Sunday, September 27, 2015

Enter the Rồng

Among the many sports found on the Tartarus Rim is the ancient game of Street Racing. Private parties maintain select roads especially for the purpose, though given the remoteness of the sites the tracks often serve several ends, simultaneously providing access to factories, mining compounds, or the private citadels of executives and government officials.

The car to beat in recent years has been Rồng-1, or "Dragon 1." Like all the vehicles of such races Rồng-1 is a restored and heavily modified twen-cen hydrocarbon burner. Replicas are legal, of course, so long as they follow the basic pattern, but the Dragon is an original (if any millennia old car with so many replacement parts can rightly be called original.) Her pedigree is beyond peer: a 1996 Shelby Viper with a McCullough 1710 flex-stage e-charger providing nearly optimal boost, coupled with a Christman supercooler that reduces thermal bleed and boost heat, even in hot conditions. The Dragon is currently in the stable of a Blake Walker, who makes his home near Lace Rock on Moab III.

Rồng 1 gained it's enigmatic name from an early owner, a gentleman of Asian ancestry in the ancient Earth state of Usa, where the car was built. In his native tongue rồng means dragon, and it was he that gave the car the first of it's many distinctive liveries. When absolutely correct, the name is pronounced approximately "raum", though opposing drivers generally prefer "wrong."

At the opposite end of today's lists can be seen Logansport A-1, often called "PTA" or "Smarty"

This vehicle belongs to a Logansport mining boss named Marcus Camber who has been collecting twen-cen guzzlers for many years. He has earned a rather unsavory reputation as a ruthless and remorseless competitor. Just what modifications Camber has made to his mount haven't been disclosed, but given his disregard for either courtesy or custom he is likely to be give Walker a real challenge, especially as he has had his sights on the Dragon for several years now.

Like the other cars mentioned before in Civil Transportation both Rồng-1 and LGPTA-1 are box scaled die cast toys, but they both work out well enough. Both are modified to some extent. Smarty got new interior colors, some weathering, and a coat of matte varnish to dull down the shine. The Dragon received a top to bottom repaint, with an added cowling for one of the assorted mysterious engine mods (perhaps the Christman supercooler.) All in all, I'm pleased enough. They're not perfect, but for such harsh conditions they don't really need to be. Both were the right price: free, but had I paid for them I doubt that they'd have been expensive. And they were fairly easy to break down, paint up, and bolt back together: all in all a win.

So now it's off to the races on distant Moab. As always, thanks for reading.

The Composer

Alien Zoology

The Tartarus Rim, in spite of its remoteness, has become host to a wide variety of flora and fauna . . . which is another way of saying that I'd like to force my adventurers to deal with exotic creatures not previously familiar to them. To that end, we have some new creatures and alien races to share with you. First we have  a Ramshackle miniature which, for the purposes of our story, I have dubbed the Fell Worm in honor of its creator Curtis Fell.

The blind Fell Worm is a particularly adaptable species. Juvenile worms in early instars are quite small and often go undetected in spoiled meat and protein rich vegetable material. As a result, they have spread undetected on tramps and freighters throughout virtually all of human space. Any system with a sufficiently dry silicate rich environment is likely infested with these enormous scavengers.

Another type of miniature from Ramshackle is this lovely monkey . . .

Humans are but one variety of simianoid life found in the known galaxy. Many other intelligent (or at least marginally intelligent) species have evolved along similar lines. The alpha males of the Donald's Monkey can often be recognized by its distinctive blonde fringe, frequently combed over an otherwise bald head. While some believe these creatures distant relatives of the Jokaero they are much more aggressive and rather less analytical. So defensive are they of their territory that many believed that their faces always bore the rictus smile seen on these three individuals.

Next up we have a miniature originally from Grenadier, but available through one or two contemporary sources. I got mine from em4. You can find it in their aliens line, where they call it a "cockroach." If you have difficulty finding something there, you might also take a peak at Moonraker Miniatures, which seems to be collaborating with em4 and has much of their old stock. I'm calling these fellows the khepri, after the Egyptian scarab gods. (Any similarity to China Mieville's characters is strictly, well mostly coincidental, though I can't say as I dislike it.)

The khepri are rather unusual aliens. Their intelligence is the subject of some dispute. They appear to have complex language and craft great art, but they make no known tools and are not innately spacefaring, though they have befriended many other species and by this device spread far and wide, even though their numbers are small. They are believed to be native to the second planet in the Neith system, since their numbers are greatest there, though their presence in Khnum is nearly as great and they can be found throughout the Memphian and neighboring Tartarus sectors.

So as you can see, there's lots of interesting and dangerous animals out there. It's a big, lovely, scary universe. Keep your seatbelt fastened and your pistol handy. As always, thank you for reading along. I hope you have enjoyed it.

The Composer

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Civil Transportation for an Uncivil World

Your typical apocalyptic wasteland is never complete without a way to get around that requires the consumption of precious and rare resources which might well have precipitated the trouble in the first place. To that end I bring you vehicles of the unarmed sort. Our first example, El Burro Grande (which I can't help but call the burrito grande) is a small utility truck of uncertain ancestry. (Which is to say it was certainly not made by Imperial Motors.) The suspension is whacked all to heck. It's welded, bolted, riveted, and generally taped together from the pieces of a dozen donor vehicles. It's bullet scarred and battle bruised, but it runs when you can find fuel. And it's available for rent on a daily or even weekly basis (for those bigger jobs), and the owners don't tend to ask too many questions about new holes and burn marks that don't interfere with the machinery. This bright orange donkey of a cart may not win at the Derby, but he'll get you there. If you want fast, go get a red one. Logansport spacers are more concerned with payload and price.

Simple and reliable older vehicles are also quite popular, though they tend to be examples too heavily modified for the collector's market in the core worlds. The "Bummer" is one such. In this case passenger seating was sacrificed for cargo capacity. The weld jobs won't win any beauty contests, but they don't seem too likely to fall off in the wastes, which is something of a bonus. And it has enough ground clearance to get you through some of the sketchier boulder fields: a nice plus.

For those not familiar, the first truck is a more or less unmodified Gorka Morka "ork truk" acquired used on the bay. It was in rather brutal shape, missing parts, seemingly painted with housepaint, and held together (where applicable) with hot glue, but that just gives it more character to fit the scene. The second was an inexpensive die-cast Hummer given to me by a friend and quickly sent off to the chop shop for appropriate modifications and new paint. The scale is one of those arbitrary "box" scales you sometimes see where all models are about the same size, no matter how big the original was, but I figure there's a good deal of room for play. The landspeeder crew models I sometimes use to size these things fit, so it's all good.

There are several box scale die-cast jobs in the same odd-lot gift, so expect more vehicles to slowly pop up. Why there are so many vintage cars on this remote dust-bowl moon I'm not quite sure yet. Maybe there was a collector. Or maybe a couple of the designs just had legs and kept getting dredged back up for millennia. It's a strange and dark age and decent explanations are sometimes dearly bought, if you can get them at any price.

But anyway . . . as always thank you for reading. And stay tuned.

The Composer

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Ramshackle Space Lords of the Tartarus Rim

Conspicuous among the families of the Tartarus Rim is the Rex-Avis clan. We have previously met several members, foremost among them Arthur Zanzibar Rex-Avis (in the tank chair) . . .

his mother and clan matriarch Livinia January "Colorado" Rex-Avis and her chief advisor and confidante Sir Stanley Ursaline-Drakemore, Royal Order of the Flowering Lamp . . .

and Colorado's younger sister Nepenthia Rex-Avis Wadsworth.

Today we meet the further clan offspring. First I bring you Olympia Sable Rex-Avis, the younger child of Colorado. She is a supreme negotiator and expert businesswoman. She is equally comfortable quietly retrieving family heirlooms from disreputable businessmen or convincing dubious creditors that forgiving family debts better suits their interests than  collecting them.

Olympia has a marked fondness for music and story, thus the rainbow chasing frogman Robin suits her twice. His skill on the banjo and his family histories and spectral quests are unrivaled in the Rim territories.

Adopted son Jasper Dysdeimos Rex-Avis completes the clan. His is the life of the fearless explorer, often far from home and hearth.

The natural son of a third sister, now deceased, Jasper's position in the clan was assured even before Colorado took him as her own some fifteen years prior.

Finally we see the entire clan together on a rare and celebrated occasion.

Apart from Colorado and Sir Stanley, who are from the Spacelords range, the clan members use miniatures from Ramshackle. This is a relatively new range of great character and potential. Some, like Nepenthia and Jasper, are cast in metal, but a great many others are made of a crisp and detailed, if somewhat brittle resin. (Nepenthia's ride, the Vole Light Tank, is made of the same resin by the same company.) All told I must say I very much like the line. They paint up better even than I might have guessed and I think they fit in quite well with both the Spacelords and the old Citadel miniatures that make up the bulk of my collection. Again, my hat is off to Mr. Fell and his cohorts at Ramshackle.

And my thanks goes also to you, gentle readers. I hope you find some use or enjoyment here.

The Composer

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Enquiring Minds

In many ways the terminators were the beginning of the end for Oldhammer. They brought us gargantuan men with "moar skullz," enough to make da most hardened orky boyz happy, with helmets patterned more after the familiar American sci-fi storm troopers than exotic English tomb brasses. But I think it was really the Inquisitors that pushed the game over the cliff in the direction it ultimately went. They gave the marines purity symbols, even more skulls, heaps of bling, and some of the first full units with seemingly no guns at all. (Yeah, they had bolters if you really payed attention, but my fifteen year old self didn't notice until I'd opened up the blister and gotten started on them. It was the gigantic space swords and axes that attracted me to these odd paladins, not the super-sized derringers concealed inside. And it is these be-ribboned goons that eventually won the teen crazed fashion wars that raged at GW.

Which forces me to admit that maybe some things never do change. While my forty-something self is loathe to admit it the difference between that and Age of Sigmar is . . . accademic. So miniature by miniature, pack by pack, I fleshed out my army of multi-colored Space Wolves with brothers on detached duty from other orders.

Eventually I came to my senses and realized that these weren't your ordinary marines, these were high muckety-muck corrupt religious nutjobs out busily converting by the sword where naptha sweet inflamatory polemic didn't suffice.

And of course these fellows, half forgotten, found themselves in the core of my nascent collection of adventurers.

But after a few trades, some dip and strips, and a bit more collecting I still found myself two inquisitors short of a complete RT era pile. The first shoe to drop was Inquisitor Augustus, almost unseen in a batch of pirates that sailed in from the Bay of E.

But finding the original inquisitor from the 1987 flyer, the one that looked more or less like the first Rogue Trader illustration, that took me a little longer . . . took me until this spring, in fact.

So in celebration of getting that last gent I've finished repainting my remaining Grey Knight and High Lord of Tera (officially OM Daemon Hunter) and gotten the whole gang together.

Did I say whole gang? That may not be quite right. The number is correct, but the models are slightly off. I apparently forgot that I traded away one of my monastic boys to a friend for . . . who knows what. Something. Terminators maybe? I used to have an obsession with those. And I later picked up a religious nutjob from a different line that fits right in with the boys in red, making the count correct, but not the identities. So ten or twelve dollars will make the set complete . . . eventually. At which time maybe I dip and strip a few of the rougher looking fellows above. But for now the gang is all here ready to smite the rebel scum.

As always, thanks for reading.

The Composer.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Thrown Bolt

Every time I turn around it seems I discover a new miniatures company. It's eternally gratifying to see new miniatures in the Oldhammer style. From the name alone it's is doubtless obvious that Bolt Thrower Miniatures gives you exactly that. Not only do they borrow the name of an obscure 80s band, a band that is itself making reference to Citadels's most iconic models, they also find a way to hire one of Citadel's best known early sculptors: Bob Olley. Well done Bolt Thrower. My hat is off to you.

So what do we have? Well, having gotten these in the mail . . . oh . . . Thursday last? Perhaps September 3rd, I don't have too much to show yet, but I've somehow managed to bang off nearly a miniature a day, so it's quite a lot more than nothing. Without further ado allow me to introduce the new arrivals along the Tartarus Rim:

First up, we have a fellow I've named Maxim Wilder. He is a genuine limited edition Bob Olley. I gather their number is 110 and there shall be no more. They designed this guy for a medical benefit and call him "Captain Ulfar: Space Viking." Though I cannot speak to the particulars it seems to have the backing of Mr. Olley and the good folks at Foundry, who apparently all worked at quite incredible discounts.

This is a really nice miniature. It is charming, detailed, and incredibly characterful. The casting is good and clean (to be expected from Foundry.) And it really does feel like an Olley of the old sort. If you like his Iron Claw space pirates this is a great miniature for you.

Next up, we have the flaming radula of death . . . otherwise known as a giant snail.

The beakie should give you some idea of the size of the thing. It's not small. Far from the biggest miniature I've painted, but . . . it's no garden snail. That thing could come out of nowhere and get you. As long as you're a plant and can't move much.

Last but not least we have a real piece of dangerous.

I'm calling this badboy Scorpicaudems magnificens fairlambi, or the great blue tarasque, if you prefer. The tarasque is a mythical creature described in Provenceal folklore as having six limbs, the shell of a turtle, the head of a wolf, the legs of a lion, and a scorpion's tail. Well, at least he's got one part right. Bolthrower calls him a "Spitebringer Consumed" but for Tartarus he needed a more mundane name, as there are no chaos daemons in my universe. (Seems odd, doesn't it? Under the circumstances. Sorry. It's not personal. It's just . . . we all have to have our Oldhammer limits. Those of us who are mortal, anyway.)

So there you have it, some truly magnificent little miniatures. They also offer a barbarian or two and a rat with a humanesque face that have yet to see paint. It's a small company and a small line, but I expect we'll see more in the future. Lovely stuff.

As always, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy your hobby adventures as much as I.

The Composer