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.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hood's Brigade Completed

Hood's brigade is done!  This will be one of three confederate brigades that will be involved in an upcoming game at Historicon.

All of the infantry figures are 28mm Perry plastics with the artillery and General Hood being Perry metals.

The regiment in the front row is the 1st Texas. The second row has the 4th Texas (left) and 18th Georgia (right).  The last row has the 5th Texas (left) and Hampton's Legion (South Carolina) (right).

The figures are based to be used for either Longstreet or Regimental Fire and Fury.

Now I'm off to prepare for Cold Wars

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finished Objective Markers

 I've finished the three objective markers for Saturday's Bolt Action tournament at Cold Wars.  The Tournament has three rounds and I'll present each of my opponents with one of these as a token of the event.

 From left to right, there's a command post complete with secret battle map, a fuel depot and a hidden observation post / machine gun nest.

The command post.  Picking out the map graphic was a lot of fun.
 The fuel dump.  I've used the last of of S-Scale model rail road scenery details on this one so I'll need to resupply those at an upcoming train show.

 Lastly the observation / machine gun nest.  I'll lighten up the wood a bit.  It's not as dark as the picture shows but it could use a bit more dry brushing.

The entrance to the bunker - I think I've seen this type of door before - I just can't remember where....

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bolt Action (or any 28mm skirmish game) objective markers

The Bolt Action tournament at Cold Wars is this coming Saturday (March 8th) and I'm making my usual last minute preparations.  One of the nicer traditions of the event is the exchange of objective markers between players.  While not a requirement most of the participants make objective markers that they provide to the other player as a moment of the event.  I think it's a grand tradition and is one of the reasons I like the BA community so much.

Each objective marker uses a 60mm round base - I'm using the plastic ones from Renedra provided to me by the fine people at Architects of War.  From left to right there's a fuel dump, and artillery observation post and a small bunker / machine gun nest.  Hopefully I'll get these finished up tonight.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Walk: Challenge Fortnight Submission: Favorite Character

 My latest submission to the Analogue Hobbies Challenge Fortnight Bonus Theme is four figures in 33mm that frame up the scene called "The Walk" from Sam Peckinpaw's "Wild Bunch".

 The figures are available from Gringo's 40 through the Oniria Miniatures line.  Since the theme for this year's challenge is the Wild Bunch, I couldn't think of a better submission.

 Service from Gringo's 40 was top notch - I received the figures within a week of ordering and I'm based in the US and they're in the UK.  The models are all metal and took a little time to assemble.  This wasn't due to the models being fiddly, it was more me getting adjusted to working in a slightly larger scale than the 28mm I usually model with.

 A close up of Pike and Dutch - the character Dutch (played by Ernest Borgnine) is my favorite in the movie.

 A close up of Lyle Gorch (Warrren Oates)
 The two Gorch brothers - Tector and Lyle.  Yes, Tector was the name used in the movie!
One last shot.  I really liked the extra detail in the larger miniatures and may try another larger group (say 40mm) for a future skirmish gaming project.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Birthday Present for MEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 My birthday was over this weekend (52 for those of you who are counting) and when I awoke I found this mysterious box waiting for me in the kitchen.  What could it be?

Well there was only one way to find out, so I ripped open the box with the fury and enthusiasm that is normally reserved for greed infused maniacal 5 year old on Christmas morning....

 And what was in the box?  A chair, well not just any chair but a bona-fide Aeron drafting chair to use at the work bench - the Rolls Royce of hobby sitting - the Bentley of classy game room decor, the Porsche of speed painting, the Audi of small scale engineering - well you get the picture.

This is a big deal in the Uber Geek Lair.  Normally the only pleasant things my wife says about our hobby is "at least my husband's mid life crisis involves painting toys and making a fool of himself in the basement and out of the public view rather than chasing 20 year olds in sports cars he can't fit into in public.  My wife has a way with words, much like a master sword crafter with a blade.  I think we can all assume that this hobby supportive gift is prima fascia evidence that she whole heartily supports the hobby and only wants me to indulge more - it's the only logical conclusion one can draw.  Cold War vendors get ready cause I'm coming with a righteous fury and big wallet!

 Here's a picture of the assembled chair.  It actually went together very easily - just like one expect a bespoke piece of gaming hardware should.

 And here's a picture of the my little green beauty in her new home.  She's straining at her post just waiting to get assembling or painting or napping.  She's a thoroughbred all right.  I don't know about you guys but I distinctly hear the sound of a sports car engine emitting a low rumble as it waits to spring out upon the autobahn of hobby activities.....

No wait, I had cream brûlée at dinner last night so that's not the chair rumbling....

There is a bit of sadness today - as we usher in the new lets us take the time to thank an old friend for many years of service supporting both me and my hobby.  You've witnessed a lot over the years - from the joys of discovering washes make ones mediocre painting look less mediocre to the travails of confusing the white spray primer with clear flat varnish.  You've endured many indignities from being knocked over to after effects of the above mentioned cream brûlées.  And yet you still soldiered on faithfully supporting my ever increasing frame.

It's time for a rest my friend, a well deserved rest.

Old hobby stools never die, they just get placed in a corner until game night.

Perry Plastic ACW Artillery: A Short Review

 The new Perry 28mm plastic ACW Artillery box sets just arrived over at Architects of War so I couldn't resist running over and grabbing 3 boxes of them.  Each box comes with 3 guns (with 4 barrel options each), 6 crew per gun and 3 Caissons.  I've read that the Perry's will make some metal horses available so you can make limbers with Horse teams at a later date.

 I went ahead and put together one of the fund and painted it up as a "generic" Union gun and crew.  The barrel options with the kit include a (i) Napoleon 12 pdr, (ii) 3 inch Ordnance Rifle, (iii) 10 pdr Parrot, and (iv) 12 pdr Howitzer.

I used the 10 pdr Parrot for this gun crew.

Like all Perry plastics I've tried to date, these models are top notch and well worth investing in.  I should know as I've done at least 800+ Perry plastic infantry from Napoleonics through ww2.  My only complaint is a very minor - the instructions for assembling the crew figures are, shall we say, "minimalist" and it can be very confusing matching the arm sets to the figures.  I'm pretty sure after assembling a few crews those issues will not exist.  The figure sprues offer three different hat styles so one can have a good bit of variety.

What excites me the most about these figures is that now I've got a cost effective way to have multiple gun batteries on the table top.  I'll be basing these figures to use with my two favorite ACW rulesets - Longstreet for casual games and Regimental Fire and Fury when I want a more detailed simulation.

As for the caissons, I'll be using them for ammo resupply bases as per Regimental Fire and Fury.  I've got 4 metal limbers and teams already (2 Union and 2 Confederate) and may use 1 or 2 of the caissons to bulk out those when the metal horses become available.

A resounding Huzzahhh! for this box set.