Wednesday, March 21, 2018

1/285 Scale Saab 105 and Scratch-Built Gun Pods

It took over a month for me to get it, but I finally got my Shapeways order. I'm not going into the ugly details on how many trips it took to the post office, the time spent both on the internet and on the phone to track down the correct shipping number, but for the price you have to pay, you would think express mail would be faster and smoother than good old US mail. 

Among my purchases were two Saab 105 trainers, one of which is shown below:

Saab 105
They were a pain to separate as they have a pretty thick sprue attaching the two planes. Fortunately, the designer put the sprue at the two plane's bellies. I managed to saw them apart with a razor saw without any damage. As you can see, the plane is blue,but that is a superficial layer of plastic. When I cut the sprue off, the plastic below it is white. I'm not sure what the purpose of the outer blue layer is. The surface is pretty frosty, but I think using gesso or Vallejo's brush-on primer might smooth out some of the graininess. 

Why the Saab 105? If you have not figured it out by now, I like obscure weaponry. There were several variants that were modified for ground attack. Although I can't find the source again, I though I read somewhere that some were used during the various wars in the Congo. The model does have hard points. What the 105 doesn't have are built-in guns. Enter the gun pods....

Gun pods. Ruler is scaled for 1/285

These guys are probably the toughest scratch builds I've made so far...probably tougher than the light machine gun I made that cost me a drop of blood. They are made of styrene rods of 2.0mm diameter that I shaped using an emery board and my little chopper. The hardest part was the gun.  The gun is a very thin wire. I bore a hole in the front end of the pod using a small needle that I heated up with a candle flame (the soot is why parts are black and gray). The wire was glued in with CA-glue and it was very tricky trying to get the wire to be vertically and horizontally true. I'm not sure how successful I was. Once secure, I snipped off most of the wire with one of my older sprue cutters. 

They don't represent any specific, real life gun pods. They are definitely not perfect, but once glued to a hard point and painted, they will look ok. I have plenty other ordinance to mount on my Saab 105s like laser-guided bombs, and rocket pods are pretty easy to make.

I'll get pictures up of the planes when finished. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

More Federal Republic of Gambusia AFVs

I could have sworn I posted these, but I guess I have not.

The Federal Republic of Gambusia (FRG) has an infantry battalion of made up of more modern APCs than old Saracens. It consists of Canadian 6-wheeled Cougars and Grizzlies. The Cougars have been modified into fire support vehicles and ATGM carriers.

I used the turret from a Scotia-Grendel Stingray light tank for the FSV. The ATGM were scratch built. Unfortunately, they all came out a little different on those. This is the best of them. These were my first conversions that I made when I plunged into modern gaming and I am quite happy with them.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Bovatopia Campaign: Lavonian Units Painted and Based

I've had most of these done for awhile now. The most recent to be finished are the infantry, which for me, is the toughest to do in 1/600 scale. Lavonia is the main opponent to Bovatopia. Although it sounds like a small central European country, there is an actual Lavonia. Its a small town in northern Georgia (as in Georgia, USA; not the Georgia south of Russia) just over the border with South Carolina. We pass by it whenever we are going to my daughter's tennis tournaments in Atlanta.

Leopard M1A1

Polish Rosomak wheeled IVF

Brazilian EE-9 Cascavel AC

Lavonian infantry with supporting Milan ATGM teams

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


I got this kit as a Christmas gift. I just got around to putting it together:

Monday, February 12, 2018

Battle Valor Dwarves

Lately, I've been on a fantasy mini painting kick. You can only get so creative with 3mm figures. I also decided that I want to whittle down my boxes of unpainted fantasy miniatures.  I've previously showed off my work on some other Battle Valor figures, including the dwarf hero riding a bear. Here are some dwarves with hammers and axes. I even broke out the static grass applicator, which as usual, did a less than satisfying job.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

15mm Triceratops

In today's mail, I got from Battle Valor Games 15mm model of a triceratops with howdah and orc (orcian) crew: 

You get a two-piece triceratops that consists of head and body, a howdah, and three orcs.

The body is made of resin. There is some flash, but not overwhelming. One of two horns that stick out of the anterior of the body did not get completely cast due to a bubble. I think a little two-part putty will take of that. I didn't notice any other bubbles.

One thing that will need work on is the feet. The right front foot has a big chunk of resin stuck on the bottom:

I will probably have to use a razor saw to get that off. 

The head is cast in metal:

Sorry about the poor picture, but the metal is very shiny. No seam lines are on it.

The hodah is also of metal:

It is cast in such a way that it will fit only in one spot on the back of the triceratops. 

Last, but not least are the orcs:

I'm the least happy with these. First, they don't seem to have the detail compared to other Battle Valor miniatures that I have purchased. Second, they don't really fit with my idea of what an orc looks like. I guess it's all personal preference, but I actually prefer the more Games Workshop, cartoony-looking orcs. I guess I was inspired by the Hildebrandt brothers artwork that they did for their Lord of the Rings calendars. These calendars came out in the 1970s right when I was reading LotR (probably for the third or fourth time):

These Battle Valor guys are what I would call monkey orcs. I have some Essex 15mm orcs that are in the same vane. Instead of orcs, I might either use this triceratops for either barbarians, or more likely my lizardman army. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Another Attempt at Static Grass

Against my better judgement, I decided to order one of those static grass boxes. It wasn't exactly cheap but it seems like static grass applicators in general are not cheap. My primary use of static grass is for spiffing up figure bases rather than large terrain pieces. Also, static grass seems to be very messy even when I applied it by hand. With kids around, I don't want to use something that could cause respiratory problems. There are two brands that I know of. I found out from some reviews on YouTube, that one that one brand is better rated than the other. The highly rated one has not been available for as long as I been thinking about buying one of these boxes. So, I ended up buying the WW Scenics Pro.

What you get

Besides the box, you get two packs of static grass of different lengths, a small bottle of glue, an instruction sheet, and a folded sheet of paper. I almost threw out the sheet of paper, but a Youtube review informed me that it was for making my own truffs. The instruction sheet is not very detailed. Besides not telling me what the piece of paper was for, it could have done a better job of telling me how to use it. It did tell me what sort of battery to use, so I guess that is a good thing. Speaking of batteries, here is the little hatch to insert it:

It was not the easiest thing to open. I had to use a staple remover to get it open. To to sound picky, but "SLIDE OUT" would have been better than "PULL OUT." I thought the hatch flipped open. Inside it slides out like a file drawer.

I test it out
Based on the YouTube video, I decided to conduct my tests outside. It was breazy and slightly overcast this Saturday, but I decided to test it out. About a month ago, I bought one of those electric fly swatter kind for about $40 made by a company named GrassTech. It is, in fact, a repurposed electric fly swatter. One thing going against the fly swatter is that the wire for the alligator clip is very thin and looks like it could easily break.

There was no way I could take any action pictures. The flocking went way too fast, plus a good gust of wind would blow the grass off the applicator before I started. If you are unfamiliar with how this box works, you put the grass on the box, then put the alligator clip on the object you want flocked. Holding the figure upside down over the box, you then turn it on. The grass flies up into the air and supposedly onto the figure.

I used PVA glue as the adhesive. For test subjects I used two 15mm fantasy figures that recently finished and based. I used both some old, 2mm flock and the longer flock that came with the WW Scenics Pro.

My old nemesis
WWS box applicator using Woodland Scenics grass
A lot of waste
WWS box applicator using WWS 4mm flock
After a few hours (sorry about the blurry picture)

After a few hours of drying

Fly swatter applicator using WWS 4mm grass
My conclusions
First, to be fair, a windy day is not the best time to be flocking outdoors.  The breezes caused the grass to arc away from its intended target as it left the box. This seemed to be slightly less of a problem when I used the fly swatter.

I was warned by the YouTube video that grass was going to go flying all over the place, and it did irregardless of the wind. This resulted in a lot of waste grass, much of it sticking all over the box. This was much less of an issue with the fly swatter.

I has a little more control using the fly swatter compared to the box. Once I flipped the switch on the box, the grass went flying off of it all at once. It seemed that the mesh that held the grass caused the grass to leave the fly swatter more slowly. This allowed a little more time to move the applicator in various directions.

Static grass size seems to be a contributor to success. The 2mm stuff looks like crap. It doesn't look all that much better than if I had just thrown the grass on with my hand. The longer 4mm grass looks somewhat nicer. Nonetheless, I am not that impressed by the outcome of either applicator. There are as many grass fibers lying down as there are standing up vertically.

The verdict? Meh. Had I known, I probably would not have bought the box. Since I've paid as much as I did, I am going to use it, but probably the fly swatter more. Also, I will use it in the garage where there is no breeze but I don't have to worry too much about the grass getting all over the place. I'm also going to look into other types of adhesives. Maybe PVA glue is not the best, but it seems like that is what others use.