I am never been satisfied with my cobbled streets made out of purchased, patterned card and stuck onto MDF. They still look flat and a bit unrealistic. But I refuse to pay any big money for roads when they should be easy to make. So I cut out the usual shapes and strips of 3mm MDF and gave them a 1-2mm coating of ready mixed plaster. I get a big tub of Gyprock Topcoat from Bunnings which will last for ever. Its great for doing texture on buildings too. Make sure the coating is pretty smooth, although it doesn’t need to be a perfect finish, and leave it to dry overnight.
Then comes the entertaining bit…… First of all I draw horizontal guide lines every 5mm across of all the pieces you want to do. Although you can make the distance smaller or wider depending on how big you want to make your cobbles. I invested in a $10 etching tool on eBay from China. What a great machine. It runs on AAA batteries and its shaped like a big pen so you can sit and carve bricks and cobbles all day long. And it does take all day long. Its much easier and quicker than trying to carve with an old scalpel or blade. Jump on eBay and grab one. It still took me ages to engrave a town square, a couple of roads and another little square. Once the cobbles are carved its just a question of painting them grey and throwing some brown and black washes over them. I did add some brown, black and sand coloured chalk powder on them too. Dirty them up a bit.
You can see in the first picture the effect of the cobbled square and street. Also as a comparison I put my old card cobbled square and streets next to them so you can see the difference. It was a good opportunity to get out all my houses and put them together. Here is a mixture of home made, laser cut MDF and cardboard kits. I think they all mix in together quite nicely, and no two houses are ever identical.
Must get cracking on my village church…….
I have continued building my Normandy village and trying to mix my home made, scratch built, but time consuming houses, with some purchased models. This time i have made some more of Metcalfe Models excellent card models. One grey stone terraced houses with backyards and a similar grey stone corner shop. Metcalfe Models do not ship overseas so i had to buy them from another useful modelling ship called Antics On Line. I think they are around 9-10 pounds per kit, so pretty good value compared to other resin and MDF buildings.
The quality of the card and the printing is most excellent. I do remember my brother back in the 1980s building some Superquick card models which always felt a bit flimsy and never looked like anything but rather crap card model kits. The Metcalfe kits are really well designed and once you have put them together feel very solid, robust and anything but a wobbly bit of card. Its all printed on good heavy card and all the bits pop out very easily once you have cut along certain edges with a sharp knife. During the construction there are plenty of inner supports which keep the whole thing very square and stable. The windows work well and even give you options to have a couple open as well as other options for curtains and different coloured doors. The buildings are mounted onto their own card base and Metcalfe give you individual adhesive paving stones to create your own pavement around the houses. In my build i left off the bay window on the terrace as i didn’t think they had those in France in the 1940’s. The dormer windows on the roof did remind me of a typical Normandy house so i think they do not look out of place. One thing i do need to fix is the corner shop is O’Briens Bakery. I need to find an alternative Boulangerie sign.
OK so after finishing your model you do need to rough it up a bit. I used plenty of powdered chalk in black, brown and white brushed all over the place. This covers any white bits of cardboard and also gives the houses a more weathered, realistic look. I also glued the whole thing onto a 3mm MDF base and weighted it down. Otherwise i did have some significant curling up around the edges. It also gives it more strength.
Next up i am making a new town square so will place that into the middle of my now quite sizeable Normandy village. Still need to make that church……..
Colonel Mustard has been off line for a while due to an unfortunate battle with a local Australian spider, which he soundly lost. So after a month long fight with serious pain and immobility i am finally recovering. It was a war against neurotoxin that i couldn’t win!
So onto my latest Sherman tanks for my British forces. I needed to build up my Shermans to get to a full three troops. So i picked up a couple of boxes of Armourfast Shermans from Hannants in the UK, plus a Unimodel Sherman from my favourite Ukrainian hobby store. The Armourfast tanks are amazing value at 6.25 GBP for two. They are about as simple a kit as you could get, you can count the number of parts on one hand. That said the detail is average, but what do you expect for such a cheap price? If you are prepared to dress them up with some extras they can really turn into a great little wargaming tank. I added some tools, some lifting rings, headlights plus spare tracks and stowage. Oh and of course an aerial. You do not get decals with the kits, so i used some Canadian markings i had from The Plastic Soldier Company. Once you have tarted up your Armourfast kits they really turn out well. If you want to bulk up your tank regiments i cant recommend them highly enough.
The Unimodel Sherman is a proper model kit. I really enjoy building Unimodel kits. Lots of parts, fun to build, but definitely a challenge. Detail and end result was definitely better than Armourfast. I only added some stowage and an aerial. The kit comes with some very tricky PE parts. I managed to ping the headlight protectors across the room never to be seen again and had to make my own out of some thin wire. So don’t try this kit if you have deep carpets……. losing bits is a risk. Unimodel gives you some cool decals so I called this Sherman “Comet”. The only struggle was fitting the top hull to the bottom which left a huge gap at the front. So i had to file down parts of the lower hull around the front wheels in order to get it to fit. I would leave the front part of the hull off the lower hull section and do a dry run first before gluing as you may have the same problem.
All the tanks got the usual olive drab paint job with some dirt and dust and mud. Fun times.