Thursday, December 30, 2010

Special Guest Blogger: Don't Try This at Home, Kids!

Happy Thursday ladies and gentlegeeks. It is I, the prodigal second born offspring of the recalcitrant author of this publication. I have shanghaied this scripture for my own devious purposes. As some of you may or may not know, I am known for being somewhat extravagant in my modelling escapades, and my current adventure is no different.

I seek to model the exploits of the illustrious Canadian Corps during the later stages of the Great War on the Western Front, in all its muddy, bloody, grimy filth. Months ago, I received several packs of Old Glory First World War Germans and British. I at once set to work completing these wonderful figures as prototypes and I was quite happy with the results:
Stormtrooper Hun, complete with camouflage sturmhelm

Johnny Canuck going over the top

After completing this initial batch of Canucks and Huns, I spent the next few months pondering what sort of battlefield they would combat over. I initially considered modelling the Hundred Days campaign. For any of you historic laymen, this was the period during the autumn of 1918 wherein the Canadian Corps and the rest of the Allied armies advanced at an astronomical pace. The attraction of this option is that the terrain would not be the depressing mud and drudge of the trenches, but the quaint farmland of northern France. I disgarded this thought as quickly as it came to mind. Trenches are much cooler [Dave: cooler? really? no, really?].

I decided upon a total of eight 2'x2' terrain boards. The attraction of terrain boards is that the trenches can be dug down into them, rather than standing up awkwardly upon the tabletop. I slated this gargantuan task to be completed over my Christmas break, when I would be able to utilize the facilities of a certain elderly gentleman [Dave: ouch, that hurts!].
Pristine trenches awaiting destruction
Now, the actual construction of this behemoth project. I cut the trench pieces out of 1" insulation foam, and then glued this onto another slice of aforementioned foam. This allowed me to go deep into the bowels of my miniature trench-scape to place dugouts, craters, and tunnels. This double foam combination became a ply with MDF particle board on the bottom, creating a much more durable terrain board.

The attraction of trench warfare is the churned up, shell shattered battle-scape, but it also the largest challenge. How does one create a modular terrain board system out of foam that is naturally rigid? How does one create chaos out of order?

The answer is FIRE!!!
My trusty sidekick and I proceeded to use a diabolically curious combination of spray paint, blow torch, and soup ladle to create the lunar-like no-man's-land of 1918.
Our "souper" heated ladle
The fumes were completely harmless, I swear.
Next time, I delve into the art of smegma-ing the trench boards to create a realistic smeg-tastic no-man's-land!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Principality of Gourmandy

So, I'm off to the races with my new Imagination, the Principality of Gourmandy. I've been puttering about with some coats of arms and uniforms for the first few units. Check 'em out!

(caseus vita est)

The premier military man in the principality and all-round bon vivant:

Jean Lafitte Roquefort, Général le Marquis de Fromage
(personal motto: “la vie n'est rien sans fromage”

Régiment d’Infanterie Roquefort
(Colonel: Phillipe Grand-Nez, Comte de Roquefort)

Régiment d’Infanterie Camembert

Dragons de Brie

 Chasseurs de Chevrotin

The Year in Review...such a cliché

In the spirit of a number of other gaming blogs, I've been looking back over the past year of my hobby and into the the new year. In 2010 I was able to complete a few projects and start others. The biggest accomplishment was finishing my 28mm First Carlist Wars project that had been ongoing for a couple of years. Also on the list of accomplishments is my 28mm WWII project, made up of a 1940 German infantry platoon and supports and a counterpart French platoon. I have plans to add on to this but more of that anon. The WWII project in particular I'm proud of since it was begun and finished all in the same calendar year. 2010 also saw a fond farewell to my extensive 28mm Napoleonic and War of 1812 collections. These well-used projects raised some much-needed cash and gave my the hobby breathing space that comes with divesting oneself of a large collection. Unlike some gamers, I've really had no qualms about ridding myself of collections. I always think of projects and collections as learning vehicles. By this I mean that every project I learn something new, whether a new painting or basing technique or new storage and transportation ideas. The Napoleonic collection in particular had been an ongoing effort for a number of years and showed (at least to me) the varying stages of painting and basing developments. Every project, I seem to inch a little closer to a goal I cannot quite articulate: not perfection, since I'm a guy and only women can aspire to that. But at the very least a level of consistency within a collection in terms of painting and basing.  

In 2010 I also clarified how I plan to approach new projects in the future with my Project in a Box theory. In a nutshell, this is a pre-planned collection that can be easily transported in one case. Speaking with Michael yesterday about these smaller projects, we realized I actually now have two categories of gaming projects: 1) The Large or Major projects, such as the 28mm Carlist Wars or 28mm WWII fit into the Project in a Box category; 2) smaller projects (in terms of figure scale or sheer bulk), such as 1:2400 WWI naval or 1:6000 WWII naval, are, according to Michael's idea, Pocket Projects. This is a perfect term for an undertaking that is much smaller in size and concept and can almost literally be carried in a pocket (granted, a large pocket).

So what's on tap for 2011? I've been hunting around for a new large project and I think I've found it: 28mm Imaginations. Vidal and I began this conversation a month or so ago and it seems to have hit a nerve with others as well. You can see some earlier ramblings about this possibility here. This will be my Project in a Box for 2011 (and probably well beyond). My current thinking is to base figures individually (as per my Carlist Wars project) in "groups" of eight figures to play with Sharp Practice. My end goal in terms of a unit is six "groups" of eight figures with a six-figure command group and a mounted colonel (oh, and I can't forget the four-figure battalion gun crew). That makes 59 figures per regiment/battalion! And cavalry will be similarly grandiose (24+ figures I think). Here's another blog with a good photo of what this may look like: Phil's Warcabinet. I'll be blogging more about this as 2011 comes along. 

In the spirit of starting this project, I found a command figure in my seemingly bottomless desk drawers and painted him up as the mounted colonel of my first infantry regiment.

What else is up for 2011? I think an addition to my 28mm WWII project in the form of some British help to my 1940 French. Of course, this would require a new "box" and the British would only fill half of it. I guess I may have to revive the idea of a Fallschirmjaeger platoon as well (grinning mischievously). I guess this would qualify as the larger Project in a Box

As far as Pocket Projects go, I received from Litko last week the bases for my 1:6000 WWII project so that should be started ( and perhaps finished) some time over the Xmas holidays. Another may be something completely different for me, a self-professed died-in-the-wool historical gamer (Imagination gaming notwithstanding). How does Dystopian Wars sound? Take a look here. We'll see. Next thing you know I'll be building space ship fleets! Now that's just crazy talk!

Thanks all for reading my ramblings over the past year during which I passed over the 10,000 hit mark. Wow!

Merry Christmas and Happy Yule!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

28mm 1940 German Motorized infantry

Although the vast majority of German infantry in 1940 (and indeed throughout the war) got around by the centuries-old expedient of boot leather, I decided I would motorize my German platoon. I opted for truck-borne infantry rather than putting them in halftracks, since the latter were even less common. Besides, when we are playing games that are meant to simulate the sharp end of the stick, infantry transport becomes as much eye-candy as anything else. I'm definitely of the school of thought that even panzer grenadiers with armoured halftracks didn't drive the damned things hell-bent-for-leather into the face of the enemy, guns a'blazin'! Once the infantry was engaged closely with the enemy (and probably, more often than not, even before the shooting started in earnest), the transport (whether trucks or halftracks) became, at best, a base of fire and/or a rally point. This despite the penchant for gamers to unload their infantry and advance on the enemy with the halftrack-mounted MGs grinding forward with them. 

To mount my infantry platoon, I turned to a number of different manufacturers. I picked up some Opel Blitz trucks from Army Group North Miniatures and a Horch staff car from Company B. The trucks are the usual AGNM high quality pieces; sturdy and easily assembled and painted. The Company B staff car, while wonderfully rendered and cast, was somewhat less sturdy than the AGNM vehicles. One of the side panels was broken in transit and required some judicious repair work. But for that, the model is quite a beautiful piece and will hold my platoon command quite nicely.

A couple of shots of the new trucks and Horch staff car. The latter will have a crew once I get them off of my painting desk. The StugIIIC in the foreground is an AGNM piece.

For my soon-to-be-painted pioneer squad, I chose the JTFM Sdkfz 251/7C. This is the pioneer version with the bridging pieces mounted on top. I thought this would be a good way to differentiate this squad from the others and provide it with a bit more protection (given that it will probably be given the tougher assignments).

The JTFM Sd 251/C pioneer halftrack. Until I looked at this photo, I hadn't noticed two things: I didn't finish painting the MG34 and the Dullcote seems to have left some white particles on the surface of the vehicle. I didn't notice them while I was handling it so maybe it's just the photo.

Recently, I was also able to purchase two PzIIIG tanks to supplement my armoured force. These mount the short 50mm gun. Granted, they shouldn't really be fielded with my 1940 Germans but if I were ever to face a 1941 Russian force, then they could give me a much-needed boost from my Pz38(t)s and PzIIs. I chose for these the AGNM models over the JTFM versions. I find the former to be sturdier and less fiddly to assemble (a function of the fewer parts and the one-piece hull/track casting).

AGNM PzIIIGs. These are quite nice models and come with extra stowage and tools to attach as one sees fit.

Also added was another Sd10 halftrack to help tow about my guns. I found in one of my desk drawers an extra Pak36 AT gun and a 75mm infantry gun. Both of these I mounted as limbered without the crews (which I didn't have anyway). 

Pak36 AT guns and 75mm IG towed by Sd10 halftracks. These will also have crews...eventually.

Next up for this project? hmmmmm.....nothing!