Sunday 31 March 2019

Pimping my palms and (barbed) 'wire' we doing this?! - desert terrain progress

Over the last few weeks, I've being thinking quite a bit about desert terrain, due to being (only slightly) distracted by another project! Although my current main focus is on my Sudan The Men who would be Kings game, I've been painting up some 15mm World War 2 tanks, for a North Africa set up for What a Tanker! (WAT) rules, published by Too Fat Lardies.

Picture from Too Fat Lardies

I'm going to do another post in the future, about why - even after only 4 games - I love this rule set, but for those who don't know, WAT is a WW2 Tank combat game, which puts the player in the role of a tank crew and commander, fighting against enemy tanks and AFVs. There's a nice career 'ladder', which allows players to work their way up through different types of tanks, as the war progresses, and become a tank ace. It's easy to learn, but with some nice subtle nuances in terms of command and control, and above all, it's fun! I bought the rules last year, and decided to start painting up a few tanks for 1941 North Africa , with the British facing the newly arrived Deutsche Afrika Korps. I've purchased an A9 and an A10 for the British forces, and two Pz III E tanks for the Germans. All of these tanks are from Skytrex.

British A9 tank
German Pz III E tank
Thanks to my ongoing Sudan project, I've already got a couple of desert scenery boards, and rocky areas of ground, but I wanted some barbed wire and palm trees just to complete the initial set up. At some point, I'll probably pick up some buildings - maybe from Hovels - but for now, this will do....after all, it is only a slight distraction!...

So during a trip to the Hammerhead show right at the start of this month, I managed to pick up said barbed wire from Urban Construct and some palm trees from Hoka Hey. First for the 'Fall on Pell Mell' treatment, were the palm trees!

This is how they started...

I'm a bit of a nutter, where terrain is concerned - I love 'pimping' it up, making it fit in with the colour scheme I've chosen, or adding (quite possibly) unnecessary detail! The Hoka Hey palm trees, are absolutely fine straight off the shelf, but I wanted to make them even more special. I peeled the hot-glue-gunned trees off their bases, and then glued them onto some individual bases (they were originally all in pairs), or as in the case of one base, as a pair, but at different heights. The height was made using other mdf round bases, built up into a kind of pyramid affair, then smoothed off with ready mixed filler. I added my usual sand/tallus/cat litter mix, glued on with slightly diluted PVA.

Sand added to the new base, before painting

After that I got painting! The first task, was separating the top fronds from the trunk - thankfully they weren't glued on, just a case of pulling them off the 'plugs' they were fixed on, and then I mounted the fronds on some skewers to paint.

Fronds before painting - mmmm, plastic goodness! 

These top fronds were firstly basecoated with Wargames Foundry French Dragoon Green 70 A shade, before a rough drybrush of 70 B, and a final light drybrush of 70 B. The base fronds, still attached to the trunks, were painted to represent dying or dead leaves, so I did those in a different mix, using the colours described above, but adding other layers of Drab 12A, and Phlegm Green 28C, again both Foundry paints. Once this was done, I painted up the trunks and branches with Bay Brown 42 A, washed them over with a black wash, then drybrushed them lightly with Bay Brown 42 A again and  then drybrushed  gently with Rawhide 11A, to bring up the final detail. I then matt varnished them (.....yes, like I said, a NUTTER, when it comes to doing even simple terrain!). Once they were finished, I painted up the bases in my usual store mixed colours, based on Games Workshop Steel Legion (that used to be Graveyard Earth), as a base, then drybrushed with Foundry sand 10, A, B and C shades. Then it was time for a little foliage - tufts, and Javis scenic bushes, and I ended up with this...

...and this is how they finished!

Not bad really, for a few nights work, and certainly worth the effort! Like I mentioned earlier, the Hoka Hey 'standard', bought off the shelf, is nice enough anyway, but I love how these trees have turned out! They look even better with a tank next to them!

Next up was some barbed wire - I thought long and hard about this, but in the end, the first lot I've made used the classic 'roll' or 'coil' set up. To start off with, I got some 80mm by 20mm 2mm thick mdf bases, that I'd also bought from Hoka Hey. I then marked these up as shown below, starting 0.5cm in from each edge.(update: with each post being about 3.5cm apart, with only three posts)

Dots added for where the posts would go

Then I cut out some short lengths of balsa wood, about 15mm long, and glued these on using superglue. Add the PVA/Sand/gravel/cat litter (still unused thankfully - not sure what the cat reckons to her toilet slowly shrinking...) mix, and job done!

Sand added - with the original 5 post set up
It was at this point, that I consulted the oracle, where my wargaming 'modelling' choices are concerned, for an opinion on 'how it looks'. This oracle, who is also known as 'my wife' said ... 'Not bad, love, but the posts are a bit close together, aren't they?'.... well, yes, on reflection, they were. So I quickly pulled the 2nd and 4th ones out, and filled in the gaps with more sand and PVA, and then let them set. There was a slight amount of warping, but nothing too noticeable, probably about 2mm across the whole 8cm length. Paint the brown base coat, then I painted the posts in a suitable bleached wood colour (Foundry's Rawhide 11 A shade, then a black wash, then drybrushed back up with A, then B and finally C), and then I drybrushed the sand colour on the bases too, so that the posts would also get a slight hint of light sand around the base of the posts, to tie it all together visually. Then it was onto the barbed wire! Each 'length' of 8cm base uses a length of model barbed wire of about 40-45cm long. I painted this using Foundry's Bay Brown 42 A. I found that painting it as a long length (blue-tacked to my lamp!), before it was spiralled up, much easier, as I could paint along the whole length. Fiddly, but not as fiddly as getting the inside curves if it was in a coil!. It may seem slightly odd, to paint wire in brown, but it replicated the patina of rusted dull wire perfectly, and gave it an instant aged feel. When the paint was dry, but still 'flexible', I steadily wrapped each length of wire round a tube - an old biro about 7-8mm in diameter - and then stretched out the wire coil slightly to give some width between the coils. I then hooked each end over the edge posts of the base, made sure the centre post was sticking up through the coils - it's a case of trial and error, tweaking and stretching or compressing - then glued each coil onto the posts at either end, using a small amount of superglue, to secure things. I then washed the wire carefully in places with a black wash, and then added some thinned (very thinned!) splodges - almost a wash - of Coat D'arms 119 Rat Brown, here and there, to look like slightly fresher rust. This was dulled down here and there with more thinned black wash. Wash over the any superglue that was showing on the posts, with brown wash, add the dry grass tufts and dry looking foliage, and hey presto!

Close up of my finished posts

Double thickness wire - a nightmare to get through!

Definitely to be avoided! At some point I'll do some Minefield signs.

So, with some scenery completed, what better way to celebrate, than with a game of WAT! More on that, and my tanks in the next post, but here's a taste.

WAT acquired, aimed, buttoned up and loaded markers, laser pen, and the 'Universal tanker tool', for measuring angles!

Cat and mouse round the rocks...

3 Critical hits, and kaboom! The Pz III has had it!

A rather nice looking dice tray! Pint, anyone?
To round off this month, I managed to buy a new dice-rolling tray, from, Saddle Goose Designs! It's the first time I've ever owned a dice tray before, and it features the Pie and Pint logo, from Too Fat youngest thought it was a mince pie and glass of milk - ahhhh, the innocence of youth! I cant wait to use it in action for the first time - not bad for £15!

Next time, more news about What a Tanker!, and progress on the Sudan game!