Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tale of 3mm Woe

I am finding more and more frustration as I dabble in 3mm/1:600 scale armies. The frustration is with the infantry. When it comes to WW2 and Modern ground forces, Oddzial Osmy (sold by Pico Armor in the USA) is the only game in town. The issue is that they are cast in a very hard metal. I don't know what the alloys are in it, but its a lot harder than miniatures like GHQ that use a lot less lead if any. I totally understand why this hard, brittle metal is used, BUT the problem comes down to the infantry. They are on strips. The infantry needs to be cut from the strips. Unfortunately, the sculptor didn't put deep enough break points between each figure so that they easily snap off. A good pair of wire cutters are needed. The issues that I've had include figures flying off into space (thank god for safety glasses) to only get lost in the carpet, and due to the brittle nature of the metal, a number of figures break off at the knees. 

A recent prepping project has revealed an improved method of removing infantry from their strips as well as a new means of stripping old paint off. I had painted up a bunch of infantry, but when I gave them a dark wash, they looked horrible. So, I decided to strip them. 

I tried a number of different solvents including Simple Green, but nothing worked. Consulting the web, I found several that were touted to be very effective. Being where I live, the only one I could find was this stuff called LA's Totally Awesome. 

I don't know if it is made in Los Angeles, or they use it there, but that's the name. Man, did it work well!
In about three days, the miniatures were pretty well stripped of their paint down to the metal. However, the cleaner seemed to have reacted with the metal and left this thin powdery film of oxidation on the figures. Sorry, no pictures, but it would have been hard to see much anyway. A normal tooth brushing could not remove much of it. In comes the Dremel brush.

A metal brush tool would probably have been safe on metal this hard, but I opted for nylon brushes. They worked pretty well and buffed off most of the oxidation and any paint that still clung to the figures. 

Now onto second half of the story. 
I got them cleaned but now the issue was to cut them out. This part I dreaded. In the past, I have used my Dremel tool with a cutting wheel to thin out the base between two figures and it seemed to work well. 

I started doing this with this batch of infantry, but for whatever reason, more figures where having their legs broken at the knees! What saved me was a pair of pliers. To clean off the oxidation from the figures, I held the strip with the pliers. I did the same while using the cut off wheel, holding them tightly between the figure to be cut off of the strip and the one next two it, which usually was the one that got broke off at the knees. My guess is that the vibration of the cut off wheel on the metal broke off the legs. As I said, this metal is very strong, but very brittle. Holding the strip tightly reduced the vibration and allowed me to thin down the base to snap off the miniature successfully.

So, happy ending! I got the figures stripped and enough cut off to mount them onto their bases with no further leg casualties in the process.

As a note of caution, I could not get absolutely all of the oxidation material off of them. Also, the metal is no longer shiny but a dull gray. Hopefully, re-priming and painting them will not cause any more oxidation. In the future, I might spray them with a clear coat just to be safe. On larger figures, I still use spray primer, but with this tiny guys, I use a brush on. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Air Strike: Modern Air Combat for the Whole Family! A Brief Review

What a wholesome title for some rules! I previously mentioned these rules. I finally, after much pleading with my 8-year-old son, I played ONE game. I think my hopes for a son who will game with me is shrinking. He's too hung up on Fortnite :(  Red in the Morning blog as a much more detailed review than this.

Basically, you use playing cards to move, turn, fire missiles and guns. Cards are also used to outmanuever enemy missiles. You are dealt four cards and its a matter of card management because number cards allow you to move and turn, but face cards have the additional bonus to fire missiles and how "accurate" the missile is (how strong your radar lock is?). They also act to defeat the missiles. So, if you have a launched missile that is a Jack and you opponent has a Ace, Queen, or King in his hand, he can use it to defeat the missile. You always play two cards per turn. Once the cards are used, they are discarded and you get to draw two new cards.

There are some quirky aspects of of the game. The main quirk is missile damage. If you get hit by a missile, the card used becomes the damage. The odd thing is that in order to get shot down, you have to be hit with the same face card. In other words, if I got hit by a Jack, I'd have to be hit by another Jack to get shot down. So, it would seem that it is possible to survive at least four times by missiles if your opponent is unable to attack you with the same face card. Another funny thing is the turns. Not a big deal, but you can turn up to 90⁰. What is a bigger deal, and maybe I'm not reading it right, but you can rotate a full 180⁰ without moving. Finally, guns are in the optional rules. Guns have a longer range than the missiles, though missiles can move multiple times and turn to track its target. Unlike missiles, guns will knock out a plane with two hits, the suit of the card doesn't matter.

I wanted to photograph the game with my son, but unfortunately, between his gaming and my my needing the phone for talking and texting work colleagues (I'm taking this pointless online course on how to teach online), my battery was down. The game lasted all of about 15 minutes. There was no limit on the number of missiles we had. There was a lot of maneuvering including some fly-bys. We managed to take several missile hits before he hit me again with the same face card that was in my damage pool. I tried to get him to play again, but he wanted me to have a LEGOs with him.

I would say this is a very good game if you want to play something fast, or if you've got some campaign going and want to quickly resolve any air battles. There are no differences in stats. A jet is a jet. The optional rules contain ones for ground attack aircraft, ECM aircraft, and SAMs. My plan was to play a second battle with the boy using the SA-2 missile site I had finished, but that was a no-go. *SIGH*

I have bunch of ideas for tweaking the rules for a little more granularity. But as Queen Catherine of the Red In The Morning blog said, it may not be a simulation of the hardware, but is a good simulation of the decisions airmen make during combat. You can get this at Wargames Vault for $4.50. Quite the deal!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

1/600ish Block Apartments

I got these plastic models done. As I think I mentioned previously, they are from AliExpress. They are not specifically 1/600, but they are close enough

I painted them in a color scheme that I saw on several visits to China. They tend to paint the bottom-third of many buildings a different color from the rest of the building. I did three colors that didn't look overly flashy. I thought about giving them a wash, but decided they looked ok without. There was nothing behind the windows, so I took some black construction paper and glued it to the inside walls. Their bases are cut from styrene For Sale signs, painted and flocked. In China, you would see rows and rows of these buildings. I think for my purposes, three are enough.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Major Painting Burn Out

Ennui: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction; boredom.

Robert Cordrey wrote about it on his blog a few weeks ago. I've read other bloggers discussing similar issues. For me, I though way back in March that I'd have lots of time for projects, and dare I say it, actual gaming. It seems, however, that the situation has magnified what I have been feeling for a while regarding my hobby. I paint a lot of stuff, make terrain, but never actually play a game. This came to a head the last two weeks. I mentioned back in April and early May that I have been making a lot of progress and multitasking. Things were chugging along. But then, I got caught up in a painting contest on a Facebook groups page. I started working on my entry, a unit of fantasy heavy cavalry. The more I worked on it, the more burned out I got on it. I wanted to make it as high quality a paint job as I could. It seemed endless tedium. I wanted to shelf the whole thing and forget about it, but at the same time, I just wanted to finish the damn thing. Finally, I finished last night. I took some pictures and posted them on the group site that is having the contest. I don't pretend to a great miniature photographer and I really don't have to time nor the wherewithal to take great shots. When I looked at the pictures (see below), I thought, "I spent all this *bleepity-bleep* time working on these things but the pictures don't show most of the detail I put into them!!!"

So, here's some pictures I took of very recent miniatures that I painted. I think these are going to be the last ones I paint for awhile. For now on, I'm going to redirect my efforts to playing games, even if they are board games.

First, a couple of dwarves from Battle Valor Games:

He plans to enter the Gandalf the Gray cosplay contest.

Queen Keona; King Ivan's sister:

Queen Keona is a kitbash. Originally, she was a Battle Valor vampire general. She looked perfect from the photos, and it would be easy to swap shields. However, when I got her, the upper torso was fine and the horse she rode on was fine, but her waist, legs and feet left something to be desired. It was mainly her foot attire. It looked like she was wearing Inuit mucklucks. I've worn them. Great for sub-zero temperatures and snow, silly for riding into battle. Unfortunately, Battle Valor's riders have their lower halves sculpted directly onto to the stead. So, there was no way I could get rid of the legs and use the horse. Fortunately, the proportions and size matched fairly well with Essex 15s. Some poor knight in full plate mail gave his life....legs for the queen. I used one of the many Essex horses I have accumulated over the years. Threw on a standard heater shield and there you go.

A female elf fighter also from Battle Valor:

The objects of my scorn, Battle Valor evil heavy cavalry:

Finally, an impromptu battle scene that includes some Goth slingers from Essex along with the spider warrior that I painted a couple of weeks ago:

They are supposed to be Battle Valor's version of dark elves, but you really cannot tell except some of them have pointed ears if you look close enough. The spiders on the shield were done with Sharpies. The flag was done using Adobe Illustrator.

Its time to box these, like I do so many others, clean off my workbench, start gaming. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

1/300 Conversion in About 20 Minutes

Yesterday, I made an all out cleaning assault on my pigsty of a workbench. Despite about three hours of work, I didn't get really far, plus all the dust I kicked up made my allergies a nightmare. Under the piles of junk, I found a lone, primed, Saracen APC and a ZU-23-2 23 mm autocannon with two gunners on it. It might have a carriage for it, or it might go onto another vehicle. The APC is an old Skytrex model and the autocannon belongs to H&R. Inspiration struck! So... shaving off the MG turret, pulling out the pin vise and drilling out a hole for the gun, I now have a Saracen with a ZU-23-2 AA autocannon on top.

I think it took me all of 20 minutes to complete, including waiting for the paint to dry. The thing looks incredibly top heavy and kind of silly, but I've seen some jury-rigged technicals that looked a lot more ridiculous. One more weapon to add to the Federal Republic of Gambusia's arsenal.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Spider + Man

What little time I have in the evening, I've been multitasking like crazy. In addition to experimenting and/or building lots of scenery for 3mm (making cultivated fields has become my new nemesis/obsession), I have been trying to paint down the 15mm fantasy lead pile. Below is the latest fruit of my labors. I think I spent a total of about 8 hours on this one over several days.

He is a general from Battle Valor Games. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

1/600 Buildings from China

Back in early January, I stumbled across a bunch of modelling supplies on AliExpress. AliExpress is an online shopping site in China that I guess is connected to Alibaba, though I am really not clear why or how they are different. They are both Chinese versions of Amazon.com, but everything comes directly from the manufacturer. Two other differences from Amazon.com are that they don't seem to sell books and it takes FOREVER for the stuff to get here. The first time I ordered from AliExpress, which was some dice, it took almost a year for them to ship. This time, it was about three months. And regarding what they sell, if you don't know, or are too young to remember, Amazon.com started off selling books before they got into everything else.
I had the fear in the back of my mind that the packages were dripping with Corona virus. I'm going to assume that they are not contaminated, or if there were any virus particles on them, they did not survive the trip. I sprayed everything with some disinfectant anyway.

I got these buildings. They didn't have a scale assigned to them, but the dimensions seemed like they were roughly 1/600. I ordered a few just to see what they looked like. I have yet to paint them. You be the judge.

These two appear to be small office buildings. They don't seem to have entry ways. The windows on the ground floor almost touch the ground. I assume the small structure on the roof is a stair access.

I bought three of these. They look a lot like large Soviet style, high rise apartment blocks. These apartment complexes are still very much around today throughout cities in China. Many of my in-laws live in such buildings. Like the previous buildings, there doesn't seem to be any doors. At first, I thought the two towers might be for elevators, but they have windows. I might make them into elevator shafts by covering over the windows. I'm not all that certain which is the front and which is the back.

They are very stylistic, and that is OK. I'm going to leave the windows they way they are rather than put clear plastic behind them, or maybe glue black paper behind them. I might buy some more, if I can find them on AliExpress again. UPDATE: Here is the link, and they cost about US$3.00 excluding shipping.