14 December 2013

Pulp Alley Terrain: Giant Skull

I sculpted this giant (35mm) skull today for use as a terrain piece in Pulp Alley games.  I made it from crappy, crumbly, plain old regular Sculpey.

It might get covered in Super-Sculpey to make a full-up face.

35mm chin to crown
Edit: Added some clearer pics:

Red stuff is automotive RTV rubber used to make mold so I can copy this

10 December 2013

Cheapo Modular Flight Stands for 1/600 Jets

... and spaceships too.

Have you ever wanted to make a really tall flight stand, but then realize your fighter jet or star cruiser is now too high to fit in the storage box?  No?  Well, it happened to me and I thought I'd share my solution for cheap modular flight stands, illustrated with a partially painted Yak-25.

For materials you'll need 1 inch washers, CA glue, two-part epoxy, Equate brand cotton swabs, and thick spaghetti.

I noticed a few years ago that the stems of Equate brand cotton swabs are not paper but in fact little hollow plastic tubes.  These little tubes, sans the cotton swabs on the ends, have become a staple of my scratchbuilding.  My wife buys the more eco-friendly brands, but I still have a stockpile of the old Equates.  Anyways, another thing I noticed was that a piece of thick spaghetti fits snug within the hollow tube, adding strength while remaining in place.  The plastic tube cuts very easily when hollow, but is very resilient with a pasta core.

Mix up a tiny bit of epoxy (cheap plumber's putty works fine) and use it to fill the hole in the 1 inch washer, forming the base.  Before the epoxy sets push a small section of cotton swab tubing into it to act as the lower part of the flight stand rod.  Attach another short piece of tubing to your miniature to act as the top part of the flight rod.  Get another, full length piece of plastic tubing and use CA glue to secure small pieces of thick spaghetti into one end of this piece and the tubing connected to the miniature.  You now have a male/female interface between the plane and the flight stand base, or between the plane, a flight rod extension, and the base.  The pictures below will probably explain all this better than I can.

Yak-25, flight rod extension, flight stand base

Flying low/ready for storage

Towering over the board at 65mm

08 December 2013

Solo Jet Game AAR (1/600)

OK, it's actually a "During Action Report" because the game's not finished.

Right now I'm in the middle of a solo game of jet combat.  As I mentioned last post, the rules are homebrew, designed for solo play and this game is the second of the playtest.

I managed to paint up the two RAF BAC Lightnings, as well as two Yak-25 Flashlights.  Another improvement was the construction of a hex-board.  I came across some free blue card stock, so I made up a quick 1" hex pattern and printed it in light gray on the card.  Even after hours of diligent cutting with the hobby knife the individual sheets don't fit together perfectly.  It's OK however, the gaps aren't too noticeable and the benefit of playing with hexes far, far outweighs having to measure movement with a ruler.

For the scenario I replayed the first scenario but added two Yak-25s.  It's late 1961 and a war between proxies, supported by the USSR and the western powers respectively, is heating up in central Africa.  The troops in these proxy forces are supported directly by the air forces of these world powers.  The USSR has accused the Federation of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland of harboring Katangan military aircraft, specifically Fouga Magisters flown by Belgian mercenaries.  Intelligence reports indicate Blinder bombers repositioning to central Africa, presumably ready to strike at Federation airfields.  In response, the United Kingdom has deployed BAC Lightnings to Salisbury in order to intercept any incoming bomber strikes.

The game starts with a single Magister, fresh from strafing communist supply trucks and fleeing to Nyasaland, in the middle of the board with two pursuing Yak-25s on the edge.  The Yaks have until turn 10 to destroy the Magister, at which time an element of two RAF Lightnings enter on the opposite corner.  The Yaks must then survive and attempt to egress back to friendly territory.  A random number of turns later, two Su-9 Fishpots arrive to intercept the UK interceptors.

With the ground rules set I played the game.  The Magister spotted the pursuing Soviet planes on turn 6.  The Yak-25s caught the Magister on turn 8.  On turn 9, the little Katangan plane tried to reverse direction, a trick that should have worked, except for a bad maneuver roll on his part.  An excellent maneuver roll on the lead Yak's part put the Soviet fighter right on the Magister's tail on turn 10, and the Fouga explodes in a hail of 37mm cannon fire.  Of course, the Lightnings had arrived, decelerating from Mach 2 and quickly the hunters became the hunted.  Or so it seemed.   The slower Yaks managed to survive the first pass and turned inside the fast UK interceptors, and suddenly the lead Yak scored another kill as he gunned down the trail Lightning!

I rolled 4d6 and dropped the low and high dice, adding the two remaining to get 9: the Fishpots show up nine turns later.  On turn 19, the two Yaks have managed to stay alive, as the cavalry in the form of two SU-9s arrives.  Both new arrivals manage to get a radar lock and fire their semi-active homing missiles at the sole remaining Lightning, just as the he rakes the lead Yak-25 with cannon fire.  The Yak survives, albeit with holes, and the Lightning immediately begins evasive action.  The SU-9's maintain their locks, guiding the missiles toward the UK fighter (Picture 1).  The Lightning breaks hard left, causing the first missile to miss and lining up the lead Fishpot for a Firestreak faceshot (Picture 2).  Before the lead Soviet can react, the British IR missile strikes home, destroying the Su-9 (Picture 3).  As soon as the Firestreak leaves the rail however, the other radar homing missile explodes off the Lightning's left side, sending shrapnel through the British fighter (Picture 4).  Will he make it home?

Honestly, this is the most fun I've had wargaming in years, if not decades.  I just purchased a set of rules called Pulp Alley.  I was going to devote a bunch of money, time and effort into building terrain and buying figures for some cool pulp adventure games.  But with my time limited by work, I think I'm going to spend my money on little jets.  I have a lot more stats to write up, game pieces to make, and rules to write down.  Lucky it's the slow holiday season.

Radar missile inbound, breaking left!

Missile dodged! (Still need to paint flight stands)

Guiding a homing missile to the target leaves one vulnerable...

Dodged the first, but not the second

02 December 2013

Solo Air Combat with 1/600 Jets

Anyone who's read this blog knows I love to scratchbuild.  I know my limitations however, and there are plenty of miniatures I am happy just buying instead of building.

I just purchased between forty and fifty 1/600 scale jets from the 1950's and 60's eras for right about $1.00 per figure, including shipping.  The miniatures are from Tumbling Dice and are exquisite.

I'm really interested in this era of aerial combat, so the Check Your Six! Jet Age (CY6:JA) seemed like a good ruleset.  Unfortunately, from what I read I'm not sure it's too solo-friendly.  So I made my own game up.

To get ready for the playtesting I painted up two Soviet SU-9 Fishpots.  My first lesson learned: use white primer, not gray.  The gray primer I used made it just too dull.  Painting was easy however, with a coat of silver mixed with white painted over with black ink to bring out panel-lines.  The canopy really makes the minis looked finished with a light blue.  The red stars of the Soviet Air Force were hand-painted on.

Tumbling Dice 1/600 Fishpots

I played the first scenario in a Cold War-gone-hot setting I call "Atomic Africa".  It's set in 1961 central Africa and postulates a "what if Dag Hammarskjold hadn't died" situation which leads to western governments supporting the breakaway Katanga and surrounding governments, and the USSR supporting communist rebels.  Of course, hostilities escalate.  In the first game, a flight of two SU-9's are chasing down a Fouga Magister flown by a Belgian mercenary, trying to prevent it from fleeing into Nyasaland.  Screaming to the rescue comes a flight of two RAF BAC Lightnings!

My game uses large dual-sided 30mm square chits, with plastic coated paper labels mounted on pieces of plastic.  I can write all over these with grease pencils and alcohol pens and then wipe them off at the ends of turns and games respectively.  I designed these specifically for solo-play, as initiative could be determined by a simple chit-draw.  Honestly though, for the first game there were only 5 aircraft, so random die rolling was just as easy.

Lyev (Lion) 31 and 32 
The bases also use the same plastic-clad paper technique.  The arrows allow me to use a hex-less game surface, but I'll probably switch to 1" hexes to make the games go faster.

The little cubes are made of polymer clay and reflect speed (in inches, the white cube), and altitude (abstract number, red cube).

Flying over the Arctic apparently

All in all it's a fun little game.  I've found loads of tweaks that need to be made, but the important fun-factor is there.

What it looks like at the table

Gory close-up detail