Quotes

Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sledgehammer Project; Preparation Pt IV - Crew Comparison

As the diorama concept comes together for the Sledgehammer, my thoughts have turned to the crew. I know that I will need to do quite a bit of modification on some of them, especially the ones from the infantry squads, to fit them in. I decided that a comparison between the Reaper Bones crew and the Victoria Miniatures Resin crew was in order. 

A couple of things really stood out here. The Bones plastic crew has nearly the same sharpness of detail as the Resin crew. I was certainly not expecting that and my original thoughts were to have the Bones crew in supporting positions. Since the level of detail is nearly the same I don't need to be nearly as concerned as I was prepared to be. That being said it is a lot easier to modify and convert the Bones crew so any modifications I need between these will definitely be worked on them. At this point I'm wishing that the old Reaper Boneyard existed for the Bones miniatures, I would likely get another whole set of them just for conversions.

The other detail that stands out is that almost all the Bones crew are taller than the Resin crew. That will help differentiate between the miniatures with a little less effort. Which is something else I was already thinking about when I made the order. A set of male and female militia heads to swap out with the squad heads to add more visual interest. Hopefully it will all come together, I can see the scene in my head, its the translation that is difficult.


The resin artillery crew from Victoria Miniatures. They are in the same poses as the Bones artillery crew from Reaper. Unfortunately it looks like I'm missing a hand for the gentleman on the far right in the photo.


The gentleman on the left is slight different with his right hand cast separately. He is a single casting in Bones.


There is quite a difference in height between these two.

These pair is much closer in height but will be on opposite sides of the gun so it won't be a problem

These two are also pretty close in height, but I'm likely to only use one of them unmodified.

I didn't line this one up quite right, the man on the right is actually significantly taller than his compatriot.

It was hard to line this pair up, I think the Bones version is still a bit taller.

And here we actually see the resin officer is taller than the Bones officer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Acquisitions - Expanding the PzKfw III Library, Panzer Tracts 3-3

The last copy of Panzer Tracts finally arrived yesterday, coming all the way from Japan. I really paid to much for this but its amazing how quickly the prices jump on the out of print Panzer Tracts. While I had to gulp on the price it was still the cheapest copy out there. It arrived very pristine in a heat sealed bag. Of course the first thing I managed to do was bend a corner on the front cover. This particular book covers the PzKfw III ausf J, L, M and N, of which the L is probably my favorite variant. Its real transition model so there is a lot of different things you can model with it. Loaded with pictures including templates for the spaced armor plates and blow up drawings of a lot of the details. Fabulous book and after paging through it I'm certainly not begrudging the money I spent on it. Looking forward to doing some super detailing on some Plastic Soldier kits!




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sledgehammer Project; Preparation Pt III - Work & Acquisitions

I managed to slip in a bit of time on the Sledgehammer (very little time actually). I spent that time filling a few of the injector marks, from the mold, that might be seen by a judge. I basically went on the premise that when in doubt fill it. I still need to go back with the file on those pieces. I also spotted a few pieces that still have the remains of mold lines, in particular the shells. They are  particularly obnoxious to clean up. I think they are going to need some filling after all.

A nice package arrived in the mail yesterday as well. My order from Victoria Miniatures arrived. The sledgehammer will be the centerpiece of a diorama. This will definitely be the biggest one I have done which leads to the inevitable need to fill some very empty space. I have a couple of nice reference photos for the Soviet B4 Howitzer in firing positions during WWII as well as some links to some really nice artillery dioramas on the web. The key to the bigger base will be creating vignettes that will add interest and yet keep the focus on the Sledgehammer. A lot of the order from Victoria Miniatures were purchased with that idea in mind.

The Sledgehammer comes with a crew of five plus a commander, but they are in the softer slightly bendy BONES plastic. The casting is really pretty good on these and they will  serve as the basis for some of the needed conversions. In addition I purchased the resin version of the crew along with the officer to supplement the ones in the box. To go with that I a purchased a 5 man Rausenburg Siege Corps squad as well as a 5 woman Rausenburg Siege Corps squad most of which will also end up as artillery crew. For the Sledgehammer itself I picked up the blast shield (which I may or may not use) along with the crawler tracks which I will definitely be using. The rest is just extra bits to use for the vignettes; backpacks, bread bags, weapons, etc.

I'm still looking for additional parts for the Sledgehammer itself as well. Right now it looks like most of those will be coming from model railroad manufacturers but its been a bit frustrating researching the parts. I have decided that the model railroad manufacturers are years behind everyone else in getting their products on the web or when they do they don't have a site even remotely resembling a modern web site. I know what I need I just need to find a place to buy it! I might make a trip out to Caboose hobbies and see what they have on the walls. I have checked their website (which keeps improving) and didn't really see what I wanted though and its a long haul for nothing then. Be assured though that the gun itself is going to get a lot of dressing up!

The gun supports, these marks will be on the inside, but can be quite visible unless I do some serious work on the "interior" of the Sledgehammer.

This is the bottom of the "wooden" walkways over the wheels (I don't think I can use them with the tracks). I'm waffling on if I want to use these or not. I'm think of replacing them with some etched brass walkways instead. I'll carve out the supports if I go that route since they already fit in the slots on the gun carriage.

The last few pieces that I found with potentially visible injection marks. I didn't bother with the ones in the wheels, those will be completely hidden once the wheels are assembled. I am unlikely to even use the wheels since I have the tracks.

Four bubble wrapped packets from Victoria Miniatures

On the top the 5 "man" squad. Left to right; jerry cans, male militia heads, entrenching tools, and the blast shield.

From left to right (more or less); Crawler tracks, BFG shells, grenades, ammo boxes, biker stowage, and breadbags.

Resin Gun Captain

From left to right (more or less); Kneeling legs with greatcoat, backpacks, female militia heads, and the resin version of the crew. 
From left to right (more or less); "Bren" guns, Sniper rifles (I think I ordered the wrong thing, oh well), 5 "woman" squad and two of the three Svargan Snipers


Sniper closeup. I have no idea what I will do with these. You received on free for every $50 and I really have no use for them. I delayed my order a day to avoid getting the even more useless Highlands Moss Piper. They are great figures but since I don't play 40K so they will get stuck in one of my many boxes of random figures.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Judging at the Reaper MSP Open - Armor/Ordnance Division



This is the fourth, and last, in a series of four posts each concentrating on a different entry category. You can find information about the scoring system itself in the Painter Division post. From here forward I will just concentrate on how the component guidelines apply to the other three divisions.

Armor/Ordnance Division
At MMSI in Chicago and elsewhere around the globe this category is usually filled with armor, planes, artillery and the like. At the MSP Open it is more along the lines of the red-headed stepchild. This division shares a lot with the Open Division with workmanship and creativity being big components of the scoring. While many entrants are willing to spend hours pouring over a single miniature and eradicating mold lines and filling gaps, they seem to be loath to do that with an entry into the armor/ordnance category. Just like the other divisions preparation is key, a visible mold line or a seam is likely to drop you a whole medal category in the judging. Since many of the entries are from plastic and resin kits visible seams are usually the biggest problem I see as a judge, following that would be mold lines in difficult to reach places. At the 2018 MSP Open there were a lot of larger Games Workshop pieces. Almost everyone single of these had visible mold lines in the hoses and seams in the armor panels on the back of the legs. This dropped everyone of these entries a medal level. Decals are often used in this division and there is nothing wrong with using them. You will get marked down for poor application though, treat a decal like freehand and don’t just slop it into place. There is a right way and a wrong way to apply decals and it can be a bit of an art to the proper application.

Again, if you have just a single entry then the judges can just go ahead and score your entry, no discussion is necessary. If you have multiple entries, then there will be a discussion between the judges on which entry they want to score. That conversation is typically the only conversation although these discussions tend to be longer than they might be in the Painter Division. However, when selecting the scoring entry the conversation is still based on “I can score this one higher than the others” or words to that affect, till they come to a decision just as it would be for the Painter Division. If multiple entries are visually very thematic the judges may decide to judge them together as a single entry.

Let’s take a quick look at the scoring guidelines the judges use (which is published as part of the MSP Open rules. These are guidelines are subject to change.
Difficulty: 15%
Creativity: 5% (proposing to change to 10%)
Workmanship: 15% (proposing to change to 30%)
Painting Skill: 60% (proposing to change to 35%)
Presentation: 5% (proposing to change to 10%)

Difficulty: This and the Open Division are the places where difficulty does have a significant impact. The difficulty of assembling some of the kits available on the market can vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Especially when dealing with a plastic kit like those produced by Tamiya and Games Workshop to the five piece resin game oriented kits put out by other manufacturers.

Creativity: There is not a lot of creativity involved with a straight up kit build, but when someone goes to the extra lengths to “upgrade” their kits with after market or hand made parts that impacts the creativity component. This is the equivalent of a conversion in the other divisions.

Workmanship: This is really a key component for this division and the proposed change reflects that. Any type of non-painting effort is represented here. This is includes your ability to do conversions and/or scratch sculpt or at least be able to blend your entry in with the scene you have constructed. A missed mold line, poor assembly or a poorly executed conversion could easily drop you a while numeric value in the scoring.

Painting Skill: Everything that was said about painting still applies in the Diorama Division but there is less emphasis. At this point workmanship and creativity components exceed the painting component (as currently proposed). There are a few other mediums that are often used in this category, like weathering powders, the application of those mediums falls into the painting component. While we don’t expect your abilities to be exactly equal in those areas you cannot count on your ability to paint alone to carry you over the top.

Presentation: While not the most important component in the Armor/Ordnance Division it is another example of getting the little things right. A nice, well executed base will set the “scene” for your entry. It can be the simple or it can be more elaborate. I would save the effort on a really elaborate base for an entry in the Open or Diorama divisions. This component is one that a judge will often use when making that final decision between scores, a tie breaker as it were.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Acquisitions - Modeling - Setting the Scene; Winter Wargaming

To be honest, I had completely forgotten I had ordered this book until it arrived in the mail. Initially I was excited because I thought it was the last of the Panzer Tracts books! However, I'm still excited to receive this one and it took some time. I missed the first printing, didn't have funds available for the second printing and finally managed to get everything lined up for the third printing. Yes, that's right they have already gone through three printings of this book. Setting the Scene; Winter Wargaming is written by Pat Smith (wargaming with silver whistle blog) and no its not about how to play in a cold basement with winter clothes on, although that might help further set the scene. This is a guide for creating a winter layout for the games table.

While I have no real interest in going through the process myself (I have enough to paint as it is without having to do some things twice), I think the book is a terrific resource specifically for winter effects but also for modeling in general. Its well layed out, the instructions are clear (although possibly a bit to terse in a couple of spots) and there are plenty of pictures. I think my only angst is that there seems to be an awful lot of white space on every page. It almost seems like it would have been better printed in something smaller than the A4 format, or make better use of the space with larger pictures (my optometrist has told me I have old eyes). Really this is a pretty minor quibble on my part. The book runs to a 103 pages, with 21 chapters running the gamut from materials to making winter vignettes. The book costs £17.50 plus shipping which varies by location. You can order it from Pat's blog page Silver Whistle.





Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Acquisitions - Expanding the PzKfw III Library, Panzer Tracts

One of the two remaining Panzer Tracts books on the PzKfw III arrived on Friday. This is 3-4 and features the Panzerbefehlswagen or command tank. I have always been intrigued by this particular vehicle and this is an amazing reference book dedicated to it. I think I can make a more credible version of one of these now. The hardest part is really trying to construct the frame antenna on the back deck. I think I have some ideas now after seeing the detailed drawings. A couple of things that I didn't know; these have their own SdKfz numbers; 266, 267 or 268 depending on the radio sets installed. The chassis used are the D, E & H and the turrets on these were non-operating. The J hull version was equipped with the 50/L42 based on the experiences and requests from troops at the front. And here is were the rumored (at least for me) K version belongs in the sequence. Equipped with a 50/L60 gun, a redesigned turret and a number of  features from the M chassis. A very interesting book and an excellent addition to the PzKfw III reference library.
This one had to come from the UK. I would order these books directly from Panzer Tracts but their website is definitely from the stone age and completely lacks and e-commerce section. You literally have to download the form, check off the books you want and send payment through the mail.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Judging at the Reaper MSP Open - Diorama Division

2015 MSP Open - Gold

This is the third in a series of four posts each concentrating on a different entry category. You can find information about the scoring system itself in the Painter Division post. From here forward I will just concentrate on how the component guidelines apply to the other three divisions


Diorama Division

The Diorama Division does not exist in the MMSI structure. At MMSI a diorama goes into the Open Division as it encompasses the same set of skills. I, however, felt the Open Division ignored or down played the story and what is a diorama without a story?  This is the division that lets you show off the same skills that the Open Division does and wrap it around a story. Again if you have just a single entry then the judges can just go ahead and score your entry, no discussion is necessary. If you have multiple entries, then there will be a discussion between the judges on which entry they want to score. That conversation is typically the only conversation although these discussions tend to be longer than they might be in the Painter Division.  However, when selecting the scoring entry the conversation is still based on “I can score this one higher than the others” or words to that affect, till they come to a decision just as it would be for the Painter Division. 

Let’s take a quick look at the scoring guidelines the judges use (which is published as part of the MSP Open rules. One cautionary note’ these particular scoring guidelines may change slightly):

Difficulty: 10%
Creativity: 20%
Workmanship: 15%
Painting Skill: 30%
Presentation: 25%

What does this mean for the Diorama Division? In this division we are really want to see all your hobby skills as well as your story telling ability. While the components remain the same the emphasis has obviously changed a great deal.


Difficulty: This is a tough one for the Diorama category, since most dioramas are difficult to begin with. We reduced the emphasis here because we feel that you should not take a hit for a good story that is comparatively simple to tell.  


Creativity: Creativity steps up a bit here.  While painting is still factor this is the portion that shows us the story you are telling. Now painting is combined with your ability to convert, sculpt and tell a story to your audience. The entrant’s imagination comes into play here, you are looking to tell a story to your viewers. You are striving for the audience to understand your story without commentary from you. It can be subtle or in your face but if you have to explain it then you have not succeeded.


Workmanship: This remains a pretty straightforward component but in the Diorama Division there is a higher emphasis on it. It reflects how well constructed the entire piece is. Any type of non-painting effort is represented here. This is includes your ability to do conversions and/or scratch sculpt or at least be able to blend your miniatures in with the scene you have constructed. A missed mold line, poor assembly or a poorly executed conversion could easily drop you a while numeric value in the scoring.


Painting Skill: Everything that was said about painting still applies in the Diorama Division but there is less emphasis. At this point workmanship and creativity components exceed the painting component. While we don’t expect your abilities to be exactly equal in those areas you cannot count on your ability to paint alone to carry you over the top.


Presentation:  There is more emphasis on the is component as well. You are building the entire entry, essentially from scratch, and the presentation of everything you do affects the story. From the miniatures to the setting, this is where it all comes together. How you present it can be the difference between gold and silver.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

ReaperCon Projects - The Sherman Part V

I was going to call this one done, but now I have a problem to solve. I tried to finish this one on the road at Reaper Con but I didn't manage to pull that off. I just didn't have the time I needed although I did have the right tools.

Last night I was able to sit down with the powders and finished it off and I was pretty happy with the result. I tried to over weather as spraying dullcoat tends to blow off the powders although I was hoping that the pan pastels would hold up better as they have a bit more "tooth" to them. 

Not only was that not the case, most of my powder blew off but the Army Painter Anti-Shine spray left a whole ton of white speckles all over the model. I'm not sure how to approach even fixing this at this point, but its to expensive a model to just discard. 

I think I'm going to go over it with just some pure mineral spirits and see what that does and I certainly won't be using that particular can of matte spray again. I have learned quite a bit with this project and hopefully I can apply all those lessons to the other Sherman that I have in progress. Also I need to remember to fix the powders in place first then apply the matte finish and the thing is I knew that and still didn't do it.


Pretty happy with this point, although some of the paintwork on the tracks has been covered. I anticipating losing some of this powder when I seal it. I used three different pan pastels and one MiG pigment. I don't remember the colors right now but I have them still sitting on the table so I'll at least record them for the next time.






And disaster strikes. While I lost a whole lot more weathering powder than I expect, I have also managed to add a ton of these white speckles. I have not idea how to fix this right now. I'll have to set it aside and think about it.








Friday, September 28, 2018

Judging at the Reaper MSP Open - Open Division

A scratch sculpt lion from a piece of old wood, by Michael Proctor


This is the second in a series of four posts each concentrating on a different entry category. You can find information about the scoring system itself in the Painter Division post. From here forward I will just concentrate on how the component guidelines apply to the other three divisions.

Open Division
The Open Division is far more of a freeform division than the Painter Division. Here is where you get to really strut your stuff with major conversions and scratch sculpts. If you have just a single entry then the judges can just go ahead and score your entry, no discussion is necessary. If you have multiple entries, then there will be a discussion between the judges on which entry they want to score. That conversation is typically the only conversation although these discussions tend to be longer than they might be in the Painter Division.  However, when selecting the scoring entry the conversation is still based on “I can score this one higher than the others” or words to that affect, till they come to a decision just as it would be for the Painter Division. If multiple entries are visually very thematic the judges may decide to judge them together as a single entry.

Let’s take a quick look at the scoring guidelines the judges use (which is published as part of the MSP Open rules):
Difficulty: 15%
Creativity: 10%
Workmanship: 30%
Painting Skill: 30%
Presentation: 15%

What does this mean for the Open Division? In this division we are really want to see all your skills. While the components remain the same the emphasis has obviously changed a great deal.

Difficulty: This is far more intuitive than it is in the Painter Division. The level of difficulty depends entirely on the difficulty of the conversion, with a minor conversion being the least difficult with graduations on up from there with a complete scratch sculpt being the most difficult.

Creativity: Creativity stays about the same as it does for Painter. Painting is still a factor here. Now painting is combined with your ability to convert and sculpt to reach your audience. The entrant’s imagination comes into play here, you are looking for impact on the audience. Are you straining the boundaries of believability or are you trying to evoke a specific emotion from your viewers? Have you achieved what you set out to do at the end?

Workmanship: This remains a pretty straightforward component but in the Open Division there is a higher emphasis on it. It reflects how well constructed the entire piece is. Any type of non-painting effort is represented here. Again a well done conversion means that the judge can’t tell that anything has been converted. A scratch sculpt should be properly proportioned and well sculpted (no thumb prints!). A missed mold line, poor assembly or a poorly executed conversion could easily drop you a while numeric value in the scoring. This is a category that we really encourage documentation, show us what you did and how you did it.

Painting Skill: Everything that was said about painting still applies in the Open Division but there is less emphasis. At this point workmanship and painting are equal. While we don’t expect your abilities to be exactly equal in both areas you cannot count on your ability to paint alone to carry you over the top.

Presentation:  There is more emphasis on the is component as well. If you are building the entire entry, essentially from scratch then the presentation of your entry is going to have a significant impact on how a viewer perceives your entry. Bring your entry to life!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sledgehammer Project; Preparation Pt II

Found some time to do a little more work on the Sledgehammer. I was trying to figure out how to remove some of the scratch marks left from removing the mold lines. I decided to try out the same stuff that I use on my metal miniatures; super fine steel wool. Worked like a charm!


Here are a few components after the initial removal of mold lines. I have briefly toyed with replacing the barrel components with brass but I don't think I need to make that decision just yet.

A better close up, looks pretty grim although most of that is not going to show through a primer coat I would prefer to start off with a better surface.

After a few passes with the steel wool, which leaves quite a mess of small filings by the way.

The other side

Ready for paint!

You can see the accumulated buildup of steel wool bits all over the place.

This is an area that I'm considering to be a good candidate for additional detailing

I'm definitely at least adding a wood grain to this or replacing entirely

I'm thinking that this could be replaced with more of an mesh look rather than anti-skid steel plate