Blog discription

What will you find here? Ramblings from an aging gamer-miniature painter. When I first started out in this hobby computers were in their infancy and finding other gamers could only be done by going to conventions or as in my case bumping into somebody who happened to see me reading "Panzer Leader" on the school bus. Look how far we have come! The internet has allowed our small community to be able to connect on a level I never dreamed of when I was but a small lad. What I do hope you will find here is something interesting from one wargamer/miniature painter to another. I paint miniatures somewhat decently, so I will be posting some pictures of my work, and perhaps a review or two of games and/or miniatures. Most of all this is just about having fun and anything I post here is meant to be for that reason.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roughing in the Green Devils

Got a chance to do some more work on the 1st Fallschirmjager Division soldiers I am painting for my Cassino Project. I will admit this is the most ambitious miniature painting I have done in a long time and a first in 1:35 scale. Lot's of new techniques to learn, and the tricks I learned doing 15mm and 25mm figures helps but doesn't solve all my needs. I can't recall having to paint so much detail. Anyways I have chosen to paint in the belts and equipment first before I finish painting the camouflage on the jump smocks. I am choosing to do it this way so as not to have painting accidents later and mess up the camouflage. I also needed to paint in some shadows and some highlights on the base coat on the jump smock before starting the camouflage. I need to get a silver artist pencil to place some scratches on some of the metal equipment, and I still have quite a bit of work to do yet.  Below are a few photos of my slow progress.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fallschirmjager final build

With the Holiday's behind me, and spending time with my wife on vacation, I finally got a chance to do some more builds for my 1st Para. I only have one more model to finish and then I can focus some more on the painting. I am also excited that I am close to putting some of the 4th Indian division together. It was a close toss up between wanting to do the New Zealanders next or the Indians as I would love to paint up some Mori troops, but the head dress of the Indians won my heart in the end. Hopefully I will get some time later this week to paint some and then begin assembly of the Indians.

The last one below, and I selected a resin head to replace this Officer/NCO out of box head. I really like the expression on this face.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Project Cassino more builds

I wasn't sure about the 1st Para's panzerfaust use at Cassino but have since read of an incident where they used them to great effect. I had taken the Panzerfaust figure I had and converted him to a rifleman and never really liked what I did. He was to stiff looking. So off with his arms and weapon. First arm came off clean, except the rifle disintegrated (no problem as I was not going to reuse it) and then the second arm came off and.... snap off went the hand. Well I was able to glue it back on and will have to use a little modeling putty but it almost ended up in disaster. I have learned to build the models without the heads and weapons for painting purposes, but unfortunately I had to put the Panzerfaust in place as I would not have been able to place it once the arms where on. Converting the figure back to what it was supposed to have been works out as I am now able to use another figure out of the box I would not have been able to use, the Panzerfaust's ammo carrier.

I will be taking a few days off from modeling as it is Turkey day and I will be stuffing myself with turkey dinner with my family. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday.


Monday, November 22, 2010

S.F.3.D. Oringinal Gustav "Panzer Kampf Anzug Ausf G"

For some reason this unfinished kit has been on my mind forever. I just love the Ma.K. world and like a drug I just can't seem to quit the habit, so to speak. This is what I have built so far of this 1:20 scale model. Babysitting my grand daughter has thrown me off my Cassino project for the last few days, so while the Holidays are upon us I will take what little time I have to myself and tackle this kit for a bit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dragon's 3rd Generation kits

Assembling another German paratrooper for my project I am amazed at the level of detail these 3rd Generation kits bring. I just had to share a picture of the K-98 rifle and it's separate bolt assembly, just amazing. Even more amazing was my big giant fingers and thumb putting it together straight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Project Cassino more base coating

Had some more time to work on the project. My first time really getting detailed with faces and I am not completely happy with how they turned out but I think I have the idea down and that I will get better as I do more. I filled in a bit more of the figures with their base coats. I need to build another 4 figures to complete the squad and painting four at a time seems to be working out. I am having so much fun just building the models I am being tempted to finish building my 1:400 scale U-boat from a while back. I have some nice photo etch to put on the bridge and perhaps I will work on it again if I need a break from the soldiers. Here are some more photos of work in progress.

 Also after building these four I have come to the conclusion that it will be much easier to paint the figures with the heads and weapons left off. Painting them in parts and adding them together later is something I have discovered when frustration set in trying to paint them as one.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Project Cassino assembly continues and first coats

 Several more figures being put together.
Pin vise I use to drill holes in the bottom of the figures so that I may install pins. This allows me to affix them to a custom made balsa wood base so I can handle the figures without having to touch them.

As you can see it is quite easy to paint the figure in this manner. Here I am placing the base coats of flesh on. I will follow up with more detail on the colors and shading that I will do. The face is everything and I still need more practice at this.

I usually try and paint my figures in painting order. Meaning I will do so many in one color and while those dry move on to others and paint a different color on those so I am not waiting around. I usually do them in groups of four. Here I am putting on the base coats for the uniforms. You may wonder at the brown coats and the tan pants, but this is just the beginning of a long process of painting camo. The Fallschirmjager at this time still had a mix bag of uniforms because of the Campaign in Africa/Tunis. Not all will be done this way but it makes a nice mix.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Project Cassino and the assembly begins

Since the miniatures are going to be used for a skirmish game (1:1), I have decided to build a German fallschirmjager squad of 8 figures. While not a full squad, during a campaign few would be up to full strength. The idea in the back of my head is to have one squad of Germans, and several squads for the Commonwealth forces. By doing it this way I am planning on building just what I will need for my first scenario. This will keep interest peaked, and give me a good base to add more figures at a later date.

I believe that diversity is needed when choosing figures for small scale gaming. Putting the same pose together would be boring and unimaginative. So I put some thought into what figures from the kits I wanted to put together and what ones I may modify. Since I need to trim them from their sprue and clean up the mold lines etc. by lightly sanding them, I will build one figure at a time so I don't confuse the parts between models.  Besides cleaning up the figures I will test fit the parts before I glue them together. I use a cyanoacrylate glue which is gap filling called "Insta-Cure +". Kind of like super glue but gives you a chance to adjust the pieces a bit before bonding.

As I build each figure I will then drill small holes in the bottom of their boots and install pins. I then attach them to a balsa wood block so I can hold onto this while I paint the figures. It not only gives you a good grip, but now you can't muddle the paint job with your oily hands.

Here are some pics of work in progress (you can click on the pics to see pictures up close):

 The above MP40 was three pieces, and when put together is just a beatiful piece.

The balsa blocks I put together to use as holders for the figures. Notice after putting the knealing figure together I decided to keep the heads off for ease of painting.

Well that's all for now, until next time.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thirty Years War - Europe in Agony 1618 - 1648 by GMT games

I picked up GMT's game "Thirty Years War" a few years ago. I remember that a friend and I played it two days in a row (Holiday weekend) and I tend to remember we had fun. Well for some reason we haven't played it for a few years now, playing other games etc. and just plain forgot about it.

That all changed this past weekend. Looking through my bookshelf of games we were trying to decide what game we should try and relearn. We just needed a break from Command & Colors Ancients (which is our favorite game at the moment). We were also looking for a game we could play by email using vassal. I was trying to push my friend into GMT's "Elusive Victory" as we had played "Downtown" before but he felt it too complicated for the moment. My friend has always had a love for Pike and Musket period and happened to see "Thirty Years War" on the shelf and said let's play that. At first I tried to talk him out of it but was not successful and I am glad I did not.

This is a strategic point to point movement game using strategy cards to resolve your movements. The map is colorful and it comes with both 1/2' (leaders and game markers) & 5/8' counters (troops), and each side gets it's own draw deck that are nicely designed. Basically the componets and map are what you have come to expect from GMT games. The rules are 32 pages, but really about 20 is what needs to be read and the print is of moderate size so takes up more pages. We basically set the game up and read the rules on the fly. I was really surprised at how easy they were to pick up on, but this could have something to do with us having played other point to point movement card driven games. The game box rates complexity at 4 (out of 10, being hardest) and I would have to agree. The rules are simple and well written for understanding. In about 3 hours we had muddled through about 6 turns (a turn represents two years of real time, and is sub divided into 6 activation phases, each player getting 6 activations with Protestant player going before Catholic player). I believe once you have an understanding of how to play, you could expect to play all 15 turns in 3 to 4 hours. You have three choices on how to play. Early War Turns 1 through 5. Intervention Turns 6 through 8. Apocalypse Turns 10 through 14. Each with a clearly defined setup and special rules (like what cards to take out of the deck etc.). Finally you can play the campaign game which is all 15 Turns.

We had a blast playing the game, so much so we are currently playing by email through vassal. So mission accomplished. I believe that the game has a lot of replayablity with you being able to try out different strategies. Lastly the grognard player of the Thirty Years War may not like it for lacking more in depth rules, but that's not what this game is about.

Simple to play, gets you into the flavor of the period. So much so I went out and picked up GMT's Musket and Pike series game "Nothing Gained but Glory". While not directly about the 30 years war, it will be a good stepping stone to a tactical game on how warfare was carried out for the period. If it's a good system there are several other games in the series that cover the English civil war, and several about the 30 years war. I shall give a review of the system in the near future.

Below is a picture of the game Early War setup.

I should also mention that I found myself wanting to read more about the period. Looking at the games sources I found a recommended book on the period called "The Thirty Years War, by C.V. Wedgwood" and plan on picking that one up. I'll let you know what I like or don't like about it.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Project Cassino paints & things

I have been amateur painting for a while now and throughout the years my style has slowly evolved. When I first started painting I was using enamels like Humbrul and Testor's and when you are a kid you think your stuff is pretty awesome. Now I look back and realize that it was just the beginning of a long learning process for me. Some people are born artists and others (me in particular) struggle to make the figures come alive or jump out at you. When acrylics came out I was really excited because, 1; no longer get that painters thinner high, 2; I could actually work better with water based products.

I won't go into the acrylics I use other than what I am using for this project. I use Vallejo Model Color's. I like the paints for a couple of reasons. If properly taken care of the eye dropper bottles allow you measure out exactly what you want. The paint also thins nicely with water (I use distilled water because tap water has minerals and other impurities that can affect the mixture and flow). Most importantly they have a very fine selection of WWII colors and this just happens to be what this project is about.

The above is what I am going to be using just on my Fallschirmjager which includes shading paint etc. Notice I paint the tops of my caps to make it easier for me to find what I am looking for without having to pick up every bottle when grouped together.

The brushes I am using are anywhere from 10/0 all the way up to a 0 (size). I don't use the cheap brushes you can get from a typical hobby store. I go to an Art store and pick out good brushes made of hair. You can wash these with shampoo and use conditioner to take care of the brushes so not only will they keep there point longer but last longer. Most art stores have cleaning liquids and other things to help take care of your brushes but they are usually way more expensive than what you already have on hand in your shower.

One thing I do is keep a small diary of the paints I use on my soldiers. This way I if I need to add more in the future I can match the paints exactly without taking a huge toll on my brain.

I also use two different kinds of lighting (one fluorescent, and one candescent)  in my work area, both attach to the table and have swinging arms so I can adjust how close to the figures or angle for shade effect (still learning this). This greatly helps with eye strain and simply helps you see the colors going on the figure that much better. Of course this goes hand in hand with the magnifying visor I use. Now a days I can not paint without one. It takes a little getting used to but once you do you'll kick yourself for not having gotten one sooner. Really, it makes that big of a difference.

Lastly I am trying something new that I have never used in painting before, a Wet Palette. I am kind of excited about learning how to use this, from what I hear, handy tool. I should be able to mix my paints in the wet palette and after my allotted time for painting is up come back the next day and not have to worry about matching the mixture all over again. We will see how this serves me.

The beginnings of my wet palette.

The one thing I have learned is "Setup" is really important. Your work will go a lot smoother if you think things through before you start and have all your supplies and stuff ready to go when you start to paint. Keep it simple, know your direction you want to follow, and have fun.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Project Cassino Models picked out

Howdy folks! Real life threw me a curve ball this past week and I just haven't had a chance to sit down and relax with the toys. I have picked out a few model kits I am going to use for the project and have posted a picture of them below:

Model number 6515 Allied Assault Monte Cassino 1944 from Dragon. The set can be adapted to suit New Zealanders, Poles, Indians or Gurkhas. It features three head options for each of the four figures. They include Caucasians, Sikhs and Gurkhas. I really, really like this kit! Dragon has impressed me not only with quality in detail but very light mold lines that are easily sanded away. Though I have not built this one yet, every kit that I have so far from Dragon have fit together smoothly. I also like the fact that they can be easily modified.

Model number 6409 German Fallschirmjager Monte Cassino 1944. This is an older kit that I believe is no longer in production but can still be had on Ebay or still on a local Hobby Store shelf. Nice poses and tons of weapon options come with this kit. You also get some photo etch parts like rifle slings and sites. Will see if I get that carried away, I don't think anyone gaming would notice me not putting them on, but hey you never know.

Model number 6514 Monte Cassino Defenders 1944 Fallschirmjagers. This is Dragon latest kit and has some slightly different poses. Nothing fancy but you do get some nice weapon choices.

Model number 6127 Hedgerow Tank Hunters Fallschirmjager Normandy 1944. Yes it doesn't say Cassino but that doesn't matter. The uniforms are the same and I am only using a couple of figures from the box for different poses.

I have a list of wants and this will include Mortar teams, Mule teams (yes mules), etc. to fill out what I will need for small unit skirmish action. I am especially looking forward to getting some of those kits with mules as the terrain and weather in this theater was just atrocious. Supplies had to be carried by mule or porter to the front line troops as there were no roads, we are talking paths or none at all and having to climb. Grenades especially were in high demand and the troops went through them in this type of terrain like crazy.

My next post will discuss the paints and some of the ideas/methods I will be using to build and paint the figures. Then the assembly line will begin in earnest and hopefully I will have the focus and drive that will be needed to carry through.

Until then...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Project Cassino research material

First of all I'd like to mention that I have a hard time staying with a project. I'll do some of the project, move on to another one, or simply get bored and put it away until I feel like it one day again. To try and keep myself motivated and stay with it I keep my painting session short. I set goals and try to sit down and accomplish this. I also try and listen to mood music (for whatever mood I happen to be in). But most of all I have found that if I am reading a good book or watch some movies, etc. on the period that this helps the most. I bring this up because I found a most excellent book called "Monte Cassino - The hardest fought battle of WWII" by Matthew Parker. Now that's a pretty big statement to make when there were so many hard fought battles, but let me say if it wasn't then it's in the top ten. I have really enjoyed this book and have found it to be an easy read, and his facts seem to be on target. Well I am not here to give it a review but if your a WWII buff and love to read about the battles then this is a must book.

I have decided that I will paint up units of the 1st Fallschirmjager Division, 4th Indian Division, and later in the project the 2nd New Zealand Division. This is the only battlefield in WWII that has such diversity in units that where involved. Not just Americans, and the British, but French, Polish, Brazilian, but this is another story. Here are just some of the books I will use to help with my painting them up properly.

I recommend getting the four above as they show actual uniforms, weapons, etc. and they are loaded with good information and lot's of color pictures.
 The above book is another good one for unit badges and the like. Not really hot on the color drawings but it's still worth having. I will use other sources that I have (like some of the Osprey books), but mostly I will adhere to the above.

Well that will cover my post for today, until next time.


Friday, October 8, 2010

What is a Zhodani Commando?

When the role playing game "Traveler" first came out all those years ago, there was an alien race called the Zhodani (pronounced zho-day-nee, or zho-dah-nee either way is fine though I use the first). Traveler, for those who don't know, would be the equivalent of "Dungeon's and Dragon's" only in space. A Zhodani Commando was that race's elite soldier who had the ability to use telekinesis and other such mind powers. Imagine a squad of these bad boys being deployed behind enemy lines and using their powers to pull the pins on the enemy soldiers hand grenades and such (when I was a kid I thought this was pretty darn cool and you can tell it has stuck with me, lol). Board gaming I should mention led me into painting miniature soldiers and one of the first 15mm science fiction  figures I picked up where from (if I remember correctly) Martian Metals. They made the coolest zhodani commandos and I painted up a bunch that sadly I no longer have. I also remember that Martian Metals had the contract to make Traveler miniatures and unfortunately they had a fire and I heard the molds where destroyed. This leads me into the picture I am using for my blog. No it's not a Zhodani, but another science fiction love I have for S.A.F.S. or Super Armored Fighting Suites (also known as SF3D and Ma.K. which is short for Maschinen Krieger) from the creative mind of Kow Yokoyama.

Not that you asked, but now you know.