Monday, 31 August 2015

6MMRPC - Universal Carriers and planning

Hi folks,

This week I made an attempt at what I thought was going to be a never ending chore - in the form of 12 Universal Carriers and 3 Wasp Carriers. A video blog of this weeks work can be found here:

These guys are another group of models that have been sitting looking at for a long time, but kept putting off as I felt they would take a lot of work. While they are not finished yet (I'll talk about that in a bit) I'm quite pleased to have gotten so far so fast.

So these models are Forged in Battle (for the Universal Carriers) and Battlefront (for the Wasps). Crew figures are a mix of Battlefront and Forged in Battle - with a few minor conversions. I think some of the PIAT gunners are (I think) Skytrex - provided by Dai over a year ago!

I've posted before about the crew poses - these were purchased well before the new Battlefront sculpts came out and I had to bodge a lot of it. The PIAT crews are one example of this, as is the .50 cals and crew.

Painting was the standard Russian Uniform (Vallejo Model Color 70.924) which I hand painted over a spray of the Plastic Soldier Company British Armour spray. I really mucked up with the spray paint on these guys, getting it too thick in places and missing other parts altogether and ending up with a rough finish. Spraying these outside also saw the models covered in lots of tiny bits of plant material that have been a real nuisance. I'm not sure I'm going to go down that path again... But the speed of applying a spray undercoat does still attract me. Perhaps I should give my airbrushing a shot again at some point.

Other colours used on these guys included Model Color Khaki (70.988) for crew webbing and canvas rolls, Green Grey for some canvas rolls (70.886), Mahogany Brown (70.846) for wood, crates, boxes, etc, Reflective Green (70.890) for jerry cans and barrels, Flat Earth (70.982) for bases, English Uniform (70.921) for crew uniforms, Russian Uniform for the helmets, German Grey (70.995) for tracks and guns.

Some close up shots:

So each group of Universal Carriers includes a PIAT, a .50 cal and an extra hull MG carrier, giving one of each in 4 squads of 3.

One big change for me was the painting of the crew figures in the vehicles. I would normally paint these separately and glue then in once the vehicle is done. However as a lot of these figures were conversions or cut down normal infantry, painting them separately just was not going to work.

I also took some time to fix these guys:

Which are Forged in Battle crews for the Universal Carriers and Loyd Carriers. These guys had been painted last year some time but had gone cloudy when the matt varnish had been applied. They had sat on the shelf waiting to be repainted for quite a while until this weekend when I decided to try the paint on gloss trick on them. This seemed to have worked! I just need to give them a quick re-highlight and they are good to be used. I realised when working on these guys that the Loyd Carriers and Universal Carriers for my 4.2" Mortar platoon are all uncrewed!

To crew the other models I have in my unpainted mountain, I have a stack of vehicle crews to paint (again!). I prepped them this weekend as well.

I mentioned earlier planning...

I'm moving (again) in October from bonny Scotland to North East England - Middlesbrough area to be more accurate. I've got a transfer from work which will save me a 15+ hour a week commute into and from work while at the same time putting us in the same area as all of Amy's family. I've not much tying me to this area other than friends, a few family and a vague hope that I can see my son (which has happened once in the last 17 months). It seems unfair to be keeping Amy from a family she is very close to just so I can live in my preferred country. So off we go!

The hobby impact on this is a bit of an unknown. What I do know is that in the short term we are going to be staying with Amy's parents while she looks for work. I'm a bit wary of varnishing anything while staying in someone else's house, so I am planning on getting a few things varnished prior to the move. This means I can just highlight and decal while there, which means I can still make progress towards the challenge. So other than a coat of Army Painter, these Universal Carriers are done for now.

Monday, 24 August 2015

6MMRPC Update: Moar Moar Shermans (Finished!)

Just following up on my update from last week, I managed to finish off these 4 Shermans yesterday and get a quick video update done.

But had no time to do the actual Blog entry before bed!

To be honest, it's much the same and much the same as the previous batch. These 2 x M4 (Sherman I's) and 2 x M4A4 Firefly's means that two troops of Shermans are finished and I've made some inroads into the others. I've 3 Sherman I's still to build along with a IC Firefly and 2 Sherman I's built but needing stowage and details.

I also need to go back over the 4 I had already done (a Sherman I and 3 converted Sherman I Hybrids) and sort the turret decals and upgrade the paint scheme a little.

These are some quick shots of the most recent batch, now with some slight weathering.

Turret numbers are all accurate for the positions within the squadron, hence these 4 jump around a bit. I'm much happier with these number decals, they are a decent size and nice and clear.

One thing I'm not sure about are the barrels for the Fireflys - I've left them just with the pattern underneath and not black on top. I had done the first one with the black:

And I'd appreciate feedback on what looks better! Historically I think I could get away with doing either. I also may need to trim the aerials on the current batch, as I cut them a bit long (easier to trim them down).

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

6MMRPC: Moar Shermans WiP & Battlegroup Overlord Game

Guess what I've been working on this weekend! Well, you could guess, read on or watch my new video blog.

On Saturday Amy was off to see her sister and mum for a days shopping so I was left to entertain myself. I ended up taking my figures down to the Carluke and Law Wargames club for a game of Battlegroup Overlord. I had a nice time, but was left feeling a bit flat by our use of the game - specifically what was being left out. The lack of proper army lists, morale and morale counters, tank ammo, etc, which are what defines this game and makes it different from the likes of Rapid Fire.
We talked about it after the game and I think everyone agreed the game would be better with a bit more organisation and proper army lists. YD has suggested we try some of the scenarios in the books, so we may do that.

I've included some pics of the table and of some of YD's models

After the game on Saturday I didn't get much done. I think the fact I hadn't enjoyed myself put me on a downer. I'd hasten to add that I didn't have a bad time, the atmosphere at the club was great and we had a laugh. I think the fact that I had it in the back of my mind that it might be my last game at the club - and slightly worried about being able to find games after I move (which is growing increasingly likely) - made the fact the game wasn't what I had hoped for a much bigger deal. It effectively made me doubt the wisdom of continuing to collect and paint my mini's when my future in the hobby is a little in doubt - and when even the local club is running so fast and loose with what aspects of a rules set they use it doesn't bode well.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon I got my mojo back and made a start on my next 4 Shermans. 2 x Sherman I's and 2 x Sherman Fireflys. These 4 models are the last of those prepped prior to the painting challenge. My work on them consisted of an edge highlight using a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Model Colour Khaki and Russian Uniform - with a small drop of Ivory. I just use this on prominent surfaces like hatch handles, panel edges, around hatches, along the top of the gun barrel and around any section I deem to be an edge.

I did the same with the wooden items (only using beige brown), rubber and metal (using black grey) and other bits and bobs. Once I had done the edge highlight I also did a quick dry brush on Russian Uniform again, just to tone down the highlights and blend them slightly.

Still to do are the decals, aerials, weathering and matt coat. Hopefully I'll make good progress on those next weekend.

In other news, my transfer at work is almost authorised so a move to Middlesbrough looks likely by October. And my total weight loss as of today is 2 stone 9 pounds - a long way to go but I'm pretty pleased with my progress over the last 16 or so weeks. That includes 3 separate weeks (holiday week, birthday week and Edinburgh show/visitors/visiting Son week) where I put weight on.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

How to: Using 'Tufts' - MiniNatur product review

Hi folks,

The other week a few people had commented on the materials I was using on my basing. I thought it might be worth a quick blog on the products I use. When I started basing my infantry units I had bought some ArmyPainter tufts. The pack was quite small and I got through it pretty quickly. A few months later I was at one of the Scottish wargame shows and came across MiniNatur. These packs were roughly the same price as the much smaller ArmyPainter products and are of just the same quality.

The packs I have open and have used look like this - the actual new packs are obviously a lot fuller!:

Basing wise I start a layer of acrylic resin which I then trim down and paint with Vallejo Flat Earth. A quick coat of PVA then a few squirts of static grass from my home made applicator (A washing up bottle!) and the base is ready for detailing.

Normally I would glue the model to the base at this point and then add the tufts afterwards. I put a dab of superglue on the static grass then I use hobby tweezers to take the tufts off the backing and press them gently onto the superglue.

I messed up slightly by not putting the model on this base first! As a result I had to move some of the tufts so the tank was sitting correctly. I also use some nail scissors just to trim the odd sprouty sections from the tufts and any of the static grass that is over the sides of the base.

The pictures were taken under normal lights rather than my daylight bulb, so they look a little yellow/brown. The finished article looks like this:

The tufts go quite far on vehicle models as you only have to do around the edges. You can use slightly more on large artillery bases and less on medium bases. I just try to vary the placing on each base to make them distinct. I find that they break up what would otherwise be large plain spaces.

I payed  £4.25 for each of the MiniNatur packs and they have lasted me quite a while. I only purchased the new ones as the old packs are getting quite sparse. I also know that I have to go back over all my older bases and bring them up to the standard of the new ones!

So there you go, a quick and easy method of making your plain old static grass bases look good without using that horrible lichen/horse hair stuff. The MiniNatur products seem to be great quality and you definitely get your money's worth.