Wednesday, January 16, 2013

RIP Jovian Chronicles: A Bevy of (Not) Doms...


"Doesn't it look like a Kondoh-type Rik Dom?" Marc-Alex Vezina, creator of Jovian said to me in an email. The year was 199- something. (Do keep that in mind when you see the paint jobs, please, I was still finding my way)

1996? '95? Doesn't matter. I had originally struck up an email conversation with him through their fanzine, Mecha Press, beginning a relationship that would eventually get me a gig writing for Votoms rip-off Heavy Gear. Marc-Alex was gushing about his pet project and its skillfully derived artwork bitchin' designs. Now, having been exposed to a bevy of anime and yet only had Battletech's terrible designs as gaming pieces, the Jovian Chronicles mecha and their RAFM minis were a breath of fresh air. So, I decided to follow along with theme and paint the enemy mecha squadron of Wyverns along the lines of its Gundam counterpart. Moreover, I would have one for each Rik Dom model. 



The personal machine of enemy ace Char Aznable. was always painted red, and needed a confidant, aggressive pose, so I chose to model it calling out the enemy (or questioning the falsehood of his cause; Char did that). The Wyvern Commander Type also had a sensor dish mounted on its shoulder for some reason. 



The Wyvern was supposed to had a propellant tank, but for some reason, they left it off the mini. RAFM's quality control was also atrocious. Missing parts, weird miscasts... oh well. They're out of business now, I think. 



The standard, soldier type Rik Dom was in the purple of the Black Tri-Stars, a squadron of Zeon Aces who specialized in blowing apart capital ships. Their paint scheme somehow spread to every Rik Dom ever issued to a grunt. 



I'm torn between loving and being mortified by the old paint, honestly. The more I stare at these photos, the better weathering looks. Maybe it's just me? 



Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory brought the Dom Tropen variant in desert colors, not to mention the longer armor skirts and blast shield on the bazooka. Unlike the other three, this one was painted relatively recently, even though it sat, primed black, in its box for an eternity. 



I wish these things had been around during the heyday of Battletech. I feel like whatever appreciation they would have gotten on the gaming table is gone forever. Oh well, at least they're collector's items. 



Lastly, this Colony Marine version came about due to RAFM's terrible quality control, which led to weird warps on the armor skirts and a missing bazooka. Luckily I had some grenade racks in the bits box, not to mention a weapons upgrade sprue from the large-scale Votoms  Heavy Gear line, which included this fantastic gatling cannon. 



Yes, that ammo belt is the tail from the old pewter Queen Alien. The massive ammo drum was a capsule that pencil erasers came in. Reasoning it would run out of ammo quickly (look up the rate of fire on a vulcan some time)  I also gave thing  a backup rifle slung on its rear skirt. Nowadays I'd drybrush up from that atrocious green wash job.... oh well, the past is the past, and there are other things to do than strip and repaint old minis.

Aren't there? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bye-Bye Jovian Chronicles.....

Kondo-derivative artwork © Dream Pod 9, used without permission
Dreap Pod 9 has announced that it's discontinuing its Jovian Chronicles line and retiring (read, "breaking") the molds. (read all about it here). This is kinda sad, because Dream Pod 9 really, really, really wanted to make a Gundam game (just like they really, really really wanted an Armored Trooper Votoms game with Heavy Gear.) Their problem, however was threefold in that 1) their rules set went from so-so (Mekton) to not-so-good (their own), 2) they changed their designs from pretty damn good to absolute shit:


BEFORE ©Dream Pod 9
AFTER ©  Dream Pod 9, and they can keep it. UGH!

Third, the scale of the above model is ultra-teensy-weensy (smaller than a Space Marine)  which allows for next to no customization, not to speak of detail at all. You can see the horrors here.  Really, they were also doomed by the fact that giant robots never really caught on past Battletech (which also went under for a time) as far as gaming was concerned, and that what they were trying to do in the first place (tell a Gundam story) was done, and in a better medium, by the people they idolized (you know, the  folks who actually MAKE the Gundam anime). Their Heavy Gear line seems to be going the same way, which makes me sad, since I wrote some copy for their RPG books. 

If it's not, do correct me, because I haven't seen anyone play Heavy Gear in a gaming store, ever. Not once. 

Anyway, the demise of Jovian Chronicles has left us with some AMAZING artifacts; the entire first line of models, which I happen to own a set of, because I absolutely bloody love giant robots, and had a ready source of cash during the 1990's. In addition, I purchased a few extras for conversions. You'll recall this fellow: 


But I neglected to introduce you to his friends, namely this chap:


I neglected to blacken his base, and I should have. Originally, I had planned to have all of the Jovian models in flight, partly due to the fact that they were all too wide to fit on hex bases. Oh well. 


Yes, that's a large rifle stowed between those two propellant tanks, yes, those are Assault Marine jump packs on his legs as extra thrusters. Peer closely at the rear shot of the right arm and you'll see that weapon is mounted to on the side of his forearm instead of replacing it. I'd like to add I'd never have done this nowadays, as the joint is tremendously flimsy. Whatever he doesn't demolish with the bazooka or saw in half with the underslung vulcan, he can slash in half with the beam saber hidden cunningly inside the shield, or blast apart with his stowed rifle. His mate, on the underhand, is comparatively under-armed:


Although she is carrying a rather large beam rifle, she's not meant to get into great big battles with lots of nasty suits that are larger than her, anyway. Like her brother unit, the legs were cut and extended, compared to the stubby originals (see the B&W art, above). What? The pink is an abomination? Yes, well, you know, we all do stupid things in our youth. Plus, it was the 90's. Pink was in for femme-bots. 


These models both received a bit of airbrush weathering because I was doing that sort of thing to everything back then, although by the time I did these the poor contraption was at the end of its life cycle. 

Next time, the villains of the Jovian Chronicles universe, who are probably responsible for a lot of Japanese staring daggers at Montreal....

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mechanicus Praetorian H-Alpha-Rho-Kill-3-R



I'm slowly eking my way through the characters in the IG Codex, and I wonder why I haven't  made (or used) Harker (or HaRK3R) sooner. A BS4 relentless Heavy Bolter? Yes please. It took a bit of bits box digging to make him work, however. I'd quite forgotten I had some Maxmini bionic bits left over from some time ago, including these fantastic kneeling legs. His left arm is from an old Battletech Banshee-S that was in a container not meant for such things. As such it was a godsend when I found it and the reason the whole project went forward. 


I am, however, now severely low on machine-y looking backpack bits, and am having to make do with scraps. I suppose I could cobble together an alternative and send it to a recaster, but my AdMech army's pretty much finished as far as infantry models go, so is it worth it? Hmmm....


The mounting for the right arm is from a Micro Arts Iron Brotherhood mini. There's a metal rod running down the center of it from his body to the HB. Looking back, I supposed I should have done a drum and a chain feed, but really, he has to fit into a Chim with the rest of his squad, so it'll have to be clip-fed. 


He, of course, doesn't have a power fist in the rules, but I gave him one anyway. Punching an enemy with your cannon arm is an awfully 40k thing to do, so why not? The fingers are made out of pewter daggers from the old RAFM Heavy Gear line, and held on by CYA glue and prayer. I tried to go Weathered Penny while painting his metal bits, but then decided to bring the higher areas up with some silver and boltgun metal to distinguish him as a good guy (as opposed to those nasty copper Necrons...)