Monday, 6 December 2021

Experiments 2

Well the Sculpey castings were baked and the Green stuff dried.

Less than ideal is probably the best way to conclude the matter. A lot of detail seems to have been lost.

To top it off I revisited the Sho't Kal rear deck and realised it's different to the M60 / M48 deck.

So back to the drawing board; I've a feeling the Centurions will be getting something in plastic card!

Saturday, 4 December 2021


Inspired by More Four showing the Israeli drama series "Valley of Tears" (although inexplicably they cancelled the final episode promising to show it "at a later date" ) which is based on events in the 1973 Yom Kippur war and features genuine Centurions, BTR 152 and possibly Soviet armour (not sure if it's real or CGI), I have been playing around with methods for mass conversions (not religious before you ask....)

My intention is to build Israeli and Arab forces for 1982 and 1973 in addition to those for 1967. There will be some crossover, but the IDF improved a lot of their frontline armour by the time of both these wars.

The first major conversion was to re-engine the Centurions and  M48s; this was partially underway by 1967 for the latter. I solved the problem for the Roco M48 by a cut-and-shunt of the rear half deck of some scrap M60s. However with the numbers required, this was not an option for the 1973 and 1982 armour.

I had a couple of Zylamex diecast M60, the lower parts of which needed replacing as they are very crude. After drilling out the rivets, I lost enthusiasm. I was left however with a perfectly serviceable upper deck, including the correct diesel engine.

My apologies for the poor images. My first experiment is using some thermo plastic moulding material - the Japanese brand is Oyamaru - mine may have been unbranded. It is rigid until you pour boiling water on it when it becomes soft and malleable, hardening again when it cools. You can simply pop back into hot water in the event of errors.

I made two moulds to speed up production by pressing the soft material onto the metal upper deck and and then reversing and pressing down onto the flat cutting board.

Next I tried some sculpey (which needs baking) followed by some green stuff (actually a mix of very elderly blue-white and green -yellow epoxy putty). The sculpey have not taken the details as well as the green stuff, but is much cheaper......

Next experiment is baking the sculpy and possibly trying a mould using some dentist's putty......
I need a quick method to upgrade the Roco Centurions and M48s to Sho't Kal (as the upengined Centuions were called, the originals being Sho't Meteor) and Magach appearance. The 1982 versions will require up armouring with Blazer armour in addition. Lots of work so I need some way of prefabricating parts - there's the turret stowage baskets as well, but that's another story.....

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Still alive!

Another month slips by without a post.....

This time I cannot even report work in progress; there's a definite lethargy and fending off of "the black dog" that's contributing. In addition, changes at work and the pressure to return to normal have made for an unsettling time.

The last couple of weekends have disappeared in a blur - just recovering from busy work weeks seems to be all I can manage, without much energy for anything else.

I see from other blogs that wargames shows have restarted; I have mixed feelings about attending. Even aside from any Covid issues, I have to admit my attendance had dropped off before the pandemic. I was finding most show uninspiring with only moderate interest. There's only so much shopping you can do and most games on show were becoming increasingly identical exhibitions of the "eye candy extravaganza" type. I have returned from a show before and read someone else's report where a game is mentioned and realised I cannot recall seeing it!

 Frankly, after a while wandering around a show, I seem to just screen out most of the games, unless they are actually "different" . I have concluded that my attendance at shows is as much a habit as buying wargames magazines! Very seldom do I get much out of the experience.

I recall early shows which often were something of a novelty. They increased dramatically in number in the last two decades. Even allowing for those that are no more, it's possible (or rather was) to attend a show almost every weekend.

What I do note is they have become very samey; same traders, same games, presumably same punters. Even the games are starting to look the same.

In the past I have really enjoyed some shows. Aside from the early ones where the novelty was enough, it has been shows where I met up with someone, saw a trader you rarely see who either doesn't have a decent website, offers good show deals or benefits from a physical presence so you can "rummage" around their goods ( think Irregular).

Aside from that, it was the finding a bargain or tracking down a kit or no longer produced item - very likely on a trader's stall than the overpriced jumble sale bring and buy...

I've even been where a particular game was on - I still remember the Mollwitz game at Partizan using Charles Grant's original Spencer Smiths. The fact that it attracted such attention at the time tells you a lot I think - because it was different and nostalgic all at the same time.

Enough naval gazing! I need to get on with something so I can post something of merit next month at least aside from pointless ruminations.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Plodding along and bodgering about

 The lack of posts is partly down to "real life" (e.g. Work!), but also an apathetic malaise that  has drained what little enthusiasm I could muster. The "greyest" August may have had something to do with it, and when the Sun finally appeared it was too hot!

I had intended to do some painting but when it came to it just couldn't summon any enthusiasm. Instead, I ended up doing some cleaning up of figures and some modelling.

Spencer Smiths awaiting a black undercoat. This is the "Electoral Army"; the Soldier King version of the Reichsarmee. It is made up of the Electoral states, less Banst.

Banst has an elector who in the "imagineering" process came out as a military innovator modelled on Saxe's ideas, who seems to dislike everyone, but is happy to hire out himself and his army as mercenaries. He is not a fan of the Estavian Empire, so will be done separately. The fact that his entire army will require conversion is purely coincidental (classical style helmets necessitating LI headswaps or carving Napoleonic dragoon and  lancer helmets).

The army will comprise the states of Cleve, Naervaron, Bern and Cotlas and dressed mostly in blue (Cleve in grey with blue facings). This and the Imperial ( "White") army represent a departure from the game as these are unrepresented. Eventually, all the states including Waldow, Sinistria and Dupanen will be represented.

I also did an Imperial artillery battery and some more Fimo personalities.

After this, I turned to Arab - Israeli modelling, this time Egyptians.

Some "bodged" AT artillery tractors and a truck from scrap parts (the tissue tilt cover is still being worked on).

Next up some ZSU 57-2 AA SPG utilising former East German turrets (there are many makers, Espewe, MAB, VEB, Permot and Plasticart who did plastic and diecast GDR 1:87 vehicles) which came in a box of bits from Germany IIRC, mated to Roco T-54 /55 hulls. I actually modified the tracks by removing one wheel and repositioning another to resemble the real vehicle. Aside from that the guns drooped alarmingly so needed some corrective work.

I also realised that I either didn't have enough (or am unable to locate the models I do have) T-34/85s for both Egypt and Syria. Now the Roco model is a very crude representation, but as the rest of the army is made up of crude Roco T-54s, Roskopf / Eko BTR-152s  and BTR-50s which are all underscale to differing degrees (Roskopf around 1/90 and early Rocos were anything from 1:89 to 1:100) it seems fitting to stick with the Roco T-34.

Most of my 1:87 has been acquired very cheaply; alas prices have increased significantly with the demise of Herpa (the last owners) and there were no cheap T-34s around. There were some nice Zylmex diecasts in the USA which were cheap enough, but postage and duties made them prohibitive. The running gear would also need replacement. I could have gone for 3D printed versions, but in the end "bodged" the three you can see towards the rear using spare T-44 turrets merged with T34/76 turrets to get something close to Roco, a version of which in in grey and green, resurrected from available bits. They didn't turn out too bad IMHO. The challenge with the earlier Roco is to produce something from a bit of a sow's ear, but if you manage it, it's very satisfying!

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Playing around with Contrast Paints

 So I had heard of these new "revolutionary" paints from Games Workshop (or are they now called Warhammer like the shops?)

Being of a certain age means I approach anything from GW with some trepidation, especially regarding the claims they make regarding their products, as they have something of a what can best be described as a "captive" audience who tend to buy whatever " official " release comes along.

After trawling the internet and seeing various positive and negative views, I was more swayed by actual pictures which suggested these were worth investigating, as I have been looking for speed painting methods which also give a good result for a reasonable return in effort.

I bought a range of colours, aiming for various hues that would work for C20th figures (I have since bought some greys and various colours to experiment with some large Great Rail Wars figures but that's another story.....)

So today I dug out some Platoon 20 Egyptians and Combat Syrians undercoated in white and intended for the Six Days War. They were in white as I had a vague idea of trying a brown ink wash over base colours (the Syrians were originally intended to used for Egyptians). 

Here's the result of less than 2 hours painting.

I confess I'm quite pleased with how they have turned out.
I've noticed some bits that the perfectionist in me needs to correct, but on the whole I'm impressed.

Are they "revolutionary" ? No not really; they are a highly pigmented stain or wash. You can get similar effects from most paints but it requires practice and results can vary unless you get the proportion right; these work out of the pot (although I put them onto an old tile as a palette).
You need figures with detailed undercuts and make sure you remove mould lines and clean them up properly as these will show up.

For the time and effort however, I don't think they are too bad. For C20th figures I think they work very well.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today

 One that's making the rounds - from social media (which I don't do) to blogs - although some are cheating by including six!

Thought I'd have a crack so that I've posted something in the last month....


Now in it's 3rd edition and all grown up! It's what brought me back to Ancients; a chance discovery of the slim first incarnation.

Command Decision (or CD)

Played endlessly along with the modern version Combined Arms. Separation of morale and training is what made them for me. Really good troops fought better...Research books are great references whatever rules you play. Frank Chadwick 's design notes are worth reading...

Volley & Bayonet (or VnB)

A chance discovery in Caliver's catalogue purchased unseen and without prior knowledge. Taken aback by the gaudy cover but once read completely hooked, again read FC's design notes to see how you design a set of rules using a properly thought out set of parameters. Had been searching for just such a set and in an act of synchronicity came along at just the right time to launch me on my Soldier King project........I often reread them to keep the enthusiasm going.....


Heard about them and was intrigued. Bought from the late Duncan M at Partisan many years ago. Initial reaction was not great but I was still intrigued by the possibilities of a whole Panzer Division in a box file.......It was only later that I really appreciated the subtleties within the rules and their true purpose. What clinched it was the sudden realisation that I could create the ENTIRE armies of the Six Days War.....and I mean ENTIRE....I think they appeal to the megalomaniac in me.....

What I've come to realise is they make you think out of the box....that is conventional rules that get hung up on the frontal armour of Tiger tanks...

Commands and Colors (or C&C)

Initially dismissed these without any good reason. I think it was when my thoughts turned to hexes that I looked at them again combined with Tim Gow's battle reports. I think it was Martin Rapier who remarked that despite what looks like a random card generated game with apparently crude mechanisms, it contains hidden subtleties and produces games that simulate ancient battles better than more elaborate and complex sets.......It also seems to give the sort of nail biting can go either way sort of game I haven't seen since Fire and Fury......

I could pick many more, not only the aforementioned Fire and Fury but To the Strongest, Maximillian (DBA for the Italian Wars), HOTT, Great Rail Wars and Future Warriors Killzone by Grenadier.....All have and still are responsible for my adding to the lead and plastic mountain. I've just recently bought For Whom the Dice Rolls and Arriba Espana /PW for the SCW and Furioso for Italian Wars......but the above represent points where my conventional thinking changed from what I'd been wedded to before....

Sunday, 20 June 2021

More butterfly distractions

As we approach the end of another month I find myself taking stock of what I have managed to do - absolutely nothing!

Not strictly true as there has been a lot of planning and the odd addition, but nothing concrete of note, at least nothing I'd class as achieving anything!

So what you may wonder, has distracted my increasingly butterfly mind?


It is not a new distraction; in actual fact it has exercised an urge to recreate it in miniature for many, many years.....

I hail from that part of the world and grew up, maybe 20 miles of so from the battlefield. I knew of its existence from an early age (I remember my late father pointing out the monument in the distance - "a great battle between the Scots and the English" ).

The first it crossed into wargames consciousness would be the Military Modelling Manual for 1982 which had an article with illustrations by Rick Scollins on the battle (another year had a similar one on Guildford Courthouse - but that's another story!)

I was hooked and determined to recreate it in miniature. Back then at the tender age of 18, I couldn't afford the Dixon 25mms, so it was 15mm. However 15mm manufacturers  back then were thin on the ground, not least for Scots renaissance figures.

It so happened that a new manufacturer, Mike's Models (some of which are still available from Essex) had released a Scots noble front ranker, with pavaisse, just like the illustration in Scollins' article; but no lower class types. Undaunted, I wrote to ask if they had any suggestions from their ranges. They replied, yes, an Italian pikeman would work. So, in the rush of foolhardy youthful enthusiasm, I ordered (IIRC) something like 8 nobles and 96 of the suggested other ranks - sight unseen!

When they arrived, to say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. Not only are Mike's Models very much an acquired taste (they do a one piece charging Gendarme which is superb), but the suggested figures looked nothing like what I was expecting nor much like Scollins' pictures! Added to which, they were identical......

I don't recall what became of them; in disgust they were put away. I suspect they would have been melted down when I discovered home casting.

And thus, Flodden lay dormant. I remember seeing the old Tabletop Miniatures at their shop in Arnold, Nottingham and being tempted; Alternative Armies now have them, although the noble with pavaisse  is not listed / no longer available (the codes jump).

Some years later, I picked up Knightley's Almark title and realised Scollins had based most of his article and illustrations on this book. A few years after that, I picked up Niall Barr's book which reproduced the Scollins illustrations. A visit "back home" led to a visit to Etal castle where there's a nice exhibition, and the stirrings reappeared, but went no further.

Sadly the 500th anniversary passed me by without any further action, although several more books appeared on the Amazon wish list. This was despite collecting figures for the Italian wars; I suspect I thought it was too much of a distraction from the 9+ armies for that theatre!

Then one day, while hunting eBay for 15mm Renaissance, I found someone selling off what was obviously an unstarted  Flodden project.......

He had collected figures from every range imaginable and his Scots lists were a glorious mix of miniatures just as my youthful imagination had pictured them; there were even figures long out of production. I seem to remember bidding on all his lots; I lost out on the (generic) artillery and most of the English, but won most if not all the Scots.

The English were easily sourced / replaced and I've added a few Scots but now have both sides for Flodden at around 1:100......

I'm not sure what prompted me to dig them out again......

I'm now contemplating the quickest way to paint them; my initial thoughts are limited pallette of colours with a black or brown ink wash with selected highlighting.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Republican Army

 Popular Militia (Anarchists + Socialists) with "Tiznao"

Tiznao  and Schneider (as used at Alcazar of Toledo)

International Brigade (Thaelman + Mickelwicz) with T-26

German Thaelman battalion

Mickelwicz  (Poles and Eastern European)


 "Negrillos" Panzer I

Paramilitary forces

 Guardia Civil and Asaltos (Riot Police) + Bilbao armoured car

Peninsula Army

 Generic Nationalist regular army

Experiments 2

Well the Sculpey castings were baked and the Green stuff dried. Less than ideal is probably the best way to conclude the matter. A lot of de...