Lancia (1:285)

Here's the Lancia armoured truck in 1:285 scale, based on the 1921 version used in Ireland and elsewhere.

I should probably also put out a version with the anti-missile cage frame mounted over the back, though it would look a lot chunkier in this scale than it actually was.

You can get it at http://shpws.me/MDfo

I've decided to hold off on putting out any more multiple-model sprues until I can be sure that the single models will print successfully. It shouldn't impact too much on my clientele anyway; I don't recall very many people buying other than the single models, which indicates to me that they're being bought by collectors rather than gamers, since the sprues are all so much better value for money if you're wanting more than one.

And here's the version with the anti-missile frame, as used in Ireland. It would have been covered in wire mesh, to ward off grenades, bricks and other missiles (though I doubt that it would have been any use against the contents of chamber-pots).

That's as thin as I can make the framing, but remember that although it looks like it's made out of telephone poles the members are actually only 0.6mm thick.

You can get this one at http://shpws.me/MDhT

Austin-Kegresse in 1/285

This is the next on the list of miniaturizations — the Austin-Kegresse half-track, based on the Austin-Putilov armoured car.

This one was a bit of a nightmare to re-scale; it needed a lot more work than usual to make it printable. I think I've got it now... fingers crossed.

The single model is available at http://shpws.me/MD4g

The five-up sprue is at http://shpws.me/MD4i

(I've temporarily withdrawn the five-up sprue until I've had a successful print of the single model).

More Shrinkage

Next up, the WW1 and interwar Russian/Soviet Garford-Putilov. It's an ugly thing, but somehow endearing.

The single model is at http://shpws.me/MCK5

The four-up sprue is at http://shpws.me/MCK6

Honey, I Shrunk All The Things

In response to a request, and coincidentally with my own reawakening interest in 6mm gaming, I've started on a programme of re-scaling a whole bunch of my digital 1:100 models to 1:285.

I've started with this one, the Kfz 3, because it's easy and required minimal redesigning for the smaller scale.

The single model is available at http://shpws.me/MCH9, the four-up sprue (much better value for money if you want more than one) is at http://shpws.me/MCHI.

More to come, imminently.

The Dastardly (Sun-Tanned) Hun


These PzKfw II aren't much opposition to the Crusaders, but they're a beginning. I have some PzKfw III waiting in the wings.

They're all old GHQ models, and they'd all lost their guns some time in the past. I replaced them with lengths of brass wire (from 0.55mm sequin pins). Three of them have Rommelkette, the other two do not.

Later...

And here are the first of the Panzer III.


These are Heroics & Ros miniatures. I have a whole lot more Panzer III from GHQ waiting to be painted; they're perceptibly bigger than these, and better detailed. Nevertheless, I have a fondness for the H&R models.

MicroDesert Painting

Left: Dorchester command vehicle, by Heroics & Ros
Right: Another command vehicle, Bedford maybe (?), possibly from GHQ from H&R.
Continuing with my bajillion micro-tanks and things — we've got a couple of command vehicles here, and the first troop of Crusaders are done.

The Dorchester (from Heroics & Ros) is in the Caunter camouflage scheme, though the darkest shade doesn't look right to me. I may go over it with a KG#3 mix. The other one — I don't know exactly what vehicle that is, or who made it is a Bedford command vehicle, also by Heroics & Ros..

Crusaders
I've settled on this scheme for the disruptive-camouflaged Crusaders; it's pretty quick and easy to do. I'll be doing some of them in over-all desert yellow as well, which is even easier.

Later...

Crusaders in overall desert yellow
The Crusader in the background is one that I experimented on using ArmyPainter Quickshade. It was not a success; it mostly just made the desert yellow look grimy. But I managed to salvage it a bit with some over-painting, and it will do.

While I was hunting through the lead pile, I was temporarily distracted by these A-13 Cruisers Mk.IV, which I painted up in BEF Khaki-Green #3, with the large white-red-white identification side panels that were painted on the turrets of some A-13s. I can't imagine that they were terribly popular with the crews, because they really stand out like dogs' balls.

A-13 Cruiser Mk.IV

Later still....

I re-did the Dorchester's Caunter, using Vallejo German Field Grey for the darkest Slate Grey tone, quite heavily dry-brushed with Green Grey to lighten it a bit, and lightening the sand colour with ModelAir Ivory Sand. I'm a lot happier with it now.

Crusaders by the score

A galore of Cruisers
I'm making a start on some of the multitude of 6mm micro-armour I got at the last CWC bring-&-buy. It's an eclectic mix, with a conglomeration of early and late war stuff — Jagdtigers versus A13 Cruisers versus PzIV versus Comets. I thought I'd begin with the Crusaders.

There are another three that need to have their gun barrels replaced, but since the games I play are unlikely to ever need even this many Crusaders all at once, they're not a terrifically high priority.

I don't know for sure which manufacturer they come from, but I suspect they're quite old GHQ models, judging by the turret pegs and hollow hulls — I thought at first they might be PFC C-inC, but those tend to be modelled with very broad turret rings and solid hulls, unlike these ones. Most of them have had their guns replaced with wire at some point, which suits me fine; I usually do that anyway.

In the top row there are also a Bishop SPG and Dorchester command vehicle from Heroics & Ros, and a Bedford (?) command truck, probably also from GHQ.

Later.....


Bishop

Crusader
I did a couple of test pieces — it's been quite a while since I've done any desert vehicles in this scale, so I'm having to work it out all over again.

I'm OK with how the Bishop turned out, but I'm not terribly happy with the Crusader. I'm going to have to refine my wash technique a bit — I probably should gloss-varnish them before adding the wash so that it doesn't over-darken the flat planes.

Little Men in Tiny Tanks

OK, neither of these is actually a tank. So sue me.

Due to my inadequacies when it comes to modelling the human form in Blender, I haven't included any crewmen in my 3d printed models. That's an issue I'm working on addressing, but I'm not really there yet.

So, to crew these two I sent off to Peter Pig for some of the 15mm WW1 Brits from their Square Bashing range. They're not perfect for the job, but they do at least provide a human element that had been missing, and they're quite nice little figures. As usual, they arrived very promptly; Peter Pig are one of the best mail-order companies I've dealt with in that respect.

The Heartbreak of Wrong-Sponson Syndrome

Wrong! So wrong!
I bought a box of two British WW1 Mk.IV tanks by Battlefront some time ago, because they were marked down a lot and I wanted them. Only now have I got around to assembling them.

Woe! Alas! The horror! They included four port-side male sponsons, instead of two each of port and starboard. I failed to notice until I'd already magnetized them all and tried them on for size.

I've emailed Battlefront about the issue, and hopefully they'll be sending me some replacements, but until then they'll have to be used as either female or hermaphrodite tanks, since I appear to have a full complement of female sponsons.

I feel so hurt, so betrayed.

Mummy

Reaper Bones 77145: Mummy Captain by Bob Ridolfi
I painted a thing.

This is Reaper Bones 77145: Mummy Captain by Bob Ridolfi

I've made barely a dent in painting all the figures I got in the last two Bones Kickstarters, and there's due to be another lot arriving in the not very distant future.

Although it's described as a mummy "captain", I think it would be of considerably higher rank than that, since that's the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt it's wearing. I can't imagine a pharaoh would be happy with any rank under, oh, let's say... God.

Paint Shaking Made Easy

Not shaking

Shaking
I'm a big fan of Vallejo acrylics, but they suffer from the same issues that almost all paints do, and that is that the pigments tend to settle out of the medium. They have to be stirred or agitated to mix the two components to get good, even coverage.

I've shaken the bottles manually for years, but I finally got sick of that and decided to go for a mechanical solution.

This is a very cheap jigsaw. Brand new, it cost me about twenty-five bucks, but if you're even stingier than that, they're easy enough to come by second-hand.

I wrapped the blade with multiple layers of masking tape. This serves several functions:

  1. I'm less likely to accidentally cut myself (or anything else)
  2. It provides a visual guide as to where the blade buries itself into the body of the machine. A paint bottle can't go below that point or it will be knocked off as the blade oscillates.
  3. It provides a fairly good non-slip padded surface to keep everything in place while the saw is running.

I considered attaching some rubber non-slip mat with double-sided tape, but I haven't found that necessary — the masking tape appears to do the job adequately.

I experimented with various means of attaching the paint bottles — rubber bands (too fiddly), little spring clamps (OK, but too small a contact area, and they tended to crush the bottle) — and finally settled on this one. It's a simple paper clip with a long curved barrel that provides good, firm attachment. I haven't yet had a bottle come free using this.

For best results, one should add one or two agitators to each bottle of paint — short lengths of pewter sprue work well. But I've got a lot of bottles of paint, so I tend not to bother except with especially problematic mixes. This thing will give me the equivalent of half an hour of manual shaking in about 30 seconds, and it generally does the job just fine.

One note: I've found that vigorous shaking sometimes seems to pressurize a bottle of acrylic paint slightly, probably due to bubbles forming. If there's paint in the neck of the dropper, this can cause a small volcano of paint when the bottle is opened, so I've taken to whacking the bottle base-down on my workbench a couple of times after shaking just to clear the dropper before opening.

Burford-Kegresse... smaller

I've redesigned my model of the Burford-Kegresse MG carrier in 1/285 scale, and for the first time I've made an attempt at including some human beings.

How much of this detail will be visible in the 3d prints, I'm not sure. The model is only about 19mm long, which is not very big at all, but FUD and FED resin can render some surprisingly fine detail if the stars are right.

It's available as a single model at http://shpws.me/MzEE or as a much more cost-effective sprue of five at http://shpws.me/MzFZ

Komintern (15mm)

This is the last of the current crop of 3d-printed stuff, until I design and order some more. It's the interwar Soviet Komintern tractor, based on the chassis of the T-24 medium tank. The T-24 was an unsuccessful tank, but the Komintern was very successful in its role as a heavy artillery tractor.

This model is 1/100 (15mm) scale, and is printed in WSF nylon by Shapeways.

It's available in the following scales:

Voroshilovetz (15mm)

Here's my 3d-printed Voroshilovetz heavy artillery tractor in 1/100 (15mm) scale, printed in WSF nylon. Unfortunately I don't have any 15mm Soviets to go with it, so it's been photographed with a bailed-out WW2 British tanker from Battlefront, and a fascist militia officer (ex-WW1 British) from Peter Pig.

It's available in 1/100 scale at http://shpws.me/MmJN and in 1/285 scale at http://shpws.me/MmS9

Burford-Kegresse (15mm)

Model by me, figures are WWI British infantry from Peter Pig.
This is my 3d-printed Burford-Kegresse MG carrier in 1/100 (15mm) scale.

It was an interwar British vehicle that mounted a pair of Vickers guns on an adapted aerial Scarff mount. I don't believe any made it into service in WWII; the Kegresse track system was thoroughly obsolete by then.

It's available for sale in 1/100 (15mm) scale at http://shpws.me/MiBM , and also in 1/72 (20mm) and 1/56 (28mm) scales.

I really need to get some crew figures to populate some of these models.

Shapeways stuff again

Left to right: Vorshilovetz tractor, Komintern tractor, Burford-Kegresse MG Carrier.
All in 1/100 (15mm) scale.
A new shipment arrived from Shapeways today, after being held up in customs and having its cost to me increased by nearly 45% due to juuuuuuuust creeping over the dollar value when our brave NZ Customs start slapping on duty and GST and imposts and levies and fees. Well, fuck. I'll know better next time.

Here they are in all their naked WSF glory, all in 1/100 scale (15mm). From left to right they're the Vorshilovetz tractor (Soviet Union), the Komintern tractor (Soviet Union), and the Burford-Kegresse MG Carrier (UK).

Sometimes I like WSF better than others. When it's fresh and new like this, I sometimes think the models look like tiny snow sculptures.

Paint Stand

Here's the paint stand that I cut out of 3mm MDF with Andrew's little CNC router. It's about 300mm across its widest diameter, with 30mm tiers.

It's mounted on a cheap plastic rotating 'lazy susan' tray that I got a few years ago from K-Mart. At the moment it's just stuck to it with Blu-Tak, and unless that turns out to be inadequate it will probably continue to be so.

It will hold up to 67 25mm Vallejo dropper-bottles — it should have been 69, but we accidentally deleted two cavities from the top tier when we were messing about restarting the cutting after one or another failure. It's currently got all my ModelAir paints, washes, inks and special purpose bottles in it. All of the ModelColor and GameColor paints are in another rack of a similar tiered design, though constructed quite differently and much more heavily.

CNC Cutting — a learning experience

My friend Andrew has a small CNC router/cutter that he built as a kit. It's by no means a heavy-duty machine, and it's not without its issues, but we've been playing with it over the weekend and are starting to learn how to make the most of it.

Our first attempt was cutting some 50mm hexes for my wargames terrain project in 3mm MDF. The machine runs off an SVG pattern, which I put together in CorelDraw.

It differs from a pattern for laser cutting in that you have to make more allowance for the thickness of the cutting bit. In this case we were using a 3mm bit, so each hex had to be over-size — 3mm over-size, in fact.

On this pattern, it got through the first four rows and then the bit broke. I suspect that that might have been because it was quite blunt, so it was being put under more lateral strain than it should be as it was being tracked through the MDF.

Ragged edges
You can see here how furry the cuts are on the first lot of hexes. That's because of the blunt bit.

This was the first purely MDF cutting project Andrew had tried, but he habitually uses MDF as a sacrificial support, and MDF is hell on steel tools, so the tip of the old bit will have been quite worn. You really want to be using tungsten-carbide to get long life out of any tools cutting MDF.

The remaining hexes, after we changed the bit, were cut much more cleanly, but we ran into another issue:

The bed of the machine doesn't appear to be perfectly flat and square to the gantry, so the hexes in the bottom-right of the pattern weren't cut all the way through.

Some of the parts for a paint stand
The following day, we tried something else: a pattern for a multi-tier rotating stand for my Vallejo paints.

We set the cutting depth slightly deeper to account for the distortion of the bed, and we used Instructables' Easel software to automate the placement of the tabs holding all the pieces in place. Though when I say "automate", I really mean "automatically put in far too many tabs and in all the wrong places". They're manually adjustable, but the amount of work involved ended up not being much less than it would have been doing it manually when I made the pattern to start with.

The cutting, once again, did not go without incident.

After partially completing the large circle (bottom-left of the photo), the machine suffered a brain-fart and started cutting again in completely the wrong place. Fortunately, Andrew had thought ahead and marked the original zero-point, so we could just stop it, delete the parts that had already been cut from the pattern, and start again.

Everything went quite smoothly until we hit another snag: because we'd increased the cutting depth to accommodate the bed inaccuracy, the auto-generated tabs were cut too deep, and therefore too weak. When it tried to cut out one of the edge-tabs (top-centre of the photo), the tabs broke as the bit was cutting an indent, flinging the piece about and breaking another bit.

We started again, deleting all those problematic elements, and things seemed to go fine until the smallest circle, which again broke free. It didn't break anything this time, but it did move around which meant that the tab-slots weren't cut accurately. Hey-ho.

So, what did we learn?


  • It's better to split up a large, complex cutting job into smaller, more manageable chunks. That way, when something goes wrong, only part of the job will need to be re-done.
  • Good, firm attachment tabs are vital to keep cutting accurate, and to protect the bit. The cut-out circles were all left without tabs, but they were all small, light pieces, and without any indents that could catch on the bit and over-torsion it.
  • Very light material like 3mm MDF should probably be secured with double-sided tape rather than edge-clamps, which tend to bow it slightly.
  • I suspect that the issue with bed flatness might be ameliorated if the whole shebang was placed on a firm, unyielding surface of guaranteed flatness. The material of the gantry and frame is insufficiently rigid to provide its own support.


In summary

It has the potential to be an amazingly useful machine, just as long as its limitations are taken into account. It's not as fast or powerful as the big commercial machines, but on the other hand, it didn't cost tens of thousands of dollars either. It would be of limited value in furniture making because of its small size and lack of power, but it could make making small things like boxes very easy, and I could see it being exceptionally useful for doing inlay work.

The Forest of Hex

I finished off the hexes I have at the moment — this picture includes about a third of them — and I think I'll call them a qualified success. It's not diorama-quality terrain, but it looks OK to my eye, and it will allow for considerable flexibility in laying out woods and copses.

I have a friend with a computer-guided router/cutter, and this weekend I'll have a go at cutting some hexes and hex arrays in 3mm MDF, which will be a superior material to card, I think.

The tanks are Churchill Mk.1 from C-in-C, the figures are Heroics & Ros WWII British infantry. The buildings are a couple of simple shells that I whipped up out of light card and painted.

HexLand

Models, left to right:
H&R British BL 60pdr (WW1), GHQ A9 Cruiser (WW2), H&R Napoleonic Spanish artillery.
I'm trying out something I've been thinking about for a while for 6mm terrain, and that is to build it in a modular format, though without going to the lengths of building complete terrain tiles. Sculpted terrain tiles, while they can be beautiful to look at, are inherently limiting, and they're also a pain in the arse to store.

I've built some less rigidly geometrical terrain modules before: here, and here for example. I may return to that format, but I'll make a few of these hex-based ones and see how they compare in terms of playability.

I had a bunch of 50mm hexes I made many, many years ago from heavy 3mm thick card. Those were originally intended for a home-made copy of Knights of the Air (one of which, a Fokker D-II you can see to the left of frame), which did get completed but then hardly ever got played. I'll never use them again for their intended purpose, so waste not, want not. For WWI aerial gaming these days I use Canvas Eagles and 1/300 scale miniatures, mostly from Heroics & Ros.

I bevelled the edges of the card hexes on my belt sander. I was in two minds about doing that; on the plus side, it means that the hexes slope down to the table surface and will blend in better with a ground-cloth, but on the minus side, it makes them harder to pick up by the base to avoid damage to the terrain modeling.

The trees are very cheap Z-gauge railway scenery from China, some with plastic trunks, the others in twisted wire. I paid about $5 per 100 of the plastic ones, and if I recall correctly about $10 for a hundred of the wire ones. I mix the two, with the wire-trunked trees to the outside; they're stiffer and make it easier to pick up the hex, and they're a bit less regular than the plastic ones too.

Yet another Vickers

15mm version — http://shpws.me/MuYJ
I've modified my 3d-printed 1/100 scale (15mm) Vickers Medium Mk.II to the Mk.II* with turret bustle and enhanced ventilation for tropical deployment — e.g. India or Egypt.

It's available now at http://shpws.me/MuYJ

I've only recently learned that the Italian WWII 47mm anti-tank gun was a licence-built copy of an Austrian design with virtually identical performance to the 3pdr used in many interwar British tanks. That's handy, because while accuracy and penetration data is readily available for the Italian version, there's not a hell of a lot available for the 3pdr. In short... compared with the 40mm 2pdr, it really sucked.

6mm version — http://shpws.me/Mv2T
I've now also made it available in 1/285 scale, as a sprue of five vehicles.

That one's at http://shpws.me/Mv2T

Yet another miniature painting WiP post

If I ever get back to DMing my own campaign, I might have the need for a half-orc or two. Fortunately, I got a half-orc or two (or three...