Saturday, 27 September 2014

Repair Truck And Some Engineers for Stalingrad

The Stalingrad build continues with this repair truck. It's a really old Peter Pig model, I think, that I have had lying around for about twenty years. I never really knew what to do with it and it was painted in three tone late war camo. I thought it would fit in better at Stalingrad and painted it in German Grey with some added stowage.

Then I added a Engineer company to the 544th Infantry Regiment roster. It consists of nine men including a flamethrower.

Eight of the figures are Plastic Soldier Company's new plastic Germans while the flamethrower is a Peter Pig model, so you can see how well the two different manufacturers blend together.

This project is not even half way through at the moment and I have a lot left to work on, so I don't expect it will be finished any time soon, but I will keep plodding away at it, like the 6th Army trying to reach the Volga...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Cheap and Cheerful Stalingrad Building

At one of the recent gaming shows, Ninjasaurus Rex picked up a 'Stalingrad Building A' from Warbases. Now, Warbases do some really nice work in MDF, but this particular building is, ahem, basic to say the least. It consists of four sides with squares cut for the windows and doors and very little else. There is no detail at all, but it only costs £4!

Ninjasaurus bought it with the intention of trying to get to a level that would make it gameable. He added collapsed floors, wooden beams and wallpaper to the model. More than this, he also attacked it with a Dremel hand drill, to break up the shape of the windows and give it more of a battered look. He then added a base, covered with rubble and also added the entire building to a vinyl base cut to 6" square. To this base was added more rubble and made it detachable to ease storage, which is always a problem with high standing scenery pieces. He then gave the whole thing over to me to finish off. When it arrived it looked like this:

You can see on the front where he went at it with the drill. I promise you, this looks far better than when it was bought!

My first task was to make the base look something like a city street. The slightly raised vinyl tile would act as kerb and pavement around the building, so I had to texture the flat parts. I did this with some textured vinyl wallpaper I have, from B&Q, which has small impressions that look to be about the right size for 15mm cobbles or paving slabs. I cut out strips of this paper and glued it to the base, being careful to match up the cobbles, so there was less seam showing. This won't be a major problem as I can cover any cracks with rubble later.

As this dried I painted the building itself. I did the outside in a basic sand colour then painted brick red on all the windows as though the frames had been destroyed, plus a few patches here and there to make it look as though the plaster work had fallen off in firefights. It's still looking pretty basic at this stage:

Once the glue under the wallpaper was dry, I gave the entire base a spray of grey, inkwashed it in black ink and then finally drybrushed the whole thing in light grey. This was the end result of that:

You may remember the rubble mix I made for a previous building? Well, I made a lot of the mix so I could it use it in situations like this. I painted a load of PVA onto the base, sprinkled the mix over the top, let it dry and let the excess fall off. The good thing about the mix is that it doesn't need painting!

Then I turned back to the building. The walls, both outside and inside, were inkwashed in black and left to dry, then I used the weathering powders from before to add an extra dimension of dust to the entire building. This was then spray varnished to fix everything in place and it was done.

Here is the finished piece on the base, to which I had added snapped and dyed matchsticks as pieces of timber:

As you can see, the building is removable so that it can be laid down flat to lessen the amount of room needed to store it.

So, from a pretty basic kit, together, we have managed to make something that is usable on a table. It will have to be mixed in with lots of other buildings, so that the deficiencies in the details and my painting don't stand out, but I'm happy with the result and it didn't take very long to do after being prepped by Mr Rex. 

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

First German Battalion for Stalingrad

The box of Early War Germans from the Plastic Soldier Company have allowed me to start work on a new project, one that I have wanted to do properly for years; the Battle of Stalingrad. I have based my forces on the lists supplied in the Rapid Fire! Third Supplement: Scenarios for the Russian Front. One of the scenarios is Storming the Red Barricades Factory 17th October 1942 and is a big game where the Germans have to capture as much of the famous factory as possible. 

The first unit is the 1st Battalion from the 544th Infantry Regiment/389th Infantry Division. It consists of:

HQ: CO + 5 men
3 x Rifle Companies, each of 9 men.

I have also finished the Regimental HQ of CO + 5 men (the Colonel at the back)

I haven't finished the support units of MG34s and 81mm Mortar, but they are in the leadpile awaiting paint, but the largest part of the battalion is finished.

The scenario needs three of these battalions, so I still have a lot to do. Also, not included in the lists, but useful nonetheless, is the AT rifle and 5cm Mortar, also from PSC.

Thanks for looking and check back for more updates on this particular force!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Brains... We Must Have Brains...

Recently, Dean bought a copy of Zombicide, the game of the zombie apocalypse, it was delivered on Saturday morning and he brought it over for an afternoon of zombie killing with myself and Ninjasaurus Rex. As a teenager I was a fan of the old school zombie films, like Romero's original Living Dead trilogy and my all time favourite Zombie Flesh Eaters. There was a time when I collected particularly bad zombie films on DVD. If you ever get a chance, Oasis of the Zombies, which features Afrika Korps Zombies, is definitely worth a watch... However, I do think that the zombie theme is a bit overdone these days, with zombie films ten a penny. Give me the schlocky Italian splatter movies over slick running zombies any day... So, I ribbed Dean a bit about the game, but did secretly look forward to playing it.

This game has been around for a long time (2006, I think?) and is very well supported by numerous additions and a very good website (check the link above), but being that it was the first time I've played it, this is kind of a review for anyone interested in checking it out.

Immediately it was apparent that this was a well produced game, even the box art was high class and eye-catching.

And inside it was packed with card stock counters and other bits and pieces. The rules are laid out in a very attractive booklet full of game examples and ten scenarios. There is also several packs of cards, used to activate zombies and equipment that the characters can use.

Then we get to the figures. We didn't measure them, but they look to be about 28mm, six of the hard plastic minis make up the player characters, in their individual colours and in good poses. These should paint up very well. The seventh figure here is the Abomination, kind of a boss character, who may or may not appear in games, depending on the draw of cards.

The rest of the box is made up of 64 zombie figures, in three different types, walkers, runners and fatties and the card stock game boards. The zombie figures are worth the price of the game alone, they really give a good feel for the hordes of unstoppable dead and there is a lot to fill the board with.

The card stock game boards feature streets and buildings and can be put together in many combinations, again the artwork on these is full of tiny details and they really bring the whole game together.

We jumped straight in, with Dean reading the rules as went along, on the first introductory scenario. In this game the team of survivors had to cross the street to reach the neighbouring building and make their way into the room with the red X in it.

We each took two characters, I had the roller-skating Wanda and the wino looking Ned. Each character has a certain number of actions, with the occasional free one or extras; Wanda, could move two spaces for the price of one and Ned had a free search action (probably looking for a bottle of white spirits). Player's actions create noise and this in turn attracts zombies, who appear according to the turn of cards and at certain spots on the board. Here the team fight it out with a couple of walking dead in the street, just before we broke into the house and reached the goal with no casualties!

With a good idea of how the game mechanics worked (and very smooth they are) we took the game up to the next notch and played the next scenario which took place over nine game boards. Here, the survivors were bunched up in the centre of the board and were tasked with reaching six objectives before exiting the game board carrying a variety of objects (water, food and other supplies). Unfortunately, we pulled the Abomination card really early and the lumbering beast threatened us at every turn. Smaller zombies are easy to kill, but this beast takes special weapons to take down. Despite searching almost every room we were in we never found a weapon powerful enough to kill it!

Every time a team member breaks into a new house, cards are pulled to see how many zombies are present inside. With the objectives buried deep within buildings there was a lot of zombies wandering about inside and it looked like there would be a very bloody battle to get to where we needed to get to!

The game progressed with the team picking up a couple of the objectives, but the amount of zombies quickly became overwhelming.

Despite going at the dead with an axe, one of my characters, Ned, was surrounded and definitely outnumbered.

His last stand was pitiful to see, the Abomination lead the attack as he was pulled to pieces in the street by the unstoppable horde. At least he died standing up and fighting.

We ended the game with the board looking like this. My other character, Wanda, had got hold of all the objects needed to win and was waiting by the exit. However, the other characters were cut off from getting more objectives by the massive swarm of walking dead led by the Abomination.

So, in conclusion, the game was excellent. It had a really good 'few against many' feel and the unstoppable horde of zombies never stopped coming, which made the game feel claustrophobic. In that respect it had a lot in common with Space Hulk, another exciting board game, developed back when Games Workshop were good at making games. It took until about half-way through the second game that we realised we shouldn't be spending time shooting zombies, but actually try to outrun them and grab the prizes. There also needs to be a certain amount of sacrifice within the team, to distract the horde whilst a couple of characters gather the objectives. We tried sticking close together, strength in numbers and all that, but this diluted the different traits in the characters too much.

I am looking forward to my next chance to try out different tactics and seeing how the team face the deadheads again...

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Pair of Albatrii, pt. 3

The slow upwards climb to get these two 'weekend' models finished is finally over with the completion of the second Albatros. As with the previous kit, this one was a bit of a faff at the end as well. The upper wing proved difficult to set in place correctly and I still don't think it's right. Whatever, it's close enough for me!

The plane is painted in the livery of Richard Flashar, commander of the elite Jasta 5 from June 1917 to May 1918. Flashar's only achieved two victories in the war, but the first one was scored on November 5 1914 when his observer Oblt Demuth shot down a Morane-Saulnier with a shotgun! It was Germany's first aerial victory of the war and both men were awarded the victory.

I particularly liked the striking dragon design on the fuselage which is why I chose this colour scheme for the aircraft.

And here are the two birds from the same kit together.

As with the other DVa I decided not to rig this kit. Maybe in the future I will do something with them both but not right now. I had the same problems with both planes, mainly the amount of tiny photo-etched parts and fiddly nature of the top wing construction. Another thing to look out for on these Eduard kits (in all scales actually...) is the construction of the undercarriage. It is quite spindly and takes not a small amount of skill in constructing them. I would recommend setting up some kind of jig to hold the wheel spars in place as the glue dries. Just a word of warning. 

However, on a positive note, I think this kit is an excellent modelling challenge, the planes are crisply moulded, lots of great detail (even without the PE parts) and a great choice of markings. On top of this, Eduard decals are excellent and probably some of the best water slide ones I've come across.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Bring out the Big Guns!

I have been slowly working towards the wargaming Holy Grail of Stalingrad for many years. Gradually the scenery is coming together, so are the ground forces, based on the lists in the third Rapid Fire! supplement. This has been given a great boost with the release from PSC of the early war German infantry, which I covered in a previous post. However, I still needed a few more bits and pieces, like this 15mm StuIG 33b, the ridiculous German 150mm assault gun.  This one is from Battlefront (and cost me an arm and a leg...) and is a good little model. Crisp and clean mould lines and an easy assembly.

The lists in the RF supplement require only one of these beasts, only twelve were dispatched to the Stalingrad battle, so this one model represents five of those.

As this was specifically for urban street fighting I painted the base grey and put rubble on it, rather than the usual static grass.

The stowage was added and comes from various manufacturers, same with the decals.

This is an ongoing project and is no where near finished, so keep checking back for more updates in the future! Thanks for looking!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Battling with the Brisfits, Wings of Glory AAR and Romans!

Before we begin, allow me to tell you about some items I am selling EBay after having a clear out of the old lead mountain. You can find the various items HERE and they include a lot of WW1 and WW2 15mm figures, plus some other bits and pieces.

Today, I have spent the day surrounded by Romans, promoting Elmet's Roman Swinton crowd-funded archaeological project. Here is a couple of photos of the event in Doncaster and you can read more about the project HERE.

Last Sunday, with Dean ill, we played a game of Wings of Glory as it wouldn't be too taxing for him. Ninjasaurus declined the offer to join us for whatever reason, so we settled on three planes a side. I have been wanting to use my new Series Seven aircraft for a while now, especially the Bristol Fighters, so three of them were pitted against two Albatros DVa and a Halberstadt CL.II (also from the new range!). Here the three Brisfits look suitably menacing: 

Dean's job was to protect the CL.II with the two Albatros whilst my mission was to destroy it, simple stuff, for simple chaps. The Brisfits closed in in tight formation as the Germans looked as though they were separating.

I was hoping that the CL.II would go port, so I sent two of my Brisfits that way, however, Dean surprised me by sending all his aircraft to the starboard and straight at my solo Brisfit!

A furious burst of fire left an Albatros smoking, but I didn't escape lightly and took a lot of damage as well.

Then the Halberstadt came into view at close range, what a target! Unfortunately the Brisfit's guns were jammed from the previous turns firing!

So he escaped unharmed until I was able to swing the rear gunner into action, of course this meant that I got a burst of fire as well from his rear gunner.

After a few mistaken turns the other two Brisfits were brought back into the fight and they pressed home their attacks.

Things were hotting up for my solo Brisfit, who burst into flames from the guns of one of the Albatros!

But in the melee that followed the Albatros exploded, a fuel line must have been hit and the wreckage went tumbling to the ground.

The single Brisfit managed to set the remaining Albatros on fire, but fell to the guns of the Halberstadt (also burning from more Brisfit fire!). Everything was even Stevens!

Then a mid-air collision was narrowly avoided, but everyone took advantage of the short range to cause as much damage as possible.

The Germans came off better and another Brisfit went spiralling ground-wards!

Things were now looking pretty bad from my position, but I thought I had better go for broke and swung the remaining Brisfit around.

The two two-seaters closed on each other at full speed and hammered away with the forward guns.

Nothing happened until they passed one another and the observers managed to get in on the action. A swift burst of fire from the Brisfit and it was game over for the CL.II. He had sustained too much damage previously and the old crate broke up in mid-air.

With the objective achieved the remaining Brisfit headed for home, the game was mine! The Brisfits proved to be quite ferocious in the game, just as they were in real life when flown like a fighter aircraft. Tough old birds! 

We finished the day off with a quick game of Small World, which inexplicably I also won; Dean must have been feeling really ill as he is normally bang on with this game...
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