29 June 2011

A Complete 15mm Army In One Weekend

A couple weeks ago I posted an idea for my first Red Planet-themed army. The miniatures were ordered soon after, and arrived while I was out of town. So I came home to (among other things) a blister of Rebel Minis Sons Of Thunder and a pack of Blue Moon Walker #19.

While most of my 15mm infantry are single-based on 3/4" fender washers, I decided that multi-basing would be the way to go for my new Red Planet forces. I've been wanting to try Alien Squad Leader, and these guys seem perfectly designed for that sort of game. I decided three Sons Of Thunder looked good on 1-1/4" fender washers.

So it was time for prep work. Nothing fancy here... just filed down the excess mold lines (of which there was very little - great casting on both product lines), and some tiny droplets of superglue to stick them onto craft sticks for painting ease. I also found some round dot stickers (usually used for garage sales and what not) for the bottoms of my washers. This made it very easy to spackle the center holes. I applied the spackle fairly rough... no reason not to since it will add more texture to the bases. At this time I assembled the walkers completely.

It was pretty easy from there. I hit everything with black Armory spray primer, cracked open my chosen P3 paints (Khardic Flesh and Underbelly Blue for the minis, Bloodstone for the bases), and started drybrushing. The infantry are all heavily drybrushed with the Khardic Flesh, with the black exposed between armor/suit plates. Then I drybrushed the weapons, helmet domes, and backpack tanks with the Underbelly Blue. After hitting the entire model with black Wonder Wash, I popped them off of the sticks and glued them to the painted washers.

While the Wonder Wash and glue were drying I basecoated the walkers. These took a few more coats than the infantry to complete. Between coats I had time to flock and seal the infantry bases, using the same Red Planet mix as my terrain set.

While I worked on walkers and infantry, I noticed that the blister pack from Rebel was a pretty good size for a Sons Of Thunder building. I drew a few geometric shapes, printed them on cardstock, found a rubber washer and interesting bit from an old toy (bonus points for the first person to correctly identify it), and here's what I came up with:

I figured that would work just fine as a scenario objective. And what the heck... it would have ended up in the garbage otherwise! So after a total of maybe 6-7 hours worth of work (not counting drying times) my project was finished. Here are the final results:

The paint jobs certainly aren't going to win any competitions, but it works just fine on the tabletop. The walkers in particular need something else... I think I need to include some of the dark grey used on the terrain platform to break up the orange. But it is ready to play!

I'm very pleased with the infantry. One pack of Sons Of Thunder yields four NCOs, four heavy weapon troopers, and sixteen rifle troopers. I created two command stands (nco and two rifles), four infantry stands (three rifles), and two heavy weapon stands (two heavy weapons and one NCO as a spotter). You could easily create four squads of six infantry if you want to individually base these little guys.

It's the little projects like this which remind me that switching to 15mm was the correct decision. I have 24 infantry, 2 support vehicles, and a terrain piece... all for the same cost as a single Finecast character miniature. And even a below-average painter like me can produce tabletop-quality results in a very short time. So as part of Dropship Horizon's 15mm Conversion Challenge, let me say this. Stop fretting over your perfect army lists and give up the fifteen different levels of highlights and detail bits. Just build some minis, get them painted, and play a game!


17 June 2011

Off The Beaten Path: Hydra Miniatures

Awhile back I discovered another manufacturer of 28mm minis that work great in 15mm games. I'd forgotten about them for awhile, but now seems like a great time to feature them. Hydra Miniatures, best known for the popular War Rocket minis, has a few hidden gems in their other lines.

First off we have yet another line of automatons. It is in Hydra's Retro
Raygun range - their Warbots. These are a bit pricey for 15mm usage, but look like great minis. I first noticed their Minibots - very pulp-retro-B-movie science fiction. But lately it's the Hoverbots that have
caught my eye. I could see these Hoverbots in a maintenance or medical bot role, sent out from a command vehicle to support troops and equipment on the battlefield. Or their arms could be replaced with any ranged weapon you might have lying around, and you'd have a good UAV or drone attack bot. The larger Warbots in this range, particularly the Destroyer, would make good battle mech-size walkers in an automaton force.

Okay... my last three posts in this series have been very robo-centric. So let's find a greener option. For this we look at Hydra's Primal Dawn prehistoric fantasy range. The Kithix are a pretty cool group of giant bugs... these would make great Tyranid-style large creaturs in 15mm. Again, they are a bit pricey, but very good sculpts. But in this range it is the Vardu Sprouts that caught my eye. I've been a Mutants & Death Ray Guns fan for quite some time. Until Khurasan's recent Vornid release, there were very few good "walking plants" in 15mm. The Vardu are great plant warriors, and could easily be used alongside the Vornids.

If nothing else, I hope these Off The Beaten Path posts have helped to stimulate some imaginations. 15mm sci-fi is great because you aren't restricted to any single set of rules, background, or one manufacturer's products. Keep your eyes open for anything that will fit the games you want to play!


14 June 2011

Designing a 15mm army: Red Planet edition

My newly-completed Red Planet board (featured on Dropship Horizon) has seen quite a bit of use the last two weeks. I've enjoyed having a new table for my existing armies to fight over, but the board has inspired me to create a new setting and forces. My colleague Matt posted an excellent article about creating a 15mm army, and I would like to build on that article by sharing my own design process.

I assume a Red Planet would be wealthy in mineral and metal resources. The Hammer's Slammers universe was a source of inspiration here - Iridium is the primary element in their armor. I chose a related metal - Osmium - as the primary resource of my Red Planet. A few random clicks at the Planet Generator website gave me the name Corridal for a new world.

So I have Corridal - the center of the Osmium Wars. And just like that - a world that implies a resource-centric conflict. Now I need combatants. Corridal seems like a fairly harsh place - cold, weak atmosphere, harsh winds... I need a line of figures that is suited
for that type of environment.

Rebel Minis' Sons Of Thunder fit the bill. One pack of these troops gives me 24 minis... I assume it includes four each of the six sculpts. Looks like I can organize these into four units of six... one heavy weapon, four rifles, and a pistol-armed leader. 24 minis seems just fine for small skirmishes on a 2' x 2' board, so I placed an order.

But what is science fiction infantry without clever vehicle support? I wanted to find something that would fit well with this infantry and the environment of Corridal. After entertaining a few hover- and wheeled-vehicle ideas, I finally made my choice.

Blue Moon Walker #19 was that choice. Something about the legs and the bubble-dome seemed like a perfect fit with the Sons Of Thunder infantry. And they looked like quite a bit of space-opera fun compared to some of my other forces! These come two to a pack for $12... again I placed the order.

Both the infantry and the walkers should be on their way. Two armored vehicles and four squads of six infantry, all for around $25 (which, incidentally, was the same cost of my red planet board). I even have a new setting for them to fight over... but I can just as easily use this army against any of my existing Conquest System forces.

This is a great size for a core 15mm force, especially for smaller boards. It can easily be expanded later, depending how I decide to both paint it and use it on the tabletop. But the most important thing with 15mm is not to waste your weeks and months stressing over army lists, tactics, detailed paint schemes, etc. Just find some minis, get some paint on them, pick some rules, and get playing!


08 June 2011

Off the beaten path: RAFM drones

Yesterday's post has inspired me to write a complete series: offbeat miniatures that would work great in 15mm sci-fi gaming.

RAFM has been selling the old Citadel 15mm Traveller figures for quite some time now, so they are pretty familiar to the 15mm crowd.  But just for fun I decided to poke around the rest of their site... and I found some pretty cool drones.  None of them seem to have any specific indications of scale or size, so on the right bases they should work well in 15mm armies.  These are all in the USX range, but you might have to browse around the three pages to find them.  They also are available as box sets.

There are two types of walkers and three aerial drones in their collection.  The first walker is the CSD Mk 1 (pictured above).  This one has the most potential to me since it seems like a good match to Khurasan's Mekanoid Dictator, which I plan to own someday.  The CDS Mk 2 is pictured to the right.  I could see it serving as some time of urban police/patrol robot, but that might just be because of the paint scheme.  A few of these would serve well as a 15mm army in their own right... possibly as Alien Squad Leader tripods.

Then they have their three Aerial Drones: the Surveillance model, and two armed variants with miniguns (pictured) and misise launchers (similar to the one on the CSD mk 2).  These have the most potential in my mind.  I could see these in any type of automated army (anything from Skynet to Blue Moon's Robot Legion), or as UAVs in any "flesh and blood" force.  Their size and apparent technology could put them anywhere from 20 years to 2000 years in mankind's future, or they could be used by any number of alien military forces.  The propulsion turbines also make them pretty similar to Ground Zero Games' "FanVan" transports, along with their infantry-sized hover drones.  With the right paint scheme it is pretty easy to mix and match items from different manufacturers, and even different scales.

I've been bouncing around a few different ideas for a robotic army... there's a good chance some of these will end up in my collection someday.  I will post comparison pics once I get them painted up.

I have a few more items in mind for this Off The Beaten Path series - but what has everyone else been using alongside their 15mm miniatures?


06 June 2011

Off the beaten path: Blight Wheel Recon 'Bot

I just saw a link to these on Tabletop Gaming News... While these were created for an upcoming 28mm line of miniatures, I think they would be great in 15mm!

See the original article here.


05 June 2011

Reporting for duty at Dropship Horizon!

The last few days have been a whirlwind.  To make a long story short... six other bloggers and I decided that the loss of Dropship Horizon would leave too much of a vaccuum in the 15mm Sci-Fi world.  While we discussed creating a new collaborative blog, Mark H. generously offered to let us take control of Dropship Horizon!


So while I will continue to update Basement Gaming Bunker with details of my own projects, you can expect to see my name appear on Dropship Horizon a few times a month.  I am very honored to be a part of not only Mark's legacy, but to be associated with such a great group of 15mm sci-fi gamers.


01 June 2011

A fond farewell to Dropship Horizon

Mark Hannam announced that he will no longer be updating Dropship Horizon.  This is a huge loss, and Mark had long-standing relationships with most of the 15mm sci-fi manufacturers and several of the major rulebook publishers.  But people's interests change (my own blog started as alternate rules to Epic, then some 40k Badab War stuff!), all we can do is thank him for his years of news, inspiration, and support of our corner of the hobby world!

I know when I started to outgrow 40k, Dropship Horizon was one of the places that kept me from leaving wargaming completely.  Mark showed me that there is a whole world of great miniatures out there, and that we should never allow our own imaginations to be confined by someone else's rules and background.  And his legacy will certainly be with us for years... contributions to everything from Khurasan's Federal Army to the highly anticipated Tomorrow's War rules from Ambush Alley Games.

I'll keep a permanent link to Dropship Horizon over in the sidebar widgets.  His archives will be of interest to 15mm sci-fi gamers for years to come.