29 October 2016

Plast Craft Games WWII Buildings Modification

One of the great challenges of WWII skirmish wargaming is the number of buildings one needs. Many of the scenarios we have played have required up to 15-20 buildings. I started with the plastic Italeri which are quite nice but are a little big and also there are only 3-4 different models. I next went to 4-Ground MDF WWII buildings again quite nice and are almost as big as Italeri but again they really have only have one set in 1/72. They are also quite expensive. Both these manufacturers' building are more rural then urban. So the search was on for some inexpensive town buildings I could use. There are some resin buildings out there but they are a bit expensive and a lot of them do not have removable roofs.

A couple of years ago I came across some PVC buildings from Plast Craft Games in their EWAR line. These are very inexpensive 15/20mm buildings that come flat packed and unlike MDF have some degree of relief. They are about €10 each and take about an hour to assemble using superglue. You then paint them and they look pretty good but I found the paint rubbed off easily and they were a little  flimsy.

I had painted up 3 of them and had 4 left to assemble and paint and I decided to take a slightly different approach. My aim was to make them a little more sturdy and varied. Also as you can see there were little strips that had to be used on the corners that I found a bit of a pain. I felt the best approach was to apply a textured paint and/or filler. I experimented a bit and the result was certainly I believe an improvement but it did take a bit of experimentation to get it right. Here is the last building I put together.
A lot of pieces but once you put a couple together you can get through the assembly within an hour. I have never bothered with the windows. I like having the rifles sticking out.

The dormer roof is a little tricky
Floor and slide in roof to the right
I used wood filler, I find this much more sturdy then drywall compound
The chimney assembly illustrated the gaps that exist in the model.
Once the wood filler was applied it was painted white again and then the sand was sprinkled on the wet paint
Once dry painted white a second time.
Roof painted and then varnished with Army Painter then matt varnish. This was the best approach as you can see below. 
There was mis-steps along the way though as you can see below. I am a pretty rough modeler, a lot of the dry brushing is quite rough and at times over-applied. I certainly could have done a better job keeping the sand off the doors and scrapped out the openings a little better. But pristine looking building never have sat well with me, the buildings are in a battle zone, they should look a little tired and rough. So I am good with it.
All slightly different
This was my first approach, sand mixed with paint, as you can see it clumped and the walls ended up a little too textured.
This worked better, paint then when still wet sprinkle on fine sand, then when dry paint again with white. 

Some clumping around doors but came out OK

I am quite happy with the result as you can see they are very useful for skirmish wargaming as troops can be easily place inside. The building are certainly now much more durable.
This building actually has a ground 1st and second level

Roof removed as well as ground floor
Interestingly enough they now seem to have the same buildings that are pre-coloured, I will have to order some more.

24 October 2016

We are Coming!

I know it seems liked I have not been doing much painting but I have, just having some problems with closing the loop recently. Here I present the start of my Revenant faction for SAGA. They are quite unusual in that they are all levy and are not activated by SAGA dice, they do look like an interesting variation to play so I am sure they will see some service in my games with Adam.

I did these figures a couple of weeks ago but did not have the basing done. I am not really big into fantasy wargaming but who says these are fantasy. They were certainly fun to paint. I have 36 more to go but I believe I will save them for The Challenge.

A necromancer of sorts
Figures from Gripping Beast
Went with green theme with blue eyes
I believe there are 24 variations of the levy figures.
Grave pits
These allow one to rapidly move units before deployment
I told myself no more figures primed until I get off what has been already started, these include some 20mm USMC, some 18mm AB Artillery and the other 3 groups of Revenants for this warband. They have only got to the priming stage so I think I will save them for the challenge.

I have some more terrain work to do as well as to base my winter uniformed 20mm Panzergrenadiers which have been sitting around for over a year. I have just made an enormous flag purchase from the Flagdude and have well over a hundred flags to replace on my 18mm Napoleonic army. I also have several new units that I have not photographed yet. Lots to go on with.

Amazingly enough all that is left in my lead pile is some 20mm Australians and some Foundry figures for the new game Congo. There is of course a few residual 28mm Napoleonic figures which are held in reserve in case I need them for Sharpe Practice and some Perry Samurai which I am trying to decide whether to sell or not but that is it.

I am also starting a new CoC campaign in a couple of weeks that looks quite interesting ......... Operation Martlet.

19 October 2016

Walking through Tuscany

I know I have not posted much on my blog recently, but I have been away. We have just got back from a superb 2 week trip to Italy which involved a very nice walk through Tuscany. Over the last few years we have favoured more active holidays, having cycled through Languedoc as well as had a walk along the Amalfi coast. This year we decided to go for a nice walk. I had not been to Tuscany for years and Jennifer never has been so it was a natural choice.

I am not a great photographer of scenery or of little painted men but I thought I would post a few photos of our trip. We landed in Pisa from Gatwick after a very short overseas flight from St John's Newfoundland (less then 5 hours). Neither of us had ever been there so why not. The plan was then on to Florence for a few days before we took the train to Chiuisi, our gateway to Tuscany.

First time we had been to Pisa
You can see that I am a little nervous about heights.............
.............my wife less so

Getting ready to climb the La Campanile of Giotto, all 414 steps
Buildings in Florence are all beautiful: Santa Maria Novella
The most famous of all
So Italian
Florence at night
Red roofs from our hotel room
Boboli Gardens
Cypress Alley
The Walk

As you can see, our walk was to the southwest and then back north to end the trip. Each day ended up being 12-15 miles, with the third day being the shortest but by far the toughest because of the 2 very significant changes in elevation. I would say the walking was moderate to moderately difficult. I found days 3 and 4 a little more tough as there was no village to stop in to have a lunch. I am not one to sit down in a field and have a picnic, and the last 2 days we took our nourishment while walking. It was much more pleasant to sit down and have a glass of wine with a lovely carpaccio. 
 Day 1 Montepulciano to Pienza via Montechiello

Ceiling of our B&B room in Montepulciano
Fortifying ourselves for the walk the next day, the wine and food was just superb
A bit of a wet start...............
............but cleared almost immediately, San Bagio church in the farground
Our first destination the hill town of Montechiello
Look cheerful, we do not have a selfie stick
The afternoon darkens, Pienza in the distance, this was quite a climb
Pienza in the morning

Day 2 Pienza to Bagno Vignoni via San Quirico

Most mornings started off cloudy............
...............but usually improved
Hill towns in the distance
Another darkening afternoon and another hill town ahead
Bagna Vignoni was the only place in which we stayed that was in a valley; very small place with thermal hot springs but a lot of black flies, but we were able to enjoy another night out 
Still looking quite cheerful, it must be the spritz
Day 3 Bagno Vignoni to the Abbey of San Antimo

The next day's walk was a little unusual, it was mostly through wooded areas at the beginning with  some significant changes in elevation. The first climb was 800m with a 500' change in elevation......pretty steep
We then ended up walking on a high ridge for a while until we again plunged down to the river  Orcia. We had to cross one of it's tributeries. My wife Jennifer was quite agile with this, I wish I had taken a photo of her jumping from rock to rock with the pack on her back. I am a little less agile and had to wade across. 
Once out of the river valley there was another long climb ahead of us.
Along the way we passed many castles which have been converted into exclusive  resorts. We were told to stay away as they do not like tourists............I wondered as I walked by whether it was a Bunga Bunga party place!
Tons of vineyards in the second phase of this walk.
The climbs just never stopped on this day, you can see that even Jennifer was getting tired.
I was quite plucky as you can see and soldiered on.
Finally San Antimo in the distance.
We had a look around although we were pretty tired.
Day 4 Montalcino to Buonoconvento

The last day started off looking OK when we got up and had a look from our hotel room, but the forecast was not good.
This was through well developed farmland
Started to getting cloudy, soon after it started to rain, the first adverse weather of our trip
Starting to look a little demonic maybe.
You can see a little colder too.
The famous tree of Salti di Pieve, we stayed at an Agriturismo  just outside of Buonoconvento, this was very nice
hmm...........Trump voters or maybe Brexiters. As an aside, I was unable to convert pounds sterling to euros in Rome at the money changers except at a very severe discount, the best I was offered was 0.80 euro to a pound (on a day when the official exchange was 1.12).
 Rome (where all roads end)

There is no place like Rome
and as should be obvious, there is nothing else I rather be doing
Already for a good shop on the Via Condotti.......she had a very good one indeed..........well into 4 figures

Well it was really a great trip and we are already looking at more walking trips, there are plenty out there. Back to work and soldiering.