Archive for January, 2011

Barn to be wild

January 31, 2011

No I’ve not become Amish but this week I’ve mainly been building barns. As you can see from the first finished one in the picture above. Why barns? Well two reasons really one I wanted something to compliment the rather excellent ruined farm by Miniature Building Authority which my domestic goddess gave me for Christmas. The other reason being how I have 1000 coffee stirrers. So I was looking for a wooden structure and one which might fit more than just one area of interest –  barns being perfect for WW2 and VBCW.

Originally I wanted to make it really simple, and the original build was but then as you’re doing it ideas form for detailing and given how you’re not going to make hundreds of these quality also raises it’s ugly head. If you’re only doing it once you might as well make it as well as you can eh? The Army Painter ivy above is a good example of this, it took about three and a half seconds to imagine, forty minutes to go and buy it, and over an hour to apply it as wanted.

The hay loft is another feature added after the original build, including the ladder. Of course you don’t actually need the ladder, nor can it even be used by the figures, but buildings like this seem to come alive once you get going with them and almost demand this level of detail.

The doors enjoyed the most ridiculous level of detail including rusted hinges and traces of dry rot on the bottom of the doors as influenced by the same detail on Rushcal’s Garage for VBCW.

The timber isn’t so much painted as stained with ink, this helps to bring out the grain in the wood. I started with a dark brown colour, and then dry brushed lighter and lighter shades on top of that. The roof was done with stirrers too, but laid closer to each other and then coated with a watered down filler. I call this material mock plaster.

Even though this photo is rather poor it shows how well the spacing on the walls works, as well as how much room there is inside. One of the finishing touches was to poke a few extra ivy leaves through the gaps, in the way ivy grows.

Hey to zed

January 30, 2011

If you’re into zeds, or zombies as the rest of the world knows them, then you might have noticed how red is one of the most common colours which you regularly use. You probably use various types of red, including Tamiya clear red for that still-wet-and-warm blood look. Along with this you’ll have developed different methods for  gore, and favoured techniques for severed limbs and the like. In short red is the new black – it’s all about the gore. Now I’m no master of the zombie arts and have barely reached 60 fully finished zombies of my own in over a year spent in part on a zombie project. One thing did become apparent with the last few I painted that that was how I was starting to find gore quite boring, so I came up with this paint job for one of the very special Studio Miniatures. I wanted something which captured one of my favourite aspects of zombie films, and that’s just how plain retarded zombies are. So this one has managed to empty a tin of blue paint over his head just moments ago.

Perhaps some survivor with a warped sense of humour placed the tin on a door left slightly ajar, maybe this poor soul got trapped in the kitchen section of B&Q, or maybe a painter and decorator actually turned up on time but only because he’s now a zombie. Whichever it’s a nice change to cover a zombie in blue paint. Of course it won’t be long before a return to all things visceral, but a change is as good as a tin of blue paint on your head.

Toys ‘R’ Them

January 26, 2011

All hail the mighty Hornby Hobbies or as they’re still known around here, that’s the Isle of Thanet, the ever wonderful Rovex. There was a time, called the seventies, when an enormous number of Thanetians used to work here and they used to finish early on a Friday afternoon and bring the traffic on the main road outside to a halt as they flocked to the many buses waiting for them and a few cars for the wealthier workers.

Sadly there’s no production on site any more, it’s all made in China now so the only workers on site are marketing, research and design, and the visitor centre. It’s the latter I dragged the boys to just after Christmas.

Sadly you don’t get to enter through the main hall, but rather celebrate solidarity with the ghosts of the workers of the past in wandering in through this side gate…

…and in through this humble door.

This is where you’ll be greeted by the friendly and welcoming staff, and given what they must have to put up with it’s close to a miracle they can still smile if you ask me.

Now the first part of your experience is the humble but perfectly formed shop, it carries all the brands now owned by Hornby, their trains, and the much adored ranges of Airfix, Corgi, Scalextric, Humbrol and the less well known Bassett Lowke range.

One corner of the shop, above, is for the reduced priced items and it’s hard not to find a suitable bargain here, and I know because I’ve tried.

The shops open for the same hours as the visitor centre, however there’s no fee to come and shop and if you’re after a specific item then it’s incredibly likely they’ve got it in stock.

You do have to pay for the visitor centre though (£4 for adults, £2 for OAPs or Sprogs) and to start with I wasn’t too sure about it because the entrance to, and the exit from, are within six foot of each over. To me this suggested a very short experience but happily I was wrong as there’s a lenghty maze beyond worthy of Theseus.

The mystical journey starts immediately by plunging you into a dim environ with brightly light display of youthful totems.

There’s a tiny cinema showing fascinating documentary shorts.

More items of desire display tauntingly out of reach.

A lovely racing circuit, typically bigger than anything you ever got to set up as a child. Now if like me you take children you may have to prepare them for the wait involved to get a go on this mainly because there’s likely to be a pair of adults old enough to be your parents on this for ages.

Then onto the railway layouts, again typically so much better than your personal juvenile actuality, like a gold standard for aspiration.

There’s some limited interaction with these, pressing the odd button here or there but mainly it’s all about going oooooh.

There’s also a fair amount of temptation, given how you can buy all these pieces in the shop and then go home and make these massive layouts.

Here’s one piece which really grabbed me by the wallet. It’s their Jubilee clock tower which to you very likely just looks like… well a clock tower, but around here it’s a very special local building.  And for under a tenner too… expect to see it on a VBCW table near me soon.

Amongst all this are the shrine like displays like this one featuring a mould for a model which will have you waffling away to your children about “technical processes”, “injection moulding” and “scale drawings” until they fall over with fascination.

Others are pure nostalgia, and will have you wondering aloud about what exactly might have happened to your diecast JPS special racing car.

Predictably some will have you considering thievery to release the jewels beyond… for me it was this lot 1:50th-ish traction engines which I’m after for VBCW and can’t be found for love but can be for lots of money.

Overall the visitor centre is a crackingly brill experience, and for specialist anoraks should provide at least a solid hour and a half to two hours of unbridled joy. The only thing which surprised me was just how many times James May, aka Johnny Come Lately, featured in displays although I can understand why as he must be a solid fave with the shareholders.

I’ve deliberately not shown everything in the centre in the hope that a few surprises might remain but I highly recommend it as a great place to visit for a bargain price. Full details are here.

Air we go, air we go, air we go!

January 19, 2011

Not sure exactly why, but Slug’s taste for airborne troops even extends to those pesky Yanks who did half the work but are in all the films. This is one of Bolt Actions finely crafted .30 cal teams. The level of detail is divine and combined with just how much kit those spoiled yanks had presents quite a painting challenge.

I’ve experimented with painting thin wire copper coloured and cutting it up with clippers to use as spent shells as part of the basing. Although the Slug doesn’t base as a rule this developement at insane detail intrigued him enough for him to insist on doing that part himself. Sure they’re not exactly true to scale, but the effect works regardless!


In this shot you can even see how he’s painted on the “Screaming Seagulls” patch, hopefully they’ll be hacking down Germans on a table near us soon.

Para-dise Revisited

January 18, 2011

There’s something about the various parachute units which a lot of gamers like, and they’re not strangers to this blog either. When it comes to WW2 the airborne troops take on a legendary air, and this likely explains just why they so popular and rightly so. Although all my efforts have been 6 mm, the Slug has been working on them in decadent 28mm and rather well too as the photo above shows.

It also shows how gamers can save themselves some cash and effort in using out of scale models for the really big things like aircraft. Above is the Airfix Horsa glider in 1/72nd scale which breaks the rule of everything being the same scale, but this is gaming and not scale engineering and as a game representation works perfectly… it’s also a damn sight smaller than a 1/48th ki t- so more gaming space on the table, easier to find and only costs around £15.

Here’s a delightful Tetrarch light tank which we were lucky enough to buy as is from Uncle Crouchie just before Christmas. I’m not sure who makes this one but hopefully Crouchie might let us know should he read this. If anyone feels the need to point out the bleeding obvious (i.e: Tetrarchs were transported by Hamilcar gliders and not Horsa) then please do, it’ll give me an opportunity to edit your comment to something even sillier.

All of the miniatures are Artizan Design which were a gift for the boy Slug for Christmas 2009 based on his preference for Para’s who are wearing berets rather than helmets.

It took me a while to track down who made them like that, but it was worth it as they’re lovely sculptures.

Over the course of a year he’s kept on with these on the back burner and eventually finished them and has a cracking group ready for a fight.

The only help he’s had was with the basing, which he doesn’t like doing.

Who can blame him, especially when it’s a distraction from his growing confidence and skills with a brush.

Of course having finished them just before Christmas and celebrated a project as finished I’m not sure if he was genuinely happy to get a couple more packs of ww2 paras from Santa just a few weeks later.

I image this project may just run, and run, and run…

Grin and standard bear it

January 4, 2011

In my Christmas Day post, auto- scheduled to allow me to drink copiously I assure you, I gave you a couple of VBCW banners and here’s the figures Iwas working on which I hacked the flags together for. The figure is a simple conversion from a Crusader Miniatures command pack. The hardest part was putting the longer puttees on him, as this is the dress code for all our BUF forces, for which I had to Dremel away the old puttees and then greenstuff the puttees and blouse out the bottom of his trousers. The bulk of the painting was done by the boy Slug, even if it was a reluctant distraction from all things airborne, delivered by parachute and filling his painting tray.

Detailing the piece was great fun, first was the paving on the tuppence with greenstuff, I’ve made up a copy of the BUF “Blackshirt” paper to decorate it. Only in writing this have I noticed the brush hair stuck on his back… as soon as I did I went straight to the figure and removed it. This shows how wargaming may well be some form of obsessive behaviour, and leaves me wishing I’d become addicted to mindless sex with pert blondes instead.

The flag head was made from a button, with the fascist flash sculpted from more greenstuff. It’s a difficuly thing to sculpt because it does look as if it’s too far to the right… but that’s the BUF all over isn’t it?

In comparison the new Anglican League bearer is very simple, using one of the totally fab Musketeer Miniatures civilian figures. The Vicar is seen standing on the grass next to the pathway to his church. He’s wearing the new “Anglican” tweed. The small cross atop is a silver piece of jewellery which I’ve then painted silver. This looks much better than my poor sculpting as seen on the earlier VBCW bearer.

If you’ve used any of the flags or banners I’ve shared then please let me see a picture of them, with a view to posting them on here. It might seem a dreadful vanity, but if you’d like more in the future I’ll have to jolly well insist you bounders.

I Chain, I Saw, I Conquered

January 3, 2011

A fine example of co-operation between the generations with this deadly young lad from the delicately fragrant Hasslefree Miniatures. This is one of their Juvenile range and is called Palin, they’re not the cheapest miniatures you can get but they do rate highly for their quality.

Slugs painted the figure and I did the splatter and the basing, and it proved to be one of the best results we’ve managed with the Wargames Factory plastic zombies.