The second parcel was an order of 28mm zombies from Mega Minis in the US. Zombies are a bit of an ongoing but low priority project as part of the 28mm Sci-Fi/Street Violence project, so for now these go straight into the "later" box, along with the Wargames Factory zeds someone bought for me at Phalanx. Zombie gamer blogger extraordinare Vampifan has done a thorough review of the whole Mega Miniatures zombie line on his "World of the Undead" blog, so I won't review them in detail here. I will say that the Mega Minis zombies are noticeably smaller than, say the GW Zombies I have currently, and that they are definitely "old school" style sculpts with a few anatomical glitches, but as Vampifan shows they can paint up very nicely and there are some lovely "character" zombies in the set. I bought sets 1 & 2, I'll probably pick up the remaining sets over time, but I don't think I'd be interested in the non-zombie civilian figures.
The third parcel was the prize. One thing I definitely wanted for a 19th century steampunk invasion game was a steam train. Back when I was playing 15mm there was an easy solution to this, as the Thomas The Tank Engine die-cast toy line turned out to be perfectly scaled to 15mm. All you needed to do was hacksaw off the stupid smiley faces, smooth the end with Milliput and repaint. Now in 28mm you'd think that this was going to be even less of a problem. 28mm is generally matched with the model railroading O-scale. If we were in the States this would be fine, O-scale is still popular there for "toy" trains, i.e. being run for sheer pleasure. Unfortunately, here in good old Blighty, O-scale is the domain of the hardcore scratchbuilding scale modeller. You know, the types who hand lathe every scale rivet... and the number of rivets on the model had better damned well match the prototype or else! Don't get me wrong, I have massive respect for the skill and dedication it takes for that sort of thing. But it does mean that you can't just head to Toys R Us and pick up an O-scale trainset that you won't mind being knocked about on the wargames table.
The solution? Ah Amazon.co.uk, are there any of life's problems you cannot solve? The solution is this toy locomotive and this tank engine train set from Teamsterz. The third parcel was the tank engine, ordered a few days ago. Now let's be clear. As toys for actual children, these suck dead donkey balls. No self-respecting five year old is going to be interested in pushing a steam train around the floor, and the construction on these is too flimsy to survive much playroom action. Although described as die-cast, they're only partly metal, with plastic bases and fittings. Oh and the batteries are non-replaceable, so after a while, no more flashing lights and chuffa-chuffa sounds. As fine-scale railroad models... well let's just say that the wheels on the engine appear to be for a different guage to the accompanying carriage.
But as wargames models for 28mm figures, they are absolutely spot on. There's enough detail to look convincing as a train at wargames table distances, but not too much and nothing too fragile that is going to break under normal wargames usage. The scale is listed as 1:55, and seem a perfect match for 28mm figures. These are designed to be pushed along the floor, so lack the flanged wheels needed to fit properly onto track. I suspect with O-gauge track, the train's wheels would sit nicely inside the rails the same way that the 15mm Thomas trains did with HO gauge track. But unfortunately you can't just go down to the local ModelZone and pick up a length of O gauge flexitrack, so as a compromise it'll perch roughly on HO track with its wheels outside the rails, which again looks passable at wargame table distances.
The tank engine I received was blue and came with a single passenger carriage in matching livery. The back of the box shows another identical model in red, plus two locomotives in green and blue with coal carts. For around six quide I'm so happy with this I've ordered two more, plus one of the locomotives. This ought to give enough rolling stock for a decent looking train, plus a couple of spare tank engines that can go into the bitz box and might resurface as part of a steamtank further down the line.
Other than that, yesterday was mainly spent assembling some Armorcast steampunk walkers that I picked up when I visited the states in 2003. These no longer seem to be available on the website, which is a shame because they're lovely models, full of quirky character. I've also started the conversion work on two trucks and two tractors from the Atlantis toy line, which will become the prime movers for the field guns. It would have been nice to have traditional horse drawn guns, but even at Irregular's very reasonable price of £10.50for a four-hourse limber, the expenses can't quite stretch to it at the moment. Finally I'd finished the initial basing on the first tranche of figures for painting, plus an already painted unit of Germans that I'm upgrading to the new standard listed in a previous post.
With everything laid out on the painting table, I'm ready to declare a moratorium...
No new purchases until everything on the painting table is ready for the wargames table.
Today's plan - return to the rivers I started working on Monday, and get my 2nd unit of British Regulars (Redoubt figures) painted up and ready for Quickshading.