Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas to Me!


Time to unveil the Christmas presents!  I primed them black the day after Christmas, but they sat in the garage until today.  I finished off rebasing my late war Germans then decided to go for it.  So, much to the wife's chagrin, I sat and painted my presents up, and voila, they're finished!

So, what did I get?

 JR Minis 15mm terrain:
Italian Village Ruins w/Vintner House
Italian Village Ruins w/Church

I'd been eyeing these for a long time, dating back to when they were first released, then through JR Miniatures' transition, the after that waiting for them to come back into the inventory, then finally  pulling the trigger.  And boy am I glad I did!  

These things are fantastic!  I mean, I had high expectations, but pulling them out of the box I was really blown away.  Of course they're 15mm, but if you've been watching the batreps on the blog you know I've got quite a bit of JR Minis' 15mm terrain, and it works pretty well with my 10mm stuff.

 Here's the ruins w/Church.  Not a lot to say here; I primed with black spraypaint, drybrushed just about everything an off-white.  Did the roofs and picked a couple highlights such as door/window frames in blue or red, did the wood floors brown, did the streets light gray, then threw a wash on the wood floors and streets.  Still need to give'em a spray of dullcoat.

 Spun 90 degrees.


 One more time.

 Kind of an off-kilter shot to show you some of the depth.

 The ruins w/Vintner house.

 Spun 90 degrees.


 One more time.

 Another off-kilter shot for depth.

 With some of the Germans I just finished to show scale.



Last one.

Well, I'm happy to have them, and happy to have them finished.  I can't wait to get these on the table, and they'll serve me in every clime, time, and place I need some buildings to fight over.  I've already been thinking about lugging all my buildings out to partner with these and break out the just finished Red Devils and late-war Germans and have a go in Oosterbeek; no complaining that those aren't Dutch looking buildings!  We'll see what happens.


From D-Day to Berlin, the Defeated


So, I got another set of guys finished off today, knocking forces out like it's cool.  So, these are Late War Germans, chock-full of Mausers and MP-40s, but also Stg-44s, MG-42s, Panzerschrecks, and Panzerfausts.  These are 100% Pendraken; as a matter of fact, these and the Red Devils I posted yesterday were my first purchase from the good folks at Pendraken.  Most weekends for almost two years I'd take these very Germans and beat down my Old Man's Red Devils like rented mules.

It's funny finishing these and looking back, and how far I've come in terms of painting and basing.  Not long ago all my buildings were simply painted khaki, and my men were based on tiles spray painted khaki, with stuff like "1st Squad, 2nd Platoon" written on the TOP, not side, of the base with a Sharpie.  My first next step was spray painting the bases green instead of khaki.  Then I went to a local shop (Texas Toy Soldier) and played IABSM with a guy who brought 10mm Pendrakens based in twos on little square bases that were covered in static grass, and I decided to go home and rebase mine.  I didn't have static grass, but I went and got some green flock and clump foliage, and that's how I've done most of my bases ever since.

In any case, these guys have been through about four sets of rebasing, and I resolve that this is their last one.

 The whole force: 18 rifle teams, four engineer teams, five MG teams, five PzSchreck teams, two PaK-36 88mm ATGs (with Prime Movers), 3 Pak-40 ATGs (sorry, only one is pictured), two battalion/company commander stands, four company/platoon commander stands, eleven platoon/squad leader stands, an FO stand, and then there's my embarrassment: I have fifteen 80mm mortar stands...  As I mentioned previously, I had these based differently, and so at various times I actually needed fifteen mortar stands, but that is no longer the case...

 Closeup of a couple rifle stands, showing off the Mausers, MP-40s, StG-44s, and Panzerfausts.  I did a pretty simple but, I think, effective camo that's good enough for me to use them for whatever I need, i.e., Wehrmacht, SS, Luftwaffe, whatever comes up.

 A couple of the engineer stands, showing off the flamenwerfers.  Also have mine detectors, always reminds me of a hockey player.

 Couple more rifle teams, these with MG-42 LMGs  Actually they are MG-34s, but that's all we've got for bipod mounted MGs.  Which brings up a funny story.

 Another version of rifle teams with MG-42s, but this time tripod mounted.  I mentioned these were my first purchase from Pendraken, so when I ordered I had no idea that the MG-34 packs were bipod-LMGs; I guess I figured they were also tripod-mounted, just 34s vs 42s.  Well, I knew I wanted 42s instead of 34s, and so I ordered about five packs, for a total of 15 tripod mounted MG-42s (just like the mortars, which I needed an equal amount of with the way I was basing the force).  Later I figured out the whole 'hey, Pendraken does make a LMG version, and so I ordered some, but, with this newest basing scheme, not enough.  So, I'm stuck with rifle teams featuring bipod and tripod machine guns.  It works for me...

 A couple of the MG-42s, this time based as actual MG teams.

 A couple PzSchreck teams.  I'm sure realistic, but I really wish they weren't prone.  I'm okay with the fact they're molded together, and I'm really happy it's a gunner and his assistant.  With US Airborne bazookas, for example, they come in a pack of 10, which is 10 guys with a bazooka.  Love the fact they're standing up, but when you need 12 of them you end up having eight laying around...

 A couple of my FIFTEEN 80mm mortars.

 A look at a coupleof my basic leaders, from the German Officers pack.

 A couple of company/platoon commander stands (company/platoon because it depends on what echelon I want to play at), using an Officer and a radioman.

 These are hilarious!  These are my two battalion/company commander stands.  I was wrong, this force is not 100% Pendraken, because the two Kubelwagens are actually from Minifigs.  The pic may not be good enough, but does anyone recognize the officer figures?  And the radioman facing away is 'different' as well...

 Two Pak-36 88mm guns.  Don't ask me why I got FJ crews, or painted them in a different camo than the rest of the force, or why I gave all of them gray helmets.  But, it works for me.

 This is the Forward Observer stand; just two of the German officers I based together.

 Here's a look at what a platoon would look like for a Chain of Command game: 3 rifle squads, each with a LMG team base and a rifle team base, a squad leader, a PzSchrek, a Plt Sgt, and the Lieutenant with radioman.

Here's a company, with three rifle platoons, each consisting of three rifle stands, a PzSchreck stand, a Plt Sgt, and a Plt Commander, a Wpns Plt with two MG teams, two mortar teams, a PzSchreck team, and a PaK-40, and then the company commander out front.  I need to pick up a few packs, i.e., some more PzSchrecks, some more MGs, and some more officers, in order to field a full battalion (I have 75mm field guns on order).

I still have my US force to finish repainting and then rebasing, then all I've got left is Vietnam and modern stuff to finish.  Before my giant orders get here from Pendraken and Minifgs...  I need to get some gaming in.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Heading West (to the Pacific)


Here's the last of what I got done this weekend.  Harkening back to the days of my youth, and what got me started down the path to how I ended up where I am today.  The John Wayne film "Sands of Iwo Jima" was first experienced by me at the age of five, and from that point on I knew I wanted to be a US Marine.  I watched every movie, show, and documentary, read every book I could find, and stuck my nose deep into the comic book "Fightin' Marines" to glean every tale of USMC exploits, which generally were against the Imperial forces of Japan.  And so my first toy soldiers were painted as Marines and Japanese, and I played with them in the basement, my room, in the front yard, the back yard, at friends' houses, okay, you get the point.

So, this is nothing but an extension of my childhood longing to play with toys...

The full USMC force, in all its dungaree wearing, leggings over boondockers, and brown-side out helmet covers.  Chock full of BARs, Garands, M-1 Carbines, 'Grease Guns,' Tommy Guns,' mortars, bazookas, and, a Marine's best friend, flamethrowers.

There are 12 'regular' rifle teams, 3 'assault' teams (with flamethrowers), three water-cooled .30 cal. MGs, two bazookas, two 81mm mortars (no 60s though, at least yet), and seven leaders.

A couple rifle teams.  Now, as everyone knows, I'm a 10mm guy, and everything is either Pendraken or Minifigs.  These are Minifigs, which I bought before I'd ever really even heard of Pendraken, and before Pendraken came out with US Marines.  I'll say that I generally favor Pendraken over Minifigs (for a number of reasons), but Minifigs has some stuff Pendraken doesn't make (at least yet), and, regardless of whether Pendkraken makes it, Minifigs has some stuff that really shines.  For me, these guys really shine.

These are some great sculpts; great personality, great poses, easy to make out the weapons, and, combined with the paintjob, these guys are everything I'd hope for in some WWII US Marines.

Here are two of the assault teams, featuring their flamethrowers.  I think the long grass works pretty well.  In these uniforms these Gyrenes are good from immediately after Guadalcanal all the way through to the end of the war (and even through the Korean War if you ignore the lack of flak jackets for the later war).

I really want to do Marines and Japanese for Guadalcanal, but coming up with figures has been tough.  Pendraken makes a BAR man, a Tommy-gunner, and a Marine walking with a Garand at 45 degrees (which just takes a second to whittle a bit with a knife, in order to pass as a Springfield) that could work, but I'd really prefer to have at least one more, and preferably two (or even three!) more poses, to differentiate.  With that I would happily buy some more Marines to make a force for Guadalcanal.  Then if we could get someone to take the WW1 range and slap leggings on them, replace the Chauchats with BARs, convert a pose to a Tommy Gunner, and convert the Hotchkiss MG to a water-cooled M1917 .30 cal MG, I'd snatch those up in a heartbeat to do Wake Island and the Philippines.  The Japanese pretty much work for the whole war.  The WWI US officer figure with his Colt .45 in hand is one of my favorite figures, and would work perfectly if you through some leggings on him.  As a matter of fact, if you put a steel pot on him and dropped the cuff of his trousers all the way down to this boondockers he'd work for Guadalcanal on through the end of the war.  

Daydreaming...  While I'm at it, Minifigs makes Vietnam era guys with M-14s and flak jackets, but only two poses.  So, I'm begging here, either Minifigs make a couple more poses with M-14s, or Pendraken pick it up, pleeeeeeeeeease!  Once cannot have enough US Marines in one's collection...

Water cooled .30 cals, again, good sculpts.

Bazookas.  If you've been paying close attention, you've probably seen some spots of bare metal on the various WWII troops I've posted today.  These are 'battle damage' from one our family's cat decided to have a look around in my play room and knocked over a few boxes of toys.  Lotsa guys knocked off bases, lots of bent barrels and bayonets, lots of bare metal spots...  I actually fixed a lot, but the pics show there's more work to be done.

81mm mortars.  I really need some 60s, which were really the backbone of the an infantry company's firepower (the Skipper's artillery).  Pendraken makes some; I'd order some, but I recently send Mr. Leon my last five years' worth of salary.  Okay, maybe not quite that much, but a lot, at least for me.  I'm not allowed to buy any more toys for a very long time.

A couple of the Marine officers.  On the left, we have the Lt using binos to try to find his butt (har har), and the company commander on the right inspiring the men forward.  "Beg your pardon, Sir."  "Whaddaya need, Staff Sergeant?"  "Umm, the enemy's the other way, Sir."  "Roger that, face about men!"  Apologies to all my former 'Zeros.' ;)

And now, on to our dastardly, and wholly despised, enemy (this is also a joke, just poking fun at the old movies and comic books; I spent seven years in Japan, loved everything about it).

The whole Japanese force; as per usual, there are fifteen infantry teams, of which three are 'assault' teams (with flamethrowers), three teams have 50mm grenade launchers, AKA "knee mortars," and the remaining nine are 'regular' rifle teams.

Here are two of the assault teams, featuring the flamethrowers.

Again, these are Minifigs.  So, while I gushed over the Marines, these are not my favorite.  Not as many poses (not technically true, but quite a few differ only their placement of the individual's feet).  To me, just not very inspired.  Not bad, just don't have that 'oomph.'

Two of the 'knee mortar' teams.  If you look at the second guy from top on left, and guy at bottom on right, you see a very curious pose.  I imagine he's supposed to be throwing a hand grenade, but he looks like he's showing it to the enemy.  "Pay attention a$$holes, I got something for ya!"  If you're thinking he's about to prime it (the Japanese grenade was designed such that you pulled a pin then had to hit the fuse pretty hard on something solid in order to prep it, and supposedly a lot of Japanese soldiers would pull the pin and smack the primer on their helmet), the Minifigs WWII Russians have a guy in almost exactly the same pose, and the Minifigs Germans have a guy doing the same thing, except he's standing instead of kneeling.  The Russian and German grenades didn't need to be whacked on anything...

Here are two of the 'regular' rifle teams.  Top guy on right and bottom guy on left are carrying the Type 96/99 Light Machine Gun.  Yes, in real life it could mount a bayonet, but you can see the problems it causes for me; not only do 90% of the infantry poses feature a man carrying a long rifle with bayonet between 45 and 90 degrees, but so does the LMG gunner...

Here are two Type 92 machine guns.  These two are from Pendraken, and while this is not the best picture (and they need a wash), I love the pose.  It looks straight out of the movies and actual photos of Japanese troops, whether in bunkers or behind a berm supporting an assault.

And here are two of the Minifgs Type 92s.  Prone really is a pain in 10mm, and just not great sculpts.  It is cool that they have the feeder strip poking through on both sides of the gun, which is real (it wasn't belt fed, but fed in stripper clips).

Two 20mm AT rifles.  Pretty good sculpts that don't work very well in my tall jungle grass...

Two 80mm mortars.

A couple of the officers.

And the piece de resistance, two Type 95 tanks.  Maybe no Japanese tanks were painted this way in real life, but this is exactly how they looked in my comic books!  They are sturdy little models that went together quite well.

So, I'm still not sure when I'll get to it, but I've got a bunch of stuff together for an early-mid-war Pacific campaign, with more stuff on the way.  I've got USMC vs IJA troops for ground work (not pictured here are M-3 Stuarts for the Marines, though I need 60mm mortars for them and field guns for both sides); I've got surface forces for both sides (couple CVs, couple BBs, couple CAs, few CLs, about eight DDs, and a couple subs each, using Axis and Allies 1/1850 pre-painted plastics); I've got air in 1/600 from PicoArmor (though it's early war: Wildcats, Dauntlesses, and Devastators vs. Zeros, Vals, and Kates); and lastly, I've got some PT Boats and various Japanese vessels on the way from Dave at PT Dockyard, so I'll be able to hit all facets, unless I'm forgetting something.  I'm thinking of an alternate but historically based Solomons campaign in late '42/early '43.

Well, I've still got a lot of work to do.  I still have late-war Germans that need rebasing, late-war US in the middle of being repainted and rebased, Brits and Argentinians (from Pendraken's Falklands range) that need to be painted and based, NVA that need to be rebased, VC that need to be painted and based, Vietnam war US that needs to be repainted and rebased...  And I'm expecting about 12 tons unpainted lead later this month, for all manner of early to late-war WWII forces.

Hope you like'em, and I'll look to get some stuff back on the tabletop.


WWII Brits and Yanks


Continuing with presenting the stuff I finished this past weekend, after making myself sit down to finish the painting, basing, re-painting, and re-basing that needed to be done.  I had a bunch of Allies to work on, and was lucky enough to get a bunch of them done.  Here we've got Brit 8th Army (100% Pendraken), Brit Early war; despite having some Stens mixed in (mostly Minifigs, but with some Pendraken sprinkled in and a bunch more Pendraken on the way); Brit Airborne 'Red Devils' (100% Pendraken), and some regular old line doggies, AKA US Army Infantry (almost entirely Minfigs).

Here we go:

 The whole (so far) Brit desert force, with more on the way.  This is pretty much all the infantry, mostly what I have coming is armor, ATGs, and field guns.  There are fifteen rifle bases, three Vickers MGs, three 3" mortars, three PIATs (I'll explain in a minute), and seven leader stands.

 A closeup of a couple rifle stands.  You're probably wondering why my Desert Rats have green helmets.  Well, a few reasons actually: 1) I like the look; 2) it makes it easier to differentiate them from Afrika Korps quickly; and, most importantly, 3) these will see action in North Africa, in Sicily, in Italy, and in the Pacific, from Malaya and Singapore to Burma and India.  So, I need the PIATs for Italy and CIB.

The wash was a little harsh I think...

 Vickers MGs.  I really like the A-gunner.

 3" Mortars.

 PIATs.  Good grief; literally as I'm typing this I realize I have the two inch mortars sitting in a box, waiting to be painted...

 Couple officers.

 Early war Brits.  There are fifteen rifle teams, two Vickers MGs, two 3" mortars, three Boyes AT rifles, three 2" mortars, one engineer stand, and two officers (I've got more officers and Vickers on the way from Pendraken).

 Closeup of a couple rifle stands.  Detail is a bit 'soft' on some stuff; I'm not particularly fond of the these Bren guns; their barrels were another 3mm long, so I snipped them, and here they are.  You'll see these again later.

 Another couple Rifle stands.  I'm a little aggravated that I've got a few Sten Guns mixed into my 'early war' force, but I'll get over it.

 Here are some more of those Bren guns; this time I only cut off a little bit of the barrel, and now I'm using these as AT rifles.  Close enough for me (it's 10mm).
 A couple 2" mortars, with officers, both from Pendraken.  Another tribute to my laziness.  I had airborne 2"mortars from the Brit airborne range, but they're wearing berets.  So I'm pretending the BEF had a few guys in gray (grey for your Brits) berets.  I now have 2" mortarmen in pie-plates, but they're not painted or based, and these are ;)

 A 3" mortar and a Vickers MG.

 The two officers I currently have.

 The Red Devils!  18 rifle teams, six 2" mortar teams, six PIATs, three 3" mortars, three Vickers MGs, and eight leaders.

 A Red Devil platoon, consisting of three rifle teams, a 2" mortar team, a PIAT team, and a leader.  I've actually had these for a good few years, and have rebased them two or three times now.  I bought these before Pendraken produced their commandos (in berets), so I took some regular Brit riflemen and whacked their helmets down with an X-acto knife to create berets on some of the rifles.

One more tribute to my laziness; once I was finished flocking these I realized I had six PIAT teams, each with two helmeted men, and six 2" mortar teams, each with two men wearing berets.  Then I noticed, you really could swap out the PIAT loader with the kneeling officer I put on each 2" mortar base, and they wouldn't look out of place.  Then I thought, wouldn't it be cool if you had mixed some of those up so they weren't all the same?  Well yes, it would have been...

 Closeup of a couple of the rifle teams, showing my home-made berets.

 Couple Vickers.  I hate how the khaki basecoat shows up in these photos; I swear it's not noticeable in 'real' life.

 3" mortars.

 Couple leaders, with the left-hand guy being an airborne radioman, of course.  At one time I had the whole pack of radiomen dressed as Red Devils, but as other projects, such as my French for Dien Bien Phu, needed radiomen with berets, they were all appropriated for other tasks, and this is the sole remaining Red Devil radioman.  I will use him as the XO, or Wpns Plt commander, or an FO, as needed by the scenario.  Hell, I may even use him as a radioman!

 My doggies, regular old Mutt and Jeff, I mean Willie and Joe infantry types.  15 rifle teams, one engineer team, three MGs, two mortars, three bazookas, and eight leaders.

 Closeup of a couple rifle teams.  I tried a lot of different paint schemes and wasn't really happy.  I ended up going with this paint scheme, and still wasn't happy until I 'overdid' the leggings.  What I mean is, they look good (to me at least), but if you look closely you'll see I painted the leggings almost all the way to their knees in order to get the look I was searching for.

 Here are the MGs, which are in fact M-2 .50 cals, but will be used as regular old .30 cals.

 81mm mortars.


 Three of the officers.  You can barely make it out, but there's just a touch of white paint on the front of the guy in the back's helmet, trying to show his officer-ness for all the snipers out there ;)

The same officers, from the rear, showing their officer ID stripes.  I always thought they were cool and can't help but paint them (and NCO horizontal stripes) on everything.

Okay, I've got one more post to make.