Sunday, January 24, 2016

UM Grille M and MMS Marder III M

I finished two models today - both open-topped self-propelled guns based on the 38(t) chassis. OK, I still need to paint up some crew figures, but the vehicles themselves are done.

The first is a UM Grille M. It's a pretty detailed kit and comes with etched brass part, including the fold-into toolbox you can see on the left side of the hull. I left a lot of details out as the crew compartment is really cramped and I won't be able to fit any crew figures in if I put the ammunition in.

It was a difficult model to build as the track-and-wheels assembly is not separate from the upper hull, which is usually the case in AFV models. This meant I could not paint the wheel separately, or assemble the tracks with ease. The link-and-length was a struggle to put together, and as you can see I botched it up.

The second model is an MMS Marder III M which Martin passed to me. This was also a difficult model to build as the instructions were unclear. The wheels-and-tracks pieces were also poorly cast and the spaces between the rear running wheels and roadwheels were filled with metal which I could not remove without risking destroying the whole pieces, so I just hid it with extra mud.

Again, the crew compartment is small and I left the ammunition out.

I bought the Grille model as a proxy for a 15cm sFH auf Lorraine Schlepper for the "Kampfgruppe von Luck" campaign Martin and I are planning to play this year - it mounted the same gun and was made from a "captured" chassis, which pretty much describes the Grille. The Marder would proxy for a Pak 40 auf S 307 (f), which mounted the same gun and was also a captured chassis.

I painted both models in the same two-tone camouflage and gave them the same unit markings to reflect the fact that they are from the same unit, but the effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that while the UM model is 1/72 in scale, the MMS model is 1/76. The difference is quite obvious when the models are placed side by side.

With the vehicles done, I have pretty much all the figures and models I need to play the campaign (after the crew figures are done - but I only need to paint four of them because that's how many I can squeeze into the crew compartments). I do need something in the order of 40 actual feet of brick walls though to play the campaign, something which will take one or two full days of hard work to do. Well, no one said miniature wargaming was an easy hobby...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rampant Self-Promotion 2

I received a copy of Dragon Rampant in the mail today - a gift from Dan for contributing to the book. There was also a copy of Osprey's En Garde! rules in the package - thanks, Dan and Osprey!

What was my contribution, you ask? Well, I submitted a few photos of my figures, and two of them, reproduced in this post, made it into the final product.

I am, of course a regular playtester for Osprey and have been published in a print wargames magazine before (none of those *online* so-called "magazines", I assure you, no siree!), and my photographs are regularly lauded on Flickr (do people still use Flickr these days?) and have (okay, one has) been praised by none less than David duChemin in one of his podcasts, but this is the first time my two hobbies - nay, crafts! - have come together in a single medium.

But seriously, it's all been quite fun and I think Osprey's series of wargame rules have really provided an opportunity for wargamers to participate in the production of a set of wargame rules in a collective, grassroots kind of way.

So do get a copy of the rules - the artwork inside are beautiful - and I hope to be posting battel reports soon.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Italeri M-8 Greyhound, ACE Model M-5 anti-tank gun, and Valiant Miniatures 6-pounder anti-tank guns

Right, here's proof that I haven't abandoned miniature wargaming altogether.

The model is from Italeri, and can be built in the "standard" fashion, or in a "quick-build" wargamer's kit fashion - instead of fiddling with individual wheel and suspension, you glue four pieces onto the chassis.

It was overall an easy kit to build, with a very detailed 0.50 cal machinegun.

I have built the kit for fg's US army, mainly because I like the way the vehicle looks. fg will be painting up a crew figure or two for it.

I also bought, built and painted three anti-tank gun models for fg, as we are planning to play the Old Hickory campaign by TFL. This requires a maximum of four M5 75mm anti-tank gun models and two M3 57mm anti-tank guns.

The 57mm guns are from Valiant Miniatures - these came as British 6-pounders with British crew, and to convert them to US 57mm guns you simply cut off the muzzle-brake and use a different hub cap (provided in the box).

The 75mm gun was harder to come by - the only kit I could find was from ACE, a Ukrainian company. The details are not good, the plastic a little brittle, the instructions unclear; I was rather confused by the difference between what was shown on the instructions and photos of the gun I saw on google, until I realised that the kit was of the gun mounted on a rarer, older carriage.

Again, fg will be painting the crew figures for these.

Also in the assembly line are four German AFVs, which I hope to complete and post photos of soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Year, new beginnings

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year will see me going on part-time, putting me on a four-day work week. I get every Monday off, but instead of just having an extended weekend every week I will try to build some structure into the day: two hours of reading on professional matters, two hours of housework and exercise, two hours of hobby time, and two hours of non-hobby-related reading, on top of things like running errands and helping with family matters.

One other new thing I am starting is the hosting of a Monday evening RPG session.

If you have read my Origins: post, you will know that I was a RPG gamer before I was a wargamer. This year marks thirty years since I first became a game master. Over the years I may have wargamed more than I played RPGs, but I have always kept an eye on RPGnet forum and bought modules on RPGnow once in a while, in the hope that someday, somehow, I will get a group together again.

Then last month, while taking shelter from a sudden rain, I went into a library. With perhaps an hour to while away, I naturally gravitated to shelf 793 - Dewey Decimal for indoor games. There, on the shelf, I picked up Of Dice and Men, and before I knew it I have gone through half the book.

When I got home, I bought the ebook and finished reading the remainder of the book. The book awakened something in me; like the author, I craved a game of RPG. My last campaign was in 2013 and it only lasted two sessions as the players had difficulty meeting with the regularity that an RPG campaign required. If I wanted to get a group together, I had to look elsewhere...

I googled around, and in the end found a local Meetup forum for D&D. After a couple of days looking for a game to join without success, I posted my own "wanted" post. There was silence for a couple of days afterwards, but in a week I had three players signed up, and the next two more asked to join, but I have decided to stop at four (the first three from the forum plus fg) for a start.

So over the last three weeks I have bought a new set of rules (Dragon Age by Green Ronin), a fluff book (World of Thedas Volume 1), created the player characters with the players over email (three of them wanted to play a Rogue - is this some sort of Assassin's Creed thing?), bought, printed, cut out and pasted to PVC foam boards twenty-two 10 x 10 terrain tiles, bought and read half a dozen modules, read two ebooks on game mastering (three if you count Of Dice and Men), ordered six more Gamescience dice (so I have dice in three different colours and we can roll for damage in the same toss when we roll to-hit... plus I can always use more d6s for Chain of Command), prepared Quick Reference Sheets in hard clear plastic cases for everyone, and even made an Initiative Tracker out of bits left over from materials I bought to make movement trays.

I am pretty excited about the whole project, and admittedly all this planning and preparation comes at the expense of my wargaming. But rest assured that I will continue to paint and play wargames and share my works and games with my readers, and when I can, I will get back to my monthly give-away again.