Sea Bases

Magnet attached to Base

Making the Sea Bases is a fairly straightforward, although slightly messy process. To be totally honest, I stole the method from the GHQ website but adapted what was there for the bases under the vessels. I also used Vallejo or Citadel paints for colouring the bases then varnished with Vallejo or Army Painter varnishes.

The method, starting from scratch. I found some brilliant board in Art Friend, Singapore, that I have not found elsewhere . It is, I am sure, a plastic of some sort but behaves in many respects like a cardboard. If you are reading this Doug, I seem t recall showing you a piece in Canberra one or two lifetimes ago 🙂 

Anyway, the process should work well with MDF or other materials as well although I am not sure I would try with cardboard (does anyone base on cardboard anymore?).

Magnetic strip is added under the base for those times transporting. The Navwar metal ships are probably robust enough to handle some bouncing around during transport but Fujimi plastics, and I guess GHQ Micronauts are a little more fragile with more parts that can break off.

Flex Paste spread across base, ships pressed in

The next step is to spread some of the flex paste across the base. This is kind a hit and miss at the start until you get used to working with it but I reckon a depth of approximately 1mm is good. I then wait a couple of minutes for it to start to dry a little. 

Next step is to lightly tap a finger across the top. This will add the wave shapes to the surface. the surface can be shaped as well to make a more regular wave pattern or wakes for the vessels (remembering the Kelvin angle of 19 degrees from centre line).

The ship can then be pressed into the surface, perhaps even sliding it forward a little to add a little dimension to the wake on the bow.  

If not able to get Woodland Scenics Flex Paste, which is great for this and some other modelling tasks, maybe the same can be achieved with something like Polyfilla, although I have not tried that. This jar of Flex Pastes has lasted me about 5 years so far and has not dried out greatly yet.

Ship on base. The paste is usually enough to hold it in place

Taking a closer look to the image to the right and below and you can see the rippled surface.

At this point, I leave the vessel embedded in the base overnight to let the Flex Paste dry properly and cure. I have not had any warping on the bases of any of the ships I have based this way.

I guess it would be possible to paint after a couple of hours.

I should add as well that when doing this, it is useful to have a damp rag handy to wipe finger on as the Flex Paste will build up there. I have not had any problems either just using a naked finger and/or a coffee stirrer to do these bases. 

A better close up of the surface prior to painting

For painting the bases, firstly I undercoat the base and the ship in water undercoat suits the painting style I am using. For recent vessels this has been grey. I then use four colours in the following order:

  1. Dark blue
  2. Light or fluorescent green
  3. Light blue
  4. White

The process is to first paint the base in dark blue as a foundation coat. Next the green is thinned down, to almost invisible – say 1:5 or 1:6. The base is then washed in the green. When that dries, a dry brush of light blue followed by a light dry brush of white.

Paint the ship, then using white again, run it down the side of the vessel, letting it thin as you drag it down to make the wake on the side of the ship. When dry, the sea can be varnished, other in satin of gloss varnish, depending on what you prefer. The vessel can also be varnished, in matt or satin. Voila, you have a ship that looks like it is at sea.

The final result – in this case, satin varnish on the sea surface

Two Weeks Locked Up, Two Weeks to Go!

Two weeks of extended community quarantine have now passed and while the daytime has mostly been taken up with work from home tasks, late night to relax I have been working on some 1/3000 scale Fujimi models of modern Japanese warships.

These are delightful models, full of character and detail. When compared to the humble Navwar models I painted a couple of years ago, well, there is no real comparison. Admittedly these are somewhat more expensive, maybe 1.5 times the cost of Navwar and plastic so lack the reassuring heft of metal models, but the final result of a little work, and they look absolutely wonderful.

The decals that come with the models really make these too, even down to hull numbers on the vessel, something that is far above my painting skill. 

I am becoming a big fan of decals for 1/3000 scale models and the flight deck decals that are produced for the 1/3000 scale Navwar aircraft carriers are brilliant, really making the model stand out, however, they are really only available for aircraft carriers.

The decals for these Fujimi vessels perform the same magic, marking the landing spot for the ships’ helicopter(s).  This box represent the first flotilla of the modern Japanese fleet, circa 1995. I have another box of Fujimi ships that represent the same flotilla several years advanced, including a full-on helicopter carrier, a DDH that is currently under conversion to become an aircraft carrier.

As for the community quarantine, it is tough residing in 42 square metres. In the afternoon I walk to the local convenience store for “food” – in my case, a large can of beer. It is my only outside time unless I am called into the office. I do hope that after the month that Metro Manila, indeed, Luzon, has spent locked up flattens the curve enough for us to rejoin the world outside, and safely for us old-timers.

So, for sanity’s sake, my late evening, after work, was spent adding just one colour to the models, followed by the can of beer then sleep. Last weekend was the first one off as well and that allowed me to finish the vessels. You can see the progress below:

Next task, in the late evening, tidy up my work/hobby table. Yes, it is a shared space. Then decide on the next painting project.

Soviet Naval Fleet — Modern Naval Wargaming

I received some decals from Flight Deck Decals which allowed me to complete my modern Soviet fleet. Pictures below. Vessels are from Navwar and are in 1/3000 scale. These were finished in late 2019 – actually, they are not quite finished. I need to add air support to these – will be sometime in the next couple of months using 1/1200 scale aircraft and helicopters.

Historical Fiction is Costing me a Fortune!

And not so much for the cost of the book. Almost all fiction and about half the non-fiction I read today I read on my Kindle, tablet or ‘phone. I’ve gotten over missing the tactile feel of a new or old book as well as the lack of smell of digital editions so more and more I am downloading my books. The problem is not the cost of the book but rather the cost of the wargame figures in dollars, time and paint that results from reading the book. Within Thomo’s Hole, for example, I have noted the following projects that came from reading:

And that is just over the last 12 months. The list goes on however.

Currently I am reading two historical novels – one on my ‘phone and this one, Divided Empire on my Kindle. I had read part of this before then got distracted but I can’t recall where I got up to so I am sure I never finished. Of course, the biggest problem is that this is set in the period of the Later Roman Empire, around 400 CE and of course I am now thinking of Late Romans, Goths and what have you. This particular temptation is not helped by the fact that I have Goths left over and laying idle in the spares box after sorting and getting things ready for the Dark Age project.

Worse, there are another few books in the series and I can see myself at the minimum putting together a small set of some 6mm late Romans and Goths. Of course, if one is doing some Romans, one really should do two armies of them so that a quick civil war becomes in order so that would be a small set of three armies. Then really, one should at least have a fourth so a Big Battle DBA becomes possible. I can see where this is leading.

In a moment of laziness, I was looking through some new releases and The Black Sheep by Peter Darman popped up. I had read most of the Parthian series until Pacorus started to annoy me so thought “here is a good one to have on the list ready for when I finish Divided House, I’ll just have a quick look at the opening pages.”

The Black Sheep is set in the time of the War of Sicilian Vespers, a war I knew about in passing but not in any detail. As is usual in these things, one thing led to another and I started reading up on the Sicilian Vespers. Now I am thinking 1282 to 1302 CE and Byzantines, Sicilians, Anjou, Aragon, France, and Naples. Toss in some Turks and we have a campaign set. Best of all, some galleys as well for the Battle of the Gulf of Naples.

This will be a challenge in 6mm (and 1/1200 for the galleys I think) but hey, life is a challenge isn’t it! One a positive note, it could be the second part of a series of sets based around Sicily.

More lead for the pile! I have to stop reading.

Planning

I am currently in the middle of something all wargamers love to do … plan something. Normally it is a new period, or a battle reenactment, or a new army for competition, or a painting schedule, or something similar. So, I am planning something.

The last couple of nights as I have been thinking (OK those 10 minutes before sleep), I was thinking that blogs still provide a good, easy to search, record of something, especially something that changes over time. Of course, being as I am a boomer, I can still do things like add numbers in my head and use a pen and paper. Them young whippersnappers these days, well, they are all into Vlogs and such. I have a couple of favourites I will admit. Some I watch for fun, some for wargame painting and terrain building technique and ideas. Others are more along the line of a series that would not be amiss on TV as part of the History Channel or similar.

I then got to thinking about the past – the episodes of Callan where our hero was painting figures or playing an evil enemy across the wargame table, or BBC 2’s Time Commanders and one or two others.

Lastly, it occurred to me that once something is on the Internet … it never truly dies. Whether it is a blog on a shared service that lives on long after the writer departs, or as an echo from the past in the Wayback Machine, or from being shared by people who enjoyed it and it ends up copied across many social media platforms, it just seems to survive.

So, I thought I would combine the best of a both worlds at the moment. Wargaming, especially figure gaming, is something I can talk about. There are other things I can discuss, such as economics, business practices, banking and such, but to do that I would need to get clearances from my employer, so wargaming it is. I have been blogging in one form or another since the late 1990s (OK, so back then it was a home page with new content added when I could get around to writing it in HTML). Over the past year or two I have also started to upload a few videos to YouTube. These have been rough and ready affairs and mostly covering parcels received from various figure suppliers.

I am going to start to put an effort into the Videos. They will cover my view of wargaming and my general interests and occasionally, anything that pops up and gets up my nose. At the same time, I will back the videos with blog posts here. I will keep book reviews on the blog as well as any bizarre travel tales or food stories. The YouTube channel will mostly be wargaming.

So, Thomo’s Hole will expand. As I am almost out of space here in WordPress, I am also looking at buying more space and maybe going back to self hosting so there will be plenty to keep me busy in the evening hours, er, when there is not a good Aussie Rules or Rugby (either version) match on and a beer on the bar! Oh, and I am not planning on trying to monetize the channel, not unless a bazillion subscribers turns up! 😉

Australia Post and the Royal Post Work! – Navwar and Forgotten Orders

On December 31, 2019 I posted two letters, you know, those old fashioned things in envelopes with stamps on them – you must have seen them on the Classic Movie channel! One letter was addressed to my bank in Singapore, then other to Navwar in Seven Keys, Ilford, Essex, England!

I’ve not heard anything back from my Singapore bank yet. Perhaps they do not know how to deal with a letter.

I did notice today, however, that the balance of my credit card had depleted by approximately £100.00. That can only mean one thing – Navwar have packed my order and are about to post it. Ships ahoy. Now in the post 2019 … That’s a Wrap I intimated that I had not ordered any 1/3000 ships. I lied! I did. I can’t remember all I ordered and as the order was made by a letter, I do not have any email confirmations 😦

I do recall that I think I added some US and French World War One vessels as I was a bit light on in that area. Still, it really will be like Santa delivering a Christmas gift (or at least PhilPost) as I will not have a complete idea of what is in the parcel until I open it!

I Hate You Little Wars TV – 1st Manassas (Bull Run)

There I was, happily minding my own business, preparing some World War 2 1/285 scale aircraft for painting, planning then to move on to my 6mm Anglo-Saxons, and then perhaps off to something nautical, perhaps 1/1200 scale galleys or modern vessels when Little Wars TV presents First Manassas. They show the battlefield, then discuss the tactics and Gen. McDowell’s performance. Just have a look at this.

Now I am getting an almost uncontrollable itch to paint 6mm American Civil War figures. Of course, to do that, I would need to purchase some 6mm American Civil War figures as I do not have any in the lead pile. English Civil War, Ancients, Napoleonics, World War 2 and Cold War figures in stock aplenty but no American Civil War figures. I have several sets of rules on the bookshelf, lots of reference works but no figures.

I hate you Little Wars TV. I must resist!

Curse You Bob Flywheel

Damn, there I was the other day quite comfortable with the state of my 1/300 [1/285] Aerial Wargaming. I had rules and aircraft for the Winter War – the Finns were complete and the Soviets would not take long. I had decided that Bag the Hun from the Lardies could be added to the rules library and I had even made a cursory look through the free scenario book, resisting manfully adding any more lead to my collection this year*.

Then you had to mention Korea and visions of MiG Alley spring to mind, as well as some interesting aircraft. I could see some B-29s (does anyone still make them in 1/300 [1/285] scale anymore) trundling along on a bombing run with some MiG-15s and/or Yak-15s trying to attack them. Enter some UN support – P-51Ds and Meteors of the RAAF, F-80s, F-82s or F-86s of the USAF not forgetting some F-84s.

Add some Yak-9s and La-7s to the mix and not only are there some interesting games possible but a fine collection of aircraft for the display shelf as well.

Of course, as one would have some B-29s available, late World War 2 air raids over Japan or Japanese held islands by the USAAF are a possibility. The P-51Ds (admittedly in RAAF colours) could be repurposed as escorts for the bombers in WW2. Attacking them would be some Japanese Nakajima Ki-44s (Tojo or Shoki) and some Mitsubishi J2Ms (Raiden) to attack them. Throw in a Shinden and there is another set.

Some early WW2 combat collections have been popping up in my head as well, in part the fault of the scenario book from the Lardies, in part from Bob’s off hand remark about the Korean Airwar.

When will this wargames megoalomania end?

This has been an insight into how a wargamer’s mind works! Curse you Bob Flywheel!


* there are some orders for lead under way at the moment but they had all been ordered, online and via Australia Post, prior to the start of 2020.

2019 … That’s a Wrap

I was listening to podcasts on the drive from mum’s at Macksville to Sydney to catch a flight back to Manila. One podcast I listened to was the last episode (number 283) of Meeples and Miniatures (https://meeples.wordpress.com/). This podcast has been running for 12 years and whilst I can’t say I have been listening for the last 12 years, the last couple of years have provided a great deal of wargaming amusement.

In this last episode Neil Schuck (Twitter – @TheBrummieDwarf) and Mike Hobbs (Twitter – @HobbsThe Gamer) discussed their 4 or 5 best games. It was pleasing to note that I had at least one of the games they had mentioned. The podcast finished just prior to my arrival in Sydney so I spent the rest of the trip considering wargaming tasks for 2020.

As many of you will know, I have an interest in matters nautical as well as a commitment to 6mm. Two things that amazed me while at mum’s. First was the number of books that I will need to ship to the Philippines, I am thinking that maybe it will be 2/3rds of the collection that needs to be eventually shipped. The second was the commitment I had to 15mm Ancient wargaming. I will need to decide at some point whether to sell those collections or ship them.

That is not what I am talking about here though. Currently in Manila I have literally thousands of 6mm figures to paint – some sets have been discussed here previously. I also have hundreds of ships in both 1/3000 and 1/1200 scale. There are also aircraft, principally the Winter War collections, Finnish aircraft having graced my Instagram account.

I decided to reduce my Christmas gifts to myself then to just the following:

  • Terrain items and buildings from Irregular Miniatures
  • Racing Chariots from Irregular Miniatures, enough to cover the Blues, Greens, Reds and Whites
  • Ancient British figures from Baccus 6mm as one additional opponent for the Imperial Romans – DBA sized
  • Bag the Hun from Too Fat Lardies
  • General d’Armee from Reiswitz Press from Too Fat Lardies – Napoleonic Wargaming

Later in the year I may add some 6mm Napoleonics to the collection or perhaps 6mm American War of Indendence. I will make an order for some 1/1200 modern aircraft from Magister Militum to finish the modern 1/3000 naval collection. I may also buy some more rulesets … but just to plan for 2021 😉

This year then will be one for painting and finishing collections (and maybe getting off to Makati Marauders to play some games). I will play some more boardgames (more? I haven’t played any for about 20 years). I have many books to read and review on the table and hope to get two or three of those off in the next two weeks. Lastly, I want to start some more research and writing, and I am looking at both my admittedly poor YouTube channel and considering some podcasting.

So, 2020, the year of getting on top of things!

Late Addition (1 January 2020): Of course, I did neglect to remember that I had also sent some readies off to Warlord Games for copies of Black seas and Black Sails – just the rules as I have a collection of 1/1200 coastal vessels and it would be a shame to not get them on the table at some time. In addition, I have some 1/2400 and also some 1/3000 sailing vessels that need a reason for painting and then an outing. And I will be sending an order off tomorrow to Magister Militum for some 1/1200 scale modern aircraft to complete the modern naval fleets.

Any other pruchases in 2020 will be rules, books and, maybe, occassionaly, some figures to finish out a set I am starting to paint!

Labels on 1/3000 scale ship models

Japanese vessels – ready for Modern Naval Wargames

With a large collection of 1/3000 sale ships (more unpainted than painted I will admit), remembering the name of all the vessels can be a memory trial. As the vessels are primarily painted to wargame with, it is good if both sides can see the vessels name during battle.

One option is to put the name under the base, but this suffers from the vessels being lifted off the game surface constantly to check. A second is to add the name to a tab at the rear of the base, in the wake as it were, in the same way that Figurehead provide a label area for their 1/6000 scale vessels.

Chilean Navy Ensign

I prefer to base my vessels on 3mm thick bases and add the vessels name to the side. The 3mm thick base is good as it allows those of us with corpulent fingers to grip the base and not hold the vessel in our fingers. More importantly, I like how it looks 🙂

The method used to produce the base labels is quite straightforward.  Using word processing software such a Microsoft Word or similar, I create a table of six columns. In the second, fourth and sixth columns I type the vessel’s name.  Let’s use three modern Chilean Naval units for an example: Almirante Cochrane – a British Type 23 class; Capitán Prat and Almirante Latorre – Jacob van Heemskerck class.

Ensign placed

I then decide on whether I will add the national flag or the naval ensign. I usually lean towards the ensign although in some navies the national flag and the ensign are the same. In this case, a hunt on Wikipedia for “Chilean Navy” will return the basic details, including national flag and ensign.

Table set to Autofit to contents

Next step is to resize the text. The font I use is Calabri (not sure what the Apple font equivalent is) and it is set to “bold” and resized to 6pts. I also set the table contents to “Autosize to contents”.

The ensign is then copied and pasted to the first column, first row of the spreadsheet. It is usually quite large at this point. Once the ensign has been copied in, then we resize that image, using the size of the text as a guideline.

Ensign resized

The image of the ensign is then copied to the empty cells we have ready for the. We set the wrap text option for the image to “square”

It can then be moved to the next column where the name of the vessel is.

Set the distance between image and text … make 0.1cm in this case

When formatting the layout of the image, under text wrapping set the “Distance from Text”, Right to 0.1cm (or 1mm).

After this it is pretty much straight sailing.

Drag the ensigns to the left of the name of the vessel (see Almirante Cochrane below). Once the columns the flags were originally in are empty, they can be deleted.

The table can then have a design adjustment in “Borders and Shading” by turning off the cell lines in the table.

Select the table one last time, set font colour to “white” and the “fill colour” to a dark blue, close to the shade you will use on the base. You end up with something like below.

The final name labels

Of course, when I got to the end of this it occurred to me that the blue on the ensign may make it disappear after printing. In this case I would add a white border around the image.

I then use a sharp knife to slice the names from the sheet and some PVA glue to affix to the base. Slap on a bit of varnish and job done!