Sunday, May 31, 2015

PSC 1/72 Panzer IV

When I bought the PSC StuG, I reckoned I might as well save on postage and get a tank I don't already have, and so I got myself a workhorse of the German army: the Panzer IV.

I chose to build the model with the schurzen around the turret but not the hull because I didn't want all the details on the hull to be obscured. I used the same colours for the camouflage, but varied the scheme slightly - the StuG had the brown bands adjacent to the green bands, while the Panzer IV had them spaced by the Dark Yellow. This was partly to show that the two vehicles were from different units, as the Peddinghaus decals I bought were for specific tanks, down to their units.

Once again, this was an easy kit to build, and the details are good. The tracks halves didn't quite meet once all the primer and paint were applied though, but I was too lazy to remedy that today.

I still have decals for Panthers and Hanomags, so maybe I will be getting those models too...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

PSC 1/72 StuG wrecked

After building my wrecked truck I set about looking for a kit for a tank to wreck. My choice was a StuG as I couldn't bear to build a tank I don't already have one of just to wreck, and since wahj has built two StuGs, I didn't need another "live" one...

There is no shortage of pictures of wrecked tanks on the internet; in fact, there seems to be some sort of fascination for them, with books and websites dedicated to the subject. My guess is that wrecks (and tanks in repair) allow the scale modeler to expose the inner workings of a tank and therefore allow them to show off their skills more. Anyway, my conclusion after looking at dozens of photos is that: to make a tank look wrecked at first sight, there must be something wrong with the wheels or tracks, the hatches must be open, and the machine-gun must have been removed.

After further googling, I decided that the best kits to use for this kind of project would be the Plastic Soldier Company's kits. Their tank tracks come in two halves, like two 'C's, and are soft enough for me to bend them to certain shape - and if they snapped, it was easy to glue them back.

The problem though was that the front drive wheels are incomplete - the front part has no teeth to allow an easy fit with the tracks, This meant that I couldn't recreate a wreck where the tracks fell off the wheels altogether. After further googling, I decided to base my wreck on this photo:

I chose the early version of the StuG III G, and went for the same three-tone camouflage I have used for the truck. I built and painted the model pretty much as is, only cutting the machine-gunner's hatch into halves and gluing them in an open position. The right-side tracks I simply bent into shape and fitted them over the wheels, then cut the skirt above where the tracks broke with wire-cutters and dabbed some black paint around the area. I weathered the model using a wash the sponge technique and applied decals I bought from Peddinghaus, attached the tracks, and brushed some mud on them. I am quite pleased with how the whole thing turned out, although I must explore those decal-dissolving liquid if I ever come across them at a model store...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Death is a Swift Rider"

Warning: This is a long post wherein I wax lyrical about the origins of this vehicle and effuse about my weathering techniques.

Remember my death-obsessed Space Marines with a sword fetish who haven't been getting any love for the past two years? Well, they are finally getting some attention with the addition of a (counts as) Razorback.

Now I originally envisioned my Space Marines as an all-infantry force without any vehicles, but the temptation of adding a cool vehicle model to the force proved too strong.

For them onset I knew I didn't want a Games Workshop model. My first choice was the Armorcast Scarab APC:

but it was rather expensive.

I turned my thoughts to getting a wheeled APC instead, seeing as it is my Space Marines are based on a rocky planet (yes, in sci-fi planets have only one terrain type. Ever.). There are many non-GW sci-fi APCs out there, but again, they can be expensive, and they usually have a footprint that is larger than that of a Rhino APC.

The solution was a historical or real-life vehicle kit. I toyed with the idea of half-tracks but thought that they were too easily recognisable. There are some kits of modern wheeled APCs, but none fit what I was looking for. Eventually I settled on the M8 Greyhound/M20 Scout Car chassis.

The idea of mashing a historical kit with GW bits is of course not new. This guy does that in a way that impresses in both quality and quantity.

I ordered some GW vehicle bits and a Tamiya 1/48 M20... and when the latter arrived found that it was too small. Undaunted, I ordered the 1/35 kit - by now any savings I may have made for choosing a "cheaper" option has vanished.

The kit sat un-built for months while I worked on other projects, but when I decided to build the Opel Blitz truck, I decided I would capitalise on the momentum and do the APC too.

So I built the M20, added a piece of plasti-card to cover the open top, and cut a hole in that to mount the twin-linked lascannon (since my command squad has 6 persons and that's the capacity of a Razorback...). I glued GW smoker-dischargers and a small radar dish and an antenna (from a Sentinel kit, I think?) to the hull to give it a more GW look. The rear of the vehicle revealed how small the crew compartment is, so I added the ramp from a Rhino to the back and blended it in with some plasti-card - this also gives an explanation of how my Marines get out of the vehicle.

You can see the smoke-dischargers, radar dish, antenna, and ramp in this view.

Next came the spray-painting. I primed the kit in black, then sprayed it with Tamiya Olive Drab which I bought for the three-tone camouflage for the Opel Blitz... only to find that the colour looked too much like olive drab and not Dark Angel Green (duh!). Another trip to the store!

This time round I bought Racing Green, sprayed it over the Olive Drab... still too bright! I should have gone for Dark Green (double duh!). What's worse, the surfaces was semi-glossy. Nevertheless, I decided to soldier on.

I sprayed a layer of matte varnish over the vehicle, then dry-brushed the whole vehicle with Folk Art Thicket, and then washed it with Army Painter Dark Tone. This dulled the sheen a little.

Next came the weathering.

I decided not to use salt weathering on the vehicle because my Marines wouldn't let their vehicle deteriorate to that state. Instead, I decided to do what this guy calls "micro chipping", which depicts the wearing off of paint revealing (unrusted) metal underneath. You can see this being done to the edges of the hatches in the photo below. The scroll reads: Cita Mors Ruit - "Death is a Swift Rider".

The micro chipping took care of the corners and edges, but the large flat surfaces of the hull started to look... featureless by contrast. So I employed another technique I saw on youtube, which was to simply dab a small piece of sponge with paint and then dab it lightly over the surfaces. I used this with both black paint to depict spotting on the paint (with a dabbing motion), and with Folk Art Honeycomb to depict mud splashes (using a brushing motion). At this point I realised that had I used Dark Green as the base colour for the vehicle, the sponge weathering might be hard to discern and it would make the vehicle look more plain.

For the ramp I went a bit more heavily on the "teeth" on the edge, dabbing black to depict chipped-off paint, silver to depict the exposed, polished metal, and finally Honeycomb to depict the mud the "teeth" would bite into when the ramp is lowered. I am rather pleased with the result.

I applied some Dark Angels decals to the sides of the hull in a WW2 German fashion, brushed some ink over them to weather them a bit, and I was done. Rather unbelievably, I have run out of purity seals. Perhaps another time then...

So there you have it. As you can see though, at "wargaming distance" all the weathering don't actually show up, but it was still a fun project. I have a box of Perry Light Cavalry to paint now, followed by a couple packs of 15mm Hellenistic infantry, but maybe after those are done I will do a wrecked tank for my WW2 gaming or more trucks - as long as I still have the spray paints, I might as well.

The passengers pose outside their vehicle, like guys do. How do they fit those banners and wings inside there?

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Academy Opel Blitz

I have been looking for a WW2 German truck to paint as a damaged/abandoned vehicle ever since I completed my wrecked Pak 40 model.

There isn't a lack of 1/72 Opel Blitz or other German truck models on the market, but I have been waiting for Plastic Soldier Company's promised released... until I decided to give up and just get the Academy one, thinking that it was a good price for a detailed model. What I didn't realise was that you actually get only one model and not two, as one might misconstrue from the box art.

(image from Missing Lynx)

Nevertheless, it is a very nice kit.

Having obtained the truck, my next question was how exactly was I going to assemble it.

There are many photos of wrecked or damaged WW2 trucks on the internet, but many are hard to duplicate using this kit because it does not have a canopy (and those kits which do have the canvas canopy instead of just the frame, which is what I need because the canvas is usually shown burnt away or else tattered) nor are the tyres separate from the wheels (many of the heavily damaged trucks have their tyres missing or burnt off).

Eventually I decided I would depict a lightly-damaged truck that has been shot at and hence abandoned by its crew. I also decided to try my hand at salt weathering and show the truck in some degree of neglect.

There are many online tutorials on salt weathering, but I followed this one, which gives really clear step-by-step instructions.

Salt weathering is really not as daunting as it sounds, but it does take some practice. My lessons from this first attempt are:

1. Do not just use a single colour for the base layer. In my model you can see that the exposed rust/primer surface is really too uniform to look like weathering. Many painters modelers use several shades of paints or other pigments for their base layer to give a more realistic appearance.

2. Table salt may be too coarse for 1/72 scale models. Some tutorials recommend coarse sea salt for salt weathering, but I think even fine table salt is too large-grained for a 1/72 model. In my next attempt I will grind the salt a little to give a finer grain.

Other than the weathering I added a few touches to give the impression of an abandoned vehicle.

I made the front left tyre flat by melting the tyre with a lighter and then pressing it against a glass surface. This gives the truck a little tilt which suggests that it is not all that well.

I also made broken windows and windscreen using bits of clear plastic from a blister pack, cut randomly and given a wash.

The door and the side of the engine compartment are a single piece in the kit, but I scored along the line and "opened" the doors - after all, the doors must have been opened to allow for the crew to flee or be evacuated.

The whole model was then given a brown wash. I have to add some mud on the tyres and mud guards too.

Over all I am quite happy with the results. Perhaps I should do a wrecked tank next - anyone knows of an easy-to-build German tank kit with separate tracks?

Monday, May 04, 2015

Dungeon Crawl Game 3

A warm welcome for the party!
fg and I played Game 3 of our dungeon crawl campaign yesterday.

This particular scenario (and to a large extent the whole campaign) is based on the old D&D module "Red Hand of Doom".

After the last scenario, the party learn that the goblins are gathering allies to launch a massive attack on the human settlements in the region. One of these is a lich who has been sealed up in his dungeon by an order of monks long time ago.

The party travel to the monastery to learn that they were attacked by goblin raiders who carried away their dead a few days ago. Following the tracks of the goblins, they arrive at the entrance of the dungeon to find that the holy seal on the doors have been broken.

They enter the dungeon, fight off a horde of zombies, defeat the lich's two lieutenants, but find themselves too weary to defeat him. Impressed by their abilities, the lich offers them a deal: he had been blackmailed into providing an undead army for the goblins, who somehow came into possession of his phylactery (or horcrux); if the party recovers his phylactery, not only will he not provide the goblins with an army, he will fight on their side.

With no means to defeat the lich for good, the party agrees.

Surely no harm can come from digging around this pit of bones...


Instead of using a randomly-generated dungeon, I used the Temple of Abaddon battlemap from Lord Zse Zse Works I bought earlier for our RPG campaign.

The whole dungeon laid out.

After the game, we played another game of Imperial Assault. The Rebels win their first game. I suspect I am not using the reinforcements as I am supposed to...

Friday, May 01, 2015

Skaven Chieftain

I have been trying to get a cheap, single stormvermin standard bearer figure to use as a Battle Standard Bearer since Thomas asked me to find him one, but they tend to be expensive and not sold as singles.

Then I came upon this Games Day shaken chieftain which looks quite the part.

The figure is actually rather strange. His one good eye is looking to the rear, and the way he is holding his weapon and standard means that if you faced the standard to the front, he cannot rank up with other figures. And then his knee armour seem to be sewn to a skirt?

Still, with him done we are one step closer to fielding a skaven army. Hopefully that happens before the whole Warhammer world implodes...