Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pass in Review: Cruel Seas Quick Pic Collage

(Image from The Military Channel)

Last week's topic focused on my Blood & Plunder vessels.  

This week, we "fast forward" to World War II and highlight my Cruel Seas collection.

First up are the vessels from the British Royal Navy.

1. Mark III Landing Craft Gun (Large):

Because of this vessel's ungainly looking appearance, looking like a floating bathtub armed with cannons, I named it "HMS Gun Tub."  The closest historical entry I could find was of the Landing Craft Gun.

My paint job turned out a bit more green than the professional painters did.  So far this is the only sub in my Cruel Seas collection, and the only surfaced boat currently made by Warlord Games. Construction of these subs began in the mid-1930s and a total of 53 saw service during the war, and some were in service until the 1970s.

Now for the Americans...

This was part of the US Navy Fleet package, which also contains some smaller LCM3s that I painted as a "warm-up" exercise before working on the larger boats.  

4. US Navy PT Boat Flotilla:

So far I've only built four out of the 10 PT boats I currently have:  2 x Higgins boats, and 2 x Elco boats, pictured below.

Somehow I missed taking pics of the Higgins versions of my completed PT boats.

Based on historical photos, these boats were painted a wide variety of colors from dark blue, grey, green and even Dazzle Camouflage--which I'm not going to even attempt. But once I get around to painting the rest of the flotilla, I'll try to individualize each boat. 

The SC-497 Class Subchasers were one of the smallest vessels the US Navy classified as "ships" instead of "boats."

I found these vessels appealing. So much so, that I ended up with 5 of them.  But instead of having them all as part of the US Navy, I "lend leased" the first three I painted.

My favorite is the vessel I converted to be one of three used as Norway's "Shetland Buses:" HNoMS HitraHNoMS Vigra, or HNoMS Hessa

Since the Cruel Seas line contains tiny ship flags only for the major combatants, I had to make my own Norwegian flag.

The second subchaser I decided to make into one of the 50 the US gave to Free France

Once again, I had to make up my own Free French Flag.

The last subchaser I converted into one of the 78 the US sent to the Soviet_Union.

At least with this ship I didn't have to hand-make a flag.

And speaking of the Soviet Union, here's the ships I've completed so far...

This was one of the hardest ship models for me to assemble, because I don't have a dremel tool or any other gadget to drill tiny holes.  I couldn't get the lifeboat cranes through the upper deck holes they were suppose to fit through.  So I just bent them around the upper deck and super-glued them in place.

7. Three out of my four MO-4 Patrol Boats:

The MO Class guard ships were the most common small vessels built and used by the Soviets during WWII

8. Three out of my four D-3 Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs):

Now on to the Axis vessels, starting with the Japanese...

9. Imperial Japanese Navy No. 103 or 101 Class Landing Ship:

This class of landing ships looks like it inspired a lot of science fiction anime, like Star Blazers
I bought this because I wanted a large transport to serve as an objective for allied players to attack, and for Japanese players to protect.  This is what I call an "Objective Ship."

10. Imperial Japanese Navy No. 1 Class T-6 Fast Transport

Believe it or not, this converted destroyer is the longest vessel in my Cruel Seas collection.  It comes with 4 empty Daihatsu landing craft, that I already painted but didn't glue to the deck.  I also have four, loaded landing craft I painted several months ago.  My intent is to make this vessel as versatile as possible, displaying:  an empty deck, a deck loaded with empty landing craft, or a deck loaded with loaded landing craft. 
And finally, the Germans...

11. Kriegsmarine S-Boat Flotilla:

My latest contribution to #Miniature Monday," is my "wolfpack" of S-38 & S-100 type torpedo boats (called "E-Boats" by the allies).

While I'm not about to attempt full-razzle dazzle, this was my first try at applying naval camouflage.  I merely painted 5 diagonal-ish lines of a different shade along both sides of the vessels' hulls.  I also painted each boat in a slightly different color scheme in order to individualize their appearance. 

This almost completes my Kriegsmarine faction, and makes me all caught up with photos of my current Cruel Seas painting project--for now.  

I currently have the following to start--
--Regia Marina starter pack
--the British Royal Navy starter pack
--6 x USN PT boats

The following vessels are currently "in the slipways," and near completion:  2 x US subchasers, 2 x Japanese subchasers and 2 x Soviet gunboats.

The other day, I received several new products from Warlord Games as reinforcements--
--2 x USN "barge buster" PT Boats
--1 x Fairmile H Gunboat
--8 x Kriegsmarine sturmboots
--12 x IJN small sampans
--1 x Kriegsmarine F-Lighter

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Pass in Review: Blood & Plunder Quick Pic Collage

(Image from Living in the Past--Wooden Ships)

 Because I've been dealing with major health issues for the past two years now, I don't get a chance to do full-blown photo shoots.  

Lately I've been taking some quick snapshots of figures on my workbench dining room table and posting them on the Pacific Northwest Miniature Painters Society page for their "# Miniature Monday" and their "#WIP [Work in Progress] Wednesday."

Last week, I realized I haven't posted any of my "quick pics" directly here on my blog.  And as I started rummaging through my photo gallery on my Ipad Pro, I was shocked to discover how many quick pics I took--and how far behind I am at posting material.

So to make up for lost blog-fodder, this will be Part 1 of a collage of projects I've worked on for the past several months.

For this week, we'll turn back to the Age of Sail and the so-called Golden Age of Piracy.

Here's a 28mm bark I recently assembled, painted and rigged.  This comes from Firelock Games' Blood & Plunder:

The rigging is rather elastic and I learned--the hard way--to be careful.  My first attempt brought down the ship's foremast.  After re-supergluing the mast, I re-rigged the vessel, but kept the lines loose.

The bark is just the latest addition to my Blood & Plunder "fleet." I bought two pre-painted and assembled vessels several years ago, off The Miniature Market website.  These are:

 1. A sloop 

2. A brigantine:

The bark isn't the first vessel I painted.  I first "practiced" on the following:

3. A Caribbean native piragua

4. Some dugout "canoas:" 

I plan on using these as suitable substitutes for Woodland Indian canoes in my French and Indian War (F&IW) collection.

5. Some longboats

These boats will be suitable for any Age of Sail gaming.  

The plastic bags in each boat contain a painted, yet unmounted swivel gun.

While I don't have any Golden Age of Piracy crew figures, I do have some Napoleonic naval crew figures in the process of being painted by a friend, and I'm trying to get my 2 dozen Woodland Indian figures painted to complete my F&IW collection.

My justification for having these vessels is that I feel ship design differences from the 17th to 19th Centuries wouldn't be much of a concern due to the small size of the vessels and at this level of gaming. 

Firelock Games  makes high-quality products--when they make them.  The company seems to manufacture a limited supply of items then halt production.  I've had to search around the internet for items that are not listed on their website.  And while every vessel larger than a longboat is powered by sails--there's no guidelines for making sails, or even a template to use on paper or fabric of your choosing.

For now, adding sails to my bark and piragua will be on the back-burner.

The next Quick Pic Collage will focus on 20th Century vessels, so no "sail cloth" will be necessary.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Pass in Review: Lighthouses for Cruel Seas

(Image from video:  Great Lighthouses in England)

 Lighthouses, the picturesque structures dotting coastlines the world over, date back to antiquity.  

The necessity for safe navigation often over-rode military operations, so there's very little information about the role of lighthouses during wartime. 

In my quick Google search extensive research on this subject, I came across two instances of raids, or attacks directed at lighthouses during World War II:

and the British commando raid against the Les Casquets Channel Island Lighthouse during Operation Dryad.  

But the lack of anti-lighthouse actions didn't stop Warlord Games from providing some colorful terrain to include in tabletop battles.

Here's an example of their "typical Atlantic" lighthouse paint-scheme:

(Image from:  Warlord Games/Product/Lighthouse)

And one with an alternate style:

Two official scenarios include lighthouses, even though they're not the objectives:

Operation Chariot, and 

The Battle of Sukho Island.

Lighthouses in the Mediterranean Sea had a slightly different look, like the Cabo de Palos lighthouse in Spain:

(Image found on Storyblocks)

And here's Warlord Games version of a "typical Mediterranean" lighthouse:
(Image: Warlord Games/Product/Mediterranean Lighthouse)

I bought both styles, feeling I'd need a break from painting and assembling miniature ships.  Both models come in two pieces that can be easily trimmed and superglued.

Compared to painting ships, the conical tower lighthouse was fairly easy...

...the most difficult part being the cupola, lantern panel and gallery as identified by this cut-away schematic:

(Image found on Pintrest)

It took me two attempts to paint these features.  I found it best to wait until I could focus exclusively on specific sections as opposed to attempting to include them in an overall paint job.

The Mediterranean Lighthouse on the other hand was one of the most difficult figures I had to paint, particularly the base.

I rarely use white in my painting projects and I found it an unforgiving color to work with.  I'd mis-stroke painting the window frames, trim and shutters.  This would require multiple coats of white paint to cover up.  

After several coats of touch-up work, I quickly settled for finishing the building at "tabletop quality."

Here's a front view of my finished Mediterranean Lighthouse:

And here's the back view:

I'm not quite done with my lighthouse work.  I currently have a ruined version of the a ruined "Atlantic style" lighthouse, by Warlord Games, and a ruined Mediterranean version on back order.

While I'm satisfied with my work on these, they were difficult enough for me to paint.  So I'll most likely contract-out the job of painting the ruined versions of these two figures to other gamers.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Game Report--Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar

(Image from Restoration Games)

A couple weeks ago, I got together with my friend Joe.  Instead of playing any of our usual wargames of military mayhem, we opted for the more family-friendly adventure game Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar.

This is a remake of the 1986 Milton Bradley game, now published by Restoration Games.

(Image from Milton Bradley)

Back in 1986, I felt I was “too old” to play such “kiddie games.”

Fast-forward a few decades—add one pandemic—and what free time I may have to gather with friends, evaporates.

So I'm desperate  willing enough play anything.

No matter which version you have, think of Fireball Island as “Indiana Jones on the Volcanic Island of Chutes and Ladders.”

Up to four players are dropped off with the mission of collecting all sorts of treasure, pictures and souvenirs.  All while dodging “fireballs” (marbles), and their light-fingered fellow players, who can swipe an item from you as they run past.  

The game’s big MacGuffin is The Heart of Vul-Kar, a large red jewel prominently placed on the island’s summit.  Because The Heart is the single largest source of points, it can have a mesmerizing effect similar to “The Precious-s-s-s.”

But the Geological Clock is ticking, so players can’t dawdle. Sooner or later the island’s volcano god, Vul-Kar, will get fed-up with the foreign devil fortune hunters, and unleash a cataclysmic eruption.  

(Image from:  Krakatoa East of Java)

Ars Technica
 has a full review, and there’s a How-to-Play video, along with one of several play-through videos available on YouTube.

The game is rated for anyone age 7 years or older.  Joe’s two boys are about 5 & 6 years old and seemed to grasp the basics of the game rather well.

However, when playing with younglings, adults need to forgo their usual desire to “...crush your enemies, see them driven before you...”.  

Instead, us grups have to encourage fun & fair play, even as fireballs are flying and the island is coming apart at the fault lines. 

(Image from Ars Technica)

Our game session lasted over a couple of hours due to explaining the rules and breaking for lunch about half-way through the table-top treasure hunt. 

I can’t remember who ended up with “The Precious-s-s-s,” but it changed hands a time or two before the Final Cataclysm.  

I didn’t bother going after it, and instead contented myself with swiping all the minor jewels I could get my hands on.  

I was also the first one to get to the choppa before the island blew, and got the “lucky penny,” worth some bonus points.  Joe’s boys were right behind me and piled into the helicopter. 

(Image from:  Jurassic Park)

What about Joe?

Alas, Joe was hit solid by a fireball as he sprinted to the helipad.  The boulder pushed him down to the very bottom of the hill.  As a result of this critical hit, he didn’t have enough movement points to get off the island... 

(Image from: Raiders of the Lost Ark)

So if this sort of fast & furious looting-spree sounds like more fun than another plodding round of  “ not pass Go...”, consider adding Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar to your family’s Game Night Library.