I am so close to finishing up my British Infantry battalion it is not funny. The trouble is i keep finding more awesome figures to buy and paint. This platoon from my favourite AB figures was no exception. I think they are meant for the Far East by the equipment and the presence of a Thompson sub machine gun, but I have painted them up to join my Northumbrian Light Infantry in Normandy. Nothing much to add, they took me ages to paint as usual.
I was asked about the new grassy mat I have photographed them on. This was made using a faux fur blanket I found at Spotlight (an Australian craft store). The material is available at this link – i have no idea if the same stuff is available in other countries:
The trick is that this particular fabric has a fur length exactly the height of grass at 1/72 scale so you do not have to cut it or shave it or mess with it at all. You could easily shave roads and paths into it if you like, but i tend to place all my terrain on top, or hills can be anything placed underneath. Other fur fabrics are a pain as they are generally quite long and need a lot of cutting to get them to look like anything else except fake fur…..
Painting is simple. I just laid my 3m x 150cm fabric out on the lawn and sprayed it lightly with a lime green and bright yellow cheap spray like the below. $3.50 per can, and i probably used 2 green and one yellow. You could throw in some brown or beige or cream depending on the effect you want.
The trick is to take it slowly and spray lightly and repeatedly so you retain the texture of the fabric and do not get it swamped or claggy. When you are happy with the colour mix leave it to dry. If you get spray paint on the lawn dont worry it will go away next time you mow.
I have been struggling to make roads and town squares for a while using various different methods. Hand scribing cobble stones onto a thin layer of plaster on MDF looks great, but it is wildly time consuming. Textured card glued to MDF or wood also works, but looks a bit flat and a bit fake for my liking. The best method I have now settled on is a textured rolling pin from a company called Greenstuff World at www.greenstuffworld.com
They produce a big range of interesting things for the modeler. I picked up some of their textured rolling pins. I found the 28mm scale one of cobblestones which is about 25cm long works really well for 1/72 scale cobbled town squares and roads. The detail stands out better than the smaller roller means for 15mm scale. I decided that I wanted to just make larger cobbled squares and put them together to make a large town area. Then the buildings would stand on top of the town area and the cobbled roads would be formed in between the buildings. Using MDF i cut a roughly 25 x 25cm square and then rolled out DAS clay nice and thin to the same size with a bit of an overlap. You then carefully and firmly roll the textured rolling pin over the clay in one direction making an imprint. I left this to dry, glued it to the MDF and then trimmed the edges.
I gave it a base in a grey spray primer and then used some brown and black washes and a whole heap of dry brushing lighter shades of grey. Check them out. When I have made a few I will set up a town scene to show the effect.
I still needed a couple more panthers to get up to three troops of three tanks, so I picked up a Zvezda Panther on eBay. I have made one of these before and also a few of the Panzer IVs and also a Tiger so I know what I am in for. These kits are advertised as snap together which really only means some of it is snap together, but if you are like me you are going to be gluing it all together anyway. Zvezda kits are generally really good. The detail is excellent and parts go together very nicely. Also they are great value for money, especially if you buy them from Eastern Europe where they are made. I don’t think this cost me much more than $10–12AUD.
My only criticisms would be as follows. The hatches are all moulded shut, so if you like placing extra figures in the tank, like I do, you cannot, unless you are brave and feel like doing some surgery.
Due to the snap fit design some bits are tricky to get together, like the rear of the top hull fitting into the bottom. I had to cut off a couple of small lugs that were just bending rather than fitting. Also there was a gap at the front where the hulls meet and i had to do some filling and sanding with my magic putty.
The track design is great, you wrap around the flexible tracks and then fit them onto pegs in between the wheels. This can also get tricky as its a tight fit, and you need to be very careful not to apply too much force and break any of the sprocket wheels. I made this mistake before on the Tiger so I was extra cautious this time.
My paint job was a patchy camouflage scheme and some dark washes, plus plenty of dirt and dust to finish him off. I added an aerial and half destroyed the side skirts for some interest. I used some excellent decals from the Revell panther i finished next which gave more options than this kit.
Another great kit from Dragon Models. It is a Krupp six wheeled heavy car towing a Pak 36 anti tank gun. I really like Dragon Models, they make the best kits. Great detail, clear instructions, and everything fits together nicely. I particularly like building trucks and vehicles right now, and luckily my time period of World War Two is full of interesting transports.
I always base my wheeled vehicles, and this one also has some fiddly bits that definitely need a base you can pick the model up with, rather than risking big hand damage. I painted this one an early war German grey and then lightened it with a second coat with some white added. My only gripe was that the anti tank gun is really fiddly and I nearly threw my toys with the teeny tiny bits. Driving the truck is a man from AB Figures and in the back are some greatcoat wearing seated dudes from Caesar Miniatures. I bought a box of these guys who are really cheap and handy for the back of any your trucks. It made a nice change to do a grey vehicle rather than my usual dunkelb and camo.
Another personal favourite of mine the Puma armoured car. This one is from Italeri and a great little kit. I have previously built the Hasagewa version of the Puma, which is also a very nice kit. The Italeri one is not quite as detailed and slightly bigger in all dimensions, but matches up pretty well. Unfortunately the hatches on the Italeri kit are moulded shut so you would need to do some surgery in order to open them up. I did not change much just added the usual aerial. I particularly liked how easy it was to align the eight wheels on this model, its a good design. Overall it was a fun kit to build, but I still prefer the Hasagewa version.
I did a dunkelb base and a dark green camo. Some chips with a sponge in dark brown and black. Oh and a dirty brown wash. Here is the finished model next to my other Puma for comparison.
So another German half track rolls off my painting (dining) table. This time from Special Armour, which is a company I have never built before. It’s a nice little half track mainly used for towing guns I think. Another eBay purchase that I found quite cheaply. The kit was quite a challenge with various small PE parts that raised my frustration levels a fair bit. I lost at least one door handle in the process. The worst thing though was the front engine and drivers compartment did not fit properly on to the chassis. So the front section was too high and there was a gap between the chassis and the engine, and the front suspension looks a bit high. I am not sure if it was my building that went wrong but I could not see how it was meant to be any different as the whole back section was correct and in line. Anyway I wont be buying one of these again. Luckily you cannot really see the problem.
I used the usual dunkelb dark yellow and did a fair amount of chipping with my sponge and added plenty of dirt and dust. The squad in the back and the driver and officer are all from AB figures. I tried out a new M44 camo scheme using an awesome set of paints I bought. Also threw in an old fuel barrel that I rusted up.
Airfix kits just have that nostalgic smell and something that takes me back 35 years, and I love them. They may not be as well detailed or the same size or fit together as well as any other more modern brands, but I don’t care. Even the cardboard box and the instructions have a deja vu type feeling for me. To complete my recent Churchill tank building spree here is the Crocodile flame thrower to join them.
The wheels are fiddly as you have to add them individually and get them straight. But apart from that this went together pretty easily. The tracks were toast in this particularly eBay purchase, but luckily I had a nice new set of flexible tracks from a Dragon kit left over. Very nice. The fuel tank towed at the back is particularly well put together and obviously a different, newer mould than the actual tank. The turret hatches are all moulded shut which is always a shame. You could do some tweaking and open them up, but I am always too worried about making a pig’s ear of it. I did add an aerial but that was about it.
In plastic I do not think there is another alternative for this vehicle. It is a bit smaller than my other 1/72 scale Churchills, but not too much so that it really makes much difference. In the last photo for comparison I have put an Esci, Plastic Soldier Company, Dragon and finally an Airfix Churchill together. You can see Mr Airfix is a touch shorter than the others. Now he really needs a flame to show the flame thrower in action. Ouchy hot.
This weekend I finished painting three more Churchill tanks for my British forces. These three were all Esci kits bought on eBay (one of them was boxed as Humbrol, but it is the same Esci kit in the box). The kits are identical except for the Humbrol branded one comes with one piece plastic tracks rather than the link and length tracks in the Esci kit. Luckily the one piece tracks are usable and not the super annoying vinyl ones that mess with my sanity. It also helps that the design of the Churchill means a lot of track is not even visible so you have plenty of scope to make a mess and then cover it all up.
These kits may be old, but they are still great. No fiddly wheels as the running gear comes in just two sections that you have to line up. The detail is good and the parts fit together well. I only had to fill a few gaps here and there with putty, mostly near the front fenders. I think the old plastic had warped a bit. You can leave the commanders hatch open, which I did, and added my usual AB Commanders. Turrets fit nicely and turn easily even after a couple of layers of paint. I added some aerials but left off any stowage, just for a change felt like some clean looking vehicles.
They were all undercoated in matt black then a coat of olive drab. A layer of gloss varnish before I added a whole heap of decals, some from the kits plus a bunch of other spares. I like seeing names down the side of the Churchills so these three got that treatment. A brown wash and a coat of matt varnish finished these guys off. Plus some dark earth and European earth pigments just to dust them up a bit.
I also finished my furry field and sandy track for the Churchill troop to be driving down. Perfect photo opportunity for everyone. These kits may be old but they are just as good as modern offerings from Dragon, and better than more simple kits like Plastic Soldier Company. If you can find them for $10 on eBay well worth the money. I built an Airfix Churchill Crocodile at the same for comparison. You can see him next,
I have been getting tired of my terrain mat being like a billiard table. I found a cheap source of faux fur on line from Spotlight (Australian craft/fabric/stuff shop). So this week while in front of Masterchef I have been busy painting fur many shades of green. The dog brush we never use on the dog has come in handy to brush the paint in. I also replaced my beard trimmers with a new $25 dollar pair from Target. The old ones were handy for trimming my faux fur before painting and also carving a path. I intend to do a whole heap of fields and roads to cover up the unrealistic smooth finish of my green mat. I think the fur was $10 per metre x 75cm. It will take some time to paint the whole lot but will be worth it.
I finally finished the rest of the Superquick card models. Two Tudor houses and two little shops. The shops were given new French names so they fit in better with the Normandy theme. Basing was done with 3mm MDF as usual, plus some Metcalfe card pavements for the shops. The Tudor houses had a more grassy base. These card models need a bit of extra painting on all the white edges that appear after building. I also added some weathering powders and stuff just to dirty things up a bit. It’s a shame you cannot take the roofs off but they will help bulk up my buildings for fighting through a bigger town.