The Astagar were originally a "bit part" race from the Critical Mass Games universe: providing squads of interesting-looking mercenaries rather than having a full range to themselves.
Such was their popularity, however, that CMG ran a Kickstarter to create a full range of Astagar figures and, although the Kickstarter wasn't successful enough for everything envisaged to be created, enough people signed up that all the basic infantry, infantry support weapons, APCs and AFVs became available.
Today's painting: three Astagar Main Battle Tanks
I took part in the Kickstarter but, as is often the way, didn't quite get exactly what I thought I'd pledged for. No real damage done, but I was short a platoon of main Battle Tanks and, unfortunately, CMG folded and sold their range to Ral Partha Europe who, although they have all the infantry for sale, haven't yet got around to the resin vehicles from the range!
Just the other day, however, a chap in the States announced on Facebook that he had some to spare, the deal was done, and my Astagar force is now ready for battle.
It's not often you get much reaction from the audience in a UK cinema. Okay, so you might get the odd laugh at something funny, or the odd squeak at a sudden surprise...but rarely do you get a full-on, in-the-moment reaction. There is one film, however, that I clearly remember breaking that rule: Aliens.
Aliens is the sequel to the sci-fi shocker Alien. In that first film, the crew of a spaceship respond to a distress signal and go down onto a planet to the site of a crashed spaceship. Without giving too much away, one of the crew gets...infected, shall we say, with an alien being that rapidly wipes everyone out except for Ripley, played by Sigourney Weavers. The film ends with Ripley defeating the xenomorph and putting herself into cold sleep whilst her ship sails on to its destination.
Aliens begins with Ripley's ship being found drifting in space, way off course. Ripley is revised to find that she has slept for an entire generation (in the extended edition, there's a sub-plot about her now-grown-up daughter). No-one will believe her story of a lethal, crew-killing alien, so she is forced to spend her days as a lowly, exo-skeleton-wearing cargo loader.
Then she receives a visitor - the slimy company man, Burke. A distant colony reported finding something similar to what Ripley and her crew discovered, but has now dropped out of all communication. A team of Marines (hence the strapline Aliens: this time it's war!) is being sent to investigate, would Ripley like to go along too as an advisor.
Ripley would not, but eventually agrees to go, and the film now turns into an absolutely cracking "elite force into danger" movie.
The Marines are introduced (they are v. cool), they go down onto the planet, they investigate, and then all hell breaks loose as hordes of aliens attack.
To cut a long story short, during the investigation, Ripley and the Marines find a young girl, Newt, sole survivor of the colonists. Ripley and her bond. All sorts of action takes place (just watch the movie: it's cracking) and eventually just Ripley and Newt return to the Marines' ship in orbit.
Unbeknownst to them, however, the alien Queen has also got on board and, to put it mildly, she is not a happy bunny.
Newt flees under the deck plating, Ripley disappears off screen.
The alien Queen starts ripping up the deck plating, she corners Newt and reaches out for her when...
When I saw this in one of the big Leicester Square cinemas, almost the entire audience literally leapt to their feet to cheer Ripley on. That's why this is Great Movie Scenes #004.
You may recall that my current project is to paint up the company of "The Invaders": a 1950's inspired 15mm sci-fi range from Khurasan Miniatures.
First up, a couple of weeks ago, were the Kalinet Warborgs (see post on July 8th). Now, to go with them, I've completed the troops from the Warcaste: little green men:
I've got two platoons (each of three heavy squads) plus enough drone controllers and electronic warfare specialists to give the opposition a right pain in the keyboard!
These are lovely little models: proper 15mm rather than being little green men who tower over the opposition. The arms and legs look delicate, but I had no problems when painting or basing them. Variety isn't bad: I reckon there are about eight or nine variants plus the command and drone control figures.
They painted up very easily. Spray dark green, then highlight all skin in two lighter shades ending with a very bright green for the last highlight. All clothing was dark purple highlighted in lilac. Weapons were two shades of grey. They have loads of augs in their heads, all of which I touched up in gold. Took about two hours per platoon from start to finish.
Now all I have to do is to add the high command of Greys, and I'm done.
This is not me, btw: this is someone who can actually surf!
As you may have gathered from the lack of activity over the past eleven days, I've been away on holiday (surfing in Cornwall if you want the details) without any decent Internet access. I'm back now, and will therefore be back to my just-about-daily posts in no time.
First up, I've brought the Painting Challenge Scorecard up to date with all the points submitted up to July 24th. Apologies for the delay, but the waves were calling!
Next, either later today or tomorrow, I'll be updating the Painting Challenge again. It seems like you lot used the fact I was away to go mad with your painting and submitting: I have loads to go through and add.
Coming up over the next month or so will be an expansion of the Arab-Israeli Six Day War lists into lists covering the Yom Kippur War of 1973. If you already have 6DW kit, there's not a lot of extra figures needed: most of the new stuff will need to operate from off-table...but I still want to buy those suitcase Saggers from Khurasan.
And on the wider TFL front, we have the Summer Special and Early War CoC lists to look forward to.
Fellow Lardy Tony Cane has sent me another IABSM AAR, but this time with a bit of a difference: the game is set on the North West Frontier in the early 1920's.
According to Tony, the mission creep away from pure WW2 is all down to the purchase of Lardie specials. The scenario itself is from the Summer 07 edition, the piece on Mussolini's Baubles is in the Summer 06 edition, and those two combined with his collection of WWI German East Africa war figures and the fact he happened to have Pathans in the lead pile...
One of our Planes is Missing
The scenario, with minor changes to the orbat, follows that printed in the Summer 07 issue of the Lardie special, and uses the Mussolini’s Baubles adaption of IABSM in the Summer 06 edition.
"It's India's North West Frontier, the early 1920’s, and the CO has just asked me to lead a small force for a rush job requested by the RAF. They want a downed plane in the tribal area destroyed, hopefully before it is stripped of useful gear by the locals. This is a bit of a blow as I was looking forward to playing polo tomorrow afternoon!
"A team of engineer types has been provided for the demolition, along with motor transport for the whole force, and even an armoured car has been rustled up. So perhaps if we start early it should be just a case of motoring in, destroying the plane and then back out again. With a bit of luck I may still make the polo match, and then on to the RAF club for free drinks perhaps."
Events were to prove that Lieutenant Harrowell-Clarke was a bit optimistic about how easy things would be.
The local tribe were clearly fired up by the chance to get to grips with the forces that had bombed their village. They basically opted to prevent the enemy from even getting through the pass. First into the breach was a suicidal attempt by a small team to blow up the road as it exited the pass. The fates (cards) were not kind and two volleys from the section advancing on the road block wiped them out before the charges could be set. Still their sacrifice had caused a useful delay.
The Pathan snipers were however proving to be more effective. Repeatedly stalling attempts to remove the road block and actually causing a casualty on the MG team, and forcing it to retire. They were only overcome when chased off by the eventual advance of the Imperial forces.
Pinned down by sniper fire the lead section were not going to clear the road block any time soon.
The remainder of the force was now ordered to outflank the Pathans and, debussing from the transport, started toiling up the steep slopes.
Having organised the HQ section into firing positions on the right flank the commander returned to the troops stalled in the pass and finally got the attack moving and the road block removed.
A second Pathan band had joined those blocking the exit of the pass but caught in the open, the withering fire, of the now effectively deployed Imperial forces soon disposed of them as a fighting force.
With return fire slackening and time running out for the Imperial forces a hasty advance seemed worth the risk. First with the armoured car, then with the troops and transport of the HQ section. With this rapid progress the plane was reached in time (9 out of 12 turns allowed) and destroyed without any further interference from the Pathans. The first platoon moved up the road to cover the village but were not needed.
In the end a glowing report on a mission accomplished could be written by Lieutenant Harrowell-Clarke on the lines of, despite initial difficulties the aircraft was destroyed at the cost of only four casualties to the entire force. Though he probably did not get back in time for the polo match!
Regular visitors will remember my post of a week or so ago mentioning that I had found somewhere (Heer46) that produced a model of an SdKfz 247: the command car used by some of the German armoured car regiments in the battle for France.
The two I ordered arrived quite quickly, and immediately jumped to the head of the painting queue.
There are two possible variants: one with a canopy over the rear compartment, and one without.
Lovely models of an uncommon vehicle that paint up very nicely. Another piece of kit that I can't wait to get onto the tabletop.
At the moment, the range consists of three different types of infantry and one truly and utterly ridiculously huge transport (and yes, that is a 15mm tank for scale comparison).
Leaving aside the £50 piano stool shown right, the infantry are actually quite fun. The three different types are the Greys (little grey men available as scientists or armed), the War Caste (little green men) and the Kalinekt Warborg battle robots.
So far I have only had a chance to paint the Kalinekt Warborgs, but they have turned out very nicely indeed. There are two different types: a standard 'borg with a machine pistol and a heavy 'borg armed with a giant gatling-style cannon. Both types have several very characterful poses.
The 'borgs are about 20mm high, and I can't wait to get these chaps onto the battlefield.
When you have your painting mojo fully engaged, you can churn out units almost at will!
Yesterday's post mentioned the first of the Itu'a units from the Itu'a box from the lead mountain, today's post is the rest of them: a platoon of kalat warbeasts and their supporting bio-mortars.
These are big figures for a 15mm range. Khurasan describes them as: "Massive, three-meter-tall Kalat warbeasts lumber amongst the myriads, one type providing even heavier fire support from arm cannons, another deadly close combat power with massive crab-like claws. A third type of massive Kalat deploys further to the rear, in bio-batteries of three, breeding toxic bio-mortar bombs in an egg chamber mounted on their carapace -- from these they feed the bombs into their arm mortars to launch toward enemy lines."
The figures in the picture are mounted on 2p pieces (just over 2cm across), so you can see how big they are. The bio-mortars are even taller.
Having got my painting mojo back with the Astagar, it was time to pull the next box out of the lead mountain and see what was in it.
I have far too many boxes in the mountain at the moment: some of them literally unopened!
What tends to happen is that I happily paint and play for a couple of months and then suddenly realise that (a) I have money in my PayPal account and (b) there are loads of new releases that I haven't bought yet...particularly 15mm sci-fi releases that, if I don't buy now, could disappear forever if, as is so often the case, the manufacturer goes out of business. I then end up manically buying everything new that, of course, all arrives at once, and ends up in the lead mountain cupboard.
This particular box was from Khurasan Miniatures: a controversial company (Wikipedia IABSM scandal, TMP sock-puppet scandal) which produces an amazing range of figures, both historical and sci-fi.
I have lots of both, and this particular box contained sci-fi figures from their Itu'a range: an insectoid/carapace-heavy race that I intend to include into my Hive army.
First up is an Itu'a Swarm: a platoon of "Myriads, who are smaller than humans but armed with long biorifles and a set of pincers with which they can more than hold their own in close assault".
These are very nice. Despite their ridiculously sized commander (at least 30mm tall) the main body are proper 15mm figures that paint up very nicely indeed. I've chosen to paint them in my Hive colours of various shades of dry-brushed red, but the picture on the Khurasan site shows what you can do with them if you can actually paint.
Next up are the Itu'a Kalat warbeasts: more scale creep!
These are the extra grenade-launcher and flamethrower types used either in small three-man (snake?) teams, one of each per platoon, or to augment the regular infantry squads.
With what I have painted already, I now have two full platoons of three eight-man light squads each, which I can make into standard weight nine-man squads by adding the bombardier (red shoulder flash) or heavy weight ten-man squads by also adding the flamethrower chappie (orange shoulder flash).
All I need now is to find some of the original Astagar MBTs and SP artillery that were available on the Kickstarter. Anyone got any they don't want? Anyone...?
Those of you who are building an early war armoured car company from a panzer division's reconnaissance battalion (page 63 of the Blitzkrieg in the West: The Germans theatre supplement for IABSM) will have been almost immediately stymied by the need for the Big Man in the Company HQ to ride around in an SdKfz 247, as no one seems to make one.
Well I have some good news for you.
The figure manufacturer Heer46 now have an SdKfz 247 model available in 15mm. It's the Auf. B version with four wheels, as opposed to the Auf. A model with six wheels, and looks like a cracking bit of kit.
I've ordered two of the little blighters, even though I'm unlikely to ever need to field more than one.
The only problem, by the way, is the cost. In common with anything wargames related from Europe, they cost a comparatively enormous amount. The model is €11.80: which is about £10 or $14! That's about five times what you'd pay for a plastic SdKfz 222, making the SdKfz 247 the Ferrari of the German army!
Mervyn pops in some British Napoleonics and a lady of easy virtue
And last, but by no means least, Steve Burtsends in some more Assyrians...arriving just as I was putting the finishing touches to this post.
As always, clicking on the name of the person above will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window).
Here are today's pictures:
Small 'planes from Mark Luther
Some of the interior detail on Andy Duffell's "Euro Church"
A motley crew from Blue Moose Ken
Travis' French Soixante-Quinze Team
For comparison, some of Lloyd's French Infantry Support
Mervyn's Spanish scenery: available by the hour
Small Skeletons from Carole
I will update the Scorecard in due course.
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.