Thursday, August 29, 2013

Big Cats, Small Figures - WW2 Pico Armor

Company of Oddzial Osmy T-34/85s
 I continue to dabble away at random projects, including some more 3mm scale Oddzial Osmy castings, this time in the WW2 setting. I've already painted a good pile for Cold-War-Gone-Hot games, and a budding collection for the Arab-Israeli wars, and I'm curious to see if the gaming fun in this scale can extend into WW2. In this post we have a small selection of late-war Eastern Front armour, T-34/85s, a couple of JS-2s and some German Panther As (which I think was somehow a later model than the Panther D - I am permanently confused by this...)

20mm square bases from Litko

These vehicles are all based on 20mm squares, with 20mm round bases used for command models.  The models are available in North America from the great folks at Pico Armor, who are a real pleasure to deal with - excellent service!  The bases are from Litko Aerosystems - another group of excellent folks.

JS-2s to punch through the lines
These bruisers are a tight fit on the 20mm base

I can't get over the detail on these tiny sculpts - artfully exaggerated so as to show up to the eye, without throwing off the overall impression of the sculpt.  As an example, the spare tracks are right there on the Panthers!! Incredible sculpting.

Panther As - round base for a command tank

I really enjoy painting tanks, and these models are real beauties!  It is a lot of fun to paint up an entire platoon of tanks in one short painting session.  Trying to come up with something that will show up well enough on the table for my gaming friends to enjoy using these tiny models is an entertaining challenge.

Ready for action on the Eastern Front
 As others often recommend, when it comes to the smaller scales, it helps to punch up to a higher/brighter colour than you might normally use otherwise. This is what I am trying to do with these tanks - the panzer yellow colour I used here, for example, would look like a traffic cone on 1/72 or 1/50 scale model. But I'm hoping it jumps enough for a gamer to go "oh, later period German tank...." from about three feet away. We'll see!
No camo on these, but I tried to soot-up the engine deck with weathering powder

I thought the recent game we did with individually based models in this scale went really well, so I'm keen to experiment with the WW2 setting.  The reason it might not work? Well, it all boils down to the infantry...

Panther D next to a (now-defunct) Canadian penny
In the modern gaming, particularly in the Cold-War-Gone-Hot setting, nearly every front line fighting unit has vehicles. The infantry are modelled, and fun to paint, but it's about the IFVs and the MBTs.  And they are big suckers - even the T-80BV is a hefty little casting - I mean, for a 1/600 scale tank.  The infantry castings are almost little terrain enhancements to the IFVs like the Bradleys and BMPs.  Even a third-tier Soviet formation will have BTR-60s to move them around the battlefield (however briefly) - so vehicles dominate the modelling and gaming action in that kind of setting - fair or not, it's how it goes.

T-34/85s next to Canadian Penny
In WW2 the mechanization of the infantry did not reach modern levels we see in the OBs of the 1980s.  The use of half-tracks grew and grew and by the end of the war some Allied units were heavily mechanized, but to represent WW2 on the table, you need to be able to come up with little stands of infantry that are cool and fun to play with, and stand out from their opponents...I'm experimenting with that right now - we'll see how it turns out. 


Scott said...

This stuff looks great! Your 3mm stuff has inspired me to work on my own minis and terrain.
I'm using cold war commander with platoons as my maneuver elements. I'm really looking to play games at the battalion level but most cold war systems I've encountered are designed for brigade to divisional play. Do you know of any systems that are designed for battalion level play?

Greg B said...

Thanks very much Scott. Your stuff is incredible! I particularly loved the terrain - wow!

If platoons-as-maneuvre-elements is your thing, I recommend more than anything else the game Spearhead. This game is advertised as divisional, but the core elements are battalions (each battalion composed of many bases, each representing a platoon, just like you have).

It would be an easy modification to add a company-command layer to the Spearhead game, and play the scenarios at the battalion level (i.e. one battalion or equivalent per side).

Good luck! I am going to try and get some terrain like yours - a soccer field, very cool.

Anonymous said...

Hey, awesome painting. I have some pico armor as well, can you give me a step by step on how you got out all the detail? Black undercoat then just drybrush? Or highlight by hand? Thanks

Greg B said...

Hi Jon - thanks for your note. I would be happy to provide a few tips if you like - just email me at greg dot burch dot mb dot ca at hotmail dot com!