Sunday, 27 February 2011

(WWII Month) Forward To Berlin!

Bit of a painting splurge this morning and I finished painting the Soviets I was working on, they have been gloss varnished for extra protection (currently drying) and just need basing and a quick matt spray before they're done.

For our Battlefield: Evolution Eastern Front project we have now added a 32 strong Soviet infantry platoon, sniper team, 82mm mortar team and infantry anti-tank rifle team. Outstanding from this month's plan is a second platoon, three HMG teams and 76.2mm field gun.

Given the fact I really didn't get started properly until mid-way through the month it's not too bad, though I need to give some thought to transport for the infantry. Lend-Lease half-tracks are an easy option, though I would prefer to hunt down some suitable Soviet trucks.

Of course I need to decide what project month March will be. Looking at my work diary I am away a lot so I might have to save some of the bigger ideas until April and May when I have some holiday booked in.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Leviathan - A Steampunk WWI

I must confess 'WWII Month' is not going great guns. I'm hoping I'll have finished one Soviet platoon plus some support units by the end of the month but I haven't made the progress I was hoping. Whilst the dedicated months are good for focus I think my ambitions as to what I can produce on a month with the demands of real life work, family etc are too high. Still there is an element of aim for the stars, touch the moon, as I think I have been more productive on finishing larger units than previously (the previous WWII project saw just one section of Germans painted in a ten week period), so for the time being I will persevere with the idea.

On a different note Saul suggested I read Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, a young adult steampunk book set at the start of an alternate WWI. I must confess to being a fan of young adult SF and fantasy as the ideas seem much more original. In Leviathan we follow two main characters Prince Alexandsr of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy serving in the Royal Naval Air Service.

The most interesting element of the book is whilst the Central Powers are "Clankers", supporters of industrial tech with steam walkers and zeppelins, whilst the Allies are "Darwinists" who have developed weapons from evolving living animals into tools This means that the British Leviathan airship is a genetically modified flying whale and the Royal Naval uses modified Kraken-class squid!

It does sound a bit weird and I was a tad sceptical when  Saul suggested the book, but it does make sense in the context of the story and adds a lot to it. I must confess that by the end my mind was racing with gaming possibilities and I quickly sent off to Amazon for a copy of the sequel Behemoth which starts in the Ottoman Empire.

Definitely one for both Dad's and sons to enjoy, and the cleverer kind of daughters who like toy soldiers... :-)

Monday, 21 February 2011

Pretty Uniforms Make Things Better...

Just read an interesting piece on the Wargaming For Grown-Up's blog about Osprey's Elite Condor Legion and historical revisionism. I must confess I was quite shocked Osprey let this slip through the net but it reminded me of why I have a leaning towards F/SF gaming despite being a lover of history.

My view of the hobby is that we play games with toy soldiers, sometimes they look like historical counterparts, sometimes like things that crawled out of a cheap b-movie. I consider myself sufficiently au fait with the fact that war is a very nasty business and the human impact is terrible. Given the fact I like playing with orcs and giant robots and flying ships, why on earth do I buy models and play games based on real wars with the consequent pain and misery they bring?

First off I suppose it's cultural. I am of a generation brought up on WWII war comics and films where we bashed the Hun and saved the world from the Nazis. I also find history an interesting topic. There is also part of me fascinated at the bravery of the PBI at the sharp end who also feels their sacrifice should not be forgotten (whether that's some RAF pilot in the Battle of Britain or Caratacus fighting off Roman imperialism!). However I do not ever get so caught up to think that what I do is a realistic military simulation or so blase to forget that the little pieces of lead and plastic are supposed to represent something.

I do draw arbitrary lines in what I won't do. I won't field SS units and I don't understand people who do (and I really don't understand people who dress up as SS units). I've read too many accounts and seen too much film footage to have any illusions about the armed wing of the Nazi party. That said I do realise that the Wehrmacht isn't squeaky clean either, the SS never served on Crete but the atrocities there are terrible to research. An arbitrary line as I said...

Does going back in history make things ok? I don't know. Some of the actions of the French in Spain make the Nazi's pale and let's not get started on the Romans, an entire civilisation built on slavery and entertained by death and suffering. But both have such pretty uniforms (is that the attraction of the SS?)

As I grow older my meandering makes me want to dig out more stories such as the Bielski brothers and bring them to the tabletop. The Edelweisspiraten and the battles in Cologne in October 1944 are another topic I would like to find out more about and maybe look at wargaming. I do find it frustrating that the likes of the Friekorps are so well researched (and raised as tabletop forces by gamers) but not the German Red Army...

Anyway on that arbitrary note I'll stop rambling and get back to painting some more Russians, after all they were the good guys right? :-)

Sunday, 20 February 2011

(WWII Month) 'Art Of Tactic' Soviet Recon Team

Having been busy working hard on the real world front I hadn't had much of a chance to spatter paint on anything but I decided that Saul and I would take a drive down the A37 to the Fleet Air Museum which was holding the "biggest model show in the south-west". With loads of traders I was anticipating getting some softskins for the Russkis and some decals, as well as some inspiration. Unfortunately we got half-way there before getting stuck in a horrendous traffic jam for over an hour at Shepton Mallet before we gave up and turned around. The day got worse as by the time we got back I was suffering with Manthrax and spent the rest of the day under the duvet trying to defeat it with Lemsip Max, before resorting to curry and brandy!!

Feeling much better today (after a long lie in) I cracked on with the first Soviet infantry platoon, AT team and sniper group. They're coming along ok, the Italeri figures are really nice and the semi-hard plastic takes superglue well. The Revell figures are more problematical and softer and I am concerned how well they'll take tabtetop handling which is a shame as some of the figures are really good. I intend to give them a good coat of gloss varnish after painting to help protect them (and maybe a PVA coat if necessary). Hopefully we'll have photos of these by the end of the week.

One thing all the packs lacked were troops in the one piece camo suits for a recon section. The Revell pack contained some but they also had skies and the soft plastic is not conducive to conversions (the sniper is a bit of a bodge). Fortunately browsing Blogs of War I spotted a posting on the World in 1/72 Scale that Zvezda are releasing a Soviet Reconnaissance Team for the Art Of Tactic game.

The models supporting the range are a mix of scales, soldiers and guns 1/72nd, tanks 1/100th and aircraft 1/144th. Whilst not mutually useful, they can be for various different projects and the Soviet Engineers look interesting as well. Might have to pop in Modelzone next time I have to visit the Big Smog...

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Unfortunately rain stopped play today and my plan to undercoat the Russkis but I did stumble across this trailer for Ironclad, a film set in 1215 which looks like it'll be fun in the Gladiator mould of historical films).

Saturday, 12 February 2011

(WWII Month) The Joy Of Pre-Paints

Working in Paris last week meant no painting progress on the Bf: Evo project, but I have just spent an hour trimming and basing two platoons of Soviets and converting a sniper (aka covering my fingers in superglue). Hopefully tomorrow I'll be putting paint on. Fortunately I am home all next week so have a series of evenings to crack on in, whilst SWMBO watches her murder/death/kill programmes.

However, not being at home did not mean no progress and I was pleased to pick up a pre-painted Dragon Armour Sdkfz 251/7 Pionierpanzerwagen for my pioneer section. Whilst pre-paints can be expensive way of building up your AFV's (though eBay and patience are your friends here), for one off vehicles that aren't going to be made as easy build wargames kits by HaT, Italeri or Pegasus the price difference between a pre-paint and an unmade plastic kit with loads of parts isn't worth considering...

A while back I also picked up an Elefant and an E-100 from Dragon. The E-100 was a sale damaged item in the local model shop with one of the rear wheels broken. A dab of superglue soon fixed that and now I have a useful "what if?" challenge for the Soviet ISU-152's...

In addition to Dragon; Altaya and Forces of Valor are also worth checking out for both pre-painted WWII and Modern AFV's.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

(WWII Month) Za Rodinu!!

Haven't had a lot of time today for the hobby but I did dig out my 20mm Russian plastics to see what I could make up force wise for Battlefield Evo...

I had three different boxes sitting around, Italeri's Russian Infantry in Winter uniforms, Italeri's (ex-Esci) Russian Infantry and Revell's Siberian Riflemen. As you always do there are some silly poses, lots of troops waving their smg's in the air, some stiff grenade throwing poses and half a box on skies in the Siberian box (saved for some unknown future project).

Between the three boxes I have managed to create two platoons plus command, a sniper team, two hmg teams, an ATR team and an 82mm mortar team. 

I have some spare troops which are mainly useless poses but some could be used for conversions and might consider getting a box of Pegasus' Winter Russians to make up another platoon and take the infantry to company strength.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

(Ancients Month) January 32nd

Needing a couple of hours to finish off the Celts sat on the workbench from 'Ancients Month' (aka January), today has been renamed January 32nd!

Initially I was working on a 32 strong warband, but a few emails with Allen Curtis (author of the WAB Hannibal book) about the Celts saw them beefed up into a 40 man unit. He recommended that I should look at having two big 40 man warbands for the centre and three smaller 24 man ones for the flanks.

The figures, as previously stated, are a mix of Warlord Games and Wargames Factory plastics. They work well enough together, yes some of the poses are a little strange and both sets have faults but the end result is pleasing enough. Shield wise I decided to give the stickers (yes, stickers) in the Warlord box a go as they had been designed by Little Big Man Studios and they work well. A few shields at the back are hand painted Wargames Factory.

Allen also suggested beefing the skirmisher units up to a minimum of 12 each which I have done, I am really happy with these and think the dynamic posing of the Warlord plastics is much better than their metals (and far cheaper to boot).

As previously stated I'm taking a break from Ancients now, but the finished warband has made me feel a lot better about the project than when I was half way through and I plan to return to the Celts sooner rather than later.

Celt painted running total:

64/186 infantry
0/24 cavalry
0/3 chariots

Friday, 4 February 2011

(WWII Month) And Here's Some I Made Earlier...

It's been nose to the (work) grindstone last couple of days so I haven't had my 32nd January (Ancients) day, but in the spirit of WWII month here are some models I made earlier...

Matchbox PzIV L/70 (suffers from a bit of barrel drop and might gets some camo netting to hide).

Two Matchbox Panthers with added plasticard skirts...

Two of the infamous HaT T34/85's. Not too bad to build once you realise the instructions are wrong and the bottom of the hull fits perfectly the other way round! Not the best model, starting now I would use the Pegasus easy build but they'll do. Just turret numbers to add...

The original project pile. This month's efforts will focus mainly on the Russkis and one part painted German infantry platoon.

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Heads up for Doctor Who fans in the UK, the latest Doctor Who Adventures comic which goes on general sale today and has seventeen (yes 17) plastic daleks (the newer i-Dalek model) with it for the princely sum of £2.20.

Not sure if they are the same as those that were available with the comic last year but they look like they will be suitable for 28mm games after a slap of paint.

I picked up two copies from ASDA and a nice chicken and bacon sandwich this lunchtime! :-)

Update: and another three copies bought after work when picking up tea - 85 Daleks for £11, not bad!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

February Is... World War Two Month!

Whilst the 3rd February is going to be re-christened January 32nd whilst I finish off the Celt warband tomorrow, the rest of February will be WW2 month. The aim is to return to an old summer holiday project for Saul and myself using the Battlefield Evolution WW2 rules. We did make some progress in 20mm as these photos will demonstrate but the Soviets never really got a look in and there is a 1/3 painted German Heer platoon who have sat looking at me accusingly for two years on the shelf to my left so that will be the main focus. Additionally I might sneak in some 28mm Weird War Two if possible, but the focus is 20mm 1944-5 Eastern Front...

On the subject of Battlefield Evo, some interesting news on the Mongoose Blog here. Yes, they have a track record of failure on the miniatures scene but by bringing it all in house they could get it right this time. 28mm Vietnam? Not sure if I would but it could be a hit.

Old Matchbox Jadgpanther

German Pioneer Squad