More Dusty Rails

Well, I went back to the antique store and re-inspected the bag of Lionel train parts I mentioned yesterday.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I was right.

The missing engine trucks, the base for the coal hauler, and a few other things were located amid the broken flatbed and other fragment.  I could have argued that I should have gotten those engine trucks for free, seeing how I bought the rest of the engine, but I didn’t feel like going there; I just paid for the bag and went on my way.

I did, however, take a look at those other two components – namely, the power box and the rail light post.  The power box was that in name only; if I was a collector of 1940s bakelite, I’d have gotten it and been happy.  But as it was, the thing was barely in one piece.  The base was cracked and missing pieces, and the knobs fell off when I tried to turn them.  As for the light post, not only were the bulbs broken off and gone, but they were damaged in such a fashion to make the entire post unusable even as a non-functioning prop.  So while I hate the idea of breaking up a set, this was a set that was more broken than one should have been.  I did nothing wrong by taking only the more salvageable portions of what was there.

And get this – someone I know is sending me some more Dust Tactics stuff.  One of the add-on campaigns, all of its components, and a vehicle; I should have them by the middle of next week at the latest.  Interesting how, after having given up on the whole thing, Dust Tactics merchandise is falling out of the skies around me.

Maybe I should give up on money next . . .


Dusty Rails

I should probably share a couple of additional things concerning Dust Tactics.

One of the things I’d wanted to do with that game – back when I was serious about one day playing it – was to incorporate some “real world” material so that it wasn’t entirely “science-fictiony.”  This included adding a few 1/48 scale tanks, like a late war German Panzer IV and a Soviet KV-1, a couple of trucks, and two platoons of soldiers.  I’d also wanted to add an O-scale locomotive with a few rail cars, possibly as obstacles or objectives, but one glance at what such trains cost nowadays, and that addition died rather quickly.

Until today.

I went to an antique store this morning and found a Lionel 1655 steam engine, along with two cars.  There were actually four cars, but each item was priced individually, and I’d wanted to do this on the cheap – meaning that something had to be left behind.  I’d only wanted it for set decoration, not actual use, so at first, it didn’t bother me in the least that the engine was in several pieces (but the metal shell was intact), nor was I fazed by the fact that one of the cars had one of the trucks (wheel sets) detached, with no means of permanent reconnection.  At least the remaining car was in decent, if not filthy, condition.

I know nothing of Lionel trains, so after dropping my $20 on a bag of dubious worth, I came home and did some research on my questionable bag of booty.  Turns out that what I have were the components of a single train set.  These were not cars purchased by a big-time model railroader; this was boxed set that likely had one owner.  The 1655 model was sold for only two years – 1948 and 1949 – making the train (oh irony of ironies) perfect for the Dust universe, as it’s a good representation of period locomotive.  If only it were completely intact . . . but then again, if it were, I’d likely not have been able to afford it.

Between the rust, calcium deposits, and missing parts – the engine is a 2-4-2 model that’s more accurately described as an 0-4-0 version (i.e., it’s missing both the forward and rear trucks) – there were a lot of reasons to take a pass on this mess.  It’s going to take some time and effort to get this stuff where I want it.  The motor’s there, but I’ve no way to test its functionality, much less repair or clean it; heck, I don’t even have tracks.  But again, I didn’t need it to work; I just wanted there as dressing.  That fourth car?  Broken and in at least four pieces, but I might return to get it because I think it might have the engine trucks I need.  I now know that it contained parts of the engine’s coal hauler car, so that alone might be worth the visit.

I’ve got, however, two reservations.  In addition to the bag of broken parts (for $7.50, which will bring my investment up to $30), there was the power box and a couple of rail light posts.  These were a part of the set as well, and I feel guilty about breaking up a set like that.  But assuming I get that bag, I’ll be in for $30; I’m guessing that the power switch and the light posts will add at least another $15, and that’s more that I care to shell out for what is essentially junk.  I can’t imagine the store selling them by themselves.

My other issue is with the restoration.  I’ve checked and even for parts, I’ve done pretty well for myself.  Ebay has a slew of sellers with 1655s worse than mine, and they’re asking $15 and up.  It’s not a rare model, nor is it worth more than what I paid.  Yet I’m still uncomfortable about stripping and refurbishing the original paint, knowing that it’s nearly three-quarters of a century old.

Well, let’s see how the cleaning goes, and I’ll worry about the other stuff later.


Late to the Party

According to my mother, I’ll probably be late to my own funeral.

She told me this when I was a kid, mainly because I tended to be slow and meticulous with things that didn’t need that kind of attention.  She was right, mind you – I can be ridiculously slow (and slow-witted) at times, and only Goodness knows why.

I mention this because I’ve only recently developed an interest in Dust Tactics.

Go ahead and laugh.

On the off-chance that you’re not familiar with the game or the game-universe, Dust Tactics (and its various incarnations) depict a world where the Second World War follows a very different path than what happened.  After Hitler is assassinated in 1943, a disgruntled Wehrmacht sees an opportunity for Germany to achieve an honorable peace.  The Soviets, however, are left out of the loop, and due to a misunderstanding, they’ve now declared war on the remaining Allies.  Along the way, the Chinese and the Japanese get involved, Florida is invaded, and everyone involved has unleashed new armaments developed with newly discovered alien technology.


Sadly, I don’t own the core set, which is kind of a blessing – I’ll explain that later.  I had a chance, about two years ago, however, to snag a copy of it on a clearance table that was going for about $60; I thought it was too much for something that I knew nothing about, so I put it back on the shelf.  In fact, I remember the incident as if it were yesterday – “I’m going to check and if it’s legit, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

If that were only true.  “Tomorrow” never really comes, where I’m concerned.  I can’t begin to count the number of regrets I have because I’d talked myself into “coming back tomorrow.”  Too many to count, that’s for certain.  Anyway, I left that store and soon found other adventures in which to involve myself, quickly forgetting about the box that caught my eye.  In fact, it wasn’t until last September before I’d even given Dust a second thought.

Visiting another gaming store, I came across another clearance table.  Price-wise, this was nothing to write home about: Many of the “sale” items were only a few dollars down from list, so it was no wonder that the own had so much inventory still on his hands.  But I did see two of the Dust Tactics books on hand: The Core Rule Book and Operation Zverograd.  I remembered my earlier interest, and perhaps foolishly, convinced myself to research the game again, before investing any money.  There were several copies of each, and given the pricing, I was reasonably certain that none of them were going anywhere.  Worst that could happen, frankly, was that the shop could close its doors before I came back, thus time was of the essence.

Two days later, I was back.  I’d done some cursory research on Dust Tactics, and knew enough to say that it was something I’d definitely find interesting, giving its alternate historical timeline.  I grabbed those two books – by now, the materials were half-off, so if it proved to be a bust, I was only out of $30.  I could live with that.

But now I’d been bitten by the Dust Tactics bug.  Another visit (and twenty bucks) later, I had a couple of boxes of game figures.  Just before Black Friday, Fantasy Flight Games, which marketed the game, began a massive sale of Dust Tactics accessories, figures, and books.  This was cool from my perspective, because another $40 investment netted me nearly $150 worth of merchandise.  I was on my way!  That sale on Amazon?  Wow – two more add-on sets for $25!  A building set here, and Quonset huts there?  I’m on it!  I spent weeks reading what I could find, downloading various manuals, books, and add-ons; following Dust related blogs and websites . . . I was in full-blown addiction mode, and I hadn’t even played a game yet.

That store with the core set?  Of course, it was gone.  No one could get it for me, either.  When I did find a copy on Ebay, it was nearly $300, and that was used.  All while this was going on, I was curious as to why none of the local stores carried anything Dust related.  It never occurred to me to ask them about it.

When I finally approached a store manager about the game, he gave me the skinny.  Told me about how he’d refused to stock Dust after that “Kickstarter incident.”*  How he’d simply boxed up his armies and put them in his basement.  How his friends, who’d likewise supported the game, did the same.  How he felt there wasn’t a lot of interest left in the game because things had gotten too expensive and bizarre.

This is why I’m glad that I didn’t buy that core set.  Because while I’d have a few more figures and terrain tiles than I have now, I would have simply stared at that box and thought, “Sixty bucks, and for what?”  I had to know that I’d never get anyone else interested in zombies, werewolves, killer gorillas, and walking tanks.

Seriously – what was I thinking?

I could pursue it, he told me, but I’d just be wasting money.  I didn’t tell him that I’d already come to the same conclusion.  All said and done, I probably shelled out $150 on Dust Tactics.  Strangely, I don’t regret this – not one bit.  When I learned about Dust Adventures RPG, I reasoned that my investment could still pay off, just in a different way.  When DrivethruRPG put the volume and its add-on adventure on sale some months back, I went ahead and purchased it.

Do I feel bad about my time with Dust?  No, not really.  After all, a similar game – Konflikt 47, by Warlord Games – was released about a year ago, and since that game is a reworking of Bolt Action, I see some interesting possibilities ahead.


* I know little about that incident, so I’m only repeating what was said to me.