It’s been quite a while since I bought any wargaming stuff off eBay. I ended the drought in the wee hours of this morning, by winning two boxes of Easy Assembly 1/72nd Panzer IV Tank (in 20mm / 1/72 scale) made by The Plastic Soldier Company Ltd.

Two boxes gives me six vehicles, but I really only need 5, for a Heavy Platoon of Panzer IV F1’s with the short barrel/L 24 75mm gun, like the vehicle you see in this colour photo here. Then I can have a platoon to support my infantry as they invade Russia.

I’ve only heard good things about The Plastic Soldier Company’s products, and of course I’ll let you all know how I go with them here.

Now, it’ll take some time to come from Europe, but not to worry, I’ve got plenty that I’m working on and finishing off at the moment. Another post very soon!

 

I’ve completed the major stages of assembly of UniModel’s 1/72 scale SU-85 (or, if you are Russian, 333 UM 1/72 Самоходная артиллерийская установка СУ-85):   . It’s a well-detailed kit, but I think there must be better ways to actually assemble the kit than the way they suggest on the instruction sheet. Since this is the first of a company of 5 that I’m assembling, I’ll assemble the other 4 in a different way. The reason for wanting to do it differently is that, having followed their instructions, part fit of the superstructure to the hull was poor – out came the nail files and there was a lot of filing in order to get part fit, let alone accurate part fit. Not good. I’m reminded of some of the grizzles with assembly I had with the Marder III (h)’s of theirs that I did 4-5 years ago. So, we’ll see how the rest of them go. This one isn’t too bad, but it certainly isn’t going to be the company commander’s vehicle.

Also, I completed the Pegasus Hobbies 1/72 scale Russian Log house – Two storey (Large Karilian region izba) that I won as part of a number of job lots on eBay three years back. Mine looks like this from the front:  and like this at the rear: . It’s to scale, as you can see here, with 1/72 troops (ESCI/Italeri, in this instance):   . It’s meant to be a two-storey building, but there is no “first floor” provided, so I made one with leftover sheet styrene:  so I can have snipers upstairs if I want:  and the first floor sections easily lift out and away for when the door finally gets broken in and close-quarters combat (CQC) occurs:  . As you can see, it is a very big building. Great for diorama or scale modellers, but I think that for wargaming, it occupies too much of the tabletap. I don’t mind a factory or somesuch taking up big slabs of the tabletop, but I’m not so sure a large farmhouse (Russian: изба́) should share that right.

So, now I have a good collection of buildings by Pegasus and MiniArt for the Russian side of the Eastern Front (Ostfront):  – that should be enough for a few years.

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My Dragon 251/10’s are coming along a bit more slowly at the moment, as you have to paint the interiors before you can fully assemble the bodies:  .

 

I’m selling off some unwanted kits:

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Hasegawa-1-72-Jagdpanzer-IV-L48-Early-lot-2-kits-/150647890492?pt=AU_Toys_Hobbies_Model_Kits&hash=item231350623c

and

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Hasegawa-1-72-Jagdpanzer-IV-L48-Late-single-kit-/150647891296?pt=AU_Toys_Hobbies_Model_Kits&hash=item2313506560

 

Many of the “other” things I’ve been working on the side for some time are now being completed. The Trumpeter StuG III C/D is a quite detailed yet simple kit to assemble. I was getting along with it so quickly that I stopped myself occasionally to make sure I wasn’t missing steps or pieces! The only real problem I had with it was the rubber tracks. They are one piece and have holes on one end and pins on the other, wich you press together and glue. The pins on my kit were perhaps two milimetres long and far too thin…they certainly weren’t going to stay in place under their own power while waiting for the glue to harden. I snipped them off, used cyanoacrylate and clothes pegs with bits of broken chopstick to get the tracks into position and stay in place.

I improvised a gun aiming telescope sticking out of the molded-open roof hatch by using a cut-off piece from a Hasegawa kit glued onto some leftover sprue. From more than a couple of feet distance it looks great.

It then received a Dunkelgrau paint job and rather than just Operation Barbarossa dust drybrushing, it got dust and then ink and paint to represent splashed-up puddles and the Autumn mud. Here it is:

I also had three other things on the go on the side:

You’ve seen the Horch resin kits before…I did four of them previously…I decided a couple of months back to do the remaining two on the side while waiting for all those StuG Gs to harden or dry. I tried a slightly different way of painting the reflection on the windscreen with these two. I like it better than what I did previously, but it’s still got a long way to go yet.

The log building is from Pegasus Hobbies, but I’m not sure which box or production/kit number it is, because I got it loose in an eBay job lot. It’s not the “Russian Farm Houses” (#7702) or “Russian Log House – Two Story (Large Karilian region izba)” because I’ve already got those. If you know, could you please let me know? They are great to paint as they have good, clean, well-detailed detail so you can really bring out highlights and shades.

I played a game of Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist on friday with Peter, but it wasn’t an Ostfront game. Photos but minimal report to come (as it wasn’t Ostfront).

I’m going to sidestep the StuG IIIs I’m working on (yet again!) to discuss an aspect of the hobby that I really enjoy – terrain.

In a collection of eBay purchases from over a year ago, a number of plastic tree armatures were included. I have avoided them whilst I have been building up the numbers of my AFVs and also trying to work out how best to use Hob-e-tac, which is needed to affix foliage to tree armatures. The last experiment was in October – you can catch up on it here. During Easter I found Iwas ready to continue my efforts with both of these aspects, Hob-e-tac and making trees.

The first problem to be dealt with was that the armatures have no bases. They end in thin plastic spikes, as they are meant to be simply stuck into polystyrene and left there…they are for model railroad dioramas, not for wargaming. Here’s what they look like:  . Instead,I need them stuck onto some sort of a small flat base so they stand by themselves and be boxed up for easy transportation.

I mentioned last year that I saw a great way to do this – Tim over at Tim’s Wargaming Stuff had a great demo about how he solved an almost identical problem, using GW ‘slotta’ bases. He took leftover ‘slotta’ bases, drilled holes in them, stuck the tree trunks through the holes  and then fixed everything in place with some glue. Simple and effective! The difference for me is that I’m working with 20mm or 25mm scale trees – Tim was working with 10mm scale trees. I needed some sort of bigger substitute for ‘slotta’ bases.

The answer was closer at hand than I thought. I collect unwanted film canisters from film development centres as they have a number of modelling applications:  . I decided to experiment using the two main types, which are Kodak and Fuji Film. I commenced by cutting holes through the grey lids of the black Kodak canisters:   . I then stuck the tree armature trunks into them to see how well they would stand.

I then did the same with the Fuji Film canister lids:  .

When compared side by side   the Fuji Film lids seemed to be the better choice. They had a smaller raised section which, when glued onto a sheet styrene base, would look less obtrusive or could be disguised more effectively. The Kodak lids would suffice but look a little more odd.

I had plenty of both and so gathered all the Fuji Film lids and prepared to cut and shape them all to the task.

As well as Truck Month and that shed, I did have some Sd Kfz 251/1s on the go. As of today, everything is completed and Dullcoted and getting stored in boxes whilst they await a chance to be played with in a game.

Time to show you photos of the lot. With flash and without.

Here’s the resin 8-rad Sd Kfz 231 that I got in those two big eBay wins last year:    . I think it’s 1/76 scale.

The Roden Opel Blitz – you’ll see I did include the perspex window panes:   .

Italeri’s 251/1 (I’ve had these sitting around for probably two and half years now – and I’m thinking a softskin troop carrier month may be in order sometime this year as I have some Dragon ones to do too):   .

Lastly, the Airfix engine shed. Both sheds have turned out a little differently (not withstanding the wooden end room being a different colour) but I like them both. Here it is:      .

Good to have all things off the tables and shelves and ready to be used.

The next things to be worked on are two Italeri StuG IIIGs and two Revell StuG IIIGs plus there will be new episodes of the continuing saga of Hob-e-tac, as I use it to make thirteen trees.

A bonus for Truck Month – I’ve just finished Dullcoting and protecting my 1/76 or smaller white metal Mercedes Kfz 72!  This vehicle was discussed back on this post from last year. Here’s a photo without my camera’s flash:  . I don’t know how often it’s going to be used…it has a huge carrying and towing capacity but it’s actual size makes it look puny when next to other vehicles that it should actually dwarf…maybe it’ll only be used as a very special vehicle or objective. We’ll see.

Some of the heavy cars I got from eBay are finished too. Here’s a Platoon HQ vehicle, camera flash on:  and now without the flash:  and here are the section vehicles, which I suspect are Steyr 1500’s…   .

The white striping on the windows is my attempt at replicating what my opponent Peter had done when he had a go at painting reflections on the windows of some Rumanian vehicles. Here’s his blog post where you can see what he did. I was trying to represent the white patch/stripe of glare you see when you look at a car’s windows. I think what Peter’s done is probably better than what I did.

Quick whip-round of things still being worked on – engine shed as it was yesterday:  and here are the 251/1s and the Opel Blitz (with completed vehicles for me to copy from):  .

Today the humidity was pretty high…it lessened after 3pm so I decided to Dullcote at 5pm. Humidity seems to be staying constant now so I can do some painting after dinner.

The eBay 1/76 scale Wespes rolled off the production line at Tankoberg yesterday. To try to simulate snow and ice stuck to the treads and lower hull areas, I dabbed on Skull White paint, applied a protective coat of Testors Dullcote matt varnish to seal and protect the entire vehicle, then finally dabbed on Citadel ‘Ardcoat where the snow & ice had been applied, so that it would appear as glossy and shiny. The glossiness hasn’t show up in the accompanying photos, but is visible when you see the vehicles at closer range: . You can also see two new thickets in the photos – one a very long one that is meant to represent a boundary hedge or, in a pinch, bocage – the other a standard patch of what is generally known in wargaming circles as ‘bad going’.

My winter whitewash/winter camouflage technique still needs work. I think it needs further experimentation as well as further surveying of what other wargamers do. Techniques used by professional modellers are useful but very involving – I’m looking for a personal happy medium of techniques.

*******

The second stage of doing the steam engine shed is to roughly paint the whole interior: . I’ve only used vertical brushstrokes for this. The small attached wooden section at the back needs to be redone, too.

 

I realised during a game of Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist last year (last year being the year ended last night, 2010 – Happy New Year 2011 to regular readers!) that when I deploy my beefy 120mm Mortar Platoon, I’m meant to have a Fire Control base accompanying it. I decided to get rid of some loose figures by making up the required base, plus use up some of those Italeri German motorcycles by making up bases of FAOs on motorbikes.

They were all finished yesterday – the 40 degree celsius heatwave we had here drying out the last paintwork extremely quickly. Here are some photos of all three bases together – front:  and now rear:  .

Close-ups of the Fire Control base – front:  and rear:  .

Motorcycle-riding FAOs – front:  and rear:  .

Glad to finish them…they’ve been sitting around taking up space and effort.

The figures are a mix – Italeri, Revell and Pegasus Hobbies.

The logs that the binocular-wielding FAOs are propping themselves against are worth mentioning. Regular readers would know that I choose real sticks & twigs from nature, paintstakingly saw them using a tiny sawblade and then use them unpainted in my bases and terrain. This time I decided that I couldn’t use twigs from nature as I didn’t have anything suitable in my hobby room and aren’t sure at the moment where to look for fresh supplies. Also, if I did find real twigs they were going to have to fit under the height of the raised leg of the FAO figure – even harder to ensure. I wondered if the two plastic logs supplied with the Hasegawa kit MT30 ( 31130 – GERMAN INFANTRY ATTACK GROUP) would suffice…

I dug them out of a spares box and found that the middle of the big log from that kit would be suitable! I cut the big log into two, filed its bottom so it would sit nicely on the bases and then added the rest of the features. Painting the log to make it look realistic was going to be a real challenge…wood that’s fallen is different in colour to living wood – so I used both a fresh wood base colour, then an aged wood greyish-brown and finally a drybrushing of plain grey. Then I glued some bright green flock onto one side to represent moss (you can’t see it very clearly in the photos above, unfortunately).

They turned out really well and look great in real life.

***

I’m over halfway done with those Matchbox 1/76 Wespes I won on Ebay last November, plus some railway buildings I’ve tinkered with over the months. The decals for the Wespes went on an hour ago and then it’s cammo time. Next come the final fiddly details, then weathering, Dullcoting and at last they’ll be ready for war.

Keepin’ on truckin’

November 16, 2010

I’ve been working on three Opel trucks:  – they are coming along pretty well, too. All are from ESCI or its partners/new owners: -Opel Ambulance by ESCI; -a standard Opel Blitz transport truck by ESCI-ERTL; and lastly – the standard Opel Blitz now done by Italeri.

I’m not going to do the Ambulance as an Ambulance, instead it will be a mobile HQ so I can cammo it up and it can be an objective in it’s own right in games. The other two I’m doing in early War paint schemes, Dark Grey.

ESCI’s Opel Blitzes are pretty simple when compared to Roden’s Opel Blitzes. Hence, I’ve added to these ESCI Blitzes…from out of the spares box I was able to fashion the width indicator poles which I’ve placed on the front mudguards of each truck. I found an excess in the moulding of the Military Wheels’ Gaz-AAs that I made some years back and through scalpel work and lots of glueing, made it into a wing mirror for the Ambulance. Extra sprue, trimmed with my scalpel, became the spotlights that I’ve added to the driver’s side exterior on each truck, mimicking the spotlight Roden provides.

The Roden kit overall is fiddly…that’s the tradeoff for the high detail. I like the ease of assembling these ESCI/Italeri kits, but they need the extra detail to really bring them to life and make them stand out.

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Paul from Plastic Warriors: 1/76 & 1/72 Plastic Soldiers and Armour has been very helpful with my white metal truck from EBay. He sent me this link to a US-based group of WWII re-enactors, the 716 Signals Kompanie. As well as great photos, the text explains that: “The Mercedes version of the (pre-war Kfz 72’s) truck used a much smaller front fender, longer running boards and mounted spare wheels on both sides of the hood.” That sounds like my truck…so, perhaps what I have is a white metal 1/76 scale Mercedes Kfz 72 with cargo tray?

That same link also helped me learn about the little triangle of plastic I added over the cab of the two plain Opel Blitzes you see in the first photo (which I did because that little triangle comes as a dedicated part of the Roden kit)…that little triangle “…over the windscreen is a trailer towing indicator.” So, there you go! If it’s raised, the truck is towing something (most likely for me, guns). If it’s lowered, it’s not towing.

Thanks again to Paul, too!