Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas, Comrade

This is how we celebrate in Soviet Russia... by invading our neighbors.

Here's the first in a set of photos of the Russians to complement the Finns of the past couple of days. I'm not sure how much I will be online the next few days, so I thought I would take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, in accordance with the wishes of our political officer here.

If I do find the time, I will post more of these. But with travel plans, and honey-do lists, it may be next week! I also have a tentative game session set for New Year's, which will be nice. And then the one con I manage each year just two weeks after that.

For now, these are also Battle Honors minis, painted with the usual mix of Testors and Vallejo.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Viewership Exceeds 2,000

Wow, I just noticed there have been more than 2,000 page views of this humble blog. And we've added a new follower. Welcome Warren Zoell!

I know I tend to jump around, but hopefully somewhere in here most of you will find something interesting.

More Finns - On Skis!

The workbench focus remains CY6 aircraft, as well as finishing the Guerriere and starting the Constitution, along with that Foyt Olds that really just needs an afternoon to finish, but it seems an appropriate time of year to continue showing some of these Battle Honors Finns.

Today's installment shows some of the ski troops, as well as some of the heavier weapons. At the end is an overview shot of all the Finns I have painted to date. There are no immediate plans to do any more, but that could change if I get a game going. Unlikely at this point, but you never know.

Again, a good word on the Battle Honors minis. A good variety that pretty much covers anything you need for this period, and they are easy to paint to boot. Recommended.

Coming soon: The Russian hordes...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Finnish Helmets

I've been asked about the fellow in the previous post with the skull motif on his helmet. I'm far from an expert on Finnish WW2 uniformology, but this motif does appear in several photos from the period. Though to be honest, many of those may be Continuation War, not Winter War. As near as I can tell, it was used mainly by dragoons and light infantry, mostly in the Karelian area. If anyone out there knows more, please let us know!

Period photo, but it looks like non-winter uniform.

Reenactor, so take it for what it's worth, but definitely winter gear.

Talvisota - Winter War Finns

Finland has one of the more fascinating national stories to come out of World War II. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place - Stalin on one side, Hitler on the other. There is no good choice there. Yet, somehow they managed to pull it off. Call it sisu, I guess.

From a gaming perspective, the Winter War has great potential. Small, well-trained and motivated units on one side, bigger, poorly equipped and prepared troops on the other. And darn few (expensive) vehicles and aircraft. One of these days I'll put together some games using Skirmish Campaigns' excellent scenario book and Arc of Fire. I played a few solo at one time, but have never put together a "real" game, despite having painted enough troops for both sides. I haven't been able to justify any additional troops or vehicles until I get an opponent. Skirmish WW2 hasn't been a priority, but if anyone's willing, I'll get back at it.

Hard to see from this angle, but that's a suomi machine gun at left.

Molotov cocktail!
So since I don't have any new pictures of what I've been working on, today let's dig into the vault and look at some Finns I painted some time ago. All figures are Battle Honors 25/28 mm, which I actually like rather well, though you don't seem to see them that often. Painted primarily with Vallejo, along with some Testors acrylics. Based on washers. White is tough to pull off; these are simply white washed with light grey. Good enough.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clear Coat and Bench Update ... and a Stray Spitfire

Well, the clear settled in well enough, but it is a bit glossier than I would like. It's more of a semi-matte than a flat finish. I guess it looks OK on the Kates, even though it doesn't really match the other aircraft I've done. I think I'll stick with good 'ol Testors Dullcote in the future.

I made reasonable progress on the new aircraft this weekend, getting at least the base coats on the new P-36s, F4Fs and Devastators. I need new decals for at least two of the P-36s, and I haven't done a full inventory to see if I have enough US decals for the others. I may not, so we'll see if I actually get those finished before Spartacon. I was going to start work on the Sally bombers, but I don't have any Green Stuff on hand to repair the miscast nacelle, so that's delayed for the time being.

In the meantime, here is a Spitfire I did probably close to 15 years ago, long before CY6, and for reasons I still can't explain as I never gamed any other aerial combat before CY6! So while not up to current standards, who knows, it may see the table some day.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fretting About Clear Coat

So after finishing the last few decals on my Kates last night, I clear coated them this morning. Of course, I did this in my dimly lit garage before the sun came up, and I'm afraid I was a bit heavy handed. Now I am at work fretting about how they will look when dry.

Reassure me things will be fine.

Fast Friday: 1975 Bobby Unser Eagle

Here's another that could technically be better, but for what it is didn't turn out half bad.

I like to call these '70s Indy cars winged monsters. They were brutes, and speeds were going up like crazy. In 1975, Bobby Unser piloted this Eagle to his second Indy 500 win.

I built this replica from the old AMT kit, which for the 1970s probably wasn't bad, but is lacking in some detail now. The Bill Jorgensen resin upgrade kit would be more accurate. Still, I forged ahead, and did the best I could with it and am pleased with the outcome. I like how the engine is just out there for the world to see. The paint was simple - Testors sky blue from the little square bottle, though again a Tamiya spray would probably be better. The kit decals are trash, no surprise, so I used the always superb Indycals. The Indycals set is probably designed to fit the Jorgensen kit, so some trimming was necessary here and there, but I think the overall impression works and this one holds a proud spot in the display cabinet.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sandpiper Baltimore Privateer

Here's one going back in the dusty vault. I built this probably 12 years ago or so. But proof that I have done sailing ships before!

If memory serves, this was a Heller kit. Pretty basic paint job, you can see I didn't attempt to weather anything, or even wash or highlight anything. Still turned out looking pretty nice, and the rigging went reasonably well and I think still looks good, especially considering I've moved several times since and it has always survived!

I just got thinking about this as I prepare to rig the wee Guerriere.

In other on the bench news, I prepped the Constitution last night, and am almost finished with the decals on the Foyt Olds. I think just some stripes on the back and it will be ready for clearcoat. I'd like to get that one wrapped up. I also hope to get back to the Kates, maybe today, since those are so close. And I'd like to get a start on the new aircraft.

Fortunately, we are probably a little ahead of schedule on the Christmas preparations, so it's possible I may have some hobby time this weekend. That will be nice. Alas, for any of you out there wondering, the Mustang project has really stalled. Who wants to go out in the garage this time of year?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And Some Dauntlesses

And on the other side, here are some Douglass SBD Dauntless dive bombers. I'm pretty sure these are Scotia. I tried to order some more (Raiden), but they are out of stock at the moment, but should be available by next month. I hope so, these are the only two I have! These I painted up in early war scheme, which makes them ideal candidates for the Swede scenario, as well as other Coral Sea scenarios. If I get more, I might paint up a mix of these, along with some without the red dot to be more appropriate for the Midway time period. I do like the open cockpit feature on these, though.

Curiously, and you'll see these eventually, I have painted up all of my Devastators in the later style, mostly as a nod to Torpedo Squadron 8. Again, more on that later. As gamers, we're used to overlooking the occasional anomaly, right?

In other CY6 news, my recent order arrived yesterday. Overall they look pretty cool, though one Sally has a miscast around the engine nacelle that will need some work.

As far as the other projects, I got the materials to begin rigging the Guerriere, maybe this weekend. And somewhat surprisingly, I managed to get many of the decals down on my Foyt Olds last night and this morning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


A few more from my staged photoshoot, a small formation of Japanese Aichi D3A Val dive bombers. Raiden 1/285 models. I've already been asked how I painted these, so here's a brief outline:
  1. Prime grey
  2. Go over panel lines with a black technical pen to "preshade"
  3. Airbrush a mix of Floquil concreted lightened slightly with Dirty White. This allows the panels to still show through, but not be overwhelming. I did not want to do a wash, as I was going for a clean effect.
  4. Cockpits are dark sky blue, then drybrushed a lighter sky blue and finally highlighted with just a dot of white - all Vallejo paints
  5. Various other details, eg cowling, picked out with a brush
  6. Decals from I-94. I spot brush some Testors acrylic gloss where the decals are to be placed.
  7. Clear coat

That's really it. These are relatively easy to paint, and are a nice break from lines of blue, grey or red!
Looks like when I grabbed some to shoot, I grabbed some
from different carriers.Note the blue and white stripes. Oops!

As a side note today, I have the Guerriere pretty much painted and assembled, but am now facing the task of rigging. I have a pretty good technique honed on WWI 1/72 aircraft I think will work. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ack! A New Period?

Something new made it's way to the workbench Sunday. If you can't tell, it's a 1/1200 scale 36-gun frigate from GHQ, in this case destined (well, hopefully...) to represent HMS Guerriere. I bought a few of these back in the spring after seeing a French man o' war painted up by my erstwhile opponent. Neither of us have ever ventured much into naval gaming, with the exception of a very brief foray into 1/4800 WW2 using Bismarck rules many, many years ago. (I still have the Hood and some other British ships...)

Anyway, I also bought a USS Constitution and a xebec from GHQ, so I can at least do a frigate duel and maybe some Barbary coast action. Depending on how it goes, I might pick up some more frigates, schooners, brigs and sloops for small actions. I have no delusions of Trafalgar grandeur here.

I must admit, so far (post-photo) this is painting up nicely. We'll see once I start rigging.

In a way, it's surprising I never have done this before. I've long been a ship buff, and have read several of the O'Brien books. And I remember reading about Old Ironsides from way back and being fascinated by it. And as someone who lives in Michigan, the Great Lakes are a big part of everything, and I did buy some Langton Great Lakes ships several years ago that are still languishing in a drawer. So much to do!

Wildcats and Zeroes

I staged a few photos over the weekend of my CY6 stuff done to date. I'll start today with some Wildcats and Zeroes. More shots to come. I didn't get any of my Devastators (magnet issue) or Kates (almost done, just waiting on a decal replenishment order).

I also have written up a few scenarios that will need testing. They are all pretty basic and don't require a ton of aircraft (or players). Perfect for me, who is short on both! Let me know if you are interested. Here's a brief summary:
  1. 4x P-40E vs. Zeroes, Vals and Kates in the Aleutians
  2. 2x P-38 vs. 4x Mavis in the Aleutians (OK, 4x Mavis could be cost-prohibitive... I might use some artistic license and change to Rufes)
  3. Seagulls vs. Rufes in the Aleutians, for you floatplane fans. Though I don't see Seagulls available. Might change to Kingfishers.
  4. 2x P-36 vs. Kates, Pearl Harbor
  5. 2x P-36 vs. Zeroes, Pearl Harbor

The latter two are especially simple, and as I included 4x P-36 in my recent order, I hope to run them soon.

On with the eye candy (all models Raiden 1/285):
Two A6M2 Zeroes hot on the tail of a couple F4F Wildcats.

Flipping the tables - on a Zero's tail.

Close up of a Zero.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fast Friday: 1988 Raul Boesel Lola

I built this one close to ten years ago, and it probably shows. This is the one that got me back into car modelling - I hadn't built one in probably 15 years. Most of that time I spent either painting minis or building other models. I built a lot of 1/72 WWI airplanes. One of the main reasons was the prospect of attempting to lay down a smooth gloss paint job on a car terrified me.

But this one was worth a shot, and it was still before I was married and I was living alone, so what the heck. I probably should have picked a single colored car for the first one! This one was a bit tricky to mask off and paint with three separate colors. I'm sure I would do better now. The other main issue with this one is the mirrors are missing! I distinctly remember taking them out to my "spray booth" (read: a cardboard box in the garage at the time...), but from there I have no idea. I searched and searched, but they never did turn up.

Anyway, there is really nothing special about this, other than it was the first of many Indy car models to come after, and served as a good practice run. The decals are from the Domino's kit, which actually represents a March. However, Boesel ran a Lola at Indy, and so I used a Lola Amway kit. The decals are awful, and I've been tempted to redo this car with decals from Indycals. Standard Testors paints from the square bottle applied with an airbrush.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Distracted by a Diversion: Aleutian Air War

As part of the elaborate Midway attack plan, the Japanese developed a diversionary assault on the Alaskan Aleutian islands. Nearly 70 years later, this is distracting me! I had a bit of a slowdown at work yesterday afternoon, so I actually started writing up a few scenarios for CY6! involving the air battles in the Aleutians.

And it just goes to show the tiniest spark can ignite an interesting project. I had read somewhere that P-40s fought Japanese carrier planes. Well, I have P-40s, and I have Japanese carrier planes. So I started poking around the internet and learned there was a lot more going on up there. P-38s, B-24s, P-39s, Rufes, Mavises, Catalinas - oh, my! So here's a general outline of at least four scenarios to start:
  • P-40s vs. Japanese attack force on Dutch Harbor
  • P-38s vs. Japanese Mavis recon planes (3 of them!)
  • SOC Seagulls vs. Rufes at Kiska
  • P-38s and B-24s vs. Rufes (this is the one I've researched the least thus far)

I'm not sure yet how suited these are for a mini-campaign, but at the least they look like they could provide some interesting one-offs. And a good diversion from other theaters. Just like the Japanese intended.

Anyone out there interested in seeing these developed and/or testing?

By the way, the CY6 page here has been updated again to reflect what actually got ordered. Now, about those Rufes...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

There are a lot of Pearl Harbor stories out there, so here's mine.

My great uncle (my maternal grandmother's brother) was in the Navy and serving on the Hornet, which at the time was docked in Norfolk. On Dec 7, he was on leave and at home here in mid-Michigan. At the time of the attack, he had gone out with my grandfather (my grandma's boyfriend at the time) to a Sunday matinee. As they exited the theater, they could tell something was up and headed for home, where already a telegram from the Navy was waiting telling him in no uncertain terms, leave cancelled, get your butt back to the ship ASAP. So back he went (by train in those days), and went on to take part in the Doolittle Raid, Midway and Santa Cruz. He ended up a career Navy man.

Closer to home, on the CY6 front, I was informed the Vals and SBDs won't be ready until after Christmas. So I've asked to sub some Sallys. I'd like to start building up some Chinese theater aircraft in addition to the carrier planes. Speaking of which, in addition to the Coral Sea and Midway scenarios, I'm looking closely at some actions in the Aleutians and maybe even, wait for it, Pearl Harbor. CY6 lends itself fairly easily to scenario development.

One final closing thought on Pearl Harbor. For years I have toyed around with writing a screenplay on an event associated with Pearl Harbor. I wrote one (pretty bad) screenplay that I suppose could best be described as romantic comedy, but I've always wanted to do a historical one. This would not be like the Ben Affleck flick at all. For starters, it focuses on a Japanese character, and is on a much more personal level. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CY6 Order Placed

An addendum to this morning's post. I placed an order to I-94 Enterprises for some Wildcats, Dauntlesses, Devastators, P-36s, Vals and Zeros. Not a ton of them, but enough to boost my existing forces to be able to do the Coral Sea scenarios and most of the Midway scenarios. Of greater concern will be collecting enough players!

The P-36s are just for something different. I'm thinking about painting two of them as Pearl Harbor defenders, and two in Chinese markings. Which means I will need Chinese markings. Which means I might as well get some I-16s and maybe even some P-26s. Which means I might as well get some Nates and Nells. See how this works?

Addendum the second: I just worked out a fairly quick wishlist, on top of what I ordered this morning, and it came to $325. Yeah, that's not happening.

Taking Flight: In a CY6 Mood

Maybe it's because tomorrow is December 7, maybe it's because Spartacon is coming up in a month, I don't know, but I got in a bit of a Check Your Six! mood last night. I updated the CY6 link at the top of this blog to accurately reflect the forces I have thus far. The only thing to complete on that list is I need to apply decals to the Kates.

As you can see, it's heavily slanted to Pacific carrier warfare. However, I have for some time considered starting a collection for the Chinese theater, and possibly even some British for Burma, etc.

So as is a gamer's wont, I started compiling yet another wishlist, and analyzing old wishlists. On the one hand, I like CY6 because you don't need a hundred minis, but when I start looking at what I do want, it does add up quickly. And I need to remind myself my hobby finances have still not improved that much. Plus I did just buy a new model Indy car last week...

So I could wait a month and buy direct from I-94 at Spartacon, or I could order some now.

Or come to the realization I don't have an opponent to play any time soon and bag the whole project. Sigh.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Serenity Now

So my wife is often saying I need more relaxing hobbies. Usually that comes after I express some frustration at a poor paint job. This weekend it was a direct result of college football.

Suffice to say my team lost a big game, and consequently got the proverbial shaft in the broken system that is the BCS. I'm not naive, I know it's all about money and not merit, and I should recognize it's just a valuable lesson that life is not fair, but it really, really ticked me off. I've been steadily weaning myself from college football for years, going from having season tickets and watching every game I could on TV, to dropping the tickets and watching most of my team's games on TV and few others. My respect - and hence my interest in this particular hobby - is dwindling further. It's just frustrating to see something I once enjoyed be destroyed by greed. But I guess that's humanity for you.

At least this could open up more time for my many other hobbies.

For the record, I'm generally not nearly as upset at a paint job or modelling dilemma as my wife thinks I am. I think it's just an misinterpretation of expression. (Though a few rusted bolts on the Mustang have led to some colorful language out in the garage...) Anyone else have this issue? Should I take up meditation? Does he look relaxed?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fast Friday: John Andretti 1997 Ford

While my primary motorsport interest is definitely Indy cars, I do occasionally build something with fenders. But as you'll see the more of these I post, I tend to build cars driven by drivers associated in some way to Indy.

Take for example this 1997 driven by John Andretti. John, of course, is the nephew of Mario and cousin of Michael. His dad is Mario's twin brother Aldo. Racing seems to be a family thing a lot of times. Take the Unsers, Bettenhausens, Pettys and Allisons, among others. But few carry the panache of the Andrettis.

This is actually the "newest" NASCAR model I have done, though I have a Tony Stewart kit I need to build one of these days from 2003. John didn't enjoy the greatest success in NASCAR, but he did drive this car to victory in the July race at Daytona. Still, few can question he is one of the most versatile drivers out there, having also competed in drag racers and other forms of racing.

If memory serves, this was a Revell kit with decals from Slixx, but I could be wrong on that. I'm also pretty sure I used Testors lacquer for the paint.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spirit of '76 at Up the Creek Brewing

It's been a busy couple of weeks over at Up the Creek Brewing. I have a Belgian Dubbel carbonating at the moment that will be ready for labeling and conditioning in the fridge this weekend. That's right on schedule for some holiday consumption!

And there's also an oatmeal stout contentedly fermenting away in the keg. That had some good krausen earlier in the week, and has settled down and is looking good. That's a good week or maybe two from bottling, which means I won't be drinking any until mid-January at the earliest. Should be good on some cold winter nights.

In the meantime, I opened this one up last week for dinner one night. It was made earlier last summer, but still has a great taste. Mr. Beer labels it as a colonial red ale, so I took the revolutionary approach of renaming it 1776 Ale. Astute observers may notice a certain resemblance between my label and a classic Avalon Hill game from many moons ago...