Monday, 24 October 2016

3mm Team Yankee - Soviet vehicles and Infantry

Hi folks,

In the week before the wedding I decided to tackle some more of my 3mm Team Yankee project. Having been back home for a while, I've managed to get them off the painting table - with the exception of the helicopters which I will tackle next time.

This batch consisted of:

My first 3mm Infantry Company:

This unit used 2 packs of Oddzial Osmy Soviet infantry - one standard infantry and one heavy weapons pack (SA 675 and SA 676). The standard infantry provided the bulk of the troops, with the heavy weapons RPG teams helping out. The two small bases consist of a representation of the MG platoon, with 4 prone MG figures and loaders, while the other small base consists on a SAM platoon with the heavy weapon shoulder SAM teams.

In game, each base will move as a squad does in TY. Coherency remains the same as the standard platoon. I'm giving each medium infantry base 5 hits with 5 shots each turn (max of 2 RPG-7 shots per turn per base). The LMG and optional SAM bases will have one hit each and have one shot each a turn. This keeps the platoon at 21 hit's (equivalent of 21 teams in TY) with the optional +1 of the SAM's. I'm unsure how to mark hits currently - one idea is small blast markers - or else dice. Each hit takes a 'shot' off of the base.

I need another 3 of these units to fill out the infantry for my BMP companies.

Speaking of BMP Companies (to transport my infantry), I completed another of these. This consists of 4 large FoW MDF style bases with 3 BMP-1's on each for a whole unit of 12.  One base worth can be seen here with one of my T-72 bases:

The T-72's from this batch made up my 4th Company, allowing me to field a full Battalion plus have a company supporting my Motor Rifles. This unit consists of 3 large bases - 2 with 3 tanks, 1 with 4 (marking the command base and bringing the unit up to the max book strength of 10 models). Each base moves like a single tank, coherency is the same as for tanks in a company at 15mm and each base has the same number of hits as the number of tanks - and the same number of shots as the surviving tanks.

Then we have Artillery (sorry, for some reason some of these pictures are very dark):

4 units (bases) of 3 vehicles each. 4 lots of BM-21 Hail Rocket Launchers and 4 lots of 2S1 Carnation SP guns. I also have another single BMP-1 to use as an OP stand. A little touching up on these guys needs where they have come off the painting sticks.

Lastly we have AA assets.

2 units (bases) each of 4 vehicles for the ZSU-23-4 Shilkas and the SA-13 Gopher SAM's. I also did a few (3) medium bases of these with 2 models each, with 2 vehicles. This gives me a few options and spreads the AA out a bit more.

As you get 15 vehicles in a pack for £3, some vehicles were spare. The last two BMP-1's from this lot I based on a large base to be the foundation of a BMP-1 Recce unit. Some of the other T-72's were added to my existing companies to bring them up to 10 tank strength. Other than infantry, the Russians now have every option from the army book represented. I'm tempted by some of the 3mm bridging units, just for scenarios and the likes, as well as the larger SAM batteries and other such options. But none of those are in game and I have other things I would like to pick up.

Really nice models to paint - very quick! Basing took longer but mainly as I went for 2 tone 1mm static grass on the bases. I used MDF laser cut bases from East Riding Miniatures - who do excelling work and who's stuff is very competitive priced compared to some other retailers. Customer service is also excellent. To the bases I added a coat of PVA and some fine sand, then painted the whole thing Flat Earth. PVA and 1mm static grass made up the top layers - I applied this in two batches, painting irregular patches of PVA and dipping in 1 shade, leaving to dry and repeating the process with the other uncovered parts.

So that's the Soviets done for now! 2 Hinds to paint and they are all done. Now just the US support units and Cobras.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Recent purchases + honeymoon

Hi folks,

While my painting time has taken a bit of a hit in the last few weeks, I have been busy this week finishing off a load of 3mm Soviet stuff for my 3mm Team Yankee project. Pics of that to follow, once everything is based.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share some pics of my recent purchases and visits to historic sites!

Our honeymoon consisted of a week (well, 5 nights) in an apartment in Kenmore, which is beside Loch Tay in Scotland. 

Unfortunatley on our first night, after arrival, my wife took ill and we had a 1 hour journey to the nearest hospital (in Perth) at 3am. It was Wednesday afternoon before she was discharged, so the first week was mostly gone! Still, she was fine and we did get to do a little in the remaining time.

We visited the National Cranog Centre in Kenmore, just along from where we were staying:

 Where we had a lovely afternoon sitting in the Cranog in front of a wood fire hearing about the building of the structures, theories surrounding their purpose and what we know of the lives of those who lived in them. There were also some fantastic demonstrations of various ancient crafts - such as wood turning, flour making, fire starting, etc. There was also an area dedicated to weaving and dyeing. I took a picture of some of the colours that volunteers had made using locally available ingredients.

While in Kenmore we also travelled to the Enchanted Forest at Pitlochry. This is a seasonal show put on in autumn in a large section of forest, featuring light and sound displays - and a fantastic 3d holographic light show using the water from a fountain that really was spectacular. All I've got to show here is one odd photo!

After our first week we moved to a small cottage just outside Dunblane. This turned out to be a fantastic location, not far from Perth, Stirling, Glasgow and a host of other places.

Using this as a base I got to visit Stirling Castle - which features the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum. I took loads of photos, but there was very little WW2 stuff on display - much more was given over to regimental silver and things like the Crimea and WW1. Here's a picture of 'the thin red line' - the Argylls deployed in line beating off a Russian cavalry charge.

As well as being a spectacular castle, it has a host of interesting displays. One I found touching was these toy soldiers, found during renovations:

The castle itself has seen a lot of change over the centuries, and as such currently has a look of an almost Napoleonic defense, rather than a medieval castle. I was particularly interested in the cannon shot damage to some of the walls, mainly from the Jacobean period.

We also visited the Battle of Bannockburn visitors centre, which was really good. Not so much a museum as an interactive experience - included a walk through of the tactics employed in a room where you stand with 3d glasses in the middle of a heavy cavalry charge and archers firing - as well as a chance to take control of part of the English or Scots army on a 3d contoured holographic battle map (akin to the Total War series of games, on a simpler basis and with you giving verbal commands).

Outside, you get to visit the Bannockburn monument:

At the shop here I picked up an Osprey book on the battle - perhaps the start of an interest that might expand to the table top!

We also visited the Wallace Monument, which was built in the 18th Century to honor William Wallace and other important Scots. From the top, you can see the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge (Stirling Castle is spotted by the gold coloured building on top of the hill on the right - the Great Hall returned to the original colour of lime wash):

After all this, I got to visit the Black Watch Regimental Museum in Perth. This was a really really good museum, much better than the Argylls museum with a lot more display space and a lot of really interesting artifacts. Again, not a huge amount of space given over to WW2, but more than the previous museum. With this visit I had also managed to visit every Regiment in 154 Brigade over my honeymoon (and all it cost me was a days clothes shopping in Glasgow!).

We also spent a day in Glasgow, where we met Paul Alba and his wife for dinner, a visit to Falkirk to see the Kelpies and a renovated defensive tower we had free entry to (and a ice cream dairy and fudge shop):

The Kelpies - dedicated to the horses who worked the various Scottish Canals
So a very touristy honeymoon with lots of visits to historic sites. If anyone is looking to visit Scotland on a holiday, I can really recommend the Stirling area. Lots to do, really friendly locals, good places to eat and really central for a lot of historic sites.

So, purchases. I was really pleased to get a couple of badges linked to my Flames of War collection:

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders badge
Black Watch badge

I also managed to visit a games shop in Stirling and make a start on my planned Canadian Shermans. A visit to a local show last weekend also got me some Fireflys for the same list. 

At the same show, I got some Osprey books - and ordered a book online which also arrived this week. This might give a clue as to a possible project I am looking at for next year (hint, the book about Sherman Crabs was just cos it was cheap and I had change to use up!). 

Not forgetting my 15mm WW2 collection, I also put an order in for some Royal Engineer vehicles (as I've been threatening for a while). A Churchill SBG conversion kit and a Churchill Fascine conversion kit for some PSC Churchill hulls I have. As well as a Cromwell ARV conversion kit and plastic hull. All from S&S Models and the Churchill kits were only released last month. I can't actually remember if I previously bought a ARV Cromwell for my Poles, but I suspect not. 

Hopefully, I will get the AVsRE built and painted during the MMM 'Novelty November' challenge. This challenge basically involved picking something unusual from your painting pile and trying to get it finished in one month. As these are 'funnies', they qualify for me! Also on the table will probably be a 'Katy' ambulance and a British Radio truck I picked up from QRF. 

Lastly, I picked up a copy of the newest Team Yankee book, Iron Maiden. Really interesting book that has made me think I should skip the 6mm GHQ Americans I was planning and go straight to Brits. Yesterday a surprise package arrived containing some 6mm US Marines - courtesy of Des in Scotland. These will be getting used to do some cold war US marines in advance of a Team Yankee book for them!

Hopefully, thats not bored everyone to tears! More updates coming soon on my 3mm Soviets, then back to my polish Shermans before the Novelty November challenge starts!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

300 posts and 100,000 visitors - a celebration and a giveaway!

Hi folks,

I'm always aware that with blogs - and hobby blogs in particular - readers tend not to be interested too much in the personal life of the blogger and more interested in the hobby side! I've always very much tried to keep my personal goings on separate, and post about important things - like toy soldiers!

To keep with that theme, here's some PSC Plastic Cromwells my lovely wife allowed me to build while relaxing on honeymoon!

Onto the smushy stuff!

Looking back, I started this blog in May 2013 - which was not too long after I had first met and started dating the lovely Mrs Madtinhatter. Coincidentally about the time of my 300th blog post and 100,000th visitor, I was doing this:

Incidentally the cliff tops where we had our wedding reception was the site of a WW2 battery of Medium coastal defence guns... The trick to successful relationships with non geeks is realising that the other party is not interested in such trivia!

So, this post is a celebration of several things. I've come a long way since that 1st post. My collection has grown along with my skill level and lead mountain. I've still a long way to go, but keep looking at those early painted models and wondering when I can fit in a touch up of them all! The other impact the blog and my hobby has had - although the support of a wonderful woman plays the biggest part - has been my improved health and quality of life.

Thanks to everyone who has followed and visited the blog over the last 3 years (who wasn't a Russian SpamBot) and for all the support, comments and opportunities to engage with fellow hobbyists. As a token of my thanks, I was going to have a competition.

However, last time I had a competition the postage costs were fairly hefty, so I'm going to have a giveaway instead. All you have to do to enter is being a follower of the blog and leave a comment below (one entry per person, but feel free to leave multiple comments!). In November I will randomly select a name from those who are followers and have left a comment, and that person will receive a £20 gift voucher for the online hobby store of their choice - assuming said store sells online gift vouchers! Simple!

So thank you all for your support - normal toy soldier related posting will now resume!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Quiet hobby weeks - and a wedding!

Hi folks,

I'm very aware that the blog recently reached 100,000 views and 300 posts. I've a plan to hold a little competition to celebrate, but with the wedding and now honeymoon my posting and hobby efforts have been curtailed!

I've also got some info to share about some upcoming Miniature Modelling Mayhem challenges. Namely 'Novelty November' and 'Gunuary' (in January).

At the moment, I'm enjoying not being at work, dragging the new Mrs Madtinhatter around various historic Scotland tourist sites and when I have quiet time assembling plastic Cromwells!

Pics, details and such to follow!