27 Sept 2014

Parcels, parcels everywhere!

Hello guys,

as the title suggests, postman sure made my day on Wednesday! I managed to get not one, but two packets. Now, the photos are from that time and in the mean while, I have managed to make some steps forward (and even backwards!) that I didn't took photos of. So, essentially I am bringing you old news.

I've been part of the new S.D.Z.A euphoria on facebook lately. I have to admit game doesn't really fit my ideas of a game, but - as it is so diverse - following stuff that is being posted on facebook offers a nice inspiration. I only really like the dinosaur part of it and I am sorry my Lost lands project from the last year never really took off in a form of a game. Anyways, there was a nice prize draw set up by Wargames terrain workshop. They were looking for ideas of dinosaurs to be made into a miniature and I chipped in with a suggestion. I was quite surprised to win it (yay!) and as a prize I got their first commercially available dinosaur - a styracosaurus. There he is, in all his glory:

He is a large beast and the head is just stunning. It really is. Just look at all the tiny details:
I think the least I can do when given something free is to do something with it right away, so I started assembling it. It has been a while since I was working with resin (limited to assembling FOW vehicles) so I managed to do the following:
- glue the head on the body
- break the spikes trying to get them off the sprue (blunt knives don't work!)
- start drilling holes in the head so I can resculpt the horns
- break the head right off
Now, while this is all my fault, I am trying to look at the bright side - by sculpting the horns at least I'll give my "touch" to the miniature as I had no idea what could I add to it when I first got it. Also, I think that by drilling holes in the head and attaching a wire, horns will be a lot less fiddly. I really hate to see stuff breaking off after a model is painted (FOW vehicles machine guns being a good example!).

It will take me some time, but I'll be adding horns two at a time and I will most certainly play a dino hunt scenario at one point! :D

Another thing I got was Oyumaru from Hong Kong. Or, if you prefer it rebranded, an insta mould. They are available on Ebay in various colours and boring as I am I went with the clear ones. I wish I'd pick up purple!
Oyumaru is a piece of something (this is not a professional term for it) that you put into a hot water and it gets soft. Then you press it on a thing you want to get copies of, wait for it to harden again and you fill it with a putty. It's a press mould so one side is blank, but by giving it some practice, 3D stuff could be cast.
The stuff is easily cut, reusable, put together again....you name it. I am currently using it to cast canteens for my soldiers. One thing I noticed is that Empress Americans either carry a camel back or they run around thirsty.

Talking about Empress Americans, below are some of them that should be ready to be painted soon.
I will talk about them in more detail when they are done, but here is a GPMG team (had barrel reworked). They only need their canteens attached, sand put on their bases and they will be ready for painting. The assistant gunner was originally holding an M4 in his hands, but it got substituted for a link of rounds now. Adding a gun would involve a lot of cutting and as his primary job is to feed the machine gun, it makes more sense for him to be doing something with the ammo.

Lastly, I received my rifles last week. 45 of them, to be exact. There is an ordinary "red dot" version, a scoped version and a version with an UGL.
I started putting a fire team together right away and I can tell you one thing. If it seems simple - it is not. Neither it is any fun. It still is hobby and it brings a warm feeling when I get it done. I am a bit daunted by painting them, but once painted I am sure I'll be satisfied.

First of 4 fire teams below. All those need are canteens and helmet straps on three of them. One thing I dislike about them is the abundant use of helmet cameras. It's a needless clutter to me, but I suppose we live in a digital age now, so I didn't bother cutting them off.
The second team is in the making. This one almost made me cry as the guns kept falling off. I can report their hands are now done and they even got heads attached!

And this is it, more or less. I should streamline my work and REALLY just work on the moderns as I am all over the place and I can't resist the feeling nothing gets done. I am not sure about posting once a week just yet, but it spares me the trouble of finding a filler post every  now and then. Plus, I really don't like putting photos on my computer for some reason :D.

Thanks for looking,

20 Sept 2014

Bomb tech

Hello guys,

Before I start - no photos unfortunately, but I received the rest of my rifles earlier this week. I am already half way through converting one fire team. A GPMG team is almost done as well, it just need a bit of detailing and I can start painting it.
To fill my time (and to take some break from carving metal, it is not as enjoyable as I hoped it would be) I painted this bomb tech. He, as previously shown crew, will probably not see much gaming, but it is a great sculpt and was great fun to paint it.

Due to SAF reorganisation, our military bomb disposal unit was in a spot light in the military magazine few months back. One of the three suits available to the unit is the so-called EOD-9. This is apparently the best bomb suit in the world, so pretty much everyone has it. Including the guy from Hurtlocker film that this miniature probably copies.
Long story short, the helmet on the model was not all that correct, which gave me a nice chance to find something to convert on it!

 The one below is actually a police bomb tech, but the suit is still the same:

All I did to a miniature was cut the crest that held a visor in place and then add a tiny (filter?) box on the back of the head and two little lights in the front. I feel he is a bit scrawny, but I didn't dare try adding any new layers to his suit.
Before I get called a rivet counter, I can proudly say the box on the back of the helmet is VERY simple and probably a bit too small. And I didn't even sculpt the flaps over his shoes! In all fairness I forgot about them until the miniature was already painted.

I had great fun looking at the references, trying to match the black and green parts (and a tiny bit of red!). Influenced by Ebob's example on facebook, I took a step out of my comfort zone and decided to invest some extra time in painting his visor.
Mind the red! (go double check the first photo!)

While I still freely admit I am no expert painter, I got to say I was thrilled to see how it came out in the end. I am really happy with it and I can't wait to paint some basic fire teams so they can call a bomb squad in to defuse a bomb or something!

Thanks for looking,

13 Sept 2014

Vehicle crew

Hello guys,

After weeks of torture I finally managed to paint...errr...three SM zombies as civilians (it doesn't work that well, the stance is clearly of an undead, even with no blood painted on!) and and insurgent sniper. I wanted to show some of the two today, but in the mean time, I also managed to finally convert the crew members to a point where I was satisfied with them. Something clicked in me and I started painting them. Took me two days to get them finished and I have to say I am really satisfied with them. 

Here they are, ready to be primed:
I know I kept showing them, but changes to the originals include: crew helmets, weapon swap on one. That was it. I was sculpting helmets two times, though and I am still not quite satisfied with the one on the pistol armed guy. I think it has to do with the shape of his head.
Before I start, let me just say they look better in real life. Honestly!
While I am, admittingly, a bit of a river counter on some occasions, I decided to go for an artistic freedom with those and gave them a single colour uniforms. I forego the changes to the vests (this is just too much work for the little gain, really) and simply painted them in an old "amoeba" pattern.
 The bag, ammo pouch and what is probably a camelback of the pistol guy were painted in ochre to help with the contrast. I also painted tiny flags on their tiny sleeves with tiny SAF markings.
 They would carry either a mission or a unit patch on their right arm. Until recent reorganisation (seventh or eight in 20 years I think) they would be part of motorised infantry battalion whose APC they would be driving. Since the reorganisation, all the transport vehicles were grouped into a "5th Transport company" and I couldn't find their insignia anywhere, so I left it out. I tried to paint the insignia of our last remaining tank units - now named 45th Centre of tracked vehicles, but as it's green and grey, it sort of sunken into the grey background.

I am pretty sure I should sculpt tiny microphones for them, but over all I have to say I am really satisfied with how they turned out. They have very specialised role, driving vehicles I don't even have in my collection (yet?), but I will be using them as a crew of any other vehicle you can think of, including helicopters (those always need saving!) and so forth.

Below is a photo of a MEDEVAC, so if I'd be desperate for a reason, this could also work :P.

More for the future reference than anything else, here are the paints used:

- Brown violet -> with some german fieldgrey -> with some green grey
This didn't quite work for me, as it came out too grey.
So I started drybrushing Luftwaffe camo green mixed with some khaki to lighten it up on top of it. I added some white to the mix to get the colour I wanted.

Amoeba camo on the vests as per my Humvee gunners (that I did more than a year ago, oh my - time flies by!):
German fieldgray base
Patches of german grey, german camo medium brown and luftwaffe camo green
Lightly drybrushed with fieldgrey + white. This makes camo itself much more subtle, makes vests look faded (which is true as you can see on some photos) and it also paints straps with one colour - obviously they are stitched on the camo cloth and are of one colour.

Coyote brown equipment was painted with khaki grey and green ochre highlight.

The rest of my guns should be with me in about a week, so I will start converting the "ordinary" fire teams shortly, but I suspect a lot more time will pass before any of those get painted!

Thanks for looking,

6 Sept 2014

Bunker museum

Hello guys,

work is slow on the hobby front. I am painting some modern miniatures, but then again I have been doing so for weeks now (it is 4 of them!). I can only hope I'd get them finished by next week. I am working a little on various bits, but as nothing gets finished or the additions are really tiny, I just don't feel like it is worth showing them - unless you are interested in a miniature of an US soldier with his hands savagely chopped of to be replaced with a shiny new rifle that will magically change his nationality!  (now that I think of it, being said like that, it does sound interesting!).

Last week, I managed to visit a cleverly named "Bunker museum" in Wurzenpass (or Korensko sedlo, if you'd prefer) just across the border in Austria. The interesting thing about this particular museum is, that the site was closed for public and military active from 1963 to 2002! The system of tunnels with machine gun ports and even two Centurion tank turrets (!) was one of hundreds of fortified positions that were sprinkled all over Austria to delay the expected Red tide.

The map below probably doesn't help much if you are not familiar with the area, but Korensko sedlo is a mountain pass near the point where Slovenian, Austrian and Italian borders meet.

Fortifications were manned by conscript weekend soldiers every now and then and they were combat ready in 1968 (Warsaw pact intervention in Czechoslovakia) and in 1991, during the Slovenian war for independence. At the latter date, two Austrian tank destroyers were standing just below the pass on the Austrian side, ready to defend the pass in an attempt to prevent the conflict from spreading to Austria. At first, I was quite surprised to think about the idea of conflict spreading to Austria in 1991, but given a Slovenian minority lives in the area, it actually kinda makes sense.

So, the site has been shut down in 2002 and turned into a museum in 2005. Since then, they added new tank turrets and guns to it to show what some other fortification islands used around Austria. Their map is great and clearly shows what is original and what has been added later for people to see.
A T35/85 letting us know we're in the tin can area.

The entrance.

The store. Has "lego". Has models. Has helmets. Has books. Has maps. Has survival gear.

Field kitchen. I am no great eater, but this has always been my favorite part of military hardware.


Living quarters. Not all were that groovy. This was built in 2005 if I'm not mistaken. Original ones on this site were made of concrete and rectangular in shape.


More trenches. Some were dug underground.

Steel MG cloche. The concrete construction left to it was added in 2005 and houses artillery pieces. Trenches on the right.

SK-105 Kurassier. It's one of the tank destroyers I was telling you about. There is a video of this tank shooting at clay pigeons. Google it! 

This is a horrible photo of T-35/85 sitting in a concrete structure that was built in 2005. It had no engine and was used as a gun bunker in other fortification sites like this one (but not here).

US Long tom gun. According to the guide, those were aimed at Dravograd (Slovenian border town). Again, those were not originally on this site.

The infamous .50 cal. They are everywhere.

2005 concrete "bunker" from the outside. Only a part of it is seen. Visible here are 105mm howitzer and a .50 cal.

Originally on this spot, Centurion tank turret with it's dummy cottage cover. The turret hatch is open so you can climb in and out the tunnels beneath it!

View from the entrance. From bottom up there are M24 turret and the second original Centurion turret if I am not mistaken. That dummy cottage right of top turret houses a dummy barrel to show how a covered turret would look like.

A dummy cottage up front with the second of the original Centurion turrets in the background.

A random steel MG cloche with a recoilless gun.

An example of Danube patrol boat. Obviously not from here.

M47 turret. The turret is of an actual tank, but it has only been mounted here for an exhibition purposes.

I'm not exactly sure, but I think this is a Charioteer tank turret.

T-34/85 turret. An obvious obsolete candidate for having it's turret used as a stationary bunker.

Another Charioteer tank turret. For a reason unknown it's barrel is covered by a pipe. The turret itself is covered by a dummy cottage.

A close up on the Centurion turret. Next to it is it's cottage, but a dummy barrel has been stuck inside to show how it would look like I suppose. Those cottages would simply be lifted and put away when turret would be operational.

M24  light tank turret. Again, those were used somewhere else, but were all put here for us to enjoy.

A dummy turret.

Another view from the entrance/exit. Yes, this is sheep. No, it was not the only one.

All in all I have to say it was quite an enjoyable visit. Realising there were guns aimed at us mere 15-20 years back really makes me feel funny. What I found fascinating the most is how everyone is calling WW2 fortifications "useless" and 20-50 years later, people are still digging trenches and burying their tanks.

Thanks for looking,