Tuesday, 12 January 2021

More 20mm model building

Continuing the model kit assembly, I've finished these chaps, ready for stowage and painting. 

A First2fight Sdkfz 221.

Another First2fight kit, an Sdkfz 222.

A pair of First2fight Kruppe Protz 70 troop carriers.

A First2fight Kruppe Protze 69 artillery tow, with a Zvezda PAK 36.

A buttoned up Airfix Cromwell.

Finally for now, a set of Italeri DAK motorcycles.

Soon be time to reclaim my corner of the kitchen table, so I can resume painting.

As ever, thanks for looking.

Monday, 4 January 2021

On the workbench Jan 2021

Happy New Year!  So, with the Civil Powers taking control of the kitchen table (AKA my workbench), painting ground to a halt over Christmas and into the New Year.  So, with little to entertain on tv these days and lots of long dark days and nights, what better than to assemble some of the kits that reside in the stash, some of them for several years, others more recent.

First up, a real quick build from First2Fight, a PzIIC - very much like assembling one of the smaller Zvezda 15mm kits, but this one in 20mm.  Needs a bit of jazzing up with some stowage.

Then an Italeri Wirbelwind.  Not a bad model to assemble and nicely detailed, but the need to plastic weld some of the gun assembly was fiddly, but not significantly so.  However, the tracks were a bit of a sod as individual track links needed to be glued around the stong curvatures of the sprocket wheels and as connectors between straight sections.  What a palaver, especially as they don't attach to each other in any way other than glue.  Still, quite a nice model once it went together.

Another First2fight, this time an Sdkfz 247 recce/command car.  Axles a little spindly, but builds into a nice sturdy little kit.  Think it will need basing to minimise damage to those thin axles though.

Interesting assembly challenge posed by this Fujimi Ferdinand.  The big issue was making the tracks link up as they are old style rubbery plastic needing to be hot welded, but one track was a good centimeter short, while the other was more like an inch short.  Even draping over a radiator to warm up and then stretching didn't significantly close the gap.  In the end, I used bits of the sprue the tracks came on to melt and add length on the underside of the tracks - as I'm going to base them,  it shouldn't be too visible.

Compared to Fujimi, this Airfix Cromwell was a delight to assemble and the tracks were so straightforward it was untrue.  Any model manufacturers would do well to try and emulate this technique for track assembly.  I need to dig through my spare tank commanders to pop a figure in the hatch.

A universal carrier section from Plastic Soldier Company.  These were from the standard set, with the addition of 2" mortar crewmen from the carrier variants set.  This is where, again, I have been somewhat disappointed by PSC, as they appear to have used a slightly different scaling for the variants box compared to the basic carrier sprue.  This makes crew figures from the variants box appear to be giants, compared with the basic crew (I estimate more like 23 or 24mm high, rather than 20mm), which is really noticeable when comparing the driver and gunner figures with variant crew figures.  Natural variation in height might explain this, but for the fact that the helmets of the variant crews look gigantic compared with the basic vehicle crews.  Unfortunately, the scaling difference also means that parts such as the armoured front of the artillery observation carrier are slightly too large to fit the rest of the standard model and need cutting back to fit.

A second carrier section, one to carry a bren team, the middle a 2" mortar from the variant kit, but with standard kit crew, and the third to carry a PIAT team.

A Vickers MMG carrier - again, compare helmet sizes between front seat crew and rear passengers.

Artillery observation variant.

3" mortar carrier.

Wasp flamethrower.

So, not a bad group of vehicles assembled over the holidays, I'm quite pleased with that little lot.  Should keep me out of trouble for a few weeks.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

20mm WW2 German infantry in winter smocks

Another bring and buy bargain, a mixed bag of Caesar WW2 German winter infantry in camo smocks.  The only figures missing were LMG teams, which I made up with some MG34 armed Panzergrenadiers from Raventhorpe.

The platoon with a recce infantry section at the front.  The recce section is painted in all white camo, while the rest wear a mix of white and more regular camo gear, some with white smocks, others white overtrousers.  I notice for the picture that I have managed to put one figure of the recce section in with the HQ section.

The recce section in all white camo - I figured they would get the most suitable clothing to fulfil their role on the battlefield.

HQ section.

Rifleman in mixed camo clothing.

CO, rifle armed so he blends in with his troops.

Similar figure pose in mixed camo clothing.

MG34 and assistant.

Advancing SMG and rifle-armed figures, both in mixed camo clothing.

I still need to add some snow to the bases, I will probably use my favourite recipe of baking powder, white paint and PVA glue.

So, last post for the year.  What a year 2020 has been!  Here is to 2021, new and effective vaccines and the end of Covid-19.  Happy New Year and thanks for looking!

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

20mm British Pioneers and Home Guard

I recently ordered a mixed lot of figures from Raventhorpe, which included a couple of packs of WW2 British pioneers (three figures per pack).  The figures are armed with a flamethrower, Bangalore torpedo and pole charge, making them really useful for lots of battlefield engineering tasks.

I also ordered a "special" Raventhorpe pack of familiar Home Guard infantry.  A pack of 9 figures, including an ARP warden, officer, medic and youthful Tommy gunner wearing a scarf, plus rifle armed volunteers with fixed bayonets and a Lewis gunner.

The officer.

Young Tommy gunner.

ARP warden.  Put those lights out.



Assorted troopers with rifles, Lewis gun and Molotov cocktail.  Just realised the guy with the Molotov appears to be smoking a fag, which makes him look like bit like a spiv.

All nice figures with good raised detail and easy to paint.  I shall need to source quite a few more Home Guard types to make up a platoon, so will scan the manufacturers to see what is on offer.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

20mm PSC SS Panzergrenadiers

I was impressed with the example photos of the new Plastic Soldier Company ultracast SS Panzergrenadiers, so decided to give myself a pre-Christmas treat and ordered a box.  At almost £20 plus postage for a box of 35 figures, they are not cheap, working out at over 57p per figure.  I was also somewhat surprised at the box content as there are 6 MG34 teams of 2, 3 prone firing and 3 advancing.  However, that leaves 3 kneeling commanders, 3 NCOs with SMGs, 3 Panzerfausts and 20 figures armed with rifles.  Now, my calculations suggest that for a platoon in PSCs premier WW2 rules system, this leaves you short 1 rifleman, which seems a really odd mix, especially as my box contained sprues which had been cut up already, so presumably are a mix and match from the casting machines.

The image below shows the basic 30 man platoon that can be assembled (I opted to use the advancing LMG teams, saving the firing teams for another platoon), but there is an odd figure from another manufacturer - I will let you try and figure out which and from which plastic figure set. 

Pose quality and sculpting are excellent (as might be expected given their Adler pedigree) and they are nicely equipped with water bottle, bread bag, gas mask canister, entrenching tool or spade and bayonet sheath, and a scattering of zeltbahns.  Riflemen appear to carry the Kar 98K, NCOs the MP40.  Those armed with panzerfausts also have a slung rifle.  Loaders for the LMGs carry ammo boxes and one has a belt of ammunition draped around his shoulders.  There are quite a variety of poses, walking, running, aiming firing, loading, etc., which makes for a nice mixed look to the unit.

The ultracast material is lightweight and easy to paint, requiring no base/undercoat coat.  However, that is where the benefits stop.  The material does not fully fill the molds properly, resulting in poorly cast arms and entrenching tools in particular.  Missing arms, from elbow or shoulder to hand, required the use of paste to fill/resculpt.  In particular, the tips of entrenching tools also proved particularly challenging to repair and I eventually gave up.  Then there are issues with strong curvature on entrenching tool handles, which are adhered to the backside of the troopers, making them curve to their bodies.  Rifles were also curved and, in at least one case, rippled with multiple curves, making straightening them a challenge.  To add to the problems, some of the webbing, especially rifle and SMG slings, is markedly distorted, with random blebs of plastic and occasionally, there are rounded blebs of plastic adhered to the chest of some figures - no indication if this is a mis-cast item like a grenade or just a blob of spare plastic, but it is too well adhered to the figure to remove without a lot of cutting.  I regret to say that in my opinion there is some really poor production quality and quality control in the manufacture of these figures, which spoils what were clearly beautiful figure sculpts.  Having said that, I am quite pleased with how they have turned out, but I am not going to rush out and buy more or their new 8th Army figures until I hear production quality has improved.

The 6 figure command squad - to me the three kneeling figures look more suitable (in fact perfect) for a higher level HQ (FHQ in BG), rather than a combat platoon.

Three advancing MG34 teams.  Nice dynamic poses.  I have painted these guys in a spring oak leaf pattern,

Three 5 man rifle teams, each with a panzerfaust.

Another view of the riflemen.

And the LMG teams.

So, I thought about what spare figures I had and how they might be incorporated into the basic set.  I picked up some Britannia SS figures from Paul at the Defenders club a couple of years ago and was pleased to see that they compare well in style and size.  This got me thinking that, at 65p/figure, the Britannia metals might be a better bet, although the variety of poses from PSC is nice.  Anyway, these figures were in pea dot camo and there were enough riflemen and an LMG team to do a recce infantry section (at the back in the photo below), plus a suitable commander and a grizzled veteran with arm in sling for the command team (front row, round bases), freeing up the three kneeling PSC figures to form a battlegroup FHQ.  As a bonus, there were also sniper, panzerschrek and MG34 tripod teams as well (on left in photo below).

Comparison of Britannia figures (round bases on left) and PSC (square bases right) showing good compatibility - at least I am happy with them.

So, all in all I am really pleased with the way they have turned out and they form the basis of a nice looking SS Panzergrenadier kampfgruppe.  I already have one using entirely Britannia figures, so these should fit right in for larger actions.

As its Christmas Eve and, according to Norad, Santa is preparing for his great journey around the globe, I will take the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas.  I hope you are able to be with the ones you love, and if you cant, then you can at least meet up on social media.  Take care and keep safe, as ever, thanks for looking.

Friday, 11 December 2020

20mm WW2 Goumiers

A small 8 figure unit of Goumiers (Moroccan soldiers in French service) from Raventhorpe, representing a section for Battlegroup or Company for Rapid-Fire.  Four different poses, walking and advancing with rifles (3 of each) with a single SMG gunner with what looks like a Thompson and a single LMG gunner armed with what appears to be a Bren or perhaps more likely an FM24/29.  Their helmets appear British, while their webbing looks to be US, so suspect these are aimed at the post-Torch fighting in Algeria and Tunisia, although they would also be suitable for Sicily and Italy, possibly even the south of France, although I suspect there would be progressively more US weapons and equipment as the war progressed, in line with the rest of the French army.

These guys are depicted wearing their traditional striped coats in various shades of brown, sand and off-white.  Helmets are Russian uniform and webbing is khaki lightened with Iraqi sand.  All are washed in Agrax earthshade before gloss and matt varnish.

Three riflemen and the LMG gunner, Bren or quite possibly an FM24/29.

3 more riflemen plus the Thompson SMG gunner.

Rear views.

At some point I will probably bring them up to platoon/battalion strength, with a suitable French officer and a Hotchkiss HMG for support.

Thanks for looking.