Saturday, August 27, 2016

20 mm Conversions for Chain of Command

First, a couple of warnings. The photos are not great - the camera is old and I am no Karsh. Secondly, 20mm is my cheap and dirty scale to do North West Europe quickly and with a small investment. Efforts are focused on getting toys on the table rather than on painting and I am no great painter to begin with.  Finally, painting and basing is not entirely complete. For those that were supposed to be, I was unable to find matte spray so had to settle for eggshell. Even though the can was very thoroughly shaken eggshells are apparently shiny. Everything will get shot of proper matte in the future.

One of the practical problems one can face when playing low rated forces in Chain of Command is the need to provide support. When playing a Canadian Motor / Infantry Platoon in NWE or Italy and possibly facing Elite Fallschirmjaeger the need becomes urgent since up to 26 points of support might need to be provided. To address this I need to make up a few teams that don't appear in the usual boxes of 1/72 plastics.  For others, I just wasn't happy with the provided poses.
Flame and Bren
First up is a flame thrower centre with a Bren gunner on the right. The source figure is on the left.  For the Bren I just cut away the barrel of the Enfield and replaced it with the forepart of a Bren cut from another prone figure,  The flame gun is just a length of stretched sprue. Having looked more closely at the life buoy unit, I would use a Thompson figure next time as the grip looks better. 

Back of the life buoy
I cut away the existing backpack to make room for the iconic fuel tank. I had hoped to use a tiny rubber O ring for the tank but I was out, so I used a 1/72 wheel retaining bushing from the bits box instead. It is too square in cross section but will do for now.  The fuel line is thin solder.

PIAT to Bangalore wire cutting figure
Just a quick slice operation to remove the PIAT and Sten then a hole was drilled to take a length of brass rod cut to length.

Demolitions Unit
A simple swap of the original PIAT ammunition carrier on the right to a satchel charge on the left.  The satchel is two 25mm US small packs glued back to back. An earlier attempt used two full packs but was well over sized.

Polish Mine Detector (right)
Another simple conversion by cutting away the rifle and using plastic sprue. The detector unit is a part number tab from from a model kit that just happened to be the right size and shape. Though the back pack had most of the detail scraped off to look more like an electronics box, I felt that trying to make the headphones was a route to insanity. There should be a counterweight on the end of the pole but I have yet to find a good picture.

Medic and casualty
This is not much of a conversion as all I did was cut away the Sten (see below) and add a medic bag using another US small pack and a bit of flat dental floss to make the strap.  All but one of the pictures of Canadian Medics I found show the armband on the left arm. I felt though that it was more obvious on the right and was also much less of a pain to paint (and I do have one supporting reference).

Officer to Platoon Sergeant
The original figure is on the far left. As noted above I cut away the Sten from another of the casualty figures - it was a bit delicate slicing it off the leg without damage - a sharp #11 blade is required. It was then a simple process to trim away the pistol and swagger stick and glue the Sten in its place.

Forward Observer
Very minimal work here. The radio operator is a stock figure. The FO is a kneeling Vickers gunner with  a bit of thin brass sheet cut to size and inserted in a small slit to make a map.

Sniper Team
Even less work on this one. Just a bit of stretched sprue for a scope.  Yes I know it's too big, he traded some whiskey to an American for an unofficial civilian model.... 

2" mortar crews - Conversion left and out of the box right.
Revell made a rather good British infantry set with all sorts of useful poses, Stens and support weapons. Sadly it is now out of production. On the left is my attempt to put together a mortar team out of mostly Italeri/Esci bits. The mortar was made from a bit of brass rod. The mortar man's arms were trimmed and re-positioned to hold the tube. Both the mortar man and the loader were originally less than useful Esci Bren figures who donated their weapons to create more dynamic LMG gunners as noted above.

After making one of these, a package arrived from certain paint sniffing dog.  In it was the much sought after Revell set! The mortar team from this shown on the right.  While I am proud of my little conversion, the pre-made one was a darn sight easier to put together.  Thank you Dog!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dinos on the Dance Floor!

I had a lot of fun with the dino-hunt back in May so I thought I should paint up some more victims for future such games.  I wanted to avoid the usual green lizard patterns so I just went with whatever I fancied. The sharp eyed will spot one influence, the real cammo nerds - another.

For the final spray I was unable to find any matte varnish so made do with satin. It works ok for dinos but not vehicles or or human figures.

Triceratops in a daring print

Mega-velociraptor Maltesi

Steggie - No change other than a wash and spray

A pack of  small carnivores

Mid to late war Tyrannosaur

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bus Conversion - Part 1

As mentioned in my last post, during my travels in Malta, I picked up three toy busses. Two have been put aside for display and future use in a Hercules game but the third was earmarked for my British Home Guard.

Three Busses

I will note here that there are several different scales and manufacturers of busses available and at wildly varying prices. These were the nicer of the 1/48ish scale that I found. I picked them up from a store in the otherwise touristy Buggiba at 12 euros for 3.  The exact same models were 8 euros each in the airport store.  Caveat emptor!

Not being a Bedford expert, I believe that these were from a primarily post war series but a handful were built in '39 and they look right, so I am not going to sweat the details.

The Victim
The models are of Chinese manufacture and feature a white metal body on a plastic chassis with plastic windows and detailing.  The chassis is fixed to the body with two phillips screws so disassembly was trivial.

Bits and Pieces
The chrome bits are held on by the chassis pins and the windows just pop out with a gentle push on the securing tabs. Some detail is created using stickers but overall the paintwork is actually very good. I was actually reluctant to carry out the next step.

Stripped for Service
Into the paint stripper went the body. Unlike some Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars I have stripped for Car Wars where a thick layer of paint obscured significant detail, the paint was quite thin and came off easily and cleanly.

At this point, I am not sure how I am going to proceed,  My initial thought was a simple conversion with the windows as is.  As I look through various period conversions, I am now leaning toward armoured radiators and rifle ports in plated over windows. This will involve a lot more modelling work though.  Much to ponder and more to follow.

Introducing the Colonel

At the end of July, my family and I spent a wonderful two weeks in Malta, where my ever enduring wife's family is from.  Prior to my trip over, I had looked into war gaming groups and resources on the islands but apart from one club, there appeared to be nothing much. I did pick up a number of Malta specific military history books and a couple of toy buses for conversions, but other than that (and the usual plastic tourist tat Knights of St John figures), the islands appeared to be lead free.

In the very last hour of our last trip to the main city of Valetta, I was on the search for bottled water - it was 35 C in the shade - when on a side street, I saw an unassuming looking shop with some toy cars in the window. I went in and found I was in Pace Models on Old Theatre street in Valletta. They had cars and busses and figures....  hand painted 54mm figures.  I looked at the prices but at 15 Euros a pop, my Scots blood rebelled and I left empty handed.

After not acquiring water at less than ruinous prices, I linked back up with the family and yet there was a restlessness and incompleteness in my soul that only fellow gamers would understand.  With less than 20 minutes left before we had to catch the bus out of Valetta, I ran through the heat and back to the store. I resolved to just buy one figure as purchasing the whole set could have lethal consequences, and this is what I came away with:

Colonel, Cacciatori Maltesi
The Colonel is 54mm and hand painted.  He is but one figure in a good, if very specialized, range of Maltese related figures produced in Malta by  David Grech of DeGree Miniatures.

There are several more in the series of Maltese themed display and toy soldier figures on their website and many more not pictured on the web yet. DeGree also has a line of Maltese politicians, including a dog, and transportation themed miniatures.

I am very proud of my acquisition and while he may never be part of an army (though I am working on that), he will take pride of place in the Wargames Room. I am very sad I did not have more time to spend at Pace Models looking at more of their offerings.