I thought it was a rather good Salute this year: certainly better than the last few.
Why was it so good? Well, here's a few fairly random thoughts:
No queue at all
By the time I arrived, 10.45 am, the queue had completely died down, and after a coffee and a sandwich I was able to walk straight in.
I understand from some people that the pre-opening-queue hall was just about full as the doors actually opened, meaning their current way of doing things is now strained to the limit, but for this year, as last, it worked. Well done the organisers: makes a big difference!
Sharp Practice demo game in full swing
I thought that this year's show was the busiest I had been at for years. This gave the show, even in the afternoon, a real buzz...and because the show is in such a large venue, even with the busy-ness, there was plenty of room to move around.
Usually I come away from Salute thinking that I've been trapped in a dungeon for a few hours. I don't know what they've done differently, or whether it's just me, but this year I thought that it was considerably lighter than last year.
Traders & Bargains
Now there are always lots of traders at Salute, which is good, but nothing particularly exciting. I keep myself fairly well abreast of what's available, so rarely do I get the pleasant surprise of a new discovery.
Not so this year: not only did GZG have some fantastic hover disks for the Xar (see previous post on the need for vehicles for the little Critters!) but an outfit called Troll Trader had loads of the more obscure Battlefront box sets (i.e. the sort of thing that is usually priced highly because people only ever buy one) for dirt cheap prices. I picked up the Amtrack box set at seven vehicles for £40; more US landing craft at £5 each; and ten Japanese tanks at £2.40 each.
Lead mountain now fully replenished!
Again it may just be me, but I thought here were a ton more demo games than usual. Combined with the traders, this meant that it took me until well into the afternoon to think that I had actually at least glanced at everything there was to see.
I left at about 3pm, but felt that I could have stayed longer. It was the wallet that made me leave: it's piteous cries of "no more, no more"...
And finally, what made the show really buzz for me was the huge number of Lardies that it was good to chat with. I won't name check everybody, but nice to see Ralph and Matt, Kev, Sid, Big Rich, Panda and all the other Lard Island regulars.
I'm just leaving for that vast, cavernous dungeon that is Excel for Salute 2017, hoping not to get mixed up and accidentally end up in the London Marathon registration area (the punters look so similar!).
If you want to catch me and say hello, quite often I'll be lurking around the TooFatLardies demo game.
And remember: plenty of deodorant and leave those backpacks at the door!
As I've said before on this blog, one of the main problems with the 15mm sci-fi marketplace is that figure manufacturers tend to produce ranges aimed at the platoon-level gamer rather than the Q13 company-level gamer.
What I mean by that is that they produce a range of core infantry, with maybe a few support weapons, with maybe one vehicle...but not the whole gamut of kit that you'd need to create, say, the sci-fi equivalent of the modern day army.
Where are all the different sorts of infantry (grunts, scouts, engineers, specialists, exotics etc) and all the different sorts of vehicle (recon, MBTs, APCs, SP Artillery, specialist AA etc)?
Now I know that's all to do with initial outlay and all that, but it is a problem for the company-sized gamer such as myself.
Take Ground Zero Games' Xar, for example. I'm a huge fan of GZG, and before Xmas bought and painted a whole lot of their infantry, which come with the equivalent of MMGs and Bazookas as well. They even have specialist Tech and FOO figures. So far so good.
Mr Plowman's Xar: a bit better than mine!
Now GZG themselves can provide attack drones to give them a bit of punch, but there aren't any vehicles in the range.
Well this gives you the opportunity to have a look around and see what you can find...and the unfortunate demise of Critical Mass Games (well, they have been sold to Ral Partha so hopefully will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes) and the 50%-off sale that resulted gave me the opportunity to buy my Xar some vehicles from CMG's Kaamados Dominion range.
These chunky, and very tall, vehicles really suit the body shapes of the Xar, so go together very well. Not only that but, as with all Critical Mass' stuff (I have their Protolene Khanates (c.f.) and Praesentia (still to be painted) as well) the kits are full of character and paint up very well.
Here are the Gekotaa Armoured Cars: two with guns, one with a scanner:
And here are the Dragamaa Heavy Tanks (and they are heavy!):
Now my Xar are ready to take to the field with the beginnings of a combined arms force!
I like to back the occasional Kickstarter project, but such is the length of time between backing the project and actually receiving the goods, that usually my interest has moved on by the time they arrive, so the figures languish somewhere in the lead mountain waiting for me to remember they're there.
One such project is Clear Horizon Miniatures' Hura Technocracy, a Kickstarter I backed over two years ago. To quote the CHM website:
The Hura Technocracy represents an alien species known as the Hura. While possessing traits of both crabs and mantis insects, the Hura are an advanced species that use their technology to give them every advantage. Not only do they have a strong chitin outer skeleton that can deflect blows almost as well as most basic Human body armor, they utilize a powerful series of miniature, close-contact forcefield generators that provide an extra layer of defense without limiting their strength and speed. Their weaponry, nicknamed “Lightning Rods’, strike out with powerful beams that can fry not only organic material but any unshielded electronics as well.
I came across the box containing the Hura figures whilst cleaning up my painting table. As I've just finished a major paint of Polish WW2 figures, a bit of sci-fi would make a welcome change, so time to paint them up.
Here's the first of my efforts: a company of Hura Heavy Support Weapons:
Again from the CHM website:
The Heavy Support Hura are part of the lower-tier of the Hura Species. They are genetically and cybernetically modified to the point of becoming biological computers. The Heavy Support Hura are lead by a handler who controls them.
Now to start on the three platoons of Hura infantry!
I say '231', but the set allows you to build any five vehicles from:
the SdKfz 231 8-rad
the SdKfz 232 (the one with the radiator aerial)
the SdKfz 263 (command car, also with radiator aerial)
the SdKfz 233 "Stummel" (the one with the gun)
Now I already have one SdKfz 231 8-rad (and a couple of 'obsolete' 6-rads) so what I was after was another two 231's and then three 232's to make up a six vehicle heavy armoured car platoon of the sort used in Poland in 1939.
Here's the five vehicles from the PSC box set:
Very nice models that are relatively easy to put together (see below for more).
One thing to note is that they are considerably shorter than a Battlefront SdKfz 231: about 0.5cm shorter, in fact. You don't really notice unless lined up next to each other and, anyway, my Battlefront 231 is a later model with the extra front and rear armour, so looks different anyway.
Putting Them Together
The assembly instructions come in the form of the usual picture-diagram guidelines. Below you will find a few extra hints that, let me assure you, will make your life a bit easier:
Part 3: Assemble Hub Top
I found that the turret knob didn't fit in the hole in the hull top, so I'd advise you to widen the hole a little bit before you glue it to the hull base. Just easier to do at this point than later.
I just stuck a knife in the hole and rotated it a few times!
Part 4: Assemble Lights etc
You can't really see this in the diagram, but the wider set of lights goes at the front i.e. in the plate with the pickaxe and axe on it. Makes a big difference, as it won't fit together if you get these the wrong way around!
Secondly, when you are clipping the plates from the sprue, make sure you clip or then carve the surface of the plate flush i.e. don't leave a little nubbin of plastic where you clipped it. The assembly at this point has zero tolerance for a not-properly-clipped plate. Zero!
Part 6: The Mudguards
The mudguards, the mudguards!
I am sure even the great Piers Brand now occasionally wakes from a fevered sleep shouting "the mudguards, the mudguards", as these are a complete pain to fit.
The basic problem is that the mudguard tabs fit onto an inclined surface, so if you try pressing them straight into place, the mudguard slips down the incline.
Okay, you think, I'll just glue them, then position them gently, then leave them to dry. Problem is, if you do that, then you generally get a loose mudguard: either at one or both ends or somewhere along the middle.
The trick is to turn the vehicle over. Where the star shape pipes are in between the wheel holders is the key to getting the mudguard to fit. That is a flat surface, albeit a small one, where you can hold the central bit of the mudguard in place for long enough for Superglue to bind.
So, put a little blob (little!) where the notch is at the end of each mudguard. Put a little blob of glue on each of the main tabs on the two main bodies of the mudguard. Put a blob of glue on the central bit, where you are about to apply pressure. Flip the vehicle, settle the mudguard in place, and hold the central bit in position, making sure the central tabs and ends of the mudguard are all lined up and flush too.
Now work out how to unglue your fingers from the assembly and you are done.
Note: leave the mudguards to fully dry before carrying on. If you don't, you'll only pop them off again when you are holding the vehicle in the later stages of assembly.
And yes, when you ignore me and they pop off...that is me saying "I told you so"!
Part 11: Aerial for the 232
Two things here. Firstly, the back aerial stand is the long legged one, not the short legged one. Small point, but worth making.
Secondly, if you are careful, you can build this so the turret still rotates.
Yes, you can!
I found that they key here is firstly to glue the tripod onto the turret. The diagram doesn't show this, but the side legs go just behind the widest part of the turret - literally just behind, I mean right just behind - and the front leg goes onto a little square etched into the centre of the top front of the turret.
Then glue the top of the back legs to the aerial. While the glue has some cohesion but is still drying, flip the radiator and glue the back legs to the front of the nubs on the rear hull. The diagram seems to have them on top of the nubs, but I couldn't get that to work, so fitted them just in front of them, resting on them in fact. Now just place the front hole on the aerial on top of the knob on top of the tripod, but don't glue it in place. You should then have a aerial that has solid back legs, but allows the turret to rotate.
I'm not sure how hardy this is going to prove to be, as the vehicles are yet to hit the tabletop, but they seem okay during the painting, basing, decal and varnish stages.
These are recommended. At effectively £20 for five vehicles, you can't go wrong, despite the sometimes annoying assembly.
I shall definitely be buying another box's worth to use as early Afrika Korps vehicles.
The latest unit to roll off my painting table is a platoon of 75mm wz.02/26 guns for my WW2 Polish collection.
When fielded as a two-gun platoon, these will represent an infantry company's division-level Infantry Gun Platoon; when fielded as a three-gun platoon, these will represent a cavalry squadron's brigade-level Horse Artillery Platoon.
The guns themselves were nicknamed "orthodox" by the Poles, as they were old re-chambered Russian guns left behind on Polish territory after WW1. Always good to be equipped with the latest kit!
As for the models, the guns are from Battlefront by special order. I think they are down as Finnish or something as Battlefront doesn't really acknowledge its Polish range at the moment: far too busy in the desert!
The crew are actually WW2 Soviet artillerymen with head-swaps using Peter Pig's excellent range of heads. I've used infantry helmets for most of the crew, with an officer type wearing a rogatywka.
The limbers are general purpose Battlefront limbers, again with the driver having a swapped head.
Finally, I've also now reorganised my Polish cavalry squadron gallery. Click here to see them all (will open in a new window).
Although this site is mostly dedicated to the TFL company-sized games (IABSM, CDS, Q13) I like to publicise what else is going on at Lard Island. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the latest pint-sized campaign for Chain of Command, the platoon-sized WW2 game.
Here's what the TFL website says about Storming the Citadel:
"This Pint Sized Campaign for Chain of Command is the first covering the attack of PanzerGrenadier Division Grossdeutschland at Kursk. The action here covers the build up to the attack, with actions in no-man’s-land as the Germans attempt to seize observation posts and clear minefields, followed by the first day of this epic battle as the Germans storm through the Soviet outpost line and the first line of defences.
"Six battlefields provide a campaign up to ten games long, by which point you’ll have a clear winner and be set up for the next campaign in the series which is already being prepared and follows Grossdeutschland into the second line of Russian defences and attempting to break into open ground beyond.
"This classic Pint Sized Campaign is designed to be run using the campaign rules in At the Sharp End and with Chain of Command rules. Can you breach the Russian defences and seize the initiative in the East, or will you defeat the fascist invaders and restore the safety of the motherland.
"Twenty-seven pages long, this Pint Sized campaign provides the background history to the campaign with situation maps. Uses period maps to show the location of the actions and then provides a complete campaign with forces for both sides, support options for players to select from and full victory conditions for all six battles and the campaign as a whole."
You can buy Storming the Citadel for the pint-sized cost of £3.80 by clicking here.
It seems as if last week's exhortations worked, as we have an update so large that I decided to do it today, Friday, as opposed to my usual Saturday post.
The update includes three returnees with their first entries of the year, including one who took the challenge in year's one and two then had a year off last year. Rumours of a trip "at Her Majesty's Pleasure" or of a secret mission to the former eastern bloc are, of course, utterly unfounded!
Koen de Smedtsubmits his first update of the year: vast numbers of 28mm figures including a couple of Frozen tableaus!?
And Ashley is also back with a bang, sending in some good looking walkers in a couple of scales
Also returning (from his long trip, LOL) is John de Terre Neuve, who has obviously spent his year away painting and sent all his entries in at once!
Andy Duffellhas gone Japanese...well, apart from the burnt out CMP truck
The painting machine that is Matt Slade sends in a collection of 28mm beasties
Egg is still modernising: twelve assorted vehicles in 15mm
And last, but by no means least, Chris Stoesen takes a break from writing scenario packs and submits a very nice looking log cabin
I have also, at Egg's suggestion, linked all the names in the list above to their galleries, with the galleries set to open in a new window. Let me know if that makes browsing the galleries significantly easier as, if it is, I'll keep doing it and, if it isn't, I won't bother next time!
Now just because I've put some links in doesn't mean we'll be losing the weekly photos in this post. Here are today's...
Japanese Princess from Mr Duffell
Sniper's mate from Kohn
20mm PSC Hanomags from John
Egg's Moderns Mixture
Vis Lardica is a website devoted to wargaming and military history, with a special emphasis on the company-sized rulesets produced by the TooFatLardies: I Ain't Been Shot Mum (WW2); Charlie Don't Surf (Vietnam); and Quadrant 13 (science fiction)
Welcome to Vis Lardica, a website mostly dedicated to the company-sized wargaming rules produced by the TooFatLardies, but encompassing my other gaming interests as well.