Friday, February 5, 2016

Red Tail Hawk

Nothing miniature related in today's post - just a picture of a red tailed hawk from my dining room.  He looks very well fed which means the local mouse population has taken a big hit.  I'm OK with that!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

AHPV VI: Redoubt Tutorial

 The 3rd bonus round of the AHPC was defensive terrain and I submitted the artillery redoubt pictured.  While based on some American Civil War artillery emplacements near DC the terrain piece is designed to be used  for any blackpowder era.

 The only specialized tool I used for this project was my trusty Proxxon Hot Wire Cutter.  Handheld hot wire cutters or a knife could be substituted but the fixed wire is really EASY to use for this type of project.

I used pink 1" thick insulation foam for the project.  You can buy these as 2 ft x 2 ft panels from either Home Depot or Lowes for $5.50 each.  It's a tad bit more expensive to buy the "project panels" (as they are called) rather than the normal 8 ft x 4 ft sheets but they are much easier to work with and store.  For this project I cut a 12inch x 12 inch square and several 12 inch long 1x1 inch pieces for the second level.

 I reset the cutting wire to a 45 degree angle and then beveled the sides.  I also cut out a section for the ramp and then beveled it by cutting along the long diagonal of the piece.
 As I was removing the ramp, I "wiggled" the end section while cutting it out a bit.  It makes the ramp fit like a puzzle piece and ensures a stronger bond for the glue.
Another shot how the ramp fits into the main section - all of this gets covered up but the joint is really strong.

 It's time to glue the sections together.  I use a few wood sticks (wooden kabob skewers) to help anchor the top sections to the base.  For glueing a standard yellow wood PVA glue was used but really any PVA will work fine.

 A picture of the redoubt after glueing up - give the glue a minimum of six hours to setup.  You'll notice that the pieces don't fit together perfectly.  Thats ok as you can either clean the up now with a sharp knife or just cover them up with the "ground material" later.  I choose the later as the irregular shapes give the grout more surface to hold on.

 Now comes the tedious part - putting the ramp and sides in.  I used wooden matchsticks I got from Michaels craft store.  These are simple cut to length and glued down with the same yellow PVA wood glue.  The sticks I used were 1/16 of an inch wide and you can make this a lot easier by using 1/4 inch wide pieces without a loss of visual appeal.

 Whew! - that's a lot of wooden pieces to cut.  After a few knife nicks, some cross words it's done.  Actually it wasn't all that hard to do and probably took no more than 90 minutes to put in place.

 Test fit with a 28mm figure - looks good to me.
 The next step is to cover the piece with your ground material of choice.  I like to use a pre-mix flexible tile grout.  It's relatively inexpensive  and when dry has a very nice texture like a fine sand so works great for 15 - 28mm scaled miniatures.  The pre-mix tile grout can be purchase in a whole range of colors.  I use a "sandstone color" version.

I mix the tile grout with white glue (roughly 2/3 tile grout, 1/3 white glue) to make it easier to put on and help with durability once dry.  Terrain pieces take a lot of abuse and the combination of flexible tile grout with white means you really will not suffer and chipping form use.

After the grout was applied to the ramp I used a popsicle stick dipped in water to make some wagon wheel ruts up and down the ramp.

 This is messy stuff to work with and anything you use to mix and/or apply the materials should be disposable.  Some of you might be thinking "I can use some of the household's fine china to both mix and apply this stuff 'cause I'll just clean it up and nobody will be the wiser".  Don't do it.  This stuff dries really quickly when in thin layers (in seconds) and once it adheres to something it's really hard to come off.  What's worse, if you try to clean it up in a sink, the grout gleefully detaches and then reforms to block your sink pipes and "magically" transform your sink into a bowl.  Tile grout is very cunning.  Just use a plastic cup and some popsicle sticks and toss the stuff when your done.

 The redoubt with the tile grout applied.  When putting the grout on have a damp rag at the ready to wipe up anything that gets on the wooden platform.

I also added to defensive works to the redoubt in the form of "pointy sticks" (I'm sure theres a more technical term for them).  I think they add to the look of the piece greatly and they also serve a very practical purpose.  What is it?  You'll just have to wait and see.....

 The first coat of paint for the redoubt is done.  I used a very basic brown craft paint (much cheaper than using a Vallejo) given the surface area.  I'll next applied a series of dry brushed of lighter brown and tan tones to get the piece to match my terrain panels.
 A shot of the finished redoubt, complete with an artillery battery (French 28mm Perry miniatures).  I added a bit of static grass to again help the piece match my terrain panels.
 I kept the interior details (supplies, equipment) very sparse to facilitate moving troop stands about and to allow the piece to be sure for multiple periods.

 I did screw one thing up - when checking for size I forgot to test an artillery piece.  If I had I would have noticed that some barrels didn't poke out over the top.  My solution?  I built a few platforms from the matchstick cutoffs to raise them the need 1/8 on an inch.
 Think of these platforms as booster seats for the big guns.

Back to the "pointy sticks" and their practical role.  They were positioned to help support the troop stands of an attacker as steep bevels and troop bases don't work well together.

This project took about 4 days to complete, with the vast majority of that time being devoted to either glue or paint drying.  In terms of complexity, it's very simple and I'd encourage beginners to give it a go

Materials Used

- 1" Pink Extruded Foam (roughly 12 by 14 inches) from a 2'x2' project panel

- Pre-Mix Flexible Tile Grout - Sandstone colored

- Matchsticks

- Kabob Skewers - You can buy them or get them "free" with a kabob take out order.  I highly recommend the second option as terrain making is hard work and you'l need sustenance to get through the project.

- PVA glue (yellow or white)

- paint

Total cost of the materials used was less than $10.00

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

AHPC VI: Week 5 Update

With 5 weeks "in the books"for this years Painting Challenge, I remain well ahead of plan and last years pace.  To what do I owe this performance surge?  Clean living and happy thoughts?  Painting Enhancing Pharmaceuticals? Careful planning and cunning strategy?  Sadly none of the above.  It was 30 inches of snow that kept me housebound for 3 days and "forced" me to paint up 357 points worth last weekend.  Although there was a good bit of Malbec consumed during the Blizzard which may constitute a painting enhancing pharmaceutical.

Anyway today I've finished 1,785 points worth of stuff compared to a plan level by week 5 of 1,140 and last years mark of 1,607.  I know, I know it's kind of pathetic I keep these stats.  My points totals include my submission for the Epic Fail round which has yet to be included in the "official" score.

What's up next?  I'm working on the Defensive terrain bonus round which has become a bit bigger than I expected and will likely be my only submission for week 6.  Weeks 7 & 8 will also not see a lot of activity as I've got some international business trips to the UK and the Turks and Caicos for my firms annual meeting (rough duty).

Through 5 weeks the following has been painted, all in 28mm scale

246 Infantry

1 Calvary

13 Guns

13 AFV's

2 Elephants

2 Gunboats

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge: Submissions 11-15 - Blizzard induced productivity

 A bit of a points bomb over this weekend due to being housebound from 30 inches of snow - 5 submissions and 4 different time periods.
 First up 9 civilians from the 28mm Perry AWI line.  I'll be using these as dock workers during the upcoming Historicon game this summer.

 Some German support weapons in 28mm.  All the figures are from Warlord's Bolt Action line and there's an 81mm mortar, a MG42 (gotta have one of those!) and a Fallschirmjager 105mm recoilless artillery piece.

 A bit more WW2 in the form of three AFV's from three manufacturers.  A Warlord BA-10 armored car, a 3D printing panzer IV from RPG and a Hungarian assault gun from Mad Bob Miniatures.

 Switching periods - a 32 figure Portuguese regular infantry unit in 28mm from Frank Rank Miniatures.  I really like Front Rank and am begging to think the quality of their metals is a bit better than the Perry's.  They centennially are much easier to clean up.  The completion of this unit finishes up what I need to put on the game at Historicon.

 The last submission is just for fun - another armored War Elephant from Sgt Major Miniatures.  That brings my collection of allies to 4 and I should add building out a successors army to the to do list.

Next up for the challenge is the defensive terrain bonus round - so I got out my handy Proxxon Hot wire cutter and got to work.  What will this entry be?

You'll just have to wait and see......

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Jonas - "He's Mr Snow Miser...."

 Well Jonas (I'm still not used to naming these things) has come and gone and after two days of snow we've got 29.25 inches - not a bad haul.  I'm still deeply disappointed in the weathers services who were forecasting a "Mammoth" storm but I've have yet to see any actual mammoths.  I feel cheated and would have been satisfied with a simple Glyptodon or a woolly rhino so I think I'm being very flexible.

 Snowfall measured at 20 inches as on 11:30am Saturday.  I have, of course, employed the highly accurate patio table snow measuring device, complete with the eyeball-o-matic estimator.

 In an emergency situation, it's important to keep calm on focus on basic needs warmth, water and food.  You can see I sprang into action to ensure we had access to the BBQ.  Rest assured dear readers that my access to charred meat stuffs has been secured.

 Just after digging my way to the BBQ I heard a strange howl and thought we had a Yeti in the yard.  Upon closer inspection of the photographic evidence I'm sad to report it was just my wife cleaning off her car.  We've been told the plows will not get to us until Monday night at the earliest (we live in the country) but my lovely and fierce wife was determine to be ready because "a patient may need her".  I was about to reply with something smart-ass about natural selection and nature's way of thinning the herd when I thought better to it.  She's a fierce advocate for her patients and while I hope you never need her services (jaw replacements and such) there are few better hands to be in.

I sent her inside and finished up the cars.

 A shot out the front door Sunday morning - just under 30 inches....
 The measurement confirmed by employing my trusty patio table - will the wonders of modern science ever cease.

A shot down the driveway - well there's a drive way there somewhere.

I don't mean to make light of the storm as some people are struggling or dealing with horrible travel issues but for us it's been a very pleasant time.  The power's stayed on, the foods been excellent (the wife made a bolognese sauce last night out of pork sausage and beef that was very good - I may have snuck a third helping when see wasn't looking) and the wine stocks are holding up.  I'm predicting a snow day for Monday!  This whole winter blizzard thing almost makes me want to be a Canadian - almost.

As for Challenge painting, I've tried to use my time productively and have been watching "Luther" on netflix while painting (it's Ok, but why do TV writers always go for the "frame-up" as a key series plot point).  What's been accomplished? oh a little of this and a little of that....

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Status: 7:30am 14 inches

 As of 7:30am Eastern, Mr. Jonas has deposited 14 inches of snow and we've had a thunderstorm early in the morning.  Overall pretty cool.  Get it "cool" during a blizzard?  I slay me.  I'm here all weekend, try the veal.

How do I know it's 14 inches?  I employ a very precise scientifical-like instrument know as the patio table.  There's approximately 14 inches on top the table, so using my amazing powers of deductive reasoning, I have calculated we've gotten 14 inches of snow.  Don't try this at home kids, I'm a trained professional.

Despite dire warnings from the media, we seem to be holding on.  No Woolly Mammoths or Neanderthals have been spotted yet on the property.  I thought I heard the howl of a Dire Wolf but that was off in the distance.

Supplies are holding up well, but a nice bottle of Malbec was sacrificed to bolster our spirits during these dark times.  As a precaution, cookies have been baked to use for bartering in the event the economy breaks down and we need to trade for supplies.  Painting is progressing well with a 32 figure unit of Portuguese regulars on the painting bench now.  My biggest concern is hiding from the wife while I paint as she may be getting cabin fever and start to have delusions of me shoveling snow.  Very dangerous times....

More to come, assuming Mr Snow Miser lets me....

Friday, January 22, 2016

And so it begins.....

Winter storm "Jonas" (I still can't believe they get names now) has started at 3:03 pm.  Say what you will about Jonas, he is prompt and that's a admirable quality in my books.

The forecasts are now estimate 24 to 30 inches and hinting that civilization as we know it may cease to exist.

I have successfully bolstered our wine stocks and plan on making chili for dinner.  More importantly the wood cutting I needed for the Challenge has been completed to allow construction to commence.

All-in-all, things are looking up and painting in earnest will commence shortly.

I find the local panic a school closing today BEFORE THE STORM STARTED all rather silly and a bit sad.  One of the analysts who works for me is a super smart mathematician and nice kid who called me to make sure I had filled my bath tub with water in case we run out due to the snow.  I pointed out to the young lad that if the snows really that bad there will be more than enough lying around to melt for water.  I got a resounding "ohhhh" in response.  One of the rare times that learning from old fashioned experience trumps learning from the web.

Lots of Snow = Lots of Painting?

The weather mavens are predicting a blizzard of "historical proportions" here in the Chesapeake Bay region with the imminent arrival this afternoon of Winter Storm "Jonas" (queue ominous music) at exactly 3:00pm Eastern standard time today.  I'm not sure when the weather bureau decided to name winter storms like hurricanes but they are so entitled and it surely has nothing to do with ratings for the weather channel.

Anyway, this "storm of the century" is expected to dump >24 inches (that's 61 centimeters for you metric types and 22 stacked 28mm figs for us miniature painting types).  You may sense a bit of irreverence in my tone as we tend to get overly excited about weather related events in the capital region - perhaps it's due to our overgrown sense of importance.  Blizzards can be troublesome for other people, but when it happens to us is a DISASTER!  I've coined a term for our condition "disaster-bating".

Anyway, this one actually looks like it might happen and 24 +/- inches of snow isn't really anything to take lightly plus the forecasted gale force winds (40-50mph) means zero visibility and lots of drifting snow.  Even better is the expectation of thunderstorms with the front which creates a very rare occurrence of "thunder-snow".  All-in-all it should be a interesting show.

Preparations are underway here in the Lair, with the generators being checked, and stockpiles of food laid in.  I also went out and cut some wood so our wood pile is well stocked in case the genny goes down.  More importantly, a case of red wine will be added to the collection to ensure our spirits are properly buoyed as we persevere thought the dark days ahead.  It is a well known scientific-like fact that red wine is really the only known cure for Blizzards.  Hot chocolate only treats the immediate symptoms, but red wine cures the soul.

Every challenging situation does create it's own opportunities and Winter Storm Jonas is no exception.  We'll likely be house bound for 2-3 days which means ample time for painting for the Challenge.  I do need to get into the workshop to cut some lumber for a few planned entries.  That's right, I need some lumber cut on the band saw to complete a few 28mm scale models.  What could it be?  You'll have to wait for the thaw to find out but it's big, really big.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

AHPC VI: Epic Fail Bonus Round

 A rather silly entry in the Analogue Hobbies painting Challenge "Epic Fail" bonus round depicting a lone Dacian mercenary standing up to a Seleucid Armored War Elephant.  The submission was titled "Hold my Flagon of Mead" and describes how the modern phrase "Hold my Beer" came to have such negative connotations...

 The figures are 28mm scaled with eh Dacian from the Warlord Dacian commanders pack and the Elephant from Sergeant Major Miniatures.  This is the third Elephant I've put together an they are a lot of fun.

Sadly the outcome of the clash was predictable with the poor Dacian (named Gert) being stomped into the ground under his shield like a human nail.

That's why nothing every good follows after the phrase "hold my beer" is uttered.  Truer words have never been spoken (or, in this case, typed).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

AHPC VI: Submission 10: 28mm WW2 German Pioneers

 My latest submission to the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is a smallish German Pioneer unit in 28mm scale.

The figures are from the Warlord Plastic Pioneer set and I highly recommend them.  Warlord's sculpting and casting skills continue to improve with each successive plastics release and these figures were a joy to paint and put together.  The box also comes with a high number of metal detail bits to kit out the pioneers with "pioneer stuff" and captured Soviet submachine guns.  There's also a metal goliath R/C demo tank and what's not to love about that?

 The box set comes with 30 infantry figures.  Surprising, this is the first time I've ever painted any 28mm germans in standard field grey - all the stuff I've done in the past is either late war camo or DAK/Mediterranean theatre.
 A few side shots

 I've have been ribbed by other Challenge participants for both my poor photography skills and general laziness of not setting up at least one terrain board for photos. - the teasing is completely justified and I'll try to fix that this weekend.

 Some armor support in the form of a Marder III.  This kit is also a warlord model and is exceptionally well done.  The only drawback is the two crew figures casts are horrible but the flaws are mostly hidden so not the worst of problems to have.