Wednesday, 21 March 2018

From Curt: Challenge VIII Group Shot

Hi All!

In the time-honoured tradition of taking a pic of what we achieved during the Challenge, I thought I'd open the ball and be first to take to the floor.

Personally, I really like these retrospective photos as its always enjoyable to place faces to names and it allows us all to take stock of what we've achieved over the past three months. 

My completed group is fairly modest, but I'm pleased with what I managed to complete. Put it this way: There is absolutely no way I would have this sort of output through the 90 odd days of winter.

So I challenge all our participants to take a picture of themselves along with their work so we can all see your beaming faces along with the fruits of your labour.

Warm Regards,


Challenge VIII Last Post - A Monstrous Theme: 'The Second American Civil War (2020-?)' (170 Points)

Hello All!

Well, here we are at the finish line of Challenge VIII. I'm exhausted, a bit overstressed, but also absolutely delighted with how this year's event came off and all of this is due to our terrific participants and brilliant Challenge team. Bravo to you all!

First off, I have to confess that I found this edition to be a bit of a struggle as I became heavily involved in affairs at work which bordered on the Kafkaesque. This resulted in a significant portion of my spare time being absorbed away from hobby desk, putting out fires, extracting knives from backs, with little fun to show for it. All that I can say now is thank goodness for our rock-solid band of Minions who were more than capable in steering the ship, keeping it happy and skipping along. Thanks so much team, I could not have done it without you.


My last entry is a bit of guilty self-indulgence. 

While my first love is 19th century history, closely followed by the Renaissance, I've always had a ghoulish fascination of modern and contemporary conflicts. I know that for many, ultra-modern warfare is a no-go zone, as it's often felt to be just 'too close' for comfort, too near to home. I completely understand this and can sympathise, but for me wargaming is often a measure to the morality play within our society and I like to play around outside the norms.

Several years ago I wrote a piece on my blog where I reflected on wargaming, history and morality. I know, kinda heavy stuff for a toy soldier blog, but anyway, I recently reviewed the post and all the well-considered comments from those who read it. 

So I want to try something in the ultra-modern vein, but I find myself not particularly interested in gaming the stereotypical white special forces guys operating in third world countries, killing brown and black people. Instead I want to explore the divisions in our own western society by taking our contemporary narrative to an extreme conclusion, a narrative where civil war has broken out in North America. Yes, its sort of a poke in the eye to our civilized sensibilities, something provocative to fly in the face of our Western sense of superiority. Refuting the idea that 'it could never happen here'. 

So I present to you the beginning of my vision of 'The Second American Civil War (2020-?)'. 

I won't go into the background here as its quite long-winded and perhaps a bit contentious. If you're interested please feel free to visit my blog in a few weeks where I'll post more background on this project. Like many these projects it will probably never see completion, but that's not what this is about. It will simply serve as a silly vehicle for my indulgent, sardonic, very personal opinion of the human condition from a Western geopolitical perspective.

Anyway, enough blather, on to the the miniatures!

The miniatures and figures pictured here are from a fairly wide variety of sources.

First, a team of MAGA Militia in their distinctive red baseball caps. These guys are from Spectre Miniatures. Great sculpts, though the weapons are 'true scale' which means rather fragile.

Then we have a team of generic, very well-equiped urban survivalists. Perhaps ex-members of a local SWAT team. These chaps are from Hasslefree miniatures. A bit larger than your average 28mm figures but beautiful models to work on.

Then four members of a Mexican Sicario hit team. As a certain silly Orange Man described them, they are 'Bad Hombres'. These are from Spectre Miniatures.

Finally a trio of local survivors just trying to stay alive. I imagine these as ex-military service personnel armed and clothed in an ad-hoc mixture of gear and equipment. These three are also from Spectre.

I'm imagining several more factions, militias, cults, etc. which should be fun and perhaps raise an eyebrow or two. :)

The terrain shown here is a mix of stuff as well. 

The gas station is from Sarissa Precision. It was a incredibly fun kit to work on. Due to the setting I have in mind, I really went nuts on weathering it. Sarah says I need an old Coke machine out front and a bunch of windblown newspapers around the pumps - as usual, she's absolutely right.

The billboard is from our good friend Byron over at Northern Lights Terrain and Gaming Suppies. A great little kit that was easy to assemble and fun to weather up.

The two wrecked cars are from 'The Walking Dead' terrain boxed set. I think it has 4  plastic vehicles, half a dozen barricades and a bunch of other scatter for around 30 bucks - Really, an incredible value for what you get in it. I picked this up at 'Crisis' this past autumn and DaveD was kind enough to send it over The Pond to me so I didn't have to lug it around Europe for the rest of our vacation. Thanks so much Dave! 

The green wrecked car is a resin model from Armorcast. 

The Jersey concrete barriers and oil drums are 3D prints from Thingiverse. 


Now, the final administrative bits.

The announcement on the various prizes will be in a little over two weeks (Sunday, April 8th). These will be:

- The six Threshold prizes for 500, 750, 1000, 1500, 2000 and 2500 points.

- Judges Choice (chosen by me)

- Sarah's Choice (chosen by Lady Sarah)

- Challenger's Choice (chosen by you lot!)

- Awards for the top finishers in the points standings

For Challenger's choice we're going to do it similar to previous years. I want all of the participants to send me their top three choices of the Challenge. The deadline is next Sunday (the 25th). It does not have to be in any particular order as I will place them a big gallery and we can all vote from the entire group of nominations. That way we'll all get reminded of all the excellent work that was produced during the Challenge. I'll give out prizes for the top three on April 8th.

Again, a HUGE thanks to this year's Minions: Jamie, Michael, 
Miles, Millsy, Ray, Sander and Sidney - I could not have kept this show on the road without you. You guys were amazing.

The past three months were amazing.

YOU all were amazing.

And as tired as I am, I'm already looking forward to the next one. :)

Thanks again everyone for indulging me in my madness.


From RichardC: We're putting the Band back together (225 Points)

We’re putting the Band back together.

Now those film buffs amongst you will recognise the quotation from the wonderful Blues Borthers – to me, the blues not only means a host of wonderful guitarists, but also the Grande Armee.

For the Musician bonus round, I painted up 8 Imperial Guard Grenadier drummers and their Drum Master – for my last submission to the Challenge, I present the rest of the band.

The scene was inspired by the painting of the revue at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel by Bellange. Not only could I have the Band, but also include some of the French Top Brass.

Led by Drum Major Jean Nicolas Senot (1761-1837) (- a smashing miniature by the way), the band, together with a Sappers formed the Tete de Colonne.  

Playing a variety of instruments including the bassoon, hautbois, cymbals, jingling johnny, flute, serpent and (that most martial of instruments), the triangle, they provided the accompaniment for the great parades of the First Empire. 

The band, sappers and Senot are, like the drummers, from warlord. These are really nice characterful figures, and pretty east to assemble (although the bassoon was a bit dodgy). My only quibble was with the two cymbal players. All my reference material (Rousselot, Bucquoy, Joineau, Osprey et al portray the black musicians in an oriental style uniform. Warlord has them garbed in identical style to the rest of the band.

The high command are a mix of Front Rank and Perry figures, and include the Emperor, Berthier, Lannes (in the red uniform of Colonel General of Swiss troops), Nansouty and an ADC. I also included Bessieres, painted earlier in the Challenge. Sadly, Gringo40s Murat didn't quite get finished.

The Arc is a Sarissa Precision MDF kit, and those eagle eyed (and old enough) can spot the quadriga from the Airfix HO Romans set (the figure with it is from the Atlantic gladiators set).

There are 8 sappers; 21 bandsmen, 1 drum major, 1 conductor, 6 mounted figures.  

Warlord, Front Rank, Perry, Sarissa

Sadly, this attempt at a points bomb arrived 30 minutes after the deadline. Still, it was fun to do. I didn't even get the chance to base it properly.

Hopefully, next year, real life (and hospital) won't interfere too much.




Sorry Richard, I'll let you in after closing, but I'm just too tired to write anything right now. I'll catch you up in the comments later. :)


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

From ByronM - Afro Samurai and Curtgeld (45 Points )

First up is a figure that I fell in love with and ordered the second I saw it when Lee (of Mr. Lee's Miniatures) posted it in last years challenge.  The figure is an African American samurai character, which obviously is Samuel L Jackson's Afro Samurai.

It is the first large scale figure that I have done (sure I have done things like the Dragon and the space ship which were huge, but they were still small scale) and is something above 54mm scale, I never actually checked or worried about it when I ordered it.  On his base he is 80mm tall.

Being a large scale figure I wanted to do more to him than just the normal shading.  I tried working textures into his jeans and shirt, and while they maybe didn't come out quiet right, I do like the general effect.

I also wanted to improve on the simple headband on him, as anyone that has seen the comics or the anime will know that he always has these long flowing ends of the headbands trailing behind him.  I decided to at least try to emulate them with foil.  While not perfect, as they kept bending even from light brush pressure while trying to painting them, I think they give a better overall look and more closely match what I picture him looking like. In the actual anime they often had really strong angles back and forth, so I did mine like that, but may smooth them out a bit later, I just can't decide and didn't want to break them off for about the 20th time while taking pictures.

He is actually not completely finished yet, as I have plans for a full scenic base for him and want to do more shading and details but ran out of time, despite having started him on day one.  Again being large scale I kept wanting to do more, figure out more, try more, on him so kept procrastinating, doing an hour work then leaving him for a week, then coming back and doing an hour work, and so on.

He is however complete enough to at least quickly base up and post to show him off so far before the end of the challenge.

Next up, and my final entry for this challenge is my Curtgeld piece.

I have to apologize as it in no way fits the theme requested of monstrous.  I could word play and try to come up with something and try to justify it, like "war is monstrous" or some other drivel, but I honestly hate all that word play stuff (being a computer geek and believing everything is black or white, 1 or 0) so, I will just say sorry it doesn't meet the theme at all, but I saw the figure and fell in love with it and thought it would be a great piece for this year's entrance fee figure, long before the challenge started.


The piece is the Salute 2017 limited edition miniature from Spectre Miniatures.   It is a pair of figures, with one helping his comrade escape from danger.  I thought this would be a great fig to paint up a pair of, one for me and one for my dear friend Curt.  For a while it looked like I would have to post it right at the end with a comment about me helping him across the finishing line, as I wasn't sure he was going to get to his points goal, but he has done that now.

While I didn't get my copy finished, due to 2 big issues.  Firstly, I put one on my painting desk so I would't forget it, and foolishly put the other aside someplace and have lost it in the mountains of unpainted figures I still have flooding out of my walk in storage closet!  Secondly, even if I had found it, I had completely forgotten it until this weekend, and then had to madly clean this one, prime it, and get it painted.  I did take lots of in progress pictures and wrote down all the colours used and the order and mixes so that I can replicate it.

They are painted to match a fairly basic desert camo pattern.  While not exact, as I find the tiny details tend to make it look super busy and less real than skipping them, I think it came out pretty close. Here is an image I based this figure and the rest of my desert operators on. 

I have left them without unit markings on the patches or helmets so that Curt can tailor it to match his units, and I left them un-based so that Curt can base it as he chooses to match his figures.

While not matching the theme, I hope you like the figure Curt.  I thought it was a great vignette and very fitting as we often help each other with ideas, painting, themes, games, etc.

With that, I will call myself done for the year!  It has been a wild ride having completely finished a Greek force (and in fact it could be considered 2 forces), a 30k Mechanicum army, a bunch of little pieces, several theme week entries that placed in the top 3, and a metric shit-tonne (I swear that's a real measurement) of zombies!  I have painting far more in the last 3 months than at any time in the past.  So, I need a break!

Thank you to my Saturday minion Michael for putting up with me, thanks to everyone that commented so nicely on my miniatures (very much appreciated), and an especially big thank you to Curt for once again hosting this marvelous event!  Oh, and please pass on a thank you to Sarah for letting you run this insane event yet again Curt, and for putting up with all of us!


What a brilliant way to cap of your epic Challenge run Byron. 

I had the pleasure to see Byron's Afro Samurai close-up when I was visiting a few weeks ago and it is superb. And this was before he put on the foil bandana runners. To me this completely makes the figure as the anime and video game heavily featured his crazy long headband whipping out behind him. A wonderful bit of whimsy, that.

Finally, thanks so much for the modern vignette. I remember seeing these as a limited set from Spectre and thinking, damn, I wish I had a set of those. So, this is a wonderful surprise and so beautifully painted. Thank you Byron.

I remember the Afro Samurai to be around 80mm tall so lets score him at 15 points and the modern comrades-in-arms at 30. A final 45 points to cap-off your spectacular three-month run. Bravo, well done, and thank you my friend! 

From ScottM: Germans and Carthaginians (105 Points)

This year's challenge has been gangbusters for me as I've moved a number of projects along quite nicely. So for my last submission of the challenge, I've got a combination of two sets of 28mm figures. First up are two base of Carthaginian cavalry. The figs are from Renegade Miniatures. The base on the left are actual Carthaginians, while the one on the right are Gauls in the service of Carthage.

The second group of figures are a trio of World War II German Panzer II's from Warlord Games. Not much to say about these but that they painted up nice and easy.

So that should 6 - 28mm cavalry for 60 points and 3 - 28mm vehicles for an additional 45 points, for a grand final total of 105 points.

And that concludes my submissions for this year's challenge. Thank you to Curt and crew for running a great challenge. See you all next year!


Beautiful work Scott. Those Carthaginian cavalry look the absolute business. I especially like that you have a few Gauls in there to add a bit of variability and interest to the unit. Lovely stuff. 

The Panzer IIs are incredibly nice as well. I'm really taken with the faded panzer grey you came up with for them Scott - that, and their overall weathering looks just terrific. 

It was wonderful having you with us again this year Scott. I hope you will be on the roster the next time the snow flies and we roll out. 

From RobH: Lonely Outpost - Hilltop Trading Post (20 Points)

I picked up this resin piece in a discard bin at a local gaming shop years ago for only a couple of bucks. It has been sitting around gathering dust for a while. This year's challenge included a category for terrain pieces so I thought it would make a nice hilltop sitting for a 15 mm, trading post, hilltop fort, trading post etc.

I added a 15 mm dark age bow element to provide scale as the metal rule provides some glare. The base size is roughly 7 1/2 inches across by 7 inches deep and 3 inches tall, or roughly 160 cubic inches.  I'll let our wise leaders determine the scoring.

As an added bonus the roof lifts off for the placement of troops, cattle, supplies, etc in the building. 

As you can see the glue is still showing through in spots and in the background a Roman Command Group that I started work on. In January I hosted a BBDBA and was short a Roman Cav Command. That will not do.

I have another piece of foam with which to attempt another hill. 


Wow, that's a nice bit of kit for only a few bucks Rob. 

You've done a great job basing and painting it up. I particularly like how you did the thatching and basework. It has a cold, windswept look about it. Now you need a Hound of the Baskervilles or perhaps a Heathcliff and Cathy to set the scene. :)

I say that's worth a good 20 points. Well done Rob!