Armaments in Miniature, Me-109 Work in Progress Part 1

I finally found some time to paint this weekend!  The whole family has been sick in bed so I was presented with a little time to pull out the airbrush booth and paint something new.  A few weeks back I purchased a 3 aircraft flight of Me-109 G's by Armaments in Miniature.  These are 1/100 scale and made from resin; for 15mm wargaming I'd say these are probably the best option around...  They are a little pricey though at $12 to $15 each.

I started by mounting a rare earth magnet on the underside of the fuselage for easy attachment and removal from a flight stand.  One of the great things about this soft resin is is drills easily :)

Many of the flight stand options available from gaming companies don't really fit the bill for what I was looking for...  something simple and cheap.  I crafted these out of a small wooden dowel and disk (looks more like a wooden tire); they turned out ok and for $3 worth of materials from Hobby Lobby I should be able to make a dozen of them.

I'll be coating the base with texture and eventually adding terrain and foliage to give a nice professional look to the stand.  The top of the dowel has a matching rare earth magnet that helps hold the aircraft on.

I used Vallejo's new Acrylic-Polyurethane Grey Primer and applied it using my airbrush.  It went on nice and smooth and had a perfect finish.  I'm quite happy with this new Vallejo product as I don't have to thin it at all; just pour it into the airbrush cup and spray.

I sprayed the fuselage a lightened Vallejo Reflective Green and then added some subtle camouflage patterns using Vallejo Gunship Green.  The underside (while you can't see it here) was sprayed with Vallejo Sky Grey.  Yellow Eastern Front theater markings were applied using Vallejo Flat Yellow.  The paint scheme I chose is loosely patterned after Hannes Trautloft's JG 54 in Northern Russia on the Eastern Front.

To seal the base coat and to prepare for the wash and decals I spraying on a coat of gloss acrylic varnish.  I used Vallejo's gloss varnish and I thinned it with water and airbrush medium; it was a departure from my usual Testor's Glosscote and Dullcote but it was cheaper and non-toxic; time will tell whether I'll like this gloss varnish as a viable option.  I've been looking for an alternative to Testor's spray paints for quite some time.

That's it for now; I'll be sure to post more as I make progress.  Painting aircraft is enjoyable to me; I'm tempted to try and find some 1/72 plastic kits now that I've picked up this plastic craze lately :)

To see the finished project, be sure to checkout Part 2 of this article.

PLASTICS!!! 1/72 Plastic Kits

Wow...  I think I jumped into 1/72 scale with both feet this past week.  Lately I've been in a bit of a plastics craze I think and I stumbled upon several 1/72 model kits and purchased quite a bit.  The picture at the left is just the buildings I picked up; I have several armor kits and infantry platoons somewhere in the mail.

...Sssshhh, don't tell the wife...

I've always been well aware of 1/72 (20mm for others) but I never really explored what was available.  I was surprised to find several kits that interested me keenly and I splurged.  Pegasus Hobbies makes several items for Eastern Front and Italeri has quite a few buildings that look great as well!  To be truthful, I've never been as much into the wargaming aspect of historical miniatures as much as the painting.  I've never liked assembling complicated kits either...  I'm hoping that these kits will give me an excellent balance between detail/accuracy and easy assembly; and at the same time give me a chance to paint and game a little when I get the urge.

I'll be sure to update with pictures and projects as I progress through painting these kits and I'm looking forward to painting something bigger than 1/285 and 15mm for a change.  If anyone has good recommendations for resources on 1/72 please comment, I'd love to hear the feedback.

Stay tuned...

The Plastic Soldier Company - 15mm Russian Infantry

To round out my recent rash of 15mm Plastic reviews, here are some photos and my thoughts on The Plastic Soldier Company's 15mm Russian Infantry.  In short, I have to admit that I really like this offering and wish that I had something of this quality a few years ago :)  The box comes with 5 plastic sprues with several poses on each sprue (all 5 sprues are the same).  I ordered directly from PSC and was impressed with the speed of shipping and delivery...  I got everything from the UK (I'm in the U.S.) in 1 week.  With the current exchange rate I think I paid about $28 for the box.

What really struck me was to see the infantry through the little plastic window on the box...  I thought "Geez, these guys are small!"  However, when I actually compared them alongside Battlefront's Flames of War figures I was surprised to see they were about the same height.  The difference being that I was used to the unrealistic proportions of Flames of War figures (Pumpkin Heads, etc.).

Overall quality and detail is very good on these Plastic Soldier Company infantry...  you can easily see eyes, noses, and mouths...  not to mention individual fingers!  I found these small details to be fairly sturdy, however, I can certainly see some PPSh's or Mosin Nagant's breaking off if the figures are dropped or gripped too aggressively.

As you can see below, PSC size up pretty well with Flames of War...  although as mentioned the FOW figures sport thicker details.  To be fair, some of the poses for PSC are a bit odd and out of proportion; the grunt throwing a grenade is a perfect example.  But for the most part, I was happy with the selection of the poses.

A huge benefit that I see with The Plastic Soldier Company's offering is clean up and mould lines.  Cleaning Flames of War infantry is more often than not a huge undertaking...  sanding, scraping, cutting; I always ended with a pile of metal scrap when I was done with a Flames of War platoon.  I'm really looking forward to quickly scraping a small mould line with these PSC and then moving on.

In Summary, The Plastic Soldier Company has produced a great set of Soviet Infantry.  With 120 figures per box you're going to get great value; many people might only need a single box.  I for one, will no longer be purchasing Flames of War Russian Infantry...  I have found my set of choice.

Zvezda 1/100 Plastic Tanks Review

I have to admit that I've been pretty excited the last few weeks with the release and availability of new 15mm and 1/100 Plastic Kits.  I reviewed The Plastic Soldier Company's 15mm T-34's earlier this week and I think they are fantastic.  Just to compare, I purchased a couple of Zvezda's new 1/100 WWII Tank kits this week off of Amazon - a German Panzer II and a Soviet T-26.  They were $7.99 each with free Prime shipping; this might seem high but was actually cheaper than the $4.99 with $5 shipping that I found on eBay and other online shops - not to mention that they arrived 1 day after ordering.

Overall I have mixed feelings about these Zvezda kits and I'll explain a bit later.  On first glance they looked like a match for Plastic Soldier Company.  The assembly was a breeze (much quicker than PSC) and the detail on the kits is similar to Plastic Solder Company's T-34.  Look at the photos to judge for yourself but I think these two lines will be very compatible with each other.

Now...  here's my concern with these Zvezda models:  the plastic material used is not on the same quality level as Plastic Soldier Company.  While PSC uses a very hard plastic that is similar to styrene (maybe it is styrene?), Zvezda uses a softer material that is glossy.  I have not yet painted either of these so to be fair it may hold paint just fine, but I wonder if there will be paint adhesion problems.  If I recall, Battlefront's Plastic tracks and details are slight glossy too...  so perhaps this is really a non issue.

The one drawback with this plastic that I did experience was the difficulty in cleaning up the mould lines.  Zvezda did do a fairly good job in hiding most of the mould lines but the ones that were visible were difficult to neatly clean.  I tried using my usual "scraper" and it just scratched and fuzzed up the plastic rather than cleanly removing the mould line.  The more I tried, the more hacked up it looked.  I tried a small jewelry file (see the T-26 below) and the plastic almost piled up.  In the end, I did get it to look ok, but it certainly was not a smooth removal of mould lines.  Does anyone have any good suggestions for cleaning Zvezda mould lines?

Overall I think these vehicles from Zvezda are ok, especially if you don't care about mould lines (and should the plastic prove painting friendly).  From my standpoint, the PSC are going to be a better option.

The Plastic Solder Company - 15mm T-34 Tank Review

If you have followed my painting for the past 5 years, you'll know that I have switched back and forth between 6mm (GHQ) and 15mm (FOW) several times.  I am all about precision and to be honest I'm not always happy with Battlefront's sculpting; that's not to say I don't like their product, it's just that I enjoy the painting and modelling aspect more than I do the gaming.  So details are important to me.

I just received an order of 15mm Soviet T-34's and Soviet Infantry (more on these in the coming days) from The Plastic Soldier Company in the UK.  At this point, I am cautiously optimistic that I have found what I'm looking for in 15mm.  Keep reading...

First off, these are hard plastic similar to what you'd see in a scale model kit.  The details are sharp and while they are not as raised or as pronounced as Battlefront's Miniatures, I think they'll work out nicely as I typically paint with an airbrush.  **UPDATE - after closer inspection, I think the details are just as pronounced, they are just more precise and so they appear more uniform and consistent on the vehicle...  definitely a Plus!**

No detail on the opposite side (except for the tracks) but no detail is needed.  I attempted to quick fit a tank and everything seems to line up precisely.  The one exception is the two halves of track...  they fit together good, but I can see them being a little fiddly to glue together.

The plastic T-34's appear to scale well with Battlefront's T-34 although they appear slightly narrower and shorter.  Hatches are actually round and fit tightly together.  Being these are plastic I'm hopeful that they'll be much easier to modify and customize.  The handrails on the turret for example could probably easily be replaced with some narrow brass rod...  there are probably more possibilities for battle damage as well in the form of holes melted with pins, etc.

So while everything seems swell so far, I do have a couple concerns.  For one, this is the only vehicle currently available in the range...  so, it'll be quite some time before there is a good selection to choose from.  At least TPSC got it right and started with a popular AFV that everyone can use (hopefully they do a Panzer IV next!)  Second, I have not glued one together yet, and I'm curious to see how everything fits...  especially the tracks.  If all glues together nicely, then I'm convinced these will be a huge hit.

I am VERY hopeful that these will take off and that The Plastic Soldier Company has more vehicles planned because I think they have a lot of potential.  I like what Battlefront and Flames of War has done for World War II gaming and painting but in my opinion they better jump on the bandwagon with Plastics or they are going to get left behind by the technology...  Again, just my personal opinion :)

**UPDATE**  I've assembled my first tank from the box and I must say that I'm impressed.  All parts fit together tightly and with no problems.  Even the tracks that I feared might be tough were pretty easy.  There are some small gaps on the ends where the tracks meet, but that should be very easy to fill in with superglue or a small bit of putty.  I think these are the real deal and I'm very pleased with my purchase.  Here's a few pictures.

Notice the tracks in the background of this photo...  the tracks layed perfectly over the road wheels like a puzzle.  Hold them in place with a little superglue for a moment or two and you're all set.

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