Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quick Pine Trees

In case you haven't figured it out, I like to scratch build things. I try my best not to buy pre-made stuff. OK, I haven't gotten to the point where I make my own flocking, but don't think I haven't thought about it! Even when I know that there will a lot less aggravation and work just to buy something, I still go do the path of most resistance.

Recently, however, I succumbed to  "cheating." I was at Michael's craft store, which is starting to put up all of their Christmas craft items. As I passed down an aisle, there was a display of tiny Christmas trees:

The size looked like it would fit 1/300, so I thought why not and bought two packages.

Last night, I forced myself to work on them (more on the "force" part later). This is what they look like straight out of the package:

There were in various states of squishiness, and many had long strands of branches sticking out in random places. Additionally, there were the bases that were cut wooden dowels. Fortunately, the trees were not glued in and could be easily removed. I popped off the bases and mounted them on a penny using epoxy putty:

Once the putty dried, I trimmed the odd branches. They actually don't look that bad as is, but I went ahead and painted the branches a pine green using craft paint. I then painted and flocked the base:

I decided not to flock the branches. I figured at that size, it would obscure them.

I won't be using them for my Gambusia campaign, but I have some ideas for some WW2 micro armor games where they could come in handy.

WARNING! If you are in a good mood and don't really want to hear about someone else's crap, read no further. 

So, why did I have to force myself to do engage in this little project? The past September, I've been in a major funk, low spot, dare I say depression. A big part of it is, is that I feel I have absolutely no control over my life both at home and at work. I don't want to go into the home life details, but I will with my work.  I used to be able to call my work a career, now it's just a paycheck. I promised myself a long time ago that I would not end up like my father, career-wise, but now it's feeling like I have. Yes, I am fully aware that I should be happy that I am employed, but I am starting to wonder why I wasted so many years in school (two bachelor's degrees, and master's, and a Ph.D.). It has even bled over to my hobby. Wargaming and miniatures have been a big part of my life since the 1970s. It got me through high school and has been my place to go for at least a few hours when things were tough. At the end of August, I sat in my chair at my workbench and really wondered what is the point of this? It seems like I will never get this campaign off the ground. BTW, I am feeling the same way about my research. Between that, and just being very tired at the end of the day all of the time, I just have had no desire to do anything. Last night was the first time I visited my workbench since the end of August. Last night, I just forced myself to work on these trees. I felt that here is one more thing that I bought and if I don't do anything with them now, they will just sit in a box somewhere. Fatigue be damned, I dragged my ass to my bench and started working on them. It was good therapy. No miracle happened, but at least its a start.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

More Stone Walls

I've been spending my last two weeks messing around with making more efficient stone walls. I made a mold and used various casting media, got varying results, none of which I was completely happy with. So, I went back to the slow, tedious method of building up the walls by repeated gluing layers of model railroad ballast. I was a little happier this time around than I was with the sheep pen. Here is another small farmstead. I am not quite done with it, but you get the general idea of things.

Here is looking down on it:

Here is a more street level view:

This time, I used a super glue gel, rather than the liquid type. I got much better control even if it dries slower. One thing learned for next time is to put in the gates first before laying down the walls. What I also plan to do with this one is to get is a coat of diluted white glue. Some stone pieces are more tenuously glued than others.  That will help hold the whole thing together better. The main thing that still eludes me is how to make the top of the walls level. The super glue gel helps with this, but its still far from perfect.

This project has sort of burned me out on terrain making. I've got one more terrain piece I need to make (a truck stop), but I really just want to start gaming.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sheep Pen


I am trying to make some stone walls. They are proving to be very frustrating; it reminds me too much of making sandbags. This was made out of coarse model railroad ballast that I built up in layers. The walls did not come out even. That is OK for a sheep pen, but not if I want to make walls for a farm. Also, it is rather time consuming.

There are lots of tutorials out there for making stone walls for larger scales, but nothing I could really find for microscale.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Little Cold Wars Rules

Tim Gow has been working on this project for several years now, and I am happy to see the rules finally coming out. I have read them over and they look like a lot of fun. He and his co-author are of the philosophy that playability trumps hardcore simulation, and these rules reflect that. The mechanics are intentionally simple and easy to learn. They are also pretty well written. I quickly understood the mechanics of them.  I would say that the only downside are the scenarios. Not that they are anything wrong about them, per se, but they all come from the various playtesting games that he has posted on this blog and on his Yahoo! Groups site. If you have not been following this project, then it wouldn't be an issue....not that it's a big one for me.

I am already thinking about how to scale them down for microarmor, though I don't think I will be playing with my microarmor out in my backyard!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Mighty M103 Heavy Tank!

I finally got a day where the humidity seemed OK for spraying my GHQ M103 heavy tanks. I used Testor's Olive Drab, which was a little darker than what I wanted, so I highlighted them with Vallejo Olive Green. I tested out a black wash on one of the tanks, but it look too dark. For now I will leave them as is. Three I made into company command tanks.

The battalion
Three command tanks:
I designate my command AFVs by at least sticking on an antenna. I will also stick in a commander if I feel ambitious. I have tried different methods of antenna making with varying satisfaction. This time I used a method by the guy who makes GameCraft Miniatures. I think it has worked the best so far, BUT the brush hairs can bend very easily, and don't spring back. 

Commander 1: side view

Commander 1: turret turned

Commander 2

Commander 3
GHQ provided these tanks with a pintle-mounted 50 cal machine gun. This is great, but it made it difficult to sick in a tank commander. The commanders themselves are an example of scale creep. Yes, it even happens at the micro level. Commanders 1 and 3 are from GHQ's American WWII artillery and vehicle crew packs. They are much thinner than commander 2. Even so, I had to cut off and extend the machine gun on commander 1 to allow him to man the gun. Commander 2 is from their more recent 3rd World Regulars infantry pack. He was much beefier compared to the other two and it took more work to fit him in the commander's copula. I should have sniped off his binocular case to accommodate the gun.  As a result, the machine gun is stuck in that weird down position. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016


My daughter wanted to show off her work on my blog. Sculped from polymer clay and then painted.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SPG-9 Kopye

I received my M-103 tanks, and there will be a glorious posting on them once I paint them. The humidity has been very high the lately, so I don't want to spray anything, especially my preciouses!

Looking over my orders of battle for my fictional campaign, I realized that the Northern Chalupistan army called for a number of companies to be armed with the SPG-9 Kopye recoilless gun. It was lightweight and replaced the B-10 recoilless rifle. It is still used today by a number of former Soviet block countries, though probably not as a front line anti-tank weapon.

By Kolpag - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
GHQ used to make one back in the 70s or 80s. Recoilless rifles are few and far between in microscale. Scotia-Grendel makes some generic ones, but I thought I'd try my hand to make it look closer to the real thing. Here is the result:

SPG-9 with GHQ Soviet RPG-7 gunner for scale.
This is the first completed one. It is made out of styrene round rods of various diameters. the main barrel is a 1mm rod, which is way too big. Its diameter is larger than the barrels of my M-103's 120mm guns! Unfortunately, the next size down that I have looks too thin. If I were to remake them, I'd go with maybe a 0.8mm rod for the main part of the barrel. One thing that I can pat myself on the back is that it is pretty much to scale length-wise.

Most of the gun is glued together with liquid modelling cement, which I am liking less and less. The glue is supposed to weld the pieces together, but on a couple of them, the conical breeches fell off. I glued them back on with superglue and hopefully they will stick. I do have rangefinders to glue on, but if I use figures like the one in the above picture, there is no reason to put them on.

Getting the height of the tripod is tricky. This one makes the gun too high off the ground. In pictures, it is much lower. Pictures show the gunner crouching down even more than the GHQ figure is in the above picture.

I have four more guns. Two will get tripods and be mounted on bases as support weapons. The trick is to find figures that look like they are firing the gun. The other two will be put onto technicals where I will glue on the rangefinders.