Thursday, February 11, 2016

Homemade Static Grass Applicator

My last static grass applicator was made out of an electronic fly swatter. This time around I decided to build it completely from scratch. It should be perfectly clear from my setup, that I am not an electrical engineer, electrician, or any sort of authority on the safety of building such a thing. I just wanted one. So I went online and purchased a negative ion generator(JP-D1221 ~ $10). The one I bought came with two white wires with brushes at the ends. The wiring was pretty simple.

  • Cut off the brushes from the two white wires on the negative ion generator. (the black box in the photo)
  • Connect both of these to a metal screen. In the photos my bases are sitting on the screen. 
  • Add a second wire to the negative pole on the battery. This wire will lead to a second screen, which is attached to an old paint brush. In this photo that assembly is sort of in the middle right of the top photo. This assembly is the shaker. 
  • Place bases covered in PVA on the lower screen
  • Flip switch if you have added one.
  • Add static grass to the applicator-spoon thingy
  • Shake it. Shake it.......

That is it. I had already tried to add a second layer of glue on top of the still drying static grass placed during my first go around. This mucked up the bases a bit, but the concept works in principle.  I think it is time for me to go out and buy some different lengths of static grass.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Quick Fix For Camouflage Gone Wrong

I painted these Lehman Russ tanks quite some time ago, and they've sat unloved in the very back of my display cabinet since then. As my first attempt's at Kursk style camouflage on IG vehicles, they came out ok, but not great. With my big press into ww2 modeling, I decided that I needed to figure out how to salvage these old models. On the historical side of things, I've been using a lot of filters to improve the surface texture of my models. Filters are basically really thin oil washes that soften and blend colors together. One technique I have never tried is the traditional military model's goto method of spraying dust colored paint all over the model. Since these tanks were destined to live out their remaining days hidden away in a box, it seemed a good time to give it a shot.

So, one diluted pot of Tamiya XF-57, and ten minutes of work, and this is the result. I think the moral of the story is to keep trying out different techniques regardless of whether they have been superseded by more advanced ones. I like this result. It dulled down the model just enough to blend the green lines into the yellow. I strongly recommend this. (though not if you want to keep your color modulation crisp!)

Next easy steps:

  • practice mud spatter
  • add darker tones to the rust
  • add oil leaks around the sprockets

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Bolt Action Game Using 1/72 Miniatures

Steve, that guy from Cheat'n Steve's, and I had our first 1/72 scale bolt action game last night. We used a few fun custom rules, which I'll leave to him to explain on his blog. The initial game consisted of two roughly evenly platoons. Despite the German forces being dug in and ready for attack, the American forces annihilated the German defenders. A swift and efficient American advance took control of the bridge.

For the second part of the campaign, each side was giving reinforcements. The loss of the bridge would have allowed Allied forces easy access the marsh. With this loss risking other German fronts, I was given a platoon of Stugs supported by an infantry platoon. I choose to bring the stugs on first since my troops lacked transport. The stugs worked amazingly well. They thrust deep into the American lines, using their machine guns to suppress forward deployed troops, and regain control of the bridge. The counter attack was risky, but some very unlucky shots from the sherman tanks meant that the stugs were able to close down both roads to American vehicles. With losses of two tanks, Steve's posture changed to defensive, and he prepared to fight back the advancing German platoon.

Every part of the game was enjoyable. We used custom rules, we ignored points, and we tried move models in keeping with military doctrine(or john's doctrine which uses medics as scouts). I hope Steve has some photos of his squads advancing to the bridge during the first part of the game. It looked incredibly realistic. I learned a lot from the game.

  • Stugs are great in bocage
  • I need to learn how to maneuver squads in a mutually supporting way
  • I shouldn't fear losing some troops if it means I can redeploy to a better position
  • 1/72 plays wonderful without any modification to Bolt Action

Friday, February 5, 2016

Various WWII

 28mm Tiger and Puma

The table setup for a 28mm game. All of the terrain is scratch built.

 Heroic 28mm on the left, and 1/72 scale on the right. 

I played my first game on the new table last Saturday against Owen's Russian forces. I was committed to using both the Tiger tank and Puma armored car and consequently faced down two T34 tanks and bucket loads of soviet infantry. It was a lot of fun to finally play on the table, and more photos of the battle are coming.

Take a look at the Sherman turret next to that King Tiger turret. I know which one I think wins in a fight. On the bright side, the German tanks were poorly welded due to difficulties in the manufacturing process. This meant that an allied shots that would not normally be able to penetrate the King Tiger's armor could still cause spalling on the interior. Basically the welds came apart and shot through the interior,  damaging the vehicle and potentially killing the crew. We'll see how well this big cat does against a full Sherman platoon in an upcoming game. Even five on one it doesn't seem fair.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Basing Miniatures to Match the Terrain

Normally wargaming terrain does not match the basing of the miniatures used on the tabletop. My latest push has been to make all of the the models, terrain, and even the table itself, match in every way possible. This means using the same dirt tones from the roads on the vehicles, and having the same basing applied to the miniatures. Above, you can see the result. Now these photos do not show the rest of the terrain features that will go on the board, such as a norman church, small house, bocage, and telegraph poles, but it does show how well the bases match the table.

One of the interesting side effects of making everything match, is that despite the low-ish painting quality of the infantry, they look really good on the table. I really like how the bases are minimized from view. If I hadn't started going to historic miniatures gaming conventions I would not have even attempted such a think. Maybe I need to make building a table part of every army building process.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bolt Action Final Stretch


The American forces are almost complete! At this point, we can almost play the Bolt Action scenario I've been working on. I'm pretty sure the allies players are going to enjoy this kind of fire power, especially because full tank platoons are included. I have some final work to do on the trucks, and have to paint another 50 riflemen, but overall, I am really really happy with the progress I've made.

The mud is a mixture of weathering powder and plaster, slathered on. I then used a flicking brush motion to add light and dark oils over the top of the mud patches. At first I thought I may have gone overboard, but when the force is viewed together it looks really good on the table.

One oddity of batch painting like this, is that my infantry are a much lessor quality than the vehicles. I may go back and rectify that at some point, but I suspect this will be the standard for a while. Conventions and club games are rough on miniatures, so it makes sense to stick with more durable paint jobs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1/72 Scale Bolt Action Part 2

With pin washes in place, the vehicles are really starting to look the part. This is the point that many people stop. For me, this is finally the step where I can start weathering the vehicles. This means painting on chips, adding streaking grime, adding watermarks, adding dust, and adding mud. Once all of those things are in place, these will look less like toys and more like scale models. On the other hand, they are far enough along now to be used in some preliminary games. That is a pretty big step forward in our 1/72 scale model inventory.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

1/72 Scale Bolt Action US Army Vehicles

With my 1/72 scale terrain ready to play on, and my german forces ready for battle, I decided to use the winter storm we've been having here on the east coast to batch paint up some vehicles for my American forces.  Pictured here are 3 M3 half tracks, 4 Sherman tanks, 4 M10 Wolverine tank hunters, four trucks, and two M7 priests. The kits vary from quite nice plastic model kits, to very lackluster armourfast fast build kits. Despite the wide range in detail, I think these will look great on the tabletop once they have had pin washes, chipping, streaks, and weathering powders applied. 

The German forces already have 5 stugs at their disposal, along with a howitzer, and an anti-tank gun. I may paint up a few panthers and a tiger to fill out their list, but once these Americans are finished we'll be ready to play. 

I've been kicking around how I'd like the first game to go, and I think it will begin with first contact, followed by waves of reinforcements. That will probably play much better than just giving the players all of the toys at once. The American forces will have a platoon of Shermans and a platoon of infantry to advance through the crossroads. Germans will have a prepositioned anti-tank gun and a full platoon of veteran Heer infantry. They'll be packing a lot of panzerfausts and panzershreks in addition to ranged in mortar shots. Germans will eventually get a stug zug or tiger as reinforcement, while the American forces will be able to call on an armored infantry platoon and an M10 wolverine platoon depending on the shape of the battle. I think it is important to have a bunch of potential reinforcements, and then let timing and disposition of them depend on the situation on the ground. A key to this will be the German team deciding to lure the first platoon into a trap. But you never know how players will decide to act in a GM'd game. That is probably the best part of running one of these.