Saturday, January 18, 2020

Targa Japan's 1/48 scale Maniac Collection Sdkfz 181 Panzer VI /Tiger I

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I am always on the lookout for a good deal. I recently picked up online a Targa Japan Maniac Collection 1/48 scale Tiger I tank. It comes fully painted, and has multiple cross sections that allow you to look into the interior and crew of the tank. The model comes in 7 boxes, which combine together to give the complete model (and the boxes also look cool on the shelf).

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On the back of each box is a breakdown of the boxes' contents.

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It's an older "kit", dating from around 2006. Back in the day there were three variants offered for sale, in desert yellow, green and yellow camo, and (as mine) in panzer gray and light gray. The construction quality seems to be pretty good; it holds together quite well without the need for cement. Each box comes with a paper sheet on which there is printed copious amounts of information on the Tiger I tank, in Japanese, of course!

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The detail is a little soft compared to modern kits and die-cast vehicles. Some of the mould seams and knock out marks weren't cleaned up before painting. It's designed to be disassembled and displayed, thus the gaping hole seams along the center-line of the tank and turret stowage box are obvious.

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The ammunition seems to be accurately color coded according to German doctrine, with the yellow rounds = Sprenggranaten (High Explosive), and black rounds = Panzergranate 39 (Armor Piercing).

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I picked it up for about the same price as an unbuilt Tamiya 1/48 Tiger I (Early Production) model kit (and the Tamiya model comes unassembled and unpainted, of course).

The Targa model was well worth the money I paid for it, despite not being a "serious" model kit.

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It's perfectly fine for 28mm scale wargaming. Also, I will display it with the turret roof off when I demo "What a Tanker!" at conventions. Though the original tank is huge, there is just not a lot of room inside for the crew to do their jobs. It's a great illustration of why "What a Tanker!" emphasizes the friction of crewing a tank in combat.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sedition Wars Cthonian - Boss Fight!

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This is the latest addition to my Sedition Wars Project: the Cthonian, a large, tough Strain monster used in the final scenario in the Outbreak Campaign rules included in the Battle for Alabaster boxed set. In the above photo, the Cthonian is shown next to a 28mm Hasslefree figure, that I painted in the same colours of the Samaritan infantry that oppose the Strain.

From Studio McVey:
"Phase 5 Exo-form – Cthonian: A massive conglomeration of evolved bio-mass combined with a powered armour carapace. The outer shell is a fully functional exoskeleton wrapped around a squid-like body composed of extremely resilient tissue. Capable of regenerating damage with dark matter conversion, this creature is nearly impossible to kill without the use of high output energy weapons. In addition to its defensive capabilities, the creature is armed with a gravitic beam weapon and a lethal nano-weapon capable of mutating a living target almost instantly."
Again, cleaning up this resin/plastic model  had its problems, which I outlined when first starting this project some years ago. You can't file it, you can't scrape it easily; you have to cut off mould lines with a fresh, sharp X-acto knife. It took hours with a zirconium nitride blade, and I am still not fully happy with my cleanup job.  I posed the figure lifting one foot, and cocked the head off a little to its left, to add some visual interest. There's a thick piece of wire pinning the right foot to the 50mm diameter plastic base.

I used many very thin layers for the zenithal highlights. Only 6 drops of colour (5 drops Vallejo white and one drop Golden sepia airbrush paints) in the small metal cup in the airbrush, 5 drops of thinner, and the rest water. This was airbrushed downwards at a 45-degree angle all around the model. Then, switching the pigment portion of the mix to 6 drops of only Vallejo white, I airbrushed downwards at about a 60 degree angle from above and in front of the head of the model, giving a spotlight effect on the front of the figure. As I have described before, with such thin coats you don't see the spray pattern of dots of pigment, just smooth transition from light to dark.

The various exposed tubular bits and the flower-like protuberance of the left "arm" (the nano-weapon) were highlighted and shaded with various purples, reds, and pinks from the Army Painter Zombicide Warpaints Sets (Crusted Sore, Toxic Boils, glazed with Zombie Shade).

The chitinous armour plates got several glazes of Citadel Seraphim Sepia shade. The upper portions of the carapace and the armoured face got some punched up highlights with various Vallejo acrylics and artists' oils. I also did some dot filters using oil paints to break up the surface of the plates a bit.


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The rear of the figure falls into shadow, but details of its major structures can still be seen.

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The gravitic beam weapon on the right arm was worked up from Winsor Blue to Titanium White.

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The base was airbrushed with Secret Weapon Stone wash, then finished off with weathering powder and some oils.

After the whole figure got a coat of Tamiya Semi-gloss spray (TS-79), I went back with some Citadel Blood for the Blood God, to add some fresh blood effects. This was used judiciously around the fleshy tubes, the flowery nano-weapon, and seeping from between some of the chitin plates and between the tentacles.

After painting up the figure, I actually like how it looks. It seems to radiate menace, and is a good implementation of the original Studio McVey concept art:



With the 55 figures I have painted up, I can now run all the games in the Outbreak Campaign provided in the basic box, with some extra Strain models to boot.

I recently received some pre-production Strain models, cast in a very crisp resin; easy to work with, and will paint up nicely! I look forward to adding more to this project. With those plus all the extra boxes' contents and some Kickstarter exclusives, I am spoiled for choice

What a Tanker! - Barbarossa

Recently I had folks over for another game of What a Tanker!

Barbarossa-era game, with 1941-era tanks. Same scenario: capture 5 objective markers on the ground for 1 VP each, and be within 6" of a fixed objective (the knocked out armoured car and command tank) at the end of the game for 2 VPs. The small markers would be dropped in place if the tank capturing them was destroyed.

Forces available for use included: T-34-76 (1941), KV-1A, BT-2, T-26 (1933), Panzer Mark IV D, StuG III C, and a couple of Panzer 38(t)'s.

Rolling for sides, Bill and Kevin were German, respectively fielding the 38(t) and the Mark IV. Frederick and I were Soviet, with the T-34 and the KV (I had been itching to play with this model, the oldest 1/48 model in my collection; ironically, I had never played with it until now).

Below, the Germans move to seize an objective. The block of buildings in the middle of the table ended up featuring prominently in everyone's tactics. I placed it so as to shield the two fixed objectives from each other, so no long range sniping by an objective holder.

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The T-34 moved behind, then over the sandbag barricade.

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Bill's Fast 38(t) whipped around the table, seizing two objectives.

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My KV, being Slow, took awhile to get going.

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Kevin's Mark IV moved in support of the 38(t).

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My KV fired only one shot all game. It was a big one, knocking out the 38(t) with three hits scored and  all Bill's dice failing their Armour roll .

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Bill's tank quickly re-spawned, and he soon re-captured his dropped objectives!

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Meanwhile, the lumbering KV made its way down the board, grabbed one objective marker, then parked itself beside the German fixed objective.

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Frederick's T-34 raced around the centre buildings, capturing two more markers.Both the 38(t) and the Mark IV chased it around the building complex, slamming shells into it but only forcing the T-34 to back up.

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Bill moved to the Soviet fixed objective just as the game's time ran out. Final tally: Germans = 4 VPs, Soviets = 5 VPs!

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As always, it was a fast, furious game, with a lot of canny maneuver by the lighter tanks. Next time we do early war, I want to run a Fast BT tank!

The boys have also expressed interest in doing some later war stuff. I have several Panthers, long barreled Mark IV's, a later StuG III, a Panzer II Luchs, some Marder III's, an SU-122, a T-34-76 (1942), and even a T-34-85 ready to take the field.






Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Painting Challenge Submission 4 - 28mm WW2 Germans in Winter Kit

Squad of WW2 German infantry in winter kit - 28mm figures from Warlord Games.
So far during AHPC X I have posted WW2 themed submissions in two different figure sizes - 15mm and 20mm.  Time to add some 28mm to the mix, right? Here is a squad of German WW2 infantry in winter kit.  The figures are 28mm metal castings from Warlord Games.

For periods that I really enjoy, such as WW2, I often paint subjects in multiple scales.  I like to think there is a pseudo-rational reason for this, in that miniatures of different sizes and scales often lend themselves to different levels of abstraction on the gaming table and therefore different gaming experiences with different rule sets.  That's true.  But...I think the much bigger reason I do this is that I love painting miniatures and when I see neat figures, I just want to give them a go...hence the huge pile of lead, plastic and resin in my basement. Squirrel!!

It's hard to see in the lighting, but the figure at the front has a pair of garbage mitts hanging from his belt!
Anyway, for all of my multi-scale nuttiness, this submission represents my first-ever unit of 28mm WW2 figures! Why has it taken so, so many years?

Well, I am fortunate that many of my good friends here in Winnipeg already have amazing 28mm WW2 figure collections.  You see them often right here in this blog - Dallas, Frederick, DaveV, just to name a few.  I have always been able to enjoy 28mm WW2 games with them and their wonderful collections. It seemed like nothing I could paint would really add anything constructive to the group dynamic for 28mm WW2 games. Because of this, a strange sensation - recognized by normal people as "rational thought" - would overcome my otherwise hard-wired squirrel tendencies to just "make an order" of 28mm WW2 figures and start painting.

Excellent animation and posing on these figures - just awesome.
Over the years the range and scope of options for 28mm WW2 figures have really exploded in terms of available figures. Periods and settings that maybe were hard to find figures for back in 1999 are much more accessible now, and new options are emerging all the time. One such setting is the North African theatre - at one time very niche and limited, but now you have many options to choose from if you want to start a 28mm collection.  

Five years ago (or thereabouts) I purchased the plastic boxes of 28mm 8th Army and DAK infantry from the Perrys, keen to open up the North African front in 28mm for our group.  But those figures were...well, I generally love Perry products, but those specific plastics were just terrible (for me - YMMV, horses for courses etc).  So those disappeared after a couple of test models were completed.  

I always meant to try again using only metal figures from the Perrys' North African 28mm range, but I just haven't yet found the motivation - and besides North Africa is more fun using tank battles in smaller scales anyway...

View from the back, showing assorted bits of kit.
Another new and ever-expanding niche is winter-specific figures.  My good friend Dallas, who has a very extensive and beautiful collection of 28mm WW2 figures, had said to me - years ago - "well, you could do some winter guys, that would be great." And he was right...many of the aspects of WW2 that fascinate me the most - the period of 1943 to 1945 on the Eastern Front - included much heavy fighting amid winter scenes.  Of course there is also the fighting in "The Bulge" on the Western Front, which took place amid much snow and cold conditions.  And the collections of my friends contain (relatively) few winter-specific figures. A chance to indulge my inner squirrel and make a useful contribution to the gaming group!

Love this MG42 team.

Running the LMG looks like tough work, would be even worse in the winter I expect...I should have sourced a belt of ammo to run down the side...might try to do that later.
Over the years, I have painted snow and winter-specific figures in 6mm and 15mm, but never got around to larger scales.  For some time I hoped to do so in 20mm, a scale/size that I have really fallen in love with.  But I have not yet found a nice, comprehensive range of winter figures for that scale - particularly for the Russians.  The most comprehensive range I have yet come across looks to be the 28mm one from Warlord Games, so I thought I would give it a try...here is the first product of that experiment...

Nothing says "late war" like STG44s...some classic late war Germans here.
I loved painting these figures. The sculpting is just great.  They have lots of character, and to me they reflect well what I imagine the misery of fighting in winter must bring.  These are later war figures (my personal period of interest in WW2), and this is reflected in the mix of rifles, assault rifles, panzerfausts and the MG42. They are dressed in layers, wraps of cloth and scarves around their necks and faces, a blend of the formal (reversible smocks) and the improvised (white cloth tied on helmets, or just white-wash on the plain metal helmet).  One figure even has a pair of garbage mitts stuck to his belt!

I didn't do a great job painting the face of this figure preparing to use his panzerfaust...but maybe his face just froze :)
The Warlord sculptors really nailed the winter look with these fitures. If you took away the weapons, this group might as well be waiting at a bus stop in downtown Winnipeg in January when it's minus 30 degrees outside.  Of course, under Winnipeg's current mayor, weapons wouldn't be the worst idea, but I digress...

Painting WW2 Germans is always intimidating - even the relatively straightforward winter gear leaves many variations, and in 28mm you are always more likely to see the mistakes you make. But this feels like a good start!

Balance of the squad is equipped with standard rifles...ready for some doomed assignment during the later period of WW2.
For the scoring purposes of the Challenge, there are 10 x 28mm figures in this submission, which should work out to 50 points.  While I hope my distraction-prone squirrel brain will focus for a time on this project so I can get a workable force of winter figures together, who knows...perhaps some 3mm and 10mm WW2 subjects await :)  

Friday, January 10, 2020

Painting Challenge Submission 3 - 20mm German WW2 Panzer Grenadiers and Hanomags

Some more 20mm Germans for my WW2 collection.
More WW2 output for this next Challenge submission, but in a different scale this time - yes, I love WW2 gaming so much, I paint it in pretty much every available figure/model scale.  These are 1/72 scale/20mm models and figures, German Panzer Grenadiers from WW2.  There is an eight-man squad of Panzer Grenadiers, a tripod-mounted MG42 team and a pair of Hanomags.

Panzer Grenadier Squad

20mm metal Panzer Grenadiers from AB, purchased from Eureka Miniatures.
This group of Panzer Grenadiers are metal figures from AB, sculpted by the incredible Anthony Barton. There are eight figures here, organized as a squad for the "Battlegroup" rules, but of course useable in any set of WW2 skirmish rules.  As with the 15mm figures, the NCO is mounted on a square base, to aid in easy tabletop identification for players during a game.

I have a "love-hate" relationship with the AB figures. In terms of the "love", well, these are simply the finest sculpts out there, period. They look amazing, and they are metal figures, the proper material used for all true and honourable wargames figures.  These miniatures are a joy to paint, and I try to work in AB figures to my growing 20mm WW2 collection wherever I can.

Panzerfaust gives the squad from AT punch.
Yet the AB figures are also extremely frustrating.  For starters, you are not able to purchase LMG teams separately from the infantry squads/sections.  AB/Eureka is hardly alone in this, but it is very frustrating if you are looking to accumulate a more accurate platoon organization, which in the case of the Germans will often require multiple MG34s/42s for each squad.  So for AB miniatures you end up needing to purchase entire extra squads of infantry just to a second LMG team.

MG34 team - one of the few non-prone, non-marching, non-relaxing German MG team sculpts available from AB.
Even more frustrating is the preponderance of sculpts in the AB range of figures just standing around. Generals standing around. Tank crews standing around. Infantry sections standing around.  These sorts of figures look wonderful in glamour photos in fancy wargame rulebooks, but look like crap on an actual gaming table. It's WW2...GET MOVING!  There are, of course, beautiful - stunning- action-oriented figures to be found as well, but as a proportion, the number of non-action sculpts is something you have to work around.

"Grenade!" - love the action on that sculpt.
Even more frustrating is the number of LMG poses that feature the crew just standing around and/or marching with their weapons, even as the other poses in the accompanying infantry section are more action oriented. Makes me nuts...I can imagine the guys coming under fire, and wondering desperately why their own LMG team isn't getting the damn weapon into action...

But that said, I am no figure sculptor, and the AB figures are the product of world-class sculpting talent, simply amazing.  Awkward as it is to put it all together, I will continue to try and figure out ways to get more and more AB sculpts into my 20mm forces - they are just so nice. 

Tripod MG42 Team



1/72 MG team from Plastic Soldier Company.
This is a plastic kit from the Plastic Soldier Company.  The models are set for 1/72 scale, and as such are a touch taller than the AB metal sculpts. Fortunately these fellows are kneeling down around their (very deadly) tripod mounted MG42, so the difference in figure size doesn't really show on the table.



The plastic infantry figures from PSC really are well done.  While I was disappointed with the crispness of their 15mm offerings, their 1/72 stuff is generally fantastic, especially considering they are plastic.

Hanomag  251D Transports

251D Hanomag - model and crew in 1/72 scale, from Plastic Soldier Company.
The Hanomag is an iconic piece of German WW2 kit.  If you are playing Germans in any WW2 miniature game, you are probably going to want to play the panzer grenadiers leading some manner of assault out of these vehicles - at least I certainly do! These are the later variants of the Hanomag, the 251D, which I believe entered service in 1943, and were in use right to the end of the war.

Easy to build, with lots of detail - fantastic kits.
As with the MG42 team, these are 1/72 scale plastic models from Plastic Soldier Company.  PSC sells them in boxes of three models - I painted the first one back in 2015, and the other two have been sitting in my pile of shame ever since.  I decided to clear that up, finishing these two during a quiet New Years holiday this week.  Three 1/72 models over five years? Yikes...not a great rate of production :)

Very basic cammo pattern painted on the vehicles.
Iconic WW2 vehicles.
Anyway, these are fantastic kits, very simple to build, with great details.  I would love to do some more of them, but PSC has been sold out of these for some time.  Still, since I took five years to get these first three vehicles finished, I guess I have only myself to blame, as I could/should have ordered more of these things a long time ago.

For points, we have 12 infantry, one crew served weapon (although it's just an MG, so I'm thinking just 4 points for that) and two vehicles in 20mm, which should work out to something like 86 points.  A little more progress towards my point goal, and some long overdue progress on my 20mm WWII collection.