Thursday, February 14, 2019

Sarissa Precision South East Asian Huts

My tropical Asian village is expanding, with some new Sarrisa buildings to add to the ones previously purchased from Warbases.  The upgrades made to these kits aren't much different to what I did in the previous post, so I won't go into the details again here. But in summary, I've done some distressing, carved in some planks and wood grain, and added thatched roofs and a bit of lumber.

First up is the planked wooden house:

Sarissa Planked House K002

Sarissa Planked House K002

Sarissa Planked House K002

Small Planked House:

Sarissa Planked House K003

Note: When assembling the side walls on this kit, please note that they are not symmetrical, so you have to be careful when you add the outer frames or the posts won't line up properly with the windows. 

Sarissa Planked House K003

Sarissa Planked House K003

Watch Tower:

Sarissa Watch Tower K007

Note: some additional lumber was added to the top of the tower to improve sturdiness and also the visuals.

Sarissa Watch Tower K007

So how do the two brands compare to one another? 

The Sarissa buildings are produced in 2mm MDF, while the Warbases buildings are 3mm MDF. Now for the Sarissa buildings, outer support beams are included, so some sections of wall will reach 4mm thickness. However, many structural elements, such as the under floor building stilts and porch railings, remain at 2mm. There were a few times I was concerned I was going to snap these thinner pieces either during removal from the frames or during the assembly. The Sarissa buildings also have fewer but longer stilts, so I feel the crush risk is a little higher with them (I play at the local shop, so have to worry about transport damage). So I'm going to score the Warbases buildings higher in this category, but that said, it's not like the Sarissa buildings are at imminent risk of collapse.

Overall the footprint is pretty close between both brands buildings, so no real advantage to either side.
Sarissa Planked House vs. Warbases Kamalig Hut
Left: Sarissa Right: Warbases
Sarissa Small Planked House vs. Warbases Nipa Hut
Left: Sarissa Right: Warbases
Included Details: 
Each brand has their relative strengths and weaknesses. Sarissa has 3D support beams on the outer walls, while Warbases are just etched in. Sarissa etches beams into the interior floors, while Warbases leave the floors plain. Warbases included shutters and widow covers, while Sarissa does not. Warbases is good at hiding the seams where pieces joins, while Sarissa's can be lazy in their obviousness.  A perfect example is in the image below, where the the head of the stilts can be in the floor.  On the Warbases buildings, the walls run down the same seam lines as the stilts and hide the joints.

Sarissa Joints

Final Verdict:
Both companies make very nice buildings and I'm happy with my purchases from each.  If I had to pick one over the other, I'd likely give Warbases a slight edge for the sturdiness of their designs. And if you are willing to add in extra details such at thatching, I think their MDF nature isn't so glaring on the table.

Sarissa and Warbases Huts Together

Sunday, February 10, 2019

New Additions to My Chinese Army

Back with a few additions to my Chinese Nationalist army. First up is a M4A4 Sherman, painted as part of the 1st Provisional Tank Group in Burma, 1945.

Image result for chinese sherman tank

The model is the plastic Sherman V from Warlord Games. It's a good kit that was easy to assemble and comes with a variety of stowage options. 

The kits comes with British decals, so I was forced to hand paint the details.  My attempt to paint the Chinese calligraphy will likely make a native speaker cringe, but I think it's good enough for the table. I'm not exactly sure what type of creature they wanted the paint job to represent, but my guess is it's some sort of tiger caricature.

Next up are a couple of HQ figures: a medic and forward observer. They were made from Warlord Japanese plastics with metal German heads (the observers also has a spare Chinese sword from Copplestone). The faces are a little more European looking than I'd like, but hopefully it won't be too noticeable. Size-wise, they fit in fairly well with my other Chinese troops, being slightly larger than my Brigade figures.

Finally, a sniper team to pester the enemy.  These are actually from Warlord's British range, but I think the Ghillie suits are generic enough that they'll blend in with my forces.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Warbases South East Asia Huts

Though I mainly field my Japanese army in China, I thought it was worth putting together some South East Asian terrain for jungle fighting. To start this project, I decided to purchase some of the MDF huts made by  

 While these are nice enough kits straight out of the package, I wanted something that would really pop on the table.  As such, I did some work upgrading my kits.

First up was improving the floor planking. While boards are etched on the external portion of the kits, for some reason they decided not to do the same on the internal flooring. Since you can see inside the buildings through the open doors and windows, I used a heavy utility knife to score boards across the length of the building's floor. I then lightly scored each board with an X-acto blade to simulate wood grain. Finally, I used the utility knife and a file to remove the hard edges on the boards.

Prior to gluing the floor on to the support struts, I painted the struts and coated the building base with rock, static grass, and various aquarium plants. I recommend completing things in this order, as there is very little room for tools and brushes under the building once the floor is in place.

While support timbers are etched into the building walls, I though it looked a bit flat, so I added wood strips obtained at the local model train store. I also included some on the interior of the buildings to give them a bit more texture when the roofs are off during a game.

The buildings come with nice plank roofing, but I thought thatching would really improve the looks of the buildings and further hide their MDF nature. As such, I used the hobby standard of teddy bear fur. Unfortunately, the fur I was able to obtain locally was rather thin, so the backing was visible when placed up against the wood trim running along the spine of the roofs.

To hide this, I ran a seam of white glue along the top,then added strands of fur cut off the backing.

Painting and gluing of the thatch was done in the following order: brushed on rinse of diluted dark gray, rinse of diluted pewter gray, Woodland Scenics' scenic cement (rub in with old toothbrush to work it into the fur),  dry-brushed dark gray, dry-brushed pewter gray, dry-brushed tan. I use the rinses before glue to try to soak color deeper into the fur.

First up is the Nipa Hut. This is the smallest of the huts in my purchase, but you could likely fit in a full squad if you really packed in the figures base to base. One thing to note is that the widow shades on each side hang at a different angle, so double check that you have the right support pieces before gluing (there are no part numbers).

This hut does not have the wood trim along the roof spine, so it was easy to hide the thatch seams with an additional strip of fur along the top.

Since a portion of the roof underside is readily visible on this hut, I scored planks and wood grain on that section as noted above. I had thought of reversing the roof panels to use the pre-etched planks, but unfortunately on this kit the peg positions did not allow for it.

Next up is the Kamalig Hut. This model has shutters rather than window shades, so I decided to only add the vertical wood strips in order to not obscure the shutters. The roof components on each side mirror one another, so I was able to glue them on upside down so the planking would be visible on the bottom. 

Size-wise, this hut is a little bigger than the Nipa hut, so I think there should be no problem fitting in an entire squad.

Finally, I have the largest of the kits, the Bahay Kubo Hut. From a size standpoint, it's basically two Kamalig huts attached to one another, but with different external trim. 

The kit has window shades for half the windows. Slots are pre-cut for the shade supports, so you cannot alter which windows have shades unless you want to do a bit of work. 

Painting of the wood portions was done using the pewter gray, dry-brushed with tan. I didn't apply the gray too thickly, as I wanted some of the natural browns of the MDF to bleed through and further add to the color variation.

Overall, I am very pleased with these kits and would recommend them. I was concerned that the raised supports would leave the buildings fragile, but they seem fairly sturdy.  I also like the way Warbases did their best to hide the holes for the support pegs under the walls; there are only a few minor peg holes visible around the porch edges. If I am to have any criticisms, it would be to burn in the planking across the entire floor and that the roof corners likely need additional support/filling if you aren't going to glue thatching on top of them.

I have a couple of huts on order from Sarissa as well, so it will be interesting to see how the two manufactures compare in terms of quality and size. I'll make a further post once those huts are completed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Indian 17th Cavalry

I haven't painted any WWI figures in a while, so thought it was time to return to East Africa. Up first are some troops from the Indian 17th Cavalry. I'm ashamed to say these poor chaps from Brigade Games have sat half painted in the closet for almost 3 years, but I'm happy they are finally seeing the light of day.

Elements of 17th Cavalry A and B squadrons were assigned to patrol the border region of German and British East Africa in 1915 and saw combat in the Moshi area (where most of my East African campaigning is set). Back home, the 17th Cavalry later served in the Third Anglo-Afghan War and in Waziristan before being merged with the 37th Lancers in 1922. So they will be able to pull double duty when I'm playing in Back of Beyond games.

As is standard with their WWI line, the Brigade figures are beautifully sculpted and well cast. There are 3 horse poses, 3 troop poses, and 3 command figures available.  Certain figure/horse combinations can be a tight fit and may require some filing, so I suggest you dry fit everything first. Rifle holsters and scabbards are cast separately and need to be attached to the peg holes on the horses. I would add these after gluing down the figures. Lances are not supplied.

I don't know much about Indian cavalry, so when I first started this project, Mike Blake on LAF was kind enough to research the unit for me and determine they used white and blue pennons instead of the more common red/blue and red/white. He also established the lungi (cummerbund) was dark blue with light blue and gold.

The command pack includes a British officer, a Dafadar, and a Lance-Dafadar.

The Lance-Dafadar can be seen wearing the lungi. I didn't know the exact stripe pattern, so just made a guess at it. For the shoulder boards, the only example I found was from the Mysore Lancers; I'm hoping the colors were the same across units (please feel free to correct me if you know better). 

Here are the three trooper poses and the horse variants. It appears that during this time lances were made of either bamboo or ash; I've opted to go with ash for my unit. 

For those who want to paint up some Indian Cavalry of their own, I've included my 17th Cavalry pennon image along with some of the color variants used by other units. All are free for personal use. 

17th Cavalry Pennon

Standard Indian Pennon

Bengal Unit Pennon

Mysore Lancers Pennon

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Remembering Our Veterans: 2nd Lt. William J. Alton

I'd like to open this post by thanking all veterans who served and sacrificed for their respective countries. 

In particular, I'd like to remember my great uncle, 2nd Lt. William J. Alton. He was a a B-25 pilot with the 22nd Bombardment Squadron (M), 341st Bombardment Group (M), flying missions in the China-Burma-India theater from mid 1942 until his death in early 1943.

He and ten other men were killed when their planes collided over Chakulia, India while participating in a formation bombing training exercise.

1st Lt. Samuel C. Dickinson
2nd Lt. Nicholas Marich
2nd Lt. William J. Alton
2nd Lt. Samuel M. White
S/Sgt. Robert L. Propst
S/Sgt. Vernon M. Harrison
Sgt. Guy V. Horn
Sgt. Jesse C. Levee
Cpl. Finley H. Ganoe
Cpl. Sidney S. Newsome
Pvt. Anthony M. Mandello