Sunday 28 December 2014

Assembling plastics

Hi all, with the Christmas Holidays upon us I suspect there could be a lot of people putting together their first plastic sets for Bolt Action (And any other game for that matter). As such I thought I'd share a few thoughts I have on the subject. I origionally wrote this piece for the companion blog I write for, A tale of bearded gamers. You can follow the progress of my US Marines, as well as the forces of Jez Allum, Jamie Tranter and Brian Ward, as well as our thoughts and processes in collecting an army.

  1.  Proper tools. Glue Glue Glue Glue Glue. I build probably thousands of figures over the course of a year and have learned that a pair of side cutters, a good knife and some plastic solvent glue are the most important tools around. My recommendation is this Plastic Weld. It creates a very solid join, and applying a little with an old paint brush to each bonding surface melts the plastic a little and gives you lots of play with the posing before it fully dries.Humbrol and other modelling glues are similar, but not as good as a pure solvent. If you don't have some, get some. When bonding plastic to metal you want Superglue. Superglue for plastic to plastic will cause you endless frustration and irritation. Did I mention using proper plastic glue? No? Get some. 
  2.  Proper tools. A pair of side cutters are cheap, here's an example of lots of types of Side cutters. The allow you to get the part off the sprue and without warping or bending the part in the process. When working on smaller parts like tools or pouches, I hold onto the part and clip the surrounding sprue away away along with the part still attached. This makes it far easier to trip the part without loosing it in the process.
  3. Proper tools!!!! A decent modelling scalpel is another must have. They are also cheap, and are fantastic for getting rid of mould lines and sprue connecting joints. 

There are other tools you can use, but to be honest these are the only ones I generally touch. I do have a pin vice for drilling small parts like aerials and gun barrels, and also  some wet and dry sand paper in a few different grains for particularly stubborn sanding areas, though for the purpose of building figures these aren't so important.

When putting plastic figures together don't get hung up on thinking that parts have to go specifically with a body or that two arms always always have to go together. What I tend to do, especially on sets of figures with a variety of arms is just play around and see what works aesthetically for me. It's worth using the position of the feet as a guide to getting the figure to look natural. The feet pointing one way and the arms and head pointing in different directions tends to look subtly wrong to the eye and can be somewhat dissatisfying.

Soldiers in the Second World War were trained to move either with their weapon at the port or trail positions, In the picture to the left are 3 Germans, the one on the far left is carrying his rifle at the trail, whilst the other two are carrying theirs at the port, so having your figures posed in this way can give your force a nice and subtley period look. 

When posing your firing figures try to keep them with the weapon tight to their body with the weapon tucked into their shoulders. I'm not a fan of figures running and firing simultaneously, so tend to save these for figures with their legs suitably braced or kneeling. 

The beauty of plastics is it's very easy to do conversions without having to resort to extensive work. The SS Officer here was built using a Warlord Plastic Blitzkrieg figure as a base, and then had a head taken from their late war German set. The smock was sculpted on using White Milliput. 

The loader in the Japanese LMG team was built straight from the box, with not chopping around required, I simply used one of the arms used for carrying a rifle at the trail position to make him appear to be changing magazines on the weapon.

This late war Waffen SS squad features a 3 man LMG team from Artizan Designs, and all the other figures are from Warlord Games Late War German Infantry. The NCO has had a metal head added from the Warlord range, however all the others are straight from the box.

I hope this has been of help, and as ever more of my work can be seen here at my site Volley Fire Painting

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Beyond the Gates of Antares Algoryn AI Infiltration Team

As part of the review samples sent to me by Warlord, they included 2 packs of their new Beyond the Gates of Antares figures, a pack each from the Boromite and Algoryn factions. I've not played the game yet, however it looks very exciting, and will be one to pick up. Currently the rules are free as well from Warlords website.

The pack of Algoryn infiltratiors includes 5 28mm heroic scale metal figures with a choice of 7 heads, including 5 helmeted and 2 bare heads.Also included are 2 spotter drones with flying stands. 5 25mm MDF bases and even an orders dice, the same as used in Bolt Action. The models are stunningly well cast, with barely any flash to remove. From clean up to priming took around 5 minutes for all of them.

These are the first sci fi figures I've painted in a long time and I wanted to do something a little different, so I gave Object Source Lighting a go, to give the effect of the suits scanning and recon systems providing battlefield awareness for the wearers. 

To do this affect I first completely painted the model, picking a low key digital style camo to contrast with the bold green of the lighting effect. 

I then painted Vallejo transparent green everywhere I wanted to be hit by the light source. After that it was a simple case of highlighting and blending the green shades like any other colour, paying extra care to make sure the brightest highlights are in the narural paths of light emanation. I did use a lot of glazing techniques as well to build depth of colour which proved time consuming, however I do really like the effect!

I'm thoroughly impressed with these models, and look forwards to seeing the rest of the range, especailly the unreleased as yet Concorde figures. I'm even more excited to get a force together and start playing! 

You can keep an eye on my modelling progress here

Beyond the Gates of Antares has a great Facebook group as well, which can be accessed here

Warlord Games SDKFZ 234/2 Puma Review

Warlord Games very generously sent me a few kits to review which I shall be looking at over the next few weeks, however this week I have knocked together a vehicle close to many peoples hearts, the Puma armoured car. 
The 1/56 scale Puma is a brand new kit from Warlord, and despite only 100 or so being built in 1944 the vehicle is immensly popular with modellers and gamers due to a combination of sleek lines good armament and high speed. 

Warlords kit is tooled by Italeri and who have a proven track record with this vehicle, producing several kits of it in in a variety of scales. The kit comes on 2 sprues, and is extremely crisp and cleanly molded, with no flash and very few mold lines. The model even includes a rather nice commander model.

The kit is simple to assemble, the only tricky areas are with assembling the suspension. One area I found a little unclear from the instructions was in the placing of parts 5 and 42, the suspension springs. I would recommend attaching part 42 to part 5 without glue, then attaching them to the lower hull and gluing once in place as this will give you more time to giggle the fit of the parts around. 

Also worthy of mentioning I think are the steering rods which are incredibly thin pieces. I found the best way to remove these from the sprue was to cut the surrounding sprue away from the part whilst the part was still attached to its connecting runner. Once the part and its runner was removed from the sprue I placed a finger gently on the part and used a brand new scalpel blade to remove the part from the connectors. Although this sounds time consuming it really isn't, and is far easier than trying to repair a damaged part or look for a missing one!

It's also worth mentioning that should you look at the suspension parts and think 'No chance' You can just stick parts 41 and 48 onto the lower hull and attach the wheels directly too them without messing around with the suspension. 
There are no locating tabs for things like the tools and stowage, although between the instructions and photo's of the real thing these are easy to work out, and give you the option of leaving them off the model as well, which I like. 

 Only room for improvement with the model were two points, firstly the wheels are hollow, and if you are concerned about this they can be filled in. I didn't bother though due to time constraints, and the fact it's invisible unless your turn the model upside down. 


The second point is very minor. I would have preferred it if Warlord included the transfer sheet from their SDKFZ 251 kits as this includes number plates which are prominent on the front of the Puma, whereas they have included the sheet from their plastic Panzer IV which features divisional markings. Either way the included sheet is still very nice and easy to work with. 

I painted the model over a grey primer coat, pre shading the model with black in the recesses and white on the raised areas, and then built up the Dunkelgelb using Vallejo Middlestone. 
 Weathering was done using artists oils, and Games Workshop Agrellan Earth for the mud. The kit does come with an aerial. however I made my own from fine wire.

As ever you can see more of my work here at Volley Fire Painting Sevices, and read about my new US Marines force, as well as the collecting processes of Brian Ward, Jez Allum and Jamie Tranter.

More of Warlords Games products can of course be found here

Sunday 21 December 2014


I love the Sherman tank. It may not be the best tank in the world, but I just love how it looks.

When Fury opened in the cinema earlier in the year I througly enjoyed the movie, and needed a model Easy 8 and here she is.

This is Blitzkrieg miniatures superb model with
alot of tlc to make it into the titular film star.

 I won't dwell too much on the making and painting of the model, as I'm very proud to announce that there is a full article due to appear in Wargames Soldiers and Strategy magazine in the none to distant future!

As ever, more of my work can be found at Volley Fire Painting

Friday 19 December 2014

Japanese SNLF Force

Slightly different post to my usual today, this time I'm talking about putting a small army together and a quick review of Warlords 28mm Japanese SNLF boxed set.

Way back in April I had just completed a large Bolt Action US Marines commission for a client as well as some of Warlord Games plastic Japanese. At the time I was struck by the vast amounts of character in both sets, and I'd enjoyed painting both so much that I resolved to one day collect a force of both. With these thoughts lurking in the back of my mind I made the annual pilgrimage up the road to Salute 2014 and as part of the rucksack full off goodies I picked up I grabbed a box of SNLF from the guys at the Warlord stand.Over the following months I've slowly added more bits to the army, until the point where I could field a sizable Japanese Army and Navy platoons.

Between my bro Jay building some jungle terrain for us to play on at the pub, and my painting him a Chindit force I decided it was time for my Japanese to get some love. I'd initialyl decided to start off painting some of Warlords metal Japanese army figures, however when I sat down to work on them they were nowhere to be seen, so out came the SNLF force. I worked out a probably very uncompetitive 500 point force on Bolt Action Easy army and starting work.

The SNLF set from Warlord is mostly plastic, however also includes alternative heads in Pith Helmets, a couple of extra metal figures, a good size sheet of flags and bases for everyone. The plastic included is the standard Japanese army plastic boxed set, and includes 32 figures.

What impressed me was how the figures were full of character and had great natural looking poses, without being a struggle to assemble. I was doubly impressed that the faces weren't offensive caricatures too!

To paint them I used a limited colour palette of Russian Uniform for the clothing, Brown Sand for the skin tones, Flat Earth for all the leather work, Middle Stone for helmets, gaiters and canvas webbing, and a flat earth, orange leather mix for the rifles. I shaded the models using Army Painter Strong and Soft Tone inks, and then layered on highlights using increasing amounts of white mixed into the base colour.

Basing plants are chopped up palm trees I found a Chinese seller on Ebay, and cost a few pounds for a big sack full!

PS I did find the missing metal models once it hit 02:30 and I'd glued the last figure together. They were in a box next to my chair...

As ever more of my work can be found at Volley Fire painting

More of Warlords great gubbins can be found here

Monday 15 December 2014

Panzer IV kit comparison

As promised, here is the comparison of 28mm, 1/56 scale Panzer IV models. I've tried to keep the review limited to Ausf F and H variants as the differences are too great in the earlier models to make them relevent to the review process here.

Shown here are 221, and Ausf F2 from Rubicon Models, 222 and Ausf F2 from Warlord. Both of these are recently released plastic kits that allow the construction of F1, F2 and ausf H variants. I've also included Die Waffenkammers Ausf H as the varient is possible with the plastic kits.

All 3 kits are superb, and will give you a great Panzer IV. so I shall highlight their differences as each has it's own merits depending on what you want from a model.

Die Waffenkammers is by far the quickest model to assemble, and although it has very few parts is the only kit to come with a full set of Schurzen rails for the hull.

The kit also comes with a vast amount of spares, a commander figure and commendably thin Schurzen plates. The model is also very well cast and can be put together inside of 10 minutes.

Rubicon's Panzer was one of the first releases from this new company, and provides the options to build the Ausf F1 with short barrel gun, an F2/G and an Ausf H with Schurzen.

The kit has in my opinion the best set of suspension of the 3models,and some beautiful detail on the hull and turret. No figures or stowage are included, though those are easy to source.

 Assembly time is around 20-30 minutes or so. Noteworthy is that Rubicons panzer has the sturdiest Schurzen, although the detail is a little simplified and the plates are quite thick due to the limitations of the moulding process. They are also able to be clipped on and off the model as desired.

Warlords Panzer IV covers the same versions as Rubicons, and has some very nicely detailed Schuzen, although it's a tad more complex than that of the Rubicon kit. Detail again is very good, although the 1 piece hull and wheels results in a slight loss of detail due to the limitations of the moulding technology used. All the parts fit well. Contruction took around 20-30 minutes, and also contains a beautiful commander figure, and some odds and ends like spare Jerrycans and wheels.

To summarize, Die Waffenkammer produce a superb Ausf H, which will give you a very nice model with minimal construction. Rubicon's kit will give you a very nice model, especially if you do an Ausf F or G. Warlords kit will give you a great and inexpensive Ausf H, but will also produce very nice Ausf F and G variants as well.

 As always, more of my work can be seen at Volley Fire Painting.

Warlord Games range can be viewed on their website here, the Die Waffenkammer range can be seen here and last but not least Rubicons can be viewed here

Rubicon T34/76 1941 Review

Another week another review! This is the last of the sample kits Rubicon sent me, this time it's Rubicons 1/56 scale T34/76. Like the others it was a blast.

Rubicons T34/76 is a cleverly engineered model allowing you options to build 1941 and 42 models, with a choice of turrets, gun mantlets, hatches, fuel tanks and most spectacularly tracks and road wheels.  With careful building it would be possible to swap all the parts to allow you to create any variant once the model is built. I decided not to do this however, as I knew I wanted a 1941 version, and will be buying more of the kit anyway to fill out my Tank Wars forces for Bolt Action!

The kit was very simple to build, and one of my favourite details was the tracks representing the earlier style with its distinctly different shape to the familiar waffle pattern tracks seen on most T34's. Fit of parts was superb, and I think this may be my favourite kit produced by Rubicon so far.

I painted the model using my Iwata Eclipse airbrush, first priming the model with Plastic Soldier Company German Grey Spray, and then building up layers of colours using Russian Uniform and Green Olive and Golden Olive from the Vallejo paint range. Weathering was done using Games Workshop Agrellan Earth for the mud and Artists Burnt Umber Oil for the panel shading.

I've also included comparison pics with Warlords T34/75 and Die Waffenkammers T34/76 UZTM production turret. All 3 are very nice models, and I'm very happy to say that they fit very well with one another indeed. I'd like to hear your thoughts on them as well though.

More of Rubicons models can be seen here Rubicon Model, and as always my work can be seen here at Volley Fire Painting Services