Friday, January 30, 2015

New Toys for Conversion Project

There have been a bunch of groups that have been popping up on Facebook in the last few years. They are becoming a popular alternative to Yahoo! Groups. Keith Armstrong of ArmiesArmy showed plans to make a MN-116 Norwegian light tank in 1/100 (15mm). When I first saw the designation MN-116, I thought it was some sort of upgrade of the M113 APC. Nope, its an up-gunned M24 Chaffee light tank. They replaced the old 75mm gun with a French 90 mm low pressure gun, the same gun found on many armored cars. They also replaced the original engine with that of a M113, which might be the reason for the designation. Cool! A tiny tank with a big gun on it...gotta make a 1/285 version! Here is some drawings of it:
How does it relate to my gaming? In my back history, Southern Chalupastan received a number of surplus WW2 weapons in the late 50s/early 60s . As a result, their armored units were made up of Shermans and Chaffees. These took a beating during the First Chalupastan War, but still were enough of the Chaffees to constitute a battalion. This battalion was relegated to training and to act as an aggressor force for war exercises.  After the war, there was a need to rearm and upgrade their forces. Despite their defeat, the South still viewed Northern Chalupistan as a major treat. What caught my eye and made my decision to include an upgraded Chaffee to my campaign was that Keith stated that it was a relatively cheap upgrade. Presently, the South has some more modern light tanks like the M41 Walker Bulldog  and the Textron Stingray, but these are in small numbers and are relegated to recon companies. 

Many of the TO&Es of my Gambusian armies have weapons only on paper. One of which is this training battalion that I figured would never see combat. Now, if they get upgraded, then they could go to war. I envision brave cadets charging T-55s and T-72s with their pint-sized tanks! 

Today, my order came in from CinC:

Despite the bendy gun barrel, its a very nice model
 I got 20 tanks. 15 will be converted whereas the other five will be left alone to be used for any WW2 games. I will try to finish my river and forest hexes first, before the conversion work on these guys start. Besides, I need to figure out what I am going to use for the conversion.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Making Rivers for 6mm, Part 2.5

Last night, while working a bit on my little forest hexes, I noticed that some of my river hexes seemed to be even more warped then before (Yikes!!).  It was more noticeable with the double-hexes. I wonder if moisture getting into the exposed foam is responsible. The problem with that theory is that its winter and our house is pretty dry, which my sinuses can testify.

I keep bending them the opposite way, which does crack the foam. Fortunately, the cracks are not noticeable.  Now I wonder what the effect of painting them will be. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Making Rivers for 6mm, Part 2

In part 1, I used foamcore board to make my rivers. I cut out the hexes, drew out the rivers and then stripped off the paper where the river bed would be. I then carved out some of the foam and added striations to simulate the river. In this part of the project, I built up the the banks of the rivers.

It took me awhile to decide on what material I was going to use to make the banks. I settled on tissue paper soaked in PVA glue. Originally, I was going to grind up the paper in the blender, but I think the "da boss" would not have been too happy with that, especially if I gummed up the blender somehow. So, I settled on a slower method of shredding it up with my hands, and then further chopping with a pair of scissors. I then mixed a 2:1 ratio of water to glue into it. Here are some results:

I was not too happy with them for several reasons. First, it took a long time to make the stuff and it was pretty messy, too. Second, it was hard to control the way I wanted it to as I laid it down. Third, it looked too clumpy and there were a lot of sharp points sticking up when it dried. If I had taken the chance and used the blender, it might have solved the second and third issues.

I made about three using the tissue and glue and then switched to latex caulk:

The smaller tubes are more expensive than the larger ones that you put in a caulking gun, but I figured that I would have more control with it than with the larger tubes. They don't seem to make it without silicon anymore, but didn't seem to be a problem when I test-painted it. Here is a test hex showing one bank with the tissue and the other with the caulk:

I had much more control with the placement of the caulk. I was able to smooth it out where I wanted to. I could also build it up very easily. It also went on a lot faster than the tissue did. When it dried, it didn't shrink the way the tissue and glue did. Here a few more with the caulk:

One thing I noticed, the hexes seemed a lot more warped than they did when I first made them. I am not sure if they were warping over time, or if adding the banks warped them more. The point of origin (the strike, in geology terms) is along the center of the river bed. I've deliberately cracked a few long the length of the warp to de-warp them. My next step is to point them. Hopefully, they will not warp further.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Quick Build Light Forests

While I was waiting for things to dry on my hex-based rivers, I started working on my forests. In a previous post, I tentatively decided on how to make my heavy forests. I've now decided to follow the tutorial that Architects of War provide with some minor changes to materials. I did get my Syntra boards, but without any sort of electrical saw, I don't think I can cut it into hexes.

The Bases
The Architects of War tutorial suggested styrene plastic as an alternative for the base. I wanted to test how stiff it is and how easy it would be to cut it. Wanting to go on the cheap, I went for For Sale/Yard Sale signs. They come in two thicknesses. I can't tell you what they are, but the smaller For Sale signs are thinner than the Yard Scale signs. I've bought these before and have used it for various projects. Its seems recently these signs have gone up in price, but I think they still are a good deal compared to the hobby styrene sheets.

A good pilot study is always done on a small scale, so I decided to make some light forests using small hexes. I found that the Fiskars 2" hex cutter that I bought a while back
cannot punch through the thicker signs, but will go through the thin signs. I've heard mixed reviews on these punchers, mainly that they are not really worth the price. My original intent was to make hex mats from it, but have not gotten to that project yet. It did a good job cutting out the hexes, though several times I had to hunt for the hex as it flew off to parts unknown. One styrene hex was clearly too thin, so I was going to glue three styrene hexes together stacked on top of each other. Two glued together seem to be stiff enough so I stopped there. I wasn't sure how well things would stick to the styrene, so I added a final layer that consisted of a hex punched out of index card. I glued the three using super glue. Once I got some bases made, I then went on to make the trees.

The Trees
I was not interested in the mass canopy that is the heart of the Architects of War tutorial for this pilot project. The sole purpose was to see how good styrene would work. To make the trees, I mushed polymer clay onto my roofing nails and then baked them. Here is one of them ready to be painted.
Word of warning: do not bake with the nail stuck in it. The heat of the nail seems to burn the polymer clay pretty quickly. It is a good idea to pop them off then bake them. Once cooled, I glued them on, painted them, and flocked them. The baked clay was painted green, the trunk dark grey, and the base brown. They are not the most realistic looking trees, but they will do for microarmor scale.  As much as I love making terrain, I'm getting impatient and want to do some gaming!

Putting It All Together
Once dried, I glued the trees onto the bases. The tutorial uses latex caulk to glue down the trees. The caulk would make a nice textured ground, but I was not sure just how good a hold caulk would be, so I glued them with super glue. I arranged the tree such that there was some space in the middle of each hex. That way, at least one infantry unit or vehicle can be positioned in within the forest.
Completed forest prior to glue coating
I also made sure that the canopies did not go beyond the boundaries Remember they are supposed to be light forests.  I added flocking to the ground. I put some shrubbery down and a few random boulders.  One of the beauties of having kids is Play Doh. Ultimately, you find small bits of it lying around all dried up and they make great little boulders when you slap a coat of paint on them.

Once all of it was glued down, I then mixed some PVC glue and water together and coated the trees and shrubs to hold down the flock.
Trees and shrubs just coated with glue
With that, they were done. I might make a few more. I am thinking of make a few with palm trees since Gambusia is a tropical/sub-tropical micro-continent. However, palm trees take a lot longer to make, and might take up more space on the hexes.

They were done in assembly line fashion. I would say it took me about a two evenings to makes these, staying up about two hours per evening.  Compared to my other projects it was a pretty quick and straight forward one.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Rangers of the North Part 2

I've had a little free time in the evenings this past week, so I got some hobbying in. I was planning to work on my rivers, but I can't decide what materials to use to make the banks. Its coming down to plaster, or caulk. So, while I pondered this issue, I cracked open the paint bottles and painted up a few more rangers.

First up, a Splintered Light Miniatures figure from their Warriors of Nature range:

I should have stuck a ruler behind all these figurines, so you can compare sizes. They are a little small, about the size of the Chariot Miniatures rangers, and more slender. Not overly complicated, but very nicely sculpted.

Next is a different Demonworld Miniatures ranger from the one I showed in Rangers, Part 1:

He's got a Robin Hood thing going on. Maybe I should have added a mustachio a la Errol Flynn. The Demonworld figurines are bigger than the other lines, and this guy really seems to reflect that.

Finally, there are these rangers from a company that I now found out, thanks to the Google+ 15mm Fantasy community called Rank & File Miniatures.

They were produced by Ral Partha and came out at about the same time (as I recall) as their Battlesystem 15s. Apparently, their molds were destroyed along with the Battlesystem 15s...thank you Wizards of the Coast....not!!!

Rangers seem to in a variety of poses. Few of them actually fire their bows. They tend to be causal about things as seen above. Maybe that's part of the ranger mystique. What's with the whole mask thing? I am not sure why they need to hide their identities. Again, the ranger mystique?

Here is a group shot to compare sizes:

I will probably finish up this series with the remaining Splintered Lights left to paint, some Peter Pig wood elves that seem more ranger-like than elf like, and then the results of how I decide to base them.