Teddy Bear Fur Fields

My terrain projects continued with some more fields and hedges for my Normandy landscape. In recent weeks i have read a lot of excellent blogs and book articles on the use of Teddy Bear or faux fur so i was very keen to try it out for myself. One of the railway modelling books i have been reading goes into detail about how to use the fur in lots of different ways. The first one i wanted to try was just an open grassy wild field and also one enclosed by hedges with a dirt path running through it.

I picked up a large bit of beige faux fur from Spotlight for about $25. This should be enough for plenty of applications! I then cut out the size i wanted and glued each bit to 3mm MDF bases as usual with PVA glue. Then its attack the fur with a pair of sharp scissors and cut it to the length you want. For the wild grass fields i went pretty hard with a short back and sides and reduced the fur to 3-5mm long. You will see through experiment how long or short looks right for you. I tried using my beard trimmers on it too but they didn’t work. So stick to scissors! If i owned a comb i would have combed the fur to get all the cut bits out and also get it all pointing upright. I dont have a comb so i used my fingers which worked ok. For the path i just cut as close to the base fabric as i could removing all the fur where i wanted the track to go.

Then you can paint the fur using green, yellow and brown acrylics. Make sure you use as little paint as possible and use lots of different shades to get a natural look. The less paint you can use the quicker things will dry. I used a big paint brush (ie for painting walls) to blend all the paints throughout the fur and get a good covering so no original fur colour is left. That’s about as tricky as it gets. The path i just used PVA glue and sand and then some paint. I added little shrubs and weeds and tufts around the place. The hedges were made from horsehair and flock just like my bocage and trees. This fake fur is really handy and i was very happy with the results considering how cheap and easy the process was. I am planning to use it on some country road sides and also a canola field.

Check out my pictures below including the Sherman Firefly crossing the field (of Glory hopefully).

Trumpeter Sturmtiger (Late) 1/72 Scale

My last slightly obscure German vehicle I had in my pile of kits came out and was built this last week. The Sturmtiger was a support tank based on the Tiger chassis. Its not a vehicle I would get to use a lot but a lot of fun to have and build anyway. Trumpeter kits are excellent and this one did not disappoint.

Its a very easy kit to build as its mainly a box on a chassis with quite simple running gear. So it didn’t take too long to build. Everything fits together nicely as usual with Trumpeter. The instructions for the gun were a bit vague in parts and then didn’t match the picture on the front of the box. This was confusing. The picture on the box also misses off the MG gun in the hull which is weird. I had to consult some internet pictures and places to try and work out the main gun. I still think I got it a bit wrong, but the box art has missed a bit off totally (its the part that goes around the end of the main gun).

I realise after painting that I am not that happy with this Tiger’s paint job. My camo scheme went a bit screwy and needs more contrast. Also I added too much sand and dirt and it all came out looking a bit the same. I need to cut back on the dirt as with a Dunkelb yellow vehicle you need some contrast otherwise it all just looks a bit boring. The tracks would have looked better left the rusty colour I did prior to all the muck. Also this tank is very boxy and doesn’t have a huge amount of surface detail so I needed to spend more time picking out details with dark washes. Next time I will do a better job! I should also glue down bits of the top of the tracks to signify their weight.

For some reason there are no decals supplied. Not sure why, so you will need to dig up some spares.

Overall this is another wicked little kit from Trumpeter, not sure if anyone else actually makes a 1/72 scale Sturmtiger, but if you want one look no further!

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Making my own trees

You always need trees and plenty of them. I have been reading up on more tree making techniques, after the Chinese eBay technique was wearing a bit thin. Looking at railway modelling books and the internet i have seen many ways of using wire to make trees and thought i would give it a go. Starting with anywhere from 15 to 30 pieces of wire up to 15 cm in length i just put some masking tape around the bottom of the whole bundle to create a trunk. Make sure the tape is good and tight to stop the wires from separating. Then its just a question of twisting a number of wires together (3 or more depending on how thick you want the branches to be and how many of them you want). You need to try and create as random a look as possible. I tried lots of different ways of twisting wires together before i got a look that i was happy with. There is a bunch of Youtube stuff out there on this subject, with some people using drills and other devices. I found it easy enough by hand to create some good looking results. I then covered as much of the wire with masking tape nice and tightly, except for the end bits which if only 1 wire thick do not matter. The great thing is wire and masking tape cost very little and you can churn out some really good looking trees for a small outlay. Chinese eBay trees are nice and cheap too but these home made ones look far more natural (in my opinion).

After the tape i give the trees a good coat of a paint thickening medium, but could use PVA glue or filler or something similar. When thats dry i painted them with a mixture of raw umber, burnt umber and white. Tree trunks are a brown grey sort of colour. I did some highlights in a light grey and light brown too to pick out the gnarly details. For the foliage i had sourced some rubberized horsehair from the UK and used that with bits of coconut fibre. The coconut fibre is dirt cheap from Bunnings, while the rubberized horsehair is expensive, so i wanted to stretch the use of the horsehair. I am thinking maybe i could soak coconut fibre in PVA glue and compress it and make my own rubberized fibre. Once the foliage is glued to the wire armatures i used three different kinds of flock sprinkled over PVA glue. Other people use spray adhesive for this step but i found just brushing PVA glue onto the foliage and then sprinkling works well.

All the trees were mounted into MDF bases which are decorated and flocked. You can see with the bigger tree the wires at the base of the trunk can be splayed out and twisted to make big roots. Next up i need to make an apple orchard for my Normandy battlefields….. Tiny apples out of modelling clay. Golden Delicious anyone??

Hasegawa Sdkfz 251/1 Halftrack with AB Crew

I continued working through my backlog of German vehicles and troops. My buddy Jim from Combat HQ had mentioned German hanomags so i thought i would finish off a Hasegawa kit i had lying around. I have already reviewed this kit in a previous post, but this time wanted to put some grenadiers in the back making a fight of it. The kit itself is a good one, simple to build but more detailed than anything the Plastic Soldier Company do. The only poor thing about is the funny ribber tracks which are a bit crap. If i had some spares i would swap them.

The more exciting bit was choosing the crew and how they would fit in the back. I used some awesome AB figures as usual. This particular pack was made for fighting out of a half track. I also cut the top half off an Esci/Italeri side car machine gunner and glued him to someone else’s standing legs. He makes a nice cap wearing machine gunner at the front. For their camo i tried using a dark yellow instead of a light brown on one round of dots. This worked out well as it provides a better contrast to the other colours. I find with any German SS camo scheme i am doing it does not really matter which three colours i use. A base coat of green or khaki, with darker brown/black patches and red brown patches works nicely. Followed by layers of dots of lighter shades on the darker patches and darker dots on the lighter patches all work well. Its the contrasting colours that create the effect. From my research the range of colours and patterns was so wide it you can basically do whatever you like and it will turn out OK.

Following photos of my finished half track, plus him as part of a Panzer Grenadier unit with other half  tracks, a Kubelwagen and a Marder as support.

Unimodel Hetzer Flammpanzer 38(t)

This was the second of the Unimodel Kits i bought from the Ukraine, and one of my favourite little tanks. I actually bought two of the kits which is my usual habit. In these Unimodel kits you can usually build various different versions of the same tank as they include most of the parts. I thought i could do the same with this one and built a regular Hetzer with a normal gun barrel. This kit is missing the remote controlled MG which sits on the roof, so its not totally correct. I just realised i have forgotten to add an aerial too. I can fix that later.

The running gear and lower hull are the same as the Marder in my previous post, so based on the Pz.Kpfw 38 Light tank. Second time around i did a better job with the link and length tracks. That’s the part of the model that takes the longest, with the remainder being fairly straight forward. Some vague instructions make some of the smaller bits a bit tricky. I think i screwed up the drivers periscope a little and had to file down the top of it a bit as i had it glued at thee wrong angle. Also i wasn’t sure about the pipe from the hull to the exhaust and what angle to put it at. I left off the PE schurzen plates until after i had painted which made it easier to paint and weather the tracks and wheels.

I had a lot of fun with my torn sponge chipping and scratching effect on this little guy. Using Raw Umber, Black and Red Oxide i was braver with my sponging and created more weathering on all sides of the Hetzer. I like the way it came out so will keep on using this technique. Next up might try some really damaged and scratched effect. I also tried using Blutack as a masking for the camouflage paint job. This also worked well with my Tamiya spray cans, and i will try it again too.

I love these Unimodel Kits –  looking forward to building a Sherman some time soon.

Unimodel Sd.Kfz.139 Marder III in 1/72 scale

I am really enjoying building these Unimodel kits. They have a huge range covering loads of World War 2 vehicles, some of which are a bit more obscure. I pick these up directly from an excellent Ukrainian Hobby shop which stocks pretty much the whole range. You can find them at https://www.hobby.dn.ua. Its far better to buy these kits direct from Ukraine as they work out at much better value. Postage from Ukraine to Australia is very reasonable too. Anyway check them out. I did pick up some Hetzers and a Sherman at the same time, which are next in line for building.

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This Marder III is another of the German Self Propelled guns they came up with and its a pretty funny looking design. They just used the same chassis at the PzKpfw 38 Light Tank and jammed an AT gun on top. The hull and running gear are quite easy to build with four big wheels either side plus sprocket and drive wheel. The tracks are link and length and fitted really nicely. I always start with getting the sprocket wheel done first, but in this case it didn’t matter as the tracks all lined up perfectly.

The armour sections on the upper hull were a little bit tricky as the instructions tend to be a bit vague. Unimodel tend to include a little too many steps in their exploded diagrams so it can be hard to follow. Once i had fitted all the upper armour sections i found that the top rail would not fit across so i had to add an extra bit of plastic. No harm done. But the armour plate was the trickiest part of this model. You get some photo etched metal bits too. The basket at the back is metal you need to bend plus some other little bits here and there. Overall this was a lot of fun to build and a bit more challenging than the usual tank.

It doesn’t come with any crew, and for an open topped vehicle its crucial to have some crew hanging around doing their thing. I used AB Figures tank crew as usual. I had a lot of fun doing a peadot camo on their pants so i included a photo of them in mid paint under the magnifying glass light. The tank i tried a new camo scheme with green patches out lined in red brown. The kit comes with plenty of decals giving you options to do whatever you want. I liked this kit so much i immediately started work on one of the Unimodel Hetzers i also bought……

Trumpeter Sd.Kfz 184 Ferdinand “Elefant” 1/72 scale kit

I bought this kit from Hobby Easy in Hong Kong for an amazing $8.50 which was just too good to pass up. Also my buddy Jim Bambra who makes excellent wargaming rules at Combat HQ wanted some photos of an Elefant (not the big eared type), so i happily obliged with my build of this interesting tank.

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The more i build Trumpeter kits the more i like them. Enough detail for a bit of a challenge, but all the bits go together nicely without too much screwing around. I hate messing around with ill fitting parts. It’s no fun! This kit is great. A few little things should be mentioned. The instructions are not correct for the running gear assembly, so you really need to pay attention to the pictures and not the instructions to make sure you get the right wheels and the right suspension in the right places. Also there were two little spikey bits that go behind the sprocket wheels that i could not get into the right place and so i left them out. It didn’t matter as you cannot see them anyway in the final model. I did get some photo etched grills and stuff but they did not appear in the instructions and seem to have some from another version or something.

There are two options for the tracks. You can use the single piece rubber/vinyl or you can build the link and length type. I could not see how you could attach the link and length easily on the wheels unless you did them much earlier in the build than the instructions suggested. So i went for the single length tracks and they worked out fine.

All the hatches are moulded shut which is a shame, but i guess you could open them up with some knife work. It would be good to put a commander in there somewhere. I did a a two colour paint job, just yellow and green patches. Plus lots of dirt and mud and dust as usual. Its a cool kit and a cool looking tank. Much fun.