Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Bl**dy Trees

The ongoing tree situation. Fir trees, piece of p*ss, however the deciduous variety is having a right flippin' Turkish! Had to dip the little s*ds again as they were harder but not hard enough (if you know what I mean missus). Perhaps third time lucky.

Got the last 20 10mm Mongol cavalry and the final unit of 18 Chin crossbows undercoated last night and they are ready to go, hopefully I should have them done in a couple of days. This will give me 24 bases of 4 Mongol LC each and 9 bases of 8 mixed HC & EHC. The Chin have 3 bases of 8 HC, 9 bases of 4 LC, 6 bases of 12 HI, and 18 bases of spears, bows and Xbows militia and 1 base of 2 rockets.

What about the boards, I hear you say. Well, I reply, I've got all the stuff now, paint, sand, PVA, and disposable roller for glue and paint and tape for the edges so all being well (and fine) should start tomorrow; I'll take pics as I go.

Don't forget, it gets drier quicker in the heat.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Latest 'borrowed' idea

Just to let you know what I've been doing over the last few days. I decided to make another couple of hills for the soon-to-be-completed boards, (weather permitting of course, but if todays flying wet stuff is anything to go by...?) While I was making one I had another light drizzle -wasn't powerful enough to be called a brain storm- why not make a wooded hill? All well and good but trees in 6mm? Haven't got any. Then a sepulchral voice came into my head, 'Remember Matakishi' it said. Of course, one of the items there was how to make 25mm from skinned twigs and chunks of kitchen scourers, or Scrubbies as I've heard them referred to. I had previously scaled down the idea for 10mm using barbie skewers,(the wooden type not the doll), so now I went a step further by using cocktail sticks.

Now I'm not going to give you a picture step by step because it's self explanatory. Buy scourers and toothpicks costing about £1 for a pack of 4 including a tub of sticks. Paint sticks in your tree bark colour. Pull off decreasing sized chunks of scourer -you normally get 2 trees and about four or five layers per stick. Push largest piece over pointed end of stick and push down until near the bottom. Continue with smaller sizes of scourer until only one is left. Blob some PVA underneath the lowest piece to glue it in place then put a blob on the top of the stick. Push last piece onto stick making sure point is covered. When the glue is dry you can give tree a quick dry brush if required.

Now I use polystyrene bits stuck to thick card and covered with strips of masking tape and PVA and sand to make my hills, so making holes in them was simple enough using a pin vice with the right sized drill bit inserted. Dab of PVA in the hole to secure the tree and Robert is your mothers sibling.

This particular example is about 6" X 4" and about 3/4" tall at highest point. I have included a British Army Warrior for scale.

This third pic shows a copse of just a couple of trees stuck to pre-terrained circle of laser cut MDF with the Warrior again for scale. (Not my best pic this one.)

I am also trying to make some deciduous trees by using cocktail sticks and some clumpy green stuff. The idea worked until I dipped said trees in a PVA water mix when most of the stuff fell off. Not to be deterred I tried again with a little more success. Left them overnight to dry. Found out this morning that there had not been enough PVA in the water and that the foliage was still relatively soft. Bo**ocks! Added some more PVA and had then Devil's own job mixing it...then read the bottle and found that the this particular brand of PVA is water resistant. Senior Moment or what? Eventually got it mixed reasonably well and have dipped them again and left them till tomorrow. Not holding my breath this time to be honest.

In the meantime I timed myself making some more scourer trees. Allowing for the fact that the sticks were already painted it took me no more than 15 minutes to make 6 trees. How simple is that?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Modern Update

Just to let you know I haven't fallen off the edge of the world or anything but occasionally, the outside world gets in the way.

Well, the Russians are coming along apace; in fact so much so that I've nearly finished them. Painted at present there are 3 tank battalions of 9 models apiece (2 T72 and a T55), 1 motorised infantry battalion of 10 bases and the divisional headquarters of AA, bridging, mine-laying, recovering and other such support stuff. 1 more infantry battalion to paint and thats it.

Next week should be interesting if the weather holds. I intend to get outside and have a go at covering the boards that I bought a few months ago (remember them?). If it works I'll put some piccies up.

Been making some more terrain B & P's such as more explosions -6 so far -but none with any cotton wool as yet. I've concluded that they can be used in various scales up to and inc 25mm as grenade bursts. Also made another, small, hill for the boards.


Thursday, 12 May 2011

Had a half-a-crown moment there.

Boy, was that a worry. Turned on the old pc, started up Opera and went to have a look on the blog. As I scrolled down I noticed that all my photos were missing and on investigation found that I couldn't log in and a message that said something along the lines of blog has been cancelled or terminated or similar was glaring malignantly at me. What! I hadn't done anything naughty or broken any rules that I was aware of, so what was going on? Went onto the Help pages and it said that Help wasn't currently available in my language. Now what? Still feeling a tad concerned over all the lost info I tried once more...and there it all was in glorious colour. Phew, that was close! Anyone had anything similar?

Now onto more interesting matters.

Had a thought the other day while looking at someones pics from Salute. 6mm explosions or fall of shot markers. Then of course the next thought was how do I make them? As the Meerkats from the adverts say 'Simples!' So here is my first attempt along with a H & R T72 for scale reference. Can you guess how I made it?

I found a bag with some old 25mm round bakelite like, plastic, washer type things so, using that as a base I folded a humble pipe cleaner four times and then glued it down with some UHU. When dried I covered the cleaner in watered down PVA then, when that was dry, using neat PVA, I put some dabs on the arms and stuck it into my 'slightlier-chunky-base material' bag. When that part was dry I gave it another coat watered down PVA for extra adhesion for the bits. The whole thing was undercoated black and dry-brushed in ever lighter shades of grey. The 'slightlier-chunky-base-material' bits were painted to represent chucks of earth thrown up by the explosion. Some flashes of red in the middle and thats it, all done. Make up the base in your own style and there you have it. Might make some with some smoke billowing out as well. (Made from cotton-wool and stuck in the middle of the bend. Thought just occurred to me, different types of shell could be represented using different colours of cotton-wool.)

I'm on a roll here, I've already got another half dozen made up with the UHU drying as I type.

Don't let yours get dry,


Monday, 9 May 2011

Another Bargain had!

Now I am a regular visitor to our small, local library. I say regular because it's once every four weeks when my books are due. Normally, I use the place to get books that I classify as past-time reading i.e. thrillers, horror, sci-fi, fantasy etc. While there I always have a quick gander at the For Sale trolley and very occasionally, I might find one historical tome that catches my eye. This time I found not one but six, namely:
The Warriors Way, England in the Viking Age by Stephen Pollington. Lots of pictures and maps and things.
The Wars of the Roses by J R Lander and Richard III, The road to Bosworth Field by P W Hammond & Anne F Sutton. This is a period of our history that I will go on record as saying that I know very little about beyond the fact that it happened and that we had King Henry VII at the end of it.
Monty's Marauders by Patrick Delaforce. An account of the Red Fox 8th Armoured Brigade from its beginning to the end of the war.
Monte Cassino by David Hapgood and David Richardson and Cassino The Hollow Victory by John Ellis. Again, have sketchy knowledge about this particular episode of WW II.

So that's six hardbacks from the Discarded trolley at the princely price of 10p apiece. Can't be bad. you never know, I may even get round to reading them at some stage.

Don't want to talk about the Hammers and haven't done for quite a while. I will be pleasantly surprised if they manage -against the odds- to stay up, but I'm not holding my breath. And if they do go down no doubt some of the players will want out; if they had any loyalty, they would stay and get the club back up straight away, but I can't see that happening either.

Monday, 2 May 2011

History Revisited - Part Deux

This time I thought I'd share pictures of some of the original buildings of Tunisia.

The first two are of a village by an oasis in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. It was abandoned after suffering from flash floods back in the 1960's. The government relocated the village further down the hill side.

The others are from an abandoned village on the outskirts of the Sahara Desert near Gabes in the south of the country.

Gives you an idea of colour and construction detail. The place is as dry as a witches wossname so I can't see much in the way of colour change except for maybe some fading due to the incessant sunshine.

(Apologies about the quality of the last three. My main camera had run out of battery power and the backup was only 4 megapixies and trying to take photos from the back of a moving camel is definately not the best idea in the world.)

I tell you, the Sahara is an incredible place -there is absolutely no sound apart from the odd camel herder sounding off or a camel passing wind. It is definitely near the top of my '50 places to visit before you die' list.

PVA Fixative (contd)

On a more recent note, I gave the whole of my Modern Brits a coating of PVA spray earlier today to fix the foliage in place. Can't say that it was 100% successful with some foamy bits going harder than others but at least most of the hairspray sheen has now gone. The problem is that the stuff tends to pool in some of the lower areas and if left alone will dry cloudy but having a piece of kitchen roll to hand will soon put a stop to that. Overall, reasonably impressed; will definitely continue using it.

Here's a photo of my collection of Modern Brits to date...all 122 bases of them. As you can see, some of them still have a slight eggshell look to them but believe me, it's not that noticeable.

Now it's on with the Russians, so far two tank battalions finished -one of T55's and the other of T72's.

History revisited

For all you Ancient wargamers out there I thought I'd give you some views of the 'Ribat' at Sousse in Tunisia -taken by myself in 2009- for colour, texture and construction details. The actual construction of the main building dates back to the late 8th Century AD with the watchtower being added in 821 AD. There was some more work done in 1722 and it is possible that the doors in pictures 3, 7 and 8 were added at this time. the only reasoning I have for this is that the lintels look newer than the rest. The whole Ribat was heavily restored after some serious bombing in 1942-43.

Originally a religious institution, in exchange for special privileges, the occupants were the watchers of the coastline to give warning of any approaching Byzantine fleet. Fires at night and smoke during the day from the watchtower could pass the information on to other coastline forts.

All pics are of course clickable for in-yer-face detail.

1. The Entrance Porch on the south face.

2. A closer shot of the Porch.

3. Detail of a small door on the eastern face.

4. Looking north-north-east, another shot of the Porch.

5. Looking at the north face.

6. Square Watchtower with circular tower above in the south-east corner.

7. Another small door either on the north or west faces.

8. Same door as in '3' but additionally, showing the battlements.

The next five shots are of the interior.

9. On the north wall looking south towards the entrance.

10. Circular corner tower battlement detail.

11. North-eastern corner looking south towards the Sqaure Watchtower. Nothe the crenelations on both sides of the walkway.

12. More tower battlement detail.

13. Showing courtyard. Taken from south-eastern corner looking to the north-west.

If anyone wants some more details just let me know, I have a copy of the Guide book from this ribat as well as the one from Monastir. Also have a copy of the official guide book from Carthage (whats left of it).

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Biting the fixative bullet

Today was another nice day weather wise, so after the missus had gone off to work and all the animals sorted, I say all, we have one cat, Tasha, and two recently acquired kittens, Archie and Willow, but they all need feeding and the litter tray sorting and I need feeding etc. So at about eleven thirty I decided to bite the bullet on fixative and try a watered down PVA spray on the new road system. The result was 'Busting1' (as they say hereabouts). Covers like a dream and not a single strand of static grass came loose afterwards. The only problem is that at first the PVA spray came out a bit blotchy so I had to do a quick dabbing and mopping job with a piece of kitchen roll, but apart from that the system works a treat. Doing the job outside meant that the spray dried in less than ten minutes. My next trial is to see if it will negate the sheen left by the hairspray fixing method on my 6mm Moderns.

Next time,