Category Archives: 6mm – 1/285

I Have a Blog and I’m Not Afraid to Use It

Here’s an almost completely useless, yet absurdly long, post for you all.

On or around the new year, I wrote about 2014 being the year of finishing projects, and today I took some steps in that direction. Way back when, I had planned to create a terrain board for the TooFatLardies scenario from I Ain’t Been Shot Mum called “Action at Galmanche.”

“Action at Galmache” takes place in Normandy, July 8, 1944, as a part of Operation Charnwood and the British and Canadian attack on Caen. The terrain is farmland, consisting mainly of orchards, although there’s a smattering of cultivated land, as well (currently represented by a brown blotch at the upper right of the first photo).

Forces consist of a couple troops of Shermans and an infantry company on the British side, and a company of SS Panzergrenadiers and a PAK40 on the German side. No STuGs, though they feature prominently in my photographs.

Anyway, I had gotten to the point where the terrain board was flocked, but stalled out due to school and indecision on how to represent bocage at 1/285. Well, I cheaped out and just spent a couple hours hot-gluing clump foilage directly to the terrain board. It will work, even if it doesn’t really look like bocage.

My trees, which were created for 15mm ACW really don’t work as an orchard. Unless maybe it was an orchard of gargantuan Pecan trees. Which I’m quite certain they historically weren’t. However, in the interest of expediency, the action will take place in what looks like a particularly well ordered and sparse antediluvian forest. I actually have a couple more bags of “We Honest” Chinese trees that should work at this scale, but I’m not sure I can muster the energy to fix them up, at this particular point in time.

The whole thing fits on my drafting table

The whole thing fits on my drafting table

Those gleaming silver buildings are from GHQ, and just arrived yesterday. They’ll be primed and painted just as soon as I can clear my table of some ACW stuff I’ve been working on. Like all things GHQ, they’re just little gems of wargaming perfection. Or almost perfection. There’s some pretty bad mold slippage in a couple of the buildings. Which might bother someone who is more discriminating than me.

I would (and probably will) like to put a bit more time into making this board look like a real place, as I’ve moved away from the idea of doing terrain boards (lack of space, lack of flexibility, lack of time) and probably won’t have the chance, again.  I need to paint a few Sherman tanks, and print up the cards I created for the scenario, plant some crops in the corner of the board, and then this project should be ready to roll.

I plan to use the whole setup as a way to introduce people to historical miniatures wargaming. I mean, nothing’s cooler than these little bitty tanks. The sheer miniatureness of it is compelling, somehow.

Stugs advance down the road from the manor house.

Stugs advance down the road from the manor house.

I was so mad this shot was out of focus that I decided to use it anyway.

I was so mad this shot was out of focus that I decided to use it anyway.

This orchard holds death!

This orchard holds death!

Oh, all miniatures are GHQ except for the infantry, which are the wonderfully bobbleheaded Adler figures. I really do like them!

A Quick Tip for Painting Microarmor

20140105-174642.jpg

If you plan on painting Microarmor, start saving those plastic pizza box spacer stands (the ones that keep the lids from being crushed). The legs are the perfect size for slipping into the hull cavity of a 1/285 tank.

Spring Break 2013 Wrap-up

I think I said something earlier in the week about finishing a terrain board for the Action at Galmanche scenario from the I Ain’t Been Shot Mum rulebook. Heh. Heh heh heh. Not even close. Part of this is due to the unseasonable weather we’ve had during this, the first week of spring (it’s snowing outside my window! I live in the south!), but, let’s face it, I’m slow and have the attention span of a gnat.

Anyway, here’s what I did get done.

Cards, Cards, Cards…

Progress towards building a card deck for IABSM 3-Action at Galmanche

Progress towards building a card deck for IABSM 3-Action at Galmanche

I’ve revised and added to my card deck for Action at Galmanche. I’m using actual unit insignia, where appropriate. I still have many more cards to generate, and there are some compositional issues with these things that are bugging me. I’m not sure how effective the silhouettes are when the subject is in perspective, either. The files of soldiers look pretty good, but some of the less iconic (for lack of a better word) images are harder to read.

No Huffing or Puffing Allowed…

Paper Buildings

I’ve also been making up some paper buildings to use in my scenery. I haven’t used the best of craft on these guys, and it shows. Not to mention, some of these buildings are Dutch in origin, and some appear to be invented from whole cloth. I’m gaming in Normandy. Oh well, they were free, and will serve until I can get my hands on some metal/resin/plastic/scratchbuilt models.

Forest, Trees, Etc.

I'm ok with these.

I’m ok with these.

Masking Tape Wrapped Trunk

Masking Tape Wrapped Trunk

And here are my wire armature tree making efforts so far. The blurry tree in the foreground is clad in masking tape, while the guy in the back is un-clad (though not naked!). The masking tape technique  certainly looks more like bark, but it’s a bit of a pain. I think I’ll be sticking with unadorned wire for the moment. Honestly, these things are a lot of work in bulk, and I’ll probably switch to cheap Chinese ebay trees when money is less tight. That said, they were fun to do. I need to get these guys based, and I’ll probably flock the foliage (sounds slightly dirty) as well. Expect a full tutorial when I have all that done. Probably in June.

Boaring

Poor terrain board...

Poor terrain board…

Here we see the sorry state of my terrain board. It’s primed and has a couple of major roads shaped in the rigid insulation, but that’s about it. Oh, I did learn one new thing. I used tile adhesive to fill the gaps and smooth out the edges. That stuff is a serious pain to sand by hand (and you dare not use a power sander in the vicinity of foam insulation-one slip and it’s ruined!). I’ll use drywall spackle for this purpose from here on out.

When the weather improves, and assuming I’ll be able to find the time, I’ll start adding texture, paint, and flock to this fellow.

Wire Trees in 1/285-an Incomplete Exploration

The terrain board I’m preparing is for the historical scenario ‘Action at Galmanche’ from the I Ain’t Been Shot Mum 3 rulebook. The terrain includes a bit of row crops, some roads, and farm buildings, but the primary components are several orchards and a copse of ‘forest,’ which the little farming hamlet of Galmanche is arranged around.

I don’t have any trees of suitable size for 1/285 gaming. I’ve given some though to purchasing Chinese Z scale model railroad trees from ebay. They’re dirt cheap and look fairly decent when doctored up a bit (note: I haven’t had any personal experience with the ebay trees-this is all just internet hearsay). Unfortunately, as little free time as I currently have, I have even less discretionary income. With that weighty fact looming over my head, I’ve decided to make my own trees.

My girlfriend and I have been building some raised garden beds this week in preparation for spring planting. Part of the raised beds is a metal screen to prevent moles, voles, and other creatures with ‘oles’ in their name from digging up from the natural ground and eating the sweet succulent roots of our vegetablish progeny. This screen is rolled up and secured with malleable thin gauge wire, which is absolutely perfect for making small scale model trees. I’m sure this baling wire is available at any hardware store.

What you'll need

What you’ll need

You’ll need a pair of pliers, a pair of wire cutters, and (obviously) some of the aforementioned wire in order to make these tree armatures.

A variety of scales

A variety of scales

Making these trees has been an experimental process for me. Above are some of my early efforts, which used a simple two sections of wire twisted together. This works fine for small scale trees, but as you can see from the tall tree in the center, they can begin to look a bit bizarre. At least for Europe. Tall trees with no lower foilage make perfect sense in the context of the Serengeti plain. Maybe. In any case, the super simple method of only using two pieces of wire works great for my orchards (similar in scale to the tree with dark foliage to the right). More investigation was needed to arrive at a decent European or American oak/walnut/maple/whatever.

Components for a multi-branched tree

Components for a multi-branched tree

At 1/285, you can get away with depicting even the mightiest of oaks in an impressionistic way. I decided having two tiers of branches would do a fine job of depicting a tree with full foliage. A practical constraint on adding more branches is that doing so also adds to the caliper of the tree trunk, and the trunk can quickly get out of scale when working with such diminutive dimensions.

The initial twist

The initial twist

The operation for twisting your wire together is this: Cluster your wires together and grab the ‘root’ end (the end with the loops) with your wire cutters. DON’T CUT. Grab the roots maybe an 1/8th of an inch above the ends if you plan on having visible roots. If you’re going to be jabbing your tree into a base or foamcore or something of that nature, just grab the base of the trunk as low as possible and snip off the loops when the armature is constructed.

On the top end of the tree, grab the branches with your pliers. The end of your pliers should be placed at the point at which you want the lower tier of branches to begin. With this accomplished, begin to slowly twist. You should at least twist enough to get a tight ‘weave’ of the wires. I like to ‘overtwist’ the trunk a bit, because the excess twisting begins to introduce deformations into the overall shape of the trunk, and these deformations, if you don’t overdo it, look very naturalistic.

The photograph above shows the initial trunk twisting, which stops at the lower tier of branches. This lower tier of branches has been spread out and angled upwards about 60 degrees from zenith.

The basic armature complete

Now you grab the cluster of wires where you’d like the upper branches to begin. The wires will mesh together and won’t affect the lower trunk unless you begin to ‘overtwist.’ Again, overtwisting might be desirable. Once you have the trunk constructed, it’s time to bend and place the branches. This is easily done by hand. I just try to achieve some sort of naturalistic spread of branches that is going to also give me a full spread of foliage.

Next you need to make the root decision. If you’re going to be pushing the trees into some sort of soft medium, and aren’t concerned with the fiddly detail of visible roots, you should just cleanly snip off the end of the trunk. I’d cup my non-tool wielding hand around the tree armature to prevent injury from wire shrapnel.

If you want visible articulated roots, just snip the bends in the pieces of wire and spread them out in a manner similar to the branches. Obviously you’ll want a flatter zenith angle relationship to the trunk.

What to do about bark

I think this wire tree armature thing works quite well for 1/285 scale trees. A bit of googling will show some extremely complicated (but awesome) ways of doing wire trees for larger scales, but this is about as far as I’d want to go at my scale.

I had hoped that I’d be able to push these wire trees into my blue foam rigid insulation and pull them out later. Unfortunately, the foam tends to compress under the pressure from the wire instead of parting and gripping it. You might get better results with other, less dense, types of foam, or by grinding the trunk to a sharp point. I think I’m going to work out some sort of basing system for my trees, and go with the articulated root system.

I’ll show you how to clad these things in bark and paint them just as soon as I’ve figured it out. I’m thinking fimo, greenstuff, or drywall spackle and a shot of black primer with some quick drybrushing. Maybe I’ll try all three. Or maybe I’ll just paint the bare metal. I’m just after an impression, after all.

A Long Delayed Update

It turns out that the 10th and final semester of Architecture school is also the most intense and demanding of my time. So…very little time spent on miniatures, other than grabbing 30 minutes here or there. I’m also completely off-track on my schedule that I set up at the beginning of the year. That’s no surprise to me, but disappointing, nonetheless.

Napoleonic Digression

I have painted a few 1/72 plastic Napoleonic 95th rifles as well as some French Voltigeurs in the same scale and of the same material. My 95th Rifles have been shown before, and the Italeri sculpts remain a joy to paint. My Voltigeurs are by Zvezda, and have proved to be very unsatisfying to paint. The models look great in bare plastic, but the detail turns out to be quite shallow. I’m not the greatest painter in the world at the best of times, but these Voltigeurs have resisted even my most tender ministrations, and are sloppy and flat in appearance.

They’re certainly not worth breaking out the tripod and backdrop, and thus only get the crappy iPhone photo treatment.

Voltigeurs in Disarray

The Dragoon that has snuck in is by Italeri, and was quite fun to paint, though he turned out a good deal more dull than I had hoped.

Voltigeurs in Less Disarray

Back on Track

I have, at long last, started a terrain board for an initial game of I Ain’t Been Shot Mum III. A company of British infantry, supported by a platoon of Shermans will be facing off with a company of Heer infantry in a country village, who happen to have a bit of support in the form of a Pak 40. That’s a bit beside the point, though. Here’s the board.

Terrain Board

The board is 2’x4′ in total dimension, and is made up of part of a sheet of 3/8″ masonite (hardboard), 1×2’s, and 3/4″ blue rigid insulation. The 1×2’s shore up the masonite, which is dimensionally stable over time. The blue foam rigid insulation fits perfectly into the ‘reservoir’ created by the 1×2’s, the actual dimensions of which are 3/4″x1.5″. Do you have nominal vs. actual dimensions in Europe? If not, the previous sentence likely makes absolutely no sense. Here’s a shot of the ‘sandwich’ detail.

Terrain Board Construction Detail

The cool thing about the blue foam is that it’s extremely easy to sculpt and can quickly be formed into sunken roads, ponds, streams, and hills. It’s my intention to COMPLETE (yes, complete) my terrain board by the end of the week, seeing as how this is that most venerable of American collegiate traditions: Spring Break.

So, more later in the week.

Progress!

Is that a full reinforced company of Panzergrenadiers (well, minus their transport) with a bit of armor and gun support? Why, yes it is! 6mm, I love you and your quick-to-paint ways.

Adler infantry, GHQ armor and guns

Adler infantry, GHQ armor and guns

Now I need to get cracking on my Brits and some terrain.

End of the Year Wrap-up

It’s been an interesting year. I dove into the wargaming hobby headfirst in late 2011, with the intention of developing forces and terrain in 1/72nd for WWII skirmishing. That objective lasted about 2 months, at which point I began to branch out in subject and scale. For instance, I’m currently trying to do WWII in 1/285! Other interests include 1/72 Napoleonic Skirmish, WW2 air combat in 1/600, 28mm dark ages and medieval skirmish, 28mm old west, 15mm sci-fi, and I’ve even started messing about with some old 25mm fantasy miniatures that I’ve had since I was a kid.

The impact of all this dithering about is that I’ve played exactly one game of historical miniatures in 2012, and it was pitifully small (though quite fun). I’m not too upset-I really enjoy being able to chase whatever hare crosses my path modeling/painting-wise, but I’d really like to do more gaming in 2013. So, here in bullet point form are my goals for 2013.

Finish company level forces (German and British) in 1/285 for WWII gaming by mid-January.
Decide on a type of terrain for 1/285. I’ve been waffling back and forth between some sort of sheet/pastels system and more formal boards.
Build the 1/285 terrain and put on a full WW2 game using Too Fat Lardies rules, I Ain’t Been Shot Mum v3.
Finish platoon level sci-fi forces (Khurasan Feds vs. As-yet-to-be-determined foe) by June.
Build a modular terrain system for 15mm gaming and play some Tommorrow’s War using the aforementioned sci-fi minis.
Once these two goals are complete, I’ll consider myself free to pursue other miniatures gaming interests.
What are the chances of me adhering to these goals? Practically nil. We’ll see, though. I’m actually pretty close on the 1/285 stuff. My Germans are 75% painted, and my British armor and a company of infantry arrived in the mail last week, so the barrier of having the figures has been crossed.

A few pictures of some things I’ve been working on in the last couple of months follow.

I have no idea what manufacturer they came from, but I love these sculpts.

I have no idea what manufacturer they came from, but I love these 25mm fantasy sculpts. The fellow on the right is far from finished, obviously.

I have big dreams of suckering the local gaming club into trying out miniatures wargaming through Old West skirmishing.

I have big dreams of suckering the local gaming club into trying out miniatures wargaming through Old West skirmishing.

Perry Brothers Crusaders and some Foundry Vikings. I'm not sure what to do with these guys, and obviously I'd have to buy more figures (and shields!).

Perry Brothers Crusaders and some Foundry Vikings. I’m not sure what to do with these guys, and obviously I’d have to buy more figures (and shields!) regardless of the rules.

GHQ armor, and Adler German Infantry. You're looking at a platoon of Stugs, a couple of Pak40s, and a platoon of Panzergrenadiers with some additional elements.

GHQ armor, and Adler German Infantry. You’re looking at a platoon of Stugs, a couple of Pak40s, and a platoon of Panzergrenadiers with some additional elements.

This is where I'm at with my German forces

This is where I’m at with my German forces

Adler infantry, GHQ armor.

Adler infantry, GHQ armor.

I struggle painting Napoleonics. I have a half-dozen unfinished Voltigeurs that are driving me nuts!

I struggle painting Napoleonics. I have a half-dozen unfinished Voltigeurs that are driving me nuts!

More MicroArmor

In my last microarmor post, I was hoping that I could paint up a platoon of tanks (or self-propelled guns, in this case) in under an hour, but those hopes proved to be ill-founded.

I did manage to finish my platoon of Stug IIIgs, a couple of Sdkfz 11 prime movers, and two more Pak40s in an evening’s time, though. That’s  unparalleled speed, in my miniatures painting history! I’m pleased.

I got a little overzealous with the balkenkreuz on a couple of these guys.

I thought this was a nice touch: a pack of GHQ micro-armor (at least this pack of Stug IIIg’s) includes a couple of variations on the unit contained therein-notice the sections of track mounted on two of the Stug turrets (well, they’re not really turrets…fighting compartment?).

For now, I’m planning on going with un-based vehicles. We’ll see how that works out as a gaming solution. I’m a bit worried about bent barrels during games, as they’re quite fragile.

These Sdkfz 11s come with full body-length canopies, and I was going to do one of the miniatures with the canopy deployed. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any test fits, or I would have realized that having the deployed canopy would require trimming the collapsed canopy from the base model.

No way I was diving into that after finishing painting. These guys will drive in the weather.

Incomplete, but not forgotten

Here are the two deployed Pak 40s, based on pennies with tinted matte medium serving as basing material and adhesive.

We’ll see how the basing turns out. None of my normal ground materials are going to work in their usual manner. My model railroad ballast that I typically use for ground texture looks like boulders strewn across the face of Mt. Doom at 6mm scale.

The gunners were fun to paint. Three colors (skin, uniform, and helmet and boots) and an ink wash, and you’re done.

1/285 MicroArmor

The Gamer ADD is bad with me. Very bad. At least it’s WW2, I suppose.

I’ve been testing out some 1/285 GHQ microarmor, after being inspired by Mr. Luther’s stunning 6mm I Ain’t Been Shot Mum games over on Flickr. You really shouldn’t click this link, unless you want to start spending money on microarmor. If you do, though, you can take solace in the fact that it’s cheap cheap cheap.

Without further rambling, here are my first efforts at 1/285 microarmor: a StuH 42, and a couple of PAK 40s.

This scale is proving to be a blast to paint. You don’t really have to sweat the details, because the models are incredibly well cast, considering their size, and a quick drybrush and ink wash really makes them pop. I’d be really upset with myself if I’d neglected to blacken these barrels on a 1/72 piece of armor, but who cares at this scale?

I believe the pencil is German, as well. This scale is fun and very quick to paint.

Proof of the tinyness is above.