Model Review: 1:288 (6mm) Eastern Express Antonov AN-71 “Madcap” AWACS

Summary:
The EE Antonov AN-71 is a fun, quick little build that will look fine as a gaming piece. Probably not the best overall choice for a “serious” micro-mini modeler, who will be screaming and flinging it out the window within minutes. 1:288/6mm scale makes it compatible with quite a few wargames, including Micro Armor, Fistful of TOWs, Battletech, and Robotech RPG Tactics. The limited historical deployment of this particular aircraft will hurt its utility for historical gamers, but other models in the series would likely serve them much better.
For Robotech Tactics modelers, the AN-71 is also an excellent base for an alternate version of the ES-11D “Cat’s Eye” recon – one of the guys on the Robotech Tactics Facebook group did up a conversion you can see here if you’re a group member.

Background:
First off – a little history. In 1984-ish, the Antonov company put together a bid for a new AWACS version of the AN-72 light transport airframe (NATO callsign “COALER”). It was intended to vector in ground-attack forces at the tactical level (taking the load off of the larger “MAINSTAY” and “MOSS”, which were busy handling strategic responses and combat air patrol), while taking advantage of the AN-72 airframe’s ability to make use of short, poor-quality runways and improvised airfields. While loosely equivalent to the role of an E2-C Hawkeye in USN service, the AN-71 was supposed to be a land-based design (the naval role was supposed to be taken by the Yakolev YAK-44, which never surfaced).  NATO assigned the bird the reporting name “MADCAP” after its first flight in 1985. Unfortunately, the USSR only ever made three AN-71 airframes before the economic collapses of 1986-88 killed the program. One of those three prototypes was shipped off to the Ukraine for their new Air and Space museum while they were in the process of seceding from the SSSR, which is why this particular model was originally Ukraininan.The Eastern Express company put out a series of models based on the Museum’s holdings, all nominally in 1:288 scale. Toko seems to have put out a version of the series as well, and you can find a box in the US from Imex (I got mine on the ‘bay for $4, so always check your supplier..)

The AN-71 herself is pretty unique – a STOL design that uses engine exhaust to increase lift over the wings. Unfortunately this design, while efficient, tends to be damned noisy for the poor saps inside the cargo bay, but hey. Whatcha gonna do? *(cancel it if you’re Boeing, of course. Keep using it for fifty-plus years if you’re a Russkie..)

Surviving AN-71 on display in the Ukraine

The Good: Simple, clean instructions. Good decals, although I have no need for them. Generally decent fit and polish on the kit.
The Bad: Lots and lots of flash on frame “A”. It cleaned up well after a quick pass with an emery board. Some gates on detail elements distorted the radome and tail. Shallow detail cuts had to be sharpened.
The Ugly: Does not include any parts to make closed landing gear bays. The engine mounting surfaces were poorly-designed, and the wing overall required a lot of work to mount.
Full model build/review under the cut. My apologies for the poor quality of a couple of the images -I plead being sick as hell and having a shit phone.

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Making 28mm Asphalt Roads [Modern/Post-Apoc]

Following on from a post over at Tabletop-Terrain about making roads with self-adhesive floor-tiles, I swung by the Home Depot (gotta love that 10% veteran’s discount) and picked up a sample of this shit – TrafficMaster “light brown travertine” SA vinyl. Given that it’s running less than $1/square foot, and each square foot makes two 12″x6″ road sections, this is going to be a about half the price of my previous favorite option – Ikea “Avskild” cork placemats.

Before I break down the advantages of each, I figured I’d put up a quick shot to show you the texture of the vinyl tiles versus the cork.
• Ikea Cork sheeting, painted as concrete (from the Airbase Toblerone project).
IMG_20160605_213622_431
As you can see, it’s got a pretty fine texture, even on the smaller bunker. Good for concrete, but it’s not really my favorite on the asphalt front. The surface tearing is nice and chunky, and the edges wear pretty well.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics of the commissioned road set I did a few years ago, but we’ll go over my experience with them below.

•Trafficmaster tile, inked and uncut (I just slapped some India ink on with a wet rag and took a photo here without cleaning the tile first: the pale spots appear to be greasy areas from previous handling..).

img_20161030_151202_887Here we’ve got a much more irregular surface, and it’s already very reminiscent of weathered asphalt even with the pale spots and brown undertone. It is, however, a thin sheet of plastic – less than .25mm – laid over a ~1.5mm rubber sheet. That may make larger areas of surface damage look less realistic unless I cut out the undersurface and hammer the surface plastic down into the “damage” pattern, or fill them with basing ballast.

So, what’s my take so far?

Cork sheeting

Advantages –
Realistic surface damage (for both asphalt and concrete). It’s easy to sink in some paper clip wire to simulate rebar on a broken section, or a small piece of low-gauge copper cable/plastic pipe for other conduits, which dresses up the edges nicely.

Multi-purpose. Crumbled scrap bits make great rubble. You can face a chunk of foamcore or stiff card with the cork and get a plastered concrete surface in minutes – one that’s also easy to trash and make look good.

Super-easy to work. Cutting, fitting, and weathering the cork bits for both of the pieces in the pic above took me about two minutes.

Cheap. Granted, both of the materials have that going for them, but it bears repeating; this stuff costs about 75c/ft^2.  In other formats, unfortunately, that’s not so true – a straight-up roll of cork from a craft or art store can be more along the lines of $5/ft^2.  And there’s a certain amount of wasted material because of the rounded edges of the Ikea stuff and the weird size.

Disadvantages –
Poor surface sealing coupled with moisture sensitivity. You have to paint PVA or another sealant onto cork, or it has a nasty tendency to swell. That flakes off paint. It also behaves oddly when painted unless you seal it – soaking in some colors, repelling others, and generally being a pain in the ass. Plus, again, it can swell or crumble without sealant while you’re painting it, screwing up your effects or damaging the piece.

Fragility – the same thing that makes it easy to work makes it hard to store. Cork works best as a facing on top of another material, like heavy card or styrofoam. In storage, dropping or bumping the container can shatter off a large chunk of cork, and the pieces frotting against each other in the box will not just wear the paint but tear chunks out. That means you need padded storage and rigid containment, which reduces the amount of stuff you can store in a given space. With roads it’s less of a problem – you can wrap them in cheap felt and glue a sheet of craft foam to the edges of the box – but storing a large building is a >massive< pain in the ass

It just doesn’t look like asphalt at larger scales. With a good paintjob, you can pass it off pretty well at 6-10mm, and I’ve seen some guys make 15mm look decent, but at 28+ it looks like shit unless you work it as concrete. How many cities or highways do you know of that use concrete for the roads? Yeah. It’s fine for sidewalks and warehouse floors, but not roads.

Vinyl Tile

Advantages –
Tough as hell. I did a few experiments with a painted chunk, slapping it edge-on against a desk and flapping the piece back and forth. Paint held well, and even the section I stripped the vinyl from seemed to be doing okay. Unfortunately, rubbing the painted sides together did do some paint damage, so I’ll still need surface protection, but rubbing gently with stiff, sealed card didn’t do too much damage. I think I may be able to get away with just peeling and sticking the flooring sheets onto posterboard and using that as layer protection; for more on that, see “conclusions” below.

Great surface texture. I mean, look at that pic again. That’s literally a thirty-second swipe of india ink – not a damn lick of paint – and it already looks like a road.

The sheets are a better shape and size than the Ikea mats I’ve been using, which means there’s less waste. Basically with cork I got two 6″x16″ chunks of straight road, or two 12″x8″ sections. Lots of room for a shoulder, but the roads also wound up looking unrealistically wide compared to 1:43 or 1:48 cars (let alone the figs). Of course, I could trim off that extra couple inches on each side and use to make sidewalks and curbs or building parts, which was pretty cool. With the vinyl I get four 6″x12″ straights, nearly quadrupling the yield per dollar spent.

On that note, the sheets are even cheaper than cork, especially in bulk; I can get ten 1’x2′ sheets for under twenty bucks. So for the same $20 I can get either ten sections of road with sidewalks/shoulders, plus 2 intersections per road section I drop, or forty sections without sidewalks. Sections that require less reinforcement and storage area.

Properly painted, it also looks like facing stones. With a little work, it’d be great for adding a “sandstone” texture to the lower floors of Foamcore ruins, which means I still have an outlet for scraps. Cork does have an advantage, though, in that crumbled bits of cork will look great just tossed on a rubble pile, where this will require trimmed and (roughly) squared sections of the scrap rather than “whatever’s left”

Disadvantages –
Heavier, by a substantial margin. Each sheet weighs about half again as much as one of the placemats, making it harder to transport on foot/bus.

Harder to weather and simulate surface damage – as I mentioned above, just picking the surface off reveals a chunk of rubber, which has a terrible texture. So you have to backfill the holes with basing ballast, or find some other way of getting an interesting texture instead of smooth cuts. That adds working time as well, which seems to be compensating for not needing to seal each individual piece.

Harder to work – This shit is dulling the HELL out of my boxcutter, and straight-up snapped a #11 Exacto blade within 5 cuts. It’s also tearing the shit out of my leatherworking swivel knife, which is why the boxcutter is getting an outing. I also can’t slap it up on the deck of my paper-cutter to just slice off straight sections, which means breaking out the rulers, square, and compass.

Floppy – A disadvantage both share, but the higher weight of the sheeting makes it more noticeable. I’m gonna need to give these a stiffer backing to keep the paint on, even if it held reasonably well in the basic tests.

Surprise contestant:
EVA (Craft) Foam
Advantages:
Easy to work, soft, multi-purpose.

Disadvantages:
Poor surface texture, floppy, fragile, and more expensive than either. Worse, it’s sensitive to heat and to spraypaint, so it’ll need sealing.

ConclusionsI’ll definitely keep using cork for my own street/postapoc projects, but I’m about to add a lot more vinyl to my toolbox. Given the properties of both, I’m thinking of using an 8″ wide strip of black posterboard, with the vinyl laid on top (using its own adhesive) as a road bed and either cork sidewalks or ballast to simulate gravel shoulders. I could also take strips of foamcore and cut out roadbeds from the center ( just leaving the bottom layer of card), and mark up curbs/sidewalks onto the raised edge sections. The foamcore method is almost certainly going to be the way to go if I’m making bridges/overpasses, unless I can convince that guy in the Makerspace to let me use his laser cutter on some MDF or hork up for the Hirst Arts bridge mold..

Quick, Cheap Skirmish Horde Basing; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hole Saw.

So, one of the problems you’re inevitably going to face as a wargamer is simple – you’re gonna run out of bases one day. A lot of companies sell their minis with “integral” display bases that aren’t worth a damn. Especially the cheap shit – Wargames Factory, Reaper, lookin’ at you here. And of course, these aren’t cut to fit on GW’s patented slotted base. The hole’s easy to cover, but still more of a pain that you really want to deal with – not now that GW is charging in excess of a buck a base, anyway.

So I’ve started manufacturing my own, at least for the “horde” models. I put together this tutorial to help you make your own quick, cheap bases in large quantities. Short version is, forty bases cost me ~$2.15 using existing tools (about $30 worth). It’s about the same price as mail-ordering MDF stuff, but you get it now and don’t have to pay shipping..
Tutorial below the cut.
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Shack! [Post-apoc terrain]

I have invented a device for turning pop cans into scale-correct corrugated iron sheets. It is made from popsicle sticks. I’ve done up a quickie sample shack with the prototype. Plans will go up once I refine it into something a little less-dangerous and labor-intensive.

shackpix-1 shackpix-2

Pirate conversions, and more Black Widow work (TotBWC, Battletech)

So, I’ve been much more productive these last couple of months than usual. Part of it’s getting on the right meds for a change, part of it’s completing the better part of a year’s worth of therapy for my ADHD. Now I’ve got time to work on something other than fixing my headspace, I’ve been working my ass off on my project backlogs. It hasn’t really made it onto the blog, since a lot of my projects have just been aimed at unfucking my house or otherwise not hobby-related, and I haven’t been in the mood to write for a while either. But now it’s too hot for carpentry, so back to the keyboard we go.

Right now I’m working on my massive post queue; I kept starting posts and then abandoning them to the ether after twenty minutes over the last year or so, and now I’m going back and finishing them – or adding on the stuff that I quit writing to do and never got done.

This is one of those posts – a selection of the ‘Mechs I converted/prepped/repaired in the course of three days back in June. I had to pull a couple back for QC (like the Bounty Hunter), but it was a lot of fun.

Overall production

Left to right, front to back:
Front row: SHD-2D “Vang” custom Shadow Hawk (This one is a little surprise for the mission “Leave No Survivors“; check below the break for the tech readout. It’s a beast), Stinger, Crusader, converted GRF-1S “Steiner”.
Second Row: Stinger, converted Wasp (left-handed, with a Recon Camera, two Vehicular Grenade Launchers, and a Small Laser replacing the missile system), an ICE Thunderbolt (modified from Steve’s design in 3063, see below the cut), a dressed-up Griffin with a Dougram Bushmaster’s linear gun, and a stock WHM-6R for the Santander Killers.
Third Row: two stock Wolverines, plus a Shadow Hawk converted to a Wolverine standard. See below for the parts breakdown. After that there’s another upgunned Griffin and a reposed and cut-down Stalker for the pirates (I’m using the stats for the lightened 80-tonner with it).

IMG_20160605_213303_957Detail pics:
Here’s some slightly better shots of the four who do me proudest.
SHD-2D “Vang”: Added another Dougram light Linear gun (the ML on the Shadow Hawk) from my gashapon collection, and put on a light SRM from the same source. The over-the-shoulder gun is the Large Laser I took from the Thunderbolt, mounted on a small part from a MW Clix mini. I recarved the area next to the head to remove the original grenade pack and plugged the SRM holes in its “collarbone”.

SHD-2 “NISE* Wolverine”: So, I’ve always disliked the way the Wolverine looks (heresy, I know. Shut up.). I scored a 3e plastic Shad on Ebay for $1 since the backpack gun was damaged and the laser had broken off. And I figured “Why the hell not? Someone’s gotta get a Command ‘Mech out of this, and pirates seem like the folks to do it”. First I rebarreled the arm laser with a bit of wire and some Green Stuff, then added a spare Command Destroid pack to the back in place of the AC. I mated the AC receiver to a barrel cut from scrap from a WH40 Basilisk fighting platform railing and a short magazine made from plasticard, then mounted it under the fore-arm. It’s hard to see, but there’s a small finger guard attached to the hand-grip. The missile rack is a carefully re-cut pair of SRMs from a JES-1 carrier. I also filed off the VGL mount on this one, but left the gap clear for the backpack SRM to shoot through.
This is going to be the leader for Recce lance of 2 Coy, Santander’s Killers.
*From the Gundam fandom. Refers to a “mocked up” or faked version of a ‘Mech using another’s chassis; the original NISE Gundam used a GM chassis.

TDR-6FX1: I like diesel Thuds. You like Diesel Thuds. We all like ’em. So this was an easy rebuild choice for another E-Bay rescue Thud. The shoulder mount is a pair of Dougram Linear guns, cut down and reinforced, with a Locust-like arm pod made from plasticard and a plastic rod. The arm got a Wolverine hand-gun from a WVR-6M conversion I did ages ago for a buyer, plus a shield from an MS-06F Zaku II that I had converted to a Zaku I. The smokestacks are made from sprues, and I sculpted a simple engine and heat sink into the back (as well as the laser pack space in the front). Given that these things are supposed to be like forty years old by the late Jihad, I busted her up a little bit too.

GRF-1S: This is a simple up-gunning, using components from a Roundfacer “Korchima Special” as well as a RRPGT Defender radome and some cord.First I cut away the shitter guns that come with the vinyl 3e minis, then carefully sawed in the detail on the legs and re-carved/sculpted the shoulder and side of the head. I added a small “reactor pack” on the back using a casting taken from a AAA battery, and wired it up to a recast Roundfacer gun. I tried a couple different components to dress up the other side of the pack, but the radome just seemed to fit so well. On the other side, I’ve mounted a smaller missile launcher, taken from a Dougram gashapon. Oddly, given how much time and effort I sunk into the others this one is still my favorite-looking.

 

The Future:

Painting to come once I finish allocating to the various forces in the book, though I already have homes for the Stalker, “NISE” Wolverine (both to the Killers), Thud (Canopian militia), Stingers, Vang’s SHD (Draconis March Militia), and Griffins (One each to the Donegal Guards, Killers, and Black Widows). On the shelf I’ve got some converted Archers, Pixies, the Bounty Hunter (3015), a few Valks, and the Dougram gashapon to fiddle with, plus a fuckton of vees.

Record sheets:
Below the cut, with some quick commentary on the design process and ideas behind them.
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Airbase Toblerone: Part one (Battletech, Robotech Tactics)

As promised (two weeks ago -_-;;) here’s some WiP shots of the terrain I’ve been working on. I got a fire lit back under me while working in the local makerspace with one of the guys on some really basic foam-cork stuff, and started back up on one of my long-term stalled projects; a fully-fleshed out 6mm Drop Port and/or HPG station for Battletech and Robotech Tactics. The wall and command bunker entrance here come from that session.

Ha Shi Dao complex front

“But what’s the ‘Mech, Doc?” Come back tomorrow for more..

IMG_20160605_213655_604 They’re loosely based on the Hai Shi Dao defense emplacements from Steel Battalion (Christ I love that game), and depicted as shelled and partially knocked-out. The intact emplacement on the left in the bottom pic is going to be getting a twin-AC/10 emplacement later. I really wanted to get a kind of “churned and barraged” feel, so I referenced a couple paintings of WWI battlefields for the ground colors on the main emplacement. You can also see a partly-overgrown crater with bits of a tree in the foreground of the piece.

Airbase step 2

For the main buildings, I rooted out one of my old ERTL Space Shuttle kits for the EuroLab components and the  GPS satellite payloads (I’m converting the Shuttles themselves into mini-Leopards, but that’s another post) to make the Quonset huts and barracks. The Command Center is a fighting deck from a Warhammer 40k Basilisk that I’d converted to a direct-fire SP gun, along with a few resin scrap components and a Cardassian comm screen from an old Star Trek figure. All are mounted on 1/8″ foamcore. The beveling was done roughly with a sharp hobby knife.
The gate towers are each made from half a Toblerone package (which I’ve been wanting to do for ages), scrap from the “Storage Units” that I got from the Burn In Designs kickstarter as ‘Mech hangars, and bits from a trashed Mechwarrior DA figure I used for parts on an N-scale kitbash. The bay windows are simply cut from mini blisters. These are still waiting on internal floors for the third deck and some catwalks against the back wall, as well as armament for the towers. I’m focusing on the plastic buildings at the moment, so I can get as much as possible put away before doing any more heavy conversion lifting.

Airbase progress 10 Aug 2016Current status after base-coating.
I sealed the foamcore with PVA glue, then added sand and flocking with another couple coats of glue before spray-coating. No melting, so I must have done it well enough..
You may remember the turrets here from my casting tutorials (link to first post here). I’ve since converted a few of them to laser and missile turrets, as well as a massive mini-missile rack and a “mechaturm” based on the old German Panzerturms. The turret torso is from one of my own “Shortbow” custom FrankenMechs. The readout below is just for the “factory” option, since making a Franken proper is a massive pain in the ass.

Basically just slap an LRM-20 in each arm instead of those shitter ACs and you get a startlingly competent back-line fire-support unit.

Basically just slap an LRM-20 in each arm instead of those shitter ACs and you get a startlingly competent back-line fire-support unit. Enough sinks to fight, ammo for days, and no armor to speak of. It’s perfect!

 

Remaining for this project: Doll up the Burn In Designs modules and the Toblerone Towers, prep the power center and fuel farm (I have the parts, just haven’t put them together) and make a blast shield for droppers.

Quick Robotech Tactics update

Palladium finally put up the paper minis they’ve been promising for literally over a year on Drivethru RPG.

There are still problems with the assembly instructions, but those are also now up for every unit in the game instead of just a couple.  I’m hoping to find the time to print a few up and see how they look in a few, but right now I’m more interested in another project. More on that in a bit.

End of an Era (40k, Sisters of Battle)

I don’t talk much about Warhammer on here, simply because I don’t play it any more, but I used to be an avid – even tournament-level – player. I have almost a full maniple of Space Marines with armor and scout support, a very large cultist/IG force based around Necromunda Eschers and converted IG, some Inquisitorial forces, and various uncompleted vehicles, even an entire unfinished army of Dark Eldar and AdMech. But they’re not really what this is about.

Last year, I sold my Ulthwe’ Eldar to a friend. Then again, that army never really got off the ground as far as I was concerned. I had a couple of cool conversions in the force, but I really made it (back in the halcyon days of 3rd edition) to prove a short, extremely violent point to a local metagame that had been obsessed with Swordwind armies. Nobody in the area had ever played against an Eldar swarm with shitloads of cover saves, and it ended hilariously – especially the deathball of 40 WS5 I6 Storm Guardians massed around an Avatar of Khaine. Part of that force was a converted Jetbike warlock of whom I was particularly fond, as well as a massive Seer Council – I actually owned all but one of the Farseer and Warlock models that GW had produced up until 6th edition, with over a dozen minor custom jobs. Anyway, when I sold them, I documented a couple of my conversions for my own archives. IMG_20140404_241747_286 IMG_20140404_241802_233 IMG_20140404_241813_972 IMG_20140404_241840_036Now, though.. another friend of mine has offered to buy my Sisters of Battle.
Sisters are what got me into WH40k, specifically the infamous image of the Palatine crushing a skull under her boot as she advances from the cover of the 2e Sisters ‘dex. They were my first and last love in the game, and they kept me playing through a decade and four editions. I have hundreds of painted sisters and over a dozen vehicles (all based on the old Rhino chassis). At the same time, I’m never going to wind up playing again. It just feels insulting to the Girls to leave them in a box for the rest of forever, especially since they’ve won me many tournaments and dozens of friendly games (not to mention, of course, dying hilariously in dozens more).

Those desultory photos I took for my Eldar just won’t do it for the girls. So over the next week or so I plan to photograph my models, share some memories, and talk a little bit about my games with them and my experiences as a Sisters player over the years. I’m heading off to set up the lightbox later tonight, and we’ll go over the squads and my notable conversions  as I post them.

Robotech RPG Tactics, Wave I – Part III (It’s Destroid Time, With Your Friend, the Defender)

Finally, we get into the home stretch of my Wave I reviews. The Destroids are the models I bought the most of, for various battletech reasons.

Edit: Palladium Books has released updated assembly instructions for the Defender (and other units), which you can find on DrivethruRPG (here) for free.
Previous Posts: Part I, Part II
Next Posts:
I started a great photo-set with my sprues of Defenders months ago. I just burned out on dealing with the damned things when I started my first Phalanx. Wound up throwing the entire mess of Destroids into a box for a couple of months in sheer frustration. To be frank, I was getting pissed just looking at the models. That’s a very bad place to be as a reviewer, and a worse one as a hobbyist. So, yeah.

That’s really about half the review right there.
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Generally speaking, the Destroid models are more poseable than the Valkyries or Glaug. There’s also no less Procrustean modeling, so you aren’t specifically forced to keep half the weapons in a fixed position. The joint layout makes magnetizing the arms and weapons very easy, which means you can even repose during a game if you want.
Unfortunately, they’ve also got insanely high part counts, with unsightly seams everywhere on most of the models. And, though the feet on the Defender, Tomahawk, and Phalanx are essentially identical, each sprue uses a slightly different and incompatible connection method for the ankle joint, reducing your posing options.

We’ll start off with the Defenders, because I actually have a full photoshoot prepped and ready to go (and I don’t want to keep this series on hold for the week (good Lord I was naive there) or more that prepping the other three will take)


Defender:


 

Defender Sprue obverse

Click to embiggen for assembly notes

Reverse of sprue, showing arm keying.

Reverse of sprue, showing arm keying.

Issues:
Three of the four legs are missing at least one detail. Only one is complete. In addition, two of the legs have gates on top of surface detail. You’d think, with the amount of copy-pasting going on elsewhere, that the legs would at least be identical..

Note that the leg on the right has only two strips, while the left side has four. Another is completely missing this detail, and a third has it damaged by a gate AND is missing the vent details on the side

Note that the leg on the right has only two strips, while the left side has four.
Another is completely missing this detail, and a third has it damaged by a gate AND is missing the vent details on the side

The body is a five-part model. It has several ugly, prominent seams that must be cleaned or filled, and leave noticeable gaps in the finished model. The searchlights on my models were also miscast, with mold lines and underflow on all four side torsos.

Gapping in the torso, hips, and arms

Gapping in the torso, hips, and arms. Torso searchlight miscasts.

The guns have extremely thin barrels, making extracting them without damage very difficult. Cut the bases of the gun first with clippers, then slowly cut off the barrels with a very sharp knife or saw. Preferably, add some padding behind them.
The connecting peg on the hips is wider than the hole in the torso, and must be carefully filed down to allow the model to mate properly.
The hip joint mounts on the legs force them into very specific angles, but can be easily (if carefully) modified to allow other positions.
There is no mounting point for a Command Destroid modification on the Defender, and the only position in which it “fits” interferes with both the arm placement and the radar sail. I have a functioning conversion that involves cutting down the piece into three parts and re-mounting them in the radar sail area.

Conversion prep instructions and diagram

Conversion prep instructions and diagram

Once the parts are cut, you can mount the search radar on the side of one of the ammo bins, or up over the shoulder/gun area. I cut off the top of the right-hand bin and hard-mounted it to the torso, however, and I think it came out pretty well.
Flip around the comms package, and cut it to fit the normal radar sail mount. It won’t take too much effort, and it looks pretty good up there.

The finished product

The finished product

Good Points:
The hard, flexible plastic makes the slender guns and radar blade surprisingly resilient once they’re off the sprue. The Defender’s posing is much more flexible than most of the other models in the line. There are points of articulation at the arms, legs, radar, and torso angle – all tweakable with minimum effort.

Number of Components
:

Twenty. Body is six parts alone, the legs and arms are three each, and the hips are two-parters.

Assembly Time:
Prep cutting took 15 minutes, not counting the time required to pin and re-glue an o.7mm gun barrel. Torso and hips took about 8 minutes to green-stuff and align, including filing and prefits. Overall, the two models took about 40 minutes to assemble, plus 8 hours of Green Stuff drying time. With a sharp, very slender pair of diagonal cutters the pair would probably take ~30 minutes.

 

Vigilante One, reporting for duty!

Vigilante One, reporting for duty!

Transports for Star Trek: Attack Wing (WiP)

So, Attack Wing is one of the better games Star Trek has ever gotten. It’s far from the best simulation, but it certainly scratches the fleet maneuvers itch in a way that ACTA and FASA don’t. Plus it has all-canon ships, post TNG season 1 (where FASA stops) and Animated Series (where ACTA/SFB stop). Yes, its action economy is fucked, and yes, Secondary Weapons are broken. It’s still fun to play, unlike Star Fleet Battles, if you have more than one ship. And let’s be honest, FASA’s non-canon designs are by and large complete shit.
Update: now with 200% more pictures, so you can see what the fuck I’m talking about.

FASA Ambassador top

The FASA Ambassador, designed in the middle of the second season of TNG.

Hey, that doesn’t look so..

FASA Ambassador sideOh Lord. Kill it with fire.
But today’s post isn’t about FASA, nor ADB’s “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” approach to game design. It’s about expanding Attack Wing a little.

Almost all of the STAW scenarios and OP events are based on episodes or movies. This is great if you’re a Federation player, but it eliminates many of the “classic” naval wargame scenarios. We only see a freighter in use a handful of times, for example, and a full-scale convoy attack is basically Right Out. Unless Worf needs to suffer, anyway..
One of the first problems you run up against while making freighters is the maneuver dial. Usually ships are either fast or extremely maneuverable, with Red maneuvers serving as a sort of half-assed choke on your Battleships turning like light cruisers. Freighters, on the other hand, are usually utter pigs. I realized a few days ago that the Mini-Clix dials I talked about in my Proxy Dials post would actually handle them fairly well, since they only have 12 slots.

My current test dial

My current test dial

This puts freighters at a nice, predictable 6″ average move. To put it another way, it’ll take about 5 turns of play (given a standard-sized board and set-up zones) to get a freighter off the other side of the map – or about 3 turns if you start in the middle. So, we’ve got their general piggishness and a basic parameter for the game length set out.

Cargo and Upgrades:
Thematically, Attack Wing is all about the upgrades. With that in mind, transports have a new Upgrade type: <cargo>. Some Cargo is free, others cost SP to field. If the ship successfully disengages as noted in the scenario, you gain extra Victory Points as noted on the card. If your opponent destroys or captures the ship, he gains the VP instead. The Convoy Attack scenario gives the Defender bonus points which must be spent on Transports or Cargo Upgrades (other Upgrades, if available, are paid out of your regular points allowance)

Captains with [Elite Talent] slots may not be assigned to a freighter. Nor may they be assigned any Admirals or Resource cards. Sorry, guys, they know as well as I do that’s a bad idea.

Current tentative cargoes:
Contraband – prevents attack cancelling, high VP award.
Grain – Tribbles are hilariously dangerous. Low VP.
Medical Supplies – “good guy” powers will leave you alone sometimes. Dice roll or Action? Average VP
.
Arms shipment – put a secondary weapon face-down under the card. Discard both during any Attack Step to attack with the weapon at Range 1-2, regardless of the Range printed on the card. Enemy gets the VP if you use it, High VP.
Q-Ship – Moderate SP cost. Adds AD and a shield.  No VP.
Bulk Goods – can discard to ignore a hit or crit, but the enemy gets VP for it. Low VP
Troop Ship – Add a “Boarding Party” to your ship for free, regardless of  the ship’s Upgrade limits. Instead of Discarding the Boarding Party, you Disable it instead. Average VP

===Ships===
All ships have a 90 degree forward arc unless otherwise specified. Most are in the “Light Cruiser” weight range, which means 1-2 Agility and ~3 Hull.

Federation:
Bradford-class tug. 15 SP. 1A/1D/3H/2S; [cargo] x3. “Evasive Action” and “Battle Stations” actions. AKA “Ptolemy”-class. You may notice that this is basically a demilitarized Miranda-class. This is entirely deliberate.

The original, unfinished shooting minature of the Bradford

The original, unfinished shooting miniature of the Bradford

Antares-class drone freighter. 10SP. 0A/2D/2H/2S; [cargo]x1. “Evasive Action”. Special: This card can be used without a Captain, with an effective Skill of 1. Flip over any Critical Damage cards that reference injury to the Captain or crew, and ignore their effects. This ship always ejects the Warp Core in the case of a Warp Core Breach effect.

Ortho shot of the original Antares (there's also a Miranda-class variant of the same name)

Ortho shot of the original Antares (there’s also a Miranda-class variant of the same name)

Klingon:
Heavy Freighter: 22 SP. 2A/0D/3H/3S. [cargo] x2. “Cloak”, “Sensor Echo”, “Target Lock”, “Evasive Action”. 180* Forward arc, no rear. The White 2-Left Turn and 2-Right Turn maneuvers become a Red 3-Left and 3-Right  This is almost a warship. Almost.

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Independent:
Tuffli-Class Transport: 18 SP. 2/1/4/2; [cargo] x3. “Evasive Action”.

Not a Klink heavy frieghter

Not a Klink heavy frieghter. Totally. It’s, like, way bigger you guys.

“Hammerhead” Deep Space Frieghter: 10 SP. 0A/2D/1H/1S. [cargo] x1. “Evasive Action”. (this is Batris’ ship from TSFS).

Christopher Lloyd said blowing this sucker up was one of his favorite parts of his favorite role

Christopher Lloyd said blowing this sucker up was one of his favorite parts of his favorite role

Ferengi:
For 5 SP, you can exchange any of the original Upgrade slots on a Marauder for a [cargo] slot.

Bajoran:
Bajoran Medium Freighter. 15 SP. 1/1/2/3; [cargo] x2. “Evasive Action”.

Shot of the troop transport filming model courtesy of Drex and Greg Jein (used w/o permission and all that)

Shot of the troop transport filming model courtesy of Drex and Greg Jein (used w/o permission and all that)

You may notice that Wizkids  fucked up, and labeled the transport as a fighter. The Bajoran  fighter looks like this:

same source as above

same source as above

Dominion (Cardassian):
The Dominion can use the Tuffli-class, or the Bajoran Transport, without Faction Penalties.

Still working on a Romulan option.
I’m open to comments or suggestions, so let me know whatcha think.

Images used without permission for the Fair Use purpose of education and review.

Robotech RPG Tactics, Wave I – Part II (Problematic Models and their assembly, and Component Quality)

This is part 2 of a multi-part series
#1: Compatibility and Scaling
#3: Destroid Defender

In addition, Palladium addressed some of the concerns expressed in this post, including making some of the excluded cards and assembly instructions available on-line (though they’re still partially incorrect)
See the post here.

By way of preface, this was supposed to be a fluff post, and take maybe a couple hours to write while I worked up test models for the game, took pics of the sprues, and noted down the hard spots for a new modeller.

It’s been a sodding week, and I’m only covering the worst offenders so far; the Destroids are on hold until I can get some magnets.

The mini quality has been, hands-down, the most controversial part of the entire game to date. Is everything shit? No, not by any means.
But all three armies (Zentraedi, Malcontent, and UEDF) get the shaft on something. The Quel-Regult is by far the worst offender, with multiple parts that don’t fit, and a missing component (see below). The UEDF player, meanwhile, gets a bit screwed by having even more models to build than the Zen player – models which take almost three times as long to build out, and have significant problems of their own. The Malcontents? The boxed set doesn’t even contain any legal units for them.
And while some of the models are a bargain, the Zentraedi get hosed on a critical component of their army.

Full breakdown after the jump.
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Review: Robotech RPG Tactics, Wave 1 Part I (Compatibility, Scaling)

This is the first post in a multi-part series
#2: Valks and Zentradi
#3: The Destroid Defender

So, I’ve mentioned my kickstarting in the past. The Robotech RPG Tactics (neé Robotech Tactics..) kickstarter was one of my first. I’ve been following this glorious clusterfuck since it was a guy on BlogSpot with a dream and a good sculpting hand. Well, a year and a half after funding (and almost three years since it’s inception) I have my models. Was it worth the wait?
The Short version:
The Good: Holy shit the detail on the models. Extra Valkyrie parts galore. A well-polished book with a tight and portable rules system I’ve already been hacking for a few months.
The Bad: The model sprues are un-labeled, and there are warped parts and missing assembly information. The partially-incomplete rulebook makes it difficult to build a force without shuffling through a massive brick of differently-sized cards, and several rules are ambiguous.
The Ugly: Deliberately bad poseability. Poorly thought-out gates on the sprues damage detail on some models, and require extremely careful prep work. Then there’s Palladium Books’ behavior.

This is the first part of a series; a quick preview, concerned with model scaling – since its the question I get most often, from every quarter. I’m also writing specific reviews of the rules and the model components; this will include build-ups of the Wave I mecha models, and a discussion of the quality and fit issues – of which I’m sure you’ve already heard.

The question everyone wants to know:
What’s that? “Doc, will the models work in [the major mecha game..]?”
Yes and no, it depends on what you want out of them. First:

The Bugs:
A properly built-up Super VF-1A or -1S will definitely pass as a PHX-1 or a Pixie LAM. Modding an extra gun-pod will make you a PHX-3-series, though it will require green-stuffing. A straight-up VF-1A or -1S without the FAST-pack will make a pretty good PHX-1K.  Based on the scale shots I’ve seen so far, Crusaders shouldn’t be an issue either once the Armored Valkyrie boxes come out sometime next year.
What they won’t do is get you the shorty Bugs – Wasps, Valkyries, or Stingers.

Family Tree

Clockwise from the top: Unseen Pewter CRD-3R, WizKids PHX-5L, 3e Plastic WSP-1A, 3e Plastic STG-3R, 3e Plastic PHX-1, and a RRPGT VF-1J in the center.

Hark - A Grognard

Gervalk VF-1J, with a dismasted Pixie. Arms taken from the Battloid-mode sprue. The pegs are mounted in different areas on each model, but can be used in either mode with a bit of time and green stuff.

The Heavies: (What everyone wanted anyway)
In general, the Destroids are more compact and detailed than the Unseen metals, and much better than the plastics. While mine are still on the sprues, CampaignAnon from /btg/ was kind enough to give me permission to post these pictures of his initial work. Phalanx and Spartan photos to follow once I’ve had the time for a build-up. I also have a lead Unseen Longbow coming in in a few weeks, which will help comparisons considerably. Notably, the Spartan box includes the parts necessary to make an ARC-3K (the variant with a pair of Large Lasers), while the Phalanx box has both the standard “Barrel” arms and the nuclear “Derringer” arms seen in the last few episodes of Macross/Robotech, perfect for representing an Arrow IV system – or Thunderbolts.

Left: RRPGT models. Right: Metal Unseen. Images by CampaignAnon

Left: RRPGT models. Right: Metal Unseen. Images by CampaignAnon

The Glaug is far too large for Z-scale. I’d call it a trifle small for N-scale, if WizKids had ever actually attempted anything like a consistent scale in their efforts. It almost fits in with that weird half-scale the HQ Loki and Thor from the 25th anniversary box had, but even then is in its own little niche. The Glaug sprue also contains a Quel-Regult (a scout/EWACS variant of the standard Battlepod) and a Quel-Gulnau (salvage/recovery unit), which means that the boxed set will be pointless for a BT player unless you want an N-Scale Ostscout for some reason.

"L-

The Breakdown
If you’re primarily interested in buying the models to represent otherwise un-obtainable units, the Destroid and Super Valkyrie “add-on” packs will likely be your best bet. The current MSRP is $33/box for either a box with 2 Defenders and 2 Tomahawks, or a box of 2 Spartans and 2 Phalanxes.
This is about half the price of the 3e Plastic Unseen on auction sites, and the added detail and friendlier material make them very much worth it – especially for the Phalanx/Longbow (which is very hard to find, and never saw a plastic release) and the Rifleman/Defender (the Plastech model is especially ugly and intractable). Before you cough up, however, I recommend reading the modelling review. These are still, effectively, 1:144 models shrunk to 1:285 scale, and require a great deal of effort and build time.

Legal note: all images and trademarks not owned by me are used without permission, for the Fair Use purposes of review and discussion. No challenge is intended by their use. I neither represent nor have personal ties to Harmony Gold, Palladium Books, FASA, or Catalyst Games, nor any other interested party. I am not a party to FASA vs. Harmony Gold. Thank you for your time.

Star Trek Attack Wing: U.S.S. Saratoga Conversion/Repaint

As I mentioned over on the Tumblr, an unexpected windfall left me able to play in the Attack Wing tourney today; AAR next post. I spent last night painting up my Saratoga conversion. The original intent was to stick Ben Sisko in his Saratoga (played by the “Miranda-class” card), Clark Terrel in a generic Excelsior, and Sulu or a generic in the Defiant. Yeah, I know, about as anachronistic as you can get, but it was what I could get out of the cheapest possible setup for the tourney..

IMG_20140807_195837_554
I was originally going to compare paint jobs by basecoat, then convert up the Sara and use the best. I wound up simply blazing through the conversion and paintjob to save time – a full photoset would have kept me up until the wee hours.
Top -> bottom:
Original Attack Wing mini
Stripped/black primed Heroclix with a grey basecoat and a magic wash
Untouched white-primered Heroclix

IMG_20140809_231926_780
The white primejob was shit (and somehow repelling the ink, while the black one had no issues.) So I stripped, washed, and converted the white mini. The side extensions are taken from a 1:144 ERTL Space Shuttle kit – the “wings” are cut from the LANDSAT’s solar panels (the texture sisn’t show up, alas), and the wingtip scanners are built up from one of the payload bay lab’s instruments.
Incidentally, the first model I ever put together was one of those shuttles, back in ’88. I still remember the heady stench of oranges and the huge number of fingerprints on the finished model. Played it to death. I got ahold of a pair more recently when a hobby shop went out of business and converted them into mini-Leopard dropships for Battletech..
This pic was taken right after the first, very dilute, wash.

 

IMG_20140809_235752_087The final product. Paint job was slightly improved after these pics were taken, adding in the port-side running lights and cleaning up the dome/base of bridge paint-job

IMG_20140810_241453_507

Img copyright Christie's: no challenge intended, displayed under the Fair Use doctrine for educational purposes.

Image copyright Christie’s: no challenge intended, displayed under the Fair Use doctrine for educational purposes.

Compare to the “official” model for Heroclix/Attack Wing, and the original Reliant. The Saratoga mini was a re-dress of this miniature.

New tanks (Battletech).

 

I picked up a few new tanks and a fighter this weekend from the Value Village toy wall. I got one “YF-19” (the fake Stealth Fighter prototype that was making the rounds in the early ’90s), what I believe to be a pair of Korean Type -89 or -99 heavy tanks, and some kind of half-track (see pic).

IMG_20140529_132734_643
At first I thought they were Armored Recovery Vehicles, missing a crane or something. After extensive research, however, they don’t match the profile of any engineering or construction vee I can find that was produced before 1989 (the copyright date: both they and the tanks are marked “KPT ’89”). Right now I’m thinking they might be tractors for a tactical ballistic missile Transporter/Erector/Launcher, but for some reason images of ?Chinese? tac-nuke TELs aren’t exactly in wide distribution.

I also posted an image of samples from my tank collection yesternight on Tumblr, and promised stats: Here’s the first batch, with links to the source design.

Left to right: LRM, APC, and Autocannon variants.  Visible to rear is a JRS "Native Dancer" light strike vehicle and a factory-fresh Type 54 EWAC hover-car

Left to right: LRM, APC, and Autocannon variants.
Visible to rear is a JRS “Native Dancer” light strike vehicle and a factory-fresh Type 54 EWAC hover-car

Bromley Corporation ARMC Instead
A light attack vehicle, with options for a missile turret, autocannon, or troop-carrying capacity. I’ve made it a 35-tonner, given its close resemblance to the existing Striker Light Tank.
Bromley, inc. is a long-term competitor of Qwikscell, though the limited production capacity of their single FWL-based factory has kept their products to a lower profile than those of the “Acme” of cheap tanks. The “Instead”, properly an armored car or Infantry Fighting Vehicle, is built on a strengthened APC chassis. While governmental support for the company has always been limited, their cheap, rugged products are popular among mercs in the “golden triangle” at the intersection of Steiner, Liao, and Marik space. Mercenaries in the know particularly appreciate the targeting systems on Bromley’s weapons carriers and light IFVs; their programming was specially adapted for long-range ballistic fire and anti-aircraft work, compensating for a gap many independent units struggle to fill.

Quirks: (all combat variants): Improved Targeting (long), AA Targeting, Poor Environmental Sealing, Hard to Pilot (high center of gravity), Easy to Maintain, Hard to Customize (any Energy weapons mounted suffer from Poor Targeting at all ranges)

(APC variants): Easy to maintain, Modular equipment (as modular weapons, but for the 8-ton space in the body of the vehicle.), Poor Environmental Sealing.

Age of War/Succession Wars (2.5 Variants):
After cannibalizing their rare fusion engines, the design had to be downgraded to late Age of War specifications; the armor was slashed, and cheaper weapons installed. The fast 2-man design is popular with mercenaries. Tougher than the Scorpion, faster than most Medium or Heavy ‘Mechs, and mounting long-ranged weapons that are cheap either to replace or reload, the “Instead” is frequently bought rather than some other, more expensive design. Thanks to the survival of Flak ammunition, both armored car variants have kept their well-deserved reputation as dependable backup anti-aircraft artillery.
(Note: the SW-era APC variant would already remove the 1-ton turret, 8 tons of turret weapons, and 1t of armor: at that point, it’s simpler just to use the 20t Heavy Wheeled APC stats)
SW-era Instead AC variant SW-era Instead LRM variant

Star League/Clan Invasion (5+ Variants):
The original design was quickly resurrected after Bromley Inc. gained access to the Helm core. Vehicular ferro-fibrous armor and upgraded versions of the standard weapons give the second-generation “Instead” significantly more bite and staying power, albeit by more than tripling the light tank’s cost. Some mercenary groups have removed the LRM-15’s Artemis systems in favor of more (and much cheaper) ammunition storage – or NARC and TAG-compatible munitions –  but the specialized targeting/tracking system has so far made their attempts to add in energy weapons fruitless. The APC variants quickly became more sophisticated, with their 8-ton modular bays filled with everything from  MASH units to command facilities and battle armor, all protected by 5 tons of ferro and the Instead’s trademark speed. To encourage escort, most mounted a paltry single machine gun.

Invasion-era Instead AC variantInvasion-era Instead LRM variantInvasion-era Instead LRM variant (merc)Invasion-era Instead LRM variant (mmg)

Reactor, Online… (Battletech, etc.)

Back online after the usual recovery/sanity period surrounding Sakuracon. We had a great year – it looks like we may actually hit our soft-cap next year – and my staff were as always pretty cool. Even got some game time in, along with the Gundam panel. I’ll have pics of S-con and ECCC later, along with commentary, but the posts are kinda stalled on my dashboard for now. Work is, as always, driving me slowly mad and ate the last week of the month; combine that with spring cleaning and you wind up with a month of dead blog. Sorry about the delay.

But enough about me, on to the content.

First off, a friend of mine had a birthday this week; he’s a big Seahawks fan, so I did him up a plastic Marauder in the 12th Donegal Guards’ colors, with a freehanded Seahawks logo.

Inn't she purty?

Inn’t she purty?

This is the first actual painting session I’ve managed to finish without cramping up or fucking up since I broke my hand last year. Now I need to get back on the stick..

Which is where the second part of this comes in. I’ve started work again on the Black Widows campaign I’ve been kicking around for months.

First step (yesterday and today) was finding the units, ‘Mechs, and planets used in each scenario, along with any special props and rules that might be required.

The next step, which should take about a week, will be updating the scenarios. See, Tales of the Black Widow Company isn’t actually a BattleTech book. It’s a BattleDroids supplement, crudely updated and shoveled out the door. Several things in it violate canon or construction rules (the Super Wasps and Griffin are infamous in this regard), and it was written using only ten standard ‘Mech designs throughout (plus two Mackies and the Supers). Hell, two of the units mentioned don’t even technically exist, nor do a couple of the planets. So.. yeah. I’m adding some iconic House ‘Mechs to each group (for example, swapping in Valkyries and Javelins for the Davion lights), altering others to give a slightly better balance, and swapping or enlarging the maps for a more tactical game (All of the scenarios use 1×2 or 2×1 setups of the original BattleDroids/BattleTech boxed set mapsheet with minor alterations).

Part of the ‘Mech cataloging process will be going through my collection and massaging the two to fit each other. Much as I love the Griffin, I don’t have twenty of them I can allocate to the pile (although the two booster boxes of Dougram gashapon I just picked up are certainly helping..), and adding in, say, a few Wolverines will certainly help matters.

After the cataloging comes the painting. Some are already painted (the Super Wasp, a couple generic Davion ‘Mechs), and I’ll be posting the WiP shots of the rest as I get into it.  88 total unpainted ‘Mechs at the moment, although with some list tweaks I can probably cut that down to ~80, and at least 10* different color schemes. I even get to paint the better part of a company of pirates (from the Santander Killers). If that doesn’t get me back on form, not sure what will..

For the edification and amusement of myself and my players, I’ll be playtesting my Random ‘Mech Quirks document as well (after the break, along with the unit breakdown).

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More Trek Ships

Not my best work with a brush. I hope the frigging hand cramps stop soon – this took almost two days to paint. This is, believe it or not, the same Klingon ship design as the Q’t’inga in the last post. First I sanded and cut off most of the decorations, then rebuilt the engines. All windows and pennants are freehanded, and the Eagle has some serious resculpt work on her. The (unpainted..) hex bases are for SFB/FASA STSCS gaming; I’ve actually got a flying base mold with a cut-out hex that I can magnetize and mount them on if I need to play ACTA.

SDC10002 SDC10003
Beauty shots. I misaligned the Eagle’s accelerator cannon by about 1mm, which is enormous at this scale ><. I am actually proud of her pennants, but the engines just make me cringe. On the K-7, you can see the phaser cannon mounts at the edge of the primary wings, although the “glow” effect in the main primary-hull tube isn’t visible.

SDC10005
Here’s that engine mod I was talking about. Cut straight in about 1/2mm along the mold line on the engine, then sawed at a very slight angle until the engine rods were the right width. Repeated on all four sides, then carved the rear of the engine into that nifty hexagonal shape.

SDC10009 SDC10013 SDC10017 SDC10019Kicking that old-school Klink emblem. Note the impulse engines on the K-7’s arse – painting them on looked far too crap.
On the Eagle, the source materiel (the Clans of Andor supplement for Last Unicorn Games-Trek, which is not technically canon but both the book and its author were used heavily by the Enterprise writing staff) states that the ship’s armament was heavily-upgraded at the expense of crew facilities and “luxury” power. I chose to add an accelerator cannon (basically, a warp coil that fires a tac-nuke at about Warp 4) and a neck-mounted torpedo room to foreshadow the Enterprise-class refit; it has twin forward tubes and a single aft one. The warp engine intercoolers are also slightly enlarged. About the only thing that’s canon on her is the registry number..

Next up: a third K7 for the Klingon squadron, a Larson-class destroyer and a Loknar-class light cruiser.
I’ll start in on Romulans sometime next week; I’m gunning for a full squadron of early Warbirds, 2 “Science vessels”, and at least one wing of K-7s plus some classic Birds-of-Prey.

And a Q’t’inga! (Star Trek, Models)

The destroyer is now marked, freehanded all, as “U.S.S. Draugr, NCC – 63[illegible]”. I also finished a Q’t’inga* cruiser, a Clix B’Moth that I painted loosely as Q’onoS Wa’ from Star Trek VI.  Paint job on this was a bit more involved, with a faint yellow wash over an OD Green basecoat, and antiqued gold/crimson highlights. I had to freehand the impulse engines, and added the engine rods on the really crappy warp nacelles. I also drilled the torpedo/disruptor cannon in the nose. There are windows on the neck, front of the secondary hull, and front of the primary, but unfortunately the camera box is washing it out when I use a black dropcloth. Will fiddle more with the settings over the next few days.

top

Her name is “Wam’dIj”

portside beauty stern
Currently on the desk are several more ships. There’s a much less ornate Q’t’inga* I’ve done up as a junior captain’s – carved and sanded off most of the battle honors on the hull – and I added in sculpted impulse engines and a little better detail on the nacelles. I also have a Constitution-class I’m doing up as the queen of the Andorian “Blue Fleet”; USS Eagle/Alirith, NCC-1719. Yes, I’m mixing LUG-Trek, FASA, and canon. No, you can’t stop me! :3
I’m also about halfway into sculpting a Larson-class destroyer escort (see here), possibly to be followed by several Loknar light cruisers and an Anton or two.

(*pronounced /k’?-tʰ?i-ŋə/, not /kə-tɪn-gə/ as I hear it waay too often. If this doesn’t make sense to you, I’m afraid I don’t have the microphone to assist you :/)

Shot-up Saladin (Star Trek, Painting)

I’ve been modeling and painting, as promised. Here’s my latest project – a shot-up Saladin-class destroyer. For those of you not familiar with her, the class (also known as the “Akula”, particularly in the Movie-Era refit) originates in the Franz Joseph technical manual. The Saladin’s readout appears briefly on-screen in a couple of the movies, making her technically canon.

Saladin-class destroyer, from Franz Joseph's "almost-canon" Star Fleet Technical Manual

Saladin-class destroyer, from Franz Joseph’s “almost-canon” Star Fleet Technical Manual

My version still needs plasma vents in the neck, the deflector dish, and of course some registry numbers. On the other hand, I fixed my camera and rigged up a slightly different iteration of the camera box, which seems to be treating me pretty well.
Saladin port shot

Saladin ass shot

Saladin Starboad shot

Saladin nose shotI might go back and tear up the port-side torpedo launcher (on the front of the “bridge island” on the saucer), but this is basically complete. Note the fires visible in the port and starboard views; she’s clearly still got a few SIFs online, but either a torp blew under the command decks, or she took a shot to the dome.

To create the “deck” effect I cut a loose, ragged edge with a vertical knife, then cut horizontally into it, tearing out small chunks and flaking apart the dish. The floating saucer section is held with a short length of florist’s wire. The base is made with JB Weld Kwik Wood, press-molded with a chunk of pumice, on a chessex hexbase and using a piece of clear sprue as a support (it enters a drilled hole in the saucer, very nearly at the balance point).

As far as paint, it’s a fairly simple five-coat job, with two layers of thinned grey primer followed by a heavy white drybrush, magic-wash, and a light white brush. Weathering is neon orange, with brown drybrushed over the blast areas followed by a dried-brush black stipple.

Ahh, Nerves. (Miniatures)

I mentioned my broken hand earlier. It’s still giving me some trouble, but I’m back up to painting. Now I just need to get 3 months of dust off my brush and gear up for my Battlecry bucket. And that sexy, sexy MAC II.
I built a test lightbox today (although it’s pretty freaking ghetto at the moment..) and decided to test it with some of my old minis.

1-285 Archer-Spartan - Desert Camo - FrontWell.. maybe not perfect, but the top one was with a cell phone and the bottom one was with my now inexplicably-busted camera. In macro mode. DC ARC 21-400 Zaku II-J - Asian Theater - Front 1-400 Zaku II-J - Asian Theater - SideIMG_20130623_244433_156On the other hand, this shit is comparatively gorgeous. Now I need to fix my camera and start flocking a box bottom.

In other news, I’ve been working and binding books for a couple people on my Christmas list. I’m teaching myself to blind-stamp, which is rather a lot of fun. More on that as it develops.

Alpha Strike Battle Report

Hand still broken. Fun!

Nonetheless, my brother (ktforg, not one of the other 4..) was down from Seattle this week. We rolled up his character for the upcoming LotFP game, and I managed to get in another quickie test game of Alpha strike with him. Like a dumbass, I forgot to charge my phone before we left, so no pics of the game, although there are some of the materials. Forces were a Kurita Lance (Atlas -D, Dragon -1N, Panther -9R, Locust -1V) against the Steiner lace from a few posts back with a stock Marauder -3R swapped out for the Wolverine.

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Dramatis Personae. Yes, the Butcher is still incomplete. *sigh*

He took the Elsies and had a slight points advantage along with more access to Overheaters, but I had the only jumper. Even with the 3025 tech, it made for an interesting game. It ended up only taking about 40 minutes, and came down to some pretty tight dice rolls in the end. First blood went to him, with the Commando gutting my Locust with a backshot even as I missed one on his Marauder. Leter, his Banshee ate an ammo crit on the first point of struc damage and the Marauder overheated heavily on a gamble of a shot that failed. Meanwhile, my Dragon hung on with only one point of Struc left far longer than it should have, and the Atlas was down to two struc itself, but in the end I managed to punch the MAD to death and he was staring down a cripped-up Atlas and a virgin Panther with just a crippled COM-1D Commando (a weapons and a fire-control crit), so we called it.

Opinions:
• Adding in forced retreat rules would have made this game a 10-minute tie. The Atlas, MAD, Banshee, and Dragon would all have had to retreat long before they were lost, and the Banshee might well have survived without the Dragon pecking at its ass for three turns. The rules would be very harsh on Lights and mediums, however, and I think I’d revise it to “Half of their original structure or less remaining”. I’m now certain I could run some of the more gonzo missions in the old BT mission books in an afternoon with no problem at all (I’d have to add in some way of reflecting the busted-ass ‘Mechs in some of the scenarios, like that one Irregular with the no-rear-armor Rifleman or the poor girl with the prematurely firing Griffin).
• That -1E Locust is a whore to actually kill once it finds some woods to play in. I needed 4 turns of continuous fire to kill it, and it finally died to a charge from the Atlas rather than weapons fire (since the additional cover modifier didn’t apply at that point).
• On that note, Light mechs’ semi-abusive evasion advantage can be at least partially negated by melee. Since most only have 2 0r 3 armor, a TSM Medium with jets would likely be able to catch them and wreck their collective faces.
• The custom cards I made worked excellently: you can fit and track an entire Lance on a single 3×5 card, which beats the Hell out of the official cards. I need three for a Company instead of 12.Alpha Strike Cards

I’m starting to like AS for this:
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This is all I need to play a complete company-level game – a 5×8″ case and 3 3×5 cards, along with 12 paperclips.