Category Archives: Miniatures
I love sci-fi superadvanced armor.
From the very first mention of the concept ever (Galactic patrol, by E.E. “Doc” Smith) to anime armors big and small, to iron Man in comics and movies, to the novel “Armor,” I am a fan.
One of the advantages of this is that when someone kindly decides to get me a geeky gift, I’m easy to buy for. Case in point, LEGO Iron Man Brickheadz.
I have loved LEGO in principle for years, but I haven’t actually built any in decades. So not only did this gift appeal to my sci-fi armor/Iron man fandom, it let me reconnect (no pun intended) with LEGO.
My wife and I took about 20 minutes to assemble this as a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, and we were both surprised how much fun we had. I was originally going to just take two pictures, a “before” and “after,” but got excited and documented the whole process more thoroughly than expected.
The pieces come in two plastic bags, and includes a pictorial instruction booklet.
The instructions are clear that step one is sorting all the pieces into the different specific types.
It’s interesting to me that I get Hulk Green pieces, as well as some orange and pink, which are part of the interior and will be totally concealed once the piece Brick Headz is finished.
The torso is… squat.
I am embarrassed to admit I hadn’t realized the pieces with bumps on the sides of them were designed to put studs on the sides at a 90 degree angle to the “top”of the Brick Headz. Those studs are how the tiny arms are clicked in place.
I call this the “Creepy Cage Head Iron man” stage.
While there are a very few specialty pieces that clearly exist only for this Brick Headz, I was impressed how few of them are needed.
It’s amazing how big a difference the smooth-topped LEGO make to the final appearance.
I was simple amused by the apparently universal symbol for “Turn your Brick Headz upside-down.”
Here is the final Brick Headz! I had four tiny one-stud, smooth-topped LEGO left over.
The “Chibi LEO” Iron Man suit looks weirdly appropriate on my “random” shelf in my home office. It may end up moving to my desk at Paizo… we’ll see.
Did you enjoy my over-documented LEGO project? Well feel free to back my Patreon for a few bucks and tell me to do more of this!
Working on more minis for my Diesel Pulp setting. These are three “Kelly Heavies,” from Australia’s legendary Armored Rangers. While medium and heavy infantry doctrine varies from country to country, and many ended up simply slapping what heavy infantry they could scrounge into heavy weapon platoons, only Australia built custom-purpose advanced scouting units that combined light, medium, and heavy infantry (generally known as Bushrangers, Kellies, and Kelly Heavies, respectively).
The idea behind armor scout units was to operate far from the front lines, make detailed reports about conditions, and engage in targeted strikes where a small force could potentially make a large difference. Bridges, passes, pillboxes, observation posts, field airports, and headquarters were favorite targets. Bushrangers would move as far ahead as possible, with one Kelly each in support if they ran into a small enemy unit (generally infantry or cavalry). Only if a viable target was found would Kelly Heavies be employed, each directed to an advantageous firing position by a Bushranger, where the Kelly Heavy could employ their Australian-built Owen Gun Shields, with their machine carbine and integral HEAT launchers.
Armored Scouts were consistently the most effective units including heavy infantry throughout the Global War, their tactics honed in part due to Australia’s much longer history with armored infantry, dating back to the 1890s Bush Battles against the Martian tripods in and around Victoria. Kelly Heavies, in particular, were designed with much heavier armor in front, especially on the head and chest, and lighter armor over the rest of the infantry fighter. Because they generally engaged in battle supported by more mobile units, Kelly Heavies could reliably face the source of the heaviest enemy fire and depend on support to alert them from threats outside their narrow field of vision. While no heavy infantry could survive direct hits from anti-materiel weapons, Kelly Heavies could take glancing blows to the heaviest section of their armor, and hold up to direct hits from most anti-personnel weapons. As a result, “damaged” Kelly Heavies were much more common than other heavy infantry units (which generally didn’t survive being hit by anything heavy enough to do significant damage).
I’m making an effort to make these miniatures more dinged-up than I normally try for, but they are otherwise fairly stock.
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Most of my “Diesel Pulp” figures and models are part of a specific setting I worldbuild purely as a hobby. I work on them in my (limited) spare time as something connected to many of the things I love about my hobby, without being something I plan to actually ever turn into a product. And, of course, a lot of it is left half-done…
In the background two Maginot Field Turrets (each topped by an Irregular — Sister Sanguine and Tommy Atkins), in the foreground several more Irregulars including Father Pentacaust, Buring Skull, Mister Mythic, Captain St. Louis, The Haze, Torch Singer, the Marshal , Kilroy, Pirate Jack, and Black Hood. to the far right, three members of the Iron Raptors.
Diesel Pulp Allied Infantry
Top, Left to Right: US Light Infantry medic, three US Medium Infantry (anti-armor, close combat, flamethrower, all in unpowered armor), two US Heavy Infantry (combat support, flamethrower, in powered armor), and one US “Rough House” AT2 Gun Carrier (walker equivalent of an armed jeep)
Bottom, Left to Right: two Allied Special Unit Light Infantry (Pacific Theater, the Yelling Yahoos; one with captured Japanese Death Ray rifle and one with an experimental Power Arm, both with captured Tokubetsu Kōgekitai swords), one Free Corps mercenary (European Theater, the Minuteman Militia) and two Irregulars (All-American Girl, with her Boom Gun and Tomastic Sword; and Sky King with his Jetpack, SpectraGoggles, and Colt 1911a .45).
These are for my ’49 setting I play around with as a hobby. I have shots of kitbashed walkers here and here, and talk more about the technology of the fictional setting here. and have a history of some of that tech here.
The Light Infantry medic is a rebased HeroClix
The Medium Infantry are Dust Tactics troops
The Heavy Infantry are Grindhouse Games APE suits for their Incursion game.
The Gun Carrier is a West Wind Productions Commanche battle suit
The Yahoos are rebased Heroscape.
The Free Corps is a repaint HorrorClix.
All-American Girl is a Heroclix Liberty Belle, with a modded-in gun and sword (and she’ll eventually have a US flag on her chest instead of a bell)
Sky King is a modified Lobster Johnson IndyClix (with the lobster claw removed from his chest, and Jango Fett’s jetpack from WotC’s Star Wars line)
In the ’49 setting, the Crimea remains under the control of the White Russians, loyalists to the Russian monarchy despite losing most of their territory to the Soviet Union. The White Russians are commanded by Anastasia the Great, also known as the “Black Dutchess,” the last surviving child of Czar Nicholas II. Anastacia is a military genius with a reputation for ambushes and nasty surprises, a lifetime of conflict, and mysterious ties to the legendary Rasputin.
One of the things that has allowed the Black Dutchess is hold on to the Crimea as the last gasp of the Russian Empire is that rather than build walkers (which her tiny empire simply lacks the resources to design or maintain), she depends on the mighty White Tsar rolling heavy armor units. Faster and cheaper than walkers and more reliable than the legendarily finicky tracked vehicles, the White Tsar remains the only wheeled heavy armor unit in the war. Though the original Tsar wheeled mecha was too heavy to move, by using what Martian-derived technology is available to her on a revised wheeled design for a huge mobile cannon platform, the Black Dutchess has created a mobile mecha unit that performs very well, and which traditional anti-mecha tactics don’t work well against.
I plan to kitbash a “White Tsar” tank model. Here we have a picture of the real-world Tsar Tank prototype, circa 1914. This thing was massive, but never worked well. In the ’49 setting, many of its shortcomings were solved and, while it was never a great armor unit, it remained active through the Russian Civil War, almost exclusively in the hands of the White Army.
I have a model of the also-real-world VsKfz 617 Minenraumer prototype, a German minesweeper vehicle design, circe 1942. Clearly much smaller than the Tsar, it’s also a trike design, though it replaces 22-foot tall bicycle wheels with 7-8 foot pedrail wheels. Like the Tsar, it was slow and a terrible idea, and never put into production. But I plan to use a 1/35 model VsKfz 617 as the basis for my White Tsar in the ’49 setting. Since my models are generally 1/48/O Scale/28mm, a 1/35 VsKfz 617 will look MUCH bigger, as fitting for my White Tsar II.
Also above is an illustration of a KV-2, an actual WWII Russian tank. The KV-2 has a distinctive, enormous turret. I plan to mount a 1/48 KV-2 model turrent on the 1/35 VsKfz 617 body to create the mythical White Russian.
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My Diesel Pulp Nazis in the ’49 setting I play with are going to have “pocket tripods” as late-1930s designs they still use variants of in 1949 as light walkers. To represent these, I plan to kitbash from these McDonald’s Happy Meal “BLACK MANTA Launcher” toys I picked up on Ebay for about $7 each with shipping. Here they are unmodified next to a DUST Tactics German walker and a HeroClix heroine.
My Diesel Pulp setting assumes that the War of the Worlds happened, and involved multiple waves, one in 1899, and a second in 1903, both while Mars is in opposition to Earth. The first invasion goes very much as described in The War of the Worlds, but the second lasts until 1907 and was a significantly broader conflict. They are known as the First and Second Wars of the Worlds, and these events changed history forever.
At first Martian technology is too advanced for Earth’s governments to unravel, but eventually the secrets of compression gears, genetic chemistry, etheric generators, Cavorite, N-rays, odic forces, and red mercury began to be revealed to the nations of the world, though often at great cost and consequence, and unevenly. Some nations specialize in specific applications of just one or two of those technologies, while some secrets are unlocked only by a few specific geniuses.
As a result of these two invasions, the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Revolution of 1905, first and second Balklans Wars, and World War One do not occur. There are many minor conflicts that do occur in the altered time and one major conflict, the largest of which is the Triples War, which is essentially a shorter version of WWI that is restricted to a conflict between the Triple Entente (the British Empire, France and the Russian Empire) versus the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy). However this conflict runs only from to January 1915 to March 1917. Importantly, the United States, Japan, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria do not enter the war. The Triples War did include the development of trench warfare, and it was also the first time major powers used Martian-derived technologies against one another.
Perhaps most importantly was the development of mecha, heavily armored mechanized units, specifically walkers and tracked vehicles. Because Martians had very advanced technology, and depended on walking machines (especially their tripod fighting machines, but also their working machines and excavators) a broad school of military thinkers concluded that “walkers” were clearly superior to wheeled vehicles of any kind. It was generally assumed that the fact compression gears and etheric generators were able to easily power an articulated limb, that the increased mobility of a walker was a clear advantage over any other form. After all, God had made man a walker, rather than some wheeled creature.
In Germany, a pragmatic school of planners argued that while armored legs might function better than wheels, advancements in tread technology for tractors could create a rolling war machine that would be faster, more stable, and present a lower profile than any walking design. Walker designs were clearly extremely complex, and the flexible all-compression-gear design of Martial fighting machines was well beyond any Earth nation. But as the death rates for trench warfare during the Triples War skyrocketed, the need for some mobile, armored, armed, trench-crossing machine became clear to both sides.
The British build the first Earth-designed walkers to be used in a military conflict, and both Britain and France fielded simple walker designs beginning in February 1916. The British Type I was a small two-man walker, with a driver sitting low in a central cabin that was taller than it was wide or long, and a gunner/commander sat above him. The Type I’s legs could fold up to its sides in such a way that if it was knocked over or fell, it could “squat” which would cause it to right itself, and then stand again. Though its external weapon sponsons (placed where “arms” would go in a humanoid figure) were not designed for climbing, operators soon found the strong, flexible legs and longer cannon-sponson would allow it to climb up and down the sides of trenches, albeit slowly.
Germany instead developed the A7V*, a tracked “Sturmpanzerwagen” (roughly “armored assault vehicle”). The A7V had a crew of 18, six machine guns and one Maxim-Nordenfelt cannon. It had poor off-road capability and a high center of gravity, which made it prone to getting stuck or overturning on steep slopes. It was also hot, slow, under-armored, and under-armed.
The first mecha against mecha combat in history took place on 24 April 1918 when three A7Vs met three Type Is (two armed with just machine guns, and one with two 4-pounder guns) near Villers-Bretonneux. During the battle, the machine-gun armed Type Is were damaged and fell back, unable to significantly impact the A7Vs. The remaining Type I then attacked the lead German sturmpanzerwagen with its two 4-pounders and knocked it out (killing five of its crew). The Type I then managed to damage the tracks of both remaining A7Vs. Their crews fled, which began a route among the German forces present.
The lesson learned by military planners of the time was that tracked vehicles were unreliable and, as suspected, Martians had depended on walkers because their advanced science had proven the designs universally superior for the role of front-line fighting mecha. This is arguably the wrong lesson, but it was largely accepted as “proven doctrine” by the nations of the Earth. While wheeled and tracked vehicles were still designed for personnel carriers, artillery, and support vehicles, all major militaries turned to walkers for the vast majority of their armored mecha designs. By the time the First Global War began in 1939, hundreds of walker and support mecha designs existed worldwide.
*The A7V really is the real-world German effort at tanks in WWI, and it really was a terrible design. That design really faced Brittish forces at the time and palce mentioned above, but I replaced the British units in that first real world tank-on-tank battlewith walkers, so Diesel Pulp’s first-and-only walker vs tank battle is responsible for the rise of walkers as military designs. This helps hammer home that however bad an idea a walker is for 1940s-era combat, there’s a reason they are at the forefront of heavy armored units in my ’49 setting.
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Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.
Being a Strangefinder
Strangefinders, well, they find strange things. It’s in their title, and everything. So, any Strangefinder PC must have that ability. (Strangemasters, Strangesages, and Sanchos are covered elsewhere. Well, I mean, they may be eventually.)
A Strangefinder can sense if something Strange is going one by examining the direct evidence of a manifestation of Alterniversal frequency overlap. Hearing about it and reading about it aren’t good enough, but seeing footprints,. Interviewing witnesses in person (though not by video), and, of course, being attacked by a manifestation or something caused by a manifestation are good enough.
For each day of secondary direct research (such as interviewing witnesses) a Strangefinder engages in, or each noteworthy piece of primary evidence a Strangefinder finds, the Strangefinder may make a Strange Hunch check. This has a percent chance of telling the Strangefinder is he has found something Strange, and if so what Strange Case it is connected to. The % chance is equal to 70%, +1% per Strangefinder level, +1% per Strange thing connected to the case that has been successfully identified with Strange Augury already, +10% if working with a Sancho.
On a failed check, the Strangefinder just doesn’t know yet. He never gets a false positive. If something isn’t Strangem, but is Weird, the Strangefinder learns that on a successful check, but that’s all he learns. (If there are Weirdfinders out there, they aren’t talking to us.)
As a result, Strangefinders have to go to places with unexplained or freaky occurrences, ask questions, and poke around.
Strange Cases are names a GM gives to a specific Alterniversal manifestation. This name may or may not be a hint about the Strange occurrences. Each source manifestation has a single name, sometimes with sub-titles for those that are only distantly related. For example, if an Alterniversal manifestation is from Alterniverse A, the name for it may start with A. So if gelantinous cubes from Alterniverse A have leaked into the sewers, and they are mutating local underground creatures, the Strange Case name might be “A Thing in the Sewers.”
If something mutated by a gelatinous cube has escaped and began a cult that is drawing new Strange energy into an area that might be a sub-title: “A Thing in the Sewers: Secret of the Unknown Horror.”
Once a Strangefinder knows the Strange Case she is working on, each new successful Strange Augury check allows the Strangefinder to use the Research rules from Anachronistic Adventures to attempt to discover how to defeat the Strange monsters (if necessary), or gain a clue about the Main Plotline (as determined by the GM). One additional research check can also be earned on each Strange Case by visiting a place like Marlowe House, or (if you can find it… or it finds you) 1428 Oceanic Ave.
As a result, even if they know what they are up against, Strangefinders generally keep going into the places with freaky occurrences, poking around, and asking questions. If a Strange manifestation seems undefeatable and keeps kicking a Strangefinder’s ass, one of the best ways to learn how to defeat it is to keep pissing it off and having it kick your ass.
Strangefinders also often develop Strange Powers. We’ll (maybe) cover those later.
I continue to slowly modify and assemble models and figures for my Diesel Pulp headcannon setting. Obviously there’s priming and basing and painting yet to me done, these are all works in progress.
From L to R, a Garland Heavy Walker, a Free Corps Light Infantry demolitions expert, a Tumbleweed Light Mech (in back), a Heavy Infantry armor suit, a Mulholland Medium Walker, and a Free Corps Light Infantry soldier.
Allied Diesel Pulp Forces
L to R: A Gardland Heavy Walker (with three of the most famous Irregulars: Sky King, All-American Girl, and The Yankee), three Free Corps mercenaries, a British “Tory” gun carrier (the famous interwar ‘Walking Pillbox’), three Heavy Infantry Armor Suits, three Medium Infantry (front) and a Gun Carrier (back), a Self-Motivated Mortar with three Yowling Yahoos (light infantry commandos), a Tumbleweed Light Mech, and a Mulholland Medium Walker (“torchie” variant).
Soviet Diesel Pulp
In back, TS-1 and K-34 Medium Walkers. Along the front three “Night Ogres,” the Soviet attempt at Heavy Infantry that were too large and heavily armed and armored for anyone else to call them infantry (generally categorized as Gun Carriers by other nations). Both the walkers and the gun carriers show the distinctive sloped armor the Soviets had developed to good effect in the FT Fast Walker designs in the Interwar Period. The K-34 and leftmost Night Ogre also sport “Iron Claws,” one of the Soviet answers to their constant lack of munitions and high percentage of urban fighting (also resulting in the distinctive red-and-gray “Brickhouse” cammo patterns.
Also present two Commissars (currently sans-humpanzee troops) and a military seer (in back near the TS-1).
Though the mystery of where Nazi Germany was getting dinosaurs wasn’t solved until very late in the war, in most theaters of combat the occasional unit of “Thunder Cavalry” had little enough impact that Allied planners did not consider them a major threat.
However, in Africa the dreaded Wüstedrachen were a major part of how Rommel managed to hold a large portion of the continent long after the Allies successfully cut off most routes of supply and reinforcement from the continent. The beasts were capable of outrunning and outlasting horses, camels, and even jeeps, could allow expert troops to carry significant material and even anti-tank weapons, and the higher portion of light troops without armor support made their close combat abilities more relevant.
Here three Wüstedrachen are seen alongside two interwar Italian C3/33 Mechettes. While Mechettes saw only limited use in Europe, Rommel made good use of what Italian forces he had, and employed them effectively as scouting and infantry support, often in conjunction with Wüstedrachen or Medium Infantry.
I’m making progress on my US walkers for Diesel Pulp.
The S4a1, a2, and a3 Mulholland Medium Walkers were among the most common walkers in the First Global War, and the US manufactured more than 50,000 of them. Originally conceived as an all-purpose armor unit, its ability to match German units — Gautaz Light Walkers and the Teiwaz Medium walker — when put into service by the British in 1942 lead American military planners to believe no heavier armor unit was required. However, by the middle of the Global War it was clear the mech’s light armament and thin armor could not compete with newer Wotan and Donar Medium Walkers, or even the Russian K34 Medium Walker. Though clearly more powerful than any light walker, it was often called “The lightest of the medium-weights.” Its stability and long-term combat staying power were second-to-none, but it simply wasn’t a match for mid- and late-war Medium walkers. Luckily, it was mass produced in vast numbers, so rarely was a single Mulholland tasked with taking an enemy Medium tank 1-on-1.
When the S26 Garland began production in 1944, many Mulhollands were retrofit as variants, and thousands continued to be produced as off-the-line variants. The Torchie flamethrower-variant was among the most common, designed to supplement combined arms attacks against fortifications, urban settings, or heavy infantry. Other late-war Mulhollands were converted to engineering walkers, walker recovery vehicles, self-propelled artillery, experimental weapon platforms, and mech hunters (with much heavier guns and open turrets).
The British successfully adapted the Mulholland to carry their heavy 17-pounder anti-armor gun, and the upgunned “Mulholland Wasp” was among the most popular walkers among British armor crews.
While disagreements about proper walker battle doctrine (especially the role of mech hunters and medium and heavy walkers) delayed the production of the S26 Garland until 1944, it quickly proved extremely effective in battle. Unlike the Mulholland, the Garland was heavy even for a Heavy Walker (and some historians claim it should properly be classified as a Superheavy Walker), and its two most common main armaments — a 90mm gun or a 1.21g Tesla cannon — remained effective against enemy armor for the duration of the war.