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.

No real focus in this lot:

- Scary thing under the bed
- 1954 era Vietminh 
- WWII Female French Partisans
- Swiss Alphornist
- Landsknecht Artillery
- 2mm Thirty Years War Swedes for Breitenfeld
- 40mm Franco-Prussian War Prussians
- Kingdom Death nastiness
- 1920's Pulp Horror
- A Big Bad Wolf
- Wars of the Roses Archers
- Darth Vader with Stormtroopers
- Ultramodern Survivalists/Militia
- and a small selection of post-apoc terrain

Yep, all over the place, but it was tremendous fun to work on. 

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. :)