Tuesday, December 28, 2010

15mm Chaco War 1: Paraguayan Infantry

The Chaco War is one of those conflicts between the great wars which was fought in the "Back of Beyond" (to use the spirit, if not literally the meaning, of that expression) and has a small but obsessive following amongst wargamers. I like that! So I decided to make a set of models for the war, starting with the basic building blocks. Each army will have an infantry set and a support weapon set, the infantry set having an NCO, an LMG and six riflemen, the support set having a two MG teams and a mortar team.

The first set is done and ready for sale, I'm just waiting for the world to re-awaken from its holiday slumber before releasing them. They are the Paraguayan infantry. Four are barefoot, a condition so common in the ranks of this desperately poor army that the Bolivians called the infantry pilas. The officer has a Luger, the LMG is a Madsen, and the rifles are Mausers (the infantry weapon of this conflict). Three of the poses are wielding machetes, which was the dreaded and nearly ubiquitous close combat arm of the Paraguayan infantry, and also extremely useful in hacking through the tough, dry vegetation that was (and still is) nearly everywhere in the Gran Chaco.

It's not easy to get good information on Paraguayan uniform colours for the Chaco War, but the sources seem to agree that the Paraguayans went over to two green shades before the war began, an olive green and a darker colour. The olive colour had a slightly bluish tinge to it, or at least that's what surviving uniforms indicate.

The modern Paraguayan army units which dress up in Chaco-era uniforms for their annual victory celebrations wear hats and tunics of the dark colour and trousers in the olive colour, presumably as it looks more martial, but the images from the war suggest strongly that any of the items in the uniform -- hat, tunic, trousers -- could be either colour. That said, the one exception seems to be that the dark green would not have been worn without at least one olive item, so at least one element in every man's uniform was olive green. That is how we have had the models painted.

Next up will be the Bolivian infantry, called affectionately by myself and the sculptor the "milkmen" due to their uniforms. They are sculpted and I received them today in the post. I will be sending them off to the caster in a day or two and they should be available within the month.

The sculptor is making some other models now, including the Thanksgiving Contest models for Capt Jake, and command for the Arach spiderheaded infantry (for my upcoming sci fi black powder range, Rise of the Garn), but after those he will make the Bolivian and Paraguayan mortar and MMG/HMG teams. The Bolivians will be provided with Vickers MGs, the Paraguayans with one Vickers and one Colt -- they had very many captured Vickers in particular.

The mortar for both will be a Stokes-Brandt. The Bolivians actually began the war with almost none of these useful weapons as they scorned it as "poor man's artillery," but learned from bitter experience to acquire quite a few of them. The Paraguayans could not afford as many of the big fancy field pieces, so had a near monopoly of the "lowly" mortar in the first of their many victorious campaigns, when its mobility and high trajectory proved invaluable. When the Bolivians bought mortars the Paraguayans captured no small number of those, bolstering their arsenal still further.

If the line sells relatively well I will make SMG teams as well as artillery crew and perhaps even high command on horseback. If it amazes me and actually takes off, I may even have some of the aircraft of the war made, like the Curtis Hawk for the Bolivians and the Potez for the Paraguayans. (But don't hold your breath.)

Then again, who knows? It's one of those interesting interwar conflicts that are ripe for gaming using Flames of War, and can focus on the infantry combat as there were virtually no tanks or mechanized transports involved -- the tiny handful of tankettes used by the Bolivians being quickly dealt with by the Paraguayans.

The differences come largely from the style of infantry combat. The Paraguayans, whose officers admired the devestating German stormtrooper tactics they saw on the Western Front when observing (as guests of the French) during WWI, used those tactics very effectively. On the other hand, the tradition-bound Bolivians used denser and less fluid combat techniques, largely due to the leadership of a European high commander (ironically, a German). As a result, when they were on the attack they often launched frontal attacks and were mowed down in bloody heaps by the defending Paraguayans. Paraguayan attacks (and that was the more common occurrence) were usually handled better, with infiltration and envelopment being key to their many victories, along with the indomitable spirit of the Paraguayan infantryman himself. This fellow might not have been much to look at, but was arguably the most effective infantryman in South America.

Alternately these models, with their extremely obscure uniforms, would make ideal "generic" infantry for Red vs Blue wargaming, and would also make very colourful planetary defense forces for sci fi battles, something for your higher tech troops to chew up, or reinforce, as the case may be.

First release in a week or two ....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Los Viejos

The Molch Vornid War brought many mercenaries and guns for hire to the Molch sector to earn a living or get their kicks on the field of battle. Of all those, the most famous shots to participate were, of course, Los Viejos.

Hailing from Texmex 3, Los Viejos moved their herds of Landgrubs across the deserts, and while on the trail spent much of their free time target-shooting with their Foal Peacebreaker pistols, which fires a cartridged plasma round without any recoil. So accurate are they with these powerful longranged pistols, even when firing from the hip, it is said by some that they have never have missed anything they shot at. Whilst the accuracy of this statement has been questioned, the accuracy of Los Viejos has not, and all sentients live in fear of a duel with these small but formidable creatures.

At first it was the Vornids, merciless botanoid pirates, who called on Los Viejos. Showing up on Texmex, through a Kark interpreter they offered free passage and buckets of cash if only Los Viejos would sell their services to the Vornid cause. The hovering skimmer idled over the desert as nearby vaqueros gathered to hear what their chief, Armadil, was talking about with the sharkman and the silent, strangely undulating planet creatures.

As they gathered near they heard Armadil ask what the war was about.

The Kark hemmed and hawed a bit and then got down to business. The Vornids despised ugliness and there were no creatures in the galaxy uglier than the Molch. They all looked different, the Kark offered, but each Molch was exceptionally hideous in its own special way. The Kark went on to say that he himself had fought in two of the campaigns against the Molch because the pay was very good, and they were indeed quite difficult to even look at without vomiting up one's shrimpcakes in disgust.

"Si, that sounds awful indeed," responded Armadil very politely. "What have they done to harm your employers?" He removed his sombrero and fanned himself with it.

The Kark responded that the Molch had done nothing, as far as he knew. They seemed harmless creatures, but could unleash deadly psychic attacks when provoked, because they have very powerful intellects. They also had huge rock monsters that they animated straight out of the earth itself, again seemingly with their minds, and these creatures were maniacal in hunting down and hammering anyone who would harm the Molch. This part of the conversation seemed to make the Kark very uncomfortable, and it was apparent to Los Viejos that the Kark had had firsthand experience with these animated rock creatures.

"So what is the war about again, jefe?" persisted Armadil. "I still do not understand, for I am but a simple vaquero."

"Who cares," responded the Kark, a bit impatiently, "the pay is good. There is much excitement to be had." The Kark winked at them, but Los Viejos continued to stare at him blankly.

The Kark took a deep breath and went on.

"As I said, the Vornids hate ugliness and want to exterminate the Molch ... because they are ugly. They want to wipe out the ugliness as apparently it is too offensive for them to suffer to exist. I myself do not care, but it is warpay and it is good."

"But the Molch are famous for their philosophical thoughts," volunteered a vaquero who had been listening. He took a holo-tab out of an empty bullet loop from his belt and held it up. It was one of the journals that the Molch had sent into Federation space and which were best sellers all thoughout the galaxy. Other vaqueros muttered in agreement, the little sombreros nodding up and down in the audience. Each of them remembered, at one point or another in their lives, sitting around a camp fire at night while out on the trail and listening to the poignant thoughts of the Molch about life and existence in a way that moved the simple vaqueros deeply, making them look up and see the stars in an entirely different way.

"I am very sorry, my friend," Armadil said, "but we will have to decline your employers' generous offer. Please tell them for us. On second thought, we will let them know ourselves." With that, all of the assembled vaqueros pulled their pistols from their holsters and began shooting, rapidly blowing the skimmer and its contents to bits with small plasma rounds. They then dug a pit and buried the skimmer, its crew, and the money, which they refused to touch as precio de sangre, and began assembling to journey to the Molch sector. They would participate in the war, that much was certain.

Bob Olley has made us four poses of the dreaded Viejo gunmen in 15mm scale. They should be available to fight in the Molch/Vornid War, or any of your sci fi combat missions, in spring of 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Garn Flesh Eaters

Largest, fiercest and strongest of all the Garn are the Flesh Eaters. Of course, all Garn are ravenous meat eaters, but this title is only used for these huge creatures. They bow to no one, other than the mighty Garn Hegemon warlords (who are often almost as large as Flesh Eaters anyway), and even then, the Hegemons are known to consult with the Flesh Eaters under their command as a human officer might respect the opinion of veteran sergeants in his command.

The Garn admire strength and power, and so they enjoy watching these huge champions slug it out in battle. Indeed some of the most exciting of the ad hoc gladatorial combats during the oppressive occupation of Sepulveda were the duels between a Garn Flesh Eater and a Sponk, the battles often going on for hours. Now and then the Flesh Eater would actually win (an amazing achievement indeed), and hoarse would be the throats of the Garn in attendance from bellowing their roars of approval.

Flesh Eaters wander Garn space looking for the most intense combat to be had, and are permitted to join any combat team they wish -- indeed this is seen as an honour by the unit they choose to join.

These 15mm scale models are big (even for Garn), and really imposing. Although the guns were designed as a superheavy flamethrower and a heavy fusion gun, naturally you can use them for whatever you want.

They are available now on our webstore.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The AC-900 Sedan

The Augsburg-Corona 900 sedan is arguably the most popular sedan in Federation space, and is much sought after outside the Federation as well, being in particular popular with the Lhurggs, who enjoy pimping it up in various garish ways.

It features a large door which opens the windscreen to the right of the car, allowing everyone to pile in. The car can carry up to six people -- four in reasonable confort, or two who can virtually recline (and in the case of teenagers, often do).

Whilst designed for anti-grav transport, the bargain version of the auto is made with a conventional suspension, in triwheel mode, for those who experience grav sickness or live in areas where angravium fuel is at a premium.

Our model of the AC-900 was designed by John Bear Ross. It is in 15mm scale and is approximately 45mm long -- at 1/100th scale it's about the same length as a Toyota Camry. It's a simple two piece model with an upper car body and then a choice of inserts for either grav or tri-wheel suspension. The grav version has discreet little pegs on the bottom to suspend the auto a bit off the tabletop to create that floating feel.

It should be just the thing to stock your sci fi combat or RP games with cars that match your futuristic settings.

Coming in early 2011 -- stay tuned.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


(For part 1 of this TALE OF MYSTRI ISLAND, read the blog post below first.)

At this point there were no foes on the battlefield, there were only men (and one woman) filled with wonder, and at the same time a curious sense of impending dread.

As a girl, an orphan in Africa, I would play with the types of animals that other Europeans fled in terror, but when I heard that strange sound rushing through the jungle, even I felt the tingle of fear, running up my right leg and then my back. The sound, the sound – how can I describe it? Like a steel plate being dragged along a cobblestone road by a locomotive? Perhaps. To that was joined the violent report of heavy tree limbs bursting in the wake of this onrush -- a sound like nothing I had heard before.

Then I saw it.

At first it was a dark shape in the jungle, of great height although primarily horizontal, like a colossal battering ram rushing toward a gate. A battering ram with legs, for as it got closer two could be seen, thick as tree trunks, pumping back and forth as they surged the dark shape forward. Then it loomed closer still, into view, colossal, and the shape developed a head, which made it clear that Stalks-at-Dawn’s god was some sort of dragon, a huge squarish head with enormous jaws lined with teeth like railroad spikes. Thick horny crests ringed the top of the head and eye sockets. At first it seemed to have no arms at all, but as it drew nearer it fleetingly showed what appeared to be tiny wings, or at least small arms lined with feathers, for it could never had flown using them.

Such was our group astonishment that no one uttered a sound when this creature hove plainly into view. Stalks-at-Dawn fondled the amulet that hung from his neck, and held something odd in his other hand, which appeared to be a hunk of animal fur matted with drying blood. He watched He-Who-Kills quite closely as the huge beast peered around the jungle, its nostrils flaring. It had just swung that sledgehammer of a head in our direction when from the German lines came a single fearful utterance, “Gott in Himmel,” and the creature then snapped its head to the left and like a tidal wave surged down upon the German lines.

In amazement I turned for an instant to look at Stalks-at-Dawn, to gauge his reaction, but he was gone. Even before I could turn back I heard shouts and screams and gunfire from the German lines, the occasional shot thudding into the armour of this creature, perhaps stinging it no more than a hornet stings a man, as it thrust its great torso in and out of the trees. It would find a man, swing its great jaws open, and then -- and a ghastly recollection it still is -- clamp them shut around him, chopping him to pieces which tumbled every which way to the jungle floor. Again and again this happened, and I watched.

Try though I might to move them, my feet were frozen in place. I didn’t know what Richard or the Gurkhas were doing at this time because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the scene of this carnage, this monster of myth who tore men asunder, this god so aptly named.

Now, with almost superhuman bravery, a mortar team manned their weapon, a clumsy squat German thing which appeared to be mounted on a wheel of some sort, and tried to depress it to bring fire of sufficient caliber on He-Who-Kills. They hastily discharged the gun and a portion of the canopy fell all around the great beast – too high! The monster seemed to interpret the blast from the mortar as a sort of challenge to its authority, and swept straight down on the hapless crew, who fled … but not fast enough. When it was finished with them, it turned and attacked the mortar itself, seizing the stubby cannon in its jaws and hurling it through the jungle like a toy. As it turned again, its great tail swept through the trees, and when one of these cracked a splinter must have been shot in my direction, for I was struck in the head and was out.


When I came to, there was silence, a buried feeling, and an earthy odor. My sight was blurry and I was disoriented. It was dark, then light, then dark again. Where was I? I was … in the arms of von Schrecklichdorf! Ensconced with him, it seemed, in a cave of some sort. Or was it a hollow tree? I felt clumsily for one of my pistols but he held me tighter and nodded with his blonde head to the left, to where the light was shining. My sight was coming back to me and in the sharpening of the world I could now see outside the tree, to the jungle foliage.

A shadow descended, then a huge leg came down with a thud, was rapidly lifted and gone, then a section of tail swept far overhead. Von Schrecklichdorf whispered to me, very quietly in his perfect English, “it is not satisfied yet. It is finishing the job. It smells our lives … and wants them for itself.” I ventured to lean my head ever so slightly out of the tree hollow, and there it was, almost in repose, craning its head out slightly, smelling the air. But it seemed confused now, almost distracted. Then, very suddenly, it swung its head straight toward me, locking eyes with mine. Fear seized me again and I began to tremble, but then it turned its head just as suddenly to the right, and pumped its legs, thrusting its vast muscled mass through the jungle, moving off.

We waited for a while in the tree, the Guards Jager officer and myself. When we had not heard He-Who-Kills for a while and the sounds of the jungle began to return, we slid ourselves out to the ground, still staying low, and put our backs to the great hollowed tree we had just been in.

After a while von Schrecklichdorf spoke. “Your friend, the Englishman, he kept his head. He took your soldiers down to the pier when the creature appeared. They dumped the cages with the Stossechse females into the cove. All twelve of them, and the two male studs too. The sailors shot at them from the U-boat but there was little they could do to stop it.”

I asked him for more details and he said, “I saw there was nothing I could do for the men, so my next concern was the mission. Yes,” he said with a grimace, “I can now admit what you already knew, there was a mission.” I smiled a little. “But I saw them drowning the Stossechse and I knew all was lost then -- my men and my mission. I did not see you with them, however, so I came back to look for you. It was prowling around, and you were unconscious on the ground, so I looked for a hiding place for you, and found this.” He slapped the tree. “I had to drag you fairly far, and it was touch and go for a while.” He paused. “But the creature seemed … distracted … first quite certain it knew where we were, but then confused and looking off in other directions. Almost as if someone or something was purposefully distracting it.”

I smiled again.


Many hours passed, and we sat and quietly recalled some of our adventures on the island, many of them so utterly without precedent that passersby overhearing us might have thought we were recounting mutual nightmares. When it was clear that He-Who-Kills was gone for good, and we heard quiet voices in the darkness, we got up and almost immediately saw Richard. He ran to us with a section of Gurhkas, his Webley not quite raised, and said, “Been looking for you my dear, were afraid we'd lost you." Turning to von Schrecklichdorf, he said, "You’re mission’s quite over I’m afraid, old man,” surprising me that his voice sounded almost regretful. Richard was always a gentleman, even to his enemies. “Yes, and I am glad of it,” von Schrecklichdorf replied. “I have fought in the trenches, I have seen men massacred before, but never by an animal, butchered so horribly, torn to pieces. It is no way to fight a war.” Richard was about to say something to von Schrecklichdorf but I interrupted him, which he hates, saying that it is very American. But I had to get it out right away. “I’m sorry I failed you Richard. I froze when it attacked. I should have gone with you and the Gurkhas to the cove. When push came to shove, I was of no use at all.” My eyes began to tear up and I was ashamed that I was behaving like a woman.

As had happened so often in the past, Stalks-at-Dawn materialized from the jungle, and came loping up to me, putting his hand on my arm. “Are you pierced? Is your health sound?”

Richard looked at our friend the lizardman and then at me, laughed and shook his head. “Failed? No, very much to the contrary, you were absolutely critical my dear girl.” He nodded his head to the creature he sometimes dismissively called Stalkers and said, “you befriended this chap, and he was man of the match on this day, there’s no doubt about that. I doubt he would have brought that terror down upon the Germans solely on my account.”

“No, I would not,” Stalks-at-Dawn replied, and we humans laughed a bit despite everything.


Although he was our de facto prisoner, in the end we let von Shrecklichdorf go, as frankly we were not sure what the legal niceties were when taking a prisoner on neutral ground. So he got back on his U Boat and sailed away to whatever fate awaits him. I had to cajole Richard into doing this, as he was most eager to make a prisoner of the troublesome, if gallant, German, and was sure he would pop up to vex the Allies again. As he was leaving I thanked him for saving my life once again, we agreed to look each other up after the peace, and he gave us that salute with the clicking boots.

Once he was gone, Stalks-at-Dawn explained to us that no creature fills He-Who-Kills with more fury than a male Giant Ape, and so the Reptilian Hunter had tracked and, with great difficulty, killed one, and had removed a hunk of flesh from its armpit, which he assured us has the most pungent aroma. With this grisly object he lured He-Who-Kills out of the deep jungle. “He is usually a quiet hunter,” Stalks-at-Dawn said, “but when an ape enters his home he is very loud and angry until the ape is dead, even if the ape flees.” For hours Stalks-at-Dawn had fled the rampaging beast, leading it all the while to the jungle above Madawan Cove, its jaws sometimes only meters from his back. He led it to the German lines where it destroyed them before my eyes, and then he had the equally difficult task of leading the creature back again to the deep jungle.

I asked him if this had ever been done by the Reptilian Hunters before. He told me gravely that it had not, and for this he was now an outcast in his tribe, despite the fact that he had brought He-Who-Kills back to his domain. And so it was that the Reptilian, once beloved of his tribe, was forced to leave his island, and it became my turn to teach him of the ways of the wide world beyond it.


We are very pleased to make available a model of the dreaded He-Who-Kills, based closely on the description of Janice Prishwalken, in 15mm scale. It is a towering beast indeed, and solid pewter! Some eyewitnesses dispute her observation that the creature had arm plumage, so this is an optional piece that may be left off if the gamer prefers. The model should be released during the week of December 6, 2010.