Monday, 30 November 2015

6MMRPC: All done!

Hi folks,

So with today being the 30th of November it signals the final day of the Six Months Metal Mountain Reduction Painting Challenge. I've had the day off today, so had a look through what I've managed to achieve in the last 6 months.

I've taken a few pics, but the first place to start is probably my painting chart. Here's how it looked in June:

And the final version from November:

As you can see, there's a large area of green, but still an large untouched area of red. I've also moved a lot less from red to orange or yellow than I did during the last challenge, where I seemed to have started a lot but not completed it. My challenge over the next few months is going to be finishing off some of these yellow areas (built, detailed and base coated + varnished) and moving more on to at least the orange point (built and detailed, possibly base coated).

Some of the stuff marked as completed (green) still has small details to do, mainly crew figures to be added. I also completed a lot of crew and vehicle figures which were not included on the chart.

I think the next challenge is going to be focused on artillery. I've rewarded myself as I have progressed with some purchases, but I feel that most of them have fallen within my own rule of making purchases based on completed units. As with the last challenge, I found the purchasing rules much harder to stick to towards the end of the challenge. Added to the metal mountain have been:

2 x 5.5" guns (with another 2 on the xmas request list from the Battlefront sale)
1 x Churchill Croc (not counted as was to finish off a unit)
1 x Blister of WASP's
3 x Humber III/IV's (not counted, already marked as required at start of challenge)
1 x Blister of Humber LRC's (not counted, already marked as required at start of challenge)
3 x lots of Full Thrust ships
1 x Auster AOP
1 x Blister of Daimler Dingo's
1 x lot of 15mm Sci Fi GZG figures

I have also bought a lot of terrain and a few books, but these don't count! I've found that my purchasing has been aided by the total lack of 15mm WW2 stock on offer at any of the wargames shows I have been to. This includes the Battleground show in Stockton this weekend, where I ended up buying 2 4Ground buildings and some walls.

As well as painting the usual 15mm WW2 stuff, I also managed to do some of my Full Thrust ships. I aimed at painting (roughly) a Light Carrier Battle Group. I've still a load of these ships on my painting desk, having started some in the last week of the challenge. But I've not moved them on much.

So, some pics of all I've managed:

I know this might seem a bit limited compared to what some people can manage, but in the last 6 months I went on holiday, worked away from home and stayed in a hotel for 7 weeks, packed up my home, moved a couple of hundred miles in order to live with my Fiance's parents (where I have a small room to use for my painting) and started a job in a new office. So it's been quite a busy time!

Blog post wise, I have managed more than 4 posts a month since June - so another tick in that box.

I have felt at times that my posts have been quite samey, but that main thing from my perspective is that I have had the motivation to keep chipping away and keep working. At the same time, I am very aware of how quickly my motivation left me in this last week, with me finishing off the last FoW vehicle I had prepped and the knowledge that the challenge was ending in a few days. I have tried starting some Full Thrust ships and working on two vehicles I had started converting or painting months ago (the AA platoon's Jeep and the supply transport for the 144 RAC Battlegroup Overlord models) but I have still struggled a little.

I've also enjoyed seeing the work other participants have done and it's been nice to see that everyone made at least some progress. The small issue with it being a 6 month challenge is that a lot can happen in that time (as I can attest to!).

To round up then:

1. No purchasing of new miniatures, EXCEPT if you use a joker.  You get three jokers to use on a figure purchase.  Could be a blister pack, an ebay bundle, or a single figure... you can't splurge. The only exception to this rule is if you need bitz or A FIGURE (Singular) to complete a unit/warband etc.

I consider this to have been a Pass!

1.1 - There is an opportunity to "earn" additional jokers.  If you complete an entire project (whole unit/army/warband etc.) with pictures of starting, WIP, and completion, you earn yourself a Joker. - In order to allow myself the purchases to finish my painting chart I will be aiming to do this when a platoon have been completed. As I did last year, my painting chart has some 'aspirational' units on it, not just the ones I already own.

Pass, I'm happy that my own little add on to this worked OK with me and kept me focused on painting. 

2.  Gifts do not count against you. Holidays, birthdays etc. Also, if you're given gift cards by your hobby illiterate family or friends, you can without penalty use them on anything you want miniatures wise.

No problems here!

3.  Paints, terrain (or materials), and other hobby supplies do not apply to the no purchasing rule.

4.  At least one hobby related blog post and/or Instagram update a week.  If you instagram, be sure to hashtag your pic with #6MMRPC


5.  Zombtober will be part of the 6 month challenge so, Zombie related stuff during October is ENCOURAGED. Other theme suggestions are welcomed. - Again, as last year I will be having Tanktober rather than Zombtober. At least assuming I have tanks to paint by then!

Pass for this one as well, as despite moving house in October I also managed to get some tanks finished.

6.  Anyone that wants to submit a before and after picture of a miniature that they are proud of completing during the course of the challenge to will be entered into the running for a gift certificate to a online wargaming store of their choice.  Judging will be by an un-biased person.  Amount on the gift certificate will be dictated by winners nationality but should work out to about $30 U.S. I (Spiderweb of History) will not be eligible to win.

I've made a submission, but I suspect that with the quality of other people's work it will be purely a honorable mention!

So that's it for another challenge. I'm going to have a thing about what I am working on over the next wee while, but I suspect that I will take part in the next challenge - if and when it starts.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

6MMRPC: Full Thrust Progress

 Hi Folks,

With me having reached the end of the models I had varnished prior to moving, I've lost motivation a little and ended up just picking up a couple of things I had been working on previously. This has included a Jeep and 15 cwt truck for my WW2 Brits, but also this NAC Light Carrier for my Full Thrust fleet.

I've tried to carry over the same colour theme from the smaller ships I had painted earlier in the year, while still trying to keep a sleek and modern looking military style. I know it's not great technique wise. I've still to figure out how I can apply a wash that isn't going to just muddy up the paint scheme, and my attempts at highlighting haven't worked too well.

However, at the same time, I quite like how crisp and clean it looks.


I also received a nice gift from Dai over at The Lost and The Damned and The Stunted who ran a competition a few weeks back which I managed to win 3rd place in. Thankfully 3rd place still secured me the item I liked the look of most!

These are my favorite style of 40k books - all fluff in a very 'history book' style. It was much appreciated and has traveled a long way to get here! Very much appreciated Dai, thanks!

Friday, 20 November 2015

6MMRPC: Finished! Crusader AA tanks and Universal Carriers

Hi Folks,

So a little later than planned finishing these guys off, but finished they are. These 5 vehicles represent the last of what I had prepared prior to moving to Middlesbrough. With the end of the painting challenge approaching, I'm glad to have got these cleared, but it does mean I am on to assembling and painting new stuff - and I may have to change my painting process to work within someone elses home and the wet cold winter days.

So, here we have 2 Crusader MkIII Anti Aircraft tanks. These tanks are armed with two 20mm Oerlikon guns. Normally called cannons, during WW2 they were normally called machine guns. Nowadays we would consider these to be autocannon. They were heavy calibre rapid firing guns, mainly used for anti aircraft roles.

Each Armoured regiment during the Normandy operations had 8 of these tanks, normally operating with 2 issued per squadron but commanded normally as part of the HQ squadron. Prior to D-day there was a real concern about German aircraft posing a threat to ground units. In hindsight we know this wasn't really an issue, but in planning the landings such things were taken into consideration. Due to the lack of German aircraft, these tanks were rapidly withdrawn, their crews used as replacements for losses in the regiments. There is mention of them being used in anti infantry, escort and scouting roles alongside the regiments Stuart III's.

As with all my 144 RAC tanks these guys have turret numbers rather than the geometric squadron signs. Both have crew in the turrets, mainly because the hole in the turret is so large it looks odd without someone there. The command vehicle of the two has an aerial added. I may revisit this and add one to each and an extra for the command vehicle. Turrets are magnetised, decals are all as correct as I can make them!

Next up, my last 3 Universal Carriers:

Again, the command vehicle has the radio aerial - again, I might revisit this and use my standard format of one for each vehicle and two for the command vehicles. These guys are all marked up for the 7th Bat. Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, the same as the other 9. This effectively gives me the full list option, with spares if I swap in the WASP's (replacing up to two squads of 3 UC's). I had thought about decalling 2 squads up as 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry, but I am strongly edging towards trying to get the new packs of the Universal Carriers for those. If they ever become available to purchase in the UK... These models are the last of my Forged in Battle minis.

So, 10 days to go until the end of the challenge. I'm not sure whether to try and do something else in that time - perhaps some Full Thrust minis. Or I might start detailing some more vehicles... choices choices! I have spent some Jokers in the last few weeks, as I have been finishing units. So far I've managed to find 2 packs of 5.5" Medium Guns (like hens teeth in the UK), the missing Churchill Croc, another pack of Wasps and lastly (but not for a while, because they are fucking useless) 3 Humber III and 1 pack of Humber LRC from Wayland games - already 2 or 3 weeks spent waiting (but I got them during their 20% sale and am in no real hurry - thankfully. Maybe I will get them before xmas...).

Thats all for now folks!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

15mm Stowage Comparison - Peter Pig, Battlefront, Skytrex

Hi folks,

I thought I should take the time to actually do a little comparison of the various 15mm stowage suppliers I use. I've posted pictures of the parts individually in the past, but thought it might be useful to see the parts together.

These models come from three separate suppliers, and only refer to western allied kits (although some of the parts are pretty interchangeable)

The model makers I am comparing are:

Peter Pig - specifically their Sherman Stowage Basic Pack's

Skytrex - specifically their  CD SP1 General Stowage Pack and CD SP12 Sherman Tracks & Road Wheels Pack

Battlefront -  Specifically US Stowage US670

Starting with Battlefront's offerings, this pack is billed as US stowage but would be suitable for any Western Allied vehicles. It includes some bedding rolls, Sherman road wheels, Jerry cans, track links and both a US and Tommy helmet and a few boxes. the pack contains 6 strips of each of the two types. From my perspective, the offerings from Battlefront are good and add some great variety. However, the casting isn't great and will need a lot of cleaning up in some cases. I paid £6.47 on ebay for this pack.

Next up, Peter Pig. The Peter Pig packs are a lot smaller and fairly limited in scope, containing 3 large cloth rolls, 3 strips of Sherman tracks, 2 Sherman road wheels and 2 strips of connected boxes. These packs cost £3 each. They require fairly little prep to use, not needing much in the way of cleaning up.

Then we have Skytrex. The Skytrex packs are larger than the other offerings, but a bit costlier and p+p is also quite steep. However, they do contain a lot of different bits. There is a pack of stowage that only includes the canvas rolls, jerry cans and boxes, and leaves out the 'camo net' style rolls. My experience of the Skytrex models is that they require fairly little in the way of cleaning up. 

Both of these packs cost £10, although there are smaller, cheaper, packs available. P+P is about £5 within the UK.

So how do these various offerings compare?

Peter Pig (left) with Battlefront (right)
Mix of all makes

Battlefront on left, Skytrex on the right.

Rear view of the various tracks. Peter Pig on the left with their flat backing, Battlefront at the top and the other offerings are Skytrex.
Front view of the various Sherman tracks.
Small Skytrex barrels and Jerry Cans on the left, beside Battlefront versions.

Battlefront offerings in the centre, surrounded by Skytrex and with a few Peter Pig Sherman road wheels in the center.

Skytrex Jerry Cans and Crates beside the Battlefront offerings.

As you can see, size wise they are all fairly interchangeable with minimal drift in scales. The Skytrex and Battlefront versions give you some decent variations while also providing the bulk you need to detail a lot of different vehicles. The Peter Pig offering is pretty limited in numbers - useful if you are only doing one or two tanks, but you need quite a few packs to do a lot of vehicles and there is not much variation with only the Sherman tracks and road wheels alongside the 3 connected boxes and the large canvas roll.

There are some other options, which I do use from time to time. One is to use greenstuff/miliput to make your own. Doing canvas style rolls is fairly easy and can be done with a little practice. Another is to use small strips of material, tinfoil, etc.

I also carefully strip any stowage on plastic sprues, such as the plastic Open Fire Shermans and StuGs, plastic half tracks, etc. I do try to be careful with mixing these in when I am detailing my models, as I don't want every vehicle being identical (or looking like every other Sherman out there!).

Another version which isn't on the market yet is the Plastic Soldier Company stowage sprue. PSC are working on a British 15mm Stowage kit, similar in scope to the German one. No news as to when this will be released, but they did reply to an email from me recently stating that one was in the pipeline. Another new addition is 'Flames of War Bling' which is an Ebay store selling 3d printed bits and bobs for FoW. They include crates, barrels and tools.

So there you go, a very quick and dirty comparison between all the various stowage options I use on my Flames of War vehicles. If you know of a producer I haven't mentioned, please let me know in comments! I hope you found this blog entry useful! Apologies for the lighting in the photographs.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

6MMRPC: Finished! Stuart III's and Universal Carriers

Hi folks,

As the challenge enters it's last month I've been trying to keep motivated with the aim of finishing off the models I had prepped prior to moving. As of today, I have my 2 Crusader AA tanks and some Universal Carriers still to do - which I will be starting next week, I hope.

This week I finished off the 3 M3A1 Light tanks (Stuart III's) and 6 Universal Carriers.

The M3A1's was an American light tank that was used by the British forces. By 1944 this tank was considered obsolete by the the Americans, and the British Armoured Divisions had upgraded to using the M5 and M5A1 (Stuart V's). However the independent armoured brigades still had the old kit in the form of the M3A1's.

The Battlefront models I used are the American versions, as there are no models available for late war Brits. The rear of the hull is different from the one shown in the pics and there are no visible bolts on the hull side - and there are also track guards, but otherwise I am happy enough with what I have done. Had I looked more closely at the pictures before hand I would have at least trimmed the bolts on the hull armour down.

I followed my usual process of marking out the command tank with 2 aerials and then added 2 crew members to the turret - this is mainly because I took the view that as recce tanks I would have a crew member visible in each turret, so the command tank has to have 2! Unfortunately I somehow managed to leave the gunners hatch rather than the commanders hatch open on one of the tanks - the commander must be off to an O-group or busy on the radio...

Again, sorry for the pics - some of them seem to wash the colour a bit making the tanks look a little pale. As usual these tanks are from 144RAC, 33 Armoured Brigade. They bear the markings of the Recce troop, part of RHQ Squadron. I've not included any tactical markings as it turns out that's what the regiment used the turret numbers for. I'm still trying to decide whether to remove the tac markings I have put on my Shermans. The turret numbers are also yellow rather than the white in the coloured book picture above. This is based on some comments I had seen that the turret numbers were not white in black and white pictures, and that they most likely were the colour that the regiments geometric tactical signs would have been.

 Other pics:

 I also finished (barring some crew figures) these 6 Forged in Battle Universal Carriers. These models include my 3 PIAT armed carriers - mainly using figures provided by Dai. There are also 2 .50 cal armed Carriers and a single double Bren Carrier. These guys are marked up as part of the 7th Bat. Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. I was going to make some of them 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry for my Recce force, but will probably end up trying to get a hold of the new Battlefront Universal Carriers for them - assuming I can ever get my hands on any.

So on to the last of the vehicle crews to highlight and matt varnish as well as the last remaining vehicles.