Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pico Scale Building Availability

I just got a bunch of Monopoly City buildings in the mail, bought at Boardgame Geek's virtual market. I'd seen the wonderful city pieces produced by Fen Edge Wargaming for his dieselpunk air combat games and I wanted something similar for my 3mm sci-fi set up. Turns out that Warren Colegrave was selling his copy of the Monopoly City on the 'Geek for a very reasonable price. Mr. Colgrave lives in Canada, but he politely agreed to sell me only the building pieces and to send them to me in a cushioned envelope in order to avoid customs fees.

Two weeks later they arrived in Brazil and I started painting.

The pieces from Monopoly City are all different scales and sizes, but they work well together and with old-style Monopoly houses and hotels, as well as the Microform white metal buildings in 1/900 scale that Ana Paula gave me for Christmas in 2010.

I've mounted them all on plasticard and the resulting blocks can be combined in any number of different ways to make cities, towns and villages.

Here are some quick photos of everything I've built so far, laid out along with some roads. The roads have not been pinned down to the table, as they should be, so they look a little sloppy. Also sloppy is the camera work, which is certainly not as crisp as it could be. I plan to take some better pictures soon.

These buildings have been put together over the past 7 years, a bit at a time (excpet for the newly acquired Monopoly City pieces which were all done in a week). In spite of the varying scales and the fact that some of the buildings have windows painted on while others are more abstract, everything hangs together quite well, I think.

The first shot shows Picoburg before I laid down the roads, suburbs and airport. In the upper left- and lower right-hand corners, you can see the industrial districts that are made completely of MC pieces, as are the downtown highrises and the apartment complexes on the edge of town.

To the left of center is Olde Towne, the historical city center, with cobbled streets, the cathedral and a medieval city block made out of PicoArmor's Monopoly buildings. The low-rise housing complexes are simple wooden blocks covered in cardboard and gussied up with balsa bits and plasticard. You can also see some Microform buildings in the block just south of the business district.

Here's a shot of the city from the suburbs and surrounding farmland. The airport and roads have also been placed down now. Most of the village pieces are made out of a combination of Monopoly buildings: some PicoArmor, some Brazilian plastic Banco Imobiliário pieces and some old-school wooden houses and hotels picked up on Ebay. The airport is scratchbuilt.

Roads are painted and textured artist's canvas. They should be pinned down and look better when they are. Here, they're just thrown down and it shows.Since I've taken these photos, I've also trimmed their margins a bit. As you can see, they are too wide here.

And finally here's an aerial shot of most of the city, some farms and a suburb. Next build: Picoburg Federal University, home of the Fighting Pixels!

On my "to buy" list now are Brigade Games wonderful 1/1000 (2mm) pieces (which can be seen here at PicoArmor). I plan to put these down on their own blocks, so that they can be used seperately from the pieces shown above. I think they'll look just fine together, however, as long as they are used en masse.

Recent discussions on TMP have revolved around what buildings one should buy for 3mm gaming. I hope this shows that a wide variety of materials can be used, almost indiscriminantly and without much care for "proper" scale. Here we have pieces that go from 1/700 to 1/1200, but the overall effect is quite acceptable. Of course, some care must be taken when composing blocks and even moreso when putting blocks together in cities, but still...

So the answer to the question of "What buildings should I buy?" is "All of them". You should strive to have a wide variety of pieces available in your modeling kit which you can mix and match as the mood takes you (or as period demands).

The best, most beautiful pico terrain pieces out there are by Angel Barracks (3mm English early 20th century town) and Rod Langton (about 1.5mm for Napoleonics). AB's village will set you back 30 quid, however, while Langton's town hall alone costs five pounds!

The entire MC set cost me $25.00 CDN (and that includes shipping). It came with 6 skyscrapes, 8 office buildings, 8 high-rise apartment blocks, 16 houses, 3 prisons, 3 nuke reactors, 3 garbage dumps, 3 football stadiums, 16 small factories,  3 waste treatment plants and 3 windmills. 100 PicoArmor houses will run you $7.50 USD. Old Monopoly stuff can be bought on Ebay for a song. The shipping's literally the most expensive part!

Another boardgame that can be mined for terrain pieces is Big City. Because this is a classic eurogame, currently hard to find, it'll set you back a bit more than MC. Still, the pieces look to be compatible with MC and a copy is up on the 'Geek right now for $32.00 USD.

There's also Irregular Miniatures 2mm stuff (which is closer to 1/1200 scale, actually). I love IM and they will always have a fond spot in my heart for introducing picoscale gaming to me. I have to admit, however, that their terrain is simply not up to current market standards, however. Nor does it mix very well with the other lines noted above.

Finally, if you need 3mm American Civil War stuff to go with your O8 Union and Confederate armies, there's the old Simply Six line, now defunct, but still sold by Pico Armor while supplies last.  Peter Pig's 3mm Hammerin' Iron line, which I hear is quite good, also has a 19th century U.S. American riverside town in 1/600 scale.

I hope this gives prospective 3mm players an idea of what's available and what can be done with regards to 3mm urban terrain. You can also take a look at Steel On Sand's wonderful comparison shots of some popular 3mm terrain lines. When one uses all these pieces together, en masse, the difference between 1/1200 and 1/600 really doesn't show. If you're only going to be using a few buildings, however, it's probably better to make these all one line or a couple of easily matched lines.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kampfgruppe Hiltner, Southern Russia, Jun 1943

Here's Kampfgruppe Hiltner, shaking out from its nightly laager on the steppes of Southern Russia in the summer of 1943.

This KG has been formed around the division's panzer regiment and includes two full-strength panzer battalions, plus the divisional armored panzer grenadier regiment. A 105mm artillery battalion, a Marder battery, a halftrack-mounted engineer company and a heavy flak battery have been added in support:

 Bf-109s protect a Stuka as it flies out in front of the KG, seeking targets of opportunity:

 Above, we see the panzer regiment, forming into two battalion-sized panzer kiels, one on each side of the highway. The regiment has been newly re-equipped and has 3 large Pz II recon platoons, 5 PZ III 50L companies, 2 Pz III N companies (for infantry support work) and two Pz IV F companies.  A motorcycle recon platoon detached from the Panzer Grenadier regiment accompanies the advance along the highway.

(For those of you who may be confused about my organization, tank and infantry stands represent half-companies while weapons stands are usuaully batteries. Recon units are generally platoons.)

Finally, below we have a shot of the KG's half-track-mounted panzer grenadier battalion. This also includes substantial support from the parent PG regiment. To the battalion's right, a battery of 88mm canon have deployed, covering the open steppe to the nort. To the left, the artillery battalion has unlimbered and prepares to support the advance of the panzers:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Crowd-Sourcing a Basing Decision. Your thoughts?

I've decided to go with 20x10mm bases, minimal flocking and a colored label at the bottom, explaining what the unit is.

The Russians look good already. What I need to do now is choose a color scheme for the Germans' labels.

I'm looking for a mix of legibility and attractiveness. Please tell me which scheme you think is the best. Top panzer is #1 and bootm panzer is #5. (Note that #5 panzer still needs to be flocked.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Basing solutions for 3mm WWII

Over the years, I've tried several different basing solutions for 3mm WWII miniatures. The key point to all of these solutions has always been to base contrary to the figures' colors. So if I got green Soviet tanks, say, I try to make the base brown and yellow. Gray German tanks will get a green base and so on.

This basing scheme was harder for the North African desert, but even then you could tweak it.

After seeing Nogegon's basing scheme for his 3mm Turkish NATO forces, however, I've re-thought my use of flocking for 3mm figs. I'm now convinced that basing needs to be as simple as possible. But anyhow, here's a selection of my various basing schemes. Let me know what you all think.

 The base in the lower left corner was my first attempt, followed by the two bases to its right. Here, I was planning on each base being a company or battalion. Then I decided that having two tanks so close together was unrealistic. Besides, if I was going to use two castings for each company anyhow, wouldn't it be better to base them seperately and call each stand a half-company? Blitzkrieg Commander is scaleable that way, so why not? It would allow me to have even more flexible formations.

Here are two more photos of the stands:

As you can see, I've gone with progressively simpler basing arrangements on the half-company stands, culmulating in the green German stands, which have no flocking whatsoever. I think this last step might be TOO radical, however. I'm thinking of putting some fine, medium green flocking on those bases, but I'd like to know what people think.

What this shows is that one needs to be exceedingly careful when thinking og basing solutions for 3mm figs. It's easy to drown them out in the "noise" of the base's granularity, which is very realistic, of course, but a bad idea for tabletop wargames.

The most granular and "noisy" bases here belong to the Carrier company and the Stugs. The PzIV S company's base is also highly granular, but in this case, the lighter paint scheme of the panzers makes them visually pop right off the base.

Of the lot, I prefer the T-34s.

So what do you think?

Monday, March 18, 2013

1942 Soviet Tank Brigade

Cue "Katyusha".

Here's a Soviet tank brigade from early 1943. The figures are O8 3mm and each stand represents roughly a half company.

This brigade contains:

7 T-34/43
1 T-34/41
3 T-60
4 GAZ Trucks
4 Infantry
2 SMGs (tank riders)
1 82mm Mortar
1 76mm ATG

Again, I've based these figures against their color scheme, so it's brown/yellow/light green bases versus dark green vehicles and brownish infantry.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

The People's Revolutionary Industrial Council and Syndicate takes the R5 Refinery

The People's Revolutionary Industrial Council and Syndicate is an armed workers' movement on Smade's World which fights to take direct control of the means of production away from the Noble Houses and Corporations which currently run unobtanium mining and hyandwavium processing facilities.

Following a surprising string of recent victories, the PRICS have recieved off-world support in the form of the New Vistula Legion. The Neo-Poles hope that by supporting the revolutionaries, they will gain a foothold on Smade's World and a small but lucrative chunk of the handwavium trade.

Here we see the rebel column of Commadante Ima Ben-Dayo as it forms up in front of the recently occupied R-5 refinery:

The column's infantry is equipped with serviceable extruded plastisteel body armor and small arms. It's backed up by a large Plasma Infantry Gun. Re-purposed heavy trucks with hastily applied armor panels carry the company. Ben-Dayo's trucks are also equipped qith heavy mortars, thrown together in liberated machine-shops and mounted on their roofs.

The column also contains a squadron of rail-gun armed "technicals" and a re-purposed heavy construction mecha, armed with seriously up-graded industrial plasma cutters.

Here's a close-up of the column:

Finally, here's the R-5 refinery from another angle. It was made out of parts of a deoderant stick, a plastic pinbox, chunks of balsa wood, beads and many bits of plasticard, tubes, and greeblies.

The PRIC miniatures are all from Oddzial Osmy's Modern range except for the Mecha which is a Risk "graffiti" piece. When I pulled it from the game, I noticed that the Chinese factory that put the casting model together had obviously stuck its legs on backwards. I had to cut them off and turn them around.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

3mm sci-fi set-up

Here's a quick set up for a battle showing my new terrain system and some of my 3mm sci-fi miniatures.

The system is built on half-meter square, 10mm thick "foamies" that can be linked together. One side of the foamie is flocked spring green, the other yellow. My old canvas modules have been dismounted from the frames and cut up. They are pinned to board with tacks and stick-pins disguised as rock piles and vegetation.

Here, you can see me holding the foamie with all the terrain pinned to it at a 90 degree angle compared to the floor. As you can see, this stuff is on there pretty firmly...
 Here's a top down shot of the foamie with miniatures and buildings in place....


 A shot of the R-5 handwavium refinery. The Lafitte Regiment's Fire Support Squadron currently occupies it. In the background, we can see a Lafitte titan guarding the road. It's screened by two squadrons of heavy mecha.

The Lafitte's titan is a monster. One of the heaviest and best armed in the Human Sphere. In reality it's a 28mm Tau power armored trooper repurposed from Games Wankshop. You can see some 2mm Germy power armor troopers on its base, put there for scale. The heavy mecha are Ground Zero Games 6mm infantry walkers from their "Not-Votoms" line:

Two companies of local House Penn-Taylor militia hold a trench line to the north of belt of Ramen Trees.

The Lafitte's anti-mecha squadron, made up of four troops of Stalker mecha, hide just below the crestline of the hill. Behind them is their HQ unit, mounted in Sloth command mechas.

Titans from the Third Combined Arms Combat Team, preceded by two companies of IFV-mounted infantry and a recon troop, advance on the woodsline.

Shot of the Laffite titan from the rear, showing its escort squadron, with Sloth-mounted HQ:

Another angle showing the 3rd CACT's main line of battle:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Assault Gun Brigade in Ambush

Here are some pictures showing German assault guns set up in an ambush position along a road in northern France. The figures are all O8 3mm and the terrain is homemade.

Two companies are deployed forwar along the tree line while one company is held back in reserve with the engineers and recon  in a small hamlet. Here's an overhead shot and a view of the main defensive position, from the front.

Monday, January 7, 2013

3mm German Infantry Kampfgruppe, 1944

This is another of my holiday projects: a 1944 German kampfgruppe. This one is built around an infantry regiment with support from an assault gun brigade and a field artillery battalion..

I'm doing a new basing system for Blitzkrieg Commander here which is a half-company per stand. BKG works best at 1 HQ unit per 6-8 combat units and I enjoy using it to conduct division-sized actions on my coffee table. An infantry stand is thus about 50-100 troops - or half a company. Tanks represent 6-10 vehicles and crewed weapons around 3-5 weapons. 1mm = 10 meters and 10cm in the BKC rule book = 1 inch of table space.

Here we see the full array, with the two infantry battalions in line and the assault guns to the left, back:

This is one of the infantry battalions. Three rifle companies, a machinegun stand, an 81mm mortar stand, a 120mm mortar stand and an infantry gun stand, led by a headquarters:

Here we see the regimental support units: a CO, an extra HQ, a 75mm ATG, and an engineer stand. The KG also has an attached 88 FLAK gun and 2 additional 50mm ATGs, picked up from somewhere (they're stock OoB if I add another battalion and ditch the 120mm mortars to get an falschirmjaeger regiment). They're waiting on their horse-mounted recon unit, which should be done tomorrow (yes, I just noticed that I gorgot to flock the 75mm ATG...:

The assault gun brigade. These will get another two infantry units to make up the escort company. One of the company's armed with Stug III F8s while the other two companies have Stug III Gs. The brigade has been promised Stug 42s in place of its F8s, but these haven't arrived yet. An engineer and a motor-cycle mounted recon platoon accompany the HQ:

Finally, here's the artillery battalion, armed with 105mm cannons. They are accompanied by a halftrack-mounted FO and a 20mm quad anti-aircraft battery.

All figures are by O8, distributed to me with excellent service by Picoarmor.