Monday, 28 November 2011

Over Here...

I've managed to paint up some of the US Tank Riders from HAT, they came up pretty nicely I think.

Lounging around a Pre-painted Dragon Sherman
Probably whistling at the local serving girls

They share pretty much the same strengths and weaknesses as the Brits: the gates for the plastic are all placed on the helmets, which makes removing them tricky, and the plastic is very soft, but the equipment carried by the models is well chosen, the poses look natural and each sprue makes a complete squad (plus tankers).  If anything these are even more nicely equipped than the Brits; a number of  squad members have grenades hanging from their webbing and there's a mix of weapons, with most having Garands, but also some carbines spread amongst the NCOs and those with heavier loads.  I particularly like the inclusion, as well as a trooper with a bazooka, of his second carrying spare rounds; it's this kind of thought that's evident throughout the set.  One of the kneeling figures also comes with a choice of either thompson or grease gun (and the appropriate ammo pouches too), which is a nice touch, even if the sculpting on the separate hands makes him look like sergeant banana fingers!

Sgt Banana fingers in person...

All in all, another good little set and very reasonably priced, at 44 models to a box!  Perfect for filling out half-tracks, trucks and scattering over those Shermans.

I'm working on the German set now, more on that at a later date.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Here comes the cavalry

A few more updates tonight.  My Brits now have some armoured support in the form of an armoured troop of 2 Cromwells and a Firefly from Armourcast.  As with the Stugs, assembly was really easy.  The only remotely tricky bit on both was the gun, which could sit a bit more securely and took a couple of attempts to sit right on both the Fireflies and Cromwells.  Paint is thanks to FoW British Armour which, for some reason, looks lighter on the Firefly...

Crew are from the HAT British Tank Riders set.  The Cromwell hatch is pretty tight and a little trimming was needed!

For fast build models they look pretty good.  The Cromwells are the better of the two, the Firefly does look a little basic next to a more detailed model.  Not sure why they couldn't have sculpted on some of the normal tools at least (Spade, crowbar and mallet!), I might add some stowage later.  Here it is next to a Dragon Pre-paint for comparison.

When ordering them I hadn't realised that the Firefly kit can also be used to make a 75mm armed Sherman, so I'm going to get another box, then I can use the spare from this one and have two typical British armoured troops.

I'm also getting cracking on some of the other HAT models.  Here's some Work in Progress on the HAT mortar and Vickers MG.

I think they'll make pretty good additions.  However, I would point out that the sculpting on some of the models is a little 'chunky', and the plastic is very soft (the MG legs in particular are very flexible, making them tricky to paint and flaking easily), so they won't be everyone's cup of tea (or other suitable relaxing beverage) but as a cheap way to ad some decent support weapons, they work for me!

I'm on the hunt for scout cars and Universal Carriers now!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Wherever I lay my HAT... and an offer

More parcels!  This time some more reinforcements for my WWII Brits, US and Germans.  The plucky Tommies get some tank riders/crew and some heavy support in the form of Mortars and the Venerable Vickers HMG.

There are also some Armourfast packages on the way; a box each of Cromwells and Sherman Fireflies, and some German Mortars.

I've managed to paint up some of the Brit Tank Riders so far.  My plan is to use the riders to mark vehicles that have passengers (taking them out when not needed).  Each box follows a similar pattern: 4 sprues of 11 poses, usually including two tank crew suitable for hatches and a couple of kneeling poses that could also be mixed with foot troops as officers/NCOs.  The seated models are mostly armed with the standard type small arm for their nationality, plus one support weapon (a Bren, BAR and MG34 for the sets I have).\  Sculpting and detail is good, but the plastic is soft, so I'm a bit worried about peeling paint.  One very annoying feature is that most of the models are attached to the sprue at the head, so separating them without flattening the helmet requires care and some tricky trimming.  These were painted up in the same way as my other brits.  They also look good lazing about, probably waiting for a brew...

And here they are in those Italeri Half Tracks from a couple of posts ago.

Now, I seem to recall I mentioned an offer in the post title...  When I checked the box of US tank riders, I found that I actually had three sprues of US troops and one of Soviets!  The three correct sprues are more than enough to meet my requirements, so I don't have much to gain by trying to get the box changed at this stage.  Instead, if anyone out there could make good use of 11 assorted Soviet tank riders and crewmen, just leave me a comment below and an email where I can contact you, and they shall be yours!  (first come, first served!!!)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Caesar Brits

Nearly finished my first batch of Caesar's WWII British Infantry.  Really nice models, great poses, generally loads of fine detail except, oddly, when it comes to the weapons.  I also have Bren and PIAT Gunners painted up, but they're going to need custom bases made as they're prone, firing their weapons.

Painting was done mostly with the FoW British paint set (basically Vallejo colours, although the FoW branding certainly reduces fiddling around finding the right colours for the WWII novice like me).  Spray undercoated black, then basecoat of British Uniform, with the webbing and helmet picked out in Khaki and Russian Uniform respectively.  Faces were GW Tallarn flesh, boots GW chaos black (has anyone else found that particular paint has horrible coverage on bare plastic?), weapons GW bestial brown and Boltgun metal.  All were then given a wash of GW Devlan Mud wash, then highlights picked out again in the original colour.  I think the bases took longer than the models overall!

Friday, 4 November 2011

40 plus 40 equals trouble

Finished the crew or the Italeri Pak40s.  6 crew for each gun, all in good, convincing poses, half of them hefting ammo about and the rest lining up and aiming.  It looks like they're modelled for colder weather, with greatcoats and parkas, but they paint up nicely in camo (my attempt at the 'splinter' type camo, not great, but at this size and tabletop distance I can live with it) and won't look noticeably out of place on a Normandy battlefield.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Fast build done, um, fast...

Recently picked up a box of Italeri fast build half tracks.  Turns out they do exactly what they say on the tin!  After a spray with FoW US Armour, and picking out some details like the seats and tyres, they went together in a matter of minutes without any need for glue.

I also found the time to do a quick re-spray of one of my die-cast Sherman 105s.  These are pretty good models, but a bit too dark in colour.  Now, I know when I started getting into the Normandy thing I said I was going to keep things simple and not obsess about painting and accuracy but what were the odds of me ever keeping to that!  It's come out pretty well, so I'll probably do the other one as well now (the original colour's on the right, by the way...)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Kampfgruppe Normandy Arrives

A knock at the door this morning turned out to be the daughter of our neighbour across the road bearing a large brown parcel.  It seems my copy of Kampfgruppe Normandy arrived while I was away for a short break in Whitby.

It's certainly a very impressive book, weighing in at 348 pages, and very nicely produced. From a quick glance the rules look simple, but with enough tactical complexity to keep interest, and bear no relation at all to the WFB/40K systems (bonus!).  The activation and morale systems look interesting, and there's scope for suppressive fire and proper use of artillery.  The rules were written by Warwick Kinrade, who also wrote Forge Worlds Aeronautica Imperialis ruleset, another simple set of rules that I really like.

The only bit that looks a little disappointing is close combat.  It looks like it's just an extension on normal ranged combat, with little risk to the attacker, whereas I'd prefer something a little more... pivotal I suppose;  but it should be easy enough to graft something on (maybe more akin to Fast and Dirty's system) without upsetting balance too much.

Now I just need to get a game in to try it out.  In the meantime there's a great review on Warseer.

Leader of the PaK

Couple if quick posts tonight.  Firstly, I've just finished painting a pair of Italeri fast assembly Pak40s.  Great little models, assembly was really quick.  They don't really need glueing, but I have glued the front armour plate and wheels just for security.  The only suggestions I'd  give to anyone about these models is that shaving down the lugs on the main gunshield a bit helps (its easier to assemble and put less strain on the part, I nearly split mine before doing this) and, if you're painting camo, to do it before assembly.  Luckily I did this and it made things much easier.

One of the other great things about this set is that each gun comes with a complete crew of 6.  They're on the painting table at the moment, so I should be able to post them in a couple of days (I'm having camo traumas...).

Next up should be some Italeri M3 half tracks, presuming I can pick them up from the post office tomorrow between meetings.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Painting and Decorating

Been a bit lax with the posting recently.  I blame my lovely wife, who kindly (if foolishly) bought me a PS3 and a copy of Mass Effect 2 for my birthday.  An excellent game, but a real eater of spare time!

However, I do now seem to have torn myself away from saving the galaxy, and found the paintbrushes again.  I'm working on a few more GW Tau, a couple of old Grenadier Dwarfs and a 1/72 German Pak40 Anti-tank gun at the moment but, first up, is a finished building for my WWII Normandy project.

Some of the joints are distinctly rough and below par, but I'm still pretty pleased for something that was knocked up in a evening a few months back.

Now, any suggestions for a shop name?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Buying the Farm

With my better half staying at her mothers overnight while our bathroom is rebuilt (I miss plumbing!), managed to get a WWII game in tonight, to try out using Fast and Dirty for the period. The plan is to play some linked games as a mini campaign from the point of view of a single platoon. Taking my cue from computer games like CoD and the excellent (but under appreciated) Brothers in Arms, I thought I'd start with something simple, then make the games more difficult over time, with the Axis opposition governed by the solo play rules that are available through the FAD site.

FAD includes a rather neat scenario generator, which I used. You start by choosing a stance (Offensive, Neutral or Defensive) and attitude (Aggressive, Cautious or Passive). For the first game, the US would be on Offensive and Aggressive, and rolled up an Assault mission; with the Germans Defensive and Passive and getting a Hold mission.

"Lootenant, get yourself over here! Some Frenchies say they've seen Krauts setting up in a farmhouse up the road. Hustle your platoon over there and kick 'em out. Rest of the battalion'll be coming up behind you so don't take your time about it!"

US forces:
HQ - 4 models, M1, regular
1st Squad - 1 thompson, 6 M1s, 1 BAR
2nd Squad - 1 thompson, 6 M1s, 1 BAR
3rd Squad - 1 thompson, 5 M1s, 1 BAR

German Forces:
MG42, 2 crew, regular
1st squad , 1 MP40, 3 k98
2nd squad, 4 k98

To represent the bolt action k98s, I decided these would use the lower of 2 D6s instead of the higher to represent the lower rate of fire over the M1s.

The US will be entering from the left, aiming to seize the farmhouse. The Germans need to last 3 consecutive turns with no enemy nearer than 15" to the farm.

The US deployed 2nd squad on the road, and used a recon point to push the squad up another 6". 1st squad hugged the north side of the hedgerow with the HQ and third squad in the field to the south of the road.

The Germans deployed the machine gun in the upper window of the farmhouse to cover the junction, with the two rifle squads providing security.

As the US second squad pushed up the road, the MG42 revealed itself and opened up, wounding two of the squad members. Dragging their wounded with them, second squad took cover on the other side of the hedge to treat the wounded, one of whom was only lightly wounded and able to carry on. While 1st squad continued along the hedgerow, 3rd squad took cover in another hedge to form a base of fire and returned fire on the farmhouse, dropping the Machine Gun loader outright! The gunner continued on, killing a member of 3rd squad in return.

1st squad move up the left flank

3rd squad appeared to be charmed, another high die roll seeing them finish of the MG gunner in turn 3, while squads 1 and 2 moved to flank the farm to the north and the HQ squad to the south. The German squad with the MP40 consolidated into the farmhouse, trading shots with 3rd squad behind the hedgerow, but to little effect. 3rd squad had no such problems, immediately killing one of the new arrivals. 1st squad made a dash across the secondary road to get around the north side of the farm, but a low move roll left part of the squad hanging and one of the squad was wounded by the German rifle squad and had to be dragged behind the a wall by his squad mates, who were now in position to open up on the Germans in the farmyard with good effect.

The 2nd German Squad, led by their NCO, set up in the farmhouse

The US HQ moves up on the right flank to put fire on the farmhouse

2nd squad prepares for the assault on the farmyard

1st squad flanks the farmyard to support 2nd squad assault

While 3rd squad and the US HQ kept the Germans in the farmhouse under fire and suppressed, 2nd squad assaulted the remaining German in the farmyard. Not only did he survive, despite being outnumbered 6 to 1, and losing the assault and falling back, killing one of the US soldiers in the process; he also survived a second assault from 2nd squad, falling back again! With US soldiers in the yard, the remaining soldier in the farmhouse also broke and ran.
The GIs go in!

A clear US victory, who were left in control of the farmhouse having lost 2 of the platoon with 2 more wounded. Sorting out the post-battle bits and pieces, the platoon received replacements for the killed and wounded and 2 campaign points. One was used to raise first squad from conscript to regular (having acquitted themselves well in their first action), the other to give third squad the 'trigger happy' trait (+1 fire effect) in recognition of their stirling work as a base of fire (these guys are going to need to carry more ammo)!

Objective completed!

In all, a good game. The solo play rules are simple to use and effective, and the main rules don't distract from the tactics. Speaking of which, proper fire and movement tactics work well in FAD. After a hairy start when the MG42 first opened up at close range. The US 3rd squad did an excellent job of providing a firebase, reducing the effectiveness of the forces in the farmhouse and allowing the remaining squads to outflank the defences. If they hadn't been so successful (rolling three 6's in a row for fire effect), the MG would have been a major headache.

I do wonder if the tweak for the K98s underpowered the Germans a little (although they certainly did rely heavily on their MGs, as happened here); I'll have to think about that a bit.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Joining the Great Finecast Debate

Much has been said on the 'net about Citadel's new finecast models. From GW's original, somewhat bombastic claims of the latest step in 'hobby evolution' through various debates on TMP and Wayland Games decision not to retail the stuff based on their assessment of flaws (some of which seem fair to me, others which I wouldn't have been surprised by in pewter).

Well, I just had to find out for myself, didn't I? I had some GW vouchers and, not really needing things for any of my main GW armies, thought I'd indulge myself with something that might be interesting to paint. So out of GW Chesterfield I skipped (well, tripped on the doorstep really...) with a Ludwig Schwartzhelm clutched in my eager little hands.

So, first impressions? Here's the inevitable pics...

It's a very light material, and slightly bendy (although not brittle). How well it will hold paint on thin items like swords and staffs? Will it flake over time like the soft plastic on 1/72 models. Compared to pewter flash seems to be a surprising issue. Partly it's because there are so many gates for the material to enter the mould, some of which are on points of detail.

However these do seem to be easily cleaned up without leaving noticeable damage. There are quite a few mould lines as well (multi-part moulds?), but no more than you'd find on pewter, and it's an easy material to work.

What I will say is that I've not noticed anything like the problem with bubbles that some have reported. One or two small ones but so tiny and in out of the way places that they're not worth worrying about. It also holds detail really well; just look at the detail on the barding, above.

Verdict so far? Not sure yet, I'm going to hold fire until assembly, but so far it's neither feeling like an improvement on pewter, nor as bad as some have said


Quick paintjob on some Empire Artillery Crew that I'd obviously started a while back and forgotten about. They've come out OK, although now I'm going to have to paint (and find) their cannon.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Forgotten Purchases

Having a bit of a tidy up the other day (I needed to make some more space in the cupboard for my wife's school textbooks), I came across a box of resin scenery pieces I'd forgotten about. I recall I picked them up at Salute some years back from (I think) a mix of Snapdragon studios and Ainsty Castings. Anyway, they looked like a quick win on the painting front so, hey presto, here they are.

You can never have too many crates to hide behind. Computer games have taught me that...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

US and them

Finished the US Infantry Platoon (finally). All figs are from Caesar miniatures US Infantry Set 1 and I must say I'm really impressed with them. They take washes for shading very well. The Sherman is from Dragon Armour and very nice too.

Just need to get them on the table now.

Those Italieri walls have painted up well too! What I really like is that they fit together really flexibly but firmly.

And just to show it's not all been 20mm, Somewhere along the line I seem to have found the time to paint a couple of Hasslefree Townsfolk; the Village Idiot and Barwench.

I have a few more of these to do, and will be mounting them on some nice resin bases from Fenris Games that the lovely folks at Hasslefree included as a freebie.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Over the garden wall

Just a quickie tonight (if you'll excuse the phrase). I managed to pick up a couple of cheap boxes of Italieri's Stone Walls care of ebay. I know walls are the kind of thing I could easily scratchbuild, but given my notoriously slow progress on most projects I figured this was a cheap way to save time!

They come as two sprues to a box, with each sprue containing enough pieces to make just over 2 feet of walls, including gates and a variety of end pieces, and have a nice, simple interlocking design. So between the two boxes that's enough for about four and a half feet of stone walls on the table. The plastic is nice and solid and the detail looks nice and crisp, so they should paint up well using the same techniques I used for the same company's farmhouse.

Here's a pic of the sprue:

Once painted, they should be ideal for farm boundaries, orchards or just the sides of roads.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hail Caesar!

Is it wrong that I still get excited when a parcel arrives for me? Well, right or wrong I was quite cheery when I got home to find my Caesar WWII British Infantry had arrived. Even though I've not finished my US platoon (nearly there!), I couldn't help but do a quick test on the Brits (flying the old flag for blighty!).

So what are they like? In common with the US Infantry, the detail is nice and sharp and generally clean. There's more flash than the US models, but the plastic is fairly tough so it cleans up pretty easily. The level of detail makes them a joy to paint though. The uniforms and webbing are nicely detailed, although the weapons are less defined (the US infantry have a similar issue), which is odd; it does have one advantage though, as the ratio of stens to rifles is high, but could be remedied with a bit of judicious trimming of magazines!

On the subject of the mix of equipment and weapons, as I mentioned, it's a bit heavy on the stens (12) compared to Lee Enfields (18), and there are 4 flamethrowers, which seems a bit much. But on the plus side there is a nice prone PIAT gunner and a great officer. I would have liked to see a Vickers HMG and more poses with the Bren though.

Size wise they're slightly tall, but fit well with the US models, and aren't so far out from other ranges that I wouldn't consider mixing and matching. Here's a comparison with one of the models from Caesar's US Infantry Set I and the matchbox British Infantry (which are 1:76 to be fair).

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Big House, Little House

Here's a family photo of my recent buildings for the WWII project, particularly for Greg of 'Greg's Wargaming Blog' (check it out, he makes some fantastic scenery!) to give a scale comparison.

Left to right are a townhouse and cafe in Resin from Airfix, plastic Italieri Farmhouse, and Resin Airfix ruined workshop. As you can see, the Italieri Farmhouse is substantially larger than the airfix buildings, but next to each other they don't look out of scale, you only have to look at any street to see how buildings vary in size. As a standalone building I'd have no problem putting it on the same table with the others.

Here's a close up with a Caesar US Infantryman for scale. The style is slightly more mediterranean than Normandy, but not too out of place. The model comes in a solid (and surprisingly heavy) plastic. Assembly is pretty easy, and once constructed, with the internal floor in place, feels pretty robust. The roof isn't perfect, the pieces don't fit that precisely and the ridge tiles are a little off, but they paint up nicely. There's also a chimney, but no flat spot to place it, so it's either perch it precariously on the tiles or leave it off. But all in all a really nice gaming piece. Italieri also do a couple of other buildings in a similar style that would probably be worth investigating, particularly if you fancy gaming the Italian campaign!

And so, on to Airfix. These buildings are cast in a nice, crisp resin. The detail is sharp and nicely moulded, in most cases with separate brass windows (they also come with clear plastic for window panes, but I figured that, as ruins, any glass would be long gone!) and they paint up really well. Again, here's our friendly GI for scale.

One thing that is noticeable here though is relative scale. For some odd reason, Airfix have produced these buildings in 1/76 scale (and 'small' 1/76 at that!), whereas all of their figures and vehicles are in 1/72... It's only really noticeable when you place models next to the doors so, again, not really a problem for me. Of course if your models are already at the upper end of the 1/72/20mm range, it might be too much. I wouldn't want to put them with the models from Valiant for example.

I think they would benefit from some rubble on the bases as well, which would also help disguise the low height of the doors. Another future project or me then...

One final comment though is price. They're not cheap, so you'd have to judge for yourself whether they're worth it for you.