Sunday 26 February 2017

USS Matakishi: Away Team


Many of my recent posts have been about "classic" Pulp miniatures: 1930s aircraft, archaeologists, Nazi agents and the like.  However, I've always had a hankering to do some space opera as well.  In this genre, Star Trek is probably my favoured setting (although Flash Gordon, Retro Raygun or similar has considerable appeal as well).

For quite some time, I've been quietly collecting miniatures that are suitable to represent a ship's crew or an away team.  My Klingons come from Space Vixens from Mars; it's not a huge range, but still very useful.  Other aliens are harder to come by, but I'll keep trying...

Of course, for a human-centric story, it is necessary to have Federation figures as well.  I'm aware of just a few current sources of these (excluding legacy stuff from FASA and the not-yet-released Star Trek Adventures game from Modiphius):
  • Victory Force Miniatures has a large range of "Spacefarers".  I have a number of these still in their original packaging.  One day, I'll get round to painting them...
  • Matakishi's Tea House has a small collection of what are essentially 25mm crew figures, but with a more recent 28mm Captain/Admiral sculpt.
  • There are small numbers of pre-painted, "Heroclix" crewmen available.  Board games such as Star Trek Expeditions include these, though I understand they can be obtained separately as well.
I just finished painting up my Matakishi models, so here they are.


To represent the science division, we have Lieutenant Gupta and Doctor Forester.  The former is using a tricorder to look up something, whilst the latter is talking urgently into his communicator whilst wielding a phaser.  Evidently his Hippocratic Oath doesn't prevent him from at least threatening to use force on someone or something!


In the second picture are Captain Hunter and his faithful assistant, Yeoman Brookings.  The captain clearly has his arms open in the universal gesture of welcome.  He hasn't put down either his communicator or his weapon, though - so he's not completely trusting ("We come in peace.  Shoot to kill"?).

Unusually, Hunter is an older gentleman with a grey beard and a bit of a protruding belly.  It's not obvious whether he is wearing a visor for medial reasons or whether he just has some funky sunglasses as a style thing...

The relatively-small yeoman is dressed in the traditional mini-skirt & thigh-length boots and has an appropriate regulation beehive hairdo.


Not much point in giving these guys names, really.  Life expectancy for a security guard on an away mission is negligible...


The Matakishi miniatures are good figures, but somewhat dated and not really up to the standards of today's best sculptors.  But hey - all my models are just playing pieces, right?  They're perfectly acceptable as that, especially given the rarity of "not Star Trek" figures.

This is a small (but significant) start to my Star Trek collection.  In due course, I'll build and paint the Victory Force miniatures I own; that will give me the opportunity to add some alien crew members.  Not all Federation members are human, after all, so I can play with lumps and bumps on the heads as well as different skin & hair colours.

But there's still the problem of where to find suitable enemies...

Sunday 19 February 2017

Final Flight: the Airport


Most of my last few posts have been Pulp-related (this won't continue forever; if your interests lie elsewhere then keep hanging on and I'll post other stuff in due course).  This recent series of posts detail my preparations for the "Final Flight" scenario from the Perilous Island campaign for the Pulp Alley rules:
Aircraft?  Check.  Shady characters?  Check.  Baggage, crates &c?  Check.  That's all very well, but the scenario I'm targeting is set at an airport.  What about airfield-related buildings?  Don't worry, I've got that covered too!

Lumbasa Airport Terminal

The problem with making a model of a real airport terminal building is that they are huge!  Even a serious, metropolitan airport in the 1930's would be a very substantial affair, far beyond my intentions for game scenery.  I could go for a simple, grass field "flying club" setup, but I'm aiming higher than that.

Fortunately, there is one kit which is about the right scale and which isn't too large.  This is the Plasticville terminal, intended for O gauge model railway layouts.  There are several things about this model which make it suitable for wargaming:
  • It's relatively small; representative of a terminal building rather than strictly realistic.  The terminal is nominally scaled for O gauge layouts, but that's American O gauge (which is smaller than British O gauge) - and even then it is smaller than might be truly accurate for such a layout.  That suits me just fine!
  • The Plasticville range is at the toy end of the model railway market, rather than the finely-detailed, super accurate end.  Consequently, the parts are nice and chunky (so they won't break easily with handling) and the models are easy to assemble.
  • It's not easy to find these models outside the USA, but it can be done.  My terminal came from a model shop in Germany (via eBay) and although it cost more than I would have liked, it wasn't prohibitively expensive.

I made a few adaptations to the kit as I was building it.  The first of these are apparent here:
  1. The terminal building has been glued to a base (and I've added a separate, grassed & fenced area to hold passengers as they walk to their aircraft).
  2. I carved off the heavily-contoured "PLASTICVILLE AIRPORT" lettering from the panel over the front door.  Instead (after painting the model), I applied a home made decal for my chosen name "LUMBASA AIRPORT".  I imagine this to be somewhere in Africa, though the precise location isn't really important.

I've mentioned size before, but how does this building work with 28mm figures.  The picture above includes one such model, whom you may recognise as "Betty" from my recent Pulp Women post.  In my opinion, the doors to the terminal are a little too large,, but the building is a bit too small.  It'll do...

You can also see from the ruler that the building's footprint is about 26cm (10.25") wide and maybe 20cm (8") deep.

Here you can see another of my modifications to the kit.  The original ladder was a single piece, but I wanted to be able to remove the roof from the control tower.  I cut the ladder in two just below the level of the roof.  This left the lower part hanging loose, so I added a small piece of plasticard outside the tower window frame to hold the lower part of the ladder in position.

Finally, I made 2 cuts to the upper wall, one either side of the clock.  This freed the roof of the terminal building and meant that it could be removed for access to the inside.

So, after a few simple modifications, the terminal comes apart and allows figures to be placed in it.  Of course, I haven't added any detail to the interior of either the main building or the control tower...


I'm looking forward to setting up my "airport" table and playing a game on it.  Everything is ready now, I think - but I daresay that I've forgotten something...

Sunday 12 February 2017

Pulp Women: Archaeologists and Missionaries


My mission continues: to build a suitable number of Pulp figures from which to form a crowd at an airport (for scenario 2 from the Perilous Island scenario book for Pulp Alley).  I've shown some of the men I have collected already (here); now it's the turn of the women.

Female Archaeologists

These four figures come from Copplestone's "BC19 - Female Archaeologists" pack.  BC-19 is currently available from North Star, who have (I believe) taken over the selling of all Copplestone Castings figures.  Mind you, I'm not entirely sure what makes any of these women "archaeologists", as not one of the miniatures has a trowel or a small brush...

Henrietta Smith is a thrill seeker who relishes the chance to live by her wits, beyond the reach of normal law and order.  She likes animals, plays chess and enjoys discovering lost worlds.

Betty Pickering is the daughter of a rich Kenyan tea plantation owner.  She found finishing school in England very restrictive and now wishes to travel the world, in first class (of course).  She likes fashion, tropical sunsets and thinks that honest men are few in number.

Jean Cameron comes from a long line of Scottish antiquarians.  Somewhat more adventurous than her ancestors, she has decided to apply her talents and knowledge to some archaeological digs in the more remote parts of the empire.  She likes hard work & frugal living and abhors liars.

Cassie DeLancy comes from Ireland, though much of her adult life has been spent in the Far East.  She is quite the innocent in many ways and doesn't understand why so many men with questionable morals pursue her.  However, she is practical enough to know how to fend off their advances with a .45 pistol.  Cassie likes singing, cooking and breaking up criminal enterprises.

The Missionary

Lady Isobel Poppington is another North Star figure, though this time from their own-name range rather than the Copplestone Castings brand.  The model comes with a display base of luggage which includes a chest, African tribal mask, ivory/tusks & other souvenirs on it and is topped by a bible.  I've chosen to place this luggage on a separate base (not shown here); it will make an excellent plot point or piece of scatter terrain in games of Pulp Alley, Congo or the like.

She's a rather stern looking woman, dressed in an old-fashioned style and drinking a cup of tea.  Lady Poppington likes tea & singing hymns and won't tolerate bad manners!


Traditionally in Pulp adventures, a woman is just there to scream when the bad guys/monster/... appears so that the hero can then come to the rescue.  I think this started to change from the 1970's onwards with space operas such as Star Wars and video games like Tomb Raider.

I'd like to think that any of my heroines were more than simple, helpless damsels.  Each of these characters could hold her own against whatever the world throws at her, though I suspect that they would all have very different approaches!

Sunday 5 February 2017

Frostgrave: Small Demons


It's strange: I'm frantically busy building and painting models, as well as working, looking after the family &c, but I just don't seem to have much time for blogging these days.  I want to give more attention to blogs - both my own and those of other hobbyists - but there aren't enough hours in the day for everything I'd like to do.  Oh well, I'll just need to keep things in perspective: many people in this world have far worse problems than I do...

Frostgrave Imps

I haven't written about it much recently, but that doesn't mean that I have given up on Frostgrave!  Here are some new monsters I painted up recently.

Demons in Frostgrave come in 3 different sizes: man-sized, smaller than a man and larger than a man.  In the latter category, I am already quite well provided, with a couple of Reaper Bones models: .  I have used one of these older models as a regular, man-sized demon before, but he/she/it is really a bit big for that.

As part of my Christmas present to myself last December, I bought a Mantic "crazy box".  This is a random assortment of models, but at a much cheaper price than if they were bought at list price.  You pays you money and takes your chances...

On this occasion, one of the items in my crazy box was a sprue of hard plastic "Lower Abyssals"; classic demons with goat's feet, horns and a tail.  Excellent - I built up a pair of these to act as my man-sized demons in Frostgrave.

The sprue has (from memory) 5 of these demons on it, so I could build another three if I wanted.  However, just the two will do for now.

As well as the man-sized demons, each Lower Abyssal sprue has a few much smaller creatures on it.  These will make excellent Imps, I think.

The Imps are quite small figures and are probably a little bit fragile - especially the winged one, who is only touching the ground with one foot.  We'll just have to be careful with them.


I would never have thought to look in the Mantic catalogue for such creatures, but I think they'll work very well.  I believe that the same faction (for Kings of War) has larger creatures of a similar form as well.  Those would make excellent large demons for Frostgrave, if I was so minded.

Overall, I'm very pleased with these models apart perhaps from the Imp with the staff.  The varnish on that model has frosted slightly - though I suppose you might just say that the creature was caught in a snowstorm and being slowly encased in ice.!