Recent activity

So, what have I been up to since my last posting?

Apart from spending five days at Blenheim Palace for the horse trials (see facebook post from my dog:  https://www.facebook.com/paul.wisken.7/posts/953008101487847?notif_t=like&notif_id=1473884147211044), during which I drafted the rules for my new game “Bomber”,  I have been painting models and constructing terrain.

For Bomber I have been painting up 14 1/600 Lancaster bombers and some 1/1000 buildings.  At the same time I have painted 5 GHQ 1/285 Shermans and about two dozen 30mm Plastic Spencer Smith Grenadiers.  I also painted two regiments of 6mm MDF figures for ny “in period” Napoleonic games.

My new method of getting things done is to leave new purchases on the painting table until they are ready, even if I have moved on to a new interest while waiting for delivery of the models.

For the ongoing Operation Sealion campaign I have made some new hexagon tiles for the engagement at Postling (see the image with this post).  Several new hedged roads were needed for this scenario.

So, what for the future?

More MDF figures to be painted, mainly cavalry.  Bombers to be finished, and JU88 night fighters to be started.  many more 1/1000 buildings to be painted and based.  Rules for Bomber to be playtested.

Small scale barbed wire

Preparing my next very small scale Operation Sealion battle I need barbed wire to slow up those pesky German chaps.  Everything I have is far too big, so what to do?

Searching the toy cupboard for inspiration I found some items originally bought to indicate musket smoke.  You can get these pipe-cleaner like objects in any store devoted to the hobby of “crafting”.    Never try to use them for cleaning pipes!

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Take a cigarette lighter and find a wind-free spot outdoors.  Carefully and without breathing light one end and burn off all the fluffy bits.  When the remaining wire is cool enough to touch, wind it without much care and not too tightly around the thinnest thing to hand (I used a large paperclip after trying several alternatives).  For extra effect, occasionally back-track and wind over a previous coil.

You  will get filthy in the process, but the result is pre-aged coils of scale wire, as seen below with some 3mm models yet to be painted.  I know that to scale the wire is about six inches in diameter, but it works for me.

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The photo shows some over-large first attempts and the final solution (not Mr. Hitler’s one, but my own).

Next task: Beaches.

Kallistra hexagon terrain and how I use it

Most of my wargames are played on a 4ft x 3ft (120cm x 90cm) table on Kallistra hexagon tile terrain.  I play in 6mm, 1/300, 1/285 scale.
Although Kallistra make roads and rivers to place on top of the standard tiles the roads are too wide for my scale and the rivers too regular.
I make my roads and streams about 2cm wide – which fits my standard troop base size – and rivers are 5cm wide, or almost the full hexagon edge.
I buy my hexagon tiles ready flocked with grass/earth colours.  To make a stream or road I take a hexagon tile and mark the entry and exit points at the centre of the hex-sides.  Next I take a paste brush about 2cm wide and liberally paint the route of the road or stream with water.
While it is wet I scrape the flocking to the edges of the road or stream route with a sharp knife.  This has the effect of creating low banks on both sides. When dry I paint roads with a “pebble” tester pot from Homebase (a UK DIY store) .  This shade was decided on after viewing European roads from above on commercial air flights.  While still wet I sprinkle with fine builder’s sand and spray with matt varnish.

A road painted onto Kallistra Hexon tiles
J A road painted onto Kallistra Hexon tiles

For streams I use a mix of blue, grey and brown tester pots and follow up with several coats of PVA glue to give a shiny surface.

This stream needs two or three more coats of PVA to increase the watery look
This stream needs two or three more coats of PVA to increase the watery look

To make marsh I use an unflocked tile. I still have a few from the days before I bought ready-flocked. I paint them as for the streams and then add flock and short lengths of cut sisal string or old paintbrush heads to represent reeds.

A Kallistra hexagon tile embellished to tepresent a marsh or swamp.
A Kallistra hexagon tile embellished to represent a marsh or swamp.

For woods I use either pre-based trees or by preference I drill holes in the tiles and “plant” the trees.  Judge the results for yourself.  Feedback is welcome.
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Belgica – seven desirable town houses available

Further to my post of 31st December 2014 the seven houses that survived my attention with a hammer are complete and ready for occupation by the citizens of Belgica (my Imagi-Nation).

It seems that the urban planners of Belgica have strict rules about the design of town houses, but the owners have free rein when it comes to colour.

Here is the original Christmas decoration as illustrated in Marks and Spencer’s online shop.

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I used a selection of acrylic pastel colours from Coat d’Arms and several coats were needed to cover properly.  I was not concerned about a rough, slightly streaky look after taking a look at my own house that needs repainting. (For that job I need to find someone who can paint objects more than 100mm tall.)  I finished with a couple of coats of Army Painter matt varnish spray, and here we see some of the fine Belgican regiments on parade in the town of Kortrijk.

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Some new houses for my toys

Just before Christmas I spotted in Marks & Spencers store some white porcelain houses containing an electric LED “tealight”, intended as a Christmas decoration.  “Hello” says I, “These look like they will work with my imagination of Belgica.”  They are in fact a bit on the large size with dimensions 65mm x 65mm (ground area) x 105mm (to the roof ridge).  The front door is 26mm tall to the apex of the triangular lintel.  My 18th century Belgican troops are “Risk” playing pieces about 20mm tall including the base.

The price when I saw them was GBP10 each, on a 3 for 2 offer.  I decided to wait for the post-Christmas sales to see if the price would come down.  Being a sad wargamy person, I checked the prices on 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th December on line. (M&S stores would not re-open until 27th December).

24th December GBP10.00 Buy 3, pay for 2.  3 houses = GBP20
25th December GBP10.00 No offer. 3 houses = GBP30
26th December GBP10.00 at 07:00, GBP3.75 at 10:00, no stock!
27th December GBP3.75 no online stock.

We were out shopping on 27th so I made a detour to M&S (Bad move – wife bought shoes after about an hour looking) but I got 8 model houses for GBP30.

Next step (I would include step-by-step  photographs but my PC says the memory card is empty!!!!!) Can I remove the battery container and lights?  Unscrewing and probing with a knife says “no”.  I tried the cave-man approach and hit one of the plastic battery cases with a small hammer.  Perfect!  It fell into the structure leaving a jagged edge which was quickly tidied up with a file.  This worked well for the next two, but the fourth attempt resulted in shattered porcelain all over the workbench.  I decided that 3 houses of 7 remaining that could be occupied was enough and gave up with the hammer.

And so on to painting.  More photographs not apparently saved…

I hope to get a photo of the finished products that I can actually transfer to the PC

More scenic hexagons.

Following my recent post about constructing railway hexagon terrain items, I thought it was worth digging out a couple of my earlier attempts.
These are designed to be placed atop regular empty hexagons and are based on vinyl floor tiles.
World War Two factory – before and after the shelling- bombing raid.

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A bit of recycling

For the next engagement in my early 20th century alternative history the map calls for a railway track to cut across one corner of the table.
I am fighting the battles using 6mm Irregular Miniatures figures on Kallistra Hexon terrain. I have tried in the past to adapt the Irregular Miniatures railway track to fit the 10cm
hexagons but was not really happy with the result.

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Also I have of late been trying to create set-piece hexagons including the relevant terrain rather than plonking features on the top of the grass. This of course does not assist with the storage!
Rummaging in the toy cupboard I found more track sections and some old unflocked hexagons that had been irregularly plastered and painted a hideous “grass green”. Time for some recycling.

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To be awkward the rail line had to cross most of the hexagons across one edge, rather than directly from side to side. It still had to enter and leave each tile At the mid-point of the tile edge. I took seven of the old hexagons, drew the course of the track in pencil and filed off the plaster along that track.
Next I carefully placed the track sections and cut the ends to align with the hexagon edges, aligning each hexagon tile with a couple of others to ensure continuity. The track sections were glued to the tiles and allowed to dry.

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The next step was to smother the tiles with a thick coat of Basetex textured paint, right up to and over the edges of the track pieces, and to scatter flock onto the wet paint through a decommissioned kitchen sieve.

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After leaving this lot to dry overnight the surplus flock was shaken from the tiles and the track painted. I started with slate grey and blue grey for the ballast followed by black for the sleepers (ties) and magic metal ( dark brown metallic paint) carefully applied along the edges of the rails. Finally I ran a craft knife along the top of the rails to remove the paint and leave the bare metal.
Et voila! A small branch railway line.

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Now I just need to paint the train set… Luckily not actually needed for this engagement.