Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Possible Command Team

No-one produces a true command team for Ultra Moderns. Rolfs got a pack planned thanks to Eli, but in the meantime I thought this pair of Under Fire Miniatures Ultra-Modern Russians on the right might make a nice command vignette:

What about the civvie on the left? Converted to hold a shotgun or baseball bat in each hand, resting on his shoulders, a la Vinnie Jones and he's perfect for Winter of '79 or as a Zombie hunter.


S&S Models Wrecked BMP1

I've bought one of these from Shaun at S&S Models for me farm:

 It's just a cool piece of terrain and good value at £5.50 including postage.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mini Art 1/72 East European Farm

Just picked up this East European Farm for less than a tenner on Ebay. No brainer really. You can just imagine the UAZ Jeep pokin' out of that barn can't you.

All it needs is S&S Models new wrecked BMP1 and you have a perfect Alcovian country scene.


Wartime Ultra Modern Russians; A Personal Review

A couple of posts ago I wrote about Wartime Miniatures new Modern Russians. Things have been on hold waiting for them as they would dictate which of all the modern and ultra-modern miniatures on the market would become my principal focus.

They arrived Tuesday/Wednesday this week. Two weeks after Matt posted them. Here are my thoughts:

Overall I really like their style of sculpting and level of detail, with one or two exceptions, but I'll come to these. The figures are in proportion with very realistic poses which feel like men in action, rather than posed shop dollies. Their size matches well with RH Models (a big bonus). Faces? OK and many are hidden by masks. Weapons are a delight, being sturdy without being chunky. The metal is good quality as evidenced by every single weapon being bent at least 90-180 degrees when I got them, but they sraightened out OK.

MR01 Command Pack

Leader: I like the movement and energy in this figure.
Sparks: The radioman is bareheaded and very well executed but standing bolt upright as if he's commentating at the dog races.Nice touch is that he's got one ear covered with his hand which mirrors my experience.
Sniper: Excellent figure. Absolutely beautiful.

MR02 Fireteam

3 figures are really good. One, on the extreme right in the photo on the website, is a disaster. He's different size, sculpt style, smaller head and helmet that makes him look like a child head on adult shoulders and just completely wrong. He looks like a Modern Aussie figure roughly knocked up in 5 minutes to look Russian. I even emailed Matt to ask why he was wearing a Fritz helmet. Apparently it's supposed to be one of the K6 models or even ZSh1 helmet. Believe me it's as good as a Fritz. You can stretch your imagination to believe it's a 6B7, nah, doesn't work for me, it's a Fritz. This figure lets down a cracking range because of course you'll end up with one in every Fireteam pack. I really cannot believe the sculptor has any self respect, respect for his client or more importantly, respect for us as purchasers to have included this miniature in the range.

MR03 Fireteam 2

The kneeling figure is a bit rough and again looks like it had a Modern Australian miniature provenance, but still usable because he's hunched up. The standing miniature is out of place. Ruins the story of the pack. Crouching or braced reaching for a mag. - great - standing idly - no. This is a personal foible of mine. I don't want miniatures in a 'combat' pack who are opening a tin of Chicken Supreme, fumbling for their mobile which has just gone off or walking the dog. Produce a separate pack (like Under Fire Miniatures) and give me the choice! My initial impression was that he was sculpted with a K6 helmet but looking more closely it's probably a ZSH1.

The standing firing guy wearing bandana is lovely.  Best figure in the pack. Pure Spetznaz or nasty bastard.

MR04  Support Weapons

There are 5 figures in this pack. 2 RPGs, 2 PKM and a RPK. The RPGs and firing machine gunners are all very nice figures. The weakest figure is probably the running machine gunner but at least he has a separate machine gun (great for conversions).

Summing Up

The range feels like a bunch of Ultramodern Russians from recent conflicts. The best will paint well and I will favour them over and above any of the other ranges I own. However the range remains tainted by that one figure in MR02.

I appreciate the mix of headdress as it means you don't have to buy extra packs to mix and match. On the majority of figures, the Modern Soviet helmets look right on the money, the weapons are bang on and poses are magnificent. A lot of 15mm Sci Fi sculptors could learn from the best of this range.

However, one mini is a disaster and a couple that come in as also rans. I've had an email correspondence over the past few day with Matt so this isn't behind his back. The attempts at 'Sphera' helmets are just that. Luckily RH Models and Under Fire Miniatures come to the rescue here. What I do like is that the 'basic' helmet is the M68 pattern, subtely different enough from the M60(40) and evident on figures such as the Platoon Leader and kneeling RPG gunner. Good touch.

I accept that my personal taste and expectations are not the same as everyone else's. Will I buy more? Where do my plans for 2 full platoons plus a squad of Spetznaz stand? Well, jury's out. They are coming in at around a £1 each for 20mm with shipping on top. Are they worth it? Some are in my opinion but I'm not prepared to pay £1 and shipping for the 'also rans' as well. 


USE ME Modern Warfare

USE ME Modern Warfare from is a brand new rules system booklet in the USE ME series.

USE ME means 'Ultra Simple Engine for Miniature Engagements' and this system delivers just that. Tactically challenging, easy to learn and for any age of wargamer interested in ANY ultra modern setting. 

From skirmishes to full battles,
the 1D6 system creates games that last from five minutes to an hour. Extensive lists USE ME Mod.War allows you to generate any troops you like.

These games can be played in your lunch break or in the evening when the reality of a games system with greater complexity and granularity of detail doesn't appeal. Solo rules are also included for when you want to bash out a quick mission on your own.

This complete rules system is printed in A6 format
(110mm by 180mm) which is a booklet that will fit in your pocket, making it portable and something you can keep on you, in your desk, work or travel bag for instant use or wistfully thinking of the next game.
You can read an article about the game system and its mechanics from the booklet on the website. 

Also, until 22nd April 2011 you can use our Salute 2011 offer to get 15% off the price of ANY order with us, see the home page ( for details. Plus USE ME Mod.War also contains a promotional offer, a code for a folder of free PDF files from and it qualifies for the reduced postage rate, see their website for details.
Both my long standing wargames buddy Maff and myself game with the original USE ME. I took it on holiday to Turkey last year and use it in the office with pre-painted HALO miniatures on those days when I need a diversion. I'm looking forward to trying out USE ME Mod.War as I'm coming home frazzled from work just now and this could be just what I need to push on with smaller actions in  Crisis in Alcovia.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Just won this T80 on Ebay for less than the kit price, so couldn't resist. A little bit of weathering and it should be sorted! I plan to use the T80 as a generic Soviet tank which will be supplemented by a couple of T64Bs from Shaun at S&S Models. Now, believe me, it's well worth emailing Shaun for the S&S pdf catalogues. He has a lot of decent modern Soviet and ex-Warpact kit suitable for Alcovia. I also find him ready to answer any query and turn round an order very quickly.

Shaun emails me to say "Look Mark, I have 'X' now available, are you interested?" As a busy professional with lot's going on at work keeping my mind distracted, this proactive approach means other 20mm Modern or 15mm Sci Fi manufacturers can lose out. And I know that I can just email Shaun back and be confident of receiving the package through my letterbox by the end of that week.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Focus on Factions

I'd like to bring some focus to collecting figures for Alcovia.  Whilst I aim to broadly follow Eli's thoughts on the troops for each of the different factions, I think I'll wait till I get them on the table before pinning a monicker to any particular figures.

The standard selection of Russian hardware will naturally remain pretty much standard fare throughout, - AKs, RPKs, RPGs, etc. and the uniforms will of course have a Russian and East European / former Warsaw Pact feel.

The National Alcovian Army (NAA) will have a more uniform look than the Alcovian People's Army (APA) forces, who will be more of a mixed bag. Local village volunteers will have Eli's favourite BYOG (bring your own gun) look.

The Alcovian Liberation Front (ALF), all militias and militants, perfect for displaying the ethnic diversity of Alcovia will be a hodge podge of figures, probably best defined as "Have AK47. Will travel"

Organisation? Always a tricky one - luckily the recent acquisition of Battlefield Evolution: Modern Combat helps here. The NAA and APA will be organised as per the Russian List and ALF after the Middle Eastern Alliance. At least to start and we'll take it from there.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hitting the Ground Running

Just taking a break from making a variety of 20mm scale wooden and corrugated shacks, barns and lean-tos for Alcovia. May call it a night as it's 10.30pm and I've been at it most of today.

These buildings are inspired by the ultra-nationalist missions in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for gaming Alcovia, my xBox360 decided to die this week, so I've had to fallback on the old noggin.

The boat house is therefore an approximation of the one in Mission 3: Blackout from memory. Given the riverine nature of Alcovia, I thought it would come in handy for more than one scenario. I've completed the frame and raised decking but have decided I want batten roofing so will need to get a pack of OO scale moulded plastic sheets from Wills Kits.

The first shack was made almost completely from Wills Kits wood planking moulded sheets - boy was that tough!  The plastic is 2.5mm thick and it was time consuming scoring out the windows and doors without damaging the moulded plastic around the aperature.

In all honesty I gave up on using the moulded plastic for the main structures after the first shack and instead, broke into my store of empty Whiskas cardboard cat food boxes that had been squirrelled away for a rainy day. The cardboard is slightly ribbed and appropriately painted can be used horizontally for wood planking and vertically for corrugated iron.

I decided early on NOT to over elaborate the detail these first buildings. Get them built, painted and on the table is my creed. That gives me some appropriate terrain to fight over and incentive to get the figures done. Momentum will take care of the rest. I can always construct new ones to replace them and then sell the originals on Ebay at a later date.

This is especially as I want to make some mix and match marshy/reed filled terrain and I'd rather spend the time here. One of the most challenging missions in the original Ghost Recon was M09 Swamp, and it would be fun to replay in an Alcovian setting.

I know a lot of people swear by Woodland Scenics Water Effect, but I have successfully and much more cheaply used PVA to achieve sstisfactory results, adding depth and colour with inks or washes between each coat. Afterall, your figures and their bases will be standing on the surface of the 'water', not wading through it.

Will photograph the buildings once painted. Am going to coat in PVA first to make them stronger, act as a basecoat and reduce any possibility of warping later on.

That's it, I am going to call it a day, but it's been a productive one.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Coming To Alcovia

It's a real pleasure to join Alcovia at such a momentous, if turbulent time in this small states history. It is going to be fun bringing to life on the tabletop epsiodes from the struggle for control of Alcovia.
At a recent wargames show my mate Maff picked up a platoon of Combat Miniatures (ex-Hotspur) Russians in 'tropical' hat for me. I was always impressed by Tim's Cold War Russians on Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog and couldn't resist the offer to turn these into Alcovian Motor Rifles. These 'hatties' are rounded out with some of Tony's Platoon 20 Modern Russians/CIS in helmets. I've had these Platoon 20 Motor Rifles and VDV since the 1980's and it's a great opportunity to finally get them into action.

My original intention was to buff out the Alcovian rebel forces using the rif raff available from Rolf's extensive range of Liberation Miniatures (RH Models) Cold War/Modern Russian and Balkan Wars figures. However yesterdays release of Wartime Miniatures ultra-modern Russians in a mix of helmets, 'ranger caps' and bandanas made me take a step back and go with these new minis instead.  So a platoon's worth is winging it's way to me to check out .

Wartime Miniatures: MRO4
Modern Russian Support Pack

Under Fire Miniatures have added to the muddle. They also recently released ultra-modern Russians. Fired up by the ultra-nationalist Russian missions in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, both Maff and I bought these based on the photos, only to find that they are very leggy and a whole head taller than other 20mm modern figures. Nevertheless, our idea is for them to be Russian special forces ensuring the integrity and stability of the Alcovian-Russian border through the odd cross-border 'police action'.

Platoon 20, Wartime & Under Fire Miniatures have all benefitted from the ease of ordering their figures online. Clear photos of what you get and straight forward Paypal transactions mean that if mt interest is fired up or if I need to work off a bad day at work through firing off a quick order, I can.

So there we have it. A great mix of figures available to play out Alcovia. Some classics, some new. I'm really looking forward to collecting the forces, painting the miniatures and getting down to some Alcovian action on the tabletop.