Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Hall of Shame: AFV Edition

Like a lot of modelers, I have my fair share of "shelf queens." For a long time, this was something I had actively avoided, but as of late, I'm finding it more difficult to finish projects. Right now, I have six tanks/SPGs on my deskI only photographed five of themin various stages of production so let's have a look!
Takom M3 Lee (1/35 scale)
First up is the M3 Lee from Takom. The Lee is probably my favorite tank just based on how funky it looks and to be honest, it was quite a good tank when it debuted in British service during the North African Campaign. This Takom kit is pretty good though not without its faults. The hull facets can be troublesome, but with a little patience and test fitting, they'll go together without too much difficulty. I replaced the kit barrels for the 75mm main gun, the 37mm turret gun, and the M1919 machine guns with turned aluminium and brass, respectively. The worst part of this kit is the length-and-link tracks because they're about half a link too short. They really killed my mojo on this kit but I've since replaced them with aftermarket workable tracks that have to be assembled, which I'm not looking forward to doing.

Tamiya ISU-152 (1/35 scale)
I'm a big fan of self-propelled guns and the Soviet ISU-152 is one of the coolest ever built. This Tamiya kit is as good as any modern Tamiya on the market. Of course there are places with the detail could be better and the engineering has been simplified, but it builds up quite nice. I also replaced the kit barrel with a turned aluminium barrel because I prefer them over plastic. This was also my first go with Mr Paint lacquers and I liked them a lot. I stalled on this because I was vexed over how to proceed with the weathering and this kit offers a great platform for that.

Warlord Games/Italeri M3 Stuart (1/56 scale)
This little kit is for my Bolt Action Soviet army. I'm not a big fan of weathering on gaming models, but since it's a tank for a historical game, I'll add a little bit. It's difficult to add mud and dirt to a model that will be handled, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. I used the new AK Interactive Real Color paints on this kit and they've really started to grow on me and I absolutely adore this shade of olive drab.

HobbyBoss SU-18 (1/35 scale)
I'm a sucker for ugly inter-war tank designs, and the SU-18 definitely fits the bill. Based on the T-18, the first Soviet designed tank, the SU-18 mounted the M1927 76mm regimental gun in a non-rotating casemate. The SU-18 project was abandoned in 1930 before any working prototypes could be built. This was my first HobbyBoss kit and I like it well enough. The instructions weren't the best and I ended up building the the idler wheel on the right side wrong but I don't think it will matter in when the tracks are on the running gear.

Meng Renault FT (1/35 scale)
Following my entry into AFV modeling, I bought a bunch of World War I-era tanks. One of the coolest ones, the diminutive Renault FT, has been wonderfully reproduced by Meng. There are two version of this kit available: the cast Girod turret with full interior and the riveted Berliet turret version with a neat diorama base. I have both kits and decided to start with the riveted turret version to avoid doing the interior. The kit built up nicely and the fit was pretty good, with a little care needed to make sure all the hull facets align properly. What killed me on this build was the paint job; it was my first attempt at multi-color camouflage and I wasn't really happy with how it turned out. I tried to fix it a little bit with some filters but that made it worse in my eyes. This model is probably the closest to completion out of any of my shelf queens and I'd really like to get this one done but it remains to be seen if I could do that without a complete repaint.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Showcase: Bolt Action Soviet Guards

Bolt Action Soviet Guards squad (28mm). Completed in Tamiya and Vallejo acrylics and Ammo of Mig enamel washes.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Showcase: Fiat M14/41 medium tank

Battlefront Miniatures 1/100 scale Fiat M14/41 medium tank. Finished in Tamiya and Vallejo acrylics with Ammo of Mig enamels.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Showcase: Flames of War Americans

This is what I have complete for my Flames of War mid war American force. This has been a labor of love for me and I'm quite proud of how much I've managed to get done. I still have more to do, such as a battery of six M7 Priests, another armored infantry platoon, and some more M3 Lees.

I used a variety of paints for the olive drab throughout this project. Most of it was done using Tamiya Olive Drab (XF-62) and then highlighted with a mix of XF-62 and XF-60 Dark Yellow. I also used Mr Paint Olive Drab FS34087 (MRP-234) for the Lees and Vallejo Model Color Brown Violet (70.887) for the Shermans. I like the mix of colors since it gives a little variation to the army.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Flames of War: American Forces in North Africa

I've been rather busy lately, both on and off the painting table. In addition to my nearly complete British 7th Armoured Division army, I've been working on a mid war American army since the new Fighting First sourcebook was released in October. Since I have no self control, I also have a nearly complete British late war army waiting to be assembled and painted. This army will also be based on the 7th Armoured Division and their exploits in Europe along the Western Front, with a smattering of Churchill tanks of the 31st Tank Brigade.

In the meantime, here's an image dump of all of the American goodies I've been working on the past month or two for Flames of War:
M2A1 howitzers and an armored recon patrol

Destroyed M4A1 Sherman objective

Six M3 Lees and five M4A1 Shermans

Command rifle team and five bazooka teams

Armored recon patrol

T28E1 anti-aircraft guns

M7 Priest battery

T30 75mm HMC platoon

P-40 Warhawks

M3 Stuarts

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gimli; or mourning the loss of a friend

On Monday, November 27th, my beloved tuxedo cat Gimli was put to sleep at the age of 11. Gimli, or Gimmers as he was called by our family, was litter-mates with our cat Chet, whom we lost in January of 2015. Gimli was diagnosed with thyroid issues a year or so ago and had been on medicine since then, but within the last few months, the medicine seemed to have stopped working and he began to essentially deteriorate before our eyes. I decided, with the support of my wife, that there wasn't much we could do to extend his life comfortably and that the best decision would be to end his suffering. It was hard decision to make, more so than when we decided to have our other cats Chet and Pippin put to sleep (both of them were irreversibly ill and on the verge of death). Gimli, despite his diarrhea and unrelenting hunger, was still very much himself, though he was starting to fade. I made the call to veterinarian on Friday, November 24th and set the appointment for the following Monday.
Gimli and Chet on their first day home
As I wrote in my post following the loss of Chet, both he and Gimli were brought into our home in 2006 shortly after my now-wife and I started dating. While we initially were only looking for one grey kitten, the lady that we bought them from gave us priority over another interested person if we took the grey kitten and his tuxedo cat brother. We decided that Chet would be "hers" and Gimli would be "mine." While I very much loved Chet and he loved me, Gimli was always just a little bit more special since he was "mine." He was the runt of the litter, and as a full grown male cat, he was half the size of his brother and the size of a female cat!
Gimli as a kitten
Truth be told, it's actually rather difficult for me to put into words how much this cat meant to me. He was the first animal that was truly mine; he wasn't just the "family pet." He was easily the sweetest cat I've ever known. He never scratched or bit anyone and always was friendly to strangers to his house. When my friend would come over to play X-Wing Miniatures or any other games, Gimli would make it a point to sit on top of his game bag! He would also snuggle with any visitor to our house if they sat on the couch, either in their lap or up against them. Of course, he generally slept on my bed with me at night and especially during the day when I was on night shift, either between my legs or stretched out along my side. He also loved to wake me up on the weekends when he was hungry! He would extend his front claws and gently touch my nose or cheek, just enough to wake me up and hopefully convince me to go downstairs and fill his food bowl.
Sleeping in my lap
Losing him hurt. A lot. I cried after I made the appointment and then every day before we took him to the vet. Our young girls both made the decision to be with him for his journey over the Rainbow Bridge and while very sad, they both handled it well. I think the knew less of what to make of me than what to make of what was happening with Gimli. I make no effort to hide emotion from my children, but I don't often cry. Needless to say, I broke down in a bad way and neither of them has ever seen me like that, but I'm okay that they did. My wife and I have expressed to them that there is nothing wrong with displays of emotion from anyone because it's a natural part of life.

Later that evening while watching our favorite show, Jeopardy!, my six-year old daughter leaned over to me and said, "Dad, I wish Gimli never got sick and I really wish he hadn't died. I miss him." I replied, "Sweetie, me too. I miss him so much that I can't even really explain it, but he's in Kitty Heaven and I'm sure he knows how much we miss him."
March 7, 2006 - November 27, 2017