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Bolt Action Part Duex

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks, but I’ve made some headway on my little test squad of American troops:


Basecoated and test washes applied.

Here they are basecoated and washed. For the washes I tried 5 different ones to see how I liked them, but I can say that I don’t think that how I did the zenithal highlighting had a lot of impact here. I’m going to end up priming another figure straight black and see how he comes out as a control, however,  it’s not like rattle canning the additional colors took a lot of time, so I’m not really out of anything either.


For the colors on these guys, I went with Army Painter Army Green for the coats and Puttees, Vallejo Model Color (VMC) English Uniform Brown for the paints, VMC Iraqui Sand for the pack, VMC Pastel Green for the webbing and Leather Brown for the boots.

Now, a few of these colors I’ve gotten from the web, and others were kind of ‘eyeball to memory” trying to figure out colors from re-enactor’s gears and the such from Google Image results. I’m not happy with packs (too light) and the pants (just not close).

With that in mind, I decided to order some books from my local  library dealing with uniforms and see if I could come up with some more accurate colors. I’m not done yet, but one book that’s just jam packed with pictures is Windrow and Hawkins’: The World War II GI, US Army Uniforms 1941-45 ( I’ll probably do a blog post on just the uniform stuff I learn from there.

After I was done basecoating, I attacked them with a variety of washes, including some I made from Les Burley’s wash recipe ( I made his Soft and Heavy Body Black along with a Sepia Wash. I also used Vallejo Sepia Wash.  For the Burley Sepia wash, I tried a couple of different ink concentrations: 40 and 50 drops of the FW ink.


L-R: Vallejo Sepia, 40 Drops Burley Sepia, Soft Body Black, 50 Drops Burley Sepia and “Mix”


The Vallejo Sepia Wash worked, and would probably be fine for this, but I felt like playing around. The 40 Drop concentration of Burley Sepia wash was really light. A couple of applications would probably work OK as well. However, my goal is speed, so I I’ll probably skip this. I really liked how the Soft Body Black flowed and acted, but it was too harsh of a color. Next was a 50 drop concentration of Burley’s Sepia and this was pretty good. This maybe the way I go. The last one was a bit of a mix that I, uh forgot to write down like an idiot. Of course, I like this one a lot. I think this was the fifty-drop Sepia concentration, with some black ink mixed in. I *think* I figured it would be the fifty-drop sepia with 5 or 10 drops of black ink.

So, I need to find a better color for the packs, the pants and nail down my wash. And then I’ll be able to start.

But I am getting there, and learning quite a bit as I do so, which I consider a win.

Till next time!

More Valhallans

Part one HERE

So I got my Mad Robot Ushanka and Kurgan heads in the other day and immediately glued them to some Shock Troops.
The Kurgan helmet head (basically a Soviet SSH-40-ish helmet) fit perfectly. The Ushanka… did not. Due to the Shock Troop’s high collar, the bottom of the Ushanka hits it and makes the head stick up quite a bit. I made a greenstuff “neck” to prop it up, but I think what I’ll probably do is position the head and cut the collar down so the head fits right. But maybe not. I’m still mulling it over.


With Green stuff neck



Side-by-side with the Kurgan head. The Ushanka head is actually taller as I left more of his built in base under the feet. But I’m not sure if I see a notable enough difference.


Anyways, I’ll try cutting ones collar down and sticking a Ushanka down on that and seeing how I like it.



Valhallan Ice Warriors

So I have a ‘thing’ for World War Two  and Cold War Soviet equipment. Their rugged simplicity and reliance of quantity has always appealed to me. So it’s no wonder that I’ve always liked GW’s Valhallan Ice Warriors and their Soviet influenced design.


November 1941 Soviet army parades in Red Square before battle with Germany

Between the greatcoats and the Ushankas (fur hat), the Valhallan’s are dripping with Soviet imagery. It doesn’t hurt that the Imperial Guard has a bit of a resemblance to the Red Army, what with it’s Commissars and reliance on sheer numbers.

Anyways, a few months ago I saw an ebay listing for four of these, loving the BMP-1 look I put a ridiculousness small bid on them…and won them all for the princely sum of $20 (The casting is beautiful on them, by the way).


From Ratgard’s site



Since I now had a suitable transport for some Valhallans, I figured I should probably get some troops.

The good news is that they are still available on GW’s website, but they aren’t really cheap, not-quite twice the price of a squad of Cadians, so I was hopeful I could find something else.

I really liked the look of Mad Robot’s Kurgan but they we just as expensive as the GW stuff, though they are a multi-part kit, which has a lot of advantages.


So I kind of just sat on the idea for my Valhallans. I occasionally would check ebay, but that’s about it.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a couple of boxes of Wargames Factory Shock Troops (AKA Greatcoat Troopers) for dirt cheap, two boxes of 18 for $30. I figured if nothing else, I could use them somewhere and threw my money at the seller.


Doing some research, I discovered that Cadian arms are a direct swap, giving the figures a cheap and easy method of matching GW’s weapon aesthetic.

At this point, I still hadn’t thought to use the WGF Shock Troops as Valhallans, and was just figuring I’d use them as either conscripts of maybe a future Blood Pact force.

Then yesterday, while I was looking over some Soviet Bolt Action minis (because I need another army for another game…)  I discovered these:


These guys are Soviet Assault Engineers and they were equipped with with a primitive steel body armour (not unlike World War One German Storm Trooper armor). It turns out that the WGF Shock troopers have molded on body armor not dis-similar to the above. Which is what made me realize I’d found my Valhallans.

Now, the basic troopers are pretty simple, with only a couple of poses, but they are well cast and with Cadian arms, will—I think—offer a good compromise. I splurged on some Ushanka heads from Mad Robot (like the head of the above ‘Kurgan’) and I think they will be easily recognizable as Valhallans and as their weapons will be Cadian, table top usage should be fairly problem free.

Of course this solution isn’t without issues as it turns out Warlord is taking over distribution of the old Wargames Factory line. When I messaged them asking if the Shock Troops would be re-released along with the historical ranges, I was told they would not be. Which means they may get harder to find. Luckily, as I’m using different arms and heads, there are some bits dealers selling the bodies, but I have no idea what the demand is for these guy, but we’ll see.

Now all I have to do is build a T34/76-esque turret (easier to tell what it’s supposed to be evoking rather than the /85) for my Leman Russes…



Single Magnet Magnetizing

So while I was looking over my box of Scions, I noticed that the “Tempestor” (basically the squad sergeant) has quite a few arm options—options that begged to be magnetized.

Now I’ve magnetized a couple of Leman Russes, but doing something as small as a figure is a totally different ball game. I have a sample set of magnets that do have some reallllly tiny ones in them,so I was ok on the front. However, while I was looking of the model, I began asking myself why everybody always uses two magnets? While I know it probably makes the joint fairly strong, it seemed overkill—especially for something like an arm (however, please correct me if I’m over looking something). Plus there is that whole polarity thing, which has caught me once before.

So, I decided to do some SCIENCE! and see if there was a way I could get away with just using one magnet for the joint.

Idea 1: Metallic Epoxy

OK, so this wasn’t a completely honest effort—more curiosity than anything.

So, uh, ferro-epoxy?

So, uh, ferro-epoxy?

First thing first, WEAR GLOVES with this stuff (I know I always should, but, you know…). Anyways, this stuff STINKS. And the smell doesn’t come off for quite sometime.
Otherwise, this stuff is an epoxy putty, but it’s already kinda pre-mixed. You just cut a chunk off and work it till its all one (stinky) uniform color.

After it hardened I was absolutely floored that it actually had some (incredibly small) magnetic properties. My little rare earth magnet tugged ever so gently towards the lump of cured epoxy, and stayed put when I set the magnet on it. Now, it’s not going to hold anything on, or anything like that, it’s a verrrrrrrrrry weak bond and wont do anything for us. But, like I said, I was surprised there was actually enough metal content in the putty to do anything at all.

Look Ma, no hands!

Look Ma, no hands!

Idea 2: Nail Head

I found a pack of small nails that had a really small diameter head that was also quite thin. I was looking for tiny washers when I came across them. Turns out they were way smaller than any washer the store had, so I picked them up.

Nailed it!

Nailed it!

The head is about 3mm in diameter and half a mm thick.
I was an idiot on the initial try and placed the the entire nail on the arm, thinking it would be easier to cut the head off after the glue had dried.


Because it’s still a nail and kind of hard, when I used my wire cutters to cut the stem off, it broke the nail loose. Also, unless you have better wire cutters then I do (or find a softer nail) you’re probably going to leave a bit of a nub on the head, but that’s ok! I just drilled ever so slightly into the limb we’re magnitizing and basically pinned the nail head onto the arm. I think that will actually help the nail head stay on. I’m sure you could file the stem nub off if you so desire.

And because the nail head is so thin, you really don’t have to counter sink it into the limb if you don’t want to, which can save a fair amount of work.

So how did it work? Perfectly. I was able to pick the Scion up with the arm and even after flicking my wrist a bit, everything stayed stuck together.



Idea 3: Magnetic Sheet

Don't tell my wife I "borrowed" this. Please?

Don’t tell my wife I “borrowed” this. Please?

This stuff actually worked better than I thought it would. I just cut a small bit out and superglued it to the powerfirst arm, and it stuck. Now, I couldn’t pick the mini up with that arm, but I don’t see it just falling off in a game either.

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!


The Ferro-Epoxy is not going to do anything for you except stink up your hands, avoid this unless you need a super weak bond that can’t do anything.
On the other hand, the nail head is perfect, not a lot of prep work, no polarity to worry about messing up and it was dirt cheap—like a $1.50 for a couple or dozen. It was also more than strong enough.
Finally the magnetic sheet worked ok, as the arm stayed put, but really didn’t like to be handled. On the plus side, polarity wasn’t an issue, so that’s helpful (and maybe kind of weird—much like ICP, I’m not sure how magnets work). I could maybe see it being useful if you had a weird shape to magnetize, cutting the sheet would be pretty easy to match a shape and it’s fairly thin, so you wouldn’t need to counter sink it.

I’m sure someone(s) have already posted something like this, but I couldn’t find it, though there was no easy way to search—everything came back with two magnets, which is why I’m calling this single magnet magnetizing.


If you play Imperial Guard you know how much the Imperium loves the rivet. There must be entire Forge Worlds dedicated to turning the things out, judging by their prodigious use on everything.



I’ve struggled for some time to get rivets that look right. Slicing .05 rod gave almost the right diameter, but the length was hard to keep consistent and it was a cylinder shape, not the correct dome shape that GW’s stuff has. For a lot of people that’s ok, as each rivet is fairly small, and really it’s a rather nit-picky detail.

I also bought a special tool from a model show that was a series of punches that I was told would make good rivets from thin metal sheeting. There you had both the diameter and thickness correct, but you’re still missing the dome shape. It was also kind of a pain to punch through the foil with out a small hammer and a rubber backing to punch through to. It has other uses, but if I had taken a minute to really look, I’d have realized this wasn’t what I wanted.

Finally a few months ago I heard about Tichy Train Group and their line of rivets. They offer a bunch of different diameters and, more importantly for me, the correct dome shape. I finally took the plunge last Friday and ordered some .04 and .05 diameter rivets (to see which is actually closer to what is on the majority of IG stuff, see below) and some bigger hex head pieces. You get 96 for $3, or about $.03/pc.

They showed up on Monday morning—that’s some quick shipping!

The rivets are made of brown injection molded styrene and come on a sprue. They are shanked, so to mount the rivet, you can drill (1/32 drill bit is what the package said for the 3 different sizes I ordered) a hole, apply a tiny amount of plastic glue and drop the rivet in.

Hex stem sprue

Hex stem sprue

You could also just as easily cut the head off and just glue that to the surface of what you’re riveting up (though it’s a pain to move around due to its size).

As you can see (please ignore the misalignment…) they look pretty good when installed:

Yea, yea, I'll fix it.

Yea, yea, I’ll fix it.

A quick note about cutting: I’d recommend placing the sprue in a small bag before you cut so the rivets don’t go flying—kind of like cutting photoetch.

Anyways, back to size, and it looks like the .040 rivets are right about perfect.

.040 compared to Chimera glacis plate.

.040 compared to Chimera glacis plate.

.040 on Leman Russ turret.

.040 on Leman Russ turret.

Now there are plenty of other ways to makes rivets, and if I hadn’t gone with Tichy, I would have gone with one of two others:

The first is the water filter method. Brita (and I’m sure other) filters use a combination of activated charcoal and tiny round spherical…somethings to do their filtering. The spherical somethings turn out to be about the perfect size (and shape!) to make rivets. You break open one of those filters, grab out the white spheres and viola! Rivets. You’ll need to drill a slight depression on the surface so you get the proper rivet shape, but a really good solution. Here is a really solid tutorial.

The second method is Archer Fine Transers . Archer goes about things a bit differently, basically making a 3-D decal that you attach to you model. They make a lot of cool things including foundry marks for historic models as well as welding beads. Trying to find the right size rivet is a bit more difficult, but depending on exactly what your looking for, either the G-Scale railroad rivets for 7/8th (.034 actual size) or the 1.25 (which isn’t listed a size but should be right around .04″) would work.

Hopefully this helps someone with riveting related issues!

Airbrushing craft paints

Craft paints (Apple Barrel, Delta Creamacoat and others)  are a bit of a red-headed step child (my apologies to any red-headed step children) of the model and miniature world. Some painters hate them, while others adore them. Personally, I simply see them as another tool in the box. Are they perfect? No. But they do have a lot going for them.

Their first advantage is cost. Usually under $2 for a couple of ounces is pretty cheap by anyone’s standards, especially when compared to Vallejo, Tamiya or Games Workshop.  They are also far more available then usual  modeling paints. While all craft stores stock at lease one brand (and usually many more), even Wal-Mart and Target stock some, meaning the vast majority of the American population can get their hands on them pretty easily.  There is also a huge color selection. Although not usually matched to any other manufacture’s colors, it’s pretty easy to eyeball a suitable match.

For me, their biggest handicap has always been airbrushing them. They’re so thick (and ‘soft’)that I could never get them to spray right.

Until I was perusing the Starshipmodeler forums and saw a post by Mr. Kenny Haverly and his mix for airbushing craft paints.  After some email correspondence, Mr. Haverly was gracious enough to share his recipe here.

Here’s my recipe for using Liquitex stuff to airbrush craft paint.  It is the best recipe and possibly most economical when you consider opacity, price of the medium and Flow Aid:

For airbrushing paint:
24 parts Liquitex airbrush medium
11 parts Liquitex flow Aid
11 parts Water
7 parts paint (bear in mind it’s thick, making the ratio so skewed in the favor of medium and solvent).  It airbrushes best at around 20 psi.  But, if your brush can shoot them, you can get fine lines at around 13-to-15 psi if you increase the medium a bit in the mixture.

I want to re-emphasize what I have said before; you must strain the paint before shooting.  That’s a lot of what you are paying for with any high-end paint – finely processed pigments.  Stockings kind of work but you will lose a lot of solvent and medium in the process.  The best are the strainer funnels available from Micro-Mark.  I use them to strain everything I shoot – Tamiya, Vallejo or Apple Barrel – with the exception being clearcoats and metallics.

For airbrushing Liquitex matte:

Same as above EXCEPT instead of 7 parts paint you have 14 parts Liquitex Matte Varnish

Some other notes:

Delta Ceramcoat matte can be airbrushed right out of the bottle and gives a dead, flat coat.  I discovered this by accident a few weeks ago.  Best of all, it is easy to clean.  I was using an Iwata HP-CH at 20-to-22 psi.

After seeing his work, I’m a believer.

This is just the ticket for larger miniatures, or you’re painting a large army; craft paint sure beats the $4+ per 1/2 oz price of those ‘name brands’.

And here is a link to Mr. Haverly’s photobucket page here, of which Mr. Haverly has this to say:

All of the models on my photobucket page, starting with 2006 are airbrushed using the things – which is every one I’ve taken a merit or bronze on at WF.  I also use Vallejo and Tamiya alongside them about as much as the cheap stuff.  Put another way, I don’t think about brand anymore, just color or sheen.

Photos aren’t the best but I point it out so people know how good they look and that they’re indistinguishable from the good stuff.

Just a quick update:

Still here, just real life keeping me occupied.

Anyways, I’m working on a cool story about airbrushing craft paints that I picked up from another modeler, I should have that up this weekend.

A couple of cool products I’ve seen in the mean time though:

The first is: ComposiMold, which is a reusable mold making material to cast your own parts. The review in the January ’14  Finescale Modeler looks promising. Once I get some time, I’ll do a side by side with the more conventional RTV usually used for resin casting.

The other is the Glue Looper. It replaces the blade on your trusty hobby knife and allows more precision for superglue application then a toothpick or pin. Truth be told, I’ve never been able to consistently apply superglue with a toothpick. I try, it looks like nothing got applied, so I do more and then BAM! super glue ball of doom. It’s all very traumatizing…


Stay Tuned!