Thursday, 30 December 2010

Astral Claws - Retaliator Squad

The Astral Claws Space Marine Reliator Squad is an Elite Choice for a Badab Legion. They have void-hardened armour for boarding. They are supposed to have combat shields but I don't like the shape, so mine don't. I have yet to add the Chapter Insignia. I am looking for cat-like transfers.

The armour is more greyish than appears in the photos. The bases are mosaic chips from Hobbycraft. I wanted to get the look of the floor of the Tyrant's blue marble palace.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


The mem'sahib has been going through the family financil accounts for the new year and has announced that I am an alchemist.

Apparently, I have a near-miraculous ability to turn gold into lead.

[picture borrowed from:]

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Xmas

A very happy Xmas from the staff at John's Toy Soldiers (me and the rabbit).

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Badab Legion Vultures

I have started assembling My Badab Legion.

I need to paint some Astral Claws but can source most stuff from my collections. The army has spurred me on to finish my Vulture VTOL strike planes. I have given them a 'measles' camoflague pattern based on one of the German WWII designs. The Germans often used dazzle camoflague, rather than subdued colours, to break up the outline of the vehicle.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Big Chill

My back garden

As you may have heard, Northern Europe is under the Big Chill. Southern England got a second belting on Saturday. My wife had tickets for a theatre in London so she and No 2 Daughter trundled up to town. She paid extra to go on the high speed line as this is kept clear by the trains. It started snowing half way up the line and when she reached the London Terminus, she was advised to turn around and go home. I tried to take the car down the hill to the station to pick her up.

We live on the Kentish North Downs. For those not in the know, the North Downs are hills south of London - confusing thing, English.

The High Street

After an hour, I made it the two miles down to the High Street. Where I live, the village High Street is on the A2, known to the Saxons as Watling Street, the old Roman Road from Rochester to Canterbury.

Rainham Church

I reached Station Road opposite our Church, built in the 12th Century by the Normans after The Conquest. I didn't dare turn down it as it was jammed with cars trying to get up the hill. The railway line runs along the old Saxon Shore.

Rainham Church

The Coach and Horses
Next to the church is the 16th Century coaching inn.

Close to home

I turned back up the hill. thirty minutes later I turned for home. It was not fun driving along this in a front-wheel drive hatchback, even though it is a high tech European Ford.


Made it! The view from my front garden.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Imperial Armour V. 9 - The Badab War - A Review

I am a sucker; I admit it. I always claim that I will not buy any more Imperial Armour books on the grounds that I just can't afford it. But I always do.

This is the latest, The Badab War Part One, by Alan Bligh.

First, a general comment that I have made before so I will not labour the point. This is an expensive book with high quality, professional graphics but the writing is amateur, underedited, fanzine stuff. Badab War is one of the better examples from Forge World, incidentally, but there are all sorts of amateur style problems in the prose.

The price is, as always, eye watering at £45. However, it is 200 pages of full colour large format.

The graphics are excellent, as always and the Badab Sector is well described and illustrated. I could have done without the brown writing on a brown background - my eyes have the dgradation caused by thirty years of computer screens and high-power binocular microscopes.

The book starts with four chapters describing the background and opening pahse of the Badab Revolt, ending with the destruction of the Lamenters Chapter and the containment of the revolt. As Churchill might have put it - "Not the beginning of the end but, perhaps, the end of the beginning" - or possibly not.

The next seventy pages or so describe some of the loyalist and renegade space marine chapters that fought in the war. The problem is that this section is all fluff and graphics. OK, it's a useful modelling guide, but how deeply do you want to read fictional details about fictional space marine chapters when none of it has any bearing on gameplay. I am just not that autistic. At the risk of inviting vitriol - seen one space marine chapter, seen 'em all.

I found the Campaign section more interesting. It is a story-based construct with scenarios based on key events in the war. Most of the scenarios are uninspiring with the very honourable exception of one - see below.

Blood in the Void is a set of rules for fighting space boarding acrions for 40K. It is the gem that rescues the campaign with new gear and strategems.

This is followed by a small section of special characters, including a pre-renegade Lugft Huron, to match forge world models.

Last, but not at all least, we have a new Codex army - The Tyrant's Legion. This is not just a reworked Imperial Guard. The Legion are the auxilliary troops for the Astral Claws and incorporate Astral Claws units, including the Legion Centurion who is a sort of space marine Commissar figure. The main troop types are Legion SM Cohorts, i.e. Astral Claw squad, Legion Auxilia and Auxilia Armsmen.

The Legion Auxilia are badly equipped militia that fight in groups of twenty, classic cannon fodder. Armsmen are professional soldiers seconded from the private forces of the Sector nobility. They are basically guardsmen.

Two additional things about this codex delight me. First are an Elite choice, renegade marauder squads. These can have all sorts of weapon goodies and can include up to two "brutes". Brutes are large anything-you-want. They can be feral Ogryns, Muties, Xenos, Foul Heretic Abominations, Dark Adeptus constructs........anything your perverted imagination and modelling skills can devise.

And, oh thank you Ruinous Powers, Marauders can be given Fleet Lighters as dedicated transports. And, may joy be unconfined, you can arm the lighter so my weapon armed Arvus is finally not only legal but can be used in a Codex army.

While on this subject, Navy Fighters and Vultures can be taken as Codex Heavy Support choices. I have a couple of Old Crow Vultures and I an finally moved to add a acratch-built Lightning as top cover.

This codex really excites me, which doesn't happen often at my age.

Final thoughts: Did I get value for my £45?

Well almost. The Tyrant's Legion and Boarding Rules are great and inspire me to make some new stuff. The background to the Badab War is so-so and the yet another space marine pic with different coloured armour is weak.

So three out of five.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The White Hell that is Kent

It has snowed in Southern England!!!! !
It doesn't snow in Kent. Naturally the whole transport system failed. Gatwick Airport shut, the trains were trapped (it turned out that the de-icing wagons had been sent in for maintenance by the railway company - December being the best time, you see) and the motorways were blocked with jack-knifed lorries.

Ghost of Pigeons Past

I have a large south-facing, double glazed, lounge window that obviously looks like sky to birds. The other day I came down to find this. As there was no body, the bird-brain obviously got away with it.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Alien Hunter Teams

Alien Bounty Hunter Team. One has the tracker (tricorder?), one a ray gun, and the other a heavy ray gun. These are Reaper figures and look wonderfully alien. They have obviously stepped straight out of the saucer as they are still in space suits.

Another Alien Bounty Hunter Team, from Fenryl this time. Fenryl resin miniatures are great but they come with the base as part of the miniature. This is intensely annoying as I generaly have to cut them off. This time I mangled the foot of one of the models, so I made him a peg-leg.

I use a Nikon SLR with an antishake lens to take the photos. Where possible, I use natural light. Up here on the roof of the world the sun is very low on the horizon and we only get a few hours of feeble daylight a day. I took these pics using a one second exposure. I stood in front of the sun so the models were in my shadow.

The pic below shows what it looks like in direct sunlight. The light has to pass through a thick blanket of air to reach Kent in Winter; air that is polluted by the activity of the 22,000,000 people who live in the London region. The result is very pastel light.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Assault on the Seelow Heights

Strategic Situation
The assault on the Seelow heights took place between 16th to the 19th April 1945 and was part of the Battles of the Oder Neisse, the last defended location before Berlin. The Heights are known as the Gates of Berlin.

Marshall Zhukon had around one million men and and three thousand AFVs of the 1st Belorussian Front to force open the Gates. He was opposed by the German Ninth Army commanded by General Heinrici with around five hundred AFVs and perhaps one hundred thousand men. Heinrici decided to defend not the River Oder but to dig in on the Heights. Zhukov's plan was simple and typical of his methods: to hit the Heights with an armoured steamroller and roll over the defenders

The battle was a bloodbath for the Red Army, who struggled across the swamps and up the Heights under intense fire. Zhukov had to admit to Stalin that things were not going according to plan. Stalin authorised Konev, who was having beter success at pushing back 4th Panzer Army, to race Zhukov to Berlin. The Soviet troops were caught in a bottleneck.

With their usual fortitude, the soldiers of the Red Army broke through the first two defensive lines. The final third line was defended at the North end by the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland and 23rd SS Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland. The Red Army finally broke through and pocketed what was left of Nineth Army at the Battle of Halbe.

The Wargame
The scenario depicts a Russian Assault Tank Brigade of three battalions assaulting dug in SS in the north of the third line on the 19th of April. Shaun and I only had an evening so, to speed things up, we assumed that the Soviet Tank Riders neutralised the German Panzerfaust (tank hunter) teams and only played the armoured battle.

The Germans have the advantages of defence and the best equipment but the Russians are determined and T34 are fast and dangerous with adequate sloped armour and 85mm cannon.

The SS have a kampfgruppe defending a village on a vital crossroads. Kampfgruppes were German ad hoc formations of variable size formed from available units for a specific purpose. The Germans were just better and more tactically flexible than any allied army. Kampfgruppe Shaun had one battery of Wespe Self Propelled Guns, 88mm Flak guns, 75mm Paks, Stug IIIs, Marder IIIs, Jagdpanthers and JagdTiger IIs, respectively. They have only one company of MkIII tanks (from a training regiment), Panthers and Tiger Is. All the German units are well under strength, many consisting of only a single platoon (one model). The German armour is dug in, until it moves.

The first Soviet Battlion rolls up the road. It has three full strength companies of SU152 Self Propelled Assault Guns, T100 Self Propelled AT Gunss and Sherman 75s, with an HQ equipped with T34s.

The follow up battalion has T34s. It is supposed to exploit after the assault battalion has cleared the village.

Similarly, a third battalion also of T34s, to exploit if the second battalion gets bogged down assisting the SP Guns.

The Assault Guns rush the village and run into withering fire. The Russian second battalion breaks to the left and right to envelop the defenders but the company attacking to the left is destroyed by massed fire from Paks, Flak guns and Panthers. The Shermans force their way into the village reaching the crossroads.

The third Russian battalion is forced to reinforce the left and right flank attacks. The assault gun platoon leading the attack through the village is brewed up by Tigers, blocking the road. The Shermans have to back out.

The Panthers creates havoc, shooting up the T34s. They run into an ambush from the Sherman company but the 75mm shot bounces off.

The Panthers are finally knocked out by 85mm fire from T34s. A company finally gets behind the Jagdtiger and Tigers and brews them up. The Paks are ground under the tracks.

Kampfgruppe Shaun is destroyed but there is no question of exploitation as the Russian Tank Brigade has only a handful of 'runners', but the gates of Berlin are open. Zhukov shrugs and send in the next brigade of T34s. Within two weeks Hitler has shot himself in the bunker.

War Cemetary at Seelow

Eastern Front battles are good inspiration for 40K games. The Soviets are the Guard, (or Human Renegades) or Orks, and the Germans are Tau, Eldar, Marines, Chaos Marines or Necrons.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Inspiration for Figure Designers

Where do figure sculptors get their inspiration? Weeell, have a look at the cover above and the Reaper figure below.

Incidentally, I am very impressed by Reaper Miniatures. Their models are excellent, they have a vast and interesting range, their pricing is competitive, and they quickly shipped my order from the States to England for a very reasonable postal charge. I will certainly deal with them again - especially with the $ falling against the £.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Beautiful Great Britain

Arctic air is flowing over Southern England bringing frost and even a light dusting of snow.

This picture was taken by Anthony Spencer (note it is copyright), one of the finest landscape photographers in the world. It is of Corfe Castle in the Westcountry, the rural part of S. England. I used to take my girlfriend there when I was working in Bournemouth. She was a student at London University and used to visit me for the weekend. The pictgure has won the landscape photo of the year award.

See more of Spencer's amazing work here:

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pulp Sci Fi - Heros and Heroines

English Heroines

What would pulp be without heroes and heroines. Now admittedly, heroines once existed largely to swoon and be rescued from a-fate-worse-than-death. That always puzzled me when I was a small boy. I first came across the term in a Saint novel. The heroine was delighted to be buried alive rather than suffer a fate worse than death. What was a fate worse than death? Could it be double maths followed by physics?

But I digress. Modern heroines are more in the Laura Croft variety, having only large breasts in common with heroines of old. So in that spirit, I introduce Lady Jane Wellesly (on the left), her obnoxious brat of a younger sister, the Honourable Harriet "Harri" Wellesly, and their Butler Jeeves. The ladies have ray guns, large breasts and skin tight clothes. Any villian trying to shoot them must first pass an evil test in order to concentrate and ignore their charms. I assume all villains are heterosexual, even the green ones with tentacles. Heroines are never killed. They are always captured instead for a fate worse than death until rescued by a hero.

Note also that the lady's ray guns double as portable hair dryers to deal with those complex hair dos. Great care must be taken with ray gun settings as a mistake could lead to a bad hair day, which is almost as bad as a fate worse than death.

Jeeves has adopted his No 5 body with alien and villain handling arms - snip, snip - also emploed to deal with over enthusiastic heroes who attempt to rescue heroines before they are captured. Jeeves does not die either; he is just deactivated until the next episode.

All American Heroes

Definitely heroine rescuing hero types. Note the square jaws and the pecks. I give you Captain Savage and the Lone Ranger. Heroes are also never killed. They are always captured for a fate worse than death. This does not involve homosexual villains but incarceration until the villain can devise a suitably evil and painful death, preferably involving carnivorous fish and laser beams. However, heros may, at any moment escape with a single bound. Careful observers will note that the good captain has already escaped once - he still has the manacles on from where he burst his chains - and his shirt.

Thursday, 25 November 2010