Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bolt Action: cheap alternatives to tanks, Part 2

If you caught the first installment of this series, you will remember the low cost Revel Pnz IV kits.

I decided to pick up five of them after finding an ebay seller that gave me a good combined shipping

These kits are decent but not perfect, so I decide to make a couple simple changes to make them a bit more realistic.

First detail that was missing was the round vent on the top of the turret. Adding a simple detail like this really goes a long way and brakes up the empty space, also this one detail is one of the Pnz IVs iconic identifying features.

I used a hole punch and some plastic card and a smaller punch to make a smaller disc that is under it to raise it up a tiny bit.

The second change I made was to trim the rear lower skirt to a taper as it should be, when flipped over to the correct height the corner that is cut off becomes the bottom rear. Check out the difference between the first two images in the post.

After that a quick scuff over the graphics some primer and base paint,

I decided not to paint the track sections, they come black and I just brushed on the yellow to the hull side and wheel centers.

 Then it was off to the airbrush for a Normandy style three color camouflage pattern.

As you can see I masked some of the skirt panels to keep the camo off them to represent replaced sections as they were lost or damaged frequently, I may even cut one or two off at some point and have them missing a few.

after that, painting in the tracks, muffler and tools, painting the tank numbers (these were painted by hand by the crew) and a tan drybrush to pick up some highlights and blend it all together.

Now I have a finished German Pnz IV zug for Bolt Action Tank War for under $50. They are not perfect, but it will get me on the table for some games and didn't have to rack up the credit card.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bolt Action: Cheap alternatives to tanks!

With the release of the new Tank War supplement for the Bolt Action WWII system, many of us find ourselves dreaming of lots of tanks rolling over the tables in our upcoming games.

Warlord has a few new releases and some plastic kits , but most ring in at $30-50 for an oddly underscale lump of resin and lead. (don't get me started on those tiny jeeps)
Most of us have gone the way of using some of the high quality plastic kits in 1/48 scale or even some nice die cast stuff that is already built, but even these options hammer away on the wallet still around $20-50.
How about some super cheap kits that you can buy truckloads of you say?

How about $8 Shermans and Panzer IVs? Two of the most prolific tanks for the two big armies are available in 1/48 scale for the price of a Mclunch.

 Revell has rereleased a couple of 70's snap together WWII tanks that you might consider for your gaming needs. The Combat Crushers kits are definitely targeted to kids but I ordered a couple to see if these toys can be used as a decent low cost option to bolster your armor to the sizes needed for the new Tank War games.

These kits are blister packed and prepainted in crazy graphics to grab the attention of kids , but I figured with a little work and some paint they might be useable.

You can find them searching for Quake and After Shock with Revell on Ebay.

Unboxing reveals how simple these kits are and they go together in a few minutes. The horrible graphics are tampo printed and need to be knocked down a bit with some sanding before you paint over them to avoid seeing the designs under the paint.

The Sherman is an odd kit with the late war HVSS type chassis with what looks like a 105 turret and a early 75 gun. Purists out there may not want to deal with this, but on the good side, it looks like a sherman tank if you dont look too close and its scale is pretty good.

Here are some pics with a Tamiya Sherman based Firefly, as you can see the height length and width all compare pretty well.

A little paint goes a long way and this odd kit can look pretty presentable with a simple quick paint job. The .50 cal machine gun looks pretty silly so  drilled out the grips and added a bit of rod to make the barrel look better

The Panzer IV kit fares a bit better, once you flip the side skirts over where they should be, it looks pretty good. You could even make an earlier version by ditching the skirts and turret shields, and even chop the barrel and do a little plastic card work to make the F1, sure the details are molded on and not too amazing but it's really pretty decent on the table with a paint job. A nice airbrush camo job will really make this thing a contender.

 Here is mine waiting for some camo. I drilled out the barrel but that's about it.

One other problem is that these kits don't have decals. 1/48 decals are available out there, and if you have been using plastic kits, odds are that you have some extra sitting around and if you are planning to make a fleet of these you can find a sheet with lots of 1/48 decals reasonably,

So is it worth it? I think the average player would say yes, if you love building superdetailed models, not so much. A Tamiya kit can be found on Ebay for around 30 bucks and is a wonderful kit to build, and that's cheaper than a rhino, but you can buy 3 of these Panzer IVs for that and they look pretty good on the I guess it's up to you.

I think I will be buying a few more of the Panzers and a decal sheet set for my Germans, add some weathering and some stowage and see how they look.

If you do go after these snap kits, be careful of the shipping fees and find a seller that will combine at a reasonable fee, most of the 8 buck kits seem to have that much in shipping fees, and that kind of kills the great deal, so make sure you get a good combined rate.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Scratch built Bolt Action gameboard Part 2: the finished village!

I finished up the build of a gameboard representing the footprint of a village for my Bolt Action games. The finished board, which measures 40 x 24 and has two equal parts, isn't big enough to cover a side of a a 6x4 foot table, but it was really designed to add some realism to the village part of our table. I always felt that putting building on a green mat didn't look cinematic enough.

Here's the second half being built. Here's the link to the build of the first half, it explains how to stamp cobbles as well: HERE

Here's the finished table
You can see I haven't painted the edge of the new half. Because of that you can also see that despite using tough composite board, there is still warping going on. The right half warped quite badly, the new part a bit less, because I changed the order of the build of the board, starting with the composite board and working my way up. 
You can see I added some ornamentation in the stone work, with crosswalks and a circle in the square area.

I haven't finalized what should be on the right top, where the tree is now. I feel it needs a fountain or garden to emphasize the importance of the tower. I also painted the side walk around the tower different, to make that area stand out. 

Once you start going to eyelevel with the camera, the board and models really come to life. Enjoy some of these action shots!

Below you can see the warping showing, right behind the Sherman. I am not bummed about it, but if I make another board, I will make sure this doesn't happen again. 
The valuable truckload 

The hedges around the middle part of the board were made of Scotchbrite steel scrubbers. I cut it into strips, glued it to styrene and painted it. They look fun! 
Top view 
The objective is being surrounded... 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Scratch built Bolt Action Game Board, Part 1

In one week I built one side of a village board for Bolt Action, using composite board, foamboard, beach sand, glue and some dedication. Here is the first part, 20x24 inches, from start to finish

After mapping out the road and side I started making the cobble stone road. Using a brush without the hair and shaped like a brick, I started punching in the design. I had to take the top paper off the foam board to expose the soft foam that really takes the indentation well. Here are images of that technique from a previous project:

Here is the road and sidewalks. For those sidewalks I used a larger stone (different brush) and made them look more distressed looking by picking at the foam a bit. I didn't count how many times I had to punch, but it took me three sessions; after a while your eyes and hands go nuts!

Here's the design, sanded as well. Realize that you can't spray the foam, so I had to paint the whole thing by hand.

And now the fun part; the finished board images! And again, Bolt Action is so cinematic, it's great to work on armies and terrain.
The tree on the right is part of a set of forest terrain that I made last month, post coming soon.

The captain is analyzing his options...

Part two will be the other side of the board, it will feature this building and a village square type scene.

Hope this inspires!

SC Mike