Saturday, December 29, 2012

Finally, A Foe for the Royal Navy

The pride of Der Kreigsmarine, the Bismarck
After being listed as a dead in the water project on this blog a while back, I resurrected the 1/4800 scale WW2 naval project with (drum roll), some Germans!

OK, and some more British, too. I ordered three additional sets of the 1/4800 minis from C-in-C. I had always liked the ones I had, I just never got around to ordering more. So now at long last, the Hood has the Prince of Wales, and it has someone to fight.

So, of course, the first thing to paint up was the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, followed shortly thereafter by a refight (sort of) of the Battle of Denmark Strait.

Bismarck and Prinz Eugen
I used the venerable Avalon Hill Bismarck rules, and set it up on my coffee table for a solitaire session. Both sides opened at long range, with nothing but misses. As the ranges closed, some bad rolls still resulted in misses. So far, not terribly exciting. Finally, though, Bismarck got the range on Prince of Wales, and started to pummel away, with one turret taken out and several hull boxes.

Then fate intervened, and Hurricane Kate struck! That's her, the other twin, playing with mom's iPad. Until she got bored with that, and decided to move dad's boats around. With that, game over. I'd call it a minor German victory. The British were not able to score any hits of any significance, and it didn't look like they were going to. Still, I'd like to play it again.

The pride of the Royal Navy, Hood and Prince of Wales
I've been painting up some of the other ships, including things like Graf Spee, Ajax, etc., so I'd like to do a Battle of the River Plate. I've also noticed Shapeways offers additional ships in this scale, even Americans and Japanese, so perhaps I will try some Pacific surface actions. I'd kind of like to stick with the Avalon Hill rules, cumbersome though they may be, just because that's what I'm used to and they do give interesting results. I don't think I would try them with more than four ships on a side, though, unless I had plenty of other players who knew the rules.
Closing the range and starting the pummeling.

The calm before the storm - Kate.

In the interim, I am open to suggestions on other rules suitable for this, if you have any!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Putting Painting Skills to the Test

It's a Christmas miracle! An Up the Creek post for the first time in a month!

Yeah, sorry about that. No excuses. Believe it or not, there have been hobby related activities taking place, including an actual test game of WW2 naval, and progress on the Napoleonic naval front.

But for today, Christmas Day, I'd like to share a photo from some "painting" I did yesterday in preparation for a visit to my parents' home for Christmas Eve. That's Miss Claire (Miss Kate insisted, no photos, please), showing off dad's newfound finger nail painting skills. Yes, I painted my daughters' finger nails. Now that's a first for me. But they asked, mom was busy, and I figured, "Heck, I paint eyeballs on figures no more than inch tall, how tough can it be?"

Thankfully they were very patient, held their hands very still, and we completed the task without mishap. And all was well. Now, back to the bench!

Anyway, I hope all out there have enjoyed a great holiday, whether restful or not. I'm back to work tomorrow, off Thursday, work Friday, then another four-day weekend. I'm looking forward to that!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Make a Miniature You

Would you like that in 28 mm or 15 mm? Something else entirely?

Technology amazes me sometimes.

Demise of the FLGS

My most esteemed gaming adversary, himself a hobby shop employee, sent this to me today. Ah, so, so true!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Solitaire Gaming: Bowl Bound from Avalon Hill

Here's a different sort of gaming for you: college football. That's American football for those of you offshore. I used to play this game quite a bit back in the day when I had a ready opponent, but hadn't done anything with it in about 10 years before digging it out on the long holiday weekend. With a few inches of new snow on the ground, it was the perfect Sunday afternoon to set it up.

For those not familiar with the game, it's a statistics driven game matching up great college football teams from history. Basically, each player takes a team. One picks an offensive formation, the other a defensive formation, dice are rolled and results compared to see how many yards are gained (or lost). The game also takes into account penalties, turnovers, etc. Pretty cool, actually. Being statistics driven, it makes for a good solitaire game, given the right AI algorithms. There are several out there, and after some poking around, settled on one for offense and one for defense selection. It worked very well.

In game 1, I figured I would take a look ahead at what appears to be the most likely national championship game this year, and put 1966 Notre Dame against 1966 Alabama. I controlled Alabama and let the AI control Notre Dame. I lost! 17-13 in a close defensive struggle. Notre Dame returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half, while Alabama returned an interception to the ND 7 to set up its only TD for a 10-10 halftime score. After Alabama got a field goal in the fourth quarter, ND responded with a nice touchdown drive and held on over the last few minutes to win the game.

In game 2, I took 1966 Michigan State against 1997 Michigan. In a wild and exciting game, MSU pulled out a 22-21 victory. It was 3-3 in a defensive struggle early before wacky things started happening. UM got a field goal for a 6-3 lead, then tackled the Spartan in the endzone on the ensuing kickoff return for an 8-3 lead. After the free kick, another field goal made it 11-3. After yet another field goal made it 14-3, MSU fumbled the kickoff, setting up a UM touchdown. At 21-3, things looked grim. I had had some success running early, but down 21-3, I needed to pass. And that just was not going to happen on that defense. I finally got down to the 4 yard line - and came away empty. I did manage one touchdown to make it 21-10, then I switched to an option offense, and that was the ticket. Pretty much let my QB run wild, and the comeback was on. Two field goals made it 21-16, then a final clutch drive led to a touchdown with just 30 seconds to go. At that point, I went for 2 and missed, making the final 22-21 as UM could not come up with a Hail Mary at the end.

Overall, playing solitaire was kind of fun. I've tried computer/video games from time to time, but they just don't get it for me like board/miniature games. I'd definitely play this one again. I also have a Statis Pro Baseball game in the stash that I used to play solitaire all the time.

As for other solitaire projects, I'm looking at Wooden Ships & Iron Men to use with 1/1200 Napoleonic ships. Really that was one reason for playing Bowl Bound, to see how I liked solitaire again. I have HMS Guerriere almost done, and am making good progress on a USS Constitution. Hopefully that gets set up soon.

As for other board games, I also have Carrier in the stash, which I look at now and then and determine to be too daunting. I've also considered purchasing Tokyo Express.

The wife didn't say too much, but I think she thinks it's a little strange. But with no opponent readily available, what else are you gonna do?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Of "Play With Ships" and Thanksgiving

If you will all indulge me a moment on this Thanksgiving Eve with a moment from my morning...

I was trying to sneak in a few minutes at the bench this morning before work and before the twins woke up. I had just started working on my 1/1200 USS Constitution when I heard the pitter patter of feet, and down the stairs came Kate. I put down my brush and she crawled up on my lap and looked at what I was doing.

"Are you making a play with ship?" she asked.

"Well, it's for daddy to play with. You shouldn't play with these."

"Will you make us a ship we can play with?"

Now how can I resist that? Now my quest begins to find a ship they can "play with."

So I'll just say as we enter this Thanksgiving weekend, I am very thankful for my family and especially my wonderful two little girls.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, whether here stateside or wherever you are!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

HMS Trafalgar - Many Shades of Gray

A while back I decided I needed to do an "easy" model, one to get back in the swing of things. A quick weekend project type of deal. What could possibly be easier than a submarine, right? Two basic hull pieces, a tower, a prop and that's about it. Right?

Well, that weekend project extended into many nights of masking and airbrushing as I decided to give it as good a paint job as possible.

First, the basics. This is the Airfix 1/350 kit of the HMS Trafalgar class sub. One can build any of the subs in the class with this kit, but I went with the namesake.

Asssembly was pretty much a piece of cake. Like many modelers, I've built my share of Airfix kits over the years, but I have to say this is the best yet. From the box, to the decals to the fit of the pieces, this is an excellent kit. I can't speak necessarily to accuracy since I'm by no means an expert on modern subs in general or Royal Navy subs specifically, but it looks good to my eye. The only extra work really was filling the seam between the two hull halves, really not a big deal.

In studying photos, it became clear a distinguishing feature is the anechoic tiles, and those that have been dislodged, revealing a mosaic pattern on the hull and tower.

To replicate this feature, I started with an overall neutral gray coat, then cut bits of square tape and pieced them over the hull. Then a coat of gunship gray. Then more little squares. And a coat of aircraft engine gray. Then more little squares. And a coat of grimy black for the finish. Another quick mask job and some aircraft interior black on the walkways finished the job.

Decals went on very well, then a coat of Dullcote blended everything together.

Not exactly the weekend project I intended, and it's been several weeks in the works, but I'm very pleased with the results.

If I do another sub, though, it might be straight black!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mustang Update

I haven't posted on the Mustang project in a while. Mostly because I've been doing next to nothing on it myself. But body work continues at a good pace, and the guy doing the work sent these photos this week.

As you can see, he has the driver quarter panel pretty much set. We have determined the car was hit in that area at some point in the past, so there was some extra work that had to be done there. I'm not surprised, when my brother in law and I pulled the axle on that side, it was bent. So the body guy has put in a new wheel well too, and is patching up some other rust spots as he goes on both sides and in the tail light area.

I say again, body work to me is an art form, and a talent I wish I had!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Indy and the Great War

Most of us Indy 500 fans are familiar with Eddie Rickenbacker and his exploits as a fighter pilot in WWI. But I'm always interested in hearing about other connections, such as this gem found in another gamer's blog.

Analogue Hobbies - Georges Boillot

Fascinating stuff!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Getting Back to the Bench

Not gonna lie, fall was a little rougher than I thought. And not just in terms of a startling lack of hobby time.

I don't often get sick, but it seems like I've been fighting one darn thing or another since the beginning of October. There's been the usual sore throats, coughs and sniffles, of course. But I also had a routine doctor visit in there that resulted in a tetanus shot update that pretty much made my left arm useless for several days, and a flu shot that may or may not have contributed to me missing two days of work the following week.

Throw in the usual zaniness of family activities, my wife having obligations for several nights along in there while I watched the kids, getting the house and yard cleared up for winter, and I haven't gotten much done at the bench. I think I've also mentioned I have lost my morning "me time" as well, since I now get the kids up and ready to go. I'm just not quite ready to drag myself out of bed any earlier to get that back. Less sleep = more sick!

Last night, though, I finally got to sit down for a brief period and work on that HMS Trafalgar model a bit. My wife signed the girls up for a weekly gymnastics class, and she took them so I could stay home for a bit. It was only a bit more than an hour, and I also did some bill paying and internet wandering in there, but it was a rare nice thing to put on some music and sit at my workbench again. Hopefully I can get back to doing that more often - at least every Wednesday for a while.

Monday, October 29, 2012

HMS Bounty Lost at Sea

I was very saddened to hear this morning of the loss of the HMS Bounty (replica) off the coast of North Carolina, with two crewmen still missing at the time of this posting.

I know it may be hard to believe given the ADD nature of this blog, but one of my longest and greatest interests are of all things to do with the sea. I suppose that can be blamed on a great-great-great grandfather from Argyle who sailed the ocean's out of Glasgow and ended up on the Great Lakes somehow in the early 1800s, great-great and great-grandfathers who were tug boat captains on the Great Lakes, and a grandfather who was an engineer on the Great Lakes ore boats. (My dad stayed on land and got into cars, but to this day owns two boats at age 72.)

I have visited the Bounty on at least two occasions, once at the pier in St. Petersburg, FL, and once during a tall ships celebration in Bay City, MI, near my home. I've built at least two models of it, neither very good, and read multiple books on Fletcher Christian and the gang.

Here's hoping this story has a happy ending.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A long time ago... a galaxy far, far away.

Probably the most famous movie opening line ever? Certainly if you don't know what I'm talking about after the first four words, you've probably been living under a rock for the past 35 years. (Crap, where did that 35 years go, anyway?)

Yes, like many, I am a Star Wars fan. Not hard-core-dress-as-a-stormtrooper, but I still like the movies and have fond memories of playing with all sorts of fun toys as a kid. Over the years, I've picked up a few sets of the old West End Games Grenadier minis. I don't know that they will ever be gamed, but they are fun to paint.

So while the main focus remains historicals, I think Star Wars qualifies, don't you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Still About Gaming, Right? Some CY6 Japanese Bombers

The initial purpose of this blog was to chronicle my hobby exploits in general, but I believe it was understood that the focus should be on miniature wargaming activities. Alas, there have been too few posts to that effect of late, so here is an effort to get back on track.

How about some Japanese twin-engine targets, er, I mean bombers, for CY6? The sharp-eyed will note there are two different types included in this initial half dozen. And you would be correct. I picked these up at a con in January, and pulled what I thought were six Sallys out of the bin marked, quite obviously, Sallys. Only when I got home did I notice the discrepancy, and found I had two Helens as well. Oh well, not really that significant in the grand scheme of things. I have six Bettys also awaiting paint (they might get the solid green treatment rather than the camo scheme shown here), and in the end they will probably all see duty as "Japanese twin-engine bombers." I'm fussier when it comes to getting the fighter-types accurately represented for the game. Does one really need 12 Sallys AND 12 Bettys, especially when gaming on a budget? Now I won't say a B-24 will do for a B-17, given engine count and all, but I can live with this.

Scotia models, painted with the usual mix of acrylics. In this case IIRC, it was IJA light grey, with IJA green and Chestnut brown. Most of my aircraft have been fairly clean, but I dirtied these up a bit. I drybrushed some aluminum paint to represent the chipping that is commonly seen in photos, and used a technical pen to go over panel lines, followed by a light black wash.

Now, about those Flying Tigers...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How, exactly, does one "test" kamikazes?

I was doing some research on Japanese aircraft carriers (don't ask why), and came upon a site with brief descriptions on all the various assorted classes. (There were more than I thought.) Anyway, I was given pause over this passage and photo (never mind the Akagi label, it should be Aso):

The design of this class closely followed that of the Hiryu class, but with the bridge on the starboard side. The keels were laid down for this class of ships in 1942-43, but only three of them ever reached completion. Work stopped on the Kasagi in April, 1945 when she was 84% complete, no armament having been fitted. Work also stopped on the Iso and the Ikoma in January, 1945 due to lack of building materials. They only had been completed to hanger deck level (60% complete with no hanger or armament fitted). All ships had been launched and left in their incomplete state until August, 1945 when they were surrendered and then later scrapped. The hull of the Aso had been used as a Kamikaze test-bed and she was in a poor state of repair, half sunk in shallow water when surrendered. The Unyru was sunk by the USS Redfish in the East China Sea in December, 1944.

Am I reading "test-bed" wrong? Did they test their kamikazes? Um, how did that work out?

Full site can be found here.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Fast Friday: Emerson Fittipaldi 1984 March in 1/64

I actually finished this a while back, but never got around to posting it. Like the Danny Ongais car I posted earlier, this is a 1/64 resin body from Fast Bodies. Alas, I have since heard that he will no longer be producing these. Another valuable hobby lesson, there kids: Buy it when you see it. You may never get another chance.

Anyway, this car represents Emmo's first Indy car ride. The F1 world champ drove a car that was ... pink? Yup. Indy didn't go all that well for the talented Brazilian that year, but there were bright spots over the season. And of course he would go on to win the 500 twice, taking out Little Al once. And drinking orange juice once. Not that anyone noticed that little faux pas. Ahem.

Unlike the Danny Ongais car, I put the road wings on this guy. Paint is straight up Tamiya pink. Yes, I bought a can, and used it again on another project I will share one of these days... Decals are from Indycals.

So why this car? Two reasons, really. You never see this one modeled. And I have two daughters, remember? The love the pink car. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We Had to Destroy the Mustang in Order to Save It

Well, not exactly "destroy." But it definitely had to be torn apart. Here are some photos my body man sent this morning on progress. That blurry one is a HUGE mouse nest that was up under the cowling. I know I removed a lot of mouse "evidence" prior to this, but hadn't gotten up under there. I lost count of how many mouse skeletons I pulled out of the seats and the carpet. Did I mention this spent a lot of time in an old country barn?

I ordered a new outer wheel well and trunk drops last night, so hopefully he has them by the weekend.

Long-time readers may recall the saga of last year, where the engaged "body man" did absolutely zilch. This guy did more in a week than the previous bozo did in seven months. At this rate, I'll have a rolling chassis ready to work with by Christmas. Guess I better get busy on getting that motor back together!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Los Conquistadors

As a follow-up to the Tlaxcallans and Mexica, here is my humble collection of Spanish conquistadors. For God, gold and glory, and all that. Not many, but an interesting mix of Monday Knight and Foundry. These were all painted some time ago, but they still look pretty good to my eye. Though you can see I never quite got around to adding banners to the command group. I do have a few more of these lying around in the "to paint someday" pile. I especially like the poor fellow with his hands tied, undoubtedly off to some grim end...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Let's Try This Again

I mentioned last week that I would provide some updates on multiple hobby fronts soon. It's been quiet, but not completely quiet. For instance, the Mustang project has finally started to awake from it's slumber.

Slumber may not be quite the right word. More like I was so irritated and frustrated with the whole thing, I pretty much ignored it for a while and secretly hoped it would maybe just go away. I seriously considered putting a number on Craigslist - you haul it away.

But, after months of searching and talking to various candidates, I finally found someone who I think will be able to do the necessary body work I can't do. Believe it or not, I found him on Craigslist, which gave me pause, and I was a bit hesitant at first to contact him after my last experience with that. But I did, he came out and looked at it, and said he could do everything but paint at a reasonable hourly rate, and a reasonable hourly estimate. If you remember, the last guy gave a number that was too good to be true, and it was. This guy's number was more in line with what I was expecting. Some other guys gave some numbers over the last few months that were just too much for what I wanted to get out of the car.

Plus he is the service manager at the local RV dealer near where I work and have had service done on my camper in the past, and a few people I talked to vouched for him. So I went for it.

Anyway, he lives about 35 miles away, so that necessitated some creative transport once again. I recruited the same assistant from before (who must be getting sick of hauling this stupid thing around), and off we went. No snow storm this time. :) Just a beautiful early fall day. The good part is he works about five minutes from my work, so we can exchange parts and things easily.

We dropped it off with no problems, and he said he's anxious to get started on it. He looked at what the previous guy did (basically some light sanding on the quarters) and couldn't figure out what he was even trying to do. He knows the story, and all he can say is it's a big shame. He couldn't make any promises on when he would be done, but I don't really care if he keeps it until April.

Oh, and it's not a big deal that he can't paint, as one of the other candidates was interested in doing that, but not the actual body work. So it should all work out. Everything just costs money! In fact, I already ordered $200 more in inner aprons and cowl sides last night, with more sure to come...

I'll post specifics on what is happening as events warrant.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

And in This Corner...

Of course, the Mexica need an opponent. How about these Tlaxcallans? Rather an interesting bunch. They hated the Mexica/Aztecs so much, they sided with the Spanish conquistadores. Some speculate the Mexica let them continue to exist so they could continue to have an opponent to fight. I.e., a steady stream of potential prisoners to be sacrificed on the bloody altars to their gods. I really need to read up more on this period.

Not a huge collection here. All minis from Monday Knight Productions. The Tlaxcallans can be distinguished by the red and white head bands. Pretty cool idea. Plus the fellow with the crane on his back just screams elite, doesn't he?

Alas, these have never seen table top action and have spent all their painted life in a box. Except when it's time for a photo shop. I suppose it's too early in the period to say "queso"?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meanwhile, South of the Border

Holy cow. Summer is officially over. The wife (a teacher) went back to work today, and the kids are in full-time day care. Big changes, and it will take a while to get used to the routine. But hopefully the change will allow some additional hobby time. Fear not, all has not been completely quiet on that front the last few weeks, and I shall strive to provide some updates on the various happenings the next few days.

Anyway, to today's topic. So what if there wouldn't have even been a border in 1521. At least not one we would recognize. But that was certainly an eventful year in North American history, what with the Spaniards conquering the Aztec empire and all that. Once upon a time, I had delusions of gaming this period. I had visited Mexico, and loved the culture and history (and the food). Colorful troop types, different levels of technology, what could be better?

Oh yeah, I forgot about the multitudes of Aztecs to paint, with all those colors. And the terrain, yikes. So much urban fighting, and building (and storing) all those temples and pyramids was daunting at best. So it never went beyond a handful of Monday Knight Productions and Foundry minis.

Today, I can't make up my mind. Sell them, or perhaps hold out hope that suitable rules may yet come along that allow small scale pre-Spaniard battles. The so-called "Flower Wars" between the Mexica and their enemies still has potential, in my opinion. Saga, perhaps?

It should also be noted I bought my wife a new camera this summer, so hopefully the quality of the photos here will improve. I may not use it all the time, but this collection was shot with the new camera with natural light, and I think the effect is quite good. These are the Mexica, a various mix of basic warriors, some suited warriers and, of course, the big fella, Moctezuma hisself.