Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shastapsh City Militia

These are some new toys. I've actually had them nearly complete for about a week. Alas, they needed a flag, which I finally finished tonight. I'm painting five units of Shastapsh city militia. They are identifiable by their different colored loin cloths and flags. This is the purple flag unit. I took this opportunity to present their flag in the purple and gold of my alma mater, the University of Washington. As you may see I carefully inscribed the flag with important Shastapsh political slogans, including "Go Dawgs, fire Willingham!!"

All the city militia unit will be twelve figures. Of these ten of them are from the RAFM Space 1889 range. They are equally divided between shooters and swordsmen. I don't find these figures to be as nice as the original Bob Murch sculpts for the Space 1889 range (still available as boxed sets at very reasonable prices.) Still they do fill out the range, and I like their physical characterizations better than the skinny Parroom Station Martians. I do believe they are over-priced at three bucks a pop, and I didn't order them until the Space 1889 sale during the summer. Two of the figures are from the Dead Earthmen range from Bronze Age miniatures. Some very nice miniatures indeed. They are from the John Carter of Mars range (though they can't call them that.) They represent Red Captains-Terran leaders of native units.

Friday, October 24, 2008

There's No Truth in Martian Skin Color

I'm one of those common cases in historical miniature gaming. I am owned by the history. Even greater than the geekdom of playing games with toy soldiers is the geekdom of getting the history right. And it's getting worse as I get older.

No such problem on Mars. No history. Or at least I can more or less make it up as I go along.

In the summer of 2005 I painted up all of my RAFM Martian Legion figures. I singly mounted them on washers, primed 'em with my faithful Testors spray flat white enamel and had at it. I decided on the old Ral Partha dun horse color for their skin tone. I like it, the color was not too bright, but clearly not human. Bad move. I can't get it anymore and the Iron Wind substitute isn't the same shade of biscuit yellow. Oh, well.

After I showed off my Martians to collaborator Mark Waddington, he set about to paint his own pile of lead. However, he wanted to get it right, and make our figures more or less uniform. My response was that there are no Osprey books for Mars. "There is no truth in Martian skin color."

And this is the way we've approached our project. We've tried to focus on the fun. Our scenarios have told a story about Mars, but it is a narrative of our own making, tied into the Chadwick story, but not limited by it. One of our more noteworthy scenarios is Landship Down. Mark's design is loosely based on the story of Blackhawk Down in Somalia, a steam tank goes bust, supported by a couple of units of infantry, while the Brits mount a rescue mission complete with armor and air support. It's always a fiasco, because the colonials dither, while the Martians slowly pick off the defenders. Sad. Sad and sorry.

I designed a scenario around Fredrick Weyerhaeuser's purchase of some liftwood forest, and the rush to seize it by British and Imperial forces, while Weyerhaeser and his work crew try to defend it.

More to come soon about our rules, campaign plans, and upcoming games.

The two pictures come from our Landship Down scenario in February 2008. The first photo is of the lonesome British left to defend the broken down steam tank. The other picture is of the rescue force. No pictures of the Martians, but then they fought as though they were invisible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I've been interested in Sky Galleons of Mars (SGoM) and Space 1889, since the former was published as a GDW board game and the RAFM produced their excellent range of figures in 1989. I took a gamble on some Game Tech miniatures which languished in an unpainted state for years. Finally I decided to reproduce the GDW map of Shastapsh on a felt mat and made hexes out of it.

Once the mat was made there was no stopping me. Limited by my small collection of Game Tech minis, one not likely to grow much with the demise of that fine company, I acquired some nice scratch-builts, adopted some of the nice Brigade models, and even painted up some of the Houston's plastics from two copies of SGoM. I developed several scenarios that I took on the road from the Breakthrough convention in Surrey, B.C. in 2002, to Dragonflight in 2004, and ConQuest 2008. All of the scenarios were based around an airship campaign to take or hold the city-state of Shastapsh.

I decided to add some three dimensional qualities to the city that could be just representational or be included in the scenarios. The buildings are all from the JR Miniatures 1/300 Middle East range. The domed houses are all painted different colors and glossed for an exotic effect. I also picked up the storage tanks, pipeline, and pumping stations that would be necessary for sustaining a water-starved landscape, as well as the bridges running from the central island to the mainland. I've used 1/600 scale ACW gun batteries, including mortars as the dreaded lob guns, beads on bases for tethermines. The altitude stands are based on friends' designs for a miniature version of Mustangs, the Avalon Hill World War II air combat game.

In 2004, at the final Breakthrough convention, after a my third and final scenario for SGoM, Mark Waddington and I began comparing notes regarding our knowledge of Space 1889, and our unpainted piles of lead. I didn't know Mark well then, but our comparing of notes set me to work the following summer on my boxes of Oenotrian legions.

The top two pictures show my game from ConQuest Northwest last February. The picture at right is of a Game Tech Whisperdeath kite. It is simply an incredible miniature. At bottom you get a view of my Shastapsh map with all of my goodies. This photo was taken in 2004 at the Breakthrough convention, when Mark and I began hatching plans.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Red Captains

I'm keeping this blog on behalf of my friends who together form the Red Captains. We're a group of Space 1889 enthusiasts who have enjoyed playing 28mm miniature games in the Frank Chadwick universe. Let me introduce them to you:

Mark Waddington,, from Renton, WA is our miniaturist sans peur. His scratchbuilt Aphid and Ranger gunboats are virtually museum quality. His walkers and steam tanks, kit-bashed from toys, are inventive and very cool looking.

Joe Waddington is Mark's son and has participated in all of our major productions. He has helped conceptualize our rules and problem solved some our more thorny issues.

Chris Bauermeister is our Venusian enthusiast. Chris is from Olympia and has piles of interesting lizardmen from the old reptiliad line by RAFM. Always in it for the fun, Chris is a great member of the team.

Dale Mickel is also from Olympia and a founding member of the Red Captains. Some day Dale will build the perfect flyer. But until then he will lead Hill Martians into hopeless attacks or land masked minions from Mark's airship.

Scott Murphy is another Olympian. His interest is, like mine in the Chadwickian city-state of Shastapsh. Scott is currently working on Fenian mercenaries for the support of the island city.

Gene Anderson hails from beautiful Centralia, fifty miles south of Tacoma. He dutifully drives up to game with the rest of us, when it doesn't conflict with his hunting plans. Though Gene doesn't have any miniature plans of his own, he provides the comic relief and we couldn't do without him.

I'm Kevin Smyth from beautiful Puyallup, WA. Mark and I originally envisioned the Space 1889 project together. I am a fairly prolific painter, though I am frequently distracted from the Martians by other projects. I'll also be the official keeper of the blog.

Our group is preparing a campaign based in Shastapsh. This blog will be our record of preparations, rumors and just foolin' around. We hope you find it fun and useful