Monday, July 14, 2014

Work Not In Progress

Here's an example of a figure I just can't seem to get around to finishing off. I've had it for maybe thirty years, and it's been stuck in this state for at least six or seven years.

It's a storm giant, from Ral Partha I believe, or maybe Citadel, about 70mm tall, and it's a pretty old miniature — mid '80s, I think.

It originally had something that was probably supposed to be a lightning bolt or fireball or something coming off its left hand, but I thought it mostly just looked like a turd, so I chopped it off and re-carved the fingers.

I've made a start on its vast areas of bare skin and the improbably large beard, but I've never been very happy with it and it's stalled at this point. Maybe I'll finish it off one day, but I don't know if I can be bothered with it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tin-Plate Tank

Not really tin-plate, but laser-cut aluminium shim.

Annette found this amongst a bunch of novelty items in a stationery shop a few weeks ago, and naturally thought of me. It comes as a couple of small flat sheets plus a turned barrel, and uses tab-and-slot construction.

It's not exactly a fine scale model, but it was quite fun to bend and build. The trickiest thing about it was that reflections from the shininess of the metal often made it difficult to distinguish where anything was when trying to match up the tiny tabs with the equally tiny slots.

She bought me another at the same time, a P-51 Mustang. That'll be next.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

About that Kool-Aid....

Well, I've downloaded and read briefly through the free D&D Basic Rules, and so far they've left me pretty unimpressed.

They're quite incomplete at the moment. Mike Mearls said that they would be "the equivalent of the D&D Rules Cyclopaedia", and maybe one day they will be, but right now they're not even close. They include no monsters at all, and they do include a huge amount of pointless fluff and padding — at the moment it comes in at just over 100 pages, and it could very easily have been edited down to less than half that.

That's not what's left me unexcited though. From what I've seen of them so far, they're pretty much just Pathfinder-Lite. They're a definite improvement on 4th Edition, but that was a pretty low bar. They're not a terrible set of roleplaying rules, they're just not very interesting.

Regardless of my own lack of enthusiasm for it, I really do hope that D&D 5th Edition is a huge success, because if it is it will bring more people into the hobby.  I don't much care what they play as long as there are lots of them, because the spillover effects of a large and thriving market can be very useful in feeding the niche product makers who might be more likely to produce something I'll want.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wash Bird

 This is a Games Workshop figure I believe. As far as I can recall, it came with a goofy-looking "elf" that was supposed to be riding it.

This is a semi-experimental paint job, inasmuch as I wanted, as far as possible, to paint the whole thing in various washes over a white undercoat. Apart from the beak, face and legs, that's what I did, and I think it turned out pretty well.

And it was quick too — from start to finish, the whole paint job only took about half an hour. Sorting out the base and perspex flight stand took a lot longer than that.

This painting technique wouldn't have worked half so well, of course, if not for the excellent incised detail on the figure.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


I rediscovered this old Academy 1:144 scale kit of a Messerschmidt Me110G lurking around in amongst my collection of stuff-I-bought-intending-to-do-something-with-it and thought it would make a good test-bed for trying out my newest airbrush.

It's not a very highly detailed model, but its profile is identifiable on the wargames table, and that's good enough for me. My days of super-detailing aircraft kits are long behind me. I shall have to sort out some sort of flight stand for it; I have some 3mm clear acrylic rod somewhere that should do the trick.

I note that the decal sheet did not include any swastikas for the tail, presumably to pander to official German guilt at having gotten a massive boner for Hitler and plunging the entire world into another ruinous war, having already done it previously less than a single generation before. Those Germans, they're wacky :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Badger 250

While I'm talking about airbrushes, I suppose I should mention this in passing. It's the Badger 250, and it's really about as basic as you can get. It's not really an airbrush, but a small spray-gun.

I very seldom use it; in fact, I can't remember the last time I did. I have much better tools for the job.

I should note that Badger don't make any pretence that the 250 is anything more than what it is, and what it is is a cheap tool for spraying paint without any particular precision.

Paint flow is governed by turning the nozzle rising up from the paint reservoir. In theory, you can moderate the amount of paint being squirted out, but in practice I've found it to be pretty much either on or off. Air flow is set at the compressor.

You can pick one up for about $25, but even if you don't want to go the whole hog into airbrushing, I'd really recommend spending just a little bit more and getting a decent single-action airbrush — it will be a lot more useful to you in the long run, and it will only set you back another twenty bucks or so.

Badger 200 - first impressions

I just bought another new airbrush, as usual from Chicago Airbrush Supply, who have yet to fail me. They rock.

This time it's a Badger 200GF, a single-action gravity-feed internal-mix airbrush. I bought it with the Fine (F) head/needle, which will do lines down to less than a mllimetre thick.

Paint flow is adjusted via a knurled knob on the end of the brush, while air flow is controlled directly from the compressor's regulator.

Thus far, I've only done a quick test-sheet in watercolour on 300gsm laid paper (see below), but already I can tell that this airbrush and I are going to get along swimmingly. It's my favourite brush of all that I've tried so far, and even though it's a humble single-action, I doubt that that will often be any kind of issue.

Even at very low air pressure (I went as low as 6psi for my test-sheet) its spray is fine and even, and its lines are pretty even and regular.

The only serious problem I've noted so far is that my hands are revoltingly unsteady, so straight lines are more a matter of fluke than intention. I can't reasonably blame that on the brush though.

It cost me about $45 from Chicago Airbrush Supply, which I consider to be a very good price indeed.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

15mm WW1 from Peter Pig

I bought these 15mm WW1 BEF figures from Peter Pig some considerable time ago, and they've been sitting around half-painted for about that long.

I'm not at all fond of production-line painting figures, so that's a situation that happens a lot. I have a platoon of 15mm WW2 German Grenadiers in the same plight; I really should do something about finishing them off as well.

I'm pretty pleased with what I've seen of Peter Pig's figures so far. I thought at first they were a bit blobby, but on closer acquaintance I find they have a decent level of detail, they're not too fragile, and they paint up nicely. I wouldn't mind a little bit more variation of pose for troops like these, who spend most of their time in skirmish order, but I can live with it. At least they're not all identical.

These figures aren't actually intended for WW1 gaming; there aren't nearly enough of them for that. They'll be used for skirmish gaming: pre-war colonial fights, maybe a spot of repression in Ireland (in fact they were originally going to be painted as Black & Tans before I decided to keep them a bit more generic), and possibly a bit of inter-war VBCW stuff.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Paasche H-Series single action airbrush — first impressions

Without paint cup
With paint cup in place
This is a relatively cheap, well-engineered, basic airbrush. It cost me about forty bucks from Chicago Airbrush Supplies.

It's fitted with the .55mm head and needle, and is capable of painting a pretty fine line.

However, like most (but not all) single-action brushes, it's an external-mix design. The paint is drawn up through the conical assembly you can see hanging under the front of the brush by suction from a stream of air rushing past its nozzle. It's a simple and well-tested spraying method, but it does result in a grainier spray than an internal-mix brush in which the paint and air are both squirted out through the same nozzle.

You can suppress the graininess of the spray to a degree by increasing the air pressure, but of course this will make fine-line work difficult, if not impossible. If you want a grainier, spatter spray pattern, you can achieve that by dropping the pressure right down.

A benefit of the external-mix model is that it generally allows one to spray paint of a somewhat heavier viscosity than an internal-mix brush will cope with.

The paint flow is controlled by turning the conical knob clockwise (to increase the flow) or anti-clockwise (to decrease it). Air flow is either on or off; any adjustment has to be done via a regulator at the compressor.

The small metal cup shown in these photos is easy to get on and off the brush, but one must be aware that because of the angle of the pipe that goes into the brush, if you fill it more than about half way when it's not attached to the brush it will dribble paint all over the place.

There are other paint bottles available, up to 8oz in size, which is quite a lot of paint for modelling purposes.

This is a good, well-engineered device for someone who is beginning airbrushing and wants to ease into it before tackling a double-action brush. I'll be using it primarily as a spray gun (with bigger paint bottles) rather than as an airbrush, due to its ability to get a whole lot of paint out on to a surface — it will be a lot more useful for terrain-painting than either my Badger 150 or Paasche Talon.

The War In The Air On The Ground

I bought some Heroics & Ros WW1 AA guns to use as markers in my Canvas Eagles games.

These ones are British lorry-borne 13pdrs, surrounding an Albatros D-II; I have twelve of them. I have a dozen Krupp 7.7cm guns on Daimlers as well, for the dastardly Boche to use.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Another refreshing glass of Kool-Aid? Don't mind if I do.

I've been playing D&D, in its various incarnations, for quite some time now. I've played with a lot of other roleplaying systems as well, but D&D has always been there, sitting in the background — when I was using the Hero System, I was pretty much using it to play D&D, but with even more book-keeping.

The last "official" version I played to any great extent was the 3rd edition. It had its merits, but its byzantine character creation rules (feat chains! Aaaaarrrgh! Skill points! Aaaaarrrgh!), along with some clumsy peculiarities of its combat/action resolution rules became too onerous and frustrating, and I went back to Hero (5th Edition, that time).

I was profoundly under-impressed with D&D's 4th edition. It seemed to me to be nothing much more than a very much more complex version of the boardgame Descent, only without the board. Though it appears you could buy boards, so there's that.

I tired of the Hero System's relentless accounting, and thanks to the advent of the OSR, went to a much more free-form D&D-ish game through Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord.

I had no intention of bothering with the 5th Edition (D&D Next, as they've been calling it), but I've changed my mind about that. WotC has indicated that they'll be releasing Basic D&D as a free pdf, and free is a price-point at which I'm prepared to investigate the possiblitites of the new, improved Kool-Aid.

I didn't engage in the playtesting process for 5th Edition, so I don't know precisely how it works, but noises have been made about it allowing a much more "old-school" style of play... just what that means to Mike Mearls and co., I don't know, but it piques my interest enough that, come July (that's only a month away now!), I'll fire up the downloadin' machine and take a look.

Who knows, maybe this time it will be PERFECT.

Friday, June 13, 2014

15mm Panhard-Schneider-Kegresse

Here's another 15mm resin and white metal model from Battlefront, a French Panhard-Schneider-Kegresse half-track. It was designed in the 1930s and saw service in the Battle of France.

I've painted it in one of the four-colour disruptive patterns the French developed during WW1. They were still around by WW2, though three or two colour patterns were more common by then. I've no idea whether these half-tracks were ever painted in the four-colour scheme, but I like it, so this one has been.

This particular vehicle looks to me as though it belongs in a Warty-Kay Ork army rather than a real army. I know the rivets wouldn't be as prominent on an actual vehicle, but even so the proportions of the thing are just kind of... goofy.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

PSC 15mm PzIV f2

Another one of PSC's 15mm plastic Panzer IV models, this time the f1 variant painted in a more or less tropical colour scheme.

Monday, June 2, 2014

15mm Battlefront plastic StuG III-G

I got this in one of Battlefront's starter sets — I think it was titled "Open Fire" — some time ago. It was in the clearance bin at the local comics-and-games shop, and I thought that it would be a cheap way of getting a few more vehicles to add to my collection.

The box came with two of these StuG III and three Shermans. The StuGs are passable I suppose, but the Shermans are among the worst plastic kits I've ever encountered — the scale and silhouette is fine, but the construction design is execrable, with ill-fitting pieces and huge gaps in screamingly obvious areas, requiring a great deal of filling and filing to get a half-way acceptable end product.

Anyway, I finally got around to painting this one. It'll do, I suppose, but it's not a great advertisement for Battlefront's injection-moulded plastic kits, and I'd be much more inclined to go with another manufacturer like PSC.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

PSC 15mm PzIV-f2 — finished

Here's that 15mm (1:100) plastic PzIV-f2 from my last post, all finished and ready to go.

I found some old transfers in a drawer — I have no idea how appropriate they are for a Panzer IV, but they'll do me. I'm not really very anal about that sort of thing.

I thought I might have gone a bit overboard with the dust, but on reflection I think it's not too bad. I didn't want to do too much more weathering than that; I'm less and less enamoured of models that look as though they belong in the scrapyard rather than the battlefield, though I've done one or two like that in the past.

This is about as dilapidated as I'd want to go — and this Sherman is definitely due for some work back at the REME workshops. (This is another 15mm model, though from Battlefront's Flames of War range).

Friday, May 30, 2014

PSC 15mm PzIV-f2

Just for a change of pace from teensy-tiny aeroplanes, I thought I'd give some WWII German 3-colour AFV camouflage a go.

This is a Plastic Soldier Company 15mm PzKfw IV-f2.

These are excellent little kits for wargaming purposes. They come five to a box, go together quickly and easily, and they're robust enough to take a fair amount of punishment as long as they don't actually get jumped on or thrown across the room in frustration at lousy dice-rolling. The only problem with them is that they don't come with any transfers, so I'll either have to paint markings by hand (groan) or buy some transfers separately.

This has just had a quick airbrushing, dry-brush and wash so far. It could probably go on to the table as it is, but I'll gussy it up a bit more before I call it finished.

Friday, May 23, 2014

1/300 scale Hannover CL-IIIa

This WW1 German lozenge pattern camouflage is a good reason to stick to early-war aircraft. It's kind of a pain to paint in any scale, though you can get away with a lot on a model this small.

These things were originally designed as escort aircraft, but ended up being used primarily in a ground-attack role. It was, in many ways, the German equivalent of the RFC's Bristol Fighter, though neither as fast nor manoeuvrable.

British pilots, if my "Biggles" books can be trusted, called them Hanneroverannas.

The model is from Heroics & Ros.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Tao of Struts Has No Beginning, No End

 This is how I go about adding the struts and undercarriage to these little aeroplanes.

I use 24 gauge copper wire, which is soft enough to bend easily, but stiff enough to give the model a bit of strength without looking too much as though all the struts are made of logs. I straighten the pieces of wire by rolling them against my cutting mat with a fine file, which also leaves the surface of the wire with a rough tooth that seems to be helpful in gluing and painting.

The wing struts pass right through the lower wing. This is a 1/300 scale Heroics & Ros model (a Hannover CL-IIIa) and the wing is already pierced for the white metal struts that come with the model — other manufacturers require a bit of drilling to be done.

To begin with, I apply a small pool of superglue to the underside of the upper wing, and just rest the strut in place until that has gone off enough to keep the piece of wire in position. Then I fill the holes around the struts through the lower wing with more superglue, and add a little more around the top ends against the upper wing to create an encapsulating boot for maximum support.

I started out using liquid superglue because of its very quick set time, but I found that it tended to leave a crystalline cruft around the joint when it cured. For that reason I now favour superglue gel, which cures cleaner, though its slower cure time means I have to take things a bit more deliberately.

Once the glue has cured thoroughly, I snip the wire off close to the wing surface and then file the proud remains down flush. The soft copper files quite easily.

The undercarriage is bent up out of a single piece of wire, as you can see here, and then an axle is glued in place inside the 'elbow' of the assembly. The wheels are just card, cut with an appropriately sized punch. Once they're set, the superfluous outer lengths of axle will be snipped off close.

This process, once complete, adds a considerable degree of strength to the white metal models. I wouldn't go flinging them about or standing on them, but they will bear a reasonable amount of handling without disintegrating.

Monday, May 19, 2014

WW1 aeroplanes — 1/288 scale masters

Many years ago (1989-90, if memory serves) I made some little 1:288 scale WW1 aeroplanes with a view to moulding them in silicone rubber and casting them in acrylic resin. I never did get around to the moulding or casting, but the masters still exist.

With the advent of high-resolution 3d printing, this sort of model-making is just about obsolete I suppose.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

1/300 Sopwith Pups

Yet more teensy-tiny aeroplanes, this time a couple of Sopwith Pups to provide some opposition to the Albatros D-II I finished a few days ago.

They appear to be heading for an imminent collision. How unfortunate.

According to the pilots of the time, the Pup was a delight to fly. Not being a flier myself, I don't know if that would still be true in comparison with more modern aircraft, or if it was just in comparison with the aeroplanes of the day.