Monday, June 30, 2008

Soviet Soldiers WWII

Italeri makes a set of Winter Russians, figures for the Soviet Army in late WWII, in 1/72nd scale plastic. These figures are molded in a tan plastic and are very well done. In comparison to the old Esci Russians these figures have finer detail, but the style and size is similar. There is no flash on the set, you get three identical sprues.

These tan photos show the Italeri Russians. The dark gray figures are the Pegasus WWII Soviet Infantry, Winter and Soviet Infantry, Summer. As you can see from the photos the figures are identical in size, but the Pegasus have a bit finer detail. The Pegasus set has one piece figures with bases! These three figure sets were designed to work together so the weapons are an excellent mix. The Pegasus has about 40% rifles and 40% PPSH SMGs and the rest are mostly light machine gunners.

The Pegasus sets include an officer figure as seen here directly behind the tan figure standing in the great coat and helmet. The Pegasus sets are pre-production and the plastic color and final details my yet change in the production version. Another excellent set from Pegasus! There will be at least two other WWII Soviet sets from Pegasus after these, heavy weapons, winter and summer. Look for these infantry by the end of the year and the new sets late in 2009.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sdkfz 247 UPDATE!

This is a prototype model of an HO scale SdKfz 247 six wheel World War Two German armored car. These pre-war vehicles were limited production and are lightly armored. Most were used as command and reconnaissance vehicles.

This is the first time I have ever seen this vehicle in 1/87th scale. Bill, Jr. has not started production yet, but they should be available soon. I have not seen the actual kit yet, but the prototype looks good so far. Bill is quick, he did this in only a few days. Thanks Bill, Jr. for the photos.

Bill Jr's Custom Military Models
150 Pine Lane
Odenville, AL 35120

fax 205-467-7814

Sdkfz 247 only $10 each. Contact Bill, Jr. for full details, payment information and shipping. Also ask for his full product listing.

The Poll is Dead

My recent polling data suggests that by an overwhelming margin our 1/72nd scale figure buyers like the dead and wounded figures in their plastic figures sets. I hate those figures as I consider each dead or wounded guy to be a waste of sprue space. Each sprue only has a limited amount of space and each figure costs the same, live or dead. Recently, with the new glueable plastics I have come to see some new value in the dead or wounded.

One of our contributors from Brazil has already showed some great ways to resurrect the dead and make them into useful living soldiers. With the new glueable plastics I am making more figures using either the dead guy as the basis or as the donor for new parts. Pegasus and Imex have helped with this to some degree by making their dead with details on the top and bottom sides. It gives more use for these figures in conversions.

So it looks like dead guys are here to stay, and I better get used to them.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pegasus Paratroopers

Larry Pegasus sent me these two photos of a prototype master figure from the WWII German Paratrooper set he is working on. This set will be out in 2009 or 2010. He says there are a couple errors on some of the masters that have already been fixed or will be fixed soon. If you spot any errors or otherwise want to make a comment, use the comments portion of this blog, Larry and his minions read it all the time to keep up with the latest developments.

I think this is a great looking figure, not unlike the pose from the old Airfix WWII German Infantry set, one of my favorites. Notice the SMG and other bits are in light resin. They sculpt weapons and accessories first, copy them in resin and use the copies on all the troops so that the weapons and water bottles, etc all look the same on each figure.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rubber Tired Ox Cart

The Pegasus California Mission Indian set has a very nice ox cart with many uses. Here the cart has been modified by the use of modern rubber tires. I have seen ox carts like this in photos from India, South American and Eastern Europe even now.

Here is an Italeri North Vietnamese soldier on the back of the cart. The Pegasus oxen have separate horns which could be installed backwards to better simulate water buffalo. I have not done that in this photo since I intend to use it for Europe, but I will buy more and will try that from some in the future.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WWII Soviet Infantry from Italeri

The new Italeri 1/72nd World War Two Russian Infantry set is out in stores now. They are molded in tan plastic and totally flash free. You get three identical sprues which include a light machine gunner and a mortar.

The figures are mostly armed with PPSH submachine guns. The light machine gun has a gunner kneeling behind a wall with a number two gunner pointing and holding a spare disk magazine.

The small wall part can be twisted to make it appear as if he is firing from behind the wall. I don't really like this figure as the wall accessory is pretty lame. In the attack in a wargame the wall has to be moved along as the guy advances? The wall could be cut off, but I thing the pose will look funny without it.

The gray guy is the old Esci mortar man from their Russian set. I am not sure the new mortar man is any better. In fact the old mortar at least attempted a bipod while the new figure has a strange monopod. I am considering cutting the tan mortar off and using the man in the great coat as the number two for the Esci mortar man.

The Army Needs a Navy

This is a Matchbox / Revell Flower Class Corvette in 1/72nd scale. I converted it into a waterline merchant vessel.

I built it so that the hull hatches can be removed. A merchant ship can be a great addition to a wargame army. When playing an amphibious invasion game, it gives the beach defenses a nice fat juicy target. It also gives a good starting place for the invasion force. It also works even better for medium size commando raids. I have used this ship as the centerpiece of a game, with much of the action taking place on the deck. The ship is configured so that it can accept a variety of armaments.

A generic type cargo ship will work from nearly all the 20th Century, that's two World Wars and many smaller conflicts. The ship can also be moored alongside a dock and the goal of the game can be to evacuate civilians as in the Fall of Saigon, or to evacuate the army as in Dunkirk. Ships like this can be Naval vessels, civilian, under contract to the military, and the US Army has operated similar ships for many years. Go buy your army a navy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Future That Never Happened

More SWS halftrack pictures for history that never was, thanks Wayne for the photos.

The halftracks have been weathered and the infantry painted up.

The infantry are mounted on a bit of plastic so they can all be removed. They are cut in half so they only work as vehicle passengers, but it is a very effective technique.

The is a Roco Tiger II. If you are like me your collection probably contains more than the German army actually had at one time in one place. Not a bad old kit but you can really only use so many. I got this one from a friend, in fact the photos are his too.

Essentially he has taken the Roco turret off and replaced it with a Roco Panther turret. There was a proposal to use a smaller turret and bigger gun on the Tiger II and this is a model of that vehicle. Take a bit of tubing to replace the gun tube, and glue it to the mantle. Replace the turret front of the old Roco Panther turret with a bit of flat styrene plastic. This makes for a great vehicle to support those updated SWS APCs and works well for those WWII 1946 games.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Post Colonial Africa & Wargaming

My friend Arlin sent me some photos of his African Army. He took some of the old Esci Soviet Block figures and did a few head and body swaps to create an entire new army of troops. The African continent was filled with dangerous revolutions, counter-revolutions, coups, invasions, and East / West conflict and colonial problems all during the Cold War.

No one makes figures for this but many of the nations and insurgents were backed by the Soviet Union. The 'legitimate' armies were often equipped as European or American forces at the time. The old Matchbox British Paratroopers and the Esci Vietnam US Army set would work well too. Just about any Roco vehicles will work other than West German armor, but West German trucks were certainly sold there.

This is a great place to mix up your "Mad Max" army with all kinds of unusual vehicle combinations. Many countries got vehicles from the colonial era, then Soviet, then US vehicles as they changed sides, so strange mixes of equipment from a fifty year time span are certainly possible. South Africa made a variety of high quality vehicles of their own design.

There are a number of good movies to inspire you for this era, two Wild Geese movies, Dogs of War, Tears of the Sun, and Hotel Rwanda, are some good viewing. The nice thing is that you don't need many buildings, vehicles, troops or terrain to have some pretty good games. And Western intervention, mercenaries, or Cubans are always possible to help their nationals to escape, to make a nice three sided game!

Thanks Arlin for some interesting figures. I hope someone can be convinced to make a set of these some day, an era full of wargame potential.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The Bunkers video collection is being moved onto new shelving so that I can better access them. Video is an essential element of miniature wargames. Many times I have watched a movie and been inspired to begin or reinvigorate a battle, or war in miniature. Watching 55 Days at Peking made me want to wargame the Boxer Rebellion. I can't see The Longest Day, or Saving Private Ryan without wanting to buy more landing craft.

Many movies have no real historical accuracy, but can still provide valuable information. The John Wayne Alamo has very little historical accuracy when it comes to the specifics of the actions of the Mexican Army and the Texan Defenders. It does have excellent explanations of why the Texan fought and very good sets and uniforms. So go out and buy a war movie. A few essential ones in addition to the ones already mentioned:

Winter War, Soviet Union vs Finland in WWII
Battleground, US Army paratroopers in the Battle of the Bulge
Downfall, Hitler and the Bunker and Battle of Berlin
Red Badge of Courage, Audie Murphy version, American Civil War
They Were Expendable, Bataan and PT boats, WWII
Khartoum, Siege, British colonial
Earth vs the Flying Saucers, classic sci fi invaders vs Army

Friday, June 20, 2008

Feed Me

I went to my local dollar store and purchased a fire truck with a water tank on the back. I removed the tank from the back of the truck, and cut down the intakes from the water tank. I then glued the water tank to the bed of a HaT French Wagon. I added a vertical stovepipe using a bit of plastic tubing. I then constructed a bench seat out of scrapes of styrene plastic. Add a Revell German Artillery set limber rider and the wagon is done. I took one of the HaT German Horse Cavalrymen as the horse rider.
This kind of mobile bread wagon was used from WWI until the end of WWII. It was quick, easy, and cheap. My wargame rules require that the troops get fed every day and so having such wagons helps keep the infantry moving. The penalty for not feeding the troops is that they can't move into the attack due to weaknesss caused by hunger.
Check out your local dollar store and look for some water tanks. I have seen them as both fire trucks, military vehicles and constructions sets. Dollar stores are great sources of spare parts for conversions. The HaT 1/72nd scale series of Napoleonic Wagons can be used as a variety of wagon types with just a little work.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Horses and Elephants

This is a HaT elephant and a HaT WWI towed gun. The Free India Army was on the side of the Germans in WWII and used these guns. There were Indian elephants in the Berlin zoo and several were evacuated to avoid the Allied air raids on the city. Perhaps a couple of them could have found their way into the Free India Army where they could stand in for horses. There was a great shortage of horses in the German Army in WWII and Indian elephants have been domesticated for thousands of years.

The riders are conversions of both the HaT mahouts and various German horse riders. These are great elephant kits, the bodies are two halves and the head a third piece. They fit together very well and with the separate heads the animals look different.

As more of my Free India Army I took a Wespe Models wagon and used two large HaT wheels from a pair of French wagons and the horses from a French Napoleonic wagon set and made this kitchen wagon. I figure the Free India Army being at best a second line unit would have gotten older equipment from the Germans and so I gave them all French horses and wagons. Quick, simple conversions that give me a unique unit with a limited combat history, but an interesting look to them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Redbox

These are some pre-production Redbox Americans from the Boxer Rebellion. Final product may vary from this which is typical for pre-production sets.

Redbox are just now releasing the first of their new series of Boxer Rebellion figures. Here are some secret sneak previews of one of the two American sets. The Boxers made war against all foreigners in China and all Christian Chinese. The great powers of Europe, and Japan, and the USA all sent troops there to put down the uprising. The Chinese Empress sided with both the Boxers and the foreign troops at different times. Redbox have promised a complete range of figures for this conflict and these are some of the first.

These American troops can be used for the Philippine Insurrection as well. Redbox is a rather new company and their figures lack some of the detail and refinements of other, more established companies. The set has mostly riflemen with one officer with a pistol. The poses are good and the butterscotch color a good one. There was very little flash on any but one of the figures. I certainly intend to get at least a couple of each of the sets and probably several of the American sets. Finally a use for my Orion Boxers!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oxen Carts

The Pegasus California Mission Indians set has got to be the most underutilized set ever made. This oxen cart is from that set. I have added a figure from the HaT Celtic Chariot and Queen set. Carts like this one were seen all over the world for the last three thousand years. By replacing the Indian with a woman the set moves from California to Europe or the Eastern part of North America.

This cart has had the wheels removed and replaced with those from the HaT Celtic Chariot and Queen set. It also has the Chariot driver. It really updated the cart so it can work for the period of about the last thousand years. Carts like this are common even today. The Pegasus set has only one cart in it but has many other interesting parts, like a plow, Indians, and Roman Catholic Monks. The Indians could pass for nearly any generic native people from the last 10,000 years with perhaps a bit of a headswap or other minor changes. I suspect most changes could be done as simple paint conversions.

This photo shows both oxen carts together for comparison. This same cart could be filled with various boxes and sacks for different eras and nations. The wheels could be changed into a solid wheel for an older cart. Or the wheels can be replaced with rubber tires for a more modern oxen cart. I have seen photos of similar vehicles in use today. I certainly intend to get more of these sets and I will update them with rubber tires and perhaps even change the walls on the cart. I think a small rustic fence would work well for the sides of the cart.

Monday, June 16, 2008

SWS 1946

My friend Wayne Wayne Wanner has been working on making the Roco SWS Mule into an APC.

The 251 halftrack was getting to be about ten years old by the time of the end of WWII and certainly a new vehicle would not be unreasonable. Wayne has replaced the rear cargo compartment with a crew compartment. This is a great job and completed in the ambush camouflage. Good work Wayne!

Luftwaffe 1946 has been a graphic novel series and has been popular with airplane model builders for some time. Only recently have ground warfare model builders begun building models of ultra late war or alternative history WWII vehicles and soldiers. I am hoping we can get a plastic figure company to make ultra late war troops too, but no luck so far. The US, USSR, and Germany were all on the verge of many new technologies that would have made the ultra late war battles very different from combat up unto that time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pegasus Conversions

Jacques Cavalcanti has sent two more samples of his good work. This time he has helped the dead rise from the grave. On the right we see a Pegasus Soviet Naval Infantry soldier on the ground. He is one of the dead guys in the set. He has been glued to a base and is so happy about this turn of events that he is a dancing figure. Now Jacques needs to convert a concertina player to accompany him!
The second figure is from the Germans in Berlin set. This dead Volksstrum man has been saved from death and now is a standing shooting figure. The arm from an Imex German kneeling shooting figure has been used to replace the rifle arm on the dead guy.
I really like this type of stuff. The ability to take figure poses of limited value and making them into unique poses. Newsreels often show Soviet soldiers dancing so the dancing guy is particularly good. I may have to make several and create a nice little Soviet 'USO' troupe!
Thank you Jacques for these great conversions. Jacques says that Pegasus is his favorite figure company and it is easy to see why. Thank you Larry Pegasus!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jaques Cavalcanti

Jaques Cavalcanti a master modeller from Brazil has shared some of his fantastic figure conversions with me. These Soviets are some excellent work of his.

Here we see two WWII British Red Devils Paratroopers. Nice radio antenna!

Here are some WWII Germans. That man on the left firing the pistol is terrific and so is the standing Panzerfaust soldier!

Look at these guys, I love the first two particularly, the grenade and handgun, the second man looks very much like he is in motion.

Finally a group of Americans from WWII. Notice the old Matchbox destroyed building front. It is an old version because the newer sets have the swastika scratched out. Excellent work from Brazil! Jaques says he is forced to do conversion since the soft plastic figure distribution there is poor. I think that greater market penetration in untapped markets like Brazil, India and China are in part the hope for the future for the hobby.

Most people don't know that Brazil actually sent troops to fight in Italy against the Germans in WWII. They mostly used US Army vehicles and equipment. Perhaps some enterprising plastic figure company could do a set of Brazilian Infantry and market their WWII line of products there? One of the fun things about this hobby is how people from all over the world share the same passion for the little plastic guys.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Head Swapping

Figure conversions are very easy. One of the fastest ways to make new figures is a simple head swap. Cut the head off one figure and replace it with the head of another figure. When the two sets are made out of glueable plastic this is a ten second job. When one or both figures are made of soft non-glueable plastic it takes a few minutes but is still pretty quick and easy.

Cut off both heads. Drill a small hole in the bottom of the head and in the top of the torso. Using a pair of pliers, insert a short piece of wire into the torso of the figure. Apply a drop of gap filling superglue on the torso around the wire. Press the head onto the wire. The gap filling superglue will fill in any gaps and any excess can be daubed away with a tissue before it dries.

I have used this technique on civilian figures to make them into Volksstrum and Imex Pioneers into Wehrmacht Auxiliaries and many other times. The replacement of a head is very easy and when the new subject has a distinctive head wear like the WWII German helmet goes a long way toward suggesting the new figures identity.

The best sources for the extra heads are dead and wounded poses, and figures in strange poses, or simply poses you don't like very well. Imex makes a great kneeling WWII German firing a pistol. A good figure, but you get too many in a box of figures. I like to use his head for other figures. You can also actually swap heads by exchanging heads between figures. Sometimes swapping a cap for a helmet and back can make more variety in your army.

Once you get good at head swaps, you can move on and try more complex figure conversions.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

German Army Pioneers

These are some of the figures from the Imex Pioneers set. It is one of the most under utilized and versatile sets out there in 1/72nd scale plastic. I have taken these six figures and modified them to be Auxiliary members of the Wehrmacht. The German Army in WWII had many people working from them doing construction and other combat support services. The men figures are wearing boots and high waist pants with suspenders, like German soldiers. I removed the heads from the Pioneers and took heads from the Imex German Infantry set and glued them onto the Pioneers. This gave me a German Auxiliary who was chopping wood, digging a hole, carrying wood and carrying wire. It also gave me another one who was playing the violin. A nice musical interlude before the Katushka rocket attacks.

The woman is carrying two water / milk containers and wearing a helmet. She is also barefoot. Often local women were paid to help with cooking and other mundane housekeeping duties. Last there is the boy in the fieldmutze cap. The USSR had some very young boys serving in their army and sometimes when captured the Germans would keep them as mascots. This boy is one of those. The many carrying the wooden beam has a new head, new left hand with machine pistol and an ammo pouch from an Imex German figure. I used the parts from a dead guy!

Pioneers have been primed, wood carrying figure shows what they look like before priming.

Finally I took the Officer figure from the Imex Germans and cut off his head and his arm. I turned his head around so he was looking the other direction. I then took the arm from the kneeling guy who is firing his pistol and glued it onto the officer. That gave me an officer firing a pistol.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wargame Rules Firing Table, Modern Infantry

50 100 250 500 750 1000
Double Action Revolver 60%
Bolt Action Carbine 80% 75% 65% 55% 30%
Bolt Action Rifle 90% 85% 75% 65% 40% 30%
50 100 250 500 750
Pistol 65%
SMG 85% 75% 65% 1x leaf
Carbine 85% 75% 65% 55%
Rifle 95% 90% 75% 65% 40%
Automatic Rifle 95% 90% 85% 75% 65% 1x leaf
50 100 250 500
High Capacity Pistol 70%
High Capacity Carbine 90% 80% 55% 1x leaf
Assault Rifle 95% 90% 65% 60% 1x leaf
50 100 250 500 750 1000 1250 1500Flame-thrower 85% Flame-thrower template
Hand Grenade 85% 40mm template
Grenade Launcher 85% 75% 65% 40mm template
50 100 250 500 750 1000 1250 1500
.30 Caliber Light Machine Gun
Carry 1 Crew 95% 95% 90% 85% 75% 65% 1x leaf
Bipod 2 Crew 95% 95% 95% 90% 85% 75% 2x leaf
Tripod 3 Crew 95% 95% 95% 90% 85% 75% 65% 3x leaf
50 100 250 500 750 1000 1250 1500
.50 Caliber Heavy Machine Gun
Post 1 Crew 95% 90% 85% 75% 65% 35% 1x leaf
Tripod 2 Crew 95% 95% 90% 90% 85% 75% 65% 35% 1x leaf
Tripod 3 Crew 95% 95% 95% 95% 90% 85% 75% 65% 2x leaf
and 35% at 1750 meters
Percentage chance to hit and penetrate targets without armor by a stationary attacker.

This chart is the chance to hit a man sized target using my wargame rules. Check the weapon you are firing and then read across to the correct distance the weapon is from it's target. Then percentage chance to hit that target is the % listed under that distance. So a high capacity pistol firing at a target 50 meters away has a 70%chance of hitting the target. This assumes that both the firer and target are stationary and in the open. Targets hit are assumed destroyed and are removed from play.

This chart can be adapted to any ruleset that measures ranges and uses single figure firing. It is part of my Combat! Bunkermeister system of miniature wargaming. The notation of a leaf is to indicate a template 75mm long by 25mm wide in the shape of a leaf. All targets within that template would be considered struck if the target is hit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Dead Can Be Useful

As many of you know, I am not too enthusiastic about figure sets with dead or wounded guys, but I have been trying to find uses for them. In this case, I have the Imex Mexican Infantry at the Alamo set, with the man in the middle getting wounded. A very exciting pose to be sure, but you get two per box, and I don't use wounded guys.

Since I have large numbers of these guys, I had to figure out what to do with all the wounded. I cut off the arm holding the rifle, and the head. Then I cut out a small circle of sheet styrene about 15mm in diameter.

Then I took the extra rifles and stacked arms, gluing them together with Goo an all purpose rubber cement. Goo is sold in model RR stores. This little stack will be combined with several others to make a little camp scene. The Mexicans laid siege to the Alamo and were there for over two weeks. With thousands of troops on hand they set up camps to surround the chapel complex and waited for the artillery barrage before any serious attacks were made.

I will combine these stacked arms with some of the other Imex accessories, campfires, frying pans, etc to make the bivouac area. Some of the Imex Eastern Friendly Indians female figures and some of the Indians from the Pegasus California Mission Indians will also complete the camp followers. With every three boxes of Imex Mexican Infantry I can make two of these sets.