An Axe to Grind

I’ve chopped a fair amount of wood in my youth as I lived in the country. It was fun to pay tribute to this as well as having it fit nicely into the context of my basing scheme. My original plans for this base was to have the soldiers filtering through a farmer’s house and yard. I was going to have one side of the base being the side of his hut, lined with stacked chopped wood, with the other side containing the chopping block and debris. After viewing other people’s work where they have the basing being an entire building scene, broken up among the squads, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to make my idea work. I felt that it would be out of context to have a single base being part of a building and would look half-finished. Also, with the way that I have done this base, I leave it partially up to the imagination for the setting. It could be a generic yard (which is what is intended) or it could be a clearing where a woodcutter is gathering wood, etc.

The axe was made out of greenstuff and was fairly easy to do. I rolled out a thin column of greenstuff which I then flattened out to make the handle. The axe head was made by flattening down one end of a rectangle of greenstuff. These were left to cure and then cut appropriately. The wood is done by cutting a dowel of balsa wood to length and then quartering it vertically. I then scored it with a scalpel to give it the rough texture.

I really enjoyed making this base, it came together nicely. I also like the poses of the machine gunner team. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for viewing

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CanCon 2014 – Part 2

While at CanCon I was pleasant surprised to find that there was a large area dedicated to remote control vehicles, mostly tanks. I met up with a member of Panzergruppe South and had a brief chat about the display. He said that it had a lot of support this year, with people from interstate bringing in their pieces for display. I was very impressed with the outstanding quality and detail of the AFVs and their paintwork. The “rolling” demos were entertaining and made me consider acquiring a Tiger in the distant future.

Also here a video of these beasts in action

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CanCon 2014 – Part I

CanCon is a convention dedicated to hobby gaming. It encompasses many different formats and genres, including Wargaming, Boardgaming, Card games and much more. It is also host to many tournaments which include Flames of War, Magic the Gathering, Warhammer 40k. Amongst it all are a number of demonstration games and historical scenarios/re-fights. Intermingled with the action are a number of retail stalls to whet your hobby appetite as well as to empty your wallet. Overall it’s three large buildings bustling with entertainment that I highly recommend to attend.

As has become customary for me, I went to take snapshots of the Flames of War and modelling goodness to be had at this event. It’s also an opportunity for me to restock painting and other modelling paraphernalia. I also keep an eye out for any boardgames and bargains at the auction held on the final day.

Here is some of the Flames of War eye candy that was on display. A big thank you goes out to all who let me takes photos of their excellent miniatures and boards.

This year I went with a mindset that I would restrict my purchases to essentials and bargains too good to pass up. I managed to stick to this goal and bought some static grass clumps, varnish and some boardgames – D-Day Dice being the standout. The auction was quite interesting – I was close to winning a Kings of War force, an American and Soviet force for Dust Warfare, and Steve Jackson’s Ogre – all for very reasonable prices. However I managed to pull out when the prices went past the margins I set myself. Instead I won an assortment of Hell Dorado figures. Not my usual scene, however the positive is that I have something different to paint to practice and experiment on.

A stand out for me on this long weekend was that I had the pleasure of meeting Phil Yates from Battlefront. I spectated a game where he took a Russian armoured force against a mixed German Armour and Pioneer force – part of a larger Kursk re-fight. Afterwards he ran me through the details of the battles and the history. A knowledgeable and interesting character who was pleasant to be around.

As always, I had a great time. Recharged the hobby interest and spurred more effort to get these 88s that I’ve been painting finished. Maybe next year I’ll look at doing more participating than photography – if I get can get an army finished!

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ScaleACT 2013

I caught wind of a Scale Modelling Convention happening in my region and I was eager to attend. This event is hosted by the ACT Scale Modellers’ Society whose focus is on scale modelling with their major aim being the promotion of the hobby and improving the modelling standards of it’s members. This convention hosts a number of modelling competitions in a large range of scales and categories in addition to vendor stalls, modelling displays,  as well as a swap and sell section.

Upon arrival I was greeted by friendly modellers and a large hall full of tables with loads of modelling eye candy. There was a number of amazing pieces; aircraft of all varieties and time periods, AFVs galore, ships of all sizes as well as some well put together dioramas. I took the time to study the finishes and the techniques involved in each. Mentally I was trying to work out the best method to replicate these to the smaller scale of 1/100. The weathering effects were outstanding and really made a lot of these pieces feel “in the moment”.

Unfortunately, I managed to forget to charge the camera’s battery and so  was only able to take a few shots before it shutdown. I was really kicking myself for neglecting to check this before arriving. The photos I did manage to take were of an Afrika Korp display that was set up in a side area as well as some remote control tanks courtesy of Panzergruppe South. However I here is a link to just some of the models that were on display.

The Swap and Sell was a little disappointing; there was a limited selection for 1/100 scale and these were, in my opinion, a bit overpriced. On a positive note there was a lot of modelling reference material and I managed to purchase a couple of books on Luftwaffe Aircraft as well as a Panzer Art book. The vendor stalls were great, very helpful with an excellent range of products. Picked up some mud products that really caught my eye, lots of Tamiya tape and was almost tempted to buy a bust of Joachim Peiper.

I didn’t enter in any models for this year, due to the short notice, but I am excited for next years competition. I am deciding on a worthy project to enter, I will have to get some feedback closer to the time. I hope that you enjoy the pictures, sorry that there isn’t more of them!


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A Little Stumped

Continuing on with the theme these Grenadiers are cautiously emerging from the woods. The poses are fairly relaxed with the squad leader letting them know to keep on their toes.

The tree stump is a piece of balsa dowel scored and painted to show the age and rot. The sapling is a piece of Sea Foam coated in leaves. I really like the Sea Foam product, a bit fragile but has a great look and feel to it.

Nothing much more to add other than I am happy about the way these turned out. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions just leave a comment. Thanks for viewing

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Tying Up Loose Ends

I had started painting Battlefront miniatures by working on a German Grenadier platoon, of which I have completed a few bases (see earlier posts). Midway through I changed tack and decided to paint a fresh batch of figures in a Panzergrenadier Platoon. I had decided to do this because my painting style was in a state of flux and I didn’t want the Grenadiers to look too varied and mismatched. After completing a few more painting projects I had decided that my style had settled enough to go about finishing what I had started.

I still remembered what theme that I was going for with the original Grenadier platoon, however I modified it somewhat. I was going for a verge of the forest/woods feel, like the platoon was emerging out into some open terrain. I decided to tone down the amount of woodland debris and scenery that I had originally envisioned in the bases. I didn’t want too much clutter and activity to overwhelm the eye. I want to strike a good balance in a scene to compliment the figures that are portrayed within it.

For this base I played around with some wood effects while trying to not be too excessive in the use of scenery. The rotten log is simply cut from a dowel of balsa wood and carved for texture. I have found that there are so many wonderful scenery products that I want to use them all on every base. As you can see I have restrained myself from using the flowers for easy colour and contrast (I think that they look so good). However I have managed to sneak some handmade mushrooms in there to stay true to the bases that I have previously painted in this platoon. I was also playing around with making bushes and how to make them look complex rather than just a blob of sponge. Not entirely happy with it, but I want to continue to experiment with how to achieve the right effect.

I am very happy with the way the rest of this Grenadier platoon turned out and I’ll be posting the rest in the weeks to come. I hope that you enjoy viewing; feel free to comment and provide feedback.

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The Lay of the Land

Ever since I started painting flames of war figures I have always wanted to create terrain for the figures to fight over. I have since been following and reading many blogs and articles that detail how to create terrain, which have giving me many great ideas. However it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a certain website, The Terrain Studio, that my interest in terrain changed from just a curiosity to something that I had to pursue. This gentleman’s (Shawn Morris) work is outstanding I have been following all of his projects since his early forays in this field. He is meticulous, not only does he demonstrate his fantastic terrain, but he also goes into detail about how it is made, along with his design ideas. In addition to his blog he makes videos which he posts on YouTube, these are easily found through a search for “Terrain Studio”. He has been an inspiration for me to undertake a large terrain project; a semi-modular table top battlefield.

So I begun by visualising the sort the battlefield that I wanted to represent as well as what elements would key to the design. The ideas that I had were based around visual impact, setting, and theatre. In the end I decided that I wanted to represent the outskirts of a town on the Eastern front. This I chose because of the forces that I am modelling as well as it would enable me to model elements of both urban and rural environments. The other factor was that I really like the visual impacts of buildings. These adds a three-dimensional aspect to the battlefield strategically as well as visually. With the concept being decided, I went about researching the look that I wanted to create, while maintaining a level of authenticity.

Having looked through numerous reference books containing wartime photos I was quite surprised to find how modern the look of the buildings and locations on the Eastern front during WWII was. This being quite contrary to my naive conceptualisation that most of the buildings were straw ceiling huts and log cabins serviced by muddy roads. I don’t know where I got this view of the “Russian” landscape from but it struck me at how incorrect my assumptions were. I’m not at all suggesting that there weren’t villages or locations that match this description but I was amazed at the level of infrastructure that there was. To be sure I acquired more reference books which only confirmed what I had found. So putting my ignorance aside I decided to include more of these modern elements into the project. These included cobblestone roads, telegraph and power poles, and more appropriate looking buildings.

My personal preference, for the way I model, is to have everything that I need before I even start work. I am a completist to the point of obsession. I must have all of the right tools and the right materials to work with (This explains why I have cupboards full of miniatures that covers almost the entire catalogue of every German force that I could ever wish to field). If I don’t it will just nag at me in the back of my head “this would be X times easier if I had Y tool and I didn’t make do with using the Z tool”. This led me to scour the web for tools, buildings and scenery that would fit the look that I wanted to create. This task being complete I started to work in a sort of reverse order. How would I go about storing and safely transporting the battlefield after I had finished? I already knew the dimensions of the ‘cells’ that I was going to use and so I devised a simple solution utilising custom cut foam which I was able to arrange for a local company to make (which raised a few eyebrows!). Once this problem was solved, I went and had the MDF cells cut to size. Finally I arranged for a friend, with a good grasp on artistic design, to assist in laying out all of the pieces and drawing the arrangement onto the MDF cells. And so here is the initial design concept:

This is by no means how the final battlefield is going to be laid out, but it is definitely a fairly good representation. It’s missing lots of little elements and features that I am going to place for aesthetics, like hedges and some stone walls. There are a few elements that I have taken some liberties with. The church is most certainly not Eastern European in nature, however it looks so fantastic that I can’t pass up the opportunity to use it. My cover story for it being here is that this location is set near the border of Latvia and Lithuania and that Teutonic knights had brought along with them their Catholic influence to this settlement. Another potential issue is with the railroad being so curved, this may get straightened out in the final plan but I think that the curves look great and add interest. Another item which may change the final layout is I recently discovered that a company sells a tile system that is lighter and better designed for projects like these, rather than my crude MDF cells. On the positive side this gives me another opportunity to go over the design and add or remove features. I have my eye on a certain building being released early next year.

This is a major and ongoing project as my modelling time is limited, however I look forward to seeing this grow and take shape. I hope to share some progress with you in the near future. Let me know what you think of the design and what I should adjust.

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