Sad that so many now seem to be moribund or out of business, which just goes to prove my maxim that if you see some figures that you like, you should buy them, as you never know how long they will be available for.
For example, I still regret not buying some of the Combat Wombat range as dropships for my Aphids…but you live and learn and it’s a mistake I won’t make again. Food? Who needs food when there are figures to buy!
What is also interesting is how many of the cottage-industry manufacturers’ are no longer available from the individuals who started them, but have been absorbed into being part of a larger manufacturer or distributor’s offering. Ral Partha Europe, for example, are now the only place you can get what was the Critical Mass range, and the Spriggan range, and more. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well at least the figures are still available and not just KIA.
To end on a high note, however, I was pleased to add Nuclear Shrimp as a new manufacturer to the list. They are based in Greece and produce a range of 15mm sci-fi figures under the Black Earth banner: a post-apocalyptic range of human defenders (the United Earth Federation) and Brute attackers (huge mutant humans looking like Mr Hyde from the dreadfully disappointing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie.
I’m loving the Brutes and have already sacrificed next week’s lunches to buy them!
I was initially a bit worried about their 15mm credentials (scale creep!) but the very nice chaps at the Shrimp and the 15mm SciFi Facebook group provided some comparison shots that convinced me that my fears were groundless. Check them out here.
Regular visitors to this site will know that one of my regular complaints is sci-fi figure manufacturers who produce a lovely range of basic infantry but then never get around to providing all the support teams that you need to make up a proper fighting force.
Okay, so some of these infantry squads are so loaded with their own weaponry that it could be said that they don’t need any support, but this doesn’t really gel with me. As the Marine Corps saying goes: always hit a nut with the biggest hammer possible…the nut gets cracked and the hammer is untouched!
It was therefore great to see that Khurasan Miniatures, that wonderful if somewhat erratic source of the esoteric, have released a couple of support weapons for their 15mm Hauk range.
The Hauk, for those of you who don’t know, are avians: birdmen to the non-Latin speakers. The existing range had some nice infantry and a couple of officers, but nothing more. Now, however, they can field mortars and their equivalent to a medium/heavy machine gun.
Each weapon comes with the same stand, and the option of either a mortar, shown above, or a machine gun, shown below. There’s also a sniper figure, two new types of officer (one pointing, one with clipboard) and a casualty figure. I have ignored the casualty figure, and couldn’t be bothered to see if I could make the stands multi-purpose, so bought enough packs to give me four three-man mortar teams, with officer, and six three-man MMG teams, with officer. Add two snipers, and I still have lots of casualties and snipers left over, but I’m sure they’ll come in useful some time in the future.
As you can see, I paint my Hauk with a simple but very colourful “parrot” pattern. Undercoat in white, immediate heavy wash with Agrax Earthshade; paint talons and beak yellow; paint wings, tail feather and head crest dark green then highlight with bright green; highlight all the armour in white; weapons are painted black highlighted in grey.
Time for another game of Q13, so time to get the space Dwarves back onto the tabletop to battle another of my so-far-untested forces: the Tah-Sig.
This would be an encounter battle fought across a battlefield consisting of crop fields separated by a series of access roads and narrow strips of open ground. The storyline was that this time it was the Dwarves who were the aggressors: outnumbering the Tah-Sig by a fair amount and needing to get as many units as possible off the table on the Tah-Sig side.
Although I like my Vornid infantry (15mm sci-fi: homicidal plants with thorn guns from Khurasan), I haven’t used them very much because, up to now, they have been based a singles and the way that the figures are made means that the bases don’t fit into any of my sabots. That means that using them involves moving lots of single figures round the table individually: a right pain!
I therefore decided to re-base them: each squad of ten Vornid based individually converting to six bases of five Vornid each. That gives me the same three squads, but the capacity to field ten fireteams if needed for another system.
I had two four-squad platoons (i.e. eight squads) but they proved a bit unwieldy. I therefore painted another squad up and now have three platoons of three squads each, all efficiently based for moving round the table.
Here’s my revised Vornid company, plus one of the individual platoons. You can see the detail of the entire force in the Vornid gallery.
One of my more unusual scifi armies are the Vornid. These comprise a base of Khurasan’s plant infantry supported by a variety of Ravenstar’s Horrid bio-vehicles. You can see the gallery by clicking here (opens in a new window).
As you’ll see, I’ve been using Slishians (from Hydra Miniatures) as Big Men, but have now found a rather amusing alternative:
The enemy sure looks like plant food to me!
Not sure who the manufacturer is (I bought these on impulse some time ago and have only just got around to their layer of the lead mountain) but these are, of course, models loosely based on Audrey II, the “villain” of the musical comedy A Little Shop of Horrors.
Great fun, and have encouraged me to expand and re-base my Vornid army: but more on that later…
Finally finished the last of the Boontown Space Dwarves: a platoon of Clansmen.
Now if you remember, when I started painting the Boontown figures, I was quite disparaging about the quality of the sculpting. I felt the Shaker cannon was, quite frankly, not a very good model, and the crew figures very average if not poor.
I changed my mind a bit about the range with their T-26 walkers, and a bit more with their Hearthguard, but the Clansmen have definitely reversed my opinion.
These are great fun figures with nice, clear definition, especially on the faces/beards and their Schwarzenegger-like arms. Okay, so the guns are still a bit crap, but overall I like them. Not “recommended”, but still a worthwhile addition to any Space Dwarf force.
And that, for the Space Dwarves, should be that. As far as I know, I now have every 15mm Space Dwarf/Squat/Grudd etc figure out there in the marketplace. If I haven’t, please let me know, and I will remedy the situation asap!
Right: onto the Yom Kippur war figures forming a significant layer of the lead mountain…
Regular visitors to this blog will know that my poor Hura (four-armed aliens from Clear Horizon) got resoundingly hammered by the Space Dwarves in our last battle, with most of the damage done by a Dwarf scoutship which kept flying down from the skies and blowing Hura hovertanks away! My Hura had no response, as the range is one of those tiresome infantry-only ranges, with no support elements.
I’d already given the Hura some Xarledi hovertanks from Brigade Model’s Yenpalo range, now it was time to see what Brigade had to offer in the way of something I could use for AA protection.
Brigade has a huge range of figures and vehicles, but the ones that caught my eye this time were from their sci-fi Polish range. These were sufficiently odd-looking to go with the Hura and Xarledi, so I quickly ordered a couple of AA half-tracks and another mounting a Multiple Rocket launcher System (MRLS).
I’ve now painted them up (they leapfrogged the last of the space dwarves) in the same colours as the hovertanks, and think they have come out very well.
Wilk AA Half-Tracks
Wilk MRLS Half-Tracks
As always, excellent service and models from Brigade. Recommended.
I’ve almost cleared all the 15mm sci-fi dwarves from my lead mountain! Just one more contingent to go, and I’m half way through them.
Meanwhile, here’s the last of the Grudd infantry from Onslaught Miniatures. They are the chaps who produce some really lovely (and complete) sci-fi ranges in 6mm, and a couple of lines of 15mm figures too.
One of those 15mm lines is the Grudd: effectively sci-fi dwarves. Regular readers will know that the basic infantry types (Clansmen, Demolishers, Siege Breakers) have already been finished and logged…so here are the Iron Lords in their superheavy armour and the Drudgers (militia types):
Iron Lords (left) and Drudgers (above)
I honestly can’t recommend these enough. Beautifully cast cubist space dwarves with a variety of very cool weaponry. Painting them as shown is easy: a metallic undercoat that becomes the top coat for the armour, then faces, beards and weapons in different colours. Highlight with some bright unit markings and you’re away.
As my recent painting has been almost wholly focused on clearing all the sci-fi dwarves from my lead mountain, I thought it was only right and proper to get them onto the table again for my next game of Quadrant 13. It would also be a good opportunity to give the Xar (six-legged “critters” from GZG) their first outing.
As you can see from my last few posts, I’m on a bit of a painting jag at the moment.
I’d like to say that this is gradually clearing my lead mountain but, of course, every time I complete a unit, I check the range it comes from and usually end up buying more figures to either fill in the gaps of what I’ve got or to cover new releases.
This is certainly true of this last week. I painted the Onslaught Miniatures engineers and promptly ordered the new Iron Lords. I painted the figures below, and promptly ordered the previously-out-of-stock battlebikes. And don’t even get me started on the boxes arriving from Battlefront as a result of their 25% off Arab-Israeli sale! I think I’ve just go to come to terms with the fact that for every figure I paint I add a few more to the lead mountain…but at least it means that I’ll live for ever!
So on to today’s offering.
As I’m trying to collect every type of 15mm sci-fi dwarf out there (I know: not a good way to reduce the lead mountain), I duly ordered a couple of units of the Boontown Miniatures range as soon as it launched.
Good service, but not the sort of figures I usually buy: I like my figures very crisp and clean (but hard to paint well, especially with my rudimentary skills!) rather than the more normal Boontown range. Leaving that aside, however, I eased myself into the range by painting the artillery (Shaker cannons) and the walkers (T-26 walkers).
The Shaker Cannons are typical of what I mean. I didn’t like these at all. You’ve got a hi-tech rear end (looks a bit like the front of a VW Beetle complete with headlights and bumper) then an awful wooden chassis, awful crude-iron wheels, and a screen that looks like it’s been knocked together by orcs!
I quite like the idea of a hedgehog-like piece of artillery, but none of the four barrels are the same. Add in a couple of crew members that are not of the crisp and clean variety, and you have…yuk!
Anyhow, I’ve done my best and decided that these are knocked-together mining tools (presumably for lobbing explosives somewhere when strip mining or something) hence the reason for the crude construction and very bright white and red warning stripes.
In my humble opinion, these would do better as part of a low-tech sci-fi range, and don’t mix very well with the walkers:
These I like much more than the Shakers. Not quite sure why half the firepower points backwards, and why the gunner is unprotected in any way, but I do like the basic shape and stance, and the decided “chicken” look about them.
As I’ve decided that the Boontown dwarf base colour is brown, these are sprayed Mournfang Brown, then washed and highlighted, and with certain bits of equipment painted separately. I then added some decals I found in the bits box and off we go.
These are much more the thing, and have inspired me to have a go at the Hearthguard platoon, now drying after it’s undercoat.
This is really a post about the latest units that I’ve painted, but a post that also comes with two bits of advice.
The first piece of advice is “always buy those miniatures when you see them…as they might not be there later”.
This applies to the gruntling range from Cactus Games: space dwarves in 15mm. The standard infantry are okay: maybe a bit crude by some standards but at least they are properly dwarvish i.e. short. What are really nice, however, are the chaps in powered armour: very cubist in nature and some of my favourite 15mm sci-fi dwarf figures.
Cubist Exo-Skeletons from Cactus
I’m using the present tense here but, alas, Cactus have disappeared, taking their range with them. I mention this because searching through the lead mountain for something to paint whilst I waited for my latest Arab-Israeli figures to arrive, I came across two packs of Cactus miniatures that I hadn’t painted when I did the basic infantry and powered armour types: a set of motor-tricycles and a set of light support weapons.
The motor-trikes are great fun: very silly but full of character. They come in three bits: the front wheel and handlebars; the main body; and the chap in the turret with the gun. It was a little fiddly to get the front to glue properly to the back, but otherwise no probs.
And why is the lesson relevant? Well because I almost didn’t buy these when I bought the infantry. If I hadn’t gone for it then, then I wouldn’t have had these…ever.
The second lesson is “always put all your spare parts in a ‘bits box’”. This is because the light support weapon packs came with two crew figures but a very weedy-looking LSW on a very flimsy bipod. No matter: a quick dip into my bits box and I came up with enough meaty looking weapons to outfit the three teams. The guns are spare turret-mounted weapons from sci-fi vehicles, but I can’t remember the manufacturer. They do nicely as mining lasers adapted for combat.
The stands for the guns, btw, are hama beads. Always good to raid your children’s hama bead collection: they make very useful stands, dividers etc!
So there you have it: two more units for the space dwarves and two important lessons for wargamers everywhere.
Let me hear you say them again:
always buy those miniatures when you see them…as they might not be there later
If I played my sci-fi in 6mm, then Onslaught Miniatures would be my first port of call. A nice variety of figures with some quite deep ranges i.e. more than just one type of infantry and a support weapon: most of their ranges have got 20+ codes in them.
But I don’t: I play in 15mm…which is why it is so great that Onslaught have now expanded their collection to include 15mm versions of a limited number of their 6mm ranges.
Although I really liked the 15mm Sisterhood range (big women with big guns), they never really got going with it: releasing only a couple of codes and then seeming to go no further.
One 15mm range, however, that does have more than a couple of codes in it is their Grudd range. Whatever the official background, it’s obvious that these are normal-human-sized space dwarves.
The four-squad platoon above is a combination of their Grudd Clansmen, Siege Breakers and Demolishers and looks pretty spectacular, especially with all those outrageous power tools.
What I’m now hoping is that they expand their entire 6mm Grudd range into 15mm…
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.
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...?
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 not-for-profit website mostly dedicated to the company-sized wargaming rules produced by the TooFatLardies, but encompassing my other gaming interests as well.