Saturday, December 18, 2021

Building the Road to War: 6mm Modular Terrain Boards - Part 2

NOTE: The discussion below addresses the use of a variety of power and hand tools.  Please be aware of, and be sure to follow all safety instructions and practices while using any of these tools. Proper methods, safety guards and equipment, and ventilation should be incorporated at all times to avoid injury.


I cut my foam terrain tiles on a table saw primarily, but over the years have also used a band saw, panel saw, hot wire foam cutter, and a straight edge and hobby knife. I've found the hot wire to be the most tedious, generally being the slowest method, and offering the least consistent edges.

Cutting it with a hobby knife actually works fine once you learn to hold the knife perpendicular to the face of the foam.  You can cut or sand a slight inward bevel from top to bottom that will eliminate any problems caused by the angle of the knife going out of perpendicular during cutting.  This may be most easily done by making an "L" shaped sanding block with a very slight, maybe 1 degree angle, and sanding the edges of the cut foam.

The tiles are cut from 4'x8' sheets of 1 inch thick polystyrene insulation board.  These are the greenish foam from Lowes, though I prefer the blue Dow Corning, as I find the green board tends to vary much more in thickness, both across a single sheet and from one batch to the next.

The cut tiles arranged relative to the road design that they 
will receive.

My design notes for the most of the new terrain tiles.

Once the foam tiles were cut, I created a road edge locator template with the first tile, marking the road location with the center-line inset three inches in from both ends on two opposing ends, as if I was going to have two parallel roads on the tile.  This acted as a template to locate road edges on all of the other road tiles.

Note the four black tick marks along the near and far edges, indicating 
the edge of pavement locations for the 1" wide roadway.

The road edges were located on the end of each tile, then the pavement edges were lightly drawn across the tile with a black Papermate ball point pen.  Don't use gell ink, use an old school ball point, and I find that the Papermate ink doesn't bleed as bad as most other brands.  

After marking all of the roads on the tiles, I sanded the surface of each removing the gloss or "glazed" finish from the face of the tile, and sand in any features, such as ditches along the pavement edges or depressions in the tile.  For deeper depressions, I rasp out a little foam with a Surform tool.  

The sanding is done with an ancient Black & Decker/Minicraft hobby sander.  Proxxon also used to make a similar sander, and Micro-Mark currently sells this version.  Proxxon offers this model, which may work in this application.  Be careful not to gouge the foam with the edge of the sanding pad.  The older sanders with a rubber sanding foot and with mechanical clamps were actually favorable to newer versions with a plastic foot and velcro type sanding pads.  Unfortunately, this appears to be another instance of progress and technology maybe moving in the wrong direction.

Other small orbital sanders, such as the "Mouse" type will work, but are less forgiving and all require a "sense of touch" when working with the foam.  Additionally, a combination of orbital sanders and sponge foam sanding blocks will work.

Some hot wire cutters can be configured to cut depressions, but I find these less favorable and more time consuming than Surform and sander.  The hotwire creates fumes, and the sanding creates dust, so both come with their own "baggage".

After the sanding is completed, any blemishes, gouges, or defects can be filled with one-step or light weight spackle.  I apply it with a small flexible putty knife and by hand, while wearing disposable gloves.  It should be applied to as close as a finished state as possible, taking care to create smooth transitions from foam to spackle and back to foam again.  The spackle will dry harder the than the foam, so sanding must be done with care so as to avoid creating a "step" at the transition point of foam to spackle.

Instead of sanding, you may be able to smooth and wipe off excess spackle with a smooth damp cloth at the time of application.  This is a technique that may require learning some sense of touch, but will eliminate most of the need to sand after drying. 

I avoid conventional spackle, despite it sanding more favorably with the foam, because artist's acrylic paints and at least some some craft acrylics do not stick well to it.  They will form a skin that can easily and accidentally be scraped and peeled off of the spackle with a relatively light touch.

The next step is to apply a coat of acrylic modeling paste to the foam. This will help protect the foam from puncture or gouges, and will add an elastic, rather the brittle skin to the foam.  White glue concoctions will also work, generally creating a more rigid surface, but my experience is that in time, the rigid surface receives damage more readily, than the elastic/paste surface, and is rigid skin can be more burdensome to repair.

I've used a mix of brands of acrylic paste over the years; Grumbacher, Liquitex, Royal, Golden, Blick, etc.  They all seem to work fine.  Some are softer/thinner than others and apply more readily, but offer maybe a little less protection than thicker pastes.

Applying artist's acrylic paste. The road edges can barely 
be seen, roughly centered in the white paste area on this tile.

Once the paste is dry, you may notice that the black ink of the roadway edge lines has bled through the paste and is maybe more distinct than it appeared after sanding.  I usually give just a light spray of Testor's Dull Coat of other matte spray coat to seal the ink.  Otherwise the ink may continue to bleed through the paint and even the flock to some degree.  Usually the Papermate ink doesn't do this, but most others will in my experience.  The application of the spray need only be over the inked portion of the foam and can be very light, a single quick pass of spray should do.  I sprayed all 69 square feet of terrain and didn't finish off a partial can of spray.

Next comes the painting.  I use artist's acrylic paints; in this case, a mix of Dick Blick, Royal and Liquitex.  I generally use a thinner bottle of economy artist's paint for the primary color and then mix in whatever else I have, as needed for the desired shade.  In my case, I use an undercoat of the same basic color as the flock to be applied, so green grassy areas get green paint, blown get brown, etc. 

Different methods of painting can be used, particularly in association with how you will finish the tiles with flock.  In my case I flock dirt roads, there is no exposed paint, except for the paved roads and waterways, and I usually give those surfaces an extra coat of acrylic paste. 

If you plan to leave dirt areas as exposed painted surfaces, you can apply texture to the acrylic paste such a ruts from wheels, or footprints, or you can apply a fine texture material, such a sand or gravel to be painted to a final finish.

While painting, I tend to highlight rises yellower or lighter, and depressions darker, as this helps with the application of the flock in the next step.  Otherwise, the shallow rises and depressions in 6mm are not always readily obvious when hurriedly applying the flock.  Once the base coat of paint is dry, the road is applied.  In 6mm, this is just painted onto the foam, in larger scales I would apply a textured layer, typically a fine sand or ballast.  Paved surfaces would typically get an application or two of acrylic paste over the sand/ballast.  Or, may be painted or left natural color if representing gravel and or dirt roads. 

To mask the edge lines of the roadway, I use an artist's white 3/4" masking tape, which has a favorable tack, that doesn't damage to the acrylic paste and paint.  It is available from most artist supply stores in my experience.  This is a paper tape, that isn't ideal for masking curved roads, so I simply free-hand those.

The ballast can be added before the initial paste application, or later, resulting in a quite durable road surface.  I apply the ballast/sand using artist's matte medium as a glue.  For the paved surface, I will apply a layer of white artists tape along the edges of the road, paint on a coat of the matte medium, making sure to apply a solid, even coat, and while it is still wet, apply a generous coat of ballast/sand.  Remove the mask after applying ballast, as he matte medium can stick the tape, resulting in flaws if the tape is removed after the ballast is dry.

Let dry (drying time varies considerably with ambient humidity (20 minutes to several hours)), and recover the unused portion of ballast (probably 75-90 percent of the applied volume ).  If you find that you have unwanted "potholes" in the road surface, where ballast did not stick,  you can apply matte medium to those ares with a fine brush, and reapply ballast over those spots.  If you have unwanted lumps of ballast/sand, you can sand those off after the they dry.

Whether I use ballast or not, I tape off the roadway along the edge-lines before painting, then paint the road surfaces accordingly.  Roadway markings can be added before or after flocking, though in small scale, I would suggest adding them before the flocking process.  They can be added with color pencil, paint pen, or by masking and painting.  I typical give the roads a light coat of matte spray after adding road lines.  

I'll be adding some city panels later, which will get some roadway markings, but from the photographic evidence that I've found, it looks like many of roads of this type, did not have much in the way of markings in 1950s Germany, so for now, I'm not adding markings to the road surfaces.

Example of 28mm desert road with ballast surface and 
edge-lines painted added with fine point paint pen.

The last major step is adding the flock.  I use the Woodland Scenics grass and earth blends primarily, and have mixes of lighter and darker shades using about 9 parts other color, and 1 part of the grass or earth blend, depending on whether the base color is green or brown/yellow.  

I mask off the road area and apply a solid coat of artist's acrylic matte medium, then highlight lighter, raised areas, with a a lighter green, depressed areas with a darker green, add a little darker brown to the bottoms of ditches, and lighter brown yellow along road edges and whatnot, and then give a solid covering of the grass blend.  The process is sort of like painting with flock.  I use a large brush 2-4 inch for application of the matte medium, applying a liberal coat, and keep reapplying if it starts to dry out.  

On small terrain tiles, the matte medium drying out tends not to be a problem.  But if applying to a large area, I start at one end, apply matte medium to maybe a 12 inch wide area across the entire width of the tile, apply flock to the trailing 6 inches of medium.  Re-wet the exposed medium and apply medium to the next six inches, and repeat the process until done.  You always maintain a wet leading edge of medium across the entire piece, until the application is complete.  This avoids medium drying out, and avoid seams/ridges/textures in the application of flock.  I also try to maintain an irregular leading edge of wet medium, rather than a uniform straight line, as this helps to minimize any sort of pattern or "striping" effect with the flock.

Again, let dry, with drying time ranging from 20 minutes to a few hours, dependent on humidity.  I usually locate a fan in the area, but not blowing directly on the surface of the loose flock, so as to avoid blowing the stuff off of the model and across the room.  Once the matte medium has dried, brush off and recover the excess flock.  You can touch up any blemishes, applying matte medium with a fine brush and adding flock as needed.

I apply a light spray of matt finish, such as Dull Coat, or Windsor and Newton matte spray to the final product, particularly over the road area to reduce the sheen of the paint.  This can be done prior to the application of the flock, if preferred, to avoid getting stray bits of the flock stuck to the road surface.

Some of the finished tiles from the first batch.

I would normally apply some weathering to the road before applying the flock, but in this instance I'll probably wait until all of the terrain is finished, and weather it all at once for consistency.

At some point, you've probably noticed that one thing is missing from this terrain; farm fields. I have focused on making a fairly flexible system of roads, waterways, and hills in coming up with this terrain system, but have not found a good way to incorporate farm fields into the tiles.  I've played around with a bunch of different ideas, but they either fail to meet my expectations, or add a lot more tiles and work.  So I've simply chosen to ignore them.  

Fields will be indicated by tree, foliage, and fence lines, and in some cases by separate terrain pieces that set on the basic tiles, though due to material thickness, in 6mm I tend to avoid stacking things that really shouldn't rise much above the grade elevation.  I try not to disrupt true line of site any more than I have to.

In most of my games, I use a WYSIWYG sighting system.  If figs can't see targets, they generally can't shoot at them.  This means, that using a mat with roads, waterways, etc.set on top, and that rise up above the basic elevation of the terrain, block line of sight, particularly at small scale, and disrupt the games that I play.  This is one of the reasons for building all of this terrain. This style of terrain also allows for shallow meandering depressions that are often lost in miniature gaming, is more stable than cloth spread over terrain forms, and accommodates more realistic sharp changes in topography, particularly depressions, than other types of terrain systems. The trade-off is that you have a grid on the table, which offends some eyes, and may play into rules that require players to estimate ranges or movement.

Regarding tile sizes, thinner 1/2 inch foam could be used, or thicker, such as 2" foam for that matter (which I sometimes use for specific terrain modules). But, I find that 1 inch best meets my needs.  The 12 inch square basic tile is arbitrary, but allows for a fairly rapid set up, while still being relatively adaptable and flexible in copying actual terrain and maps.  A friend uses a similar system, but chose to use 11" squares as his base tile, as he gets more tiles out of a sheet of foam.  I'm aware of gamers who use other sizes for a variety of reasons relating to games scales, and other needs.

The next "Road to War" terrain post will present stream, river, and slope/hill tiles, as well as a couple other odds & ends.  I've already started working on the tiles, and hope to have the post up before the new year.

Hope you have a great holiday season.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Road to War: An Interuption of Progress During the Golden Age of the Hobby (- or Part 1-1)

I woke up stupid early this morning full of child-like excitement and enthusiasm for my current big gaming project, the construction of terrain tiles for gaming in Cold War Germany.  So consumed with euphoric anticipation was I, that you'd have thought that I was about to receive a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock.

It only lasted for a moment, as I sat there in the early morning darkness, realizing that my excitement was wasted, and that I had woken up for nothing, as this would be day 6 of waiting for one minor product, of which I am out of stock, to be placed in the mail stream, such that it might begin its journey from Colorado to Ohio.

You see, last weekend I got to the point where I was ready to flock the terrain addressed in my previous post, Part 1 of this project, and discovered that I was out of light green flock.  I am sure that my previous stock of this came from Woodland scenics, probably about 1987, but at this point, either I am wrong about the source, or they stopped making it at some point.

As it turned out during my search, I found that fine light green flock is not a common color these days. But fear not, for in this "Goden Age" of our hobby, via the progress of digital technology, what I need is only a click away.  Well that and the days or weeks it will take to receive the item, that I could readily have in hand after a 40 minute trip to the hobby shop in 1987.

Once again, I find that the golden age of gaming is filled with pyrite encrusted lead rot.  Or, as usual, something that I need and have used for decades in my hobby is no longer readily available.  In recent years, the demise of paint, glue, solvent, tools, and product lines  has made my hobby much more burdensome than it might otherwise be.

Additionally, despite the fact that I can get figures (that were already available in my preferred scale, and that I already had), in a multitude of other scales, and from several more manufacturers in my preferred scale.  I still can't get 15mm US Cold War era troops in their OG107 fatigues that they only wore for thirty years.  (I swear I just heard Sam Kinison's voice.)  Been waiting for those for about thirty years too.  Actually a bit longer.  I'm sorry, I would have envisioned a slightly different golden age in my hobby.

Okay, I know, in the big picture, it is a little thing really, teensie-tiny, but this happens so often these days, and steals so much joy from my hobby, that I just had to cry about it a a little.  Again.

Okay, so new plan going forward:

I'm moving on to the next stage of the project, making the second batch of terrain, which will end up being a second and third batch, as I want to work on slightly smaller numbers of tiles at a time, to give more room to work and keep progress moving.

The second batch of terrain tiles will include stream, small river, some sloped, and a few odd sized filler pieces of terrain, about 52 tiles in all.

The third batch (49 tiles at this point), which will probably wait until after the new year, will include an expansion of the pieces introduced in stage two; more river, hills, and a modular hill ridgeline/crest system.

Additionally, when putty, paste, and paint is drying on more terrain, I will be painting  new vehicles for the invasion of France 1940.  Thanks to Scotia, Heroics and Roa, and GHQ, I've built up quite a backlog over the last month.

Its okay, I'm not getting a Red Ryder BB Gun with a compass in the stock.  And besides, I always wanted a football.

Have a great day, and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Building the Road to War: 6mm Modular Terrain Boards - Part 1

I've been working on 6mm modular terrain tiles made from 1 inch thick XPS foam insulation board, and thought that I'd share the process. 

It was around a year ago, when I realized that I didn't have enough paved road terrain tiles (for my modular terrain) for gaming in Cold War Germany.  I had forgotten that some years back,  I had given a bunch of it to a friend to use in games run at his house.  

After taking stock of what I had left, I realized that I was probably better off to just start over.  My old highways (two-lane paved roadways) were patterned after US roads, and didn't look much like those of West Germany.

My first stop was Google Earth, studying both the North German Plain and the Fulda Gap, getting a feel for how the road network was laid out and the types of roads in modern Germany. I then compared those to my copies of 1950s army maps of Germany, noting the expansion and development over the decades since the Cold War was a teenager.

I remember reading decades ago, that in Germany..."you couldn't go 2000 meters in any direction without bumping into a town or village".  After studying the various maps, I have to say that I understand the implications of that much better now. 

Starting with terrain for the North German Plain, I was surprised to find how dense the road network was, and how little of it was laid out in a grid type fashion (biased by my experience here in Ohio).  There are a lot of intersections at odd angles, which is somewhat more interesting than what I had expected, but also harder to model on the tabletop.  

As I looked for places that the forces of 1st UK corps might wait for visitations from 3rd Shock Army, I was surprised to find that relatively open fields of fire were seldom more than 1200 meters, meaning that my table, measuring out to 5400 meters in game scale, could well be three to four battlefields in depth.  What this meant was that my road network would need to be much more dense than I had envisioned.

I searched the internet for photos of Germany in the 1950s, gaining some understanding of construction materials, roadway markings, and various other details, and collected dimensions from Google Earth.  Road widths varied somewhat, but there were commonly recurring widths, and I finally decided to go with a single standard road with of around 24 feet (approximately 1" wide in 1/285 scale), rather than creating multiple sets of terrain, with 18', 22', 30' widths, etc.  

I've long used a modular terrain system, incorporating 12 inch square foam terrain tiles, and many years ago, adopted a practice of locating road and waterway centerlines  3 inches from the near edge of the tiles, rather than centered on the tile, as might seem more obvious.  I found that the offset of roads and waterways offered a number of advantages in design and construction of the tiles.   Realizing that my description here is about as clear as mud, the following diagram will hopefully make a little more sense of this.

This offset centerline method proved favorable in building diagonal roads, made winding roads easier to model, and permitted me to get combinations of water, rail and roadways onto the same tile in parallel without using different conventions for each. 

As long as the centerlines and widths match at the edges, all manner of paths can be following in between.  Intersections, towns, and when using a 2'x1' tiles a second type of diagonal road can be added.  Waterways are cut into the tile with a Dremel with router attachment, typically at 3/8th inch depth, with a slightly rounded bank on the edges.  Here are some examples of other tile configurations:

The longer 1'x2' or even 2'x2' tiles can be used to create larger constructs, or topographical features.  This offset centerline method works fine for my 15mm and 6mm gaming (with different road withs), and though I haven't done it, the same should generally work for 25-28mm using 2'x2' panels.

I use both modular and freestanding hills, with modular tiles using the basic slope on the edges of 1" rise over 6" of run.  Generally, the "front" half of the tile involves slope, and the "back half" of the tile is more or less flat.  In between the edges, the tile can do whatever you want being as constant or irregular in profile as you'd like.  Modular hill tiles require three basic types of tile; "Straight slope", Inside corner" and "Outside Corner".  The diagram below shows top and edge views of the three basic slope tiles.

Over the years, I've used different edge profiles for a number of different sets of modular hills, cliffs, etc.  My 28mm cliff modules use the same concept, just with a very different profile.  Roads and waterways can be added to the hill sections, with roads being pretty easy, and waterways taking a little more effort, incorporating either gentle downhill streams or waterfalls.

For this project, I'll only be adding a couple of road/slope tiles, but will need to add more later for battles set in the Fulda Gap and other parts of Germany.

I'll post part 2 of this project, after getting a little more work (and photos) done, so that's all for now

Thursday, November 18, 2021

1940 Progress: German Infantry Done, French Planes get Paint

I've been slowly moving along on my France 1940 project over the last few weeks.  The German infantry are done.  Just waiting to be boxed:

And I've filled in most of the gaps with respect to 1940 aircraft.  All are primed, and the French are receiving paint.

On a side note, orders to the US from Scotia and H&R are taking about three weeks to arrive.  So shipping is a little slower these days, but really not too bad.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

6mm WWII French Infantry Done

 This past week, when I wasn't working on aircraft data, I was working on 6mm infantry.   Here are a couple pics of my WWII French, completed over this past week:

There are still a few stands, mostly gun crews to finish, 
when they arrive from H&R.

Figs are combination of GHQ with a few H&R; surprisingly,
 it is not easy to tell them apart from a distance of more 
than about a foot and a half.

Next up are the Germans... 

One of five trays of Germans, H&R.

... if I can ever remember to buy a can of primer.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

WWII Air Combat Rules Update

Last weekend, in support of my 1940 France miniature ground battles, I figured that I'd update and fill in blanks in the WWII portion of my air combat "rules".  They are not so much a set of game rules, as a stand-in to quickly resolve air combat elements permitting the play of the ground battles.

Originally conceived around 1985 for Cold War missile laden air combat, the system included aircraft from about the mid-1930s for WWII.  I had never really used it a lot for WWII, and as I started adding a bunch of 1940 aircraft, I realized the range of values in the system were too narrow to allow much variation between aircraft.  I mean, a Bf109E and a D.510 shouldn't quite be an equal match.

Anyway, it went from a couple hours of filling in the blanks, to 25 hours of pretty intense number crunching and partially reinventing the system.  Add in a couple hours per day through the week, mostly early morning before work and lunch breaks, and I got everything to a workable state.

Typical of the mess that I create, when working on stuff like this.

In the mean time, the first of several aircraft orders arrived from I-94 Enterprises, ordered Friday, shipped Saturday, and arriving Tuesday.  Amazing service.  Decals from Flight Deck Decals arrived a couple of days later, so plenty to do in the coming days.

New toys!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Visit to My Miniatures Junkyard

As I sat down yesterday to start painting 6mm WWII French infantry, I felt very cramped at my paint table, as it had grown rather crowded with various odds and ends that had been accumulating on it for quite some time, again.  Mostly waylaid miniatures, some with broken or missing parts; things that I'll get around to, eventually.

I figured I'd clear the clutter off my table, gather them up and put them in the wooden box that has become my catch-all box for  things like this, but as it turned out, all six of the box's trays were already overflowing, mostly with micro-armor.

There are some old GHQ tanks that have long been re-sculpted and don't match the newer models I've gotten over the years, a handful of Cold War Soviet tanks with broken barrels, damaged 26 years ago, when we moved into the house (revealed along our front walk, a month after moving in, when the snow had melted).  A batch of T-55s that I bought on E-bay, that arrived as Chinese Type 69s with side skirts.  Some old CinC T80s that I've been meaning to sell, various bags of less than obvious contraptions that needed assembled, and on and on.

I ended up sorting out a lot of the stuff, threw out some things that I no longer "couldn't live without", and deciding that "eventually" had finally arrived.  I selected a number of models for assembly and/or repair.  Most notable was an GHQ Mi-8 helicopter bought in the 1980s, never assembled as it arrived missing the front landing gear.  There were 15 AFVs in need of repairs, mostly barrels, a BMP needing a new turret (miscast), a bunch of Sherman oddballs with parts all mixed up in a bag, etc.

So the day was spent recovering 16 broken models, and assembling a similar number of other odds and ends.  In the end, I cleaned up my paint table a little, emptied about one and a half of the "miniatures junkyard" trays, and enjoyed a nice relaxing day.

Most of the tanks needed new barrels, made of brass wire and tube.  The GHQ BMP now has a spare CinC turret, The Mi-* sports new wheels, Sherman Calliopes and mine rollars finally assembled, along with some un-mangled Soviet 100mm ATGs, and some H&R (or maybe Scotia) 85mm Soviet guns assembled.  That reminds me, I'm out of primer...


Friday, September 24, 2021

The Battle for France 1940

My first wargame was Avalon Hill's "The Game of France 1940", and for my entire 45 or so years of wargaming, I've been fighting battles set in 1940 France.  In the early 1980s, I made the transition from counters to miniatures, first in 1/285 scale, and eventually with 15mm miniatures.

More recently, while considering setting up a 6mm scale 1940 France game, I began considering that I had never rounded out my infantry for the period, particularly lacking command and infantry support elements, so I decided to remedy this before playing any more battles.

Most of my 6mm 1940 WWII miniatures

One thing lead to another, and I found myself inventorying all of my 1940 forces, resulting in an order to GHQ for various tanks, transports, and armored cars.  Today,  took it a little bit further, placing orders with H&R, Scotia, and I-94, with the intent of filling in more gaps, especially in air power.

The heart of the German forces.

The British.

And the French.

There are still a few items that I have yet to order, but in a few weeks my 1940 forces won't be wanting for much.

Most of the aircraft.  I have a pair of Bf109s that are missing, 
but the Germans are still lacking, and the British are non-existent.  
This will soon change.

I didn't really intend to work on a big 1940 project right now, it just sort of happened.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Rice Paddy Progress

Here are a few pics of my 20mm rice paddies.  I should have done the flock in two stages, but tried to rush them (so that I can clear my table and play a game).  They need dusted off, touched up and another application of some fuzz.  

WIth a Britannia 20mm PAVN fig for a sense of scale.

With some Britannia GIs,

With the paddies separated to show the two free standing pieces
and the three sided additions.

The modular approach sort of works, but I think they are still too uniform in appearance.  In time, I expect that I will add a few pieces with a little more character.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

6mm British, French, and German Infantry for 1940 (and Then Some)

A couple of weekends back, while paint was drying on my 20mm rice paddies, I finally started work on my 1940 6mm infantry.  I already had a fair number infantry painted, some dating back about 30 years, but missing some command, support weapons, etc., such that I could not field a complete company of anything.

Earlier this year, I placed a large infantry order with H&R, and I finally sorted and based them.  For the British, I  had enough troops to also base some units for 1944-45, and for the Germans, enough figs for some mid-war units for Russia.  More recently, French figs arrived from GHQ.

US, Soviet, and late war Germans will come later this year to be added to the US and Soviet figs that  already have.

I'm still hurting for a source for French bicycle and motorcycle troops, as I can't find sources, with the exception of possibly using German motorcycles as stand-ins.

The British Dilemma

Paint choices have been a struggle, particularly with the British, as the paint I used previously  was from the old Pactra line,  is too green and long gone.  

The British problem: Everywhere I look, the recommended color is distinctly brown, as opposed to a greenish color.  But, I've surveyed  collections of over 25 British uniforms or blouses from the period, and despite everything on the internet telling me the uniforms should be a brown, 84 percent of what I've seen look green(ish) to me.  These are all British issue, not Canadian or something other that would be more green.  

Now, they aren't by any means a New York Jets sort of screamin' kelly green or anything, they are all a brown green, but lean to the green more than the brown, and otherwise are not close to say, Vallejo English Uniform.  A small number of the items that I saw were closer to the brown, but we are talking roughly 1 in 7 examples.

In looking at color period photos, I find a much higher percentage of brown uniforms, but it was still closer to 50/50, and many of the photos have a distincly brown cast to them, leading me to think that some of the brown uniforms may be less so, than they appear in the photos.

The second British problem:  I have a lot of British that were already painted, about three company's worth of figs in the old Pactra color, maybe a little less green than Vallejo Refractive Green.  Clearly wrong, but so many figs.  I feel goofy painting new figs the wrong color, but have this nostalgic thing about the old figs, plus, don't want to spend the time repainting them.

The British compromise:  I decided to put old green figs in 1940 units, painting the small number of new figs filling out their ranks to match the old figs, and repaint the remainder of old figs scattered among the later war figs a more "accurate color", consisting of a mix of Vallejo British Uniform and Refractive green.  

My survey may involve too small a sampling, or just be anomalous in some other way, but this mix seems to more realistically represent what I've seen. 

My British figs as in their current state of paint.


The Germans

My Germans were largely painted somewhere between 1987 and 1991 with a ModelMaster gray.  I think it might be Gunship gray (haven't actually verified the color yet).  Regardless, I can either match the old color, or I can repaint the old ones, and add the new figs all with "proper" colors.

In retrospect, I didn't have as many painted Germans as I had remembered, and didn't have any complete German units at company level, missing command, anti-tank, or supporting weapons stands throughout, so I think everything will get new paint.

The Germans awaiting attention.

The French

My French were painted more recently (i.e., not much nostalgia for them), and are too light and too green. I don't have a ton of French troops painted, and since they were never flocked, they will be easy to repaint.  

After looking at examples on the internet, in books, and at a couple actual in person uniform examples, I am left with a similar view towards the French uniforms, as the British.  They were frequently more green and less brown than most hobbyists and/or hobby sources suggest.

Again, not that they were overly green, but I would describe them as generally being a yellow-brown-green.  I have seen some that were more brown, leaning more toward a yellow brown, than a red-brown, but brown is a distinct minority.  

I haven't completely settled on colors yet, but will likely start with Vallejo Green Brown 879 and tweak it a little, with Olive Grey 888 for the helmets, and maybe a tweaked Yellow Green 881 for the canvas bits.

The recently based French troops.

In any event, two weeks into it, the British are painted and in the process of receiving flock, and the French and German figs are mounted on bases, and awaiting their turn under the the brush.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

WIP: 20mm Rice Paddies for Vietnam

It had been almost a month since I last got downstairs to work on the hobby, and not surprisingly, the rice paddies were still waiting for me.  They're still not done yet, but I made some good progress on them.  Here are some pics of the work done thus far:

There are eight modular paddies, 2x four-sided units, 
and 6x three-sided add on paddies.

This view shows the modules in the first photo separated.

The bases are .06 inch styrene sheet. 
The blue foam profiles were cut on a band saw.

The paddies after sanding, to make 
them a little less uniform.

The paddies as they currently sit.

They may still be a little too uniform, I'll have to what they look like when done.

I need to order more tufts, so it will be another three to four weeks, before I can get these done.  

Friday, August 13, 2021

Star Fleet Battles Campaign: Turn 9; Part 2 of the "Big Fight"

The battle report below is part of our Star Fleet Battles campaign that has been on hold since the rise of Covid-19.  Part one of the battle was posted in August, 2019, while part two was written up in the weeks following the conclusion of the battle.  Unfortunately, I misplaced the photos of the middle part of the battle, which I didn't re-discover until recently.  So nearly two years later, I am posting part 2 covering turns 2-8 of the battle.

Part one of the battle is included in the post linked below:

Star Fleet Battles Campaign: Turn 9 Movement, And Part 1 of the Big Fight

Part 2 of the Big Fight

From part 1:

The positions of the fleets at the beginning of the battle.  
Large areas of orange and white markers are mine fields 
laid by the Kzinti and Lyran southern fleet.

The Lyran southern fleet continued to move away from the Hydrans, generally moving toward the Lyran northern fleet, and continuing to spar with the Kzinti Battlecruisers.  During turns 2 and 3, the Lyrans light ships of the southern fleet managed to destroy 5 Kzinti Battlecruisers, for the loss of six more small ships, DD classed or lighter.

The combined Lyran fleets in the foreground (yellow markers)
headed toward the Hydrans (green) in the distance.  A lone kzinti
BC limps away upper left, with the remaining Kzinti BCs having
linked up with the Hydran fleet.

Over turns 4 and 5, the two Lyran fleets merged and slowly reformed, while heading toward the Hydran fleet, which now included 9 Kzinti Battlecruisers.  The Hydrans began launching fighters, which lead the attack against the Lyrans, with their ships dropping mines behind their fighters.

As the fleets closed the Lyrans engaged the Hydran fighters, losing 9 more small vessels, while destroying approximately 30 Hydran fighters and another Kzinti BC.  The fighters forced the Lyrans to expend a lot of ships heavier weapons, saving the Hydran ships from damage.

Again, the Lyrans in the foreground, probably during turn four, 
trading escorts for Hydran fighters.

Our session ended after about four hours of play, with approximately 105 ships still in play.  The Lryan light and heavy cruiser classed ships had just come into useful combat range of  some of the Hydran vessels, with Lyran losses of 20 small ships to the 6 Kzinti BCs.

We picked up the battle two weeks later, The Hydrans continued to unleash fighters, drawing much of the available Lyran phaser fire, and causing some damage to Lyran ships.  As the Hydran ships closed into battle, they also continued to lay mines adding further chaos to the Lyran advance.

The Lyrans carefully worked their way through the mines, losing a couple more smaller vessels to a combination of mines and fighters.  Through turn 7, the Lyrans lost another 6 light ships and 3 War Cruisers (a heavily armed light cruiser); while destroying 2 more Kzinti BCs, 3 Hydran heavy cruiser classed ships, and 3 Hydran FF classed vessels.  Also, a goodly number of Hydran fighters were caught in the explosions of the Kzinti and Hydran ships.

The Lyran fleet continues to advance, having separated into two 
waves, CWs and smaller focused on clearing out fighters and 
CA and heavier ships holding fire for the combined 
Hydran/Kzinti ships (green, upper right).

Lyran ships passing through the mine field (orange markers), 
and are veering off to the left.  The Hydrans (green, upper right) 
are disengaging to the right.

During the final turn, the Lyrans swept up a few remaining Hydran fighters and continued to exchange with the Hydran vessels, destroying three more CA classed ships and two Hydran Lancers (destroyers) for no losses of their own.  

The relative positions of the ships at this point put the Hydrans at a tactical disadvantage with their rear shields exposed to the Lyrans, who largely had their bigger front and right front shields facing the Hydrans.  Combined with the Lyran fire, was the collateral damage caused by Hydran ship explosions that furthered the success of the Lyrans.

End of turn 8, the Hydrans break off and disengage, while 
the Lyrans planned to take two turns recharging weapons 
at speed, and then re-engage, had the Hydrans stuck around.

Through these last two turns, the Hydrans lost in the area of 100 fighters, and by turn eight decided to break off the engagement.

Though neither side accomplished their objective, the Hydrans probably end the battle in a better strategic position.  Their huge loss of fighters is largely replaceable by next strategic turn (they brought a lot of spares, stored in freighters), and though they lost a fair number of heavy cruisers classed ships, they still have a huge fleet in Lyran space.

The Lyrans lost 29 ships, though the largest were 3 War Cruisers, a light cruiser classed ship.  The remainder were destroyers, frigates, and police corvettes.  The Kzinti/Hydran fleet lost 14 BC/CA class ships, and 5 smaller vessels.

The Lyrans have very few escort ships remaining, while the Hydrans are free to still cause chaos in Lyran space.  

The battle consisted of eight turns, lasting nearly 10 hours, and resulted in 48 ships being destroyed.

I'm not sure when we will play our next game as the Delta variant surges, but I expect that our next meeting will simply consist of us just getting back up to speed on where everything stands midway through Strategic turn 9 of our SFB campaign.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Slow Hobby Weekend

Didn't get much done this past weekend, mostly organizing terrain and labeling terrain storage.  One nice discovery was finding about 6-7 squre feet of  20mm jungle foliage that I made several years ago, which fills most of my remaining void for 20mm Vietnam.  I knew that I had some, but remembered it as being about a third of the amount done.  I'm still awaiting the arrival of some miniature bamboo, and between that and a few deciduous trees,  one weekend of terrain making should knock out the last of the green stuff for Vietnam.

My Vietnam rice paddies are moving slowly, as I waffle on design and finish characteristics.  Hopefully, I can make some noteworthy progress on these through next weekend.

Tied into the terrain storage and labeling is the process of identifying and labelling as many of my figs as possible.  That will make finding what I need for games a  little easier, plus, it should help my wife get rid of stuff should I get run over by a cement mixer or something.  

As a result of that effort, I now know why I almost never seem to make much progress working on all of this stuff.  I currently have stuff to game 28 genres/periods/theatres with miniatures.  This includes three different basic sets of modular terrain in green, yellow, and "jungle" , with 21 subsets of period specific specialized terrain.  Over 700 square feet of modular foam terrain in all.  There are at least 151 armies and factions, ranging in size from 6 figs to around 1500, with the figure count total being back in the 17,000 range.  I know people with collections that dwarf that, but still, it's a lot of little dudes.

 I really envy guys who can just focus on one or two periods.

I finally opened and inventoried an order that arrived near the end of July from H&R, over 700 6mm infantry for WWII, plus a few vehicle samples for the 1940 French.  The figs will yield somewhere around 230 stands of infantry for the British, French, and German armies.    

I started to set up a big 1940 game earlier this year, and realized that I really didn't have enough infantry units, so put together a big order instead.  Guess what I'll be painting in the near future.

Signing off for now.  Stay well out there.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Round 2: Palm Trees and More Vietnam Foliage

My jungle is growing with the addition of more stands of foliage and some palm trees.  Constructing these went a little slower than I had hoped, so no progress on the rice paddies this past weekend.

Here are some pics of the latest progress:

I based three types of tree, most with jungle ground foliage around the trees, and a few stands without for cleared areas.  The trees need some paint/wash, particularly the trees with the grey trunks, so going to put them aside for now, and the paint work on everything at the same time.

The figs are 20mm Britannia NVA, don't know the maker of the PT-76, and the road is actually for 28mm sci-fi, as I haven't gotten to the 20mm Vietnam road and trail terrain yet.

Rice paddies are up next, and then a few bunkers.