Sunday, 30 June 2013

Molatero mobilises! Infantry regiment raised.

"As the clouds of war muster over the continent and the covetous eyes of empires gaze upon small free nations, Molatero must mobilize in order to defend it's liberty!" Prince Regent Vallzack III to Parliament.

Three boxes of the Armies in Plastic 1/32 Russians arrived on my doorstep yesterday as I decided to step up my work on a FLW Molatero army. As previously mentioned these toy soldiers will be converted to something resembling Romanian soldiers of the 1890+ period - the nation on which I will be loosely basing mu fictional country of Molatero.

The actual title of these toy soldiers is "Boxer Rebellion Russian Army China - 1900", but as usual with Armies in Plastic sets they are simply one version of a generic type from a given period. This set exists in three different flavours to represent Russians from 1900 to the Revolution in 1917.

This version is moulded in a milky white - which is a pig to photograph by the way - and is unusual in that it included two different types of uniform in the one set. I am no expert whatsoever on the Russian military of this period, but it seems that both naval infantry and army infantry are modelled here.

The 'army infantry' with their peaked cap

The army infantry wear a peaked cap, while their naval counterparts wear a Russian style sailors hat. This might be a bit of a nuisance if you are trying to build a regiment out of the box as it means you only have half the same type of uniforms that you expected and would have to resort to conversion.

The 'naval infantry' with their sailors hat

As it happens this is of no consequence to me as all these toy soldiers will soon be decapitated as I undertake to convert them into faux-Romanians with the distinctive Romanian style field cap!

However, it does mean that I will be - once again - scrimping for the exact poses that I want despite having bought three boxes of the blighters! This is because the two units have their own officer figure, so I have ended up with a total of 10 officers in total for some reason (don't ask me how).

This means the other infantry poses are reduced in number, especially - much to my frustration - the firing poses which I prefer! In fact the AiP Russians seem to be very heavy in the charging poses and I have more than enough to make a FLW regiment out of advancing Russians.

Anyway, I will cope - I refuse to buy another box!

So - between finishing off my Burkish infantry I will be producing my test figure based on these Russians. I will be trying out Molatero colours for the uniform and a trial conversion for the Romanian hat.

Friday, 28 June 2013

And on it's way - AiP Russians!

Winging their way from Transport Models of Preston are three boxes of Armies in Plastics Boxer Rebellion Russian Army China - 1900!

This will constitute my second FLW regiment, the first of my main Molatero infantry. They will be hastily decapitated and have new heads and hats fitted to make them look more like 1900 Romanian infantry.

The picture on the left represents a Romanian infantryman of 1916. The style of the uniform had not changed drastically since the turn of the century, except they had adopted an overall dowdier field blue and putties instead of long boots. Evident is the distinctive Romanian infantry cap.

During the Balkans war of 1912 the Romanians were still wearing a uniform where the tunic and hat were royal blue with red piping, trousers were black.

Obviously while mimicking the style I will be changing the colour scheme to something incorporating the Molatero colours of black, orange and blue-violet. Perhaps along the lines of what I have already done with my Burkish infantry - violet-blue hat and tunic, with orange trousers and black boots?

I don't know if my hand is steady enough to attempt orange piping on the tunic and hat, but I can but try!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A coat of paint (get it?)

Burkish infantry part 16...
Well, it's the final large area of paint, the tunics. I painted the rifles first though so this is looking like a completed toy soldier. But not quite!

Aside from the fact I still have 18 more to get to this stage this, in fact, only marks the laying down of the base coat. In places it is still a little on the thin side with the white primer showing through - check out the grass green on the base for example - and so there will be a session of touching up to do.

The last phase will be the detailing - faces and buttons and buckles, etc - before I gloss.

I have to say that the Tamiya X-16 Purple is a lot nicer to work with, although in photos it tend to look more on the blue end of violet than the red end of the spectrum. For the rest of my Molatero regiments I may switch to Vallejo's 70811 Blue Violet which is a shade lighter and more obviously purple.

...Phew, 18 to go...18 to go...

Monday, 24 June 2013

Many moustaches, Burkish infantry fashion

Looking like a meeting of the militant section of the Chuckle Brothers league, my Burkish soldiers are taking shape...

The Tamiya orange - as I mentioned in my last post - was a nightmare, it's like painting with PVA. It dries super quick which is a real pain when you are painting a unit like this. So I am thinking of trying out Vallejo paints on my next regiment.

I am on the last large block of paint now, the purple tunics, and after that it's smaller items and then detailing.

Next regiment:
I am already putting thought to my next regiment (or is it battalion, I forget the FLW rules) and will be moving on to the Molatero main force itself. I intend two regiments of line infantry, a Guards and a Jäger. Both of these will be based on the research I have been doing on Balkans Wars uniforms with my Jägers based on Romanians of the period.

From there I will move on to my cavalry support and then finally my artillery (then start to populate my general staff and auxiliary). But that's a long time off yet, in the meantime I await pay day and then will make my order for three boxes of Armies in Plastic's Boxer Rebellion Russians which will be acting as the basis of my Jäger unit.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Painting by numbers...

Burkish Naval Infantry Part 14...Or something...
We are into the production line process now, and I'm finding it really relaxing!

You have to start by doing a little planning about your painting strategy, which layers you are going to put down in which order. The simple solution is to start on the 'bottom layer' and work up, so...

1. Flesh tones
2. Green (base)
3. Black (trousers and boots)
4. Orange (collar and cuffs and hat)
5. Purple (tunic)
6. Brown (rifle)

...Etc, etc...

Though what I am finding is that having painted the soldiers with a white primer I might have to give each layer ta couple of light coats (as the white tends to show through). But hopefully the white primer will make the brighter colours more vivid. We shall see.

Edit: (Later in the day) I'd just like to say that Tamiya's X-6 Orange acrylic is HORRIBLE to work with! :)

Friday, 21 June 2013

Burkish 1st Inf. flag finalists

Narrowing things down, my main choice now is what colour combination to go with now. The orange looks quite nice...Maybe!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Primed and ready! Burkish underclothes...

Right, *before* I get to priming the soldiers I do have to iron out any kinks in the rifles. This is the main draw back of plastic soldiers I think, all the rifles are slightly bent because of the way the soldiers were shoved in boxes.

This is easily remedied, I dunk the bent rifles in a bowl of boiling water and straighten them out and then quickly dunk them in a second bowl of cold water to reset them. Job done.

That done I gave each soldier a quick wipe down in case there was any dust or plastic bits on them and then started the first coat of primer. This was AutoTek plastic laquer for car bumpers, Tim Gow recommended this as it helps stiffen fragile parts like the rifles and keep them a bit more stiff.

Once dry I started the second primer which was a few light coats of white spray...

Well, now the intense bit - the actual painting production line!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Burkish 1st Infantry flag

As my first regiment comes along I have been putting some thought to the design of the regimental banner. The general feel is Arab-esque...

The regimental moto is an old Burkish proverb, which translates (roughly) as follows: Glass bottle bottle glass.

Edit: Played around with some additional ideas.

Cleaning up plastic soldiers

Burkish Naval Infantry Part 12 - Tidying up
This is a relatively small but quite important part of preparing plastic toy soldiers for painting - cleaning up seams and moulding marks.

Being moulded plastic figures there are signs of the process that created them, mainly in the form of  seams and little round marks which are to do with the way the moulds work (don't ask me). Were this a hard plastic kit I would be reaching for the files and sand paper, but soft plastic is a different kettle of fish...

The only paper abrasive material I find that works without chewing up
the surface too much is a very fine glass paper, but used sparingly.

Soft plastic doesn't so much sand as fray. So the better course of action is to shave the worst of the blemishes off using a very sharp hobby knife and then finish off with a very fine glass paper. I also use the oblique side of the scalpel blade which I draw over the left over marks to smooth off.

It's still not perfect by any means - but these are toy soldiers and I think having the occasional seams might actually be in keeping. I'll probably experiment with this when I move from plastic to cast metal figures.

...Anyway, 18 to do. But while I work through these I am starting to think about my next regiment and am looking for ideas based on Romanian and Balkan uniforms from the 1890-1900s.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Burkish bases, messy fun!

Part 11 (whatever!) of my Burkish naval infantry saga...
Well, with all the remaining soldiers lined up it time to add the bases. This is a nice messy bit and very relaxing - I simply glue the plastic soldiers to the little MDF bases and then add PolyFilla.

Now I found that working in threes is just enough time to lay down a rough layer of Polyfilla before it starts drying a little. By the time I have done the first layer on the second three it's dry enough to go back and start smearing out the first three. Too wet and the Polyfilla is horrible to work with - it sticks to anything - and you end up pulling off more than you put on!

So, do thing in stages and you soon get into a rhythm where the Polyfilla is just at the right consistency to work with as you complete one operation in the process. Soon you have a little production line going.

I tend to work from the outside of the base in, the last stage being the bit up to the feet which demands a little more care. Polyfilla produces a wonderfully random cracked earth effect...And it's cheap!

Music while Polyfilling? The Marriage of Figaro ("Le Nozze de Figaro"), K. 492: Act II - "Voi Che Sapete"...(Just right for slapping on stuff to!)

Boy this is relaxing. I stopped for a big mug of tea and a piece of apple strudel, ahhhhhh!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Glossing over toy soldiers!

Put the final touch to my long suffering test model and gave him a few layers of clear lacquer...

I don't know if it's just me but all of a sudden this shouts 'toy soldier'! Before I was - well, not disappointed, but I thought something was missing, but now it has all come together. Glossing your soldiers really does put the cherry on the cake!

And one more thing I changed. I have repainted the base a vivid grass green, again this seems to say toy soldier more than the dull mid-green I had before. I think that it reminds me of Britains toy soldiers?

...Oh cake! Tea and cake...

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Burkish command figures...Base coat

...Um, Part 9? Well anyway, thought I would show the converted figures in their primer coat as they look nicer that way...

Click to enlarge

The first part of this painting procedure was to spray the figures with a couple of thin coats of AutoTek Clear Laquer spray, then a couple of light coats of AutoTek White Primer.

Hopefully the white will really make the final colours pop.

...Only 18 more to go and I'll have my first FLW regiment ready to paint!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Burkish figure conversions finished

Burkish Naval Infantry project...Er, Part 8?
Well, finished the conversion of the two command figures for my infantry unit, the flag bearer and the commanding officer...

Excuse the dodgy iPhone snaps!

Obviously they will look their best when they get a coat of paint, but it's interesting to note at this stage how much work - denoted by the white Milliput - has gone into each figure. Generally I am pleased with this first attempt and it will spur me on to do more and maybe even something built from scratch.

I still have to adjust the flag pole - which is why it's a bit bent - but otherwise that's that. Now I have to base all my infantry in this unit and start the process of painting them.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A little bit of a gun nut!

My Burkish officer needed a revolver, so I made one!

...It's supposed to be a Smith & Wesson .38 (I chickened out of doing a Mauser)! I must be mad. :)

...Oh, it has no trigger or grip because it has to fit on top of his hand - which used to hold binoculars.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

(Too much...) Burkish Delight!

Burkish Infantry project - Part 3
Had a bit of a lark this afternoon playing about with putty! I wanted a distinctive and unique character for C.O. of my Burkish infantry so decided to pad out one of the officer figures I have (having used another one for the flag bearer)...

Anyhoo, short story I have the makings of a portly pasha!

Unfortunately white Milliput is a pratt to photograph, so you might not
be able to make out the folds in his new jacket or his new pot belly!

I have to say I love working with Milliput and adding a couple of stone to my officer was very easy, but then - typically - I got a bit excited (and had some Milliput left over) so I decided to have a go at a big beard too.

Any resemblance to a certain Mr. Claus is purely accidental!

I want to dress him up with some choice accoutrements, like an officers sash, belt and some medals. We'll see how that goes, but I will have to wait for his belly to dry now! Hee hee!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Burkish Naval Infantry unit - Part 2

I covered the conversion of the first of my two 'special figures' for my Burkish Naval Infantry unit in Part 1 of this series of posts. Today I will be documenting the creation of the second (and third) custom characters for my little colonial brigade.

These next conversions are based on the AiP Egyptian 1882 Soldiers in Winter Dress set, they are the officer figures and will be converted to represent my flag bearer and C.O.

Although - technically - the flag bearer would be an NCO this particular pose lends itself very well to conversion. His dynamic pose strikes the right sort of posture for the flag bearer. The one down side is that I will now have to slightly modify my officer so that the two figures are suitably distinct from each other (especially as they will appear next to each other in the ranks).

The easiest way to differentiate the poses are a change in the arms and also the gear they will be holding. Naturally I would like the officer to be brandishing a sword but the binoculars is a bit out of place (he will make a nice artillery officer though).

The flag bearer will have to undergo surgery to bring his right arm forward in order to hold the flag, while his left hand could be holding a revolver. I say revolver because it just so happens that AiP made a bit of a boo-boo and included a nice British Officer by mistake in the last pack of Egyptians I bought, so some simple transplant surgery will give me the pose I am after!

Er, the British officer threatening to shoot the Burkish soldier in the head was an unfortunate result of my not paying attention when I took the photo! But the various surgical operations necessary to convert my figures are evident...

First of all, though, I decided that my 'NCO' needed a belt and holster. Easy enough, I made the belt out of a strip of thin plasticard strip and the holster was carved from a wooden coffee stirrer and detailed with Milliput!

The left arm will be the recipient of the transplanted gun-arm from the unlucky British officer, but I wanted to change the straight arm pose. I made an armature (pun for Tim) out of a piece of brass rod and bent it into position, I then slotted onto it pieces from the original gun-arm.

The idea is that I join up the pieces with Milliput.

The right arm is the more complex, it will have to have a bend in it as he will be grasping the flag pole across his body. How realistic this will be is a matter of debate as I imagine a battle flag is a rather heavy - and in all probability a two handed - affair. But this is the wonderful world of toy soldiers after all!

Once again I started with a brass armature and used the original arm to supply the pieces required to re-construct the new pose. His original hand held the binoculars so it was already in the right grip for a cylindrical object (sort of). I would drill through the hand to facilitate the flag pole.

Sorry about the photo, but I hope this shows how I intend to create the right arm. The small wire going through the hand is not the flag pole itself, I will be slotting a larger rod onto this.

...And after some playing with Milliput...

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Quite pleased. I'm still modifying my C.O. - just to make him more of an individual character - but these two fellows should make fine additions to my colonial infantry.

The Milliput bits are a bit messy I admit, but I am banking on these smoothing out a bit - and being camouflaged - by the primer coats and then the final painting of the figures. Fingers crossed.