Monday, April 21, 2014

15mm Battlefront Brumbars

A little modeling work over the weekend.  I've had a box of 4 15mm Battlefront Brumbars sitting on the lead pile for almost four years and thought I should get them built up.  The Brumbar was an assault gun with a heavy 150mm Howitzer on a Panzer IV chassis.  Since these where old battlefront models, I had a very detailed and finicky set of Schurzen (the armor panels on the side) to apply.  I added a post (from the sprue) to provide some beter support to hold the panels on the model better.  The post is roughly 3/8 of an inch long and is superglued to the center of the track piece.

 Here's another shot of the post.  Since if has three points of contact, it's a very strong bond.  The next step is then using a combination of super glue for the top contact points and plastic glue on the post to affix the panels to the tank.

While not as detailed as the original model would be, the bond is very strong and the model will hold up under table top usage.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Making Mud for Models Tutorial

 I've been using a new technique to add mud effects to models - a mixture of Liquitex Modeling Paste and some paint - in this case flat brown from Vallejo (70-984).  I like this process as it adds a nice 3D effect to the mud that my skills can not achieve with shading and dry brushing alone.  Let's see - quick, easy, cheap - yup this method hits all the requirements for me.

 You'll find a little of the mixture goes a long way so this tub should last a long time - I grab a little bit on a small modeling spatula and plop it in a mixing "bowl".  In our case today, it's a cut down styrofoam coffee cup.

 Mix in a few drops of paint - 2 drops got me a nice chocolate frosting color (too light) so a few more drops plus one of Ochre Brown.  There really isn't a set formula here - just add color to you get want you want.  Since it's much easier to add color than take it away, proceed by only adding a drop or two at a time.

 Now comes the tricky part - hand crafting a custom made application device - henceforth referred to as a "pointy stick".  I whittled down a craft stick.  The key is to have a pointy end to help guid and shaper the mud when applying - the smaller the model you're working with the pointer the stick needs to be.  No doubt some of you will be thinking - why not use a tooth pick.  That's an acceptable alternative if you don't mind taking the cowards way out.  What could be more manly than "whitl'n" a stick?"

Apply the "mud" sparingly and allow at least 12 hours drying.  I find the mude effect work next on a 28mm scale vehicle but you get acceptable results with 15mm - as pictured on the left.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Return to FOW and 15mm Modeling

 With the publishing of the new Italy Campaign books, my interest in Flames of War has been re-kindled and I wanted to finish off some units that have long been on the painting to-do list.  This morning I checked off some recoilless fire support for my FJG units and some Marder III's.

All of the models, except the Sherman, are Battlefront.

The Italy force lists only have entries for the 75mm recoilless guns (the smaller of the two) but they're very cheap and provide a nice level of fire support and AT for a German list.   I also completed two Kubelwagons which had been sitting around forever waiting to get done.

 Next up is some AT support with a lot more punch and mobility - 4 Marder III's.  I really like these units as they're a good AT asset and have mobility that FJG's lack.  Of course if they get caught out in the open they don't last too long on the table.  I like how the camp pattern came out.  I followed "Dirty"Jon Baber's tutorial on german camo using a stippling painting technique - check out the tutorial here - it's worth the time.  It's much better than my previous German camo efforts which likely means some re-painting of previous units is in my near future.

 Some of the Marders were missing crew figures and some pieces but most were easily scratch but.  I'm looking forward to getting these guys on the table.
 Lastly, a lone Sherman for Plastic Soldier Companies first Sherman box set (M4A1's).  The PSC models are "OK" and this tank will be used as an observer for a Priest battery.
All of the tanks have mud added to the tracks and undercarriages.  I'll post a tutorial later this week on how I do the mud.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Robotics Season Ends

 My robotics team competed in the FTC East Super-Regional in York, PA.  It's a three day competition during which we had a blast but just fell short of earning a spot in the World Championships.  I'm very proud of the team and am both looking forwarded to a month or two off from robotics and then getting right back into it!

 Here's a shot of our booth,  Our team number if 3113 and name is "Some Disassembly Required".  72 teams were competing from 12 Northeastern States (VA on up the US east coast).  One of my favorite activities is walking through the pits seeing how creative each team can be in it's robot build.

 The East Super Regional was the most competitive robotics event I've ever been too.  I was asked to be one of the referee's, which is a lot of fun, but kept me extremely busy.  This years games involved picking up 2.5 inch cubes and placing them in baskets on a swing arm (extra points if the arm is balanced!).  During the end game robots earned 50 points if they can left themselves off the floor on the central bar and remain hanging.  Several matches features all four robots being lifted - amazing stuff built by high schoolers.

Coaching robotics is time consuming but it's also very rewarding.  For me, this year was very different as it was the first year that my son wasn't on the team as he's gone off to college.  I realized how much I relied on hime to keep things going.  Sean kept texting me from college (Carnegie-Mellon) to see how the team was doing, so I think he misses it too.  He's thinking about mentoring a team in the Pittsburgh area as part of a college project next year.  This year's team will loose one senior to graduation but I've got a great core of young but very committed scouts coming up - some even shaved the team number into their scalps - that's dedication!  I really am looking forward to next year.

If any of you have an engineering or technical bent, you should consider getting involved / mentoring a team.  You can find out more from the FIRST robotics website.  I should warn you, it's a bit addictive!  FIRST has a great phrase to describe the experience - "It's the hardest fun you'll ever have"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

1/48th Blitzkrieg Miniatures M4A4 Sherman (76mm) Tank

 I'm currently working on a 1/48th scale Sherman  with a 76mm gun from Blitzkrieg Miniatures.  The completed model will be used by Ernie (Architects of War) as a demo piece for shows.  This is my first experience with 1/48th scale as all of my WW2 stuff is in 1/56th (or 28mm).  My  overall impressions of the model is it's very high quality (as are all Blitzkrieg kits).  The model comes in four resin pieces: the hull with tracks attached, the turret, the main gun barrel and the hull machine gun.  The stowage on the rear is part of the resin cast.  I added some brass rod for the radio antenna.

 I've been debating how much additional stowage to add.  I like scratch building stowage items but don't want to end up with a model that confuses a buyer as to what's in the kit and what's not.  Given this model is intended to be used for display, I think I'll keep any additional stowage to a minimum.

I did experiment with a new way to add mud to the tracks and hull and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

The mud was created by taking a bit of Liquitex "Blended Fibers" medium and mixing in two drops of Vallejo Model Colors Flat Brown (70.984) paint.  The Blended Fibers medium is super easy to apply and gives a nice 3D effect to the "mud" which I think looks much more realistic.

I've used this medium for some figure basing also and have really liked the results.  From a cost basis, it's not really cost effective to use to base large armies but for command stands and vehicle modeling this stuff is rising very high on my list of go-to products.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Challenge in Review

 Well the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge has come and gone.  Pictured is what I was able to finish during the three months of frantic painting.  I tallied up an impressive (for me) 2,079 points and placed 7th out of 61 total participants.  All scores were personal bests for me and I'm very pleased with the outcome and, as always, had a blast with the event.  I managed to finish over 225 28mm scale infantry figures!
 To the left is a hodge podge of stuff from WW2 tanks / landing craft, some "Wild Bunch" character figures, some prototype models for All Quiet on the Martian Front and even a 1/2400 scale model of the titanic.
 Similar to last year, the bulk of my productivity was 28mm Perry ACW figures.  I managed to complete Hood's brigade, 2 Union infantry regiments, 6 batteries of artillery and Dismounted cavalry for both sides.  I've have found the Challenge to be extremely helpful in making sure I complete armies that I've committed for 'con games!

Lastly, on the right another hodge-podge of stuff including 28mm Perry Napoleonic French generals, a unit of Templar Knights and just a few of the 42 1/6000 scale IJN ships I completed just for a change of pace from ACW.

Missing from the picture are 10 28mm armed Mexican Villagers I painted for Curt as the entrance fee for the Challenge.  Those figures are now traveling to the great white north of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Thanks again to Curt for orchestrating a fabulous Challenge this year - I'm looking forward to next year already!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crescent Root 28mm Laser Cut Terrain

 Crescent Root Studios has come out with a new line of pre-painted Laser cut scenery in 28mm scale.  I spurged and picked up a good sized order and all I can say is WOW - this stuff is great.  It's not cheap, but the quality is light years ahead of 4Ground and other "1st generation" Laser cut products.  Crescent root has managed to avoid the flat feel of some laser cut terrain and involved a wider color pallets in it's pre-painted ranges.  All of the terrain pieces are shown as they came out of the box - no touché ups at all.

 The range is referred to as "Series 3" on their website and also comes with interlocking road and base plates which makes setting up a small village a snap.  In the upper center of the photograph you can see the tongues used to lock road section into the base plates - it's very easy to use .  I've got enough to set up a small village in Normandy for my troops to fight over.

 Another cool aspect of this range is that the buildings can be disassembled to store flat.  They're held together by metal pins.  The end pieces overlap the sides so there isn't any issue with "burn-marks" showing through.  It's a really clever design idea that works well.  Floor sections are provided for multi story structures.  The one area where 4 ground does do better is interior details - the Crescent Root building just don't have any other than the floor sections.

I've yet to play a game with these but I can't wait to give them a go.  Very highly recommended.  I'll post a more detailed review shortly.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Challenge Comes to A Close

 Curt's annual Painting Challenge has come to a close after three months of hectic painting.  It was a blast to be a participate in and the quality of the submissions have been mind blowing.  Tamsin and I ended up in a bit of a good natured duel for 5th place and I'm not sure how that will sort out.  I suspect someone will leap frog both of us but that's not all that important - it was a fun duel.  Of course, if the scoring was based on quality rather than quantity, Tamsin would have easily crushed me!

My final score will be over 2,000 points, which is the equivalent of painting 400+ 28mm infantry figures (at 5 points per).  I'm pleased with my production and have managed to pretty much complete the forces I'll need for the big ACW game I'll put on at Historicon this year.

 My final entries consisted of another 24 figure Union Infantry regiment and the third gun, crew and caisson.  All of the figures are 28mm Perry plastics.  I've run out of Union flags so the unit doesn't currently have any colors!

 Another shot of the ACW plastics.  Over the course of the challenge I completed 6 - 24 figure infantry regiments (4 confederate, 2 Union), 8 guns and crews and 27 Dismounted cavalry troopers.  
 A close up of the Perry plastic gun and crew.  I highly recommend the Perry plastic artillery - they are great models and a very cost-effective way to build up an artillery park.  I hope they come out with a plastic set for the Napoleonic French!

 Also finished was a 28mm scale British Honey tank from Blitzkrieg models.  Again no decals as my stock is depleted.
Lastly, my final figure is intended to be used as a hero marker for Longstree.  Upon completing Hood's brigade, Curt posted a picture of himself as a ACW re-enactor complete with flowing blonde hair.  I decided to add some green stuff based locks to this figure to poke a little fun at Curt's expense.

Hat's off to Curt for running yet another amazing event.  Please go over to his blog and check out all the entries - it's well worth your time.

Now that the challenge is concluded, I need to turn my attention to terrain making!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sexy Lady

This past Friday, my son and I got the chance to travel to Rhode Island to visit the US Watercraft factory site.  Some of my non-nautical readers may now be asking what is "US Watercraft"?  Well they are a designer and manufacturer of some of the top sail boat brands including C&C and Alerion. They also build power boats under the True North brand, but we don't talk about stink pots on this blog.

Given most of what they do is proprietary, we couldn't take a lot of pictures but I was able to grab a shot of an Alerion Express 28 in the final build stages.  When most people think about a sailboat they focus on the sails or line layouts but what really determines speed is what's going on under the waterline - these Alerion's are superbly designed to reduce drag and focus of efficient water displacement.  Oh, be still, my beating heart.

We also got to see one of the new C&C Redline 41's in the build process, which have not yet been shown to the public.  It's fascinating to see all that goes into building a performance sailboat and the level of craftsman's ship that required.  We spent as much time in the cabinet making area talking to the wood workers as we did on the main floor looking at the hulls.

The trip was productive for Sean, as he was offered a summer internship with them.  They have a few CnC cutting machines (computer controlled cutter) and Sean mentioned he knew how to run one and boom! out came the lead engineer to talk with him.  He's thinking about it.  While I'd prefer to have him around this summer it's a pretty cool opportunity.  It also may be part of my sinister master plan to get Sean to become a naval engineer so he can design sailboats for his old man.....

We had a great day and are very grateful to our US Watercraft hosts for taking the time to show us around.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

28mm Union Regiment

 For a change of pace, I decided to paint up a Union regiment.  28mm Perry plastics but from their original box set.  While these figures are fine one can really see the skill improvement both the Perry's and their caster, Renedra, have gained over the past few years of producing other plastic sets.

 This unit was meant to have more of a Western theatre feel to it (hence no kepi's).

With the completion of this unit, I'm close to be doing model wise for Historicon with 15-16 infantry regiments, 2 cavalry regiments and 6-8 artillery batteries per side.  I still need to add in a few more units but will shift my focus to terrain now that the painting challenge is drawing to an end.