Sunday, 21 February 2010

A&A in Ontario

Glenn Jupp has emailed me to tell of a few games of A&A2 in Hamilton, Ontario (a place I'm almost certain I've been through on a coach in the midst of a four-day drinking bender on a school orchestra trip to the US and Canada back in my youth). Glenn is setting up a league with his own rules and is working on rules for motorbikes and pedestrians.

This gives him the honour of putting the first ever A&A2 photos out on the intertubes. I like the Trabant. :)

A&A Pontiac

I found time to sit down over a busy weekend and paint up the Pontiac. And now it's done my feelings on it are spectacularly...

It fails for me for two reasons - firstly I tried to do an understated car which frankly isn't really my style at all and secondly the bronze colour which looked really good when slapped onto the car's virgin flanks just didn't work well when drybrushed up. The bronze, the small areas of rusty metal, the sand base and the light earthy toned drybrushing just sort of blends into one big monochrome mass. Looking back at the photo of the primered stage I wish I'd kept the black as the basic colour. For what it's worth here it is anyway.

Oh well, it will do I suppose even if it doesn't even appear to pass the "three colours" rule. It's a long time since I've had a complete painting disaster so perhaps I was due one. :)

(I suppose I ought to drybrush that missed bit on the front wheel as well!)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Three Works-In-Progress

Some spy shots from the New Tipton Skunkyards. Very, very, very black because these have just been primered with GW Chaos Black spraypaint before the real painting starts.

Exhibit #1

1970s-era Matchbox Pontiac Firebird equipped with some Stan Johansen Miniatures bits. One of three cars that I've recently bought off eBay because I had them when I was a boy and wanted to do A&A versions of them.

With the Pontiac, I absolutely love the brutal nose and exposed rocker covers on this car so have not gone for the usual post-apoc armour plates everywhere in order not to obscure it's shape and everything that I liked about the original. It just has a small turret on the roof and a rearwards facing light weapon (MG or Light Laser I suppose). The rear window armour is also from the Stan Johansen packs and the other armour on the rear is just card - the backing card from diecast blister packs is ideal for this and is, in fact, what I use. The armour will be rusty metal, no idea what colour the car will be yet.

Exhibit #2

This is another 70's Matchbox and another of the cars I had as a child, an AMX Pro Stocker. I've never been able to find out anything about the real car but I assume it was an oval racer in the States. My original AMX got dragged out of storage and repainted orange when Dark Future came out (so was almost certainly the first car I ever converted for this kind of nonsense) but is of course now lost to history.

The AMX was another favourite shape so has been left pretty much as-is, just with a Stan Johansen Gatling gun and two light weapons on the roof. The rear window armour is the same piece as fitted to the Pontiac. I envisage this car as a Sanctioned Op's pursuit Interceptor.

Exhibit #3

Right then, this will take some explaining. :)

Back the A&A1 days I had a model consisting of one Ford Mustang mounted on top of another one. Why? Well, it all came about from flipping through an book on Second World War fighter aircraft and discovering the F-82 Twin Mustang...

...which was two P-51 Mustang fuselages mounted together. The obvious punning potential occured to me so I built the "Twin Mustang", two 60s-era Mustangs mounted up with a top one and a bottom one. Silly pun, made a few people laugh and helped point out that A&A was ever so slightly not serious.

Anyway we have a new Ford Mustang now, and I thought we needed a new "Twin Mustang". So here it is. :)

This will be filthied-up in true post-apoc style. On of the huge armour plates (yep, backing card again) will have the slogan "TWIN MUSTANG" on, the other will have "F-82" on it. Be interesting to see how many people around the shows twig the reason behind it. Oh, and for the record, I envisage this one as being piloted from the top 'stang with all the running gear being in the bottom 'stang. Has to be a Heavy Vehicle in A&A terms.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Death Race 2008

As a rule I don't like remakes of films. I especially don't like remakes of films that I love. If Brad Pitt ever gets his Bullit remake project off the floor he's a dead man. Simple as. That's why I hadn't watched 2008's Death Race before, but seeing it in Tescos for a couple of quid and having restarted the A&A project I felt morally obliged to do so, if only to stop the inevitable questions of "have you seen..." and the inevitable accusations that "you took this idea from...".

As it turns out it's far enough removed from the original cult film Death Race 2000 so that it's not really a remake nor a "re-imagining" - it stands on it's own feet as a different film. Whether it's any good or not or whether it's independence from it's sire works in it's favour is a different matter.

Death Race 2000 worked, and worked well, because it knew that it's central premise was so nasty that it would only work when exaggerated to ridiculous levels and played for the blackest of black laughs. It's so stupidly OTT with it's comic strip characters that the satire (a play on the Roman "bread and circuses" idea distracting the populace from what a mess that everything is in) works well. It was a stroke of genius creating a film that had a premise that nobody had seen before, and hiding a biting satire within what was basically a Grindhouse movie that was actually a lot, lot cleverer than it wanted to admit to.

Death Race 2008 (not it's title but it's what we will call it) doesn't have any of this. It's a typical dumb action movie with stereotype characters. I'm not a fan of dumb action movies so I won't comment how good or bad it is as an action movie. This is A&A - we are only interested in the cars with guns on them.

2000 set up the background of a bankrupt US (now renamed the United Provinces) distracted from the bitter reality of day-to-day life by a coast-to-coast version of a Roman gladiatorial battle. 2008 has the US prison system handed over to private contractors, turning their inmates into money spinners by showing the Death Race, a guns-with-cars race in which lifers attempt to win their freedom by winning five three-race tournaments.

Film-wise, 2008 scores in that it's driving and stunts are real. There are no false CGI crashes, all cars that appear crashed are crashed even down to the hugely impressive crash of "The Dreadnought", a huge fluids tanker crash. Fans of all the great car chase films like Bullit, French Connection, Ronin etc. will appreciate it for that.

However 2008 falls flat in that, bizarrely for it's theme, it's actually too realistic. As the producer and director point out in the assorted features on the disc, we have reality television and we have the bandwidth to stream television programming via the Internet thereby ducking a lot of regulation issues as to what gets shown on TV. The Death Race is broadcast not by state-sponsored television but on a Pay-Per-View Internet stream so rather than 2000's event being spoon-fed to a supine populace, 2008's is actually watched by people who now choose to cough up the money to do it. This changes the whole feel of what is going on - now it becomes a snuff film for the morbidly curious, rather than an distracting tool of social control. The characters are all prison-movie stereotypes so that, in the world of Hollywood at least, 2008 comes across as plausible and accordingly the satire suffers. It's far less exaggerated than something like Brasseye which satirised by showing the ridiculous state of it's subject matter taken to it's logical, if ludicrous, outcome.

From a drama point of view it also falls flat in that the whole event is more fixed than professional wrestling - it's blatantly obvious that the audience wants a final between just the two favourites and every other driver will be killed by the organisers in order to arrange this.

Years ago, back on the Road Rage V8 forums Chris Johnston made the point that background to games like A&A have no cinematic or literary progenitor - they are an entirely artificial game construct, very much like the D&D-style "dungeons and PC party" setup doesn't really hark back to anything in it's source material. Some people will point at The Road Warrior but while that has the post-apoc aesthetic down to a tee that film isn't about guns. From memory I think Humongous has a few, carefully hoarded bullets in his gun case and the shotgun shells given to Max (which he sends the feral child out onto the bonnet of the semi to retrieve) are duff anyway. Chris's very good point was that the automotive combat genre had mutated into cars-with-guns because it is easier to create a game of shooting than it is ramming.

It's strange but the whole genre of cars-with-guns really comes from Car Wars and the post-apoc-cars-with-guns is just a fan creation as Car Wars's aesthetic was all shiny plastic/ceramic armour and electric engines. Death Race is therefore the film of the game of the film as it uses cars-with-guns that haven't really turned up in film before. It's a purely game background but via gaming and computer gaming and a wholly inaccurate picture of The Road Warrior this sort of thing has become common currency.

It's therefore worth watching Death Race 2008, not for any merits it has, but purely because it's possibly the first time that the whole cars-with-guns thing has broken out of the gaming/videogaming sector.

TL;DR - Dumb, cliched action film, but cars with guns.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

New Draft and a Playsheet!

Only one rule correction in this draft, it's mainly a matter of tidying up the English and trying to be consistent in usage of terms (for example using Vehicle everywhere other than the mix of "Vehicle" and "Car" it was before).

I've also done something that I really should have done straight away and that is to produce a one-sided A4 playsheet. Last time we tested the rules out I was flipping between pages and the lack of a playsheet really stood out.

Feb 11th Version here
Playsheet here

Sunday, 7 February 2010

West Midlands Military Show

DaveO and myself will be running participation games of Axles and Alloys II at the West Midlands Military Show in Wolverhampton on Sunday 21st March. This will be the first public appearance of A&AII and we're hoping to revive the old tradition of the Stourbridge club's participation games around the Midlands show circuit.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Stan Johansen Miniatures Accessories Sets

My order from Stan Johansen Miniatures arrived from sunny Florida today complete with a few extra bits chucked in because they are nice people like that.

Straight out of the bags and a couple of very quick and dirty photographs.

RW008 Accessories Set 1 ($8). The cars included for scale are Matchbox, a "Trevor" and a Corvette ZR1 in the usual scale. Lots of guns, armour plates, turrets and a few other bits and pieces including two mantlets.

RW009 Accessories Set 2 ($8). This set has a few gunners. The two gunners firing pistols are presumably passengers, but could double as drivers. Shame the gun arms are a bit over long though. There's a really good large turret with cast-in gunner and some of the other guns are designed to be fired by the gunners - they are cast with long stalks to be trimmed to size. Some really nice rockets too.

All good stuff, and should keep me in conversion bits for a while yet

Post-Apoc Mystery Machine

Spotted on trawl around intertubes...

Monday, 1 February 2010

New Draft!

There is now a new, improved draft of the A&A2 playtest rules

There's a very important correction in these of a mistake I never noticed in any of the earlier drafts and it's a biggie - Turns are up to 45 degrees, not fixed at 45 degrees.

Other that that I've added Napalm and Smokescreens, the Badlands Ambush scenario and a couple of optional rules to emulate the Jason Statham "Death Race" film that I watched on DVD yesterday.

I've also laid the rulebook out in what I hope is a better format than before - Dropped Weapons and Jumping Things have been shifted to their own chapters in order to leave the Movement section looking a lot cleaner and easier to digest (hopefully) and I've split Firing and Damage into two sections. I was getting concerned that all the extra and optional and recommended rules were making things a bit dense and unreadable.

There's no cover page on this one - I can't work out how to stop OpenOffice from applying headers and footers to every single page in the document which rather borked the cover. If you want a cover, cannibalise your old copy of the previous draft. :)

Axles and Alloys Cars From the Blogosphere

Found on blogger/blogspot