Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Trenchworx Kickstarter Arrives! (28mm WWI Tanks and Beute MKIV)

Just in time for New Year's (in fact, on Monday), the mailman brought me some resin tanks from the Trenchworx Kickstarter! (and some nice extras - 10 dice holders and 4 coasters)

I'd signed up for a squadron deal of FT-17s (3 models) and added on a British MKIV as well as another FT for Conscript Dave's WWII Finns. I'd hoped to use the MKIV in our New Year's Day game as a German "Beutepanzer" alongside their A7V, so I needed to get cracking on it!

Here are the resin pieces after washing. The components were extremely clean and finely cast, with little to no cleanup required. Everything was neatly bagged - no instructions though!
Assembly went very smoothly. One thing to remember when assembling this model is to insert the gun mounts into the sponsons from the back side, not from the front. Then attach the guns themselves last.

The kit includes 6 rare earth magnets with holes already countersunk. This allows you to swap out the sponsons to make a Male, Female, or even a Hermaphrodite vehicle.
Fokker scourge over the trenches, scouting for the New Year's game...

Here's the finished Beute MKIV. I added some light mud along the tracks before priming black, then basecoated the tank dark yellow, following that with a wash of GW Agrax Earthshade. Camo was lightly stippled in with Catachan Green and Doombull Brown, tracks painted Mechanicus Standard Grey, then the whole thing washed again with Agrax. Crosses and tactical numbers were painted by hand before more weathering - drybrushed earth tones along the bottom of the vehicle and over the applied mud. Some sponge chipping and dusty powder completed the work.

 Male and...

Female - magnets make it easy to switch genders ;-)

I'm super-impressed with this model. The resin was great quality and well finished, and makes a very attractive vehicle. Moreover, the Kickstarter ran very smoothly. Trenchworx sent regular updates and maintained a detailed spreadsheet of work in progress, keeping backers apprised of status. Full marks to them for managing the process impeccably.

Looking forward to the game tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fourth Painting Challenge Entry - 20mm WW2 German Infantry Support Weapons

20mm German support weapons, NCO and radio man
My next entry into Curt's Analogue Hobbies Panting Challenge was more 20mm WWII (a figure size I am totally falling in love with).  These figures are metal castings from Warmodelling Miniatures. I came across these when looking for command models to round out some holes in Plastic Soldier Company's 1/72 German Infantry set (namely, a lack of senior offices) and so I ordered a command group, an MG team and light mortar team.

3-man MG team...I think it is an MG-42...

There is a senior NCO on a hex-shaped base, a radio operator, an MG team (I think it is an MG42, but I'm not sure - more on that further into the post) and a light mortar team. The uniforms are mostly pre-war, although the MG team seems to have gaiters, so perhaps more 1943 than 1941.

An early war touch - light mortar team

I found the Warmodelling stuff to be a mixed bag quality-wise. The sculpts are top notch, but the quality of the casting itself is really hit and miss. The MG mount was a terrible casting, to the point where I cannot even tell what type of MG it is actually supposed to be (I think it is MG42 because the barrel seemed more rectangular than round).  The tripod was also a mess.

NCO with MP-40 and radio operator

These were very nice sculpts
Warmodelling seems to have a wide variety of sculpts, but the experience of the poor casting quality will have me moving along to other figure manufacturers - I'm going to try some stuff from SHQ next.

3 man MG team - the sculpt on the weapon and the tripod was very poor; the rifle on the extra crewman was also mangled

The kit on the backs of the crew castings was much nicer
There are seven 20mm castings and two (very small) crew-served 20mm weapons. These fellows will join the growing pile of 20mm WWII stuff, and I look forward to adding more as the challenge continues! I encourage everyone to go and check out all of the excellent entries in the painting challenge, particularly those by Byron and Kevin - outstanding work gents! Don't hesitate to post those photos here too!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Third Painting Challenge Entry - 15mm WW2 Germans from Battlefront

15mm late war Germans from Battlefront
As noted in Byron's first entry to the Analogue Hobbies painting (and seen here and here), our groups does some WW2 skirmish gaming in 15mm (sci-fi as well - see here).  Generally not thought of as a skirmish gaming scale, 15mm actually works wonderfully as an economical way to approach skirmish gaming, and also provides a very nice look on the table as the visual appeal of the engagement ranges is increased. Also, the sculpting quality of 15mm figures is getting better and better. Finally, 15mm stuff paints up really, really fast, so that is a big bonus too.

This entry has two PAK40 guns with crews, an MG42 team, and an infantry section.  All of these are late war 15mm size figures from Battlefront.

Gotta form that "PAK front"!
These figures are late war Germans. As with the Tiger tank from the first theme entry, and I hoped to make their bases look "winter-ish" as opposed to full on winter in January, with a hope they could be used on tables/games stretching from the late fall to early spring, while not being too badly out of place on a winter table itself.  In particular I am working on setting up for some "Battlegroup: Fall of The Reich" games, and these figures were painted with that in mind.

Gun number two
For this period of the war, I tend to be completely exasperated with the Germans' bonkers variety of camouflage, as well as their wide spectrum of uniform types (great coats, smocks, helmet covers, reversible smocks, reversible pants etc).  That is another bonus of 15mm figures - I can do a terrible job on the camouflage, and it still looks OK. On some of these models I experimented with a much brighter shade of green to hopefully make the cammo jump out a bit, but I'm not sure it really worked out.

MG42 team ready for a last stand in the Seelow Heights
Even though there is some snow on the bases, and a touch of frost here and there on the grasses, I imagined these troops determining that, overall, there is a lot more brown and yellow around in the terrain than white, and therefore they are keeping their grey/camouflage aspects of their uniform exposed for now. 

Hapless least the MG42 teams will come in handy...
For the PAK 40s I split the crew up a bit on to different bases to accommodate different rules systems - for each one the gun commander is on a separate square base, to represent the junior leader in charge of the weapon (needed to use these guns in Chain of Command), and one of the loaders is on a separate base (to represent the option of extra ammo loaders for Battlegroup).  But of course these will still work fine for a game of Flames of War, which I enjoy from time to time.

These late-war guys are some of Battlefront's best castings

Ready to be overrun by like 100 T-34s...
I have to say I continue to be disappointed with the quality of the plastic that Battlefront is using. For the latest example I have included a photo of the gun shield that broke while clipping it off of the sprue - this either happened or nearly happened for ALL of the components, and is a key reason why there are only two guns painted from a box set of four. 

The guns themselves almost broke in two coming off of the sprue, and were quite bent as they were clipped off and had to be carefully bent back.  And this IS with "careful" clipping.  The plastic is brittle sh*t. I have experienced this with Battlefront's other plastic accessories as well - the new plastic German tank schurzen is particularly terrible (and mindlessly complicated for a 15mm size model), as are the half track accessories and other plastic bits. This is pure crap quality, and I really wish Battlefront would do something about it.

A plastic PAK 40 gun shield. Battlefront plastic SUCKS - this happened despite careful clipping - I wish they would do something about their crap plastic
Also, something seems a bit off with the PAK40 model design...there is some kind of bracket or brace or something on the barrel that doesn't match photos I have seen of the actual gun...but there were so many weapon variants out there, I'm not sure...could have been some alternate variant from a different factory perhaps...

Ready for Flames of War, Chain of Command or even Battlegroup

So there are 26 15mm size figures and two guns - I think this works out to 60 points. We are soon to be off on our Christmas vacation, so Merry Christmas to everyone out there.  I'll be packing my paints too, so I hope I can get some more painting done in between bouts of gift-wrapping and eggnog consumption!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Painting Challenge Theme Entry - Winter Tiger I in 15mm from Battlefront

Tiger I from Battlefront
One interesting aspect of Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is the bonus theme rounds.  You can get more info on them here, but in short you are able to make a submission that matches a theme and score a few extra points.  Curt introduced these bonus themes last year, and while I only participated in a few of the rounds, overall they certainly captured the imagination of the participants (as well as some "creative" interpretations of the themes themselves). 

The base is meant to be chilly, but not full-on winter...
This year, the first bonus theme was "Cold", so I submitted this 15mm size Tiger I from Battlefront.  I made sure this beast was very heavily weathered (something I do to most of the tanks I paint).  I usually get carried away, but I like these suckers to reflect the heavy use they would have seen in near continuous action as they try in vain to hold off the hammer blows of the Red Army.

Lots and lots of muck
The winter has snow yes, but scads of mud too, and rain, then more snow, then wind, then sleet, and then of course a lot of enemy fire.  I figure that doesn't bode well for white-wash, and weathered the sh*t out of it accordingly.

Didn't spare any surface from the muck...
The base was not full-on covered in snow, as I am trying to paint some "winter-ish" stuff as opposed to full-on winter, to extend the "eligible" seasons for this model into fall and spring, as well as looking OK on a fully winter table.  I am painting infantry and other vehicles the same way to match this style of basing, and hope to add some frozen puddles etc. on future vehicles.

A lot of soot-coloured weathering powder went on the muzzle brake
I left all of the hatches open with crew popped out for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I intend this to represent a command vehicle on the gaming table, so the extra crew help with that.  But I also imagined that, even in the worst of winter,the crew would need a breath of fresh air, even a short one, especially if they have seen some protracted action.

Ready for Ostfront action
Be sure to check out all of the bonus entries from the "Cold" theme here (including those of Conscripts Byron and Kevin H - amazing stuff gents - I hope you post some photos up here as well too!).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Second Painting Challenge Entry - WW2 20mm German Infantry Platoon

20mm WW2 German Infantry Platoon

My second entry for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is a set of opponents for my first entry - a platoon of WW2 German Infantry.  With one exception, these figures are all from the Plastic Soldier Company's 1/72 Late War German Infantry box sets.  Some of these figures were painted prior to the challenge starting, but I finished most of them after I powered through the Russians.

The fellow in the front is a 20mm casting from Warmodelling - everyone else is plastic from PSC
There are enough figures for a full regular infantry platoon, three squads of 10 men each, each with a two-man LMG team. This PSC set has the same challenge as the Russians, in that the LMG figures are either prone (sigh) or marching merrily (useless).  But it is lacking in a figure that looks like a proper platoon commander/officer, so I ordered a metal one from Warmodelling.

One LMG per squad in this platoon of foot sloggers
The figures are based as the Russians, with NCOs on square bases and senior leaders on hex bases and everyone else on round bases.

Prone LMG gunners - a disappointing sculpt, but better than marching!
I find painting German uniforms to be the hardest part of collecting figures for WW2. Even getting the basic green/grey correct is tricky (at least for me), and once you advance past a certain period of the war a wide assortment of camouflage smocks and helmet covers start to appear.  Painting camouflage is tricky at the best of times, and with the Germans and their 700 different versions of camouflage, I go bonkers trying to figure it out.

Different base types visible in this shot
In the case of these figures, they are wearing later war boots/pants/gaiters, and many of them also have some sort of camouflage cover on their helmets.  On most of them I attempted a weak copy of the most "standard" German camouflage that I could find, and on others I imagined that perhaps these covers may have been improvised at times, so I painted them a dark yellow.

Decent modelling of the German kit on these PSC figures
For their overall uniforms I used a few different types of green, grey and green grey to try and vary the appearance a little bit, and washed liberally with GW's Agrax Earthshade, with a few highlights picked up again following the wash.

There are a total of 27 foot figures and three two-man LMG teams.  Of this, eight foot figures and one LMG team were painted prior to the Challenge, leaving a net of 19 foot figures and two LMG teams, which I think works out to 84 points. 

Not sure what I will paint up next - sensible people like Byron have a plan of sorts for the Painting Challenge, but I find that any painting I "plan" never gets done, so I'm just playing it by ear. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Panthers in Winter: 15mm Chain of Command Battle Report

Conscripts Hugh and Frederick are rapt as the Hand of Greg points back towards Berlin 
Last week I had a notion to play a game with a winter theme, so I imposed upon Conscript Greg to run a Chain of Command Eastern Front game on a wintry table. He obliged with a game using the "Big Chain of Command" (Big CoC?) variant.

The scenario was pretty straightforward - the Germans are being pressed back and need to relieve pressure, so a counterattack has been ordered. The German attackers need to seize the crossroads (pictured above at the centre of the table) and the Russians must stop them and keep the general offensive rolling.

Here's the objective, surrounded by a small farming village, woods, snowdrifts and a couple of icy ponds. And a knocked out Panther.

After the Patrol Phase (and I am so glad that Greg knows what he's doing with that because I STILL don't have a clue) we deployed our Panthers along the road. Off-road was pretty bad going and we knew time was of the essence.

Some supporting infantry (or "dismounts" as Conscript Hugh calls them with a tanker's disdain) deployed in the woods.

After taking a few shots at the T-34 that appeared at the very top left on the road, the Panther platoon commander ordered all ahead full and left his subordinates to deal with the enemy, which they, being good subordinates, did.

Meanwhile, some Russians deployed in the houses around the crossroads. You can see some Shock markers placed by German infantry fire.

Panther commander steams up the road as friendly infantry scrambles to redeploy to an open flank.

Here, some more Russian tanks have appeared (on road to left of building at top, and just above the woods at right) and the Panther platoon redeploys to address this.

Endgame. While the two T-34s at top left have deployed to face down the German infantry, the tanks have almost reached their goal - the crossroads. The combined fire of the tanks and the infantry (especially the section at right) finally wore down the Russian defenders to the point where the Germans could use a Chain of Command die to end the turn, and the game - if the turn ends while a unit has more shock than surviving members, it disappears.

I enjoyed the game a bunch - it looked superb with Greg's lovely models and swell terrain from Miniature Building Authority and the "Battlefield in a Box" guys, supplemented by a few Lemax Christmas trees - still the best value in wargaming ;-)

Thanks again to Greg for rolling out a fantastic game and to the lads for coming out. Oh and to Conscript Kevin for bringing out a 15-pack of Lucky Lager which we will continue to enjoy this week! :-D