Saturday, 16 November 2019

The end of an era. The start of another.

Well my consistent post a week streak fell apart. This is the first post in three weeks and it isn't even about models. Not that I have anything to show you yet. However, there's a very good reason for that. As many of you are aware I have spent the last six years at university. Well last Wednesday I handed in my dissertation. The final piece of coursework to be submitted and all going well the last thing I need to get my degree.

Yes this is me. I think I have shown pictures of myself here before, many, many years ago.
Understandably those final weeks were all go so I haven't had much time to sit down and paint models. Have had time to buy them though and there was there was of course quite the splurge in celebration of handing in my dissertation! So there is certainly no shortage of models to paint for the foreseeable future.

So one era of my life has come to the end, provided I pass of which I am quite confident. A new era begins. I have already got a job in the field for which I have studied and tomorrow I begin full time employment. There's a good work/home separation. Which I hope means that the free time I do have can be dedicated to hobbies and other good things.

Thank you all who have kept following me all these years. My time at university has meant that I have posted very infrequently. I hope to change things now. Here's to a new era and all the excitement, turmoil and adventure it brings, especially in the miniature way. A great day/night to you all. I promise to at least post a sneaky preview of what I am working on, before the end of next week. ;-)

Friday, 25 October 2019

Women In Black

Last week I presented to you the Men In Black from the Ministerio de Investigación Burocrática now I present to you their companions. These figures even more than those before benefit from a Vallejo face painting set kindly sent to me by Michael Koopman. Took the chance to experiment with some darker skin tones and as I was in an experimenting mood I experimented with some hair styles too. Including the first attempt at representing dyed hair. These are more 20mm figures from Elhiem. These are more recent than the previous figures and the sculpts are much nicer. Keen to learn what you think. On with the pictures.
Obligatory stylish edited photo to start! Meet our heroes the women of the Ministerio de Investigación Burocrática.
No indoor shots today. The sun was wonderful. Probably should have spent the time outside rather than indoors painting and writing blog posts.
Rear shot. Far less interesting colour wise without the dashing white of their shirts against the black suits.
So now moving onto the individual shots. These are going to be... a little strange. Once again the light and my camera was just not playing ball. So these photos are going to be taken in a variety of places, at a variety of angles with the figure at a variety of distances from the camera. So enjoy and I apologise in advance.
First up we have the figure with my favourite post. True bad-ass look. She looks like she has just withdrawn her pistol from within her suit and is advancing to engage the threat. Really like it and far superior to the older men in black poses shown last week.

This post is hands down excellent, the movement the style I love it.
Another angle and taken in another location. I once again tried to paint some multi-shade blond-brown hair. Similar to the last figure I sculpted. Didn't turn out as well but still like the effect.
And a third for good measure.
Next up is the other pistol equipped figure. She was very fun to paint. Darker skin tone with a lighter dry brush. The effect works quite well in my opinion. This face painting set is such a step up from random art acrylic who's strange shade of beige labelled "flesh tint" was all I had with mixing a very hit or miss exercise. Also incidentally the only one of the figures to actually have glasses sculpted on. Initially I was just going to have her wear glasses but then I decided that in true MIB fashion all needed sun glasses!!! Hope you like her too.

More of a classic spy movie pose this time. Can imagine her about to turn around the corner and surprise the unsuspecting henchmen of an evil volcano lair residing super villain.
The shadow effect on the trousers took quire a while to get right. Quite amused my friends to learn how much effort I put into ensuring that I paint a suitably defined and aesthetic butt.
Onto the carbine equipped figures. Not 100% satisfied with the way the carbines came out. Something to try and improve in the future. These two were harder to photograph. Mainly due to the poses and how the light interacted with them. Still very nice figures even if the camera hasn't treated them very well. First up a woman with her M4 raised and on target, appears to be moving as well. I painted her hair to have a blue black look. Not that obvious in the photos I am afraid, however it is very, very subtle even when you have it in your hands. So see if you can detect the blue.

This figure is my least favourite. If only because the suit is closed. The contrast of white shirt and black suit adds so much to the minis. Nothing wrong but room for improvement.
That white spec on her pans is a tiny bit of dust. The camera once again shocks me with what it picks up.
Final figure and another one where I have tried to do something a little different. Wanted to try dyed hair, something to stand out, decided on blue. Did a dark glossy blue base with a lighter blue drybrush. I am quite pleased with the look and I hope you will like it as well.

Given that the colour pallet has up until this point been rather dull I thought why not change things up with a dash of blue!
Sadly a little out of focus but gives a better perspective on the hair. Might seem a little inappropriate for a super secret organisation. However, perhaps it helps give the impression of these people being not abnormal at all.
The Ministerio de Investigación Burocrática includes other branches than the classic men and women in black. However, these are a classic and can be used for a wide variety of other purposes. Within the Ministerio de Investigación Burocrática they are the first line in.... errr... ensuring that other ministries are exercising their duties efficiently... nothing to see here. Those blood curdling screams are just some loose monkeys. Certainly not anything paranormal. The pest control department has been slacking quite a bit recently haven't they?

That's all for this week. As an update on the university situation I have just got my dissertation to go now. Very close to completion now. Talking about completion I don't have any figures near completion which means that there's a lot of uncertainty with regards to getting another post out next week. Do have some stuff on my workbench/desk. So we'll see. But one post a week for five weeks is quite an achievement for me. Finally I will take this moment to say a very warm welcome to Ross Macfarlane. Good to have you here hope you enjoy what you fine.

Anyway until the next one I wish you all a very good day/night.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Men In Black

Well so far I am just about keeping my promise of one post per week. These figures can find a vast range of uses from bodyguards to businessmen. They also work quite well as members of the MIB, or Ministerio de Investigación Burocrática (Ministry of Bureaucratic investigation). The MIB's claimed role is to investigate how well other ministries are doing their job. They specialise in resolving those odd pest control matters for nondescript organisms, sealing those undetected gas leaks causing hallucinations and putting a stop to unscheduled tunnelling that causes strange roaring and rumbling from below ground. All those slip ups caused by other ministries and bureaucratic institutions these are within the purview of the MIB. Lots of pictures today so let's get on with it.

Black suits, black ties, black shoes, black glasses, hmm anything else in the uniform? Ah yes black underwear (not shown)
So the reason I have so many photos for you today is that I originally took a set using my nice black blanket indoors using a mix of natural and artificial light. As is always the case these didn't turn out as I would like. So I took another set outdoors with full natural light. These turned out much better. With one exception. So when it came to doing my usual editing I had a bit of an issue. I could simply reject the first set and go with the second. However, I am not one to do anything that simple and sensible. So instead I heavily edited the first set with filters and other magic settings then also kept the second basically as is. These first photos give a cool stylistic look but aren't a very good representation of the models themselves. The second is much better except for the final one which was so fuzzy I made it blue in rage.

After all the filter work the problem with this first set is still clear. Despite my best efforts the light washed out the guy on the right.
Like to think this one has a film like look. Perhaps some old school buddy cop?  
Two agents explore the forest at night.... or something, the blanket texture is very good for mysterious backgrounds
So the MIB, you may have guessed by now, doesn't really investigate the slip ups of other ministries, at least not as claimed. Really they deal with the supernatural, extraterrestrial and other things best not allowed to run amok.
Last of the first set. Now onto some more unedited ones.
Moving onto the second set. These were taken in a brief gap in the clouds. Sadly this gap only lasted for so long. The final figure was very out of focus, I believe this was probably because it was taken as the clouds once again blocked the sun and the difference in light level was enough to upset my camera's macro focus.

As you can see more clearly I dry brushed these to an extent just to give a sense of depth to the suit.
Decided to go with a simple black base. Could be tarmac or dirt at night. Both appropriate settings for the MIB
Poor guy on the right is showing the signs of stress induced from this line of work.
A nickname for the MIB is the Ministerio de Innatación Burocrática, ministry of bureaucratic inaction. After all to the public this ministry doesn't seem to do much at all. Plenty of gas leaks around. Why just the one causing Juan to scream about martians?
Did I really take this many photos of this specific pose? Guess so.
When I first started painting this was perhaps my least favourite of the two poses. But now that I am done I kinda like it.
Of the two he is the better sculpt. The collar being far better on this sculpt.
Anyway here's the one that refused to focus and so got the extreme filter treatment. This concludes the pictures.
These miniatures are from Elheim Figures. These two are some of the older sculpts they stock. Not as nice as the newer ones. Which is what is the likely post for next week. This week has been the Men in Black, next week will hopefully be the Women in Black. More Elheim miniatures and newer ones too. Having a lot fun painting them. I hope you will like them too.

Although I will also put a proviso here, in case I don't get out another post for next week. Have the last assignment for one of my papers due next Wednesday and the due date for my dissertation is coming up. The end of university is very close but lots of work to get done first. I have to knuckle down and finish up these last pieces of coursework.

Well I will leave this here. Haven't really thought out what I will do with the Ministerio de Investigación Burocrática just yet. Obviously they are based on the Men In Black, which has been oddly popping up recently. Must go back and watch the original sometime.

However, that's something for me to do. For the rest of you I wish you all the very best and have a good day/night wherever you are. Just remember, that strange howling on full moon nights. Just strange local traditions. Don't go outside on these nights.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Iosif Stalin Trotsky Tanks

Well another week another set of tanks. We went from one, to two, to four (so presumably next week I must have eight to show off?) These fine machines are the Iosif Stalin Trotsky tank. More precisely the Trotsky modification to the classic Soviet machine the IS-2. The IS-2T or simply IS-T (there being no Trotsky modification type for the other vehicles in the series) is a heavy tank produced and operated by the Pan Andean People's Republic. Some of you may have heard of that nation before. For good reason. Those of you who follow Archduke Piccolo's blog may well know that this nation was part of the Latin Wars project and campaign from a few years back. The Pan Andean People's Republic and the other participants in those Latin Wars are neighbours to Oronegro. These tanks are the first to extent those warm, explosive neighbourly greetings to their Oronegrean friends.

The IS-T tanks advance across the barren plain, lush jungles turned to ash through the horrors of war.
So let's talk a little about these tanks. First up these are from two sets of the Italeri IS-2 Fast Assembly Kits. However, they have been substantially modified, with the upper hull and turret sides being reshaped with Milliput putty. I have a bunch of the yellow-grey putty which smells mad so I wanted to use it all up quick, still have half left, so please throw me ideas for large conversions so I can use this stuff up quick. Lore wise these modifications are designed to provide the tanks with additional armour in the form of new composite protection. The armour increase to the upper hull and turret sides is substantial. The hull front receiving the most additional composite as well as spaced armour. Along with the necessary upgrades in terms of suspension and the power-plant these tanks haven't compromised too much of manoeuvrability and speed. Although fuel consumption is now a serious issue and the range has been greatly reduced.  

Crossing dangerous valley floors this tanks are particularly vulnerable. Nervous commanders scan the ridge-lines 
So with all these upgrades in mind how do these machines stack up? Well truth be told rather poorly in the 21st century. When these tanks first appeared in 1968 they were greatly feared as their armour matched that, and in some cases exceeded that of the contemporary main battle tanks likely to be fielded against it. However, even at that date the armament of the IS-T was becoming rather dated with regards to contemporary tank vs tank combat. Further modifications have been done over the years and some newer shells have been introduced to prevent the IS-T becoming completely obsolete, with the tanks lifespan expected to continue so long as they can be maintained. The PAPR considers them useful in the infantry support role, where their gun is more suitably and their deficiencies in range and AT capabilities are mitigated.

IS-T N° 235 affectionately known as 235 UKU
The tanks here follow the usual numbering format of brigade - platoon - tank. In this case these tanks belong to the 3rd platoon of the 2nd tank brigade. Now you may notice that there is no tank 231 here. This is because I have not got a suitable model yet. I could convert another IS-2 but I am currently leaning towards either modifying an IS-3 (if I there's a cheap model that's suitable) or buying either an IS-4 or IS-7 kit. The latter would be quite ridiculous, just as the IS-7 prototypes were but they look very cool. The IS-4 is much more realistic and reasonable as it was produced (if not in great numbers) although visually it wouldn't be too distinct from the IS-Ts which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. Should the command tank be visually striking or not so much?

From the side it is clear that only the upper half of the tank has received extra protection. No side skirts have been added
Well this is the first post related to the Pan Andean People's Republic the Archduke and I have been talking a bit about how the imagi-nations of the Latin Wars could relate to and fit in within the Oronegrean story. I must state my huge gratitude and I feel a deep honour in being able to take up these nations and their stories and keep them alive and thriving. With the story of Oronegro itself set for substantial revision there's more than ample room to find a place for these nations and certain miniatures, such as the Spetsnaz, painted before can now find a new calling in the service of those nations.

The detail is very rough on these, not that it matters much to me as these are for wargaming. Little annoyed at that seam visible there, I put putty in there to sort that out. Ah well put it down to Soviet build quality, rough but ready.
The photos themselves are somewhat deceptive. Unlike last week I put a bit more effort into modifying the images. To an extent some suffer quite a bit in having their colours boosted too far. Sadly the initial images were, once again, not taken with the best lighting conditions. One of the unfortunate compromises of trying to get this post out after work.

This one in particular is bad, far too vivid. Didn't notice at the time due to my colourblindness. Very temperamental vision.
Which brings me to my little bit of news. Today, Tuesday 8th of October, was my first day at my new job. I have begun work at at a planning consultancy, part time at first moving to full time once my studies are up. It is however a big step for me moving into the profession I have been studying many years to be trained for.

The image quality may not be ideal but that blanket is. It was a free score from the last Northern Base festival. The things people leave behind. All those who encounter it (especially cats) agree it is very good.
Well this brings me towards the end of this post. I am quite tired and will be off to bed immediately after posting this (and the corresponding post on Facebook, forums can wait for another day.) I hope you have enjoyed this post and are eagerly anticipating more to come. In the final photo I have a sneak peak for what I hope to get done before the end of next week. No guarantees though as I am now working three jobs and doing full time study. A lot on but this is the final few weeks before the end of university so once I am done there will be much more time for the little ones.

Now the poor lighting works even better for concealing the identity of the mystery figure. Points for guessing correctly.
Well that is all from me. I hope you have enjoyed these rather unusual tanks. The choice of name is deliberate and yes I know that it shouldn't work and that it is bound to upset some people. (For those totally unaware of why, let us merely say Stalin and Trotsky did not get on, assassination isn't the usual gift between pals.) It's all a rather poor joke, based off some random thing I encountered one day on the strange place that is the internet.... Which I have not gone ahead and immortalised in plastic.

So I hope that you can forgive my rather niche and obscure sense of humour. I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions (particularly around what tank to get next for the command vehicle.) However, until next time I wish you all the very best day/night. Have fun with your hobbies and with your work and may the weather be favourable whatever you are doing and wherever you are. ;-D

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Refurbished Challenger 2 O2 tanks

Well it is story time again this time it is a tragedy turned to an epic. This is the story how after years of neglect and abuse I took back two broken and battered model tanks and brought them to life once more! Some of you may well remember when I posted these originally many years ago. But since going to university they stayed, along with much of my collection, with my parents while I moved to the city. Well I am slowly bringing back these lost souls, and while some still are missing in action (I haven't found my beloved and even more damaged Leopard 2A5 or T-90 yet), I am breathing new life into these sadly neglected friends.

A Challenger pair advance across the plains at night.
 The first few photos I spruced up a little with the basic image editing software. Took them at night (what time could be more appropriate to photograph stealth tanks?) which sadly means that the images don't turn out too well as my camera really dislikes artificial light, under the bulbs I have.

I kept the colour scheme. Except the identification panels (I incorrectly these ERA before) are now painted grey.
By now you have probably noticed the slight alterations I have made to the Challenger 2 on the right. Well let us first go over how I found this model. The main gun barrel had been completely snapped off, furthermore the roof mounted GPMG had also come off. The I considered various options to replace the barrel from spur parts to sculpting around a wire. Finally I decided that the easiest and most effective option would be to use the ink well of a pen (I have plenty of empty ones because I never clear out my pencil case). Used cardboard wrapped around it for the fume extractor, attached to the turret with a piece of wire inside to help keep the connection strong. Not 100% happy with the fume extractor but overall I think the barrel looks quite good.

The two tanks now appear to be on Mars. What incredible machines!
Now because of the significant size difference between the two I will consider the new gun to be of a larger calibre. Perhaps 130mm, which is a calibre being developed for NATO use and could fit quite well. Now as for rifled/non-rifled not too sure. Perhaps rifled to follow British tank conventions. The purpose of this larger gun would be to provide long range support for the more heavily armoured member of the Challenger pair. This would be within both offensive and defensive operations.

Back to night operations again. Or perhaps they are now on a planet entirely made of coal?
By now you are probably screaming at me that I have not mentioned the elephant in the room: What the heck is that on the turret roof!? Oh? That small thing. That is the Cupid ATGM system. Just like their namesake they rarely miss and they back a lot of HEAT. (I have bad puns for days). To complement the main gun in long range missions these ATGMs provide the Challenger 2 O2 greater flexibility and versatility in overcoming enemy threats. The launcher itself is from a Warhammer 40,000 Tau powersuit shoulder launch system (got some miniatures gifted to me). As this particular model had lost it's GPMG I decided that instead of going for a conventional replacement I would be a little more creative. Think this was a good solution? Let me know what you think.

The photos below were not edited to improve the picture quality. Not much I could do without breaking out more serious software so I hope that you do not mind too much. Should have taken the photos earlier but I didn't have much time earlier in the day.

Yes I did take far too many frontal shots. No I didn't think that I could have reasonably deleted any.

Side shots, about the only way to really hope to take one of these tanks on. The Oronegrean Challenger is a tough nut to crack! Using advanced and highly classified composites and materials the frontal arc is all but impervious to rival tanks.

A rear view. Displaying the spare fuel tanks for the back up diesel engine. I am still going with advanced hydrogen fuel cells (or perhaps merely using that as a cover for something more fantastical) as the main powerplant

Classic buddy cop pose of walking together targeting different baddies. Perhaps the Men in Black drive the Tanks in Black?
Well that's all for today. Bringing these two back to life was a very fun activity. They are joining their little friend the T92 in a new storage box, sadly they suffered their damage because they were left in my old room at my parents' place. Overtime things got put on top of them. Sadly not being there I could do nothing to prevent it.

I also have a bit of personal news to announce. As you know for the last 6 years or so I have been studying away at the University of Auckland working towards a Bachelors of Urban Planning (honours). Well that endeavour is almost complete I am happy to say. It has been a long road coming and these final couple months will be some of the toughest yet. However, the end is indeed in sight and I have already got myself a job as a graduate planner that I will take up once I complete my studies. It will mean full time work and hopefully a return to a structured life where I can better devote time to the little ones.

Anyway I hope you have all enjoyed this post. I look forward to hearing your feedback. I have more tanks in the production line which should be completed, hopefully in the not too distant future. After that not too sure what I will do next. Perhaps some figures. For now though I hope you have a very good day/night and best of luck with whatever endeavours you have before you. :-D

Monday, 23 September 2019

T92 Light Tank. 3D printed model

Well hello everyone it has been a little while since my last post. However, rest assured I have indeed been hard at work, slowly chipping away at that mountain of plastic and metal. Oh and adding to it significantly of course. Particularly because I am back at it painting modern miniatures. Including some rather experimental projects. Here then is the product of one of these utilising (one of) our flats 3D printers. A T92 light tank. I think it is rather nice but I will let you decide.

So let's get straight down to business how does a 3D printed tank look? Well not too bad I think.
So first I must give thanks to the creator of the model itself. User: Jarek Lang on Thingiverse link here: Jarek has many interesting and unusual designs. Many of which do not have a 1/72 scale kit for, or the kits are very rare. The T92 Light Tank being a good example. (I must say I am somewhat conflicted about not printing out the AMX-13 instead. More on this below.)

This angle really emphasises the layers nature of the build but I actually find the texture rather pleasing.
So the model was printed in several parts that had to be glued together. PLA plastic was used and it took normal cement rather well. One criticism would be that the turrets are not as secure being a very simple plug and dowel type arrangement. However, this is partly a limitation of the technology. Furthermore it is quite hard to complain about a design you got for free.

The three turrets (main and machine gun) all rotate. The barrels for the machine gun turrets were made of wire. In retrospect I probably made them rather small even for a 7.62 gun. Let alone a 12.7 M2 browning that one housed.
So then why print out this tank? Well for the most part, just because. We had 3D printers in the flat and I wanted to try them out. Okay but why this one in particular? Well That's a bit more of a story. First up I decided that whatever I would print first should be a test model, preferably something not that big. That way if it turned out badly it wouldn't mean that too much plastic would go to waste.
Then comes the next bit, I wanted something that was reasonably complex to test the limitations of the printer. A multi-part model works well for that. At the same time I didn't want to try something so complicated that it would just fail anyway. So nothing with very fine detail. Finally I wanted something that would fit within the theme of Oronegro. So with that in mind I searched the Thingiverse looking for something just right!

The model is quite robust. The internal honeycomb gives it strength while remaining light weight.
So then what to choose. Well I found found this model and others. After careful consideration and more than a bit of starting all again I decided to go for a light tank. It would fit the theme of Oronegro quite well being suitable for jungle warfare. Now which one the AMX-13 or the T92? Well that was a hard one and I can't say I chose well. Ultimately it came down to looks and capabilities. While at the time the machine gun turrets (giving the tank better defence at close quarters, useful in a jungle) gave the T92 the edge, I must say I am a sucker for that oscillating turret on the AMX-13. No matter this was a test vehicle after all. Furthermore in future there's the possibility of simple creating new models entirely using modelling software to create a file to then print. An exciting development for those in our hobby for sure.

Size comparison between the Leopard 1A3 and the T92. The T92 is a light tank and the Leopard 1A3 a heavier main battle tank. That being said I was amazed by how much faster the Leopard was! German engineering strikes again.
Now I have to thank my flatmate Logan who helped me print out the model, use his printer and use some of his plastic material for this tank, all for free. Very grateful for all his help. Finally before I go I am going to thank a couple people I think are new followers? It has been so long since I checked the followers list. Anyway big thanks to ScannableGoose and Evgeniy Brikelev glad to have you here and I hope you enjoy my content. :-D

Well that's it for now, expect a big update eventually, I am planning on rewriting much of the lore around Oronegro. Not sure when that will begin or what I will do about it, perhaps put ideas below. Until next time I wish you a very good day/night. All the best with your hobbies and let's all pretend to make dents in those piles of unpainted plastic. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The skeleton monster I found on the street

So today I have a little something that didn't take too long to paint, nor was it particularly difficult. Perhaps it would be fair to say that this model was in now way exceptional or even particularly interesting. However, even if the model itself isn't too unusual the story of how I acquired it is. You see, as the title of this post suggests I found this on the side of the road. The story of which I shall reveal bellow.

Taken outside on the balcony again. Caught the last of the sunlight, need to keep in mind the shortening days
So how did I find this little guy? Well I was out walking with a friend one evening and there in the corner of my vision I notice something on the ground. Now after working in litter picking for a while I have developed quite the ability to spot random objects on the ground so noticing this model wasn't too difficult. I quickly picked it up and put it in my pocket. Later when I got home I noticed that it actually worked quite well size wise with 1/72 miniatures. However, I still have no idea what it is, who makes them or why it came to be by the side of the road? If anyone has any clues as to what this may be please let me know. Anyway here are some more pictures.

I wasn't sure what I wanted for the base at first. In the end I decided to go for this patchy effect to give the earth itself a kind of undead look

Where this guy lives I am not sure yet. Perhaps some strange cemetery? Maybe an ancient temple. Hard to say really.

A figure for scale. Decided that this man and his crucifix would be appropriate facing a this unholy creature.

Then again perhaps this creature is merely misunderstood and in need of a guy. Probably a good meal too.
So there you have it my fun little find and the story to go with it. Still trying to guess what this is meant to be. It reminds me of some dinosaurs but I can't place it. Also makes me think of dogs, perhaps it was once the pet of some ancient king who is back to protect the resting place of his master? Perhaps he can be multiple things.

Anyway that is all for now. Working away slowly at various things. Unlikely to have anything to show you for the near future at least. Of course I also have all those new models to contend with too. Perhaps a few shall be fast tracked into painting for some personalities.
Yet until next time I wish you all a good day/night. ::)