Reinforcements Have Arrived

Jeremey shows off his Wars of the Roses army now that it’s complete (well almost).

On the 17th February 2020 I put up a blog post about the first Wars of the Roses units I had managed to paint up. This was the start of my very first historical army. Fellow club member Stephen was also painting up his own Wars of the Roses with the idea of fighting the various battles thoughout the year.

We managed one battle before lockdown scuppered getting down to the club.

First battle to test our Wars of the Roses armies

So I packed up the army for the following months and turned to other ptojects. But I kept drifting back to the army and found myself making terrain. Given the first Battle of St Albans was essentially a town battle I started making tudor houses.

Still a lot of work to do on these buildings. More plasterwork and thatched roofs

But Stephen started to post a few solo battles using his army and mentioned adding a few additional units, so I caved and ordered some more for my army. using the Sword and Spear army lists I went for a few of the support units. Welsh Longbows, Welsh Spearmen, General Spearmen and Mercenary Crossbows.

Welsh Longbows and Spearmen on the Painting Table

I painted these using the same method as my existing units. Stephen had painted his units in uniform colours but I wanted a much bigger variety. Although armies of this time were starting to wear their lords Livery, but I didn’t want to tie my units down to any particular faction.

I picked out a range of colours (various, browns, greens and the odd khaki shade) and painted different parts of each miniature so that no two miniatures were the same. This was potentially more time consuming but I still went through the miniatures like a production line.

Another new aspect for this army was to make the flags changable, in order to allow my army to represent any side in the conflict, or for when several lords bring forces to the battlefield.

Changable Flags for my Units

I simpy glued the flags together and left a loop to fit over the flag poles on the units.

And so finally I got to a point where I had a large enough army for a real epic battle.

The whole army with a multitude of flags
The Left Flank of the Army
The Right Flank of the Army

Work in Progress Wednesday

First up this Wednesday we have some more 6mm Hammers Slammers from Mark.

The first detachment for Hammers Slammers

I’ll let mark explain a bit more about the paint scheme “My first Slammers section almost completed minus the infantry, this is a Zaporoskiye strike detachment painted in a Berlin Brigade inspired urban cameo scheme; given that I’ve used green in place of grey I guess you could say it’s semi urban.  This section includes my second prototype which has a lighter brown, feel the darker works better at this scale. 5 more sections to do then I’m ready for battle.”

Next up Paul has well … Paul can explain the madness. “I have had a rush of blood to the head and replaced my 1/200th WW2 and Post War Armour Infantry, with 1/300th. Currently finishing off 8th Army and US in Tunisia, good start on the 16th Parachute/Air Landing Brigade (for post war interventions) and a Japanese WW2 Independent Brigade.

We’ve all suddenly decided to switch scales, haven’t we?

Andy has got close to finishing his Dark Ages figures, with just some shield transfers and bases to do.

The Dark Age mob is almost finished

And lastly for this week I’ve decided to paint yet more 15mm Wars of the Roses Men at Arms.

Two more units of Men at Arms and a couple of commanders

I didn’t paint these originally because I’d already done two units and the Sword and Spear army list said that was the maximum. But I’m hoping to have enough units to field both sides in a battle, and so added these to the painting table.

See you next week.

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s another Wednesday and here’s what the club members have been up to.

First up Marcus has completed the spaceships he’s been working on with some lovely paint schemes. These I believe are from Ground Zero Games with the one in the main picture being from Zandris IV.

The Fleet Gathers

Next up John has painted some 3D printed ships.

3D Printed Venetian Galleys

You will rcognise these from the blog post on Monday about first experiences of 3D printing.

Tiny but well details ships from a freely available 3D print model

And lastly to go with my city ruins I’ve had a go at general rubble piles. These were made by crushing up the remaining plasterboard pieces and dropping them into a watered down PVA solution.

Rubble to go with the ruins

I then simply poured the solution out and left it to dry. Nice rubble if you can get it.

See you next week …

Experiences with a 3D printer

Club member Colin takes us through his first attempts at 3D printing.

The idea of 3D printing has always interested me. Being able to design and make your own models easily and quickly appeals from the point of view of having total control over the modelling and wargaming experience. Its therefore been interesting to watch the 3D printing technology evolve and see how early adopters have used the technology in the wargaming space.

1/200 scale tanks – free download from thingiverse.

As a casual observer and follower of the 3D printing scene it can seem a bit of a daunting area. There are lots of helpful youtube videos and other content on the internet to inform. But you do come away with the impression that it is still a complicated area to get into with choice of printer, associated software to drive the printer, and then setting everything up so that it just works seems non-trivial.

However this Christmas I thought lets give it a go and get hands on to see what its about. The first decision point is the type of printing technology you want to work with and there are two methods to consider here – Firstly there is filament printing which involves a roll of plastic which is then fed into a print head where it melts and is deposited in layers to build the model.
The other option is resin printing where liquid resin is deposited in layers and cured into a solid layer by UV light.

Filament printing is not as precise as resin printing, but tends to offer scope for bigger models, is faster and generally a more simpler experience. Resin printing is more suited for detailed models such as miniature figures but requires dealing with liquid resin which produces odours, has to be stored correctly to avoid exposure to UV light and then when the model is completed, it has to be cured and washed – a more messy experience

Initially I was thinking resin printing was the way to go but then decided filament seemed a lot more straight forward as I dont have access to a dedicated workshop area and just wanted to get up and running with as simple a process possible.

Renaissance galleys – free download from Wargames Vault. Wargame Lepanto with 400 ships for a couple of pounds.

The printer costs between the two technologies don’t seem to differ much and this then drives the next decisions – how much to spend and which printer to buy.

There seems to be three cost categories of printers – Professional £1,000+ , top end hobby £600+, and entry level hobby between £150 and £350 with many supplied as self assembly in this category.

One of the best known brands in the entry level category is Creality with their Ender product range. The Ender 3 is promoted as that offering the best and biggest community support. I’d come across it before and seen some of the youtube content explaining how it works and comparing the various revisions. It so happened when I was looking to buy that Creality had just announced the Ender 3 V2 which came with some significant enhancements to the previous version such as a heated print bed and so I decided to go with this. The printer is made in China and stocked by Amazon for about £250.

6mm block ancients for big battles – free download from thingiverse.

So come Christmas day the printer was revealed from Santa’s sack and the challenge with constructing it began. Its a kit model and suggests a couple of hours are required for assembly. As i say above there are lots of supporting community videos with guidance here. My advice in retrospect to anyone attempting the construction would be to spend some time in advance and watch some of these videos. I just ploughed on, with the instruction manual which can be a challenge and really needs a decent translation into English but on the whole it is fairly navigable as far as the actual construction is concerned. Every now and then I got stuck and had to quickly google for a helpful video just to make sure I was on the right lines.

Eventually I had the machine constructed and powered up and I now attempted to do an initial test print. Thats where the fun started. Before printing the machine must be calibrated in terms of the print bed position and the dispensing end of the filament. The manual explains how to do this using a piece of paper as a feeler gauge to setup ready for printing. However there seems to be a fundamental instruction missing from the manual regarding calibrating what is termed the z-stop. This is a switch which tells the printer where the bottom of the z vertical access is in relation to the print bed. If this is incorrectly set its impossible to go through the software driven instructions from the LCD panel on the printer. This was probably the biggest obstacle to overcome and eventually the right youtube video was found which clarified how to manually adjust this ready for calibrating the print bed.

Jutland at 1/5000 scale – free download from thingiverse.

So now with it ready to print you need something to print. This opens up the other side to the activity which is using software to design and build the 3D models for printing. A micro SD card is the storage mechanism used by the printer to access the models, and an LCD panel with a navigation button is used to initialise the printer and select from the SD card the model you want to print.

A 2mm village designed on tinkercad in half an hour with half an hour to print

The printer comes with an SD card loaded with some sample models and a USB adapter for plugging the SD card into a computer and downloading models created there. And its here that the whole area comes alive. There are thousands of freely available models to download for free and print with many wargaming examples. www.thingiverse.com is the leading site here and is a great starting point for finding ready to go models.

Taking a step back if you want to design your own models the process starts with 3D computer aided design software. There are free applications here which are very professional and full function such as Blender. And there are easy to start with services such as tinkercad.com which runs in the browser and allows you to design using very simple building blocks with next to no learning curve required. The output from the 3D CAD application is an STL file.

Costing just pennies

In order to send this to the printer it has to be sliced, and for this another computer application is required. The Ender printer supplies an application called Cura, but there are others available for free. The slicing application asks what printer you are using and adjusts settings accordingly, you import the STL file which has been created by the design software (or downloaded from thingiverse for example), and then the slicer splits the model into slices on the x-y plane which the printer can understand and print. The output from the slicer is a GCODE file which you then transfer to the printer via the SD card.
Within the slicer app you can adjust the model in terms of scaling it up or down or cut and paste to create multiple models.

The first models I attempted to print were some wargaming items from thingiverse and this brought me back again to some of the issue with the printer setup. Bed adhesion seems to be the main topic of conversation on the community sites. If the print bed is not precisely level then the model will not adhere to the print bed and will slip at some point in the build process and ruin the print. With the early printers a common solution is to put down a layer of masking tap on the bed and start the print on that. Or use glue on the print bed or even hairspray. The heated bed on my model of printer aimed to solve this problem but because the bed levelling is a manual process there is scope for not getting this quite right. I struggled with a couple of initial prints here, and then after the usual search for an explanation on the internet just resorted to putting down a layer of spray glue which solved the problem and successfully produced my first prints. I subsequently resorted to a Pritt stick which works well and eventually graduated to no glue prints.

The other thing to mention with the output from the slicer app is supports. Because the printer works with layers from the bed upwards it needs a degree of continuity from one layer to the next and can only cope with overhangs of around 45% to the vertical. For models which fall outside this constraint the slicer app introduces supports as part of the build which can be removed after printing. The type of support, density etc is a complicated subject in its own right but for those aiming to build complex models is a key necessary understanding and often comes down to trial and error. With block type structures such as tanks you can get away with simple supports and/or re-orientating the way the model prints – so gun barrels are best printed vertically for instance.

Its worth mentioning at this point the economics of the subject. Along with the printer I got a 1kg reel of PLA plastic. This cost around £20. So 2p per gram of print material. A lot of the models I mention below are produced with 1 or 2 grams of material. So the potential for building models at a few pennies each is clear.

Work in Progress Wednesday

Well it’s snowing outside, so what better way of keeping warm than making progress on those hobby projects.

Tony is up first having managed to finally get some paint on some roads and tracks. Much discussion was had regarding how a horse and cart should actually leave three tracks (we have such fun at this club!).

Nice set of roads to advance your tanks down

Next up Stephen has managed to turn a toy into a great looking space ship.

Nice conversion of a toy to spaceship

After a bit of a pause Andy has continued to slap some more paint on his assorted dark ages miniatures.

Almost there for the dark ages

And finally for this week John has out the finishing touches to his warehouse that took a back seat while he finished off the Flour Mill.

The classic warehouse found in all apocalyptic settings

Next week I should have my Wars of the Roses units and more rubble that I didn’t quite get done for this week.

Sticking the Sticks

Jeremey discovers one of his previous projects that he never told anyone about.

After playing a number of Lord of the Rings games down the club, I kept seeing pictures of the official Ent miniature in the rules and thought it looked far to cartoonish compared to the rest of the miniatures. I also saw the price of it and that got me thinking.

So on my travels I started collecting sticks that had fallen from the local trees. I only wanted the sticks that had already come off the tree as these were dry and unlikely to change over time.

I probably collected more than necessary for this project

When collecting the sticks I tried to find ones that had natural bends in them to represent joints and movement in the figure. First task though was to wash the collected sticks, this was important because I’d picked them up from the ground. A good scrub with soapy water and an old toothbrush did the trick and didn’t rehydrate the wood.

Nice walking pose with some suitable sticks

To stick things together I used the trusty hot glue gun. If I did this project over I would drill holes and pin the sticks together for extra strength. But the glue gun worked well enough.

Arms and Legs done now to get creative on the head

The arms came next but I had to work out how to create a head for the Ent. I decided early on not to go for something like a carved face or small pieces of wood to act as eyes, nose etc. I thought that would end up looking like Mr Potato Head.

Head completed and additional branches being added

In the end I made a medieval style helmet from pices of bark I had also collected. The bark also worked for armour plates on some of the joints and as fingers  on the hands. That was the basic figure done but it didn’t look enough like a tree and so I started stcking smaller branches to the back of the figure. I arranged these like a normal tree looks and made sure they extended above the head of the Ent. This also helped to strengthen the joints of the figure by having these additional branches stuck to the joints.

Finally I added some of that scenic lichen railway modellers use to make trees. The final model stands about a foot tall which isn’t bad considering it cost next to nothing to produce, and even if I do say so myself it looks better than the official one.

The finished Ent with two 28mm vikings for scale

Work in Progress Wednesday

I don’t know about dry January but the club have certainly not put the hobby on hold. This week we start off wth Mark turning to his Hammers Slammers 6mm forces after finishing his Panzers.

Next up even more from Tony who was clearly on a roll. I’ll let Tony explain these in his own words: “Behold the might of the Belgian army ! I’ve finally finished off a small force of armour in 20mm – an ACG-1 light tank, two T-15 tankettes, two T-13 type III tank destroyers, three Vickers utility tractors and a pair of 47mm AT guns.
The ACG-1 and T-15 are Cromwell Models (I think) and the centre Vickers tractor is of unknown origin – I bought them all many, many years ago (in the 90s) at Trucks and Tracks in Folkestone. The others are all from Early War Miniatures – the T-13s are resin with metal turrets, the other tractors and guns are metal.”

Marcus has managed a bit more paint on his starships from the other week.

While Eric has finished another Gaslands vehicle.

And finally for this week I’ve actually managed a bit more progress on my 15mm Wars of the Roses units.

There’s pleanty more bubbling away at the club so do check in to next weeks Work in Progress Wednesday.

The Hostage in Bunker C7

Club member John presents a recent Zona Alfa battle report.

The Hostage in Bunker C7

Big Ilya was in a rage, his latest partner Leila had gone missing. He paced around the bar like a caged tiger.
‘Get Out, Get Out! ‘He yelled. There was a rush for the door as bar stools whistled through the air, smashing the windows. ‘Not You!’ He snarled, glaring at Kovacs. ‘You find her or don’t bother coming back’ He added menacingly.
Kovacs heard a rumour that she had been captured and was held hostage in disused bunker c7. It was one of a series that had been decommissioned when trouble had flared up in the zone. He knew there was lots of activity in the area but with a small crew – Ali and ice Queen, they might just make it.
As dawn broke, they approached the bunker in eerie silence, they hadn’t been detected so far. They checked the scene for any activity. ‘Ah an abandoned APC – That’ll come in handy’ thought Kovacs. Over by some abandoned farm machinery, a pack of zombies were stirring but all was quiet around the bunker.

‘Time to wake em up’ thought Kovacs as he tossed a bolt towards the bunker. Staring right at him was the biggest, ugliest mutant He’d ever seen !

‘Nuts’ uttered Kovacs as He raced to the entrance. Ali opened fire but his guns jammed. Ice Queen adjusted the firing position and got the mutant right between the eyes.

Ali opens fire but the 10 is a critical miss so he is pinned and must spend an action to remove the pin. Ice Queen scores a hit and the armour save isn’t enough to stop the sniper bullet

‘Check the APC, it’s our way out of here!’ shouted Kovacs as He dived into the bunker. Ten minutes gone ‘All looking good’ thought Kovacs.
It was dark in the bunker and Kovacs stumbled around before finding Leila. It took him two attempts to free Leila. He threw her an AK47. ‘You might need this’ he said realising she was struggling to move.
Meanwhile, Ali triggered the hotspot on the APC, out from the thicket lurched another mutant who’d obviously feasted on Leila’s crew mates.

Ali opened fire but the gun jammed again. Good job Ice Queen was on form, another clean kill.

Ali’s gun jams

As Kovacs and Leila made their way slowly towards the APC, Kovacs couldn’t help thinking something wasn’t right. ‘The kid’s rattled’ he thought. ‘It doesn’t feel good’
‘We need fuel’ shouted Leila hoarsely. They had run out, that’s how they had been ambushed. That’s the last thing Kovacs wanted to here, thirty minutes gone and they needed to be out pronto.
The Fuel Tank hotspot is triggered and from behind the tank four robots appear.

Ali fires and his gun jams again. Leila fires and her gun jams too! Ice Queen calmly takes out two robots and Kovaks, one but that left Ali and Ice Queen in the firing line. Things were getting a bit too hot.

Good shooting from Ice Queen. Ali fails again!
The robot opens fire and wounds Ali. Turning attention to Ice Queen, his guns jam.

Leila opens fire and downs the remaining robot then heads for the APC. Ice Queen applies a med kit for Ali then heads for the APC. Kovaks sees what needs to be done and picks up a Jerry can and heads for the Oil Tank. Forty minutes gone.

Ali a few minutes in recovery having been knocked down and dazed from the shot. It will take 2 actions to remove both pinned counters

It’s now a race against time. Kovacs focuses and cracks open the fuel valve first time filling the Jerry can and headed back to the APC. Ali had searched the oil tank and got some useful booty, triggering an anomaly at that point, his nerve failed and the ground shuddered as he was vaporised.

To successfully search an anomaly, Ali needs a low dice roll. He rolls a 9 and is vaporised by an electro ionic disturbance which shakes the ground

Kovacs was shaken, he’d never seen anything like that before. ‘Get a grip’ he muttered as he filled the fuel tank then clambered into the APC to find Ice Queen in the driving seat. ‘Out of the way’ he screamed. ‘No I fix this’ She glared back ‘Where is tool box?’. She levered off the ignition cover and rammed in a screwdriver. Two attempts and the engine spluttered into life.
‘Go, Go, Go,!’ Shouted Kovacs. ‘Where did you learn to do that?’
‘Riga: bad streets’ Ice Queen replied coldly. Leila winced as every rut in the track was found. As they sped off, even the zombies couldn’t catch them. ‘Good job we didn’t tangle with them’ mused Kovacs relieved he was heading back. Mission accomplished he thought.

Work in Progress Wednesday

Welcome to another WIP Wednesday. First up to go with the dramatic Lord of the Rings image above, Tony has made some progress on his collection.

Two versions each of Isildur and Elendil – first (and most useful) are the two standing figures

Tony also painted up this little vignette of the two of them prone, with Isildur waving the broken remains of his father’s sword. Tony says “Not very useful in a game, but it means I can recreate the scene where Isildur cuts the ring from Sauron’s hand” (as seen in the header image JC)

And finally, three more Warriors of Gondor that Tony found were half-painted already, and just had to finish their weapons and shields.

Next up Mark has completed his 6th Panzer Regiment, and mechanised infantry battalion. Mark says “This is how they would have looked around June 1943. Took longer than expected as I’ve not been very productive over the last 6 weeks or so. Some more infantry to base and paint, then I will move on to next project”

And finally this week, after finishing his impressive Grain Mill John has returned to the warehouse he started.

That’s it for this Wednesday, time to get some more paint on those miniatures.

The Grain Mill

We’ve already seen snippets of John’s Grain Mill scratchbuild, but now we can see how John created this impressive piece of terrain.

All the buildings I’ve made so far have been quite generic but couldn’t resist this build. It’s quite an imposing structure measuring 35 cm Long and 25cm high and 14cm wide excluding stairway and ramp. In order to protect the model for transit and storing it had to fit into a shoebox. Here’s how I went about making something like this.

Step 1 Detailed plan
I spent a couple of evenings drawing up a plan of the building on A3 paper. I looked at as many photographs as possible of this particular structure and learned something about it’s function to help with the design and build. The tall section is a Grain Elevator. A bucket elevator carries grain from ground level to the top of the elevator where it is discharged into a silo contained within this structure. The horizontal gantry contains milling equipment and three discharge hoppers are suspended underneath. On the other side of the building is a ramp. At the end of the ramp, grain is dropped into the bucket elevator feed.
For dimensions, I used the assumption that door opening heights would be 7 ft and width 3 ft. I used 5mm to a foot so that gave me the dimensions of this item then worked out the height and length proportions based on that. So the building worked out at 70ft long x 50ft high and 28ft wide. As I drew up the plan, I rechecked against the photos to make sure everything looked in proportion and decided that there would be four stages to the build :- Stairway, Gantry, Elevator and ramp. I thought the stairway would be the most difficult so decided to start on this.

Stairway.
I used the same method as in the office build to start with so glued together 2 cm x 1cm pieces of foamcore to make the steps. The maximum height being determined by the height of the shoebox. I added sides from mounting board to correct any warping then added steps from lolly sticks making sure some were damaged.

I made the landing wide enough for a 28mm figure base as I thought this would make a suitable sniper position. The supports I made from wood strip rather than replicate the flimsy metal supports on the original to make sure the stairway was robust enough for the table top. I added bannister rail supports from matchsticks and then the rail and surround at the top of the stairwell from mounting board which I also used for the base.

Gantry.
With confidence high I turned my attention to the gantry (which turned out to be the most difficult part of the build). I built the wooden structure from foamcore clad with cereal packet cardboard strips, lining the window openings with the same, then adding cut down matchsticks for the window frame parts. The length of the gantry would match the width of the shoebox to fit in.

The hopper assembly was cut from cereal box cardboard glued to 2 pieces of foamcore. This was then glued to the base of the Gantry

The next task was to build the supports for the gantry. I decided to replicate metal girders for this so I made H section girders from 40 thou plastic card. In order to fit in the shoe box, the supports would have to be detachable so I made sockets on the underside of the gantry and on the base. These were a snug push fit. I then added cross struts to provide additional strength. I needed two goes to get the base right and the small ‘turret’ would have to be detachable for the structure to fit in the shoebox. I used Hobbycraft corrugated foam for the asbestos roof.

Elevator.
This was constructed using foamcore clad with corrugated foam but provided a few problems so wasn’t straightforward. To fit in the shoe box, the top section had to be made separately and had to fit inside the gantry, fitting over posts on the lower section of the elevator when in use. There are also two ‘wings’ at the base of the elevator which were constructed separately and slot into the side of the elevator when in use and are stored inside the elevator when packed away.

Elevator under construction showing one of the wings. The top section fits inside the gantry for storage.

Ramp.
This was the simplest part of the build which I nearly missed as it’s so overgrown on the photographs. I made it in 3 sections. The start of the ramp was from mounting board covered in fine sand painted to represent concrete. The middle section was constructed from plasticard as it’s a metal structure. The third part appears from a video clip to be metal and wood. I made this from foamcore and added card planking.

Windows.
I used clear plastic from food packaging for this. I taped the plastic to my cutting board to cut out pieces of plastic to fit the window recesses. I marked out where the vertical bars would be and then cut the windows to show broken panes before gluing the plastic strips to the rear face of the vertical bars using superglue

Painting and finishing.
Wood – Wilko Nutmeg Spice, then black acrylic wash, drybrush Wilko Mineral Stone and then a light white drybrush. I then used a black wash to make sure the planking was picked out.
Metal – Black acrylic and then a succession of dry brushing, dark brown, red brown and then yellow. (All plastic parts primed in grey)
Asbestos roofing – Primed grey first then Homebase Grey Fox then a succession of black and brown washes, finishing with a drybrush across the ribs of Homebase Silver Cloud.
Concrete – Grey, dry brushed white.
Earth – Red brown, dry brushed pale grey.
I then applied static grass where appropriate and the project was complete.

This building is going to be an impossing sight on the tabletop