Into Action

On Saturday, we tried out a game of Ambush Alley Games’ Tomorrow’s War rules in 15mm using our buildings and vehicles and GZG figures.

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We tried two scenarios, a pilot rescue mission (from the rulebook) and a more ad-hoc meeting encounter between two forces mismatched in both size and technology level. With a large number of players (starting with seven then adding another later) we were lucky to have an umpire experienced with AAG’s Force-on-Force ruleset who helped the game flow smoothly.

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The rules worked well, they modelled the differences between units with different levels of technology and ability well, and most importantly we had a lot of fun.

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What was notable is that it was the first time I’d managed to get my Neu Celle 15mm buidings on a table, albeit in a 90% finished state, and it also marked the combat debuts of the PacFed Wombat APC and Neo-Soviet Laska tankette. It has to be said that the PacFed vehicle fared rather better than it’s Soviet counter-part, which was turned into pile of smoking wreckage by a three-man Power Armour team armed with a missile launcher and chain gun.

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So when can you buy these models ? We’ve had them on the table, and you’ll be able to soon – the first two PacFed vehicles, the Cougar MBT and Wombat APC, will be available this coming weekend – we’ll announce it here, on our mailing list and on as many other lists and news-sites as we can find as soon as they’re ready.

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UPDATE 17/01/2012 – there are more photos on the Maidstone Wargames Society website

Down and Dirty … again !

You might remember that I had the odd trial and tribulation with the ink washes on my desert township. Having watered down my GW Agrax Earthshade, the airbrush spattered (probably the fault of a cheap airbrush or at least low pressure in the compressed air can), then when I switched to a brush it ran, pooled and did all those things you don’t really want a wash to do. But I persevered and ran a coat of wash over all of the buildings.

Coming back to them after a day or two drying in a nice warm shed, it’s not as bad as I feared. In one or two places, especially where the wash had accumulated, it’s dried to an odd dusty whiteish colour; googling around, I’m not the only person who’s had this problem – it seems that the solution is to make sure the wash is properly mixed (give it a really, really good shake – not just a couple of desultory wafts). But the patchy bits, dark spots where the wash has spattered, even the odd tide mark, all add to the dirty, used effect that I’m looking for. And there are some mysterious unexplained black spots that look suspiciously like mould, but I’m sure it’s not …

I went back over the buildings again with come undiluted wash, this time being more selective and brushing it into the crevices and angles to enhance the shadows (I went over the white deposits and got rid of those). I also used it to darken the bottom of the walls, using a dryer brush to blend it out towards the middle and top of the walls (gravity helps here).

So I have to say I’m much happier now, the effect is pretty much what I’m after. The final stage of painting the walls will be a good drybrushing in the original Deck Tan colour

Painted Mobile Phone Mast

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned our new 15mm Mobile Phone Masts which were available through our Shapeways Store. I’ve finally had a chance to paint the first of these, the tower mast with three antennae.

I first stuck the model onto a 40mm round figure base, with a large washer stuck underneath to weigh the base down and make the tower stable. I made a little stand from it from a square of plastic card with a bolt in each corner made from hex section plastic rod. The base was then covered in PVA and sand. Normal superglue works fine when sticking Shapeways plastic parts, you don’t need any special adhesives. Once everything had dried, I undercoated with a spray can of white primer.

 

I then painted it in two shades of grey, a pale grey for the base and top framework and a green-grey (Tamiya Slate Grey) for the tower body (although this isn’t too obvious from the photos). After a black wash and drybrush, the three antennae were picked out in white. The final touches were a few splashes of orange-brown wash for rust patches (these towers are out in all weathers after all). The base was painted in Tamiya Flat Earth, drybrushed a pale stone and then patches of static grass were PVA’d on.

So that’s it – a simple enough paint job, bringing communication to the backwaters of the galaxy.

The other phone mast, the larger lattice tower, is being saved for a later date – I have a slightly more elaborate base planned for it.

Down and Dirty in Neu Celle

Last time I airbrushed my collection of 15mm desert buildings with a base coat of Tamiya Deck Tan, leaving them looking rather pristine for a beaten up, backwater colony on Mars. The next stage of painting my Martian desert township of Neu Celle was to give all of the buildings a dark wash to dirty them down a bit. Using my newly rediscovered airbrush (only a cheap and nasty Humbrol model, but good for work like this) I planned to give each building a coat of the new Agrax Earthshade wash (I used to use Devlan Mud for this, Agrax Earthshade is the closest match in the new Citadel paint range). Applying a wash using an airbrush seemed a bit odd, but I read about it in a White Dwarf article once, so it must therefore be a Good Idea™.


So I watered down a pot of Agrax (not much, since it’s thin enough already), put it in an airbrush bottle and off I went.

It didn’t really work. It spattered, ran, pooled … all the things that could go wrong when airbrushing. I’m not sure why, it might have been because I thinned the wash, it might have been my cheap airbrush (but that worked fine last week Tamiya paint). After one building I gave up, reached for a large brush and reverted to old-fashioned methods !

I slopped the wash on quite generously, making sure that I concentrated on getting the walls darker at the bottom (gravity helps a lot here !) and that there was a nice dark line in the deeper crevices and joins. The photos below show the results while still wet.

Once dried, the end result is … well … OK. It’s patchy (this is fine, the last thing I want is a regular finish anyway), has tide marks (not so good, but hopefully won’t be obvious after drybrushing) and most annoyingly, in some of the crevices it’s dried to an odd, pale dusty colour – not the dark shading effect I wanted at all !

Now at this point, the fashionable thing to do would be to blame all of the ills of the world on Games Workshop – after all, the old Devlan Mud wash worked brilliantly on my previous buildings, the new equivalent doesn’t, therefore it must be their fault for changing the paint range. I’m not going to do that (yet), since I mucked around with the wash by diluting it which could well have changed its properties. I’m going to give the buildings a selective second coat with undiluted wash, and I’ll make a more informed decision at that point.

While washing the Villa model, I discovered that the wall around the roof had become warped – I don’t recall it being like this when I base-coated the models, so I can only assume that I’ve inadvertently put another model on top of it and it’s warped a little bit (it does get hot in the shed during the summer). No problem, a little hot water and some gentle pressure and it’s back into line again.

Phone Home …

We have a new item in our Shapeways store today. As I commute back and forth to London in my day job (that’s the one that pays the bills, not this one !) one thing I notice through the train window (when I’m not asleep) is the proliferation of mobile phone masts and towers across the countryside. These struck me as ideal subjects for 3D printing, being tricky to produce in traditional metal or resin castings. So I’ve made a couple of different styles, one being a solid tapering pole with three antennae at the top, the other a triangular lattice mast with nine antennae. They’re ideal for modern-era 15mm gaming but also look techy enough for sci-fi layouts – mine will be painted up and added to my Martian Neu Celle township.

The masts are currently sold as a pair, but if anyone wants just one type then let me know and I can add the individual types to the store.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Things are all white in Neu Celle, my fledgling Martian colony. I think it’s time to introduce some colour. The other buildings I’ve painted so far have been done with a quick but effective method which I think looks pretty good, so I’m sticking with it here. Therefore the next stage was to basecoat the buildings using a pale stone colour. I chose Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan (not the similarly named XF-78 Wooden Deck Tan), which is a very light shade. Since I had a lot of buildings to do at one go I dug out my old Humbrol airbrush from the shed and decided to use that. After transferring the paint to an airbrush jar I thinned it down about 2:1 with Tamiya acrylic thinners and off I went.

The whole process went pretty quickly, definitely much better than using a brush. I held the models in one hand (with a disposable plastic glove on) and sprayed them in mid-air rather than on a table – that way I could get at any bottom edges and made sure there was no ‘shadow’ where the airbrush couldn’t reach (I know the building above is on the table, I needed my other hand to hold the camera for the photo !).

The Humbrol airbrush definitely isn’t a precision instrument, but for this job it was ideal. I haven’t used it for a while and had forgotten some of its quirks – the compressed air ‘powerpack’ (an aerosol with a screw thread for attaching the airbrush hose) gets cold as it’s used, and like anything that gets cold, the pressure drops – so you have to increase the pressure via the control screw every so often. A couple of times I had to stop completely and warm up the can again to restore the pressure. One tip I do remember is that if the plastic tube that takes the paint from bottle to spray tip gets clogged, a good replacement is a plastic paint brush protector (the little clear plastic tubes that come with decent paintbrushes to protect the bristles). However I can’t knock it for this task, especially since I bought it off a mate at the wargames club for a tenner !

The next stage will involve the trusty airbrush again, although I might need a new powerpack for that …

I Name This Town …

So my little German colony on Mars now has a name – Neu Celle. I’ve named it this because I have fond memories of visiting my Aunt and Uncle (who was in the BAOR in the 70s) at the original town of Celle (the one on Earth) in Northern Germany. They lived in married quarters which I am led to believe were German officers’ quarters during WW2 (I must see if they have any old photos). I wasn’t too old – I made my first trip there in a pram on the back seat of my parents’ Simca (no child seats in those days, or rear seat belts for that matter !) but I can remember Hamburg Zoo, coloured chickens, a ride in a Stalwart (Uncle Bob was in the REME – the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), a barbecue in the rain halfway up a Mountains (the Harz Mountains maybe ?) and cockroaches (the block of flats was infested !).

Work has continued on the construction of my outpost in the (terraformed) Martian desert. The first task after giving them a wash was to undercoat – I used a spray can of industrial white primer from a hardware store (in this case Toolstation – much, much cheaper than the B&Q or Homebase chain DIY stores). There’s no point using your expensive Citadel or Army Painter spray paints on a job like this, you want a good, hard-wearing coat of industrial primer that will stand up to knocks.

So at the moment it’s like Christmas come early in Neu Celle. Next time we’ll give it some colour …

SF Desert Township

I’ve started out on a project to build a 15mm township from our desert buildings range (we finally have enough spare castings to let me do this – we’ve been selling them as fast as Phil makes them !). At Maidstone Wargames Society we seem to have settled on a near-future, terraformed Mars as the setting for our 6mm/15mm/starship games, using the Modified Mars site as a guide.

I haven’t named my little township yet – since I’ve been fielding German ONESS forces in our two campaigns so far, I’ll probably stick to that and come up with a suitably Germanic moniker for it.

Having picked out the models I needed (one of each of the ten models that we make, with duplicates of the three smallest houses) I ran the bottom of each model over a sheet of coarse glasspaper to smooth it off and flatten any irregularities (do this in a ventilated place, preferably outdoors, and don’t breath in any of the resulting dust – wear a mask if necessary).

The next stage, as with all resin models, is to give them a good wash in soap and water – washing-up liquid (dish soap) is fine – this removes the dust from the previous sanding, and also cleans off any residues from the casting process. I just chucked the lot in the washing-up bowl with lots of hot soapy water and gave them a scrub with an old brush, then sat them on some newspaper to dry off.

I’ll try to give a blow-by-blow breakdown of the whole process of making the township, including painting, basing, detailing etc. I tend to be fairly erratic and have bursts of activity followed by periods of nothing happening, so you might need to be patient …