Friday, 25 November 2016

New roads, Russian transports & 'sparkler' flight stands!

This week I managed to give the 4 plastic German half tracks bought very cheap on eBay a bit of a makeover by repainting them as captured vehicles as required by the 'Hammer and Sickle' list for Flames of War that I am working too. I'm not sure that all captured German vehicles would have been repainted in this way, but it would have been a simple and quick job and would avoid any confusion in the field. I had to strip the kits down by removing the tracks as they were badly positioned. A bit of filing, trimming and cleaning,plus the addition of a couple of missing front wheels resulted in an improved look. I gave them a basic green base coat followed by a wash of Vallejo black ink and then a fairly heavy 'rusting' to complete a heavy weathered look. They were then based in line with my entire FoW collection now approaching some 80 tanks and vehicles. Just need to place a few Soviet crew figures in there and add decals. I'm quite pleased how they turned out.

I'm a big fan of the aircraft models produced by Battlefront for FoW and currently have 4 painted with another 3 unpainted still in the boxes. I may well go on to acquire the entire collection of them. However, I wanted to try to make some taller flight stands so that the models would hover above the rooftops when placed on the table. I like the bases that come with the models, so wanted to keep the flight dice on the base. This natty blue dice is used to indicate the number of aircraft in the flight, you roll for this as part of the ground attack procedure and the  dice indicates 1, 2 or 3 aircraft. So I looked around for something suitable to make the extension from and remembered Steve the Wargamer's tip about cutting the bottoms off of used sparklers to keep as handy wire for modelling projects. I had already cut them off and kept them in my modelling drawer, and found they were perfect for the job! I superglued them to the bases, and after a bit of time wasted buggering about with rare earth magnets simply drilled a small hole into the bottom of each model so that they sat securely on top of the wire and are interchangeable. I made two stands and textured them, job done.

I can't imagine how much time I have spent over the years making roads for wargaming, and I know that I have spent a small fortune buying pre made products, mostly from MDF that just did not cut the mustard for me. Remember the days when all roads were cut from card or made from strips of cloth etc? As I want to make my Flames of War set up as scenic and adaptable as possible I decided to invest in the road sections made my Battlefront as part of the FoW range, especially after seeing them in use on the Mad Tin Hatter blog (see right), I  ordered the Rural Roads pack, Rural Roads Extension pack and the Cobbled Road pack, I have another Rural Roads pack on order. To say that am pleased with the products would be an understatement, they are some of the best that I have seen and to my surprise they are made of rubber, I had been expecting resin. The tank tracks are most realistic, and all integrate in a convincing manner, for example the expansion pack contains a section where the tracked road gradually becomes a cobbled section. A railway crossing and track section is also included in the expansion pack which of course means I will have to order the Rail Track pack next!  Designed for 15mm scale I would highly recommend the products.

Finally, the table up in my waragme room is undersized, 5 x 4 and in order to use the Space Saver TSS terrain tiles that I bought several months back I needed to order a couple of 2' x 1' tiles. This gives me the option of leaving the 5 x 4 table permanently set up, or use a full 6 x 4 downstairs in the dining room. I decided to order 4 of the half size tiles along with a selection of the hill packs made to match the Space saver basic tiles. This will provide me with plenty of options, for example I could go 8 x 4 or 5 x 6 and have extensive hills. I await delivery of these with much anticipation.

Of course this additional spending and commitment to Flames of War must be budgeted and to this end I am seriously considering selling off all of my Bolt Action collection, it's done nothing but sit in boxes for months and I would rather see it being regularly used. More on this in due course, but I would like in the first instance to see the entire collection go together before I break it up for eBay sales. I'm thinking in the region of £800.00 for everything I have here Bolt Action related, that includes German, US & Soviet forces, all of the terrain items (£100.00 worth of MDF buildings alone!), all of the 'Armies of' books, 2nd Edition rule book, order dice etc. I'm going to produce full lists of everything as a next post, but I would consider it to be very good value given the price of Warlord Games products. To follow.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Giving simple MDF buildings a makeover!

Things have been quite hectic around here this past couple of weeks, as domestic manoeuvres have taken priority. Our middle daughter Jess and her partner Blake have moved out of our house and into a place of their own, in time for Christmas. They are very happy and the house is now once again quiet and feels very empty. Although we miss Granddaughter Lily's smiling face each morning it's great to see them settled. Of course there is still one to go, youngest daughter Chloe who is 15 and keeps things lively at home!

So the upshot is that I will again have the freedom to set up the full 6 x 4 table downstairs using the TSS 'spacesaver' boards I bought a few months back, to which I intend to add the matching hill system that gives a lot of scope for layouts. In order to break up the park like appearance of the bare boards I plan to make lots of terrain features that can be placed. I'm going to work on the field system, texturing the carpet tiles to look more realistic and varying the shape and size.

My current job (aside from shifting furniture about) is to base and tart up the MDF buildings that I have. I decided to start with the four 'Arcane' buildings, nice simple and relatively cheap kits designed for Flames of War base sizes, using the garden bases that you can buy with them. As you can see I painted them first (a touch colourful I know), and then textured the bases around them. I started with my standard earth flock then added patches of static grass once dry. I then went slightly mad with the flower strips, adding borders etc. The final touches were to add climbing 'Ivy' using the Noch leaf material that I think works wonders in order to disguise some of the joins, and then a few drilled out bullet holes on exposed walls. I might paint the doors and frames in due course, but for now I'm happy with the overall look. I'll print a couple of suitable signs for the shops and stick them on.

Next I have four more MDF buildings by '4Ground'. These as you might expect are more detailed MDF models and come pre coloured. I actually bought these as a job lot via eBay so they were ready assembled and nicely finished, they are mostly collapsed buildings, with partial roofs etc for contrast. I really like playing around with MDF buildings and dressing them up.

Pictures show the almost finished Arcane shops and cottages on modular bases, I will repaint those back gates brown I think, but overall I'm happy with the result.

These are the excellent 15mm 4Ground models, same size and scale as the Arcane cottages but far more detailed (and more expensive) as you can see. I'll enjoy basing these up.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Simple explosion markers for Flames of War.

Thanks to Mel The Terrain Tutor for this great idea (check out his YouTube channel HERE), these are my explosion markers for 15mm scale, simply made from clump foliage. I had considered buying the resin version via eBay, but the 25mm base was just too big to sit on my 15mm scale tank models.

A dig through my old coin box found lots of small coins suitable for bases, around 10mm that would sit on top of a turret or hull of a knocked out tank. I already had a load of clump foliage rescued from my attempt at making bocage before I replaced it with a commercial product from S&A Scenics so I simply selected some bits that looked to me most 'explosion/ billowing smoke' like. I superglued them to the coin bases then took the lot down to my undercoating shed at the bottom of the garden and gave them a thorough soaking with Army Painter Matt black. They took an age to dry and a couple of coats, but when I went back down to get them I was very impressed with how realistic they looked (to my eyes at least).

Had another watch of Mel's video before painting them and basically copied his method of starting with a fairly dry brush of yellow, then mixing to orange and finally red. The billowing smoke was then drybrushed with grey and Hey Presto .... finished. I might need to do something with the bases, I have the option of touching up the black or removing them to leave the markers freestanding, not sure yet.

Much better than using cotton wool or synthetic fill I'd say, you can see the effect on the T34 in the pic below, explosion has blown off the turret leaving a fiery plume of smoke. Next up a spot of 15mm gardening as I work on a few Arcane Scenery houses and backyards.

The finished product, 20 x explosion markers from clump foliage!

Recycled from old hedge sections.

A couple of thick coats of Matt black spray gives a nice billowing smoke effect

And a quick paint job, yellow, orange red then grey drybrush.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Half tracks and more Panzers!

This last week has been spent finishing off four Forged in Battle half tracks and three Battlefront late war Panzer IV's (model H - in my previous post I mistakenly described them as Panthers). I like the FIB resin models a lot, probably prefer them to Battlefront now.

The half tracks will provide transports for the hard pressed German Grenadiers and the Panzer IV's with their stand off additional armour will add another platoon to my tank collection. The 5mm thick 'Schurzen' was found to be effective in reducing the penetrative ability of armour piercing shot as well as proving protection from enemy tank hunters. As the box of 5 models included 10 sets of Schurzen I decided to paint up extras for an existing platoon of 4 earlier model Panzer IV's only to discover that they could not be fitted as they do not have the support bars, so that was a bit of a waste of time! I still have 2 more of the MK IV's to build plus a box of 5 StuG's, but I'm taking a break from kits now to re focus back onto terrain for a while.

As I was lucky enough to win the 'Mad Tin Hatter' competition for a £20.00 gift voucher ( I never win anything normally!), I will use it to provide some seated figures for the half tracks, and I have requested that the voucher be for Peter Pig figures. Thank you James.

My Russian list requires the addition of 4 captured German half tracks to transport the infantry platoon so when I saw 4 such on eBay at a cheap price I grabbed them. As you can see from the pics they require a bit of restoration, a couple of front wheels are missing and they look as though they were thrown together. The paint job is interesting to say the least, but they will be repainted in green anyway so that's fine. Not sure of make, but they are plastic.

Going to do I bit of work on my 15mm houses next, completing the back yards and wall sections etc. I'm also starting on adding cork bark rock faces to my hills in order to make them a bit more realistic, and knock up around 20 or so explosion markers from clump foliage, sounds mad but they really do work! These are to be placed on knocked out tanks and look far better than cotton wool etc.

Few pictures, back soon with those explosion markers.

Forged in Battle models.

Battlefront Models Panzer IV H.

Blast ..... oh well.

In need of a bit of TLC!

Need to source a couple of front wheels from the spares box.