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.