First of the Praesentia

One of the armies that has been sitting in my lead mountain for some time is the Praesentia: mysterious, super-high tech beings originally designed and produced as part of the Critical Mass Games universe and now available, with the demise of CMG, from Ral Partha.

I like the way that although the figures themselves are fairly humanoid, there is an impressive back story which explains, amongst other things, that the Praesentia equivalent of Big Men always operate as a Trinary i.e. always in a three.

Mind you, in Q13 terms, who wouldn’t want a Tech 5 army that includes teleporting killer robots (excellent for dealing with those hidden away mortars); and Specialists who can alter dice rolls, prevent units from moving, and other fun stuff!

Here are the first two units off the painting table, each painted with one coat of the new Citadel Contrast paints. First up are the Phase Shifters and their RAL Phase-Shifting robots:

Second up are a Trinary of Enlightened with their RAL robots with ranged weapons:

RAL1.JPG

I like these, as I can see them being used for a variety of different robot-types.

Q13: List of 15mm Sci Fi Figure Manufacturers

I like to keep this site as updated and useful as possible, so spent a little time yesterday updating the list of manufacturers of 15mm sci-fi figures.

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.

Brute-Raiders-15mm-20.jpg

Q13: Salute Bargain Finally Finished

Some of you may recall that at Salute I splashed out on a laser cut mdf industrial set up on special offer from Troll Trader. This was a huge layout for the bargain price of only £100 including p&p. I’ve been gradually building it over the last six weeks and have finally finished it.

This is a legendary set up, meant for 28mm troops, but absolutely ideal for sci-fi “15mm” figures which, as we all know, tend to be more 18-20mm.

I’ve always wanted to play an industrial hive battle kind of game, and now I can. In total, I now have the sixteen base boards (that alone used up about a can and a half of spray paint); a couple of small platforms connected by a walkway; the huge platform that looks like the outside of an oil well; a powerplant piece; a couple of big, cylindrical tanks connected by a top walkway; a landing pad; two staircases; two sets of corridor connectors; twenty-four individual bits that join together to form the “iron labyrinth”; and a pile of spare ladders.

The build was arduous: not just because of the sheer volume of things to be built, but also because some of the components were, simply, difficult to build. I’m not really a terrain-building person, so often don’t take the proper time and trouble to prepare and get everything just right: so checking and sanding every slot to make sure its component slides in smoothly just isn’t my cup of tea. Smash the two bits together and use a bit of strength to pop the slots into place doesn’t work with every bit of this complex, especially not the industrial labyrinth sections that caused me more grief than anything else.

Having built the thing, I was going to leave it as plain mdf, but a simple spray of grey paint does make it look more, well, industrial, and will make a beautiful backdrop to my brightly coloured sci-fi figures. I suppose I should take the trouble to dry-brush it all now, to give it some variety and depth but, tbh, that seems like a lot of hard work for something that already looks very acceptable. I might have a game, take some piccies, see how they turn out, and then decide on the dry-brushing then. Or wash then dry-brush if I really want to go to town.

Here’s a gallery of the entire thing: very good value for £100, so Troll Trader (from whom I’ve always had good, if not incredible, bargains at Salute) go straight to the top of my Christmas card list.

Next step is to dress the table with the rest of my sci-fi terrain, buildings etc

Q13: Hauk Re-inforcements

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.

Mortars

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.

Machine Guns

Machine Guns

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.

Well done Khurasan!

Q13: Quar Tanks?

Regular visitors will recall that I took part in the original All Quiet on the Martian Front kickstarter. I was very happy with what I received: I only really wanted the tripods anyway, all of which have now been painted and are prepped for action.

The trouble was that I also received a whole bunch of quasi-WW1 tanks and infantry as well: the Earthlings that are fighting the aforementioned Martians.

I’m still not sure what to do with the infantry, but mention the words “quasi-WW1” and immediately one thinks of Zombiesmith’s excellent Quar range. I have small 15mm forces for all three factions, but not really enough to play the sort of large games of Q13 that I enjoy.

Here then was the perfect use for the AQOTMF tanks: Quar tanks. Here’s the first batch painted up:

I actually can’t wait to get these onto the tabletop, so will move the Quar up the priority list for forthcoming games of Q13!

Q13: Vornid Infantry Re-Based

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.

A Bit of Fun

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…

More Brigade Models SciFi

The last time my Hura (four-armed aliens from Clear Horizons) took the field, they were soundly beaten, with their defeat due, in art, to a lack of AA protection and no electronic warfare capacity.

As Clear Horizons don’t produce any AA or EW figures for the Hura (I mean, why would you!) I have decided to use Brigade Models’ sci-fi Polish range to fill in the gaps. I’ve already posted the AA half-tracks, now here’s the EW vehicle:

Officially this is the Suwalska ‘Hetman’ command vehicle, but it does very nicely as an Electronic Warfare specialist for the Hura.

Now all I have to do is save up for a few Suwalska APCs…

Last of the Squats!

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…

Hura Reinforced

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.

Methinks the Hura need some more…

More Grudd Infantry from Onslaught

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.

More Boontown Dwarves

And the production line of sci-fi dwarves continues as I am determined to clear all of them from my lead mountain.

Today we have the Hearthguard from Boontown Metals:

These are slightly better cast than the Shaker Cannon teams I was complaining about a few days ago, but still of the rough-and-ready variety instead of the clean-crisp variety I prefer.

No matter: must collect all sci-fi dwarves, no matter what!

Warbases SciFi Terrain

Things are all a bit scifi at the moment: mainly because that’s what tends to accumulate in the lead mountain. Figures for all the other periods leapfrog to the front of the painting queue, with poor old scifi left lingering behind.

But, as we all know, I’m trying to clear some of the lead mountain at the moment, and look what I’ve found and painted today: it’s the landing pad from Warbases 15mm scifi terrain range.

The pad is a laser-cut kit consisting of the ramp and the pad itself. It comes with no instructions, as Warbases assure their customers that the build is “intuitive”.

Well that may be so…but it still didn’t stop me putting the legs together incorrectly first time around. Note that the leg pillars have a top and a bottom (wider gap at the bottom) and that the feet go at the end of the legs not built back up to create a little moat around them. Confused? Look at the picture as you build the pad, and things should become clear.

Painting the pad was fairly easy: a grungy brown for the supports that was then scuffed with black paint, washed and then drybrushed. The pad itself was dyed black-ish with black ink, then highlighted with a grey colour. The red edges are because I couldn’t be bothered to paint every edge with black and yellow warning stripes. I’m sure you can buy thin hazard tape somewhere, but a quick Search gave me 25mm as the thinnest I could find.

Recommended.

First of the Boontown Dwarves

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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).

Very shaky!

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.

Two Pieces of Advice

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

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

always put all your spare parts in a ‘bits box’

Grudd Infantry from Onslaught Miniatures

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.

grud1.JPG

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…

the grudd range in 6mm so far

Q13: Last of the Invaders

Just finished photographing the last of the All Quiet on the Martian Front tripods I have been working on. This last batch consisted of another three scout tripods, two grenadier tripods, seven assault tripods and a power node terrain piece.

That’s a lot of points for the Painting Challenge!

Rather than have the tripods as a separate Martian army, I’m going to use them as the AFV element of my Invaders army that uses the Khurasan Alien Invasion range as its core infantry component. As I’ve also now had a chance to photograph all of them, it means another gallery added to the Q13 section of the website: one that shows the entire force.

You can find that by clicking here, but here’s a picture of the army en masse:

1.invaders.JPG

Oh yes, finally, someone wrote in asking what colour the tripods were sprayed: it was Ford Neptune Green from the Halfords range of car paints.

More Martian Tripods

Still working my way through all my All Quiet on the Martian Front tripods.

First up are three more Scout Tripods:

Only three more of them to go!

Next is a quick one off: the Slaver Tripod, which I will be using as the command tripod for the Invaders' AFV force:

That's a metal tripod (the Scout Tripods are all plastic kits) and weighs in pretty heavy.

Finally for this batch, there's an extra I picked up as part of the Kickstarter offer: a downed Assault Tripod.

That's it for this update: plenty more tripods to go.

Oh, and I've had a chance to update the TFL Painting Challenge Scorecard.

First of the Martians

last weekend's work

My current project or, rather, one of my current projects, is to add the All Quiet on the Martian Front models that I bought as part of the original Kickstarter to the figures that I've painted from Khurasan Miniatures' 15mm sci-fi The Invaders range. I spent last weekend building all the tripods, so this weekend's task was to paint up the first of them.

I didn't fancy brush painting twenty-four plus large 15mm models, so determined that most of the work would be done via spray paint...but which colour to choose. I wanted something metallic, which meant buying some new paint, as all my existing sprays are various shades of dull green or brown or desert yellow (i.e. WW2 and 6DW colours).

I was driving home, thinking about where to get appropriate sprays, surrounded by other cars, when I suddenly realised that I was looking at exactly what I wanted: metallic car paint. A quick trip to Halfords, and I bought a couple of cans of a light green metallic colour. Each can was only £6.99 as well: considerably cheaper than GW or other hobby paint.

Spraying all the tripods took up a can and a half, but twenty minutes in today's blazing sunshine dried everything off nicely. I wouldn't have time to complete all of the models after the initial spray, so settled on the small flying drones and three scout tripods.

Flying Drones

Very simple to finish them:  I painted the "eye" red, any equipment in two shades of grey, any electricals or power sources in a light purple, the tentacles in black-dry-brushed-with-iron, and then found a few places to put a drop of scarlet or metallic blue for variety. Finally, I based them as usual, then used Halfords lacquer to finish them.

I'm very pleased with the result.

The first three scout tripods