Monday, December 31, 2012

15mm Zvezda WWII German Opel Blitz

Earlier this year I picked up a pair of Zvezda'a 1/100 scale WWII German Opel Blitz trucks to use in skirmish games with my Peter Pig figures. The kits sat and sat in the closet until Saturday afternoon, when I finally decided to put one of them together.

Operation Barbarossa 1941
Zvezda is well known for making excellent 1/72 scale figures and has been one of the main forces driving my constant interest in that scale. The Opel Blitz truck, along with other German and Russian vehicles and armor, is designed for Zvezda's line of WWII board games. The figures and artillery are 1/72, the vehicles are 1/100, and the  planes are 1/44.

Not Normal Styrene Plastic
The plastic Zvezda uses for the Opel Blitz is not hard styrene like you would find in other armor kits. Instead, it's a medium-density plastic more akin to the kind used in plastic 1/72 figures. As a result, it flexes a bit and can be a bit trickier to cut and trim. There was only minimal flash at spots that cleaned up easily. I used my sprue cutter to remove the pieces from the sprue and a fresh #11 Xacto blade to clean up what remained. Just watch out for feathering the plastic. Since the plastic is soft, I also discovered the hard way that filing and sanding didn't work too well. The kit is "snap-tite," but I still glued the pieces after test fitting them. Testors liquid cement worked great.

Building the Kit
The kit instructions are all visual and dead easy to follow. The kits builds easily enough but does not have anything near the quality of a 1/72 kit from Dragon or, I would guess, a 15mm kit from Plastic Soldier Company. After all, these little Zvezda trucks are meant as game pieces a 12-year old can snap together easily. As a result, the cab section has slight gaps where some of the pieces meet. I tried clamping these pieces after gluing them, but had only slight luck with the gaps. Oh well. I can't complain too much for $3. While in the box, some of the undercarriage struts got badly bent to the point of breaking. I made sure to glue each strut to the bottom of the truck bed. Because the truck flexed a bit, I also glued the back of the cab to the front of the bed, which stopped that from happening. I left the canopy unglued so I could remove it from the bed when needed.

What's Next to Do
The next step is to wash the kit in soapy water (I forgot to do this when on the sprue!) and paint it. The kit comes with a stat card for the game but doesn't include any decals. I assume finding some decals won't be hard

So there you go. A nice cheap kit you can use as an objective or just plain line-of-sight-blocking scenery. I plan to use at least one truck as an objective as in Call of Duty 2-player missions, such as somewhere in the town is a truck loaded with explosives. Find it and destroy it before it's too late. Or steal the Nazi's hoard of gold, load it into the truck, and drive off into the sunset. Wait a minute. That last bit wasn't in Call of Duty 2, was it? ;-)

Have a Happy New Year!

Of course, I only thought of snapping some photos midway into the project. So here you can see the box, instructions, and my progress at the moment. I'm using my OTT lamp for lighting. I always use a folded vinyl tablecloth when painting and modeling. It cushions my forearms, helping to prevent pain..See, I have pinched nerves in my elbows, along with carpal tunnel in both hands, a bone defect in my right hand causing tendon pain if I move it left and right, and plain old shaky hands. My son says my entire life is irony--the last thing I should be doing is modeling and painting figures! (If you watch me build models or paint, you'll hear me mutter mantras like "hold still," "don't shake," and "that's what they make touch up paint for." Wow, this was a long photo caption that got a bit derailed!

Assembled at last! All in all, it took me only 30 minutes of easy work, and I worked slowly.

Game angle view of truck and a Peter Pig figure. Looks fine from this angle.

From the side, the based figure is a bit taller than it should be, but gamers are used to this when using unbased vehicles. These vehicles will fit perfectly with my 1/100 Landmark buildings.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Next Gaming Project: Girls und Panzer

I have just discovered my next gaming project: the new Japanese anime series Girls und Panzer. I got my inspiration from today's email from Dragon Models USA, announcing the release of their new 1/35 kits for some of the tanks from the show in their Platz Models range. My current favorite is the red Stug with the banners, though I really wish they had the pink M3 Lee. There is just something special about school girls driving a pink tank into battle. Ok, I'm being silly. But these are real models for a real TV series. I don't build 1/35 kits, but if they were 1/72 diecast I probably would get them just for kicks. Come to think about it, Girls und Panzer just might make an interesting convention game.... I am so doomed. 

The Pink M3 Lee

Friday, December 21, 2012

London Mob: First Finished Figure

Yesterday, I finally finished the first of figure from my West Wind "London Mob" pack. A couple weeks ago, I had finished most of the figure except the cap and tie. That was the same time when I finished the London Thug figure I posted earlier. However, I just didn't like the highlighting I did on this fellow--the highlighting was too mild. I keep thinking this is a "problem" I've been having. I've been afraid I might "go to far" with highlighting. Then I decided to go for it, adding a new lighter highlight coat to everything. The result is below. It looks even better in real life when the eye blends all the colors. (Blowing figures up 3x in a pic is always rough!) Now, the figure is much more dramatic and closer to what I want my skirmish figures to look like. I think he has become my favorite miniature I've painted. You know, sometimes we just need to enjoy our own work. :-) Problem is, now I want to go back and redo some of my older figures! Oh yeah, several more figures are almost done. I redid their highlighting as well when I redid this fellow.

The base color on the coat is Vallejo Russian Green. The final highlight is Ceramcoat Wedgwood Green. I can't remember the color of the intermediate highlight. I think I just mixed in  bit of white? I forgot to write it down--drats! So much for using the blog to remember what I'm doing....

You don't want to know how many different colors I painted the hat before I settled on brown! One of the figures I'm painting is on the third or fourth color for his jacket. I also repainted the trousers on four other figures until the colors looked good. Not only must we learn how to paint, we must learn how to be fashion designers, picking good color combinations! Sometimes painting armies is sooooo much easier. LOL.

The coat's shadow color is Black Green. I'm trying to work on wet-blending colors. Now I need to finish the base.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Operation Amsterdam (1959): Early WWII in Holland

This evening on Netflix, I watched one of those WWII films that has totally gone under my radar: Operation Amsterdam (black and white, 1959). From the Film4 page for the film: "Stark WWII adventure dramatising a real Whitehall-backed operation to smuggle industrial diamonds out of Amsterdam before the advancing Nazis overrun the city. Starring Peter Finch and Eva Bartok."

This is a chilling movie shot in a stark, matter-of-fact style without all the emotion of most WWII commando or espionage films. It captures the tension perfectly--slow at times, chaotic at others. Like the characters in the film, you never know who is on your side. Are those soldiers ahead real Dutch soldiers or German fallschirmjager disguised as Dutch soldiers? I'm glad I found this film while browsing Netflix. Lately, I've been highly drawn to the early war period. I give Operation Amsterdam an 8/10. Watch the trailer, check IMDb, and see what you think. Or better yet, skip the somewhat spoiler-laden trailer and just watch the film one chilly evening. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

League HQ Lounge

Not sure why I'm posting this pic, but here is part of the League HQ Lounge (aka game room / man room). This is about 1/4 of the room, where most of the "action" takes place and where many great minds have gathered to debate current and historical affairs of grave consequence. (Well, not really. But we usually have plenty of good snacks!)

Unless I need to set up some folding tables, we play our games on an old solid 3'x5' dining room table. I also do all my painting there. The junky office chair went in the trash several weeks ago. For some reason, I find the height and fit of the old rocking chair to be just right for painting, so I keep it on. I have more comfortable chairs out of camera shot.

My computer workstation sits off to the left, just out of the shot. The room is a converted bedroom with its own bathroom with shower and walk-in closet. To the back out of camera shot is an open space where we can set up a few folding tables. Plus I have my old Western-style sofa along the far wall--my wife hates it, but I love it. Over all, it's a clean, comfy place. I like it. Now I just need to clean out the closet!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Deadball as Superhero Figures

Today, I saw some pics of the upcoming plastic figures for Mantic Games' Dreadball. I'm not into Dreadball the game, but I thought some of the figs might be good for superhero games and other sci-fi skirmish games where not everyone has to have a visible weapon--maybe something like Infinity. After all, who is to say they don't have weapons built into their armor, like chest beams or wrist beams a'la Iron Man. Many of the poses look like classic superhero fisticuff action. Some could be individual heroes or villains, depending on your paint job and desire. Some "teams" might make good armored henchmen squads. Just a thought while my pain meds kick in. Am I onto something here?

These Trontek29ers look the superhero part. They kind of remind me of the Rocket Red corps from the 1980s Justice League. Classic superhero poses. They really don't have a major football look. They could he armored henchmen or individual heroes or villains. I like these guys.

She's a pretty cool alien. Is that a football or a bomb!?!

This gal speaks superhero figure to me and is what gave me the idea.

Ok, he's an ork but it can work for an armored baddie. Better for superhero games than a regular sci-fi ork.