Saturday, September 10, 2016

IJA Type 97 Chi-Ha Tank

A bit of armor for the new Imperial Japanese Army. This is the Chi-Ha (九七式中戦車 チハ) medium tank, which was introduced in 1938 and used in China and the Pacific theaters.

This is the Warlord Games kit and overall it is a decent model.   There was quite a lot of resin flash build up in the treads, but it wasn't too difficult to clear out.  Bubbles were minimal and thankfully on the underside of the turret and body. The trickiest part to assemble was actually the railing on the turret, which is shipped flat and has to be bent into the appropriate shape.  There are only divots for 3 of the five posts, so I had quite a bit of trouble with the posts not lining up properly and popping lose during the bending. But in the end I managed to get the railing relatively level.  One thing to note is that their assembly instructions have you putting the engine covering on backwards, so check the fit before gluing.

Looking at, there was some variation in the camouflage patterns depending on the year and the area of operation.  I opted to go with a pattern seen in Manchura, 1940.  For the paint, I used the following Vallejo colors:

Khaki-iro: English Uniform 70.921, Khaki 70.988, German Camouflage Beige 70.821
Tochi-iro: Hull Red 70.985, Flat Brown 70.984, Saddle Brown 70.940
Midori-iro: German Dark Green 70.896, Luftwaffe Camouflage Green 70.823, Camouflage Olive Green 70.894
Stripe: Dessert Yellow 70.977, Golden Yellow 70.948, 50/50 mix Golden Yellow/ Ice Yellow 70.858

 This particular camouflage pattern appears to belong to a tank from the 34th Tank Regiment, so I've used the Warlord decal for its 2nd Company. The tank number was created using Woodland Scenics dry rub numbers, with hand inked kanji added (the ink allowed me to get finer lines than with paint).

Finally, I've done a little weathering, adding bits of exposed steel, some rust and grime, and a layer of dust build up.   

Monday, September 5, 2016

IJA Infantry Squad

As I've mentioned before, I want to use my Chinese army for the Second Sino-Japanese War, so I needed to create a small Japanese skirmish force as well. Though this army won't be as extensive as the Chinese, I still wanted something fairly inexpensive to assemble. As such, I though the Warlord Games plastic infantry set would be a good place to start. Each sprue gives you six bodies and nine heads, with a variety of arm and equipment options. 

For my force, I've gone with the yellow uniforms rather than the green, using Vallejo Japanese Uniform WWII 70.923 as the base color. Shadows were done with Green Brown 70.879 and highlights with Green Ochre 70.914. I wanted to have the helmets be a slightly different shade the the fabric, so they have been painted Khaki 70.988. I wish Warlord had the option of the early 1930's helmet seen in Manchuria, but the later helmet will have to do.  

Rather than create my own flags, I've opted to used the ones Warlord included in the box. With the cutout along the flagpole, they actually become fairly weak during assembly; mine tore, but I think I still managed to get it to glue down fairly well.  The flags are also glossy and tend to develop rips in the image as you bend them, so you'll need touch up paint and some matte varnish.

For me, the painting was a bit more challenging than for metal figures. Some of the details are finer than their metal counterparts, and they are often fairly flat as well. Additionally, the multi part nature of the figures allows assembly with spaces that can be difficult in which to squeeze your paintbrush. 

That being said, you still get a quality product with relatively good fit between parts, and enough options that no two figures end up looking the same.

The only figure I'm not too fond of in the box (and you get five of them) is the prone figure. The feasible options for arms is limited compared to the other figures, and you have to use bigger bases, which eats into storage space in the box.  If I were Warlord, I would have just offered this pose in metal and gone with a standing pose for the plastics. For my forces, I'll use the majority as spotters for multi-man teams like the LMG.

In addition to the arms, you get a variety of webbing layouts for the figures. Above are duplicates of three body types, and as you can see, the amount of options really help you hide repeating nature of the bodies.

Overall, I am happy with the results and think this is a good product that I can recommend. I'll most likely assemble the rest of the box as a Grenadier squad, then fill in the rest of the force with some metal specialty figures and a few tanks.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Father/Son Hobby Time: X-Wing Fighter Kit

My oldest wanted to have some hobby time with me while his brother was away at a sleepover, so we decided to work on an AMT/ERTL X-Wing kits that a friend had given us.  

The scale wasn't listed, but appears to be around 1/72. Details aren't the best, but good enough for a kid's project.  The box says it is a snapfast kit but the directions inside called for glue, so he had his first experience with superglue.  Luckily no fingers got stuck together.

Rather than spending a ton of time painting, we decided to wash the light grey plastic with diluted medium grey paint.  Overall, I think it looks pretty good. From there we did some actual painting on Luke in the cockpit, R2D2, the landing skids and the engine exhaust.  My son really wanted to take a shot at the decals, but most of them started cracking and falling apart during the application so I had to take over on that part. Some touch ups with scarlet paint helped hide the decal damage.

He's still working on his patience for such projects (think he likes the idea of hobby time with me more that sitting down to do it), but we had a good time together and he seems excited to display it on his shelf.  Hopefully his interest will continue to grow as he gets older.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chinese Warlords: Tibetan Cavalry Part 2 and Finished Army

I've been neglecting this project for a bit due to work travel and the Usambra Railroad project getting preference on the worktable, but I finally got around to finishing the last of the the Tibetan cavalry.

As with the previous Tibet figures, these are produced by Copplestone Castings.  A spear was not provided for the one figure, so I have used a Perry yari that has been cut down and modified with greenstuff and some jewelry wire to mimic the spearhead seen here.

This group includes some duplicate figures from the last set, so I've done my best to hide this by changing the paint schemes.  Overall I think it's not too glaring in the final mix.

And with this unit done, my Chinese army is finally complete:

There is some terrain left to build for central Asia and I'm hopeful Oshiro will have the new east Chinese buildings released in time for Christmas, so you can still expect future posts on this topic. But for now, I'm just looking forward to putting this army through its paces.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Usambara Railroad Work Crew

I thought my rail station would look a little dull without some activity, so I decided to assemble a team of workers that I could scatter around.

Nobody actually makes colonial railway figures, so I did my best to improvise from other lines.  First up are some Old West rail workers from Brigade Games. This is the same set that I used for my locomotive engineers. Luckily two of these figures are black, so they will blend into my African setting better. The tools are cast separately, so you can chose which ones you want each figure to hold. 

The next set of figures are also from Brigade Games and are actually from an Archaeologist set.  I've done my best to paint them to look like coastal Africans from the Zanzibar area under the supervision of a European supervisor.

It's not a perfect solution, but overall I think the final effect is pretty good.