Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Last of the Norsemen

A short post this, I have been away on holiday and not had a chance to paint much. That said, I finished off the Vikings that I bought at Vapnartak. You may remember they are the ones from Museum Miniatures and Peter Pig:

Alongside these figures, I also put the very last finishing touches to the Icelandic farm buildings, namely a small courtyard to join the structures together. This was simply a piece of plasticard, textured with sand and painted.

As I mentioned, I have been away on holiday. It was to the North Yorkshire coast for a few days, but whilst I was there we went to Scarborough, where I saw this preserved 13lber QF Vickers gun that had been rescued from the sea bed. Here's a few pictures of it:

And a commemoration plaque to the Christmas present the Germany Navy gave the people of Scarborough in 1914.

And the best ship-in-a-bottle I've ever seen at Whitby museum.

As I said, a short post, but thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Utility Buildings for Star Wars

Ninjasaurus Rex gave me a bag full of scratchbuilt terrain pieces that he had kicking around. They were prepped, but unpainted so my task was to finish them off for my 15mm Star Wars Miniatures Battles games.

He had already mounted some on bases and sprayed them with textured paint, so really they only needed finishing off. I am not sure what the first batch were originally, but they look like various light fittings, however, I added a circle of plasticard to each of their bases, painted the interior black, the outside grey, layered up some drybrushing, added some weathering and rust details and they now look like exhaust ports. Cos everything in the Star Wars universe has an exhaust port, amiright?

Next up were two mini-CD holders with some form of plastic frame added on top. These were mounted on normal sized CDs, so my job was reasonably easy, paint grey, drybrush in lighter grey, weathering, rust, flock the bases and hey presto:

The upper frames can be removed to make separate structures in their own right and leave the lower portion looking like fuel containers or similar. I am going to make some heavy blasters that can fit in the upper frames, that will also be removable, to make them into defence towers. But I just wanted to get the basics finished first.

And finally a circular tube with what looked like another light fitting in the centre. With a splash of paint and weathering this looks like some form of generator or another larger exhaust.

So, what was basically a bunch of DIY and office leftovers, between us we have made a selection of reasonable looking science-fiction utility buildings. To give you an idea of scale here they are with a 15mm AT-ST and some Stormtroopers.

They were all pretty easy to paint, just a basic grey with some weathering and drybrushing, nothing too fancy, really. I also have a larger building that will need quite a bit of work, especially the interior, so check back in the future for details on that!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Deliver Us, Oh Lord, From The Wrath of the Norsemen!

Another small project I have started recently, has been a Viking Age skirmish game, this is why I built the Icelandic farmstead and also why I bought myself some Viking figures from Vapnartak. I only wanted a handful as I want the game to be based around small bands of warriors competing for the best loot. 

So, I called at the Museum Miniatures stand and picked out about twenty figures and then took a walk over the Peter Pig and bought a set of Vikings carrying loot. These photos are of the first two batches of figures.

The Museum Miniatures figures are the ones carrying weapons and the Peter Pig figures are all the ones carrying loot.

The figures are all individually based as the game is a skirmish.

I have about another ten of these to paint over the next few days, so check back in the future to see them finished off as well!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Battle of Tummar West 8th December 1940 AAR

In our continuing Operation Compass campaign, hosted by Dean the third engagement was the Battle of Tummar West, when the 7th Royal Tank Regiment attacked the Italian defenders in a fort. The attack commenced after an hour long artillery bombardment and the defenders capitulated in just over two hours of fighting. 

This battlefield was a bit busier than the previous battles, with a village lying in the path of the British (along with four refuelling Italian tanks) and two minefields. The fort was also protected by barbed wire and dug in Italian anti-tank guns.  

I took the British and had an ad hoc force of tanks, armoured cars, 2lber portees and some infantry. The Italians consisted of native troops in the fort, a scattering of AFVs and some Blackshirt infantry. I had to capture at least three points worth of the objectives to win, the fort was worth two points alone, along with two other objectives. Ninjasaurus took his Italian defenders again and Dean umpired the game for us.

We were trying out a new way of reducing the IGOUGO system that Rapid Fire! uses. This was done by distributing playing cards to each individual unit. The cards were then revealed and the units took turns depending on the value of the card. So, an Ace card moved before a King, a King before a Queen, etc. If there was a tie on the values, the British always moved first as they were attacking and had the initiative. In the original rules, you move your entire force, before your opponent does the same and this always felt clunky and unrealistic. The card system does away with this and makes you contemplate your moves more.

The British opened the engagement with an artillery barrage from two 25lbers which destroyed an Italian anti-tank gun and damaged the other one. As we revealed the cards, the British began advancing, unfortunately my tanks were to make slow progress in the centre. My plan was to try and knock out the refuelling Italian tanks in the village, whilst using the Vickers light tanks to run over the barbed wire defences in front of the fort to allow my following infantry to attack. 

Using the speed of the scout cars I was able to get in close on the Italian M11/40s and brewed two up in quick succession.

However, on my right flank I had knocked out the Italian artillery, but one of my Portees was knocked out by fire from the fort along with a transport truck and the infantry passengers.

As another Portee bit the dust, without firing a single shot, I was able to crush the barbed wire. However, my following infantry had almost been destroyed by the Italian defenders!

Things were heating up on the left as the Blackshirts arrived to defend the village and the M11/40s were refuelled and exchanging shots with my scout cars and tanks.

As more Italian light tanks arrived things were looking sketchy for me and I actually considered throwing in the towel at this point.

Fortune favours the brave though and my Vickers light tanks pushed themselves forward as more Italian tanks brewed up under fire from the 7th RTR.

The Vickers tanks burst into the fort against defenders with no anti-tank capabilities.

A few good dice rolls saw the defenders quickly dispatched as the fort fell to the British!

On the left flank the artillery were giving the Blackshirts a hard time, although I lost a British A-10 to anti-tank fire.

This was when the Italians threw in their towel! It was game over, they had lost all their anti-tank capabilities and we thought it would just be a case of the British mopping up from this point on.

The game had lasted three full turns, almost as long as the real battle! another British victory, just like the actual Operation Compass, but this one had cost me dearly. Most of the British infantry had been wiped out and vehicle losses were high, including two Portees which added nothing to the attack! 

The use of the cards as unit activation worked really well and it something we will be using for all RF games in the future. It can be tweaked to give favours to one side or another, or just used as it is, either way, it's a good system and one player isn't waiting ages to take their turn, which was the reason for using them.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A Little Farm Of My Own

Although I'd completed the Icelandic Viking Age Turf House I decided not to rest on my laurels and expanded the farmstead. Two more structures would suffice for now, a piggery/outhouse and a cattle/sheep enclosure. Both of these were simply made from plasticard and mounted on vinyl tiles about 8cm square (give or take a centimetre...). The outhouse was basically a box shape with a doorway and the enclosure was is five strips of plasticard mounted in a square. I made the gate of the enclosure by gluing together two bits of embossed and thin plasticard for the planking and four strips of thin plasticard for the horizontal elements.

The next stage was to add the DAS modelling clay, this was simply pressed out flat into strips for the enclosure and folded over the plasticard. Similarly I draped it over the little box shaped outhouse, but also added a lump on top to create the hog's back style roof. Finally, I painted some PVA and sand over the bits of the vinyl tile that was still exposed to give it some texture and to make it look as though the cattle had poached the ground.

Then they were left to dry, I painted them all over with German Camo Dark Brown, the wood was painted with Khaki Stone and inkwashed and the sanded areas drybrushed with Khaki. Then I painted them with a thinned down PVA mix and flocked them:

So now the farm has grown, but I haven't finished just yet. The next step is to make a small courtyard between the buildings, but this will have to wait as I work away these days.

So far, so good, but I also need to populate the farm with livestock, but I have ordered several packs of pigs, sheep, cows, dogs and assorted animals, so stay tuned for them!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Little House on the Grasslétta

First, I must apologise, this post was accidentally published too early! It was before I had written the accompanying text and posted up some more pictures, so this is take two. 

Having picked a few 15mm Vikings at Vapnartak, I decided on writing some home-brew rules for Viking skirmishes in the age of the Sagas. To go with this, I wanted to make an Icelandic turf house, typical of the age, to use as scenery or a scenario objective. This was an experiment on my part, to see if it was easy enough to do and if the results would be useful. I have seen lots of thatched wooden Viking style buildings, but in the Arctic north, turf houses were de rigueur, right up until the 1950s when they were outlawed on health and safety grounds.

So, as inspiration, I took a starting point with Erik the Red's turf house reconstruction at Eiríksstaðir. It's a simple shape, with a slightly bowed roof, chimney and entrance:

It's also covered in turf which gives it the defining look that I was looking for. Additionally, it is also small enough to use as a practise piece. The first stage was to take some plasticard and make a basic box shape, glued onto a cut down vinyl tile:

The next stage was to add the roof, this was done by using struts inside the building to hold up the central panel as it all dried. I then added the two long pieces, as you can see they are not very neat, but this just a frame, not the finished product. In this stage I also added the chimney, cut from four squares of plasticard, clad in embossed plasticard. The front porch was also made from small bits of plasticard to get the look correct. Finally, I added embossed plasticard stonework as a path as well. This was then left to dry overnight.

The next task was to cover the whole thing in DAS modelling clay. This is a pretty cheap air-drying clay that is easy to work with. It was my first time using it, so I was glad to see how easy it was to use, especially if it is wetted down with water. I scored the plasticard and covered it in PVA glue to help the clay adhere to the flat surfaces and built up the shape I was after:

This was then left to dry in the boiler room overnight and what emerged was a pretty solid structure. The whole building was undercoated in Vallejo's German Camo Dark Brown. I would have used Burnt Umber for this, but the two colours are pretty close and I'd run out of Burnt Umber painting my gaming boards... The dark blackish-brown is a good colour for the Icelandic peat that the turf houses were made from, but at this stage it's looking more like a turd house than a turf house, however, this is only a base coat for the later stage...

...Which was to cover the entire thing in flock. This, I did, with PVA. I then painted the details of the porch and the chimney, giving them a wash and some highlights. Here it is from the front:

And the back:

To give you an idea of the scale of it, here it is with a sneak peak of some of the Vikings I have painted (more on these in a later post!). It is slightly higher than the original it was based on, but it still works for me.

It was surprisingly simple to make and took me a few days to complete, spending no more than an hour a day on it. The next job is to make a few smaller turf outbuildings like a piggery or cattle enclosure and some small turf walls to enclose the farm. I will also tackle a longhouse at some point in the future, using the same techniques as this, so check back for details on that!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

German Heavy Metal

A couple of things I picked up at the ROBIN show was three Zvezda German tanks in 1/100th scale. The first two were Ferdinands, assault guns based on the prototype Tiger tank chassis that was ultimately rejected. I have been looking for an excuse to refight the Battle of Ponyri in 1943, during which Ferdinands took centre stage so this is perfect!

And the second purchase was a single Sturmtiger, the 380mm assault gun, again, based on a Tiger Tank chassis. This was a very late addition to the German arsenal (1944) and being based on attacking was pretty useless for the time it was used, being that Germany were on the defensive. Only about eighteen were produced, in Rapid Fire! terms that's almost four models... So this single model represents a quarter of the entire production run!

Totally useless, but a fun addition to my tiny tank collection!

Thanks for reading!
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