Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Soviet Tank Destroyers

I've finished a box of the 15mm Battlefront plastic Soviet Tank Destroyers, and they are really lovely. The fit of parts is as good as PSC, and the metal crew figures are a nice bonus. Unlike PSC the box also includes decals, although be warned! They are very fiddly and prone to disintegrate. Sadly, there are no items of stowage to make the vehicles look less uniform. All the slogans are hand painted.

The box set allows you to make five SU-85s or Su-100s. I made three SU-85s, which first appeared in the aftermath of the Kursk battles. As a result, they don't appear in the Battle Group Kursk rulebook, but official lists were published for them in Dispatches 1, an occasional Battle Group supplement published on the official forum. The list allows SU-85s to be bought in units of three.

SU-100s appear in Battle Group Fall of the Reich, where they can be purchased as a battery of two vehicles, so that's what I did with the remaining two from my box set.

So there we go. Two units of tank killers from a very affordable box set box. I'm very happy about the increasing move Battlefront is making to plastic sets.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Congratulations Paul!

Recently de-classified image of Captain Paul's crew on operations

Huge congratulations today to my mate and all round awesome bloke Paul of the Man Cave. He has been honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours list with a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership on recent operations. For those who know him, it is certainly no surprise that he has earned it, but its is fantastic to see this being recognised. Well done mate! I owe you a massive vat of beer.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Napoleonic Pin-Ups Anyone?

Is there anything not to like about these?

Figure sculptors - give the guy a call!


OK, predictable image, but I've hit 300 followers! Welcome Chevalier de la Terre, number 300. This deserves a competition, and I'll run one very soon.

Meanwhile, I've also been Liebstered by Neil Scott and Man Cave Paul. Awwww. Thanks guys. I was pleased to receive the award in a small ceremony held last night. As you can see, I was quite overcome by the emotion of it all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Dux Homunculorum Guide to Weathering Tanks

A couple of people have asked me recently how I do the weathering on my 15mm vehicles. I have developed a bit of a method that suits me, although I feel a total fraud when I compare what I bodge together with things like the magnificent weathering techniques that feature in the modelling sections of the Battlegroup rule books. Nothing I do approaches that standard, but if you're after a quick and lazy method that looks ok, this might interest you.

Step 1

Here's the basic model, a Zvezda T34. I just threw this together in a hurry, so didn't bother with extras like adding stowage or a bow MG. The model was spray undercoated with Army Painter white, then sprayed with Tamiya Olive Drab 2, which is my usual Soviet armour colour. The tracks, tires and tools were painted with Vallejo acrylics, then a hand painted slogan added ('For Stalin!') There's your basic painting done.

Step 2

Now I apply my secret weapon. Basically this is an acrylic equivalent of the Army Painter dip that I use. You can read about it here. Not only does the varnish make the tank look dirty and shaded, but it adds some protection as well.

I brush this on, but it does require a bit of patience. The stuff doesn't really like covering flat sections of armour much, but tends pool unevenly. However, I find that just brushing over the same section a few times eventually results in a reasonably even coat. I try to brush from top to bottom on vertical sections of the tank, and I stay on the lookout for puddles forming in corners. The important thing is just to take the time and not try to take a shortcut by splashing on loads of the stuff. It won't look good.

Step 3

Once the ersatz dip is dry I give the model a spray with Army Painter Anti-Shine. You need to be a bit careful here. If you spray too much, the matt spray reacts with the 'dip' and causes the surface to crack a little. What I have found though is that a certain amount of this can look pretty good, giving the tank's paintwork a distressed look. Experiment and see what you like.

Step 4 After the matt spray, it's time for highlights. I just tend to use the armour colour (in this case Vallejo Russian Green) lightened with Vallejo Buff (a very useful colour!), then get a flat brush and do some drybrushing over the raised details. You can see the effect in the comparison photo above.

Step 5

Finally, it's just a matter of dirtying the tank up. I always find this difficult, but usually add some soot to gun barrels and exhausts, then some dirt around the tracks and running gear. Lately I've been trying to give the mud a bit of texture by diluting Tamiya Diorama Paint, adding some lighter brown, and drybrushing it on with a very old paintbrush. Still deciding whether this works. The last step is a final very light drybrush of some brown, usually a sandy colour, to highlight the tracks a little more.

Here's the finished tank:
So there we have it! It's pretty easy, and although it won't win any awards, I find it a quick method to make my vehicles look a little better. Here are a couple more.

I Discover Kickstarter. Am I cool now?

Seems like all the cool kids are doing it, and now I've tagged along to the party. Yep, the Dux has bought in to a kickstarter. I blame Neil Shuck, who featured it on the Meeples and Miniatures blog.

So why am I interested in Battleground? Well firstly, it's shiny. But more importantly, I like the idea of getting the cards for some armies I don't have and using them to try out different systems. If you aren't familiar with the Battleground concept, basically they provide a sort of miniatures game without the miniatures, using cards representing units instead. I'm interested in giving the rules a go, but even if I don't like them I reckon these cards will be a good way to try out Impetus, Hail Caesar and whatever other games at the school club. Basically, it is potentially a low cost way of giving boys at the club a taste of big miniatures games without me having to make and transport armies around, which must be good.

Anyone else interested in this?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Universal Carriers and a Crab

My 15mm British force for Battle Group Overlord and Fall of the Reich continues to grow. Plastic Soldier Company taunted me with the release of their lovely 1/72 Universal Carriers to the point that I found I couldn't wait for them to come out in 15mm, so went ahead and bought a set from Forged in Battle.

These are pretty nice little resin kits, but I was a little disappointed that they only came with a couple of crew figures. I added some, especially the Bren gunners, from Skytrex, but they don't really fit as well as I'm sure the PSC ones will WHEN THEY GET AROUND TO RELEASING THEM! Sorry...I just really like Bren Carriers.

Like all the infantry units in my battle group, these are painted as belonging to the 9th Cameronians Battalion from the 15th (Scottish) Division.

Also from Forged in Battle is this Sherman Crab from the 79th Armoured Division. The kit is made from resin and metal, and was a bit of a bastard to put together without consulting photos. Some necessary shortcuts are taken with the moulding, for example sculpting the flails as a single block of resin that makes it look as though the flail chains were far denser than they actually where, but the finished beast looks pretty good, I think.

Probably the turret should have large numbers in red, edged in white, but I don't have anything suitable and don't want to chance painting them freehand. They might be something to add in the future.

I'm looking forward to trying this out in a scenario attacking a German defensive position. Now, where can I get a 15mm Churchill Crocodile....