Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday Sci-fi - Voyages Extraordinaires

While my blog has a strong emphasis - thus far - on World War 2 subjects I am not exclusively interested in just that theme. In fact, ever since I began modelling again last year I have had an idea in the back of my mind that I would like to include my interest in the SteamPunk genre of Sci-Fi in my modelling somehow.

So every so often I will be including a post about Science Fiction modelling and gaming based on an alternative Victorian fantasy universe. At the moment I am starting to track down just what there is out there to support this aspect of the hobby - today I take a look at Wessex Games Voyages Extraordinaires for 28mm (1/56) figures.
"Written by Matthew Hartley, Steve Blease and Mike Baumann, Voyages Extraordinaires is a simple game to play, with the emphasis on the players having a good time, rather than becoming bogged down in rules minutea. Whereas other Victorian Adventure Games games have tended to concentrate on the more recognised military aspects of the period, Voyages Extraordinaires is geared more towards adventuring, through the use of our unique turn sequence and archtype character profiles." Wessex Games
Wessex Games does produce a small set of figures to go with the ruleset, but I am sure there are many more manufacturers out there who cover the SteamPunk genre in this scale. That said, what they do is very nice indeed...

FOLLOW UP: Well it didn't take long to find several miniature makers who produce figures suitable for this team. Foundry (who seem to do everything!) of course have a terrific range of 'Victorian' figures that could easily fit in to a Steampunk senario. They have a nice set of Jolly Jack Tars who would complement the above Wessex figures, the ideal crew for a airship or venture into space!

There doesn't seem to be a lack of interest in this subject and I am finding new miniature companies and online retailers for these type of figures all the time. I guess what I am looking forward to is creating my own fantastic machines to go with these.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Featured work - Spring Hunter

As I'm currently occupied with artillery it was interesting to see this wonderful piece by Peirs of World War 20mm. What interests me is that Peirs seems to combine the art of the display modeler with that of the war gamer to produce a mini-diorama that spans both discipline brilliantly...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Armourfast versus Revell LeFH18 105mm gun - Part 2

Having discussed the initial impression of the two LeFH18 models it’s time to put them together and compare the ease of construction, quality of detail and sturdiness of material.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Finnish artillery Part 2 - Putilov gun & crew

Time to assemble my gun, but wait - what about a crew? (Much head scratching...)

This part of my plan is a little vague and really shows how much I have to learn in order span the divide between making models and playing war games. This model is very much an experiment in creating a war game gun section and as such I do have a senario in mind - mid-war Finnish - and so I need a crew that reflects this.

Problem is that there doesn't appear to be a 1/72 scale Finnish Continuation War artillery crew out there. TQD do a very nice set of figures for exactly this job and I bought some, but here's were my inexperience let me down. 20mm isn't the same as 1/72, in fact it's closer to 1/76 - this despite the fact that some people on the internet seem to be under the impression that these sizes are interchangeable. They're not (as I am sure any experience modeller would agree).

Anyway, I've had to do a bit of lateral thinking and come up with a usable alternative. As it happens HaT - who made the Putilov gun I am modelling here - also make a range of gun crew sets - WW1 British, Italian, Russian and Austrian. Of these the Austrian figures bear the closest resemblance to a Finnish WW2 crew, dressed in what is essentially a German style tunic and peaked field cap.*

Above: Two examples from the 1/72 HaT Austrian gun crew (grey plastic) and
the 20mm TQD Finnish gun crew (white metal). You can see that the 20mm
figures are just a little smaller.

There are some minor details I will have to modify, such as removing the cap cockaid and turning the WW1 style leg putties into calf length boots, but once painted in the Finnish blue-grey the effect should be acceptable.

The HaT figures aren't as detailed or expressive or even as attractively posed as the TQD ones, but they are the correct scale for the HaT field gun (I shall keep the SHQ ones for a 1/76 project). The other advantage of The HaT crew is that they come in a box of 32 figures for just £3.83 from The TQD figures were £1.95 for three.

Of course, when it comes a company of Finnish infantry I shall have to think of something else as the equipment used by the Finns made them pretty distinctive, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

Above: The constructed Putilov 76mm and gun crew ready for painting. The
extra figures in light grey are from Revell's 1/72 WW1 German Infantry set. These
wear the distinctive WW1 'coal scuttle' helmet - the M1916 Stahlhelm - which
was common in the mid-WW2 Finnish Army. I thought these figures could
further expand the variety of my gun crews.

Together with the gun the little group looks quite nice, the extra accessories which come with the HaT gun crew - like ammo crates and even a couple of spare shells - help to create a nice little scene. All that's left to do now is to paint them!

NEXT: Basing and painting the gun and crew

In fact the mid-war Finnish infantry used WW2 German style tunics (in blue-grey), a mix of German WW1 and Italian helmets, with Mosin-Nagant variant rifles and Suomi KP/-31 SMGs. The thicker blue-grey tunic gave way to a thinner lighter grey version in the summer.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Featured work - Achtung! Kitty!

This just made me smile...

Found this over on the very entertaining - and useful - Fistful of Plastic Blog.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Armourfast versus Revell LeFH18 105mm gun - Part 1

Description: The is a comparative review of two similar products, the Revell German Artillery set (£4.99 from and the Armourfast LeFH 18 105mm Howitzer set (£7.50 from Armourfast).
The 10.5 cm leFH 18 was the standard divisional field howitzer used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. It was designed and developed by Rheinmetall in 1929-30 and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1935. Generally it did not equip independent artillery battalions until after the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. Before 1938 the leFH 18 was exported to Hungary and Spain. 53 were also exported to Finland, where they were known as 105 H 33. [Source: Wikipedia]
 Of course it's the 'exported to Finland' that caught my eye and why I was eager to get my hands on Armourfast's newly released LeFH18 gun set. However, I also knew that I wanted a gun tractor of some sort and additional crew, so while looking for these I came across Revell's German Artillery set on sale at a local store. this turned out to be a very interesting find and unexpectedly inspired this comparative review.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Finnish artillery Part 1 - Putilov 76mm unboxing

Product description: HaT 1/72 Putilov 76mm M1902 Gun (Set 8173)

Right - I have a cunning plan, as the venerable Baldric would say (oh, dear, I've even started speaking like a war gamer now!). To see what it's like to actually make an army for war gaming I'm creating a small formation of WW2 Finnish, not a full battalion but a 'half company' so I can get to grips with what it's like to plan and create large scale collection.

I've already made some basic administrative decisions about what will constitute this mini-army which I will discuss in a separate post, but to kick off the more enjoyable bit I have bought my first section of artillery support. My choice of guns are medium field guns which made up the backbone of the Finnish artillery throughout WW2, the Russian Putilov 76mm field piece.

The Finns had over 200 of these World War 1 vintage guns and by all accounts thought highly of it because of it' simplicity and ruggedness. New ammunition was developed for it to keep it viable including HEAT (High Explosive Anti-tank) in 1944.

The HaT model is very competitively priced, particularly as you get 4 guns in the set. I acquired mine from eBay (Arcane Scenery & Model Supplies) for £6.15 plus postage.

As you can imagine it is a slightly simplified model for war gaming, but I have read in a couple of reviews that it is generally quite accurate. Plastic Soldier Review note that it's made of a hard plastic and I have to say it does look crisply done.

One slight draw back is that this set come with no crew. But HaT does do it's own separate Russian WW1 artillery crew set to accompany these guns. My particular problem is that I want to crew my Putilovs with WW2 Finns in summer uniform, something that is a bit tricky as no specific sets apear to exist (there is one 1/72 Finnish gun crew in winter uniform and SHQ do a 1/76 crew in summer garb).

NEXT: I put together the gun section and crew them with my make-shift solution.

More information about WW2 Finnish artillery can be found here -

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The scale in scale modelling

Just a wee post, an observation about scale really. Not scale as in 1/72 or 20mm or whatever, mind you, but of sheer scale - as the visit to Mr. Bob's Aladdin's cave of models on Sunday highlighted how my noob worries over getting just a couple of models completed pales into significance when compared to the feats of the serious war gamer.

Take my Plastic Soldier Company T-34/85s. I've been thinking that I am stepping up my game by doing two models at the same time, well I was looking at the blog '20mm and then some...' and realised what the 'then some' really meant. The very (sickeningly) talented Gunbird, owner of the blog is currently working on these...

These represent four boxes of PSC's T-34/76/85 set (with, apparently a fifth box on order), so my modest project looks a bit pitiful in comparison. This issue of sheer scale in modelling production was something that struck me when I saw Bob's collection on Sunday and is a little scary when you are still struggling to complete individual kits.

What's quite irksome for a newbie like me is that having seen a few of Gunbird's projects now I have a sneaking suspicion he will have all of these T-34s finished in the same time that it will take me to do my two models!

On a more positive note, it's interesting to see - when you examine the photo closely - that Gunbird is doing some of the very same improvements to his PSC T-34s that I have done on mine (notably the addition of the brass wire grab rails and fender modifications). So I may be slow, but at least I seem to be going in the right direction!

Link to Gunbird's blog post - GMG Weekend: Kursk

Monday, 16 April 2012

Featured work - A visit to Bob's!

Yesterday I was exceptionally lucky to have been invited to visit veteran model make and war gamer Bob Peyton. With 40 years experience under his belt Bob represents the other end of the modelling hobby spectrum to myself, a kit noob.

Bob very generously allowed me to bring along my camera and it took me a while to sort through my dodgy snapshots - which simply don't do Bob's collection justice - but here's a slideshow of some of my favouites...

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Bob (and his lovely wife) for inviting me into their home and for letting me take a look over what is an amazing collection - which my snaps only show a very, very small part of.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Featured work - Peabody's Peashooters

Over at the Society of Gentleman Gamers, Mr. Peabody is showing off his newly completed Soviet artillery, including these wonderful Plastic Soldier Company 45mm anti-tank guns. I have just bought this set myself, which contains 3 guns and crews plus the option to barrel the guns in various lengths to represent various stages in the gun's evolution. Peabody's mini-diorama abilities are terrific and I hope my completed guns turn out half as good as these...

Peabody has two sections of AT guns here with just two differing lengths of barrel, but I think you can see just how good value the PSC set is especially as it includes nice little touches like the ammo boxes, spare 45mm shells and empty casings.

Once again I am really taken by Peabody's use of hexagonal bases for his units. It's so unusual and yet very creative and it does give slightly more space for him to be expressive with his scenics.

You can read more about this project on The Society of Gentleman Gamer's forum: Airfix Bofors and PSC Russian Guns by peabody

Monday, 9 April 2012

Holiday modelling with Soviet tanks

Funny...I didn't get as much model making done over my holiday as I thought I would. So it was small steps forward with the Pegasus KV quick build set and two of my Plastic Soldier Company T-34/85s.

The PSC T-34/85 needed some work to bring up up to scratch. The dreadful gun and mantlet needed a lot of attention, in fact I replaced the monstrous one that came with the kit with a couple of spares I had in my scrap box. Aside from this I added some cosmetic extras, like the grab rails and am modifying the fenders to reflect the Finnish tanks I am basing these models on.

Next up is the Pegasus KV set. I added the Aleran decals and although they aren't exactly plastered with insignia maybe less is more...

I based the placement of the Finnish hakenkreuz (left) on a period photo and there didn't appear to be either any unit or individual vehicle markings. The Soviet KV-2 (right) is rather more dashing with it's slogan which I believe means "Crush the Fascist vipers!".

Fighting Finns - the good way!

I'm really enjoying reading about the Flames of War tabletop miniatures war game system. I never got into modelling to play war games, but if you are at all interested in military history and making models you can't help but be inquisitive about this aspect of scale model making. FoW is very handy as it gives people like myself interesting ideas for model subjects, highlighting military themes which aren't usually covered in mainstream histories and documentaries.

Take the role of Finland for example. I have already mentioned my interest in this near forgotten theatre of World War 2 and have already started a few models to represent this theme. However, as I also indicated, I am a bit uncomfortable dealing with a faction that allied themselves to the Nazis - whether their motives be self-preservation or not (luckily Britain never had to make such decisions).

Well, while trawling through the very entertaining Flames of War web site I came across a wonderful article on the 1944 Finnish campaigns which begins with a briefing called 'Jatkosota 1944', covering the final conflict between Finns and Soviets. But, if you read to the end of this article you reach an appendage - or epilog - describing what happened after this campaign ended, when Finland came back into the 'allied' fold and took on the Nazi forces in Lapland.

Jatkosota 1944: Finland at War in 1944 - Part Three: Lapin sota – the Campaign against Germany By Scott Elaurant and Jyrki Saari gives a short overview of operations conducted by the Finns against German troops who remained in their territories following the armistice between Finland and the Soviet Union.

Right: German withdrawal from Finland in 1944 (picture sources in this post are Wikipedia)

Playing out a game senario, or indeed modelling subjects, based on this campaign certainly takes the curse off any reservations one might have about playing the 'baddies'. FoW provides a lovely free PDF intelligence briefing design to help the war gamer to build a Finnish force from this period which I found very interesting and helpful for planning kit builds based on the subject.

Related Links: 

Jatkosota 1944: Finland at War in 1944 - Part Three: Lapin sota – the Campaign against Germany By Scott Elaurant and Jyrki Saari 

Jatkosota 1944: Finland at War in 1944 By Scott Elaurant and Jyrki Saari

> Lapinsota: Official PDF Briefing (Lapland Campaign 1944)

Friday, 6 April 2012

New arrivals - Aleran decals for Soviet & Axis AFVs

As my collection of unfinished models piles up I thought it best if I make a concerted effort to clear the backlog of partially complete projects. It's not that I get bored half way through making them, it's just that sometimes they hit a speed bump where I need a particular item to finish them. So I was pleased that a couple of sheets of Aleran decals arrived while I was on holiday.

There are two sheets which will allow me to put the finishing touches to my Pegasus KV-1 & KV-2  project. One is Aleran's Axis AFV Markings for Finland, Bulgaria, Slovakia & Croatia (AX02-D) and the other is their Soviet Markings for T28, T35, KV1, T60, SU76, BA10, BA64 & SU57 (SU03-D), both acquired from Millicast at a cost of £6.95 each.

As usual the service from Millicast was exemplary and very personal (with the usual friendly hand written note on the complimentary slip). I really can't recommend this online retailer highly enough.

The decals provide me the hakenkreuz for my Finnish KV-1 1940 'Ekranami' - or Model 'E' - and a nice bold hand painted Soviet slogan for the turret of my KV-2 behemoth. I have used Aleran decals before and they are superb quality and there are enough on each sheet to make several models of varying types.

Link: The Millicast Moodel Company (fine resin 1/76 WW2 AFVs and accessories)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Stash addition - Armourfast 1/72 Sturmgeschütz (StuG) III

Model addition: Armourfast StuG III quick-build model in 1/72. Cost: £7.95 (for 2 in box)

Right, this is a bit of an unusual subject for me and bears some explanation. First off, as a general rule, I DON'T do WW2 German subjects - it's a little personal quirk based on my staunch anti-nazi beliefs (I won't bore you any further on this subject). However, of late - through my interest in WW2 Soviet armour - my imagination was caught by the role played by Finland during it's WInter War and it's later Continuation War against the Soviets.

Suspect friendships aside, Finland gained a lot of respect for it's steadfast defence of it's independence against an invading Soviet army, which incurred humiliating losses before a peace treaty was agreed. Later Finland entered into a marriage of convenience with the Nazis in order to conduct it's aptly named Continuation War against the Soviets. The Finnish armed forces punched well above their weight against the might of the Red Army, fighting the best that the Soviet Union had with a rag-tag inventory of beg, stollen or borrowed equipment.

Photo source: Wikipedia - 'Finnish Armoured Division'

The Sturmgeschütz (StuG) III was perhaps one of the more potent weapons in the Finn's armoury as they bought 50 plus from the Germans. This ambush tank destroyer seems to have suited both the Finnish tactics and geography as even in the late war when the Soviets brought to bear increasing numbers of more modern designs the Finns still managed to inflict a frustrating number of losses on them.

This model will join the small fleet of Finnish vehicles and artillery I have planned and - importantly - it will also give me another chance to get to grips with a multi-coloured camouflage paint pattern.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

SU-122M conversion - Part 5, The End!

Today I finished my experiment in winter camouflage, my Armourfast SU-85 conversion - the SU122M(3). I'm quite pleased with the weathered chipped effect, it's really fun but you can get a little carried away (as I did). But what the heck, it's a 'what if?' model anyway so who's to say it's not right.