From the Shed: Modern and near Future Russians.

As I’m sure that you have noticed I’ve been really getting into the Zona Alfa game recently and I had the idea of getting some of the Empress Miniatures modern Russians with gas mask heads to add to me collection. However, I wanted to practice the camo they’d be in first so I dug out these modern Russians from Elhiem to try.

The new digital flora pattern (as seen onthe little green men of Crimean infamy) took a lot of layers to get that mottled effect but was fairly quick to do in the end. Whilst I was at it I decided to paint up the Near Future Russians I had laying around in the same scheme. These are the companion/ opposition figures to the near future US figures I painted some time back.

I also , as they were lurking in the same box, got these modern Russian special forces figures finished off. Clad in a copy of multicam they are based on the operatives that have been present in Syria and again finish off stuff I have painted earlier. They add a selection of LMGs, sniper rifles and RPGs.

Elhiem has expanded the ranges of both the near future Russian anmd US forces- extra support weapons, snipers and leadera to expand upon the original assault rifles and LMGs I’ll be interested to get them as these new figures are digital sculpted, printed in resin then cast in metal as opposed to the original figures being sculpted in the traditional manner in putty. Comparing the two styles will be a pointer to the future of the industry as 3d design processes will become more and more common.

I have thought about getting a full platoon of the modern Russians in the digital flora camo but the current tension in the Ukraine makes this less appealing somehow (here is hoping it doesn’t develop into a major shooting match). I’ll have to think on….

Cheers,

Pete.

From the Shed: Even more Stalkers for Zona Alfa.

I wanted to paint up some Stalkers in a specific camo pattern, namely the Russian ‘Partizan’ scheme… that was all the excuse I needed to get a set from Pig Iron Productions that I had been coverting.

Here they are again in threes. I went for a sniper rifle a light machine gun and three AK style assault rifle, the dog is so I can try out some of the optional rules I got from facebook.

I also had a few more Cold War figures from Under Fire Miniatures that I converted- again using Pig Iron parts.

You may have noticed that I didn’t take these pictures outside on my backdoor step… I got a light box for xmas and this has made taking the photos much easier, especially in these wetter and darker months. I did print out a stone texture picture from google to use as a backdrop which I think works quite well.

Cheers,

Pete.

Zona Alfa: From the Shed to the table.

I tend to work better to a deadline so was more than happy to run a game of Zona Alfa for friends with a week’s notice, even though I still had nearly 30 models to paint in that time. Firstly I needed to finish off the various zone hostiles that I had collected, these are the various monster/ fauna that inhabit the zone and make life difficult for the players. I had a mix of zombies from Mantic, Copplestone and Pig Iron. All were painted in a similar muted palette and complement each other. The Mantic and Copplestone ones go well together as they look like the reanimated corpses of previous expiditions to the zone….

The horde of zombies.
Pig Iron Production zombies
Mantic zombies
Copplestone zombie troopers.

I also had a small selection of Reaper Bones models to represent the mutants, both large and standard size, that can also appear in the game. Nicola very kindly painted these three for me.

Reaper Bones used as mutants.

I also wanted to round out my collection of military types witha few more figures. I got some of the Under Fire Miniatures cold war camo suited Soviets and added Pig Iron Productions gas mask heads and backpacks to give them more of a STALKER vibe. Whilst the hardness of the metal that both companies used made drilling them tough on the fingers I’m really pleased with how they turned out.

The converted Under Fire miniatures Soviets.

For the game at the club I wrote a brief intro to the game (which I can post if people want) and made up four forces for the players to use: two military, one scientist and one bandit. After a quick run through of the rules they teams set off to revover the protyped weapon left cached by a previous expedition into the zone. I purposely ignored the Allies and Enemies rules for this game, mainly as it was a one off zero sum mission it would added more combat to get the players better used to the rules.

My Zona Alfa collection in it storage box.

Set in a level one zone I placed the two hot spots so that the players would be able to interact with at least one lot of zone hostiles each.

The game table, the objective was in the cached ammo crate, the skulls are hotspots. Most of the terrain was from my 3D printer.

In the end the Scientist and the Military player ended up trading shots and finding out how bloody the combat syestem can be whilst the Bandits crept forward clearining a hotspot and then cunningly used electric juice to speed forward to snatch the mission objective, after the Military team had dispatched the rats it had spawned the previous turn. The scientist cleared the hotspot closesst to them, again hiding a rat swarm before finding an anomily there and getting a rare artifact. At the point the Bandits were attracting a lot of attention so began to take a lot of fire as the other two teams attempted to snatch the weapon for themselves… at the expense of most of their team they did manage to get it off the table. However, I did point out to the players that in a campaign game they’d need to watch their casualties more and that finding a rare artifact could mean that whilst you don’t win the game the money it earns your team may be more beneficial in the long run.

The Bandits emerge from the edge of the woods.

The Military team pinned down behind the ruins.

The game went down really well and there are a couple more players who wish to try it so hopefully there will be enough interest to get a campaign going. I’m sure I did some of the rules wrong but it has been a long time since I ran the game, pre COVID19 infact. As always I enjoy running the game and seeing how the players interact as much as I do playing.

Cheers,

Pete.

From the Shed: Copplestone Future War Partisans.

It should be no secret that one of my favourite sculptor is Mark Copplestone; his future War range for Grenadier in the early 90s made a big impression on me. Since then he has gone back to his SF figures and it has been nice to finally get some paint on some of them.

These 10 figures are billed as ‘Partisans’ and are available here.

The ten of them come with four different gun types, two variations of assault rifles, an LMG and a SMG. Given their Russian/ Soviet stylings I painted them in a mix of green, khaki and Russian camo. As such they’ll be making an appearance in my Zone Afla games quite often. They are probably a bit too military to be fitted into neon drenched cyberpunk streets but I’ve my eye on some other models to fulfil those needs.

Cheers,

Pete.

20mm resources for Zone Alpha.

Zone Alpha is a new SF skirmish ruleset from Osprey Publishing. I preordered it just after xmas and my copy arrived today. I had been following the development of the rules of the author, Patrick Todoroff’s blog Stalker7 link Taking its inspiration from Soviet/ Russian themed Science Fiction, starting with the excellent novel Roadside Picnic and the film of that book Stalker as well as the PC game series of the same name. Also the Metro 2033 series. It is a milieu that I’m rather drawn to (hence me having so many props at hand for the photo).

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Players take the role of a crew of explores/ trespassers/ robbers infiltrating a alien contaminated zone to loot it for valuable artifacts to sell on, all the while battling each other and the mutated inhabitants of the zone. Given how much I have invested in the scale I will be playing my games in 20mm rather than 28mm (even though there are some great figures in this scale). I thought I’d jot down my ideas of what I’m going to be using…

 

Human figures:

The top billing should be the two boxes of plastic Stalker figures put out by Dark Alliance– ideal for this game and currently undercoated waiting to be painted on my desk.

Under Fire miniatures do some great ranges that will be useful- their Chechens will make excellent bandits and the Russian range an excellent military themed crew.

Similarly Elhiem miniatures does a comprehensive range of irregular and modern Russian figures ideal for this game. Also their spare head range contains both western and Russian gasmask heads that will be ideal for conversions (another project on the go in the shed).

Both Under Fire and Elhiem have featured on this blog in the past.

For some wierder cultist types Stan Johansen miniatures would be worth a look.

Zone hostiles:

I’ll be getting my vermin swarms from either the Reaper Bones plastic range or Irregular miniatures.

Zombies/ Ghouls will be from the Twilight Creations bag O’ zombies, my mutant dogs will be from the same source too. A few metal Elhiem zombies will be added into the mix too.

Mutants will come from the CP Models range; they have some wonderfully quirky bits in their ranges.

Vehicles:

Here the advantage of choosing 20mm really comes in, so many plastic kits to choose from that cover Russian subjects. ICM, Model Collect, Revell, Zvesda are all company that you should look up.

If you don’t fancy making plastic kits look for ther many diecasts that are available for companies such as Fabbri.

The aforementioned Elhiem also other some 3D printed vehicles that would be great.

S and S models offers an extensive range of resin kits that cover most of the Russian basics.

Hope that will be of some use to you.

 

Given what I know I’ve got in the shed ready to go I’d probably be able to get a game up and running in no time at all… watch this space.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

From the Shed: Yet more 6mm Russian tanks.

My Cold War gaming collection grows ever bigger with this modest set of additions.

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I painted up 3 company bases and 4 individual stands of the T10 heavy tank and 2 company bases of the PT76.

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The T10 heavy tank was the ultimate iteration of the IS tank from World War Two, the IS designation was dropped after Stalin’s death. Armed with a 122mm gun it was intended that these heavy tank would act in the overwatch/ supporting fire role to the smaller gunned T54/55 and T62 tanks. A battalion of them was to be found in a Tank division. With the advent of gun launched ATGMs their raison d’etre diminished and as the Cold War progressed they were relegated to more 2nd line units. Still they’ll be a useful addition to my Soviet collection as they’ll allow me to replicate earlier formations to fight my friends’ Leopard 1/ M48s in the case of the West Germans or Chieftans in the case of the Brits.

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The PT76 was similarly an early Cold War tank. Armed with a rather small 76mm gun their amphibious capability meant that they were an ideal recce tank. Given their rather weak armour and gun it is surprising that they saw service with the Russian as late as the second Chechen War in the late 1990s. They also served extensively in other theatres, notably in the Middle East and Vietnam. Painting up these two bases now allows me to field up to a battlion of them in 5core: Brigade Commander terms.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the Shed: Russian Airborne Armour.

Following on from my post on VDV Air Assault Brigades I’ve done some light armour to give them some support.

asu85

First up we have the ASU85: a light self propelled gun on the PT76 chassis, designed to give the VDV some anti- tank support. It was a replacement for the much earlier ASU57. At the time of its introduction its 85mm gun (based on the WW2 tank gun) was barely adequate for the task by the 1980s when it was still in service it would have been useless at its intended role. Still any soft skins or light armoured cars would be vulnerable to its gun.

sprut

Next we have the little known 2S25 Sprut SD, the replacement to the ASU85. Mounting the usual Russian 125mm smoothbore gun it can fire all the same ammo as an MBT but from a lightly armoured chassis based on the BMD3. Given the ammo types it can fire it makes up a pretty potent support vehicle for the modern day VDV.

Pt76

Although not an airborne vehicle I painted up a few PT76 amphibious tanks. Developed after WW2 as a recce vehicle it is fully amphibious, accordingly it means it is not very well armed or armoured. Kept in service untill surprisingly recently in has seen combat in the Middle East, Vietnam, India, Africa and even Chechnya.

light armour

All models are 1/300th (6mm) scale and are from Heroics and Ros.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

From the Shed: Contemporary Russians- same figures but two paint jobs.

In Elhiem Figures (ultra)modern* Russian ranges there are some very nice packs labelled Pro- Russian Militia/ Russian SOF that are great for representing those forces doing the Kermlin’s work in areas as diverse as the Donbass in the Ukraine** or Syria or even using them for modern what if? games. The interesting thing from a painters perspective is that as the Russians (or their proxies) use such a wide range of camouflage patterns see here you have a lot of choice.

russians in partisan camo

The first batch I painted in the ‘Paritsan’ pattern, oddly for a country that suffered so badly from the depradations of the Waffen SS in WW2, it is based the SS ‘Oak Leaf’ pattern but with a different palette of colours. A search of the web will show it being worn all over the place so these figures should be useful for militia in the Ukraine or Wagner PMCs in Syria.

winter modern sovs

The second batch have been painted in plain white and have appropriate winter basing to join my small, but growing, winter collection.

Cheers,

Pete.

* There seems to be a standardisation in table top wargaming to call anything post WW2 up to the turn of the millenium ‘moderns’ wheres as 2001 forwards is deemed ‘ultra- moderns’ both are a bit clumsy imo but it is what most people know so it is what I go with.

** It is with interest that I’ve spotted an upcoming Osprey book on the subject by Mark Galeotti.

Film Review: Come and See. 1985. Directed by Elim Klimov.

Given I referenced Come and See in my last film review it makes sense to make it the subject of this next one.

When I heard that this film was the late J. G. Ballard’s favourite war film I knew I had to see it. Ballard has long been my favourite author and I knew that his recommendation would mean that this film would be something special… I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t expecting such a powerful visceral gut- punch reaction to a film like the one I got from Come and See….

 

 

The film opens with a young Byelorussian boy recovering a rifle from the site of an earlier battle, so he can take it to join the local Partisans who have a base in the forest. Leaving against his parents’ wishes he makes contact with the Partisans and their solemn but charismatic leader.

 

His age prevents them from taking him seriously as a fighter and much to his evident disappointment they decline to take him with them when they go on their next mission. As he is left alone in the camp he makes friends with a girl, also left behind, who is a few years older than him. They play in the forest, children having space within a respite from the horrors of the war to act as children.

 

This is cut short by the bombing of the camp by the Germans. With several near misses the boy is left disorientated and with a permanent ringing in his ears that renders the audio slightly garbled as the film is told from his perspective.

 

Making his way back to his village he arrives just as an SS unit is conducting a reprisal/ massacre of the village. For the next half hour or so the boy wanders through the scenes of near unimaginable horror as the SS men go about the atrocities that so characterised their behaviour throughout the war. Given that very little dialogue is said directly to camera and so no subtitles are present, and the audio is still distorted as a result of the effect of the bombing on the boy the part of the film has a hideous, near surreal tableaux that is more horrific than anything Bosch has come up with for the events and action perpetrated by the SS men and their locally raised auxiliaries are wholly representative of the reality of the time.

 

The senior SS Officer during the massacre is shown with a pet monkey, this is a very clear nod towards the SS men being from the infamous Dirlewanger Brigade led by Oskar Dirlewanger; it is with out hyperbole that he can be described as once of the nastiest and most abhorrent men in WW2. biography book link

 

The Partisans do return and ambush the SS men as they are leaving the destroyed village and take the boy with them, the boy is forever scarred and broken by what he has seen happen to himself, the young girl and the whole village. Finding a portrait of Hitler, the young boy shoots in repeatedly, the film at this point showing a montage of photos of Hitler’s life in reverse ending with him as a baby…

 

… the film concludes with the young boy, hardened and no doubt embittered as a fully-fledged Partisan.

 

Come and See is a difficult watch, it is hard to say you ‘enjoy’ the film in the same way you’d enjoy a normal film, but such is its power and vision you can’t help but engage with it on a deeper level. Well shot it draws you in to those terrible days and makes you confront the reality of it. A reality that is today being lost by it fading from living memory as people die, anodyne history books that fail to do justice to their subject matter and worst of all those deniers who try to say it never happened. It really deserves a wide audience in my opinion.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

28mm Cold War Soviets.

Bill at Under Fire Miniatures [clicky] was generous enough to give me some his new 28mm castings to paint up. Expanding upon his initial Cold War releases for the Germans both East and West he has brought out some Russians in the classic 1970s/ 80s khaki uniform.

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The job lot painted up. Plenty to run some small skirmishes with the previously seen West Germans.

 

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At Bill’s request I photographed the figures in the packs that you buy them in. Here with have the PKM pack.

 

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The platoon HQ pack with and SVD armed Marksman.

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The RPK pack.

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Finally a pack with 1 RPG7 and three riflemen with AK74s.

 

Painting was done with Vallejo acrylics. The main uniform was Green Brown, Webbing was Khaki and Leather Belt with the NBC pouch in Canvas, the helmet was Russian Green lightened with a little bit of Yellow Olive.

 

Many thanks to Bill for the figures.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.