Saturday, 3 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 3

 By 31st May, my little seedlings were ready to thin out and transplant.  Actually, they were ready several days earlier, but building work at home and keeping the kids amused for half-term prevented me from dealing with them sooner.  They were almost lifting the lid off the propagator tray.

Almost peeping out of the top of the propagator.

 You can see which side was facing out of the greenhouse towards the sun!  There are plenty of sturdy stems in there ready to transplant. The tray planted by Number 2 Son had caught up and possibly surpassed the tray I planted.

More than ready to transplant!

 Playgroup were planting Lobelia and Marigolds last week and I asked if I could have their old plant trays for the next stage of Teloxys planting, further cementing my miserly credentials.

One or two plants per section.

 The Teloxys looks rather droopy at the moment but should recover after a day or two.

Hopefully they'll perk up in a few days.

 After extracting the strongest looking plants, I kept the rest in their propagators.  I'll see how they do, they might be OK as spares just in case I manage to kill the ones I transplanted.

I'll leave the rest to see how it grows.

  Because I had so many plants left, I dug out an extra planter for a few more.

Room for another 14 plants in this one.

I'll leave these to grow on for a couple of weeks and then see if they look ready for putting in the flower border.

Friday, 2 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 2

 By 10th May, my seedlings were starting to sprout.  The tray that Number 2 Son "helped" me plant weren't very evenly spread, but he is only 4, so he did fairly well, all things considered.

Here they come!

The tray I planted were more even and seem to be growing better.

Looking good so far...

 Should be ready to thin out and transplant into bigger pots soon.

Thursday, 1 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 1

 I've seen Seafoam used for model trees and have always fancied using some to add extra quality to my scenery.  In keeping with my skinflint tendencies, I'd rather grow my own instead of buying the finished product.  I bought a pack of Teloxys aristata seeds last year from Chiltern's Seeds for £2.25 (along with some cherry tomatoes and some "Black Nebula" carrots), and I'm happy to invest the time in rearing these over the next few months.  A box of the fully grown sea foam would be between £15 and £15, and this should give me 10 times the amount.  I'm not likely to get a chance to use it for several months anyway, so the growing time won't be an issue.

As well as the seeds, I need a few other bits to start: seed trays and fine compost.

Compost (with scoop) and seed trays.

The seeds are tiny.  Don't sneeze whilst handling these - though with approximately 640 per packet, you can afford to lose a few.

Tiny seeds.  Gosh my hands look wrinkly.

I crumbled an inch or so of the fine compost into the trays and sprinkled the seeds thinly over the surface.  These propagators will provide a warm and cosy environment to encourage the seeds to germinate, especially as they'll be tucked away in the greenhouse too.

Propagators ready.

The last thing to do was ensure they are regularly watered, though not too much.  The water here is brown - that's not any special plant food, it's just from the bottom of our water butt, so rather cloudy.

A little drink for the plants.

The seeds were planted on 1st May and should be ready to harvest by late September.

Old Glory UK 15mm African Irregulars review

 One thing I've been lacking is some infantry for my AK-47 Republic armies.  I have a fair number of Peter Pig figures, but many of these are earmarked for basing individually as part of my ongoing 15mm Action Force project.  I'd spotted that Old Glory UK's Command Decision range of modern figures which included African irregulars, and I thought that these were worth a closer look.  PP figures are now £4.35 per pack, or just under 55p per figure.  OGUK are 50 for £18 which is 36p per figure.  Annoyingly, they were £16 a pack when I looked on Friday evening, but I was after the bulk discount of buy 5 packs get one free which is only available by phone.  By the time I telephoned on Monday, they had increased to £18 a pack, so I ended up only buying a couple of packs after all.

The big question is, how do PP and OGUK compare in quality.  I was also interested to see how they compared in size, given the never-ending debate over whether 15mm is to the eye or to the top of the head.  I couldn't find any breakdown of what was in each pack, so the following review may also be of use for anyone considering a purchase.

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First up, pack CDMOD-09 African Irregulars AK47 etc.  This set contains 50 (or 53 in this case!) infantry in 7 different poses, all armed with an AK47.  Overall, the casting is excellent, with only a single bit of flash (mentioned below), minimal mould lines and small, easily removed vents.  Most of the poses are pretty good, though the fine detail is lacking in places.

The standing, firing pose wears a beret, webbing and is bare-footed.

The kneeling, firing pose wears a forage cap, boots, vest top and webbing.

My favourite pose, the machete wielding trooper wears a forage cap, boots and webbing including chest rig magazine pouches.  The AK47 is slightly lacking in detail, though this is improved by painting.

The standing pose is slightly awkward.  He wears a beret, boots and webbing.

The second standing pose is more dynamic.  He has webbing and is bare-headed (or possibly wearing a shower cap?!).

The running pose is bare-headed and has webbing pouches, one of which does merge slightly into his AK magazine.  The stock of the rifle is obviously a problem point, several of mine had some flash on the rear where the mould is obviously worn or damaged, but it was quite easy to clean up. The detail on the face is a little soft.

 Overall, I'd give pack CDMOD-09 GRADE B.  They are good value for money (especially if you get an extra 3 in the pack!), but there are a limited number of poses, one of which I'm not too keen on.  The detail is also quite soft on several of the figures.  I do like that there is a mix of different headgear and that there is also a barefoot figure in the mix.  For quickly bulking out an army, I think they'd be hard to beat pricewise, so I'd still buy a pack of these if I was starting a new faction.

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The second pack of figures I ordered was CDMOD-10 African Irregulars Command and Weapons (including mortars, LMGS, RPG).  As with the first pack, mould lines were minimal, small vents and in this instance, no noticeable flash.

The light machine gun appears to be an old RPD rather than a more modern RPK (the magazine is vertical rather than angled), though the bipod appears to be attached in the wrong place.

The RPG trooper wears a bush hat, boots, webbing and carries a pack of reloads on his back.  There is a slight lack of detail on his RPG-7.  The casting is quite thin (which is perfectly in scale), so several were slightly bent in the packet, but the grenade and breech took only a few seconds to bend back into shape.

The officer wears a forage cap, boots and has a small, stubby pistol.

The radio operator has a backpack radio with corded handset.  He is bareheaded and wears boots.

One of the mortar crew wears a helmet, boots and is clutching a mortar bomb.  The other crewman wears a forage cap, is bare-footed and is ready to drop the mortar bomb down the tube.

Here are the crew with their mortar assembled.  The mortar is slightly odd, having a wheeled carriage.  I can't identify this, all the wheeled mortars I've seen have been big, towed versions such as 120mm, and I'm not sure why you'd put wheels on something this small (82mm?) instead of a normal bipod.

 Overall, I'd give the command and weapons pack CDMOD-10 GRADE B-.  As with the first pack, detail is slightly soft in places and the number of poses is limited.  It would have been nice to have at least a couple of different LMG and RPG figures and perhaps fewer radio operators and officers.  The detail on some of the weapons is lacking, and the mortar is very odd. (If anyone would like to correct me on that mortar, please comment below and I will amend this review!)

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So, how do Old Glory UK compare to Peter Pig?

  • Both are well cast, with little clean up required for mould lines, flash or vents.
  • The PP figures have crisper detail, they also have thinner, neater bases.
  •  PP have a much wider range of poses available (30+ across the militia and regular ranges compared to the 13 from OGUK).
  • PP also have better detail and greater accuracy than OGUK on the weapons.
 Peter Pig are therefore the winners for me in terms of quality.  In terms of value for money, it's less clear-cut.  If I was basing figures individually for a small skirmish game, PP would win hands down.  For something like AK-47 Republic where you're multi-basing larger quantities in groups, individual detail matters less for me.  What I'm after is the overall effect, and in some ways the OGUK figures are better for this in that there is less fine detail to paint.  Because they are equal in terms of clean-up/preparation time prior to painting, the saving in cost means that OGUK edge ahead very slightly.

 For my size comparison, I took a couple of pictures to demonstrate how variable this is.  The PP figures are slighter and not quite so tall - though not by much in some cases, as you can see here.

OGUK on the left, PP on the right.

The difference in the RPG figures is much more noticeable.  The variation in height is very pronounced, as is the detail on the figures.  The RPG launchers look very different, but given the range of different grenade types, this isn't necessarily a problem.  The difference in clothing detail makes the 2 figures look very different, and they would look a bit strange together on the same base.

RPGs: OGUK on the left, PP on the right.

 In summary, Old Glory UK modern African irregulars will work well for AK-47 Republic, but it's probably best not to mix them with Peter Pig figures within the same unit.  Having PP and OGUK in different units within the same army should look OK, or using PP specialist gun crew for a mainly OGUK would be fine.  I will certainly be using both options in my armies.

I've got my first unit painted, and I'll post that in the near future, once I get a chance to photograph it properly.


Saturday, 13 May 2023

Return to the Ion Age!

 Back in the early 1990's I came across the Alternative Armies Firefight game and figure ranges in Modelcraft, the local independent games shop in Sheringham, where we used to holiday every summer.  I bought a few of the figures and the game.  I thought the figures would be great stand-ins for Imperial Guard, and the game had some interesting concepts and was much faster playing that WH40K (in its first edition back then).

The game has great artwork by Pete Knifton, who was also a regular illustrator for GW in White Dwarf and various rules sets..

AA did produce 6mm and 15mm forces back in the 1990's, but only a very limited range.  The game promised additional rules to come including vehicles and more.  I was disappointed that nothing seemed to come of these.

Crusaders (Retained Knights)

Mixed figures.

Levy (Muster)

15mm Crusaders (Retained Knights)

Fast forward about 20 years and Alternative Armies relaunched the Ion Age in 15mm and have kept up a constant run of new releases and additional games systems ever since.  The range is huge now and I'll be revisiting it over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 7 May 2023

Diceni 2023

Last Sunday (30th April) was the Diceni Games Show in Norwich, organised by the local Aftermath Gaming Club.  This was held, as always, in the Forum - home to BBC Norfolk and the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library.

The Forum

  There weren't many cosplayers this year, though we did stop for a chat with a friendly elf who was having a rest on the steps outside.  She said that she is a LARPer (Live Action Role Playing) who gets out and about a couple of times a month with her group on Mousehold Heath to the North of the city.

A friendly elf.

I was somewhat hampered by having two small children in tow, so I didn't get as good a range of photographs as last year, so apologies for the rather random mixture which follows.  There was far more there than I managed to photograph and I really haven't done justice to some of the fabulous games and models on display.

The exhibition space.

There was some smaller scale stuff, thsi might have been Rok?  They had some 10mm Space Hulk type game with Terminators and Tyranids, 10mm fantasy plus the newer version of Adeptus Titanicus with Titans, spacecraft and loads of fantastic scenery.

10mm games.

Adeptus Titanicus

 

Adeptus Titanicus

There was a great 10mm Kings of War game going too.

Kings of War

Kings of War

Sticking with Fantasy, Diceni were running a Lord of the Rings game.

Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings

Block Party was a demo of a new game.  Choose a card, use the blocks to try and build the item named and see if the others can recognise it.  Another card will give some parameters, such as using only blocks of a certain colour within the shown time limit.

Block Party

 There was a Wild West game with a great looking board.

Wild West.

One of the most impressive looking games was the Dereham Renegades - I think the aim was try to prevent the cultists opening a demonic portal.  Most of the detail was 3D printed and wonderfully painted.  I was invited to join the participatiom game but childcare prevented me taking up the opportunity this year.

The mansion.

Kitchen.

Library.

Banquet hall.

Saloon bar.

Bedroom (love the 4 poster bed!).

Bathroom.

Scribes room?

A room for experiments...?

Nursery.

Dereham Renegades.

 Kett's rebellion took place in the 16th century.  Robert Kett's attack on Norwich was recreated by the New Buckenham Historical Wargamers (next village from the Old Buckenham Bone Crushers where I sometimes go), supported by The Assault Group.

A lovely collection of buildings.

Another aerial view of the city.

Detail of the interior.

Who will save the flock of sheep?

The city walls and gatehouse.

 One of the main attractions for me was Kore and their collection of 15mm goodies (plus plenty of 28mm and 6mm too).  On the stand were some complete version of the Stork VTOL from their recent Kickstarter.  When my 3D printer is back up and running I need to finish the 1/3 completed one I'm building.  Kore also had a display game set up for their upcoming Kaiju game.  I spotted some interesting items in the reduced price miscasts box but sadly by the time I got back to them everything had been sold or was being packed away.


Kore's display stand.

15mm Stork heavy lift VTOLs

Demo game.

Kaiju, Mecha & armoured vehicles.

Kaiju.

Shanties.

More shanties.

There was a game of One Page Rules grimdark sci-fi.  I haven't had a chance to try OPR yet, though I do have a couple of different versions of their rules dowloaded.

OPR GrimDark Future

Great mix of scenery.

Pandyman sell a range of modern police and emergency services figures.  I didn't get a chance to get a photograph of them but I did get one of their trench war demo table.

Trench War

I also spotted the Tank War game, WWII North Africa with Crusaders and a Grant versus some Panzers, I didn't see close enough to work out whether it was 15mm or 1/72 scale.  I got a photograph of the scenery but was thwarted in my attempt to go back and get detail shots of the tanks.

Tank War

There were a range of other traders including one of the main supporters, The Assault Group, who do a lot of very good 28mm figures.  I have some of their SWAT troops and modern British Paratroopers which are great.


 I bought a few items from a couple of stands.  Sheppey Models had a huge stall and I picked up 5 pots of the new Vallejo Xpress paints to try.  These have been packed away for the kids to give me for my birthday, so I'll have to wait for those.

Vallejo Xpress paints to try.

I also stopped by Cymbeline Games who do lots of useful game aids.  I've bought from them online in the past and I'd strongly recommend them for any sort of dice, counters or bases.  I bought some of all of these on Sunday and they did a very good deal for me and threw in a couple of free bags of giant D10 for the children too (D10, D100, D1000, D100,000 - theyd run out of D10,000s!).  I got some gold silver and bronze counters (handy for game currency), some teeny tiny D6, the kids chose a pack of blue counters and purple counters, also some 50mm round bases ready for printing some more 15mm Mecha.

A lot of stuff for £10.

Huuuuuuuuge dice!

 My final purchase of the day was a grab bag of miscasts from Krakon Games.  They produce some great figures based on many of the old GW designs, in particular their Fomorian range based on GW's Fimir.  GW dropped the Fimir when they changed from 3rd to 4th edition Warhammer, presumably because:

  1. they were really underpowered for a 40mm monster based creature.  I've heard they should have been a 25mm base which would have put them on a par with Beastmen and Chaos warriors, a better fit for their stats.  With a 40mm base, too many enemy could gang up on them.
  2. their backstory was rather dubious - they reproduced by capturing human women and... well, let's just say that what they did to them didn't fit with GW's move towards getting kids more involved in the game.

The Fimir did make an appearance in Heroquest and this is where mine will probably make an appearance.  The bag contained loads of bits for them and I'll have fun converting all these miscasts!

Fomorians.

The whole bagfull for £5.

Giant's head will come in useful I'm sure.

 Lastly I'll mention Sirplus Wargaming Emporium who had a second hand stall and were handing out goody bags. Both the kids received a bag and they were really packed - each had a sprue of 3 Space Marines, a box of Mini cards (?!), some sweets, a baseball cap, a teddy, some Pokemon cards, a Simpsons keyring, a Lego minifigure and a few othet bits and bobs.  I'll be sure to try and pop into the shop next time I'm in that part of Norwich.

Goody bag.