Wednesday, July 3, 2024

A Note About Hasslefree Miniatures

I had read not too long ago that Hasslefree Miniatures was having some issues with some orders, despite this, I placed an order about six weeks back, as I had always had a pretty good experience with Hasslefree.

My Hasslefree order arrived with no issues this past Thursday, so about five and a half weeks turnaround across the Atlantic, and through customs.  Maybe a little slower than some past orders, but still faster than swimming or even driving.

So just wanted to share that Hasslefree is still chugging along making and delivering great figs.

I'll share some pics in the fall, when I make a window for some post apoc work.  Working on some other stuff right now. Maybe something to share in a couple of weeks.

Hope everyone is doing well, stay safe out there.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Crawling Out of the Fog

The last few weeks have been a rapid succession of damage control actions in my life, after three months of neglect.  

April is always a busy month with family birthdays and tax time here in the US, but this year had some additional stuff going on, so my world is really just starting to get back to normal after four months of chaos, and my hobby is starting to creep back into my consciousness.

Thus far, I haven't done a lot of hands on stuff, no building or painting, and that Barbarossa game from February still sets, ready to be played, on my table.


Most recently, I picked up that  Kroot Hunting Pack box from GW.



Aside from the original imperial guard, the Kroot are clearly the best thing to ever come out of GW.  Regretfully,  I missed out on some of the more interesting Kroot stuff years back, picking up only some plastics and a single metal fig.  At some point, maybe around September of last year, I picked up the Kill Team Kroot box, keeping a near future and/or post apoc idea alive.  Parting with the money for it about killed me, but at some point down the road, I'll be happy I picked it up.  I hope.

I've also ordered a bunch of Team Yankee 15mm West German infantry for my Cold War gaming (which to my surprise, is taking forever to arrive).  It will allow me to put together a company of West Germans.  I will need to sculpt and cast their rides and support, some SPz 11-2 recce and HS.30 APCs.  I'll probably scratch the Jagdpanzer 90 and Rakette SS-11 vehicles as well, though may break down and just buy the Leopard Is, not sure yet.

Another purchased is a small number of post apoc figs from Hasslefree and couple other sources.  I've heard that Hasslefree is having some hiccups getting orders out, so we will see how that goes.  I'm in no rush, so hopefully, however it works out will be okay.

The last purchase was a 32mm printed viking fig that just looked like I'd enjoy painting, figuring I'd work it into some fantasy stuff eventually, but it turned out to be a bust.  The fig is very nicely sculpted, but the sword is severly warped, perpendicular to the plane of the blade, and two large areas of the shield are simply missing as the shield was too thin to print properly.  Unfortunately, I'm once again let down by the printed figure experience.

Beyond ordering the figs, the only work that I've done is some research (photos and scale drawings) for the German vehicles mentioned above and the French AMX-VCI (or AMX-VTT) and the AMX 13/75.  I'll probably also do the AMX 13 with the M24 turret just for grins, but again, I haven't actually started making any of them yet.

Recently, I dug out my BTR-50P, which I started in December and is about half done, and my loose plan moving forward is to master several of these vehicles, and some other bits for various periods and scales, then order a bunch of rubber and resin and cast up everything all at once.  We'll see how that works out.

As I'm not a warm weather person (much prefering the cold and snow of winter over the heat and humidity of summer), and with the weather warming in coming weeks, I expect to retreat back into the basement and get back into action soon.  


Saturday, March 30, 2024

Not Quite Back Yet

My work crazyness finally ended mid week, though it could pick up for four weeks at any moment.  Things had been busy since last October and stepped up at the start of the year, then picked up further until my day consisted of work, eat, sleep (3 hours most days), reset, for 43 days until this past Wednesday.  

I discovered that after four days of three hours sleep that my cogitive processes slowed quite obviously, so every fifth day or so became a 4-5 hour sleep cycle.  I seem to be able to function at a relatively high level on abut 20.5 hours per week over an extended period, which kind of surprised me based on sleep/exhaustion studies that I've read with respect to soldiers in combat.  Of course, I wasn't beng shot at while working, and wasn't cold, wet, and hungry, Well, not wet at least, or excessively hungry.  

By chance, some other "life" stuff has gone on in the background during all of this, and about five weeks back, I started adding in an "exercise" cycle into the day.  With the start of the new year, I had conciously altered my eating habits, which had been going well, with the excersive added in, I've maintained a fairly steady, but reasonable weight loss pattern and have dropped about 30 pounds at this point.  

There has been no hobby time, though for the first time in decades, ideas for some art projects started creeping into my head, and I began making notes about the ideas for a number of 2-D and 2.5-D projects (think involves depth/relief, but not full blown sculpture).

My return to normal life for the last four days has really exposed the general fatigue issues, and changes to my circadian rhythm are a bit of a pain.  I'm still sleeping three hours a night at this point, and have absolutely no fire for reading or anything gaming, which has left me kind of just floating in the ether.  And, I still haven't pulled out the paints or pencils for anything artsy, so not sure what is happening there.

Sooo, no gaming stuff to report, just sort of rebooting for normal life again.  In any case, I'm not dead yet, though not sure if that is success or failure at this point.


Saturday, March 2, 2024

A Quick Note

Despite having the next battle in my Barbarossa campaign set up on my table for more than a week, peace has spread across my miniature world, as some stuff at work is simply consuming all of my time.  So, I just wanted to say that I'm not dead yet, and will return to blogging about pushing around toy soldiers as soon as things let up a bit.  Until then, I'm going to be a little scarce.

Stay safe out there.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

On the Painting Table

After getting kidnapped by work for a few days.  I'm catching up on the hobby again.

In my last post, I mentioned painting some miniatures. For the last few weeks, about every third or fourth day, I've been doing a little assembling, priming, painting, etc., as time permits.

Most of the miniatures are 15mm vehicles for (what else?) Barbarossa.  There are a bunch of German Pz II, Pz III, and Pz IV models in process, all my own casts.  Some of these were made from "blowout" parts with occasional bubbles and whatnot. 

The Pz IIs and Pz IIIs are almost done with most of the Pz IIIs being E-models with the 5cm L42 gun and a couple having the older 3.7cm gun.  The Panzer IIs are mostly "F" models and some earlier types as well.  

Pz III E


Pz IIs F and B models, a couple Sdkfz 251D, and 
Pz IVDs behind them.


There are also some Soviet tanks, mostly a mix of my own and Gaming Models casts: three T-35s, a couple of T-28s (there will be more), 10x T-26Ss (my second sculpt ever 36 years ago, and yet to see the games table), three BA-10 (I think) armored cars (these are old, like 1980s vintage, not sure of the make), a single KV-1, and a Soviet truck.  

T-26S (center), with a KV1 and a KV2 turret mostly 
hidden behind it.

T-35s, T-28s, three BA-10s, a Soviet truck, and a stray 
Dingo.

That Dingo has been waiting for paint since about 1989


Additionally, about twenty-five Star Trek starships are in process, most being Federation ships.  A couple are 1980s vintage Task Force Games ships; the Federation tug and a dreadnaught both required a good cleaning and some repair before priming.    A bunch are Studio Burgstrom (beautiful models, no flash, easy to assemble) and the classic Lou Zocchi models all now primed and in various states of base coat.  The base station is from Amarillo Design Bureau, and the three Reliants are from the "clicky" game.  The Klingons get a little bump too, with three more Bergstrom Klingon cruisers, and three smaller IKS Gunboats from Space Facade on Shapways.  These are all in various stages of receiving their base hull colors.


Most of the Bergstrom models appear to be from the TOS period or a little earlier, resembling some of the "Axanar" style ships, and I'll be going two different directions with them, using them both as traditional classes from Star Fleet Battles in bigger fleet and campaign games, and also doing up SFB style SSDs to play in the pre-TOS Klingon War (4-Years War) games in the Axanar (-ish) setting.


For 6mm Operation Barbarossa, my GHQ order arrived today, so I can get the German trucks painted up for my campaign battle west of Lvov.  I might be able to get those done tomorrow.

And, graced by a little bit of luck, early this week, my neighbor's cat got into our garage and knocked over a stack foam that had been on a table in the corner, probably since about 1998.  Most of it was 2" foam cut for a project that didn't happen, but part of it was a bunch of long forgotten 1/2" thick pre-cut tiIes, perfect for river sections.  I'm hoping to get the new river tiles done by next weekend.

That's it for now, stay safe out there.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Big Surprise... (Operation Barbarossa)

 ...the German offensive is being slowed by lots of rivers and a lack of trucks.  

I've actually been planning to build a set of wider river tiles since last September, but all of my local suppliers have stopped carrying the blue Dow-Corning foam board.  I had been holding off, hoping to discover an alternate source.

My preference for the blue board is caused by the pink Owens-Corning product always being thicker than advertised, usually pretty uniform, but about 1/16" over adversied thickness, and the green gray Lowes brand varies within the sheet from as much as 1/16" over to 1/16" under listed thickness.

Historically, the blue stuff tends to be pretty uniform and very close to listed thickness.  The other stuff requires notable extra work and mess to avoid creating "steps" in my terrain.  In some of my game photos, you can see some of tiles that were completed in the past, before I noticed these differences in thickness.

I had been putting off making the new terrain, including the river, until I could find some blue foam, or make the longer trip to get the pink stuff.  Lowes is by far the easiest store for me to get to, but I keep measuring the foam thickness, and theirs is simply never uniform, varying as much as 1/8" in a given sheet, and creating a lot of extra work or wasted foam.

Four of the five remaining battles in this first series of German attacks involve a river crossing requiring some new terrain, which I figured that I'd make over the this past week and next, but work has gotten in the way.  I will likely be able to pick up some foam late this week and get that moving along.  

To keep the campaign moving, I intended to get the battle west of Lvov on the table yesterday, then discovered that I had a significant shortage of German trucks, given the forces that happen to be present, so sent off an order for more trucks (plus a couple of other bits that I need). So until more trucks arrive, the Germans have been temporarily brought to a halt.

Yesterday was a bit of a write off, as I spent the day recovering from a rather laborious week at work.  I am officially old.  I finally did some honest work for a few days and none of my hinges want to bend.  Yesterday, it hurt just to try and hold a miniature to paint.  Sad. 

Today I feel a little better, so if nothing else, the break in Russia will give me a chance to paint some figs.

And with any luck, I'll be able to get the battle near Lvov going maybe as soon as next Sunday.

Stay young out there!!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Barbarossa, Turn 1, June: AAR 3 - Lithuanian Border West of Kaunas

Fire in the East map, hex 2822, Lithuanian border, somewhat west of Kaunas.  German and Soviet reconnaissance forces clash in the opening minutes of the offensive:

The German forces advance across the border on their bicycles, leaving the unmanned checkpoint behind them, they passed through a forested area and approached a small bridge.  Maybe a thousand meters ahead of them where some farm buildings, and likely Soviet forces.  The young lietenant looked skyward on hearing the engine noise above him, and felt comfort in seeing the Messerschmitts high above.

Looking through his binoculars, he scanned the farm for signs of the enemy and wondered what lie ahead.


German Forces

Elements of the 2nd Recce Btln, 2nd Infantry Division

1x Recce Compny (Bicycle)

    1x CHQ w/ HQ section, 2x MG sections, Kubelwagen, Truck

    3x Recce Pltn w/ PHQ, 3x Recce Section, 1x ATR

    1x Support Pltn w/ PHQ, 3x 5cm Mortar

1x Recce Support Company

    1x HQ section, Kubelwagen

    1x ATG Pltn w/ 3x 3.7cm PaK 36, 3x Truck

    1x Gun Pltn w/ 2x 7.5cm IG 18, 2x truck

    1x Arm. Car Pltn w/ 2x Kfz 13

Support Company (left) and Bicycle Company (right)


Soviet Forces

The 9th Recce Company and 11th NKVD Company greet the Germans.

9th Recce Company

    1x CHQ w/ HQ section

    3x Recce Pltn w/ PHQ, 3x Recce Section, 1x 5cm Mortar, 3x Truck

11 NKVD Company

    1x CHQ w/ HQ section

    3x NKVD Rifle Pltn w/ PHQ, 3x Rifle Section

9th recce Company (left) and 11 NKVD Company (right)



The Battlefield

The battlefield is located in FitE map hex 2822, slightly east of the border with East Prussia and west of Kaunas.

German view of the battlefield looking east.

Soviet view looking west.

The Battle

The Soviet NNKVD Company was deployed south of the road at the eastern edge of a lightly forested area surrounded by farm fields.  The Recce Company was deployed north of the central road along foliage lines separating farm fields.  

View looking to the northeast, showing NKVD troops dug south 
of the east-west road.

The Soviet Recce Company spread thin in the foliage lines 
separating fields north of the road.

The Germans advanced along the road, lead by the bicycle company of the 2nd Recce Btln of the 2nd ID.  Just the first German troops started to cross the little bridge of the creek, they spotted the Soviet Recce troops just north of the road and immediately started to deploy off road.

German troops advance east, the blurred sides of the bridge 
straddling the road in the distance above.

One platoon of bicycle troops deployed immediately north of the bridge, while two platoons moved south.  Both German company HQs deployed a little behind the trees to the north of the bridge, while the 7.5cm infantry guns deployed along the stream ahead of the HQ sections, and the 3.7cm anti-tank guns advanced to support the bicycle troops south of the road. 

The two Kfz 13 armored cars were temporarily held at the HQs, and two batteries of 10.5cm artillery awaited fire support orders.

German forces deploying and advancing.

The bicycle troops south of the bridge advanced from one field line to the next, until taking fire from the tree line in front of them.  Additionally, they took fire from Soviet recce troops north of the road, but took no casualties.

The Soviet recce troops started to receive fire from the German 10.5cm batteries and quickly took casualties at their southernmost point.  Immediately after this, the bicycle troops to the south started to take more fire from the tree line and the 10.5cm guns were re-directed to fire there.

The Soviet s lost two recce sections to the first couple 
volleys of 105s.


During this time, the German 3.7cm AT guns were moved into position south of the bicycle troops and began firing at the Soviet infantry positions in the trees.  Slowly, hits were scored against the NKVD troops dug in along the tree line.  The German 5cm mortar section tried to hit the Soviet positions also, but struggled to get within range.

To the north, the 7.5cm guns began firing at the Soviets in the field lines, while infantry on both sides sporadically engaged each other without causing much damage.  Eventually the infantry guns scored a couple of hits, as did the NKVD troops against the German bicycle troops south of the road.

Soviet fire from the tree line began to fade and the bicycle troops advanced.

Bicycle troops advance, and the 3.7cm AT guns can be seen 
deployed near their trucks above. 

The bicycle troops eventually made their way to the tree line, while artillery and ATGs fired away at the soviet positions further south.  Soviet rifle fire killed a German rifle section and one ATR during the advance.


To the north, the German bicycle platoon moved north along the stream bed, and then east along the foliage and trees to gain better view and range on the soviet recce forces.  Additionally, the two infantry guns re-deployed further north on the west side of the stream to support the bicycle troops.


The German IG18s are visible in the bottom left above while 
the bicycle platoon has advanced along the trees extending east 
from the stream.

Between the infantry guns and the bicycle troops, the Soviets were slowly whittled away, during this time, the two Kfz 13s advanced down the road and swung north to encircle the Soviet recce troops.  The Soviet troops were unable to score any hits on the Kfz 13s, while taking a number of casualties, with several sections eventually surrendering to the armored cars.

The two Kfz 13s are barely visible center right above, 
closing in onthe withdrawing Soviet recce troops.


To the south, German troops advance into the Soviet fighting pits and exchanged fire with the NKVD troops.  In the face of the advancing German artillery, the southern most NKVD section eventually threw down their weapons and ran into the woods.  The remaining NKVD platoon in the woods along the road finally retreated after watching the Germans church their way forward and losing contact with their CHQ.

The abandoned NKVD positions in the woods south of the road.

The germans rounded up the Soviet prisoners in the field, tended to their wounded, and regrouped before continuing forward,


Losses

In all, the germans lost only two sections, one rifle, and one anti-tank rifle.  The Soviets lost both companies, with 8 NKVD sections killed, and 11 recce sections killed and the remaining five captured.  

In a state of panic, one NKVD section simply evaporated into the countryside, and the withdrawing platoon will likely either be shot by their own troops or overrun by these same Germans later in the day.


Other Tidbits

The Soviets did not experience the German pre-attack artillery bombardment, so were intact when the Germans discovered their presence. Tthe Germans on the bridge were sighted on the same turn that they first saw the Soviets, the Soviets simply had no weapons with which to hit the Germans at 800 plus meters range. 

Additionally, the Soviet 9th Infantry Brigade lost most of its headquarters in the early German air attacks, and could not receive notification of the  of the German advance here, nor could they offer any artillery or other support.

The Soviet recce troops could not disengage with the Germans, as once they were off-loaded, their trucks were moved far to the rear for other duties, as the Soviets are having severe transportation issues on this morning.


Thoughts

The Soviets were pretty much loced in to holding their ground, not having much flexability or hope.

From the German side, this battle progressed more like I might have expected, than the last.  Once the Germans located the Russians, they allowed their firepower to take out the enemy without putting many of their soldiers in harms way.  Losses were roughly 10:1 in this battle.

German 2nd Infantry Division will continue its morning advance, and will likely find more of the Soviet 9th Infantry Brigade blocking it's path to the east.


Hoping to get the next battle a little further south, in and around Grodno, on the table this week.