Thursday, 27 July 2017

Zvezda 1:144 Fairey Battle

Top view
This is Zvezda's 1/144 scale kit of the RAF's Fairey Battle, one of the most promising light bomber designs of the mid-1930s, but which proved to be woefully inadequate in the skies over France in 1940. They were suffering as much as 50% casualties on any given sortie, and they were immediately withdrawn from front-line service after the Battle of France and relegated to duties as a trainer or engine test-bed.
Port side

I haven't bothered showing the underneath view, as it's just all black without any markings or anything — the standard RAF livery for day bombers of the time.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Zvezda 1:144 Hurricane

This will be some air support for my poor beleaguered 15mm 1940 BEF. Not that they're ever likely to see much of it, but that's life in 1940 France.

It's a 1:144 scale snap-together model from Zvezda. It goes together very easily, but the decals are not all that could be hoped for — they're a little thick, though they do adhere well, but the biggest problem is that they're printed out of register, as is blindingly obvious in the yellow ring of the fuselage roundel. Also, for some reason I can't really fathom, the fuselage roundel and serial letters are all printed as separate transfers, so they have to be assembled in situ. Thanks to my ham-fistedness, that means that inevitably they're all wonky.

I've painted it in the black and white livery adopted by the RAF in the beginning of the war to ease ground-to-air identification. It was a pretty terrible idea, and didn't last very long. It didn't seem to affect friendly fire from the ground at all, while making it much, much easier for the Germans to see them.

Rear quarter

Front quarter

Top

Bottom

Monday, 24 July 2017

Maus

When I was a child, I wargamed as a child. But now that I am a man, I put away childish things.

Except for the Maus, because FUCK YEAH!

I bought this mainly out of nostalgia, because the Maus was the first tank I ever tried to scratch-build when I was wargaming with my friend Wayne in his Dad's garage. We played entirely infantry-free games consisting of nothing but the biggest, meanest tanks we could find, and using rules that had been type-written and then (badly) reproduced in a little booklet — I don't even remember the name of the game, but it was pretty clunky.


I doubt that I'll ever have a tabletop use for a Maus, but it will be nice to have one around. And besides, it only cost about ten bucks, so why not?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

PanzerJäger 1 conversion

My frustrated attempts at getting a PanzerJäger 1 in 15mm scale has led me to desperate straits, so much so that I've started designing a fighting compartment and gun conversion kit to be 3d printed, to go on a Minairons Panzer 1 model.

Building it in Blender is pretty straightforward, but I'm hampered by the fact that I don't have a 3d printer of my own, so I'm having to gamble that my measurements are right. Getting beta models printed and shipped by Shapeways is a lengthy business.

Here's the FUD material render from Shapeways;

The module is available for sale at http://shpws.me/OMk3, but it should be noted that I haven't yet been able to print it to check for fit on the Minairons kit.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Genericars

I designed a sprue of generic 1930s British cars in 6mm (1:300 – 1:285) scale.

They're not meant to represent any specific make or model, but rather to have the look of common civilian vehicles of the period.

They're available in FUD/FXD resin on Shapeways at http://shpws.me/OLD1

These ones are basically the same car, but a convertible version, and with the spare wheel moved around on to the back.

They've available at http://shpws.me/OLDo

Here's another conversion of my basic car model. This time it's a sprue of small delivery trucks.

They'd have been painted with the store name and logo on the sides, which will be something of a challenge in this scale.

These ones are available at http://shpws.me/OLNc

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Splendor Jewels

I bought myself a cheap copy of the game Splendor from China. It only cost about ten bucks, but that's partly because the jewel and gold tokens are die-cut cardboard, rather than the fancy-schmancy weighted poker-chip style things to be found in the sixty dollar version. Apart from that, and having smaller "noble" tiles, it's identical to the high-priced version.

However, since I like fancy-schmancy trappings as much as the next man, I replaced the cardboard counters with these acrylic jewels and plastic goldish coins.

Fancy! And also schmancy!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Battlegroup Battle Rating Chits

The chits un-punched and un-encapsulated
I made myself a set of Battlegroup Battle Rating chits using some 25mm coin cases that I bought from China for a few cents each. I think they'll work pretty well, and I have enough spare cases that I can make any theatre-specific chits I might need.

The discs are cut out using a cheap 25mm circle punch from Warehouse Stationery (in NZ).

The cases' internal diameter is actually 27mm, so the card discs do rattle about a bit in them, but that doesn't really matter too much. Im leaving the cases to shut with a pressure fit; I doubt that they're likely to come apart under normal handling, but if they do a drop of glue will take care of them.

There's a PDF of the layout at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7m9IvmLVUOLZDBjNDdMNV92UDQ/view?usp=sharing

FotR tokens
2017-07-19: PDF updated with a page of the replacement special chits for Fall of the Reich

The reference lines are designed for the specific punch I used, so you may have to experiment a bit to see how they'll work with your own punch. There are a bunch of spare unmarked chits you can do that with.
Some of the chits, both punched and encapsulated

For convenience of use and storage, I made a bag for the chits to rattle around in. It's made of some scrap canvas I had lying around, and it sits flat and open so that the chits are easily accessible during a game, while being deep enough that you're still picking blind unless you actually make an effort to peek.

Closed

Open

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Monster Repurposing

 I recently bought a copy of Fearsome Floors, an entertaining little game of running away from monsters and/or being eaten by them.


A monster construction
 It includes a bunch of die-cut cardboard bits for making a monster, which is fine and dandy, except that the bits fit together quite loosely, and the monster is forever falling to bits as it's moved about.

It's for this reason that I decided to replace the cardboard-bits monster with a one-piece plastic monster that won't disintegrate when someone picks it up. I chose this one for several reasons:

  1. Its base is small enough to fit within the boundaries of the squares on the game board
  2. It's flat enough to sit inside the fairly shallow box
  3. It has a clearly identifiable front an back
  4. It's identifiably monsterish
  5. It was the first one that came to hand

It's a WotC D&D pre-painted 28mm plastic figure labelled "Orc Skeleton" that I gave a quick re-paint. I may very well use other figures as well; it's nice to have a variety critters available, but this is the one that will stay in the box. There's no mechanical effect on the game by having differently-shaped creatures — all monsters' abilities are identical regardless of morphology.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Zvezda A13 Cruiser Mk.IV

Here's the first of the 1:100 scale A13 cruisers from Zvezda, painted up and ready for the wargames table.

It's definitely what I'd call tabletop quality, designed to be seen from a reasonable distance. The Dark Green #4 and Khaki Green #3 scheme is a bit more contrasty than it would have been in the flesh, since otherwise the camouflage pattern tends to merge into a single greenish blob. Likewise, the dry-brushing to bring out the lines and detail of the model is very contrasty, and for the same reason.

These little models aren't diorama quality, but for wargames miniatures they serve very well.

Front quarter

Rear quarter

Top view

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Zvezda Cruiser Mk.IV A-13 (1:100) — a first look

I bought a troop of A-13 cruiser tanks for my 15mm BEF forces. The snap-together kits are by Zvezda, for their Art of Tactic game, and were sourced from PSC for about four quid each. They're moulded in a tan brown plastic — I've photographed them here after spraying them with Khaki Green #3 over a black primer.

As wargaming models go, they're really very good, especially considering their cheapness. There are a few issues to be aware of though:

  • First, due to the construction of the turret, there's a fairly prominent seam running across the front plate that purists will probably want to address with filler. Whether I'm all that pure is yet to be decided.
  • The headlight isn't moulded into its housing, so it will have to be painted in.
  • There is no aerial mounting provided at all, so if one is desired it will have to be scratch-built or otherwise sourced.
  • The 2pdr gun barrel is moulded extremely finely and looks to me as though it might be a bit fragile for the hurly-burly of wargaming; I will probably replace them at some stage with turned brass barrels, as I usually do with my resin models.

Aside from these fairly minor problems, they're excellent little models. I haven't checked them for absolute dimensional accuracy, but they don't look out of place next to my older resin/metal cruisers. I've glued lead slugs inside their guts to give them a little bit of weight, as the bare plastic models could easily blow away in a slight breeze. Although they really do snap together and stay together (Zvezda's tooling is excellent) I've glued everything just in case.

I'm pretty happy with them; they're really excellent value for money and provide a welcome reinforcement to my plucky BEF.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Minairons Panzer 1A (1:100)

Here's the diminutive 1:100 scale Panzer 1A from Minairons, alongside a couple of 15mm Battlefront Germans.

It's unlikely to do very well on any battlefield where there are actual tanks to fight, but as a mobile machine-gun pillbox it could be quite useful. I think that for 1940 I should probably be using the Panzer 1B or C, but they all look pretty similar and have pretty much identical stats, so this 1A can stand in for any of them.

They come five to a box; I got mine from The Plastic Soldier Company.

Starboard side

Front quarter

Rear quarter

Top
Sprue

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Reinforcements for the BEF

Today's mail brought me a bunch of Zvezda kits (via PSC) to bolster my 1940 BEF forces.

There's a troop of A13 cruisers, and some air support at last — a Hawker Hurricane, a Bristol Blenheim, and in front, a Fairey Battle. Unfortunately the Blenheim is 1:200 scale, while the other two aircraft are 1:144, but for my wargaming purposes that's not too big a deal. I'd rather it was 1:144, but it will do the job.

....and for the Wehrmacht

The very next day, these arrived, also from PSC.

The Panzer 1 is by Minairons, and comes in a box of five. It's a quick and easy kit to assemble, but not without its issues.

  • The hull back plate isn't shown clearly in the simple assembly instructions, and I'm not sure if I've got it the right way up. I'll have to take to the internet for a bit of research before I complete the rest.
  • The turret has a peg that sits in a raised ring on the hull top, but it's not at all a tight fit, and if the model is bumped the turret will just fall off. I've removed that peg-mount, and magnetized the turret.

The 1:144 scale Messerschmitt is a BF109F, by Zvezda. I would have preferred a BF109E, but couldn't find one, so this will have to do.

Next to the Hurricane, the Me109 really does look tiny — which it was.

Medium C Hornet

Back to building 1:100 scale tanks for 3d printing.

This is the British Medium C Hornet.

I don't quite recall what it was that spurred me on to design this. It was something on the internet, that much I know.

You can get it from Shapeways at http://shpws.me/OHlc

Friday, 16 June 2017

Fiddling With Acrylics

I just learned how to save a bundle of money on flow improver, thinner and retarder for acrylics through the Magic of the Science of Glycerine.
  • Flow improver — roughly 95% water and 5% glycerine. Use instead of straight water for thinning your paints. Or better yet:
  • Thinner — water 66%, isopropynol 33%, and then just a few drops of glycerine.
  • Retardant — maybe 5% water, then add half and half of the remaining volume in glycerine and glycol. Apparently you can just use straight glycerine, but the addition of glycol really slows down the drying time for acrylics for blending and what-not.
Info courtesy of Luke's Aps on Youtube. Lots of stuff there about saving cash on terrain-building and what-not.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Little Plastic Army Men

I was trawling through AliExpress, actually looking for some board games, and came upon these little plastic miniatures.

They're not to a constant scale — or at least, not between different unit types. The AFVs, for example, look as though they scale with each other, and likewise the ships and the aircraft, but I haven't done any measuring to confirm that.

They're surprisingly detailed little miniatures. I assume they were originally intended as playing pieces for some board game or other, but I don't know that for sure. They appear to be WWII Italians.

I don't know what I'll do with them, but no doubt I'll think of something.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Transformers!

That silvery blob in the chassis is a slug of lead to give the plastic kit a bit of heft
Yet another distraction from the main thrust of my wargaming, I'm afraid.

I got a free box of Battlefront plastic Panthers and/or Jagdpanthers a while ago, when I subscribed to Wargames Illustrated. They're the wrong bit of WWII for my purposes, but they were the most attractive of the available subscription rewards, so they're what I chose.

There are sufficient bits to build five vehicles, either Panther Ausf. G or Jagdpanthers. Unless, that is, you have vast supplies of cheap rare-earth magnets from China. Which I have.

So, instead of submitting to The Man and being forced to choose between tanks and tank hunters, I'm having a go at magnetizing the hull tops to swap on to the five available hull bottoms and tracks. It's a bit of an involved process because there aren't really any locating lugs keeping the upper hulls in the right place, so the magnets will have to do that job, which means that magnet placement will need to be fairly accurate. I'm perfecting my process on this one set before going ahead and doing the other four.

I intend, eventually, to have a magnet at front and rear. I think I'll be making liberal use of epoxy putty to make stands for magnets to sit on, but really I'm just making this up as I go along.

I've now achieved my final form

Next day....

After a fair amount of faffing about, I hit upon a system that works well.

The first thing I did was to glue little stop-blocks where the hull fronts, top and bottom, meet. I used bits cut off the schürzen, which I wasn't planning on applying otherwise.

Rather than squishing epoxy putty around magnets inside, which didn't work all that well at all, I instead built little shelves for the magnets in the bottom hull out of plastic card and slathered them and their magnets in gobs of epoxy resin. Once they were cured, I covered the magnets in masking tape (to keep them free of the next lot of epoxy), put the upper-hull magnets on the bottom-hull magnets, and slathered them in gobs of epoxy. Then it was a simple matter of putting on the hull tops and turning everything upside down, letting the epoxy drool on to the inner hull-top to secure the magnets in the right place and orientation.

It's not a fantastically quick process, and it is quite profligate of magnets (six magnets per set of hull parts, plus two more for the Panther turret), but it's not unrealistically fiddly and lends itself quite well to production-lining.

Four more sets left to do.

And the next.....

All the hulls and turrets are now magnetized all up the wazoo, ready for final assembly and painting.

I've numbered the matching sets, just in case I got some attachment points out of whack, but as it turns out I've been accurate enough that everything is interchangeable with everything else. So, score!

Coda

I've got them all primed and numbered. I doubt that I'll get on to final painting any time soon; as I mentioned before, these vehicles are from quite different part of WWII than I'm primarily interested in. However, it's been an interesting and useful experience.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Zvezda 1:100 Panzer II

Battlefront on the left, Zvezda on the right.
 I just got an order of three Zvezda 1:100 scale Panzer II.


Just five pieces.
Six if you count the stupid flag.
It's a clip-together kit for their Art of Tactic game, and comes as just five pieces, so it's exceptionally quick and easy to slap together.

I bought them from Mighty Ape, and they cost about ten bucks each — that's just a little more expensive than they would have been from The Plastic Soldier Company, after postage had been added. However, after PSC got my hopes up, they dashed them when it turned out they had none in stock, so Mighty Ape it was — which had the advantage that the delivery time was a whole lot quicker.

Shown here alongside a Battlefront resin-and-metal model, you can see that it's perceptibly smaller. I don't know which one is more dimensionally accurate, and I don't much care since they're just gaming pieces and not part of a diorama; the relevance to me is that I probably won't want to be mixing them within the same unit.
Note: the Zvezda model is too small for 1:100 scale. It should be 48.1mm long; in fact it is only about 43mm. It looks like in that case Battlefront's model is about right, judging by eye.
The detail on the Battlefront model is much more pronounced than Zvezda's injection-moulded offering, but the limitations of metal casting means that the gun barrels and tracks are very much chunkier than they should be in scale; they're a lot finer on the plastic vehicle.

Adding a commander figure to the Zvezda kit would require quite a bit of surgery, since the hatches are moulded closed and the turret is pretty much a solid bit of plastic.

The Zvezda model sits much lower, and has a more convincing Panzer II silhouette

A few hours later.....


I got the three of them painted up and ready for the tabletop. I can't say they're my best work, but they'll do the job.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Marder III Ausf. H (15mm)

Port side
This is the other of the Marder options from the PSC 15mm Panzer 38t box, the Marder III Ausf. H with the PaK40 75mm anti-tank gun. This has been a favourite WWII vehicle of mine since childhood, when I built a 1:35 scale Tamiya kit of it.

The crew for this model are problematic, because the figures offered on the sprue that look like they might be meant to go along with the vehicle are kind of crappy — very flat poses, weird proportions, and they don't really seem to belong no matter where on the vehicle I place them. I'll leave it crewless for the moment and see if I can find something a bit better.

Starboard side

Front quarter view

Rear quarter view

Top view