September 28, 2017

Timecast bridges–a Quick snapshot

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I’ve finished bridges for Timecast’s river system and had a bit of fun with the camera.

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Double-dipping in the hobby pool

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Another sidestep into my other hobby. This time it’s a Messerschmitt 210 from Italeri, 1/72 scale (as always). A problem-filled kit, with sligh, but annoying fitting problems which cost a bit additional construction time. Still, once I was finished with it, I was a bit surprised over how much I liked it. Mind you, the real thing apparently gave Göring an ulcer (which, when you think about it, should really count as a positive characteristic!), but it based on lines alone, it’s a really beautiful airplane!

Anyway, here’s a couple of pics of my take on this kit.

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September 21, 2017

1/72 Normandy buildings from Najewitz Modelbau

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Well… this post was supposed to be a short and sweet introduction to buildings from Najewitz Modelbau, but I’m afraid I will kick it of with a rant. Over last couple of years, I’ve bought a grand total of five sets from these guys and was extremly pleased with the stuff I’ve received. Beautiful buildnings, minimal assembly, prompt delivery times. Of course when the packages from them arrived, I admired my new ‘precious’ and then placed them in my ‘stash’. Today however, I’ve came to realization that if my Chain of Command project is to ever lift of ground, I would have to force myself and actually put couple of these buildings together. With a sigh (another terrain project!), I dug up the boxes from Najewitz and picked one of the house at random to work with.

After I have washed the components and took the snapshots, I wanted to take a quick look at Najewitz’s site to check what they called this particular item. Well, the site is still there… but all the stuff they sold is gone. From what I can understand, the firm has switched focus and is now selling files with design plans for 3D printouts of buildings. I won’t lie, I am quite annoyed by this move. I get it that a company is free to do as it pleases when it comes to its activities. But at the same time, making lateral move like this, without much of a warning, is leaving me at least in a bit of a lurch.

On with the ‘first look’ at one of Najewitz 20mm Normandy buildings then, although I’m not sure there is much point in it anymore since it and all of its brethren seems to be no longer available on the market. Anyway… the building I will be working with is actually a set of two buildings – a café and a small garage. They’re made of plastic. The walls are about 5mm thick, while the roof sheets are bit thinner, maybe 3mm. There is minimal flash in some of the windows, but otherwise the casts are very crisp.

Construction should be simple – one just has to put the ‘teeths’ together and ensure that the angle between the walls is 90 degrees. The fit of components is pretty good, but I suspect some filler will be needed to hide the ‘tooth’ outlines at the corners. Roofs may be a bit more tricky and will probably need some sort of reinforcement, as I intend to make them removable.

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Darkest Days of WarWhat do you say about a book that you find pretty much perfect? This seems to be dilemma I am finding myself in right now, as I try to formulate some sort of coherent opinion about Peter Cozzens’ ‘The Darkest Days of the War’. The only thing that keeps popping up in my head is simply ‘This bloody thing is perfect!’.

Of course I realize that this is not a very helpful review and if I’d be hard-pressed to be more precise about the reason why this book made such an impression on me, I’d say ‘balance’. The author strikes absolutely perfect balance between overall picture and detail, between dry facts and personal experience, between commander’s perspective and the horror of combat experienced by individual soldier standing in the line of battle. Military history buffs interested in American Civil War are blessed by the fact that there is a multitude of historians that are also very talented writers, but Peter Cozzens is exceptional all in his own right.

There may be another reason why I cannot help but regard this book as absolutely superb. Just as most historical wargamers, I read a lot of military history literature. Most of the time I regard books in this genre simply as source of information and a learning tool. Very seldom do they manage to touch me on personal level. On this occasion however… there is something in the writing style of Cozzens that on several occasions filled me with immense sense of sorrow and sadness for the men who had to live through the horror of the events author describes. Military history writers often try to present the ‘human aspect’ of armed conflict, but in my case at least it is very seldom that their efforts manage to provoke a reaction. This book is for some unexplainable reason different and it definitely managed to leave a lasting emotional imprint on me.

What about the wargamer’s perspective then? Well, here I can be a bit more precise in my opinion and say… what a shocker… that it’s pretty much perfect and not for one, but for two specific reasons. First of all, the book deals with Iuka and Corinth battles of 1862, which also happen to be the subjects of many scenarios in Caliver Books’ ‘Heartland’ scenario books I’ve used for my games over last couple of years. ‘The Darkest Days of the War’ puts at least two of the scenarios I’ve played into historical content in best imaginable way! Furthermore, this book is a scenario trove all in its own right due to the fact that all three of the main engagements of the campaign are described in exceptional detail. Unit deployment is described all the way down to regimental (and sometimes skirmish screen) level, while the maps could be fetched from a wargaming magazine. The only thing missing is detailed information about manpower of individual regiments, although it can often be extrapolated from the narrative. Last but not least, the Iuka/Corinth campaign as a whole strikes me as extraordinarily suitable for a campaign game and this book provides all the necessary information and data needed for such exercise.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in topic of American Civil War and doubly so to historical wargamers invested in this conflict.

August 19, 2017

Timecast latex rubber rivers

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Since this article is a ‘pure’ review of a commercial product, let’s start with the mandatory declaration of independence – I am in no way associated nor sponsored by Timecast Models. Thus, this review is an expression of my personal opinion as private consumer and wargamer.

Allright, with these rather official preliminaries completed, let’s get on with it.

Couple of years ago I’ve decided to ‘migrate’ my terrain from GHQ-s styrofoam hexagons to ‘conventional’ DIY terrain boards. Major reason for this move was my wish to simplify the setup and keep as much of it (hills, woods, rivers, ditches, hedhes and so on) as removable, flexible stand-alone pieces.

At the same time, Timecast Models released their roads and rivers system, made out of silicone rubber. That in itself wasn’t anything spectacular, many companies make similar terrain pieces. But two things caught my attention in regard of this particular product range. First, Timecast Models made rivers came in four different widths that could be connected together with dedicated ‘connector’ bits into integrated waterway system. Second, Timecast complemented their product with variety of resin bridges and fords. In other words, their product line struck me immediately as a complete and expandable solution for waterways. And that, ladies and gents, isn’t something one can often say when it comes to wargaming terrain.

My first (and so far only) order included enough straight and meandering river sections of smallest width to provide continous river of about 2 meters. I’ve also ordered all available sets of fords, connecting bits and river bends. Samples of what came in the box are shown below.

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As can be seen in the pictures, the rivers and fords are made of brown, flexible rubber-like material. You can easily cut and trim individual pieces with a pair of scissors.

Before painting and flocking, I washed the whole lot in lukewarm water with some dishwasher detergent. Every bit was gently scrubbed with a toothbrush, rinsed in cold water and left to dry. It was probably a bit of an overkill, but better be overly cautious than running into problems later on with some chemical residues left-over from mouldning process messing with the paint.

On with the painting then… I kept things extremly simple here and started with painting the riverbanks with dark-brown acrylic wall paint from Flügger. Water surface was painted with dark-blue acrylic artist’s paint from Amsterdam. I know, I know, not very realistic, but I like my rivers and ponds blue. Next, I tried to add some shine to the water surface with help of blank acrylic varnish, but I can’t say this step had a lot of effect. Finally, I’ve stuck some flock on top of river banks with thinned PVA glue. And that was that.

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Couple of comments about painting process. First and foremost – the paint seems to stick to the rubber material used for these terrain pieces… and stays there! This is more than I can say about my silicon roads from Total Battle Miniatures. Yes, you can peel it of if you scratch it forcefully with fingernail or something sharp, but the paint doesn’t peel of on its own if you bend the ‘bands’. That’s a good thing. Second, the flock I’ve glued on with the PVA will probably rub off with time. But that’s no biggie, I’ll just reflock if I feel it’s necessary. Finally, I feel it’s a good ocassion to repeat the advice I keep hammering on this blog – if you value your money, do not use modelling paints for your terrain pieces. Vallejo, Army Painter, Games Workshop, it doesn’t matter which brand you use, their pricing is insane and wasting their product on terrain pieces will cost you a pretty penny. For large terrain pieces, use artist’s paints that come in huge tubes, or better yet, take a trip to your DIY market and find their paint section. They usually sell half litre sample jars that will last you forever, for price of two GW paint pots and carry color ranges that will make all modelling paint ‘systems’ look puny.

Oh yes, one last thing. I’ve included couple of resin bridges that were suitable for those rivers. I still haven’t painted them, but I think it’s only fair to included couple of snapshots of how they fit together with the rest of  the ‘system’.

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Overall, my initial impression of Timecast’s river system is very positive. They’re made of what seems to be durable, flexible material. Acrylic paint and varnish sticks well on them and they look the part once painted. Addition of dedicated bridges and possibility to integrate different river widths into single ‘system’ is in my opinion a stroke of genius and was the factor that convinced me to go with this product. So, for the moment at least, I can’t but enthusiastically recommend it to anyone in need of simple but effective representation of rivers on wargaming table.

Took me just two months, but they’re now done. Final impression after putting some paints on them? Neeeaaah… my initial impression hadn’t changed that much – they are cheap and they are adequately detailed for a wargaming table. It should be enough and yet, somehow, it isn’t.

Oh well! Judge for yourself, what do you think?

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July 18, 2017

Hedge test piece

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Once again, going where everyone has been before. After watching a couple of tutorials on Youtube, I’ve ordered couple of packs of coconut fibre. Here in Sweden the easiest way (actually the only way, it would seem) to get hold of them is in small packs intended for nest bedding for birds and critters.

OK, you wonder, why should I care? Well, as it turns out, coconut fibre works pretty well as base for hedges of different sizes. And hedges, or to be more specific, boccage hedges is something I will need meters and meters of for my future Chain of Command campaigns.

For this first trial, I just wanted to see how hard it would be to work with the stuff. As it turns out, not hard at all. First, I took a wide lollipop (3cm wide) stick and sawed of the rounded edges. I didn’t bother with painting or flocking it, as it was quick and dirty proof of concept piece. Next, I pinched off a handful of coconut fibre and glued it onto the stick with hot glue. A bit of trimming was necessary to give the lump of fibre appropriately ‘hedgy’ look. Finally, I blasted the thing with spray adheseve and sprinkled the thing with Classic Flock from Noch. Couple of minutes later I repeated the last step, just to give the hedge a bit more ‘bushy’ appearance.

And that’s it, this is the result of this first trial, which by the way took all of 7-8 minutes.

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