Thursday, January 18, 2018

It has been a busy newsday! PSC is taking over the ArmiesArmy Cold War Range

Just wanted to make this short announcement: Plastic Soldier Company is taking over the ArmiesArmy Cold War 15mm range. I am happy to say that Keith Armstrong, Owner/Proprietor of AA is a friend of mine and of this blog, and I am happy for him that he is making this transition because of the reasons he has mentioned to me in the past.

The cool part about this is that PSC will be putting the Dutch, Belgians, Cold Weather Russians, and soon to come Scandinavians out to a much wider gaming audience. For this alone, I am excited for both parties involved (Even if I do not game 15mm).

I wish both companies the best, and look forward to seeing what PSC does with the AA Cold War line!

Tiny Metal Chariots of the Twilight: 6mm possibilities for Twilight: 2000

I promised I would discuss this as well, there's a lot of 6mm fans who read this blog, and Fistful of TOWs is a popular rules set around here. Surprisingly, while there isn't a lot to be found on some of the more unique Twilight: 2000 designs, what you can find will surprise you. (Someone makes a LAV-75 under the guise of "RDF Light Tank"). Happily, 90% of kitbashing at this scale is pretty much a matter of hull and turret swaps, and perhaps a little putty work.

I personally think, and this is my own opinion, for what it is worth, you're better off gaming the conventional phase of the war in 6mm and the post nuke phase in a larger scale such as 15 or 20mm, but I can be wrong sometimes. I base this opinion mainly due to the paucity of vehicles once the nukes fly. I am sure some enterprising modeler or wargamer is itching to prove me wrong now...

So, who's out there and what do they make?

I owe a big thanks to Micro Armor Mayhem for some of the links to this report, it's a very useful website of it's own and I encourage 6mm fans to pay it a visit as he covers micro armor VERY well indeed.

Photo taken from GHQ Website

GHQ: They are the granddady of micro armor. Their models for the most part are detailed and well built, (even if the barrels on some of their earlier sculpts are a bit...fiddly). They have a lot of what the average Twilight: 2000 player needs, but they are to be honest, kinda pricy at $11.95 for 5 vehicles on average. Yes, you do pay for their level of detail, and they are prolific. They also have awesome customer service and are good eggs to deal with, having done so at quite a few conventions. Plus, their discounted unit packs are a great start for building that Fistful of TOWs army.

Photo taken from CinC website

CinC:  While there isn't as much detail as on the average GHQ model, you cannot say anything bad about the fidelity of the CinC's offerings. The barrels on average, are a bit more fragile, but I also like the "plug" turrets instead of the "pin" turrets you find offered from most companies. I don't own any of their infantry, but I have heard some complaints about it. Their prices are a bit lower than GHQ, averaging between $5-6 for a platoon of three or four vehicles. Of interest to Twilight: 2000 fans is that their HMMWV range is simply the largest in the industry. Hell, they even make a Sgt. York, if you're really that oldschool! Oh and did I mention, their stuff comes in these nifty plastic cases that are instant storage! Yep, you cannot beat that.

Photo taken from Scotia Grendel Website

Scotia Grendel: Scotia Grendel is one of the most prolific manufacturers out there, they make so much it's not funny. But, the detail is a bit lacking, as seen here, but the fact is, they make stuff GHQ or CinC do not, such as this Brazilian EE-9 above. And, they do paint up nicely, with a bit of care and patience, as seen on this T-64BV:

Not bad if you ask me! Photo taken from the 6mm Wargaming Website
Prices are pretty easy, even with the shipping from England, at 0.50 GBP per vehicle. (which works out these days to about $0.69 a vehicle. Not too bad if you ask me.) But, as I said, you do get what you pay for. But, with a little work and patience, you can really do a nice job, plus they have some really interesting stuff, such as the HMMWV with the 25mm, or the RDF Light Tank, which makes a decent stand in for the LAV-75, or an entire range of FAVs, And that's just the Americans. For the Russians, they make the IT-130s! Yep, that assault gun seen in the pages of the 1st Edition of the Soviet Vehicle Guide. They also make a Neutral Equipment Range, that is full of mortars, recoilless rifles, trailers, motorcycles, and the like. It's very useful as at 6mm, you're going to be hard pressed to tell a 81mm Mortar from an 82mm Mortar.

In short, if you're looking for the more esoteric stuff, look at Scotia, chances are, they have it.

A H&R M60, proves they can paint up nice with some care, taken from the Here's No Great Matter Blog

Heroics and Ros: Heroics and Ros, aka H&R are another British manufacturer with a measure of prolific production, their quality is slightly better than Scotia, but where they shine is the number and breath of nations they cover. Want North Koreans? They got 'em. They got Toyota pickups, irregulars, Soviet VDV with RPO (thermobaric) rockets, they have a lot of stuff. At almost $1 a tank, it's a bit pricer than Scotia, but the detail is a bit better. For my money, I tend to prefer H&R when possible if I can, but that is a preference thing. Again, you're ordering from the UK, so shipping for some of you guys might be an issue.

But, if you want a cheaper option than CinC and GHQ, take a look at these guys.

Again, they paint up pretty nice, take a little care, and you can do wonders with 6mm. Taken from The Miniatures Page

Main Force Miniatures: Main Force Miniatures is to me, the best producer of  micro armor scale infantry out there. Other than the MANPADS figures, all of the figures are cast prone. I know not everyone likes this, but it does make some pretty indestructible infantry for wargaming (6mm infantry is remarkably brittle for the most part.) The current producers of the line, Magister Militum, are selling the line by the individual base, or by the old company groups it used to come in, considering I play FFT 3 for all of my micro armor needs, I like the groups because a 1:1 company sized group can become a battalion of infantry in 1:5 scale. In short, I rather like these figures, they paint up nice, and as I said, damn near indestructible. There's also a lot to choose from, Israelis, Americans, Brits, US, Iranians, just to name a few.

Well, that's it for my review of 6mm choices for the Twilight: 2000 themed wargamer. I'll be working on getting a user submission up by the end of the month. It's something I wanted to do for a while now, but had some other stuff (like this article), to get out of the way first. Please feel free to comment if I missed anything, or if your experiences have been different from mine. I love feedback as you know. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hell By Daylight is Back, and tons of movement on the "Cold War Battlegroup" front.

  Remember when I mentioned a little rules set called Hell By Daylight? I also mentioned that a copy of them was extremely difficult to get one's hands on. Well, god bless Jim Webster. He's reprinting it in a 4 part series in Miniature Wargames Magazine.  Part 1 has come out in the current issue, 418.

Picture taken from Miniature Wargames Magazine website
Now, I will caveat the rules with this. For a small set of figures on either side (like an encounter in Twilight: 2000?), these rules are perfect. They aren't really for larger platoon sized games, like Force on Force, or No End in Sight. (To confess, the mechanics are a bit dated, by modern standards, but I think they hold up well, personally). They have good solid rules for reaction under fire, and they make such reactions unpredictable, to say the least. These were my go-to rules in my high school years, and they were great for those small encounters one finds in every war.

I am very excited about this, and am looking forward to my next three issues to arrive in my email inbox.

In other news, I know I have been going on about Battlegroup NORTHAG, and it's being worked on, I can assure you of this. But in the meanwhile, the Cold War: Hot, Hot, Hot blog has released their own unofficial Battlegroup Cold War rules. Now, that said, we're hoping we can convince Leigh to work on a Twilight: 2000 variant for the rules. Another Battlegroup variant for Cold War era stuff is Battlegroup Fulda. I have yet to try either rules set, but I am eager to do so. I will let you know how it goes, and if I can get any breaks from my busy writing schedule, perhaps I will gin up something for Twilight: 2000 myself.

As for other news, rumor is a Korean Sourcebook for Twilight: 2000 might be coming out on Drivethru RPG soon as well. At least, that's what my own RUMINT tells me. I don't know the veracity of such rumors, but they are coming from reliable sources, so I will keep you posted.

Work on my own Charters of Freedom continues apace, and I am also looking at some other projects that will hopefully, be mostly off of my desk in the new year, but as someone who knows the industry can tell you, deadlines can be a bit flexible.

On the modelling front, I found this small company, called Boundless Brooklyn, that does of all things, NYC watertowers that to me, would look good on a wargaming table with a bit of paint and weathering. It comes with everything you need to put it together for $10. It looks great for a potential Armies of the Night - themed game.

Image taken of completed model. Looks pretty good, huh?
My wife also got me some terrain stuff from Ironclad Miniatures for Christmas, and it arrived a bit late. She got me some hedgerow kits for WW-II France, which look great, and a couple of field defenses and a ruins pack. Now the latter items are great, they are well sculpted, the items arrived without cracks or bubbles visible in the surfaces that are to be painted. In short, I am very pleased with the products I got here.

Here are all the products laid out in their glory. Everything looks awesome.

So, lots to report, and more is to come, but I wanted to post all this so you didn't think I was just neglecting this blog. Nope, no chance of that! You keep reading, and I will keep writing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

First of the New Year!!

Sorry about the long absence everyone. This is going to be a short post, as it is something of a thought experiment. One thing about Twilight: 2000 is that it is in many ways, the future of the nightmares of the 80s, ala Threads, or The Day After. But what about other nightmares? Twilight: 2000 has discussed this before in Twilight Nightmares, but that's not what I am talking about.

I am talking about a certain little Netflix show:

Yeah, that one. You might ask, "What the hell does this have to do with Twilight: 2000?" A lot actually. Both properties are products of 80s nightmares, and the Cold War permeates through them like a running thread, Twilight: 2000 is just more obvious about it. But in Stranger Things, there is the undercurrent of  "What if the Russians find out?"

But the focus of this blog post isn't, "What if the Russians find out?" It's more, "What do you think happens to Hawkins, IN in the post-apocalypse?" Does the Upside Down triumph? Does it retreat, seeing our world as not such a great place anymore. What happens to our four heroes? Sheriff Hopper and all the others?

Think of this as more of a thought experiment with a focus? Post your takes here, it'll be fun to read them.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (Yes, and Happy Chanukah, I know it's Late)

Santa Delivers Everywhere, and Has a Minigun to Deal With Those on the "Really Naughty List"
Happy Holidays all. I know it's been a long and fun year here at "500 Miles.." and this will be my last post of the year. I like everyone, intend to spend time with family and friends, and enjoying the company of my wife.

That said, I will be back in the new year with more cool stuff, more on the Post-Apocalypse, and Twilight: 2000 and the miniature possibilities thereof.

We'll be taking on as many of the ideas of Where Do We Go From Here? as I can, and I already have one submission I am working on to whip into shape to be published here. But I would love to hear more from you all, especially article submissions.

And I am sure there will be more PDF releases for Twilight: 2000 and we'll be looking at them as well.

Just before I go, I want to hit you all with some numbers: We've had 32,000+ site visits since I started this in February. I've written 64 articles of varying length, and 43 of you have decided to stay and follow this august blog. To me, that's a very good start.

So, from me at "500 Miles.." again, Happy Holidays, and may you have a full gas tank and plenty of ammo.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Short Post: ArmiesArmy and PSC Updates for the 15mm Crowd

Well, it seems PSC has been very prolific on the 15mm front. We're seeing new releases here that will fit quite nicely for your Twilight: 2000 needs. First, the 15mm Plastic Soviet Motor Riflemen are coming out soon, and they're doing a prize draw and soon.

Box Art for the Upcoming Release (Image taken from PSC)
Next, we've got the box art for the M60A3 release!
Box Art for the Upcoming Release (Image taken from PSC)
So the M60s are coming, I don't have a release date up, but I will let you 15mm fanatics know when that happens. That said, I am jealous we haven't seen much in the way of 20mm releases yet for Cold War. I assume we shall see what happens there in the near future.

Other than that, we'll keep on this.

ADDENDUM: There's also been some new releases from ArmiesArmy. They have released their 15mm 80s Cold War Dutch and Canadians! I can personally attest as to the quality of the figures involved and if you're looking for either for your 15mm Twilight: 2000 table, then these are a good place to start!

Armies Army Canadians, taken from Armies Army webpage

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wear Value-5 or “Gee that Tank is Dirty and Overloaded!"

The world of Twilight: 2000 is a pretty devastated one. It’s grungy, dirty, full of ruins and half the pre-war population of the planet is dead. The Third World War has raged for almost 5 years in some places (the Sino-Soviet front comes to mind), and everything has been used it seems, from nukes to spears, and everything in between.

Vehicles have been a big casualty of the war. Many of them have been destroyed on the battlefield or abandoned for a lack of fuel or parts. Many other vehicles (tanks especially) simply won’t run for very long on the new alcohol fuels. Thus, the vehicles that still run are valuable indeed. They’re like horses in the Old West, to lose one is to probably doom yourself to a slow death in a man-made desert.

So, how do vehicles look in Twilight: 2000? In two words, very raggedy. Many vehicles on both sides have adopted what is called the “gypsy caravan” look. They’re simply overloaded with belongings and other gear, not to mention other than the most important of preventative maintenance, many of these vehicles haven’t received a lot of TLC since 1997. When clean water is in short supply, you can’t justify a car wash, thus many vehicles have a layer of dust, the paint is chipped and faded, and there’s even some signs of rust.

So, how does one make all this happen? Well, follow along, and we’ll discuss vehicle weathering techniques, and where to get cool stuff to put onto your vehicles.

1. Weathering:
There’s an awesome section on weathering vehicles in the back of the US Army Vehicle Guide (as well as some slick conversion ideas involving Roco minitanks). While many of the techniques are a bit dated (the modeler/wargamer has a lot more tools available today then he had thirty years ago), but, the basics of the techniques are still quite valid, and for a beginner, are pretty good places to start. A note: ALWAYS weather a vehicle AFTER you apply decals, otherwise, it’s just not going to look very natural.

A great modelling section in this book, Pic taken from Twilight:2000 wiki, IP is GDW/FFE
a. Black Wash: A black wash is the basis of any good weathering technique, it’s also great for dulling down a paint scheme, as well as unifying any scheme you put together. There are some commercial blackwashes out there, Citadel makes one, as well as Secret Weapon, but you can make it yourself with a little patience. The main thing is to get a good mixture of black paint to water together, say about 5 or 6 parts water to one part paint. 
Once you have a paint mixture ready, don’t be shy about applying it. The wash will seek its own level, so apply it and forget it, it will dry nicely and fill in the crevices and other places where natural light would be shadowed. It also dulls the paint down and does a nice job of representing all the mix of grime, dirt, and POL residue that accumulates on vehicles in the field. 
b. Dirt and Mud: Dirt and mud can be represented in quite a few different ways, amongst them is either pigment (which can be tricky but once you master it, it looks great) or a brown wash of a red-brown color (done just like the black wash, but wait till the black wash dries, otherwise, it’s just like the black wash), and follow that up with a drybrush of light brown on the leading and trailing edges of the vehicle, as well as the lower sides, anywhere where dust might accumulate. 
How do to a drybrush? Simple, get a napkin and a brush with a flathead (say a size 3 or 4 minimum, Size 6 works best for this sort of thing), take a dab of light brown paint, and then dab it vigorously against the ridges and raised surfaces of the napkin till no visible paint comes off onto the napkin, then apply to those surfaces I mentioned earlier. This part represents the dust, wet mud, and dried mud that builds up. Pigment works much the same way, but you can layer it to make it look like caked on mud if you really get good with it…I am not as good with it as I should be. You also must use pigment fixer with it (and if you aren’t careful, you can eat decals with it).
c. Faded and Chipped Paint: You’re going to see a lot of this in Twilight: 2000. Paint schemes are just not going to last forever, and 4 years of war and the breakdown of logistical networks are not going to do anyone’s paint jobs any good. A simple way to fade a paint job that looks quite natural is to simply add a bit of white to the original paintwork on the model. The more faded you want, the more white paint you add. It’s all about the mixture. Paint chipping is easy as well, get a toothpick, dab it into a bit of dark brown paint (should be almost black in color) and dab it onto the leading edges of the vehicle (fenders, weld seams, lower hulls, etc.) Do not do it too much, or it looks awful. You can also do this with rust, just use an orange brown.
2. Stowage and additional gear: All soldiers collect gear. It’s a given as you never know when it might prove useful. 3 years after the logistical chain collapses in the wake of a all-out conventional conflict? That’s only going to exacerbate matters. The fact it, by the time Twilight: 2000 rolls around, you’re going to see all kinds of contraptions and gear on a vehicle. If there’s a place to tie it down, or shove it, a soldier will toss it on. Extra rations, sandbags, extra ammo, gas cans, personal belongings, you name it, and it’s on a vehicle somewhere. But where do you find stuff suitable to toss on your vehicles?
a. Premade resin gear: There are some pretty good specialty resin stowage producers out there, such as Legend Productions and Black Dog Models. They are a more than a bit pricy, but they are awesome stuff and they paint up great. Some of them are even premade for certain kits and will fit those kits like a glove.
b. Metal accessories: S & S has a line of metal tracks and accessories in addition to the resin gear they make, and it’s rather well done, if not always perfect.
c. Model railroad gear: HO scale model railroad gear has some promising stuff, such as truck loads, or other items one can find, and make use of.
d. Spare stuff from model kits: This why you save sprues from kits, guys.
e. Home made from Greenstuff: You can make all sorts of items here, such as bedrolls, tarps, air recognition flags, sandbags, rolled up camo nets, your imagination is your only limit.
f. Scrap materials: Swizzle sticks from Starbucks, packing materials, items from toys, or some oregano and gauze, your imagination is limitless.
One technique I love to do with the Greenstuff especially is to take the greenstuff, blob it along a fender or another part of the vehicle, and then poke holes into it and make it look like a rolled up net, then paint it a dark olive drab. Voila, instant camo netting.
Or, if you want to deploy said net, drape some gauze over a part of the vehicle (make sure you don’t cover windows, muzzles, periscopes, vision blocks and the likes), then cover the gauze in white glue, and scatter oregano onto it, allow it all to dry, then shake off the excess, and paint it with a dark olive drab color. 
In short, you can get imaginative with stowage and put as little or a lot as you want onto a given vehicle, just make sure to plan it out first, before you start gluing things down.
This is an older ESCI M1 kit built and painted by Chris Steadman, it took a bit of a beating in a move and I lost a few treadlinks, so I mounted it on a plasticard base, and made it look like mud so as to hide the plasticard replacements for the tread links. I also then added a block of gear from Legend Productions over the blast doors on the rear of the turret, and made some camo netting out of oregano and gauze on the front turret facing and the main gun.

This is a cheapo MARS kit from China, and I had to make up a mounting for the .50 and the loader's MG. I then added a bunch of stowage from Legend Productions (I am very proud of the "For Beer" cooler). I also added a rolled up camo net made of gauze and then faded the 3-color CARC paint heavily, hit it with a blackwash, and drybrushed the edges with a heavy coating of light brown paint for dust.
This is an ACE BMP-2 kit, I had to use green stuff to fill in the gaps on the tread links, as there was not enough of them included with the kit..go figure. The kit was blackwashed and heavily dusted with pigment, after having Polish decals applied (the vehicle was stolen from a Soviet unit), and a pair of Soviet tankers half figures were added from RH Models. 
Here is a Mars T-72 and a Britannia BMP-1, the Britannia has a figure cast with his head poking out of the driver's hatch, it's a nice feature, but I hate to say it, it often breaks. I painted both a Soviet-ish green (though I wasn't ecstatic about the way they came out.)  but the weathering was a simple blackwash followed up by a drybrush of a light brown.
A closeup of the aforementioned Britannia BMP, note the bit of rust I put on the treads. 

A pair of LAV-25s and a pre-painted Hobby Master M113. The first LAV on the left is a repainted toy, I replaced the toy 25mm barrel with one from a rolled steel barrel from RB Models, then painted it in Taimya colors for 3-color CARC, then blackwashed and dusted the vehicle, and added some stowage from Legend Productions. The LAV in the middle is a Trumpeter kit with a rolled steel barrel from RB Models, I added more stowage from Legend Productions, then drilled and added an aerial made of airplane locking wire, and added a Confederate flag gotten from The M113 was heavily weathered, with more Legend Productions stowage added, and an MK-19 AGL added from a Twilight: 2000 figure pack. 

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Twilight 2000, The Look on the Tabletop, Part 1, Vehicles

Twilight: 2000 is in some ways, a unique post-apocalyptic experience, it isn't quite Mad Max, it isn't quite Gamma World, or for tha...