Finishing touches

Finishing touches

A long story is about to come to an end. During the next few days and weeks I hope to finish my US-Army for Team Yankee. Most of the work (Mainly NATO-camouflage pattern, that is!) was already done during the last summer holidays. The next step is painting some details, shading, doing some highlights and varnishing.

A desk full of tanks.

The list of the models to be treated:

  • 2 M151 MUTT jeeps
  • 5 M35 trucks
  • 6 HUMVEES (Done!)
  • 4 LAV-25 (Done!)
  • 1 LAV-AT (Done!)
  • 2 M901 ITV (Done!)
  • 2 M163 Vulcan (Done!)
  • 4 M109 Paladin (Done!)
  • 1 M1 Abrams (Done!)

All in all that is 27 vehicles. Some more models are in a more advanced stage and will hopefully only need some varnish:

  • 4 M113 APC (Done!)
  • 2 M577 (Done!)
  • 3 M2 Bradley (Done!)

With this paint job accomplished one of my major hobby projects will be finished. Well, besides of some figures for drivers then…

Wargamer or Model maker?

Wargamer or Model maker?

2019 marked my return to scale model building. Though I built several Revell, Trumpeter and other kits in recent years, it was always with wargaming on my mind, usually tanks in 20mm scale for Coldwar gaming.

In 2017 I met an experienced scale modeller whom I showed some of my wargaming stuff and he asked me to take part in a scale modelling exhibition in our vicinity (Maple Leaf, Brühl) to present some of my minis and models. On the one hand, I didn’t feel well with the idea. Scale modelling and building for wargames are truly two different disciplines. While wargamers usually want to put up a big army quickly, commited scale modellers put much effort into details („No, no, these oil stains are too far away from the exhaust pipe!“) On the other hand, I couldn’t get the idea off my mind.
The release of MiG Alley!, the expansion for Warlord GamesBlood Red Skies last year, put a new light on this.

F-86 Sabre vs. MiG 15. The iconic jet fighter duel during the Korean War.

This was my plan: Bring some tabletop wargaming to a scale model exhibition and invite people to play MiG Alley! there. At the same time I wanted to present a MiG-15 and F-86 in scale.

MiG Alley! contains two metal MiG-15s and F-86s each. Scale is 1/200th.

But time told me another story and I just couldn’t finish my projects. Anyway, as I was told, the interest in wargames at scale modelling events is usually rather low. So I presented an Airfix MiG-15 in 1/72th there and that was it. Next time I also might have finished the F-86. ;-(

Airfix 1/72 MiG-15 with one of its 1/200 counterpart.

When I was a kid I built a lot of scale models but never put much effort into painting them. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun with the hobby and some of the old models still exist… back in the darkness of some dusty cupboards. And that’s the problem with scale models: After building you can do nothing with them, except displaying. Ok, one or two of them went boom with a cracker… but those were the days. I guess this is why scale modelling is rather unpopular among young people nowadays. In wargaming displaying gets a meaning. The true fun starts with playing and testing your models against opponents. As for me, circumstamces brought me back to scale modelling and I have plans for the future.

Side mission…

Side mission…

The last few weeks I managed to built and paint the scenery items from the Warhammer 40.000 Kill Team Arena box. Not a very exciting project but it’s nice to see some things getting done quickly.

The whole set plus two boxes on the left.

The whole set consists of 8 Promethium/oil barrels, 2 plasma barrels, 12 big and 8 smaller boxes, 2 industrial pipes and 10 doors. Two additional boxes seen in the picture are from the Sector Fronteris box.
Instead of the colourful schemes shown in the Arena rulebook, I used rather dull and dirty colours which, to my mind, fit the 40k-atmosphere much more. This way, I hope, they will also fit with other games like Special Ops or Zona Alfa without looking completely out of place.

Barrels and boxes to take cover behind.

The main aim was to get things done quickly. The industrial tubes got a basecoat of Army Painter Platemail spray followed by Army Painter Quickshade Strong tone… something that I didn’t use in years.

More cover.

The doors were basecoated with Army Painter German Grey spray, followed by Army Painter Quickshade Soft tone. First I wanted to finish at this point but I added some details for contrast.

Watch out what’s behind, Phil!

Of course the doors are crying for even more details like blood smears or bullet holes on them but I keep that for a later date.
Though not a demanding paintjob, these pieces will add lots of depth and detail to a battleboard. For now I call this side project finished as there are too many other things in the making.

Broken promise… for the Greater Good

Broken promise… for the Greater Good

Some years ago I promised myself not to paint any more miniatures for other people. Now this promise was broken. The reason I promised this anyway was that it took me too much time to paint other people’s stuff while my own projects accumulated on the pile of shame. Nevertheless, now I painted these XV25s for a friend of mine. So, why did I do this:

  1. He is one of my best friends and it’s for his birthday.
  2. It gave me the opportunity to try out GW’s new Contrast paints.
  3. I hope I can convince my mate that it is so easy to paint Vior’la Taus with Contrast paints that he starts to paint them for Kill Team himself. (Canny little ba…d, I am!)

I don’t really know what to think about the result. On the one hand it’s very easy to do in a short amount of time on the other hand the standard method produces much better results. Maybe it’s better not to look at individual figures but to imagine them as a whole unit on table top. For now it’s ok and maybe I will add some details and highlights later. Another ‚first‘ is the bases. Here I used one of the „Acrylic muds“ from MIG. The result is really good but I don’t know why it should be any better than the one’s from Vallejo or GW.

Nice story about how I got hand on these figures. At the end of last year I took part in my first scale modelling exhibition as a participant (Maple Leaf Bühl, Baden-Württemberg) where I met a Canadian guy who also was in 40k. There he sold some of his stuff along with the XV25s in a battered box but everything on sprue… for 10€. Happy with the deal I took it as a later present for my friend. Now  I decided to paint them up as I already had all the necessary paints on my shelf.

 

Jenner JR7-D finished

Jenner JR7-D finished

The Jenner always reminded me of a turtle on legs. That’s probably why it was always somehow „green“ to me. The colour scheme is similar to the one I already used on dozens of Dark Angels SpaceMarines. So painting went fairly easy.

On the Workbench: BattleTech and Zombicide

On the Workbench: BattleTech and Zombicide

It’s my plan for the next few days to finish this somehow weird mix of minis:

A Vindicator and a very old Jenner. Zombivor and Survivor Doug.

All painting patterns are going to be fairly simple so I hope this project will not need much time. The Mechs‘ bases are already prepared with white pumice and some stones. The bases were 3D-printed with grey PLA filament. The Jenner is a 30 year old model which comes from a sealed box. Despite of this, the model looks fairly oxidized and I wonder how the colour will look like.

Leopard Dropship – 3D printed

Leopard Dropship – 3D printed

So, this was a try to 3D-print a Leopard dropship for BattleTech. It was printed in one session and to save time I changed the settings to a lower resolution than recommended. Still, printing took more than twelve hours but it turned out resolution was much too low.

The Leopard can carry up to four Mechs into Battle.

Additionally, the bright blue colour of the filament does not really fit the topic and gives it a rather cheap toyish look. However, I still think, with some paint on it, it will still do the job as a scenic craft that came down just too hard in the midst of battle and lost a fin in the process.

The Leopard dropship as shown in Technical Readout 3025.

Again, thingiverse was the treasure chest where I found this 3D-model. Models for Orion and Overlord can also be found there but I’m not so sure if I will give it a try.

Airfix Battles – The Introductory Wargame

Airfix Battles – The Introductory Wargame

Airfix? Wargame? Maybe playing a wargame with your old plastic figures and tanks from old childhood memories? That was my first thought when I read about Airfix Battles for the first time. Well, this is not exactly it but it comes close enough.

 

First of all, Airfix Battles is not really Airfix but Modiphius, probably better known for roleplaying games. Maybe the producers were just clever to use the Airfix logo on their game to get more attention. (It worked!) Otherwise, Airfix Battles could be just another wargame which would work quite well without the logo. But as the author, Chris Birch, once said in an interview, he also had thoughts about childhood memories when he created the game.

For several decades the brand Airfix was a synonym for the hobby of scale modelling. I think in most boys‘ rooms there were Airfix-planes, -ships, -tanks or -figures. But during the 80s their success declined as scale modelling became less popular. Only in recent years, Airfix was sold to another company, the brand is more on the go. Maybe this a reason why they let Modiphius use their logo on their Introductory Wargame.

One of two double-sided maps in the box.

Airfix Battles is a simple to learn wargame which can either be played with the cardboard counters from the box or with plastic soldiers and tanks from any company. Of course Airfix figures in 1/72 scale (20mm) are recommended but I made another choice, which I will explain later. The game includes two 59,0 x 41,5 cm two-sided poster-maps on thick paper as well as buildings and obstacles on cardboard counters. All information about units are printed on so-called Force Cards, which go to the players‘ hand. This way stats and special abilities don’t have to be kept in mind. Preparation for a typical game takes only a few minutes time.

A complete game set-up. The US infantry has to hold the house.

The rules are easy to learn with a scenario-based tutorial system. Ideal if you want to play with kids (As long as they know enough English!) or people who don’t have much experience with wargames. But also experienced wargamers will have a lot of fun with Airfix Battles. However, some limits of the gameplay will become obvious after a while if you are used to more complex games. A lot of reviews are already around on the net (e.g. boardgamegeek.com). No need to repeat that but here are two aspects of the game I would like to single out.

 

 

Command Cards

This is not a new idea in a game but adds a lot to the fun of Airfix Battles. Usually a player knows the opponent’s possible moves and by counting and calculating can plan his own moves. Command Cards bring the element of surprise. Each player has a certain number of these cards which grant Special Orders, which are unknown to your opponent. This brings more tactical options, for example, some cards give the option to move further or move AND shoot, what is usually not allowed. Some cards work as Interupts and can be used any time during your opponent’s move. This way the usual ‚I-go-you-go‘-conecpt is broken up. But of course, that means, luck and coincidence play an even greater part in the game.

Valour Counter

The Valour Counter is only a small detail in the game but the idea is genius! Only one player can own the Valour Counter at a time. If you have it, you can decide to re-roll a roll of any number of dice. After that the counter goes to your opponent, who has this option now. The second roll has to be accepted. In our games the Valour Counter already contributed to a lot of fun. When bad luck strikes again there is at least a second chance.

Figures and models

Airfix Battles is recommended to be played with the cheap and easy to get figures from Airfix, Revell or similar companies. Using figures adds a lot of fun and depth to the game. However, I felt 1/72 (20mm) is too big a scale for the maps. The houses look too small in contrast to figures, tanks would use up more than a single square on the map. As a cosequence I decided for 1/100 scale (15mm) models. A nice side effect: When storing the game components, they use much less space.
For infantry I use figures from The Plastic Soldier Company, which offers a wide array of choices for a reasonable price. For tanks and vehicles Zvezda offers very nice models in 1/100 scale for their own World War II wargame. These are cheap, easy and fast to build and do not necessarily have to be painted. The choice of models in this range is limited but it is growing and if still not available, models can still be purchased from The Plastic Soldier Company or Flames of War.

 

Game components, models and figures in a plastic box.

New Material

Airfix Battles is open for a lot of expansions which will hopefully come. Additional Force and Command Cards are available from Modiphius and new material was published in Modiphia, Modiphius‚ new free house-magazine. The first two editions offered new scenarios and cards for home-printing. Modiphia is available by download via drivethrurpg in pdf-format.

Conclusion

Airfix Battles is a great game. It brings back memories from a long time ago. Frankly, a lot of childhood memory revivals end up in disappoinmtent (e.g. TV shows, ice cream). Airfix Battles did not disappoint me and brings new worthwhile memories and fun in form of building new models and having great gaming sessions.
Experienced players will definitly see the limits of the game mechanics but, nevertheless, playing can still be fun when there is no time for larger games. Airfix Battles could also be a nice choice for fathers and sons to find a common interest and for introducing friends to the world of wargames, who did not have the luck to play such games, so far.

 

 

Painting the Panther PNT-9R

Painting the Panther PNT-9R

The Panther is one of my favourite Mechs. Not only because it is essentially a fast moving PPC which can even jump but because the design looks great. My first idea for a color scheme was a blueish grey. A lot of inspiration for painting BattleMechs can be found on www.camospecs.com and indeed I found a great scheme there which worked as my guideline.

Step 1 – Basing and Priming

The model was already partly primed in black when I got it. For decoration I filled the base with White Pumice (Vallejo), put in some small stones and left it to dry for overnight.

Next day I primed the base and the rest of the model with a brush in Chaos Black (GW).

Step 2 – Basecoating

The armor plates were painted with Sombre Grey (Vallejo GC48) while leaving out the inner parts of the joints (knees, arms, neck), the PPC and the panel lines of the armor as good as possible. I did not mind to achieve an even coloured surface on the armor plates. A tall construct like a BattleMech will never look brand anyway new in times of fighting and an uneven color adds to the effect.
The inner parts of the joints, SRM frontplate, the „balls“ on the backside (Whatever their purpose might be!) and the PPC were painted in Boltgun Metal (GW). The base got a layer of Graveyard Earth (GW).

Step 3 – Shading

The model was given a generous coat of Army Painter Quickshade „Dark Tone“. These washes are great to achieve a quick good looking effect of depth.


From this point on you already have a nice looking miniature. Give it a coat of varnish, glue some green on the base and it would be ok for any gaming table.

Step 4 – Basecolours

To break up the monotony of the basic grey, I painted certain armor plates with Enchanted Blue (GW). The eyes were painted Mechrite Red as a base colour, covered by Blood Red and with a tiny spot of White in the corner of each eye. The PPC got some Sunburst Yellow (all colors GW) in its muzzle.

Step 5 – Highlights

In order to save time I usually do only one layer of highlights. To my mind this is enough for gaming purposes. In this case, highlighting was a mixture of painting the edges and drybrushing. Armor was highlighted/ drybrushed with Space Wolves Grey (GW). For the metal highlights I used Chain Mail (GW).

Step 6 – Final Steps

The base was drybrushed mit Dheneb Stone (GW). I didn’t mind when the Mech’s feet „got dirty“ with the colour. This adds to the realness because Mechs in combat should have a dirty look about them, anyway. After that the margin of the base got a second layer of Graveyard Earth to achieve an even surface and mask some excess of Dheneb Stone. Finally, as a test, I put on Army Painter Quickshade „Soft Tone“ on the „sand“ to give the base some more depth.

Finally, to give it some more life, I added two decals from my bits box, a unit symbol and a number. Before adding decals, I put on some gloss varnish on the spots where I will put them. This way they will stick better. After putting the decal on, I use some decal softener for better adhesion.

After drying I painted the Panther with Matt Varnish (Vallejo GC 70). In this case I put on a second layer, as matt varnish has a reputation of being less protective than gloss varnish. I can’t explain if this is true but I read it somewhere and better safe than sorry. I think this Kitty will be touched quiet a lot.

Some static grass glued on the base – done!

Conclusion

A rather basic style of painting but done in a reasonable amount of time. Generally I am satisfied with the result although some more highlights would probably have been nicer. After all, it’s done for playing and not displaying.

 

 

A tabletoper’s little bargain in good old England…

A tabletoper’s little bargain in good old England…

On our vacation trip this summer we came to Dartmoor. Dartmoor intrigues me for its barren landscape but there are also wonderful historical villages and towns. Tavistock is one of these towns at the edge of the Moor. For me the best about Tavistock was the old Pannier Market, an indoor market which looks back on a more than 900 year old tradition. On certain days even private tradespeople can offer their goods there.

As I’m always drawn to flea markets and jumble sails, this was definitly a highlight for me on the trip. And I did not leave with empty hands!

In Pannier Market I found an old unopened Warhammer box and got it for 16 pounds in a small scale model shop. With 16 minis in the box that is 1 pound each (ca. 1,10€) for great minis . That is what I call a bargain! 🙂

In the past I owned some High Elves and Skaven but never played the game and sold the stuff later. Nevertheless I felt some loss when GW discontinued the line. After all, Warhammer Fantasy Battle is the mother of modern tabletop! (IMHO).

Now, these guys in the box will become useful for me for Fabled Realms, the fantasy skirmish game which will be released in about a year by 4Ground. I took part in the Kickstarter and hope it will arrive in time. To shorten the waiting time, I can build and paint the archers now. And maybe there are some more bargains ahead. 🙂