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)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sledgehammer Project; Pt XXV - Taurox Build

I was able to get some more build time in on the Taurox and the basic build is complete at this point. There are a number of pieces that I will attach after some initial paintwork is completed like the roof over the cab and the rear armor plate with the round door. I probably should have left the suspension off as well and painted that separately, another live and learn moment.

The Bison suspension parts from Blood & Skulls (Machinator248 on ebay)

Completed Taurox subsections, these will remain unattached until after some initial paint work is completed.

Putting the Bison halftracks together.

On the Taurox suspension the angle bracket on the edge needs to be removed

And now just to file it smooth

I may have the resin bar from the Bison parts upside down, but I'm not going to sweat it.

The same plastic surgery needs to take place for the front.

Then just attach the whole sub-assembly to the Taurox chassis.

Ready to roll. The only thing that irritates me about this vehicle is its to short. If the back end was another inch longer the proportions would look better. I'm not going to go to that much work though for what will be a secondary point of interest on the diorama.

The detail on the inside is going to be hard to reach if I glue the cab top and the rear hull plate on.

I'm leaving off the top armor plate for the back for that "topless" halftrack look.

Monday, May 20, 2019

World War II Project - Painting a German Infantry Platoon - Pt 1

These German troops are from Brigade Games Disposable Heroes Miniatures Kickstarter and have been sitting around for quite a while now. I needed to refresh my airbrush skills a bit and so I decided that these would be the victims. I wanted to try out a couple of different techniques on these, trying to reinforce some of the stuff I have learned over the years. My intent here is to achieve a good table top paint job and get some troops on the table. I have been diving into Chain of Command from Too Fat Lardies and I would really like to play one of the Pint Sized Campaigns that they have published.

Bare Metal, let the games begin!
First step was to apply the black primer. I used Badger's Black Stynylrez for this initial primer coat and applied this over the entire miniature.

Group 1 in black. I do like the Badger primers a lot. Its pretty much my go to primer even if I'm painting it on with a brush.

Here are both groups with their first layer of primer

I followed this up with a coat of Badger's White Stynylrez primer shooting it from as close to vertical as I could get with a gravity feed airbrush (I used a Badger Renegade for this work). The white primer would lighten the follow on colors on the highest points of the miniature.

With the white from as near vertical as I can get it.

My original intent was to keep moving forward one color after another and knock the whole group out as quickly as possible. This is when I discovered the advantages of a good compressor over a cheap compressor. I had an Iwata compressor that hang on through heavy usage for about 5 years and it never failed me during a painting session no matter how long it was (thank you automatic cutoff switch). The small compressor from Harbor Freight was already beginning to overheat after applying the two primer colors. At this point I had to give it a rest before moving on to the uniform colors.

For this particular painting session I decided to try the German Field Grey Uniform paint set (AK 3140) from AK Interactive. One note of caution about this set, pay absolutely no attention to the color swatches on the box, they are not even remotely close to the paint colors in the set. I started off with the Field Grey Shadow color (AK 3144) and basically shot this from underneath the miniature. This involved handling each miniature individually which is not my preferred method but it was the only way to apply the shadows. This basically soften the look of the already applied black primer.

Field Grey Shadow (AK 3144)

There are two base colors for the next step so I divided the miniatures in two groups with about 40 figures in the first group and 20 in the second. I wanted some color variation amongst the troops so I planned on using both base colors. I started with the larger group and applied Field Grey Base (AK 3141) shooting it at just about perpendicular to the miniatures, probably slightly higher to preserve and blend the shadows. The smaller group received Field Grey Base 2 (AK 3142). Of the two Field Grey Base is much greener and Field Grey Base 2 is much grayer. The next time I use these colors I'll probably go with a 50/50 mix of the two.

Field Grey Base (AK 3141)

Field Grey Base 2 (AK 3142)
The original plan was to go immediately to the highlight color; Field Grey Lights (AK 3143). After mulling it over, as the compressor cooled down, I decided to do an intermediate step and apply a 50/50 mix of the highlight with the base color for each group. I'm not sure that I actually achieved the desire effect but I spent the time to do it. There are pictures of this step for both groups but its hard to see the difference so I'll just leave those pics out.

After applying the intermediate highlight I went to full strength Field Grey Lights shooting from as near vertical as possible.
Field Grey Lights (and not I'm not miss spelling it) (AK 3143)
I think my lights are washing out a lot of the color variation that you can see in person.

Now I was done with the airbrush portion of the evening and pulled out a nice wide brush for the next step. Since some of the color transitions were a little harsh I already decided to use a glaze to pull things together a bit. I turned to another AK Interactive product for this; Uniform Definition Filter Green Glaze (AK 3017). I was a bit concerned with this step as I was not looking for a traditional wash as I have done in the past. No disappointment, the green glaze went on darker than anticipated but dried nice and light and helped blend the various colors together. I'm quite pleased with this product.

Uniform Definition Filter Green Glaze (AK3017)
While it took nearly the whole evening to get the work done the actually painting time probably equated to about 2 hours during which I applied 2 primer coats, 4 paint colors and 1 glaze. Actually elapsed time was close to 5 hours because of the need to cool down the compressor between coats of paint. I will be on the hunt for a new compressor in the coming weeks.

Here is a quick side by side comparison of the two groups, prior to the glaze being applied. On the left are troops painted with Field Grey Base 2 and in the center and right Field Grey Base. Those on the right are definitely greener than those on the left. Its pretty close to what I was hoping would happen and should look pretty nice on the table. I saw a picture once of some German uniform coats that were all ostensibly field grey, they varied from almost brown to olive green, so variation in color is a good thing!
Now you are thinking that I have allowed myself to get distracted from the Sledgehammer diorama but this exercise allowed me to refresh my airbrush skills and test out a paint scheme for the troops on that diorama. I probably won't start the detail painting on these troops until after the Sledgehammer is done, that would be distracting.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Review - The Napoleonic Wars (Wargames Terrain & Building) - The Napoleonic Wars by Tony Harwood

Make no mistake about it I am a big Tony Harwood fan. I have all three of his self-published books and I have been eagerly awaiting his newest book from Pen & Sword Books. News had hit the streets that the book was out but it apparently has not arrived, physically, in the US yet. Its still showing as a pre-order on Amazon, however, there was an option for a Kindle version and after a little internal debate I decided to get the e-book now and pick up the printed version later.

I sat down with this book and read it from cover to cover in a single sitting. The book is broken into three sections; Section 1;Working in Different Scales, Section 2; Quick and Easy and Section 3; Detailed Step-by-Step Tutorials. If you have any of (and I'm sure enjoyed) Tony's self-published books then you still need this book. While there isn't a ton of new material for us veteran fans there are a couple of interesting variations that are worth the price of admission.

Tony covers 9 different buildings in this book 3 in each section. Section one features a Russian Windmill in 15mm, A two story French House in 28mm, La Belle Alliance in 20mm.  Section 2 features a French Pigeonnier, a Stone Built Well and a Russian Granary. Section 3 features a small bakery (Die Kleine Backerei), a Hungarian Chapel and a Peninsular Diorama.

If you are new to Tony's work then you will appreciate his straight forward approach to building anything from just about everything at hand. Be warned you will need a good supply of corrugated cardboard, DAS clay, balsa wood, green foam (Tony uses a lot of green foam, I haven't really found a good substitute for it in the US other than blue or pink insulation foam, if you have found something out there let me know) and glue for your hot glue gun. If you have never built a wargaming building before never fear Tony will make it easy and fun.

For the veteran reader there are a couple of very interesting projects in the book. The first is the La Belle Alliance which is a modification of Sarissa Precision kit as opposed to a straight up scratch build. I found his observations very interesting as I build a lot of lasercut MDF kits myself and they all require extra detailing to get away from that flat look. The other two that feature something a bit different are the Hungarian Chapel as it is one of the few projects I have seen from Tony utilizing foamboard and the Peninsular Diorama which is built almost entirely out of foam (solid blocks of foam no less).

A few criticisms I have are there are not enough pictures. I'm probably spoiled from the self-published books which have a ton of pictures but publishing houses have different philosophies. Pen & Sword could have easily doubled the number of pictures and made a better presentation of Tony's work. I do feel that an introductory chapter going over tools and materials would have been a nice addition along with a quick explanation of some of his techniques (like wet water). Granted many of these are covered in the glossary at the end but I think some of this material would be better presented in the beginning with a bit more detail. Tony's writing style has changed a bit with this book as well and there are several instances of a repeated phrasing that made the book feel a bit disjointed. While I understand that each building is unique, I don't need to be told what wet water is each time. But really these criticisms are pretty nit-picky on my part. I was expecting something closer to the self-published books and this one didn't quite slot in with them. Enjoyable none the less.

That being said, this an excellent book of building techniques and tutorials that will have anyone building quality wargame buildings pretty quickly. Once you have built two or three of these you will be able to strike out on your own and create good looking buildings and terrain for your gaming table. I highly recommend this book for your library whether you are a model building, a wargamer or both!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

From the Backyard - The local redtail hawk

It doesn't take a lot of patience to be rewarded with a hawk siting or two on a daily basis from our patio. Our neighbors behind us have a large lot filled with large trees and in one of those trees live a mated pair of redtail hawks. I finally made sure I had my camera handy one day to try and get some good pictures and a little patience was well rewarded as one of the hawks spent some time climbing the thermals and I managed to capture a nice sequence of pictures.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

World War II Project - Perry Miniatures US Infantry Squad Build

I started assembling the box of US Infantry. Getting the first squad together was a bit frustrating. While there is a nice sheet detailing what's on the weapons sprue, there is no such sheet for the regular sprue and nothing is numbered. The reality is that while the box has enough figures for a complete platoon I think it might take a little more than that. I accidentally managed to build two BAR gunners for the first squad and lost a left arm. I have searched the entire floor and nothing so far. It was the classic drop piece, hear it hit the hardwood floor and bounce and have no idea which way it went.

I discovered that not all of the arms will fit all of the bodies, so when I get to the second squad I'm going to need to make some notes on what fits to what and what doesn't fit. I might also take a slightly different approach to the whole build, which will make having two boxes quite handy. Since I'm using the TOEs from Chain of Command some of the support weapons need a lot of miniatures, the bulk of the second box may well go towards creating these weapon teams. Anyway here are the results of the first build:

There are a couple of things that I don't like about  the composition of the box. On the main infantry sprue there are two men prone and two kneeling. That makes for some flexibility with the support weapon mix as these figures do double duty as crew for the .30 cal MG and the Bazooka. I don't find them as useful though when just building a straight up squad.

For the bazooka team I used one of the kneeling figures from the main sprue and the other from the weapon sprue.

And there are far to many legs to glue on. Both of these require a leg to be glued in place and I found that patience is required and the glue needs to fully set or the leg will slip out of position. I highly recommend either the Testor's Model Master liquid cement for this or Plastruct Plastic Weld. They both setup fast. I don't recommend super glue, you need to be able to slide the parts around a bit and super glue isn't going to let  you do that and eventually the bond will break. These are plastic use glues made for plastic!

The figure on the left is from the weapon sprue and the arms and M1 Garand are a single piece. He is going to need a little filler at the shoulders.

The prone figures, there are no options for the arms on these. Everyone one of these is going to look alike so be prepared to add extra pouches and the backpacks to make them different.

The other split leg figure on the right. I need to go back to this one as it looks like it slipped a bit before the glue had fully set.