Saturday, 22 August 2015

Flecktarn Special Forces

Greetings all! Remember these guys? Well, they're back in a slightly altered form:

First of all, these photos are all irritatingly shiny. I needed to use a dispersed flash in order to actually get pictures and that made the paint gleam. Finding a reliable matt varnish is a pain in the rear too, any PVP reader suggestions for a good solid matt varnish? Anyway, on with the real stuff: These are a terrifying hybrid creature made of DKK Grenadier torsos and resin cadian-style legs. They needed the grenadiers to be razor sawed through the waist (take care to preserve the lower armour plate) and then smooth the resulting cut ready to be glued to the legs. These were intended to be a Special Forces squad of the Flecktarn-style infantry. As a result the client wanted them to be reminiscent of the originals but stand out from them. Thus the decision was taken to use a different "season" of the flecktarn camo scheme, in this case Spring:

Try to ignore the SS icon, this was on all the elite Heer forces, just a shame so many of those were SS...

So as usual you need to break down the scheme to get a progression for the paint job (I have one more of these to do and am likely to do a step by step on the camo). The scheme is clearly a bright green background, with a dark brown layer providing the principle pattern. Then a brighter brown in the middle of the larger dark brown blobs. Finally more dark brown dots with bright green dots in the centre through the brown blobs. Note that this is not how the material is printed, but it is the easiest method to "stack" the camo layers while painting. The result is:

Fairly close, the green is the horrible - but perfect for this job - Vallejo Uniform Green with a mix of German Camo Black-Brown and Black for the dark blobs. Flat earth was the light brown colour of choice and the whole uniform was shaded with a thinned Agrax Earthshade. Previous flecktarn infantry dictated the German Grey armour and US Field Drab pouches etc. so that was an easy choice. These chaps however have collars, cuffs and a skull on the Ammo Rubber & Tires gas mask. What colour should these be? Anything bright was not going to be a win as these are special forces, drab is their thing. Then looking at the original camo scheme again I spotted the uniform collar. Perfect, thought I, so Val German Fieldgrey it was. It also looked cracking on the skull.

With so many colours going on with these guys already I wanted to keep all other spot colours very muted. Once you get above three or four principle colours you are getting dangerously close to gaudy and visually noisy. All you can do to keep the miniature focused is to boost certain colours and mute others in the hopes that you keep the whole job unified. I think these guys are pretty much there.

That's all folks! I know August has been a smidge quiet here on the ol' PVP but that's largely due to the rest of my life packing everything about six months of stuff to do into the eighth month. August has been proper busy... and isn't done yet. I'll be back to mostly normal in September but hey, at least August has had some updates right?


Friday, 7 August 2015

Great big whacking tanks

Hi folks, as promised, the KV-1 is finished and is a whacking great slab of green!

Yep, this is the same KV-1 (KV stands for Kliment Voroshilov, the defence commissar at the time of its commissioning) that was the focus of a workbench article about brass etch back in... wow... March. The KV series was designed to be a siege tank and it's armour and gun did indeed come as something of a nasty surprise to the Germans who found that it was just plain immune to anything but their biggest weapons. The problem came when these slow lumbering tanks were compared to the T-34 - so far beyond its time that it ought to have come with a TARDIS - and found somewhat wanting. The up-gunned variants of the T-34 (the T-34-85 - hah, just used shortcut keys to do that, ctrl+K and then ctrl+V, KV, gave me a chuckle) could hit as hard, move faster, presented less of a silhouette and be made quicker and cheaper. Soviet tactical doctrine was never going to ignore the value of having two of something in favour of one survivable something and so the poor KV-1's days were shorter than would have been in other armies.

I've already waxed so lyrical about this kit in the build log that you could make a singing candle but if you will indulge me just once more: Wow, seriously, if you have any interest in WW2 gaming do yourself a favour and join Maisey, Emma and I in choosing 1:48 as your vehicle scale of choice. The scale "feel" is better with the chunky 28mm lads and oh god. The kits. There is no contest between a 1:48 multimedia plastic kit designed for armour modellers - and in the case of HobbyBoss often a reduced version of their hyper detailed 1:35 kits - and the 1:56 resin and "wargamer grade" plastic kits you can get. No contest. I will say that if you are the sort to see your models as nothing but wound counters then stick with the 1:56's they'll go together fast and get you on the table. But if like me you love a bit of armour modelling... no contest, and the range grows all the time.

There's a real problem - well two, but I'll get to that - with WW2 painting, especially Soviet, and blogging: There are only so many ways you can say "Well, I painted the whole thing green. Yup, that's about it". So I shall mostly let the pictures do the talking and assume if you are curious about painting methodology you'll check out the T-34-85 and T-70 articles. Literally nothing is different here save less scratches and dings and subtler dust. The KV-1 simply doesn't go fast enough to cover itself too badly in filth. What's that? The second problem? Oh, painting WW2 troops with any fidelity leaves them rather drab in photos. Sure you can push the contrasts and get a better photo but then you end up with cartoons. There's a reason that high contrast is "studio style" and fetishised by some online, it makes for better photographs. However, painting for realism is my great enjoyment so sometimes I just have to eat the fact that the photos won't be great.

Just to show how big the KV-1 is I've assembled a little motor pool of my Sov armour along with happy Ivan the flag waving goon. The KV-1 makes even the T-34-85 look a bit compact and bijou, the T-70 looks like a toy! For those who are curious, these latest additions have swelled my Soviet ranks rather nicely and are now clocking in at well over a thousand points. While I won't be able to shake the Sov habit any time soon I think I need to start thinking about the next project. My problem is that I want to do too many, which to choose? Heer pioneers? Oh, but those Panzergrenadiers are really shiny... Commando raiders? But then there's the Sikh's in Burma who are an unusual project... or 8th army/Afrika Korps in the desert... you've always been fascinated by the Paras and Market Garden... but heck, there's Band of Brothers yanks too, if only they'd make plastics for either of those...

[indecision fades gently to black...]


Monday, 3 August 2015

For the Motherland!

Pozdravleniya tovarishchi! It's been a wee while but the Russians are here again on the ol' PVP blog. 

Just like last time I decided to batch paint the whole box - Warlord's Siberian Veterans - in one go. The paint jobs are simple enough that 20+ batches aren't such a trial. I've needed some more infantry for a while and the Siberian box had the advantage of including a medium machine gun and a nifty commissar with loud-hailer so seemed a no-brainer. Lets start with the least interesting unit first.

Least interesting maybe but very useful nonetheless, this is the second light machine-gun squad of the army. The mainstay of any Sov infantry army, these are unremarkable but effective. The painting follows exactly the same model as the first time round, but this time I did a few tweaks. I ditched the tonal variation in the greens as, bluntly, it didn't really produce results worth the extra time. Instead I separated the Val Russian Uniform green summer uniforms from the padded telogreika uniforms by painting the latter in Val Khaki Grey mixed with a dab of Val Russian Uniform. This still breaks up the unit a bit but doesn't take forever. For those who may be curious, the mix of summer and padded uniforms indicates to me early spring. I'm designing the army's look to be around about April. Still cold enough for soldiers to be comfortable in the telogreika but not so cold that they must be worn. Equally, cold enough that those exposed to the elements - tank riders for example - would still be wearing greatcoats. Thus giving me a nice excuse to include some of their nice new winter troops as tank riders later on!

The maxim MMG in the Siberian box is modelled in a pose I can best describe as "cheese it!". I'd have preferred a firing one, as they don't move often in game but beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure I'll pick up another one in time. The painted sections of the maxim are in that ubiquitous russian green used on helmets, tanks, artillery, frankly, I reckon they'd have painted soldiers that green if they could. It's Val Cam Olive Green with a glaze of Athonian Camoshade to add some subtle shading.

And now what I suspect is the reason for the "cheese it!" pose on the gun, there's a commissar yelling behind them and no-one wants to show insufficient zeal... The Commissars of the NKVD were a hangover from Stalin's first purges, initially as a second in command rubber-stamping the commander's orders if they were politically acceptable. This proved... inefficient at best and around 1942 the "commissars" were retired and turned into "zampolit" responsible for morale and discipline. In practice this usually took the form of rounding up those who ran from the enemy and shooting them. Stalin's regular "not one step back" orders were almost literally enforced, much of the Soviet reputation for relentlessness came from a lack of choice. It was the enemies guns or the guns of the NKVD. At least the enemy might give quarter...

Neither of these models are what I'd call "top notch" but both have character. The standard bearer is displayed in the only good angle it has available I'm afraid and has a face only a mother could love. He is though carrying a whacking great flag and is the perfect ADC for a bolt action commissar. The flag is an overhighlighted red going through the GW reds up to Wild Rider. It was then glazed first with a shade of red and chestnut ink. Then a glaze of Bloodletter to brighten the red. The zampolit, aside from the blue uniform trousers and cap is essentially identical to the men. The coat is Val US Drab with lots of little red piping details. Both were quite a lot of fun to paint. Especially getting the ruddy faced commissar's skin tone right with layers of glazes of mixed flesh tones and reds.

Finally, we have that rarest of things in the Soviet Red Army: Veterans. The Red Army had a nasty habit of treating war as a numbers game alone, those who survived the first few weeks of battle were tough indeed and forged into lethal fighters. They also had a habit of scavenging equipment from all and sundry leading to them being rather more enthusiastically armed than the average troopers. Aside from some battle damage to, and a couple of slogans on the helmets their uniforms are the same as the normal lads.

One of the real differences is in the scavenged German gear some of them sport. An MG-42 - one of the best machine guns of the war - an MP-40 and a couple of Panzerfausts mean these guys are armed for bear when added to their PPSh-41's, Thompson's and their DP-28 light machine gun. These were scavenged from German infantry frames I've got for doing a small Pioneer army. It's strange how different just adding a belt of ammo - not normally a Soviet feature - makes to their "feel". I decided to push that feel a little further though:

The soldier on the left is from the veterans squad, the right is from the Light MG squad. I wanted to make the veterans look tired, ill, stressed. Being a veteran soldier in the hell of the Eastern Front means more than being an experienced fighter, it also means having seen and endured rather a lot... that leaves a mark. This was achieved by using light grey instead of Flayed One Flesh in the final highlight mix for the skin. Combine this with a purple wash into the eye sockets and stubble and you have tired, strung-out, ill looking people. It tuned out quite effective and helps mark them out as veterans.

General Mulder approves
That's all for now folks-ski's but while I was putting these lads in their case I saw the KV1 that I did the build log on a fair while ago. It has actually been painted. The only reason I haven't photographed it for the blog yet is I hadn't weathered it yet. I'll get on that and actually finish that article! Until next time