Archive for September, 2009

Someone playing Westgate Games?

September 21, 2009

DSCF2429A week ago on TMP there was a news item about Westgate Games which quickly gathered a few “Hurrahs!”. The opening sentence summed up developments nicely;

Westgate Games (a long and upstanding pillar of the Kentish gaming community for the last 22 years) has changed hands, and the new owner (Elton Waters, i.e., me) would like to announce the following new products which are presently available…

The poster went onto to list the new product ranges and give all the other info you’d expect a relaunching business to share, and it was exciting to hear. I managed to hold off visiting, as Elton suggested on the thread, until today when I took a quick drive over there after picking up the boy Slug from school.

Rather oddly the shop front looked exactly as it did the last time we visited, but that wasn’t the only similarity. Once inside I couldn’t help but notice the original owner sitting rather unhappily behind the counter, and he didn’t get any happier when I asked if Elton was around nor when I suggested he’d sold the business to him. According to him the shop hasn’t been sold, it’s not under new management and although there’s been some involvement of solicitors in negotiating no agreement has been reached and no contracts signed, etc.

Well it’s unusual to generate such a negative feeling so rapidly in a shop without attempting to rob them blind, so I made my excuses and left, a good hour and a half effectively wasted. What’s more unusual is whatever is actually going on with Westgate Games, given the announcement on TMP. If anyone has any idea please give us all a clue by commenting.

Update: Three weeks later and no clues towards the actuality, with a total silence from Elton on TMP despite interest being posted there…

Additonal Update: The confusion has been settled, the actually can be read here.

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Circling Overland

September 19, 2009

DSCF2366It could be the buzz of a Mosquito, or the hum of an Auster but no the strange noise in the skies above is that of a Slug using technology which isn’t quite in keeping with the period on the table. We set up this evening for an afternoon of playing BKC tomorrow, and I can’t help thinking the tiny swine is pre-plotting mortar fire, interlocking fields of fire and making my half of the table one large killing zone from turn one. Time will out of course, but if anyone has any reenforcements they could force march to my aid overnight it’d be gratefully appreciated.

Euro Militaire 2009

September 19, 2009

DSCF2307Euro Militaire is upon us again and of the five shows the residents of 6 mil mansions visited this year it’s the one we least looked forward to, with half the usual posse actually crying off rather than go through it again. It’s a luckness combination of not being good value for money, slowly getting worse year on year and the dominant life form being a middle aged version of the denizens of a Games Workshop store being free of both deodourant and love, acrid virgins blind to the simplest of common manners.

It started well with a grinning woman seated behind a desk unable to sell us tickets but also unable to communicate beyond a constant Cheshire cat grin and vague pointing away from herself when asked where tickets might be bought. Obviously she mistook me for one of the acrid virgins, and speaking would have meant breathing and inhaling more of the deadly fumes. Having two children with me should have been clue enough. Next was a woman who could talk, but only because she was eating, what she was eating I don’t know but it may have been boiled sweets judging from the slurping suckious smacking way she pronounced the few syllables she shared in extracting ¬£23 for me, an adult, and two children to gain tickets. I swear she licked her fingers before taking our cash. Twelve paces later, past the Cheshire Cat, our tickets were inspected, torn, our hands stamped and we were indicted into the mass.

The heat inside was sweltering, punctured only by the sharp rasp of the overloud PA system. Found Mr Models stall, an oasis of Brummy charm from which we were able to gain a discount on a Jerry halftrack kit for the boy Slug, and then surely by divine guidance another Brummy charmer who sold him an animated set of panzer grenadier crew for said model, again with a discount. The major find for me was Realistic Modelling Services, based in nearby Dover who had as wide a selection of flocks as any human could hope for.

Next it was downstairs to look at the models in the various competitions. The quality of these is usually stunning and as such is the saving grace of the show, our descent into the modelling arena was marked by yet another announcement; “The air conditioning in the competition rooms isn’t working if one of the venue staff could address this situation we would be grateful.”. Now I can smell a trap, so we tore through the competition rooms, a few photos of which can be seen below, and left feeling ripped off. It could have been so much worse though had we succumbed to their furnace like heating breaking us into a deodourant busting sweat marked by the bulk of the visitors slowly and quietly chanting… “One of us, one of us.”

Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me

September 19, 2009

DSCF2250Having bought a pile of Irregular Miniature trees from Angel Barracks the other day it didn’t take long for me to think of something to use them all up in one go, even if I’m getting short of bases for scenics. So on my last 75mm square base I decided it was time to make an orchard, made incredibly simple by using the metal trees from Irregular which, along with all their trees and bushes, are some of my favourite bought-in scenics.

Okay so I’ve sprayed the trees and set them to one side, and it’s on to setting the tree bases onto the scenic bases as seen above, easy enough.

DSCF2251Next I’ve slopped on the Basetex, which is one of the fastest ways of getting a lot of texture across a large area. Bastex is another product available from Irregular. You can make your own by mixing sand and paint, but I’m far too lazy for that nonsense. At this rate the whole scenic is becoming a gaming equivalent of a three minute omlette and having buggered about with nothing but bases of infantry the other week hurrah for that.

DSCF2253Next it’s onto the hedging, and I’m using up Javis flexible hedging to hedge the entire orchard. Now I’m a big fan of most things Javis as it’s typically good materials and well-priced. However this flexible hedging, along with their flexible walls, is awful from the moment you start to touch it. The flocks falls off at every opportunity so there’s bits everywhere as I cut this about to make it look less regular. I keep the off cuts though as they can make good small patches of even rougher hedging.

DSCF2265Right I’ve painted the textured base brown, given it a wash, stuck the flexible hedging on and flocked it roughly, stuck on the gate, another Irregular gem, and flocked the base itself. I’ve done the last stage as if it’s a regularly trodden orchard, city types probably imagine orchards are visited once a year to pick the fruit, but it’s not so, there’s always plenty of pruning, pollenating, wandering around shooting the rabbits and even visits around Christmas to collect mistletoe if it’s an apple orchard.

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A final coat of static grass to give it that high summer look and it’s time to stick the trees into those handy holes.

DSCF2281Here’s the finished piece, I’ve made a point of making the greens of the grass, the hedges and the trees three distinct tones as this is how the countryside looks to me. Had I used the same tones for all three it would look quite flat and more like a roundabout in Milton Keynes than a delightful orchard secreted in the Normandy countryside. A very simple scenic for anyone to try, and with metal trees a weighty one too.

Branching Out

September 19, 2009

DSCF2290Ah the humble model railway tree, once such a joy but now looking rather dated. There was a time when you could take a box of these to a game and they would impress everyone. “Wow, trees!” folk would cry as if they’d rarely gamed with such a thing on the table. Over the years my box of fifty-or-so have seen a fair amount of action but as gaming standards rise beyond all recognition the reaction has dropped off to barely concealed loathing. Okay they’re metal brushes with flock on them, and aside from variations in colour they’re incredibly samey. Sure you can get some with coloured bits on them to make them look a little like fruit trees, but those are a bit questionable and ultimately you’re fooling no one. Compared to the cheapo Chinese trees off that Ebay, and the metal ones from Irregular they are rather dull.

DSCF2292So now I’ve started to mangle them to look more like the one above. The first step is to cut chunks off to get a less balanced shape. Then glob some PVA over them and add flock. It’s a simple way to make them look better and doesn’t take too long if you’ve a good pair of clippers.

DSCF2299One thing to bear in mind is when you’re letting them dry you want to change how you store them to avoid having the PVA being misguided by gravity and ending up all at one end. To start I store them top down in a small amount of flock, and after about half an hour turning them and sticking them into a box or similar.

DSCF2302Here’s a selection I made earlier. From left to right, a larger finished one looking much more like a tree, an experimental one with some basetex applied to be flocked later, two after a single flocking, and one with two coats of flock and just waiting to dry. They’ve lost the look of trees cloned from a single seed.

DSCF2301Here’s two rows of trees, the back ones have been hacked but still look samey, the front row have been hacked, flocked and look much more like trees too. It’s a shame the makers of these don’t catch up and just add a little more glue and flock and help us all out. Until then I think this is a handy tip for the perfectionists amongst us, which by my current estimation is about 99% of us.

Nice Bush

September 12, 2009

DSCF2252No I’m not on the wacky baccy, above is the mix of flocks I’m currently using for bushes. The photo doesn’t show the tones well but take my word for it there’s two tones of Javis bush material and one of another make which I can’t recall. I thought I’d take the opportunity to show how I make bushes, either for bases of miniatures, or scenics.

DSCF2260Here’s the base I want to put a bush on. I’ve chopped the bush mix really quite fine and have it nearby, so I’ve added a blob of superglue gel near the fence post on the base. Then I take a very large pinch of bush mix and squeeze it between thumb and finger to really compress it, then press the whole lot down onto the glue, hold it briefly in place and then whisk my digits away to avoid becoming glued to the base.

DSCF2261This produces a reasonable looking bush as you can see. It can be left like this or pushed and prodded around with the point of a pencil. Often this produces a bushier than bush look but you can tell it’s won’t hold for long.

DSCF2263To make it set in position I then add a single drop of liquid superglue, which the material then sucks up and when dry is much tougher. If you do add this second touch and add too much liquid superglue there’s a danger of the bush drying out with a white finish to it. It’s very much a matter of putting on too little rather than too much, and the only way to figure that out is to practice.

Base Sick Instinct

September 12, 2009

DSCF2271Well I’ve finally finished what remained of my armies for this WW2, and about bleeding time too. Every thing after this is a luxury, so I can concentrate on a few scenics and the whole point of this activity tons of games. Hurrah! There’s a bit of work due on the storage front but by all estimations I should have these all stored away in time for… well in time to get them out for a game next weekend so long as tine is willing as we’ve off to the Euro Militaire show next Sunday. It’s always a difficult one to make into a family day out as the dominant species does appear to be middle-aged male virgins who have no idea how one should act in the presence of either women nor children, and the fact that many of them are mainland Europeans doesn’t help.

DSCF2267The best of the latest are the command bases above, again going for more of a mini-diorama look than a typical base.

DSCF2268This is the British Para Command base, with them taking cover behind a fence.

DSCF2269Likewise for the German Infantry Command, well I had half a fence section left, plus the luxury of a Kettenkrad.

DSCF2270Meanwhile the German Paras have choosen a more rural setting, covering behind a haywagon.

DSCF2272One of the regular bases with a bit of detail is this of a Tommy HMG crew legging it through long grass. As nice as these and the others look, and as happy as I am to have them finally finished I must admit I’ve grown sick of basing infantry over the past week.

A true Dutch treat

September 10, 2009

miniaturegamingWeb savvy tabletop gamers are used to regular and wonderful excess, usually it’s pretty predictable such as great paint jobs on miniatures, a stunning scenic or a massed combination of both in a great tabletop layout. However Dutch 6mm gamer Patrick Van Gompel has taken one enormous step beyond this, sure he’s got the well painted figures plus a collection of great scenics and yes they’re all combined into a layout – then he’s turned it into an animation which runs at over eight minutes – a truly stunning effort which can be seen here.

Flocking bases

September 7, 2009

DSCF2218Following a comment from fellow blogger Ssendam asking about my basing technique I thought it would make much more sense to show it rather than explain it, and it’s one of those things a lot of us seasoned gamers do without thinking and it’s not obvious to newcomers to the wonderful hobby of wargaming. Above is a GHQ German Horsedrawn Wagon painted and washed superglued onto a plastic base after it has been roughly textured with green putty or milliput – green putty drys much quicker but pongs and can remove paint, milliput takes much longer to dry but can be sculpted and can be painted before fully dried. Once dried the base has been painted with¬† Vallejo Flat Earth, and then roughly drybrushed with any other darker brown. A small stone has been superglued on for added detail.

DSCF2224If you want to add a little more depth to the brown, like you might on a very muddy base, add a dark wash. You might have noticed how I’m using brown before adding the grass, whereas a lot of folk use green. This is a personal preference borne of knowing how after a few years flock can fall off and this way it reveals the mud below, combined with liking quite rough looking bases with a lot of soil showing.

DSCF2219For flock I typically use three different types based on the palette I want to use across an entire project. Given that this project is Europe ’44-’45 I decided to go for a high summer look. Above is a blurred image of my dark green flock, but it still functions to give an idea of the colour, which I mixed from three bags of rather posh flock from EMA. It’s meant to represent the best kept lawns you might find.

DSCF2220Here’s my light mix, a combination of several bags of Javis flock which is typically spongier, mixed with a little of the EMA dark stuff. This is meant to represent sun-bleached grass.

DSCF2222Here’s my mid-range tone everyone’s favourite static grass. It comes as this wide spectrum of colours ready mixed.

DSCF2225Back to the wagon and here’s the first coat of PVA glue sparingly dotted around. Now I’m after a patchy effect, so I add each layer in patches. For thicker or more regular grass you use thicker or more regular coats of glue.

DSCF2226Then as speedily as you can pile on the first layer of flock, here it’s the darkest one. I’ve gently tapped it down, and then tapped off the bulk of the excess. Now at this stage, before the glue dries, if you leave it as shown the glue will spread and when dried most of this flock will stay on the base. It’s totally acceptable as it is, but I want a bit more soil showing.

DSCF2228So I wait less than a minute and then blow off the whole of the excess flock. This is much more what I’m looking for.

DSCF2229Having let the first layer dry completely, I now add the second coat of PVA glue. Again this is patchy, some on bare soil some on the flock already there.

DSCF2230On goes the light mix, follow the same procedure as previously to get the look you’re after.

DSCF2236I decided on a bush, which I added before the static grass, using Javis bush material. Again this is a mix of two tones from seperate bags, chopped roughly together. To attach to the base I use superglue gel, into which I press a large pinch of the Javis hedge mix. When dried you can, should you choose, pluck and form a good looking bush which you can then set with a little liquid superglue gently poured onto the top branches. This, like the PVA glue will produce some shine, all of which will vanish once you matt varnish the base in it’s entirity.After the bush I put a few blobs of PVA around for the final layer, the static grass.

DSCF2238Here’s the near finished base, it just needs a matt varnish, which I’ve not done as I spray my bases en-masse. Obviously using three types of flock triples the time it takes to finish each base but I think the finished look is worth it. It is worth experimenting as you go along, to get the kind of finish you’re after, one thing worth considering is mixing near identical shades of flock, for 6mm scale it produces the kind of detail you need for realism on such a delicate scale.

Easy Glider

September 6, 2009

DSCF1488Most 6mm gamers would agree how GHQ produce a lot of great looking models, typically they’re small bubble packs of five vehicles, however they do produce a series of Combat Commands, boxed sets for entire regiments and the like but most of these are simply collection of the bubble packs. By far the sexiest one is the British Horsa Glider Assault Team partly because it’s British but also because it’s effectively Operations Tonga or Market Garden in a box and excites me as much as when I first heard about either of those operations via films like “The Longest Day” or “A Bridge too Far”.

Nostalgia aside this is a very simple kit, it comes with 48 Para’s, a few heavy weapons, and four jeeps, although my set came with six so thanks to GHQ for that. It also comes with 3 Horsa gliders which are basically four part kits as seen above, and with a scale wingspan of around 95mm are absolute beasts. There’s little filing to do as there’s little sign of mould marks nor flash, and the parts typically fit together well.

DSCF1490The instructions suggest a number of ways of putting them together, depending on your preference be it for the Horsa in flight, on the ground, or on the ground with the nose opened to get the bigger gear out. The most fragile part to start with is the tail assembly which did need a slight bend to set everything square. To start I decided I’d go for Horsa in flight, as I’d prefer them all singing all dancing.

DSCF1494Lo and behold within minutes there’s your basic Horsa, very simple and to be frank I wish I’d just gone for this level of modelling as it got fiddly and frustrating very quickly.

DSCF1497Thankfully GHQ supply spares for the fiddly bits, some you might need because you get it wrong, others because not all the parts on all the sprues are complete.

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First on is the skid plate, which you really can do without, and the nose wheels. The nose wheels are on a long rod which looks likely to snap off pretty easily so I’ve made it shorter and therefore more stable.

DSCF1502Next are the main wheels either side which are quite fiddly too. The small indentation to the right of the skid-plate is where you need to drill your hole if you’re going to mount it on a flight stand. A bit of a must-do as I see it.

DSCF1506Once an in-flight version is completed this is what you’ll have, and the keener eyed might have noticed a problem, it sits arse heavy, mainly because of the skid-plate. Even without it the model will be arse heavy, and although there’s some space inside where you could try counter balancing don’t bother trying like I did with later attempts as I estimate the weight needed to make it sit properly or nose heavy is around the eight gram mark. Of course this won’t be noticed when it’s in flight, and for deployed after landing it’s not a great problem, although I found it frustrating and put the project in a corner for a while as if it were a sulky child.

During landing it was quite usual for a Horsa to lose it’s wheels and skid-plate, so the other two have none of the extras and sit at a more realistic angle.

DSCF1932A quick splash of paint later and it was onto putting the invasion stripes on, just to prevent the Yanks from shooting them up by mistake. I’ve gloss varnished the wings for this to make it easier, and also bought the GHQ invasion stripes decals. I wasn’t too chuffed to realise how despite the decals being the official ones none of them were big enough for the job in hand. Just why the invasion stripes aren’t, like wallpaper, long strips which can be cut to size is beyond me but hey ho…

DSCF2022On goes the first stripes, I’ve put them slightly out of place because I didn’t want to have to deal with the sloping edge of the wing.

DSCF2024When it came to put the second set on another difficulty made itself known, basically the stripes aren’t of equal width either. When I started this project I laughed when a chum suggested painting these on, preferring as I did to use decals, but it was at this stage I wish I’d listened. These decals are manically fiddly to start with, and it doesn’t help to have that multipled, especially when I believe it’s fair to assume using GHQ decals will make it easier.

DSCF2211Here’s the trio finished, the one atop is the one with wheels, etc, the others don’t have them. A lovely little set fit for anyone’s tabletop, and still the sexiest of the Battle Command series. Considering they’re really just a four piece kit GHQ would do well to address the invasion stripe problem, as for me that alone was the longest part of the entire assembly and painting. I’m still scratching my head at how I’ll fit these into the storage box supplied.