Archive for April, 2009

Tracks keep turning

April 16, 2009

dscf0917The 6milPhil war production conveyor belt gathers pace and first out the factory doors this week are three M10s. I’m not sure who made them as I bought a pile of the pieces for the WWII project from ebay. They’re deffo not GHQ or CinC but still good pieces though.

dscf0919I’ve added two crew to each, which was a bit of a squeeze, boxes and bags as cargo and I had some of the spent shell pieces from an Adler gun crew pack left over, so there’s one on this base to show tossed away empty shell cases. Give it sixty years and this base will be two middle-aged WWII buffs with a metal detector and a digital camera.

dscf0921M3/5 Halftracks, again from an unknown maker. Miliput bags and boxes, a few passengers, an officer and a gunner (all GHQ) which bring the vehicle to life. I can almost hear the officer pointing out the bleeding obvious; “There’s a road over there.”, “That MG is firing at us.”, etc.

dscf0922Another with a different load, the GHQ passenger packs are pretty dull really. They’re the ones sitting like they’re on a bus during the morning rush hour. Adding the gunner helps, but hacking the legs off an infantry figure really was the key to animating the piece. Without any added figures it looks just like what it is, an empty vehicle. Not a good look especially as it can reduce the look of a mass offensive to a mere car park.

dscf0924This one shows what I mean about using infantry pieces, as it lacks one and doesn’t look as alive as the others.

dscf0925This blurred shot of an Elefant does help hide the lack of detail, but I do feel the urge to add something to this before allowing it on the table. It’s an old piece of course, and shows how much miniatures have evolved, back in the 70’s we were all happy with this level of detail. This one was painted and based by the boy Slug and he’s helped to rescue an otherwise unusuable piece I think. Well done lad.

dscf0926A trio of Tigers, and rather irritatingly I know, of unknown make. These are all quite nicely detailed. When basing I try to make a point of not setting them all square. I also glue the turrets in place, which I know removes some of the childish fun in turning a big turret housing a massive gun to point at some helpless target, but for storage it makes good sense. After decades of finding an otherwise well stored collection having shed half a dozen turrets which then have to be matched back up I’m going for the easy life.

dscf0929Finally a Hanomag, with a couple of added figures and cargo. Now and then I base pieces with a bit more ground detail like this one which has a ditch running across it. There’s no deep rationale to any of this other than to make what are identical castings all look different. It can help unit identification when you’re playing more than one player per side, but that’s swings and runabouts isn’t it? All’s tickerty-boo when it helps you to know immediately which vehicle your supporting column is meant to follow, but it can turn to tears when the enemy starts dropping artillery with the same immediacy.

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Walls well that ends well

April 16, 2009

dscf0916Okay, so it’s not a great surprise to find something suitable for the 6mm gamer in the N scale section of a model train shop, but I thought this wall section a cracking find at 15p a piece. I bought all they had. It’s a light resin piece with only the slightest of coats of paint but a good scenic none the less. It was displayed in a tiny box which lacked a maker’s name so I can’t share it with you, but keep your eyes peeled.

dscf0935I couldn’t help but give it a dark wash and add a little grass flock. The picture gives a better idea of it’s size, I can’t wait to find myself cowering behind it.

If we build it they will come

April 15, 2009

dscf0747A small collection of buildings from the ghost town group awaiting refurbishment. I’m sharing these as an example of how if you can draw what you want on a piece of plasticard you can build it.

dscf0748There’s nothing special about any of these, they’re looking a trifle dated and tatty, but the technique still applies as shown in the simplistic house project.

dscf0751Plus unlike bought models, you can make them to exactly fit your gaming needs, whether that’s scenario, period or deployment. This ruin made an excellent hideaway for a small counterattacking force time and time again, it even has a couple of handy floors, one for an observer, another for a sniper. Another benefit is just how cheap it was to make.

All this building is making me scratch

April 15, 2009

dscf0788For this project you will need the following, a bottle of Plastic Weld (or glue of your choice), a cheap gluing brush, a pencil, a Swann & Norton scalpel with a fresh 10A blade (or knife of your choice), a metal ruler (if you’re new to all this then a rubber backed one to avoid slipping is recommended I prefer the small one in the picture), a piece of plasticard 30mm by 200mm and around 1mm thick, and an optional strip of plasticard as made by Evergreen around 2mm wide and as thin as you’re comfortable with. You’ll also need a cutting mat or suitable cutting surface. In the U.S.A. plasticard is more often called styrene. All measurements are in milimeters which is handy when building in 6mm.

dscf0889To start take your piece of plasticard, mark and draw two horizontal lines 10mm in from the top and bottom edges, these represent your floors. Then draw a vertical line 30mm from the left hand edge, another 30mm from that, etc until you’ve drawn four – these are your walls. The first two are going to be the walls either end so they need an apex for the gable, and as the walls are all 30mm the apex will be 15mm from the wall edge at the top edge of the plasticard. Onto the other wall sections, where you draw four windows on each one, no exact measurement needed for those, and also draw a door, make it a little wider than the windows for reasons you’re see later. Mark each piece which will be waste once cut with a scribble as shown.

dscf0891Next cut out the windows and doors. I cut these out by hand, but if you’re new to making your own buildings use the ruler. I always find it best to do it with a number of cuts per line, the first one scoring it and the second finishing the cut. If you press too hard in trying to make the cut first go it can warp the card, plus if you slip you may ruin your work, have a cut to show for your effort and blood on your model. So relax and take your time. In cutting out these small details first you have a sizeable piece of plasticard to hold onto and it makes it less fiddly. Keep every piece of scrap you cut off for now.

dscf0892Next cut off the waste from the top of the front and back walls, and the gables either end. Why it’s starting to look like a house already! Do not seperate the wall sections just yet though as we’re about to add some detail.

dscf0894Remember how we cut the door wider than the windows? Find that offcut, cut it into small horizontal strips and glue one to the top of each window aperture as a lintel. Other detail you might want to add is window sills, and the window offcuts are perfectly sized for that, or if you wanted to add shutters those same pieces cut in half would fit too. However don’t try both unless you’re going to cut more plasticard as you’ve a limited number of offcuts. I’m just doing the lintels on this one, you can do however much or little you choose.

dscf0896I’ve added a door from one of the wall offcuts. I’ve cut it larger than the doorway, scored it vertically to add a little wood-like texture and then glued it to the inside of the wall. If you do texture the door make sure the texture faces outwards, sound obvious but every now and again you’ll make a simple error like this, so better to remind you now.

dscf0897Once you’ve added the details you want to use the metal ruler to seperate the wall sections. This next bit is entirely optional; I want a slight bevel to the foot of the walls, so I’ve cut four pieces of the Evergreen strip plasticard to just over 30mm. One of the handy things with a cutting mat marked in 5mm increments is this doesn’t need a ruler as it’s a rough measurement.

dscf0899Here’s those pieces glued into place. I’m only doing the front and back walls, it will help in joining all the walls together and the pieces for the gable ends will go on at the end. It’s a simple but neat detail, it could even be added between the upper windows and the lower, but I’m keeping it simple.

dscf0902Now glue one corner together at ninety degrees. You don’t have to be exact but you get the idea, even if you’re out a little plasticard is flexible and very forgiving.

dscf0904Now glue another wall into place. Don’t panic if it’s not sitting square at this point, it’ll all fall into place with the next step.

dscf0906Now add the final wall. This can be a little tricky, so best to glue one corner first let it set and then glue the other corner. The relief detail at the bottom of the wall has helped alignment, the overhang can be trimmed when the final pieces of it are added.

dscf0908Onto the roof. On our main piece of plasticard we measured two horizontal lines 10mm apart right? Find that piece and cut along one of those lines, with a ruler, so you have a 20mm strip. From that cut off two lengths of 35mm, these will be your roof. Roofing can be tricky, so to start with we’re only going to apply glue to the sloped gabled walls and where they’ll touch the roof piece. Make sure you set this as perfectly in place as possible it’s the part of the model you’ll see most when gaming so do try to get it as spot on as ability permits.

dscf0910One it’s dried turn the model over and add glue to the parts which you didn’t glue in the previous step. The apex of the roof may have to be gently held in place will drying to ensure a good join.

dscf09121There you go, a simple house ready for painting, I built it in a single sitting and if I hadn’t been taking photos of it it’d been finished in around 20 minutes. If you prefer closed off windows it’s not too late to do that in the same manner as the door. I prefer a mix of doors and windows, as well as the occasional mild bickering over line of sight it can produce when your para with a PIAT can see a Tiger through the windows of a couple of buildings. Painting and basing this model will be covered in a later project, which will include a couple of basic scenic features as well. As you can see this is a very simple technique complicated only by your imagination. If you can draw the kind of building you want onto plasticard you can build it.

dscf0915Finally a word on EMA’s Plastic Weld. I don’t use anything else on plastics because it’s so totally brilliant but if you’ve not used it before it’s worth giving you a brief insight. It’s of a watery consistency, and should be applied to each surface or edge you wish to join and briefly held in place, it dries and bonds in seconds. Often because of the scale getting pieces together is fiddly, but you can use this to get a weak joint made and then if you let it dry and then go back and add another coat it will make a stronger bond. For those times when you make the wrong joint or you’re just not happy with it you can brush a liberal amount on the join and pull it apart. Great stuff indeed. I’m not sure how widely available it is globally but it’s worth tracking down.

Retail Therapy

April 10, 2009

dscf07181A bit more detail on these crude scratchbuilt shops which SentientBean liked enough to comment on when it appeared in the War Production post after refurbishment. This was first glued and clamped onto a 2mm MDF base. The roof in the original build was detached so I cut two fresh pieces of plasticard to replace them. The whole thing was repainted, and posters added to both end walls. As you can see the original cuts aren’t especially straight and it is a crude structure and as such should encourage other to get making their own buildings. However self-critical you might be of your own skills one thing to remember is a crude scratch build like this is better than a space on the table. I don’t really need any more buildings for this period, but in the future I will do a step by step build of another one, just so folk can see how simple it really is.

dscf0719On the rear garden walls were added, then a thin layer of MMD green putty to the base just to make it uneven especially where grass was going to meet bare soil. A small rut was left for the tree. The tree has a twisted wire base and I’ve found the easiest way to base them is to bend the bottom of the wire to ninety degrees and super glue it into place. If you’re using a few on the same base it looks more realistic if they’re different heights. Various chunkier flock was used for the plants, then short grass flock for the gardens and the patch along the side, the tree was glued into place, and longer grass flock used for the rest of it. I’ll get another twenty years play out of this one.

dscf05762

The most time consuming part was the posters, I wanted the look of many posters have been here over time so I started by just sticking on blank pieces of paper in irregular shapes, on top of that more recent and slightly battered or torn posters, and finally fresher ones over those. Weathering,  creasing and folding corners is fiddly and best done with the point of a scalpel before attaching to the model otherwise you may damage either the model or the paint. Most of these are nazi propaganda posters which you can find easily with a google image search. Grab a few, shrink them down, print them out and away you jolly well go.

Charlie don’t scratchbuild

April 10, 2009

cnv00004It’s been over a decade since I last played a Vietnam game but I thought I’d share these old photos, with a few new ones, all the same. At the time I didn’t base miniatures so they’re typically smaller, most of the above is scratchbuilt, some purchased with a few found goodies too. Rather disturbingly this means the bulk of the sandbags you can see have been made from miliput and hand laid individually. One thing I have noticed, and will illustrate later on, is how my palette has brightened over the years. It was common for all gamers of all scales to use the same standard colours and tones, now we tend to brighten those the smaller we go, a positive development I think.

cnv00016I can’t remember who made the miniatures, but the bought features like the mortar pit to the right of the tower were from Irregular. I added the tin roof for utility. The trees are those railway trees and don’t really fit, but palm trees were as rare as pacifists in foxholes. Yet again this is a single box collection, that is all the buildings pack away into a single shoebox sized, er… box. The trees I store seperately, another single box, but suitable for lots of periods bar perhaps jungle based scenarios.

dscf0754Some of the pieces in detail, a couple of which I’ve rarely seen anyone else bother with especially not in 6mm. A latrine, a shower (very “It ain’t half hot mum”) and a supply office or QMs, the latter was a railway piece I think with added crates and miliput sandbags.

dscf0755A couple of adaptations of “tent” pieces from an old boardgame, the one on the left generic, the one on the right being an officers mess or the C.O.s. If the extra protection and sandbags weren’t enough of a clue there’s also an air conditioning unit on the rear. Showing more wear and tear than the rest of them for a very good reason which I’ve learnt from. The original pieces were just smooth forms with no texture so to get a canvas look with creases and folds I glued some strips from a plastic bag to them, about the worse way of doing it. Now I’d either use very damp paper with a wealth of PVA or thin metal from a cut open and cleaned empty tube of tomato puree. The latter is a bit risky to fingertips as it can cut so well it makes a papercut look like a joy.

dscf0756From the same old boardgame come the barrels and boxes, with the fuel tank in the middle being a model railway piece. The barrels are a single piece including the base and just needed painting and flocking, the boxes had a tarpaulin made from a slice of puree tube added too. The fuel tank was based, had a pitifully useless number of sandbags added plus a fuse wire hose. Both the fuel tank and the barrels were very popular pieces in games involving a U.S. base, the NVA and VC used to nearly always mortar them first.

dscf0758A couple of manufactured pieces, a wholly enclosed bunker and a mortar pit, both from Irregular I believe.Out of focus GHQ jeep to show scale.

dscf0760Scratchbuilt mess hall and kitchen, made from corrugated plasticard and a stovepipe from I don’t know where. Another one of those pieces which would fit a variety of periods. This also show the brightening of palette I mentioned early on. The building is quite dark, the mud dirty and a monochromatic flock for the glass. Compare it with the much brighter finish of the blurred tank (hey it’s moving really quickly ok?) and it’s base. That’s natural evolution over about 20 years, and no sign of that pesky Darwin.

Rules Britannia

April 9, 2009

dscf0852Sets of rules for gaming are unusual beasts. In days past you typically took up whichever set your chums used, sometimes you might express your individuality by finding a different set, sometimes at a show or club or even having read about them in the limited wargaming press. Now with the web you can go to a gaming forum and have a decent conversation about them, then go and read thousands of words about them in reviews and more or less guarantee ending up with exactly what you are looking for. However there’s two side effects of the web which can actually make it a more drawn out affair, namely every gamer in ten seems to have written a rule set and often generously offers them up for free download, also the range of choice is positively massive in part due to one gamer in ten having written a set. Being spoilt for choice is a luxury though so don’t consider that a complaint, it’s mere observation.

When I decided to return to WWII gaming I used the new web way of doing things, and preferring to always think things through it did take a good couple of months to conclude by buying a copy of Blitzkrieg Commander by Peter Andrew Jones from Specialist Military Publishing Ltd. Aside from looking like the most suitable for me, the company is British and that’s agreeable to me for mild nationalistic reasons.

dscf0853When the rules were delivered I was a little shocked. Sure the book is a beautiful example of publishing, well bound, overall good production values, and lavishly illustrated, but it did strike me as too thick a volume. I was looking for speedy play, and did wonder if I hadn’t bought one of those over complex rivet-counting volumes. A quick scan removed my fears, the bare machinery of the game filled only a small part of the overall book, the rest was army lists for specific theatres by date, plus a talk-through of how it all worked on the table with illustrative photos.

dscf0857I’ve little to say about the rules, they’re simple, play well and most importantly great fun. They’re not limited to 6mm in any way so they’re suitable for heathen friends. A twelve year old can use them, as can be seen in the picture of the boy Slug above – and yes he does look a little too serious but then he is trying to work out how to beat the historical precedent set by the Third Reich after all. The army lists are vital of course, and it wasn’t long before I was spodding out making calculations for invincible armies like one does, only to see them turn to dust on the table. The most interesting feature though are the talk-through pages, most rules I’ve ever learned, and I imagine this is true of a lot of gamers, have been explained to me in a few minutes by a mate who knew the set. This would then be followed by a quick introductory game. It’s astute of a publisher to replicate this and so keenly too.

dscf0861I wouldn’t be surpised if they were suitable for younger players like Stinky who is five, in fact if he can explain surpression by the end of the week I won’t put him on a charge for his sloppy use of a beret. Specialist Military Publishing also produce Cold War Commander and Future War Commander, both of which I’ve heard good reports of, they also have a very handy website packed with further information, links and a forum, the latter being really handy as there’s nothing like being able to run any misinterpretations or problems past the man who wrote the rules. I highly recommend these rules, and as is so common I now support them with the fervour usually associated with sports teams. We are the army, the barmy army, etc…

Housing market ruined

April 9, 2009

dscf0720Here’s a few buildings from the ghost town after refurbishment. Here I’ve based one ruined building on each corner of a 2mm MDF base with PVA glue and due to their own bases warping they had to be clamped. I also made a point of clamping the large base itself to something larger and unbendable so that the original warping didn’t simply translate into warping the MDF. Added extra rubble which covers a multitude of sins, added a wall around one corner and a couple of trees.  Flocked the whole base except for two edges which I left as pavements.

dscf0725Here’s another with old ruins on opposite sides of an MDF base. Gluing and clamping was the same as the previous. As you can see a based miniature fits comfortably and won’t do any damage so long as your rubble is solidly glued down and is well varnished.

dscf0726By the time I came to this one I was running out of the smaller ruins so I based it with an undamaged building. This too needed double clamping, added the tree, hedge and then the flock grass, short within the walled garden to look like it’s been mowed regularly and long on the rest leaving just one edge as pavement. The unruined building has been repainted, had a couple of posters added to a wall, but look closely and you can see it’s quite crude in it’s structure. If you’re new to scratchbuilding ruins are a good place to start, basic mistakes like crooked walls look deliberate and actually add to the finished look.

Justice for Intimidated Scale Modellers

April 8, 2009

dscf07951This is Terry. He’s a scale modeller. Every night he tries to model, but he gets intimidated and ends up crying himself to sleep. His intimidator says if he tells anyone she’ll come back and do nasty things to him which he doesn’t understand. Stop the suffering. Join the Justice for Intimidated Scale Modellers campaign on Facebook.

Okay it’s a joke group, but if you’re like my mate Terry and suffer whinging from the missus or girlfriend over our harmless hobby why not sign yourself up? Post a picture, state your case and then show it to the whinger. It might just work.

It’s a fair Copse

April 8, 2009

dscf0743Okay it’s not the most exciting feature but we all need trees. This is a large copse featuring the full range of Irregular metal trees, with a few bushes, patchy grass and although the photo doesn’t reveal it the patches of mud are glossed to look more like wet mud. Although it looks flat it does have some relief, which I tend to do to every base even those for miniatures. There’s something not quite right to a flocked base which is perfectly flat, unless it’s a bowling or golf green, it’s one of those things that I believe the brain sees even if the eyes don’t.

dscf0745A set of tank obstacles which are probably a trifle too large. The H-bar is prebought in strips and cut to size, and even at this gigantic size is very fiddly to glue together. Various short pieces have been stuck into the ground at an angle. In future I’ll use a smaller guage H-bar and cut them even shorter. By the way if you didn’t spot the GHQ jeep in each of these pictures I insist you subtract one from your next dice-roll.