Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game Review

SWXWStar Wars: X-Wing is a miniatures game produced by Fantasy Flight Games, centered around star-ship combat in the Star Wars universe. The ships themselves are small scale replicas which you will recognize from the movies and other Star Wars media. Each ship has many different informative ship playing cards that detail the abilities and statistics of the ship. The main game retails for $40, and includes one X-Wing Fighter and two Tie Fighters. After playing it, you will immediately want more ship expansions which range from $15 to $100. In order to prepare a tournament-ready fleet, the player would have to spend around $100. Although the entry price is no joke, you don’t have to buy it all at one time. Just the $40 core set can provide around 12 hours of fun by itself.

Although the rules are too complicated for me to explain, the rule-book does this very well. The rules are simple to learn, but very difficult to master. Because you mix and match different ships and cards, hours can be spent just thinking about the best combination of cards to use against your opponent. In a standard (or tournament) game, each player usually starts with 100 points to spend on their fleet. Each ship costs anywhere from 15 to around 70 points, depending on the ship. Some players prefer an expensive ship to several little ones. Upgrade cards cost anywhere from 1 to 10 points, but they can greatly enhance the attributes of the ships. This sounds extremely difficult, but I learned most of the rules by simply watching a 13 minute long video made by Fantasy Flight Games themselves. Click here to view it! After glancing over the rule-book when I purchased the game, I was ready to play.

As of the writing of this post, around 24 individual ships have been released for the game, and many special packs contain different versions of these ships. More ships are being announced, and the game is still growing.

Overall, Star Wars: X-Wing is one of my (if not my #1) favorite board games of all time. I rate it a 9.4/10. The only downside is the price and some design flaws on the pieces.

You can try this game out at our local game store: Gamer’s Gambit located on Newtown Road in Danbury. They host tournaments and other game nights there as well. It is a great store and I highly recommend that you make a trip there to see their fantastic selection of games.

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HäT 1:72 Prussian Uhlans

prussiansI bought these 1:72 scale figures at my local hobby shop while searching for inexpensive eighteenth and nineteenth century soldiers. 12 horsemen and horses were in included in the box. There were no instructions on how to paint them, but several pictures depicted the soldiers in enough detail that I was able to base my painting on them. The figures were also great quality and very inexpensive. However, the huge downside that I came across was that the figures were electric blue! While the picture clearly shows the figures with black uniforms, these were a completely different color. Thus, I had to use many coats of paint to cover up the blue color. Ever spot that I missed stuck out to the point that it would be difficult not to see it. Although the figures were a horrendous color, the horses themselves were a perfect brown color, which made me wonder why the horses could look so good and the figures so bad. Each figure took around 30 minutes to complete, but this time could vary, depending on the color you decide to paint the horses.

Even though they were extremely difficult to paint, they are by far my favorite figures when completed, and were well worth the money and time. I rate the product itself a 7/10, however with a good coat of paint they can be truly amazing!


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Litchfield Historical Society

IMG_3584On February 23, 2015, I visited the Litchfield Historical Society in Litchfield, Connecticut for a tour of their extensive historical artifacts collection as part of the Curator for a Day class that I took. When I first arrived, I walked to their storage building, where the artifacts are stored when they are not on display at the museum. The first floor contained many vault-like shelves of furniture and woodwork. On one side of the room were boxes full of newspapers, some dating back from the eighteen-hundreds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe really incredible exhibits were on the second floor. Shelves of items filled the large room, and contained hundreds of items. They included; old and new photography equipment, boxes of gas masks and knives, historic photos, shelves of guns and swords, clocks, pottery, and even an old toilet. I was able to touch all of the items, even several guns from the Civil War and Revolutionary War.

Then, we saw a floor with many hundreds of boxes of clothes including; dresses, shirts, pants, hats, and other miscellaneous items of clothing. Rugs and other textiles were also boxed up in the room.

Near the end of my visit, we took a tour of the current exhibits at the museum. The museum featured items of the Revolutionary War and their other current exhibit was on World War I. I saw cannonballs that were fired at the town of Danbury, Connecticut and even a British Dragoon’s helmet. They had a collection of World War I propaganda posters and military uniforms in the special exhibit area. I was even allowed to use some of the research papers from the curator’s office to find out more about a gigantic painting of Major Benjamin Tallmadge that was on display. I found the painting of interest because I had read about Major Tallmadge’s involvement in the Revolutionary War as a spymaster for George Washington!

Major Benjamin Tallmadge and his son, William

Major Benjamin Tallmadge and his son, William

I also was able to make a poster for my own exhibit which included items from the museum. I drew a picture of my idea for a display, and also made a presentation for the parents, describing what the display would be like if it were real.

My favorite part was touching the historical weapons and clocks, and I hope to go back again soon.


Filed under History

20,000+ Views, Thank You!

snowballOver the past week, my blog post about the History of the Baltimore Snowball has acquired over 20,000 views. I would like to thank all of the people who viewed my blog, as each view means a lot to me. My loyal subscribers also deserve a shout-out for reading each and every one of my blogs and spreading the word so that others could see my writing. Lastly, I would like to thank all of the people who left so many encouraging comments about their passion for my favorite dessert. Everyone who has ever viewed and shared my blog deserves a big thank you, and I hope that everyone enjoyed reading and learning about the Baltimore snowball!

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WWII Display at the New Milford Library

On February 13, 2015, SAMSUNG CSCI finished a model that I had been working on for several weeks. It was the M3A1 Stuart that resides on the New Milford Town Green. This model was the last piece of a display that is the culmination of a year and a half of model building. It includes about half of my model collection, as well as several dioramas and photographs. One of my dioramas titled “The Longest Day” even won best in show at the Fairfield County 4-H Fair!

After finishing my final model for the display, I immediately brought them to the exhibit case at the New Milford Library, where they reside today. The exhibit will be on display until April, and includes the following: 2 dioramas in varying scales, many models, a collection of scale firearms that I hand-painted, and tons of information about each model on display. Since it is at the library, I also added in my two favorite WWII books and the reviews I have written for them.

The exhibit is on the main floor near the children’s department and is open during the library’s winter hours. It would be greatly appreciated if you could stop by to see it if you are in the area. If you do, make sure to leave a comment on this page or on the comment book next to the exhibit case at the library. I would love to hear what you think of it!


Filed under Everyday Life, WWII

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History: Book Review

MM-UK-Cover-v2The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History is a nonfiction book (with a very long title) written by Robert M. Edsel. The book is about several members of the Monuments Men, a group of Allied soldiers who were tasked with finding art stolen by Nazis during World War II. The book quickly switches from one person to another, but the story still flows well and does not feel choppy. The Monuments Men are embroiled in the war, with many different takes on the fighting being explored in the book. Some Monuments Men were stationed in cities, some on the front, and some were even killed in combat. The book mainly follows a WWI Veteran turned Art Conservator, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and even a French resistance fighter.

The story is compelling, even though the subject matter is slightly odd. I was always very excited to see what happened next. The characters were so strange that it seemed like the book must be fiction.

Overall, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History is a superb book where the fact is more amazing than the fiction!

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Tamiya M41 Walker Bulldog Model Kit

hqdefaultWith some leftover Christmas money I bought a new tank model in early January. The kit was my first large scale tank model, and I was very nervous about spending too much money on a tank that might have been too much of a challenge. The kit was relatively expensive, but I had no idea what a blast it would be to build it!

For some background information, the M41 Walker Bulldog was a light tank developed during the 1950’s. It was small and compact, but wielded a decent gun, and could travel at breakneck speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The M41 seemed like an obvious choice for a good first-time model kit, as it had a small size, but a good historical reputation, as well as some very interesting specifications. I think that the kit cost me around $25.

After opening the box, I was very happy to see that all of the pieces came in olive drab, meaning that I didn’t have to paint every piece. Instead of painting it, I immediately applied a brown wash to the whole model to create a worn effect. It also helped to make the pieces look like they were painted. The wash settled into the details of the model, and they stood out instantly. One of the best parts of the model kit is the incredibly detailed tank commander figure. My brown wash looked great on him, and brought out thSAMSUNG CSCe fine details of his uniform very well. The headlights, taillights, and machine gun, and periscopes all look great, but the amount of time I spent on them was next to nothing.   My last thing to paint was the wheels. The small tires were painted black, and the bolts were painted yellow. Even though there were many bolts and wheels, the whole painting process only took about an hour.

Now I had to assemble the model. This is when I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of Tamiya kits. I never felt that I was being cheated out of my money, and the pieces fit together perfectly with no filler. After buying some other brands, I think Tamiya has the best vehicles. However, because the pieces fit so well, the building process was very fast. I spent about 3 days working on it for several hours a day, and quickly finished.

Lastly I applied the decals. They were ordinary water-slide decals, and were unremarkable. Finally, the kit came with 2 US Infantry figures that look well made, but I never painted them because their clothing is historically inaccurate. The figures appear to be wearing WWII-era uniforms, which could be overlooked, however the firearms that they were using were completely wrong. One figure uses an M1A1 Thompson sub-machine gun, while the other uses an M-1 Garand. While these weapons were in use during the Korean War, the M41 was only tested there, and it would make almost no sense for the M41 to be with these figures. When the M41 was in service, the uniform and weapons had changed greatly.SAMSUNG CSC

Overall, the M41 is one of my favorite models, as well as a great tank. It is entirely perfect, except for the useless figures, and the short time it took to assemble. The tank gets a 9/10.


Filed under Everyday Life, Toy Review