GZG Christmas Special

 From Jon at GZG

"Our 2010 Xmas Special starts from 00.01 (UK time) hours on Wednesday, 1st December, and runs for a fraction over two weeks, ending strictly at 24.00 (UK time) on Wednesday, 15th December. Please note this is a shorter offer period than previous years, because we want to get all pre-Christmas orders dispatched well before we close up for the holidays. All qualifying orders (which are all those for over £30 GBP of product) will get two specials included:
  1. All orders for £30 GBP or more at list prices get a free goodie bag of extra minis and stuff - how much you get depends on the size of your order, and we'll tailor most of the contents to fit the kind of stuff you are ordering (plus the occasional odd item that might tempt you into other ranges and scales...). What goes in the bag is our choice, so no cheekily asking for particular things please, but those of you who have had our previous Xmas deals will know that we give you a generous selection of stuff that you can actually use for your armies/fleets!

    Sometimes we put in the odd special or unreleased item too, so you never know what you might get....
  2. In addition to the Free Stuff, qualifying orders will also get a voucher that you can use to get a generous discount off a further order placed after Christmas - so you can get your pre-Xmas stuff now, and then use the voucher up when you have some gift money from all those relatives who have absolutely no idea what to buy for you!

    This is where we are varying the offer a little from previous years - we used to make the vouchers valid for January, but this year we've decided to make them valid for February 2011 (from February 1st to February 28th). There are several reasons for doing this - it will give you a little extra time to get over the Christmas expenses before spending out again, and it will give us some breathing space in January to catch up with stuff and hopefully get some further new releases ready for you to use your vouchers on.

    The value of the voucher you will receive varies according to the size of your pre-Xmas order - if you are buying from £30 GBP to £70 GBP worth of goods, then you'll get a voucher for 10% discount; if you spend over £70 GBP and up to £120 GBP, it's a 15% voucher; and if you buy over £120 GBP worth, then you get a huge 20% discount voucher!

    Each voucher carries a unique code number that allows you to use it for online orders (or by phone).


I'm hoping to get at least some of the long-promised new items molded up this week. As soon as they are done, they will be announced - so those of you who are waiting for the new stuff might want to hold off just a few more days before placing your orders - but there will still be plenty of time before the offer closes!

Thanks to you all for your support through 2010 - it has been a year of big changes and upheavals for us, but overall it has all gone well. Wishing you all a great Christmas (or indeed whatever else you choose to celebrate at this time of year) and a safe, happy and gaming-filled 2011!"