Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Federal Army VITROs

Vitros are human clone soldiers who are organised into platoons and then attached to Federal divisions at the company level as needed before or during battle.  They are folded into the company’s command structure, usually one platoon being added to bolster the company.   

Vitros are bred in large processing facilities, genetically modified so that they reach adulthood in two years.  This rapid growth comes at a price -- they begin to age beyond optimal combat service at about age 18 and usually reach mortality at about age 22.  (Vitro age is measured starting with separation from the development chamber.) As they do not have parents they bond instead with their instructors, who teach them combat methods and some basic interpersonal skills so that they can cooperate with their in utero fellow soldiers. 

Vitros have been bred by the Federation as soldiers for over three centuries but the programme was only put into full effect during the First Pelagic War, due to the dire need for soldiers at the time.  Since then the moral implications have been trumped by continuing combat demands, but there is still an active anti-Vitro political movement, particularly at the Federal Core, the outlying systems being more in favour of the military cloning programme.   

Vitros are the best infantry in the Federal Army – they have enhanced senses and are physically superior to in uteros, and are trained for combat virtually from the day they separate.  They are provided with distinctive armour and weapons to take advantage of their exceptional performance (and to clearly indicate that they are Vitros), the most unusual feature being the multi-lens combat helmet which gives the Vitro warrior a somewhat strange, alien appearance.  They are raised to obey and often do, but they are human, and as such have their grievances.  Vitros keenly feel their shortened lifespans, and the disdain many in uteros have for them as products rather than people.  There are also persistent rumours that Vitro Programme scientists have developed a serum to counteract the accelerated Vitro aging process but do not provide this to Vitros because it decreases combat capabilities.  As a result of these factors, and other issues besides, there have been sporadic Vitro uprisings.   This is the reason Vitros are no longer organized into formations larger than infantry platoons – the heavier weapons remain under control of in utero units. 

Vitros are genetically human but their hair follicles do not grow hair unless artificially stimulated and both genders are sterile although they can be sexually active.  Both males and females serve in Vitro platoons in about equal numbers.  Occasionally, an especially aggrieved Vitro will escape the facility and go renegade, and these Vitros are especially dangerous – they will sometimes join bands of alien mercenaries, but just as often will attempt to pass as an in utero to infiltrate the Vitro Programme to seek out the rumoured life enhancement serum. 

Two infantry squads of Vitros are now available at our webstore – they were sculpted by PF. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dwartist previews the Nova Respublik Grifon Advanced APC

Just a quick note that dwartist is building and painting the tracked and grav versions of the newest Nova Respublik APC, the Grifon, on The Miniatures Page.  This is a next-generation vehicle and a major threat to the Federation and others who might stand in the way of Socialism in One Galaxy.

He's already performed his magic on the Nova Res next-generation tank, the Drakon.

So now follow his progress here:

I'm sorry I've neglected the blog, but with the phenomenal number of orders coming in and with a lot of new product to preview and shepherd toward release, time has become a precious commodity -- and Khurasan Miniatures is a part-time business for me!  But I will do my best to update the blog more frequently.  Thanks.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Modeldads reviews the Khurasan T55/T62/Type 59

We are in the process of rolling out our 15mm Yom Kippur War range of vehicles and infantry, and just in time for that, the new Youtube "modeldads" review vlog has featured our currently-available T-62, the very-soon-to-be-released T-55, and the Chinese knockoff of the T-54, the Type 59 (a tank that has fought in countless wars in the post-war period).

Here's the link--we are glad the modeldads team liked the models overall!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Biology of the Post-Event World: the Skunkeater


One of many new species to have rapidly evolved in the aftermath of the Event, the Skunkeater wanders the wastes, devouring anything it can catch. Superficially resembling a cross between a grizzly bear and an alligator, the Skunkeater in fact appears to be an evolved alligator with a more upright posture and downy feathers superficially resembling fur which insulate it from the cold. This permits the Skunkeater to wander far and wide, even in the winter in cold climates.

The name "Skunkeater" is testament to the animal's favourite food, for skunks survived the Event to scratch out a living amidst the ruins. True to its name, the Skunkeater devours these small creatures and seems to store their noxious musk in a gland at the base of the tail.  When alarmed or, at times, when hunting, a Skunkeater will emit an atrocious odour similar to that of twenty or thirty skunks spraying in unison. This assault on the senses is more than most humans can bear, and it is not uncommon for people trying to defend themselves against Skunkeater attack to simply collapse, retching uncontrollably, only to be caught and eaten by the Skunkeater.  

Much larger predators, such as the Mojave Pilgrim, the Inland Empire Stiltwalker and the Great Lakes Slug, are generally deterred by the putrid odour of the Skunkeater -- perhaps the primary purpose of the skunkeater's musk. To maintain this defence the Skunkeater must spend a great deal of time hunting down skunks, which is it able to catch by means of its very long, sticky tongue. It is able to extend this tongue out for some distance and with reasonable accuracy like the now-extinct Old World Chameleon.  

After Radi-ants, Skunkeaters pose arguably the greatest animal threat to survivors. They are known to take up residence in areas where they have located survivors and will usually not depart until it has been eaten clean. Even if its musk gland is depleted the Skunkeater is vastly more powerful than a human and can rip even a well-armed ganger limb from limb. Skunkeaters are heavily protected by scales, and although they are not immune to firearms or cruder weapons, they have proven remarkably difficult to kill, often being shot eight or nine times before succumbing to their wounds. Survivors are advised to avoid these animals at all costs. Even if you have firearms, it's probably better to abandon your shelter and escape as best you can if it attracts the attention of a skunkeater.

Our reconstruction of the skunkeater in 15mm scale brings this terror of the post-Event world to your tabletop. The model is provided with several optional pieces -- a jaw with tongue retracted, another with tongue partially extended, and even a skunk! The skunk may be shown hustling away from the skunkeater or it may be stuck on the predator's tongue.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Nalle and the reindeer

Well, ok, it's not quite a reindeer, it was a small whitetail doe who hangs out up the ridge a bit from our house. My dog Nalle and I sometimes encounter her when we are on walks in the early evening, but we hadn't seen her once since the hurricane.

So i was very pleased to see her on Christmas Eve of all nights, perhaps scouting location for her kin who will be so busy tonight. Nalle is a Finnish Spitz, a breed born to bark, and she had a few choice words for the doe before we turned around and went back to the house -- I had a few more gifts to pack, and then orders to catch up on! But not before I got a snap or two of Nalle and the doe. (It was getting dark so I lightened the image a bit.)

Happy holidays to everyone and thanks for making this our biggest year ever. Many new things coming in 2013!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Hauk Yearn for Contact

The Hauk looked to the stars and wondered.  They knew they were not alone, the only race in all of infinity to think and feel, to be aware of what it means to be alive.  They felt this in their hearts, and the telepaths, mostly hatchlings and hens, could sense that it was so, with great certainty in fact.  But all feelings aside, they also knew it as a fact.  For in their ancient past, they had indeed not been alone – two sentient races had evolved on Pandion at the same time, but now only one, the Hauk, survived.

The Hauk were slower to reach sentience, and when they did the Krall were already sailing great ships upon the three seas, scrabbling across the decks, their black carapaces glistening with the salt water spray.  Anchoring themselves to the galley roof hang-racks using their spiky tails, the Oar-Kralls swung upside down and rowed, four oars to each Krall, as they chirped out songs in time, songs about seafaring ancestors, their antennae waving in unison as they sang together.  Crowning the head of each Krall were seven lidless round eyes, arranged in a circle, and each of these peered out anxiously across the endless grey sea, searching for land.  And find land they did, having settled two other continents and numerous islands beyond their own. 

Hauk rifle infantry

On one fateful morning, when a boatload of Krall found land, they found the Hauk too -- savage feathered creatures, utterly unlike the Krall, running swiftly on a single pair (a single pair?) of hindlegs across the plains between the great coniferoid forests, hunting with a primitive missile weapon resembling a sling.  Stranger creatures than these no Krall journal had never recorded, and for their part the Hauk were terrified by the black monstrosities that swarmed like so many great scorpions up and out of the tall ships anchored to the shore.

This Hauk grav APC has only one chin rotary gun mounted but many mount two, or a pair of seeker missiles

After many false starts the Hauk and the Krall established rudimentary communications and then an accord, and the Krall set about teaching the ways of civilisation to their new charges.  And this was their undoing, for within four generations the Hauk had utterly destroyed the Krall and extinguished all evidence that the black arachnoids had ever built cities or sung songs together as they sailed the grey seas.  Hauk cities (built above the ground this time) and Hauk fleets replaced these.  Hunted without mercy, not a single Krall survived, although there were rumours – just old hen’s tales really -- that in the deserts, hidden in caves, individual Krall endured, and stole the souls of unwary Hauk in vengeance for what had been done to their world.

Hauk Armoured Fighting Suits are piloted by veterans and can carry a variety of weapons

For millennia this story was passed down as an inspirational myth amongst the Hauk: The cleansing of the world of the black abominations that streamed out of crevices, clicking.  But as Hauk civilisation matured and weathered war after war between their great nation states, they came to understand themselves better for what they truly were.  Hand in hand with this growing awareness came scientific research and analysis of the tiny fragments of Krall culture which remained.  Jaded Hauk society began to actually mourn the ugly, beautiful creatures they had shared this world with so briefly, so long ago. There was a Krall craze in Hauk culture.  Romantic female Hauk took Krall names when they reached maturity, to the exasperation of their parents.  “Krall Epics,” animated drama vids set during great moments in Krall history, were produced and became hugely successful, being watched by millions of Hauk, even across opposing nation states. 

 To a bird, each Hauk yearned for another chance.  They wanted to meet a new civilisation and join it, partners in the stars.  And surely this was close at hand?  Hauk hatchlings often had the gift of foresight, and they were sensing a contact, a joining of sentience with sentience, and sometime soon.  As these stories spread out across the great nation states of Pandion, a thrill rippled through Hauk society, and they looked up to the stars and hoped.  Hauk frigates, now capable only of travel within their solar system (Pandion was the fourth planet from their star), sent out hailing messages on many frequencies.  Probes were launched radiating a greeting.  Many felt it was only a matter of time now.  Finally they could atone.

*  *  *

The Meso-Nai battlecruiser now entered the solar system, shadowed by its light cruiser escort.  The two great intergalactic travelers crept through the blackness with a purpose, headed for the fourth planet from the star.  While this was just one of the infinite number of star systems willed unto them by great god Urodela, this fourth planet represented a special threat to the Meso-Nai way of life.  For against all logic and in an open challenge to Urodela’s infallible word, the planet was showing signs of a self-aware civilisation. 

Reach Force unit leader risks removal of his helmet to peer about as the team heavy gunner covers him

Naturally, seen purely objectively, this was preposterous.  Even a half-educated Salamandroid was aware of this.  Urodela had shown the Meso-Nai long ago that dominion of the universe was theirs and theirs alone.  But there was something real about these signs, these false echos of civilisation – as the Meso-Nai priests knew, they were a real manifestation of Meso-Nai faithlessness, of doubt in the God who had so generously granted all to them and them alone.  These perceptions of other cultures were a sin, a crime against God, and needed to be purged with an iron will and ceaseless devotion.  Confronting these delusions, wiping them from the minds of the faithful, was the only way to fortify the soul and make amends to Urodela for this grave lack of gratitude.  This required violent exertion.

Meso-Nai Reach Force Braves, ready to banish impure thoughts with the application of a great deal of firepower

Such had been the pronouncement of the priesthood which stood at the summit of Meso-Nai society, and the Reach Force, the Meso-Nai interstellar colonial force, made it so.  Using one tactic or another, the Reach Force would forever banish all delusion from these planets.  Yes, violence was indeed the key, for, as they had found, only cataclysmic destruction silenced all doubts as to the exclusivity of Meso-Nai sentience in the universe.  Such was the faithlessness of the Meso-Nai, a heresy within their hearts which they were keen to overcome.

Meso-Nai Armoured Fighting Vehicles are like mobile fortresses (painted by dwartist) 

One common method was to induce the explosion of the star at the center of the problematic solar system.  If Meso-Nai self doubt did not permit this method – self-doubt which often manifested itself as an imaginary fleet of “enemy ships” preventing the painstaking process of nova induction -- then the Reach Force would regroup, acknowledging, with great shame, that heresy was embedded deep within their own hearts.  This demanded that the planet, from which such impure thoughts radiated, must be invaded, occupied, and scrubbed clean, purified.  It was a terrible process, but it had been done before and would be done again.  The lives of many Reach Force braves were often spent along the way; Reach Force veterans knew well that doubt might be a mental failing but it could, and did, physically kill.  But at least once it was all over, and the doubts that inexplicably emanated from the planet’s surface were forever silenced, the surviving braves felt their faith invigorated. 

The captain of the battlecruiser swam up to the upper bridge, surfacing from his immersion pond, and evaluated the readings coming from the fourth planet.  What a cacophony. He was filled with shame, but also determination to be a better Meso-Nai.  There would be a great test of faith here, but the Reach Force was ready.

*  *  *

Hauk infantry with Newtcracker Cannon, developed to penetrate the heavy armour worn by all Meso-Nai Reach Force Braves

We have already released models representing the extreme xenophobes of the Meso-Nai Reach Force, and the first codes of their greatest enemy, the Hauk, will be released soon.  As can be seen from the above image, the Hauk quickly learned to defend themselves, adopting weapons to fight back against the Meso-Nai campaign of extermination, but could they reach out to the Federation to avoid the fate looming over them?  Stay tuned for details.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Sisters of Celestial Peace

Sister Maria Jesús Ágreda slapped another magazine into her Purifier and wiped the sweat from her brow, peering out into the night from the rocks where her unit, the Second Convental Battalion, was holding onto a perimeter. There was a lull in the attacks and her thoughts strayed for a moment to the Kelnar-ji in the bunkers, their little feelers waving anxiously as the air and water ran out. The space demons had overrun the convent, but that could and would be retaken – loss of the Kelnar-ji village meant the loss of the Kelnar-ji themselves, and Sister Maria would not allow that to happen to those gentle souls. She thought of the little blue-green Kelnar-ji young running around at her feet as they played and her resolve doubled – May our Lord and the Way protect us and our flock from these abominations.

There was a splat near her and she ducked reflexively, a sizzling blob of acid spraying deadly droplets all around, one burning a hole in her habit.  Sister Maria knew the source and scanned for the Hammerhead that had shot at her, and saw it and two others slinking back toward a rock formation, about twenty yards to the southeast, Satanic grins on their faces. She watched them disappear behind the apparent safety of the rocks, raised the muzzle of her Purifier, and slipped her finger down to the grenadelauncher trigger.

Quietly she said a prayer and judged the angle – she was the best grenadier in her unit, and she knew the prayer was not necessary, but she said it anyway. These abominations had messed with the wrong nun. There was a metallic thud and the grenade was on its way, on a path to help cleanse this world of these daemones incarnatus ….

*  *  *

After the Visitation, humans abandoned previous religions for a time and followed the Way. But as the Visitors were leaving, they predicted, accurately as always, that the effects of their visit would fade as the decades wore on. They said this with a gentle and understanding smile, reaching their long slender arms out to touch the heads of the humans who gathered around them. The people wept to hear this, fearing that the transformation that changed the world would reverse itself and humanity would slip back to its old ways. They remembered war and poverty, jealousy and fear, and they begged the Visitors to stay, fearing that all the old human vices would return. That didn’t quite happen – the Visitation left its stamp on humanity forever more -- but as the Visitors became only a memory, humanity did to some extent get back to its old business, with all that entailed.

Most people continued to follow the Way, in a less joyous and more formalistic way as the decades wore on, but there were some who never quite forgot the old religions and cautiously crept back to them, one small step at a time. This was especially true of Christianity and Islam, although at first even those two religions budded in only a few places. Roman Catholic Pope Boniface XI, who like everyone else had promptly embraced the Way during the Visitation, called a Fourth Vatican Council to discuss what, if any, future lay ahead for the Catholic Church. A surprisingly large number of cardinals and bishops responded, and the focus of the Council was whether Catholicism was to continue as a religion at all, and if so if it were to be one path of the Way, or if the old form of Catholicism would be resumed. No decision was reached, and there was for a decade a schism in Catholicism between the Traditionalists and the Way Catholics. Upon the death of Boniface, these two factions came together to elect a new pope, John Paul VIII, who held the Fifth Vatican Council, which healed the schism and sent the religion on a surprising new journey.

One of the principal documents of Vatican V was Excelsis Deo, God in the Heavens, which recognized certain alien life forms as having souls and which therefore require salvation through Jesus Christ and the Way. The Council established a Celestial Council to evaluate alien life forms to determine whether they have souls and to preach to those who do, who are designated Christ’s Celestial Children (abbreviated as “3Cs”).

Throughout the new Federal colonies, and on worlds on which alien life forms had been discovered, the Church sent missionaries, established monasteries and convents, and performed charity for countless life forms. Especially active in this work were the Sisters of Celestial Peace (SCP), a religious institute established in the F-SAR (Former South American Republics) zones and which gained adherents throughout all of the zones of Earth with any Catholic presence. The sisters live in convents all over known space and perform good works, almost always focusing on the 3Cs.

This life has dangers, as indeed such a life always has, and the sisters face these with the same peaceful resolve that men and women of the cloth have faced violence and persecution for centuries on Earth.

But some threats are of a different order.

The same Celestial Council that had been empowered to designate aliens as having immortal souls was also tasked with a darker duty – to classify certain life forms as the incarnation of demons. This classification, “daemon incarnatus,” is naturally a very serious matter and has only been rarely invoked, and then only in consultation with the Pope and the College of Cardinals. The first and most famous example of such a classification was with respect to the Space Demons, after these extinguished civilisation on Obnial 4, a planet of sentient insectiods on which the Church had established a successful 3C mission.

Just as spiritual demons are battled by the Church using the document De Exorcismis et Supplicationibus Quibusdam, physical manifestations of demons are battled by both monks and nuns wherever they threaten the faithful. As they are one of the most active of the new religious institutes, the Sisters of Celestial Peace are often in the front lines of such battles, and toward that end their daily training and ritual includes battle tactics and weapons handling, harkening back to the military orders of Medieval Earth.

As a public relations gesture, the transplanetary defence contractor Mercanto-Dett Military Solutions (MDMS) has developed specifically for the SCP a lighter version of the pulse rifle used by Exterminators -- the Purifier (sometimes disparagingly called the “nun gun” by the Army), and provides refurbished armoured vehicles to the order as well. When possible the Federal Army also provides vehicles and support equipment.

The sisters fight in a version of their traditional habit in order to continue to bear witness to their faith before the masses to whom they minister. Although certainly a departure from what was traditionally expected of women who have taken the solemn vow, the defence component of the life of the Sisters of Celestial Peace has proven to be a vital element of the defence web in more isolated regions of Federal Space.

We have created a first batch of SCP sisters in combat poses, four armed with the Purifier light pulse rifle and a fifth packing the formidable light machine gun. We have also created a set of tanker nuns to put in the cupolas of your vehicles. If there is interest in the range, more will be made, including a command set and perhaps even such colourful personalities as Sister Francine Loyola, the wheelchair-bound nun who was famous for her uncanny accuracy with a heavy rocket launcher.