Miniature Gardening

Gardening and Miniature Wargaming are not normally two hobbies that have a clear connection, but on a recent autumnal day club member Jeremey managed to turn green fingers into um… terrain building fingers.

It was time to tidy up the garden and get it ready for the coming winter months. I had recently cut down a shrub that had seen it’s last summer and needed to chop it up for the compost heap. Whilst doing so I got to the main trunk of the shrub and thought (as comes naturally) that maybe it would work as a piece of scenery.

The base of the shrub looking suspiciously like an ancient tree

I’d always wanted an old gnarly tree as a feature piece in a game, especially to act as some ancient druidic meeting place in fantasy games. The shrub had already dried out and so I snapped of some of the branches I didn’t want and then cleaned the stump in the sink with an old toothbrush to get the dirt off. I then put in on the radiator for a while so that the heat would dry it out completely.

Using a bit of foam for the base and some washers to add weight.

I turned to my old favourite EVA foam for the base. I didn’t have a large piece of MDF or something similar for the base. But then I also did not want this on a huge base, just one big enough to support the tree. By using foam I was also able to cut holes in it to sink the tree and branches into it. The tree was quite tall so so I added a bit of weight with some washers to stop it being easy to knock over. The trusty glue gun was used to stick all of this down.

Bathroom sealant and cheap paints.

For basing I went for a material that I have found to be a very cheap and effective way for covering large areas. Bathroom sealant, that is basically any sealant that is used for waterproofing round sinks, baths, showers. For use in terrain building I buy the cheapest version from somewhere like Poundland. I’d never use this cheap stuff for actually sealing anything, likewise I wouldn’t use the expensive stuff from the DIY store to make scenery with. I put an amount in a container and then add cheap acrylic paint depending on the colour required. In this case I added black and brown. Once mixed together I spread it into place with a small stick and then use an old paintbrush to move it around and provide texture. Adding paint can increase the drying time of the sealant but depending on the thickness it should dry in a couple of hours.

Adding a bit of colour and vegetation.

One the sealant was dry I did a bit of dry brushing of the dirt base to give a nice contrast. At this point I did also paint bits of the actual tree with watered down brown ink, this was mainly to ‘dirty’ up the recently snapped off bits so they didn’t look like new breaks and had weathered like the rest of the tree. Finally I added a bit of flock and some tufts. Not too many as I didn’t want the dead tree surrounded by lush vegetation.

The final tree being used as a rallying point for some Norsemen

And there we have it. I think the base of the old shrub works perfectly as an ancient old tree and you’d be hard pressed to find a commercial piece of terrain to match it. I also didn’t have to paint the tree making this one of those projects you can do in a day.

 

Off the North Cape

Marcus takes us through the set up, models and rules for a clash in the air 1977 style.

I rolled out my sea mat again to do duty as the waters off the North Cape. While it may not have the typical dark grey of northern waters, I am going for a game in the continuous day of mid- summer, at least that is my excuse for using the same sea mat (it is the only one I have, and I like it)
I went for a foundation of the Wings at War rules, with some tweaks of my own.
Aircraft for the game, the TU 128’s and Tu 95 were from Shapeways. The former needed a bit of work with an emery board to smooth off the wings, although one was worse than the other, which only needed a light application. I don’t think the Tu95 required any such treatment. Both aircraft are much lighter than a metal equivalent would be. I have some doubt whether a metal version would work with my ring magnet and ball bearing mounting system. I really wanted to get the Tu128. I love the brutal size and power of it, based as it was on the unsuccessful Tu98 bomber in order to provide the range to defend the vulnerable north of the Soviet Union from bomber incursions. The Saab AJ37 is from Oddzial Osmy, which are available from Magister Militum in the UK.

I understand their models are slightly smaller scaled than those from Tumbling Dice but it isn’t immediately obvious, although I would be cautious about mixing the same type of aircraft from the two manufacturers. The Viggen is an absolute favourite of mine, with the double delta wings and the splinter camo pattern characteristic of the AJ (optimized for attack) version. The later JA (Interceptor) often sported a grey colour scheme which lacks the distinctive character of the earlier scheme. The Yak 28 was sculpted and cast by my friend Stu (he has been waiting too long to see this write up, but more of that later) who has created some lovely models at this size, in particular my “Stingray” collection and some lovely Arado E555 Luft ’46 aircraft! I painted it as a Firebar interceptor. Subsequently I used it as a Brewer E ECM aircraft, and I may just repaint it with the glazed nose from this version. All the other aircraft were from Tumbling Dice.

*Surface search only. ** 2 each of IR and radar homing
I added some adaptations cribbed from the “Phantoms” system, which is based on the Avalon Hill game “Mustangs” but I also owe a debt to Avalon Hill’s “Flight Leader”, notably around the missile and gunfire templates. I also added a radar and countermeasures (C/M) column.

The North Cape 1977:
The object of the game for the FAA was get the Buccaneers off the table and inflict damage on the Soviets. The Soviets needed to stop the Buccaneers and do some damage if possible. I set up the game with the Yak-28 on the northern table edge, and rolled an ace pilot! Two F4K’s came in from the west, with another ace and an experienced pilot. Things began to fall apart for the Soviets as while their ace detected the Phantoms, he was immediately blown up by a Sparrow from the Royal Navy ace. Unfortunately that was Stu’s beautiful model out of the game already! I rolled for reinforcements and the TU 128’s appeared, one green and one experienced.
Along with the Tu128’s, who were unable to spot anything, the Buccaneers also entered on turn 2; spotting their adversaries they dive one level to get into the ground clutter. The F4’s spot the Tupolev’s, but both fail their Sparrow launch roll.
On turn 3 a pair of MiG-25’s now appear for the Soviets and this time the pair are an ace and an experienced pilot.
The green Tupolev pilot detects the F4’s but one AA5 fails to launch and the other misses. I discovered a reference that Soviet doctrine often saw missiles launched in pairs one IR and one radar homing, to increase the chances of a kill. I forgot however, that I wouldn’t be able to use the IR missiles except at very specific angles and treated them all as radar guided. Meanwhile the Tupolev lead also fires a pair and gets one hit on the FAA ace. This is unfortunate for the Soviets as the AA5 is a big missile and more likely to get a kill from a hit. Meanwhile, the ace Foxbat pilot fails to detect anything, but his wingman spots the Phantoms. Unfortunately, the AA6’s fail to launch. The experienced F4 pilot gets off a sparrow shot at the Tupolev, but it misses.
The MiG leader detects the Buccaneers powering across the table at low level but can’t get a lock. They are too low and the angle is too difficult.
The lead Tupolev finally gets a lock on an F4 and launches getting a hit and destroying the F4 wingman. The ace returns fire but misses.
Now another pair of F4’s join the fray, one ace and one green.
At the end of turn 5 the Soviets have scored two Phantoms and the FAA have destroyed a MiG 25 and a Yak 28, but the Buccaneers got off the table too.
Turn 6 and the lead Tupolev has no missiles left and dives, but his wingman detects the remaining ace from the original flight of F4’s and hits with two AA5’s, destroying the Phantom. The newly arrived Phantoms pick up the MiG-25’s; the ace fails with one launch but the second is successful and destroys the MiG. His wingman sees two sparrows miss.
On turn six the remaining MiG can’t make a detection, and the F4 ace tries to get around onto his tail, but unsuccessfully. His wingman turns south. Both Tupolev’s try to evade with the lead turning east on full power at level two.
Turn seven and the ace F4 goes for a sidewinder shot on the second Tupolev but misses, while the other F4 goes after the lead Tupolev. And in turn eight gets a hit, but this only damages the big aircraft, which flies off to the east. His wingman however gets on the tail of the trailing Tu128 and on turn nine manoeuvres with a barrel roll and a sideslip to launch a sidewinder, destroying it. Not bad for a rookie!
Finally in turn ten, the remaining MiG, the last soviet fighter on the table, launches against the F4, which has turned north-east after destroying the Tupolev, but its two AA6 miss.
The Soviets destroyed two F4’s while the FAA scored a MiG, Yak 28, and a Tu 128 with another damaged. The Buccaneers escaped to make a strike on the Northern Fleet. Now you are wondering what happened to the Saab and Tu 142? Initially some things about this game made me think that I wouldn’t write it up and I set up a second game which included these aircraft, and the Yak 28 as the ECM Brewer E.

I subsequently set up another game with a Kashin Mod. FFG covering an amphibious group in the Skagerrak area, allowing intervention by the Swedes. It became apparent to me, certainly as the latter game unfolded, was the lack of Soviet short-range missiles on these aircraft (although subsequently MiG 25PD’s were fitted with AA-8, introduced around 1979). In these games they were all fitted out as interceptors and didn’t have any. In addition, I had given the MiG a wider turning circle. The radar rules seemed a bit restrictive too, and in fact the next game saw six turns of action with only one sidewinder shot, which missed. The Buccaneers failed to get a missile lock on the Kashin Mod. FFG (which also failed to lock on them) and then…I was told it was time for dinner and I had to pack up an unsatisfying game at an unsatisfactory point, especially since this time I had taken the trouble to label each stand with pilot quality markers. I had even named each pilot ready for the report!
More thought about the system will be required before I venture out to the North Cape again. And in the meantime I need to paint some Tu22M’s, get some decals for the flight deck of the Moskva and base both it and the Kashin. But I did nevertheless get some nice pictures of the second game.
On the horizon for my next game is to try WW2 Check Your Six, but I also have some ships to paint for Guadalcanal, so alternatively you might see those appear here next.

Work in Progress Wednesday

This Wednesday’s work in progress sees another week packed with miniatures.

This week Tony F opens with a Rohirrim standard bearer, to keep his hopes of a LOTR figure a week going.

Lord of the Rings Standard Bearer

Next up Andy has continued making progress on his various Dark Age figures.

The multitude of Dark Age miniatures

Eric has managed to finish his crew for Zona Alfa and they are looking pretty good.

The whole crew – “Mad” Gregor, Dimitri, “Big” Mik, Vasily The Kid, Arkady (the leader).

Eric has also managed to put together some critters in the form of Zombies.

The zombies, George and Mildred

And last but not least John L has given us a sneak peak of some newly based Chilean Infantry, just waiting for a bit of vegetation.

Chilean infantry

John mention the following “A new rule book for the Pacific War 1879 – 1885 is out so I might give this a look.” So here’s hoping John gives us some more pictures of this projects.

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s another Wednesday and the club seem to be as productive as ever.

First up we have Mark J taking a quick break from his WW2 Germans with this 6mm Slammers Zaporowskiey tank from Brigade Models. Mark says he’s been experimenting with a paint scheme based on the cold war British Berlin Brigade.

6mm Slammers Zaporowskiey tank

Next up Tony F has managed to get some paint on the mountain of Lord of the Rings Figures he has accumulated. In his own words “I failed my one-a-week Lord of the Rings target last week, but made up for it with two this week. On the left we have Rumil, an Elf from Lorien, brother of Haldir – he gets a brief mention in The Fellowship.”

On the right is Harry Goatleaf, gatekeeper of Bree. In the books he was in league with Bill Ferny and joined the ruffians in the Scouring of the Shire, while in the films he was ridden down and killed by Ringwraiths early on, figure is from eBob.

Andy has lined up a selection of dark age figures, undercoated them and started with the skin basecoat.

The start of another batch of Dark Age figures

Eric continues to assemble his Zona Alfa miniatures with another member of the crew.

Another figure to add to the Zona Alfa crew

And last but not least Steve has gone back to building scenery, or in this case a nice set of ruins.

Simple but effective ruins

Let’s hope the club members can keep up this level of painting and modelling. If you would like more information about the projects you see just let us know and we will quiz them on your behalf.

First Shots Fired in the Battle of Shiloh

Club member Sean gets a few turns in fighting the exciting, close run Battle of Shiloh (April 6,7 1862) at home.

In a dawn surprise attack the Confederates threatened to inflict a pyjama-clad rout on the Federals asleep in their tents. We’re playing with modified Fire and Fury rules in 6mm and will have, when the Union soldier finally wake up and get out of their tents, about 4,500 figures on the table. There was a naval element in the battle (the Lexington and the Tyler ironclads, not the casement Carondelet and monitor Pasaic gunboats shown) and the Great Western Battles F&F scenario book allows them the strength of half a battery and an indirect fire range of 16″. Any Rebs silly enough to go within 2″ get canister. But the airforce, in the shape of the balloon, was not present, so is only for decoration.
Two Union, gunboats await the Rebs on the Tennessee River at Pittsburgh Landing
Two miles to the SW three Confederate corps face only two Union divisions roused tousled & disordered
Sherman’s division holds them up but takes losses
The Confederate columns push rapidly towards Shiloh Church, more shed than church
Meanwhile 3Corps, on the right, makes a fast march north to outflank the whole Union position

Hopefully Sean will be able to get back to this game soon with an update on the action.

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again so that means a chance to see what the club members have been up to.

Mark J has made some good progress on his 6mm panzer companies.

Light Tank Company

Mark says “a tale of two companies; 1 panzer grenadier company with heavy weapon support and a light tank company. I’ve used two shades of dark yellow on the tanks, I wish I could say this was done intentionally  but it wasn’t; never trust what the spray tin tells you. Anyway I feel it gives the unit that cobbled together look, which was what was going on at the time, each platoon was usually responsible for applying the dark yellow paint and camouflage, so there were lots of variations. I used contrast paint for the camouflage striping. Two more light companies on the go at the moment.”

Grenadier Company Infantry

Mark also had this to say about his great basing for 6mm infantry that can sometimes get swamped by flock/grass. “I use the Baccus basing system, very fine sand applied using PVA, then apply a red brown wash followed by dry brushing 3 shades of sand, dark medium and light. I use a thinned PVA wash for the static grass, the grass is dropped onto the base using a small plastic bellow.”

Next up we have some Scavengers from Eric. These are from Copplestone Castings and painted up for use in games like Zona Alfa.

Copplestone castings Scavengers

Saved from last week we have some 1:3000 ships from Marcus apparently for Guadalcanal, I’m not sure I’ve seen Marcus running WW2 Navy games but maybe he is branching out.

A selection of destroyers from Navwar 1:3000 for Guadalcanal

And last but not least Steve has put together some more miniatures for Frostgrave. In his own words we have “Using some old, and some unused models, I’ve put together a party for what I’m calling ‘Dark Grave’.
Here’s Rollo Magwitch and his apprentice, Edith Blackthorn, and their band of treasure hunters…”

Rollo Magwitch and companions

That’s another WIP Wednesday from the club members, do let us know if you’re managing to make progress on your own projects.

 

Revisiting Snowfall

Back in 2015 club member Marcus put together a James Bond themed game for that years show circuit. The game had secret agents being chased down a snowy mountainside pursued by numerous bad guys.

Marcus demonstrating an early mock up of the game

There were many challenges to putting on a game like this, constructing the mountain, sticking magnets to it to stop the miniatures sliding to the bottom as well as many action cards, unit stats and rules for the game.

But another challenge was a real lack of 28mm modern era skiing miniatures. Marcus could find plenty of WW2 winter troops but wanted this to be modern. Marcus did manage to find suitably positioned troops to act as the bad guys, and converted them to be on snowboards.

Modern troopers on snowboards

However Marcus needed skiing miniatures to represent the secret agent, their love interest and a final miniature for the main bad guy (well bad woman in this case).
Having dabbled a bit with sculpting miniatures I volunteered to see if I could convert some existing miniatures for the starring roles.

The man himself

Marcus provided a number of miniatures, so I started with the main character, the body was an artic trooper miniature with a head swap from a Copplestone Castings Man in Black miniature. I chose this miniature because it needed to be holding ski poles and have their feet in a suitable position for ski’s, and this one was already in a good pose.

I had changed the left hand because of the original weapon being held, repair the detail on the miniature and added a fur collar to ensure it looked suitable for cold weather.

The Female Agent before and during the conversion

The miniatures Marcus was hoping to use for the female characters I struggled to get to work, after a few failed attempts I went looking for substitutes. For the good female agent I went with the Vampire Hunter also from Copplestone Castings. After removing the weapons and replacing them with ski poles I repositioned the arms and legs into a skiing pose. Marcus wanted them to look cool so I also added a pair of sunglasses. A bit of fur for the top of the boots and jacket collar added the winter feel, rather than the leather style of the original.

The enemy agent before and during the conversion

The enemy agent proved to be the most difficult to create. After a lengthy search I found a suitable miniature from Reaper Miniatures.

The miniature came with separate hands holding different weapons. These were tricky to remove and I had to pin the hands to the main body. I decided to do a head swap on this figure since the original was wearing desert style garb. The next step saw a twist of the arms and legs, again to get that skiing pose. I also bent the cloak to give the impression of it being caught by the wind as the agent sped down the hill. Sunglasses came last with the same added fur to winterise the miniature.

The finished conversions

Here we have the finished converted miniatures. The ski’s were cut from a plastic cover off a note pad, with the final stage just to add the ski shoe binding points.

The agents in action

Tony F from the club volunteered to paint the agents and we can see them in action. This was an interesting game to create things for and a popular choice at the shows that year.

 

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again, so let’s see what everyone has been up to.

First up we have some more Panzer progress from Mark J. Mark says tis is a picture showing some finished Germans from his 3rd Panzer project, these represent each type of vehicle painted for the mech battalion. Mark added, “Currently painting a company of panzer grenadiers, panzer III company next.”

picture of miniature vehicles
Selection of completed 6mm German vehicles

Marcus has been busy on a number of miniatures, firstly after a bit of repair work he presents a Dreadball miniature. Apparently the lower arm needed pinning back in place. I knew of Dreadball but I’d not seen these miniatures before.

picture of miniature
A miniature from the Dreadball Kalimarin Ancients Nameless team

Next up from Marcus we have a Tiger shark and another reptile from HLBS for Pulp Alley games. I k now Marcus has a collection of scuba miniatures these would look great next to.

picture of marine miniatures
Two more Marine animals to go along with those in our header image

And last but not least Andy has made a start on a selection of terrain pieces from Ainsty Castings. 

picture of miniature terrain
Andy says you can never have enough things to hide behind

That rounds off another WIP Wednesday from the club members, next up I believe we have some WW2 ships and Tudor buildings to look forward to.

Village in a Shoebox

Club member John L takes us through his latest terrain project.

One of the problems with 28mm wargaming is the size and bulk of terrain. I resolved to deal with this by fitting as many buildings as possible in a shoebox in a systematic manner.

The first task was to determine building foot prints to fit in the box. I started with four single story wooden buildings.

picture of model buildings
Size test for new buildings

Phase 1
These first four buildings would be the main dwellings of the village. I elected to go for an all wood finish as these would represent traditional buildings prior to modern materials (a mistake as I spent days cutting out planking from cereal box cardboard) The building shell was foam core and exposed rafters were from coffee stirrers.

picture of model buildings
The first two village dwellings

I used matchpots for the finish with light dry brushing of acrylic for the faded paintwork.

Phase 2
I looked at making a number of buildings with a concrete finish and corrugated roofing (asbestos I think). Along the centre line I could fit two inverted buildings which I decided to make as Chicken sheds.

picture of model building
Concrete style building

I covered the foamcore shell with pva and then fine sand for the concrete effect and used corrugated foam from Hobbycraft for the roofing. To get the ivy, I used Jarvis Heath Green scatter finished with Morrison’s dried mixed herbs

Phase 3
I worked out that I could fit a further four buildings in the ones I’d made in phase 1, like Russian dolls. These would be the same construction as the Chicken sheds above. I made another Chicken shed, two workshops and a small office or dwelling.

picture of model building
Building number four with rust in full affect

Phase 4
I thought I could make more buildings to fit along the sides of the box so added a further two buildings, a Sauna and a Village Store.

picture of model building
A sauna and village shop

That’s it for the moment, twelve buildings in total, I’ve still got room in the box for wooden fences but I’m glad it’s finally finished so that I can get on with playing the game!

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again, so that means a quick look at what everyone has been up to.

First up Andy has finished his Saxon, Viking and Welsh Princess. I suspect these are going to make an appearance in quite a few games.

picture of miniatures
28mm Saxon, Viking and Welsh Princess

Steve has been taking advantage of the season’s availability of various plastic creepy crawlies to paint up some monster miniatures.

pictures of spider miniatures
Various plastic spiders and scorpions accompany a few other creatures (from Ral Patha)

Tony has finished painting up a new force for Hammers Slammers. This time the New Ukrainians, apparently they’ve already seen action (successfully), vanquishing the Thunderbolt Division.

picture of miniature tanks
Tony’s new force of 15mm miniatures for Hammers Slammers

Lastly for this week John L has finished painting his scratch built bunker for Zona Alfa.

picture of a bunker
Finished Bunker for Zona Alfa

The club members are definitely getting quite a bit done at the moment, next week it looks like we will have more Panzer action from Mark J and sea creatures from Marcus.