Thursday 30 June 2011

Heads Up! Tomorrow’s War Sneak Peek.

Cover - Tomorrow's War
Dropship Horizon has the privilege of bringing you advanced Intel on the up-coming release of Tomorrow’s War – Science Fiction Wargaming Rules. Written by Robby and Shawn Carpenter of Ambush Alley Games and published by Osprey Publishing, it would be fair to say that there was quite a buzz about these rules during the testing phase that ended back in March.

At that time, a copy of Force on Force was required to play Tomorrow's War as it was produced as an add-on to Ambush Alley Games' popular modern rule set. What we see here, is the fully evolved and independent form of Tomorrow's War, and it looks pretty darn good.

From what we can gather, the release date of 20 September 2011 is still on track and the following images have been obtained via our High Orbital Spy Satellites.

A  primer on the Universe of Tomorrow’s War.

Somehow, the thought of telling someone wearing battledress, who is armed with some sort of rotary cannon or fusion gun, that smoking might be harmful to his health strikes me as rather futile.

Quality maps and quality illustrations, production values are high.

Guys in armoured suites with BFGs. Total Win!

And pictures of our favourite toys by our favourite manufacturers.

Eighty-odd days and counting! Looks like the best set of hard science fiction rules to be released this year. Can't wait!

- David

[Editor's Note: This post has been edited to include images that, while marking their source as Dropship Horizon, do not imply any ownership by the blog. Thank you - Eli]

Monday 27 June 2011

Convert a Wargamer to 15mm Sci Fi Week!

 15mm. 15mm. 15mm. You're all 15mmers!

The Dropship Team have decided that the week beginning Monday 11th July will be Convert a Wargamer to 15mm Sci Fi Week! 

We are therefore challenging ourselves and you, Dropship Horizon readers, to attempt to convert a wargaming buddy to 15mm sci fi during that week! 

You could organise a game, show off your collection, start a discussion about the merits of painting and collecting 15mm sci fi, but whatever you do you should let us know what you plan to do and tell us about the results!

Friday 24 June 2011

Tough year for 15mm Sci Fi

2011 has been a tough old year for the 15mm sci fi community so far what with Jon at Ground Zero Games shutting up shop for a few months, Mark powering down Dropship Horizon and now Jon at Khurasan Miniatures suspending operations until the Autumn.

Part of this is down to the fact that most 15mm sci fi manufacturers are one person operations meaning that, if time off is required, operations must be temporarily suspended. It is perhaps also more noticeable now due to the increased popularity of 15mm sci fi.

Despite these bumps on the road, 15mm sci fi continues to grow. The Dropship Horizon Crew's hope is that the hiatus of two of the hobby's biggest players during this year will provide impetus for other manufacturers to invest in their 15mm sci fi ranges by adding new sculpts and, by doing so, attract new customers for the benefit of the hobby as a whole.

Thursday 23 June 2011

15mm Sci-fi Mini Exchange Extravaganza at TMP

We saw this on TMP and thought here's a cool way to add some minis to the old collection and make new friends.
All you have to do is paint up a 5 figure team or squad and you will receive the same in return!

To quote ThorLongus, the organiser of this event: "This could be a coherent, uniform squad of any race, or it can be a mixed mercenary type of unit. The bare minimum is 5 average humanoid sized 15mm minis. If you want to include some oversized (think ogryns / super mutants) that is up to you."

Here's the link, check it out and get painting! 15mm Sci-fi Mini Exchange

Eureka Ventaurans Sighted!

This in from Nic of Eureka Miniatures:

"We are pleased to be able to announce that the masters have now reached completion. Please find attached some preview images for your consideration."

Ventaurans from Eureka Miniatures

Ventaurans from Eureka Miniatures

Nic is back from Historicon in mid July when he should have release dates for these figures.

- David

Wednesday 22 June 2011

South London Warlords -
15mm Hammer's Slammers Game

I recently received a communication from Roger Dixon, a member of the South London Warlords gaming club, who thought that Dropship readers might like to see what the Warlords had been doing in 15mm scifi of late. Take a look at the information he provided as well as the massive eye candy.

"If viewers are really interested in the Hammer's Slammers game(s) we put on at Sheffield Triples this year, here are a few facts about the game.

"All the players have been keen 15mm Sci-fi gamers for a long time, having tried different rule sets out over the years, and most of us have amassed a large collection of 15mm miniatures. Hammer's Slammers has proven very popular with our group. It plays very well and, with a couple of detachments per side, we can get a game finished in a 'club evening's' play. All the games played at this convention were in 15mm but the Hammer's game works in 28mm, 15mm, and 6mm. The 'tank park' at the end of the table shows most of the 14 different mercenary detachments we tried to use over the two days of the convention, as well as some of the 25mm versions of the tanks.

"The gameboard was built and displayed by members of The South London Warlords, and presented at Triples in Sheffield UK over two days. Measuring 10' x 6', the table was covered with a base cloth (same both days) made from old cotton curtains painted with emulsion from the local DIY store and highlighted with cheap 'match pots'. Texture was added by mixing builders' sand and 'bird grit' into the base coat.

"For this convention, we had two different scenary set-ups, one for each day of the show. The set-ups were a drilling rig/shanty town on a barren planet on the first day, and a large Space Port, which covered most of the table, on the 2nd day. 

"Most of the large buildings were scratch built from toys and old models. There is a matchbox toy garage in there somewhere, some old Revel 'Saturn 5' launch pads, two 'Robot Wars' play sets, some railway model items, and endless pieces stolen from my son's toy box! Other buildings include some Critical Mass items, and some old GZG bits. "The Building 'base plates' are made from my new 'wonder material' 'Flexi foam', which comes in large sheets and can be cut, scored, bent and painted. The shantytown is mostly GZG, with other buildings, including a scratch built wind farm, added. "The roads come from S9 engineering (28mm scale road system), while the craters come from GW. Another club member made the water features. All the scenery took about 6 months to build and complete.

"All the 'plants' are fish tank plants, cut from their sprues, mounted on bases, and based with sand/PVA. The 'jungle trees' are the old GW ones ... perhaps the most fiddly things to build and paint!

"The vehicles and space ships are a large 28mm scale GZG resin dropship, four Dinky Space 1999 'Eagles' salvaged from jumble sales, boot fairs etc., and various Matchbox cars and trucks. "The miniatures (mostly from Old Crow) are excellent, and both the rules and miniatures really reflect the David Drake Hammer's Slammers books and background.

"Hammer's Slammers is definitely on the 'hard' side of Sci-fi ... the game plays fast and deadly, and rewards good tactics and leadership. Although, to some people, the background may seem a little 'limited', (there's only one alien race for example), the mercenary companies, around which the books are written, provide lots of scope and variation in game play."

Additional details of the Warlords' miniatures, battles and scenery as well as further info on the Hammer's Slammers miniatures game can be found at the following links -

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Khurasan to Temporarily Suspend Operations

As of June 20th the familiar Khurasan Miniatures webpage has been temporarily 'turned-off' by the owner. Anyone looking to buy or browse the Khurasan website will find a message, posted in bold red letters, stating in part:

"Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will have to temporarily suspend operations of Khurasan Miniatures. Don't worry, we will be back....Thanks to all our loyal friends and customers, and we will definitely be back in time. I am hoping for Fall of 2011 if not sooner. Bye for now, but not for good."

Khurasan will process all outstanding orders, but no further orders will be accepted.

We all wish the best for Jon. His broad selection of 15mm minis are an important resource for many gamers playing an incredible variety of periods and genres.

I am eagerly looking forward to the day that Khurasan is again accepting orders. In the meantime, I'll just keep saving up for that 'special sci-fi zombie project' order.

Monday 20 June 2011

SPOTLIGHT - Highlander Studios Inc.

If you follow the blog or frequent the Lead Adventure Forum you may have noticed that Highlander Studios have been producing some interesting new sculpts.Of particular interest to the 15mm sci fi gamer are Highlander's Gideon's Dust (15mm post apocalypse), Z-cubed and D-cubed (15mm space bugs) ranges. Highlander have also started developing a new line of Space: 1889 miniatures having recently concluded a licencing agreement with Space: 1889 author and game designer Frank Chadwick.

The Dropship Horizon crew got in touch with Highlander Studios maestro Roderick Campbell to find out more.

Dropship Horizon: So how did you get into sculpting?

Rodrick Campbell: The very early origins were when I opened my first set of Grenadier miniatures for D&D. I was 13 and had been playing for a few months. I wrote a letter to Ral Partha asking if they could put me in touch with any of the sculptors to find out how they were made. Well, I never got a reply!

Flash forward 17 years and after a lot of time painting and collecting miniatures and an art degree; a conversation at a convention and a gift from a friend of some old dental tools found me working with greenstuff sculpting some 10mm Sudan figures. In the years since I've sculpted for companies such as Splintered Light, Khurasan and Rebel Miniatures.

Dropship Horizon: Are there other 15mm manufacturers or sculptors you particularly admire?

Rodrick Campbell: Essex and Minifigs were my first exposure to 15mm and they'll always be special to me. The sheer volume and availability of cool sci fi stuff from GZG when almost no other company was making it was inspiring. I really like what Rebel, Splintered Light and Khurasan are doing these days and Ben Siens, Faron Betchley and John Bear Ross are guys who's work I always look forward to seeing. Then of course there are the "Old Masters" of Ral Partha and Grenadier fame.

Dropship Horizon: What are your plans for Highlander's 15mm sci fi ranges?

Roderick Campbell: The Space: 1889 licence will be receiving a lot of attention over the next 3-4 years. I'd like to see that sell tons so I can extend the licence when the time comes. So expect a lot of the cannon material for the game, but also some darker, more steampunk items as the line grows. I'm still working to identify a reliable resin caster for the airships and vehicles. 

The Gideon's Dust line will have frequent additions. Look for new rednecks, Hogzilla and some Postman-style riders, then possibly some zombie versions of the existing rednecks. For ZD-cubed more bugs to start, then some additions for 5150; generic people types as well as military.

Friday 17 June 2011

GZG's new UNSC and hovertank

When I began thinking about my little Red Mars Rebellion project last year I started combing the internet for miniatures that I thought would fit the theme, and that I also found appealing from an aesthetic standpoint. For the Earth Sectorial Army (more on that later) I ended up choosing the new UNSC sculpts from GZG. They have a hi-tech yet realistic look that I like. Their transportation of choice is hovercraft so when GZG re-opened their webstore and released some new UNSC infantry packs and a new medium hovertank I got my credit card out! They arrived last week and I thought I'd share my thoughts on them with you all! I might have a slight bias since I'm currently helping Jon in getting some more pictures of painted miniatures into his webstore, but I think I should be able to keep my head straight nonetheless. Hehe!

First off the HAMR team. These two are my favourites of the new releases! Especially the sniper. The Heavy Anti-Materiel Rifle is huge and I would imagine poses a threat to anything smaller than a tank! He has a spotter beside him and it's a nice touch that the spotter's assault rifle is lying next to him on the ground (a recurrant theme in several of these new minis). They match each other very well and certainly has that  patient-sniper-team-of-death look to them. The sculpts are good, with enough details to make the minis interesting yet not too "greebly" and needing only minimal cleaning up. Generally they hold up well to what we've come to expect from GZG's newer releases. I woldn't have minded a little more detailing on the rifle, but that's a really minor nitpick. As you probably have understood by now I'm quite taken by these guys. They didn't look all that when I saw pictures of them, but now that I have them in front of me I'm eager to get playing with them! I've been thinking about a few different scenario possibilities centered around these snipers.
I'll put them at the end of the post for your perusal.

Then we have the GMS team. They are both lying prone, using the same basic positions as the HAMR team, with the loader seemingly prepping the next missile. They certainly look good, although not quite as eye-catching or suggestive as the sniper team. Given a choice I would have prefered a kneeling GMS operator but that is very much a question of personal taste. In my view prone models on the tabletop can look a bit... well, flat. However this is much more appearant when you have single models, and with teams like this it's much less of an issue for me. In fact, having two models allows me to experiment with a larger base size, and I like that! It's almost like building a mini diorama. I've decided to base my 15mm guys individually except for fire teams like these that go on 30mm bases.

The Command and Comms pack holds one standing comms operator, a kneeling soldier checking his iPad, a kneeling soldier looking through his binoculars (spotting Imperial walkers mayhap?) and finally a kneeling officer pointing his grunts forward. Again, the same sculpting quality as before. However, something that has me a bit confused are the rifles of the comms operator and officer Pointy. They look like the regular assault rifles but a fair bit smaller, especially the barrel. At first I thought something had went awry in casting and the barrel hadn't formed correctly, but the more I look at them the more I think they're supposed to be some kind of smaller carbine or submachine gun versions. Apart from that little mystery I quite like them, especially for their versatility! I actually bought two packs so I can sprinkle them around the platoon as different kinds of specialists. I know for sure that one will act as a spotter for my MicroPanzer Seekers (aka Warbots) and I think I might switch the prone spotter of one of the GMS teams for a kneeling one from this pack.

Finally the the Wittman tank! It is based on the same hull as the Rommel so no news there. It's pretty flat and sleek but it's also slightly on the small side and I believe you would find it rather cramped inside (come to think of it, I'd love to see some kind of larger, more massive hover MBT from GZG!). The new turret is nice and crisp with a good amount of detailing. It comes with a choice of three barrels and has a side mounted missile launcher as well. You get a crew member too, although the one I got was different from the one pictured in the store so I guess that might be random. I got a guy with a berret and binoculars instead of the one with fully enclosed helmet. Overall I think I prefer the Wittman to the other medium hovertank available from GZG and I will probably get one or two more later on.

Definitely some good stuff here! I'm always glad to see more UNSC and since I'm a recent hovertank convert  as well that was an added bonus. I got some APC's in the same order and I'm currently busy getting it all painted.

Here are my two sniper centered scenario ideas I mentioned earlier:

Scenario 1: A sniper team is in support of a small squad or two of infantry as they conduct some kind of a search and retrieve mission in a semi-hostile urban area. The snipers would be set up in hidden positions in the hills on the outskirts of town. The defender would have to try and trace where the shots are coming from to be able to attack the snipers which in turn would leave the squads in town unsupported and (hopefully) ripe for the picking.
Scenario 2: Sniper teams in a rear-guard action against a larger, but mostly infantry based, force. The snipers would be defending some kind of bottleneck like a bridge or a small ravine. In this kind of scenario things like suppresion and how to use it would become important as it's all about stalling the enemy. Perhaps the defender would win if he killed enough troops (demoralizing the enemy), or simply held out a set number of turns (buying time for the main force to re-position). 

That's all from me for now. More later!


Thursday 16 June 2011

CINEMATIC GAMING - Space: Above And Beyond

The year is 2063 and man's first extra-solar colony, Vesta, is destroyed by an unknown alien race, thus igniting a war between Earth and a race that will come to be known as the "Chigs". Thrown into the midst of this conflict is the 58th Squadron of the USMC's Space Aviator Cavalry, otherwise known as the "Wildcards". The squadron is made up of a group of freshly minted young lieutenants, barely out of flight school when the war begins. The series follows their exploits as they mature and develop into one of Earth's best fighting squadrons...

Welcome to the first post in a series about the cinematic gaming of one of my favorite shows, Space: Above And Beyond

Even though this show only lasted 24 episodes, it gathered a small but faithful following, and it's a shame that it did not run the entire 5 seasons originally planned by its creators. This show had lots of potential. And it still does. Space: Above And Beyond is probably one of the best shows around that lends itself to "cinematic gaming". Within the 24 episodes there are quite a few scenarios that one can devise and game, and since the final episode of the series was pretty much "open-ended", the gamer is presented with an opportunity to continue the exploits of the surviving members of the "Wildcards" or create their own group of protagonists to carry on in their stead.

To begin, I needed to find miniatures to represent the "Wildcards". Rebel Minis Earth Force Marines are are a near perfect match to environment-suited Marines from the show, and Rebel's Earth Force Home Guard match up nicely as Marines in standard combat gear. Finding miniatures to represent the Chigs is a bit more difficult, but not impossible.'s Retained Knights can be drafted in to service as Chig infantry in a pinch. Since I'm planning on mostly doing skirmish gaming, I don't need to worry about finding a proxy for the Marine's SA-43 Hammerhead Endo/Exo-Atmospheric Attack Fighter, or the Chig's space fighter. There is however, one flying vehicle common to the show I would like to have available for use in certain scenarios, and that is the Marine's Inter-Solar System Cargo Vehicle, or ISSCV. Luckily, Rebel Minis has a vehicle that proxies nicely, the Earth Force Saber-class Dropship. While not an exact match, it will serve the purpose well.

I really like Two Hour Wargames' rules sets and I will be using their 5150 science fiction skirmish rules for the batrep. 5150 works well for solo gaming and is perfect for scenario driven campaigns. Right now I have a few scenarios in mind, but I'm going to do a little more research, so I'll save those ideas for one of the upcoming posts.

Cinematic gaming is a really fun way to relive the action of your favorite movie or television show, and isn't as difficult as some people might think it would be. It just requires a little bit of creativity and some research, and it will reward you with many hours of enjoyment.

Spartan 117

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Copplestone Casting goes 15mm!

As mentioned on one of yesterday's updates, according to a news article over on TMP Mark Copplestone of Copplestone Castings  has been dabbling in 15mm and has produced some classic barbarians in 15mm. Though perhaps more Conan fantasy than sci fi, these guys could be post apocalyptic primitives or the population of a colony world returned to barbarism in true Traveller style! Hopefully Mark can be encouraged to shrink some of his Future Wars or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ranges in the near future...

Postcard from the Edge

So, we’re heading back to Mudd Eisley at the end of another run and I’m thinking about some serious R&R. I’m thinking massage, manicure, drinking my body weight in strangely coloured cocktails, shopping for intergalactic bling and picking out some new collars for the Russian Boys.

Then the Commander drops his bombshell. The mission is over. His head is mush. He needs space to reboot.
What the?!?!

Turns out he’s serious and we’re packing up and shipping out. Shipping out to some crazy rehab venture back on Earth called, “Winter of ‘79”.

Now call me shallow, call me vain, call me a tart with a heart who loves her creature comforts but “Winter” plus “Of” plus “79” are not words that have a ring of “5 star luxury accommodation with on-tap butler service” attached.

I remember the winter of 1979. Hell, I remember a fair bit of the Seventies. The decade that fashion and taste forgot. It was like a bad sepia photograph, all beige, brown and orange. And worst of all fashion sins – Mustard.

So Guys, I’m sitting on the dock of the Dropship’s loading bay, twiddling with my bunny ears and wondering whether I can really take this mission. I mean, I love the Commander, he’s my Soul-mate, we’ve been through the best and worst of times together, but come on – a thermal vest in dubious man-made fibres on moi?

So looks like it’s time to really say goodbye on this blog. I have to say that it’s been a blast and a massive part of my life too.

I’ve swept the Dropship one final time, gathered the felines up and I think she’s ready for her next Commander. Hope he’ll understand if he finds the odd cat toy or girly trinket in a dusty corner. Oh and that weird stain on the navigator seat.

But wait, I can see the new Dropship crew approaching………..can this really be true? You know, the third one from the left looks awfully cute…………

Love to all

Dropship Bunny

Tuesday 14 June 2011

15mm Releases Roundup

These items have been released in the last few weeks. Since the new crew was still figuring out how to fly Dropship Horizon, we weren't able to give these minis the fanfare they really deserved. But they still deserve a mention, so here we go:

Rebel Minis CATs (Cybernetic Autonomous Troopers)

Releases from Rebel Minis:
  • Cyber Autonomous Troopers (CATs) in two different models. The Wild CATs have power claws and missile launchers, while the Tom CATs are equipped for close assault.
  • Post Apocalyptic Riders - very reminiscent of films like The Postman.

Khurasan Miniatures Yozhik Heavy APC

Releases from Khurasan Miniatures:
Previews From Highlander Studios
  • Support weapons for their popular Z-Cubed Space Bugs
  • 15mm Space Pals (you'll understand when you see them)
  • Space: 1889 Mars Expeditionary Force test sculpts
Combat Wombat has unveiled his new line of turned-brass gun barrels, as well as releasing the Swingfire Anti-Tank GEV.

For all you starship gamers out there... ClearHorizon has released a set of control consoles on Shapeways.

Copplestone Castings has previewed a set of 15mm Fantasy Barbarians. While fantasy gaming certainly isn't the focus of this blog, we know that fantasy minis are sometimes useful as primitives in varying-tech scenarios. You can expect us to highlight a few fantasy ranges when they catch our eyes.

I apologize if I missed anyone's releases from the last few weeks!


Red Planet FUBAR Battle Report

By popular request: a report from the first battle fought on my new Red Planet board. Enjoy!

Background: Conquest System - the moon of Miniatus. A Conquest Development Corporation firebase suddenly lost all communications with a nearby uranium mine. Major Curker took a personal interest in this operation (for reasons unknown), and ordered the 369 Expeditionary Squad to accompany him on an investigation. They found the remains of a slaughter, and instantly their dropship's scanners indicated unidentified bio readings. As the dropship lifted off to investigate, one of the 369 fire-teams found evidence within a colony building. It was a claw from a Bio-T (bio-terror) Warrior - what CDC troopers informally called "Space Demons." Major Curker ordered the men to split up and take fire positions - the Bio-T's had to still be nearby. Just as he signalled the dropship to return, he heard the corporal from Fireteam B shout "Bio-T's Inbound!"

Game: A quick FUBAR solo battle. The CDC forces (Rebel Minis Titan Marines with a Laserburn commander) were broken into three units: Fireteams A and B, and Major Curker's personal command team. They began the game deployed into my colony buildings (BWS Starotwn Slums). The Bio-T's (Khurasan Space Demons) have a Queen, a unit of eight Warriors, and a unit of eight Acid Spitters. If a unit of Warriors or Spitters were killed off, I would roll a D6. A replacement swarm would arrive on a roll of 4-6. The Space Demons arrived from a random table edge and had Initiative for the first round.

Victory Conditions: A straight bloodbath - no objectives. I set a limit of ten turns, and then the CDC Dropship would arrive to evacuate any CDC survivors.

Turn One: The Bio-T's quickly ran into the colony. The Spitters made it in first and assaulted Fireteam A. Two troopers died instantly, and they were hit so quickly they didn't kill any Spitters in return. The Queen and warriors came about next. Major Kurker opened fire on the Queen... she met his gaze and prepared her own assault. Fireteam B fired upon the spitters, killing three.

Turn Two: The spitters quickly finished off Fireteam A, but lost two of their number in the process. Fireteam B shot far more accurately and killed the remaining Spitters. The Warriors now assaulted Fireteam B while the Queen advanced on the Major and his command team.

Turn Three: In a brutal melee, Fireteam B lost three members and three Warriors were killed. The Queen killed one of the Major's men in close combat.

Turn Four: The survivor from Fireteam B (who was apparently the child of Ripley and John McClane and raised on a diet of titanium nuggets) made five successful armor saves as he killed another Warrior. The melee continued with the Major wounding the Bio-T Queen.

Yes... this happened!

Turn Five: The Queen was killed. The final member of Fireteam B fell in combat, taking another Warrior with him.

Turn Six: The final two Warriors, now without their Queen and under fire from the victorious Major, retreated from the buildings.

Turn Seven: Major Curker and the two surviving members of his squad wiped out the retreating Bio-T Warriors. They had survived the onslaught, but nine of their troopers had died in the process.

Aftermath: The Major's personal dropship evacuated him from his carnage. It had identified a large canyon filled with the bugs, including at least one more Queen. Major Curker alerted his firebase to mobilize all troops for assault... this wasn't over yet!

Analysis: The inspiration for this game took nothing more than setting up a few buildings and terrain pieces on my newly-finished table and grabbing some minis off the shelf. Yet it made for a quick and enjoyable game! FUBAR's simple framework can provide an "instant game" with minimal preparation time and bookkeeping - to me, that captures the essence of 15mm Science Fiction gaming.


Saturday 11 June 2011

Meet the New Crew

Pirate Captain by FXMEN at ConceptArtDavid B. from Waystar Highport

Greetings. Long time gamer and roleplayer, victim of the “Oooh, shiney” Complex. Handicapped by time zones, last weekend I thought I was signing up to help do a blog on 15mm Science Fiction figures. While I was asleep I was promoted to Captain of the Dropship Horizon!

I’ve played wargames since the early 80’s and roleplayed almost as long. My period of choice for wargames h
as been the Renaissance as I find periods of transition fascinating. While I’ve played a large number of roleplaying games, I keep coming back to science fiction and Traveller.

Finally getting sick of De Bellis Rationalis, or DBR, in the early naughties, I discovered Ground Zero Games Starships and then their 15mm ground troops. I have Stargrunt II, Use Me, and Chain Reaction to playtest, and I hear good things about FUBAR. The biggest problem I have is finding an opponent so I’m working on the “provide both sides” principle to snare some of my old Traveller cronies.

Chris K. from Basement Gaming Bunker

I started tabletop wargaming with Battletech in the early 90's. When Epic 40,000 was released in 1997 I switched over to that, and spent the next 12 years of my life (and unmentionable amounts of money) on Warhammer 40,000 and Epic 40,000. My inspiration to switch to 15mm Sci-Fi came from two sources - this blog and the Forge of War rules. I've found switching to 15mm to be the most liberating and inspiring hobby decision I've ever made - it renewed a passion for wargaming that I thought was long gone. My rules of choice are FUBAR (no surprise since my name is in the credits), Mutants and Death Ray Guns, and USE ME... and I have a goal to start Alien Squad Leader in the future.


I've been a fan of science fiction since I could walk. Got into roleplaying games in my early teens in the '80s, starting with Traveller, then Star Trek:The Role Playing Game. I was also quite a fan of Battletech, which was my intro into miniature wargaming. During the '90s I dabbled heavily in Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K, but after a decade of it, wanted more from my gaming experiences, that's when I found DROPSHIP HORIZON, and discovered that a whole new universe of miniature wargaming existed outside of 40K.

I'm relatively new to blogging (started FIREBASE 15mike-mike last September), but was bitten hard by that bug (thanks Mark), and have started quite a few blogs since then, with FIREBASE-SPARTAN being the prime hub. Being a part of DROPSHIP HORIZON's new crew is both a privilege and an honor, and I look forward to( along with the rest of the crew) continuing the journey Mark started.

Martin T. from FIRE BROADSIDE!

Born and bred on Swedish fantasy and post-apocalyptic RPG's, then Call of Cthulhu, then started miniature gaming in the early nineties with Space Marine (epic). Played the hell out of that game actually! Did the whole Games Workshop thing for quite a while, mostly Necromunda, Battlefleet Gothic and Bloodbowl though. Moved to Tokyo in 2005 where I shelved my miniature gaming for a few years. Not enough space, so I started playing more board games. Then in 2009 I managed to convince my friends back in Sweden to get into Full Thrust. I've always been a spaceship geek and loved the GZG models. Poking around the site I began discovering 15mm as well. I managed to resist actually getting any miniatures until I moved back to Sweden last year, but now my Red Mars Rebellion project is in full swing and I have a feeling that it will expand to include our Diaspora RPG campaign as well. Fairly new to the scale, but hopefully I can still make a contribution or two.

Eli Arndt from I SEE LEAD PEOPLE

Well it all started with a little thing called Star Wars, then Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and on and on. You may have heard of them. It's been down hill since then. Initially a fantasy miniatures player, I found Warhammer 40,000 while in high school and evolved to things like Stargrunt and into more free form sci-fi miniatures rules and figures. I've been gaming for over thirty years now and playing everything from RPGs, board games, card games and of course miniatures games. I'm more of a hobbyist than a gamer these days as my gaming group has moved away from a lot of miniatures gaming. I run the I See Lead People blog which is a general hobby/gaming blog as well as Crisis in Alcovia which is a blog dedicated to a civil war in a fictional nation.

Chinatown Cat is not impressed
Thomas R. from Peabody Here!

I worked in kitchens most of my life. Lately I put down the knives, picking up dice and an airbrush instead. Cooking was good to me, but it also prevented me from gaming for many years. It's pay-back time.

In '78 a D&D intro at the
FLGS lead to games of Ogre, GEV, Chitin I, and Car Wars. Good times. I've also enjoyed Mordheim, WarZone, 2Hour Wargames, Ambush Alley & Stargrunt II. I play old-school Spacemaster on a regular basis but Call of Cthulhu remains my favourite RPG. One day I hope to play Cthulhu Rising with 15mm minis!

I enjoy the 'hobby' aspect of gaming as much as playing games with my friends. I'm truly grateful for both. 15mm Sci-Fi is an inspiration to me for great gaming and for making cool stuff.

If you have visited Peabody Here! perhaps you noticed my ongoing 20mm Vietnam War project. That period interests me tremendously and, I think, has a lot to tell us about out world today.

Something of a closet nerd, I can pinpoint my discovery of wargaming to April 1992 when I spent my pocket money on a copy of White Dwarf No. 148 while waiting to catch a train. Thence forth a significant proportion of my waking life was dedicated to covertly combating the Skaven menace in the old world, investigating Cthulhu cults in the marshes of Innsmouth, battling anarch gangs on the gothic punk streets of Chicago, to name but a few. Over the years I dabbled in many periods and manufacturers. These experiences taught me to paint to a reasonable table top quality and taught me that I lose interest in a period very quickly. However, I always come back to sci fi, and 15mm has always been my favourite scale to paint. Blogging helps keep me motivated and hopefully, in some small way, helps you get the most out of the hobby!

Friday 10 June 2011

Building a 15mm Sci Fi Army – where do you start?

Unlike some parts of the wargaming world, when you build a 15mm sci fi army you have a lot of freedom. Historical periods have set uniforms and force composition. Science Fiction, on the other hand, offers a great deal of freedom varying from the codex-based armies of the 40k universe to the more loosely envisioned worlds of GZG’s Tuffley-verse. With no predominant 15mm science fiction manufacturer (or vision of the future!) there is no pressure to buy from just one manufacturer and, if anything, different manufacturer’s 15mm ranges actually complement each other!

With 15mm sci fi you start with a blank slate. So where do you begin?
  • Buying figures – I’m sure most of us have done it; we’ve seen some figures we think look really cool, decided we have to have them, and then wondered what to do with them when they arrive! I wonder what proportion of armies that start this way actually get painted? One of the great things about 15mm is that the chances of actually finishing an army rise drastically when you can paint an entire squad in an evening!
  • Reading rules – Some people take a more methodical approach (I confess I’m not one of them), they read a rule set and decide they want to build an army for it. The shine can occasionally often wear off if your army doesn’t perform quite as expected, but this planned approach is great because it allows you to think about army composition and (hopefully) save some money by only buying what you need.
  • Books, TV and films – Others take inspiration from a book they have read or from a film or TV show they have watched and build an army based on that background. Books like Starship Troopers, The Forever War and Hammer’s Slammers provide a wealth of inspiration; as do films like Aliens, Avatar and the Star Wars franchise and TV shows such as Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica. The wide (and growing) range of 15mm sci fi figures available means that it’s becoming increasingly easy to find suitable ‘proxies’ for your chosen universe.
  • Other people’s armies – Now that there is a healthy and active interest in 15mm sci fi, a common source in inspiration is seeing pictures of other people’s 15mm sci fi armies. Who has not viewed a blog or online photo gallery and thought: “I want an army like that”? Even if you start by emulating someone else's army, as you build and paint your own force it will quickly take on an identity of its own, so don’t set the bar too high, the key is to get gaming!
  • Your friends talked you into it – 15mm sci fi may only make up a very small percentage of the wargame hobby at the moment, but I’m guessing there are a few people out there who aren’t still trying to talk their buddies out of buying hugely overpriced 28mm science fiction miniatures! 
Wherever you get your inspiration, 15mm is a liberating scale! You can build interesting and diverse armies that don’t take an age to paint, you can paint them how you like and you won’t have to mortgage your home to fund your obsession, or build an extension in order to house it!


Thursday 9 June 2011

A Red Planet board

Ever since I switched to 15mm, I've been fighting battles over the same collection of desert terrain. I needed a change! Inspired by Mark's previous post and Martin's gallery, I decided to try a "red planet" terrain set of my own. This project was simple and quite inexpensive - and only took a weekend to complete. While the steps here were specific for my red planet, you could easily apply different colors and flocking methods to make any type of terrain you like.

First I needed material for the project. I wanted to start small - 24" x 24" is fine for skirmishes, or small battles with a couple squads and a vehicle or two. So I picked up a piece of 5/8" sanded plywood cut to that size. And to make the red planet I chose two colors of $1 craft paint (a base and a highlight) and two bags of Woodland Scenics flock (their fine scale works well as 15mm ground

A little experimenting with the flock led me to a blend of two parts red ore to one part black cinder. This is actually a pretty dark blend... not a true Mars but definitely something out of this world.

As with my previous desert and snow tables, I started with a test hill. I have a pile of assorted styrofoam packing sheets from furniture boxes... enough so I could cover a 24x24 table and not have to buy anything extra. So I sat down with the ol' Wonder Cutter and went to work. The first hill was simple, textured, and looked like it would work.

So I painted it. Two coats of the darker red covered it completely, and a quick drybrush with the orange brought out the carved texture. Then I brushed a 50/50 white glue/water mix and sprinkled on the flock. When flocking I let it dry for about an hour then gently go back over the whole area with the 50/50 mix. If you dab it on just right it will look like the flock is covered with milk, but not floating around. This dries to a nice solid finish that doesn't flake. Here is the result, with a GZG shanty and a Kremlin Cyberian Commando for comparison

The results were okay, but still a bit unsatisfying. I sat down to work on some taller spires, like these at TerraGenesis. When working on these I realized that the texture on my earlier hill was perpendicular to normal erosion! So I turned the ol' Wonder Cutter sideways and produced these:

I thought these were a major improvements over my first hill, and I was eager to finish them. Same formula as before... two coats of the darker red and a quick and easy drybrush with the orange.

My camera didn't catch the contrast, but the orange drybrushing does stand out well from the red. I may still go back over them with a black wash to add a bit more depth, but I'm pretty satisfied with the results.

In between coats of the hills I finished the table itself. I did use a primer on the plywood before I started painting - this helps to seal the plywood and prevents your first coat of paint from soaking in. I didn't use any drybrushing on the table - just painted it red, flocked, and sealed. I applied the sealant with a dollar-store spray bottle rather than a brush, and gave it two extra coats. Right now it's solid enough that I could reverse it and make a two-sided board. The table took longer to make just because of the extra coats of glue needing to dry, but was still a very simple process. If you want to do this project at home, I'd say paint and flock the table first, then add the sealant coats while you work on hills, spires, crags, or whatever else you're including.

All that remained was to flock and seal the rest of the hills. Since the hills would need to dry overnight I had to leave them aside... but the test hill and the spires were ready now! I set out the table, deployed a quick mining settlement (combination of GZG shanties and BWS Startown Slums), scattered the finished terrain bits, and had a battlefield ready to play a quick game of FUBAR!

So... who wants to see the report from that battle?