15 December 2010

Best of 2010 - 15mm Edition

And now for the presentation that nobody was looking forward to (mainly because I just invented it today) - the Basement Gaming Bunker Best of 2010 Awards!

Okay, so the recipients don't actually receive any kind of fancy trophy or certificate (unless they REALLY want me to make one). Mostly I want to use this as a chance to review a dozen or so items in one simple post. Honorable Mentions are awarded to items that I don't actually own yet but intend to do so as soon as the budget allows.

So here we go...

-Best New Figures. Without a doubt, this was the toughest category. After much deliberation I declare the Sepulvedan Resistance Heroes from Khurasan to be this year's overall winners. The reason for this is the sheer number of reactions from 28mm fans who couldn't believe these were actually 15mm sculpts.
Honorable mention: the Orion Republic troops from Blue Moon Manufacturing. I love what little of their product I've acquired so far, and intend to add these to my collection early in 2011.

-Best Old Figures. I've invented this category for items that have been on the market for a few years and simply don't seem to get the love that they deserve. While there were several good candidates from the Laserburn and Asgard ranges at 15mm.co.uk, I am presenting the award to the “Buckethead” infantry in RAFM’s ex-Citadel line. Something about these guys' Rogue Trader-esque appearance just made them an absolute necessity for my collection (and yes, Mark H., you can mock me as much as you want for this!).

-Worst Figure Poses. Many of us have lamented the unrealistic or static poses that have plagued sci-fi wargaming for so long. I'm giving special recognition to one particular line of figures this year. The reason I'm calling these specific minis out is because everything else from this manufacturer, especially in terms of pose and design, has been simply fantastic. And the designs of these figures is also wonderful, or I would never have purchased them in the first place. I'm talking about the Blockhead Battlesuits from Critical Mass Games. Neat figures, great armor, cool weapons... but what the hell are they shooting at? With this many different poses, why in the world are so many of them trying to burn the worms? I haven't decided how I'm going to paint mine yet, it's fairly obvious that they will be some form of interstellar pest control.

-Best New Vehicle. Just as tough of a category as Best New Figures. I ended up with some pretty great items from GZG, Khurasan, and Critical Mass Games this year, but I have to give the award to Rebel Minis for the Earthforce and Titan Marine HAMR Suits.
Honorable mention: Combat Wombat's Bullfrog Lander. A must-add item for early 2011.

-Best Old Vehicle. Again, I'm awarding this to an older model that is never worth overlooking. Old Crow Products' Gladius tank/Glaive APC (grav propulsion variants) are the winners.

-Most Enjoyable Rules System. This was actually the easiest award for me to give: the FUBAR rules by Craig Cartmell (of which I was a contributor) have resulted in some of the most enjoyable wargames I've ever played. And I love how easy it is to create new supplements and variations without completely destroying the simple elegance of the system. Anybody who hasn't taken a look at these yet should be ashamed of themselves. They are one page long. You can find time to read through it!

-Most Complete Rules System. There are obviously times when you don't want to sit down and invent special rules for every mini in your collection, or you want to see a ready-made campaign or solo play system. USE ME from 15mm.co.uk accomplishes all that and more, and for a very reasonable price.

-Best Starter/Combo Deal. I created this category to recognize Micropanzer Studios' new 15mm Sci-Fi SAS line. While these are now available as single packs, Jason originally offered them as a 51-mini starter deal for $25. For 50 cents a mini we received some excellent sculpts and a great variety in poses and weapons. I look forward to seeing how his product range expands over the next few years - he has some VERY promising concept sketches.

-Best New Terrain. A fairly slim category at this point. Which I can't complain... I tried to get my own buildings out a few months ago but found I just couldn't mold and cast them to my personal standards. But enough about my miserable failures, and onward to others' resounding successes. The award for this year goes to Ground Zero Games for their colony shacks.
Honorable mention: also in the shantytown genre (must be a theme for me this year) I wish to recognize Battle Work Studio's Startown Slums line of buildings. I need to get my hands on a set!

-Cleanest Casting. I wanted some special recognition for the miniatures that required absolutely no preparation work whatsoever before I primed and painted them. First place goes to the Rebel Minis Earthforce HAMR Suits (main body), and second place goes to Critical Mass Games for the ARC Fleet line of buildings. Great work on both product lines!

-Worst Casting. This rotten tomato goes to 15mm.Co.Uk - specifically to the Law Officer Bikes from the Laserburn line. Most of the Laserburn and Asgard line still seems to be pretty viable based on the numerous other quality minis I purchased from them this year. But of the three bikes I ordered, only one was barely salvageable. The other two are going to end up in a rubble terrain pile. If there is no way to remake this mold then the model needs to be retired ASAP. But I will happily say that this mini was not at all a good representation of the Laserburn range - I've had nothing but clean castings outside of those bikes.

That wraps it up for 2010. Congratulations to all the winners... may you keep accepting my money for years to come! And just to keep things moving forward:

-Most Anticipated for 2011. I would like to list the things that have been announced (or at least mentioned) by the various manufacturers in 15mm Sci-Fi:
Minis: Blue Moon Manufacturing's range is supposed to grow (everything we saw this year was considered to be pre-release), Rebel Minis has announced command troops for the Titan Marines line, and Ground Zero Games has announced NAC Power Armor, UNSC expansion, and further resculpts of their older ranges. All of these will be welcomed with open arms!
Vehicles: Again we have tons of good stuff on the horizon, but I'm giving the ultimate nod to Khurasan for the Federal Army vehicle range that has been previewed.
Rules System: Tomorrow's War by Ambush Alley Games/Osprey Publishing and Gruntz by Inrepose.

So my question to you - what have been your favorite releases in 2010?


12 December 2010

Review and showcase - Khurasan Space Demons

One of the first lines that caught my eye in 15mm is Khurasan's line of Space Demons (Giger-inspired Aliens), but I wasn't ready to purchase them until I was confident in my ability to give them a proper paint job. Cacique Caribe over at TMP posted a tutorial about his own method, and it looked and sounded very feasible. So I ordered a "starter bundle" consisting of a Queen, two packs of Assault Warriors, and a pack of Hammerheads.

The minis are fantastic - the web store photos simply cannot do them justice. The poses are aggressive and varied, the detail is unbelievably good, and they required almost no cleanup. Getting them glued onto bases (3/4" washers) and primed was a quick process.

Then I hit the local hobby shop for some metallic sprays. The painting technique calls for the entire miniature to be painted with a metallic (spray is the easiest way) followed by a straight-out-of-the-bottle wash of Citadel Badab Black. In his original post Cacique Caribe used Testor's Arctic Blue. I decided to go for some variety with my own Demons... if nothing else, it will make distinguishing them on the tabletop far simpler. So I sprayed eight Assault Warriors as a test, let the spray dry for an hour, then hit them with the Badab Black wash. The results were everything promised... it actually took me longer to finish the bases using my ash waste/urban rubble formula than it did to paint the figures themselves. The test eight took about 45 minutes to complete, and the finishing touches to the bases were applied after the wash dried overnight. All in all, I'd say it was less than three hours' work (not counting drying times) start to finish to do all 25 minis.

I used Testor's Model Master Turquoise Metallic on the Assault warriors. It's a far brighter finish than fans of the Alien films are used to, but I think it's a fantastic effect on the models.

Testor's Arctic Blue was used on these Hammerheads. I don't consider these to be completely finished just yet... as soon as I choose my "bio acid" color, I'm going to put droplets of that color on the "spitters" on either side of the head. When I eventually add a Colossus to this army it will be this same color.

For the queen I went with Burgundy metallic. This is also the color that I will use on the Nymphs when I eventually get a few packs of them.

I would also like to add a King and a couple packs of Infiltrator Warriors to the mix.. I'll probably use a purple metallic on them as an homage to GW's original Genestealer color scheme. But what I have finished now is more than enough Space Demons to play small skirmish games, or to use with Paper Make It's Space Base for some Space Hulk style action. I can't wait to get more... these are by far the easiest and most enjoyable paint jobs I've ever done!


11 December 2010

Back to blogging - and shopping!

Sorry for my absence these past few weeks... I was out of town for some military training (which I don’t like to announce in advance - that’s not something that needs to be public knowledge!) and have had a busy time at home and work since I returned.

I do have a few updates to post over the coming days... a USE ME battle report, a gallery of Khurasan Space Demons, and a new project - a complete 15mm sci-fi army for under $45! In the meantime, everyone should take advantage of the 15mm Christmas sales happening now:

Rebel Minis - 20% off all product, including the infantry and dropship in my banner pic!
Ground Zero Games - a free bag of goodies and discount voucher for later use.
RAFM - 20% everything through Sunday, December 12th (code CHRS2010).
Brigade Models - 15% off everything.