Saturday 17 December 2022


Having made it to the Christmas holidays, I was keen to try and share what limited progress has been made on my Soviet Army since the summer.  Without going into the now tedious detail, life continues to be hectic and hobby time is very much in short supply.  That said, I cherish the precious moments that I have at the painting table, but all too often get distracted and find myself falling down yet another rabbit hole; indeed the main frustration at the moment is that I have far too many ideas and barely any time. 

As a result, I have tried to keep one or two building projects on the go at work; the sort of things that can be pushed aside when the prestigious talents demand to be taught.  Having brought some things home, I was able to apply the finishing touches and share with you some bomb craters! 

I had found a couple of useful tutorials online and these were the result of combining my favourite.  Nothing new here, but a satisfying build nonetheless.  The craters were formed using air drying clay placed onto shaped MDF bases.  The crater lips were then created by using torn pieces of cork tile fixed in place with a hot glue gun.  Texture was added with filler, into which stones and sand were liberally scattered.  
Finishing touches included some furniture from 'Mantic Games', which I had picked up in a 'Warlord Games' half price sale, bricks from 'Charlie Foxtrot Models' and pieces of plastic tube.  Everything was then painted to match the bases of my troops including a liberal smattering of suitably festive snow.

Really pleased to get these ticked off the list and they have already been used to help set the scene for a couple of photo-shoots, the results of which I hope to share soon.  Posting them here, has also given me the opportunity to hoist the Christmas decorations atop this most humble of weblogs and as uncork the sherry, as I look forward to catching up with everyone in due course.

Monday 31 October 2022

Well, well, it's Halloween again.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the return to school following the splendid summer holidays saw a cessation to the Soviet Army build.  There has been some progress, pieces have been prepared and there have been some joyous distractions along the way.  I have no doubt that the project will be completed, but I still struggle with the work and life balance.  That said, I thought I would share a spooky Halloween post, a piece that had been prepared some five years ago and is only now being dusted off and shared with you, good reader.
This then is my homage to Ring, a 1998 Japanese, psychological, horror film directed by Hideo Nakata.  A wonderfully odd piece of celluloid that revolves around a cursed videotape that kills the viewer seven days after watching it.  Without wanting to give too much away a young girl, Sadako is killed and her body disposed of in a well; her grisly return forming part of the cursed tape.
The build started with a Fenris Games well, but thinking that I might want to use it in my 'Witchfinder world', I added a few little extras in the form of a rope and bucket, mushrooms and even the remains of some luckless soul, perhaps Sadako herself?
The well was then 'filled' epoxy resin, which helps to convey a much needed feeling of depth to the piece.  As for Sadako, this was another of my Studio Miniatures horror characters and was relatively simple to paint on account of her damp, matted hair covering her face.  
A little bit of fun with the digital editing to allude to a grainy VHS recording and the piece is done...

Happy Halloween! 

Wednesday 31 August 2022

Headquarters Units

All a bit of a rush to get this post in before returning to work tomorrow, but these represent the command element of my Soviet Army.  I haven't decided on the final make up of the command structure and so have options for most eventualities including a standard bearer and Commissar...  

With a senior Lieutenant and NCO.  The Senior NCO is a bonus figure as I wanted to have a look at the compatibility of other ranges and this one is from 'Crusader Miniatures' purchased through 'North Star Miniatures' and I think fits in pretty well.  The Crusader sculpts are a little simpler, especially the weapons, but certainly close enough to bolster the troops if required. 

So what next?  Well this has completed the rank and file, so to speak, and has been a genuinely rewarding experience, selecting miniatures, preparing them and then completing the painting - not something I am renowned for.  Obviously the Army list contains other elements including an anti-tank detachment, artillery, trucks and of course a tank, but none of these are ready to paint and so I have reached a bit of a natural hiatus. 

It has been so lovely to reconnect with a good many like minded folk and I can't thank you enough for your continued support throughout the summer.  I certainly have plenty of 'fun' things to pootle around with and it may be that as the new academic year gets underway that hobby time becomes a priceless commodity again.  Hopefully, though, I can continue to make the odd post to record progress and keep the momentum going. 

Sunday 28 August 2022

Sniper Team


I had found the perfect wintery sniper team for my Soviet Army at 'Bad Squiddo Games' and with the rank and file of my Soviet force now complete it was time to paint up this specialist team. In essence there was very little painting to be done as I had already followed the same method employed for the snowsuited section, namely dark grey spray primer, airbrushed Vallejo Grey surface primer, a lighter shade, then a final blast with an airbrush white to help bring out the highlights.

A few details were picked out and then there they sat, on the empty base, and waited, and waited, and waited. I knew that I wanted to do something a little special with this base, but just couldn't decide on what and then Amazon's almighty algorithm delivered the inspiration - 'Osprey Publishing' Heroines of the Soviet Union 1941 - 45!*

*Seriously though, does anyone else find the way that they seem to know exactly what you are looking for unnerving?

The heroine on the cover is considered the greatest female sniper of all time, Lyudmila Pavlichenko. With 309 confirmed kills, Pvt. Pavlichenko was attached to the 25th Infantry Division "V.I. Chapayev" as a sniper and soon found herself in combat near Odessa in August 1941. When the Germans gained control of Odessa, the Independent Maritime Army was pulled out and sent to Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula of the Black Sea. In the fierce fighting, Pavlichenko was wounded by mortar shells in June 1942. Her sniping skills were considered invaluable and so was ordered to board a submarine and evacuate Sevastopol. Such was her fame that Lyudmila was sent on motivational and fund raising tours, she was even received by President and Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House!

Using the cover artwork as inspiration, I set about making my own homage to this heroine of the Soviet Union.  Keeping the same size base as the prone figures in the rest of the army was probably an unnecessary aesthetic choice as it seriously restricted the area that I had to work with, but I imagined that the team would be hunkered down and close together, so persevered anyway. 

A foray into the loft unearthed some plastic brick building pieces from a Mars Attacks Kickstarter I had backed and after some 'offering up' I fell on a likely piece that had a broken window section in it. I hacked, pulled and snipped it to form a corner of a bombed out building and then set about texturing the base with little bricks, torn cork matting and a variety of textured pastes to create a nest for my sniper team. Getting them to fit took some tinkering and so decided to leave a space and paint the base first and then add the miniatures knowing that I could disguise any gaps with the snow.

In retrospect, I probably went a little too far with the drybrusing, but was trying to match the warm greys of the cover art whilst still making the miniatures the star attraction and yes, I realise making the sniper team stand out goes against all aspects of their fieldcraft, but I felt it looked good! With the team then glued into place the whole thing was give a coat of gloss varnish, before a spray with a matt varnish.**

**Note to self, remember to thin the gloss coat next time.

Those that have been patiently following the progress of this project will know that I had yet to decide on a snow solution for my wintery army.  I had a couple of options in mind, but in the end have gone for 'AK Interactive Terrain'.  There is a mind boggling array of products in their range, mostly aimed at the serious hobby painter and they are certainly not the cheapest, but I have to say that I am delighted with the results.  The initial effect is created with 'Snow Acrylic (AK8011)', a white acrylic medium that will hold small peaks and obviously coloured white.  While this is still wet, I sprinkled on 'Snow Microballons (AK8010)' which give it that freshly fallen powdered snow look.  Now I have no doubt that there would be cheaper alternatives involving cornstarch and PVA glue, but this worked for me as I could do a small base without any waste then put the lids back on and store ready for the next group.




What should have been a very quick 'win' has taken a little more time than I was expecting, but ultimately a rewarding project that has led to a greater understanding of some of the history of the conflict and a viable solution for the snow basing of the whole army.

Monday 22 August 2022

Final rifle section done!

As the new academic year lurches into sight, there is a palpable sense of urgency here at 'Awdry Towers'.  Early morning alarms are being set to steal an hour or so of precious painting time before the day begins proper, but I am pleased to report that progress has been made. 

More of the same, I'm afraid, but there are one or two slight variations on the theme.  That said producing a core force of over fifty miniatures that actually hangs together, stylistically, is a bit of a first for me.  This then, the second of my wintery Soviet Army rifle sections with Light Machine Gun support.  The young lady about to launch the Molotov cocktail has already been counted in the tally, having been showcased recently, but this is where she will be based for any games.

Time to move on to the command section and the sniper team, but waiting in the wings are no end of extras including anti-tank dog units, artillery support and other vehicles; starting to think that I need another holiday!

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Filling the gaps.


It has been a wonderful summer break, with fabulous weather and time devoted to this most wholesome of hobbies. However, with the public examination results due to be published tomorrow, I am afraid that the day job will demand more and more of my time. With that in mind, I am pushing on as fast as I can in a bid to get as much finished before September.  

Just three more posted today, but these will finish my second, eight 'man' veteran squad.  The chap in the rather natty sheepskin jacket, originally from a command group, will be taking on the role of NCO, whilst the other two have metal elements from the Siberian Veterans boxed set.  All armed with Sub Machine Guns and Light Machine Gun support this is another expensive unit, but one that should be hugely explosive on the tabletop, if given the chance.  

Attention now falls on the remaining rifle squad, which should then allow me to tinker with a few more characterful pieces in the remaining time that I have; fingers crossed.

Monday 15 August 2022

Bravo Bad Squiddo Games!


Despite the stifling heat down here on the South Coast, not that I am complaining you understand, I have managed to paint up 'most' of the second veteran unit for my wintery Soviet Army. I had hoped that the 'Warlord Games' Siberian Veterans box was going to account for most of its number, but I just wasn't happy with what were effectively the same sculpts that I was using for my other two rifle sections; fortunately a solution was found when serendipity played her hand.  

When gathering the initial troops for the list, I knew that I wanted a sniper team, but felt that the 'Warlord Games' team was wintery enough for my liking.  In searching for a suitable substitute, I stumbled across 'Bad Squiddo Games' whom I have used before for all manner of wonderful scenic items.  Having spied a couple of likely candidates, I duly ordered them up and in her customary timely manner, Annie had them dispatched and winging their way to 'Awdry Towers' before you could say 'hosepipe ban'.  

What I wasn't expecting was a delightful little thank you for my custom, another female Soviet combatant, this time toting a PPSh-41 sub maching gun with drum magazine and in winter uniform; an idea was forming!  Closer scrutiny of the Bad Squiddo webstore unearthed another couple of packs that I felt I could use and before long an order was placed, although this time through 'North Star Miniatures' as I was curious about some of their Crusader Miniatures Soviets. 

With regards to the quality of the bad squiddo miniatures, I am happy to report that they are excellent, nicely cast with very few lines and no extraneous flash.  Characterful poses that scale-wise fit in well with the other miniatures that I have used, they are uncomplicated making them an absolute joy to paint.  The ladies have collar tabs and I have picked these out in red, mostly for aesthetic reasons as opposed to any thought for historical accuracy, but I have to say that I am really rather chuffed with them. 

 As my veteran units are all going to be armed with sub machine guns, if not carrying a light machine gun, I added an extra weapon carefully placed on some bricks, for the soldier kneeling and firing the captured Panzerfaust.  Meanwhile the fearsome lady about to hurl the Molotov cocktail will find herself in the final rifle section when it is finished.

What of the sniper team, I hear you ask?  Well they are primed, but I am still deciding how to base them and so remain firmly stuck to their lollipop stick for the time being.  If you look carefully you can see the final members of the the ragtag veteran unit lurking in the background, waiting to be painted so that they can joy their sisters.  

Thank you then, Annie, of 'Bad Squiddo Games', whose generosity of spirit and quality of service resulted in me adding more of her fine miniatures to the army and which have, in turn, help give the existing troops a truly unique feel.

Tuesday 9 August 2022


Like the howl from a timberwolf, the bitter east wind caused more than just fingers to freeze. The fear of an imminent attack was debilitating, not one soul moved for fear of alerting an unseen enemy to their position. They were out there, watching, waiting...

Fanciful narrative and photo-editing aside, the lesson learnt as a result of this post is don't try and take a shot of troops wearing snowsuits on a white background! Just a very quick post to showcase the latest unit for my Soviet force. With my 1000 point army list, I have opted for two eight man SMG totting veteran squads with LMG support. 

 Given that I wanted a wintery feel to the army the 'Warlord Games' snowsuits squad was always going to be on my shopping list and I was relieved to find that they had just enough models carrying the appropriate hardware to work for my purposes.

When it came to painting, I had hoped that they would be a quick win and so having blasted them with my dark grey spray primer, I dusted off the trusty airbrush and gave them another coat of Vallejo Grey surface primer.  This is quite a light shade, but when dried I gave them a final blast with an airbrush white to help bring out the highlights.  It was then just a case of picking out the detail like faces, weapons and of course the bases.  Initially this proved rather painstaking as I was worried I would paint over the suits, but once I realised that I could just paint back over any mistakes and claim it was a highlight the whole process sped up considerably.

An expensive unit to field, I am hoping that they pack quite a punch and make my adversaries think twice about taking them on, allowing me to take advantage of any hesitation by throwing even more troops into the action.  As with all the troops shown so far they have yet to be varnished and the bases still need a sprinkling with snow, but for now I will chalk them up on the tally board.  

Thursday 4 August 2022

You go first!

Another completed section!  Surely this can't be true?  Let me assure you dear reader, this level of productivity can't be sustained, but nevertheless one must ride the wave when given the opportunity.  Another five troops that complete the green, 'free' section for my Soviet force.  If I understand the rules correctly these are effectively a 'meat shield'* that is thrown up in advance of more seasoned troops.  However if they do survive their first encounter then they become more versatile and a thorn in any adversary's side. 
*A truly ghastly expression

I have mentioned before how much I enjoy the 'Warlord Games' plastic sprues as there is a good amount of character and versatility in the sculpting without been plagued by extraneous details.  That said, I am sure that I read a comment somewhere that there is a concern over the longevity of the plastic soldier with some of the painted miniatures becoming brittle and snapping over time.  
For the time being I shall carry on regardless and charge off blindly to prepare the next section, which just happens to be a veteran unit and made up of metal miniatures.  With July already behind us it won't be long before the return to school starts to invade my waking hours.  That, and the need to capitalise on the time remaining to enjoy some quality time with the Saintly Mrs. Awdry, may well see a downturn in production but I am determined to try and finish the basic force before the end of the holiday.
It won't come as any surprise to those more regular readers of this humble weblog that distractions have been sighted on the horizon, but most revolve around possible terrain ideas for these chaps to battle over.  That said I have picked up one set of rules that has caught my imagination, but more of that another day.  For now, the visual tally tracker has been marked up accordingly and so onwards! 

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