Monday, February 28, 2022

Modeling on the go! Building Celtiberians during dinner break...

The recent launch of the Kickstarter for Clash of Katanas got me thinking about Clash of Spears again, and the Iberian force I started a couple of years ago.



Since that time, I've decided to build a Celtiberian force instead, but one that can also function as an Iberian warband due to the similarities. Why the change? Well, I've learned that there's a good chance my ancestors were Celtiberian. The ancestral home of one of the Spanish branches of the family is located in the Cameros region, just between Soria and Logrono. Soria is the site of the ruins of the ancient Celtiberian city of Numantia, which was destroyed by the inhabitants rather than surrender it to the Roman besiegers. I don't think it's a stretch to believe Celtiberian blood flows through my veins!


Because my hobby time is practically non-existent, I decided to make use of the dinner break at work. I packed up basic tools and was ready to go.


I clipped the parts I would need from the sprues (I'm using Victrix Iberian warriors, in this case the unarmored ones) so they'd just need cleaning up and gluing. I brought a couple of hobby knives, plastic glue, and my magnifiers (the eyes are getting older).


The first night I was able to get all the parts cleaned of flash, and assemble two of the warriors. After all, I also need to eat during that time!


The second night I finished the ten remaining warriors. A unit of 12 completed.

The third night I was able to get another 12 warriors completed: four Celtiberians and eight Iberians.

I'm pretty happy with the progress. I was able to get something to eat, and still complete 24 figures in three dinner breaks.

All that's left is to base them and paint them, and then get their shields sorted. I have some time off scheduled next week, and I'm hoping to be able to finish these warriors as well as paint up my Imperial Guard squad for Kill Team.

'Til next time!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Creating a Kill Team for the 2021 version of the game


A while back I told my son about an idea I had for an Imperial Guard regiment based on the British Natal Native Contingent from the Zulu Wars using Praetorian officers and Tallarn troops. I used to have the Praetorian boxed set as a start to making this force, but circumstances forced me to sell it many, many years ago.

Limited edition Praetorian XXIV boxed set from Games Workshop.

My son, Lucas, remembered that and for Christmas this year got me some figures from Victoria Miniatures to make a Kill Team based on that concept. (I cannot tell you how moved I was by his gift - that he would remember something like that and act on it was very thoughtful!) Victoria Miniatures is an Australian company, but they now have a US-based distributor and they make “not” GW Imperial Guard units. Lucas got me a squad of the “Desert Scorpions” (not-Tallarn), and one of their character figures  - a Praetorian officer based on Michael Caine's character from the movie "Zulu."

Since the release of the Octarius boxed set for Kill Team included rules for a Veteran Guardsman team, with more options and detail than a standard Imperial Guard team, I decided to build them as a Veteran Guardsman squad. This meant digging into my bits box and planning out exactly how I was going to assemble the figures, since many of them would need to be non-standard infantrymen.

In the end, I ordered a few more figures from Victoria Miniatures to fill out the roster and have a complete Veteran Guardsman Kill Team with all the options. I ordered the Desert Scorpions Heavy Weapon Crew, as well as the Colonel Ash Ironside character figure.

The Victoria figures are great quality, consisting of resin castings and 3d printed components. Once I had planned out my builds, I was able to assemble them without any issues at all.

My Kill Team consists of:

  • Sgt. Mika Bromhead (Sergeant Veteran)

  • Cpl. Heydar (Confidant Veteran)

  • Lahab (Veteran Gunner with a meltagun)

  • Harun (Veteran Gunner with a plasma gun)

  • Kanballah (Veteran Gunner with a grenade launcher)

  • Nureddin (Veteran Gunner with a flamer)

  • Dhamar (Sniper Veteran)

  • Asim (Medic Veteran)

  • Raja (Comms Veteran)

  • Atallah (Spotter Veteran)

  • Haddim (Demolition Veteran)

  • Fathi (Hardened Veteran)

  • Al-Qadir (Bruiser Veteran)

  • Mustahim (Zealot Veteran)

  • Ameen (Trooper Veteran)

  • Boutros (Trooper Veteran)

  • Zahir (Trooper Veteran)

  • Farid (Trooper Veteran)

Sgt. Bromhead was assembled as per the instructions, as were the four trooper veterans and the four gunners.

When looking at the stats for the Confidant Veteran, I could not make up my mind whether to arm him with a pistol and chainsword, or with a boltgun. Fortunately, I did not need to choose. The Desert Scorpions set comes with 10 sets of legs, but 12 torsos. This let me build two torsos for Cpl. Heydar, and magnetize them so I can easily swap him out between both weapons options.

This still left one extra torso, which was very handy since the Heavy Weapons crew set has six torsos and seven sets of legs. Between both sets this let me build an extra figure (in this case, the sniper Dhamar).

I did not use the backpacks that came with the Desert Scorpions, since in my opinion the canteens and daggers are plenty. This left me with many left over, which I used to build my specialists. Since they have a small antenna, I felt the backpack could easily represent a vox-unit, so I used one on Raja (the comms veteran). By removing the antenna, the packs can easily work as medikits, especially if I paint them white and put a red cross on them. This took care of Asim, the medic.

The Heavy Weapons crew comes with a hand holding a detonator, and a hand holding binoculars. This made easy work of the spotter and demolition veterans.

The last three were the most fun, and the required the most thought. I was able to find a hand, and an open book, among my bits and used them to build an arm for Mustahim, the zealot, quoting from holy scripture as he wades into battle. I took the bionic arm from the Ash Ironside figure and gave it to Fathi, the hardened veteran. I used a brutal club that looked like it would work to clear trenches in hand-to-hand combat forAl-Qadir, the bruiser. I also gave him the shotgun arm from Ash Ironside (even though it does not have specific rules in the game, I felt it would be another likely weapon for clearing trenches and made the figure look even more brutal).

I have written up a bit of background for them which I will share in a future post. All that is left to do now is paint them, which for me is always a challenge...

'Til next time!

Friday, January 7, 2022

It's back from the dead! Again!

Wow! Nearly four year since I last posted on my blog...

I bet you thought the blog was dead and buried, or maybe I was. Well, the past four years have been quite difficult, but I am still here and looking to get back to some of the things I love, such as gaming and talking about gaming.

Since the last post there has been a lot that happened, globally (the pandemic, of course) and in my personal life. Lots of ups and many downs, financially and emotionally. I was able to do some gaming and quite a bit of photographic train chasing, but that detracted from my search for work and caused me greater difficulties. After getting my priorities back in order, I am again gainfully employed. I started just over three years ago unloading trucks and stocking shelves and was quickly promoted to supervisor and then assistant manager. The long hours and hard physical work of my current management position at the world's largest retailer takes almost all the energy and enthusiasm I have. That leaves very little for my limited spare time. However, it is that very situation that I think makes it such a priority for me to use that spare time to its fullest!

The stress and anxiety of my job, especially during the past three to four months of the world's second Covid-Christmas season, has caused me much emotional, mental and physical stress. I have lost over 50 pounds in the last three years - 15 of those coming in the past three months. I now weigh what I weighed in college - 36 years ago! But, enough about my problems - this is not that type of blog. Maybe one day I will explore those issues, but for now, let's talk gaming!

Besides my need for a creative outlet in my time off work and my love of gaming and modeling in general, what has spurred this resurrection of Plastic Pirates? Well, in August of last year Games Workshop released a new version of Kill Team - their skirmish combat game set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000. If you have followed this blog and/or know me, you know that I am a sucker for skirmish games. With my anemic painting output, completing a large army for a game is something I am very seldom able to accomplish. But, if you only need five to fifteen models for a complete force, that should be doable, right? (We shall see, that may be too ambitious for me!)

The first release was the Octarius boxed set. This included the rules, the terrain and two sets of brand new plastic miniatures - the Death Korps of Krieg (a human Imperial Guard unit with design features reminiscent of World War I German and French troops) and the Ork Kommandos (a funky unit of greenskins borrowing inspiration from many sources as to what special forces look like).

Octarius Boxed Set

Death Korps of Krieg

Ork Kommandos

I didn't immediately get the box, due to budget considerations at the time, and because I wanted to see how well Games Workshop would support the game going forward. Despite grand announcements of a bright future for the game, GW has a somewhat spotty track record when it comes to abandoning games they no longer wish to support.

Well, in September the second boxed set was released, this one called Chalnath. It featured two sets of figures as well as some more terrific terrain. This time it was the Tau (basically alien Socialists) and a squad of Sisters of Battle Novitiates. Sisters of Battle (known as the Adepta Sororitas in the false Latin called High Gothic) are basically nuns in battle armor with big guns and swords. The Novitiates are the nuns in training.

Chalnath Boxed Set

Sisters of Battle Novitiates

Tau Pathfinders

My son Lucas and I decided that it would be a good time to get into this game, due mainly to two reasons:

The first is, again, the scale of the game (small forces playing on a smaller board - 22" x 30" - so no need for a huge armies and a massive 4' x 6' board filled with terrain).

The second, and most important in my mind, is the opportunity the game gives to create unique squads with interesting backgrounds, histories and narratives set in the wider Warhammer 40,000 universe. I enjoy converting and building, whether it is terrain or figures. The small squad size of the Kill Team units makes it possible for me to be creative without needing to convert huge armies.

So we took the plunge and got Chalnath between the two of us. Lucas would take the Sisters, and I would sell the Tau and start on a different Kill Team for myself. Going forward I intend to share my progress (I already have ideas for five or six, at least, different Kill Teams I want to build) more regularly, but we all know about intentions paving a road that leads to a hot place. We'll see what the future holds, but I am hopeful that this new year will bring blessings and good things - and more opportunities for time spent with family, gaming and friends.

God bless you all.

'Til next time! (Hopefully less than four years!)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sigrid and her walker for Dust 1947

So far this year, I've managed to paint more models than in the past two years combined. This is due to a couple of factors.

First, my son Lucas and I are participating in a slow-grow league for Dust 1947 at Giga-Bites. In addition to scoring points for games played and victories, you can earn them for painting your force. Second, since Lucas is in the league and has begun to paint figures for the first time, I am teaching and encouraging him as he learns.

One of the units I really wanted to get painted is Sigrid and her walker, the Snow Lynx. Sigrid is a hero for the Axis, and the leader of the Blutkreuz faction which I play. She can pilot her personal walker, a Jagdluther named the Snow Lynx. Since I am painting my figures for a desert battlefield, I chose to rename the walker the Wüste Luchs (or Desert Lynx).

The Sigrid figure is a resin model that I won several years ago at a Dust tournament, and which has been in storage since then. I thought it high time to pull her out and get her painted.

The walker is a standard Jagdluther, with two modifications. I removed the rear compartment (I am using that for another project that I'll share as soon as it is finished), and I added an antenna.

I've painted a couple of light walkers and some squads of zombie troops as well, and I'll be sharing those here in future posts.

'Til next time!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Using Northstar's Oathmark Dwarves for Lord of the Rings Battle Companies

"I wish I could muster an army of Dwarves, fully armed and filthy" - Gimli, son of Gloin
Boom! Boom! BOOM! BOOM! Boom! Boom! BOOM! BOOM!”

The rhythmic sound of the goblin war drums carried up from the burning dwarven settlement and reverberated among the crags above. The goblins were too entranced by the dancing flames to look up, but even had they bothered they would not have noticed anything amiss among the boulders and outcroppings overlooking the settlement. A dwarf, tucked partly behind a large gray rock, his stony features almost indistinguishable from the granite beside him, looked down on the victory celebration, gnashing his teeth and weeping in frustration.

Skirfir, son of Nifir, and his small band of dwarf warriors had been away from Khâr Zagâl at the time of the attack, tracking a party of goblin marauders through the mountains surrounding the dwarven town. After nearly three days of following the raiders, they had caught them in a small pass. The fight was vicious, but short, and soon all the goblins but one lay dead. Skirfir's force had not escaped unscathed, suffering three dead and two wounded in the skirmish. As his men tended to their wounded comrades, Skirfir had interrogated the still living goblin. And what he learned chilled him.

The goblin raiding party, though wiped out, had achieved its purpose: to draw the defending scouts away from Khâr Zagâl. At first, Skirfir just stared at the goblin in stunned disbelief. Then the realization that it was the truth hit him like a punch in the gut. During the pursuit, he had wondered what the invaders had hoped to accomplish, raiding so late into the fall. And at times he had felt that tracking the marauders had been too simple, that they were not even making an attempt at covering their tracks. But he had dismissed it, assuming that the goblins had simply grown overconfident and careless, or even plain stupid. In reality, it had been Skirfir himself that had been guilty of overconfidence, and he had underestimated his foe.

As soon as the truth had dawned on him, Skirfir had ordered his dwarves to make ready to return to Khâr Zagâl. Fortunately, both of the wounded were able to walk, although two other warriors were detailed to keep to their slower pace. Skirfir and the remaining Dwarf, Lofar, had made the best possible time back to the outpost. But they had arrived too late to warn their brethren.

From the rocky ledge, Skirfir could see the savages crawling over the structures below. Occasional fights would break out among the goblins over a particularly valuable piece of plunder, or even the remains of one of Skirfir's folk. He could hear the goblins singing, and chanting to the beat of the drumming, as they searched from building to building, with the howls increasing in volume whenever they found a survivor of the attack. Though the pain of helplessness burned deep within him, Skirfir knew that he could do nothing to help his kin. Any rash action would certainly lead only to his death, and the deaths of the dwarves accompanying him, leaving no one to avenge the fallen.

But, he vowed to himself, one day he would return at the head of a great company of dwarves. He would hunt down the rakhâs, and exterminate them. Aye, by Aulë, he would track down this marauding band of goblins and slay every last one. Yes, there would be a day for celebrating, and for singing remembrances to those slain this day. But for that to happen, he and his companions needed to survive, and grow wealthy and strong.

An idea began to form in Skirfir's mind. Recently, tales had begun to be told of a dwarf kingdom that had been retaken, first from a monstrous drake and then from a goblin army. Travelers had spoken of the great war, describing the victory of an alliance of dwarves, men and elves. In this newly restored kingdom, a brave warrior could rise in rank and influence, if he dared. And with that influence, he could draw strong fighters to himself.

After what seemed like hours, Skirfir turned his back on Khâr Zagâl for the last time. He climbed back down from the edge of the cliff and faced the remaining members of his scouting party. “Remember this day, my brothers,” he muttered grimly to his barely visible companions, their grey cloaks pulled low over their faces. “Remember it long, for one day we will have our vengeance. One day the rakhâs will hear 'Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!' But that day will not be soon.”

Skirfir began to walk, away from Khâr Zagâl, away from his former life, into a breeze that dried the tears on his face. As one, his men followed, turning their backs on the smoke rising from Khâr Zagâl into the bright, clear sky.

They headed west. To Erebor.


Some of the players at the local game shop are getting together a group to play the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game by Games Workshop, specifically Battle Companies (which requires only a handful of models to start).

As usual, I've decided to start a dwarf warband. Since the Games Workshop models are no longer available, we're allowing proxies to be used. I've chosen the wonderful new plastic dwarves from Northstar. The models are designed to be used with the forthcoming Oathmark rules, but are very Tolkien-esque in design and will fit in wherever dwarf models are needed.

Step one is cleaning up the torsos and putting them on bases.I decided to use the Frostgrave plastic bases. Even though the figures are plastic, I still pin them to the bases for security. I know it is probably overkill, but it's been a habit of mine for a long time.

I like my plastic figures to have a little weight to them, so I usually glue the bases onto a 1" washer.

The hole in the washer has the added benefit of being a perfect place to glue a rare earth magnet, as I keep most of my figures in plastic storage bins with metal sheet glued onto the bottom.


The Northstar figures are plastic, and are easily customizable. And the parts are readily interchangeable with the other plastic sets from Northstar. For example, the two-handed axes for my dwarves are from the Frostgrave Soldiers set.

The models are easy to assemble, and paint up nicely. On these models I simply primed black, drybrushed chainmail on the armor, painted the base colors and gave them a wash before varnishing. That's it.



They won't win any prizes, but they are perfectly good for tabletop gaming. I'm looking forward to getting them on a table and smashing some Moria goblins!

'Til next time!


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Anvil Industries Bits

Yesterday, I received an eagerly awaited package from Anvil Industries in the UK!

Heads for the Goliath gang, and extra goodies.
As most of you may know, last month saw the re-release of a version of Necromunda by Games Workshop. It has some significant differences to the old game, while still drawing from its roots. I got the game, but held off on building any of the figures for the included gangs. I wanted to do something different with them, and just couldn't figure out what that would be.

Enter Ram Sosen, who posted his Goliath ganger conversion on Facebook. As soon as I saw his photos, I knew I had to use his idea! I absolutely love the way the Goliath gangers look with Brodie-style gladiator helmets from Anvil. They add a ton of character to the standard Goliath figures, and will make them really stand out in the Underhive. So I headed over to their site and ordered those helmets for myself.

Gladiator heads.
While I was poking around Anvil's site, I came across some other accessories that caught my eye. Their riot shields look great, and will look even better on my Necromunda Arbites/Enforcers when I add an imperial aquila to them.

Riot shields and modern weapons.
Anvil also makes a sprue of modern weapons that are great for modern and post-apocalyptic games. The set includes six weapons:
  • Tavor
  • Suppressed Tavor
  • P90
  • AK74
  • G36C
  • Custom AR15
  • Kel-Tec KSG
Since I've shot several of these weapons in real life, adding them to any zombie-hunting post-apocalypse version of me that I make is a no-brainer (not a zombie pun). My favorites are the P90 (of Stargate SG-1 fame) and the Tavor.

P90 (left) and Tavor (right) rifles.
Now that the bits have arrived, I have begun work on building and converting my Goliaths. On Tuesdays, I take my son to a PE class and wait in the car. Rather than read or nap, I've put some tools and models in a bin and work on modeling for an hour.

Working in the car while waiting on my son.
I'll post again soon showing how the helmets look on my Goliath gang.

'Til next time!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review - PlayTek Construction and Military Set (Lego clone brand)

Last week I stopped by the local Five Below store to look for pipe straws (for a Necromunda terrain project - which will hopefully be the subject of a later post), when I stumbled across a display of construction and military toy sets using bricks similar to Lego bricks. There is no brand name displayed on the box, just a small logo on the rear for  a company called PlayTek. At $4 each I could not pass them up and bought one from each series to evaluate. This is what I found...

First up, the small Dump Truck. The set is one of a series of eight, that when combined can be used to build a large crane with a trailer and a smaller crane. The box shows the dump truck on the front, and the back shows the entire series that is available.

Front of package.
Back of package.

The set comes in three bags, which unlike Lego sets are not numbered. And it includes a large instruction sheet. The images in the instructions are small, and at times hard to make out, but the overall build is relatively simple so it is easy to figure out. The sheet also has the instructions for the large crane.

Parts and instructions.
Upon examining the bricks, I found them to be good, but not great. The plates had a small dimple on in of the studs. And the tires had little bits of rubber peeling off on one side, the other side was perfectly smooth. Not major defects, in my opinion, but not quite Lego quality. I did find that the bricks held together well, and these issues did not have any impact on building the set.

Plates with dimples in studs.
Tires with rubber "flash."
A bigger issue, I feel, is that the top of the truck has printing on it - a date and a number! I solved this problem (details later) but it definitely is something I was not expecting.

Printing on top of the truck!
The cab of the truck was very straightforward to assemble, and the style of it matches that of many Lego truck designs. The next portion of the build was the real surprise, at least to me. The whole dump trailer is built "upside down," that is to say, the studs all point downwards when it is complete! It's very interesting, and works quite well.

Dump bin completed.
The dump trailer is build "upside down."
As far as the color of the bricks, they are quite close to Lego's light orange color. (The wedge plate is Lego.)

Color comparison with Lego light orange.
The set also came with a small sticker sheet, a sprue with a set of tools, and one extra piece - an axle plate.

All in all, this is a nice little set that will be very useful in my cityscape. I plan on adding a couple more of the small dump trucks, and based on my experience with this set I will also look to get the cement mixer and one of the small crane or dozers. I'd actually be tempted to get more, but I already have a lot of Lego construction vehicles.

Job's complete!

The other set I bought is for a theme that Lego does not do at all - military. It is a small pickup truck with a gun mounted on top - I guess it would be called a "technical" in certain areas.

Again, the series of eight sets can be combined to build a larger model, in this case an aircraft carrier.

Front of box.

Back of box.

In many aspects, this set is the same as the dump truck. The box contains three bags of parts, not numbered, as well as the instruction sheet for this model and the aircraft carrier.

Contents of box.
Once again, the roof piece had a date and number printed on it... although oddly there are two of that piece in the set and only one has the printing.

Again, printing on the roof piece!
This set did contain a very interesting little part - a 1x2 brick with a grill pattern on one side and a masonry pattern on the opposite side. Lego of course makes both of these, but they are separate parts.

1x2 brick with different patterns on opposite sides.
The gun itself is a neat design, using tap pieces on the sides to secure the shielding.

Detail of gun.
This set had several extra parts, in addition to a sprue of weapons, though no stickers.

Completed set.
The weapon sprue includes a headset, combat knife, tactical baton, billy club, machete, walkie talkie, flashlight, pistol, and two types of grenades. I think these will be very useful for my Lego police/military figures.

Weapon sprue detail.
As with the construction sets, I think I will pick up a couple more from this series - the other vehicle and a chopper for certain.

Once assembled, the only thing left to do was deal with the silly printing. I took some extremely fine grit sandpaper that I use for modeling and gently rubbed the printing off. I suspect that I could get an even smoother finish if I used Brasso or a similar product, but I was in a hurry and the job falls under "good enough."

Models after sanding off the printing on the roofs.
All in all, I enjoyed building these sets. While they are not quite up to Lego quality, they're not bad. I was also impressed that they are not copies of Lego designs, but rather original. Considering the price point (the dump truck is $4 for a 136 piece set), they're a good value and I am looking forward to adding more to my collection.

'Til next time.