Friday, January 13, 2017

IPRTF - In Position Ready To Fire

The move is done. The boxes are unpacked, the furniture has been assembled, the pictures are hung, and the Gentleman's Gaming Parlor is finally a reality. I have long daydreamed of having a dedicated room for my hobby interests, who doesn't? As I bounced across the country, across the globe, and raised a family, there never was space available for me to both spread out my crap, and keep from mucking up SWMBO's standard of living. Never had there been more than a desk, set up in a corner of the living room. And all too often, it was a portable operation that was put down and picked up from the dining room table for each and every hobbyist session. But now, I am a truly grateful painter/gamer indeed. I did have to make one consolation, the room had to contain a guest bed. Not too much to ask, I dare say. Enough with the sob stories, and on with the pics...







God bless IKEA! They have made more game rooms possible, for more gamers, than probably any other furniture maker. lol The desk's right pedestal contains my basing materials and air bushing supplies. The left pedestal, my air compressor. And my trusty toolbox as made by my Great Grandfather, well, that one is self explanatory.

On the walls are various sentimental reminders of my Granfather's service in World War II as well as from my own through the decades. As a "somestimes" militaria collector, a "previous" reenactor, and longtime Soldier, I have a fondness for military headgear. The PASGT helmet is mine from Desert Storm, but the MICH helmet is an extra that I have had in my possession. The real MICH that I wore was foolishly turned in when I outprocessed.

For a bit of historical perspective, my hobby desk as written about back in 2011 (follow the link): chargebayonet.blogspot.com

Friday, November 11, 2016

Another Couple of Years, Another Move!

     It's that time again, time to get ready for another move. I've had to go through this far too often, thats for sure! Packing up your supplies is its own problem, but protecting your painted minis is always the larger challenge. Luckily, the options have been growing over the years as custom foam companies are becoming more and more commonplace. Generic, pluck foam companies like KR Multicase and Sabol Designs have been staples for decades, but custom manufacturing is the way of the future. Being in the States, I prefer Battlefoam. Equally lucky is that one of my two local game stores is a retailer for Battlefoam products. Don't get excited about there being two, only one has any table space, and both have nearly zero items on stock [unless you are either a Star Wars or Warhammer player].

     I picked up an empty Stacker Box as well as some generic Pluck Foam Trays for some odds and ends (to include some recently completed vehicle). I still need to purchase some additional foam, but those trays will be custom cut. Battlefoam's custom tray creator tool is a both a dream and a nightmare depending on how bad your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is! lol Here are a few pictures of both the recent as well as some past Battlefoam purchases.


While a custom designed tray is the best option for maximum capacity, a generic pluck tray can still be a great option as well. 


A custom designed tray for two late war platoons of Commonwealth infantry as well as their company headquarters.


Aerial gaming appears to be in my future?!


Keep those minis SAFE! ;-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

ALL BRAVO 3 ROMEO ELEMENTS - THIS IS ROMEO 25, OVER.

     If you have read, and remember, Harold Coyle's excellent novel, you might find some familiarity with this bog post's title. ;-)


     The wargaming world has been experiencing a resurgence of Cold War enthusiasm through Battlefront and its Team Yankee line. Being a Cold War serviceman, I had no choice but to eventually join this wave myself. There are a number of gamers who are showing preference to 6mm for the genre, but I couldn't go that route as my primary scale as I wanted to give it the best reatment my time and energies could give. Battlefront's Bannon's Boys starter set is the first box on the bench. (Mostly due to my Bundeswehr force still en route via the parcel carrier company).

     Before getting started, I had to decide on a paint scheme. Well, rather I didn't have to! In 1985, the M1 tanks serving in USAEUR and with the V and VII US Corps were sporting monochrome, forest green liveries. While they may have had winter white sprasely applied for specific, short term occasions, they are believed to have been solely forest green until sometime at the very end of the decade.

     Now that the paint scheme was decided, I next had to plan on the products to be used, the method for their application, and the final finish appearance. I wanted a clean, (fairly) bright finish, sublte shadows, and subtle accentuation of the raised details. The steps include a black undercoat, base color applied carefully to panel centers and a deliberately applied drybrush. I would forgo any washes which is not my usual. Products used in order of application. Tamiya Color (TC), Vallejo Model Color (VMC), AK Interactive (AKI):

Primer:
TC NATO Black

Hull and turret:
VMC US Dark Green
VMC US Dark Green + VMC Iraqi Sand (2:1) (drybrush)

Road wheel rubber rims, mud flaps:
AKI Black Primer

Tracks, machine guns:
AKI Black Pimer
VMC Basalt Grey (drybrush)

Tail lights:
VMC Red
VMC Flat Red

Finish:
AKI Matt Varnish




     Final thoughts: I am quite pleased with their final appearance, and have decided that this will be my standard style of paintwork for vehicles from here on out. I usually have to walk away from my work, and take a breather, before I can decide that I can "live" with my results. This go around, I suffered no delay, no second thoughts, just a warm and fuzzy. Maybe it's the subject matter, maybe it's the lack of an extravagant camouflage, or maybe I just didn't fumble up as I usually do? lol

Now to get those Cobras onto the bench...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Panthers Fresh From the Bench

     After a number of months of languishing on the workbench, I finally completed my "very" late war Panther Ausf G platoon. I wanted to add the infrared (IR) equipment as I intend on a larger force of Uhu half tracks and IR equipped infantry. The two color paint scheme is inspired from some plastic model box art of a pair of late war Panthers with accompanying infantry as they fight on the grounds of a manor house. I had to wait a bit for the right decals, which came from Dom's Decals in England. Dom's are great products that leave little to no silvering and are offered in a wide variety of options. I have a whole drawer full of his sets because each time I've ordered, I make sure to pick up more product codes than just for the project at hand. I am sure that before too long, I will have them all.



Products used in order of application. AK Interactive (AKI), Vallejo Model Color (VMC), Vallejo Panzer Aces (VPA):

Primer:
AKI Grey Surface Primer

Hull and turret:
AKI Dunkelgelb Base
AKI Olivgrün Base

Replacement road wheel:
VMC Middlestone

Road wheel rubber rims:
VMC Black+VMC Black Grey (1:1)

Tracks:
VMC Flat Brown+VMC Black (2:1)
VMC Gunmetal Grey (drybrush)

Spare Tracks:
VMC Flat Brown+VMC Black (2:1)
VMC Flat Brown (drybrush)

Machine gun, metal tools:
VMC Black+VMC Black Grey (2:1)
VMC Black+VMC Gunmetal Grey (1:1)
VMC Gunmetal Grey (drybrush)

Jacking block and wooden tool handles:
VPA Old Wood
VPA New Wood

Infrared Optical lenses:
VMC Black

Weathering and finish:
AKI Satin Varnish
AKI Enamel Wash Brown for Green Vehicles
VMC Middlestone + VMC White (5:1) (drybrush)
AKI Ultra Matte Varnish+VMC Matte Varnish (1:1)

The inspiration:


     Final thoughts: I am pleased with their final appearance. I liked doing a two-color scheme as not all German paint jobs were created equal. Not sure if anyone knows the difference, but in reality, IR equipped panthers were predominantly (if not all) painted in an ambush pattern. Either disc type, or with over sprayed spots. Does it really matter? The green and yellow scheme is plausible, as is the use of IR. Besides, if I ever decide to do something closer to reality, I am only a box of plastic Panthers away from another platoon. Maybe this one could fund the second? ;-)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Taji-Con

After searching through some photos with my daughter today, I stumbled across this long forgotten picture of the first ever Taji Con:


At left is a mutual buddy named Shawn and rolling the dice is yours truly. The man behind the camera is my best friend Steve from Sound Officers Call. It was taken in mid-2003 at Camp Taji, Iraq in a heavily damaged building that was our home for a good portion of the year. (Thinking of the cruise missile motor sticking out of the ground next door will forever make me chuckle!) The building was once a barracks for Iraqi Air Force pilots but was taken over by A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment. In later years, the building was bulldozed to the ground (quite likely due to it not being safe for occupancy!)

While at Historicon 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Moreno, the owner of the beautiful Cracker Line 10mm ACW products line. He talked about the South Florida Gamers mini convention that bears the name in honor of some local gamers who had the same idea as Steve, and I. I braggingly stated that while not connected, we were the grand daddy of them all, and here is the proof. :-)

What you see in action are Steve's home-brew Napoleonic rules; a series of movement and combat results tables that he quickly penned for the occasion. The M-16 magazines represent elevated hills, the bullets represent trees, the road is made from a sleeve of sewing threads, and the washcloth in the center created the boundaries of a lightly wooded area. We used clothes pins for the units with Steve handily drawing standard NATO symbols for their identification. While the battle was by no means based on any actual battle, it was generally representative of the era; infantry, and cavalry regiments in a meeting engagement.

In closing, and in Sound Officers Call style, I offer a few AAR notes. In the first game, I was to the left and Steve was to the right. I advanced my infantry in column up through light woods using the road for rapid advance. I sent my cavalry to probe the enemy right and to hopefully force his early deployment from column to line. Steve took the bait. He deployed his infantry, sending a portion of his force to engage my cavalry. The cavalry scored some damaging blows as they charged down the slopes of the looming ridge line. During this successful diversionary attack, my infantry began their own deployment into line. His infantry, degraded and split facing two directions, was finished off by my full-strength infantry formation. 

Napoleon [a la the movie "Waterloo"], while panicked over Ney's poorly timed and failing charge, bellowed out, "How can a man go forward with the cavalry without infantry support?" I hope that I pleased him as he watched over my shoulder as my guardian angel that day! ;-)

And speaking of my favorite film...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Type 95 Ha-Gō (kyūgo-shiki kei-sensha Ha-Gō)

     Growing up on the California coast, derelict infrastructure and ghosts footprints from the United States' participation in the Pacific theater during the Second World War were often still visible. Airfields, harboring and naval repair facilities, munitions depots, hospitals, and even coastal defense positions can be seen in use in varying states of use or abandonment. My Grandfather and two Great Uncles also served either in the Pacific or on the west coast, so for me, the Pacific campaign was always important.

     On April 8, Battlefront will begin a three month roll out of its take on the campaign in the Pacific. This is not an expansion on their 2013 release of 1939 Soviet-Japanese Border War supplement and miniatures, but rather a larger release covering 1942-1945. While I am not a dedicated gamer of their Flames of War rules system, I am a consistent purchaser of their gaming and printed products. Old Glory (Command Decision), as well as others such as Peter Pig (Range 8), each have long offered figures and vehicles for the pacific, but I personally prefer the work of Battlefront's sculptors. As you might guess, I plan on adding to my stock of kits and figures with a number of their upcoming products.

     Compared to the other major warring nations, Japan's ground forces enjoyed comparatively few technological advances or generational upgrades to vehicles and/or equipment. This makes the circa 1937, Type 95 Ha-Gō a viable table-top gaming piece for those border skirmishes of 1939, all the way to the planned invasion of the Japanese main island of  Kyūshū in 1945-46. I therefore decided to split up my box's contents into two different paint schemes: early (1939-1941) and late (1942-1945). Below are the completed late examples.





Products used in order of application. AK Interactive (AKI), Vallejo Model Color (VMC):

Primer:
AKI Grey Surface Primer

Camouflage:
VMC Green Brown
VMC Flat Brown
VMC Reflective Green

Road wheels:
VMC Black+VMC Black Grey (1:1)

Tracks:
VMC Black+VMC Black Grey (2:1)
VMC Black+Gunmetal Grey (1:1) (drybrush)

Machine gun:
VMC Black+VMC Black Grey (2:1)
VMC Black+VMC Gunmetal Grey (1:1)

Weathering and finish:
AKI Gloss Varnish
AKI Enamel Wash for NATO Camo Vehicles
VMC Green Brown (drybrush)
AKI Ultra Matte Varnish+AKI Matte Varnish (1:1)

     Final thoughts: There are a number of built models, restored original vehicles, artists drawings and tabled paint references available across the internet to aid the wargamer in painting Japanese vehicles. Printed materials are also available from Battlefront and Osprey Publishing. All this plus three pre-packaged paint sets (one unfortunately being enamels) and the wargamer shouldn't have to struggle at all in achieving quality results. My best advice is to always remain cautious when conducting any research, for all is not always as it seems. Artists apply impression when creating their works, paints such as Ammo of Mig and AK Interactive are lighter in shade, intended for heavy weathering before they reach their final appearance, and museums can be devastatingly inaccurate with their own paintwork. Through all of this overload of information and option, always do what makes you happiest. They are game pieces after all!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Panther-Fibel

     I can't help but admire many of the studio pieces as painted up by the hired painting staff over at Battlefront. While I am not a Flames of War player, I must give the company their well deserved kudos for producing high quality books, full of both great gaming ideas and equally sharp modelling examples. I therefore decided to have a go at mimicking one of their pictured examples. The prototype can be seen in the pages of Desperate Measures: Tank Battles for Eastern Germany, January-April 1945 [as well as one or two other volumes].

     One difference I went for was choosing dark grey over red oxide as the primer on the gun barrel. A number of web contributors across the modelling world have stated that the color was dark grey (or even possibly black), and not the commonly modeled red oxide. I also decided to refrain from applying any heavy chipping effects. Currently, I am having seconds thoughts, and will likely do so at a later date and time. A fresh blog post if/when it happens. Lastly, I also painted one of the rear stowage boxes in red oxide primer as their sheet metal structure was prone to damage and destruction during hard service.



Products used in order of application. AK Interactive (AKI), Vallejo Model Color (VMC), Vallejo Panzer Aces (VPA):

Primer:
AKI Grey Surface Primer

Hull and turret:
VMC Middlestone
VMC Middlestone+VMC White (approximately 4:1)

Gun barrel:
VMC Grey Green

Replacement road wheels and stowage box:
VMC Hull Red
VMC Cavalry Brown (drybrush)

Road wheel rubber rims:
VMC Black+VMC Black Grey (1:1)

Tracks:
VMC Flat Brown+VMC Black (2:1)

Machine gun, metal tools:
VMC Black+VMC Black Grey (2:1)
VMC Black+VMC Gunmetal Grey (1:1)
VMC Gunmetal Grey (drybrush)

Jacking block and wooden tool handles:
VPA Old Wood

Weathering and finish:
AKI Satin Varnish
AKI Enamel Wash for German Vehicles in Dark Yellow
AKI Enamel Wash for NATO Camo Vehicles (used on red oxide components only)
VMC Middlestone (drybrush)
AKI Ultra Matte Varnish+VMC Matte Varnish (1:1)

     In reference to my previous post of the StuG III Ausf. G platoon, I opted to lighten the vehicle base color by painting the panel centers with a lightened mix of Middlestone and White. It came out exactly as I had hoped for. The final color is bright and cleanly retains that stereotypical, dark yellow look. While this means that my combined vehicles won't maintain a cohesive look on a singular game table, I offer that this mixed condition is closer to reality than the unrealistic appeal of a painter's OCD.