Dampfpanzerwagon Guide No.2
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I have been watching my mail box ever since Tony announced that the books had arrived and were be packaged up for mailing. I watched enviously as other bloggers announced that they had received their copies of the book. That means that I couldn’t even read their blogs till I received my copy. I wanted my impressions unsullied by the thoughts and opinions of others. Fortunately I really didn’t have long to wait for my copy to travel overseas from England to Colorado. It was waiting for me when I got home from work on Monday. So all my plans for the evening were put on hold (that would be painting more WWI Marines as well as work on Calamity’s new Railroad Station) while I sat down to check out what Tony had to say in his new book.
|Now that's Purple!|
|Check out that back cover. Seriously take a good look.|
|And an interior page, oh look this one is signed.|
Out of the package came a very purple book with a great shot of Tony’s Olde Barn, one of the projects on the inside, on the cover. Once again, Tony didn't hold back on the production of this perfect bound book with heavy cardstock covers and 116 glossy, heavy stock, interior pages. Like the first volume, this book can take a little abuse. The only thing I don’t like is the background print on all the pages. A subdued black and white (well purple and white) picture of the Olde Barn is used for this. I realize that this has been all the rage with rule sets over the last five years or so (SAGA comes immediately to mind) but I find it very distracting. I would have preferred clean white pages with no background print (that might just be a grumpy old man blast I suppose). One of the faults I had with volume one was the size of the pictures and the layout, Tony definitely addressed that. There are plenty of pictures and overall they are bigger. Not to say that there aren’t small pictures but when you need a big picture to see the detail that’s what you get, a big picture. I feel like the text flow is better as well, there aren’t as many awkward leaps from one part to the next. I’m really glad that he addressed this, it makes the book a lot easier to read. Tony hasn’t sacrificed anything on production values with this second volume.
Now on to the meat, what will you find in this book? I was curious as to what buildings Tony had selected for this volume and would he be able to show me anything new? I consider myself to be an advanced model builder and have been building and scratchbuilding models for a long time (seriously I sculpted buildings for Stone Mountain Miniatures a very long time ago, won an Origins award for them too, didn't know that did ya?). On the other hand Tony works with a lot of materials that I don’t so it really wasn’t a surprise when he had more than a few tricks to show me in this advanced volume. Tony has included eight projects along with an introduction, parting shots and a very nice glossary. Rather than an overall impression of the book I’m going to briefly talk about each of the eight projects.
1 ‘A’ Frame Hovel. Really you can’t have enough of this style of building on your table. Especially for those of us that enjoy periods ranging from the Thirty Years War through WWII (although probably fewer survivors by WWII). Right off the bat Tony hits on a couple of techniques that I could use on some projects but hadn’t really puzzled out how to do yet; making a solid sub structure, the use of green foam (although for me that would be blue and pink, I have never seen green foam here in the US) and just what an ‘A’ Frame really is. Not to mention an excellent tutorial on using DAS modeling for making thatched roofs. Right out of the gate I’m hooked.
2 A Spanish Horreos – Grain Store. One of the things that I have always struggled with is stonework. I tend to rely on styrene versions (typically vacuum formed) or some of the expensive model railroad castings. Here Tony shows how to use green foam pieces to build up the stonework, something I’m definitely going to try since I will need some foundation stonework for my town of Calamity. He also goes into a technique to make canal tile roofs, again something I usually rely on molded plastic sheet to do. We are two buildings in and I have picked up on a number of different tricks to try out.
3 Donkey Worked Winding Drum and Well. This is an unusual piece and I can see making a simplified version of it for mines in and around Calamity. Definitely shows the extra challenge of making something that works. What’s interesting in this build is Tony showing how to re-work something mid-build. The covered well is another example of the use of green foam to form the basis of the object as well as the technique to carve it and add texture. Using a couple of parts from other hobbies or from around the house shows us to keep our eyes open for useful objects, you never know what might come in handy
4 Stone Barn. This is similar to the ‘A’ Frame in that we are using a basic box, but in this case working from an actual box as a sub structure as opposed to the solid sub-structure of the ‘A’ Frame. Using glue soaked newspaper to strengthen the basic structure is a new technique for me. Whereas the ‘A’ Frame is a classic half-timber this is stone building and the stone work is “sculpted” using DAS as opposed to using individual green foam stones. DAS is not something I have really worked with (I wonder if I can find it here or what the US equivalent is) and now we have two structures using DAS to represent very different materials.
Well, Spring and Trough. This is another small project for a water well. While something that I probably wouldn’t build myself, it shows a number of techniques that have already been introduced and a new material; blue foam. Like the covered well we are going to carve directly into a solid piece of blue foam. It’s a great piece to practice with, small enough that you won’t have to spend much time on it and if you mess it up you can toss it and try again.
6 Tilting at Windmills. Another structure that I have contemplated building myself but have never gotten around to doing. The challenge here is that you have a cone-shaped building and how do you get the proper shape? Well, as Tony has shown us before, sometimes you just need to find an existing object that already has the correct shape and work within the confines that gives you. In this case a tapered beaker serves as the interior substructure giving us that tapered cone that is required for this style of windmill. While nothing new, as far as techniques go, is introduced here it is an excellent example of how to bring different methods together. This one is all about the challenge and how to solve it.
7 The Olde Barn. Finally we get to the building featured on the cover. Being familiar the various types of barns built in the US (And there are a lot! I come from a farm family that had the very traditional red American barn) this is definitely an unusual barn for me. While he doesn’t introduce a new technique, he does introduce a new material; balsa wood. In general I prefer basswood for woodwork, but for half timbered, or fully timbered structures balsa is a better choice. Getting that roughhewn look is much easier with this softer wood. The Olde Barn pretty much pulls out all the stops, there is stonework, wattle & daub, thatch as accents to a mostly wooden structure. This build ties it all together. It is also in this tutorial that Tony discovered that green foam should not be put in the oven, so bake the DAS before you apply your green foam stonework!
8 Large Town House. The main section of the book wraps up with this building. All the previous buildings were basically rectangles, the Town House introduces a second story with two roofs running perpendicular to each other. I have always found this style of roof to be quite fascinating (It’s the same style that I’ll be using on my railroad station) and difficult to build. Its still not easy to build but it is interesting to see how Tony goes about it. Tony introduces another way to create stonework one he picked up from my other hobby, model railroading. While the sequence of pictures is nice, I do wish that he had gone into a bit more description about how it is done, the pictures will get you through the process though. A new technique and a model that really helps tie everything you have learned together into a single project.
9 Parting shots. Perhaps better titled Designer’s Notes, it’s a section for Tony to wax poetic.
1 Glossary. Seriously, this is a good one, actually worth reading.
I should mention that Tony doesn’t stop when you have finished building a structure either. Each of these projects details how he paints them. He covers how he paints thatch, stone and wood. You should spend at least as much time painting a structure as you did building it (I know a painful process for those that have been following my railroad station build) and Tony easily devotes as much space to the painting as he does the building. There is also a list of materials and paints used at the end of each project, a very nice addition.
I think, overall, I consider this second effort to be better than the first. While No. 1 was really oriented towards beginners and the kind of basic terrain we need for our battlefields No 2 is really focused on buildings and a couple of the smaller pieces that you need to make four or five buildings look like a town. While the Spanish Horreos is a bit unusual for your average battlefield the used of magnets to attach it to its stone legs quickly makes it the stone building that our plucky heros can hold out in. I think the inclusion of the ‘A’ Frame sets off the Horreos since it really is a common building that no battlefield should be without. The rest of the buildings and other structures are excellent supporting structures so you aren’t getting just a random assortment of buildings, if you go through and build each project you will have an assortment of buildings that are going to look good on the table and look good together.
And don't think that I didn't ask him that question already. Oh and a link for you to buy your copy:
More Wargame Terrain