Friday, 24 January 2020

Jungle Boogie! - Building a Malaysian jungle.

Ok, I was going to make some witty reference to the Jungle Boogie lyrics, but thanks 'Kool and the Gang', it seems to be 'Get down' and 'Jungle Boogie' in various juxtapositions, interspersed with occasional noises.

I've been working away for a while on getting my terrain sorted for Jungle settings, primarily Malaya, but I suspect if I am not careful, at some point in the future, it could well be standing in for Vietnam (those Empress and Gringo Vietnam miniatures are very tempting), and the Pacific Islands, (if I ever add to my single squad of US Marines).

Lots of things have been put together, cheap purchases of aquarium matting and plants, plastic bamboo plants and palm trees, and a bunch of 3mm MDF. I've been watching the TooFatLardies build, and the scenery done by The Tactical Painter. 

So the last couple of days I finally started putting it all together. First step was to get a bunch of 3mm MDF sheets (cheap eBay purchase), and roughly draw out a bunch of random shapes, then get to work with an electric jigsaw. This was rough and ready.

There doesn't need to be any great accuracy, as I had to sand down the edges anyway, and that gave me a chance to deal with any dodgy cutting marks. I can't emphasise this strongly enough.. do this outside, wear old clothes and a facemask, the MDF dust is dangerous and incredibly fine and messy.

So the bases are cut and chamfered..  you've cleaned up several kilos of zombie sawdust...

The next step is to drill out the holes for pegs on which to stick the aquarium matting. I have two drills set up, one for the pegs, and one for holes for the palm trees. It's much easier than having to swap back and forward, or mucking about enlarging holes.

Some of the bases with the pegs inserted, and turned upside down to dry.

Quick and dirty - I have a pack of bamboo skewers, dip the end into white glue, twist into holes, then snip off with heavy duty wire cutters. By using the cutters with the cutting edge facing upwards, and the jaws flat against the surface I was able to get the pegs to a more or less consistent height.

One of my bamboo bases, showing what the mat foliage looks like pressed down onto the pegs.  

Stuff..   for adding to bases

Trimmed rocks form the aquarium plants

Aquarium mat, each one about 90+ individual tufts

All your bases..  S for secondary jungle

After an exciting night with gravel, a hot glue gun, paint and sand
Add trees

Added aquarium mat plants to the bamboo stubs.
I'm relatively pleased with progress, I have ideas about adding tree roots, (string dipped in paint), creeper (string dipped in green paint) - plus there's the 'Herb d' Provence' to add for the leaf litter. 

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Out of Control - and JOP

OK, this is getting silly, I now have 4 vehicles needing weathering, and another dozen of all kinds, awaiting airbrushing. Unfortunately for me, I need the extension cord for my airbrush, and that has been attached to the Christmas Tree lights, so I have been waiting patiently for the time when the Christmas Tree can be taken down. Today! All Christmas packed away.

So this week will be the great airbrushing. My Japanese infantry are all assembled, based and undercoated, and they will be getting airbrushed too. So hopefully this week I will have a big session and get things moving again.

Anyway, to make sure something got done while I couldn't airbrush, I have been working on the Brits for Malaya, and for the Japanese some Jump Off Points. Fairly pleased with how these turned out.

Rolled out Green stuff, spares from the bits box, boxes and drums from Anyscale Models, basil for ground cover, and Christmas Tree off-cuts for jungle plants.

The Christmas Tree we have is an artificial one, and this year, one of the little sub branch thingies dropped off, so I managed to scavenge that to create some greenery for the bases. I am pretty happy with the look of these. The partner, who is a Christmas tragic, is probably quite lucky the tree got put away before I realised the branches could be re-purposed.

Incidentally, one of the AFVs I built recently (today) was the Soviet IS-2 from Warlord Games, in plastic, and my goodness that's a big beast of a tank. Having being building mainly Early War stuff for a while, the size of the gun alone is a shock. But it was 50% off in the manager's special - so along with some plastic Fallschirmjäger, the Fallschirmjäger support pack and the plastic Chi Ha, it was too good an offer to pass up.

All purchased in 2019, as well as a Perry Miniatures 2lb gun that is yet to arrive, so I am still lead/plastic free in 2020!  I will need some green paint, some more basil though!

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

A New Hope

Or a New Year, but I just like the Star Wars reference. I managed to fit in a last minute splurge with Warlord's Bad Santa sale, and the local hobby shop had a 1/56 Soviet BA10 Armoured Car from Rubicon, so it would have been rude not to help them free up the shelf space.

Overall, this year has been pretty productive. I haven't managed to play as many games as I would like, and I have pretty much exclusively played Chain of Command, but I have got a fair amount of painting and terrain building stuff in.

I do think I should be better at not getting distracted by support options, specifically armour, as I just enjoy building and painting them. Looking at the painting queue, there are currently 11 AFV awaiting paint.

For projects, I finished (ha!) my Early War German & French forces, I completed my Soviets, and I am a good way in to the forces for Malaya.

Next steps - finish the Malaya forces (Japanese, and Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders). Then kick off the terrain for this campaign. I think I have all the terrain components I need, they just need to be assembled.

Then there's forces for the forthcoming 'Infamy, Infamy' from the Too Fat Lardies. There's Kickstarters on the way from War & Empire 15mm Dark Ages, plus the Flags of War Hanoverian forces for the 1745.

And the various platoons for Chain of Command, Italians, US, Fallschirmjager, US Airborne, British Airborne etc..

But first things first - my main priority is to repair the shed. Not much use painting all this stuff if it ends up under water...

So Happy Hogmanay, 'Lang may yir lum reek' and have a glorious 2020.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Off to Singapore - well, not really

Despite the intrusion of real life, such as job, family, medical issues (sigh!) I have been making fairly steady progress on the next major project, forces to fight the Malaya Campaign using Chain of Command.

I am choosing to build a generic Japanese infantry platoon, and a platoon from 2nd Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; of course, some support options plus, more intimidatingly, the terrain - jungle, roads, paddies, buildings, etc.. The two Chain of Command lists for the campaign are linked from the Too Fat Lardies blog. My only modifications will be to not rate the ASH as 'Elite' as this should be highly restricted, and while they were certainly a better jungle trained and hard-fighting unit, it would be difficult to justify Elite status.

For supplementary information and ideas for replicating the fighting in Malaya, I would highly recommend the Pint-Sized Campaign in the Lardies 2015 Christmas Special. It is focused on the Australian effort, but the background and content apply to all the forces fighting in Malaya.

I confess, I do feel somewhat guilty about the 28mm Italians from Empress, languishing in the shed, but each time I haul them out, I think about whole new sets of terrain, plus the vehicles and so on. I can comfort myself that I have finished an AB41 armoured car:

And I still haven't got my 3d printed M13/40 from a bloke at work..  etc. Ok, I confess, I'm a little intimidated by the quality of the sculpts and I want to really make them look good.

One recommendation from 'Setting the Scene 2' - a terrific modelling guide, and one of his guest painter Nick's, aka (Moiterei)  tips, was to use the Andreas colours Field Grey set as one of the base colours for Italian uniform, and so I tell myself I have deferred painting the figures till I can justify €18.5 for the colour set.

Enough excuses. Progress on the Malaya Campaign kit. So I have now assembled and undercoated some Warlord bargain vehicles, (Lanchester, Universal Carrier and Type 97 Chi-Ha), and I have a Vickers VI Light Tank (Blitzkrieg) that will do double duty as an India Pattern Light Tank, yet to be assembled. I still want to get a Type 95 Ha-Go, as these seem to have been a staple of the Japanese campaign, but in reality, I suspect I would need to get a couple of them. I am still looking for a good cheap source for these.

All my aquarium plants have arrived but I need to get a clear day with a few hours to do the MDF bases cutting, chamfering and cleaning up required...  so in the meantime I have been focusing n the infantry..

2 Batt, A&SH, after cutting and head swaps
These are the Perry figures, with Woodbine head swaps on a select few. Standard British platoon organisation of three squads each led by a corporal, with a Bren team and a rifle team, platoon HQ is 2nd Lieutenant, plus platoon sergeant, Boys AT rifle team and 2" mortar team.

'Goop' a mix of Mocha paint and Grout
Just add Goop!.  ok, so first layer of goop, sprinkled with grit (kitty litter), undercoated with car spray primer, and a second layer of goop on the bases.

And now it's on to assembling (literally!) dozens of plastic Warlord Games Japanese that I picked up in their sales. I ended up with a box and 5 sale sprues, giving me a total of 60 figures. A Japanese Platoon is 3 thirteen man squads, a knee mortar squad, plus platoon HQ, so a total of 54 men. I also picked up some TAG Japanese supports (MMG on tripod, flamethrower and sniper teams) during their recent sale.

Steady progress
These guys should be assembled today. I have glued them (using Tamiya Extra Thin Cement) to Perry bases from their Africa Corps and Desert Rats sets, as this gives a pretty sturdy bond, and then the Perry bases will go on to my standard 2p coins for weight.

I am still thinking about how best to do 'jungle' basing on figures, I suspect involving herbs, so if anyone has any bright ideas, pass them on in the comments section!


Sunday, 15 December 2019

Action in the Ukraine

So I finally managed to get out the Eastern Front toys for a game of Chain of Command at the club today.

Pretty simple scenario, with the huge encirclements of the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa, a Soviet platoon is trying to evict the German defenders who have captured a critical rail junction.

Funky dice trays, courtesy of a very cheap deal from Wayland Games.

Sleepy quiet, on the left Soviet scouts push forward

What's this - a KV1? 

Making short work of the wire, in the background a firefight between Soviet and German squads

The view from the Soviet end of things

Soviet Maxim guns plus another squad follow up.

The KV goes manhunting!

The other flank, and shots are exchanged

Oops..  Scratch one Pz IV
A good fun game, and looks like at least a few Soviets made it out of the pocket. In my lists the KV is a list six choice, which seems absurdly cheap for something virtually indestructible in period. I think I am going to have to staff up some BT fast tanks, and T26 light tanks, as there is nothing in the German 1941 lists that can touch the KV.

Steve's Force Morale hit 0 though surprisingly for us, leader casualties were quite light. I'm looking forward to another Eastern Front game, but I will need to work on more scenery. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Always More Toys

one of the traps of the Chain of Command rules is that you look at the available support options in a list, and think 'yeah, that would be a very cool vehicle' although there's actually pretty good odds for most, they will be used once, if at all.

But I'm a sucker for cool vehicles, especially when they are free, cheap secondhand, or available heavily discounted. So here's the latest batch to roll out of the painting shed.

Rubicon Sdkfz 250

Rubicon Sdkfz 251 

Italeri AB41 (1/48)

Resin PzIV unknown make - could not get this one to work.
I'm thinking I might drape some foliage over the PzIV. I just could not get this one to 'feel' right. The model itself isn't great, and I just couldn't get the paint to work for me. It's still a Late War Pz IV, but the quality of this and the Rubicon Panzer IV D/E I have to paint is light years apart. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Where am I?

So despite the fact it's going to require a whole new set of 28mm Terrain, and that I already have about 6 or more platoons waiting for paint, I couldn't resist something different.

I had already, almost by accident, picked up a few bits and pieces, such as a Type 97 Tank, some Woodbine Company heads from Gripping Beast, a Sarissa hut..  Then with the Black Friday sales, and Warlord offering discounts, it would almost have been rude not to..  So - a Lanchester, etc..

First steps
This shows the Lanchester before detailing. It's not a bad model. (I am wondering what junk to put in the back). Plus the HQ for the platoon, 2nd Lieutenant plus Sergeant, Boys AT Rifle and the 2" Mortar. 
Sergeant & Second Lieutenant

Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't great. These are Perry 'Desert Rats', with Woodbine heads. I wasn't sure how well the heads would fit, and in some of the pictures, such as the foreshortened one below, they do look slightly large. Looking at the side shots though, it's certainly well within the range you will see on wargames figures, even if slightly larger than the Perry originals.

I still have to add green-stuff sock flashes, as these seem to have continued to be worn, but overall I am pretty pleased with the conversions, and I am looking forward to getting some paint on these. (I confess, I am tempted to give the officer a cricket jumper..)

And of course, these are for a platoon from 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Malaya 1942, for the Fall of Singapore. Beware masses of incoming plastic aquarium plants to build jungle...