Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier Halftracks - 15mm Plastic Soldier Company

I finally managed to finish my plethora of Halftracks, SdKfz 251/1 Aus D, for my Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers for my Flames of War German force.

Sd Kfz 251 D

These were painted up as part of my entries into AHWPC.

They are 15mm scale plastic kits from The Plastic Soldier Company. They scale up very well with the halftracks from Battlefront, with little noticeable difference between them. The only difference being the crews and mounted MGs, which are both 'heroic' scale from BF, compared to the slender PSC ones...

They get a total of 7 crew and passenger figures for each vehicle and enough stowage options to keep you amused!

I painted them up in my 'usual' fashion, in this case - first sprayed up BFs late German armour spray 'middlestone'. Once that was dry I hand painted on the camo patterns, with a varied array of stripes and spots, using Vallejo Luftwaffe green and GW dark skin.

I then gave the whole vehicle a shading wash of a 50/50 mix of vallejo black / dark brown washes. Once this was dry the whole vehicle was given a drybrush of Foundry 30b - a dark yellow-like colour.

The tracks were quite laborious and I wonder if the effort was worth it as all you can really see is the finally heavy 'mud' dry brush... but any way these were painted GW dark skin, then dry brushed a 50/50 mix of gunmetal and dark grey. Then washed as above, and drybrushed 'mud' with vallejo camo brown.

I painted the crews and passengers seperately and added them to the half tracks as they were done. The crews first as these had to be glued into place before the 'top section' of the halftrack was glued down into place.

Next all the stowage was painted and glued on in a varied pattern so hopefully no two half tracks are the same.

Last of all, decals were added from DOMs. Polyurethane gloss varnish was used as a base for the decal. Then decal added, and left to dry. Then a wash of decal-softener was added and again left to dry. Next another layer of gloss varnish was painted over to seal the decal in place. Finally a layer of vallejo acrylic matt varnish was painted over to dull down the gloss finish.

I have done three combat platoons of 4 vehicles each; 111 to 114, 121 to 124, and 131 to 134. Next was the heavy platoon which will carry the MG42 teams, 141 to 143. Next up was the PaK40 platoon, 211 to 214, and finally a single command vehicle 221 which will be in command of a infantry gun platoon or mortar platoon...

So thats them all done now. I can look forward to officially including them in some future FoW battle reports.

So now I can press on with more reinforcements for my Germans, I have just about finished the HMG platoon, and have made a start on the PaK40 platoon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Airbrush, and the next generation continued...

Well I finally managed to get my halftracks completed yesterday, adding all the decals and varnishing them on. Just waiting for the this evening to go dark so I can get some decent lighting for pictures under the fluorescents in my gamesroom... Then I'll post these to Curt at Anologue Hobbies...

Having completed this task, I decided to unpack the airbrush that I had ordered and that had arrived earlier this week:

 Thanks to mate Greg, for showing me his airbrushes, giving me an idea how they work and a recommendation, I picked up via trademe from a dealer in the South Island.
Here it is set up in my garage, good to go...

And here's it first use, I base coated Christophers FoW 8th Army British with Iraqi Sand for their predominant uniform colour...

Its now motivated him to pick up the paintbrush again, here he is having done their helmets, now working on their skin colour...

Good lad! Makes his dad proud :-)

Friday, February 24, 2012

AHWPC - Stowage! Its a dirty word!

Work continues on the horde of halftracks...


I finished painting all the little bits of stowage from the sprues I had clipped out en-masse earlier. Over 140 of the little buggers... I tell you if I see another frickin jerry can I'll...@#$$%^&! Sorry please excuse the outburst!

Well I have just finished gluing them all into place, in a varied arrangement so hopefully no two halftracks will be identical. After that I've gloss varnished the areas where the decals will go; the black crosses and Vehicle ID numbers as per the GPG HQ in earlier post.

So hopefully they will be completely finished this weekend.

After that I am about 50% finished doing the HMG platoon, so progress is starting to be made.

After that, I have options of the PaK40 platoon, 8cm mortar platoon, 10.5cm howitzer platoon, or 15cm nebelwerfer platoon...

I know I started off the Typhoons earlier, but my recent gaming in FoW has all been Germans, so I am looking to expand their options on the battlefield. That, and my two regular opponents and I are looking to start the two Axis of Attack campaigns from the D-Day supplement book; Cutting the Cotentin, starting off with Utah beach landings, so Germans against the US, and Breville Gap starting off with Sword beach landing, so Germans vs Brits.

Looks like its going to be an interesting and busy year of FoW gaming :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gepanzerte Panzer Grenadier HQ - AHWPC

I finally managed to make my first submission to the...

I have been busy ploughing on with my plethora of halftracks, and whilst working on the core of the combat platoons vehicles have also had time to work on the HQ vehicles and infantry command teams of the HQ group.

These came to a final conclusion this last weekend with the basing of the infantry and decals and aerials added to the command half tracks.

The whole command group

Here above you can see the whole command group from the boxed set from Battlefront. I also ordered some extra Panzerfaust models to add into the command figures, to convert them to command panzerfaust teams. I used up the optional panzerknacker models as regular grenadiers in the background positions of the command bases to bump up the numbers on the bases. (I already have command panzerknacker teams from my Festungskompanie)

CiC command 251/1 D Half track

To make the command vehicles stand out a little better on the table, I added aerials to the vehicles from plastic bristles cut from a kitchen broom and superglued into place. I also researched the correct vehicles numbers to use, thanks to an article of the Battlefront website.

CiC - SMG Panzerfaust team

2iC armoured transport 251/1 D half track

2iC - SMG panzerfaust team

HQ Anti-tank team armoured transport; 251/1 D

HQ Anti-tank asset - Panzershrek team
Combat platoon commander - SMG Panzerfaust team

Combat platoon commander - SMG Panzerfaust team

I just need to scrounge an NCO figure and spare grenadier and I can make my third required GPG platoon commander SMG Panzerfaust team...

Another thing I tried for the first time on these infantry teams are the Silflor bufallo clump static grass clumps. The patches of static grass that actually appear to stick up as a clump. I rather like them.

These guys got their first formal outing at the Te Horo Hootenaney in previous post.

I am rather looking forward to the tactics I can develop now with these guys under the new FoW V3 rules.

I have just realised when the 251's of the combat platoons are fully loaded up (2 or more teams onboard), they count as having tank escorts too, thats going to increase the amount of MG fire the vehicles can spit out on the move to 5 dice (3 for hull MG, 1 for Passenger fired AA MG and 1 for tank escorts) and further help in the German special Mounted armoured transport assault rules, rolling two dice in the mounted assault.. Got to love it! I already have medium tank support for these troops, I just need to add some Artillery, Recce, and maybe some dedicated mobile AA, and I'll have a fairly combined arms force.

Oh, my boxed set of PSC Panthers just arrived in the mail today too, so that will add some stronger panzer support too :-)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Te Horo Hootenaney - mini FoW doubles tournie

Took part today in my first FoW tournie! A doubles affair, that was a friendly set up, with a view to welcoming Paul into his new home, and to helping some newbies get to grips with the rules (me included), which then also turned into a V3 transition for all involved though some of the players, had been playtesters here in NZ for the new V3 rules.

The theme was eastern front, so Germans vs Russians for the most part though there was one Yank team in; lend lease and all that ;-).

Paul had pre set up the matchups to avoid any blue on blue encounters, and pre picked the three scenarios. These had been chosen such that the missions would allow all armies to deploy all their troops from start of the game so no messing about waiting for reserves for anyone.

Thus, with 12 players we had six doubles teams, that played a round robin over 3 different 6 x 4 tables.

Game one for all was Fair Faight, then game two was Fighting Withdrawal, and finally game three was Surrounded.

Points were scored for each team and totaled up at end to see which team won.

Heres some pics from the day;

Big thanks to Andrew Shepherd, my doubles partner for helping me (putting up with me!) through the games. Also thanks to all our very sporting opponents and those I met though didnt get to play against; Bob, Mike, Jason, Che, Damien, Brett, Daniel, Andrew, Mark, and of course Paul for hosting, and his good lady Tina for putting up with us all, and providing drinks and a pizza and snacks throughout the afternoon.

Bob, very kindly donated some FoW goodies for the winners too.

A great day, and good to meet a load of FoW players, though as usual after these events, I felt my head was in a bit of spin! Still lots learned I think.

Oh, me and Andrew or "Shep" as he's known, came joint last, but for the saving grace of a last minute dice off ;-)

Each player had to make a legal 900 point list, so an HQ and minimum platoons for the chosen force. I think approx 50pts could be swapped between players as required. So total forces were 1800pts per side.

I ran a Con Vet German force from Grey Wolf; Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers; HQ with 2iC vehicle swapped out as a 251/10 with 3.7cm gun, and an Anti-tank team, plus two full combat platoons. All command teams were Panzerfaust. I also squeezed in a small platoon of 3 Panzer IV H's.
'Shep' ran a Panzerspah force; so a Panzer II L Luch as HQ, plus three platoons of 3 Luchs, a platoon of 3 Marder III M's, and a platoon of 3 Panzer IV H's.

So we had a small quantity infantry, lots of lightly armoured vehicles and small tanks and medium tanks. But no Artillery - and I think thats what hurt us. We could cope quite well with mowing down enemy infantry quite well, until it dug in. Though by then Shep was usually close assulting the infantry with his Luchs at every opportunity.

I think this tactic perplexed me a bit as I couldnt help but keep thinking of them as Recce, which by definition should have been performing that role. I never expected him to assualt with them. But he's a far more experienced player than I, so must have known what he was doing. And to be fair with these attacks we got very close in all our games to capturing and objective fairly early on, only to be beaten off as game progressed.

Our medium panzers duked it out with the enemy T34's and held their own for the most part. In second game we struggled a little against enemy aircraft. And in third game we had a hell of time trying to assault a whole pile of dug infantry, artilley and AT guns, plus more T34s...

A true baptism of fire for a days playing.

I think the main thing I learned was my forces are a bit one or two dimensional at best... I really need to get some artillery assets painted up, as this will help with pinning. The V3 rules which I feel everyone was in favour of, proved that defensive formations are a tough nut to crack, especially with infantry!

As an extra note, you'll notice a couple of youngsters in the background; my son Chris and Bretts son Rhys got to have a fun day of it together too, enjoying the boardgame Memoir'44 among other things.

As a final note, there was a joint win for Brett and Mike, with Paul and Bob, and again this was diced off for the hell of it at the end, with Brett and Mike emerging the final victors.

Update 20/2/12
Full results, thanks to a heads up from Paul:

1st – Mike and Brett – Americans  12pts (Overall winner by dice off, typical Yankie showoffs!)
2nd – Bob and Paul – Soviets 12pts (Best Allied Generals, a moral victory)
3rd – Mark and Andrew – Allied LW Romanians with a tiny bit of help in the form of 8x T34/76 - 11pts (making it a clean sweep for the Allies)
4th – Damien and Daniel – Germans 10pts (Best Axis Generals, mounted a stirring late charge for the title)
5th – Scott and Shep 6pts – Germans (avoided the wooden spoon by dice off)
6th – Jason and Che 6pts – Germans (bringing up the rear due to a dice off, but played hard and in great spirit)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Hobbit

Despite my earlier comments in my prior blogpost, I am of course, still madly keen on Tolkiens works, and am waiting with baited breath for the next movie installment from Peter Jackson and Weta. From the above trailer, The Hobbit movie promises to be another splendid adventure for all to enjoy.

And no doubt I probably won't be able to help myself once the figures come out from GW.... I feel like an addict, they have me by the 'short and curlies'...

The nice thing about it, is its something I really have a connection with, with my young son. I introduced him to the movie at a young age ( and I still have funny memories of him just about hitting the ceiling when the Cavetroll jumped out from behind the pillar at Frodo) and he has grown up with them, and probably knows them just about word for word now, as I do...

Plus the theme of events before the time of the Lord of the Rings, has already been played out in our household.

Thanks to a Christmas present he got; the PC Game War in the North, and also a board game I picked up from Fantasy Flight a wee while ago; MiddleEarth Quest.

He's thoroughy enjoyed playing War in the North, and we've had one successful run through of the boardgame. Sauron forces commanded by myself came out on top, though I was a little unsure of the way the rules were written for end phase Finale in the game, but the issue never came up in our game. Still I'd like to find the correct version of:  "Finale- 4.Adjust diffculty (Heroes Dominant)". If anyone else has played it, give me a heads up...

Here's looking forward to more Hobbit related fun. No doubt, I may be dusting off the LOTR figures I already have as we get closer to the new movie release.

And if my blog traffic is anything to go by, other folks are interested still in playing it, as my blogpost with the greatest number of all time and recent hits, is my LOTR SBG Battlereport post I did many moons ago, see sidebar - popular posts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

LOTR vs FoW, or Games Workshop vs Battlefront?

A recent post on the One-Ring forum got me all worked up and I had to reply, and vent my own frustrations...

"Mor-galad of Greenwood wrote:...this whole thing: the move the Failcast, the drop in quality, the increase in price, the change to the pricing and quantity in the plastic model kits ---- I've had it with GW. They are so full of themselves and they don't give a sh!t about us loyal fans. They have shown no respect for the LotR cannon, neither have they shown any real dedication in putting out a superior product. They're raping us and laughing their @sses off about it all the way to the bank because we keep forking over the cash and saying dumb stuff like: "this stuff isn't so bad, you have have to warm it up for a bit to get it to fit together."

Get a grip people, they are ripping us off at every turn and it's only going to get worse until we do something about it. I, for one, and refusing to buy anymore of their tripe until they smarten up and quit producing a substandard product. And it pains me so much because I am such a student of the JRRT world, at one point I could've been convince that the backstory writers at LotR SBG cared as much about the minutia of Middle Earth backstory as I do.... I've come to see that all they care about is profit and I can, no longer in good conscience continue to feed their greed."

I hear your frustrations…
I lost interest in the ‘GW Hobby’ many many years ago, and only stuck with GW for their licence on the LOTR range and to be fair they made good models that represented the movie depictions.
But recently, with ongoing price increases, and drops in quality and the FineCost fiasco,

a picture of Finecast 'quality' or lack thereof from another poster to one-ring forum, and remember you are paying premium prices for this new wonder material, thats so hyped as the best quality ever...

 ...and a poor performing WOTR, AND the fact that they stopped my access to fairly priced stock via Maelstrom Games for us poor sods in Australasia. That’s my biggest beef with them!

For those not happy paying 44 quid for a Beast of Gorgoroth, whether the Finecost sculpt quality is worth it or not, just have a thought for us down under who are getting stung $140NZ for it. At current exchange rates that makes it about 70quid. Now how do you feel?
Yeah , Ive only really bought from Ebay and Trademe over the years , but as others have said you can’t always rely on this to get what you want, especially new releases…

Despite a true love for the movies, books, ethos and mythology… GW’s recent actions have put the knife in it, for me, and I doubt I’ll be doing much directly with them again.

I do have an ‘out’, as I can still probably source via Maelstrom via friends and family in UK, and even having them ship to me here in NZ, its still cheaper than paying direct from stores here.

It’s just that my motivation for their game and figures has been seriously sapped by recent events.

Whilst the SBG is fun, for me LOTR should be big battles and I had high hopes for WOTR, but that failed to hit the mark, and seems likely now to go the way of the dodo… perhaps it was one revision away from being corrected, but that doesn’t seem likely now. With current figure prices who could afford to build a sizeable WOTR army anyway?

 My current obsession is Flames of War (I’ve always been a WW2 nut too), not having played LOTR now for over a year at least…, and GW could learn a thing or two from this company – they release an updated and improved version of the rules, and anyone who has a copy of the current version of the rules gets a FREE small format version of the entire new rulebook. Now how good is that to keep current players happy???

Now I know Battlefront have had their issues, and quality control of missing and miscast bits and pieces is another frustration with some of their stuff, but they, and to be fair GW too have decent customer services and replace missing or defective parts quite well.

But Battlefronts recent stance on the new rulebook, and GWs draconian stance on sales via MaesltromGames and other online sellers, really made me stop and think.

Come on GW, wake up and see what you're standing in…

...enough said!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Flames of War - terrain - Western Europe

Well I'm back! Father enjoyed his visit with us, and we had an excellent time together. More whiskey was consumed than was probably sensible, but thats what holidays are about!

I did manage to get a little work done while he was here. I can't sit and paint indoors when dads outside enjoying the weather, but I did find it OK to take figures outside to sit and trim in the sun, while chatting and quaffing the odd foaming ale or two... ;-)

Dad also took a weekend break from us in the middle of his holidays to visit an old school friend of his who now lives in Oamaru, in the South Island.

So while he was away, I took the opportunity to improve some of my 15mm scale terrain for my Flames of War gaming. Its all aimed mostly for the Western Europe theatre, so Normandy etc.

Whilst visiting my local store (Macks Track) I found a small set of plastic fence sections that I thought looked about the right scale. I also grabbed some bags of various coloured clump foliage to improve the look of my hedges.


Above you can see the fences and hedgerows. They were all based on lolly sticks (AKA ice-block sticks). The gates were made from 0.8mm balsa sheet. The gates posts are two lengths of matchstick glued together.

I also realised after some of games against my local Yank opponent (Brett) that I needed something to slow up his fast charging Americans, so I started off to make some minefields and barbed wire. I know you can buy pre-made, but I knew I could make them cheaper myself!

Plucky commandos face minefield and barbed wire obstacles

Barbed wire

Both barbed wire and minefield are on 3mm mdf base. The wire used, was copper wire, stripped from an old piece of electrical flex. Two lengths were twisted together in a drill to make the barbed wire, and this was then coiled round a pencil. The supports for the minefield wire are just chopped up cocktail stick. The barbed wire supports are L-section plastic strut cut to length and glued together. I also messed about putting three pieces of this together for beach obstacles.
All were painted and flocked to suit

I also needed some good looking buildings. I had pondered about making my own, and had made one a while ago as a trial exercise. Though do-able, I did find making buildings at this scale very fiddly. I cast around the web for suitable buildings and some of the best I liked the look of, were from the Total Battles Miniatures range. I grabbed a small house, via Maelstrom Games to see what they were like in the flesh, or resin!

I managed to get it finished today. You can buy them all ready painted to go, but the price goes up dramatically! So I bought unpainted. Out of the box, the resin piece needed a fair bit of work to tidy it up.  The 'flash' was trimmed off with a hobby scalpel, and a dremel rotary tool. After that there were a great many small holes in the cast, that I filled with GW's new liquid Greenstuff, a very nice and useful product! :-)

Heres how it painted up:

Total Battle Miniature's - House

...and from the rear

Commandos skirt the building...

I have ordered more of these buildings from Maelstrom and await their arrival. I've ordered the small outhouse, cafe, and church.

Heres a couple of pics of the hedges and fences in action, alongside my recently 'tarted' up ploughed fields sections. (Note the hedges in these pics still had to have the base flocked with static grass. But you get the effect. I'm rather pleased with it.)

Also note these hedge are meant to be 'regular' hedges, and are not considered Bocage. I'll do some bocage later on...

What was once a quiet corner of Normandy... awakens to the rumble of German armour!

None of this sadly counts for AHWPC but no matter, I have also made progress on my halftracks and command figures, which will follow in another blog post.
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