In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

In Which Capt. Rabbitman Takes His Cadets to See the Big Zoomy Thing

A Warrent Officer working at HQ in London leveraged his connections in the Sr. NCM Mafia to bring a C17 Globemaster transport jet from 428 Squadron to London last Saturday for familiarization flights with the Air Cadets. It was a long weekend and only a month's notice, plus seats were limited, so I had a few stressful weeks getting names confirmed, and then removing names from the list up to the last day as cadets dropped out.

But we arrived in London to be told the aircraft was 7 hours late (mechanical issues, aircraft had to be rerouted) and a very harried Sergeant was working frantically to reconfigure the chalks.


However the giant aircraft arrived shortly after we did and our bus driver was OK with staying late. So we hung around and waited....






But at last we were organized into our chalk, put in our ear plugs and got loaded!




For a good part of our half hour flight the aircraft flew with the ramp down, which provided quite the view.



My friend Maj Steve Wilson (he's behind me in the above pic with white hair) has a very nice camera and took most of these pictures. My cell phone mostly got glare trying to shoot the open hatch. 

It was quite the view as the large, but nimble, jet swooped along the shore of L. Erie.








A much later day than planned, but enjoyed by all.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Painting Pottersville

I've been busy gluing MDF like a mad thing, resulting in an impressive street of buildings.

The Sarissa buildings all go together quickly. One quibble is the upper floors are open concept. But I used some heavy card stock to make simple partition walls.




I also used some heavy art board to make some lengths of paving to create alleys between the buildings. Dirty deeds need dark alleys, and I have lots of trash cans that need a place to go.

After spray painting with a light tan, painting has gone quickly. Both buildings took maybe 3 hours each.


I've also had a plastic toy pony stable from Ertl that Pete found. I added a back door with my Dremel Tool and some card and stuck it on a base.  Looking at most commercial properties you see a lot of clutter and junk (especially prior to 5S and Kaizen ), so I added piles of construction materials around it to give some cover and character. After painting I added some tufts and weeds. Taller weeds fill spaces that I couldn't reach with sand.





Plastic coffee stirrers become copper pipes. Plastic tubes become concrete pipes. Wooden fence posts from cheap Christmas village fences become stacks of fence pickets. Bamboo skewers get turned into a stack of lumber. I've had stacks of construction materials made as scatter terrain for years. Those will be out front or beside the building.




Trying a test layout to see where I'm at for things like fences and sidewalks. It will be nice to deploy the street lights and newsstand, complete with paperboy, at last. The cloth is 4x4.






I can push the buildings right to the edge and leave wider streets too. But I had an idea to make walled yards complete with laundry behind the tenements. The reverse of the cloth is dark grey. Might be smarter to use that side and then make gravel yards for the construction company and the scrap yard. As you can see above I still have an empty corner to fill.

A 4x4 area should give room for up to 8 gangs to deploy I hope.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Still Hot After 25 Years! (Hotlead 2019 AAR -Picture Heavy)



My lovely wife, the friendly face of Hotlead keeping all of our fun organized and the cash box in parade order. After selling tags for over a decade she knows faces and names better than me.

Hotlead hit a significant milestone this year, 25 years. There have been some bumps getting here, but for the most part it's been a hugely rewarding experience and I've made a lot of really great friends along the way.

I think that because the Hotlead team isn't really a club, but a group of friends who are all excited to see each other (for some of us it's the only time during the year), that makes Hotlead special. That feeling of friendship ripples out into the convention as a whole, setting us apart from other gaming cons. Many of our long time, regular attendees have also remarked on this over the years.
Hotlead friends. The guy on the right, Chris, is my absolutely oldest "brother from another mother". We've known each other since we were 10 or so and played with our Airfix soldiers on the rug or in the garden growing up.
With Red Shirts like these Target would still be open.
I'm trying to explain something important to Chris, who is being VERY serious about it, while Brian tries not to laugh. As usual.

Red Shirts hard at work running the Bring and Buy. Started as a Charity Fund-raiser, it's become a huge attraction in it's own right. These guys do $16K in sales over 7 hours.
My lovely wife guarding the portal, me checking something and my friend the Mad Padre, our Hipster in Residence.

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Red Shirts blowing off steam in Dan's Mongols With Mausers game Saturday night.
To celebrate we got in a cake and had a special figure to give away. The figure also commemorates this year's 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Normandy. Bob Murch of Pulp Figures very kindly donated sculpting and molding, only charging us for material costs and postage. Bob used to be a regular GM at Hotlead before he moved, selling his small line of figures from a case beside his super popular "China Station" games.
And what's a birthday without cake?
Or presents? Our 25th Anniversary figure "Hotlead Herbie" sculpted by Bob Murch.

The Vendors have really changed over the years. Our longest attending vendor, Don Cameron of Five Arrows Figures and Books, who I think has been coming since the first Hotlead, couldn't make it this year due to failing health. Previously the vendors were all stores or part-time hobby businesses retailing figures and a few books, but with the age of internet sales, unless you're a manufacturer it's very hard to make a go of it now. Many of our old standard vendors are no longer in business. This year we had a lot of new Canadian manufacturers selling vinyl battlemats, laser cut mdf buildings, dice3D printed scenery and Model Builders Supply who sells to architectural model builders, rail road enthusiasts and now wargamers. The only miniature vendor we had was the venerable RAFM, who cast their own products.

Infinite Dimensions 3D printed scenery
Dan the Dice Guy
"Does this Legio XX Valeria Victrix shirt make me look fat?" Tribe of Nero selling out. I got one of their tees last year.
Infinite Dimensions
Dale Jardin, casts dungeon accessories and paints them. I got some barrels and a wash tub with water effect resin from him last year
The eternal Crossed Swords going out of business sale. He hasn't had a physical store in ages but keeps finding more stuff to unload. I got a few things from him this year on good deals.
Broken Roads Games with their laser cut mdf terrain
Model Builder Supply
Hot Dice Games vinyl battlemats

The crowds were good, but this year we did some pre-registration for games, so the game sign ups went a lot faster. Elizabeth found the administration on the pre-registration pretty straight forward so we'll keep doing it. My big mental block on pre-registration had been taking advance payment, but once I got my head around not really needing that, it was all pretty simple to set up. There were a few glitches and a bit of whining, but lessons learned and you can't make everyone happy.



OK, now the games. Over the weekend we had 75 events ranging in size from Mike doing a foam core building workshop for 2 or 3 people, to the Middle Earth SBG tournament that had 24 gamers playing on 4 tables from Friday night to Saturday night. But we had air and naval games and land games in every period from ancient chariots to Star Wars and in all sizes from 6mm to 54mm. Every period was covered by at least one game except Colonials.

Bill Bean's Battle of Britain game 

WW1 dreadnought

The Middle Earth SBG demo table.  Busy all weekend with 6 to 8 players each session. 
Spent some time Sunday morning discussing water effects with Jason and how he made the waterfall 

Samurai. 3d printed lanterns with LED lights in them and the buildings 

Dan's ancient mayhem 
Dan's Saturday night Mongols with Mausers game, involving silly hats. Fro the 25th Anniversary some extra effort was made in the costume department.

Game of Thrones 
Brian's 15mm Gettysburg game I think

Sunday morning's VSF game with added tentacles this year.

Star Wars

More Star Wars

More of Brian's ACW game


Brian, white hat, explaining something to players in his 6mm FPW game.


Battle of Hastings 
Some old fashioned Tactica 



Italian Wars

6mm Franco-Prussian  

RCAF Sabres vs. MiGs 


Ian Tetlow's lovely 1914 RHA 

The city of Kadesh

Battletech in Quebec City

The Kaiser's hordes advance 


American Revolution in 6mm with a 1:1 ground and figure scale

IDF jets over the Sinai

Battle of Kadesh 

I got out Call sign Two One Bravo Saturday evening and the game went o.k. despite a splitting headache. 

One of three ACW naval games Sunday morning 

ANOTHER ACW naval game, with Mike's scratch built ironclads

DBA tournament 


Snow! This arrived Saturday afternoon giving people a treacherous drive home. 
I notice certain games got photographed a lot by everyone who posted pictures to the Hotlead Facebook group

Other views of Hotlead 2019 from the Web:
Must Contain Minis (lots of pictures of the VSF/Chthulu game)
The Mad Padre (some good pictures of Saturday night's huge 1:35th scale What A Tanker! game)

Well that I think is it for this year. A big thanks to all my friends who help out, all the GMs who pack their stuff and bring it to set up games just for us to put our grubby, clumsy paws on, and all the happy attendees who travel long distances, spend their money, have lots of fun and, I hope, reconnect with their friends like I do.

But mostly a huge thank you to my lovely Elizabeth, who is not a gamer, but does this to help me. Hotlead wouldn't be the same without her on the admission desk.