Friday, December 28, 2012

28MM ACW: Perry Plastic Confederate Infantry

A new project has been started over here in the Lair - 28mm American Civil War (ACW).  This project coincides with both the 150 year anniversary of the war and Architects of War's pending release of their new new skirmish level ACW game "Uncivil War".  For larger battles, I'm leaning towards "Regimental Fire & Fury".

The first mini's onto the workbench are the new Perry plastic Confederate Infantry.  Simply put, these are fantastic miniatures and they are a breeze to put together.  Each box has 44 miniatures consisting of 8, 5 figures sprues of infantry and 2, 2 figure command stands.

The infantry can be modeled either with rifles shouldered or with Rifles advancing.  I'm planning my confederate regiments to have the first rank advancing and the second rank with rifles shouldered.  You are also given a wide range of hat choices which is really helpful in modeling the varied composition of most confederate regiments.

The command sprue has an officer and a figure who can be modeled as a drummer of flag bearer.  My only gripe with the casting is that the flag bearers arms arm cast with the flag pole as one piece.  For plastic sets I typical switch out the plastic flag pole with some brass wire stock as they are easily broken.  Having the arms cast as a single piece makes this a bit more difficult but not impossible.

My first unit will be the 2nd Maryland regiment, which fought with the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg.  I'm trying out 24 figure units rather then my usual 36-40 to see if this speeds up production.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bolt Action Japanese Force - So Far....

The above photo is an in-progress shot of my Japanese force for Bolt Action (or any other WWII skirmish style game).  It consists of:

- 1 HQ, with 2 Infantry escorts
- 4, ten figure squads, each with a LMG
- 1 MMG unit
- 1 Sniper Team (2 figures)
- 3 Light Mortar teams
- 1 70mm Mountain Gun and crew (2 figures)
- 1 Chi-Ha tank w/ 47mm gun
- 1 Captured Stuart (not complete)
- 1 Chi-Ha w/ 105mm gun (not complete)

I'm finishing up a US paratrooper unit over the next few days to use a force to play the Against the Japanese

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for the Lair of the Uber Geek

Here's hoping that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.   While holiday preparations continue at there normal hectic pace here in the Lair we are mindful of that the real benefit of the holiday is the ability to spend time with ones family and friends and to do what you can to being a smile to their faces.

The presents I treasure the most are the ones I've given to others - the old missive is actually true "it 'tis better to give than to receive"

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bolt Action Japanese Tank

 A little more progress on my Japanese force for Boly action - a Chi-Ha tank complete with Jungle foliage camouflage.  I'm about 90% done with the tank and then I need to hit it with some dull coat to take the shine of some of the plastic leaves.

 Let me know what you think.

I also completed 10 infantry men and a command group (13 figures in total) which will be displayed first as part of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  After a few days I'll post some pictures of them here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Priming for the Analog Paint Challenge

A bit of priming for the upcoming 3rd Annual Analogue Painting Challenge!  On deck are:

- 72 28mm Perry Plastic ACW (the new set) - 3 regiments of 24 figures each
- 11 28mm Black Tree Design US Paratroopers
- 28MM Japanese mule train, tank and artillery piece
- 1/600 Scale ironclad "New Ironsides"
- A 28mm Perry Metal Japanese Samurai (the price of admission)

The competition starts on 12/20 and I'm ready to go!

Monday, December 17, 2012

An Award

Sir Tobi over at Tobi's Paint Pot has nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.  This was a very gracious gesture from Sir Tobi and much appreciated.  Much like the "Stylish Blogger Award" from a few years ago, this seems to be the blog version of a chain letter but one with more noble intentions.

So first off, thanks to Sir Tobi for the award - your kindness is only exceeded by your acumen when it comes to internet content.


The rules of the game are to (1) Post a picture of the award, (2) Link back to the awarder, (3) name 5 other blogs with less than 200 followers, and (4) bask in the glory that is you.

Tobi's nomination of my bends the rules on the 200 followers limit so, of course, I now feel now able to break the same rule and feel safe with the ironclad legal defense of the playground "Well Tobi did it first"

With the legal niceties out of the way here are my nominees, in no particular order.  Please note some may have already received the award but I'm too lazy to check that thoroughly.

(1) The 1,000 Foot General: This is a great blog by a very nice fellow resident from Maryland.  There's a range of periods covered and the painting is top-notch.

(2) Lead, Paint and the General: This is Jow Mezz's blog.  Joe is one of the original members of the WWPD crew and his blog is a lot of fun - go take a look.  No, not when you're done reading this tripe but RIGHT NOW!  COME ON MOVE IT!  I'll be here when you're done...

(3) Wargames and Railroads: Another eclectic blog that combines my two hobbies "choo-choo's and toy soldiers.  The author has gotten into reviewing some laser cur buildings and his writing style is both informative and fun.

(4) Wargaming in 28mm and blah, blah.  This is John T's blog and despite it's long name it's one of my favorites.  John's one of the best painters that I have every seen and his attention to historical detail is very impressive and put me to shame!  The blog is mostly focused on Napoleonics but there some other stuff too.

(5) Satrap Miniatures: This blog focuses on ancients and he has a large Dacian Army and plays Hail Caesar.  Yup he's a carbon copy of me with the minor exception that his painting is superb and he's a very interesting read.  Yup other than those two issues we're two peas in a miniature clamshell case.

Whew there you have it.  Go take a look at those blogs and spread the joy!

Damn - now that I've put you guys onto to quality blogs you'll never want to come back here.....


Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Win of the 2012-2013 FTC Robotic's Season

Well the first qualifier of the FTC 2012-2013 robotics season was held yesterday (12/15) in Leonardtown, Maryland.  Where is Leonardtown? - far in the south of Maryland's Western shore - it's right next to "nowhere" on the map, you can't miss it.  More importantly it's a 2.5 hours from my house - you try waking up 9 teenagers to leave at 4:30am!  Actually it's a very nice place - just hard to get to when driving tired teenagers.

Anyway, as you might suspect from the first photo and header the day ended very well for my son's team as they were part of the winning alliance and, thus, are now qualified to move on to the Maryland state championship.  Our event didn't start out that well as something happened to the Robot's electrical system and we lost all the servo's and had to perform a re-wire in an hour (it takes 3 to do).  Our bot wasn't fully functional for the event but the drive team played great defense - we used our mass to push other 'bots around.  My son, who is the driver, was very excited and said (with some immodesty) "today we were the Ray Lewis of the robot world!"  It was a very exciting / frustrating / exhausting day.

I was just too busy to take any pictures but will add some picture when I get copies of the ones some of the parents of team members took.

On the way back, the team has decided to scrap the 4 point articulated arm design as the wiring and movement controls are just to complex to fabricate a dependable mechanism in a home based shop.  We'll be adopting either a telescoping platform or a swing arm with a chain drive to lift the ring grabber.  We were very lucky to win yesterday and don't want to rely on that luck in the future.  Our next match is Jan 19th and is a qualifier for the Pennsylvania state championship.  After that we have two more Maryland qualifiers, which we now don't really need to compete in but will do so to get more practice with the bot.

Competitive robotics is a very intensive activity, especially when you're coaching high schoolers.  Below is a list of the "to-do's" we had on the 'bot as of Thursday night.  My only goal for today is to assemble and prime some plastic Perry miniatures for my next miniature project: 28mm ACW.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I am Ronin Number 29....

Curt over at Analogue Hobbies has kicked off the 3rd version of his painting competition.  During last years competition I came in 8th out of 24 competitors with a final score of 1,061 points.  At 5 points per 28mm infantry fig that's the equivalent of 212 painted soldiers - that's a big output for my glacial painting style.  I was very pleased with my tally.  Of course it was dwarfed by the winner, Ray (Don't throw a One) who had a staggering 4,940 points!  The final few weeks of last year were a very spirited competition with one amazing entry after another.   From a reader's perspective it was very fun and much more interesting than the usual "look at my toys" type of blog entry.

I used the painting competition to kick off a new War of 1812 project, which ultimately led to hosting a game at Fall-In.  I'll be doing the same this year but will be focusing on a 28mm American Civil War theme - I really like the new Perry Plastic Confederates!

This year's event is much bigger than last years and has 47 participants (hence the 47 ronin reference).  No painting can commence before December 20th (that means you too Ray!) so I'm busy assembling and priming Perry ACW figures along with the competition entry few - a 28mm Samurai.  I have tried to convince Curt that a few confederate units went into battle completely grey - head to toe, in a shade that looks like today's grey auto primer.  I even attempted to back this statement up with almost irrefutable proof such as:

- "I think I saw it in an Osprey"
- "I read it on TMP"
- "Why do you think they called them the 'Boys in Grey?'"

I'm not sure curt will take the bait but one never knows (insert sinister laugh track here)

I've set a goal for 1,000 points again this year but we'll see how it turns out.

Gentlemen, please start your brushes.....

Friday, December 7, 2012

FTC Robotics 2012-2013 Season

 Not much in miniature modeling is going on in the Lair right now, as my son's robotics team is feverishly preparing for their initial competition on Dec 15th.  The first few pictures show the 'bot in it's starting position.  Per the rules, all robots must initially start a match fitting with an 18 inch cube. We've got 1/4 inch clearance on the sides and 1/16 clearance on the top.

 Here's the other side - you can see the brain!  The robots in the First Tech Challenge use the Lego NXT as a processor.  It's surprisingly robust and the boys have redone the operating system to run Robot C.  We are trying a new drive train this year - 4WD chain-linked drive wheels.  Chains are less finicky than gears can be and should help with our pushing power - in this competition robots do get to push each other around.

 The third picture shows our arm partially extended.  The game involved picking up plastic rings from a dispenser and placing on a central goal that has 3x3 grid of rungs to play "tic-tack-toe"  The rung heights are 20, 40 and 60 inches.  Our arm when fully extend easily reached the highest rung level.  The arm has four points of movement: A shoulder joint (where it attaches to the bot), an elbow, a wrist and a finger joint - the servo driven grabbers.  From an engineering point of view an arm with that many articulation points is very complex, especially because the motor power needs to be varied based on the load and position of the arms - that whole "leverage" thing comes into play.

 Here's a shot of the gearing system for the shoulder.  It's very robust and also does a great job chewing up wires that are not tied down properly.  Hmmm maybe just like the wire in the upper left of the picture....

 The game involves four 'bots on the field (2 red bots vs 2 blue bots).  There are 24 scoring rings for each side which are held in dispensers as pictured.  The robots job are to take up to 2 rings at a time from the dispenser and...

Place them on the rungs.  Teams get points for each level (5 for each low rung, 10 for the middle and 15 for the high rungs).  There is a 30 point bonus for getting three in a row.  Other ways to score include placing a ring in autonomous mode and lifting your partner robot off the ground.

For that last part, we've built a folding ramp (think scissor bridge) that will allow our partner robot to drive up and park on top.  At least in theory it should...

Here's a picture of the team - it was Travis's birthday so we had a little celebration.  You would be amazed at how effective a motivator food is for teenaged boys - who knew?
My son, Sean, is on the far left of the picture.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gaming and Workshop Space plus Robots

 A post over on Big Lee's blog on his bookshelves has sparked an interest of mine - I'm always fascinated by the work spaces modelers create for themselves and I usually pick up a trick or two by looking at them.  I'm hoping to spark a series of post from fellow gaming bloggers to show their respective workshops - it might not gain the momentum of a "Stylish Blogger" or "Leibster Award" but one never knows! 
The first picture is of my workbench.  It's normally not this organized but does show my current fad of skirmish gaming with both Saga and Bolt Action.

 Obligatory close up of my Saga Vikings.  9 points, 5 of which I won through the Fall In Toys for Tots silent auction.  You can tell which ones are the "mercanaries" as they are well painted.  My stuff is hanging out in the back, hoping not to be noticed.  I did paint 2 of the 3 warlord figures in the front (the middle and right).

 On the other side are 7 points of Normans, sadly all painted by me.  Normans are my favorite faction to play and those lowly levy archers account for most of the damage wrought on a table top.

 There is some under the workbench storage, which has my bin for storing bases (lower left) and some bins on the right for storing bits and bobs.  You can see some wooden trays which were originally purchased to store various projects but I never really stuck with that plan.  Now they store odds and ends and serve as troop trays when I host the odd game.

 I am fortunate that the executive management of the household has allocated me some storage space next to my workbench.  I've got about 32 square ft of space which I need to re-organize and add more shelves.  From left to right, the plastic boxes hold my collections of 1/1200 Napoleonic naval, 28mm romans and dacians,  28mm colonial (in the pizza boxes) and 28mm war of 1812 in the blue boxes.  I used to have the 1/1200 Langton sailing ships out on display but our cat was intrigued by their rigging and would proceed to play with them on his own....

 A bit of a turn to the right shows more storage and the rolling tool cart that holds the rest of my hobby supplies.  Nestled between the blue boxes of War of 1812 stuff and the Viking hall are 6 points of Saga Welsh awaiting their turn in the painting que.

 Unfortunately, the painting que is moving slowly as we're in Robotics season and the first match is two weeks away!  The picture to the left is a scale model of this years playing feild which we use to plot strategy with our teammate (the game is played 2 vs 2.  This years game involved playing tick-tack-toe with plastic rings.  At the end of the game there are bonus points if one robot can lift the other off the ground.

 A picture of my gaming table, which is now a robot assembly area.  I coach two teams through my son's scout troop.  The bot in the picture is the younger scouts build (they're all middle schoolers).

 Here's my son's team robot.  The robots have to start the match fitting within a 18inch cube but can unfold to a larger size during the match.  The objective of the game is to grab the rings from a dispenser on the side of the field (right side of picture) and place them on the central scoring apparatus - you get points for each level and extra points for three in a row.  Of course the other side can try and block you.
The highest rungs are over 48 inches off the floor.  Sean's robot has a fairly sophistcated arm which can reach the high rung and has four points of articulation - we refer to them as the shoulder, elbow, wrist and finger joints.  The bot uses a 4 wheel drive chain-based drive system.

Lastly, the post from Big Lee that started it all was his bookcase.  Here's mine, it's not that impressive as most of my source books are electronic but it does hold my rules collection and some WI and Battlegames magazines

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Aliens Invade Potterville, PA!

 Ernie put on a fantastic 28mm Alien Invasion game tonight that had the real feel of XCOM in miniature.  The table was amazing and the game pitted local cops, the DEA, the US army, a mysterious government agency and local criminals against Aliens who had crash landed and were awaiting rescue.  Oh yeah, the Aliens had all sorts of crazy weapons including a virus gun that would turn humans into Zombies.  In other words the game was a blast.  I just post a few pictures as Ernie will be doing one of his "Table Fable" posts about the game.

 Here's a picture of the Alien mothership coming in the pick up the stranded crew.

 Another shot showing the table - I loved the trailer park.  Why do strange things always seem to happen near trailer parks?

 I had command of the local police and county SWAT.  Here's a pick of one brave officer returning to the fray after escorting some civilians to safety.  It's a pretty cool picture.

Oh yes, the mother ship had a full interior.  The humans managed to win the game as the guys in the yellow suits cut a hole in the top of the mothership and allowed my county SWAT team to get in and wipe out the Aliens after a few rounds of fighting.  Ernie has amazing game creation talents.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and Another Japanese Squad

 Happy Thanksgiving for those of you in the US! I was able to sneak down to the man cave in-between trips to the grocery store and paint 2 more units for my Bolt Action Japanese army - a 10 man infantry squad and 2 figure sniper section.

These are Warlord figures I purchased in 2 blisters and to be honest I wouldn't recommend them - there was a lot of flash and repairs required.  In the future I'll be sticking with the Brigade Games Pacific War range.

 A close up of the Infantry squad.

 Here are the snipers - complete with Jungle camo!  You can also see a rough camo job on the tank which I'm not happy with and will redo another time.

Not a bad mornings work as I started at 5:00am and finished these figs in about 2 hours.  I'll go back and clean up some highlights and these chaps are good to go for the tabletop.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Progress on a Japanese Platoon for Bolt Action

 The first four elements of my planned reinforced Japanese platoon for use with the Bolt Action ruleset are nearing completions.  From left to right, a Type 97 Chi-Ha tank, a 10 man infantry squad, a medium machine gun w/ 3 man crew, and an officer.  The officer's 2 man escort are hiding in the back waiting to be painted.  Not shown in this picture is a US Stuart tank, which will be modeled as a captured vehicle.

 Here's a close up of the infantry squad, 10 riflemen plus a Light Machine gunner.  The figures are basically done with the exception of some facial highlights.

 The medium machine gun and officer.  I'm not that happy with the machine gun and will likely redo some aspects of it.

Here's a picture of the stuart along with a long forgotten Warlord Games 28mm Hetzer model.  I'm finishing that up as part of a contest over on the WWPD forum.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Progress on the Japanese Platoon for Bolt Action

 A bit of progress on my Japanese platoon for Bolt Action.  Two "test" figures are done and the basic painting for the tanks is complete.  I need to add a camp pattern for the Type 97 tank and decals are on order.

 The is some finishing work still to be done on the infantry test figs, but overall I'm happy with the outcome.

Argghhh - I can see some white spots on the Type 97 that need to be touched up!

Here's the other side of the figures.  These should be fairly easy figures to paint up and the force will be ready for the tabletop in 2 to three weeks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bolt Action: Japanese Force

 With my Fall-In game now done, it's time to start on a new "Smaller" projects before embarking on another big convention game event.  I got to play an introductory game of Bolt Action at Fall-In and really liked the game.  I've had a small batch of 28mm Japanese sitting around for over 4 years so it was high time to get something started.  There are 17 assorted infantry men, a medium machine gun, and officer and a tank.  I'll augment that force as time permits.  Just for fun I also built a 28mm Stuart tank and the Baggage set for Saga.

Here's a close up of the of the 2 tanks.  The Japanese tank is a Type-97 Chi-Ha and both kits are from Company B.  Since there isn't a Japanese force list our for Bolt Action, I'm using the British list as a start and just kind of winging it from there.  There is a post on the WWPD forum about special rules for the Japanese which is a good start for now.

I picked the Japanese just to get a break from the standard Germans and it creates the opportunity to build some Jungle Terrain which will be both challenging and fun.  I'll probably add a few more infantry squads, a mortar and perhaps some light artillery.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall-In 2012 Report 2 of 2: Fanticide, Saga, Bolt Action & WWPD

 In addition to running my one game, which took up most of Friday, I was able to do a lot of fun things at Fall-In including participating in some of the demo games of Fanticide with Ernie and his crew at Alien Dungeon.  Fanticide is a fantasy skirmish game that was designed by Rick Preistly and Alessio Cavatore, Skye Chaney and Ernie.   It's best described as "whimsically grim" and it's a hoot to play.  More importantly, it has Flying Monkees - 'nuff said.  I played the Liberi (Centaurs with a Native American theme) against the Fae.  I lost a very close game but it was a lot of fun.

 Here's a picture of Ernie running another demo of Fanticide - I've never been able to get a clear photo of Mr Baker in the wild as he is in constant motion.  I think it's a good sign for the game that everyone who participated in the demo's came by the booth later to buy a the book and some minis.  As Mikey is implored on the old Life cereal commercial "Try it, you'll like it".

 I managed to get into the vendor hall early on Friday to say hi and was promptly put to work by Ernie building one of the new 4-Ground laser cut building kits.  I had no tools except glue application sticks from the cast-off wood from the frames.  I managed to complete the kit in 30 minutes which demonstrates how great these little kits are.

 Saturday morning was occupied by the SAGA tournament.  The tournament was very well run and had a simple scenario for all games - first player to loose 2 saga dice due to causalities looses the game.  Warbands were 5 points and I brought my Normans who consisted on 4 mounted Hearthguard and one levy archer.  My first game was against Mike who had Anglo-Danes and was very adept at using there "Intimidate" feature which allows them to build up Fatigue on opposing units.

Here's a picture at the end of our game.  It was a very close game but I managed to win but it could have gone either way.  Mike was very fun opponent.

At this point, for some reason, I forgot I had a camera on my I-Phone and stopped taking pictures for the rest of the con.  I'm afraid the rest of this report will just be rambling prose...

My second game of the Saga tournament was against Tom K and his Welsh Warband.  The Welsh can be very challenging opponents given their javelins and ability to fly through terrain.  I played Tom before in the Historicon Saga Tournament (I lost!) and he is a real pleasure to game with.  This game went well for me as my archers managed to wipe out a hearthguard unit on the first turn and take another done to one figure on the second.  I won the game very quickly but think the scenario design tipped the balance in favor of fast / "shooty" warbands like the Normans.

I decided to skip the third round of the tournament in favor of participating in one of the Bolt Action demo games put on by the WWPD Bolt Action crew (Dano and Judson).  I had a great time and really liked the ruleset.  The rules as best described as "Saga for WWII".  The armies are relatively small (30-40 figures plus the odd tank) and the rule mechanics simple.  There is a good feel for the benefits of combined arms and it's just a lot of fun.  Dano and Judson did a great job as GM's/Emcee's and I pretty sure they have honed their joke delivery skills in the finest dives along the catskill mountains - I could swear I was hearing rim-shots after each punchline!  It was a very fun event.

After the Bolt Action demo I grabbed a quick dinner and sat in on the WWPD podcast - and won a free T-Shirt in the drawing!  Next up was a game of X-Wing where I was piloting a target drone oops I mean Y-Wing.  It was a great game but lets just say I let the rebellion down that evening!  It was fun getting some time to chat with Steve M and the WWPD crew during the con.  By the way, Luke really gets into playing the board game "Spartacus" - it was really neat to see someone having that much fun with a game.  The WWPD crew did a great job with their podcast/game night and I had a blast.

As for "loot", I really didn't buy much from the 'con.  A few odds and ends for Saga from Architects of War, some Byzantine figs from Age of Glory and a few rulesets to read.  The big purchase from the con was a 5 point Viking Saga warband that I won in the "Toys for Tots" silent auction.  I'll post a picture of those figs in a future post.