Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Little Exposition While We Await Developments...

That is, I am going to talk about stuff that bugs me while I wait for the next load of art to roll in.

The piece above is the Capellan GuanDao Heavy Mobile Tactical Vehicle (HMTV). Done by Stephen Huda in such a short time I think the man actually reads minds.

He's hard-working, anyway.

Next time we'll have an after-battle action report! And some pictures!

Putting on My Andy Rooney

And now I’d like to take the time to address a few things that have been sticking in my head for a while. You might say they are sticking in my craw, but that would be as harsh as calling them rants, and they’re not really even that strong. No, these are just things I find a little disturbing, or odd, or objectionable.

Men In General Are Stupid and Married Men Are Infantile Idiots

Let’s start off on the right foot with the objectionable. I grew up in a family where Mom and Dad were there for my brothers and I nearly all the time. They’re still there; I suppose them being in Oregon while most of us boys are in Washington doesn’t really qualify as ‘being there’. But I know that if I call my Dad or Mom and ask for advice, the chances are pretty good I will get something sound from smart, wise people. Mom took care of us three boys for all our lives, and Dad? Dad put on Chief after seven years in the Navy, then went to college and became an officer – he retired as a Lt. Commander and I have always been impressed with his smarts, his education and his drive.

Now let’s step over to the land of radio advertising. I work in a small office, alongside people who are, for the most part, congenial and hard working. We all listen to the radio and the radio can be tuned to any of a dozen stations we get from inside the building. Some of the stations make you want to go get a rope and hang yourself after a while, so we really only have a few choices.

It doesn’t really matter because these stations all feature the same advertisers – Verizon, Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Taco Time, American Express, Car Toys and so on. And these guys in turn seem to run a preponderance of commercials with two things in common. If the ad has a lead male who is single, more often than not he will act like a shallow frat boy: that is, doing stupid things at ridiculous expense for equally ridiculous reasons. If the ad has a lead male who is married, he will act like a complete idiot in front of his wife and kids. You can hear the children rolling their eyes, and wince as the wife sensibly takes charge, often at the expense of the fool she apparently married but does not respect.

Whenever I hear these ads, I cringe. Who are these ads aimed at? Women? I don’t know. Is this how they empower women these days? By painting Dad as an ignorant chump who is good for a paycheck and an occasional babysit? By portraying young men as airheaded testosterone-charged animals? If the radio advertiser ever reversed the roles of male and female and broadcast that, people would be up in arms.

My son says he’s seen this consistently in cartoons, especially the Simpsons, and it’s even to be found over at TV Tropes. So I know it’s not just Steve getting old and cranky. What a hell of a message to send to young boys and girls. Boys, because this is who they are supposed to follow and pattern on, and girls because their relationship with their father is where they learn to trust men.

Since when did men in general and fathers in particular earn that kind of treatment from the ad agencies?

Martin Luther once compared the human race to a drunk riding a horse – once he has fallen off the left side, he takes such exaggerated caution not to do so again that he ends up falling off the right side. I think that is where we are now with respect to portraying the sexes in advertising. ‘Father Knows Best’ was once a wry quip, making the point that no one is really always right while gently reminding us that in a family someone has to have the deciding vote. Now it appears ‘Father Is Never Right’ to the point of scorn.

The Same Old Songs

Next up is a little tidbit, a mere nothing on the scale of things, but something which is a bit objectionable. Have you noticed that many of the radio stations today play music from thirty to forty years back? When I was a boy back in the late seventies, I would grind my teeth as I was forced to listen to Jay and the Americans alongside Paul Anka, Englebert Humperdink and other gems from the Lawrence Welk era. That is, the late fifties to early sixties. But that was only reaching back twenty years at most. You almost never heard the big bands, although their tunes still lingered on in various formats (mostly muzak).

Now we are forced – and I use this word deliberately – to listen to music from our own youth over and over and over. I used to like Boston and AC/DC and Rush and Led Zeppelin. Now I find myself grinding my teeth all over again. I have heard these songs for forty years, for pity’s sake. How about something new? But the stations – there are several in our area – cannot seem to get past playing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band at least twice a day.

I realize Coheed and Cambria, Linkin Park, Muse, Stone Temple Pilots, Sean Kingston and Justin Beiber are not to everyone’s taste. But music exclusively from the 1970s and 1980s top forty lists? Is that really all people of my age listen to anymore? It’s like a cross between a clown car and a treadmill. I’m getting sick of hearing the ‘oldies’, not because they’re old or because they’re bad, but because that’s all the sonsofbitches ever seem to play.

Kids Don’t Build Stuff Anymore

Here is another piece I file in the ‘disturbing’ pile. Disturbing to me personally, that is. Some of you folks probably noticed that games in general, and games involving pencils and paper in particular, are on a downward slide - if indeed they have not already begun circling the drain.

These are not the only things in decline among our nascent youth.

Take plastic models, for example. When I was young, that was what you got for Christmas if you were a good kid (and sometimes even if you were not). That and cool toys like Johnny Astro. But my generation was the last to really get into them. The generation after mine? Born in 1980, they grew up to Commodore 64s, Nintendo 8-bit machines and a gradual decline in ‘do-it-yourself’ as technology steadily became more and more disposable. By the time the generation after mine – call them Generation Y – reached their teen years, the Motorola Star-Tac was the cool phone to have (it was the Razor of its time, or for you youngsters, the I-Pad).

But by that time (1993), all the Commodore magazines had vanished from the shelf. No one wanted the bother of programming their own computer, and as computers steadily increased in power and complexity, this became impossible. Gone too were 90% of the Electronics Now-style magazines dealing with hobby electronics – you know, where you took some parts and actually built shit.

Then came the Internet.

And where were those beloved plastic models? Increasingly, they were expensive limited runs appealing to narrow-interest groups. Those that weren’t, were shopped to – well, guys my age in their mid-30s. And the average age is climbing. I recently asked a hobby shop owner in our area – the only such shop on the Kitsap Peninsula – exactly who bought those models he had in such quantity. He replied “mostly guys in their 40s and 50s”.

It goes on. Control line flying is something you have to explain to kids now, because all they have ever known is radio control. Built-up wood kits for radio control airplanes have to be explained as well, because all the youngsters have ever known is ARF (almost ready to fly) planes, cars and boats. No one seems to see the building part as challenging or even a possible source of pleasure. My own son readily talks of the skills he has acquired in playing Halo Reach, or Modern Warfare 2. None of them appear to be related to building anything but a character on a TV screen.

Ask one of them to sit at a table and actually put a kit of a P-38 together. Or an F-14. Good luck with that! No one in my son’s demographic seems to have the patience for such things anymore – as if patience were the key, as if building the darned thing were a chore to be gotten over as quickly as possible. The models don’t even spark an interest in the real thing. There’s no desire to know what it was like to fight in one or anything else related to these machines or even the era when they were the pinnacle of technology.

Painting miniatures is another part of the hobby whose fans are getting old. Fantasy miniatures come pre-painted and so do miniatures for other games such as the discontinued Mechwarrior click-tech game. Painting your own would seem to be a big waste of time when the pleasures of building and shaping something yourself has been edited out of our culture. It didn’t sell enough stuff, so it had to go.

If our youth are not willing to take an interest in history – that is, the things that happened before their time - and their need for gratification as consumers is so strong they just can’t wait, who the hell among them is going to take up something as boring as writing? Or master the skills needed to illustrate a book? Or organize people who can do these things?

I do this TRO because I like the challenge of putting it together, manufacturing the parts from raw words and buying other parts from artists who have the talents I do not. Make no mistake, it is work. But it is also like a model, one whose components sometimes exist only as an outline on paper. I have as much fun researching the fictional universe in which BattleTech resides as I do adding to that fictional universe. I like shaping the parts, sanding here and tweaking there, until I have something which, like my control line airplane, will eventually fly.

When our youth are done with their games, when World of Warcraft and the texting phones and the abyss that is the Internet and social networking sites have become their past, what will they pass on to their kids? Who will build? Create? Invent? Someone tell me, please. I honestly don’t know.

Something Odd…

And now that I have had my monthly whine session, here is a tidbit I have had occasion to think on recently. Everyone will have heard by now of the retired Air Force personnel who have finally decided to come out with what they heard and saw thirty years ago regarding UFOs.

Or maybe not. I notice with some alarm that the whole thing appears to have been swept under the carpet by most of the media outlets. Interesting. You would think this would have a major impact, but it seems to be quietly slipping away.

Now I don’t know if there are aliens out there or not. I don’t know if they are paying mind to us or not. Many incidents since the exploding of the first atomic bomb have been reported. Many have been plausibly explained away as mundane events – but not all. The Valentich incident is one that sticks in my mind. Other events which have not been explained away share something in common with what happened over the Bass Straits – the observed vehicles, if that is what they are, do not appear to be bound by the laws of physics as we understand them.

What strikes me most though is the attitude of those commenting on this ‘coming out’ of otherwise-sober minded individuals. They portray them as curiously suffering from mass delusion, or hungry for attention, or victims of conspiracy theory, or any number of things. The blogosphere is rife with folks who go the other route, attacking the very idea that we should be significant enough for an alien culture’s attention.

The weird thing is that lots of these critics hold two apparently incompatible ideas up at the same time and don’t notice the forced dilemma. The first is that the aliens are so advanced and - well, alien - that they could not possibly hold an interest in primitives like us. Fair enough. The second is that they are after all just like us, right down to littering, for example, and if they were to come around, it would be with sirens going and an entrance that would put Hollywood to shame. Since we haven’t seen that, they must not exist. Fine. But which is it going to be? Are they aloof aliens that are morally and technologically superior or are they interstellar frat boys on a tear?

I think these retired Air Force people are telling the truth as best they know. What they say, stripped of the out-of-context quotes and silly buzzwords, jibes with what I have read in other publications – and not the UFO websites, either. It has a feel to it that, despite the spokesman’s personal opinion that ‘aliens are concerned with our nuclear arsenal’, rings true. Maybe they are looking in on us from time to time. Or testing our defenses. Or just warning us.

CS Lewis once wrote that if a star-faring culture that had broken the bonds of the speed of light ever encountered us, they would have to kill us or put us in quarantine. We have been broadcasting our intentions for the past eighty years, after all. And our intentions are not very good. If we ever broke the bonds of physics as it is now understood, we would still be doing wretched things to each other and anyone else we could find out there. Maybe those aliens know it. If Lewis was right, and we’re still here to talk about it, maybe we ARE in quarantine. And isn’t this what quarantine would look like?

BattleTech's Inner Sphere put in its place

In BattleTech men travel between the stars all the time. There are no aliens, but men have still not found a way to live in peace with other men for very long. I once wrote a BattleTech story based on this idea, a piece titled ‘Orbit’. Think what you will of the writing, but it took first place in a writing contest. The stories that followed were not nearly so well received, though I believe their writing was at least as good.

And that got me to thinking of other things which follow a similar pattern; namely, movies which were wildly popular when they came out. And when sequels made by the same producers and directors followed these films, the follow-ups were not nearly so successful. They lacked something the original had. In at least three examples, I like to think of that ‘something’ as a bit of the Truth.

Not a truth we see published in science periodicals, but something the audience almost instinctively recognizes, something that resonates through the movie. Something that is utterly lacking in the rest that follow, almost as if the scriptwriters themselves do not realize the quality of that ‘something’ they captured in the first film.

The examples? ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Men In Black’ and ‘The Matrix’.

I will not babble on at length as to what I thought was the particular Truth found in each of these movies, but they follow a pattern: something in them reflects the world as it really is, not as we might like it to be.

As for the alleged cover-up by the government of incidents related to mysterious flying objects? I think Tommy Lee Jones’ character said it best in the movie ‘Men In Black’. Will Smith’s character, ‘J’, has just shot at a tow truck that is towing away a van containing the Bug’s flying saucer. He successfully detaches the van, but does a lot of damage with his ‘Noisy Cricket’ in the process. ‘J’ is brought up short by his partner, ‘K’, played by Tommy Lee Jones….

‘K’: We do not discharge our weapons in view of the public!

‘J’: Man, we ain't got time for this cover-up bullshit! I don't know whether or not you've forgotten, but there's an Arquillian Battle Cruiser that's about to...

‘K’: There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet. The only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they do... not... know about it!

Personally? I’m not particular about the neuralizers, but I think this quote explains a lot.

Last But Certainly Not Least

Most of you reading this blog are adults. That said, is anyone out there getting sick of our culture of entitlement? You know, the one where everyone ‘deserves’ a home of their own, ‘deserves’ a high paying job, ‘deserves’ a nicer car and has a ‘right’ to health care?

When I was in the Navy, every few years they would send us off to a class called ‘NR&R’ or Navy Rights and Responsibilities. One of the things they taught was the difference between ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’. Rights were based on you being who you were – a sailor and a human being. Privileges were based on what you did and whether you’d earned them.

The interesting thing is that nowadays, a lot of folks I meet and some I am forced to listen to, speak almost exclusively in terms of ‘deserves’ and ‘rights’ when they are referring to things which are (or were) normally earned. For example, I have a right to equal opportunity for a college education. That does not mean I can afford it, or that I will ever be able to afford it. But if I can get up the money with hard work – that is, earn it – and achieve good grades in high school – again, by earning them - I should have the same chance to get into a college of my choice. It is a right of every American citizen.

What is the problem? Well, when you say someone ‘deserves’ something, you mean they should have it regardless of what kind of person they are or what they have done – or failed to do. Just being alive is enough. To argue that a person does not ‘deserve’ something, be it citizenship or free health care, is no longer a statement about their immigrant or financial status but rather an opinion you hold about them as a human being. You quickly get labeled ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘elitist’ or just a very mean person who hates people because they are poor. In other words, you are no longer working one end of an argument based on reason, facts and figures. Your position is now entirely based on ‘feelings’. Which of course, you can’t control.

Anyone can dismiss you after that, because we all know that irrational people can’t help saying those things. They are to be ignored as you would someone who argued against giving free puppies to everyone because he happens to have an abiding hatred for dogs.

We are at the point where radio announcers state that everyone ‘deserves’ a parking space downtown, or an education, or medical treatment. They don’t mean it in the sense that everyone should have equal access to those things, but rather that ‘access’ now consists of these things being granted for free, at little or no cost to the beneficiary. After all, they ‘deserve’ it. And they don’t have it. So we the rest of the people should be doing everything we can to give it to them.

Who pays for it? The rest of us. If we disagree with these sentiments, the response is to make what used to be a matter of personal choice into the law of the land. We should be happy to contribute at gunpoint; if we are not properly grateful, we ‘deserve’ the punishment of a higher tax rate. Either way, we pay.

Here is a free bit of advice. If you ever happen to hear someone using the phrase ‘you deserve…’ applied to anything concerning you personally – or if you ever hear the words ‘this is for your own good’…. grab your wallet and head for the nearest exit.

See you in about five days.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Art, BattleTech and Airplanes...

Howdy, folks! We have more good new to pass on!

- Eric Ou is still working on the Urugan art and some other ‘stuff’. He is in school again, so no telling when exactly we should get the finished piece, but it should be soon.

- Bill Burt went and stirred up a nest of yellowjackets while cutting down firewood. No, really. But he is doing fine (despite seven stings) and is using the templates I sent him to get comfortable with the controls. What we really need is a copy of InDesign for Dummies®. Does anyone have a suggestion?

- Paul Skowronek still loves us and is still editing. He has just about finished the Capellan vehicles and I was right – they were in a bunch. Geoff and I have filled the gaps in the work Paul corrected with accurate Notables and some additional work on deployment. With the extra room, we’ve actually been able to go into some detail over stuff we had to gloss over previously.

- Ian Stead is recovered from his computer woes and is working on the Tomahawk. Below is what we have so far:

…but this IS a work in progress…

- Karl Olson has nearly finished the Centaurus armored car. Take a look at the fifth draft:

- Daniel Cherng has not reported in on the changes to the Katana. I will get with him tomorrow.

- Chris Duke is feeling poorly, but is still working on the Panzerfaust. I am going to take Bill’s recommendation and use the image of the Winter Panzerfaust for the cover of our Record Sheets Annex.

- Prdarkfox is having another go at the White Knight… I agreed to see what he could come up with. He is really very good if he has sufficient time.

- Lee Madison has responded with several emails nailing down the White Knight. He is also working on it [as you can see below] but has other projects as well, so I will have to be patient. He is adding backgrounds to the Ocelot and the Roland. I sent him a copy of the list of plastic models in my attic (350+!) and hopefully some of them will find a good home soon.

Lee's current work on the White Knight

- We have a new artist! Let’s extend a warm welcome to Stephen Huda! He did outstanding work for Catalyst Game Labs and their TRO:3085 and is currently working on the Lyran Kangaroo, a ‘Mech support vehicle. His work is at the top of this post!

- Chris Seymour has been paid (yay!) for the Montgomery II and is currently working on the Nemera, another piece which could use some polish. As you can see below, we are in the preliminary stages:

After selecting the features I wanted, I made some dimensional changes and came up with a machine that will serve:

I will be making a few payments this Friday – to all the artists who have been waiting, thank you very much for your patience and understanding. I have actually been mowing lawns in my off time in order to come up with the spare cash. I am still catching up on the water and electric bills. Thank you again for waiting on this.


We have no airsoft games coming up, although Bill is now fit as a fiddle. Instead, I am going to play as a member of the OpFor (opposing forces) in a BattleTech game on 2 October 2010 over in Redmond, Washington. It is a bit of a drive and there is no guarantee my son can go (I believe he has another track meet) and Bill is going to spend Saturday hacking new trails at the local airsoft playing field. But we have come up with the forces we will command to fight the scurvy invading Clan scum.

Here is the list of our forces. They are all from the 3025 era, and against the superior Clan technology, they will have their work cut out for them. Our advantage? We have good armor, good strategy (at least I hope so) and numbers (the players will field six machines and three points of Elemental battle armor).

Recommended OpFor Composition for 2 October 2010 –
Draconis Combine forces against invading Clans (3050)

Lance 1 – Vehicles – Total BV1 = 2,158

Goblin SRM Tank – Tracked, 4/6, 3 SRM-6, 1 MG – excellent armor – (BV1 – 371)
Goblin SRM Tank – Tracked, 4/6, 3 SRM-6, 1 MG – excellent armor – (BV1 – 371)
Drillson Heavy Hover Tank – 9/14, 1 LL, 1 LRM-10, 2 SRM-2, 2 MG – good armor – (BV1 – 708)
Drillson Heavy Hover Tank – 9/14, 1 LL, 1 LRM-10, 2 SRM-2, 2 MG – good armor – (BV1 – 708)

Lance 2 – ‘Mechs – Total BV1 = 4,904

Atlas AS7-D – 3/5/0, AC20, LRM-20, 4 ML, 1 SRM-6 – excellent armor (BV1- 1,561)
Grand Dragon – 5/8/0, PPC, LRM-10, 3 ML – good armor (BV1 – 997)
Victor VTR-9B – 4/6/4, AC20, 2 ML, 1 SRM-4 – fair armor (BV1 – 1,173)
Victor VTR-9B – 4/6/4, AC20, 2 ML, 1 SRM-4 – fair armor (BV1 – 1,173)

Lance 3 – ‘Mechs – Total BV1 = 3,630

Hunchback HBK-4P – 4/6/0, 8 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 960)
Hunchback HBK-4P – 4/6/0, 8 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 960)
Hunchback HBK-4G – 4/6/0, 1 AC20, 2 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 855)
Hunchback HBK-4G – 4/6/0, 1 AC20, 2 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 855)

Opfor BV1 – 10,692 – exactly!

The reason I noted the total BV1 is because it matches – exactly - that of our opponents and is the limit posed by the OpFor leader. This was totally an accident, a weird sort of coincidence. I was simply selecting the machines available that would do the job.

Using BattleMechs in Lance Strength

Chris Snider, our OpFor leader, expressed surprise at all the Hunchbacks. I pointed out that in ten years of playing this game, I have never once seen any unit deployed in lance strength. Ever! Very strange, I must say, but this will probably be the first time our opponents have seen this as well. The strange part is that in the game of BattleTech, the lance of four is a standard deployment configuration.

Quite a few of the machines in BattleTech, both ‘Mech and Vehicle, were meant to be deployed in groups of four. And a lot of the complaints I have heard over the years about certain designs (such as the Capellan’s Vindicator BattleMech) stem from attempts to use that machine either singly or in pairs. It does no good to explain that such machines, while mediocre at first glance, really come into their own in lance strength. You have to show people how to properly use them.

Yes, the Vindicator is a 45-ton ‘Mech which packs one PPC, one LRM-5, one medium laser and one small laser. It is not very impressive on its own. But it was never meant to go out in less than lance strength! With a movement profile of 4/6/4, four of these ‘Mechs acting in concert can be very, very nasty! With an aggregate Battle Value 1 of 3600, these machines, in their time, were fully capable of taking on much larger opponents. The biggest advantage? There are four… and while your foe is tracking and shooting one, the other three are ganging up on him.

Control Line!

I have been working on a control line plane, the Jumpin’ Bean. Originally a Carl Goldberg model, it is now being produced by Brodak. I did not want to build the kit as-is – I’ve already made many of these little beauties. What I wanted to do was make a new plane design based on as much of the ‘Bean as I could.

The result is something that will look like a P-38 from WWII. I separated the original wing halves with a section which is twelve inches long, and made two profile fuselages based on the original ‘Bean fuse extended three inches. That should offset the weight of the two Cox .049 Sure-Start engines I have on hand. I cannot recommend these new engines enough.

The last time I bought a Cox .049, it was a Black Widow made by Estes (who bought out Cox back in the day) with an integral craptastic plastic fuel tank and cost $50. The new engines have no integral fuel tank – what they do have is a choke tube bolted on the engine backplate. That eliminates forever the tedious process of bulb priming (and maybe flooding) the engine prior to starting. And the new Canadian owners sell them for only $8 each!

I have four .25 ounce Perfect fuel tanks I got in a clearance sale. I am going to solder them together in pairs and install one in the center wing and one the inboard wing. The extra fuel should allow for starting the second engine and flying a bit longer. For comparison, a standard Black Widow integral tank had 8cc’s (or .25 ounces) of fuel and ran for about three minutes.

One engine has a left-hand prop and spring, the other a standard right-hand prop and spring. Since the engines will be turning in opposite directions, the torque from each should be offset nicely. I still have to locate a standard three-bladed 5-3 prop, but the folks in Canada should have some for sale.

My main task, after getting the wing sections built, will be to make sure the assembled wing is flat and the elevator is parallel with the wing and the whole plane squared off. Not an easy job, even with pins, a t-square and superglue! I will install a thinner plywood-reinforced profile ‘cockpit’ on the center wing section and the plane will have tricycle landing gear.

Finally, I will have to reinforce the inboard fuselage ribs with thin plywood. This is where I will place the bellcrank mount (used to transmit the movement of the two control lines to the elevator) and it has to be strong as it is the point at which the lines connect to the plane. A weak bellcrank mount – or even a standard one – will not handle the extra inertia forces from an additional engine and a larger wing.

I will use a bellcrank larger than the standard 1/2A size, too. That way, I won’t have to worry about a twitchy plane.

Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, September 10, 2010

The TRO Art Advances...


We have made some progress on important stuff:

- Eric Ou has sent me the Urugan art. Our initial artist did a good job with this aircraft, but I nitpicked about perspective and I think that put the artist off completing the commission – it has been ten days since my apology and still no word from him. So the baton passes to Eric, who has done a stand-up job. I have sent my suggestions back to him this evening.

- Our original layout man, James Devlin, is not responding again. Eric has been busy and I am not sure he relishes the idea of coming up with brand-new layouts in InDesign. Meantime, I am enlisting the aid of a local friend with Photoshop and layout skills to assist. Some of you may be familiar with the name of that friend – it is none other than Bill Burt, my airsoft buddy and the co-creator of the dropship you saw at GenCon2007. Yes, the same dropship which currently graces the back cover of Strategic Operations.

Please remember: to enlarge the images, click on them!

When you are done, hit the browser back arrow to return to the blog

- Terrance Wong has also been busy colorizing . A sample of his work for the interior plates is below. The man is doing very well and I hope the art we have been sending him continues to inspire him.

- Paul Skowronek is still editing. He has six to eight more pieces from the Capellan vehicles and my guess is that they will show up all at once. Meanwhile, Geoff and I will be working to fill the gaps left by Paul’s diligence – in some cases, we’ve had to make up nearly 200 words. Since what needs to be said about the vehicle in question has already been said to everyone’s satisfaction, we are concentrating on battle history (which we can do quite well) and Notables.

- Ian Stead is currently working on the Tomahawk. Yes, I know – it has been a month since I first reported that, but we should have something for you by next update.

- Karl Olson has been plugging away at a rework of the Centaurus armored car. Take a look at the third draft below and compare it to the original:

- Daniel Cherng should be just about done in Utah by the time you read this. As he did a very good job on the Montgomery II, I eagerly await his corrections on the Katana.

- Chris Duke and the Panzerfaust. Progress… he is still working on the black and white version for the entry itself. Meanwhile, he has provided another color scheme for the interior plate that uses the Lyran parade colors. Also included is the Panzerfaust in winter…

- Prdarkfox really tried with the White Knight. And there are those who see nothing wrong with it. I originally offered it to Eric for a re-do, but he has been very busy with schoolwork and is already working on the Urugan. However, Lee Madison has made a return….

- Lee Madison has produced some of the best art we have. He has been missing in action for nearly five months, but is now back and ready to work on the White Knight – or at least take a shot at it. Better still, he has agreed to add backgrounds to several pieces done by Ian Stead – primarily the Ocelot and the Roland. Let’s hope he stays with us this time. He really is quite good at what he does.

That is all for now. I will soon begin to send money on the art – folks have been really patient for the past few weeks, and I have made the last transmission payment. Thank you all for waiting on this.

Control Line!

We have to take a break from airsoft, as Bill tweaked his back and cannot play in this weekend’s game – and my son has a track meet. Meanwhile, I am taking the time afforded by the art slowdown to tinker with an old hobby of mine – control line flying. Most of you will not know what I am talking about, but the following pictures should provide a clue.

I have also added some songs to the Musical Box.

Thanks for stopping by.