The instructions are straightforward enough:  . The gun should be able to be raised and lowered from horizontal. Hence why they advise not to glue the centre part.

There are two lower ridges that stop the gun being lowered too far. Fair enough, but on this kit, they are a problem. Here’s the ridge on one side of the ball mounting:  and here’s the other  – it’s that ridge immediately after the curve section, in the middle of each photo. When these two halves are joined together, you can see the ridges towards the bottom of the ball mounting:  – right there above my thumb. Oh, you can also see that the top part is misaligned! That’s been the same on all five kits. It needs trimming.

Now, the problem with those two ridges is that they prevent the gun bracket being glued onto that moving part – all the parts just can’t fit, nor do they permit any movement of the gun! So, the instructions are basically wrong in regards to intent at this stage. To get the gun to fit into place at all, let alone at a horizontal or other angle, those two ridges have to go

So, trim those ridges off before letting any glue get near this part of the kit – I simply removed them using a scalpel, like so:  ; now, the ball mounting halves (with the moving bit in the middle which you glue the gun and gun shield to) can actually be glued together. Now you’re getting somewhere:  – just remember that when the glue has properly set, you need to trim off that misaligned top part so it matches. You can glue the assembled ball mounting into place now:  and you need to use some extra glue because fit of the ball mounting into the hull is not great:  – why isn’t that ball mounting uniform at the rear???!!! You could putty that, but you might do better with a scalpel or by using some extra glue. i’m a wargamer, so, I have ignored it if the two halves looked OK.

The kit itself looks the part and has some great detail – but test-fittings sans glue really are necessary at some points, just to make sure you can actually get the kit to agree with its own assembly instructions.

 

My revised order of assembly has helped correct one set of part fit issues with the UniModels SU-85 (СУ-85) kits currently on the table, but I felt like I came close to problems with a different part of the model. This time, it was at the rear  of one of the five units and is visible for the left vehicle in this photo:  – the vehicle on the right is to show the better fit. A big gap between the superstructure and the hull proper. So, out came the Tamiya putty to fill the gaping gap:  – and there was shrinkage of putty, so I had to apply another coat too. I’ll scrape off the excess where possible, but some of those bolts/rivets are now lost under putty, so I’ll have to disguise all the putty and fixes with a very thick coat of mud – quite acceptable, given what Russian roads where like in Spring and Autumn.

Looking elsewhere on these kits, my revised assembly steps solved most of the previously-mentioned superstructure fit problems, except in this instance:  – so some scalpel and nailfile work was needed to get that glacis plate to slide smoothly into place.

***

Two piece mudguards that don’t have proper anchor points/fit grooves don’t help either:  and that can lead to me using glue as putty to try to lessen the gaps made by the mudguards not sitting flatly and not being in total alignment, as you can see here where superstructure meets mudguard:  . Hmmmm.

***

The 251/10’s are coming along well:  .

 

Winter is clawing at the windows nowadays – our second morning under 5 degrees Celsius two mornings ago – and so I’ve finished with making large terrain pieces until warmer weather returns.

You’ll recall that I was working on some more  “commercial-style” wargaming hills. Last weekend I was able to photograph them and move them inside, and clean up the table in the shed for more ‘house and garden’-type activities.

So, here are the two hills I made – one large and in two sections, the other much smaller (and it can go on the large one to make a two-level hill):     . Because these hills have flat tops, I’ll be able to put some based trees on them. It looks a little bit funny to only have beautifully sloping hills that have no trees on them…but if you want hills to be durable and easily stored with other hills in one box, then my opinion is that you can’t make hills with trees stuck on them.

I have three criticisms of my work: 1) I probably brushed off too much loose flock that was left behind after the glue dried. I could’ve left some on when I sprayed the hills with Scenic Cement to seal them. There are some patches where you can see the brown undercoat a little too easily. Oh well. 2) I touched these hills before the glue under the flock had even had a chance to harden,so one on of the two hill halves, you can just see a thumbprint. Oh well. 3) I used too much of the Heki green scatter material. Originally I said I’d use none, and really strive for a very “commercial”, modular appearance. Then as I was undercoating them I decided I’d better use some of the Heki scatter material to represent weeds, as I have done that one so many figure bases, other scenery pieces and some of the other hills. If I don’t, they’ll stand out from my other pieces too much. In practice, I applied too much. Oh well.

So, no big terrain items now for quite a while.

 

Now it’s time to seal the hills. If these were troops or vehicles, I’d be sealing them (to protect the paintwork) with Testors Dullcote. I seal hills with Woodland Scenics spray-on/brush-on Scenic Cement as it glues the flock from the top side, meaning that at the end of the process it’s glued from below and above and will only come off under physical duress.

I prepare the spraying area. In the past, I put newspaper on the floor and walls of a corner of a room and sprayed. Now I’m doing it in the garden shed. I get my cardboard box shield and it’s removable cardboard floor: and place newspaper on the removable floor to absorb any overspray or runoff: then put the fllor into place and place the hills in position: . I use a cheap garden sprayer/mister with 500ml reservoir as they are available in hardware shops and supermarkets – either I pour the Scenic Cement into the reservoir (usually when the Scenic Cement bottle level is low) or put the sprayer mechanism directly onto the Scenic Cement bottle (when the level is high, as is here -a brand-new, unopened bottle).Spray from the front, the sides and very lightly from the top: then take out the cardboard floor, rotate it 180 degrees, put it in place and spray from the front. Then leave the hills to dry (I always wait 24 hours). Be sure to carefully wash out your sprayer/mister, otherwise the glue will harden and interfere with the mechanism. I rinse it out and spray clean water through it twice. Even so, glue will still ruin it in time (over a few years of annual use, so hence the need to buy cheap sprayers/misters.

Next day, have a look at your finished products! . I’m very happy with how the SeeNiks Earth Blend flock turned out – it looks like this: . I think it looks fantastic, far better than the Woodland Scenics Earth Blend which contrasts too much with green flock. This SeeNiks flock also is a bit grittier…there are cut fibres and large flakes of sawdust in there, that make it look more like broken ground that’s dry than the “polished mud” appearance of Woodland Scenics’ product.

Your hills are now complete. Remove all the posterboard pins from underneath and store your hills or get a game on with them. Here are some photos of the hills with my Tiger Is:    . Just a quick check that the hills are taller than the tanks, thus completely blocking LOS when everyone’s at ground level : – they sure are.

 

I’ve already done 333 posts…one third of a thousand. I didn’t think back at the start that I would need so much time to complete enough German forces to have a good slog against Peter – well, I was wrong. At the rate I’m going, I’ll need another 300 posts at least…

Anyway, let’s keep making better hills!

Assemble all terrain ingredients you think will be useful: . I’ve got my Woodland Scenics Green Blend flock, my SeeNiks Earth Blend flock, some Woodland Scenics fine Talus, some Heki coarse flock and Selleys Aquadhere glue. No, none of these companies are sponsoring me.

Apply the glue completely and thickly: . A thick application of glue will fill up any small holes and crevices, leaving a smoother appearance.

If you’re going to apply talus, now’s the time, before applying any flock: . Remember, grass grows up,  around and sometimes nearly covers rocks…not the other way around (unless a volcano just went off).

If you need to apply any sort of coarse turf or small clumpy foliage, you are now at the appropriate stage to do so: – I use this strongly-coloured green coarse turf stuff from Heki to represent big-leafed weeds. Green Blend flock is fine, but it’s still a fairly uniform product. Break it up with some of this kind of stuff.

Thickly apply your flock: – you too can let a chance ray of sunlight into your garden shed if you want…this was by and large a grey morning, so all my other photos don’t feature it. Once applied, I manually pat the stuff down hard so I know that it’s gone into the glue. I pat the whole hill over and I pat it with some strength to the action. Then I apply more flock over the top of what’s there because inveitably you’ll see some glue visible somewhere after patting.

Now you can leave it for 24 hours(or longer if the humidity’s high) to dry.

Want to do hills where some bare soil is showing? OK, apply glue and then your Earth Blend flock: – I placed some Talus around its edge to show the effects of erosion. Remember, erosion usually only affects one side of a hill, so don’t go silly with your Earth Blend flock. I decided with this project to leave the Woodland Scenics Earth Blend out – I wanted to try the less uniform and slightly more gritty SeeNiks Earth Blend. It goes on OK and looks good at this stage.

I like to put some lush vgetation (thick weeds) on the opposite side of the hill, to show that the other side to the Earth Blend is sheltered from the wind: .

Then on goes the Green Blend flock, thickly applied, patted down and then reapplied where necessary: – you’ll see that I’ve even applied it almost covering the Earth Blend flock too. I don’t want the erosion to be too bare.

Now wait for it to dry.

***

Back inside the house, the next project is waiting to be started. It’s a pair of infantry guns: . I bought them over a year ago – it’s time to get these Caesar Miniatures sIG 33 guns built, painted, based and gaming.

I decided during last year that the hills I made back in 2009 don’t really cut the mustard when used in a game. I had collected some polystyrene foam used for house insulation a few years ago…it’s about 3 inches thick, allowing for quite tall hills – my other polstyrene is less than an inch thick which doesn’t allow for hills that completely block LOS. I had done the initial shaping of the foam some time ago. I refined the two hills I’m going to make this summer during last week, by doing finer cuts and thin shaves of the foam until I had realistic hill shapes.

I’m doing it all in the shed, not the Hobby Room. First thing to do is put down some cardboard to stop any drips/mess going onto the table underneath:  and then some newspaper on top of it:  . Here are the hills as plain foam shapes: – one has a flat summit, the other a natural/curved summit. I wanted a flat summit for one so I could put at least one of my based trees on it (to further block LOS, but also because hills often do have trees growing on them!).

Open and stir the paint, making sure you’ve got some water to rinse out the brush with:  . Begin painting with your base/earth colour:  – I’m using Haymes’ ‘Kayak Brown’ as my earth colour. Cover until you only have the bit left where you are holding it: – as my polystyrene foam was rescued from a rubbish skip, I’m turning them over and putting a light coat on the bottom to cover some of the dirt they got on them when shoved into the skip: . When you’ve done all the hills you have, then stop and let them dry: . I’ll do the remaining white when they are dry (probably early tomorrow morning, we’ve been having hot days and warm nights lately).

Begin to think about what flock, talus, underbrush etc. you are going to glue on when all this painting is finished. I like to do two coats on the exposed surface of the hill, so these won’t be ready for any glue tomorrow or the day after…

 

 

 

 

 

My colleagues Al over at 20th Century Wargames and Paul from Plastic Warriors have been talking about spares boxes, so I thought I’d add to the conversation by discussing mine. I have two ways of storing spares and leftovers…I have a spares box, where I store any leftover sprues that have useful parts on them, and I also have bits ‘n pieces boxes where I store all manner of tiny pieces that aren’t worth keeping a whole sprue for and have a definite purpose, such as pioneer tools or surplus headlights.

Here’s the obligatory photo: .

The spares box is in the top left-hand corner. I use an A4 photocopy paper box and put sprues in there. If I’ve butchered some sprues or I’m working on whole companies of vehicles, I’ll use plastic ziplock sandwich bags (middle of photo and bottom left) to store the sprues or bits of sprues. That way if I need some individual track links because I’ve used up all those on the supplied sprue, I go right to the appropriately marked sandwich bag (eg. Revell Panzer III) and there’s the right size parts for the right manufacturer.

The bits n’ pieces boxes (right side of photo) are fishing tackle boxes. In them I store pieces snipped off sprues like vehicle/pioneering tools, leftover machineguns, jerry cans, headlights…any useful single-piece parts. The long blue tackle box mostly holds vehicle stowage in the form of rolled up tarpaulins – I buy these stowage pieces at swap n’ sells where I can get them made in resin. Now, it is possible to make your own vehicle stowage…Paul from Plastic Warriors makes rolled/folded up tarpaulins out of spraypainted tinfoil. I tried what he did – it works reasonably well and is easy to do. But 4-6 rolled tarps in resin for $5? That’s pretty reasonable too.

So, that’s how I retain useful things whilst building and detailing my model kits.

 

Hello all,

My Dragon Models 1/72 scale Sd.Kfz 251/1 D’s are potentially one step away from being finished: .

When I started them, I thought that I might glue lichen on their sides to represent added foliage, as many German forces did to their vehicles in the last 2-3 years of the war. You can see a historical example of this ‘foliage as additional camouflage’ practice here. I’ve already done this to some of my vehicles, like my 234/3’s and my Hetzers.

Now I’m not sure I want to do this. The 234/3’s and the Hetzers aren’t meant to get so much game use compared to the 251/1’s. If they aren’t getting so much game use, I figure they can be a little more delicate and elaborate! Lichen on them is fine!

But I’m now not sure about adding lichen to these 251/1 D’s. These 251/1’s don’t have good vantage/attachment points to secure the lichen, so it’s possible that I could botch what I do. I don’t want to botch what has gone pretty well! The other 251’s I’ve done or are yet to do aren’t going to have lichen attached…plus it’s only an average of $10-15 per kit at swap-n-sells to get more if these ones do end up looking tatty after a couple of years. To topit all off, I’ve only been averaging 4 games a year lately…

Still, I’m thinking that they are fine as they are and that I don’t have to be so realistic all the time. Maybe I’m lazy and just want them off my table? Dunno.

So, readers, I’m turning this over to you. Do I follow through and add the lichen to them, or stop now?

This final experimental batch of trees made from armatures are done. Here they are, immediately after a good spraying with Dullcote to seal them: . Covering the bases with lots of glue to try to reduce the sharp and unnatural angles/contours of the film cannister lids did not quite work: but at least the coarse turf does soften those angles/contours a bit: . So, it seems to me that I’ve worked out the best techniques for preparing plastic tree armatures to become wargaming trees – simple PVA glue to affix lichen; a good spraying with watered-down PVA glue a couple of days later and then careful application of covering flock or turf is all that’s really required. Forget Hob-e-tac! Forget Clump Foliage! Trees made with those don’t survive regular handling and accidental knocking over. So, experiment and project complete.

***

I bought some more Heki apple trees yesterday. I already have 6, but on the table they make a small orchard and I wanted to have either a big orchard or two small ones. I have also decided to refurbish the trees I have with very warped bases, so I’m going to do them all these trees in one big batch:  . However, I have finally finished all the fiddly gluing and preparatory painting for my Panzer IIIs and Krupp Boxers, so they will be getting full priority from now on: .

Well, this time I think I’ve got things working correctly. I think this is the correct recipe for making trees using these armatures. The sprayed-on glue has really held the lichen in place on the armatures and toughened it so that it doesn’t give way when handled.

Last night I glued Coarse Turf onto the bases to represent the thicker grasses and weeds that occur underneath or close to trees. Here’s how the bases looked initially, with their two coats of Kayak Brown interior house paint on them: . I prepared all my ingredients: – an equal mix of light and dark green Coarse Turf; Selleys Aquadhere PVA glue; a plastic yoghurt tub with water in it for cleaning up. The PVA has been squirted into an upside-down red plastic juice bottle cap (I like using plastic bottle caps as reservoirs for glue & paint and also for holding water for preparing decals when there’s only one vehicle to decal) and I’m using a very poor quality brush to apply the glue.

The glue is thickly applied around where the cut-down film cannister lid meets the sheet styrene base (as I want to try to mask the unnatural angles there) becoming thinly applied at the edge of the base: . Then it’s time to pour on the Coarse Turf. I do this in two stages: first I pour on enough to provide a few milimetres’ depth of cover across as much of the base as I can, then I flatten it using the opposite end of the brush, or my finger, or a wooden ruler or whatever else I have at hand. By flattening it I’m ensuring some is stuck in the glue and the glue adheres. Then I pour a second coating on, again enough for a few milimetres’ depth and put the well-covered base down, finished…if there’s still any exposed glue, some of the second coating will adhere to it and in doing so it produces a contouring effect. I know much of the second coat won’t adhere, but at least complete coverage of the base is ensured. After putting it down, it looks like this: . Easy! Now it’s another minimum 24-hour wait for the glue to dry.