Monday, 13 June 2011

WELCOME TO PARADISE! PLEASE CHECK YOUR WEAPONS AT THE DOOR.


The island nation of Paradiso has a long and chequered history. Sitting in the crystal blue waters of the Carribean, it was once a haven for pirates, escaped slaves and ne'er-do-wells of every stripe. It repeatedly changed hands between British, French and Spanish rule up until the late 19th century when it declared independence. Immediately the island was thrown into protracted civil war, resulting in the island being divided into two nations, Paradiso in the western half and the slightly less prosperas Culo Raton in the eastern half. Since the US invasion in the mid 1980s to oust a military dictatorship, Paradiso has been a constitutional democracy, whereas Culo Raton remains under military government with a decidedly Marxist bent and Cuban backing. The two nations coexist on the island in a state of uneasy detente.
While Paradiso is a very popular tourist destination, all is not sweetness and light. El Presidente has the delicate job of balancing between the various factions - the Opposition, the Military and the Church, not to mention keeping Los Americanos and the United Nations on-side.
Most visitors to the island generally stick to the resort of Soleilville, or the capital city of Port-Au-Nice. Although relatively safe and secure by Paradiso standards, both cities do have high crime rates, and the occasional flare up of street violence (which is usually blamed on British tourists). High in the mountains, far out of sight of the resort beaches, a small but dedicated army of rebels carry out a low-intensity campaign against the government. Similarly hidden from general view, the Cartel operates a significant narcotics industry, resisting any attempt to shut them down with deadly force. Some might say they're not that different from the US-based Sunbeam Enterprises, which operates a major pharmaceutical plant and mining operation on Paradiso, both of which are guarded by a heavily armed private security company. Cynics point out the only difference between Sunbeam and the Cartels is that Sunbeam pays more taxes.

So that's the first leg of the Axis of Naughtiness tripod. Paradiso is set up to try to cram in as many Latin American/Banana Republic clich├ęs as possible. It exists in the "vaguely now" that I think works best for modern Imagi-Nations. Its armed forces will be using slightly outdated gear, anything back to Vietnam-era kit might still be in-service, but as Port-Au-Nice is a relatively developed, modernised city (thanks to an influx of US money) I can do street violence games on US-style urban terrain (I figure if the TV series "Chaos" can get away with passing off the back streets of Vancouver as Hong Kong, I can get away with this!) or counter-insurgency/counter narcotics games further out into the rural areas.

At the moment I'm working on the Port-Au-Nice Police Department in 15mm, using Rebel Miniatures figures. They're great minis, three different poses with pistols, one with shotgun and a bareheaded "chief" figure. I'm also mixing in Rebel's Mall Cops figures, who are generally chunkier sculpts and with very large nightsticks (which the regular cops are strangely lacking). The uniforms look generally compatible, so I'm painting them all up as regular police and using the Mall Cops as veterans, sergeants etc.
Vehicles for the PNPD are going to be a bit tricky. I've decided not to use Hot Wheels sized die-cast cars with 15mm figures. I know some people do quite happily, but I find the scale difference too jarring. Instead I've got some nominally 1/87 cheap model railway vehicles from eBay. I think they fit perfectly with 15mm figures, but the selection only includes civilian cars & people movers. Rather than spend stupid money getting die-cast 1/87 police cars (which are way, way more expensive than Hot Wheels despite being half the size) I think I'm going to order another batch of eBay cars so I've got enough suitable spares to do some police car conversions.

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