Thursday, July 30, 2020

Gaming Update, 2AUG2020

I will be hosting a game on this Sunday 2AUG20 at 2:00PM
Game TBD

Tell me again what was the problem with gray ships? UPDATED

I just knew that something was going too well........
here we are back to all white 

       One of the things that has always kept me away from WW2 naval combat in any scale is that they just couldn't be happy with gray, or blue, or any other single color for that matter. Worse yet they didn't have the class to pick something attractive like buff over black. No, no such luck. They went with a "changing by the day" selection of camouflage patterns involving silly colors and a disturbing cross-breeding of cubism and impressionism. "Never you mind that HUGE column of smoke rising out of the funnels, this goofy pattern will make the ship disappear before their eyes....."
       That little rant out of my system I spent some time trying to pin down the camouflage scheme that was in effect for RN cruisers in the Indian ocean during the period May-Nov 1942. It seems that they used three colors and had an "official scheme" (of which I was never able to find an authoritative source). As I read on I found out that although there was an official pattern the ship's captains had a great deal of latitude in putting it into effect (to the point where, even in Scapa Flow, the home of the Royal Navy in wartime, some captains simply refused to repaint their ships and left them gray). This left me with little to go on. 
       In addition the HMS Dauntless seems to have been one of the least often photographed ships since the invention of the camera. I found myself trying to use photos of  her sister-ships (black and white, of course) to try to reconstruct the camo-scheme. Needless to say, none of these pictures reflected the same pattern applied across all the ships, leaving me to think it was more of a guideline than an official instruction. In the end I decided to use the patterns as a guide and just went ahead and sketched out the scheme and started putting paint on the model. This means that, without fail, I will now promptly encounter someone who has made it his life's work to document the Dauntless and all of the possible permutations of its appearance over the years. So be it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wargames Atlantic Great War German Infantry 1916-1918

       Fresh off the press and into my hands! I spotted these at my local brick and mortar (Michigan Toy Soldier Shop: and just had to pick up a box. I have long awaited seeing this subject in hard plastic (despite having painted large armies and sculpted a 6x4 terrain board in 20mm). Well, my wait has finally been rewarded, and in grand style no less! This set will supply you with all you need for skirmish level games from 1916 on taking place on any front that the Kaiser's soldiers fought on (the one possible exception being on the Ottoman fronts, but they were largely advisors). I can also see them in a lot of post Great War actions during the chaos in Berlin and serving under the Friekorps against the Soviets in the east. Swapping in some spare 40K weapons might even provide an ersatz Death Korps of Kreig force. Priced at just over a dollar each they are a great bargain as well.
       The models are all cast in a hard gray plastic with very good detail. Anatomy and positioning are in-scale and and naturally posed; no freakishly large heads and hands so often found on metal figures. The equipment provided is also all scaled properly and offers a wide variety giving you the opportunity to build standard German troops or the dreaded Sturmtruppen that so nearly won the war during the Kaiserschlacht.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Off the ways and awaiting trials....further progress on 1/200th Dauntless

       I had a little time so I pushed ahead with one of the models of the D Class light cruisers. It is almost ready for armament and has shaped up into an elegant little vessel. I just need to add some details to eat up all that open space, life rafts, searchlights etc.

last we saw her she looked like this....

Monday, July 27, 2020

I swear, it's not MY fault!

       I admit that I have a nano-second attention span. I have learned to work with it and it doesn't disturb me very much. But, in this case, it isn't my attention span that is at fault. It is that my mouth is far more ambitious that my brain. The Housemartin (how often does THAT character show up in stories like this?) is building the forces for his Operation  Ironclad campaign game and intends to use Blood Red Skies for the air-combat portion of the campaign. For some reason inscrutable he has decided that he needed the ships to scale with the aircraft. For some even MORE inscrutable reason I agreed to build the ships. I'm still not clear why we had to use the 1/200 scale aircraft models from the rules........any scale would work and there are lots of ship/aircraft scale matches already out there.      
       Be that as it may, I am currently building some ships for him. I'm starting with the old "D" class light cruisers.
apparently this is the ONLY drawing of the ship on the internet

Friday, July 24, 2020

Thursday Night at the Fights

       Old Sarge has finally gotten his Bionic Man refit completed and showed up for a go-round of European Warfare using my home-brewed One Brain Cell French and Indian Wars rules (which had been slightly modified to reflect the different troops types). We had a jolly good time playing, talking politics and discussing the advances in 3-D printing, so much so that I took too few pictures for a proper report. All I can tell you is that I had a significantly stronger force that was tasked with breaking through a well-guarded pass and I failed. Enjoy the photos.

the forces arrayed for battle  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Not Smart Enough To Let Well-Enough Alone......28mm Jacobites for the '15

       My First Grade teacher repeatedly told me that if I were ever to go to prison it would be the result of me not knowing when to leave something be. God rest your soul Sister Mary-Margarete Cavanaugh but I never made it as far as prison (not for want of trying in my younger years, mind you!) but you were right in that one regard; I never did learn to just leave something as it was. I suffer from the dual demons of being easily bored and the (often false) impression that I can improve upon things by fiddling with them.
       Cars, custom rifle cartridges and carpentry all nearly killed me at one point or another because I wasn't smart enough to know that there are lines that aren't meant to be crossed. As the years have passed I have gained knowledge and refrain (largely) from tampering with lethal subjects. I have learned to confine my instinct to amend things to areas less likely to result in a one-way trip to the morgue. Particularly wargaming rules and the associated miniatures.
       The advent of hard plastic minis has been a boon in many ways but it has cost me hours of otherwise productive painting time by allowing me to modify, customize and alter the multi-part figures. Some of these have turned out rather well, other less so.
        That long-winded lead-up brings us to tonight's subject; turning Wargames Atlantic's Dark Ages Irish Warriors into Jacobite Highlanders for the 'Fifteen. Yes, yes, I know there are loads of perfectly good figures designed by competent sculptors out there. There is no need for me to be wasting time on such trivialities. In my defense I say that I have simply TONS of bits and bobs from other figure sets (OK, mostly the old Wargames Factory WSS range) lying about and it seemed an awful shame to just let them go to waste.........
          Let us descend into Dr. Anton Frankenstein's laboratory, BWA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

And the Wild Irish Rose

       This is a follow-up post to my earlier review and assembly of Wargame Atlantic's Dark Ages Irish 28mm figures.
a very thin black wash was applied to some areas

and some highlights were added as well

the dogs I find to be excellent

too often they have exaggerated features, bugged-out eyes and massive fangs

these simply look like dogs

I added some flocking, not quite the "Emerald Isle" green

this is the limit of my humble painting skills,
 I await the product of a more talented hand than mine to bring out the full potential of these minis

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Let Me Introduce You To My Friend Glen

       He means to fire bomb the American forests of Oregon and Washington state after skulking across the Pacific on a Japanese submarine. The stresses of war sometimes stretch the creative mind of humans in odd directions, desperation can drive them to truly bizarre attempts. I will refer you to Housemartin's earlier article on this subject rather than try to repeat his essay here. I got involved in this because nobody makes a 1/200 scale model of a "Glen".  What is a Glen, you ask? It is a limited production floatplane intended to be stashed inside a waterproof hangar on Japanese submarines See below. Housemartin wanted me to make then for him.

     (Housemartin editorial addition) The "Glen", or Yokosuka E14Y, holds the distinction of being the only airplane to "successfully" attack the United States Mainland.  Several of them using incendiary bombs dropped their payloads on the Pacific Northwest trying to light the forests on fire (this did not work out as intended).  They also bombed several coastal cities in Oregon (these attacks worked out more or less as intended).  The same pilots who would bomb the forests were involved in the Madagascar campaign.  (End of editorial note)

Assembly and Painting Wargames Atlantic Dark Ages Irish

you remember these lads

       Taking  a break from rigging galleons I decided to try my brush on some of the new Wargames Atlantic Dark Ages Irish. I pulled a frame out and assembled the figures that it contained; six warriors and two wolfhounds. Aiming for a more "generic Gaelic look" I avoided arming any of them with shillelaghs, opting for swords and spears (and one axe) instead. The figures went together quite easily but there was some gaps at the joint between arm and shoulder. This may have been driven by my choice of pairing between torso and arm but I think that it needs to be pointed out. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Last of the Dusty Projects, Encore 1/72 HE-112B1

       I pulled this kit out when I first started the Dusty Projects challenge, it sat on the shelf in The Vault for weeks impugning me each and every time I stepped into those hallowed grounds. At last I could take it no more and I grabbed the box and carried those last few feet to the workbench. Now I wish I had started with this model. Encore didn't make model kits from scratch, they shopped around and picked up disused molds from other manufacturers and re-issued them (usually with some pretty plain box art but fabulous decals). I believe this kit started its day under the Heller banner, I don't know if this is still being molded or if the molds even exist anymore.
       HE-112 was one of the competitors for the new Luftwaffe's monoplane fighter (which was won by the ubiquitous ME-109). It suffered from weak engines, a heavy airframe and some bad luck (on top of the Luftwaffe prejudice that said Heinkel=Bomber, Messerschmidt=Fighter). A few dozen were made, some got flogged off to the Fascist Spanish and (after a few had appeared in propaganda shoots) the balance were sold to Romania. Even with better engines it never lived up to expectations and it quickly disappeared in the maelstrom of war.

Friday, July 10, 2020

It's the little ones that are tough!

       Another outburst of rigging, complicated this time by the size of the model. As the size of the ship gets smaller my fingers do not, this complicates matters and slows things down. Despite working at this most of the day I only got one model finished. Things were also slowed down by my decision to provide photos of my method of rigging, this found me constantly swapping back and forth between the phone and the model. I can close to dropping both of them on several occasions (the model would have been a tragedy, the phone is insured). Anyway, what follows passes for as good a tutorial as I can manage right now. I hope it helps.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Busy Day at the Ropewalk

the more I do this, the more I think about tiny crewmen, am I mad?

       I didn't have the energy or mental focus to paint today, and I didn't feel like pushing forward with a bunch of reading I need to do for my next rules modification project, and it was WAY too hot to do anything outdoor so I was stumped as to what to do with myself. Casting my eye around the workshop I spied the as-yet unrigged Zvezda galleons. That would do nicely! No need to pick colors or contemplate shading, no need to sort fact from prejudice (or try to remember later which was which) just the simple Zen-like threading of rigging on a model boat. Aaah!

        How wrong I was! By the time I was done with these two I had a headache and my shoulders had cramps! My fingertips are covered with superglue and there are tiny bits of thread all over the workshop. Fortunately I was home alone all day so I don't have to confess to the amount of blue language I used. But, at last, they are finished and I am back to liking them. 

now, if I could just stop getting them sunk when I game with them

Monday, July 6, 2020

With Anton's permission another Quarter 2 update

As I second Anton's concerns over the state of affairs we find ourselves in and look to steps towards a better normalcy, I do note one positive sign.  The proper alignment of the stars has obviously been achieved in one thing, Anton has out produced me significantly this quarter. 

This quarter I managed to get: twelve 1/200 scale planes painted (3 Japanese and 6 German and 3 Russian), 5 Blimps and 8 Zeppelins Painted, twenty five 1/1250 scale vessels organized and based into convoys and individual warships, a small city organized and painted in 1/1200ish scale, I built and painted eleven 1/160th scale oddball warships, built three different styles of Chain Home Radar stations, and built and painted a 1/160th scale oil refinery. 

A truly disparate group, but at least production continues. 

What is this ... more trains? No it is much worse, true Horror!

One last post from the second quarter.  These elements have actually been done for a few weeks, but I misplaced two of them and had no pictures so I finally found the jail breakers today.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Wasting time on the Telly

       During the shutdown I have watched FAR more television than I normally do. Most of it varied between wretched and horrible, but there were a few bright spots. If you have access to cable channels Amazon Prime is you friend, Netflix less so and Hulu just stinks. Here is my watch/don't watch list based on my viewing (and taste);

AD2020 2nd Quarter

       It has been a rough quarter for all of us, a few more so than others and I wish all my readers health and happiness in the coming months. Looking back over the past three months I am struck by how much of a long strange road it's been; two-week lockdowns that degenerated into months of inactivity and ruin, the virtual disappearance of any social gaming, the cancellation of many future events and the general doubts if things will ever return to normal (whatever that really was). We have all coped with the struggle in our own ways; I tried to reduce the Lead Mountain in The Vault by some small margin and bombarded you with posts covering my efforts. This mass of postings was ably added to by The Housemartin who has undertaken the self-appointed mission of representing Operation Ironclad by air, land and sea as well as his Zepplins vs Blimps WW1 aircombat  game.
        Over the last quarter the blog got 37,736 views averaging 414 per day, and gained two followers for a total of 204. In that period I managed to paint twenty-nine 28mm figures and fifty-one 15mm figures (all mounted; so I get double credit for them right? making 102). I completed and painted 32 models ranging in subject from 15mm shanty-town buildings to 1/350 scale Armada era galleons. I did five book reviews and eighteen general interest articles. Ten of the postings covered scratchbuilding efforts, these recorded the final completion of the long-running Afghanistan project and the balance chronicled the 1/350 scale star-fort that spun out of control (why do so many of my scratchbuilding efforts gain a life of their own?) and ended up with the fort getting its very own island home. With the lockdown limiting travel I only managed to visit and record one place of historic interest. Also impacted by the lockdown I was limited to two after action reports, both covering fights in the Great Epicurean Wars Campaign. Finally I reviewed fourteen model kits or figure sets. The Housemartin added fourteen postings covering his two projects. I will defer to him regarding further details of those efforts.
       In all it has been a productive quarter, I would greatly prefer that the world would return to the Old Normal as I very much liked the outlook on 1JAN20 rather than the sobering situation we find ourselves in now. There is nothing for it but to put our shoulders to the wheel and keep on pushing forward, a better day awaits!
        Stay healthy, stay sane, remain calm and keep rolling sixes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

I've been quiet lately...........

       Mostly because I have been pounding away at painting these. In a moment of madness I volunteered to paint these for Rich Uncle Pat. Nothing new about the minis or the techniques so there wasn't much to report on. The infantry and the small hover tanks come from Ground Zero Games while the big hover MICVs and the tank come from Khurasan Miniatures. The range from Khurasan is enormous . Both products are rock-solid minis; well cast, nicely detailed and realistically proportioned. Well worth a look if you are into near-future sci-fi minis, they are a tad on the larger side of 15mm, but that is to be expected these days.