Saturday, 3 October 2015

'Mat O War' a review, plus more 'Arcane' FoW houses.

With the Flames of War forces now finished for the time being, (The Eastern Front beckons next!), I'm finally trying to pull together all the terrain bits I need. I had been looking to replace my old Citadel 'Battlemat' but they are now so long OOP that I could not find one. It was purely by chance that I came across this 'Mat O War' whilst ordering some Mininatur scenics from 'Antenocitis Workshop' and it sounded the perfect game surface. I ordered the 2m x 1.25m green mat and it arrived yesterday. To say that I am pleased with it would be an understatement, it is actually an even better quality product than I had expected. The surface shade is very realistic of browns and greens that blends perfectly with my static grass bases, but above all it is incredibly tough and durable, being much thicker than the old Citadel mat. The cost of my mat (6'x4') was a very reasonable £22.00 and I cannot recommend this product highly enough. It can be steam ironed to remove creases and then rolled up, whats more you can go further and decorate the mat with spray paints and flocks etc, but as it stands it's perfect for my needs.

You can see how thick the mat is and the varied shade compared to the S&A Scenics felt mat behind it.

I doubt I could have achieved this finish without an awful lot of work!

More 'Arcane' houses.
My little Normandy village has expanded with further 'Arcane' MDF buildings, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of putting these together and getting a bit of paint on them, maybe somewhat 'Balamory' but I like it! The damaged roofs are very well modeled with the exposed beams etc, they are very simple to glue together.

German artillery battery.
I had finished these some time back but had been on the lookout for some tows to get them where they need to be  as these are 'immobile' guns. I found these five little resin halftrack tows on eBay for a snip at just £12.00. A repaint and bases took no time and finishes off the battery nicely. You can also see the staff team (table), command team and two spotter teams. I also got a template for them, useful device with all the ranging in and firing info printed on it.

Once I have finished some painting for John C this week I will start to put some games together at last. It's been a very long time since I felt so much enthusiasm for this hobby and I do for see Flames of War and Bolt Action occupying me for a long time to come.
A hint at the future direction, three earlier Panzer III varients at rear. The Tiger 1E in front will complete and expand my Heavy Panzer Platoon along with the ridiculously expensive Wittmann Tiger pack.
The story of Micheal Wittmann I found very moving, so I had to have this!

And finally, some FoW essentials gathered via ebay, loads of dice and markers plus the artillery template.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Flames of War update.

I have now reached the stage where I can begin to relax and enjoy building some suitable terrain for FoW. My Normandy village now comprises several single and double buildings, shops and houses. Having started with the Laser Craft Art model featured below, most are now by 'Arcane Scenery'. Both match well, being designed specifically for FoW base sizes, but the latter models are probably more detailed in that they also provide a laser cut card sheet featuring window and door frames etc that really help to bring the models to life once constructed. The 'Arcane' double shop kit that you can see below took me just slightly under an hour to build, start to finish and I enjoyed it immensely. I decided not to paint the bulk of this one, just a wash on the roof and a bit of paint on the shop signs for contrast. Signs will be printed and added as suitable.

'Hedgerow Hell'.
No representation of the fighting for the Normandy countryside would be complete without areas of the dreaded bocage, hedgerow so dense and tall that it was impossible to see what was lurking behind it. I thought long and hard about how best to do this before deciding upon a combination of front doormat and hedge foliage! I'd seen it done using just the matting, but I wanted to build it up a bit more using clump foliage. The result is as you see so far, but I intend to continue working on it. The matting was cut into thin strips, a thick bead of PVA was then applied to the length of it and it was built up before being allowed to dry thoroughly. I then sprayed everything dark green, after which lighter shades were drybrushed across the upper parts. I'm fairly happy with it overall. Model railway telegraph poles and a few trees would complete the look, maybe that's for the future as for now I just want to get playing.

Ah...'Concealment', plus 1 to hit!

I cut a fairly large wheatfield from the matting, as said before I want to keep everything to scale as much as possible so no tiny fields the middle of a vast expanse of green table here, fields will hold a full platoon of tanks or infantry. This field has absorbed no less than THREE bottles of Vallejo paint to get it to this stage, it will be fully based  on 3mm MDF and edged to finish it.

Father to teenage daughter "Tell me what you see now?" Teenage daughter "a doormat with paint on it" Jesus!

The battlefield.
Plan had been to make the 6 x 4 table by flocking  the bare boards. I had searched everywhere for another of the old Citadel mats as they were a fantastic product, not to be confused with felt mats as sold by S&A scenics, but now long OOP sadly. However, I think I have found another source of a similar high quality grass mat, I'll be ordering one today and will report back on quality. Roads will be cut from 3mm MDF and textured, if anyone has a suggestion for applying tank track marks to roads I'd be grateful to hear it? Trees will be bought from TimeCast as they sell some fine trees, not cheap but very well made and durable. Wood bases will be 3mm MDF thanks to the ever reliable Tony Barr at East Riding Miniatures who has had a few issues with his laser cutter recently, but continues to offer an excellent friendly service.

....and finally.
 I have got a few of the new bits together for a few pics, I must say I'm incredibly proud of this collection, I know it will expand into other lists and campaigns, the Russian front beckons for example. I'm just one M10 tank destroyer short as Poppy the pup decided to eat the turret overnight, my fault for leaving it on the table, a replacement should be here tomorrow. The infantry bases you can see are about  to be 'decorated' with some fine silfor/mininatur grass tufts, weeds and blossoms that will transform them I hope. I'll do some comparison pics when finished, not to everyone's taste I know, but they are such fine products. I removed all tanks from their bases! I retain the option of using the bases though, it was just when I sat one on the cornfield visually it bothered me, but I'm still not sure yet.

US Airborne platoon, Peter Pig figures.

First and second command tanks,Sherman V's.

M10 'tank destroyer' on 'Lend/Lease' invaluable alongside the Sherman's.

Where it started! This StuG Assault Gun platoon was the first to be painted. 

Good old British infantry platoon. Not sure who I want them to represent yet, family history research underway.

OP Sherman V and two Royal Artillery Sextons.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Normandy house painted.

Not being content with the finish of the Laser Craft Art house previously featured here I decided to throw a bit of paint at it last night. Inspired by a property hunting program set in Normandy I went for this painted render look! I hope that a row of such shops and houses in various  subtle tones might look the part once finished, this one still needs tidying up. I have also printed some tiny pre war French posters and shop signs too for further detailing. Some will of course need to be suitably distressed.

Tank is a Sherman 'Firefly' with it's tank busting 17pdr.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

September already!

This Summer seems to have flown by, it's hard to believe we are already into September. The weather has finally settled down and we are enjoying some very pleasant days now. I'm working on some bits for John that are required by end of the month for a planned game and also completing the last couple of models for my Flames of War collection. I have on order some Mininatur grass tufts and blossoms that should add the finishing touch to all the bases. Good prices on these products HERE, and the site generally seems to be a useful source of  modelling products, in what it describes as 'scratch builders Paradise'.

To list my Flames of War forces as they currently stand is as follows,

British Armoured Squadron (Open Fire lists).

Command Sherman V and 2ic Sherman V

3 x platoons of Sherman tanks, each of 3 mkV's and a Firely 17pdr.

RA mobile artillery, 2 x Sextons and 1 Sherman OP.

1 command M10 and 1 M10 (anti tank platoon).

1 platoon of British infantry with PIAT and light mortar squads. (Confident/trained)

1 platoon of US Airborne (Fearless/veterans)

So 7 platoons to select from there, plus I have a platoon of US infantry  and anti aircraft not included in the lists.

German Panzer Grenadier Company. (Open Fire lists).

Company commander/panzerfaust base), 2ic/panzerfaust base, and anti tank base (Panzershreck).

2 platoons of Panzer Grenadiers (confident/veterans)

Support platoons for the above (2) heavy machine guns (MG34?), and mortars, with command bases.

1 anti tank platoon of 2 Pak 40's.

1 platoon StuG assault guns, (1 command StuG and 4 stuG's).

1 Heavy Panzer platoon,  1 command Tiger 1 E and a second Tiger 1 E. (confident veterans).

1 platoon of immobile artillery, 10.5cm leFH18 howitzer's (4 gun battery), 2 spotter bases, command base and a HQ base.

Again plenty to choose from there, 8 platoons and again I have other bits not relevant to these lists.

Only the last 2 models (British M10's) remain unfinished for the weekend. After that my focus will be on terrain and getting the 6 x 4 table set up permanently in the spare room so that I can come and go as I wish as I continue to learn the rules. I want the table to look as good as I can make it and have some big plans for this.

Looking ahead.
I am pleased to say that after several long months waiting for a decision my pension fund has approved my early retirement on grounds of ill health. This will make a big difference to me and the family and will give me back some independence after several years of battling a depressive illness that saw me give up my car because I had no interest or intention of driving the damn thing again! I'm keen to get out and about a bit again, and have my sights set on a trip to SELWG at Crystal Palace in October. The park is special to us as it's where we used to take the kids to ride their bikes on Sunday mornings (as you do), and my Aunt lives just a couple of streets away from the park. It will be her 90th Birthday next month so a visit is in order. Probably just a belated mid life crisis (I'm 58) , but I must admit I found myself looking at motorbikes again yesterday too!

Photos will follow shortly.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

'Laser Craft Art' a review of a 15mm scale MDF building for FoW.

With both of my Flames of War armies now about done, and with my painting desk clear for September, my thoughts now turn inevitably toward the building of terrain. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this recently as I try to think through just what I am looking for in this project as far as terrain goes. I have come down on the side of modular terrain rather than a more realistic 'model railway' type landscape, but I want to really work on the terrain pieces in order that everything ties together as much as possible. I'm keen to avoid those little fields that can hold a single tank model for example, and of course with no hexes to worry about I can really go to town on the terrain side so I'm going to enjoy myself with it.

So, first step for me was to establish a visual scale on the tabletop, Flames of War is described as a 'wysiwyg' game in the rules and line of sight is vital part of this. You will typically see FoW players crouching down at eye level  to the table each move to see what can be seen, I can't think of another game where you see this? If you can't see 'em, you can't shoot 'em! not directly at least.

You can see from the above that having say a small round hill half the height of a house is just not going to work as visual scale is important in the rules. So I'll begin by building up a small Normandy village and creating lots of bocage.

I'd looked at the ranges of MDF buildings for FoW and decided to go with Laser Craft Art as the roofs are etched with tile effect and the detail really stood out. I'm glad I did, as the product is of a very high standard indeed. I ordered a French village shop and it was posted with 24 hours, well packaged. I must say I was pretty impressed with the kit in flat form, high quality design and cutting. It took just a few minutes to push everything from the sheet and once I had it laid out I could not resist putting it together. PVA and a brush and the kit was put together in around 15 minutes. The result you see in the pics, that is the finished kit as it comes, for a price of £7.00 which compares well with resin buildings in this scale for example and is ideal for occupying with infantry, 2 bases per floor.

I will now be ordering an entire village worth of kits and they will be fully painted. These will set the visual scale for everything else, so large field patterns with bocage realistically tall, (earth bank topped with hedgerow that could conceal a Tiger!).

I would recommend these kits to anyone planning a FoW layout, easy to put together and designed for use with FoW bases.

Lasercraftart ww2 buildings.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

FoW objective markers.

I'm close to finishing my 'phase 1' forces for Flames of War, the Germans are done and I'm slowly pulling the Allies together now, with just British infantry to be completed. So I decided to indulge myself in four objective markers ( FoW games are won by seizing objectives). I could not resist the crashed Typhoon base and the Ammo dump models but decided to knock up the other two from scratch. As you can see I went for a destroyed Sherman, nothing too gruesome, it's been penetrated by two AP shells through the front armour and the turret has lifted. We must assume it contains something that the Allies need to recover. I decided against open hatches and bodies.

The German base is just me having some fun with some Peter Pig characters. I know it's far too 'busy' but I could not resist showing the Germans with raised hands while the senior officer stands with folded arms as a Para commander gives orders. The truck is also a PP metal model with added fuel cans in the back.

Tanks don't look great in these pics but you get the idea, the green looks a bit flat, they look better in the flesh, more contrast. I'm still adding stowage, the sand bags you see are home made. I'll be working on all the bases with added foliage etc (cheers Jamie!), and have decals sorted to mark them all up. Aerials will also be added to command tanks.

I'm playing test games to get a feel for the rules, but I'm short on terrain for this scale so that's my next step.

Next up: 20mm Russian  Priests and plenty of ACW's for John.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

FoW new bits & what's on the painting desk.

I'm continuing to pad out my Flames of War forces and I'm just about at the stage where I can start to add some of the extra little touches I have in mind for these. I'm afraid that I gave in and went 'hairy' with the bases after all as you can see, I just felt they match what you see in most FoW games now, the grit/static grass combination. I still have a fair bit to do, more figures and vehicles to buy and paint including British infantry and a couple of Sexton's, I also need to sort out British marking decals for all the tanks and I like the idea of adding individual name decals too, plus I'm not finished with the stowage yet. I'm  also planning a few objective bases using the 'destroyed' resin stuff from Peter Pig and some of the fantastic 'character' packs, I have my eye on the German prisoners with raised hands for example, and there must be a use for 'Brits having tea'! I can see loads of possibilities. Just finished are the full 4 gun German Howitzer battery plus command and spotter bases and the little 'Brummbar' assault gun ,(the latter I can't use with these lists but I enjoyed painting it anyway).

Panzer Grenadier Company commander, could not resist using him! Command team base, SMG & Panzerfaust.

The new (metal) Peter Pig Pak 40 Anti tank platoon with command base. The two Tigers behind are metal and resin kits and probably my pride and joy currently. I'm still very much a newbie to camo patterns though yet.
Hairy Germans! I'm still trying to decide on a drybrush shade for that brown earth.

I went with shallower 50 x 50mm bases as I also use them for Memoir 44 games, but I'm thinking of rebasing them!

A joy to paint if not to put together! Resin, metal and plastic kit..... I mean, what are you supposed to glue them together with?

I only recently discovered 'The Mad Tin Hatter' blog but it's already proving to be a major source of inspiration for FoW. I have decided after seeing the fantastic array of troops and vehicles laid out on the table in the latest post that I want to base my tanks too, I feel they look so much better on the bases and it offers an opportunity to dress them up a bit, as I plan to do with all of the infantry bases in due course. I must find out where those lovely white flowers and grass tufts come from? Anyway, it's well worth a look if you're into FoW.

On the painting bench.
I have quite a bit to work through for John C next as previously said and some has now been prepped up ready for painting. It will make a nice change to paint wagons and guns etc. You can see some on the table including a couple of resin pieces, ACW signal tower and a cabin that have first washes on followed by a bit of detail work on the canvas so far. You can also see Mathew Brady with flashbulb and the mobile studio behind. The huge siege gun on swivel mount is a hefty piece indeed.

The seven plastic Russian Priests are for Mr Kinch :)

Mathew Brady.

20mm Surgeon gives an idea of the massive scale of this gun!