Löwe on the streets

August 25, 2009

The Sd. Kfz 250/3 (an ESCI kit re-released by Italeri) that I’d been working on is finished, as is a house that I’d bought a couple of years back from Battlefield Accessories. Here they are together: Lowe and Battlefield Accessories

The light green flock on the wall was to simulate moss growing on the northern side of the building…but it’s a little too light in colour, I think. Should be a bit darker. Oh well, you don’t know until you try.

This house is a Ruined Building from the Battlefield Accessories range. Resin kits, simple to assemble and customise. Fairly good detail – except the interior could have used more effort, like window frames and door frames, which it lacks – so the interior is all flat with no detail. Mine has painted up pretty well – I painted it to match the railway station I did some time ago (see much earlier posts on this blog about the railway station).

‘Löwe’ was done with my home-made Dark Grey paint and features my first attempt at making my own air-recognition flag. The flag has turned out OK and I learned a lot doing it. I’ll save how I made it for another blog post but I’m keen to try other methods, like using tissues heavily doused with PVA glue and then painted.

This 250/3 Schutzenpanzerwagen was then given a heavy coat of dust, as I decided that it would represent a vehicle from Operation Barbarossa…and many vehicles on that campaign got very heavily coated with dust while on the march.

Here’s a few more pics of it: Lowe 1 Lowe 2

Lowe 3 Lowe 4

You can see that I didn’t hesitate to make this a GrossDeutschland vehicle…how could I resist, when Italeri nicely provided me with a ‘stahlhelm’ decal on their decal sheet?!

I’ve commenced painting the ICM Sd. Kfz 222, and it will look similar to the above as I’ve decided to paint it as a vehicle from the same campaign.

NEWSFLASH!

Italeri are re-releasing the old ESCI Pz.Kpfw II F & Wespe kits!  I’d been slowly accumulating these by purchasing them at Swap & Sells for the princely sum of $5 AUD per box. I have 3 already, now I won’t have to wait too long to have a platoon of 5 ready.

While I’m mentioning the Panzer II, ACE from the Ukraine have their Pz.Kpfw II C ready – have a gander here. It’s available from some vendors.

~~~

I’m working on the recon game AFVs. Two Pumas are being painted while a number of other vehicles are now being assembled in TankoBerg.

The 250/3 is assembled – another Tankoberg production. Apart from those one-piece vinyl tracks, it was quick and straightforward (and twice those tracks have detached themselves from their glue and required more gluing and clamping…I sprayed the finished unit with more Chaos Black to hopefully seal and fix those tracks, as I’ve heard the same tactic used by another modeller (sparying one-piece tracks with spraycan products to fix/set them)). Even the overhead aerial arrangement turned out not to be so difficult or fiddly, holding and keeping a good shape.

My problem with it is that I then tried to position one of the three crew figures supplied in its cabin…and failed. He was far too big. I already had my suspicions when I looked at the bench for the radio operators in the cabin and decided it was a bit undersized, but now I’ve confirmed it. I’m not sure what scale the vehicle itself is – maybe 1/76? Maybe even a bit smaller? The crew figures are definitely 1/72.  A funker doing his job and using that bench would be sitting with his chin resting on his knees, it’s so low.The MG looks 1/72…perhaps it’s certain parts of the kit where, for simplicity, they made decisions that some features would be smaller? Thus,  the MG is 1/72 but the cabin is 1/80 or something?

This means I’m not going to put crew figures (there are three supplied with this Italeri kit) in it at all. Yay, I’ve got three figures as spares. Boo, I like open-top vehicles to have some crew figure/s involved – otherwise, on the wargames table, it looks like all these empty, crew-less vehicles are moving around under remote control.

One-piece vinyl tracks

July 21, 2009

…really are a pain. Italeri’s 250/3 kit is a direct re-release of the ESCI kit – they haven’t yet got rid of the one-piece vinyl tracks for this kit, as they have with a good number of other kits where you now get solid styrene “length and link” tracks. (Italeri, if you read this, could you please change over all your 1:72 kits to “length and link” tracks, please?)

I also did not follow the instructions for the kit, which recommend that you assemble the wheels and running gears and then glue the one-piece vinyl tracks on, before then glueing all this to the chassis of the vehicle. No, I went and assembled the wheels and running gears and glued them onto the chassis (and congratulated myself for the kit’s assembly moving forward so rapidly!) and then further compounded my error by glueing the mudguards on.

This meant that I wasgoing to have to try to slip, slide and fit the tracks on when everything else was already in place, which significantly reduces the space and room to try to achieve that.  Further, with the wheels and gears already attached to the chassis, getting the tracks in place requires more glue than normal and using lots of broken-up matchsticks and broken-up bamboo satay skewers to push, prop and hold everything into place – which is fiddly and often requires many attempts (plus foul language) until success. If I had instead assembled the wheels and running gears and then glued on the tracks as per the instructions, I could have much more easily and simply clamped the vinyl tracks in place using bulldog clips or clothes pegs – thus saving time, breath and glue.

The kit looks nice, so far. Another blog entry very soon – I have a dispute with the instructions to discuss.

Ends of the roads

February 10, 2009

The roads are good to go…or be driven on…most importantly, ready for gaming. The colours have come up relatively well and using ‘Ardcoat for water or liquid effects has been suitable.

Here’s a first view, of the roads in action:

completed-road-1

…and stupidly, I chose to use two vehicles without any mud on them! The schwimmwagen is far too clean (it was painted to represent having just come out of a water crossing) and the Sd. Kfz 11 was painted up with a heavy dust coat, as if it was mid-Summer! Oh well.

This next photo was to try to show the sparingly-used ‘Ardcoat to represent water and differentiate it from mud, which was such a feature of roads on the Eastern Front:

completed-road-2

I mentioned that I had used Kayak Brown, then a mix of Kayak Brown with Vermin Brown, plain Kayak Brown and then ‘Ardcoat for water. This last shot is to show a section of muddy road without any ‘Ardcoat, so you can get an idea of the differences in colour.

completed-road-3

The ‘Ardcoat was a cause for much nervous nail-biting on Thursday , Friday and Saturday. The ‘Ardcoat was not the newest – I think I had it for two years and what’s more, it was kept in a room that can get over 50 degrees centigrade on a hot day. It was applied well shaken, but towards the end of the pot, was getting stickier and toffee-like,  unlike its normal watery consistency.

The nail-biting commenced when I realised that the thickly-applied sections of ‘Ardcoat (where it was perhaps 2-3mm thick, filling puddles and pot holes) was still a bit milky in colour a good 24 hours after application. I went and bought more ‘Ardcoat and Chestnut Ink in case I had to re-do all of it, but decided to give it more time to cure/dry. 48 more hours (and Melbourne’s hottest day on record, 46.2 degrees) did the job – all the milkiness disappeared and I was left with crystal clear gloss.

So, even with older ‘Ardcoat that goes on a bit milky or cloudy, just give it plenty of curing/drying time – like the better part of a week.

On a related note, we’ve had the worst bushfires ever as a result of the incredible heatwave. Please give some money to:

Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009

Inspecting the troops

August 13, 2008

In an earlier post, I expressed my interest in a new 1/72 scale set by Caeser Miniatures, WW2 German Panzergrenadiers set 1. Clicking on the link shows you the box art as well as a photo of the poses included.

I ordered two boxes of these figures and have had a good look at them since they have arrived. Here are my thoughts about them, both as miniatures in general and as miniatures for wargaming.

This set of figures is usable and workable with fairly good sculpting. I have very little exposure to their other figures, apart from what I’ve seen and read over at Plastic Soldier Review. I have bought and used Caesar’s now-discontinued WW2 German Infantry in Winter Gear, and consider that a superior set to this.

There are three things that I feel could have been re-done with this set. Firstly, the rifles in this kit are thin. Very thin. I found a number of them were bent, probably incurred during transit. They may be a little more realistic in dimensions to those from the Winter Gear set, but I think in the moulding something has been lost…at this scale, I think figures need slight exaggeration so that what they represent is clearly grasped, especially from a distance. I think that I’ll find painting these rifles much harder than those carried by the Winter Gear set!

Secondly, some of the poses have extra flashing/moulding that cannot be removed, and was not present in the Winter Gear set. The soldier standing and firing his MP-40 from the shoulder has extra moulding approximately 2mm thick between his gun and his arm – in the “crook” of his arm. The soldier stalking forward with his MP-40 has the same excess plastic. A shame, because this wasn’t present in the Winter Gear set. The space was empty between their arm and their weapon, so you could slide a toothpick or paintbrush between them. With this set, you’ve got this extra stuff just sitting there, looking a bit unnatural. This extra plastic is going to have to be somehow “hidden” by painting – perhaps painting the excess plastic with black…. This may be a moulding limitation, but I’m not sure why it would be if they were able to avoid this in a previous set.

Thirdly, everyone is wearing the same type of boots – and they seem to be mid-thigh boots. I thought that by that time (1943-1945) they were wearing ankle-high boots with gaiters?

Let me discuss the poses – you can see these in the photo over at Caeser Miniatures’ Australian website (use the first link in this article). There are 12 of them. Of the twelve, only 3 are firing a weapon. Two are throwing grenades. Discount one who is an Officer commanding his troops – that leaves 6 whom are doing something else.

The chap kneeling and waiting with his MP-40 (maybe in ambush?) is for me the highlight figure of the whole set. It’s a very natural pose and very useful for wargaming.
The chap mentioned earlier, stalking forward with his MP-40, is almost the same pose from a figure in the Winter Gear set. Well done, but not too original…some sort of variation in stance – perhaps running rather than walking but still with his gun in a similar position would have been nicer? Pressing forward the advantage?
The chap kneeling and waiting with his rifle is well done – another natural pose and another useful one for wargaming, rather than someone running forward with a rifle.
The officer is holding an MP-40, wearing a helmet and pointing forward and upward – in a general sort of direction. Perhaps he’s bellowing out someone about which direction the enemy is in? I think this sort of pose is much more useful than the older / more traditional one where the officer is looking through his binoculars, or just holding a pistol.
There are two grenade-throwing poses. One is carrying his rifle in his other hand and is using it as a counterweight as he throws his grenade. This is a pose that we’ve seen before, but it’s nicely done here. The other looks as if he has just pulled the primer – he hasn’t brought his throwing arm back yet and his other hand is empty. Of the 3 copies of this pose in one box, the grenade warheads had broken off in transit – a shame. Why a shame? Because the grenades here are certainly more to scale than in the Winter Gear set which I felt were over-exaggerated. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far to the other side and now they are too flimsy?
There are two firing their rifles – one standing, one kneeling. While they look fine, they don’t look too worried about any return fire – perhaps they are at a firing range? They look too casual. They aren’t even leaning forward on their left foot as they shoot, which would provide more balance – the ESCI/Italeri German Infantry figure is better and more realistic in that regard.

The chap firing his MP-40 from the shoulder (mentioned earlier) IS leaning forward on his front foot – which makes me wonder which pose was done first and why was consistency forgotten?
There is a chap holding an MP-40, slightly crouching (or at least he’s partially bent his knees) and looking to the side, as if he’s listening to instructions and then will race off to carry them out. Another good, natural pose – but not useful enough to warrant 4 of them, in my opinion. Still, better than just standing and holding is MP-40 in a forgettable or non-combat way.
The second-last pose to mention is a chap holding his rifle diagonally across his chest while his attention is focussed on something else. I recall this sort of pose, but rendered as if the troops held their rifles like that while they ran or jogged forward into battle. (Maybe they were US Infantry by Airfix? Russian Infantry by Airfix?) I think that for a set like this, where the troops were fighting desperately, that he could have been doing something different.
The last chap is holding his rifle horizontally across his waist while he looks to the left. Natural, and more useful than the previous pose.

All seem to have the exact same kit (breadbag, entrenching tool etc.) and overall the sculpting is of good quality.

Something that struck me about this set after thirty minutes of examining them is that no-one is carrying or using: MG-34/42s, Panzerfausts, flamethrowers, radios or anything else. Perhaps they will surface in Panzergrenadiers Set 2? They are sorely needed for this set of troops and time-period…

Kit management

July 20, 2008

I finally finished applying the Doug Chaltry technique to the tracks of the Opel Maultiers as well as a SdKfz 11 halftrack that I got when I bought ESCI’s “Don: the long retreat” 1/72 scale diorama set. I bought that diorama set new from a little shop I know. I bought it in order to get the KV-1 and Russian Infantry out of it, as back then I was going to be playing Russians. Instead, I’ve ended up playing Germans, so I’ve ended up using everything out of that diorama set, as it also held German Infantry, the SDKfz 11 and an Opel Blitz (which you’ve already seen and read about earlier).

I’ve also being painting up a Hasegawa Schwimmwagen I picked up last month at that swap-n-sell I went to. It’s a fun little vehicle and I even successfully kitbashed an extra rest/brace for the LMG, after ruining the first brace, successfully improvising a replacement, then making a second brace. It’s been well coated with Desert Yellow – today I was beginning the detail, being the seat covers, tyres, LMG and canvas canopy. I was originally going to do the interior with Kommando Khaki – many German AFVs had light buff tan interiors, according to Panzer Colours 1 by Culver & Murphy (Squadron/Signal pubs.), but this is not really an AFV, so I just made it Desert Yellow as per the exterior.

I’m beginning to digress – with those Maultier tracks finished, I was able to begin working on the rest of the vehicles, touching up the exterior Desert Yellow including fine detail spots, then fix the Bestial Brown job on the tray. The tarpaulins on the back got Catachan Green, but will have a patchy Desert Yellow coat applied, to represent the spraypainting of tarpaulins.

All this piecework means that I have lots of kits on the go, as I can only do a little work on each, then leave them for periods to dry properly. With it being winter here, drying periods are longer. So, I’ve decided to have lots of things on the go, rather than just working in five minute spurts two or three times a day, which I feel wastes the rest of my leisure time. Thus, today I opened up four of those Revell Tiger I Ausf. E’s and washed the sprues, to prepare them for undercoating and assembly. I’ve also being working on some more scenery. I was given a couple of Fujimi 1/76 kits for my recent birthday by the mighty President of Nunawading Wargames Association. I can use some more houses – I’d love to do a skirmish between infantry companies in a sizeable village, with lots of house-to-house combat…so I’ve been having to mix up some brick colours to match the ruins from the tragic town of Oradour, which I’m using as my reference point.

So, I’ve got a Schwimmwagen, Schwimmwagen driver, 3-ton SdKfz 11 halftrack, three Opel Maultiers, two houses all on the go, with four washed Tiger sprues drying out. Time management? Sort of. I prefer “kit management”.

All assembly of the other two Maultiers ended on Saturday night, so before I began painting them on Sunday, I took some photos of them:

As I’ve said earlier, although I initially found Roden kits to be difficult because they were highly detailed, I do find the finished product to be excellent. They take paint well and look very effective. The Italeri product is quicker to assemble, but when placed side by side with the Roden, looks more simplistic. The Italeri kit is cheaper and certainly much more easily purchased – remember, I ordered the Roden kits from the Ukraine! Even this is changing, though – as hobby shop proprietors are assembling these Eastern European kits for themselves and seeing the quality, they are increasingly stocking them. I’m becoming increasingly attuned to detail, so I would buy more more of the Roden without hesitation.

In the close-up profile photos, you should be able to clearly see that the tracks are too short to fit the kit. This is my only gripe, and I mentioned it in the previous post. Another centimeter would have been fine – another two centimeters would have allowed for good track sag. The tracks are good quality vinly one-piece items – they didn’t have the anchoring pins on them to join them into loops like the Airfix, Matchbox or ESCI kits do, so trimming off some leftover was not going to stop a track being made into a proper loop. Trimmed pieces could be used in a diorama or for a kitbash…

The Opel Maultier was developed by the SS and was so effective in the mud and then snow on the harsh Eastern Front that there was, in time, a good number of them. With all that snow and ice in mind, I’ve decided to paint them with a simple Dark Yellow coat and then give them some poorly-applied Winter whitewashing, so they don’t stand out too much and make themselves inviting targets. The technique I employed for the plaster inside the railway station will be given another try. Whitewash was often slopped on with whatever came to hand, so it should be lumpy and uneven. Applying lumpy, semi-dried paint off an overloaded cheap brush should model this perfectly.

Not an ACE effort

May 6, 2008

Been a while between drinks – and right now, a Cascade Pale Ale is travelling downwards.

The ACE Models PaK-38 anti-tank gun is completed. Finally. Thank goodness. Becuase I did not enjoy any step of it’s construction. Parts where there was no pin to connect one part to another; an uneven finish (the struts don’t lie flat, so I’ll have to file down one wheel so the darn thing sits flat) and the requirement for thin wire, not included in the box, all made me glad to be finished this one, and only have two more to do.

Come Hell or high water, I’ll sell those ACE PaK-40’s and buy the Italeri ones. Oh, they may not be as detailed as the ACE one, but give a stuff! The detail DID NOT really add much to this kit – in fact, I think at 1/72, some detail should be sacrificed in order to have a kit that assembles well. I certainly don’t feel that this one really did.

Now I’ll have to paint up some crew while assembling the other two. No worries – I’ve got a whole load of MG-42 medium machinegun crews to do. The PaK gunners can join their queue.

Next AFV project? I’m due for one, after these PaKs. I’ll jump in the deep end – Tigers. Oh yeah.

By the by, I finished painting the ESCI Opel Blitz. Very quick and straightforward to assemble, took paint well, and now it sits next to the Roden one. Sadly, I now prefer the Roden! The extra detail there (wing mirrors etc.) give it a little extra life…make it look real whereas the ESCI looks like a Hot Wheels imitation.

While I wait for Tigers, I’m going to do the Roden Opel Blitz Maultiers. 3 of ’em. Winter camo pattern, here we come!

The Blitz is over

April 23, 2008

Last night, all glueing and assembly of the ESCI Opel Blitz was completed. I compared it to the Roden that I finished a few months ago. The ESCI was very easy to assemble and had good detail, but it lacked the extras that the Roden had – such as the wing mirrors; rests for the shovel and pick; no cab-mounted spotlight.

I wondered if I should have done it as an open-top – ie., that I hadn’t glued the tarpaulin over the tray. Too late now.

I wonder if the Opel Blitz re-released by Italeri has had those little bits of nice extra detail included? Maybe sometime in the future I’ll need a few more trucks. ..

I also have had a couple of nights working on the ESCI Hanomag. Plenty of good detail but still fast and straightforward to assemble. It is definitely being done without it’s tarpaulin – after all, the crew are all in shorts and short sleeves, so it makes sense. I’m tempted to do a mid 1943 camoflage scheme – stripes of Dark Yellow over the traditional Dark Grey. I’m not intending to have lots of Hanomags, so this one can afford to be a little more “unique” and time-restricted, since they will hardly ever be used in play.