Friday, 30 May 2014

Marder III M (German Tank Destroyer) - 1/48 scale, Tamiya

This model of the Marder III M (German Tank Destroyer) was given to me by Ade as part of our ongoing Bolt Action desert project. Although the kit is 1/48 scale it is visually close enough to suit 28mm range of figures (which is generally quoted as being 1/56 scale).

From the Tamiya instruction sheet:

"During WWII, Germany produced many open-topped tank destroyers using the chassis of obsolete tanks. Among these was the Marder III series, which was based on the 38(t) tank made by the Czech company CKD (later BMM) and developed to counter Russian T-34 and KV-1 tanks."

As far as I know this type of tank destroyer didn't actually serve in north Africa but according to the info sheet the Marder III Ausf.M were painted in overall Dark Yellow, individual units then applied their own Red Brown and Dark Green camouflage patterns over the base colour to match local conditions. This particular model is finished with decals are for that of the '1st Company 348th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 348 Infantry Division, Belgium Spring 1944' and was painted in a simple two tone shade of yellow/sand. My logic was that I use this model in European or desert scenarios and it wouldn't look to out of place although I find it odd though that a unit serving in Belgium would opt for a simple dark yellow camouflage.

This model has been made as a gaming piece and not a military modelling display item. For instance I've left off certain items (I'm not telling you which bits though) but the initial idea was to paint and finish it as an example of simple weathering techniques. I videoed this process using various different methods to show how relatively simple is to produce half decent looking results. One technique I've never tried before was 'salt weathering' technique which is to use salt grains (I used model railway ballast as well) to produce a look of chipped paint. Another technique used was to apply weathering powers which achieves the look I always wondered about whenever I looked through military model magazines.
Note shiny exhaust. The black dots are actually a decal, something I only
noticed I had missed off after the model was finished (hence lack of matt varnish.)

The final video(s) will hopefully eventually feature on Ade's channel Wargaming For Fun.

On Monday I'll be announcing the start of a special giveaway/competition type thingy with a special prize for one lucky follower, so make sure you pop over to have a look (I know, I'm such a tease).

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Imperial French, Franco-Prussia War - Baccus 6mm

Regular readers may recall brief mentions that in my own particular lead/plastic pile are a number of 6mm figures. My brother bought the Franco-Prussian War starter set from Baccus at the Derby Wargame Show (when it was held at Derby Uni buildings which shows you how long ago it was, over two years?). I knew he was interested in the period but I had been subtlety (obviously too subtle) trying to convince him to buy larger scale figures "Oh look at these lovely 15/28mm figures" and such like, trying to put him off buying the Baccus figures for purely selfish reasons including: 
  1. They are tiny, 
  2. They are full of detail (they've even got bloody moustaches! I ask you) and 
  3. There are literally hundreds (and hundreds) of them. 
The pictures show some of the initial force of the Imperial French Army, three hundred and eighty four figures to be precise, which consists of the French Imperial Infantry Booster Pack (two hundred and eighty figures) plus a few stands from the starter pack. There should be three hundred and ninety two but with two of the bases I've left the skirmishes off, something I'll repeat with more of the bases because with the Polemos rules you don't actually need to place skirmishers on the bases. In fact if you read the rules one of the first things it states is that you don't actually really need any figures at all! You can simply play the game with plain MDF bases as long as their marked up correctly; it made me laugh anyway as I thought it was a very frank and honest (or mad) approach from a company that should be trying to sell you figures.

These figures had been languishing on the 'to do' painting list for so long because I honestly wasn't looking forward to starting them because:
  1. 6mm figures are really tiny. Don't believe me? Go find a rule and measure out 6mm...see, it's tiny. They're about knee height to a grasshopper or a 28mm figure. 
  2. They are full of detail (Moustaches! Have I mentions that these all these 6mm figures have moustaches, yes ALL of them) and finally, 
  3. There are hundreds of the little buggers. To misquote Colour Sgt.Bourne (Nigel Green) from the film Zulu... "Frenchies - thousands of 'em." Well, around fourteen hundred in total for both armies as it eventually turned out. 
After the guilt of delaying starting on the miniatures became unbearable I finally prepped the entire force and then...ignored them again as they looked overwhelming. I felt like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput. After yet another long delay with my brother occasionally asking, "When are you going to start on those 6mm figures? "They're next on the list, honest" (they never actually were).

Finally I realised I had to make a start if only to stop my brother nagging me. However once I had started to get into the rhythm of painting them (a block and batch technique is definitely the way to approach these) I started to actually enjoy it. Readers may be surprised to note that I don't generally enjoy painting, viewing it almost as a necessary evil, I much prefer modelling and building stuff.

Seen en masse they do, even if I do say so myself, look impressive. And this is still less than a quarter the figures to paint, there are the rest of the French, the entire Prussian army and some of their allies to paint so around fourteen hundred in total. The best thing is that I know it's achievable, hopefully completed by the end of the year. To achieve the same look using my normal 28mm figures would, I honestly think, take me a lifetime to complete. The only 28mm figures even approaching this effect is my ECW Royalist/Scottish army. I know for a fact that I'd lose interest in them way before looking like the massed forces of these 6mm miniatures.
Ironically, after saying all that, I won't be switching to 6mm figures in the foreseeable future. This is simply because I have far too many 28mm figures waiting in the 'to do' painting list, all of them I want to complete eventually As mentioned previously I'll be concentrating on more skirmish style games in the future. Right, I'd best get back to painting the remainder of this little lot.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Cheap Plastic Cowboys

As I suspect is true of a number of fellow modellers/gamers, I often stealthy wander over to the toy section of any superstore or discount store I happen to be in. It's in these sections that you can find cheap toys that can be utilized for your tabletop. As I don't have any children, just in case I'm ever accosted by an overly helpful assistant, I have even created an imaginary nephew called Barry. Now Young Baz (I'm quite a happy go lucky pretend uncle, I don't even take the mick out of his awful name) is a very versatile character and is aged between 3 and 15 (which probably reflects my mental age as well) depending on what type of toys I'm looking at. 

This avoids the very embarrassing situation (and real life situation) when you're paying at the till when the operator asks you: 

"Are these toy cars for your nipper, what's his name, how old is he?" 
"Err no...they're for me actually." 

Anyway, back to reality, it was a regular jaunt to Morrisions that I noticed a big tub of brightly coloured plastic 'Cowboys and Indians' (other sets were available such as modern soldiers and knights, both awful). The cowboys caught my eye because I instantly recognised them as (very cheap) copies of toys I had played with way back in the mists of time, or 'the 1970's' as people tend to refer to them nowadays. I have no cowboy projects planned, these were purely an impulse buy and nostalgia trip. 

The detail, or lack off, was initially a problem. The 'face' on most of these figures generally consisted of a blob for a nose. Luckily I soon accepted that this was probably for the best as I didn't really want to invest too much time and effort into things that are, after all, cheap plastic toys.

I've also been thinking about how to indicate the various size of models and figures when posting images online as sometimes on seeing a figure thinking, 'that's not bad for 28mm' then realising its only 6mm high. Unfortunately sometimes the opposite is true, 'nice 10mm figure...oh dear that's a 28mm figure, blimey.'
I have seen people use various coins as a reference, obviously using their own national currency, one pound, euro dime, yen coin etc. This is great if you happen to live in the same country or have a ready supply of foreign coins at hand. It could also turn the posts into more of a 'Various International Coins That I Have Found Down The Side of the Sofa' feature, which I'm certain no-one wants to see.
With all this in mind I tried to think about an object that is relatively small and is internationally recognisable. I recall seeing someone used a pencil sharpener as a size reference and realised that would prove ideal (well that's the hope, if anyone has better ideas please let me know). Even if someone has never used a pencilsharpner (which I suppose is possible in this digital day and age) everyone will know the approximate diameter of a pencil. So from now you will hopefully see a token pencil sharpener popping up somewhere on my photographs simply as a scale/size reference for the figures. You'll have to trust me but hopefully this will make a lot more sense when I start posting images of the 6mm figures that I've been painting for my Franco-Prussian War project.