Making some Birch Trees

You may recall this picture from some of the previous blog postings,

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It shows some Birch trees I bought from NOCH and comes in a box of 7 for about £20 (if you shop around). The are ok, but I wanted to make another 30 of them, this would cost me another £80 and frankly I did not really thing it was worth it and thought that maybe I could do some cheaper.  In a online interchange with Adam Bengtsson (@paganfury on twitter) he suggested using some poly fibre to make trees – I bought some and made a few trial trees, here is what I did.

I had a bundle of these tree armatures I had bought for another project some time ago.

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Tree armatures – I bought these from a seller in china a long time ago, there are some non-Chinese based sellers who sell the same kind of trees (slightly higher price).  Search for Bare Trunk Trees on ebay, the ones I got were about £8 for 30 armatures.

I pruned them a little bit and painted them black, with a cheap acrylic paint.

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I guess I could have used a spray paint, but not sure how it would react to the plastic the trees are made of.  I takes a minute or some to do a tree, so I used a brush with generous about of paint.

Let dry and then a coat of white, do not paint the branches white.

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Then some decorating with grey and black and some more white here an there, trying to make the illusion that it is a birch tree, there is no right or wrong here as the look varies. Leave the crown black as shown.

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When the tree is dry take some green poly fibre (I got mine from Woodland Scenics) and carefully cover the tree with it, do not use too much (I probably will reduce the amount I use for my next batch).

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Time to go outside and use some spray mount/adhesive – I did about 6-8 quick sprays (press and release, hold the trunk and avoid spraying on the trunk mainly hit the fibres) on each tree and after this covered them with some Woodland Scenics Coarse Turf (Light Green). I suggest you spray one tree then add the turf immediately.  Do it with the bowl or a box under so you can re-use anything that does not stick to the tree.

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I think they look great! (Currently based on some Washers but will think about what I do moving forward).

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Ok there are a few issues to consider, so at least I can say I told you so.

  •  Birch trees tend to have an overall thinner appearance than this method gives (the Noch Trees gives this illusion form a distance) – but for me these work.
  •  They are a little bit fragile so I intend to buy some cheap hair spray and spray them a few times to seal them, this should make them more durable.

Anyway let me know what you think, nothing new really but this will allow a quick production of a lot of trees for, Say at a cost of less than £1 per tree compared to the £3 from the ones from Noch.  I think they look better too.

No need to bend steel wires!

/ Hope that was of some interest

 

 

 

 

Featured

Grognard Files, Swedish Radio and Dalarna 1943 – More Progress

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Writing this after another day working from home during the Corona lock-down in Greater London – I am happy to report that my immediate and extended family are all ok. It all feels very surreal, and I hope as always that this blog will give you a few moments of being away from it all in a safe place.

Today,

  • More pictures from the Dalarna 1943 Project and being contacted by Swedish Radio
  • A note on my appearance on the Grognard Files

Dalarna 1943

I was contacted by the Swedish Radio last week, their regional Dalarna branch, about this project and recorded a short thing for their morning show today. It made me happy, I hope I did not come across as too much of an idiot whenever it is being aired.

Here is a sound file containing the segment (in Swedish, aired 03 Apr 2020)

A lot of recent progress on this project as I have finished the third batch of Prints from Sabotag3d (link here).  I am really happy to see that Paul has been shipping some round pole fences (gärdsgård) over to Sweden and consequently me not being the only one fascinated by this type of Fence. So if this appeals to someone get in contact with Paul and see what he can do for you, he makes these fences in 1/100 scale (15mm size miniatures) as well as for 28mm miniatures. But I suppose you can get them in any scale you like – it really takes us straight into the Dalarna landscape of old (and new) without to much leap of faith. We should also add that Paul also did a few damaged sections for me, to be used to illustrate the impact of an explosion or that a tank has driven through them.

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A similar piece to that used in the picture above as delivered by Sabota3d

Last time around we had done the basic village tiles and the round pole fences and it allowed to create something like this (there is a link here to an earlier blog that covers this is some detail and talks about the Falu Red colour used for the houses, etc).

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For further detailing I wanted to have some mail boxes, typical of the Swedish country side. So I sent Paul the idea and as always he returned a fantastic little print (truth is that the state post box may not have had the colour scheme and the symbol at that time, but I felt it just needed to look that way).

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I miniaturized some documents to represent some kind of messages having been posted up (perhaps about what to do in case or war, or the latest football results!), a Proganda Poster and an old Film Poster (this one a homage to my Dad, as it was the first movie he remembered seing on the big screen at a matinee viewing sometime in the 1950ies, it is the Sea Hawk with Errol Flynn – Slaghöken in Swedish), these were just printed small on a normal laser colour printer on normal print paper and cut out and glued in place.  The label on the yellow post box was made using a lable paper for a laser printer (Model by Sabotag3d)

Milk of course was collected differently in those days and milk churns would be standing on tables alongside the road, ready for collection on the morning.

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(Model by Sabotag3d)

The centre of the village is the Lanthandel that would sell you the supplies you needed.

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Ready for business (Model by Sabotag3d)
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Again some posters from the time used to add some immersion to it all. Some of the brands are still popular today.

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And finally a little petrol station, probably not that operational due to rationing, but again a not to uncommon feature in the Sweden of 1943.

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Petrol Station (model by Sabotag3d)

On top of this I have spent some time doing further features to add to the landscape and increase the immersion factor on the table.

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Made from various stuff tt scale benches (railway stuff), MC from HQ Pack, some cycles from Peter Pig, the wood piles are just cut matchsticks and looks great, and some other stuff.
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The table from a Peter Pig command set and the tools from some railways set I bought ages ago.
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Bikes from Peter Pig
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The wagon wheels and wall from Peter Pig the other stuff from the kit box

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That drawer has some Kurbits – a popular art form in my home county (Dalarna)

We laid out another table and had a game with the Little One last weekend (using the Chain of Command rules by Too Fat Lardies, link here) and then we did a lot of shots of vehicles because we could.

A Little Game

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Some random shots of Swedish WW2 Vehicles

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First out the L-series of armoured cars developed in the 1930s (1/100 model from shapeways).
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The Pansarbil M/39/M/40 was a better solution for the need of the Swedes, with improved off-road cability and maneuverability and double drive. I find it beautiful (1/100 model from Shapeways).
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Perhaps the most iconic Swedish vehicle the Terrängbil m/42 KP. It was a domestic development and allowed the infantry to keep up with the tanks and provide protection from artillery and small arms fire. You can read more about this vehicle and how this 1/100 Shapeways model was modified slightly and the riders added in an old blog post (link here). Still in trials in 1943 and sent back due to inadequate armour plating but if the Germans invade we take what we got.
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Finally we will look at the Swedish Tanks available in 1943. First the Tankette Stridsvagn m/37. There is a previous blog here that shows the how this conversion was made from and the details for the other tanks below (link here).
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Next “beast” is the M/40 Light tank Stridsvagn M/40 – many models and versions. I used this as the Generic one – an early print by Paul Edwards.
I love them. (Formed the backbone of the Irish Armoured force in 1937 and developed into the Hungarian Toldi)
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And in the medium tank class we have the M/41. These were licence built TNH Tanks (perhaps more known as the 38(t) and used by the German army in the early War Period. Later a lot of them were rebuilt for other roles)
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Finally, In the almost heavy weight class (well big medium) we have the M/42 – My favourite with – like the M/40 a domestic development.

 

The Grognard Files – First, Last and Everything

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For you not familiar with the Grognard files here is Dirk’s own summary what it is all about (stolen from his webpage).

I’m Dirk the Dice and this is the GROGNARD files podcast, talking bobbins about table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.  The Armchair Adventurers are small FRPG group that meet monthly in Bolton. We first got together thanks to a ‘small ad’ in WHITE DWARF in 1983.  We got back together in 2010 to play Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep monthly for 3 years. Playing again reignited our passion for RPGs, so we returned to some more classic campaigns from our teenage years: RuneQuest BORDERLANDS, Traveller ADVENTURE, RuneQuest GRIFFIN MOUNTAIN and Call of Cthulhu FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH. Our interest began to shift towards what had happened to RPGs during our period away from the hobby.

See the source imageI have been, in a friendly way, been pestering Dirk to do a podcast about the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game for a long time (check out #grogmerp on twitter if you do not believe me).  Last month he released part 1 of the MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying) show and he asked me to do a “First, Last and Everything” segment for Part 2 – that is a presentation of my first, last and overall favourite RPG games.  I went for (because it is true) the first being the old Swedish RPG game Mutant (from 1984) that I have written about here on a few occasions (link some of it here, here, here and here), MERP as it is the last one I played and you can find out more about it in the two Episodes below, my everything is the classic Call of Cthulhu Rpg.

See the source imageHere are the links to the two parts of Episode 36 – Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP) with Liz Danforth:

I did write a script for my part and it is appended below would you be interested, it may be cool to listen to it first though.

 

/ As always I do hope that this was of some interest, stay safe during these and any other times

First, Last and Everything

Hi, My name is Per and I am delighted to deliver my first, last and everything. You can find me on Twitter as Per at RollaOne or on my blog rollaone.com.

It was 1984 and I was 12 and my slightly older cousin Mika was visiting us in our little provincial town in the heartlands of Sweden, Dalarna, where if you take the wrong fork you may come upon a lonely and curious country, in areas that remind you of some Lovecraftian environment – desolate, quiet and with the occasional character sneaking around, or looking through the windows with empty stares and some doors hanging on rusty and consequently noisy hinges blowing in the wind. These are places where they say shoot-dig-keep quiet – that kind of thing. I mean all that Nordic Noir crime stuff must have come from somewhere? But most of it are quaint red houses with white trimmings, surrounded by, wait for it, round pole fences.

He, my cousin, cajoled me into buying this new game that he had played called Mutant, a game set after the catastrophe in a future Scandinavia. You could play as mutated humans & animals or be a robot from the old time (but with a messed up memory bank, with a tendency to obey orders from pure humans or those who had not too obvious mutations – later I learned they were programmed to follow Asimov’s 3 robotic Laws). You could also be a PSI-mutant with mental powers, shunned by most people with or without fur. They were like magic users but very often with defects like madness or confusion triggered by failing to use a mental ability – making it very frustrating at times, or pure (non-mutated) humans considerable sturdier and more clever than we are today and with a patronising at best to a disrespectful view on mutants. The society that had risen was roughly at the technology level of the early 19th century – you could arm yourself with a musket if you had the cash but equally common were a baseball bat and an old bin lid, or traffic sign with a moose, as a shield. It was a more organised society than in movies like Mad Max – things had calmed down. There were forbidden zones to adventure in and the dungeon equivalent were old research labs or other underground facilities with the chance of finding old tech, crazy cyber computers, frozen people from the old times or mutated beasts – sometimes all at once. The dragon equivalent were giant beetles and land sharks that swam through the earth It was my fist role-playing game and we had never heard about anything like it and it also came with some funny looking dice, but no gaming board. Just a little cardboard sheet that was used to resolve whether the character understood what the old tech item he has just found was. My cousin had never GM:ed before and actually as it turned out he had never played the game – however he spent a day reading it and the following evening a few friends and I made some characters – mine a mutated moose, a hunter, with a big club and a musket – then he very ably played us through the introductionary scenario “Mission in Mos Mosel” until the small hours ….it was love at first play….

This game has evolved to what today is known as Mutant Year 0, and a number of the modern products has given more than a nod to the old modules and adventures.

However we quickly advanced to non-Swedish rpgs – it was not as cool to play the Swedish games – at least not in those days.

We went on a School trip to London in Year 9, this was 1987, and the trip was funded to not a small part of us selling loaves of home baked breads outside a local shopping centre and we also set up a school show and invited all the parents and students – I and yet another cousin and fellow gamer Sebastian played two drunk characters and we made some crap jokes pretending to be pissed and we had a grand finale with the song “Shut uppa you face”, by Joe Dolce. In London we, equipped with a Summer of earnings from working for the local council’s real estate department cutting lawns, bushes and collecting rubbish, delivering leaflets at weekends or selling the Sunday issues of a broadsheet newspaper, bought a lot of RPG games and modules from Orcs Nest (still on Earlham Street today), Games Workshop and The Virgin shop on Oxford Street. We got Judge Dredd, MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying Game), Call of Cthulhu, and “who ya gonna call” Ghostbusters, Top Secret, Chill, Timemaster, Paranoia and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying and god only knows what else, I remember the only non-rpg stuff I bought was the God Save the Queen single by Sex Pistols and Bob Marley’s Exodus (movement of Jah people).

But also a shout out to the Amazing swedish shop Hobby Huset in Uppsala – they had an amazing selection of RPGs in their catalogue and excellent shipping service. We sometimes even took the 1.5 hour train trip and visited the cellar it was located in and got some strange stuff from the bargain bucket. It was this shop that really opened up the hobby for us country boys.

We played so much RPG games in our youth, in people’s houses but eventually in a shed with a heater that made it bearable. We hated splitting up the group as we had to stand outside in the bloody cold freezing our Dirks off (remember this was Sweden when we had proper seasons). Later we asked our school if we could use one of the class rooms in the evening and weekends and the head teacher gave us a key and we had a hell of a good time. We had a good group with a few changes along the way, but then playing in death metal bands, national service, university education, and moving abroad split the old gang. We had our ups and downs but now 30 years or so later I can only recall the positive aspects, so to my old Grogsquad Jonas, Petri, Sebastian, Tommy, Thomas, Magnus, Micke, Reidar, Erik, Petter, Christer, Anton, Fredrik and the guy who only came once and played Pendragon with us and anyone else I forgot, but also to my new Grogsquad the Adventurers Club led by Dirk, Blythy, Ed, and the Daily Dwarf, I raise my glass of vodka to you all!

Although there was a lot of fear mongering around the Rpg hobby in the mainstream media at the time, thinking we would become too introvert, turn into extremists or jump from buildings imagining we could fly, I think our parents were grateful for the fact that instead of being out drinking moonshine vodka, a speciality of the region, and making the town unsafe, we instead sat in the shed telling each other stories and rolling dice. I think we all turned out ok in the end.

In the day we shared the burden of Game Mastering in our Little but Merry band, but the longer campaigns were usually game mastered by myself or Jonas and one of the first games he ran was MERP – Middle Earth Roleplaying. Jonas was amazing with regards to preparing for campaigns and game sessions and his knowledge of Middle Earth was very deep – he had even read the Silmarillion and the Lost Tales! Later Jonas were to run a very long AD&D campaign (2nd Edition) and although I never really liked the system, his overall campaign with a mixture of shorter episodes, long running plots and reappearing protagonists was probably the best one I ever played. However back to MERP. The rules today feels old-fashioned, being a Lite version of the bigger Rolemaster System but at the time offered us some kind of balance between the always fragile characters in the basic Roleplaying system kind of game and rise of your AD&D characters toward immortality – with MERPs open-ended rolls there was always a chance that an opponent could score critical hits and do some substantial damage whatever the differences in character levels, armour class etc. You had to be careful and not every encounter would be a question of drawing a sword. And the magic system was definitely not Tolkienesque but then Jonas did not allow us to be wizards. But what was more on top of this and perhaps the real legacy of MERP was the many fantastic modules and not the rules. The modules had some fantastic drawings and amazing covers that shaped our vision of this amazing world. There were many talented artists contributing to these modules but for me there are two I would like to mention especially – first the legend Angus McBride who did some exceptional cover art for many of the MERP modules. The second artist is of course Liz Danforth who created an outstanding visual presentation of the various characters, races and creatures of this wonderful world, and by the way a big thanks to you Liz for your support to the #grogmerp campaign on Twitter. But there was more, the modules contained information about the people and lands and it felt like it stayed true to the lore but expanded where there were white spots. Herbs, requires a special mention, and were like modern mobile phone apps – there was an app, sorry I meant a herb for that. It is actually my last RPG, I played and a big part of my recent interest in the hobby.

However, there was only one game that I really really immersed myself into in the day and it was the Call of Cthulhu rpg – I guess it does not need any deeper introduction. The first time I played it was at the RPG club in my hometown that some of us used to go to and play as well as playing with the core group, the club was founded by Magnus Seter and Dan Algstrand who today are well known characters in the RPG Industry. It was an excellent way in getting to know likeminded and try out a wider array of games. The club even run a few conventions and I wrote the Call of Cthulhu Scenario for the first two – with the imaginary titles of – the Shadow in Darkness and the Dweller in the Shadow (You can actually find these on the net, but mind you they are written in Swedish). Our little band played some of the epic campaigns like the Fungi form Yuggoth (later more adequately renamed the Day of the Beast), the Spawn of Azathoth and even the Horror on the Orient Express – although our campaign derailed after a few stops. But for me it was the Arkham county series of books that really made the game come alive – we played scenarios in the Miskatonic Valley – in places straight from the Lovecraft stories like Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport. The players included Professors working at the Miskatonic University, a PE teacher who could throw a javelin like no other, a retired Major from the British Army (yes he was a hell of a Marksman with his Webley Revolver), Private Investigators, a daredevil pilot and a Medical Doctor at the Arkham Asylym. The scenarios both readymade and homebrewed focused on local events – it made it more scary and intense when reoccurring NPCs asked for help, suddenly disappeared, ended up at the Asylum, or were found dead. When you could weave in characters family trees into the scenarios with the realisation that great grandfather Elijah Waitrose was a Cthulhu cultist or that Great Aunt Tess Collie was an adventurer lost in Dreamlands. As For anyone who may not be familiar with the literature I really recommend that you read the wonderful but not for the faint hearted stories like “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “Escape from Innsmouth”, “The Whisperer in Darkness” and “The Colour out of Space” to name some of my favourites. Yes, having moved on more than 30 years from that initial fascination, I know that H.P. Lovecraft probably was a man I would end up arguing with in the pub – he was a racist, homophobe etc, revealed by studying his letter and analysing some of the stories – I get it! But I was never in it for that, I was in it for the chill, sense of hopelessness in a world full of unknown things that humanity at best had a very limited understanding of, the desperate fight against overwhelming odds of getting either permanently insane or ending up dead. The sheer joy of game mastering a group of seasoned investigators in gathering clues from libraries, local newspapers, speakeasies, weird locals, etc. They, the characters, were never flashing heroes with shiny armour and glimmering swords or caped crusaders flying the flag , they were mostly normal people who endlessly fought on. Call of Cthulhu is my everything!

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Featured

Dalarna (Sweden) during the 1943 Invasion (What-if) – tiles, cars, a table and a small game of Chain of Command

If you have followed this blog you may recall that I have been working on a project relating to a “What-if” German invasion of Sweden in 1943 through the Dalarna County – where I “incidentally” was born and grew up. There is a good summary of where I got to with this project to date in a previous blog post (link here).

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Dalarna, Sweden in 1943 does not look like Normandy or the Eastern Front and one of the challenges to create the immersion is to create an overall look that feels right. A lot of the existing wargames buildings and terrain are not suitable for this theatre – the Normandy buildings looks totally out of place whilst the typical eastern European houses, whilst in wood, does not neccesarily have the right look (the common thatched roof on many of these houses are not really suitable). However I have found a few houses, barns etc that will fit.

  • The house on the left in the picture and the excellent round pole fences are made by Paul Edwards. Paul does some amazing work (Sabotag3d.com) and future blogposts will show more of the stuff he has been doing for me once I have painted them up.
  • The other houses shown in the pictures above and below are from Timecast (Eastern European 15mm buildings, link here) and Ironclad Miniatures (link here).

I have also, previously, talked about the typical red colour that was predominant, and still is, in the area – The Falu Red Colour (Falu Rödfärg).

Although the paint fell out of favour in the Urban areas during the 18th century the paint still survived and in the countryside, even today, is still the dominant type of colour.

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The origins of the pigments used for this paint was a rest product from the process of calcination of copper ore at the Mines in Falun, in the Dalarna county.  In the 16th century it was found that these pigments mixed with lineseed oil and rye flour worked as an excellent anti-weathering and preservative when applied to wood.

The Falu mine itself deserves a mention as it operated for 2000 years and at its most productive phase in the 16-17th century it produced more than 60% of the copper in Europe.  It even had its own regiment (with some infantry and cavalry units) during the Scanian War and Great Northern War era.

Every School child in the county visits the mine to learn about its glorious past – today it is not longer a working mine but a fantastic museum with a permanent exhibition as well as the opportunity to travel down to the depths of the mine.

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Farm tiles and Gas Wood Cars

As easy way to integrate your built up sections is to make tiles for a building or a set of buildings.  This allows a more defined look on the table and makes the buildings blend in better in your layout. I made mine from adhesive floor tiles from Poundland (they are made from vinyl) some acrylic paste (caulk) and sand.

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Start by marking up where you want your buildings to go. I also consider the size of the fencing around the farm.

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Then it is time to start the messy bits, with acrylics, sand and paint.

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Leave some space for the buildings but otherwise do whatever seems to fit – make sure there are paths and roads, etc.
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Paint it all brown
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Start drybrushing the surfaces. I work from a pale brown, the terracotta and then finally a pale yellow. The same as I use for all my non-desert and witner bases.
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Add some static grass and tufts

 

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With a little bit of clutter it creates small dioramas instead of putting the houses directly on the mat. it took two short evening session to make them.

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But what about these strange cars? Well if you study cars during this era, not just in Sweden you will notice the strange burners on other arrangements attached to the cars. These are utilising wood gas to power the vehicle due rationing of fossil fuels. I have rarely seen these on WW2 tables but very often in pictures so I made a few (based on some Kinder Egg vehicles I bought off ebay).

 

A game of Chain of Command

A few weeks ago the Little One and I had a small CoC (Chain of Command) infantry vs infantry game (with a tank each) mainly to test out the terrain and how it all looked together, we have a blast and we were really happy with the overall look.

I will let the picture talk for themselves.

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Whilst I love playing in Normandy or the Eastern Front I have to admit that there is something special for me with this project in terms of passion and immersion.  For this table all it really took was a type or Fence and the colour of the houses to transport us straight to Dalarna 1943.

Yes the whole thing is made up but I am trying to make the rest of it justice. As you may have figured out by now immersion is very important for all the projects I do.  It takes an extra effort, but an effort I am more than happy to make.

If you have a what-if idea or a project based on some obscure location spend some time reflecting on how things looked – study photos and find those key elements that immediately gives it away – that is your primary focus for your wargames table. If these items do not exist – consider making them yourself or contact someone like Paul who has the talent to design something in 3d for your, make it printable, print and send it to you! (Sabotag3d.com).

I hope that was of some interest, toysoldier on!

 

Poltava 1709 at Joy of Six 2019 – the Grand Finale of the Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT)

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This is a quick report back from Joy of Six focusing on the table Nick, Andrew, Neil (from the Wyre Foresters, thanks to all of you!) and I put up on the day. there are some additional reflections and pictures of the show overall that I will issue sometime this coming weekend. Thanks to everyone who came by we really enjoyed the feedback!

The Towards Moscow Trilogy

More than three years ago I decided to have a go at doing a few battles of the ill-fated Russian campaign (1707-1709) of the Great Northern War 1700-1721.  I set out the plan in a blog post (link here) and the three battles we would cover were:

Lesnaya 1708 – link to more pictures here in the blogpost from Joy of Six 2017:

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Battle of Lesnaya 1708 (8 foot table)

Horka 1708 (a what-if battle that would allow us to field a more balance army composition and linear battle that would be the case for the battles of the Campaign) – link to more pictures here in the blogpost from Joy of Six 2018:

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Battle of Horka 1708 (12 foot table)

This year it was a 16 foot table and the disastrous (from a Swedish perspective) Battle of Poltava. Here are a number of pictures from the day with the occasional comments and some link on how some elements of the tables was being made – we were far to busy talking to people to even have a go at actually trying to play it! I think the vision of a grand spectacle was achieved, hope you enjoy  (if you have any comments do get it touch through the blog and ask away):

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Initial disposition the Russian Infantry in the Camp on the left, the redoubts filled with Russian Infantry and the line of Dragoons behind the redoubts.
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Close up of the Redoubts, we can see the Swedes in the far right corner starting their march. More about the redoubts here and he colourful fields here.

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More detail of the Yakovetski forest, the Monastery, Poltava itself and the Swedish Camp.

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The Swedes quickly overrun the first redoubt and set about taking care of the other one.

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Poltava with the Siege Lines in the upper left corner. Buildings mainly from Total Battle miniatures with a Scratch built Fortress (walls and towers).  More on the Poltava here, the ruined villages here and the Siege Lines here.

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The Swedes are through
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Some battalions being lost in the forest

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The Swedes organising themselves for the main battle

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Some immense firing

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Swedish Artillery being left behind!

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Detail of the Swedish Camp, more about the camp here.

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Siege works

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/ Hope that was of some interest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress on the Poltava 1709 Project – Siege Lines and the King (TMT)

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In writing this there is about 10 days to the Joy of Six show 2019, the best 6mm wargames show in the world and a damn good show overall.  I am now just polishing off some old stuff I need to take with me and doing some play aids for the day – a little presentation handout for visitors, some cards for the commanders and a list of the forces we will use.

If you do come to the show, please come and say hello. I will appreciate it ,but do forgive me if I seem distracted and do not give you the attention you deserve – it is normally a tiring day and I tend to be a little bit emotional as very often it is the first time I see the fruits of my labour  – I tend to see the things I could have done better rather the positive things I hope others do! I had a vision on how it would look and the story I wanted it to tell and I hope it will come through.

Peter has invited me to some kind of panel during the day that I am looking forward to.

You can read more about who will be there on this link (Baccus homepage).

 

In summary Nick Dorrell, the Wyre Foresters and I will put on Poltava 1709, it will be 4,500 miniatures on the table and although it only at about 1/20 to the real number on the day I do hope it will give the illusion of a grand battle taking place – I will do a further posting on the battle mat that is now complete later this week as well as some files with the hand-outs, this is a short update showing some of the elements that will figure on the day, (i) the Siege lines and (ii) King.

Siege Lines

To provoke the Battle the King (Charles XII) laid siege to Poltava (and I have presented the rather large model of it before – link here) and there is a more elaborate story about this than the scope of the current battle. The Russian had counter redoubts and the Siege lines were more complicated.

To achieve some kind of stylised and re-cyclable solution I decided to use the coving strips I had used for doing the redoubts to create bases of trenches (link to those here) – taking this further one could make many of these and perhaps even do a little Siege game using tiles moving towards the besieged city/fort/town.  I used some engineers from Baccus to show the men working with the digging – these were mainly Cossacks. The basic idea can be seen below.

 

Adding some filler, sand and a little bit of paint and we got something like this.

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…then combining them with some artillery positions I created earlier (Baccus miniatures) creates that little point I want to make about some Siege lines and artillery being present on the day.

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The clutter (Barrels, sacks and boxes) are from Perfect Six miniatures (link here) who do a nice range of stuff for your battle fields to add that little flair that makes the immersion greater – they also do a range of 6mm fantasy figures that is fantastic. Below some of the fantastic stuff you can get from Perfect Six.

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The Swedish King

Charles XII was shot in the foot before the battle and was carried around on a litter during the battle – some accounts states it was carried by horses, but I chose to make is a man carried version – perhaps it was carried like this too?

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I then added some soldiers and officers to the base and used my non-trademarked method to take shots with some backgrounds (link here).

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/That was all for this time, hope it was of some interest

Progress on the Poltava 1709 Project – Trees, tree Bases and small rocks (TMT)

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I have a lot of trees for my wargames tables and I love the effect they give, sometimes (if suitable) I just add some of them on the fringes whether it has any practical use in the scenario or not. I do think they enhance the overall experience, compared to say a dark green piece of felt (or even worse some 2D wood tiles).

As some of you may be aware, I tend to put on large tables for my games at Joy of Six. I have slowly increased my collection of trees and probably reached what I thought was a peak for my 2107 table showing the Battle of Lesnaya 1708 (more about it here).

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Lesnaya 1708 at the star of the battle before all the Russians come marching in. “Oh when Russians come marchin’ in, Oh when the Russians come marchin’ in, I do not want to be part of that Supply line, oh when the Russians come marchin’ in”

However, for this years Poltava table I needed more.

Even at the smaller scale I working with, the cost of buying some wargames specific trees quickly gets costly at the quantities I am looking for. So for my no-pine-tree trees I have gone for the ones you in bulk from china on ebay. This is a typical set of 60 trees at about 15p a tree.

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As sold on ebay 12/06/19

You could then base them individually on bases, I tend to use washers, with small stickers underneath to cover the hole , cut the tree trunk and then glue it in the middle with some 2 part epoxy glue, before basing decoration. Do not forget to spray them with hairspray, scenic cement or clear matt varnish to seal the tree cover as this otherwise easily falls off over time.

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There is a clear benefit in doing this as the trees individually stores very easily in a box or something like that.

Another issue is that some of the colours are a little bit more unnatural looking than others.  You can rectify this at a very low cost by adding some additional colour to the tree.  I tend to use some Dark Green Coarse Grass from Javis as well as some of the Mid-Green variety and did a mix – but you may have some other suitable flock in your collection (perhaps avoiding the static grass type).

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Not a good picture, but this is it.

I then apply some PVA glue on the tree trying to cover most of it and dip it in the mix.

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Let it dry, then apply hairspray/varnish/scenic cement because this will fall off very quickly otherwise.

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A few dipped and ready!

This is a comparative shot, before and after (I think it is worth it).

In addition I wanted to make some forest tiles using CDs – most of us have tons of old CDs, or DVDs, and you could perhaps save a few from going to landfill. Make sure they are not your back-ups of old photos or something like that.

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Give it a little scratch in the name of adhesion

I made a fair few and although they are not as practical to store as the individual trees they allow a quicker deployment on the table and you can decorate the overall area (e.g. the CD) nicely.

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That is about 40 bases with 5 to 6 trees per base, say 220 trees in total.  Covering an area of 2 by 4 feet.  The trees will knock you back about £30 (based on the prices above) the filler, paint, epoxy glue and sand adds a little bit more. Then adding the cost of the Javis scatter and the spray adhesive, etc – call it a total cost of materials between £40 to £50 for this project depending on what you use. That is £1.20 per base and probably what you would pay for an individual based tree! So if you have no problem doing a little bit of work there are some savings to be made with the added advantage that you can finish them in a way so they work together with your other terrain.

They work well with both my 6mm and 15mm stuff — perhaps not as good for 28mm.

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Swedish tanker trying to spot a target (15mm)
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Great Northern Era Swedish Cavalry Units taking their horses for a spin (6mm) – perhaps more suitable given the title.
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Swedish WW2 era infantry (15mm)

 

In addition I bought some N Gauge rock / mountain / outcrop scenery pieces to use for the Poltava battlefield to break down he overall flatness of the kind of mat I will be using.  I bought the set shown in the picture below and another slightly more expensive.

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As sold on ebay 12/06/19

The work really well in the scales I am using (most of them can just be laid flat on the table). I think it will work wonders in creating that look of a battle field that is not completely flat and saved me some time.  They are made from plaster – I guess dental plaster – and painted and decorated as shown in the pictures below.

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The full set (2 packs)
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A few of them had some flat sides – I will make hills sections and incorporate these into them.
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Full set laid out, I think they blend in nicely on my little 2 by 2 game board that is similar to the colours and look of the Poltava battle mat.
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Some 28mm miniatures taking cover (yes they are from the Perry Miniatures Chosen Men – 95th Rifles set – and painted in strange colours and that hardly look like the typically Napoleonic Rifle – but in this shape they are part of my Mutant 1984 Post Apocalyptic campaign and soldiers of the Pyri-Commonwealth)

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Some Cavalry out on a spin (6mm GNW, Baccus)
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Swedish WW2 era AT team behind some rocks (15mm, flames of war)

Both the trees and the rocks will allow me to create that little extra flair to the battle board that allows that magic immersion to set in.

Hope that was of some interest!

Progress on the Poltava 1709 Project – Plush Foam Fields (TMT)

This is the 150th blog post issued on the 3rd anniversary of this blog. Some of the blog posts have been better than others – some of them I am actually even proud of (especially the two that were written by the Little One).  Like most of us I have limited time to spend on the hobby and very often the blog updates goes out without too much second/proof reading but I hope they serve some purpose. 

The first blog post was Saga in 6mm – Part 1 (16th May 2016) – it seems like a long time ago – it is still being read on a regular basis.

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The first picture on the blog – An Anglo-Danish warband.  I now have a massive amount of pictures in the blogs media library.

I will have a cake this evening and maybe even a beer. Whether this is the first time you are here of you have been before, thanks for checking it out!

If this is of any interest to you please engage by leaving a comment, follow the blog (you can sign up for e-Mail updates) and engage here, or on Twitter (@Roll_a_one) or Facebook (@rollaonepage).  These interactions really makes a difference and it keeps me going! I love this hobby and this blog is my open door to what I am doing with it – use it as you wish!

Thank you!

Enough of that – some time ago I read Iain Fuller’s excellent blog (link here) Tracks and Threads where he had found some interesting looking material from Hobbycraft.

“I’ve recently started visiting some Facebook pages after resisting them for ages and apart from the odd silly comment (usually from people not reading the OP properly) it has not been too bad. The other day on one of the pages, 6mm Miniatures and Wargaming, a lovely bloke called Ricky posted that he had found (or more correctly his missus had) some A4 sized ‘Plush Foam Sheet’ that are perfect for fields whilst in a Hobbycraft shop. Upon checking out their website I saw that they do ‘Corrugated Foam’ sheets too so with my ‘Club Terrain Chap’ hat on I duly ordered some – Beige, Dark Green and Yellow ‘Plush’ and Brown ‘Corrugated’ and they arrived the next day, and they are ace: look good, great texture to the ‘plush’ ones and will drape over hills nicely and seem pretty durable to boot. Oh, and they cost 80p a sheet!!”

From the Tracks and Thread blog post “Nice 6mm internet terrain find”, 1st October 2018.

Note: Following some research Ricky is Ricky Bell who produces some fantastic 6mm Napoleonic stuff and posts frequently on the “6mm miniatures & wargaming” Facebook group.  I also think the price has gone up to 99p per sheet.

In the run-up to Christmas last year I found myself at a hobbycraft shop with a gift voucher and bought a fair few of these sheets, I was very excited at the time but then stuck them in a drawer – passing them to the myths and legend of the terrain material mountain – a lighter but more colourful lump of stuff (compared to the lead mountain) that will never transform into nice looking terrain on the table. But faith would have another outcome for these plush sheets.

Last year I incorporated some fields into the terrain mat for the Horka battle, but there were two issues with it: (I) It added to the time to do the mat and (ii) the bushes around it were only indicative as they were built into the surface – it was ok, but I wanted to do something different this year.

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The Mat from last year, this year the mat will be 4 feet longer!

So I thought I do some field tiles instead that I could place on the mat that would create a similar illusion to that achieved last year.  I remembered those Flush Foam sheets. I ventured to the room of many things, rummaged through the boxes, found a lot of things I had forgotten I owned, some of it I had even bought twice, I even found some of the very rare purple lichen (!?) and then in the end I had the sheets in my hand and work could truly begin.

 Here is a series of pictures that I hope will explain how I made some field tiles.

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These are the Plush Foam sheets. They could be used to quickly create some fields just like they are.
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I marked up the tiles I needed on some 6mm mdf sheets I had lying around (these were 2 by 2 feet square) from some previous projects.  I used to make my tables from 2 by 2 boards but have now gone over to the mat concept.
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I then made sure I had enough material and that all the fields would fit in a A4 size (the dimension of the foam sheets) sheet.
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Then I cut out the tiles, sanded the edges (to avoid the flat 6mm edge on the boards – this will further be off-set by adding the clump foliage – as shown later), and cut out the pieces of foam and glued them on (using Grip Adhesive), trying not to have the same colour on two adjacent fields (note the darkest brown is a corduroy type of floor tile I had left over from another project, this sheet is slightly better than the corrugated sheet produced as part of this series).
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It ended up looking like this – a little bit to artificial for my taste.
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I started dabbing in some colour in straight lines, that would match the original colour to create some depth.
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Creating a little bit more depth, but some of the old colour shining through.
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Then I added some clump foliage to the sides and I think the aerial shot has wastly improved. Dabbing on the extra colour in lines gives the illusion of depth and the sheets more looking like fields.  I made the clump foliage myself a few years back for the Saga project and had a fair amount left.  I basically bought a large bag of foam off-cuts, put them with water in a blender to shred them into small pieces. Mixed them with PVA and green paint, spread them out on a flat surface and let them dry. Then, when dry, I ripped them up smaller pieces. You could use some off- the shelf foam, but the method I did creates “firmer” form due to the PVA glue.
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At ground level it is not looking bad either. Here we can see some Russian Dragoons spying on some Ottomans riding through the Country side. Maybe it is during the Pruth campaign in 1711. (6mm Miniatures from Baccus)
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The dark brown part being the floor tile mentioned above, the others the Plush foam.
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Really happy, with the benefit that I can use these for a lot of other situations. Will add a little bit of static grass here and there on the edges and drybrush the bushes before finalising them and then add some matt spray varnish.  But this more or less battle ready.

Hope that was of some interest!