This past weekend a seemingly random tweet appeared in my feed. It showed several gentlemen playing Flames of War at The Games Tavern in Chantilly, VA. Chantilly is just around the corner from my house but I had never heard of it! So I just had to check it out.
Traditionally, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer for the RockyMountainNavy family. That is until we moved to the East Coast. Now school for the RMN Boys goes until mid-June. However, I still want to use this occasion to look back on my geek hobby year-to-date.
According to my BGG profile, I played 10 games in January, four in February, four more in March, none in April, and only two in May. For a year that I wanted to play more I certainly have dropped off! Summer may change as I have several new games inbound. Arriving tomorrow is Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal – The Pacific 1942 (Academy Games, 2016). I also may be getting closer to my Kickstarter delivery of Squadron Strike: Traveller(Ad Astra Games, ??) which after many delays (unwarranted and unacceptable in my opinion) finally opened the BackerKit this week. I also pledged for Worthington Publishing’s Mars Wars – but it cancelled. This month I pledged to support Compass Games’ new Richard Borg title Command & Colors: Tricorne – The American Revolution. To be honest, I am buying this title as much for myself as for the RMN Boys – which is both a blessing and a curse. I am certainly blessed in that I have boys who love gaming, but cursed in that they are not a hard grognard like their old man. The titles also reflect a change in my gaming interests as I struggle with the closure of many FLGS and the movement of my purchasing online or (shudder) to Kickstarter. I also have several games on P500 at GMT Games and hope to see that production schedule move forward this year.
I started off at Christmas with a good collection of books that I am whittling down at a much slower pace than I wish. This is not because I have ignored them; on the contrary, I am probably reading more than I did last year – just not reading off my list! Science fiction books have taken up much of my reading time. I have found myself lost in rereading the Charles E. Gannon’s Caine Riordan series from Baen Books. I also turned to Kickstarter again for content, this time in the form of Cirsova 2017 (Issues 5&6) and its short stories.
I didn’t get time to build much but the RMN boys got many kits completed. We even found a YouTube channel that we love, Andy’s Hobby Headquarters. He not only shows great models, but the boys are studying his techniques for better building.
I also have to do the Dad-thing and boast a bit about my youngest RMN Boy. This past quarter he was studying World War II and had a project to complete. The project supposed the student had found items in the attic from grandparents accumulated during World War II. The student had to put together a scrapbook of a newspaper article relating a battle (writing assignment), a letter from a soldier/sailor to home describing another battle (writing assignment), a letter from home describing the home front (writing assignment), a letter from the mayor to a local boys club thanking them for supporting the war effort (another writing assignment), notes from Grandmother about key personalities (short biographies), and a propaganda poster (art assignment). We had fun doing this project as together the youngest RMN boy and I prowled my shelves for sources, watched movies and documentaries online, and even pulled out a few games to better visualize the battles. A very proud moment for this father as the New Media and my book and game collection came together to teach a young man history.
Little I got Tanks: Panther vs Sherman (Gale Force 9) for Christmas. For his birthday, Brother T got him the Tiger I expansion. In a wonderful show of brotherly love, T not only gave him the model, but then built it and painted it up!
Little I is very excited as his collection is getting much more personalized. T also has shown a natural ability to paint miniatures. I have several old Mongoose Publishing Starship Troopers Miniatures Gamesets that I know I won’t get around too…maybe it’s time to turn them over to T and see what he can do!
Another weekend another model for Little RMN. This time it’s a Pegasus Hobbies 1/48-scale German Me-262 jet fighter from World War II. I really like the Pegasus Hobbies models; these are snap-tite and go together really well. They come molded in a base color making the paint job one step easier. This Me-262 will soon be joining others World War II fighters in the “dogfight corner” of his bedroom ceiling.
My Friendly Local Model Shop, Piper Hobby, is closing. The owner died last year and his widow does not have the same passion about the hobby he did. That is not a criticism but a compliment to Bob as he had a passion for model building that few others ever had.
Other employees tell me that Bob had something like close to 10,000 models in his house. Many of these are now making their way into the store. Since Inauguration Day, Piper has put everything – EVERY THING – at 50% off. There are many gems to be found as Bob had a collection of models going back many years.
The RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself visited Piper this weekend. Like I feared, as much as I tried to control myself it still was an expensive trip. Fortunately, I was able to indulge in my German Luftwaffe wonder planes fascination and picked up the AR-234B-2N, the He 162A-2 Salamander, and the Do 335 Arrow. I also indulged my science fiction itch with a Revell 30th Anniversary Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper. Finally, I picked up another Navy jet that was a wonder for its time and often overlooked, the Douglas F4D-1 Skyray. Almost can call this one science fiction too!
T got a German World War II 1/35 scale Panther Aus-F tank. He loves cars but the Piper stock was so picked over there was nothing that really caught his eye. So he will try some armor. This Dragon kit from China is VERY detailed and challenging for T as his first armor kit. He is taking it slowly and methodically, and I am sure it will turn out beautifully.
Little I also got a few models, among then his own F4D Skyray. His kit is a much simpler 1/48 scale model from Lindberg. This model proved easy to build and Little I worked on painting and decals with a bit more care than his usual. It turned out really nice!
I am sad to see Piper Hobby go away. This leaves me with no model hobby shops in the area. Oh, there are a couple of stores around, like Michaels, that stock a few plastic models but those tend to be mostly Star Wars or models of very “generic” designs. Plastic model building is another way that the boys and myself connect as it allows me to share my love of military history with them. Fortunately, we have many models left to build!
My friendly local model shop, Piper Hobby, had an awesome sale last summer with many kits available for great prices. Amongst the many boxes were several old Revell kits, including a 1/28 scale Fokker Dr. I Richof triplane. At the time, Little I was really into the miniatures game Wings of Glory and all-things WWI aviation so we picked it up and later gave it to him as a present. This past weekend, with poor weather outside, Little I built it.
Both he and I are pleased at how it came out. Little I was worried that the triple wings would be difficult to assemble but the pieces went together easily enough. The kit is not the most detailed but it ended up looking nice enough. Next up, the companion 1/28 scale SPAD XIII.
This weekend was great on Saturday but rainy on Sunday. Little I has been agitating for new models, but RockyMountainNavy Mom declared “No more!” until some of the backlog on the shelf is taken care of. So with the rain stopping the boys from running around outdoors….
Little I started out with his favorite manufacturer, Pegasus Hobbies, and their E-Z Snap V-2 Rocket. At 1/48 scale this is the same size as his WWII fighters. Like the earlier models, this one is easy to assemble, snaps together tightly, and looks great even without its paint job (yet to come).
Seeing that the first model was quick-and-easy, Little I then went to work on a second model, and pulled down Revell’s 1/700 scale RMS Titanic. Again, this proved to be an easy kit to build (though some of the small parts were challenging even to his smaller fingers).This is a full hull model with very nice fine detail. Technically listed as Skill Level 3, I think this is only because of the fine painting and smaller parts and decals. Of the two kits built today, RMN Mom liked this one the best!
While his brother was working on his two models, T built up an old kit of mine that I had passed down to him. The old Monogram P-47D Razorback in 1/48 scale assembled neatly and looks awesome with its rocket launchers. This one will look great once the final paint job and decals are applied.
While both boys were working, I also pulled out one of my kits. I had picked up an old Academy Minecraft Saab AJ-37 Viggen in 1/144 scale from the clearance table for a mere $2.95 at Piper Hobby a while back. While the Minecraft models lack detail, they do make fine desk ornaments for the office at home or at work.
All in all, a very successful weekend of boys working around the table. Spent a lot of time answering Little I’s questions on the history of the ships and airplanes. A wonderful learning and family bonding experience.