29 November 2011

15mm Urban Ruins - Proxie Models Test Building

After the last post, I decided to put together the one Proxie Models building I have right now, and worry about the rest of my Urban Table project later.  This is pretty much the same technique I used long ago with my GW Cities Of Death buildings.

Raw materials: one Proxie Models ruined building set, a 6" x 6" square of 1/8" MDF hardboard, and a length of styrene corner stock I found in a drawer.  The Proxie walls don't really have finished edges, so I thought the styrene would be a good option for building corners.  It also gives me a way to quickly change building styles with the Proxie sprues... I'll just use square corners on some, rounded corners on others.

I used an X-Acto hobby-sized miter box and saw to cut the corners and went to work.  Assembly was pretty simple - Tacky Glue held everything together and set quickly.  Gorilla Glue would have been another option.

Then I decided the building needed a floor of some kind.  I cut 1" x 1" squares from an old blister card.  I try to save small bits of packaging that are on really nice glossy stock - they come in handy.  I meant to go back and score these so there would be fore tiles per piece, but I got lazy.  I did cut a few tiles up by the most damaged portion of the building, just to give a broken effect:

And for the rubble - plain old sand that I liberated from a local park.  I piled it up along the foundation, with a few thicker piles over the damaged sections.  It's not a super realistic effect, especially if you go back and look at pictures of WWII Stalingrad and the like.  But realistic rubble would pretty much fill the building - not useful for maneuvering figures!  I think this is a good compromise between realistic rubble and plain ruins sticking out of the ground.

I think this is good enough for my test piece.  I might mix in some larger bits of rubble next time, but this will be a decent start for my war-torn cityscape.  I'll get it painted as soon as there's another day warm enough to spray primer onto it.


23 November 2011

A 15mm Urban Battlefield for Mecha Games?

There are half-finished Mecha sitting on my shelf, taunting me.

I have three Rebel Minis Titan HAMR suits, an Earthforce suit, and a Critical Mass Games ARC Fleet Walker, all waiting to be assembled and painted.  Other projects keep taking me away from them.  But I can't help but wonder how much fun a mecha-centric game would be in 15mm.  

I've gone back and forth on how many vehicles I want to use in my 15mm FUBAR games.  While I have a few Old Crow and GZG tanks finished, I've simply found them to be impractical on 2' x 2' tables.  There's enough room to maneuver just a one or two small vehicles, not enough to run fully mechanized platoons with MBT support on each side.  That's left me playing infantry-oriented games.  Such a waste - there are too many good 15mm vehicles to limit my options.

Mecha might be the answer for those smaller games.  They tend to move around the same speeds and maneuver the same way as infantry, but make louder and more satisfying explosions in sci-fi settings.  But what's the best terrain to give mecha some cover and concealment?  My desert and snow tables currently lack terrain features taller than 2".  Even my Red Planet table only has a few spires and buildings at that height.  And besides... when you picture a mecha battle, do you envision an open desert valley?  No.  You picture two armored giants fighting it out in a cityscape.

It's time for a new table.

This will be another 2' x 2' battlefield - which I still think is the perfect size for solo 15mm games.  I'm thinking this one will be covered with a mix of fine light gray, dark gray, and dark brown flock.  The buildings  will be mounted onto tiles - those tiles will use very fine flock to achieve a poured-concrete appearance.  And the buildings themselves?  I have my eyes on Proxie Models' Gothic Building:

If there's one aspect of Warhammer 40,000 I sometimes miss - it's the sight of a proper Cityfight table.  Ken's Gothic Building is about as close as we can get in 15mm (other than a few HO-scale churches that could be chopped up).  And the price is unbeatable - two sprues for $4.  I already have one of his brick buildings, so I know the quality is good and they can easily be chopped up and modified.  So if I include that brick building, here's what I can make with $32 worth of Gothic buildings:

So my shopping list for this project will be:

  • 2' x 2' x 1/2" sanded plywood for the table itself
  • 2' x 2' x 1/4" MDF hardboard for the building bases 
  • Extra fine grey flock for the building bases
  • Fine brown flock to mix with my existing grays for the table itself.
  • Cheap gray primer for the tabletop
  • 8x Proxie Models Gothic Buildings.
This entire set should only cost around $50-$60 to make, and could easily be finished in a week.  I can always go back and add fancier buildings, street furniture, and other random items later.  But this would be enough to start - and give me an excuse to add some bigger mecha to my collection:

From Ravenstar Studios - love that MK3!
Gruntz Imperator
I think this is just the setup I'll need to run small 15mm mecha games... maybe three HAMR suits on one side, with one or two bigger Imperators or Thunderfoots (er, Thunderfeet?) on the other.  

Chris K.

16 November 2011

In The Emperor's Name - 15mm Enemies of Man retinue

This week has been all about finishing old projects.  First I completed that old Hot Wheels Sentry Tank conversion, and now I've finally finished painting my Enemies Of Man retinue for In the Emperor's Name.

I've been using these minis for months, ever since playtesting of ItEN began at the Forge of War development group.  But, unlike the rest of my collection, I had been using these unpainted.  Now that Blasters & Bulkheads is out, I decided it was time to finish them and use them the right way.

These minis are, of course, old Laserburn Redemptionists from 15mm.Co.Uk.  I think these sculpts have really stood the test of time - they have a great Space Opera feel to them.  And to all you 28mm gamers who think 15mm doesn't work for small skirmish - get back to me when your entire force costs £2.60 and can be painted in one evening. :) 

I'll admit the paint job isn't one of my best - all seven minis were finished in one setting.  But this isn't one of my primary gaming forces, so I was willing to sacrifice a precision to get them onto the table.  I used white Armory primer, Coat D'Arms Lupin Gray (long ago known as Citadel Space Wolves Gray) for the carapace armor, P3 Beaten Purple (looks lighter in person than in the photo) on the power armor and cloaks, Vallejo gold for detail work, and Vallejo heavy grey (actually a green-gray) for the weapons.  Then I gave the each mini a coat of Wonder Wash Black for some quick shading, finished the bases with my urban/asphalt blend, and called it a night. 

Here are the cards I've been using for ItEN (updated with the new photos).  I've tried everything from large roster sheets to tablet-screen reference pages now, and I've found that individual "playing cards" are what works best for me.

Now I feel like I can properly use these minis.  I'll run a few ItEN scenarios to give them a proper christening, then I'll start looking at how to use them in Blasters & Bulkheads.  


12 November 2011

15mm Sentry Tank - a Hot Wheels kitbash

I painted these Rebel Minis Earth Force Marines a few months back:

I decided to play up the similarity of their armor and equipment to Cobra Vipers a bit.  I wasn't intending to play G.I.Joe in 15mm... just thought it was fun color scheme.  I also kitbashed a couple of Hot Wheels (a Space Van and an Assault Crawler) to make this not-Cobra HISS Tank:

Other than that, I painted a Laserburn character in their color scheme and moved on to other projects.  For some reason, I never got around to using these guys in any games.  

While working on another project this week, I noticed a spare Critical Mass ARC Walker chin turret.  Bingo - just the weapon I needed to finish my Sentry Tank.  I clipped off the little connector post, found a small steel washer to use for the turret ring, and broke out the paintbrush:

I'd still like to add some kind of identification badge or unit marking.  But I think this is turning into a nice Space Opera army... a commander, this vehicle, and around 20 infantry would be great for a Forge of War or USE ME force.  And that Laserburn character will make a fine Baron of an outlying Imperial system.  He can't afford to equip his personal army with the fine grav armor like his wealthier peers, but he can still protect his own citizens and fulfill the Emperor's levy if called to war.  


03 November 2011

Could it be? An inexpensive source of 15mm buildings?

GameCraft Miniatures recently launched a range of laser-cut MDF buildings.  These are designed for 15mm modern warfare - other than a few large western ruins, this growing range consists of middle-eastern and central-Asian houses, schools, etc.  It doesn't appear to be anything that the historical/modern crowd hasn't seen before - except they are far cheaper, and the MDF is very easy to modify.  For the price of 2 or 3 JR Miniatures resin buildings, one could make an entire city from these GameCraft kits.

They reminded me of the CNC Scenery Australia stuff I bought back in my 40K days.  I had nothing but good experiences with those items, other than the time it took to cut and sand the building pieces.  GameCraft says they do all the cutting on these, so that would greatly cut down the build time.  My initial reaction to these was "hey, that's great for the modern gamers.  Now we'll just have to wait and see if they release any sci-fi buildings."  I thought this because, other than making old-school adobe Space Ork structures, I didn't see much use for these products.

Today's release of their Afghan-style hovels convinced me to take another look.  Here's a few shots of what they have (shamelessly stolen from their webstore):

Afghan Hovel - $3.50

Afghan Hovel - $4.50
Nice, simple block buildings.  Wouldn't these be perfect candidates for some GZG or The Scene building fixtures?  Or even some bits from the IMEX Hexagon or Platformer sets?  A few interesting hatches, windows, vents, and rooftop machines/sensors/radar dishes, and I might have perfectly usable sci-fi structures.  I think it would be pretty simple to create a full settlement - $50 worth of these and other bits should cover my usual 2x2 tables.  The results would be fairly permanent structures - great for a research station, military installation, or even buildings around a starport.  GZG Shanties or Battleworks Studios Startown Slums could be placed around the outskirts of these buildings, if I want a varied look.

But instead of trying a full settlement, maybe I should just start small.  The middle-eastern portion of this range also offers some interesting items.  What has really caught my eye is the Walled Compound models:
Walled Compound - $12.00

Adding a few bits to this would create a great little structure.  While this could obviously be used for my ex-The Scene Space Orks, it might be a good outpost for my Desert Raider skirmish force:

Or maybe a compound for my growing force of Cultists.

I see myself trying out a few of these items in the near future.  My question to you - what approaches have you seen in "futurizing" modern structures for gaming?  I'm always happy to steal others' ideas!