Monday, May 30, 2016

Bolt Action Battle Report: USSR vs USA

Been a while since I have posted up some battle reports.. mostly cause it has been a while since I have played any games.

But thankfully new blood is getting into the game, and thus new opportunities to play ( and not having to resort myself to going to tournaments to play more games ).

This time is was a new Russian force vs my American force. My Americans force was basically the same list I had taken to a recent tournament in Brighton where it got a tied 6th placing with 2 wins and a third game loss.

It consisted of:
- 2x 2nd Lieutenants Reg
- 2x M16 Reg
- 3x 8 USMC w/3 SMG, 3 Shotguns, 2 Pistols, Reg
- 8 USMC w/3 BARs, 1 SMG, Reg
- 9 USMC w/3 BARs, 1 SMG, Reg
- 2x Wardog teams
- 3x Jeeps with MMGs

All in 1000 pts.

The Russians had:
- Junior Lieutenant, w/2 troopers, inexp.
- 3 units of Inexp.
- 2 units of Veterans
- 2 Anti tank rifles
- 1 sniper
- Medium Mortar
- Armored car with Light AT gun/LMG, and LMG
- Tank with Medium AT/Light Howitzer

The mission was Top Secret.. a great one for us as neither of us had any transports. So this was going to be quite the bloodbath in the middle as infantry units scramble to kill each other to capture it. The big blue dice being the objective here, and turn counter at the same time!

Since everything is in reserves, it makes things more interesting to see how it all comes out on the table. For me I focused a lot of troops on my right, behind cover where possible. My Jeeps trying to set up to make some good fire lines as well, and my M16 that did get on the board ( the other had engine troubles apparently and stayed off a turn ) would attempt to hold things down near the objective.

Problems arise right in the beginning though with the AC from the Russians immobilising my M16 where it was and putting quite a few pins on it.

The Russians were for the most part unscathed, except for a pin or 2 on the mortar team from the MMG Jeeps.

Turn 2 saw a lot of advancing. I had a plan on how to deal with this, as I have played this scenario a few times now and seen the best ways to approach it. I knew I would need to swarm the objective as much as possible, and to create levels for him to go through to grab it. That and being able to hand it off between units later on would be required as well.

So my Marine units on my right move up, supported by the dog, and Lieutenant. My second M16 rolls on, and another unit sits between them. The Bar unit in the middle displaces itself from cover, and the last Marine unit hops into the next building closest to the objective. With the dog team and commander creeping up on the objective to nab it in turn 3.

For the Russians, he is still a bit a ways back, which is smart. He is setting up some nice gun sightlines to the objective and waiting to cause maximum damage to me when I pounce on the thing. though his shooting is largely ineffective at this range with all the inexp troops he has, and his veterans being also out of range for the most part ( many SMGs and Panzerfausts kicking around there ).

Turn 3.. the trap is sprung! My boys race towards the objective, swarming all angles around it. Creating a nice opportunity for him to kill a lot of things.. however he then brings his AC a bit too close and blocks a lot of the firing chances here!

My newly brought on M16 did go boom however from his AT guns, while my Jeeps whittle down his right flank slightly. Not enough to do a lot of damage but enough to cause some issues.

And my Marines set up for a huge game of pass, with the hopes for a Turn 4 victory. Lieutenant to BAR unit, to SMG unit to off the table is the plan for Turn 4.. and one that my opponent is only beginning to realize the idea of..

Turn 4.. plans are put into motion.. but as soon as the first hand off occurs.. my opponent realizes in fear what I have set up, and scrambles to get them stopped! Pumping a lot of shots into the furtherest unit but only after they received the objective there. Putting just 1 pin on the unit.. which turns out to be just enough to make them fail their ability to move, and going down instead! The Russians have ensured that the objective is no longer going off on Turn 4, and have pushed the game to a potential tie now..

So in panic mode I began to pile even more troops into the middle to try to create a way to block him from getting to my units, and am hoping that I can find a way to get that unit with the objective moving once more.

Turn 5.. Well seems the Russians were a bit overzealous in their attempt to add more pins to the unit with the objective, and instead of adding pins, wiped them out completely. Leaving the objective now in the open near 3 full units ( 1 USMC unit, and 2 Lieutenants ) to pick up at the end of the turn.

A mad scramble to block his troops further goes into play here, with us checking if his Armored Car could run me down, but alas it was not to be. Though it didn't help any that the M16 just put 5 pins on it thanks to a lot of glancing hits and shaken results...

It was at this point that although there as much blood spilt in the center, it was just a point of moving my unit off the table with the objective on Turn 6, to which I received the first pin.

A very close game, and a nice back and forth happening there. Looking forward to the rematch tomorrow.. but will be bringing out the Canadians at the Russian players request. So should be seeing a few more veterans on the table, and a lot less troops.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Rubicon Stuart Painting...

So after spending a bit of time away from the painting table doing actual painting, I figured it would be good to get back at it. And the urge to paint came quick and fast this last week, and with the Rubicon models in arms reach they were the first victim.

I will preface this with not only were they within arms reach to inspire me to paint them, but watching how the Rubicon Community Manager had gone and painted up the M10 Achilles on YouTube was also motivation to do mine up.

Now I do not have all the colors nor paints ( regular or special ) go along step by step with Jamie here. Though I did have some greens, and some of my other armor books to make a go at it.

One of the biggest advantages on this vehicle compared to the others was mentioned in the Stuart review already here.. and that was that it is built to be painted in parts. Which is great for me as I love the ability to get into some of the harder to reach places at times, but only if I can do it without having to worry about glue lines to fix later on.

No worry with that here, and so i was able to prime up the vehicle in a dark grey, and white overspray to each part. Jamie had used a pure grey on his, but I liked that this would give me some extra contrast to begin with, or at least that was the plan.

I then tackled all the lower edged areas with a darker green. Can't remember the color, but it was darker except on the white sections obviously. Already I am messing up the painting of this tank, and I have just laid down the first color.. typical Mr Lee approach :D

Here I skipped one of the chances for a photo, but you can see that I laid down a brighter green in the areas that were left before. And then all the rubber, or grates, or metal areas were laid down with some Tamiya Grey. I normally would have gone with a straight black, but more and more I am seeing people use a dark to mid grey here and darkening them up later on. So I thought why not attempt to go the same.. worst case I mess it up more later on right? :D

The 2 tones were not as good as I had hoped at this point so I would attempt to add a bit of Sunny Skintone to the green to brighten it up for a highlight.. it didn't work really... But the theory behind it is still sound though :D

So to correct some of my issues with the color modulation that I was attempting here, I layered on some gloss varnish, and then began to apply some oil paint. First my notorious black oil wash. Which darken up the sections between panels, and the grey areas quite nicely.

I then pull out the brightest yellow I have in my oil collection, and begin to place dots of it onto the upper most top sections of the vehicle where it would be bright anyways. And then took a big flat dry brush and rubbed it into the paint. Much better result here for me and gave the look I was aiming for. And the black wash helped to dirty up the grey sections like the tracks and rubber on the track wheels.

I had left it for a bit, and then re-varnished it to seal in the oil colors. Letting that all dry up before attempting the decals. Something that I normally avoid like the plague, but this time thought why not give it a go. This was a test tank anyways to me, but it was coming out much better than I thought it would be going, so best to keep it on going.

The stars came out ok, but the first Vehicle ID tag got all tangled up and muddled before it even left the sheet.. I should have stopped there and picked another one, but I kept on going with it. Meh.. It was looking very very bright to me though at this point, and I was not sure if I liked them, but I was willing to give them a go anyways.. so why not.

After yet another layer of gloss varnish to seal in the decals, Including some additions like the one on the turret and the weight number on the front left corner, I could begin to weather it up a bit.

Idea here was to begin with some chipping using a sponge. Starting with some German Camo Brown, and then some black to give it a bit of variation. I even put in some Black Metal from Scale75 to the last bits to give an extra rubbed metal look to the section.

Once this was a bit more dried up, I then was searching through my boxes for some sort of enamel paints to add a bit more weathering to the piece. I know that Jamie had used MIG for some rain marks on it, but I don't have any MIG products ( terrible I know.. ).. but I did have some Humbral Brown Enamel paint kicking around. So I began to streak that out over the sides, and move it into the crevices throughout the piece. Again taking a flat splayed brush to rub it in so that it was a bit more worn instead of fresh looking. Am quite happy with this part, and it helped to cover up the muck up of the decal, and tone them down a lot more also! Huzzah, result!

I still need to add some weathering to the tracks with pigments I believe, but I am holding off on that at the moment as I am not sure how I want to tackle it just yet.

After all is said and done though, I think I am enjoying doing the vehicles once more, and might even attempt to update or correct some of my older American vehicles which do not look as good as this one at the moment. Which is not surprising considering that I painted them all in 2 days compared to the 4 nights on this one single vehicle :)

Hope you enjoyed this.. and catch you all in the new week!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review Thursday: Rubicon Sherman

POW POW! Last tank up for review now.. this time the M4A3 Sherman Tank from Rubicon. A vehicle that if anyone from my club knew I had another one of these up to be painted, then they might be getting more than a bit upset. Considering how powerful and versatile they are in the game, and more so when upgraded to a veteran level.

Triple sprues, instructions and transfer. Not surprising after all the kits now. And quite the variety of parts available within.

Not surprising we can see that there are 2 separate turrets, and 3 options for which barrel it has. Making the Sherman as expected, the most versatile tank available for the Allies ( in my opinion at the very least! ).

I built up the 76mm turret first as this is one of the few that I do not already have ( running 4 75mm Shermans is already impressive ), so a 76mm even more powerful version is even cooler!

However I then see the first problem with the kit. There was only a single turret ring, and commander hatch. So although the options exist to make 3 different versions of the tank exist, you are stuck with only a single version ( unless your good with plasticard to make both missing parts ).

As far as putting the body of the Sherman together, it was a lot simpler than the warlord one. Though with less details, and I suspect that the version of Shermans are a bit different.

Though I did like that the lights had grooves cut into the hull for them to sit on instead of having to drill holes to get them to fit into on the Warlord.

I will acknowledge that I made a mistake on the assembly, but also that it didnt seem to fit the other way. The front sloped section is actually upside down in the photo. Not the end of the world, as I will probably add some extra stowage around it as well. I will load them up like the Warlord versions, but will stock up the front also.

All up together with the 76mm turret in place.. quite lovely tank, and one that will be popping Axis tanks soon enough if all goes well ;) Though I might paint it in Africa campaign colors instead of Pacific or European camo. And if doing so, then I guess wooden sides will not be needed as much..

The immediate things I can see differently between the Rubicon and Warlord plastic Shermans, is that the Warlord one is wider. The turret is also thicker on the warlord version, but I chalk that up to it being a different variant overall compared to what Rubicon had decided to put together.

But looking at the resin version from Warlord compared to Rubicon they seem to be similar variants of the Sherman. Though the biggest difference between them ( and this is suffered with the Warlord plastic also ) is that the resin version rides higher. Mostly due to the way that the tracks are cast up and made to attach to the hull.

The Rubicon Sherman has some extra stowage for the back compared to the Warlords resin. And the plastic has no spotlight unlike the resin copy on the 75mm turret. And the front MMG sticks out more on the plastic than on the resin.

Overall I think I prefer the Rubicon Sherman ( again ) though the fact that some conversion work is needed to make it more modular is a bit of a let down. Though considering that Warlords sell each tank individually for the variants ( 75mm ver 76mm ) this is kind of a moot point ( but one that Rubicon have done well with in the past on other kits like the Crusader or Stuart ).

There is no price difference between the plastic kits ( both retail for 20 GBP ), though the resin version is still going for 23 GBP. So if you want to compare them I would do it as such:

  • Plastic to plastic, same cost, but the Rubicon is miles easier to assemble. 
  • Plastic to Resin, Resin is easier to assemble, but costs 3 GBP more
Therefore for me, the Rubicon wins due to being the middle ground for ease of assembly, and for being the same price point as the cheaper Warlord option. All this not taking into considering any local club or store promotions or discounts that may or may not be available on any or all of the above kits. 

Overall I hope that you have enjoyed this mini-series of Tank reviews from Rubicon. I have had a good time putting them together, and realize that I need to take more breaks while doing so as so not to mess up or seemingly glue random parts in the wrong order ( even if the instructions are easy to read ). 

If I were to pick a favourite out of the bunch it would be the Stuart overall. Ease of use, cheapest to buy, and just a lot of potential on it there. If the Sherman is ever to get redone ( as to make it so that multiple turrets are able to be assembled and used with it ) then I suspect many more of them might be picked up at some point. Though I did hear a rumour that the M10/M36 kit has the ability to create both turrets, and that the M36 turret might fit nicely on top of this here. Of course this might be a rumour so I guess I might need to pick one up to just confirm that as much as I can :D

Any other tanks or vehicles out there that you think I should pick up for my Americans, Canadian Commonwealth or Japanese forces? Let me know, and I will add them to my list for potential reviews in the future. But for now.. off to go POW POW with my latest editions and see if the rest of the club likes the new armor :D

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review Tuesday: Rubicon M3 Half Track

Review number 3 for Rubicon is now hitting the blog. And this is more a transport than a tank I know, but I am just lumping them all together.

I really was looking forward to this one as I already have 2 of the Warlord plastic Half tracks, and they were not as easy to put together.

Within the box, there were a surprise to be had. The outer hull of the body is a single cast piece of plastic. HUZZAH! Considering how badly I botched up this section of the warlord version, and had to shave down sections to make them flush. I was already quite happy with this kit and I had not even stripped out the plastic bags on the sprues yet.

It is nice to see that there are only 2 sprues, the body shell, instructions, and transfers.

Single body frame.. so great!

Quite a lot of pieces here which is always nice to have, especially with the hull shell already being one piece!

I skipped the steps about the under chassis for photos unfortunately.. guess I was too excited with how fast it was getting built up!

To be fair, the parts I had put together at this point were the straight frame for the wheels and tracks. Both of which went together real well. The tracks were just 2 parts that went together simply.

The hull section required some work for the seating arrangement. Mostly just putting the dashboard and steering wheel together, then adding it to the under frame. The hull slips over on top of it, and then the front hood/cowl goes in easy.

And in the back, the benches were just a U-shaped piece that slipped right in.

Lots of gubbins to be added at this point. The gas cans on the front sides, the tow cable bumber, the front grill with lights attached ( great feature here as it made assembly easier ).

There are some instructions on how to make a glass windshield from clear plastic, but I opted for the armored covering instead. Made the attaching of the top cage for the HMG much easier.

The back of the seats along the inside of the transport were given a few choices. I went with ones that had some radio equipment inserted along with it. There were some antennas or what not associated to them, but I cut them down due to making life easier when it came to transporting them later on.

I will make a comment at this point though.. There is a bit of a gap behind the seats where it might attach to the inside walls. Not quite sure why this is though the warlord one has the same thing also, but much more narrow than Rubicon.

The greatest option here on this kit though is the pieces on the back of it. You can have either some extra storage boxes, or flip the racks up. Also the back door can be left open or closed.. which is a nice option.

There are a driver and passenger model to go with the kit, but I will state that they are not the best sculpted/cast pieces. I have left them off my transport, and I think I will be looking at some Warlord metals to fill them in, if I want to have any figures riding inside the transport anytime soon.

Seeing the comparisons between them both though, you can notice that they are pretty similar, with but a few exceptions.

On the Warlord it did come with more gubbins for on the side of the half track there. But the pieces for the Rubicon seems to be fitting better and make more sense of where they go. Which is nice.

Oh and the steering wheel on the Rubicon is more pronounced, and once I find a better fitting driver for it, I think it will work out nicely.

And that's 3 down, with only the Sherman left to go. Just have to figure out how I will be painting them all up, and if I can do a better job than previous tanks/transports. Hope you like it, and comment to let me know if you want to see more of such reviews in the future!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review Thursday: Rubicon Stuart

The second of 4 reviews to come from the Rubicon tanks that I received from Jamie. Speaking with Jamie about it, it seems that this kit is at the behest of the community. Something that had a bit more variety than the ones that exist from other companies today, and Rubicon listened!

I will preface this one with.. I love this kit. But let me go into detail on why.. and understand that now I am looking at how to put more of them into my lists moving forward :D

Am also going to say that this is the only kit that I do not have from Warlords already to compare against.

Right away we can see this to be a simpler kit as there are only 2 sprues, the instructions, and transfers.

Right away for some reason I switched up to build the turret first. I had the option for a closed hatch,but decided to keep it open. I like the idea of a commander sticking out of it. Something of the light tanks having someone popping out of them is always fun, and you see them a lot in the photos.

The gaps though on the top there will be needing some filling. Probably the only part I am not the happiest about to be fair. But a simple fix all the same.

The tracks were pretty straightforward to assemble as well. I like that there is so much details even on the inside sections which will never be seen, but add so much to the kit. It is why I love this kit the most out of the 4 ( shhh forget this point when I write up the next 2 :) ). But I will explain on why I love it the most after the next parts are shown..

But seeing each section of the track undercarriage, with each going together really easy. Hardest part is probably the end spoke gears, and that was based on how they were attached to the sprues. But a sharp knife can cut them clean.

The parts for the lower half of the tank fit like a glove, and the lower section is there for if you want to take it as a kangeroo recce instead of the turret variety. Allowing you to put some models standing up perhaps there?

But at this point I was seeing that I could keep the tracks off for a bit until I got the top part done and if I could paint it in sub-assembly pieces.

All together... many little pieces requires for the front of the hull there. Everything was a bit snug overall, but fit nicely overall.

But this is what I love about this kit so much is that the pieces all are able to work separately, allowing for the chance to paint each section with greater detail. Something that the other kits might take a liking to actually and make it so that some truly great paint jobs can be made from them ( not mine, but maybe Jamie's? ). But also means that you can paint the inside sections for the variants easy enough, and enhance the quality of the piece quite a bit!

The only thing I have not assembled so far however is the Kangeroo variant ring that consists of an HMG and 3 MMGs. Might have to check the rules on how that might work out, and if it is any good in game.

Here it is sitting beside the Crusader from the same company. However if I were to do a comparison to the Warlords version I would have to say categorically that this one will win out.

Why? Well cause with, again, the variants of it gives it more flexibility. But when looking at the costs of it, you can get it for 18 gbp at North Star Figures or get the static resin copy from Warlords for 21 gbp. Seems like a no brainer for me here.. and one that I suspect you will see more of these gracing my desk in the near future. Just have to figure out how to use these vehicles, and where to use them in a tank wars list ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review Tuesday: Rubicon A15 Crusader

So while at Salute, I had the chance to get to know a Mr Normski Ealand who is on good terms with the Community Sponsor of Rubicon Miniatures, Jamie Tranter. it was not long after Salute that we got to speaking, and he was asking if I was up for doing some reviews of their range of tanks! If was from these chats that I suggested to compare some of the Rubicon vs Warlord options.. so Jamie had a look through my collection and picked a few that I had already with that in mind.

First up then is the A15 Crusader. A staple for the British forces in Africa and Sicily campaigns. I have already picked up and assembled 2 of these from when Warlords had their Africa army deals going, that included a tank. And I just so happen to choose the A15 each time.

I will preface this review that that Warlord one is the resin version that is currently available, so to compare it completely is like red apples to green apples. Similar but not fully the same. Considering that the Warlords version is majority resin, so theirs was a bit easier to assemble, but the customization of it is where it lacks. But we will see that as we move through the assembly process.

I do like that on the back of the box there are some variations to the paint schemes that one might use. Which helps me a bit, and I might actually use the Mk II scheme shown above for these and a few of the others.

Cracking open the box we can see 3 separate sprues here. Along with the instruction booklet, and a transfer sheet as well.

What is immediately evident is that there are enough turrets to do 3 different variants within this kit. I have to say right away that is amazing to have this, and makes the kit much more versatile overall.

Jumping straight into the assembly process now.. the tracks were pretty straightforward to put together. And the way that they go onto the tank they can be painted separately as well, though this can/will cause a problem later on.

Putting the body of the tank together was very easy. I can already see a few changes in the scale and the design of the Rubicon vs Warlord here. The engine mounts at the end corners are a bit smaller and thinner than that on the Warlord version. The end fuel tank is also one that is optional compared to moulded on. There are also more containers on the sides here on the Rubicon version, making it look more like it has been on campaign longer or will be at least.

Now I made my first major mistake while assembling this tank when I got to the Turrents.. one of the biggest things I should be realizing now is to stop making models so late at night, as I would then be prone to making mistakes.

The first being that I had not read the instructions as well as it should have been. I had thought that either of the Mk I or Mk II turrets could be made into a command turret, but I learned that the hard way when the command hatches did not fit the Mk I turret. And I then also dropped one of the hatches inside, loaded with superglue, and therefore lost it :D Means I will be needing to convert the other turret later on then :D

I switched up to the AA Turret then, and I have to say that this is a nice piece of kit with it all. I had to ask about which variant of the Crusader this would be for, and found it to be the Crusader III AA Mk I/II. Will have to research it a bit more to see where or how I can use it properly.. but it looks like a nice piece of kit to either tackle airplanes, or take out veteran infantry/light vehicles.

As you can see, thanks to the common way of putting turrets on tanks, both can be swaped out easily enough. Just have to ensure that I paint them both similarly enough to work well here.

The giant hole near the front there is for the front mounted MMG turret. I will most likely glue it in and for whatever variant does not use it, I will just state that it is broken then :D

As for comparisons here.. you can see from the shots here there are a few differences.

The width of the warlord is a bit bigger or looks it. The side armor sections are thicker than the Rubicon plastic variety. Though the Warlord resin also has more details on the front grill section it seems ( more tow hooks there ). But is missing the spare track links that Rubicon adds. Oh and the Warlord one has less containers running along the sides armor sections.

Here is something interesting.. the Rubicon turret feels wider and bulkier. Not fully sure if it is just a looks thing or a reality. The barrel of the turret however is thinner, but that it the benefit of plastic over resin. Whereby the resin has to be thicker to be safer, compared to the strength of the plastics that can be thinner but less likely to break.

The spotlight on the resin is a bit bulkier as well, which I don't think it is required to be, but the Rubicon one is a bit nicer, and more to scale.

Again with the comparison of the bodies here, we can see more closely the differences. The resin Warlord copy ( in white in case people are wondering at this time still ), is pulling some more details on things like the engine/fuel compartment boxes near the back there. But I can't help but think that the Rubicon is more to scale overall. Since they are in Plastic, and have the chance to really take advantage of that by making sure all aspects of the tank is in proper scale to each other.

The only complaint I will make on the Rubicon, would be the same on the Warlord version. That the top aspect of the hull, and thus the side tracks cant be kept to be assembled after the bottom half, and tracks, are painted. Or done in sub assembly. Which will make the painting process for the tracks quite the nightmare as many sections of them are obscured just enough to cause problems, but not enough to be ignored. This is why at the moment I have not gone and put them on the Rubicon kit yet, as I will try to work some sort of plan out with them. See if I can make it work ( maybe trim the plugs a bit for the tracks so I can slide them under the side skirts ).

In the end, which would I suggest or favour over the other?

Well the Warlord version is much easier to put together. I mean it only took me half an hour to clean and prep before the super glue came out. And there is minimal issues with assembly as there are not so many parts to go with it overall. Also when I was picking it up, you could get it in the bundle kit for the Allied Forces for Africa so the price was reduced as part of the package. But taking that aside it is 21 gbp retail as can be seen from this link here. But it is chunky, though solid. There will be some issues with the paint coming off from rubbing more so than with the plastics depending on how well you clean off the mould release as well.

With the Rubicon kit, the assembly process will take you a lot more time. I think this took me about 2 hrs with taking photos and trying to concentrate ( which didn't always pan out considering the issue I had with the turrets ). But in the end I have a few variations now available with the tank to be used. And when I get the third turret figured out, and modelled with a commander in it, I can use it as my command tank for tank wars. The plastic doesn't have any weight to it however, so some might find that a negative aspect, but for me it is perfect as it means better options for converting.

Of course what I like the most from the Rubicon kit is that with all the extra options that it provides, it is also one pound less than the warlord kit at retail prices. Such as can be found at North Star Miniatures website under their Rubicon section.

Compared between the kits, I think that if I require more Crusaders ( to which I can say that I will to get myself a full platoon of them ) is that I would go with more Rubicons varieties. Mostly for the convertibility of the kits, and to keep the things more interesting.

Expect to see 3 more reviews over the next week plus of the other kits.. 2 more comparison reviews available and one that is my favorite overall.. but I will state that once I get to it ;)
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