Monday, July 16, 2018

Ironclad Miniatures - a review

I know I have been doing a lot of reviews lately, but hey, it's what I have time for what with 20mm WWII dominating my time lately. I am not a prolific painter by any stretch, in fact, the prep for this game was something of me on a mission, so I will be slowing down to something of a more sedate level in the future.

Now that said, I did paint up something of interest to Twilight: 2000 miniatures gamers, and that is some items from Ironclad Miniatures. Specifically, I painted up FP-1a, Hasty Trench Position, and FP - 5, their Prepared Trench. Both come in a hard resin, grey in color, and are lightweight and durable from first blush.

I was really happy with the ease of painting them, after an undercoat of black gesso which held really well, I painted them a shade of BF Woodland Brown overall, and then scattered some Citadel Scorched Grass flock. I then added random tufts from the Army Painter line, as well as some school project rocks that I then painted grey, and drybrushed a lighter grey. the branches were painted a VMC Flat Earth, and the sandbags VMC Middlestone. The wood slats in the trench I hit with a bit of VMC Flat Earth as well, and drybrushed AK New Wood over it. I then hit the item with pin washes of Magik Mudd Wash (sadly no longer available).

All in all, I was pleased with the product, and highly encourage it. They make an entire Vietnam Firebase line of products that would do very well for cantonments, and I am going to say this much, if they paint up as well as these small pieces did, then I am encouraged. They also have some ruins that I got as well (all of the Ironclad Miniatures products were purchased by my wife as a nice Xmas surprise last Christmas!) and some Hedgerows for Normandy. I am especially looking forward to those, as they look to be as easy as chips to assemble and paint up.

Anyhow, here's some pics of the painted products...ready to play:




In short, I give them 5 out of 5 mushroom clouds and will tell you that they are an excellent product, and one you should give a try for any 20th century gaming! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Book Reviews: Painting Wargaming Figures and The Wargaming Compendium

Hi all,
 Not much on the modelling and painting front. RL has been busy and I have been doing a lot more writing of late, not to mention, the motivation to pick up the brush hasn't bit me like is usually does this time every year. I am sure it's a temporary thing and I will pick it back up soon.

  But, I wanted to do a book review or two, and these books are ones I've wanted to do for some time. 

Painting Wargaming Figures
Author: Javier Gomez
Publisher: Pen and Sword Military, 2015
Dimensions: 6 x 9"
Cover: Soft Cover and Kindle

Pages: 192pp

Taken from Amazon.com
 To me, this is an essential book for any serious painter. The techniques that he lists here have certainly upped my game as a painter (and I am not good enough to think my game does not need improvement by a long shot). What I like most about this book is the very clear layouts, how each color is given a chapter's worth of attention, including that pernicious of all colors to paint with, white. And yet, he does so with a bit of dry humor, and simplifies what seems to be at first glance, a complex method only known to a true artist. But the secret is, it's not hard at all.
 
 Everything about this book is well laid out, the techniques are solid (I have used them often) and work with any paints by any manufacturer (even if he uses Vallejo paints exclusively throughout the book, one can easily work out the conversions between brands), I also like how he discusses each technique and the other tools of the painter's toolbox. He teaches priming, drybrushing, ink-washing, it's all there and laid out in a clear, easy to follow format not limited to a single manufacturer.

 What I like most of all, is that he then discusses other scales. Just because he uses 28mm in most of the examples of the book, he also discusses 20mm, 15mm, and 6mm to name a few scales and how you can simplify his techniques to work with smaller scales.

 This truly is a must get desk reference for any wargamer, if not handy at the paint table itself. We can all learn something from this book. 5 out of 5 mushroom clouds. 

The Wargaming Compendium
Author: Henry Hyde
Publisher: Pen and Sword Military, 2013
Dimensions: 6 x 9"
Cover: Hard Cover, Soft Cover, and Kindle
Pages: 520pp
Taken from Amazon.com
This is simply another must have book for any miniature wargamer. In this book you get a history of the hobby, capsule histories of every book that has ever discussed miniature wargaming as a subject, two sets of wargaming rules (neither a rules set suitable for Twilight: 2000, sadly...), a wonderful writeup on how to paint soft plastic figures in a way that the paint ACTUALLY sticks. (Yes, this is a big deal in and of itself, discussions on just about every period in wargaming, and much, much more.

While the size may be a bit daunting, it's actually a very quick read, and it is very beginner friendly with lavish use of charts, infographs, and color photos that have very nicely painted figures throughout. It's certainly influenced my own efforts both on this blog, and elsewhere, and Henry hasn't rested on his laurels, as now he's running a Paetron supported blog of his own, with something of a podcast associated with it as well. If you like the book, I more than encourage supporting his efforts through Paetron.

The book certainly merits the score of 5 out of 5 mushroom clouds I am giving it, and I would run, not walk to get your copy if you do not have it already. 
  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Rundown of Aftermarket Vehicle Improvements for 20mm Vehicles

Hi all,
 I know it's been a while since you heard from me, but I was busy with some other writing projects I was working on. Needless to say, those are being put to bed, after a fashion and I wanted to add another post to "500 Miles.." before May ended as I will be AFK for a good chunk of June.

 So what are aftermarket vehicle improvements? These are items that are sold separately and are often used to replace kit parts, or improve the look of said kit. These items include stowage, replacement barrels for main guns, and/or even major parts. A lot of these parts can be very, very useful for the "gypsy caravan" look of Twilight: 2000.

So, without further ado, let's get into it.

Black Dog Models

One of the many Black Dog offerings in 1/72, this set is for the Trumpeter LAV-25 kit
(Taken from the Black Dog website)

Black Dog is nothing but prolific, and of very high quality. I have personally only ever worked with their M1A1 Iraq War accessories set, but the overall quality is such that I was impressed, parts fit without much work, and the resin is odor free and of high quality. I had personally no issue with the items I have worked with, and recommend them highly to anyone and everyone working on a modern or WWII kit.

Among the more useful items one finds in the 1/72 range are: The M48 Vietnam set, the LAV-25 set, the AAVP1 sets, the M2 Bradley set, the US Modern Equipment sets, the M113 sets, (including the IDF sets (but be careful not to overuse it, some of the equipment is uniquely Israeli), the M60A1 set, the Food Supplies, Barrels, Ammo Boxes, Tentage and Bedrolls, T-54A Conversion Set, Warrior Accessories, and the M35 Gun Truck conversion set.

Keep in mind, many of these are made for specific kits, so be aware of what those kit(s) are before you purchase one of Black Dog's sets, but once you do, you'll find in my humble opinion, some of the best resin aftermarket stuff on the market.

Legend Productions

The Striker Accessories Set (taken from the Legend Productions website)
Legend is neither as prolific, nor as extensive a product line as Black Dog, but it does make some nice stuff. I have made their kits go together with a variety of vehicles I happen to have in my collection and it's stuff is often made in single pieces, which means an accessory set can often go for two or three vehicles, instead of just one. The only issue with Legend is that it does have a bit of a strong smell when you first unwrap it from the box, so it might be a good idea to let it cure for a bit on a handy surface before you put it to use.

That said, it's a line with good detail, solid items, and plenty of pieces of which to fire your imagination, the cooler I painted up as "For Beer" on one of my M1s was a Legend piece, and it took a so-so kit, and really made it pop.

RB Models



125mm L/48 D-81K barrel (taken from RB Models site)

RB Models is an outfit in Poland that makes rolled aluminum and brass barrels as replacement items for model kits. Most of what they make is for WWII in 20mm, but they also make a few modern items, such as the D-10T for the T-55, the M242 Bushmaster for the Bradley (these barrels are small, so adroit handling is a must) and the D-30 barrel for the 122mm D-30 Howitzer. It's not a large line, but it's a well made line. All of the barrels come packed in a plastic baggie and they are bit longer than they need to be, so you can drill out the gun mantlet, and properly place the barrel into the turret. I've used the barrels on a Bradley of mine, as well as several WWII vehicles, including a Panther and I recommend them without reservation.

S & S Models
One of the General Stowage packs available from S & S (taken from the S & S models site)
S & S Models has been reviewed for their vehicles before and as I said, they have some stuff that very few manufacturers in 20mm even make. Such is also the case with their stowage, as they make some very useful items, such as the unique stowage bins for Bundeswehr M113s and stowage boxes for Chieftains. The general items look as if you could get a lot out of them too, with enough for two or three vehicles per pack. Knowing what I know of S & Ss quality, I also recommend them without question, and though postage can take a bite, it's worth it for what you get.

I will do a companion article for 15mm as well as a separate article on decals soon, and I have an idea for this to be a "living post" that will be updated as new product lines and items come to my attention.

TTFN! 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Trumpeter 1/72 scale LAV-25

Welcome to another "Its 500 Miles to the German Border" article. Today we will cover my assembly and painting of the Trumpeter 1/72 scale LAV-25.

From those who know the Twilight 2000 game the LAV-25 is almost iconic, some would say necessary vehicle to have in ones collection. Took me awhile to find this one for a decent price and not something extortionist online (I paid $28 CDN all in)., I'm still on a beer can budget after all.

Trumpeter models from what Ive seen are pretty much China's answer to Revell, and comes pretty close quality and ease of build wise. In future I will be more diligent to take step by step photos but here we go:

Opening up the box the sprue was laid out nicely and part were well labelled for the instructions given. Really easy to follow.

The parts fit really well together and there wasn't any issues with flashing (those pesky "mold lines" and other bumps etc) that effect many models.

Now before anyone starts getting out the glue and slapping parts together (if your experienced than you can ignore the next bit and make your own mistakes) I really, really, recommend fitting your parts together before you glue. This way you can see how they fit and narrow down any potential problems latter on. On this model the tread pattern on the tires IS directional. Make sure you lay out the tires and rims ahead of time and plan out the placement. BONUS on this model is the tires are rubber which I thought was a nice touch.

 I like to use side cutters for taking off parts, some like using a hobby knife/exacto etc. The side cutters have more control and are easier but whatever floats your boat or amphibious fighting vehicle.

The hull fit well and so did the back hatch. Again cant emphasize enough about doing a "dry fit " first and then jumping in with the glue once your happy with how everything lines up.

 Now the turret. I added some extra armour (not included in the kit) by using polystyrene sheet (.040 mm) and cut into squarish shapes to represent some extra armour platting the crew in Twilight 2000 could have scavenged and welded onto the turret to protect the crew.

The antennae I used garden wire put through the top of the turret before I glued the top and bottom half the turret together. I used loctite to keep the antennae in place instead of the usual "thin glue" used for putting the model together.




Here we have the base model pretty much together minus the wheels seeing how it all looks.

At this point one should think about any kind of accessories ( handmade tarps, parts, weapons, chains, ropes, parts from other kits) that you'll want to put onto it.





This kit didn't include a spare tire (no idea why) so I had to make one.

Using and old truck kit tire (was same size) I scraped out the wheel hub and placed an extra hub from the model kit inside it.

You'll also see in the picture some boxes and a barrel I had from other kits that I would add to the model.




Now this is a bad example of not following my advice. These extra parts should have been glued on PRIOR to doing the base coat! So it was loctite to the rescue yet again. The regular glue may or may not have worked after the base coat was on. For base coat I almost always use Citadel Chaos Black (in a spray can) but really and matte base coat should do. The reason for this is twofold (again sorry advanced practitioners). 1/ the rest of your paint needs something to stick to. 2/ it helps give those recesses (grooves, shadowed areas) shade etc. You could base coat in white if you wanted to make your model brighter, but this is for TWILIGHT 2000 not the show room.

 OK so taking a huge leap forward these pics are the pretty much done pics. My apologies to the class. In future there will be a more step by step process with pictures.

I did a few coats of NATO green (TAMIYA) on most of the vehicle leaving out the wheels and the muffler (aka exhaust) as seen on the right side. The muffler I started with a burnt umber, then brass followed by some orange (go dark) applied with a sponge. This makes it look good n rusty.
The rest was painted in the NATO standard cam pattern of brown/black/green.

The wheels at this point get painted with a flat black the hubs were painted using the same rust technique as the exhaust system. Also same technique on the air intake grill, and cargo bins.

I also added a home made cam net (made by using arm sling bandage dyed green and dried out). The cam net was then wetted down, rinsed out so just damp then rolled into shape and placed on model. Glued into place using loctite. Let cam net dry (mostly) then paint using inks to emphasize the shadows, and dab on some other camo colours.


 Once everything is in place and your happy with the base colours. Get a pencil and scratch lightly parts that stick out. Try out a bit at first don't overdo it. Parts where paint would chip from use like door hinges, edges of the body, anywhere the crew would step on a regular basis, tops of fuel cans etc.

Going back to inks, highlight around objects like panels or recesses to make features stick out or "pop". Think of it like doing an outline on a picture you coloured. You can also try very fine tip markers instead. I've used both myself with varying results.

Now for the "weathering" technique. This just helps make the model look like its actually been used and abused like in real life.

I also added the red diamond denoting the 5th Infantry Division from the Twilight 2000 story line ("Escape from Kalisz") and put Monk's name by the drivers hatch as a nod to one of the narrators stories through the core rules set.
Back to weathering: this really is just dulling down the colours so the vehicles don't look they just rolled out from the factory.

Myself I use a paint called Mushroom made Folk Art. But anyone could use a dirty grey or dull brown. Dry-brush whatever colour over the whole model to dull down anything that seems to bright. The idea being to dull the colours down not paint over top of them. The mud effect was the first time I tried a Citadel "texture" paint called "Agrellan Badlands". Its an odd paint (from what Im used to) in that its not runny but actually pretty thick and it has bits of grit in it. The same technique for you DIY's out there could probably be achieved by letting a beige/brown/leathery colour start to dry out on your pallet, add some fine sand, stir then dry brush on. The idea with the mud is to make it look like it was the wheels in motion that splattered it about.
The undercarriage was done using the Tamiya NATO green followed up with doing the rust effect technique followed up by generous amounts of weathering then mud effect.

Thanks again for tuning into "It's 500 Miles to the German border". Feel free to comment or ask questions and Jason or myself will do our best to answer or get back to you.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New Team Member, upcoming reviews

Thank you gentle reader for tuning in for another post of "It's 500 Miles to the German Border".

Jason has asked that I join the team to present some articles/reviews on modelling and I look forward to the challenge and hope to share my insights, techniques, whats worked and what hasn't with various 1/72 scale models (20mm).

Fortunately I was in between jobs and housing at the time so it worked out. (At left the EvS workshop/mobile home)

The models I make are for my own Twilight 2000 group of family and friends and started out innocently enough now its become a festering disease of combing through bargain bins looking at other die-cast models that are close to same scale and hitting pretty well every hobby store within 100km (60 miles), not to mention recruiting others to do my evil bidding and having minions combing through garage sales looking for models, parts or anything that might "mad max" up models and die casts. Countless hours searching for deals , begging on the street corner for sprue...... well enough about that.

Nobody starts off awesome in doing models but anyone can get good enough in quick order. Ill even show a few of the ugly models with the good ones. I don't use airbrushes or use anything super expensive, trying to keep it "beer can budget". Having said that I do sometimes buy a fancy paint but nothing outside of the budget or reality for the majority of gamers out there.

Some example model builds/mods I will be covering are all for the purpose of using in  our Twilight 2000 game sessions.

1/72 scale LAV-25 (Trumpeter)

Variety of AFV's , including APCS,  IFVs, Tanks, etc.

Also covered will be models from Revell, ICM, ACE (the bane of my existence but willing to give another shot), Academy, ERTL, ESCI, etc





1/72 scale 2.5 "Deuce" Truck (Academy)
Lots of other cargo vehicles, jeeps, etc











Modified Die Cast Cars

 Matchbox, Hotwheels, Corgy or whatever I cant get my hands on.






Making Cam nets and other scratch build items
Its time to dust off those "arts and crafts" skills, using whatever the hell we can find in the junk drawer, the neighbors junk drawer (you just have to move quicker than them and their dogs!) or wherever you can find "odds and sods".


Thanks again for tuning in and I thank Jason for bringing me to his team. 

Sincerely, EvS! 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: The Iran-Iraq War, Volumes 1 and 2


Pictures taken from Hellion Publishing Website

The Iran - Iraq War, Volumes 1 and 2, The first volume covers the period of September 1980 to May 1982 and the second covers June 1982 - December 1986. (There is a Volume 3 and 4).
Author: Tom Cooper, E. R. Hooton and Farzin Nadimi
Publisher: Hellion and Company, 2016
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11"
Cover: Soft Cover
Pages: 80pp


I really wanted to like these books. I did. While they are chock full of wonderful insights on the Iran-Iraq War in particular, and a good idea of what two nations unprepared for war with limited resources looks like in general, the books had a lot of issues that really overall, detracted from my reading experience.

First, the good. As I said, the insights found in the books are quite interesting. The extent to which Saddam really didn't have a plan as to how he was going to accomplish his war aims (and even have any really well-defined war aims to accomplish) was startling. It seems the Iraqis stumbled into this being the wider conflict it ended up being.

The Iraqi army wasn't really ready for war either, as it's way of taking an objective was a slow advance while blasting the snot out of a random portion of desert with copious amounts of artillery because said ground was the day's objective. Guderian they weren't.

Meanwhile, the Iranian army was even worse off in 1980 than can be believed, whole units were understrength, and the mullahs really didn't care, as they saw it as a means to prevent a coup, once the war broke out, it is well known they were grabbing military experience anywhere they could find it, including the jails (who were filled with politically suspect officers still loyal to the Shah).

Another interesting thing. The human wave assaults by Iran that we saw in the West became more nuanced over time. How much nuance that really was is arguable, but it seems that the Revolutionary Guards (who were the primary practitioners of said tactics) got better at their execution of such tactics.

Another surprise on the Iranian part, the slow response of the Army. While the Air Force, and even the Navy, as well as the Rev, Guards responded to eventually put up a ferocious defense Khorrmansharr, the Army was mostly not involved in the initial fighting in any real strength. It also had an interesting look at the fact both air forces spent more time either bombing the enemy homeland, or engaging each other, than supporting the army, which fell to the helicopter forces on both sides.

The not so good about these books? Well, for starters, Volume 1 was, from an editing standpoint, a train wreck. Often, when a range of numbers was quoted, like "500-1,000" the dash was often omitted so the numbers often looked like this "5001,000". It's a minor error, to be sure, but it was consistent throughout the book. There was several glaring errors with the photo captions, especially with regards to tank types, which, considering Hellion's status as a publisher of military history, should be a little bit embarrassing. Volume 2 does clean up a number of these errors, but both volumes suffer from the authors going off on tangential topics that at times had me going on like "What the hell was the point of this?"

Also, I think the MSRP for the books are a bit high at $35.00. I got mine at $24.95 in the bargain bin at a wargaming convention. It's taken me a year to read them properly for a review.

It's not so much that the books are bad...it's that they could have really been so much better.

But, where does it come into play for a Twilight: 2000 miniatures gamer? For starters? If you're doing an RDF based game or two set in the the area around Bandar-y-Khomeini - Khormansharr, and Avhaz, the terrain write-ups in the books are damn useful. It gives you an idea of what the terrain is like there, as well as the terrain further west in the Iraqi regions around the Shatt Al Arab.  This is also useful for roleplayers as well.

Also, if you're doing RDF based miniatures games, the color plates are useful, as it gives you an idea of what Iranian and Iraqi equipment would look like. The climate, and the terrain isn't the Arabian desert with unrelenting sand. It's more lots of hills and sand, with some marshland to the west, and that's going to a) create a different look to the vehicles, and b) be a very different war.

So, to sum up, I gotta give both books 3 out of 5 mushroom clouds, there's value there, but I gotta admit, they're a bit overpriced for what you get IMO, and the editing could have and should have been better, especially in the first book.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New Show in the DC Metro Area

I wanted to keep people apprised of a new one day wargaming show attached to the National Capital Model Soldier Society's annual show in the DC area. I happen to know the organizer and he's determined to make this first show a success. Therefore, I am doing my bit to get the word out.

The show will be September 8th, and the wargaming area has 3100+ square feet attached to it, so it should be preemo gaming space for just about everything. If you happen to be in the DC area, and want to play, or even run an event, come on by. I have posted the flyer for the event here, so as to put out the word of this event.

So please, show up, and make this first of what I hope to be many events, a success.


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Twilight 2000, The Look on the Tabletop, Part 1, Vehicles

Twilight: 2000 is in some ways, a unique post-apocalyptic experience, it isn't quite Mad Max, it isn't quite Gamma World, or for tha...