Tuesday, 12 November 2013

And now for something completely different

As a bit of a change from squinting at tiny blobs of slightly uncomfortably soft plastic, here's something a bit larger and more metallic: a Copplestone Future Wars Security Guard, (now sold by EM4 miniatures).

This is the first of three models I picked up some years ago.  My original plan was to go for a pretty standard 'SWAT' type look of dark blues and blacks, but then I had a change of heart and decided to go for something a bit more garish and 'corporate security guard' like.  It was only part way through painting that I realised that I may have been inspired by a similar colour scheme I'd come across many moons before...


This was partly an experiment in painting in a slightly different style, to try and kick start my painting mojo.  My usual painting style has pretty much evolved from a gaming background.  Mostly I paint to complete units quickly and simply, so usually a black undercoat to provide shade, washes and basic highlights.

This time I decided to build up the highlights a bit more carefully.  To brighten the colours, I started from a white undercoat, with a black wash to show up the detail and provide some base shading.  It creates quite an interesting effect in itself, and almost black and white film look!

Overall I'm pretty pleased with how he turned out, especially the shading on the grey fatigues.  Some more edge highlights on the jacket and skin might be good though.

I also have a handful of minis from Hasslefree undercoated and ready to go.  I've got to say, Kev White at HF is a sculpting god!  Here's one of his SF Troopers next to another Security Guard by Mark Copplestone.  Interesting to compare the two very different styles of sculpting, one almost ultra-realisticly proportioned, the other deliberately simplified and exaggerated.  I like them both, but Mark Copplestone's style is definitely less daunting to paint!  It's the difference between a mars bar and a swiss chocolate, both are perfect for the right occasion ;-)

Germans (and more mortars for Greg!)

Just a handful more Germans, using the Airfix Afrika Korps as late war infantry.  I tried a few basic head swaps (as suggested by Leif, thanks!), which add a nice bit of variety.

Also completed the MG34 gunner.  No loader/assistant gunner, but still a favourite figure from Airfix.

I'll finish the basing shortly.

And now, just for Greg (because he asked), here are some more shots of the Italeri US Airborne Mortar.

I'd love to see what whoever sculpted these would do with a full range of airborne.  There's lots of great detail on these, with the amount of kit they're carrying (carbines, pistols, packs, entrenching tools etc) and the gloves that seem to have been quite common.  In fact if you look carefully at the guy with the mortar round in the second to last photo, you can see that they've even sculpted on the gas testing patch worn on the upper right arm!  The needs of the mould occasionally let them down thought, particularly on the boots and the carbines, which are located where it's tricky to get much detail into them.

Back to work and catching up


Been a while since my last post.  I kind of lost my gaming and painting mojo over the summer.  Far too much going on.  M and I spent far too much of the summer getting acquainted with hospitals for one reason or another and a restructure at work meant my post and my manager's were 'deleted', leaving us both to reapply for one replacement job.  I got it, but now I seem to be doing my old job and his.  Between all this I just didn't seem to be able to muster up the enthusiasm.

But it's back now...

First a quick catch up to complete some half finished stuff. Namely some support for the US airborne in the form of a mortar and two .30cals.

The mortar is form the Italieri Anti-Tank teams set, and the .30 cals from Italeri/Esci and Revell respectively.  There is also a .30 cal in the AT set, which is a nice model, but the gunner is firing from a kneeling, rather than prone position as he should be.  Instead I've used the gunner as a second for the mortar (which only as one crewman), leaving me with a spare MG as a bonus!

As with the infantry, the Revell and Italeri MGs don't look bad together, but the Italeri is slighter (and the MG is more simplified) but with sharper detail than the Revell.  On the upside it does come with a suitable assistant gunner.  That said, there is a nice model in the Revell set kneeling with ammo boxes, so he'll make a nice pairing with the gunner.

I have to say though, the Revell gunner's feet certainly don't look comfortable...

Hopefully another post following later with some more Germans and something a bit different.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Just a few more

I'll stop posting photos of paratroopers soon, honest!  Thought it might be worth posting this batch to compare the Italeri and Revell models, and how they paint up.

The posing on these two is really natural and convincing.  The one on the right in particular is probably my favourite of the bunch, holding his grease gun up while giving orders.

BAR Gunner and rifleman (bayonet removed before painting)

Italeri rifleman on the left, Revell on the right.  You can clearly see here how the casting on the Italeri models is much sharper and takes the wash well.  However they're slimmer and 'lighter' than the Revell.  The model on the right really looks like he's leaning into the rifle, ready for the recoil, whereas the one on the left looks a little more unsteady (to be fair, maybe he's just fired).

Comparison of the two grenadiers.  Again the Revell (on the left this time), to me looks more 'steady'.  Does anyone throw things with one foot in the air?  It seems a lot of models do!

Couple of nice poses form the set, sorting out ammo and equipment.  Essential stuff for paratroopers, but not so often seen in model form.

In summary, I like both sets, for different reasons.  The poses in the Revell set are more convincing overall.  Weapons are held and used like they have some real weight and proportions looks good.  They're carrying a mix of equipment, including field dressings, and look slightly 'shabby', which matches old photos nicely.  The downside is that the detail is a bit soft, webbing sometimes vanishes into the background and faces are vague.  A few of the poses also feel a little flat as well, a result of fitting the the mould rather than natural sculpting.  There's a kneeling rifleman with carbine that I won't use as his pose looks so uncomfortable!

By contrast, the Italeri ones look a little forced.  They look a little thin and weapons aren't being held as if they have any real weight.  Equipment is also light, with no packs and only basic equipment (water bottle, entrenching tool and basic ammo pouches), whereas in most photos of paras they're absolutely loaded down with equipment.  That said the casting and detail is excellent and take washes well and the poses are 3D rather than flat.  They're also a harder plastic that doesn't flex easily and shed paint.

Side by side they look pretty good together, so the two sets should give me plenty of opportunities for variety and the odd head swap.  Weirdly, both include almost identical poses of a para stood at ease, showing off his mohawk.  In both sets I'll probably do a head swap on most of these for helmeted heads from the poses I won't be using (like the para in his chute).

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Who let me go shopping?

While M was dragged to watch 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat' by The Mother In Law (I think it's fair to say she won't be going to see it again!), I had time to do a bit of hobby shopping.  As well as stocking up on some paints and glue, I added a couple more projects (I'll get around to them all sooner or later, won't I?).

First up was a box of Italeri US Paratroopers.  Nice, crisp models with plenty of detail, as you'd expect from Italeri/Esci.  However I do think there's something ever so slightly 'off' about these models, I think its the narrow shoulders, which makes the heads looks a little out of proportion.  Not enough to put me off though.  I have some Revell US paras winging their way from ebay at the moment for a bit of variety as well.

Here's some work in progress.  After much deliberation I've gone with the uniform that would have been used during the Normandy campaign (I may still do some more in the olive drab uniform for later war use), using Vallejo Green Brown for the base.  The webbing is greener than it should really be, but I was going for balance between accuracy and making it stand out, I'll try some other variations on later models.

The chap in the middle is from the Italeri Anti Tank Teams set, slightly taller and more broad shouldered than his fellows!  Bayonets have been removed from rifles and carbines where they existed, as by all accounts they weren't used often.

The inevitable group shot (with added bazooka).

Whilst in the shop I couldn't resist a couple of cheap little pre-painted Bedford Trucks (they'll need a bit of weathering, but that's it) and a couple more of the Airfix Resin buildings, the 'Italian Farmhouse' and 'Italian Townhouse'.  Like the other Airfix buildings I have they're a bit small (even for 1/76), but I'm not building a diorama here.  They're also described as being Italian buildings, but I don't think they'll look that out of place in the fields of Normandy with a suitable paintjob.

That'll keep me going for a bit!  So, what have you all been up to?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

US Airborne Test

Just a quickie this morning.  Tried out two different paint schemes for US Airborne last night using the Italeri Anti Tank Teams Set.  One in the late war olive drab uniform, which was used in Normandy is more suitable for Arnhem etc, one in the early war.  Hoping I've got the early war colour near enough (a 50/50 mix of Green Ochre, US Field Drab and a touch of GW Gretchin Green)

Thoughts, comments and criticism (constructive!) always welcome.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Just a few more...

A handful more Paras completed in spare moments here and there.  Including obligatory 'officer waving pistol and trying to get shot by sniper' model (although at least this one is wearing a helmet!)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

PSC Panzers

Finally managed to make a start on the box of PSC Panzer IVs.  I'm going to make the 'H' version, as it was common during the Normandy campaign and after.  So far they've had a spray of German Armour whilst on the sprue and I've assembled the turrets and main hull.  They'll get a second spray coat (when the weather outside clears up a bit!) then I'll make a start on camo before assembling the tracks and schurtzen.

I'm not planning on doing a detailed review, others have already done far too good a job of that for me to try and follow.  I will just say however, that they are a delight to assemble.  Apart from one turret side hatch (where the recess is too small and needs a little trimming), everything fits together beautifully, some parts not even really needing gluing.

One question though, do I hand-paint the camo?  Or do I try breaking out the airbrush (which I've never been that confident using)?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Airborne, Step-by-step

I've been meaning for a while to get a step-by-step run through up on how I painted my Brit Paras, and this week I finally found the time to do it.

British Airborne, in action between tea breaks!

Before I start, it's worth taking a quick look at the iconic feature of the British Airborne, the Denison Smock; a handy starting point is the rather good page about it on Wikipedia.  In short, there seem to have been two major variants used during WWII.  At 1/72 I'm not going to worry too much about the cosmetic differences involving buttons etc, but it is useful to note the difference in colours, with the earlier smocks (which would be more suitable for North Africa and Italy) on a sand coloured base and the later smocks (used in Northern Europe and appropriate for D-Day and Market Garden) on a more olive green base.

On to the painting then.  The aim of the game here was to produce minis that I'd be happy to use of the gaming table rather than miniature works of art, so I was aiming to get a convincing look without spending too much time fussing over the detail or shading and highlighting.  The figures used were all from Italeri, the sten gunner from the 'Anti Tank Teams' set and the rest from the (former Esci) 'British Airborne'.  Paints were a mix of Vallejo and GW (although I'm not sure what their equivalents would be in the new range).

back row: German Camo Medium Brown, Reflective Green, English Uniform, Russian Uniform, Black Grey, Khaki Glossy Black
Middle row: Mournfang Brown, Mechrite Red, Gretchin Green, Tallarn Flesh, Leadbelcher
Front Row: Badab Black, Devlan Mud

After priming with GW Chaos Black, I started with the basecoat.  VJ English Uniform for the battledress, helmets in VJ Russian Uniform, webbing and gaiters in VJ Khaki, boots VJ Glossy Black and weapons in Mournfang Brown and Leadbelcher.  Two of the models had the smock basecoated using GW Gretchin Green and one in VJ Green Ochre, to represent the earlier smock.  Painting is pretty rough at this point, as later coats will tidy it up, and I haven't painted all of the webbing, as some will inevitably get painted over again when doing the camo.

The first camo colour is done first, using VJ German Camo Medium Brown.  The earliest smocks were allegedly hand-painted using mops, and the pattern continued through the war, so I went for big, bold patches of colour and didn't worry about being neat. The 'stripes' on Denison smocks run in all directions, so I tried to avoid it looking too neat.

Green patches next, in VJ Reflective Green.  Again it was put on it quite bold strokes, trying to cross patches of brown at angles.  It doesn't matter if the paint is a little thin either, in fact it can be helpful, as on the real smocks the colours do seen to show through one another to some degree.  Once the green was on I tidied up the webbing in Khaki.

Everything is looking a bit bright and, to be honest, a bit shoddy at this point but this is where the washes come in.  Shading was a simple matter of a wash of GW Badab Black for the guns, which was followed up with GW Devlan mud over the whole figure.  I've not tried the new washes from GW, I only hope they work as well as these ones do!

Once the wash was dry, a quick highlight was achieved by simply using the original base colour on any raised detail.  The helmets had a quick drybrush with khaki to bring out the netting, and the boots a rough highlight with Black Grey.  I didn't try and highlight the smocks; it's a ridiculously time consuming thing to do and, in my opinion at least, the camo should stay quite dark so that the webbing and other details don't get lost.

So there you have it, how I've been painting Brit Paras.  Do let me know below the line if you've found it useful (or, indeed, if you have any suggestions on how I could improve the next batch!).

Tally Ho!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Xmas X-Wings and Gaming Gifts

A bit late, perhaps, but I'm going to cast my mind back to the heady days of 2012 and reflect on what the Christmas period brought along to join the Slippery Slope.

It would be fair to say that whilst I didn't quite have the Christmas I'd planned, it was still a pretty good one, and surprisingly productive from a gaming and modelling point of view.  The original plan was that Mel and I would spend Christmas with my folks down in Dorset (South West England to those not so familiar with the UK).  However heavy rain and flooding across the country soon put paid to those plans, as we watched the updates of cancelled and delayed trains mount up online (you know those people you see on news reports being passed hot cups of tea by well meaning volunteers whilst having to spend the night stranded in some community centre somewhere?  Well, I didn't want that to be us!).  At one point it looked like we'd be spending Christmas on our own, until Mel's sister took pity on us and made room for us to join them and the rest of Mel's family just down the road.

Well fed and rested, and with the flood waters receding, we finally headed south.  I think I've mentioned before that much of my interest in modelling came from my Dad who, in a burst of nostalgia, presented me a with a rather lovely little pre-painted kit of an X-wing to assemble, bless him!

The same thinking seemed to have somehow infected my sister, who provided more modelling material in the form of some Plastic Soldier Company Panzer IVs (I know what one of my next projects is going to be!)

As if that weren't impressive enough, we even managed a bit of gaming (sort of...).  At this point it's important to note that my Mum is a fanatical watcher of TV soaps (even over Christmas) which the rest of us find pretty tedious, so we planned ahead with some games to distract the rest of us.  On a whim, I'd picked up 'Zombies!!!' already, and Mel retaliated with Lego Creationary (think Pictionary, but with Lego).  Lego won the toss and much hilarity and confusion ensued as we all tried to guess at the increasingly disastrous (and possibly alcohol fuelled) attempts to build something even vaguely recognisable.

Mr 'Dad' demonstrates traditional west country 
ceremonial costume, complete with flashing ball

Much fun was had, brussel sprouts were consumed, and wine flowed.  But all good things come to an end, and we slogged back to Derbyshire with the intention of having a nice quiet New Years in, just the two of us.

Yep, you guessed it, that didn't quite go to plan either...

A bit of a family crisis instead saw us hosting Mel's sister and our two little nieces (it seemed only fair, as they'd taken pity on us the week before).  This is where 'Zombies!!!' comes in again.  In a surprise twist, the elder of the two, Isobel (10), turned out not only to be quite comfortable with the idea of the undead roaming the streets, she also turned out to be a proficient and distinctly devious board game player, who proceeded to win time and again against the (so-called) grown-ups!

Things look 'dicey' for Mel's survivor

For anyone after a simple, 'beer and pretzels' type game I can recommend 'Zombies!!!', it even got Mel quite hooked, and she's not normally much into games.  The rules take a couple of run throughs to get used to, but once you have they're pretty simple and don't get in the way of the fun.  The objective is simply to be first to the helipad to escape, with each player taking it in turns to move and fight with their character and then move a random number of zombies (the game comes with about 100 zombies of two types).  Straightforward enough in concept but the random map (each player draws a new map tile each turn until the helipad one turns up) keeps things fresh for each game, while the event and item cards positively encourage back-stabbing and underhand tactics throughout.

Never trust a 10 year old with a chainsaw and hand grenades, that's all I'm saying...

Normal Service WILL be resumed

Just a quickie to remind everyone (including myself) that I'm still about.  Work, life and continuing computer troubles have kept me from doing much more than making the odd comment for a while, but I'll be trying to get some posts in and updating shortly.

Meanwhile, I've finally found time to paint something!  Here's a couple of not brilliant pics of some Airfix Afrika Korps painted up in fieldgrey.  With a bit of a squint they'll do fine for Ost battalion troops in Normandy, and add a bit of variety to my German Infantry.

The chap on the bottom left appears to suffer from the "Curse of Airfix German SMGs", and is carrying something highly improbable, in this case what looks like an MP41 (which was never issued to front line troops).  I suppose I can squint at it and pretend its the German manufactured version of the Beretta, or maybe not.

Also, many thanks for all the kind words said in response to my last post about the British paras.  To those of you who asked if I could do a step by step...

Now I just need a day that's not freezing cold and a howling gale to get the undercoated!