Sunday, November 16, 2014

Progress Progresses Progressively

I know the title is a blatant ripoff of Scott’s....but it seems everybody in the community is kind of worn out at the moment.

Dervish by Tim Fusco
Anyways, lots to talk about! So, I’ve completed my move up to Portland, Oregon, and gotten a new job. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I won’t be working on Battletech: Combined Arms. Quite the opposite, in fact. With a regular income, I have the stability I need to begin funding the business and taking care of the legal aspect of it.

Here’s a breakdown: 

  • The rules are 100% written and complete for Battletech: Combined Arms. 
  • Tim Fusco is my head sculptor, and will be building the master models from which the resin casts will be made. 
  • Tim’s new Dervish sculpt will be my pitch prototype to accompany my business proposal. 
  • I still need to source a sculptor for 28mm infantry and vehicles, if anybody knows a good sculptor for these, please hit me up. 
  • Graphic design on the actual, printed rulebook is in progress, nearing completion. 

So that’s a brief rundown of what’s been going on. I’ve got a local artist who’s working with me on illustrations for the rulebook as well, so we’ll see how that works out. I’m excited about the progress being made here, and if all goes according to plan, we’ll be up and running in full by 2nd Quarter of next year. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Still Alive

Hey All,

I’m still alive, don’t worry. After a grueling couple of months hunting for new work and arranging a move (which I will begin packing for shortly), I’m back at work and dead-set on making things happen.

Battletech: Combined Arms is still very much alive and in progress. With Tim Fusco’s help, I believe we’ll be able to get production up and running by the end of 2014, with a Kickstarter campaign to drum up some funding and an official release by this time 2015.

My initial trepidation with the project has subsided, by and large, and I’m now 100% convinced that Battletech in 1/60 scale WILL work. I’m a seasoned miniature wargamer, having played Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 since 1998, and I’ve seen the wide range of models, paint and hobby materials, and transportation options for them, and I think Battletech can reach a similar audience.

So with a new resolution to have this game up and running, we will see you on the battlefield soon!

Remember these good ole’ days? We’re bringing them back! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Work Continues...

…Okay, so I haven’t had a lot of time to put work in on any recent builds, the demands of my paying job and negotiating a return to college (long story) have been taking up my attention as of late.

Also, in light of some recent developments in the Miniature Wargaming community, I’m considering some major revisions to Battletech: Combined Arms. With the advent of miniatures games such as X-Wing, Star Trek: Attack Wing, and the popularity of competitive, streamlined game systems….I’m considering altering my approach.

You see, I’ve been a miniature wargamer since 1998, where I started with Warhammer 40,000. I grew up playing that game through ever edition but the first, and I’ve steadily grown more and more frustrated with how complex the game has gotten. It’s not that I avoid complexity- hell, I grew up with a bit of D&D too. It’s just that complexity (especially the unnecessary kind) bogs down gameplay, clutters the table with unnecessary extras such as cards and dice and counters and templates (all of which Warhammer 40k now uses), and dissuades competitive play.

While I want Battletech: Combined Arms to be a competitive game that competes with the best in the business….it has become clear that that is no longer Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000. As it stands now I want to work towards adapting a smaller scale (along the line of N-Scale), pre painted miniatures using a simpler game format for smoother, easy-to-learn yet difficult-to-master gameplay.

It’s also becoming clear that larger model kits like the 1/60 scale that i was initially planning don’t sell so well, the price point of competing, smaller scales necessitates a shift in sales tactics. I urge my readers to provide some feedback on this issue, as I’d love to hear what the community thinks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

28mm Battletech: Mad Cat MK II

Oh the joys of a new battlemech! Mechwarrior 4 and TRO 3067 brought us the Mad Cat MK II, an assault-class upgrade to Battletech’s most famous ‘mech. Tim Fusco, owner of Battlemech Club has sculpted an impressive resin kit of this auspicious Clan Diamond Shark design, bringing the 90 ton design to life in 1/60 scale.

Designed from the ground up to be sold as a kit, the Mad Cat MK II is truly a sight to behold once fully built. This kit proves to be on par with Scott’s Catapult and Tim’s past kit the Flea (still working on that one, need to get a pin-vice), though there are two gripes. One is that the arm assemblies are in three pieces, and the rectangular second piece does not slot in anywhere specific, it’s easy enough to discern where it goes, but the housing around it doesn’t conform to the same footprint. The other issue is the missile launchers.  The classic battletech design and the MW4 design have very different assemblies for the LRMs, and this one conforms to the MW4 design closely. However, there’s no clear location on either side of the fuselage where the LRM racks are supposed to sit. A small raised section where they sit, or a peg-and-hole section for them to slot into would’ve been nice.

Other than that, this kit was amazingly fun to build, though the pose I went with makes it very unbalanced and I will need to base it and support it with a clear rod (you can see the half-tube rod of plasticard I’ve got holding it up right now).

I of course had to add a couple of my trademark modifications to this robust machine. I decided it would be a pirate ‘mech, salvaged from the battlefield and patched up. I used Games Workshop brass etch pieces from a basing kit to provide two beat up panels riddled with bullets, and two skull symbols to denote its pirate affiliation.
This is by far the heaviest ‘mech model I’ve ever worked on. The thing weighs easily 5 lbs in resin (and I’m bad at estimating, it could easily be ten!) It will take some very sturdy support and a display base for this baby to stand upright on its own. I realize how often I say I prefer non-based models…and yet constantly use bases. I prefer active poses for my models, and often I can only do that with a base. I just like my ‘mechs to look exciting, and especially with the Mad Cat MK II, I love the way the machine walks in MW4, that rolling motion makes it look so predatory and powerful that I had to replicate it.

Lastly, compared to my existing Mad Cat model and Stalker, this thing is the PERFECT size. It stands at 10” on the dot at the missile launchers (at least, n the pose I put it), and is easily 50% larger overall than the 75 ton Mad Cat. All in all this is one of my favorite kits to date, and I can’t wait for Tim’s summer program to get more fantastic ‘mechs from him.

Monday, May 12, 2014

28mm Battletech Stalker- Factory Fresh

While I was out of the state on a mini-vacation with my family this weekend, I was unable to paint the Stalker. I did, however, think I should post one last time to give a few shots of the finished product.

I made a number of minor alterations to the ‘mech in the final stages. I wanted to add a bit of extra detail to this beast, since with such a large ‘mech, the details are everything. You will notice I have a 60mm base under each foot.  I did this because, unfortunately the model’s feet aren’t perfectly flat, and I couldn’t sand them any flatter, so I settled on a base under each foot to give it a solid stance that won’t tip over easily.

I’ve also added some rounded half-round plasticard to the sides of the fuselage and the rear section,
giving a bit of interesting surface that I can paint maybe with hazard stripes or rank markings.

Lastly, there was a vacant, recessed spot opposite the AMS system, which I filled with a beaten and bent piece of copper grating, making it look like a vent or heat sink that’s been torn open in battle.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Get Outta Here Stalker D: - 28mm Battletech Stalker

So…the Stalker. An 85 ton assault ‘mech built for breaching fortifications and taking the enemy head-on, weapons blazing as it slowly closes range. This ‘mech is a beast, for a long, long time I’ve loved the description of the design, but hated its art in the Battletech Technical Readouts- those weird, double-hinged legs swiveled so that it was either backward-canted like a Mad Cat or Catapult, or normal-kneed like any humanoid design.

With Mechwarrior 4’s MekTek packs came a much beefier, permanently bird-legged Stalker, which was clearly what the new Mechwarrior Online takes its design cues from, and I LOVE it! The MWO STK-3F Stalker captures the essence of its Classic Battletech Roots and translates them to a much more likable aesthetic. Thor’s Mechworks, as advertised on the blog Wingnuts Cockpit, produced a 3D-printed “Creeper” (so as to avoid copyright BS….though to be honest, I don’t think Catalyst enforces it, and Topps doesn’t care). This is a dead-on accurate depiction of the MWO Stalker, so let’s take a look at what we get in the kit:

The kit comes in about 15 (ish) main pieces, with a good dozen extra little giblets for detail work, some of which I STILL don’t know where they go, even after having built the thing.

The model is 3D-printed ABS plastic, entirely hollow and extra light, making it feel almost more like a toy than the resin kits produced by some other regular manufacturers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the lighter construction means it won’t break as easily if it falls, and it’s generally easier to stand and display or pose in a more active….well pose. However, there is one major drawback: the ABS plastic results in a layered effect, almost like wood grain, which needs to be filed, sanded, or rubbed with acetone to make smooth. This layered texture is almost insubstantial on the bigger pieces, but there are some fiddly, recessed areas where it gets very bad, and I found even with sanding and acetone that it doesn’t wash away smoothly.

The finished kit, however, looks beautiful. Most of the unsightly layered areas end up being either in the rear of the ‘mech, or hidden pressed against the fuselage or joints.

Speaking of joints, the design is VERY posable. Thor has done an amazing job making the Stalker as detailed and flexible as possible. I discovered while building it that not only are there flexible joints at the ankle and knee, but the ball-and-socket hip joint moves as well, and can be reposed very easily while also maintaining a tight seal, so the joint doesn’t loosen. I tend to glue my models in a single pose, it’s just the way I prefer them. I did that with this kit as well, with the joints at the missile launcher “arms,” the knee, and ankle all fixed, but kept the ball-and-socket hip free so I can reposition the legs somewhat.

The one recognizable extra bit was the AMS system, which I applied to my Stalker. I replaced (what I presume was) the barrel with a gatling gun style assembly from a Warhammer 40,000 assault cannon, but kept the ammo hopper, so it now heavily resembles a real-world CIWS (Close-In Weapon System).

Other than that, I made no real modifications, and am extremely happy with the final build. However, if anyone can tell me what the extra bits that come with the thing are, I would greatly appreciate the info.

So how does the “Creeper” stack up compared to other 28mm Battletech models? Glad you asked! As an 85 ton assault ‘mech, the STK-3F Stalker is much bulkier and taller than either my Timber Wolf or CPLT-C1 Catapult. It stands (in the pose I gave it) at just a smidge under 10” tall compared to the Mad Cat/Timber Wolf’s 8” exactly and the Catapult’s 8.25”

This seems the perfect size to me, and after building this kit, I must say Thor’s Mechworks does, indeed, do great work. I will be ordering more kits from him in the future for certain.

I’ll have this bad boy painted up very soon here, though I’ve got some brainstorming to do for a color scheme. Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned to Myomer Dreams for more updates!

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Few Wrinkles….

So as most of you know, I play Warhammer 40,000 in addition to being a stalwart fan of Battletech and Mechwarrior. In the last year or so, I’ve been working on multiple projects related to hobby modeling, as well as writing the rules for Battletech: Combined Arms, a 28mm scale Battletech game meant to complement the excellent models produced by Scott Murphy, Tim Fusco, Ravenstar Studios, SMT Kelly, and the now-outdated Armorcast.

While the game is, so far, not yet sanctioned by Topps or Catalyst Game Labs, the next stage of the project IS working out a publishing deal with them, and it will come to fruition fairly soon.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the rules of this game, however, and need to do some rewrites after analyzing the current state of miniature wargaming- I believe the initial rules are overcomplicated, and need to be smoothed out and toned down to attract new players and make gameplay more fun, and less unnecessarily complex. I should have another update for you guys in the near future here.

In other news, I finally got a Warhammer 40k game in with my Imperial Knights. In fact, it was the first Warhammer 40k game I have won in over five years…..and yet the victory was extraordinarily hollow. Imperial Knights are incredibly tough units, and, in my mind, overpowered in a standard 40k game. In fact…they require almost no tactical skill to use, and that worries me. While I do like winning now and again, I don’t want to just steamroll over my opponent- I’ve been on the receiving end of overpowered army lists far too often and know that it’s not fun to lose like that.

So while the models have turned out fantastically, and you can see pics on my Facebook page….I will likely be shelving these in favor of another 40k army that I’ll work on down the road.

My point in mentioning this is because Warhammer 40,000 is a great influence on my own game design. Now, I didn’t even remotely borrow any rules from 40k for Battletech: Combined Arms, but I am aiming for B:CA to compete with 40k directly. I want a game that players will want to play at tournaments, that suits casual gaming as well as competitive, and offers an exciting hobby in addition to a game. Hopefully with the coming rewrites I will be closer to that.

Other Projects:

Stalker- working on cleaning and sanding, should have assembly pics by Monday

Flea- need a pin vice and new base, won’t be able to make progress until next paycheck

Mad Cat MK II- Tim should be sending these out in the next few weeks, I look forward to the build.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Creeping Along- 28mm Battletech Stalker

Well, Thor’s Mechworks is swiftly becoming one of the big names on the 1/60 scale Battletech marketplace. I wish I could link to his blog or user page, but he doesn’t seem to have one. Best I can do is send my readers to Wingnuts Cockpit, a blog which his kits are regularly shown on. I just received a “Creeper” ‘mech from him- literally a 1/60 Scale or 28mm version of the STK-3F Stalker battlemech, using the aesthetics from Mechwarrior Online.

The kit is 3D printed in ABS plastic, which results in a very subtle layered effect, almost like wood grain, with the finished model. This can be smoothed down with fine sandpaper or rubbing with acetone. I’ve never worked with a 3D printed design before, and I have to say that the results are stunning. The kit perfectly captures the MWO aesthetic, which (considering how much more complex the video game designs tend to be) you would think would be harder to print.

Unfortunately the initial shipping missed one of the lower legs….exactly the same as happened to the Catapult. Ironic, but no big deal, Thor is shipping a replacement part and it’ll take me plenty of time to clean, sand, and acetone…ify(?) the mech to smooth it out and ready it for building.

The main construction is very detailed and incredibly posable, with joints at the knee and ankle, and a hexagonal socket for the hips, so that they can be inserted in a variety of positions. There are a ton of extra little greebles which you can see piled to the left, some go to the railing on the torso and the AMS mount, while others I have yet to decipher.

One thing of note: as this ‘mech is made out of ABS plastic and not resin, it is ridiculously light. I mean the whole thing must weigh like a pound and a half. While this certainly doesn’t give the imposing weight of a fully-built Armorcast Atlas, it also means that this Stalker (as all of the parts are hollow) won’t shatter if it’s dropped or tips over. The plastic seems very sturdy, too.

I can’t wait to get this thing smoothed out and built- I realized that ALL of my ‘mechs so far have been ones with the backwards-canted legs, and the STK-3F Stalker is really just the Catapult’s big brother…and by big, I mean 20 tons heavier. This is also the largest 28mm Battletech model I’ve gotten so far, as an assault ‘mech, which seems to be scaled properly, it will stand around 9.5-10” tall depending on how I do the legs.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to see the full build in all its glory!

Friday, March 21, 2014

On the Cat(apult) Walk- 28mm Battletech

Phew! Finally completed the Catapult in all its glory! Between all my different projects, and the long time I spend painting such large models in general, it’s taken me near a month to complete this thing.

The Catapult is a long-time favorite of mine, and finally getting my hands on a large-scale battletech model of this caliber is a dream come true. This is one of Scott Murphy’s kits, and he was generous enough to sell me his last one and even provide me the parts that were missing from what he initially shipped. I already covered my build of the kit in this blog post, so now on to the painted final product!

In keeping with the rough-n’-ready concept, I painted the catapult heavily with weathering effects and plenty of wear-and-tear. I decided on a reddish-brown Terra-cotta base, with wisps of sandy tan camouflage. This basic scheme however is barely visible beneath a heavy coating of sand-colored pigment.

Weathering pigments are one of those “instant professionalism” products that many companies sell. Like washes or shades, they provide an easy way to coat an entire model to provide a specific effect- in this case, sand built up over many long patrols. Luckily, pigments like these tend to catch on the edges of the model in a realistic fashion, making a miniature model start to look like a ver small, real vehicle!

To contrast the darker reddish tone, I applied a very bright, nearly fluorescent green color to the cockpit canopy. This is, unfortunately, the one part of the model i’m not satisfied with. I tried multiple coats of thinned-down paint, glazes, washes, thicker paint…nothing I used made me happy with the final result. Like 99.999% of Battletech players, I can’t get cockpit jeweling right and it’s frustrating. Oh well, i’m still pretty happy with the overall model. For further contrast I painted the barrels stowed behind the cockpit assembly a beaten, weather-worn yellow shade.

Lastly, I applied some decals to the rear sections of the model. I’m a bit low on decals since Piranha Games isn’t very chatty these days, so I had to make due with some 40k transfers. I used the two arrows to mark out the ‘mech’s vent outlets. And added some decorative kill stripes to the rear sections of the LRM launchers.

All in all, the kit is a fantastic build and an absolute pleasure to paint. I only wish my skills with the brush were better so I could do it justice.

Stay tuned folks, I should have more models in progress soon! And Tim Fusco’s Mad Cat MK II should be back from the casters within the month.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Warhammer 40,000- Imperial Knights

So….remember those Imperial Knights? Well I bought 3 of them, and spent the weekend assembling the models. They are massive plastic kits with almost 150 pieces, including two different weapon options and 3 masks that go over the head’s sensor array. I built two of the models as Knight Paladins with battle cannons, and the third as a Knight Errant with a thermal cannon. While the kits have quite a few options and a ton of little fiddly bits, I should point out that the lower half of the model is stuck in one pose unless you want to cut and trim quite a bit….which I did.

Now these pictures are of the models about 90% done. I left off most of the armor plates, because I am going to paint the skeleton and joints before attaching and painting the armor.

The first Knight I built is the Errant with the thermal cannon, going literally by-the-book (and then adding a few little detail bits). What you see here is the basic leg pose that all Knights are pretty much forced to take.

These kits are relatively easy to built….but take a long time to do it. You have separate sub-assemblies for the legs, arms, and torso, with many separate detail bits that you could miss completely if you don’t follow the instructions. Even after building three of these things I had to refer to the manual for where certain bits went.

Now what’s interesting about the Imperial Knights (aside from their awesome, flavorful background fiction), is that they can be fielded as an ally to your existing Warhammer 40,000 army, or as an army of 3-6 Knights on their own! I don’t have much of a playable 40k force anymore, so I plan on running these 3 Knights as my own army.

The second Knight- this one a Knight Paladin- required major repositioning and conversion work. I posed him mid-charge, wielding his giant chainsword as he tromps towards the enemy. The front foot is balanced on only two toes, while the back foot is off the ground entirely, in mid-step (there’s a small bit of plasticard tubing holding that foot up).

I’m very happy with how this one turned out, and I went the extra mile adding battle damage to his cowling and shield, as I imagine charging forward with reckless abandon takes precedence over taking cover or avoiding enemy fire.

I actually added a bit more to this guy’s base in the end too (not pictured), including a bit of piping and some heavy bits in back to counterbalance him.

The third Knight is by far my favorite. He is intended to be the Warlord of my army, and I put an entire day’s worth of work into building him!

The pose was my first priority. I knew from the start that I wanted his Knight to be standing with one leg atop a dead Tyranid beast. I cut and trimmed the leg and the knee, with the toes in front and back conforming to the slope of the alien’s dead body (i’ll take pics from another angle soon). The other leg required just as much shaving and reposing, mostly of the hip and ankle joint so that it stood correctly.

Whereas the other Knight Paladin has a heavy stubber on the left torso mount, and the other heavy stubber sitting coaxial to the battle cannon, I decided this one should have both on the torso, pointed downwards to ward off advancing infantry (like swarms of Tyranid gaunts). It gives the sense that the machine is sort of on auto-guard mode, standing aloof and at the ready.

The pilot is my favorite part of this model. As the cockpit hatch is a separate piece of the miniature, and the torso is entirely hollow inside, I took the opportunity to completely model the interior with details (pics in the next post soon!). I glued the hatch open, with some extra brass-etch details, and built my pilot out of a Death Korps of Krieg miniature from forge world, with the head of a Warhammer Fantasy Empire model. The way I see it, his Knight is triumphantly standing atop a vanquished foe, guns at the ready, while he surveys the battlefield before him.

Some last minor details included heavy-guage wire antennas in a cluster near the cockpit.

All in all, these three models are the core of my new army, and after I finish basing them and get the last scraps of work done, I will be painting them so I can finally play Warhammer 40,000 again.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Distractions and Flailanthropy

Sorry about the long wait folks, but I’ve been distracted lately, a lot of things going on in my life (spent the last week binge-watching all of Breaking Bad in between work hours, for one). I’m still hard at work on miniature models of course. But a brief update to let you all know what’s been happening:

Catapult: Built, primed, and partway through being painted. She’s been shelved for the moment to make room on my table for other works, but I plan on finishing in the next month or so.

Flea: Likewise, built (and big props to Tim for his mention of my work on his blog, much appreciated!) , based, and primed, with the first layer of paint applied. I still have a lot of work to do on the Flea, but it’ll be done likely before even the Catapult.

Battletech: Combined Arms- As some of you may know by now, Battletech: Combined Arms is my brainchild, the fruit of over a year of rules writing and refining. I’ve playtested it and run the numbers, and I think it’s almost ready for publication. I’m going to see if I can’t make headway on negotiating with Topps, the current owners of the Battletech license, to see if we can make it something official. Can’t say much more on that at this point, but it’s something I’m still banking on.

Warhammer 40,000: I don’t discuss it much on this site, but I’m a big fan of Warhammer 40,000 and Games Workshop. I’ve voiced my fair share of criticism on their business practices and attitude towards their customers in the past, and I hold by what I’ve said- I only speak my mind because I care. Anyway, a big new release was just revealed: Knight Titans. Small (by 40k universe standards) 8-inch models representing one-man combat walkers with the destructive firepower of superheavy vehicles, somewhere between an Imperial Sentinel walker and a Warhound Scout-Class Titan, the Knight is an ancient design dating back to Epic 40,000 and Adeptus Titanicus, 2nd-edition and Rogue Trader-era specialist games set in the same Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Needless to say, as a Games Workshop Citadel Miniature, the new Knight is an amazing feat of miniature engineering. What’s more,  you can run 3 to 6 of them as a full army with nothing else! I’ve always wavered between Warhammer armies in the past….but I have a feeling this is the one I’ve been waiting for all along.

Giant Melta-Cannon? Check. Huge-Ass Chainsaw Arm? Check. Yeah….I’ll take twenty. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

28mm Battletech- Flea

Hey all, I’ve got a new build to share with you. The 28mm/1/60 scale Flea battlemech! This is one of Tim Fusco’s kits, cast in resin based on a sculpt he did by JPG Productions.

The Flea is a small, fast light ‘mech that’s a staple of the Wolf’s Dragoons, and while not particularly powerful, it packs enough punch against battle armor, infantry, and other light ‘mechs that it’s a staple unit on the battlefield. Now first things first…this is the best 28mm Battlemech kit i’ve ever had the pleasure of building. Super simple construction, perfect scale, and it just looks fantastic, hats off to Tim for making this one work!
I made a couple of special modifications, of course. Like the Catapult, I added stowage to this little beauty, caging off the recessed area above/behind the cockpit to store some fuel canisters and kit bags.

I decided on a very active pose for this model, as if stalking forward in support of infantry- and to that end I based it on a Games Workshop large oval base (the kind they use to base monstrous creatures and flyers). I added a bit of ruined masonry under the Flea’s uplifted foot to allow it to stand with minimal stress on the joints. In between its legs sits a jersey barrier, with two infantrymen walking along one side of it. I feel like this gives a real scenic look to the model, and ties it in to the force it’s fighting with.

So who’s this Flea going to fight for? Well the Wolf’s Dragoons would be the obvious choice….but I never liked “obvious.” So I’m going to align it and its attendant infantry (more on them later) with the Free Rasalhague Republic, to accompany both the NightHawk PA(L) I already have, and Tim’s Owens once he decides to kit that out. I’ve already begun painting this model, so I’ll have a few updates soon.

One last parting thought…..since this Flea is based on the Mechwarrior 4 version, does anyone know which variant it’s supposed to represent? There are only three weapons on it (the chin gun and the guns on either side of the cockpit) and the only Flea with 3 weapons I could find is the FLE-20 with two medium lasers and a light ppc.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

28mm Battletech Modeling- Basing Your Miniatures

Basing miniatures goes hand-in-hand with building and painting them. In Battletech: Combined Arms, with 28mm Battletech miniatures, this is no different. Unlike building the miniatures or painting them to a personal standard, basing often gets the least amount of attention from gamers and modelers, so I thought I would take today to discuss some great, easy options for basing your models to a professional level.

Almost every 28mm miniature has a base that it stands on- in fact, it’s the only way most models will stand at all, as balancing them and getting them to work as free-standing models would result in very boring, static poses. The term “basing” therefore, doesn’t mean literally just attaching a miniature to its respective base, but also pertains to how you decorate that base. Armies of miniatures for wargaming look best when there’s a cohesive basing scheme, all of the miniatures on bases decorated to represent the same environment or combat zone. It would indeed look odd if half your soldiers were on desert sand-themed bases and the rest were on dark urban grey.

So when it comes to 28mm Battletech, the question of basing is a valid one. This is especially true when considering the battlemechs themselves: the majority of 1/60 scale battletech models are freestanding, with no need for a base since their large feet and high center of gravity allows them to stand with no support needed. Only when you attempt an extremely de-stabilized pose will you ever need to base a battlemech, and even then you should consider how you want to base the rest of your force to look when deployed alongside it.

The Basics
The most common basing material people use today is sand. Pure, simple, find-it-on-the-beach sand. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s the standard was flock, a sort of fibrous, lightweight material meant to mimic grass or earth. Nowadays the more realistic approach to basing involves sand, static grass to mimic, well, grass, and large or small pieces of slate used as rocks and boulders. This effect works just as well for 28mm Battletech, as 28mm infantry are the same size (ish) in every miniature wargame.

Kuritan Infantry (Defiance Games Chinese Militia), displaying a very basic basing style. 
Basing is most easily accomplished by using wood glue or white glue on your model’s base, painting it on with an old paintbrush, or using a toothpick to smear it on, making sure to avoid the miniature’s feet (or claws, or hooves, or whatever).

 After spreading on the glue, pour sand or flock onto the base, covering the glue entirely. Leave the miniature to dry after this, and then shake the excess sand or flock back into its container.

Some gamers prefer to simply leave the sand or flock the color it came in. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this approach, but for a much more professional touch, you can paint the basing material the same way you would paint the model (some painters say to prime the model, paint the base first, and then paint the model, other say to paint the model and then the base, either way works really). Sand and flock work equally well painted as asphalt or cement, muddy terrain, urban rubble, or red-tinted martian dirt.

Advanced Methods
While flock and sand make for great basic bases, many gamers and professional modelers prefer more advanced techniques. There are many different basing materials on the market right now. Among the best are those offered by Secret Weapon Miniatures. This company makes an extensive line of resin bases, as well as what are hands-down the finest weathering pigments, washes, and thematic basing materials.

Among these “advanced methods” I speak of are weathering and scenery effects that more accurately portray real phenomena, such as mud, snow, water, and grasslands. Mud mixtures and snow effects are becoming fairly common, even Games Workshop produces a Citadel Mourn Mountain Snow Texture paint, as well as a Citadel Snow basing material, which is basically white flock.

In fact, Games Workshop’s Citadel Texture paints bear a mention here. Citadel Texture is part of their new paint line, instead of liquid paint, the stuff is almost pure pigment with a gritty, grainy texture. It spreads onto a base (and will ruin a good brush, so make sure you use an old one), best done in a fairly heavy layer, and completely replaces the need for sand or flock, instead working as an all-in-one, easy-to-apply basing material. They offer it in 6 colors, with one other Citadel Technical paint that I will detail below. The colors available are Citadel Mourn Mountain Snow, Stirland Mud, Blackfire Earth, Astrogranite, Armageddon Dust, and Lustrian Undergrowth. Mourn Mountain Snow provides a very decent snow base for your money- though be warned, Citadel Texture paints do not stretch as far as other basing materials or even other paints. I used an entire pot of the stuff to get good coverage on 10 40mm-base models. Stirland Mud is a decent mud mixture, Astrogranite makes for damn-near perfect cement if you make sure to keep the application smooth and even, and Armageddon Dust makes for good sand on desert-themed bases. Blackfire Earth and Lustrian Undergrowth are unfortunately the worst two of the line, with colors that don’t really apply to anything in the real world.

Lastly there is Citadel Agrellan Earth Technical paint. Designed for basing as well, this one differs in that, instead of a generic pebbly texture, it is smooth and at first glance looks identical to normal paint. However, it is specially formulated so that, as it dries, the technical paint cracks and withers, and, once 100% dried, makes for absolutely outstanding cracked, dry dirt. We’re talking salt flats, parched earth, cracked mud, this stuff makes every other desert basing material look pathetic!
Citadel Agrellan Earth on the base of a Defiance Games UAMC Marine 

Decorating Your Bases
While a basic substrate is fine for many models (dirt, sand, snow, whatever), further decoration goes a long way not only in personalizing your army, but also in adding more depth and realism to the miniatures themselves. If you’re doing a desert-themed army, for example, why not add dry, dehydrated grasses with static grass? Or go the full mile with animal skeletons, cacti, or vultures perching on accompanying scenery (or…y’know, Jade Falcons I guess)? If you’re doing snow bases, try using water effects to make puddles of ice, or get the Games Workshop Northern Wastes Basing Kit, which for $33 gives you a whole mess of winter-themed basing supplies such as snow flock, slate, dried tan static grass, and plastic icicles which make a winter base look truly stunning. In fact, GW makes 6 different basing kits like this, each with a different scenic theme from the war-torn cities of Warhammer 40,000 (great for Battletech) to scorched sands of the desert. Adding a bit more of that “personal touch” to your 28mm Battletech miniatures can make an army go from “1st Genyosha” to “The 1st Genyosha During the Battle of Luthien in 3068.”

A fully based Battlemech (3 Guesses which one!). This one features a sand/slate mixture, several larger slate pieces, resin Jersey Barriers from Defiance Games, and two Defiance Games UAMC Marines, as well as a piece of ruined masonry from Games Workshop and a brass etched piece of bullet-riddled metal. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

1/60 Scale Battletech- Catapult

I’m back with a vengeance, and have another great build to share with y’all. Scott Murphy of Scott’s Messy Desk blog had one last Catapult in his inventory, which I was happy to purchase for a great price. This is a full resin kit with 20 pieces, and is simply a joy to put together. Although the model was shipped accidentally missing the upper leg pieces, Scott rectified the situation very quickly, and I appreciate both his quick shipping (even having to deal with customs between US and Canada) and his exceptional skill at casting these kits. A couple of the pieces were pre-primed before he sent them, but that’s not a problem for construction.

Now this Catapult is done in the style seen in Mechwarrior 4, marking it as a 3062 (Fedcom Civil War era) CPLT-C1 with 4 Medium Lasers and 2 LRM-15 launchers. I really love the Catapult design as a whole, and the MW4 variant is my favorite of all, with the slimmed-down frame, utilitarian aesthetics, and rugged construction.

Of course, I had to add my own personal touch to the miniature. After brainstorming a bit, I ended up settling on stowage. Stowage, in case anyone doesn’t know, is the baggage and ammunition and spare gear that is often strapped to fighting vehicles on the move. It was a common practice to stow fuel canisters, mess equipment, kit bags and the like on tanks and armored cars when military forces were on the move during World War 2. I took a similar idea for my Catapult. Although ‘mechs are different than tanks in a variety of ways, with moving limbs and standing much higher than the infantry they accompany, I decided it was nonetheless plausible for a disparate mercenary company or a long-range patrol force to use the heavy lifting power of their ‘mechs to carry extra gear. For it to make sense, I kept all of the baggage strapped to the ankle/foot armor plates, down where infantry can unload them once the convoy stops moving.

In addition to stowage on the legs, I rigged up a set of spare fuel/coolant tanks directly behind the
cockpit assembly, with a chain and winch system for loading and unloading. I think it gives the machine a very heavy duty appearance, perfect for a Catapult that needs to stick by supply lines anyway.

Lastly, I drilled out some holes behind the cockpit glass and inserted a pair of metal wires to work as radio antennas. I also added a pair of exhaust vents (all of these are old 40k bits, btw) to the upper hips, either as jump jets or heat sinks, whichever works better I suppose.

So who’s the mean machine going to fight for? Well…I did mention a disparate mercenary company. I was thinking Hansen’s Roughriders. I’m a big fan of this particular unit, and since they’re mercenaries, they fight for just about any cause imaginable, as long as the money is right- ideal for 28mm Battletech gaming, where at a tournament you could find your force facing any house or merc unit or clan imaginable. I’ll be starting on the painting job soon enough, i’ll need to order some new decals from Fighting Piranha Graphics so I can detail it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

And with 2014 Comes….

…more N-Scale! Just for the moment. I got the final pieces needed for the 1/60 Scale Catapult while i was on vacation over the last week, so I will have that built and painted very soon here. But while I was packing up before I left I had the chance to take a few (admittedly crappy) pics of the N-Scale Orko_one Dragon I bought off Lords of the Battlefield sometime back in 2012 and finally got around to painting.

Sometimes it’s hard to work up the courage to paint something you really enjoyed building. I know that’s the case with myself anyway. A lot of times a model will be great standing on its base, built and converted lovingly, and still grey plastic or resin…..and then when you paint it something goes wrong. I’ve had that problem with Warhammer 40,000 models all my life. I consider myself a decent painter, don’t get me wrong, but there are times where I draw a blank on a good paint scheme, or the way I envision it just doesn’t pan out in practice. Whatever the case, it helps to have a strong vision of what you intend, and carefully plan out how you’re going to accomplish it.

The Dragon here I feel turned out very well. I’ll try and get better pics up this weekend, but for now, you can view the phone versions. I primed it black, and then painted on several thin layers of Citadel Astronomicon Grey, a good flat shade which I think turned out okay. I washed the entire model in Citadel Gryphonne Sepia shade, which gave it a dirty texture and washed into the recesses, a good basic weathering effect so your ‘mechs don’t look like they’re straight out of the factory.

Since I already had the ruined brick wall piece on the base, I felt a rural-urban setting was necessary, and with red brick and brown dirt, the grey of the ‘mech needed camouflage- albeit in a contrasting color. I used a mustard-brown/yellow camo scheme. I started with Citadel Zandri Dust, applied via stippling, in a banded pattern across the hull, arms, and legs. This was then highlighted with Citadel Dry Hexos Palesun, which gave it a yellowish, sulfur-colored finish which I really like.

The metals were done using a base of Citadel Warplock Bronze followed by a layer of Citadel Boltgun Metal, and then a wash of Citadel Gryphonne Sepia to take the sheen off of it.

The cockpit was done in a contrasting tone, in this case bright green, using Vallejo Game Color Escorpina Green, followed by the brighter layer of Vallejo Game Color Livery Green, with a wash of Citadel Coeilia Greenshade to blend the two colors, followed by a glaze of Citadel Waywatcher Green.

Lastly, I based the model with the resin ruin and a specialty mixture of 3/4 sand and 1/4 slate. I find that I get the best texture from this mix, and always glue the model and any basing accessories (like the ruin) to the base before applying basing material. A battlemech weighs a whole hell of a lot, so the machine is bound to sink into mud or dirt or sand or gravel that it’s stepping in. And it works well to, say, press some footprints into a mud mixture if you plan on having a super-detailed base beforehand. With this model, and many of my N-scale pieces, I use a set of 15mm/N-Scale ruined buildings from a manufacturer that’s sadly now out of business. However, you can find base accessories like it from other sources out there. I highly recommend 15mm Stalingrad buildings found on FRP Games website. I base coated the dirt and grit with Citadel Rhinox Hide, then drybrushed heavily with Citadel Doombull Brown, followed by Citadel Tuskgor Fur, and finally with a very, very, very light brushing of Tuskgor Fur mixed with Citadel Screaming Skull white. The bricks were done in one layer of Formula P3 Khador Red base, shaded with a wash of Citadel Gryphonne Sepia. And the faded wallpaper on the inner walls of the ruin were done with Citadel Screaming Skull and the same Gryphonne Sepia wash.

Overall you get the sense of a heavy battlemech stomping through a long-abandoned, bombed-out ruin, perhaps on the outskirts of a greater city. I think it turned out well.