After further internet research i made some new bits of terrain for my Normandy battlefields. Passing through my local Bunnings Warehouse i stumbled upon a big bag of coir coconut fibre for about $6.00. Having read a few blogs about making bocage out of this stuff i thought i would give it a go! Normally this fibre is used for lining hanging baskets and gardening things like that, but for me it was going to become a 5 metre wild hedge on top of a bank/ditch. I think i read an excellent blog called “Little Tin Men” where the idea was illustrated so well.
I cut strips of 3mm MDF 40mm x 150mm and then glued strips of old cut up expanded rubber camping mats (about 6mm thick mats) and glued them on top of the MDF. When they were dry i would carve the sides to be sloping to represent the banks of the bocage. You could use any kind of foam or polystyrene for this too. I then coated each one in acrylic gap filler to smooth out the whole thing. When that was dry a liberal coating of PVA glue followed, which was covered in fine dirt/sand/gravel from my front yard. Regular sand would do the same job. Small twigs and sticks were then jabbed into the foam to give the hedge some structure. I put about 4 twigs into each section. You can also use bigger twigs that turn into trees sticking out of the hedge.
It was then a question of dipping sections of coir fibre into PVA glue and adding them onto the bocage sections building it up to 30-40mm high. This gets messy! Do not worry about being neat and tidy just get the fibre onto the base! I am going to try a hot glue gun next time as i have read good things about this gluing weapon. Once the PVA and coir is dry i attacked the hedges with a pair of scissors to tidy them up. Next a full spray of cheap dark brown paint covered the whole construction.
For the foliage I used a nice coarse bright green flock, but you can use whatever you have kicking around. I think multiple greens work nicely. Paint or spray on diluted PVA glue (50/50) to the hedges and then sprinkle on your flock. Don’t be stingy just chuck it all over the place. Shake off the excess and leave to dry. I did this process twice with different types of flock. Finally i mixed up a 50/50 PVA/Water mix in a spray bottle and sprayed the whole construction again for extra durability.
Final touches were to paint the base an earthy brown and then dry brush lighter brown to pick out the texture and light grey to pick out any bigger rocks. The base was then also flocked with a grassy green to finish it off! The same process i used for some trees on a base, which you can also see below. I reckon this is the cheapest and most effective way of making big sections of bocage for all your Normandy battle fields out there!
I finally got round to painting up a squad of British Infantry from my favourite metal figure manufacturer AB Figures. These are made in Australia these days and can be picked up from their web store at www.abfigures.com
They have a great range of British infantry, support and crews. Nic, who runs the show, is super helpful and delivery is decisive! Although these fellas are around ten times more expensive than some of their plastic counterparts, you just cannot match the quality of sculpting and variety of poses. They are just great to paint as all the detail sticks out like dog’s balls. I will end up replacing all my plastic infantry with these metal squaddies. You also cannot find any better tank crews, truck drivers, artillery crews than the AB creations. Go and check them out!
My troops are all based on Australian 10 cents coins, and painted in a home made British Uniform colour mix of Tamiya Khaki Drab mixed with yellow ochre (50/50 i think). Plus olive green webbing. Check them out below posing and wandering down a Normandy country lane…….
IBG Models are a Polish model company that make a smallish range of 1/72 scale vehicles mainly for the Allies. Some British and American trucks and carriers. You can buy them direct from the company in Poland, which is probably the cheapest option, or if you are like me you can get them at around AUD $20 per kit from good Australian stores like BNA Model World.
What can i say, you pay a bit more for these kits, but they are worth it. This Chevy truck was a pleasure to build. There isn’t much more for me to say! IBG make three or four versions of the same truck, plus some British Bedfords and Universal carriers. They have some good looking American trucks too which i am definitely going to try. For your Allied army transport needs do not look any further than this!
In the back of mine i put some crates and stuff and a few British Tank Riders from HaT. Same with the driver who is a cut down HaT figure. When i get some more of these i will try putting some relaxed Tommies from AB Figures who have just the right poses lounging around in the back….
The paint job was a simple olive drab and some dirt. Good decals are supplied. No arguments here this was a great model to build and i would recommend it to everyone!
The legendary Pz VI Tiger Tank is another must have for any German force. I was very excited to build this offering from Zvezda and rumble it into battle against some weedy. under equipped British tanks. Advertised as an easy build, snap together model, i was expecting to get through the building phase quickly and smoothly. Unfortunately i found that the “snap together” description turned out to be more just “snap” and “snap off”.
The kit comes with minimal parts, an upper and lower hull, some simplified wheel configurations, 4 or 5 piece turret and gun, plus plenty of details for the upper hull. I painted the wheels, lower hull and tracks before construction to make it easier afterwards. The tracks snap onto a couple of lugs on the road wheels and run along the topside of the wheels first. You then attach the road wheels to the hull with the track lying flat. I had then serious trouble trying to get the front sprocket and rear drive wheel onto the model while then folding the track around the bottom set of wheels. I think you need to leave the model to dry for a good few hours and let the road wheels’ bond with the lower hull get super strong before moving on. In my impatience when i then attempted to wrap around and snap the tracks onto the corresponding lugs in the bottom road wheels, i managed to shift the whole track and wheel assembly out of position and make a big mess.
In my frustration i also managed to snap off the lugs in the road wheels so the track didn’t sit nicely. What a pain. If i had taken my time things might have worked out better. I salvaged the positioning mostly by re-gluing and fiddling but the tank’s rear still sits a little lower than its meant to. The rear drive wheel is also a little low.
You also need to be very careful when trying to snap the upper hull to the lower hull that you only apply pressure to the upper and lower hull sections, do not push from the track assembly as it’s possible you can snap off the whole track. I used a pair of tweezers to grab the hull not the tracks. Upon further research i did find another modeller who had encountered similar issues.
Apart from these frustrations i reckon he came out OK and i was happy with my paint job. Next time i am buying a Revell or Trumpeter Tiger. I don’t like the snap together thing, quite happy to stick to good old glue……..