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Sunday, 10 January 2021

Victrix 12mm British Infantry – Part One

 So far, for my 1/130th Scale 3D Printed armour, I have been utilising a mixture of Minifigs and Pendraken 10mm figures based to (Primarily) suit Blitzkrieg Commander rules.

Two new things have appeared on the horizon that have got me thinking of other options for armour games.

1. Rapid Fire Reloaded – quick play rules

2. Victrix new injection moulded 12mm WW2 range 

I shelled out my £5 for the new Rapid Fire rules and was really rather impressed. They are in a very well-produced, full colour, glossy papered pamphlet/booklet. The concept is really a very cut back version of Rapid Fire 2 – i.e., the bare minimum required to give you broadly the same results. The rules include O.O.B. for British & German forces for a Normandy Scenario which is also included at the back of the booklet. Now I’ve always shied clear of Rapid Fire basing before as they tend to put figures in pairs and remove individual casualties…. however, as a confirmed Wargame’s butterfly, this might present me with an excuse to purchase some of the new plastic figures from Victrix?

Internet research has revealed that their figures are packaged in what equates to roughly a company strength with support elements (MMGs, Mortars etc.) – or around 180 figures per box at £27.

This works out about 15p per figure comparing very well to the metal manufacturers. I couldn’t really justify buying two boxes (£54 worth) of toy soldiers so turned to my old favourite…eBay.

Base coat of Khaki plus webbing in Dark Yellow

As I suspected, I was able to purchase individual sprues at a very reasonable £7.95 delivered for one infantry & one heavy weapon sprue.

Weapon woodwork in Leather Brown

When they arrived, I was very impressed as well as surprised just how diminutive they were. They represent late infantry armed mainly with MkIV Lee-Enfields not SMLEs and have the later style respirator case on their hips. IF I had to criticise them in any way it would be for the lack of Bren Gunners. There are only two on the sprue (One prone, one advancing) when there is clearly enough figures for four sections on each infantry sprue.

Metal parts and boots in Matt Black

They are crisply moulded in neutral grey plastic, with no perceivable flash to remove, so zero cleaning up. 

Hands and faces in Flesh Tone

They are reminiscent of the PSC offerings in their poses which I guess is part of the limitation of single piece mouldings. There are a reasonable selection of poses, with many individaul figures and at most only 2 duplicates of any one pose on a sprue. There are 23 infantry figures on the one sprue and a similar number on the heavy weapons sprue that include a MMG team, 3" Mortar Team, 2" Mortar Team, PIAT Team, Sniper, officers and rangefinders, a couple of mortar bomb cases and figures carrying up ammunition for both mortars and MMG. These latter two poses are (for me) probably the least useful but I'll base them up and use them as standard infantry.

Helmets and heavy weapons in Russian Green

The detail and proportion of the figures really is exceptionally good indeed. They are attached to the sprues only through their bases, so it is possible to paint them on the sprues which is a big bonus.

Initially bases were painted Camouflage Green 

Obviously, some of the weapons are a little delicate at this scale so be careful when handling the figures.

Finally the figures were given a brown wash

I’ve decided to paint and base these figures to suit Rapid Fire, so have printed out some simple bases with shallow outer lips to mount them on.

Trying out different sizes to see which best suit the figures

I will then build the up the terrain level the match the figure’s base.

Settled on two sizes for 2 or 3 figures. Will need slightly longer bases to accomodate some of the other prone figures

Painting is quite simple for the British figures as luckily; I still had a small amount of PSC Khaki primer in my rattle can to give them all a base coat. 

The webbing was picked out in Vallejo Dark Yellow. The woodwork on weapons was given a coat of Vallejo Leather Brown and the metalwork and boots Citadel Matt Black.

Helmets and heavy weapons were painted in Vallejo Russian Green and hands and faces picked out in Flesh.

Then an overall coat of brown wash before basing.

I’ll do a part two when the basing is completed.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Happy Christmas

My wife and I's life has taken an unexpected course recently, with the arrival of our 3.5 year old Great-Nephew who is going to be living with us for some time. Quite a shock at our age.....(all our kids having grown up!) .... and challenging.

This has pretty well killed both our hobby times! Though there is light at the end of the tunnel (i.e. Nursery School in the New Year).

Dark Elves Army

All I've done in the last few weeks is re-cycle an old display cabinet for use in my Loser Shed. A great way to display some of my old (and much loved) Warmaster Armies.

Undead Army

A Happy Christmas to all of you.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

What Colour Paint for IDF vehicles? - Arab-Israeli Wars in 12mm

 Tinkering with 3D Builder and the multitude of Bergman AFV files on Thingiverse, I decided I’d like to print myself an Israeli Super Sherman. I found a file someone had created in 15mm and married the hull & turret to Marco Bergman’s M4A3E8 running gear and sized it all to print at my 1-130th (12mm) standard.

Pleased with the results I then looked to my quite extensive paint collection and pondered “what colour do I paint it”?

Years ago I’d painted 6mm IDF forces and had relied on good old Vallejo Iraqi Sand but I knew that this wasn’t wholly accurate, though adequate at this small scale. Most colour pictures I’d seen looked like the vehicles of the Six-Day War era were a sort of light greeny grey. As time went on this appeared to darken by the 1982 Lebanon invasion.

Finished article. A M51 Isherman with French 105mm MAin Gun.

I’m not a fan of mixing paints so I turned to the interweb for help and very quickly found the answers I needed.

My paint of choice, Vallejo, had Israeli Sand Grey (71-141) which was a perfect match, but only appears to be available in Model Air or Primer, not the brush paint formulation. So this appeared to be a dead end as I wanted to brush paint.

The process is; two coats of sand grey, followed by shadow added with Army Painter DArk Tone wash and finally, high-lighting added  by dry-brushing Iraqi Sand.

Then I looked a bit further and discovered the MIG Ammo range of paints – a new one to me that I’ve never used before. They offer a (rather expensive!) boxed set for finishing IDF AFVs of all wars or each are available separately in 17ml dropper bottles.

The one that suited my purpose was called Real IDF Sand Grey ’73 (A. MIG -0132) which was ideal for either the Six-Day or Yom Kippur wars. This was duly ordered from eBay and arrived a couple of days later. Incidentally, they also do the darker version for 1982 onwards as Real IDF Sand Grey ’82 (A. MIG -0131).

Firstly, I was very impressed that the bottle comes with a ball bearing inside to agitate the paint as you shake. I bought a pack of ball-bearings for this reason a while back and find them really good.

The colour of the paint was perfect. However, in use I have a few of observations; -

  1. Painting over white primer it takes two coats to cover, the pigment is a little lacking.
  2. It dries to a slight sheen rather than a dull matt
  3. It is terribly slow to dry (could be that the temp in the Loser Shed is dropping due to winter approaching?) – taking a least 24 hours – which in MIG's defence it does says on the label.

But all in all, I’m very happy with the end result. Obviously, one IDF AFV wasn’t enough for me, I now have two small armies for the 1967 conflict printed up, with Minifigs figures ordered to match! But more of that another day.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Never Mind the Billhooks in 6mm

 Always a sucker for something that's free of charge, I was excited by the addition of the new WotR rules attached to September's Wargames Illustrated.

After reading them through, joining the FB group and watching the YouTube games I felt that they look great.

This could finally get me to finish my Perry 28mm WotR figures, which luckily, I'd been basing singularly, so would be just right.

However, this will take a while, so my thoughts turned to what else I could do, and perhaps could it be played on a smaller table?

A quick search of my drawers of things still to do revealed abox of random 6mm medieval figures by Irregular Miniatures that I'd bought from eBay.

I then had a think about how they could be based en masse to use for these rules. The answer lay in my Sam Mustafa's Rommel bases that I'd knocked up a couple years ago.

What I needed to do was mount them on bases with room behind the figures to take a laminated strip with numbers that could be crossed out as lives were lost.....simple.

Then thinking on, if I substituted centimetres for inches the ground scale should be fine for the 6mm figures and the game would fit on a 72x48cm board or roughly 2'6" x 1'6".

Now I'm sure most people have had some interaction with Irregular products at some time or other. They are not to everyone's taste shall I say?

If I'm honest, I'd say their moulds are getting a little long in the tooth as the figures need shed-loads of cleaning up before you can use them. At a glance even after cleaning up, they look a little dodgy. However they generally paint up ok. The metal used, though, isn't the best and spears, lances etc will likely break off rather than bend.

I had some of these figures from 20 odd years ago, that I'd based for DBA, so I deceided that I'd rebase the lot for NMtB, keeping to a 50mm frontage so I could still use them with DBA/DBM.

The bases were printed out leaving a recessed area to accomodate the rather thick bases that the figure strips are cast on. The base was then leveled using Vallejo pumice before priming and painted mostly with Contrast paints.

The labels were created in PowerPoint and added with double-sided tape. The numbers can be easily crossed off with a dry-wipe pen (I found a pack of 4 in Wilko's for £1!).

To complete what's needed to play I printed a couple of 45' turn templates, two 15cm rulers and enough 20x20mm squares to make the counters required. These were printed off in PowerPoint, laminated and cut into squares before attaching to both sides of the printed counters.

So that should be all I need to give it a go, better get on with the painting....

Scales - What is the best scale for WW2 Company/Battalion level actions?

 As I'm sure regular visitors are fully aware, I'm a little bit addicted to 3D printing items for my wargaming!

One of the real pleasures of 3D printing is the ability to resize files to suit the scale you wish to play your games.

I've recently been building up some armies to use with WW2 games and have made the unusual decision to go with a non-standard scale...........

It all happened by accident.

For many years I've played WW2 forces in 1/200th Scale (primarily - Skytex Action 200) using Blitzkrieg Commander rules. Then when the PSC 15mm range started to appear, together with the Art of War range from Zvezda, I started to collect new forces with a view to replace the 1/200th ones as I found the larger models a little easier on my eyesight!

This continued at a leisurely pace, with little or no plan ever since. Today I have reasonable sized late war British and German armies in 15mm and still have my 1/200th ones as well!

Enter the Creality Ender 5 Pro which has delivered me in one go the means to manufacture any AFVs, terrain pieces, ships etc. that I want.

After producing my Team Yankee/Seven Days to the River Rhine armies in 15mm I decided I tackle a long held ambition to own forces for the Western Desert in WW2.

This has been a long held dream as My late father used to assemble Airfix shermans etc. for me to play with as a child, and always painted these up as desert vehicles as he and his brithers served there during the war.

So if I was to print my armies, what scale should I choose?

  • 1/200th scale? - generally referred to as 10mm scale, most of the free files available (Thanks to the wonderful Marco Bergman) are designed to this scale so would be easy enough to print. They'd be small can be played on smaller tables, easily stored and cost next to nothing in materials. However they would be harder for my aging eyesight to deal with.
  • 1/144th scale? - or 'N'guage or 12mm as it's sometimes called. This is an interesting scale for me as it offers reasonable scale, relatively smaller playing areas and I have already tried a few in this scale to play What a Tanker successfully. They dont take up much space and there are large ranges commercially produced to fill any gaps for 3D files that do not exist.
  • 1/100th scale - or as we more likely call it 15mm scale. Actually this would be 18mm scale but as so many figures these days are "Heroic" in stature I guess that where we really are. These models are larger, cost more, take up more space to store and need larger play areas, but detail is very good and the choice of commercial versions of unusual vehicles is endless.
You can see where I'm going with this......there is an awful lot to commend 1/144th scale as the ideal one for WW2 Infantry.Armour actions.

So (I thought) it was decided. I set off and started to print out my M3 Grants. However, fate and my dodgy mathematic ability (😁) intervened. I took files created in 1/200th scale and did a quick mental calculation that increasing this by 150% would give me something near enough to 1/144th scale.

How wrong I was! In reality I should have increased the file by just 139%.

I now ended up with afvs that were actually printed to 1/130th scale. But was this bad? When I compared them to figure that I intended to re-cycle to use with these models, they actually looked correct?

This reveals the state of figures for these smaller scales as I'm sure we are aware. They are mostly called 10mm, occasionally 12mm but in reality most figures are around 12-14mm tall.

A man who is 180cm tall (foot to eye) would be 12.5mm at 1/144 or 13.8mm at 1/130 scale.

I have figures from Pithead, Pendraken, Magister Militum and Minifigs and all these go well with my new 1/130 scale vehicles!

So there you have it....I'd created my own unique scale and I've decided to stick with it.

As I always collect both sides in a conflict, the fact that I have non-standard playing pieces is immaterial. Similar to most commercial figures, most commercial buildings are at the top end of their intended scale and look fine with my tanks, and If I print any it's easy to make them the correct size to match.

So with my Desert armies completed and their owner chuffed to bits with the outcome, I decided to embark on collecting armies to refight western European battles 1944-45 between Axis and Allied forces. These will also be in 1/130th scale.

So there you are, my only problem now is what to do with my 1/200th and 1/100th collections😂

Monday, 21 September 2020

Victory at Sea

 I finally received my VaS starter set in August and to be honest, after having had the rules provided free with Wargames Illustrated and having printed up some ships from the interweb, I was a little underwelmed :-(

When you take into account the retail prices being charged for the fleets and individual battleships, the starter set is actually rather good value for money. 

You get all you need to start the game - dice, mats, fleets, counters, templates etc. so shouldn't complain really.

However there are two major gripes I have with the set; -

1. The rule book isn't the complete article. Its like a quick start guide you'd get with a GW boxed set. The full version (hardbacked etc.) is still to be announced, which means you only have the ship data that comes on the cards to match your starter fleets....nothing about the Atlantic war, submarines, Mediterranean sea, convoys etc. etc. And only the briefest notes on aircraft and carrier actions. Also there's a distinct lack of historical scenarios, which the original rulebook (thankfully I still have this) was full of.

2.The quality of the ships. The scale is 1/1800 which should offer the opportunity for good detail. Some are better than others....I suspect the better items are the old mongoose models repurposed. But they overall they are not bad.....however that cannot be said of the material they are cast in. The website announced they would be using the "New Warlord Resin" which we now know is something akin to the Siocast moulding materials now used by PSC to mould their Battlegroup Northag items. This is a grey slightly flexible material which whilst robust for delicate parts, is hard to straighten if warped and dificult to clean up as it does not sand easily. That said not all the ship models were of this material in my box, some were the old type resin and when I tried the "Hot & Cold Water" technique to try and straighten the banana like USS Chicago it promptly snapped in two!

Having got over these two issues I proceeed to get the set ready for use.

The ships were finished simply (no dazzle camoflague here I'm afraid) by spraying an overall coat of grey automotive primer. Then painting the deck colour, followed by white for lifeboats and yellow for infaltables and finally black for funnels and masts.

Once dry a coat of Army Painted Dark Tone to pick out the shadows.

Then a light drybrush of white to pick out details before painting the base in Vallejo Pastel Blue.

Once this is dry and give the base a coat of Army Painter Blue Tone before dry brushing white over the wave texture. Finally I painted the edge of the base in Vallejo Intense Blue and highlighted the name in white.

A spray coat of satin varnish completed them. In all about 2 days work at the very most.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Missing in Action

 Firstly let me apologise to any blog readers for having abandoned you for what seems like forever......2 months in fact.

The summer of 2020 has proved to be somewhat traumatic in the TimsTanks household for a number of reasons (not least my being made redundant due to COVID19) and time just seems to have passed me by.

However in the background, to keep myself sane I have continued to build up my 10/12mm WW2 collections, buy new rules that I'll probably never get around to playing, visit the tank museum at Bovington and (finally) recieve my Victory at Sea starter set.

I'll try and get some of these things posted up over the coming days......

1-130th Scale Panther G for a forthcoming Late WW2 project

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Blucher in 2mm

A post on Facebook way back at the start of lock-down has prompted me to revisit Sam Mustafa's Blucher rules.

I bought the book on the back of a Meeples & Miniatures show and was very impressed with the production values and what seemed an easy to learn system.

This led me to by the 100 Day's card set to go with the rules, but this is as far as I got. I didn't actually get around to playing the rules and they've languished on the shelf ever since (nothing new there then?).

A post from a member of our local club looking for Blucher opponents, led me to get them back out once again.

I think the problem for me has been, whilst I like the cards, I really would like to play this with figures, but on a smaller table than the 75mm frontage cards would permit.

At this point I remembered my Irregular Miniatures 2mm Napoleonic's that I'd based for use with Black Powder. These are all on 20x20mm mdf squares so I can place them in any formation I needed (i.e. Line, Column etc.). What if I could somehow mount these on bases suitable for Blucher?

My Irregular Miniatures 2mm Napoleonic collection, together with terrain pieces.
I think that Sally 4th produce a nice range of pre-cut mdf Blucher shaped bases (with centre point and fire arcs) in a variety of frontages. These would be great, but how could I temporarily affix my 2mm bases? An how much would the 50+ bases cost me!?

At the time, whilst I was 3D printing tanks like they were going out of fashion, I hadn't yet discovered the art of 3D design. Now to say I have now discovered this skill is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, I have now managed to create some basic designs, and my Blitzkreig Commander infantry bases got me thinking.

I found a basic Blucher base on Thingiverse and took that as my starting point. Firstly I scaled it down to a 50mm frontage. This would enable a game to be played on a 4 foot by 3 foot table which would be perfect for me.

I then increased the depth of the base to allow me to let in a recess that was the depth of an mdf base  that was 40 x 20mm.

I added to this a centre point marker, two raised areas for info to be added and a recessed hole to take a 7mm die to mark the base' "ELAN".

Printing them 4 at a time - 2 infantry & 2 Cavalry bases
I printed out version 1 (see above) and realised that it was still too thin (the mdf bases stood proud of the sabot base), that the raised ares perhaps weren't the best ideas and that I'd left the one edge of the die recess too thin so it didn't print.

A quick redesign and I printed out version 2. This time I'd added the movement allowances as embossed letters. This looked fine until I noticed that in the process of rescaling to 50mm frontage I'd lost the 45' angles from the front edge. They were more like 70'!

One more redesign and I was there! The MkIII version was just right. A quick spray of Army Painter Khaki and a dry-brush of white & Yellow paint and I was there.

Now what other bases would I need?

  • Line Infantry (Move 2-1, max Elan 6)
  • Guard/Elite Infantry (Move 2-1, max Elan 8)
  • Foot artillery (Move 2-1, Shots 5,4,4,3,2,2)
  • Horse Artillery (Move 3-1, Shots 5,4,4,3,2,2)
  • Light Cavalry (Move 4-2, max Elan 6)
  • Heavy/Elite Cavalry (Move 4-2, max Elan 8)
  • There is also a potential for "Guard Artillery" with shots of 6,5,5,4,3,3
So I set about designing all the options. 

For Guard/Elite bases I inlet 2 die recesses. This would allow a starting point of a 1 on one die and 6 on another for an Elan of 7.

Infantry bases; Top Guards with 2 die and bottom Line with 1 die.
For artillery I opted to go with number holes and a movable peg (cut down nail) to indicate shot use.

Rather than try and cram the unit name onto the base as well as their "traits" I went down the roster route with each corp given a colour and each brigade a number. To identify individual bases I then simply use a self-adhesive circular sticker with the brigade number written on it to identify the base.
Artillery; Top foot artillery with 2-1 move and bottom horse artillery with 3-1 move.
The next thing to tackle was the question of hidden movement. In the card game the cards are turned over and only revealed after they move or fire and at first I thought I might print out some dedicated counters for this purpose. Then I had a brainwave! Why don't I just turn these sabot bases over!

I first added a centre point and then printed out appropriate flags and laminated them before cutting to size to fit the backs of the bases. I attached them to the bases with double sided tape and there you go. 

Cavalry; Top Heavy or Elite Cavalry with 2 die and below light cavalry with 1 die.
These can be moved around the battlefield until they are identified, then turned over and the figure bases and die can be added.

Lastly I turned my attention to gaming aids I'd need. I printed up two measuring sticks marked in base widths (BW) for movement, firing etc. Then a couple of  BW x BW squares to use to define the areas in front of bases for close combat etc. and finally a couple of dozen "Prepared" tokens to indicate when brigades have gone into square formation.

Self-adhesive, laminated flags added to the rear of the bases for hidden movement.
Not everything went entirely to plan.....most problems can simply be explained by the simple term "Tolerances".

I designed my dice holes around some green 7mm dice I already had from my BKC project. Then I ordered Red & Blue (appropriately) dice from the same supplier. The blue dice are spot on 7mm but some of the red ones are 7.1mm - so are a rather tight fit.

Playing Aids; movement stick, combat idicator, prepared tokens and a built up area template.
Most of my figures date back some years and the bases are from the era before laser cutting. Therefore they measure something like 19.8-19.9mm square. I had to make up some new bases to create a few extra units and my laser cut mdf bases are exactly 20x20mm! I therefore had to make some new sabot bases with enlarged recesses to suit.

Now these are completed I'm looking forward to giving them a run out when the club is allowed to open once again.