Friday, 22 July 2011

Toy Soldiers: Tutorial - Putting together a CMG Guardian Drone

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 11

The Critical Mass Games Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone is fairly similar, in construction, to the Hyperion Drone.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 01

The Guardian Drone is quite a bit smaller than the Hyperion and it has more white metal parts.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 02

The main hull of the Guardian Drone has a similar waste resin piece attached to it as that on the Hyperion. It is however, considerably easier to remove.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 04

A couple of quick snips with the end cutters and a bit of filing with a needle file and the hull is ready for assembly.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 05

The metal parts need very little clean up at all, there is no flash, and no mould lines at all, very high quality casting.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 06

The two main gun options on the Guardian are made of white metal. I assume as they are smaller than the ones on the Hyperion, the white metal is more practical than using resin.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 07

I still found it necessary to pin the gun barrel onto the hull. For details of how I attached the gun barrel refer to the Hyperion article.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 08

The fit is once again very neat, and I am sure that once it is painted it will be difficult to see the join.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 09

As I am not sure, as yet, how I am going to paint these models, I have tacked the side nacelles on to the hull with a small drop of superglue. Once I have finalised the painting I will pin and glue them as I did with the gun barrel.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 10

These last photos show the completed RAL Guardian Drone sitting next to and ARC Fleet APC and a single ARC Fleet trooper, for scale.

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone 12

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Toy Soldiers: Tutorial - Putting The New CMG Praesentia Hyperion Drone Together

Generally speaking Critical Mass Games resin models are very simple to put together, needing virtually no clean up (they clean up the models before they are sent out, on the most part). The casting is exceptional. I have seen very little flash, virtually no mould lines and only one air bubble (which happened to be in a very easy place to fill) in all of the resin models I have,  around 30 in total.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 15

The new Praesentia models are quite a lot sleeker than previous vehicles that CMG have produced, and consequently they appear to be a bit more fragile. So I thought it would be worth running through my experiences with putting a couple together.

Today I am going to run through the clean up and building of a Hyperion class drone, and in my next post I will look at one of the Guardian class drones.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 01

Firstly, here is the kit, straight out of the bag! On the left you can see the main hull of the tank. At the top are the two part o the flight stand. On the right the two tail section (for want of a better description). At the bottom of the photo you can see the two main guns. Finally, in the centre are the only three metal parts for this kit, the two small guns and the shield generator.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 02

Here you can see the underside of the front of the Hyperion. There is a lot of excess resin, from the cast process, left on the model. It is fair to assume that this has been left on the model to support it while in transit, the wings are quite thin and I think that this is a reasonable precaution. However, it does leave the gamer with the job of removing it when he putting the model together.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 03

This is another shot showing the resin that will need to be removed. It is joined to both wings and also to the central gun mount. I was a little worried at this point as to how easy it would be to remove it. The thinness of the wings being my main concern. Anyway, I decided to use a pair of end cutters to trim the excess resin away, and as it turned out, the way the resin had been laid out around the model was really very ingenious. The actual contact points between the waste resin and the model itself are quite small, making it easy to trim them off without damaging the model. Also the resin used has a forgiving nature. It is reasonably flexible and does not seem prone to shattering. In fact part way through the process of trimming off the resin, I dropped the Hyperion’s hull and it fell around three feet to a hard concrete floor. I must admit,my heart was in my mouth at that point, but fortunately it survived intact.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 04

In this photo you can see all the part, cut from the waste resin, ready for cleaning up.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 05

This is the main gun mount on the underside of the main hull. As you can see, there is a small piece of resin that needs trimming off before the gun will fit. Also the top edge of the gun mount needs to be smoothed off. I cut the lump away with a sharp Swann Morten Scalpel and then filed the edge down with a flat needle file.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 06

The inner edges of the two wings also needed to be cleaned up, and a rub over with the needle file was all that was needed. Fortunately, the inner edge of the wing is quite broad, and this means you can file it down easily without taking chunks out of the wings.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 07

This is the main hull, all finished and ready for assembly.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 08

The two tail sections were easily trimmed from the waste resin, and again tidied up with a flat needle file.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 09

The guns only really needed to be trimmed with the scalpel, and then scraped over with the edge of the scalpel blade, very clean castings indeed.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 10

To fix the gun barrel onto the main hull I decided to use an epoxy adhesive (Pacer Z-Poxy 30 Minute Formula). Superglue would have worked fine, but I prefer the stronger bond you get with a good epoxy, and there is nothing better, I have found than Z-Poxy. Normally I prefer the 30 minute formula as it give you time to work with the adhesive and position items properly.

As the adhesive takes 30 minute to set, I thought it best to pin the gun barrel in place to hold it while the Z-Poxy  went off. I drilled a 1.2mm hole in both the hull and the back of the gun barrel and (using superglue this time for speed) inserted the wire into the hole. I then, sparingly, spread some of the mixed Z-Poxy adhesive over the the inner surface of the gun mount and pushed the gun barrel onto the wire and in nice and tight.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 11

Wiping away the slight excess adhesive that oozed out, I was very pleased with the fit of the two parts.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 12

The tight fit of the wire within the joint meant I could handle the model before it set, so as I had some mixed epoxy adhesive left over I decided to do the next stage immediately.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 13

I glued the the Hyperion to it’s flight stand and propped up sitting level and left it to set.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 14

You can already see the sleek lines of the model taking shape now and I couldn’t resist taking several photos of it in this position.

All that was left, after this, was simply to glue on the two tail sections and then to glue on the combination of either the two small blasters, or a blaster and the shield generator. I have not actually glued them on yet as I am not sure how I am going to paint the model. I have an idea brewing that I may try airbrushing these models although that may prove difficult on the much smaller Sentinel Drones, and as I want a nice uniform finish may have to rethink that one.

Here are couple more photos of the Hyperion next to an ARC Fleet Medium tank, just to give you an idea of the imposing size of these machines…

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 16

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone 17

Finally, while I was putting this together, it struck me that a fleet of Hyperion, Guardian and Sentinel Drones, could quite easily be used for small scale space combat games, as there scale is quite indeterminate. They would look really impressive sweeping across the depths of space ready to attack a fleet of Vorlon, Starfleet, or possibly a Chaos Spacemarine ships.

Just an idea…

OK, next up will be the Guardian Drone, look for it in a day or two.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Toy Soldiers: Critical Mass Games - Praesentia Preview

I recently completed a small laser cutting design job for Craig at Critical Mass Games (I can’t go into details at the moment), and as payment I have just received a nice big parcel of figures and vehicles from them.

Critical Mass Box

I split my selection between beefing up my ARC Fleet army (it’s gone from a small skirmish force to a large task force) and starting a new Praesentia army. I was thinking about going for a Kaamados Dominion army as I love the design of the vehicles (especially the Dragamaa Heavy Tank), but who could resist the new Praesentia range…

I have covered the ARC Fleet figures before, and I am sure I will return to them in the near future, but for this article I wanted to give a preview of the new Praesentia figures and vehicles. Up until now there have only been four packs of figures released for the Praesentia (released in late 2010), so next weeks releases will come as a welcome expansion to an eagerly anticipated army. I am sure many readers will already have seen the amazing 3D concept designs for the Praesentia RAL tanks and APCs. It is clear that they certainly do raise the bar as far as alien vehicle design goes. Looking something like a cross between a Cylon Raider and an Eldar grav-tank, these slick new fighting machines must instil a high level of fear in any enemy that encounters them!

First off lets have a look at the figures.

Leading a Praesentia army we have the Ancients.

Praesentia Ancients with ARC Fleet figure for size comparison.

I have included an ARC Fleet figure in all the figure photos for size reference. The photos are “straight out of the bag”, I will post some better photos over the next few days, as I put some of these things together.

Praesentia Enlightened 1Praesentia Enlightened 2

Praesentia Enlightened 1 & 2.

Praesentia Phase Shifters 1Praesentia Phase Shifters 2

Praesentia Phase Shifters 1 & 2.

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Drone

Praesentia RAL Hyperion Heavy Assault Drone. After CMGs usually totally clean castings I was a little shocked to see all the excess resin on these models, however, once I had a good look at them I realised it had been left on to support the somewhat delicate model while in transit. I will run through the clean up and assembly process in my next posting!

Praesentia RAL GuardianDrone

Praesentia RAL Guardian Drone, the same issues apply to the Guardian as to the Hyperion above.

Praesentia RAL Sentinel Drones

Three of the small Praesentia RAL Sentinel Drones.

I also received several of the newer mercenary packs. ARC Fleet Figure (highlighted) is only included for size comparison.

CMG Mercenaries 8

CMG Mercenaries 13

CMG Mercenaries 11

CMG Mercenaries 12

CMG Mercenaries 14

Look out for my next post in a day or two, when I run through the clean up and assembly of the new Praesentia vehicles…

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Miniature Wargames Free Digital Trial Issue

I have read most of the wargames magazines that have come and gone over the years (as well as a good selection of the Role Playing magazines as well). One of the consistently high quality magazines has always been Miniature Wargames. The magazine has been around for many years and has just recently moved to a new publisher, Atlantic Publishers. It is always a little worrying when established institutions change hands, as you can never be too sure that the promise to "not change things, only improve them" are too often forgotten very quickly, which can lead to a sharp decline in the quality of said institution.

However, as Miniature Wargames has, so far, retained it's existing editor, we can only hope that the quality will be maintained.

One new thing that has come out of the move is the launch of a digital edition of Miniature Wargames, which can be found at As part of the promotion of these digital editions they have made a couple of issues available as free samples, these can be found here:-

June 2011 Issue
July 2011 Issue

I must admit that I quite like the idea of a digital edition. I have an ebook reader, and also an Android phone both of which could easily display a PDF or epub version of the magazine (both of which offer secure versions). Unfortunately, the service offered by appears to only have web-based or ipod/ipad access. I have never been a fan of the overpriced and restrictive practices used by Apple and it more and more annoys me when these apps appear purely for the ipods etc. It will be interesting to see if things change now that Android is dominating the mobile market!
Also as a final annoyance, apparently when your subscription runs out with you loose access to the issues you have received while your subscription has run it's course. This seems very restrictive and a very much an out of date practice, especially when you compare it to services like that from (or if your in the colonies), which allows access to any of it's products you have purchased, forever more!

So, as far as I am concerned, I wont be taking out a subscription for MW with any-time soon. I will have to stick to the paper copies for now. Still it may well appeal to some people, so drop by their website and have a look for yourself.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Toy Soldiers: Wargaming scenery (well sort of).

It has been my sons birthdays over the last couple of weeks. Hence the lack of posting on my part, normal service should be resumed sometime next week...

Anyway, in the mean time I thought it might be quite nice to show the birthday cake that my boys grandma made for them.

Fort Birthday Cake

I'd love to say this was prompted by my sons interest in my "toy soldiers". However, it was actually a new version of a cake my mother made for me when I was my sons age.

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