Friday, December 30, 2011

Anologue Hobbies Winter Painting Challenge (AHWPC) - update

Just a quick shot to show where I am upto:

  • 20 PSC Half Tracks assembled, base coated, and washed
  • 3 Typhoons assembled, undercoat basecoat done
  • 3 Command HalfTracks from GpPzGr HQ pack assembled and base coated
  • 3/4s of the ' driver' figures trimmed ready for paint for the PSC Half-Tracks.
So next jobs to do:

  • Drybrush Halftracks 'middlestone'
  • Paint halftracks tyres black
  • Drybrush 'mud brown' to Half track wheels and tracks
  • Do stowage options for halftracks
  • Do crews for halftracks
  • Wash command halftracks, do command figures for GpPzGr HQ
  • Paint Typhoons
  • Add decals to halftracks and typhoons
So still a fair bit to do, but its started raining here, and its set in for the weekend :-), so I'll get some painting done hopefully, and have a game of Flames of War lined up too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A year in review (2011), and looking forward...

Well it’s that time of year, and what a year, to look back and reflect a little, and look forward to next years activities.

To start off with, the year really took off in terms of blogging output, from a handful of posts per year, and finally cracking double figures the last couple of years, I’ve jumped massively and gone over 80 posts this year, from 16 last year!

I can put this down to improvements in blogger itself (I updated my template options and enjoyed tweaking the appearance of the blog, and learned more how to use it).

I added features which improved the blogs look and the way it’s laid out. The Linked Within Widget has worked well I think, as did adding ‘popular posts’ but I think the biggest change, was fully ‘Labelling’ posts and putting a ‘cloud effect’ Label list in blog sidebar. This one action seemed to massively increase my blog hits.

I’ve turned off the ‘light-box’ effect for pictures, which I didn’t like (takes too long to load and view pictures with this effect – blogger are you listening?).

I’ve also made commenting easier. All this has seen my total blog hits soar, jumping to over 2000 per week now. Thank you all for stopping by and commenting :-)

I think the fact that I have joined as a follower to many great blogs out there, and comment frequently of these blogs, I believe has thus raised my blogging profile, so folks check back to my own blog. It really has opened up the blogging/hobby online community for me.

So what happened during the year?


January through to April, started off and continued well with many Lord of the Rings figures being painted, filling gaps in my collections and making new painted units available for LOTR SBG and the newer WOTR.
An odd couple of games of Black Powder, raised the profile of this game in my mind, and I looked to further my chances of fielding armies for this rule-set, instead of having to rely on others, to play a game. And thus Perry ACW and Napoleonic stuff was ordered.

May, saw an unexpected and complete change of tack after seeing Joe Harrison’s Leadwood, though this inspired my laterally as such and the great Pirate adventure of 2011 commenced. A few more LOTR projects were completed to clear the way so to speak for the Pirates.

June through to October, saw a great deal of Pirate (Legends of the High Seas) painting, modelling and gaming done. A great time of it was had. June also gave rise to my frustrations with gaming LOTR, and I think this dissatisfaction further made the switch to Pirates and LotHS that much easier, to throw myself into… Another idea was kicked off, again with Joe’s inspiration; for VSF, and though models and a rulebook (GASLIGHT) were bought, nothing much got painted, or played…. So Zulus, Colonial Brits and Prussians were added to the paint backlog.

November came around, and this found me at a lull. I still had some pirate things to finish off, but I was in a mood to clear various backlogs, so I finally completed the ACW regiment started back in March, ‘multi-based’ for various formats of play. November also saw my WW2 interest tweaked again, and this launched me off in another direction for the year, back in to Flames of War, with another project finished that had been started months if not years ago – more commandos, and also saw the start and completion of Panzers from PSC. Meeting a new chap to the area; Paul who plays FoW, and encouraging a couple of others to play; Brett & Chris, has certainly kept this interest going.

December, saw continued work on FoW matters, and late entry into Analogue Hobbies Winter Painting Challenge, with slow but steady progress to date.

So a good year all round I think with many diverse figures painted, terrain made, games played, and more added to the Plastic & Lead Mountain (PLM) ;-)

So what does 2012 have in store?

Well so long as the world doesn’t come to an abrupt Nostradamus-like end, then I hope to continue with many projects that have been started this year, and try and reduce the PLM.

Hopefully the Painting Challenge will keep me motivated through to March, and I expect to get current FoW projects completed. Whether I start on another one, I am unsure. I have had a hankering to do the 50th Div - Tyne Tees, as that’s my home area back in the UK. There is also talk of starting MidWar for FoW and I could be tempted by a DAK (Africa Korps) force…

Other than that I really must get on and start making a serious dent in my piles of plastic historic figures of various periods; WSS, Naps, ACW, Zulus & Colonial Brits, and the VSF Prussians, and I still need to finish my Brig!

I sincerely hope I don’t get tempted into any more periods, scales and projects, though I have been pondering skirmish gaming WW2 in either 20mm or 28mm, though not sure which rule set would be best…

Well that’s enough rambling from me.

As for what 2012 will bring, well… I am not going to dwell on Nostradamus or ancient Myan prophecies, rather I would view any possible events to be a fresh start for many, rather than an end of all things. What put me in mind of this is that my wife likes to play about with Tarot cards, nothing serious as such, taken with a pinch of salt, and all that…but one thing folks always dread coming up is the ‘Death’ card – yet this rarely literally means ‘death’. Usually it refers to the end of one phase of your life and the beginning of another… that’s how I will view much of the mumbo jumbo that has been spouted about 2012; a new start!

Another odd thing about this year is that I will be 42 years old. If we are to believe the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy; well, that’s the ‘Meaning of life, the universe and everything!’ So it could be a very interesting year for me!

Hope you all have a good one, and best wishes for 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Painting Challenge update

My progress so far. Compared to some of my fellow 'challengers', I have not got a huge amount done, but slow and steady progress I guess, is where I am now.

I have assembled the first 15 halftracks and typhoons. The half tracks have been sprayed base coated, and the camo patterns done. I have done these as varied as possible, as much research into this seems to show the vehicles were painted dunkelgelb (dark yellow) at the 'factory' then the crews may be issued paint to add their own camo, so each vehicle would be quite individual.
So I have done a whole mix of spots and stripes in varying thickness and sizes.

I have also done 18 of the 20 halftracks tracks base coated brown - next to do will be to drybrush them boltgun or 'dark silver'.

The typhoons, have been assembled, black undercoated and dark grey base coated. Their flying bases have been sand flocked and painted dark brown.

And that was about it so far...

And then Saturday 24th came around and I finally got a day off work since the Challenge started.

But, chores first; mow the lawns, clean the patio and BBQ ready for Xmas, inflate an fill the kids pre-xmas pool prezzie.

And then finally at about 3pm, I got some time to relax to myself. Its clearly summer here and its just too nice to sit inside and paint. I cant paint outside either, but I figured I could make my last box of halftracks, so I sat in the sun doing that...

Happy Xmas everybody!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And so it begins...

Anologue Hobbies Painting Challenge is officially on!

Well here's what I managed to get assembled to start the ball rolling:

15 Half Tracks, 3 Typhoons and a partridge in a pear tree!

Ok maybe not the partridge ;-)

One small fly in the ointment - when I unpacked the typhoons I found 3 of the under wing rocket racks were missing, so a frantic email to battlefront customer services, has 3 replacement parts zapping their way to me as we speak, through the frantic xmas courier rush! As it is I can still probably make a start on them as the rocket racks will have to go on last after I have done the invasion bands on the wings.

The half tracks are good to go, these will mount up my three platoons of grenadiers and have some for the prospective HMG platoon to have 'battle taxis' awaiting them.

I havent glued on the tops of the half tracks and will be doing them seperartely like this as I need to add the drivers inside and paint the internal seats too.

Right, off to get spray painting...

Good luck to all!

Bah Humbug!

Well its that time of year again, where we are supposed to offer Merry Christmas wishes to one and all…


Bah Humbug!

I have to admit, I am not a fan of the ‘silly season’.

Of course I loved it as a kid, all the prezzies and time off school – the best time of the year!

Now as an adult, I find the whole thing an absolutely awful time. Over commercialised, in your face, stressed and harassed people everywhere, queues a mile long at any shops you are trying to go to, whether its for Xmas shopping or just the mundane items you need day to day, traffic everywhere and all the car parks full…

It’s just an excuse for the stores to fleece us of money, buying more and more each year, for the 101 relatives, friends and assorted hangers on who come out of the wood work…, and trying to figure out what the heck to get them this year. Do you go the ‘surprise’ route, or ask them what they want. Always a dilemma? Commercialism gone mad!

I recall one year when I went to visit my ol’ granny and mum. One of granny’s friends turned up unexpectedly, and she had a present for me. Bugger, I hadn’t planned for that, so mum had to sneak off, wrap up the ear-rings I had just given her and sneak them back to me to give to granny’s friend. I felt absolutely awful, and I think that was just about the straw that broke the donkeys back for me so to speak.

I am not a religious person, so that whole angle is lost on me, and I think I am not the only one in our growing secular society…, and then theres the whole political correctness thing these days with our multicultural societies - is it offensive to certain religeons to have this whole Christmas thing flung at them? But I guess if you choose to live in a country that has its roots in Christianity, and celebrates Christmas, then I guess all I can say is, "When in Rome..."

I think my perspective changed when suddenly you become the one having to empty your wallet and bounce your credit card repeatedly off the rev limiter… That and the fact that I work in retail. The busiest bloody awful time of year for staff in any retail outlet. Add to that the medical requirements down at your local pharmacy, where everyone thinks you’re going to be closed forever, and thus everyone needs all their prescription items right now, just in case…

When Xmas day finally arrives, and the store closes you get a day off to try and rest and recuperate. But no, you have to watch over excited kids ripping open parcels, then having to find out how the Transformer works or where you put the batteries, or heck, even how you get the damn toy out of the box in the first place. Then you have to get on with a massively over-indulgent meal.

Once you’ve got over that, lie around feeling too full to do anything, or too inebriated to care…

Add to all this the time of the season – winter, at least back in the UK as it was. An Xmas card White Christmas is rarer than hens teeth… more likely just freezing cold, wind, rain, ice, and slush. If a White Xmas did arrive it usually caused traffic chaos as roads were closed because the council forget to get the gritters out in time, the trains couldn’t run on the snow laden lines and buses couldn't manage the steep snow covered hills...

Quite honestly for me, you can keep the whole thing. If they banned Christmas, and just gave us a ‘seasonal holiday’ instead, I’d be more than happy.

Thankfully, since migrating to New Zealand, at least I don’t have to put up with the crappy weather, and can enjoy an easy BBQ lunch on Xmas day!

Personally, I am reasonable solvent, so if I want something, I buy it. I don’t wait till Xmas or birthday to ask for it as a prezzy…

I guess at the end of the day, you do it for the kids and hope you get through it with as little stress and hassle as possible and try and minimise the effects of the hole in your finances – Happy New Year – what a way to start the year; "I’ve got no money left till pay day and then I have to pay off the credit card and the mortgage is due the next week. Oh Joy!"

So what’s a war-gamers perspective on all this?

Well I guess there’s always the chance your significant other may surprise you with a box of soldiers, but she is probably just as aware as you are of the backlog that already is the lead & plastic mountain, so that’s probably out of the question… so it will probably be socks and handkerchiefs again… ;-)

Then there’s perhaps the occasional pondering about history and Christmas’s past,… I am always intrigued about the tales of opposing soldiers through WW2 & WW1 hearing each other across no-mans land trying to enjoy Xmas and even exchanging gifts… and then the next day trying to kill each other again… and of course there is the famous tale of the impromptu football match in no-mans land in WW1, made into a movie called “Joyeux Noel” - I haven’t seen it yet, so welcome any reviews…

If we go back to where it started it becomes clear what we celebrate now in the West, is a hodge podge of many factors; a mix of religion, mythology, pagan rituals of the winter solstice, and commercialised characters – Santa Claus for one as the image we now know and ‘love’, having been created by the Coca Cola company back in the 50’s.

My significant other, well knows my opinions on the matter, and bless her cotton socks, tries to make it as easy as possible for the ol’ grumpy of the household; buying the prezzies, putting the tree and decorations up, organising childcare activities while they are off and we are both still at work (retail remember, especially in a pharmacy that opens 7 days a week and open ALL the public holidays) etc etc.

However, I have been very good this year, and even bought the ‘Best Christmas album in the world ever’ – just coz its got Snoopy on! ;-)

So as a final sign off for the year, have a Merry or Grumpy ol’ Xmas, whatever takes your fancy. I hope you get all the prezzies you wanted, and if you can remember, spare a thought for the poor buggers slaving away in retail, or those dedicated folks staffing emergency services; police, fire-fighters, ambulance, hospital and related medical staff etc etc, who may not be getting a day off on Xmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Panzer IV H platoon

With my WW2 interest thoroughly re-invigorated, I have set to with painting projects to get my existing forces re-inforced. You may have see the prior post to this one with my newly arrived commando section? Not to be out done, the forces of the Wehrmacht have been bolstered aswell.

Having found that the Plastic Soldier Company have released a range of hard plastic kits in 15mm scale that, from the reviews I had read, match very well with Battlefronts range of figures and vehicles, I couldnt resist the temptation to buy a pack of Panzer IV's to help my beleagured German grenadier force.

The kit comes with several variant options, allowing you to field the short barrel early varieties, aswell as the longer barrelled later variety. It was the late version 'H' that I was interested in, with the longer barrel, and side Schurzen armour plates.

The kits were very easy to make, and aimed at the gamer rather than modeller, so you can get your tank force quickly into action. Of note the tracks are the same hard plastic, and glue on easily with the same glue you make the rest of the tank with. Unlike prior Airfix kits I have had the dubious honour of making where you make the whole tank and all the dang fiddly wheels, only to find the tracks are some horrible soft plastic that no glue known to man will stick (despite asking Airfix via email drectly and getting no response, surprise surprise...)

Once assembled, each tank taking maybe 15-20 minutes, and with them being in a dark yellow (dunkelgelb?) colour, I sprayed them straight away with the new sprays from Battlefront. I didnt bother to black undercoat first. Once dry I painted the tracks and added the camo markings. Then I washed the whole tank in in my 50/50 mix of vallejo brown and black wash. Once dry they were drybrushed with 'dark yellow' - I could have used the Vallejo middlestone colour but I think I actually used a matching Foundry shade that I had. After that, I detailed the commander, and tools on the deck, redid the exhaust and air intake tubes in a dark copper colour and washed these in black. Finally added some dry-brushed on mid-brown to give a muddy appearance to the tracks and lower area of the tank.

The last bit then to do was add some decals. I had some spare from the StuGs I made a while ago, so used these. They simply show the black cross of German forces and a vehicle identification number.

Other than the decals, I have not varnished the tanks. I find that plastic figures seem less in need of it, as they are less susceptible to being chipped, and the paint adheres very well to the plastic surface.

The Panzer IV H, by Late War standards was a medium tank, and very similar in the game to the Allies Sherman, although it has a slightly better main gun, and the side Schurzen armour affords it a little extra protection against infantry fired anti-tank weapons.

The Panzer IV was widely used by the Germans, both in defending Fortress Europe from the Western Allies in Normandy and Italy, and also on the Eastern front against the Soviet threat, so no doubt my small force of Panzers will get regular use against all comers!

And just to re-iterate, these tanks are NOT contributing towards Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, which is another reason I pushed along to get them finished before the 20th December kick off!

More Commandos

In a bid to clear the painting desk of half done projects, with Anologue Hobbies Painting Challenge about to kick off, and with my current interest focussed once again on World War Two, and gaming it with Flames of War, I uncovered a pack of commandos that I had base coated and then left in a drawer, probably somewhere between 1-2 years ago...

They were started after Simon McBeth, hosted me to a learning game of FoW over at the Hutt Club longer ago than I can recall correctly now. I played my Commando force, as was then, backed up by my Sherman platoon and my 6pdr AT platoon, and some Naval gunfire support (always easy to include as you just need a spare command stand to use as the Naval Gunfire Officer). I believe at the time Simon was trying out his 51st Highlanders - Reluctant Veterans, backed up by crocodiles.

I recall to my deep concern that nothing I had could penetrate the front armour of Simons Croc's... Luckily they were vulnerable to large calibre shells fired from HMS Diadem, parked somewhere in the Channel...and as I recall I did indeed get one of them that way. Other than this I did try manouvering my Shermans about tying to get a flank shot at them...

I cant recall the whole game now, but recall Simons problems with trying to unpin his troops at times. My small force of commandos aquitted themselves rather quite well. Simons a top bloke, pleasure to play against and very helpful to a newbie, and his sage observation at the time was, I needed more of them! So at that time I bought a couple more packs of Commandos, and started upon one of them... and this is where they were left until about a fortnight ago, when I decided to get them finished. What distracted me from getting them finished back then, I can no longer remember...

I am quite pleased the way they have come out and will match my existing commandos very well bringing my small British force, to an almost tournament size readiness, especially once I complete my Typhoons, and there is still one more pack of commandos waiting in the wings...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Analogue Hobbies Winter Painting Challenge - The Gauntlet is picked up!

Well, I have had a rummage through the cupboards, and have dug out what I hope to work on through the period of the challenge, as can be seen pictured above.

  • a box of Flames of War - Battlefront Typhoons
  • 4 boxes of Plastic Soldier Company (15mm for FoW) - SDKfz 251's - thats 20 vehicles!
  • a box of Flames of War - Battlefront PaK 40 platoon.
  • 1 blister pack of Flames of War - Battlefront German HMG platoon
  • 1 blister pack of Flames of War - Battlefront German 8cm Mortar platoon
...and if I get through that little lot in 3 months it will be a bloody miracle, but I figure 'aim high, and if you miss, you still hopefully hit fairly high"... Also still winging their way from Wayland Games in UK is a box of BF FoW - Panzergrenadier Command HQ ( 2 more half tracks and command teams), and a 10.5cm artillery battery boxed set and a bunch of loose 'fausts and 'shreks, just in case I manage to get through the above - yeah right who am I kidding!

I've made an (allowed) start - I have so far half assembled 1 halftrack (sitting on opened box in pic)... theres a lot of work ahead...

Also, (God it would have been so easy to cheat!), just tonight, I have finished painting, my second commando platoon pack, and the PSC Panzer IV H platoon... just need to varnish and base the commandos , and do the decals and varnishing of the panzers, so these guys are a current WIP - and not to be included in the Challenge. So this pretty much clears my painting table, ready for the off!

So what I am doing sitting here writing this, theres work to be done...

update 15/12/11:
The parcel arrived from Wayland Games, and the FoW Panzergrenadier HQ, and German 10.5 Artillery Battery , plus 'shreks & 'fausts have been added to the pile :-)

Analogue Hobbies Winter Painting Challenge

Well I have to say, I stumbled across Curt's challenge a little late, and thought I was too late to take part, but it seems I have been lucky enough to be allowed in at the last minute! :-)
More details of the event can be seen here at Curt's blog:

I must confess I am not too worried about winning, but its nice to get involved in something on such an international level, and it will be an incentive to keep painting through the summer months, here in New Zealand (Southern Hemisphere and all that...).

Well, in terms of output, I've got some things going for me and some against. As it happens I have thoroughly got my WWII head on and Flames of War stuff is right at the fore of my painting projects.

So I have a pile of vehicles to do, which can of course be sprayed up fairly easily. But they are mostly Plastic Soldier Company stuff so do require a fair bit of assembly first...

Plus in the midst of the painting challenge I have my father, from the UK, visiting and staying with us for about 2-3 weeks, so I can't really be sitting painting while he's here, more likely I'll be sat up to the wee hours chatting and enjoying the odd dram or two of Glenmorangie and The Macallan whiskeys he'll be bringing with him ;-)

But no matter, I'm still in and will see what I manage to get achieved, by the deadline in March 2012.

The only thing is that things may get a bit quiet here on the blog, as the results can't be posted up anywhere till Curt has received them in March. So you may just have to put up with my inane whitterings and the odd battle-report and such in the meantime...

I'll try and keep things interesting here none-the-less, and good luck to all involved !
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