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....

Friday, May 23, 2014

Baptism of Fire for Battle Group Brits

I had a break from a horrible weak of exam marking yesterday afternoon by playing a game of Battle Group Overlord with the school wargames club warlord. We played a 500 point game of the Flank Attack scenario, and for me it was a chance to get my Brits on the table for the first time. My Battle Group was made up of:

An infantry platoon
A troop of Churchill VIs
A Churchill IV
2 Achilles Tank Destroyers
A Humber Scout Car
2 Ram Kangaroos
A battery of 2 4.2" mortars off board
A pre-registered target point

This force cost 503 points. gave me a Battle Rating of 30 and two officers.

As usual the game was a complete blast, and played very differently to the Kursk games we are used to. The Brits required much more careful combinded arms actions, with the movement (slow!) of the Churchill covered by the tank destroyers and much more aggressive use of infantry. I used my pre-registered target point to target one of the objectives, so had fun mortaring the Germans when they moved up a couple of halftracks to take the objective.

The gods who look after the taking of random Battle Counters were definitely on my side in the game, with the Germans managing to lose a tank to a mine strike and another to a breakdown. I almost felt sorry for them. Naaaaaaaah.

This was also a game that really demonstrated that pinning units with area fire is just about as effective in Battle Group as actually destroying units. In the end, we had to call the game due to time, with my Brits way ahead in victory points, so that's one game out of one for the 6th Guards Armoured Brigade and 15th Scottish Infantry.

Battle Group is such a great set of rules! I've never had a game where I haven't found myself thinking back over the action and remembering the highlights.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Brits, Baccus and Bases

This week I managed to get a couple of things finished. First up, a Humber scout car for Battle Group Fall of the Reich. This will give my 6th Armoured Churchills some recce capability, and another mortar spotter. The model is from Peter Pig.

I also managed to get another unit of Baccus 6mm ECW infantry finished, so that project is ticking along ok as well.

And while I'm at it, here's a quick cool product review.

A while back I spotted some Tamiya Diorama Texture Paint in my local hobby store and gave it a go. I've since come to the conclusion that this stuff is the bomb. Basically it's a very thick acrylic paint paste with lots of grit in it, available in a range of different soil, snow, sand and even grass and tarmac effects. I apply it to bases with a palette knife, and it creates a nice hard textured surface that can easily be drybrushed.

I've also recently tried diluting the earth shade, adding some lighter paint and dabbing it around the running gear of tanks, and it looks pretty good. Not as cheap as PVA and sand, but looks good I think. Does anyone else use this?

Have a great week, everyone.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Unboxing the Flames of War Soviet Tank Killers

I'm not generally a fan of Flames of War minis. Not that I have bought many at all, having usually been put off by the price, so I usually only resort to them when I need a specialist vehicle or two.

However, I was tempted by these. One of the great side effects of the glory that is the Plastic Soldier Company is that they have obviously scared Battlefront quite a bit. Far be it from me to suggest that Battle Group books should have 'The MUCH BETTER World War II Miniatures Game' emblazoned across the front in large letters. That would be churlish. It is great to see though that Battlefront are starting to embrace plastic kits. Partly out of curiosity, I picked up a box of their plastic Soviet Tank Killers. Partly out of curiosity, but also because it is actually going to require little effort to turn my force for Battle Group Kursk into a Soviet army for Fall of the Reich. All I really need to do is paint all the alternative T34/85 turrets that I still have in a box, buy a box of the new PSC IS2s, and get some tank destroyers, where is where this box set comes in. Actually, I reckon PSC really missed their chance on this one. Since they already had their T34 box, it can't have been too much work to have turned it into a release of SUs ready for Fall of the Reich, but Battlefront got there first with this release for Flames of War.

The box follows a similar format to PSC, offering five complete vehicles. They cost more, $55 AUD compared to about $42 for an equivalent PSC box, but they do include decals. The sprues allow different options to build five complete SU-85s, SU-100s, SU-85Ms or SU-100Ms. Metal commander figures are included along with decals, but no instructions, so a glance at some photos might be in order if you don't know which way round the exhaust pipes go or how the top hatches open.

These are lovely kits. The armour surface has a great slightly rough surface, and all detail is beautifully defined. I have put together one SU=85 so far, and everything fitted perfectly. Very impressive, and I think they will look even better with the addition of a bit of clutter and stowage.

All up, this box set gets a couple of thumbs up from the Dux, and I think this should be popular with BG players wanting to build a late war Soviet force. Kudos to Battlefront for being inspired by the Glory of PSC (see what I did there?) and I'm looking forward to seeing more new plastic goodies from them.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ram Kangaroos

The latest completed models to emerge from the forges of Isengard are these four Ram Kangaroos for Battle Group Overlord and Fall of the Reich.

The resin and metal kits are from Forged in Battle, with some extra bits and bobs of stowage added.I really like these, although I know some people are put off by the moulded-on bases.

The kangas were sprayed with Plastic Soldier Company British Armour spray, and finished with decals for the 79th Armoured Division from Dom's Decals. Unfortunately I didn't have any of the right bridge markings. At some stage I might add some infantry passengers.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Big Box of Awesome...and Little Men on Horses

This week my much-anticipated Big Box of Awesome arrived from Plastic Soldier Company. This contained the new Battle Group Barbarossa rule book (with an extra copy for Paul to drool over)as well as all the new armour and infantry paint sets from PSC. These are just Vallejo paints in PSC boxes, but with nice little painting guides. PSC ran a tasty pre-order on these, giving a discount as well as throwing in a box of models of your choice and a sprue of relevant infantry for each of the paint sets. Then there were a couple of extra Pz III sprues for pre-ordering Barbarossa, although PSC chucked in a whole box of them as well. Happy Dux.

This week also saw me finish my first batch of 6mm Parliamentarian cavalry, which I'm pretty pleased with, so the army is steadily growing.