Thursday 30 July 2009

Critical Mass Games - 15mm Combat Walker

Critical Mass Games have sent over some photos of their pre-production 15mm Arc Fleet Combat Walker. I think you'll agree that it's a beaut!

The photos demonstrate some of the weapons options that will be available. Four variants are currently planned (AFVH 1-4).

I must stress that these photos are of a pre-production master model and none are available at this time. Scheduled release is 21st September 2009.

Critical Mass Games 15mm
Arc Fleet Combat Walker

You lookin at me!

Arc Fleet Combat Walker- variant

Arc Fleet Combat Walker - Scale

More photos and further information on the Combat Walkers can be found on John Bear Ross's Blog (click here).

Combat Walker Crew

There are three different Combat Walker crew figures. A random crew figure will be included with each model. They will also subsequently be available as a separate pack.

Love the 'utilitarian' and believable look of this Walker. Craig's done a superior job with the understated paint scheme. I especially like the rust weathering. Definitiely gives the Walker more character than a hackneyed 'ambush' camo scheme would.


Wednesday 29 July 2009

Critical Mass Games - Release Schedule

Critical Mass Games have kindly given me the honour of announcing the planned schedule of releases for their new 15mm Sci Fi ranges. The first of these will be the Human Arc Fleet and the alien Protolene Khanate.


WAVE 1 20th August 2009

Arc Fleet Light Recon 4 Packs

AFLR 1-4

Arc Fleet Heavy Drop Troopers 4 Packs

AFHD 1-4

Arc Fleet Augmented Foot Troopers 2 Packs

AFAU 1-2

WAVE 2 21st September 2009

Arc Fleet Rifle Infantry 8 Packs

AFSR 1-8

Arc Fleet Combat Walker 4 Variants

AFVH 1-4

WAVE 3 26th October 2009

Arc Fleet Heavy Tank 3 Variants

AFVH 5-7

Arc Fleet Laser Defense Platform 1 Pack


WAVE 4 23rd November 2009

Protolene Khanate Predators

Contents TBD

Protolene Khanate Hunters

Contents TBD

Protolene Khanate Scouts

Contents TBD

Protolene Light Scout Walker 1 Pack


Packs sizes and prices will be confirmed, but in general you can expect 8 figures in a standard Arc Fleet pack consisting of 3 unique sculpts. Codes AFAU1 & AFAU2 have 6 figures per pack.

Arc Fleet APCs and new alien races are planned for the new year.

Craig from CMG has offered to share concept art, WIPs and photos of the final castings over the coming weeks and has granted permission for them to be published on Dropship Horizon.


Tuesday 28 July 2009

'O' Group......The Inspiration Bus

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you may have noticed that I've included a 'Projects' section in the sidebar. It's really no more than a heads up of what's rotating through my 'workbench'. Some things rotate more slowly than others whilst I wait for the Inspiration Bus to make a stop. Unfortunately, it's occasionally known in these parts for the bus to be running only a sunday or bank holiday service! LOL!

If I like a range of miniatures or even a couple of decent miniatures within a discrete range, I'll buy them over and over to paint in different camo styles. GZG's New Israeli's being a case in point. I've already got Critical Mass Games (CMG) Light Recon Troopers marked out for Paramilitary, Urban & Desert camo schemes.

At the moment, I'm applying the same to Rebel's Earth Force Marines - I picked up 4 packs initially, some 80 plus figures, but oh god, I'm going to need more. I've painted a couple of 'short' platoons for asteroid assaults. But, I also want to paint a couple of platoons in desert/wasteland cammies and another 'short' company in Traveller 'Red'. I know the Traveller Imperial Marines are a terracotta brown - it's 'Red' to me.

I also hanker for a 1:1 platoon worth of Rebel's EF Marines as early Terran Space Marines, you know the sort, 'white' space suits with blue NASA badges. I admit, it's a Seventies thing, hardwired no doubt by the US Space Marines in the Bond movie Moonraker (1979), Gerry Anderson's UFO and not least being a child of the Apollo missions. I plan to give the Terran Space Marines support in the shape of GZG's latest MULES and Wheeled MAWPS - which have a Moon buggy feel about them.

I've ordered a tub of GF9 GFSO16 Ash Waste / Tundra flock for the bases from MAELSTROM GAMES (UK). Maelstrom have extended their current 17% off deal till Monday 3rd August. The deal code is SUMMER-MADNESS.

Probably the next set of miniatures I paint. Maybe even get a couple of bases done this week.

The Rebel Mini's Sahadeen are yet another example. Really like these miniatures. The first batch have been split in two. First being painted as future 'desert' Special Forces, but they will also fulfill the role of Wasteland Raiders with Old Crow Gecko and Goanna Scout cars.

I found a simple but fun camo generator online and created this version of Modern Australian 'bubblegum' camo which I think I'll use with these Sahadeen, though I may stick with British desert camo and use this on GZG's latest NAC Marines.

The other group? When the Sahadeen miniatures arrived I instantly saw the potential to use them in another theatre of war, and so this second group are due for some headswops to add variety and possibly the odd bit of additional gear sculpted with Green Stuff. More later.

Khurasan's Garn and 'Garn' armour (GZG Kra'Vak Grav Tanks) are defeating me at the moment. I want to do some angular Brown/Orange affair. Master Chef did something similar on his Aslan armour (again GZG Kra'Vak Grav APCs). Might just ask him to paint them for me.

The Garn themselves.....I have some OOP 28mm Lizard troopers from Archive Miniatures, bought way back in 1977, at the original Games Workshop in Dalling Road. These were big for their day when 25mm was err, 25mm. I painted them in glossy black armour, as they had a Darth Vaderesque lizard commander. Their skin was painted a green basecoat lightened successively so that the tips of the scales are off-yellow/green. I'm tempted to repeat this paint scheme on the Garn as a tribute to these still serviceable 30 year old minis.

I'm taking my time painting GZG's 'Ravagers', simply because they are such nicely scuplted miniatures and I want to do them justice. I've given 'Regan' a sheepskin collar to his coat using Green Stuff. 'Dogfart' has become an Adam Ant acolyte and 'Jenny Woo' is blue, but I can't decide yet on pink, white or purple hair?

Asteroid terrain? Think black and jagged, inspired by JTAS, and 'Crematoria' in Chronciles of Riddick (2004). Simple and modular with a few inspiring pieces for quick and easy retro Sci Fi games.

Photos to follow.


Tatooine Nights

I picked up the STAR WARS MOS EISLEY Adventure Set, on Ebay very cheaply last week. It's a boxed supplement for Star Wars The Roleplaying Game, published by West End Games in 1997.

The set includes a variety of resources including Galaxy Guide No.7: Mos Eisley, a Mos Eisley Adventure Set booklet (32 pages), a double sided colour map of Mos Eisley and the famous Cantina. The Cantina 'map' is more or less 15mm scale too. An unexpected bonus! Finally there's a quick set of scenarios, docking bay map and counters called Imperial Shootout.

If you see it at a good price I recommend you buy it. As the guide says, the Cantina can be any Cantina on any planet, Mos Eisley is just a pirate port that can be transposed to any world and Tatooine itself is a desert rock anywhere in the Galaxy.


Monday 27 July 2009

PREVIEW Critical Mass Games: Augmented Drop Troopers

When the sitreps are critical. When the chips are down and there's no time to bleed, the meanest, badass hombres the Arc Fleet can call upon are the Augmented Drop Troopers.

Augmented Drop Trooper

Augmented Drop Trooper
Rear View

Where space is at a premium to bring heavier firepower to bear, the Augmented Foot Trooper deploying shoulder mounted weapons provides a significant local force multiplier to the commander on the spot.
Augmented Foot Trooper
with shoulder mounted weapons

In size and bulk, the Augmented Drop and Foot Troopers are necessarily larger than their brother troopers in the Arc Fleet being the equivalent of Power Armoured infantry. You can see a good idea of the comparison sizes in the chart below:

(Click on picture for bigger version)

There will be two packs of Arc Fleet Augmented Troops, codes AFAU1 & AFAU2 in the first release from Critical Mass Games planned for the end of August 2009. Each pack will contain two each of three different miniatures.

My thanks to Craig at CMG for sharing these concept images of his 15mm Sci Fi Arc Fleet range. I hope to be able to post photos of WIP on the greens later in the week.


Sunday 26 July 2009

Life Work The Universe......and Cats

Russian Blues. Sounds like some sort of music tradition...

"I woke up this morning,
and my food bowl,
it was emptyyyyyy. Yeaheah!"

Moskau: "Thank you very much,
but I don't think I can manage it all

Handsome Zoly, Sultan of cats

I love my brother

Zoly: A vision of fur in grey

6 months old on Thursday.

Zoly (L) & Moskau (R) back in April
just 9 Weeks old



I Have Mostly Been Reading.......Mass Effect: Revelation

I'm currently reading MASS EFFECT: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn. Modern Sci Fi can sometimes be tortuous to read and best done in some darkened cloister beacuse it feels like a badass hangover. Not so MASS EFFECT: Revelation, instead I found it easy going and a good read for the train. It's scarily engrossing. I passed two stops without noticing and the train pulled into Aberdeen in a blink of an eye as a result.

You don't have to know the MASS EFFECT universe to enjoy the book, and I'm thankful that it doesn't try to force it by overloading your brain cortexes with leaden descriptions of everything. Certainly having played MASS EFFECT on the XBOX360 to the point where it was going to be cited as the other party in a divorce, I probably am enjoying the book more because I'm familiar with the visual imagery.

The storyline revolves around an attack on a research station by Mercs and the resulting search for a missing scientist. It does fill in the back story of MASS EFFECT as it goes along and provides a decent prequel to the game.

It's by no means in the same league as Forever War or Starship Troopers, but it's an enjoyable military Sci Fi read nevertheless and has given me some plot ideas for a couple of Sci Fi skirmish games.


REVIEW: Khurasan Miniatures Pelagic Man of War APC

I can say without contradiction that this model is the most sophisticated and beautiful 15mm Sci Fi armoured fighting vehicle currently on the market. It is so 'out there' no other manufacturer's 15mm products come close to it. Khurasan Miniatures have just rewritten the rulebook with their new Man of War APC. It is every bit what you would imagine a 'high' Science Fiction armoured vehicle to look like and appears to have stepped out of almost any Asimov book cover illustrated by the great Christopher Foss.

The Pelagic Dominate Man of War APC from Khurasan Miniatures is an all resin kit which comes in 5 main pieces plus a metal flight base.

The parts consist of arrow head shaped hull, barrel troop compartment, turret with twin cannons and two propulsion pods. Assembled it is 95mm long and a maximum of 60mm wide. It is NOT designed to carry humans/humanoids but an entirely different race.

Being all resin and very detailed there is some cleaning and assembly required. Nothing arduous though and well within everyone's ability.

Leaving off the elaborate troop compartment and turret superstructure, as in the photo above, it is still a beautiful model, which can be used as an open back command, troop or weapons carrier.

The Pelagic Man of War is a sleek and very very sexy machine which either deserves a garish colour scheme inspired byone of Chris Foss illustrations, or perhaps something more subtle like this.......

As a tribute to Foss's superb illustrations, I think this camo scheme is perfect:

The Man of War is a stunning piece of workmanship. If you like 'high' Sci Fi rather than gritty armoured boxes on tracks, this is for you! It doesn't matter whether your 15mm Sci Fi armies are Human or Alien, the Man of War APC deserves a place in your collection.

Update Photo:

Availabe soon from Khurasan Miniatures.


Saturday 25 July 2009

PREVIEW Critical Mass Games: Light Recon Troopers

You can scan from orbit, you can send in remotes, but when you positively, absolutely have to get intel on the deepest command post or from inside the most hardened bunker, there's nothing surer than the Mk1 eyeball behind a protosplas visor.

I'm delighted to be able to share with you concept artwork and W.I.P. illustrations of CRITICAL MASS GAMES forthcoming Arc Fleet Light Recon Troopers.

Four packs of Light Recon Troopers (codes AFLR1-4), including command and squad support weapons, are planned to be included in Critical Mass Games' initial release.

The photo below of WIP dollies provides a good illustration of the differences between the Light Recon Trooper (left) and the standard Arc Fleet Rifle Infantry (right).

So, how does the execution live up to the concept? Judge for yourself......

CMG 15mm Arc Fleet
Light Recon Trooper (Pack AFLR2)

I've been quietly play testing Ambush Alley's Force on Force Sci Fi rules over the past couple of months. These Light Recon Troopers from CMG simply ARE the minis conjured in my mind's eye every time I pick up the the rules.

I can easily see them as near future Advanced Warfighters or futuristic police forces, in addition to their intended classic military Sci Fi roles.


PREVIEW: Khurasan Miniatures 15mm MANTIS MEN

I have a pack of 5 Spearbearer samples from Khurasan Miniatures to share with you. These Spearbearers are just one terrestrial sub-sentient species of arachnoids used by the Dominate as bioweapons. They are unleashed by the thousand on the enemy ahead of the main assault using drop pods, to cause confusion, soak up enemy firepower and force him to commit reserves.

The best way I can begin to describe these bipedal insectoid miniatures is to call them Mantis Men, principally because their 'arms' have a superficial resemblence of the Spearbearer's arms to the front fibia and tibia of a Mantid.

Overall they are very humanoid in appearance. Perhaps too much for some tastes. Of the five miniatures, three are in standing poses and two lurching. They have spiney shoulders and elbows, googly bug eyes set on the front of their head, on top of which is a cone that I take to be a horn or stinger, with a double wing case on their back.

I think they will reward careful painting and could be used in plenty of Sci Fi, VSF and Apocalyptic/Mutant backgrounds. Personally, I'm tempted to use these Mantis Men as some kind of organic eco lifeform on a jungle or swamp planet.

Jon intends to release them shortly at which time he has given me permission to post photos. Jon plans drop pods to accompany the miniatures and I believe John Bear Ross is scuplting them as having landed with doors open. Can't wait to see them!


Thursday 23 July 2009

Rebel Minis - 15mm Merka 5 MBT REVIEW

I'm not renowned as a fan of tracks in my Sci Fi armies. I'm a Grav man. But you know, something about Rebel Minis new Merka 5 Medium Tank spoke to me and I'm glad it did.

Rebel Minis: 15mm Sci Fi Merka 5
MAEFV6 for $11.95

The Merka 5 is a very tasty Post Modern-Futuristic model tank that deserves a place in my 15mm armoury. In fact a whole platoon of them!

The Merka only really comes alive when it's fully assembled, at whihc point it becomes a beast.

The model comes in 4 main parts - turret and 2 track assemblies, which are metal, plus a crisp, well detailed resin hull. The ballistic shaped turret is complimented by a separate radar and two mini Vulcan point defence cannons.

The detail overall is superb and I congratulate John Bear Ross on designing a turret which is very real world and not some slabby sided affair that was obviously designed in a timeline without it's own equivalent of the T34, Panther and T80 to draw upon.

Tiger, Tiger

I think it's worth mentioning an issue with models designed using rapid prototyping, know as "potato chip effect". This is caused by the build up of layers during rapid prototyping print out. I'm led to believe that It's currently an issue that is extremely difficult to eliminate in its entirety and requires a lot of modelling hours to rectify. In fact there's a saying that a rapid prototype master is only as good as the skill of the person sanding it.

Is it noticeable? in places worse than others on some models. On the Merka I barely noticed it at all and put down the texture as being part and parcel of the real tank's manufacture. In my day when a tank was a tank and the Centurion was made out of manly Bakelite, none of this girly ceramic stuff, when up close and personal with a tank, it WAS rough.To be honest, I've been more pee-d off with model metal AFV's manufactured in the old way that had come from the casters with screeds of tiny pitting on a supposedly aerodynamiclally smooth surface.

So, to sum up, a great design, plenty of detail and utterly believable in it's own right.


PREVIEW: Khurasan Miniatures 15mm Sharkmen

Jon at Khurasan Miniatures has kindly sent me samples of his new 15mm Sci Fi 'Karkarine' Marines.

These new 'Kark' minis from Khurasan are essentially Sharkmen. Not sharkoids - Sharkmen. Bipedal miniatures in human style clothes but with that classic shark bullet shaped head, which tapers into a small fin at the back of the skull.

First let me say these are some of the nicest, cleanest sculpted and cast miniatures I've seen for a while. They have good poses and feel just 'right'.

The Marine pack contains 4 different advancing Marines. Can't really call them 'grunts' - 'Gills' perhaps? They are wearing calf length boots, baggy trousers, banded Flak vest and a thigh length jacket which could be painted as a long jerkin instead.

They are armed with very solid low/mid-tech rifles which look like the type of harpoon gun Quint (Robert Shaw: Jaws) would have been proud of - minus the harpoon of course.

The 'Karks' are equipped with a tank on their backs which has a thin tube snaking over the shoulder into the creature's mouth.

The 'Kark' Marine Command pack has three miniatures. A very, very nice Commander figure, bluetooth headset, rifle in one hand pointing with the other. Plus a hydroplasma cannon team. Jon has designed the gun team to mimic WW2 German machine gun teams, one 'Kark' standing firing the hydroplasma cannon, the No.2 in front of the gunner supporting the muzzle on his shoulder. A dynamic pose that comes as a nice change for sci fi gamers! The hydroplasma cannon gunner can also be used on his own as a sniper with a gauss sniper rifle.

The figures are 15mm to their eyes and about 15.5 to 16mm overall. They match perfectly with Rebel Minis Sahadeen and GZG Ravagers (both currently on my workbench amongst others).

The Karkarine Marines are the most interesting and inspired non-bug alien miniatures currently on the market. Perfect for Sci Fi skirmish games, Victorian Science Fiction and Pulp/Call of Cathulu, post apocalyptic mutants etc. They will definitely make excellent Waterworld pirates/raiders. There's been a lot of posts about gaming WaterWorld recently on TMP:

Without a shadow of a doubt I can see a place for the Karkarine Marines in this type of game over and above standard Sci Fi battle scenarios. Jon envisions the Karks as sci fi Landsknechts -- they will serve anyone, anywhere, as mercenaries, for a price, but when their overlords go to war they join the invasion (just as Landsknechts were supposed to join the emperor when he marched).

The miniatures will be released by Jon at Khurasan soon, at which time I will be able to post photos.


Wednesday 22 July 2009

The Face of Command in Miniature

The question has been posed to me more than once, "what you would like to see “command” look like?" In short, my vision of command figures are miniatures who look like they are leading men in action.

It's a personal thing, I absolutely hate team, squad and platoon level leaders reading a map, looking through binocluars or standing bolt upright pointing/talking into radio. Put the kiss of death on more than one range of figures for me.

This image says it all. Even though he is kneeling, there is dynamism, force and command presence. Also note that his weapon is at the ready, not dangling like a handbag as we see on some miniatures. You could even take the entire torso and transpose it onto braced or running legs.

Take a look at this promo video for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and study the leader carefully. His gestures, his movements and most particularly his stance.

Notice how the weapon is ready at all times, gestures snappy, stance alert in a semi crouch and not standing bolt upright.

How often do you see a raised fist HALT gesture or a hand splayed on helmet for RALLY ON ME?
Tell me if I'm wrong, but to me team, squad, platoon leader miniatures are more important than the ordinary grunts. They give the unit character. I think Flames of War generally does a great job in this respect and recent WW2 Soviet releases at least have been brimming with different leader figures - not just one pointyfinger bloke who looks like a traffic warden directing tourists to Harrods. Plus you've got to use him as every team, squad AND platoon leader in your tabletop outfit.

Certain aspects of future command on the battlefield may do away with the traditional leader as we know them. Every man may be their own boss, or they will be reacting to commands on the CrossComm beamed via satellite or direct from a HoloCommand Centre somewhere in orbit. But I hope this provides some inspiration for the lower tech grunts who will still look to a man with cohones to lead them when the dog hits the fan.


Tuesday 21 July 2009

LIVING INSIDE! A Preview of UNDEAD States of America

UNDEAD STATES OF AMERICA: The Zombie War Miniature Game from the unlikely sounding UBER GOOBER GAMES is simply outstanding!

You, yes You! are responsible for leading the surviving living from the cities. You must feed them, arm them and fight off the Zombie hordes.

UNDEAD STATES OF AMERICA is different to other Zombie games in that this not 1-to-1 skirmish, it's a full blown tabletop wargame.

If Zombies are your thang, and even if they are not, buy these rules! Whilst I love the premise behind the game itself, I have to admit, it's the campaign games that blow me away!

You feel like some kind of John Connor, mapping the spread of infection, organising the survivors and leading the fight back against the undead.

John Connor? Yes, can you see where I'm going! The day I received my set of the rules, I was so wired with inspiration that I was still pouring over them at 2a.m. in the morning, at which time I fired off a congratualtory note to author Steve Metze. Here in my hands was not just an awesome Zombie game, but the perfect vehicle to organise the resistance against Skynet, to fight back against the Alien Grey Tripods or make my stand against the Commies in Red Dawn.

UNDEAD STATES OF AMERICA includes 40 pages of content divided into Game Rules, Short Campaign, Continental Campaign and cut-out Zombie/Living unit counters for $20. Check out the webpage for sample pages and more information.


Monday 20 July 2009

July 20th, 1969

I just want to take a small moment to pay tribute to the men and women of every nation, who in whatever capacity, made it possible for humanity to break free of the fragile seal that is our atmosphere and place that first terrific footstep on the Moon.

Tonight I'm sure people all over the globe will be paying a well deserved tribute to the crew of Apollo 11 who took that "first step for man".

My first true memory of the 'Space Race', one that has vividly remained with me throughout my life, was the tragic death of the crew of Apollo 1 (Apollo/Saturn 204), January 27, 1967.

Edward White, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Roger Chaffee

So, here's to all the men and women who lost their lives in the endeavour to make that 'giant leap for mankind', and those who followed to ensure we could dream of one day walking amongst the stars.


Earth Force Marines - Painted HOTT Army

I'm currently prepping a couple of platoons of Rebel Minis Earth Force Marines in anticipation of painting them in the evenings this week, ready for an asteroid assault game next weekend.

Mike at Rebel Minis must be reading my mind, as he coincidentally sent me photos of a painted and based Earth Force Marine force, created to meet customer requests for an army that's suitable for Hordes of the Things.

I'm sure you'll agree with me that both the individual miniatures and the army as a whole looks superb! I believe they are "dipped" with minwax polyshades and I for one like the finished effect.

Rebel Minis 15mm Sci Fi: 6 bases MAEF1, 2 bases MAEF3

Rebel Minis 15mm Sci Fi: MAEFV1 APC and MAEF5 Cannon

Rebel Minis 15mm Sci Fi: Sniper team from MAEF2

Rebel Minis 15mm Sci Fi Gratuitous Close-Up of MAEF1

Go to WWW.REBELMINIS.COM for more details

That camo scheme is very tempting. Something very Traveller about it. In fact, even unpainted, these minis just say Traveller to me. Now the pressure is on to ensure mine look this good! Thanks Mike! LOL!