BCS 2021 & A Blog Update

Well, “a few weeks” in my last update apparently turned into two months of radio silence here. Oops.

Build Something Contest 2021 over on LAF had the end date pushed back by two weeks due to the organizer having an attack of Real Life, but it’s wrapped up and voting should start this week over on Lead Adventure!

I’ll get a full gallery of all my build shots up after voting begins, but in the meantime here’s a teaser from early in construction of my entry, which wound up named the “Dark Pool of Dark Darkness”…

The piece with most of the basic groundwork laid down and the rock formations just started. 28mm gnolls on 25mm bases for scale; the whole thing is about 10″ long by 9″ wide or so. Click for larger, as usual.

Build Something Contest 2021

Quiet here the last week or so because I’ve been thoroughly distracted by Lead Adventure Forum’s Build Something Contest 2021!

Lots of cool entries in progress over on the BSC subforum of LAF. Posting WIP photos elsewhere is discouraged but I’ve taken lots of photos so far of the rocky moor piece I’m doing and I’ll be sharing them here in a month or so when the contest is concluded.

I do have some other stuff I’ll be showing off, including some scatter pieces I just finished that I’m quite happy with, so it won’t be totally dead here but go check out the BSC and look for my updates there!

Over a Barrel, Gaslands Edition

Corey has a 3d printer, as has featured here many times, and a little while ago he cranked out half a dozen barrels in Gaslands-ish scale. His printer was being temperamental, however, and they wound up a bit lumpy and mis-printed. The care and feeding of 3d printers appears to be an entire hobby unto itself, one I’m happy to leave to him…

Waste not, want not, though and on a post-apoc deathtrack battered misshapen barrels seem more likely than pristine clean ones anyway, so I took them, stuck them in a rough line on a base made of a lump of Milliput, and chucked some paint on ’em.

Rust basecoat after priming.

After my usual grey spray primer the barrels got a reddish-orange rust basecoat, then I painted them alternating white and red, to fit with the general colour scheme on our Gaslands arenas.

White barrels masked while I paint the red ones.

All the paint was stippled on to be deliberately scruffy and let the rust basecoat show through, and then I drybrushed various shades of rust, dust, and grime back over everything. I think there was a dark brown wash in there too, but can’t actually recall.

Finished and ready to be put out in the arena to be crashed into!

This was a nice quick little barricade, done over a couple of short sessions, and a good way to reuse slightly misprinted but still basically intact bits!

New Books for the Library

Went on a bit of a book buying spree recently in aid of getting more background material for my WW2 coastal naval gaming; among the classic references in the field are the trilogy of books published in the 1990s by Leonard C. Reynolds, Dog Boats at War, Mediterranean MTBs At War, and Home Waters MTBs & MGBs at War. Except for Dog Boats, they’ve been out of print ever since.

I looked through a few different used book websites and eventually wound up getting all three through different ABE Books sellers, despite my standing desire not to funnel money toward noted sociopath Jeff fuckin’ Bezos.

I also picked up three Osprey books on the same subject, because one of the ABE resellers is also a full-service new book store as well and Ospreys are usually worth it. Those were E-Boat VS MTB, German E-boats 1939-45, and British Motor Torpedo Boat 1939-45.

If you’re looking for reading material on the coastal forces of WW2, I highly recommend the Publications page of Spitfires of the Sea, and the rest of that website while you’re at it. It’s written by Stephen Fisher, an archeologist/historian specializing in 20th C naval matters. He also tweets as @SeaSpitfires and is well worth following there.

Links of Interest, 4 April 2021

Cement Saul is a fairly new YouTube channel that has been doing a bunch of interesting Gaslands-related videos. I especially like the video on Weathering with Coloured Pencils and Pigments. Pigments (pastel chalk dust, or similar) are familiar to me and I’ve used them in the past, but weathering with actual coloured pencils hadn’t occured to me and I’m going to have to try that out! It’s part of a series on painting, stencilling, detailing, and weathering cars that’s well done, approachable, and worth your time.

Light Industries is a Canadian outfit that do various decals including custom work; I always like to find Canadian sources for things when I can!

Misc Minis do various decals as well, including tiny decals suitable for 1/1200 vessels or aircraft. I contacted him back in January 2021 about getting a little sheet of his smallest decals, got it in just a few weeks for much less money than I was expecting, and will do a proper review of them sometime soon!

A Paintbrush Rack from Scrap

I’ve always know that hanging paint brushes bristles down to dry was better for them, but never bothered doing anything about it. Recently my selection of brushes has expended as I’m using cheap makeup brushes for drybrushing and, right at the other end of the brush quality spectrum, my wife spoiled me at Christmas with a trio of gorgeous W&N Series 7 brushes, the seriously expensive ones.

My painting bench is an old Ikea modular shelving unit, and I realized I could add a brush rack to the underside of one of the shelves just off my actual painting area, where it would be out of the way but close at hand for convenience.

Even better, I realized with a few seconds of experimenting that I could make a functional brush rack from scrap foam and recycled cardboard! The foam happens to be sheets from Infinity box sets, about 4″ by 6″ or so; I took one sheet of that, cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut a series of slits about an inch apart and maybe an inch and a half deep.

New drying and storage rack in position. The foam will even hold the fat-handled makeup brushes I’ve just started using for drybrushing. Click for larger.

I hot glued the foam to scrap cardboard from the recycling bin, then hot glued the whole assembly into place on the underside of the shelf just on the left hand edge of my painting bench. If I ever decide to replace it or move it, the hot glue can be popped off the wood of the shelf fairly easily.

The slit foam will even hold the wide handles of the cheap makeup brushes I’ve started using recently for drybrushing and the 2.5″ housepainting brush I use on big scenery projects. Given it cost me exactly nothing to make, took just a couple of minutes, and uses a spot on my hobby bench that was previously empty space, I’m very pleased with this little project!

The paint brush rack in context, top left corner of the photo. Yes, I need to de-clutter my bench, move a whole bunch of completed figures into storage, and such. Next weekend. Click for larger.

Gates for Gaslands, Part Five

Up next was the “GATE” lettering and giant numbers for the three numbered gates.

Mid-project roundup. Rust basecoat on the big numbers, front centre; GATE lettering primed on the right, and the gate towers all lined up behind and overhead. Click for larger.

I cut the giant numbers from sheet styrene and mounted them on strips of scrap styrene. The GATE lettering was 3d printed as separate letters and then mounted on very thin square section styrene strip. To make that easy I taped long pieces of the styrene strip down to my cutting mat, glued the letters down, then once the glue had cured cut each word out.

Everything got spray primed grey and then basecoated the same blotchy rust I’d used on the overhead gantry and elsewhere. I stippled and drybrushed everything with a couple of different shades of off-white (Reaper Linen White and Leather White, primarily) before a final drybrush of Reaper Pure White.

The GATE signs and numbers all mounted and final weathering begun. Click for larger.

After that it was back to the weathering, primarily drybrushing with a big soft makeup brush. I only just picked one of these up, a super cheap dollar store special, and it really is the bomb for drybrushing! I used a fairly random selection of browns, reds, tans, and off-whites for this, going back and forth over all the towers and the gantry as well.

Back view of the six gate towers, with speaker cabinets and loudspeakers mounted. Click for larger.

While adding the lettering I had finally primed, painted, and installed the roof on the announcer/race official cab on the lefthand start gate tower. I thought about installing mesh on the windows but decided to leave them open for now; I might go back in and add some additional protection for the folks who wave the chequered flags but the current form will do for now!

Roof installed on the announcer/official cab. It had to be cut to fit around the fairly random structure of the tower itself. Click for larger.

Final touches and some finished shots soon as this project finally wraps up and might actually hit the table sometime soon!

Gates for Gaslands, Part Four

When we last saw our gates they were basecoated but stalled due to missing 3d printed parts. Those arrived, thanks to my brother’s 3d printer, and I was able to move on with the project.

I didn’t want to start the overhead gantry on the Start/Finish gate until I had the 3d printed “Esquimalt Thunderdome” sign in hand, but once I had that the basic construction went together quickly.

The three openwork girders have been in my stash for decades and the packaging is long gone, but they’re from Plastruct – possibly these ones, which seem to be about the right size. You can find all the similar openwork web girders from Plastruct by searching their site for “web”.

The girders are only six inches long, so I knew I’d need to extend the gantry with other materials as the Gaslands rules call for gates the same width as a Long Straight movement template, which is roughly 7 inches long, and Corey’s Thunderdome racetrack dirt track is roughly 8 inches wide. Fully finished, this gantry is almost 10 inches long, and slots into the roof structure of the two vertical gate towers to hold everything together.

The start of the overhead gantry. I later pulled off the plastic mesh as it was getting in the way of construction and painting, and replaced it much later in the process. Click for larger.

The rest of the gantry was a random scatter of styrene shapes from the stash – there’s some flat C-channel, different T- and H-girder bits, and lots of square or rectangular cross section stuff. It had to both look structurally sound and actually have a certain amount of structural integrity, but the beauty of post-apoc engineering is that it still looks great if you bodge extra bits on to fix earlier problems!

in progress but before priming. You can see here how the gantry’s beams slot into the tops of the two gate towers. Click for larger.

After grey primer I covered the whole thing in a blotchy rust coat using a couple of different shades of browns, reds, and oranges.

Rust coated. Click for larger.

After the rust coat I did a blotchy coat of white, partly drybrushed and partly stippled into place. This came out far better than I’d hoped, and really looks like white paint that’s flaking off as the metal under it rusts and weathers.

Stippled and drybrushed white, and first coats of blue on the sign. Painting of the actual gantry is basically done at this point; the sign got a bunch more weathering and highlighting and touchups. Click for larger.

The speaker cabinets and loudspeaker horns were 3d printed from STLs on Thingiverse, both from a very nice collection of Gaslands parts. The speaker cabinets were printed in two different sizes, which added some visual interest.

Speaker cabinets and loudspeaker horns in place and weathering started. Click for larger.

The speakers got painted a blotchy off-black (Reaper Pure Black with a dot of one of their greys mixed in) and the loudspeakers got one of the many tan off-whites in my collection, I can’t remember which one.

The clutter of speakers and loudspeakers really makes this piece pop, it’s exactly the visual clutter I’d pictured in my head when first thinking these designs up!

I’d like to add some light fixtures, but it seems nobody makes 20mm 3d printable floodlight fixtures, at least not that I can find, and I’d want enough of them that scratchbuilding isn’t really an option unless I can come up with a really simple design…

The back of the gate, with mesh back on the walkway and all the 3d printed stuff getting weathered.

Next up, painting and installing the big “GATE” signs and numbers on the rest of the gates, and loads more weathering. So much weathering…

Links of Interest, 10 March 2021

A scattering of links for our first Links of Interest of 2021!

More possible sources of small scale scenery are always welcome, and over on Wargaming3d Wozname has started a new line of 3d printable STL files for 1/1200 scenery, starting with a few entire islands and some castles. Really neat to see people doing entire pieces in these tiny scales that would be basically impossible to do in any larger scale!

On the small scale naval gaming theme, the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers has a couple of articles on small boat actions in the Mediterranean in WW2, with one article on mostly focusing on British vs Axis and the second spotlighting American PT boats. They’re framed around Cruel Seas but trivially easy to adapt to other rule sets.

Reaper Minis hosted a Virtual Reaper Con last weekend, and while I’d initially signed up for four classes on various painting topics, the world conspired to only allow me to attend one class, a fantastic discussion of “Additives, Mediums, and Texture Pastes – Oh My!” by Rhonda “Wren” Bender, talking about matt and gloss mediums, flow aids, drying extenders, glaze medium, texture pastes, and various other things as they apply to miniature painting. The class handout is available at the link above, the session was recorded and will eventually show up on Reaper’s YouTube channel, and Rhonda has a great website of her own over at Bird With A Brush that’s well worth checking out.

Incidentally, the anchor chain stock photo being used as a header for these Links of Interest posts is by CastleLight from Pixabay.

Cold Waters Ocean Mat Review

For my naval gaming I knew I needed a proper mat eventually; I thought about doing up a sheet of grey felt with spraypaint and such, but then I found the Cold Waters mat from Cigar Box Battles and figured it was worth the investment.

A lot of mats are designed for Mediterranean or tropical games (pirates!) or the Pacific and are way too blue or blue/green for the North Sea or English Channel where all of our WW2 small boat stuff has taken place so far. The Cold Waters mat is described as “the perfect mat to use with your North Sea WW1 Jutland fleets” and the colour looked good, so I decided to order it.

I ordered the mat February 1st and it showed up on the 20th from wherever it is in the US that Cigar Box Battles are based. I didn’t get a shipping notification or tracking number, oddly, which I was expecting given the cost of the thing. No matter, it made it, and a three week turnaround is good in normal circumstances, nevermind our current COVID-FUBAR’d postal mess!

A portion of the mat spread over one end of my dining room table. You can see the colour variation and nicely consistent whitecaps really well here. Click for larger.

Honestly the mat looks even better in person than in the photos on the Cigar Box website. The colour varies randomly across the mat from quite a dark blue to a lighter grey-blue, with whitecaps across it in the fairly consistent pattern you’d expect. There’s no obvious repeats of the pattern created by lazy graphic design, which is definitely not the case with some of the other sea mats out there.

Closeup with a couple of my 1/1200 WW2 coastal boats and one of my coast segments. It looks bluer in closeups. Click for larger.

The mat is a lightweight fleece blanket material and only printed on one side, which is fine. The fabric has a bit of a shine to it, again just fine on a seascape, and just a bit of fleece fuzz texture. It lays nicely flat, no curling at the corners or edges, and the creases you can see in the photos are about the largest on the whole thing right now. I’ll iron it eventually, and then store it either rolled around something or crumpled up loosely so it doesn’t get long straight creases in it again.

I think it’ll stand up to years of gaming use, and according to Cigar Box it’s washable in case someone does spill on it once in-person gaming is a thing again.

Middle distance shot. I’ll probably iron it to get the storage and transport creases out, then store it either crumpled up or rolled around something to avoid future creases. Click for larger.

The mat has fairly flat seams along each edge; if you were laying several out overlapping the ridge along the edges wouldn’t be too disruptive even with small ship models. It’s advertised as “4 x 6 Plus” which I think means it’s four to six inches bigger than that in each direction; I’ve not actually bothered to measure yet.

Absolutely a good value and solid looking product, with good shipping times. I’m not sure when I’ll next need a mat for something else, but Cigar Box will be on the shortlist if and when I do!

Wargaming & Such (formerly Brian's Wargaming Pages)