Went on a bit of a book buying spree recently in aid of getting more background material for my WW2 coastal naval gaming; among the classic references in the field are the trilogy of books published in the 1990s by Leonard C. Reynolds, Dog Boats at War, Mediterranean MTBs At War, and Home Waters MTBs & MGBs at War. Except for Dog Boats, they’ve been out of print ever since.
I looked through a few different used book websites and eventually wound up getting all three through different ABE Books sellers, despite my standing desire not to funnel money toward noted sociopath Jeff fuckin’ Bezos.
I also picked up three Osprey books on the same subject, because one of the ABE resellers is also a full-service new book store as well and Ospreys are usually worth it. Those were E-Boat VS MTB, German E-boats 1939-45, and British Motor Torpedo Boat 1939-45.
If you’re looking for reading material on the coastal forces of WW2, I highly recommend the Publications page of Spitfires of the Sea, and the rest of that website while you’re at it. It’s written by Stephen Fisher, an archeologist/historian specializing in 20th C naval matters. He also tweets as @SeaSpitfires and is well worth following there.
For my naval gaming I knew I needed a proper mat eventually; I thought about doing up a sheet of grey felt with spraypaint and such, but then I found the Cold Waters mat from Cigar Box Battles and figured it was worth the investment.
A lot of mats are designed for Mediterranean or tropical games (pirates!) or the Pacific and are way too blue or blue/green for the North Sea or English Channel where all of our WW2 small boat stuff has taken place so far. The Cold Waters mat is described as “the perfect mat to use with your North Sea WW1 Jutland fleets” and the colour looked good, so I decided to order it.
I ordered the mat February 1st and it showed up on the 20th from wherever it is in the US that Cigar Box Battles are based. I didn’t get a shipping notification or tracking number, oddly, which I was expecting given the cost of the thing. No matter, it made it, and a three week turnaround is good in normal circumstances, nevermind our current COVID-FUBAR’d postal mess!
Honestly the mat looks even better in person than in the photos on the Cigar Box website. The colour varies randomly across the mat from quite a dark blue to a lighter grey-blue, with whitecaps across it in the fairly consistent pattern you’d expect. There’s no obvious repeats of the pattern created by lazy graphic design, which is definitely not the case with some of the other sea mats out there.
The mat is a lightweight fleece blanket material and only printed on one side, which is fine. The fabric has a bit of a shine to it, again just fine on a seascape, and just a bit of fleece fuzz texture. It lays nicely flat, no curling at the corners or edges, and the creases you can see in the photos are about the largest on the whole thing right now. I’ll iron it eventually, and then store it either rolled around something or crumpled up loosely so it doesn’t get long straight creases in it again.
I think it’ll stand up to years of gaming use, and according to Cigar Box it’s washable in case someone does spill on it once in-person gaming is a thing again.
The mat has fairly flat seams along each edge; if you were laying several out overlapping the ridge along the edges wouldn’t be too disruptive even with small ship models. It’s advertised as “4 x 6 Plus” which I think means it’s four to six inches bigger than that in each direction; I’ve not actually bothered to measure yet.
Absolutely a good value and solid looking product, with good shipping times. I’m not sure when I’ll next need a mat for something else, but Cigar Box will be on the shortlist if and when I do!
From the excellent people running Dark Fantastic Mills I purchased this Doomcap Shrooms Bundle earlier in the year. If you want to run fantasy games, you should, I think, have fantasy scenery. If you want to fight amongst perfectly ordinary trees, run a historical game, those are fun too.
These mushrooms are all 3d printed in FMD; you can see some layering here and there, especially across the broad flat tops of some of the bigger mushrooms, but other than that they’re wonderfully sculpted and beautifully detailed pieces of scenery. And BIG – check out that roughly human sized figure in the Dark Fantastic Mills shop photo above!
With “fantasy scenery should look fantastic” in mind, I cut loose and did up this lovely batch of 3d-printed giant ‘shrooms (and their smaller brethern) in gloriously weird colours. Reds and purples and vivid blues and greens, all the colours I usually use sparingly here and there came out in force.
I started with a dark grey spray primer coat, then did a rough drybrush of pure white. All of the colours after that got cut at least 1:1 if not more with glaze medium, so the original drybrushing mostly showed through and the various colours layered and blended fairly smoothly. I’ve posted this link before, but go watch Dana Howl’s 24 minute intro to glaze medium on YouTube, it really has changed the way I paint and these giant mushrooms would have looked much less interesting without her influence.
Some of the DFM shrooms still need another round of highlighting or glazing to finish them off, and the biggest one, the massive slope-topped multi-trunked one in the last photo, still needs it’s base finished, flocked and detailed.
I’m really pleased with these Dark Fantastic Mills ‘shrooms. The bundle isn’t cheap, but you get huge dramatic pieces of scenery for your money that really stand out on the table! Go check Dark Fantastic Mills out, they’ve really harnessed 3d printing to make scenery that couldn’t easily be made in other materials and their designs really are fantastic.
Forge of Ice is one of those one-person companies that makes all sorts of cool stuff, and after knowing about them for several years I finally got around to making a small order from them a few weeks ago. Most of the fascinating little one person companies are British, but Forge of Ice is in fact based in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Forge of Ice mostly does Lost World style stuff, small dinosaurs, oddball caveman-style accessories and stuff. I’m not doing much Lost World style pulp at the moment, but I have in the past and I’m certain I will in the future. Besides, I could always cross-pollinate my current weird 17th Century stuff with Lost World, couldn’t I? Hmmm…
Anyway, what did I get from the frozen depths of central Alaska? A pair of Snake Priestesses, a batch of five peacocks, a sabertooth tiger rug, and the centrepiece of this little collection, a resin Doom Serpent Idol.
The serpent priestesses are elegantly slim 28mm figures, both slender women with large snakes wrapped around their arms and shoulders. I have no immediate plans for them, but they’re awesomely pulpy and clearly need some sort of group of underpriestesses, guards, and temple lackeys to order about in their sneaky attempts to do whatever it is snake priestesses from a Lost World plot to do.
The peacocks are some of the first figures Forge of Ice released, several years ago, and I’m thinking that as well as being just general fancy set dressing, with a couple of house rules they could be mobile alarm units in a Pulp Alley scenario where players are trying to sneak up on a fancy house and don’t dare disturb the peafowl least the damn things scream the place down and alert guards or something! (if you’ve never heard a peafowl scream, they have a glorious bloodcurdling horror movie shriek. It’s awful.) The smaller female peahens and the male peacock with his tail down are both single piece castings; the peacock in full display mode is two pieces. There will need to be a bit of filing and puttying to get the body of the peacock and his tail to match up nicely, but nothing outrageous.
The saber tooth rug was just too much fun to pass up, I suspect I’ll use it as weird decoration in someone’s study or something!
The Doom Serpent idol is a fairly serious chunk of fine grey resin, about 3″ tall and just over 2″ wide at the shoulders. I’m really looking forward to painting this one up, I’m thinking a sort of blond/tan sandstone look like we see in Egyptian statues, with some coloured painted bits here and there, will look great.
Hopefully one of these days Alex gets around to getting Forge of Ice an actual website, but in the meantime go have a look at his Lead Adventure thread (you don’t need a LAF account to see it) and ping him by email, by the message service at LAF, or via Facebook Messenger to get your cool weird Lost World loot from the distant north!
Ordered a few things from the excellent and varied ranges of Bad Squiddo Games back in March; things took longer to get from the UK to here than I’m used to, almost like some major world event is disrupting trans-Atlantic flights or something. However, everything was dispatched from the UK in good time and I am certainly not going to blame Anne of Bad Squiddo or the various postal services involved for a lack of air mail capacity…
I got a fairly mixed bag of stuff. A few ladies that will probably show up mostly as players or civilians in my English Civil War/Weird ECW games, a fine herd of pigs and some farm scenery, a bunch of cats, and some small scenery to add detail here and there, including a whole lot of mushrooms and toadstools for suitably creepy weird fantasy/horror forest bits.
Everything is really cleanly cast and beautifully sculpted. The scenics are mostly by the very talented Ristul and in an interesting slightly flexible grey resin; the white metal sculpts are by a variety of sculptors and all really well done.
Not pictured above is the pigs, my favourite single part of this purchase. I indulged in the Pigtopia bundle deal which got me ten pigs and six bits of pigsty/farm scenery. I’ve already painted the pigs up, basing them in small groups on 40mm bases.
I painted the pigs up to vaguely resemble one of the oldest heritage breeds of pig in the UK, a black-and-white breed that I now can’t find or remember the name of. Anyway, they painted up nicely and I look forward to watching them chase players around the table or be part of someone’s provisions on the hoof in a scenario.
The Assault Group (TAG) has a huge range of Thirty Year’s War/English Civil War/general Renaissance figures that I’d heard good things about, including that they were fairly compatible in size and style to the Warlord figures that make up the entirety of my TYW/ECW collection so far.
The only major piece missing from my 17th C forces so far are guns, so I ordered TAG’s English Battery Builder pack which has a culverin, eight crew, and accessories. To give me some game options I also picked up a falconette light gun on it’s own. That gives me a light gun, a heavier field gun, enough crew to do a full six man gun crew per the Pikeman’s Lament rules for either of them, and some nice extra bits for base decoration – gunpowder barrels, piles of shot, that sort of thing.
Then I waited.
And waited some more.
Then I got an email apologizing for the wait.
This wasn’t a surprise by this point, because a significant number of posts on the TAG blog are, in fact, posts explaining how backlogged their orders are.
Then I waited a while longer.
My initial order was made on June 22nd. The “we’re backed up” email came through on August 4th. My order was apparently “completed” on August 11th. It showed up in Canada on September 11th.
That’s… goddamn glacial. In nearly two decades of ordering stuff from overseas for wargaming I don’t think I’ve ever had an order take so long from initial order to the toys actually showing up, even back in the late 1990s when I was just starting out and an order to the UK or the States meant snail mail, paper order forms filled out by hand, and an International Money Order.
So, don’t order from TAG if you’re in any sort of hurry for your toys. I have a generous backlog of painting and loads of scenery projects to distract me, thankfully.
Now that they’re finally here, what about the figures themselves? I quite like them, the casts are very clean, the sculpting is well proportioned and nicely detailed, and while they’re mostly a little bit smaller than the Warlord figures they’ll look fine in adjacent units on the table!
Warlord’s plastic figures are actually slightly bigger than most of their metal figures; their metal ones are a pretty close match for TAG’s while Warlord plastics are bigger. Odd that Warlord has that difference between the two materials they produce figures in…
The two guns are four parts, two wheels, the stock (carriage?), and the barrel, and fit together easily. Mold lines and flash are minimal, just a few minutes cleanup for the whole lot.
The two crew packs are available separately as English Artillery crew loading and English Artillery crew sighting, each consisting of an officer/sergeant figure and three crew. The loaders have a powder scoop, rammer, and swab; the sighting crew have two with large timber levers to adjust the gun’s wheels and a gunner doing the actual sighting.
The culverin is also available separately; it comes with the gun, a powder barrel, a water bucket, and a small pile of cannon balls. The falconette has the gun, a wedge, water bucket, and a bucket of small shot.
I still haven’t quite settled on how I’m going to base the guns and their crew, but I’m looking forward to assembling and painting them up; the whole unit should be pretty quick to paint up, and while I usually base figures before painting them, I might well tack these guys down to craft sticks to get them painted before I make any basing decisions. Basing might involve a custom movement tray of some sort ordered from Warbases that can fit six crew on 25mm bases and the unbased gun, to match the 2mm MDF movement trays I’ve already got.
I’ll probably order from TAG again; they have some different figures that Warlord don’t offer, I like their sculpting style, and variety is always useful, but the insanely long order times are offputting.
Warbases started doing vehicles in lasercut MDF and cardboard (greyboard) a few years ago and I was intrigued right away; a lot of 28mm vehicles are fairly expensive or (especially for World War One, Russian Civil War, or other early 20th C gaming) simply don’t exist.
It took me a while to get around to ordering any of the vehicles, but I now have a Pierce Arrow truck and an Albion truck that I’ve built, and I’m pleased to say these are really nice kits, great value for their cost, and quite easy to build!
The Peasant Cart
I also picked up Warbases’ Peasant Cart 2, which is part of their Carts & Wagons line, listed separately from the Vehicles line. This is a straightforward little model, about 20 pieces including the wheels, and produces a nice solid piece of wargaming scenery. It’s called a cart, but it is a full four wheel wagon.
Assembly and painting didn’t take much time at all, maybe half an hour. I used a random grubby wash of green-grey over the whole wagon, added a bit of pale grey for the insides of the wagon, then did a bit of edge highlighting with a grey-white mix just to pop some of the edges a bit. I’ll probably glue some straw (cut from manila cord) down to the inside of the wagon just for a bit more easy detailing.
The wagon is big enough that two or three figures on 20mm bases could fit in the bed of it, although it’s too narrow for 25mm or larger bases to fit flat.
The Pierce Arrow is a relatively small truck, with room for two or three figures in the truck bed. The Albion is quite a bit larger, with room for 6 figures on 20mm bases or 3-4 figures on 25mm bases in the bed.
Each truck comes as a couple of small sheets of MDF and an even smaller (business-card sized, roughly) sheet of greyboard card, with roughly 30 or so parts per vehicle. The instructions are photo-illustrated PDFs on the Warbases website, which does mean you can check them out before purchase. It sometimes takes a bit of peering at some of the photos to figure out which part is being fitted where, and as always I highly, highly recommend carefully dryfitting everything before you start adding glue!
One thing I noticed and appreciated about both trucks and the wagon is that any part that isn’t unique is actually identical to any corresponding part – the sides of the truck beds are identical and interchangeable, for example. Most parts aren’t labelled or numbered, but this nice design touch makes it hard to screw up the build process. Warbases has also put on-sprue/on-sheet photos of the parts of all three of these kits on their website, which helps sometimes with keeping track of parts.
The Pierce Arrow truck took me maybe an hour to assemble and paint to the point you can see in these photos; it’s got a bit of detail painting and cleanup left to do, and maybe some more weathering, so these are fast kits to assemble and get onto the table. I stopped assembling the Albion at the point you see in these photos so that I could paint the undercarriage before adding the wheels and fenders, as the Pierce got a bit cramped to paint with the wheels in place and the Albion has fenders on all four wheels, not just the front. I’ve also skipped putting the cab roof on the Albion for now to make painting the inside of the cab less painful.
The Pierce Arrow has been basecoated dark green with a black roof; I’ll do a round of highlighting (mostly of the edges) and there’s some detail areas like the wheels, headlight, and front grille left to paint. I haven’t decided what colour to do the bigger Albion; possibly dark grey or tan. Both colour schemes will do for either military or civilian vehicles of the era, especially in the chaos of the Russian Civil War!
The fenders, incidentally, are the only really fiddly bit of these kits. They’re lasercut card (greyboard) that you have to bend gently and then glue to an MDF inside piece to get them to hold the needed curve. Neither fender on the Pierce Arrow is quite right, although both are acceptable given the battering such fenders would take on the real vehicles! The instructions from Warbases say to bend the fenders over a pen or the handle of an Xacto, but doing this caused the greyboard to crease for me. I had better luck gently pressing the pieces against the pad of my thumb with another finger and gently flexing the card into a sort of curve that way.
That quibble aside, these are great kits and I’m sure I’ll get more eventually. They’re very sturdy once assembled, well designed for easy assembly, and it’s nice to have such an inexpensive source of vehicles for Early 20th C gaming!
While at Trumpeter Salute I picked up one of PlastCraft’s Designed-For-Infinity plastic pre-coloured buildings, the Curved Modular Building, from the awesome folks at Imperial Hobbies, BC’s greatest wargaming store, and the only reason I do anything in Richmond other than change buses…
Anyway, the Curved Modular Building is a small building, with a footprint about 4″x4″ (not including the ramps) and about 3″ tall. It’s only 16 parts, six of which are for the two ramps off each end of the building.
The material is all 2mm foamed PVC board (Sintra is one common brand name) that’s been colour printed on one side, presumably by computer. The printing seems very solid, certainly enough to handle transport and use on a gaming table, and foamed PVC is good solid material for gaming terrain. My space station walls are built mostly with thicker Sintra (1/8″ or about 3.5mm) that I picked up at our local plastics supply place.
Assembly is pretty straightforward, with the small caveat that you do need to be slightly careful with the curved pieces so you don’t kink them. I glued the two end walls into the floor with superglue, let them cure for a bit, and gently pre-curved the main roof piece with my hands and over the top of one thigh before fitting it in place. Secure one end of the roof with superglue and work patiently around the curve of the piece, adding glue an inch or two at at time along the top edge of the two walls. Once you get the whole roof glued, hold the whole assembly for a minute or two to give the superglue a chance to cure.
Pre-curve and dry fit the two end roof pieces before tacking them into place with superglue, then add the two short end walls on each porch. Glue the two ramp assemblies together and you’re done, one piece of terrain ready to go on the table. I elected to leave the ramps separate from the building to make transportation and storage slightly easier; they tuck nicely into one porch for storage.
I like these buildings, they’re super easy to assemble and it’s kind of nice not to have to paint and detail everything yourself. The use of foamed PVC instead of the more usual MDF or cardboard allows the interesting curved roof, and the curved features in some of the other PlastCraft ColorED range. PlastCraft has just announced an expansion of their ColorED Infinity line, and they have a couple of other lines in the same range, some of which could make for fun Infinity tables. They also do most of the range in plain white foamed PVC if you want to paint them yourself.
First, I have to say that Walt, the man behind Impudent Mortal, is awesome to deal with. He’s incredibly quick to reply to emails, worked with me to figure out the best way to ship his stuff to Canada (the US Postal Service having recently cranked it’s foreign rates to moderately silly levels) and I look forward to doing more business with him and his company in the future!
So on to the elevators. They’re laser cut from a mix of 3mm MDF and 1/16th cardboard (greyboard), which gives them some nice details and makes them slightly finer-grained than some of the scenery out there that just uses MDF. The base, walls, and door frames are MDF, while the doors are layered cardboard and card is used for details on the interior walls and floor as well as around the door frame.
Each elevator — you get two in the pack — is 3.75″ wide across the doors, 3.5″ long, and 2 1/8″ tall. There’s 11 pieces of MDF total and about 28 total pieces of greyboard, that count being inflated by the fact that the grilles that detail the floor are all separate pieces, 16 of them.
There are also eight small control panels of laser cut acrylic, which go in the openings on either side of the doors. They’re not visible in any of my photos because I haven’t installed them yet; they’ll go in dead last after I’m finished all painting and weathering.
Everything fits together with the ease we’ve come to expect from laser cut scenery, and while most pieces are pretty obvious in their placement and function, dry-fitting and testing as you go (before applying glue!) is always advised.
The doors slide in and out of the door frames vertically and fit very well, loose enough to actually move but snug enough not to fall out while transporting or handling the piece. Each door is three pieces of cardboard, so it has details on both the inside and outside and they’re reversible, which is nice.
I’ll post more pictures on a future post once I’ve gotten some paint on my elevators. Two is probably enough for any single tabletop so I’m not sure I’ll order more, but I’m very pleased with them; they’re unique cover items for an Infinity table and provide more options and opportunity than the classic packing crate or cargo container. They’ll look great as scatter on the space station terrain I’ve been working on!
If IM ever decide to do more of this style of terrain, the sort of thing you might find in a space station or cargo facility, I’d be very interested.
What the heck, you ask, is a tachanka (also found spelled “tchanka”)? It’s a Russian vehicle developed during the Great War and used, in various forms, right through the Second World War. A lightweight, sprung carriage with two, three, or sometimes four horses out front, a Maxim machinegun mounted to fire out the rear, and a few crew holding on for dear life. It was designed to give machinegun support to cavalry units. Wikipedia has a bit more, if you’re interested.
The Eureka tachanka has been around for ages, but it has a bit of a mixed reputation among RCW/BoB gamers. The crew figures are undersized, is the usual complaint, and I’ve also heard comments about the beastie being fussy to build.
That said, it’s the only easily-available tachanka, and the presence of such an eccentric and unique unit in an RCW/BoB force is a powerful lure!
So to start off, here’s what you get.
Three horses, three crew (driver, gunner, assistant gunner), a Maxim on the usual Russian wheeled cart (4 pieces) and 15 parts for the tachanka carriage itself, most of which are suspension. The whole thing is cleanly cast and there was a minimum of mold lines and flash to remove, most of it between the horses’ legs.
The small piece of paper with the exploded view is useful as a reference, although I think I’ll wind up printing the photo of the assembled tachanka off the Eureka website as well for additional reference. The front wheels/suspension/horse-attachment bit is the only really complex subassembly, although the fenders on the sides are going to require some gentle, careful bending to fit them into place and keep them symmetrical. I’ll put it on a “shadow” base like I did the armoured car I did a couple of years ago to help strengthen the whole thing, and probably use a small amount of putty out of sight on the underside to reinforce things here and there.
As I assemble the beast I’ll get some photos of it along side Copplestone & Brigade RCW infantry and cavalry, to attempt to answer that whole question about the scale of it. Onward!