Monday 29 June 2020

Hunting Giant Brain Ticks

Giant Brain Tick

The repeated radiation, industrial chem-leaks and biochem warfare acros the states of the old Soviet Union has produced some of the most peculiar mutation since the Cretaceous. But none is odder than the Giant Brain Tick: a weird amalgamation of human and Arthropod DNA possibly initiated in Soviet or Nazi biolabs but definitely evolved and mutated in the field.

A Hunting We Will Go

The World Health Authority have placed a bounty so large on each tick that many are ready to risk a hunting expedition in the blasted lands. It's brain tissue forms the core of numerous  artificial intelligence machines.

Which Is Front And Which Behind

Friday 26 June 2020

Review: New Plastic Fabius Bile

Fabulous Vile and Igor

Fabius is one of my favourite 40K characters. I really identify with mad scientists especially BioGeek mad scientist gene jockeys. The metal model was not great so I had my order in early when a new plastic version was announced, especially as he came with his very own Igor.

The Postman Knocks Twice

I bought the model with a copy of the new accompanying supplement, more about that later. Fabius and Igor came in a box, raising my expectations of the goodies inside.

The Sprue

Opening the box was a let down. I mean, £25 for a single little sprue to build two big models: 21 pieces in total!!! Igor was only five pieces, one of which was a base.


The poses are very dynamic.

Fabulous is caught in the act of stepping forward, pushing off with his stick - Torment, Needler hanging loosely in one hand.

Igor is crouched over a space marine holding a strange semi-organic gribbley machine, presumably extracting geneseed.

Striding Out

Actually, when the models are assembled and painted they look pretty good.

I think my initial disappointment was because I have been painting new Tamiya 1:48 modern armour and it is amazing what you get in a box. Of course, wargame models are expensive compared to historical models so, on that basis, I am happy with my purchase.

One nice point: the new data sheet comes with the model. You don't need anything else to incorporate Fabius in your Chaos Marine army.


Monday 22 June 2020

Aeronautica Imperialis: The Valkyrie

Valkyrie Leads A Vendetta

I have finished the first couple of planes from the latest Aeronautica starter kit. I have kitted out the first one as a bog standard Valkyrie troop transport with a multilaser and rocket pods.

A Vendetta gunship completes the pair with triple twin-lascannon weapon load-out.

The Business End

Sunday 21 June 2020

Review: Toyota Hilux Technical

Showroom Clean For The Discerning Insurgent

Mike Brewer of uTube channel Wheeler-Dealer tells of when he was sitting outside an Afghan US airbase coffee-house waiting for his transport when a plane landed. A bunch of men, tall, chiselled chins, black polonecks, holsters on hip, detrained pushing along an Afghan prisoner in front of them. The Afghan looked up, did a double-take, and yelled 'Mike Brewer - Wheeler Dealers - Great Show."

Slipping free of the dumbfounded polo-necks [Who is this Limey?], he proceeded to pump Mike's hand and quote his favourite sections. As they dragged off the unfortunate ex-combatant he exclaimed, "Mike, why haven't you reviewed the Toyota Hilux?"

So until Mike does, here is my review of the Antenocitis Workshop 28 mm version. The AW website is not the most sophisticated or user friendly in existence but my link takes you right to it. This is a nicely cast resin model which required no filler at all. it comes in one part except for the wheels so assembly takes about 45 seconds - and it sits flat on the table. There are no metal add ons, so no wing mirrors but everything is beautifully sculpted. I really like the aluminium wheels.

Looking For Targets

The model comes empty. I have added a recoilless rifle from another model in the AW range and the figure is Eureka(?).

You will see this particular rifle, the American 105 mm M40, everywhere on Toyotas around the world. It was a popular model even before the Chinese mass-produced an identical knock-off and then Iran knocked off the knock-off.

The model is just the right scale for a modern 28 mm army - I reckon its about 1:50ish.

And you can buy it for the incredible price of £8.50 - great value.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Skies of Fire: Model Review

Skies of Fire

Skies of Fire is the latest Aeronautica Imperialis 'game in a box' supplement, based on an air war between The Imperium of Man and the Tau Empire. The idea of a game in a box is that everything one needs to play is, well, in the box: a hexgrid map - small, paper but usable, models for two sides, counters and dice, and a core rulebook with datasheets for the new Tau and Imperial planes.

I suspect most people will buy it for the models: three Lighting , two Valkyrie assault carriers, three Tau Barracuda, and two Tau Tiger Sharks.

Let's start with the Lightnings.

Lightning Air Superiority Fighter

The Lightning Fighter comes in two forms. The first is the standard air superiority model, an elegant design with forward swept wings and a fearsome battery of lascannon and autocannon.

Lightning 'Voss Pattern' Strike Plane

The second is the Voss pattern version which loses some of the firepower in exchange for more ground attack hardpoints under the wings turning it into a multi-role strike plane.

Given that the game already has heavy Thunderbolt multi-role fighters that are used for both air superiority and ground support, obviously it was a no-brainer which of the two Games workshop would choose to model - especially as the Voss pattern is pig-ugly......

Very Frightening

Yup, they gave us the Voss pattern - the ill-graced multirole strike fighter.

You can swap use lascannon or multilasers on the nose and skystrike or hellstrike misssiles under the wings to optimise the model for its different functions.

But, God-Emperor, it's ugly!

Avenger Tank Buster

Still, could be worse chaps. They might have given us Avengers.

Valkyrie Assault Carriers

Valkyrie are the helicopters of the Imperium and, like helicopters, can be configured for ground support, anti-tank, troop transport or even point air-defence.

This is a really nice model and it comes with all sorts of weapon choices for the four mission types listed above (Valkyries or Vendettas in 40K lingo)

One point is that although the weapon choices on the model are a nice touch, one can’t really see them while playing because the distinctions are too small or hidden under the wings. This does mean that players can field their Valkyries with different weapon loadouts without needing alternate models. WYSIWIG, for once, isn't an issue.

Tau Barracuda

I really like the Tau Barracuda flying wing air-superiority model. Again different weapon loadouts are offered - ion cannon, burst cannon or railguns with seeker air-to-air missile as an optional extra. And once again, the actual weapons modelled is not critical when playing as they are not very noticeable.

Tau  Tiger Shark

The Tiger Shark bomber is also a great model and quite big. Here it is alongside a Marauder for scale. It just screams Tau to me: high tech, sleek and deadly.

You get the usual weapon choices but, of course, more of them.

Tau Flight

So first impression, the models fit together well and are easy to make. The instructions are basic and could be more helpful, especially over which weapon loadouts are on offer. Deep indentation should make inking easy and, I suspect they will paint well with a single coat of Contrast.

Only one I don't like is the unlovable Voss. I really, really, wanted a proper fighter for the Empire instead of a poor man's Thunderbolt.

Well you cant have everything.

At £55 this box is good value just for the ten plane models and stands.

Sunday 14 June 2020

3D Printed BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

BMP-1 With Tank Girl

This is another of the  Bergman designs printed under licence by [chcha_5648] and sold on eBay for £12.

I filled large 3D Print lines in with Milliput and just used a thick undercoat to hide the finer ones.

The BMP was the world's first IFV, designed to transport Soviet infantry through radiation soaked battlefields on their way to the Rhine. More than 40,000 were manufactured and they still turn up all over the world in modern wars. The main weapon is a strange, 73 mm, low-pressure smoothbore firing an RPG out to about 500 m. Later an explosive shell was provided which was far more useful.

An AT-3 'Sagger' launcher was mounted over the gun but this was next to useless in practice so they were often removed. Later upgrades have all sorts of improvements, 30 mm autocannon, AT-3 or AT-5 ATGM, automatic grenade launchers etc.

BMP-1 Of The Afghan Police

There is very little room inside because the vehicle was designed to be ground hogging, partly to make it inconspicuous and partly so it would not be blown over by nuclear blasts. In the real world they are always festooned with baggage of various sorts or the baggage is inside and the passengers ride on top - a much safer proposition in modern wars where mines and IEDs are the primary threat.

Out Of The Box

The kit comes in two pieces, a hull and a rotating turret.

Spare Turret

You get the choice of two turrets included in the price, with or without the Sagger.

Thursday 11 June 2020

Nazi Ahnenerbe Sturmtruppen At The Centre Of The Earth

SS-Kavallerie-Brigade Schäfer

The SS Ahnenerbe expedition to Tibet discovered a sacred cave that Buddhist Monks believed led to an underworld where the sacred city of Shambhala was located. The monks were persuaded to reveal the location of the cavern by Her Flick, a Gestapo agent spying on Himmler's Expedition for Goering.

The cave certainly opened into somewhere, a mysterious world inhabited by prehistoric monsters as detailed by Jules Verne in his supposed novel 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.

Local humans had domesticated a bipedal carnivore. The Stormtruppen seized various examples for study and a breeding program. Unfortunately, all the animals acquired were males, as indicated by the mating display on the head. Nevertheless they trained some to be SS-Kavallerie abd named their unit after the expedition leader, Dr Ernst Schäfer.

Trooper With Light Machine Gun

One soldier in each troop was armed with an MG 34. The mounts were surprisingly indifferent to gunfire.

An Unfortunate Confrontation

Alas, the expedition got lost in the complex of tunnels trying to reach the 'surface' and emerged in Afghanistan, only to find the world was not quite as they remember it.

Models by Eureka.

Thursday 4 June 2020

3D Printed BTR-60P

Out of the Box

This is the first 3-D printed model I have ever bought. It was designed and digitised by M Bergman who has made the files available for personal use on Thingiverse. These prints are definitely for the use of  'expert only' but Bergman makes a commercial licence available. This specimen was printed by a vendor (chcha_5648) who sells it on eBay for £12 + P&P at 1:50 scale. That was what caught my eye: the price is most advantageous.

I bought this and a BMP 1. The box when it arrived was so light that for a moment I thought there was nothing in it!

The polymer used is light, incredibly light, but it is hard and very durable. The model comes in one piece, no assembly required. This is an immediate advantage of 3D printing. All the wheel suspension is modelled on the one print. The second thing I noticed was that it didn't need cleaning of mould release agent because, err, it isn't moulded. The paint goes straight on.

The last advantage of 3D Prints is that vendors can afford to keep a large number of digital files on a hard drive so lots of unusual vehicles can be made available. This just wouldn't be affordable with resin mould or, God help you, plastic.

On the other hand prints will never be made en masse. The process can't be easily scaled up (you'd need banks of printers - pricey) so they're really a different niche to plastic or even resin models.

Print Lines

Now the elephant in the room. 3D Printing leaves print lines. There is no way around this - at least not at an affordable price. The design is clever in that the top flat surfaces show the lightest lining, while really heavy lining tends to be on the bits out of immediate sight.

Nevertheless, there is no way around this. Expect print lines and don't buy if this is an issue for you.

As an aside, I undercoated with Army Coat white spray. This is a nice thick paint that goes some way to hide the lines. However, white was a poor choice. I should have used black so I didn't have to chase down white paint in every minor crevice - and there are a lot of crevices in a 3D Print.

Spray paint is not essential. Brushed acrylic will go straight on to the polymer, no hassle.

The Finished Model

And this is what it looks like after painting and weathering. I added a few extras. Some baggage and cans from Tamiya accessories. A spare crewman gunner from a Tamiya kit and a modern Russian Automatic Grenade Launcher from Eureka.

A lick o' paint hides a multitude of sins: it also hides the print lines which are more obvious in the photos than the actual model.

Needless to say, do not use washes!

The Sharp End

The BTR-60P was the first of the famous 8-Wheeled APCs in which Soviet mechanised infantry were to ride on their death march to the Rhine. It was open-topped and had paper thin armour just about capable of deflecting rifle bullets and small shell splinters. Up to two pintle mounted MGs could be placed on the top of the front bulkhead.

The PB version was roofed over to give some protection against air bursts and had an MG in a small conical turret. The Warsaw Pact manufactured around 28,000 and the Russian Federation keeps in the region of 4,000 in storage.


I wanted the vehicle for wargaming skirmishes along the borders of the old Soviet States. It is just the sort of simple lightly armoured machine that might turn up being used as a transport for material: only the maddest or most naive soldiers would ride in it.

The AGL is just the sort weapon that might be mounted on one of the old pintle-mounts so that the terrified crew could try to shoot their way out of an ambush - assuming an RPG hasn't already gone through the cardboard armour.

The stowage represents the slapdash nature of the militia running this transport. Oddly enough the rusty drum of leaking diesel is marked US Army!

 Next up, the BMP - and I am so pleased with my first attempt that I have ordered an LAV and a Cougar.

Monday 1 June 2020

Technicals: The Great Toyota War

Nissan Technical

"Ladees and Genu'llmen - the star of our show - fresh from our workshops in downtown Kabul - I give you - THE NISSAN TECHNICAL" - (promogirls go wild).


"As you can see, it is fitted with the tried and tested favourite of the irregular militia - the good ole Dooshka 12.7 heavy machine gun" - (promo girls throw headscarves into the air).

"This reliable weapon isn't some backstreet knock off of the famous Soviet equaliser - Oh No! - it's a genuine Chinese knock off."

"The AA mount is welded to the floor of the pickup so that there will be no embarrassing moments on CNN - like falling off'ove the back when when test firing."

Attaching Your Gun - Firmly

Incidentally, these things are a scratch modellers dream. Have a look at this genuine lash-up (from Technical- Osprey New Vanguard 257).

One Careful Owner

"Admittedly, there is some minor damage acquired from when the car was requisitioned from the previous owner by means of an AK47 - but this has (mostly) been repaired with a new steel plate to replace the driver's window and a bit o' BMP track to armour the door."

""And a little bit o' rust has got into the paint damage on the wing but the motah is as sweet as a nut - after all, 120,000 km is the sweet spot."

The truck is from Antenocitis Workshop and the weapon and gunner from Eureka UK.