Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shell Craters by Plastruct

A quick lunch time project for today. I bought these Plastruct plastic moon scape sheets a while back and  primed them, but the paint I used turned out to be gloss, so they have been sitting around and collecting dust ever since because I keep forgetting to pick up some non-gloss primer for them. So last night I finally bought some flat brown primer and started working on these.

I plan on using them as shell craters and areas of rough terrain for my Bolt Action games. The sheets come two to a pack and cost around $10.00 - 12.00 and can be found at most any hobby store. If you shop at Hobby Lobby you can get them at 40% off. If not, it is still a good deal, and an easy project.

The priming took no time at all and after that was done I went to sleep. During my lunch, since I am at home today I decided to get this done.

Still some shiny spots but I am hoping that further painting and a coat of matte finish will take care of that.

The first thing I did was to dry brush a lighter brown area on the high points to give it some visual depth and relief. Overall it took less than five minutes. I threw in one of the DAK guys I am working on for scale.

After that dried I used a brush and some Modge Podge (PVA) glue and stippled the area around the craters with glue. Then I threw on some green flocking and shook off the excess, and viola, I am done. Nothing fancy, just some simple, serviceable shell craters.

Maybe I went a little heavy on the glue and flocking.

Total time for this project was less than 20 minutes, and the total cost was approximately $10.00. So there is no reason not to have some of these for your table.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flakvierling 38 and Opel Blitz

A short one for today. This are two models that I did a couple of months back for my German Army. They are still one of my favorite units as far as modelling and painting goes. Both turned out really nice and have gotten a fair bit of use. Occassionally the Blitz gets used for transporting my infantry, but it's main job is towing the Flak 38.

The Flak 38 is a Tamiya model that I got on sale for $10.00 and though it had a good number of pieces it really wasn't that difficult to put together. The Opel Blitz in from Warlord Games and was easy to assemble and paint and looks great. However the amount of time involved is a good 3-4 hours. Oddly enough the Opel Blitz hitch and the trailer for the Flak 38 actually hook together which is a nice bonus, even though the two models are different scales. Even though the two are different scales it is not that obvious. The trailer is slightly wider that the truck, which doesn't really bother me.

Also in the shot, between the Flak 38 and the Blitz is my German Observer. He was made out of a Wargames Factory body and extra arms, head and radio from the Tamiya kit. I particularly love the rolled up sleeves, and the hand painted rank actually turned out really well.

As far as the Bolt Action games rules go, the Flak 38 kind of gets the short end of the stick. Even though the gun shield is clearly visible on the model, there is no way in the rules to get a gun shield, and the gun shield rule for the Flak 38. So this unit is easier to kill than it should be. Also there seems to be some confusion in various forums as to how many shots this thing gets.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage

Okay, well you should know that I love quad mounted guns. Pure Awesome. So this thing mounts four .50 cal machinguns and can be used by my Americans or by my Soviet forces. These vehicles were designed as Anti-Aircraft vehicles, but were used in the ETO and PTO against ground forces. The model is from my recent order from Company B.

Sorry about the blurry picture.
Overall the model was cast really well with only a few minor areas of flash, and nothing I had to fix. I was slightly daunted by the number of parts, but that's just because me and superglue don't play well together. Had it been a plastic kit with 10 times the number of parts it wouldn't had bothered me nearly as much. However, I was able to get the model together with only gluing my fingers together a couple of times.

The bottom requries a bit of clean up, and has a fair number of air bubbles, but the rest of the resin model is bubble free.

I had to look around the internet to find some decent pictures of the vehicle to see how the turret went together, and which direction to put the treads on. Other than that the other bits were pretty straight forward. The front window guard, the radio deck behind the driver and the the fold down panels on the sides and the rear.

I learned my lesson with the Kubelwagen and left my crew unglued for the time being which is why the crossbar with the aiming sight for the gun is laying in the back of the truck right now. This way I can get him in and out of the turret until I get it all painted.

The model went together really easily and I really don't have any defects whatsoever to report. All together this model is pretty sweet and I highly recommend it.

Now I am thinking how am I going to get this thing painted up so that I can use it for both my Americans and my Soviets. I may have to paint them up as Americans and then overlook the fact when I use them for the Soviets. Though maybe I could find a Soviet driver and gunner that I could swap out, but that seems like a lot of work. What I really need to do is figure out a way to swap out vehicle air identification markings. This is of course assuming the Soviets bothered to put their Red Star markings on these things, which I assume they did. Anyway I will have to think about it for a while.

One thing that I really want to do, is cut up some lengths of copper wire to sprinkle around the truck bed as spent .50 cal shells. I think this will be a nice touch that will really bring the model to life.

Friday, June 14, 2013


This is a model that I had been planning on building for quite a while but kept putting off to do other projects. Finally, the weekend before last I had an entire Saturday to myself and so I decided to get started on this one. After about four or five hours I had most of the model mocked up and ready to go. The building is kind of vague, maybe it's an old monastery, church or just a clock tower.

 The only things that remained after I took this picture, was to add in the rubble and paint the model.
I added the rubble on Sunday night. This was done by covering the area with glue and then sprinkling the area with clay kitty litter and a mix of small gravel (model train ballast). After that I let the whole thing sit and dry overnight. Then the next day I shook off everything that didn’t stick and then poured glue over the top of that and spread it around so that everything was covered. This helps keep everything attached and where it was supposed to be. While that was drying I cut out some single-sided cardboard and added pieces of roof tile to the rubble.  After that I let the whole thing dry overnight again. 

Then finally on Wednesday I started painting. I did a couple of thin coats of color on everything. Painting the walls a light brown or linen color and then washing them with a dark brown / black mix. After that I highlighted the walls with the original color to make the high points stand out. The stonework I painted a light gray but I didn’t like all that much so I went over it with a light brown color.  As you can from the pictures, the light brown color didn’t cover up the gray so it is still quite visible. I painted the wood timbers and the floor a dark brown.  The rubble I painted the same color as the walls then washed several times with the brown / black wash.  After that I picked out a few bits and painted them to match the dressed stone and painted the busted tiles in the rubble. After that I painted the roofs. These I painted with an orange color then painted various areas of the tile light gray and dark gray. After this dried I repainted the whole roof again with a slightly watered down orange in order to tone down the gray colors.

This was where I finished on Wednesday night. I had planned to go over the building again and give everything at least another coat of paint and repaint the dressed stone which I didn’t like. On Thursday I threw this building in the car with the rest of my stuff and headed up to the Game store to play some Bolt Action. Well, the model never made it back home.  I ended selling it to one of the owners of the FLGS, who really liked it, even though I told him that it wasn’t done. It turned out to be a small consolation prize for the fact that I let a guy who had never played before run my Soviet Army and he crushed me and my Germans under his boot heel. Well you know what they say, “if you can’t beat them, rock in the corner and cry”, or something along those lines.

So on Friday I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures of the tower since I had started painting it Wednesday, so I took a few minutes out of my busy day and stopped off at my FLGS and take some pictures.

As you can see in the last picture the roof of the tower is removable so that you can put a sniper team or observer in there.  The bottom floor is also big enough that I could fit my AT gun in the bottom floor or put a squad up on the second floor to shoot out the windows.

Soviet Specialist Teams

I have been working on my WW2 Soviet forces for a while now. They are in various states of…being. Few are done, but most of them are almost done. Part of the problem lies with my personal taste. I finished all but 12 soldiers from the Plastic Soldier Company box. Then by the time I got around to painting the last dozen soldiers I had lost my painting guide and the finished soldiers were boxed up and buried amongst the debris of my work area. So I went from memory and painted the dirty dozen I had left. After I finished I then dug out the rest of their comrades. This was when I discovered that my memory was faulty and I had mis-remembered the color that I had painted the uniforms. I decided to just dry brush the last bunch to help them match, and maybe look as though they were veterans with stained, discolored or otherwise dirty uniforms. Long story short, the dirty dozen ended up looking way better than the original guys and so I decided to repaint the 40 some others to match. However, I just haven’t had the energy to get around to redoing so much work, and so while they bulk of my infantry languishes on the shelf. I have working on some of the special teams that I have acquired for my Soviet forces.

So with the imminent release of more Soviet troops, this time from Wargames Factory, who’s other WW2, especially the Germans I really like, I figured I should get things moving. I know that at this point I should probably just skip the new Soviets box, but I know that I won’t. After all, the PSC models are early war, and the Wargames Factory models are late war. So clearly, I am going to NEED both sets if I am going to have enough options adequately play the Soviets, because I am going to NEED an early war force and I will NEED a late war force. Okay, now that I have rationalized that, let move on to what I have done so far. 

For me one of the most interesting teams fielded by the Soviets would be the anti-tank dog teams. What’s not to love really? The testing of man and dogs status as best friends by blowing the latter to smithereens; the sheer audacity of any plan that involves strapping explosives to an animal and having any, and I mean ANY expectation that things just might go as planned; not to mention the whole thing makes the sphincters of animal lovers the world over pucker right up. 

I have a better Idea, how about you go fetch the Tiger I you crazy...

As far as the game mechanics for this unit in Bolt Action, there is a good chance that you can unleash the dogs and nothing will happen. There is also a chance that you might blow up one of your own tanks or non-armored vehicles. Now this might bother some people, as some people just can’t seem to handle anything that does not mesh with their “Master Plan”, but it just makes me smile because I don’t have a master plan. So if I blow up my own T-34 I am just going to laugh, then hope that my opponent FUBAR’s and blows up his own Panther, or Puma.

My biggest complaint about the anti-tank teams pack that I got from Warlord Games only comes with one bomb dog and two handlers, and the unit in the Soviet Army book requires two dogs per team. So I am one dog short of a full team. Sure, I could buy another pack, and then I would have four handlers and two dogs. Though I suppose I could use the extra guys as grunts. However my plan was to acquire some dog miniatures and then make some explosive packs out of green stuff. This way I could have plenty of dogs, as well as some variety in the dogs, as I think Warlord Games just makes the one dog. So after some looking around I found some dogs at Sgt. Major Miniatures that I like, well actually some wolves but I think they would work well for this project. I am thinking to paint them up to look like Siberian Huskies. I like the Mastiff’s as well, but I am not sure that I really want to use such a big dog for this project.  Given that you can take up to three anti-tank teams for each selection in the Soviet book, I am thinking I might get two packs, or try to find some more dog miniatures. Maybe somebody makes a Dachshund that I could convert into a bomb dog, death by wiener dog. Anyway, that’s the plan for building up my Anti-tank bomb dogs from this humble beginning. 

These guys also came with the anti-tank team pack but they are not nearly as interesting as exploding dogs. Maybe more useful and dependable but certainly not as interesting. 

The second group that I have finished are the Forward Observers. This pack contains three figures for use as spotters and observers or whatever you want to use them as. I really like the figure with the semaphore flags. The other two figures are also pretty nice. The one on the left is laying down and checking out his map before you calls in that artillery barrage. Knowing how I roll, it will probably result in the death of half of my forces. The figure on the right has a field phone and set of binoculars. The heads are inter-changeable, and can be used on any of the figures.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dead Livestock

These are a recent purchase from Warlord Games that I have wanted for some time and finally picked up. There as some pretty famous pictures of dead livestock in the Normandy area during or after the D-day invasion. The Allied bombing campaign prior to D-day was pretty intense and took a heavy toll on the livestock of the region, especially the Normande breed of cattle that was nearly wiped out as a result. I thought that these would be a great addition to the gaming table. While not your ordinary terrain, to be sure,they look good in any skirmish game.

 I thought that as terrain they should have an impact on game play. So I have been tossing around some ideas, and for Bolt Action I think I am going to classify them as an obstacle that does not provide any cover. This way you just have to move around them, and they are just minor annoyances, but still something to be considered. 

The blister contained three models, a horse and two cows. The models are made of white metal and are well cast. There is not much flash in general but there is a lot of small bits on the hooves that are easy to overlook, as I did. I primed them and then started painted before I discovered these and so had to redo a little bit of painting. 

Painting was pretty straight forward. The horse I decided to paint brown and give him white socks, a white blaze on the nose, and some white mottling on his hind quarter. If you are not familiar with horses, perhaps because you were not raised by a horse fanatic who taught you to ride before you ever attending school, then you might appreciate some further information. Wikipedia, as always, has some basic information to help you with painting your own Horses, Horse Markings.  As for the cows, well there are some 800 breeds and vary quite a bit. So we have to focus in a bit more and look at dairy cows from the Normandy region. They have a particular type names Normande Cattle that are pretty common in the region, and the site linked to gives some pretty good pictures of what they look like, as well as the variety. Basically, these buggers are white with brown splotches, although these splotches can also be black. They are also many examples of the splotches being a mottled brown and black and white.. So I went the easy route and just made them white and brown, call me lazy. The other details are pretty simple. Paint the eyes, tip of the nose and lips black, with a small white dot in the corner so they look like they are reflecting light. The inside of the mouth, tongue and nostrils I painted pink. The underbelly I painted Vallejo Medium Flesh, the painted over the center of this with a coat of Vallejo Light Flesh. Then I put a thin was of pink on the udders. After that dried I painted the whole thing over with a wash of white and tried to blend it in with the white hair on the rest of the hide. The hooves are painted painted black.

Wow, can’t believe I just did a tutorial on how to paint cows, even if they are dead. 

If you want, you might add some dried blood, depending on how gory you like things. Then dull coat varnish the whole thing to seal it. After that I was thinking to do a satin finish on the horse to give it a shiny coat and maybe a bit of gloss varnish on the eyes to give them that glassy look.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

German Kubelwagen by Company B

This is a resin and white metal model from Company B.  The first thing I noticed was how thin the doors are on this thing. Given that, I was impressed with how clean and detailed the casting was and the fact that it had no air bubbles, with the exception of a few on the bottom of the model that would not be visible while in use. There was also very little flash, one minor piece under the driver’s door, and that was easily removed.

Overhead shot.

The model comes with an insert that has a color picture of the vehicle, basic stats, a brief history, a parts list, and an illustration to aid in assembly. I thought this was a nice inclusion, as the other models that I ordered did not come any instructions or assembly illustrations. Not that any were really needed for the Kubelwagen as everything was pretty straight forward. 

I decided to start with the axles and then the tires and noticed that when I picked up the axles that one of the wheel bases had been miscast and was rather lopsided. I figured that that it was in good enough shape to work so I continued. This piece proved a little more problematic than I anticipated as it was difficult to balance the tire on half the normal surface, and after falling off several times it finally stuck.

The wonky axle.

All the other tires went stayed on after the first try without any trouble. Then I attached the mufflers and let them dry while I watched a little TV.

Waiting for the glue on the wheels to dry.

The interior of the car has two options. You can put in a steering wheel and an empty driver’s seat, along with the passenger seat, or the driver figure and a gunner, and an empty passenger seat. I decided to go with the driver and gunner combo. I suppose you could also just use the driver and find an officer figure, if you wanted a staff car. After I let the glue on the tires dry for a little bit I decided to put the driver and the passenger seat.  The driver wasn’t much trouble at all, whereas the passenger seat proved to be quite the little gremlin. I think this was due to a combination of factors, the gel super glue not curing fast enough and the metal seat back making the seat unbalanced. So after the one hundred and seventh time of falling over it finally stayed in place and I moved on to the gunner.
For this guy I had to cut the flash out from between his legs, but not high up enough to give him a vasectomy. I then had to pry them apart a little to get them to go over either side of the axle cover and sit flat on the back floorboard. Then I had to move the pintle-mount around a bit as it kept hitting on the drivers elbow, and I suspect that I may not have had the driver as far forward as it should have been. 

Waiting for the glue on the wheels to dry...again.

Done and waiting for a paint job.

Painting was pretty straight forward. Since I will be using the vehicle for late War scenarios and perhaps North Africa as well I decided to go with a base coat of Dunkelgelb. I then decided to leave off the green camo pattern that I applied to my SdKfz 251/1 and SdKfz 222, to make the vehicle more generic. Then I painted the wheels gray and washed them with black, then started painting the figures. At this point I decided that I probably should have primed and painted the figures separately, as I had already had trouble painting the interior of the vehicle, and was now have a hard time getting paint on some portions of the figures. So next time I know and will avoid this if possible.  Then I had to try and find some pictures on the internet that showed the color of the rag top, and decided to paint it Dunkelgelb as well but then highlight it with a slightly lighter yellow brown. Then I decided I didn't like that, so I painted it a Khaki Gray. The seats I went with a gray-green color just for the sake of variety. 

 I also added a windshield after I finished painting and dusted it with a bit of pigment to give it that dusty look. After that I took a few pictures, erased the pictures and painted the undercarriage a muddy brown and retook said pictures and they look a lot better.

I was also looking to see what type of markings was common on the Kubelwagen and found that mainly just the painted license plates. Not having these I have left them off, I am considering ordering some from Company B along with some other decal sheets, but for now I am leaving this off.

looking at this last shot, I just realized I also need to add the rank to the sleeve of the crew and a few other minor details.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Half-timbered House. Part 2: Everything Else

After a short break I started working on the half-timbered house again.  Is started by cutting the eaves, for which I just measures up 4” on both sides, marked this, then found the center of the top edge and connected the dots. After marking both of these off I etched out the plan for my timbers and cut them out as well.  I decided to go for a simple plan with no windows and some straight forward timber placement. 

After cutting out the foam along the timbers the area in the center of the stucco walls is much higher that the rest of the area. You can use a file, as I mentioned in part 1 to get rid of these. Or you can use a box cutter and lay it down as flat as you can get it, even bending it slightly and cut it off flat, as shown in the photo below. Making sure to not cut your thumb off.

The next step was to make a rabbet cut on either side of both of the side walls, and then glue the walls together. The rabbet cut was made using my Master Airscrew balsa stripper.

The cuts were not deep enough to detach the foam, so a little extra cutting with a hobby knife was needed to make the cuts deep enough to get it out. I should note that when doing this, to be careful when cutting the back of the exterior face of the building. As cutting to deep could cut through or even cut off part of the side. So again, just be careful to control the depth at which you cut.

Once you have these removed you can glue them together, I use a brand of craft glue called Tacky Glue, which is pretty common and it works fine. When gluing the pieces together I put the glue on then spread it around in a thin layer then put the pieces together, and use pins to keep them together while the glue dries. Occasionally I have with the pieces not fitting together very well. To help alleviate this problem I put some sand paper flat on my working surface and then take the wall that it causing the problem and sand it flat. You can also straighten out the inside of the rabbet cut  if needed, by wrapping some sand paper around two sides a small wooden block and lightly sanding. If your corners still are not as flush as you would like, or separate a little while gluing there a few more things you can try to get around this problem. The first, is to take some of those little bits of foam that you cut off from the face of the house, smear a little glue on both sides and then and shove them in the cracks, and once they are dried you can cut them off flush. You can also cover any unsightly cracks by filling them with glue and flocking and making it look like the area is covered with moss or ivy. 

While waiting for this to dry I made the chimney. This was done by taking one of the excess pieces I cut off when I did the eaves on the side walls. Since the bottom angle of this matches the pitch of the roof (since that’s what we cut it off of) it works out really well.  Just trim it up a little, and then etch in a brick or rock pattern as you like. I topped mine off with a thin strip of foam slightly larger than the chimney, and two bits from a stirring stick that were secured by drilling into the foam then gluing them in place.

The next thing to work on are the windows. You need to decide what type of windows you want.I decided to go with something fairly simple as you can see in the pictures. I glued one strip across the window, and then divided the upper pane into two halves. The bottom windows I split into three panes.

My biggest problem here is keeping track of the windows and putting them back in the right spot instead of getting them all mixed up.

For the roof I use card board. I start by measuring the roof and then add 1/4” for both sides (1/2” overall) to the measurements. You can add more if you want a larger overhang. I cut this out as a single piece when possible, then score it down the center line and fold over. On this particular house there seemed to be a shortage of appropriately sized cardboard so I used two pieces and taped them together with masking tape. After you have your roof cut, just glue it straight to the building. Smearing the glue around in a thin even layer and pin it until it dries.  You may notice the house isn’t exactly straight but gluing the roof on should help bring everything back into line.

So after getting some feedback on the first part of the tutorial, I decided to go back and make some changes to the original walls. I added a few extra timbers under the windows. This highlights another advantage to using polystyrene foam, its flexibility.  To add the timbers I cut flattened out the areas where I wanted to add the timbers then glued thin strips of foam to the face of the wall. When the glue dried I added the wood grain to match the other timbers. In two other areas I cut back the foam a bit and made the area into a brick wall in order to show the underlying structure. You can see all of this in the pictures below in the Roof section.

Starting on the roof required getting the material required, mainly my 1/4" strips of card stock that I had ran through my strip shredder many projects ago. These I cut, in bunches, into shingles of various lengths.

I also attached the chimney to the roof. On this house I choose the center of the house but you could put it on either end or wherever you prefer. After pining that in place I started putting the shingles on.

Putting the shingles on is relatively easy. I just put down a bead a glue from the left side to the right, starting with the bottom row. Then I lay down a layer of shingles. After the first row, I put the glue half on the row below and half on the cardboard above the previous row. I generally leave a little gap between shingles and occasionally put them on at a slight angle so that some of the shingles look a little loose. I try to keep the rows as straight as possible but there will always be a little variation. If you have trouble keeping a straight line, you might try drawing a line, or lines across the roof to use as a guide. For me, if it is reasonably straight, it's all good.

After you are done with the roof and it has all dried you can come back with a sharp pair of scissors and straighten up the edge of the roof, or you can leave it as is. The final step is the roof cap. For this house I choose to use a center timber as the top of the roof. So I cut a piece of foam and glued it to the peak of the roof. If you want you can also use a strip of balsa wood and sit it in the gap of the cardboard at the peak of the roof, which is what I usually do. In this case, since I taped the roof together I went with the foam.

If you look closely you will notice I forgot to paint the underside of the eaves. Oh the shame!

The next step is painting. I painted the stucco a light linen or cream color. Then I gave it a wash of a slightly darker color then highlight it with the same linen color. Timbers I paint dark brown then dry brush with a lighter brown. The chimney and stone work I kept a brown color, but gray, red or orange would work fine I think. The shingles I painted a shade of brown then highlighted slightly. If you wanted a more weathered look you could paint them gray, or a gray brown color. You could also paint them blue, red or green if you wanted.

Here is the final and parting shot. All done and over with...well except somewhere along the way I decided I didn't like the windows so I decided to add the fancy diagonal frame pattern on the bottom pane of the window. For this I used carbon fiber screening material that you can pick up from the hardware section of Wal-Mart and pretty much any DIY center as well. This stuff runs about $10.00 for a gigantic roll that will last an eternity if all you use it for are windows. To add these to the windows I cut out little sections, turned them to a 45 degree angle and put my window face down on it, and cut around the window. I then glued them into place with some tacky glue. When dry I shoved my windows back in place. You will also want to paint your windows before you do this, otherwise you will get an excruciating exercise in tedium trying to paint all of those little diamond shaped panes of glass. I painted my window glass a pretty benign light gray color, but light blue, green, yellow, or brown will also work. As many of these houses were built in the days before clear glass.