Thursday 31 January 2013

Soldier Bear

Like most kids of my generation I grew up on a diet of WW2 films, comics and Airfix soldiers. I was always on the look out for my next "fix" and recall seeing a book with an eye-catching cover of a soldier firing a bren gun and a bear carrying an artillery shell! Again, like most kids, after soldiers, exotic wild animals were another interest and here were both combined!

In today's Michael Morpurgo saturated animal war story bookshelves this would not seem that unusual but in the 1970's Geoffrey Morgan and W.A. Lasocki's Soldier Bear looked a pretty interesting story - even more so when I found out it was a true story!

I loved this book and whilst my 54mm Britain's Grizzly bear may have been a tad overscale compared to my HO/OO Airfix troops, my Solider Bear served with my Airfix 25pdr!

The story, if you don't already know, is that of Wojtek, a bear cub adopted by Polish troops in Persia who was officially enlisted to ensure he was not left behind in the Middle East when the Poles went to fight in Italy. The beer drinking bear's legendary status was cemented at Monte Cassino where he watched the Poles carrying ammunition to the guns and decided to copy what they were doing, supplying shells to the frontline artillery.

Recently I picked up a copy of Aileen Orr's book, Wojtek the Bear: Hero of World War Two, whilst it didn't add that much to my original Soldier Bear book from a wartime perspective, it did cover more of his post war adventures in Scotland with the Poles before they were demobbed and Wojtek was transferred to Edinburgh Zoo. The book also covers Orr's efforts to have a statue commissioned of Wojtek and I hope she is successful in that regard. If you aren't aware of the Wojtek story I do recommend Orr's book even if half of it is a basic history of Poland which is helpful background to the plight of the soldiers who adopted Wojtek.

Wojtek even has his place in our hobby and he is included in the Poles in Italy briefing for Flames of War. Battlefront even produced a 15mm scale model of him, I am trying to resist the temptation!


Wednesday 30 January 2013

(Zombie Month) More Zombies...

And here is the second horde of Zombies completed...

And with yesterday's horde looking somewhat impressive en masse. No wonder they inflict terror in human troops!

Undead Army painted running total: 

80/182 infantry
0/16 cavalry
0/2 war machines

Tuesday 29 January 2013

(Zombie Month) Braaaiiiiinnnnssss...

The first horde of forty zombies are finished (with the second following on close behind hopefully). I must say that I am very pleased with them given the relative simplicity of the painting approach.

The dip has really brought out the wonderful detail on the Mantic plastics and it would have taken a lot of really hard work to achieve a similar look using the normal three tone approach. Further the dip has given them a slightly dirty look that befits to idea that they have clambered their way out of the earth at the behest of some foul necromancer!

As an aside the zombie sprue has more heads than bodies which mot only allows for extra variation but also leaves me with a surplus of decapitated heads that will no doubt prove popular with any Celt or Orc!

More photos of the zombies can be found here.

Undead Army painted running total:

40/182 infantry
0/16 cavalry
0/2 war machines

Monday 28 January 2013

Keep On Truckin'

This light truck is an old 28mm GZG resin one (now sold by Daemonscape). Originally this was painted twenty odd years ago but whilst I liked the camo scheme, I never liked the rather flat end result so intended one day to repaint it.

However given the success of the 'black dip' I thought I'd try that on the model first which worked very well, adding depth and detail previously hidden. After the dip had dried I matt varnished it then gave the truck a light dust weathering and am pleased with the end result.

I have a pile of old painted and unpainted 28mm GZG resin that may well get dug out soon and given some dip treatment...

Sunday 27 January 2013

Space Marine Attack Bikes

Clearing the workbench is certainly proving fruitful (if not a little embarrassing) no more so in finding these two Space Marine Attack Bikes. They hadn't been finished as I was waited for some rounded resin bases of a suitable size to arrive (which they did and got misplaced).

I've now married the two together and Saul's Space Marine army now has another fast attack option.

Wonder what I will find next?

Saturday 26 January 2013

Dipping Vehicles

Having gone over to the "dip side"when it comes to painting figures en masse I have been pondering the possibilities of dipping vehicles using the Army Painter dips. With most miniatures we use Strong Tone (that has a dark drown tint), occasionally using Soft Tone on lighter miniatures (hoplites for example) but I was wondering how much use Dark Tone (with its black pigment) would be especially on vehicles.

Consequently I dug out this 6mm scale Old Crow hovercraft which has been sat around for a little while to experiment on. I'm not sure if the photos show what a decent effect it has produced but I am very pleased with it, especially given how smooth a model this is. I'm going to try it some more on a few other vehicles (including the die-cast Somua S35) but am mentally planning digging out my old NAC and ESU Full Thrust fleets and repainting them (I was never 100% happy with my dry-brushed efforts previously).

Whilst I was in a dipping mood I also dipped all the zombies so hopefully I am still on target to get these finished in "Zombie Month".

Friday 25 January 2013

Power Armour Troopers

Finishing off the half painted batch of 6mm SF models I re-discovered hiding on my workbench is this small unit of Brigade Models Power Armour Troopers!

I haven't decided to attach them to any specific nation so painted them a generic military green.

Unlike regular infantry, I have mounted them one model to a tiddlywink base. This is because the models are slightly bulkier than normally armoured troopers and to make it easier to identify them at a glance on the tabletop.

Thursday 24 January 2013

ONESS Panzergrenadier Marsch!

Following on from the Panzers I went on a bit of a 6mm roll and finished off the Panzergrenadiers with the Lynx APC's.

The AFV's are from Brigade Models, the infantry (IIRC) from Ground Zero Games.

With the HQ unit and Artillery finished in 2010 this completes the ONESS German Regiment though some VTOL support would be useful...

Wednesday 23 January 2013

ONESS Panzer Marsch!

Bleaseworld, Tuesday, 18 May 2010: "I only have the Germans left to paint to enable the PDF of Iron Cow to be released, so I have commenced painting operations!" And then silence...

I have no idea what black hole the Iron Cow Germans dropped into in May 2010 but they have reappeared on my workbench so with a slight feeling of guilt I dug out the paint and cracked on with them, finishing this tank squadron of 6mm Brigade Models Thor MBT's last night.

Hopefully the Panzergrenadiers and their APC's will be next...

Tuesday 22 January 2013

(Zombie Month) Another Way To Speed Paint Zombies

Whilst I am confident that the approach I am using on the zombie horde will produce a decent enough result I spotted this alternative speed painting method which I thought I'd share. It appears to produce good results but looks like it is something of a leap of faith process!

Meanwhile my zombies have got to the end of the block painting stage and are waiting for me to slap some dip on. To say they look a bit "colourful" at the moment is a bit of an understatement but I am trusting the dip to bring it all together.

Monday 21 January 2013


In the comments on the 40K Scenery post below, Jason asked where the robots are from and whilst I responded, I realised that the models themselves haven't featured on the blog. So I've dug them out and took some photos. The models are the start of a small Terminator army project that is currently in stasis (though I have a Skynet VTOL and some Terminator-bikes that featured in the last movie to repaint).

The miniatures are a mix of some old Grenadier UK Future Wars ones that are now available from em-4 Miniatures. They were originally sculpted by Mark Copplestone and consequently go nicely with...

The (un-subtlely named) Terminator Robots from Copplestone Castings. They are very similar to the em-4 ones, although the heads are more cube shaped (I prefer the em-4 skulls but these are still nice).

The "army" also incudes this female cyborg from em-4 painted up Terminator style. The third film and the TV series had female Terminators so a female endo-skeleton fits in concept wise.

Finally there is currently an original white metal Necron attached to the force as some kind of heavy weapons assault unit. I'm not sure whether he will remain attached to the Terminator project as he doesn't quite fit.

Sunday 20 January 2013

40K Scenery Ruins

You can't have enough scenery (apparently) and these two pieces of plastic ruins from some edition or another of Warhammer 40,000 have languished, undercoated, on the painting table for far too long so last night got attacked with some paint.

My approach to this is fairly straight forward, drybrush a blue grey, add a bit of a light grey and drybrush highlights, then lightly drybrush the light grey. A bit of washes in nooks, crannies and the bottom (some Devlan Mud in this case). The floor tiles were give a blue green wash for some variation then some Mud. Quick, easy and an effective end result...

Saturday 19 January 2013

Reaper Bones Ogre Chieftain

Not a lot of time today to spend painting so I decided to tackle another of those miniatures sat for too long on the workbench - a Reaper Miniatures Ogre Chieftain.

This is one of their "plastic" Bones line. I say "plastic" as it is not the hard styrene plastic you get from Citadel, Warlord or in an Airfix kit but what it is I'm not quite sure. It is slightly bendy but not like soft polythene (Airfix) and apparently glues well with super glue but not plastic liquid cement (not that I needed to glue it together as it is a one piece casting).

I bought this model a while back as it looked good and I wanted to check out the "plastic" before investing in the Bones Kickstarter (which I subsequently did big time as I was impressed with this model).

Detail wise it is very much like a metal model, indeed most, if not all, of the Bones line started life as metal models and this is Reaper's way of producing them in a cheaper material that still provides the same detail. I am looking forward to seeing the larger Bones models such as the dragons later this year as the lightness of the material should make it more suitable for tabletop gaming.

I\m very pleased with how this model painted up, especially the tawny weathered flesh as I have been dodging this 'browned skin' look for a while, but knew it was what was needed on miniatures like this traditional ogre and other large humanoids like giants.

Overall, if all the Bones models are to this standard, they are well worth buying.

Friday 18 January 2013

Another T-72...

The zombies are coming along slowly but surely and between mammoth block painting sessions I'm knocking off odd things that have been sat around the workbench too long - including this Altaya T72...

Ha hah!, you think, I've seen that before last year. Nope, it is a second model, it just looks the same! :-)

I am considering picking up another couple to finish off a platoon, as whilst I was planning on using Force on Force for the Whirarwistan games I do also have Battlefield Evolution: Modern somewhere which can be used for bigger old school style games and allow me to use the Mi-24 Hind I've also acquired! :-)

Thursday 17 January 2013

Potty Time!

I popped into my local model shop today to pick up some liquid poly as my last bottle (bought from Beatties!) is just about empty. They didn't have any in stock! I know, what sort of model shop isn't able to sell glue to customers? Ho hum...

Anyway I had been thinking about my Dreadball miniatures recently (albeit with less enthusiasm than previous) so I decided to check out some unusual colours for team kit schemes.

Despite a long history of using enamels I have largely switched to the acrylic side now but was considering some of Humbrol's florescent pots to help create some vivid team uniforms.

However I discovered the Revell Aqua Color range that not only included some florescent colours, which I picked up, but some translucent shades that I suspect will work kind of like inks but hopefully will no pooling issues as they did in days of yore (I haven't used inks since the Eighties!).

The Revell pots are quite unusual but reading a few online reviews lots of good things are said about them so I'm hoping I get the chance to experiment with them over the weekend.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Graveyard of a Fleet...

Rooting through some family papers I recently came across a batch of small photograph prints, largely of scuttled warships, that my Grandad picked up somewhere on his travels as a member of the Merchant Navy during or after WW2. I have scanned them and converted them to black and white from sepia before enhancing them as appropriate.

Thanks to help from David Manley they have been identified as photos of the French fleet at Toulon which was scuttled in November 1942 which the Germans tried to seize when they occupied Vichy. I have no idea why my Grandad had these photos but having quickly trawled the internet, despite finding some similar photos here, I haven't found these specific ones, so I thought they might be worth sharing...

Battleship Dunkerque in dry dock
Dunkerque class battleship Strasbourg
Bretagne class battleship Provence left and seaplane tender Commandante Teste right
Vauquelin class destroyers Kersaint and Vauquelin
Vauquelin class destroyers Kersaint and Vauquelin again
Suffren class cruiser Colbert
La Galissonnière class cruiser La Marseillaise
Funnels of the Vauquelin class destroyer Vauquelin
Heavy cruiser Algérie

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Contact, Tanks!

There is an old adage that you should not judge a book by its cover but you could be forgiven for doing so for Main Battle Tank by Niall Edworthy as both the cover and the title of the book are so uninteresting. Indeed the title is just so vague as to be bordering on the stupid.

Now this would be a shame as the book recounts the involvement of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, a British tank regiment in the Iraq War of 2003, mainly its missions around Basra. It is not only a fascinating read for the general wargamer with an interest in history and armoured warfare but a treasure trove for modern wargamers interested in asymmetrical warfare between conventional first world forces and a largely irregular enemy.

The book is choc full of fascinating accounts of actions between the Challenger equipped Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (supporting 3 Commando and the Irish Guards) and Iraqi regulars and Fedayeen many of which would translate to the tabletop, even with a change of army and location.

From a hazardous mission to recover a trapped Challenger and its crew at night to the full scale Battle for Route Red to secure the Gateway to Basra I was struck by how different the victory conditions were in the war from what we normally consider. The loss of just one British tank, regardless of Iraqi casualties would be regarded as a major Iraqi victory and a major British defeat by both sides in this "TV war "and this certainly adds a different dimension to other battles from history.

My wargamers head was a buzz with ideas about all this after I finished reading it. What scale to play it? Could the Iraqi's be run by reaction tables (as the Indians are in Pony Wars)? How to factor in asymmetrical victory conditions? What about ammunition expenditure as the Challengers would often use up all their on board mg and HESH stock?

For such an uninspiring looking and titled book this was one of the best accounts of modern warfare I have read in a long time and would unreservedly recommend it.