Silence on the net…

     I haven’t posted recently but I haven’t been idle either.  Remember when I wrote the piece about 3D printing?  Well that got me thinking and that can be a dangerous thing.  3D printing could be the technology that scratches a lot of kitbashing itches that I have.  Ultimately it could be the technology that allows me to make some of the ships I would like to have in my 1/2400 collection but could never hope for a traditional manufacturer to produce.

     Since I know very little about CAD software I realize it would be too great a leap to jump right in and start designing a ship for 3D printing.  Instead I decided to take baby steps and slowly build up my experience and knowledge bases.  For a long time now I’ve wanted to procure 55 gal. oil drums in 1/285 scale for use in supply depots or as truck cargo but as far as I know none are available commercially.  There are several choices available in other scales such as these produced by SGTS Mess.

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     It seemed like a pretty good place to start.  Once I designed one oil drum I could make several different configurations for different trucks or for a supply depot and maybe I could sell a few through Shapeways to pay for future development.  So I downloaded the free trial version of TurboCAD while I wait for my full version to arrive from Amazon and started making my oil drum.  Let me just say that I never expected to be cranking out products on day one but TurboCAD is kicking my butt.  Now I don’t really have any documentation so I’m learning by trial and error and the few YouTube tutorials that are out there.  The process is taking a long time.  which is why I haven’t been posting here at all.

     I’ve buckled down and ordered the companion tutorial disks and I keep my eyes out locally for any training books I might find but in the meantime I get myself frustrated with things that look more like Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can than they do an oil drum.  The grind continues…

Dead End Projects

     A dead end project is when I have an idea for a kitbash or scratchbuild vehicle that I have a particular need for but somewhere along the way one of the existing manufacturers decides to produce one themselves.  The first project that has been overcome by events (OBE) that I would like to share with you is my conversion of GHQ Ferret Mk I turret-less scout cars into Ferret Mk II with the .30 cal MG turret.

     In 2010 GHQ published their production plans for the 2010-2011 product year and they scheduled a February 2011 release date for the Ferret Mk I.  This was excellent news!  I was working on early Cold War armies and needed some light scouts for the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and other areas.  The problem was I didn’t really need the Mk I version which was turret-less and open topped. 

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     What I wanted was the Mk II version with the small machine gun turret.

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     After doing a little bit of research I learned that the Saracen 6×6 armored personnel had an identical turret.

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     There is also an ambulance version of the Saracen which doesn’t have a turret.

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     Perfect!  I had some extra Saracens anyway so I decided to carefully cut the turret of the Saracen and graft it onto the Ferret after filling in the crew compartment with putty.  The ‘leftover’ Saracens would then become ambulances.  I didn’t need more than a handful of Saracen ambulances so this conversion process was never going to get me to the 40+ Mk II Ferrets I hoped to have but it would be a start.

     Here are the excellent Mk I Ferrets from GHQ with their crew compartments filled in with putty.

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  Here is the primed Mk II Ferret with its new turret ready for BAOR green and black camo pattern.

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     It was at about this point in the project when GHQ announced their production plans for the 2011-2012 product year.  They had a Ferret Mk II scheduled for release in October 2011.

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     Suddenly, there was no advantage to kitbashing any further Mk II’s.  I guess that was a good thing since it should have given me the time to work on other projects.

More Magnet Madness

     Well as promised I’m back with the IDF Magach 6B tanks from GHQ to modify them with rare earth magnets which should hold the turrets securely but allow free rotation.  Prior to my introduction to these magnets I had always glued the turrets of my tanks.  It wasn’t as visually appealing on the game table but it was a much more secure way to store and transport them.  Moving every couple of years to various far-flung military assignments that was an important consideration.  In fact these tanks had their turrets glued in place before I started this modification.  Here’s a cool tip I learned on the GHQ forums – if you use CA glue (crazy glue) you can weaken the bond to separate the turret by placing the miniature in the freezer.  It worked very well on these tanks and the Canadian Leopard 2A6AM tanks which will also undergo modification.

     The first thing you have to do is decide how you want to employ the magnets.  The GHQ forums have several different suggestions.  Some place the magnet in the turret peg and glue a piece of ferrous metal under the hull.  Some place the magnet under the hull and glue a piece of ferrous metal in the turret pin.  Others use magnets in both the hull and the turret.  That is the method that I will be using here.  As always it is critical to make sure you glue the magnets in place with the proper polar alignment.  Another important tip – while the glue for the magnets cure don’t move any other magnets anywhere near the model or it will cause the magnet to flip, fly out or otherwise dislodge itself.  Don’t ask how I know this.

     To use two magnets I decided to use 3mm x 1mm magnets in place of the turret peg and use 4mm x 1mm magnets under the hull.  Why those sizes?  Its what I had on hand.  Since this is my first attempt there are some lessons learned.  For series production I would choose 3mm x 1.5 or 2mm for the turret peg.  This would give enough depth of recess in the turret to hold securely while still providing some ‘peg’ to insert in the hole in the hull.  

     First step is to remove the existing turret peg and drill a shallow hole in its place to recess the magnet in the turret.

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     If you look close you can see the CA glue residue on the bottom of the turret.  I should have been more careful and removed all of it.  I learned in the next step that when gluing the magnet in place the CA glue bonds to the residue not the metal and as a result the magnet was not secure and took much longer to cure.  Of course cure time might be because I was using crap glue.

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  With the turret complete its time to work on the hull.  The hole for the turret peg has to be bored out to 3mm to accommodate the magnet serving as the turret peg.  I use a pin-vise drill with a 3mm Dremmel bit.  The Dremmel bit is meant for high speed operation so it doesn’t bite very deep and it takes a while to grab hold and drill into the turret.  This is actually a good thing as it gives you a great deal of control on how deep you actually go.  Test fit often to ensure the recess is deep enough to hold the magnet but still leave some exposed to act as the turret peg.  This is why I would use slightly longer magnets in the future.  Here’s the hull drilled out.

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     On the underside of this particular model there is a small depression around the hole as you can see.  Using 4mm magnets they just bridge over this gap to cover the hole but there is limited purchase for the glue.  If I had it to do over and I had different magnet sizes I would use 5mm magnets under the hull.  The GHQ forum members report great success just gluing a bit of ferrous metal under the hull.  I tested a couple of different items but found they were more trouble cutting them down to size than it was worth.  Your mileage may vary.

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     With the glue dry on turret and hull its time to test fit.  Turns out I didn’t follow my own advice and one of the turret and hull combos have their magnet poles reversed with respect to the others.  The turret and hull match each other but the turret won’t work on the other hulls and vice versa.  Maybe I’ll just make it a command tank or something like that.

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     The magnet to magnet bond is strong enough to lift the miniature by the turret or barrel but I definitely don’t recommend this as standard practice.

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     Here is the lot of them complete and ready for the paint shop!

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New Arrivals, well not completely new but…

I wanted to shift gears a little bit and go back to 1/285 micro armor.  I have some of the 2012-13 model year vehicles from GHQ that I would like to share.  Some I think are quite good and others just aren’t.  All of them are high quality and ultra detailed, which you would expect from GHQ.  But one in particular just seems too big.  So why not start with that one.  Before the reveal however, I want to say that I’m a huge Bundeswehr fan.  I have all the models currently available and have scratchbuilt or kitbashed numerous others.  So I eagerly awaited the release of the Puma, which is to replace the Marder in active service.  Unfortunately this has been a marketing nightmare for GHQ.  If you’re interested you can read all about it on the GHQ forum but in a nutshell here’s what happened.  Initial release have five roadwheels and the reaction from the forum experts was highly critical.  That’s the proto-type we want the real deal.  So GHQ called a do-over and released a model with six roadwheels.  But when the first ones reached customers hands the forum lit up and sales went to all stop.  This thing is huge!  Much larger than the Marder it is replacing.  Much larger than the Leopard 2A6 tank it will serve along side.  Debate raged over what the actual dimensions are and what the scale error is etc. etc.  The debate was complicated by the fact that no online sources had the same data because there are modular armor packages that change the dimensions considerably.  What is the real baseline height and width?  I don’t know and neither does GHQ but they’re sticking to their guns and aren’t going to change the design again unless proven wrong.  Well until I know how far off it is or even if it is off scale I’m not buying any more of these.  If you’re a Sci-Fi fan however these are fantastic.

Puma IFV - GHQ Miniatures

Puma IFV – GHQ Miniatures

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With this next item GHQ redeemed themselves.  Following the global trend of making lighter, easily transportable wheeled APCs the Bundeswehr has also adopted into service the Boxer.  This eight wheeled vehicle is broadly similar to the Stryker family of vehicles now in use in the U.S.  More of these are definitely on my shopping list.

Boxer APC - GHQ Miniatures

Boxer APC – GHQ Miniatures

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Staying with German manufacturers for a moment the next model is the Canadian version of the German Leopard 2A6 main battle tank.  I ordered this when it was first released but before any catalog pictures were available on GHQ’s website.  I had hoped that the additional slat armor was etched brass similar to the kits available for GHQ Stryker vehicles.  I was a little disappointed when I received the product and it was an integral part of the mold.  My main issue is how to paint it.  Can’t really show the camouflage pattern behind the slats so I guess I’m going to have to go with O.D.

Leopard 2A6M CAN - GHQ Minitaures

Leopard 2A6M CAN – GHQ Miniatures

 

Staying with the heavy metal theme I’ll move along to one of my favorite models of recent years, the Magach 6B Gal.  The Israeli army comes up with some wacky and wild upgrades to old favorites.  The designs show a healthy respect for the dangers of fighting in built up terrain, lots of reactive armor and machine guns for personnel suppression.  This M-60 upgrade is no exception.  These tanks will be featured in a future piece on magnets and rotating turrets.

Magach 6B Gal - GHQ Miniatures

Magach 6B Gal – GHQ Miniatures

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The last model I want to talk about is the Nayla RG-31. The RG-31 is one of many MRAP vehicles that have proliferated throughout the U.S. military.  GHQ has a large range of MRAP vehicles which I think are pretty cool in general.  The RG-31 is also a favorite for NGO’s and UN workers so maybe I’ll have to paint up a couple of these in UN white and blue.

Nayla RG-31 - GHQ miniatures

Nayla RG-31 – GHQ miniatures

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Could they be any smaller?

     I have been wargaming with miniatures since 1986.  Modern naval wargames have always been one of my favorite genres and I will confess that I have always been kind of a snob when it comes to scale of choice.  Size matters, right?  I have been a religious follower of the 1/2400 cult.  1/3000?  That’s old world thinking.  I can remember looking at the CinC miniatures catalog and wondering, “who in their right mind games with 1/4800 scale ships?”  Although I must say the ability to buy a reasonable 10-12 ship task force for less than the price of one GHQ ship was appealing.  But at the time I was focused on modern engagements and CinC doesn’t offer moderns in that smaller range.

  Then a couple of years ago I first heard about Figurehead Miniatures and their range of 1/6000 ships.  1/6000!?  I hadn’t actually seen any of them yet but I couldn’t help thinking it would be like a flea circus, impossibly small ships with indiscernible details.  How could you possibly have a meaningful game?  Then about a year ago I saw another blog, with pictures of these worthy vessels.  Then I couldn’t believe how much detail you could actually put on a ship that small.  But enough of my words here are some pictures.

This is the Slava class CG…

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… and a Udalloy class DDG…

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… and this is a Bunker Hill class CG…

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…and an Arleigh Burke class DDG…

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     I could go on and on but I think you get the point.  These are really well done and just to calibrate your eyes, each of those hash-marks is 1/4 inch.  Yes, these ships are less than two inches in length.  Now I just have to get some really small brushes from Micro-Mark and I’ll be all set to paint these up.

     So far the only fleets available that I’ve seen are US, Soviet/Russian, UK, and “Latin America” a.k.a. Argentina.  This is the only manufacturer I’m aware of that carries all the combatants for the Falklands/Malvinas conflict.  That in itself makes this an attractive scale to consider.  And if that’s not your bag, baby – they have ships from the Russo-Japanese war through present day.

Professional? Embarrassment

     I have long been a fan of the storage boxes sold by I-94 Enterprises and have purchased hundreds of them over the years.  Dave Winfree is a great guy to work with.  Any issues I’ve ever had with his products, and there very very few, he fixed immediately.  I wanted extra foam inserts, no problem.  I wanted extra data card inserts, no problem.  I-94 is a class act all the way around.

     Raiden Miniatures is a company I discovered only relatively recently, back in 2009 I think.  What has impressed me about their models is the range of available aircraft, both WWII and Modern, the pace with which new models are added, and the price.  The Raiden aircraft I’ve purchased are very good models, some minor flaws here and there but very good none the less.  The only miniatures company out there with a better product is GHQ.  With prices roughly 33% or less of GHQ’s prices the value of Raiden’s miniatures is much higher.  GHQ models are beautiful but they are not three times better.

     So why do I bring any of this up at all?  Well, after doing the piece on flight stands I was looking around the Raiden site to see what they have coming up for release next.  I was excited to see F-104 Starfighters with and without tip tanks are available as well as F-5 Freedom Fighters.  But I was shocked to discover that Dave at I-94 Enterprises bought out Raiden Miniatures!  And it happened back in September!  I guess I should read the news more.

     In a selfish way I’m very pleased to hear this news.  It will make these models cheaper and easier to acquire in the U.S. but obviously others around the world may not see the same savings.  

     Dave, if you ever see this, Awesome job!  Good Luck!

Flight Stands (Update)

     The flight stands worked so well I went through a frenzy of gluing magnets to my aircraft.  Here is another Raiden creation, a Mirage 5 or Nesher in IAF service.  I drilled out the hole and glued the magnet flush with the belly.  Once painted the magnet will be difficult to see.  Two of these models will be finished in IAF colors and an additional pair in Argentine colors for Falklands/Malvinas campaigns.

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     Some unpainted Raiden Skyhawks received similar treatment.  Six Skyhawks were prepared, two will go to the IAF, two for Argentina and two for USN service.

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     My existing IAF models, a pair of Super Mysteres and a pair of Skyhawks, both types manufactured by Raiden, were given the treatment.  Lighting on this shot of the Super Mysteres shows I need to pay more attention to cleaning the mold/flash lines, oh well.

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     For these shots I used one tall stand and one short stand for a sort of parade formation which looked even cooler on the table. 

     To balance things a little I made sure all three Egyptian MiG-21s and the three SU-7B, again from Raiden, have magnets.  Only one MiG is painted and was featured in the last post so no pictures of the others yet.  Then I started playing around with the few remaining magnets on my German Bo-105 helicopters from GHQ.  I like these little guys.  I must have ten or twelve of them half with the new brass rotor blades and the other half with the old plastic disc rotor.

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