Monday, March 30, 2009

Science in the Pit

Here in the deep crater the men get a little relief from the hot desert sun. At 6:00 o'clock in the morning it is often approaching 100 degrees. Temperatures on the sand at noon can be 120 degrees or more. It's hard work but keeping the nation strong is well worth the toil.

The stippling on the sand face shows the effects of the nuclear blast. The tremendous heat like a thousand blast furnaces rips into the sand actually melting the sand.

It's hard work doing most of this by hand. A bulldozer has been shipped but has not yet arrived at the work site. Modern nuclear work, the greatest technology science knows being done by men wielding hand tools!

Every aspect of the work is a joint operation between the services. This sailor walks past one of of the many Army scientists, in the lab coat. The men must not only obtain samples, but the location, depth and nature of the sample are also critical to the research.

Scientists direct every aspect of the job. The work is useless without good science to back it up. In recent years American schools have offered more science and mathematics courses to insure that American Science will continue to lead the Free World.
MPC ring hand and slot hand figures with a variety of MPC and Marx weapons and accessories all in 60 mm size. Photos taken in late afternoon in my backyard. Some of the items are new recasts of original figures using the original molds, some are over 40 or 50 years old. The oldest figures were in existence at the time America was exploding atomic weapons in the open atmosphere. As a kid I wanted to attend a test and see for myself the awesome power of the atom unleashed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Soviet Tanks Made in the USSR

Back in the olden days of the Cold War there was a series of models may by a company in the Soviet Union. Mir made a line of a few World War Two era Soviet Tanks that were similar to Roco Minitanks, in HO 1/87th scale. Last night, I visited Paul Heiser of Paul Heiser Models with Randy of Fidelis Models. I managed to get four of the T-34/76 tanks made by Mir. Randy got a number of the BT-7 tanks from Paul and they should be for sale on his website.

The models are fully assembled and come in a very small cardboard box with simple rather cartoon like box art.

The rather crude decal sheet comes in a couple different versions, this is one of the most common types. Cut the numbers out and use them to make any tank number you want. Having a bunch of these is necessary if you want any double numbers, like 224.

These tanks are just about he same size as the Roco, but since the little wheels on the bottom of the hull are rather large, these tanks do sit a bit higher than the Roco. Turret hatches do not open, and while the turret does turn, the gun does not move.

The tanks look pretty good with 1/72nd scale figures, despite being HO scale. A nice little bit of Cold War history in model form.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Atomic Interoperability

Our mission today is to inspect the crater left by our recent atomic test explosion. We are excavating the crater to learn about the glass crystallization, and sand particulate compression caused by the heat wave and dynamic overpressure of the explosion. These searches will allow us to develop better bomb shelters, atomic missile silos and to learn the offensive abilities of our devices.

This is a multi-agency mission task force. The Atomic Energy Commission, the US Army and the US Navy have all supplied personnel for this mission. The US Air Force have supplied logistical support for this mission as well.

You can see men working in the crater with hand tools. As they dig through the different layers of soils they can better inspect the ground by using hand tools. They will take samples of the soil for later analysis in the laboratory.

As you can see most of our men are wearing helmets as they dig, despite working with radioactivity and atomic weapons; safety is a great concern to us. Working in the desert, even in the springtime can be difficult, but national security requires that we all do our bit.

Interoperability is a key for us. Just as this sailor has a .45 submachine gun and a .45 caliber pistol he is riding in an Army weasel. This device was fired from an Atomic Annie cannon, but similar guns could be mounted on Naval vessels. The ability to project force anywhere in the world to protect American interests has been an important mission of our Navy since the early years of the Republic.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Giants of the Hobby

Gerardo from toysoldiersdepot shipped some more 60mm vehicles and equipment to me in super fast time. He provides great service, good prices, and has a nice selection of items. He is also a great supporter of the hobby. Thanks Gerardo for great service.

Randy of Fidelis Models sold me some perfect Trident civilian police and fire department vehicles. He has a huge selection of Trident civilian trucks on special clearance sale. Check out his website for a full listing of them.

Larry of Pegasus has taken the huge risk of licensing the George Pal War of the Worlds movie. Licensing of properties in movies and television has traditionally been seen as too expensive for our hobby. Larry is testing this with the three new Martian war machine models he is making. These models should be for sale at your local hobby shop.

Mrs. Jones from HaT Industrie has been blazing a new trail in 1/72nd scale figures with their recent releases of both First World War figures and particularly British Colonial figures. British Colonial, Victorian armies are long over due in this scale. They have long been popular in other scales and yet colonial wargaming has languished with only a few FFL sets and a couple British sets. Now HaT is doing a huge variety of British Colonial sets and I have moved into Colonial because of them.

Please help to support these fine retailers and manufacturers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Atomic Testing Site Team

The airspace above military bases is restricted. Often civilian aircraft cannot fly over them at all. Other times civilian aircraft can fly in special air corridors when going over very large bases. Some enemy civilian aircraft were equipped with special sideways facing cameras to take long range slant photography. The distance between the camera and target area was often great resulting in photos that would never make a picture post card, but for intelligence purposes were just fine. This Soviet photo taken from an East German airliner flying in an air corridor over an American base in the Western United States is a good example. While at first glance the photos is one you would not likely pay for at your local developer. When analyzed by photo interpreters it is very clear what is going on here. The Commies correctly determined that this shows an American Army weasel with a mixed Army and Navy crew.

This APC is part of a team tasked with investigating the site of the recent atomic test. Once the atomic bomb is exploded, the real work begins in these atomic tests.

Since this atomic bomb blast was a joint Army/Navy operation it is only logical that a team of Sailors and Soldiers would conduct the investigation at the crater site. After waiting a few weeks for the radiation to die down, this team could conduct their investigation in safety without protective gear. The desert is very resilient and in the spring is actually very green. Even the bomb crater is showing signs of rebirth.

The team travelled to the site in two Jeeps, a weasel and two armored personnel carriers. These all terrain vehicles were needed to get to the remote desert location.

This photos shows two Jeeps and an APC parked on the edge of the crater site. The weasel is across the crater on the rim of the other side. The undulating nature of the terrain made the near side of the crater much higher than the opposite side. The team will inspect the site and try and learn the effects of this type of powerful blast.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Household Hobby Tools

Recently I was asked about household products that can be used for hobby purposes. Here's a bit of a list:

  1. Gauze is good for camouflage netting.
  2. EZ Off oven cleaner removes paint from plastic models, test a spot first!
  3. Future Floor Polish is a good gloss coat.
  4. MinWax wood stain is a good sealant for army men, painted or not.
  5. Dixie Cups are good for mixing paints and glues and such.
  6. Makeup brushes are good for dusting off dusty models.
  7. BBQ skewers are good for mixing and applying paint and glue, as are toothpicks.
  8. Zip Loc bags can hold troops and model parts.
  9. Tupperware type plastic boxes are good for troop storage.
  10. A nut cracker can be used to open jars of paint that are stuck.
  11. Cotton balls can be used as smoke or fire in a wargame.
  12. Rit dye can be used to dye cotton balls or gauze; cotton balls red for fire, black for burning vehicles, etc.
  13. Aluminum foil can be used to protect surfaces and to mix epoxy glue.
  14. Guitar strings can be used to pin together figure parts when making conversions.
  15. Used tooth brushes can be run through the dishwasher and then used to clean model parts.

There's fifteen for you. If you have anymore, leave a comment!

Atomic Project

Atomic testing was well documented so that the maximum science can be gleaned from the tests. Photographs were taken from the ground, from the air, from inside the target area with remote cameras, even from underwater. The recovery of the B17 bombsight was important, but equally important was the recovery of the film canisters. The Secret bombsight recovery operation was a good cover from the Top Secret film canister recovery operation.

The team brings the film canisters back to the underground base. The film will be developed and processed for any information about the atomic test it may contain. Fortunately, the lake crash site was clean fresh water so that the film was not damaged.

This is a massive facility, with long corridors, many rooms and high technology computers. Scientists go about their work, knowing that their efforts help to keep the nation free from Communist aggression.

Security had to be tight, operational security was hammered home in many ways. Atomic secrets were the most important secrets in the nation. Several scientists in the Manhattan Project had already been exposed as spies and traitors. Communist agents could be lurking anywhere. Information about all facets of the project was on a need to know basis.

The sailors involved in the project did what sailors always did after a big operation, chipped old paint and applied red lead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hobby Shows

Toy Soldiers of San Diego were at a recent Toy Soldier Show. I was lucky enough to visit them while I was there. To get the most out of a hobby show you have to do a little preparation.

Nick of TSSD shows off his magnificent 1/32nd scale Alamo to Larry of Pegasus.
Find out the exact time and location of the show. A quick Internet search will usually give you all the information you need. Find out about parking, some places will charge you to park your car. I typically reserve at least $10 and possibly $20 for parking depending on where the show is located. I fold up a $20 bill and hide it in my wallet so I don't spend it on army men. I try and take at least $200 with me and more is always better. Since you have to pay to get in most show, usually around $5, you want to spend enough to offset the costs of parking and entry. I try and take a variety of bills, including small bills and even some change. Vendors like exact change and sometimes waving $15 in front of them and offering it for a $20 item will more likely get a positive response than showing a $20 bill! I make sure I have space in the car so I have room for everything I might buy, covered up and out of the direct sun.

Most shows are set up in hotels or similar venues and consist of vendors with one or more tables displaying their wares. I like to pause for a moment near the entrance and scan the venue, if there is something particularly good, I may head for it immediately. Go early for the best selection, many times the vendors have already wandered the show before the doors are open and snapped up a few good buys before actual official sales begin. Stay late for the bargains. If there is something on your wishlist that is a like to have not a have to get, then sometimes you can get a real bargain at the end of a show. I got a 12" action figure, regularly about $50 for only $30. Not too bad.

Have a list of what you are really looking for at the show. This can serve as a bit of a reminder to you, as the selection can be a bit overwhelming. If you see someone with similar items for sale, as if they have the specific item you want. Sometimes its not unpacked or there can be so much it can be hard to find individual items in the crowd. Have a good idea what the items normally sell at retail. Expect most items to be priced similarly to retail, but many dealers will deal, and the more you buy often the better the deal. Remember you won't be paying shipping and you get the chance to view the item before you buy. Keep in mind also that you may never see this person again, so returns out generally out of the question.

TSSD 1/32nd scale Alamo. A great model as you can see. Many of the dealers travel around the country going from show to show or make several shows in a year. It is a good chance to chat and make new friends, but remember they are there to sell things and need to make money. Show expenses for a vendor can be very high, tables often run $50 or more each, and then another $100 or more per night for the hotel, plus travel expenses. Shows sometimes start on Friday and go until Sunday and when you add travel time can absorb at least a week and usually several of preparation time, travel and the show itself. These are a big deal to the vendor and they are there to make money, so don't hog their time if they are busy.
I like to gather business cards and fliers so I can buy more later. Sometimes getting that important connection is a good thing too. Shows also bring out many local and small vendors who have no web presence or no store. At a local hobby show I went to a few weeks ago several vendors where there with old and out of production stock and so many of us got some pretty good bargains.
Shows can be crowded busy places. Walk slowly and observe carefully. Look on and under the table, many vendors put things on the floor as well as on the table. Be polite to others and don't block their view of items. I usually walk the whole show at least twice and frequently three or four times. Generally you should not bring children, they grab everything and they are far too bored and tired after a short walk around. You don't want to pay for items they broke while you were not watching. Older kids are great, if they are interested in the hobby, otherwise they are just an unnecessary distraction. Wives are a mixed group, some are generally ready to go home after about ten minutes, others like MRS Bunkermeister, enjoy the thrill of the hunt and excitement of the show.
If you live very far away, and it is a very large show, it is well worth it to stay at the hotel. Then you only have to walk downstairs and you are ready to go. My wife and I have done this and it makes the show go very easy. Shows are a lot of fun and with a bit of planning they can get you some great bargains too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The 60 mm Cold War Continues

Now that the secret bomb sight has been recovered, the Atomic Bomb research team can continue with their scientific duties. Atomic bombs must be safe, except when the military wants them to detonate. The must travel in planes, and artillery, and over roads and in ships at sea. They must withstand vibrations, sudden shocks, static electricity, and even plane crashes without either detonating or malfunctioning.

The recovery team returns to their deep underground facility. The hallways are so long the other end actually disappears in the darkness.

This type of facility requires a security force that is heavily armed. Many of these same men were part of the team that recovered the bomb sight. Constant vigilance in called for in the game of Cold War cat and mouse.

The scientists return to their consoles to resume their work. The underground facility is kept in low light so that the technicians can better view the blinky lights of their computers.

Many of the uniforms are color coded. The blue are Navy or Air Force security personnel or scientists. The chartreuse are medical personnel. The bright color alerts others to get out of their way as the respond to medical emergencies.

Secret underground facilities were located all over the United States to reduce their vulnerability in the event of a surprise atomic attack.
MPC made a variety of different kinds of ring hand figures. These are some of the military style figures. They often came with silver weapons and accessories but other colors are around too. I often use weapons and bits from Marx and other companies too. Stay tuned for more updates.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wargame Rule Options

When playing miniature wargames I always find the game more interesting if the players have more of a stake in the game than simply one side wins and the other side loses. Add a bit of a role playing option to the game. This works really well if each side has more than one player. You can use the roll playing option to give different victory conditions to each player. Victory conditions should be both "public" and "private." The public victory condition in the game could be that the German player must capture the bridge from the US Army forces.

The "private" victory conditions are given only to the individual player and they are not allowed to reveal them until the end of the game. Player one on the German side must capture the bridge and suffer no more than 50% casualties. Player two on the German side must capture the bridge and suffer no more than 10% casualties. This will have the effect of making player two reluctant to engage the enemy because he won't want to get too many casualties. This can make tensions between the two players rise as player one urges player two forward when player two does not want to go forward and risk casualties.

There are many other ways to use victory conditions or role playing to influence game play. Have each player select a soldier model to represent themselves on the gaming table. If they get "killed" they are out of the game, or maybe out of the game for a few turns until they recover from their wounds. Players suddenly become very fond of leading from the rear and spending a lot of time in the bunker when THEY may be hit by artillery fire. Make sure their commander figure is in position to command his units using what ever command and control rules your system may require.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Modern Troops

The same dollar store that had the cavemen also had other soldiers too. These are somewhat generic modern infantry. They come in several poses and use an M16 type weapon.

The set comes in a green box that looks a bit like a fort, barbed wire and palm trees. The barbed wire looks dangerous!

Naturally, I could not resist putting a few of the dinosaurs from the caveman set with the soldiers. I suppose a neighborhood full of small dinosaurs would help to explain the nasty looking barbed wire.

The palm trees are kind of small, but I like them. They help to bulk up the forest.

The figures come in both green and tan, with all the poses in both colors. These figures fit nicely with 1/72nd scale troops and would be nice additions to any modern collection. I missed these when they were at the dollar stores and keep hoping they will come back some day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prehistoric People

For years I have been trying to get some figure company to make "cavemen" in 1/72nd scale plastic. Now it seems that they have been in stores and I missed them. My friend Arlin Tawzer was able to pick up this set, sold at dollar stores for me. Apparently they are long gone, but I am looking for more if they turn up again. Arlin says they have at least one more pose that he has seen.

The set comes in a little box that looks like a cliff face and it opens up to have very small dinosaurs, cavemen and some palm trees inside. They are all soft plastic.

Here is a few 1/72nd scale WWII era soldiers fighting dinosaurs alongside their caveman allies. What could be better than that?

These are the prehistoric people who are in this set. They are flash free and have a variety of weapons, including clubs and knives. These are some pretty good figures and would work well in a lost world or prehistoric times scenarios. Another reason to check out the dollar stores!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Unarmoed Allied Halftrack

This is the Autocar halftrack by Bill Jr. Custom Military Models. The Autocar halftrack saw very limited use by the US Army in World War Two but was also shipped overseas to the Soviet Union in moderate numbers.

This is the underside of the cargo compartment. While at first glance, these models appear complicated and poorly made, this is not the case at all. This is actually a fairly easy model, it just looks hard. Most of the flash seen in the top photo can be removed easily, in fact, most can be snapped off with your bare hands. A quick trim with the X-Acto blade and brush with the sanding stick and most of these parts will be cleaned up pretty fast. This big flat piece can be flipped over and then sanded down on a big piece of sandpaper. Another fast and simple project.

When these parts are flipped over you can see the quality of these parts. The detail on the cab, tracks and winch is excellent.

Look at the detail in the grill of the cab and the bumper winch. These are good kits and if you want a very unusual halftrack for your American or Soviet WWII forces this is a good one to get.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ground Cover

I am still working on my WWII German Cossacks. This project is nearly completion, but I still need to flock the bases of the wagons and accessories. There is a bit of touch up paint needed and a little bit of gluing. These accessories are glued to a little bit of sheet styrene. I painted the bases with Liquid Tempera brown paint. Just a quick brush over, no need to get every minor detail.

This project only needs a few products, Liquid Tempera paint, white glue, and ground cover. This is "ballast" because I want to give the bases a "dirt" look. My Muslim Cossacks are generally gray and with brown bases, it will help to tie the unit together by giving them all a similar look.

Tools needed for this project are very simple. The cheapest nylon brushes I could get, an eye dropper, a cup for mixing the white glue and a cardboard box. Add a bit of white glue to the Dixie cup and a few drops of water. The water will thin the glue so that you can apply it to the bases with the paintbrush. Slosh the glue / water mixture onto the model base. Don't worry about getting too much on, and be sure to get it on the edges of the base.

Sprinkle and by that I mean dump, the ballast onto the glue. Do this in the box to contain the ground cover. After a few minutes, remove the accessory and gently shake off the excess. Don't brush it or tap the edge.

One the excess is gone, place the items aside and allow them to dry. Once they are dry, wait at least 8 hours, I usually wait overnight, spray the entire model with a dull coat, I like Testors Dull Cote. If you are concerned about ground cover falling off due to potential rough handling, you can use the eyedropper with a very thinned glue mixture to add a little more glue for super bonding power. This system works well with green flocking ground cover too.