Bolt Action: Magnetised Panzerfausts

Bolt Action Magnetised Panzerfaust I’ve assembled my entire Late War German Panzergrenadier army already, and having played a few games with them have decided it’s probably worth having more than one Panzerfaust in each squad. This excellent article clearly states the reasons why you should do this.

Panzerfausts are one shot weapons, carried by a Panzergrenadier, and once they’re fired the soldier stays on the table with his normal weaponry. So I thought it would be nice to have removeable Panzerfausts. I was pondering how to do this after a recent loss at a friend’s place when Aaron (a spectator to that game) suggested I use magnets. Brilliant! Fortunately I recently picked up 160 more tiny ‘pill’ style rare earth magnets from Dangerous Magnets.

Taking the spare Panzerfausts I had from the plastic box set, I snipped the heads off every one. The haft (which in the real Panzerfaust contained the propellant) was replaced with some straightened, galvanized garden wire. I used 1.2mm wire for the larger Panzerfaust heads, and 0.9mm wire for the smaller Faustpatrone heads. You get a mix of both types of weapon in the Warlord plastic box. The Faustpatrone have the smaller, bell shaped cover on them. Although it’s not shown in these WIP photos, I also made a simple push mold of the folded down spring leaf sight from the original plastic hafts, and added that back to the metal ones.

Bolt Action Magnetised Panzerfaust Having given my Panzerfausts magnetic, metal hafts I proceeded to torture a bunch of my assembled plastic Germans by drilling massive 2mm wide divots in their backs, and super gluing 1mm x 2mm pill magnets in there.

This second photo shows my first experimental German equipped with a Panzerfaust being held in place by the magnet. They’re held securely enough to game with, but easily enough to remove from the figure in a second. More tidy up work was required of course, involving smoothing some epoxy putty over the wound to hide the magnet in the figure’s back.

The rare earth magnet is strong enough not to be phased by 1mm of putty over the top of it. They’re so strong you can actually hang a couple of Panzerfausts off a single soldier. This has no effect in the Bolt Action rules, but does look quite characterful. However I need to share out all the remaining Panzerfausts I have between my three squads, so carrying multiple weapons is verboten!

One thing you have to be careful about is how you place the magnet I’ve found. You probably either want it quite off-centre in the side of the model as shown, so the Panzerfausts tend to hand down. Alternately you could place the magnet dead in the centre of the figure’s back and they can carry Panzerfausts horizontally. Of course that’ll require a bit more sculpting to fix up the webbing you’ve drilled through.

Quick thinking by Aaron and an evening with a pin vice means I now have three squads of Gerry armed with 2-3 removeable Panzerfaust each. Now let’s see if that keeps the damn flame throwing Universal Carriers at bay…

Bolt Action: Compass Cutters

Bolt Action Assembly I’ve been assembling a lot of Bolt Action plastics recently, out of the excellent British Army Box I picked up. My only criticism of this box (and I assume the other Warlord Army Box deals) is that it came with no bases supplied for the metal team weapons in the box. For the British box, that’s a Vickers MMG team, a medium Mortar team and the classic 6 Pdr AT gun.

I could have cut square bases for these teams from plastic card, but have grown quite fond of the round bases that my other team weapons are based on. Basing has no effect in a game of Bolt Action, since it’s a true LOS game. However a round base seems a nice tidy solution for figures, and I wanted to be consistent across my armies.

Takapuna Art Supplies came to the rescue with an $8nzd Compass Cutter. This is a nifty tool designed for cutting circles in paper, leather and the like. Cutting 0.5mm plastic card is a bit of a stretch for it, but if you’re careful and patient you can score a deep enough circle to convince the plastic card to snap cleanly.

Last night I cut myself two 60mm bases and a larger 70mm base for the 6 Pdr. The bases are a little flexible but shouldn’t be once they’re covered in Pollyfilla for the ground effect. Since this is a workbench photo you get a free Kubelwagen too, which is only a mildly useful transport in Bolt Action, but a lovely little model from Warlord!

Review: AK Interactive Weathering Pigment

Panzer III AK Weathering Dust I’ve been looking for a decent weathering system recently, and on a whim grabbed a couple of jars of AK Interactive weathering pigment and fixative from Hobby City recently to try.

At around $10NZ a jar, they’re not cheap, but after a little experimentation they seem like pretty good value. The ‘North African Dust’ I chose contains enough super fine pigment to probably coat ten or more 1/56th scale Bolt Action vehicles, depending on how thick you lay it on. Super fine it is too, and the dust goes everywhere if you’re not careful. I took to weathering vehicles in a shoe box lid, just to try and keep it under control.

Weathered Panzer First up in the paint station was this dirty old Panzer 38(T) that I bought years ago for Pulp campaigns. It had already been experimented on with Tamiya weathering sticks which to be honest I found a little hard to use and also produced a rather crude effect. Using a larger brush I dabbed the African dust on liberally, followed by the enamel based fixative which wicked nicely through the applied dust, hopefully fixing it to the model. The fixative smelt strongly of solvent so I was a little concerned it might effect the existing paint job. Fortunately that concern turned out the be unjustified as it went over the dust, spray varnish, Tamiya and Vallejo paints and applied decals on several vehicles with no problem whatsoever.

It’s quite good fun applying the dust and I had to stop myself from dusting the entire vehicle. The enamel fixative does tend to dull the dust effect down slightly though, particularly if you apply it too wet. The trick seems to be dabbing it on lightly and letting it wick through a large area before moving on. Too much fixative and you’ll either lift the dust off onto your brush, or dull it down too much as it dries.

Happy with the initial test I moved onto the Panzer III I speed painted recently. The paint job on this tank was a little crude because it was rushed, and in particular the treads and road wheels looked a bit too shiny for my tastes. I tried to apply the dust in a more controlled manner than my first attempt and am very pleased with the final result. The dust has blended the crude ‘sand blasted’ paint job down nicely, as well as taken the shine off the tracks and road wheels and made everything look a touch more realistic.

I’ll definitely be investing in some more AK Interactive product in the future, particularly since I have a bunch of Normandy/Western theatre vehicles to paint for a Late War German Bolt Action force.

Bolt Action: Hirst Art Walls

Hirst Arts Walls Now I’ve got the bulk of a DAK German army sorted for Bolt Action I need some more terrain for my North African table, which is getting re-tasked yet again. First up is some linear hard cover in the form of white washed stone walls.

These are constructed from Hirst Arts fieldstone bricks, glued together and then covered with Selley’s ‘No More Cracks’ which is just a generic plaster/spackle filler. It was smoothed on with sculpting tools and detailed with a few cracks and dings. Areas of the walls were left uncovered to expose the fieldstone bricks. The Hirst Arts fieldstone bricks are a 1/4″ thick, which makes for fairly robust walls. I was concerned they’d look a little out of scale, but once they’re on the table you don’t really notice. Having nice thick walls also means they’re self standing so don’t have to be based which is a handy feature. As the majority of the wall is covered, they’re also an excellent way of using up your bubbly or miscast Hirst Arts fieldstone bricks.

The walls were painting quickly to match my older Crescent Root Studios resin buildings. I’m glad I bought these buildings years ago, because these days CRS only seem to produce some rather bland MDF buildings. The paint job was a base coat of Resene house paints, followed by a wash of diluted brown shoe polish, followed by a bunch of crude dry brushing and a light varnish.

Hirst Art Walls Set My original plan was to master a few wall sections and then mold them. Unfortunately I discovered I don’t have enough RTV rubber left to mold anything as large as a bunch of 28mm wall sections. Instead I simply spent a few more evenings putting together enough sections to build over 4′ of linear wall and painted them up. Here’s all the pieces I’ve built so far. I don’t think I need any more to be honest, although I am tempted to build at least one more gate part.

They work well on the table, providing hard cover for Bolt Action troops to huddle behind and fire over. Low profile vehicles can also reasonably claim some hard cover from them as well which is handy. Next I need to expand my collection of soft cover for the North African table.

Bolt Action: Three armies already!

Brits Bolt Action is so refreshingly reasonably priced, even in the local New Zealand market that I can’t stop buying stuff. The photo shows my latest and probably last two purchases from Mighty Ape.

That’s enough troops to build a 1000-1200pts British Bolt Action force for both early war in the Desert – with a Matilda infantry tank for support, or Late War in Normandy with the Cromwell that comes in the box. That’s a whole new army for less than $200NZD. Fantastic!

Warlord British Tanks Being a fan of tanks, I couldn’t resist putting together both the Matilda and the Cromwell asap. The Cromwell is from Italeri so is a pretty easy build. I have heard some mixed comments about Warlord’s ealier resin kits so was curious to see how the Matilda worked out. It did require a moderate amount of sanding to get rid of the resin gates, and a wee bit of messing around dry fitting the tracks to the main body, but the end result is lovely. I’ve actually just dry pinned the tracks on for the time being until I get around to painting this tank. The Matilda’s metal commander ended up in the Cromwell because the commander’s hatch is much larger, and because the metal half figure is nicer than the awful plastic figure on the sprue.

Now I have to stop assembling Brits and crack on with painting my Late War Germans! As well as the Stug that still hasn’t been primed.

Bolt Action: 750pts DAK Germans Painted

Bolt Action 750pts DAK Painted I’ve been playing Bolt Action against my gaming mates, as well as trying desperately to get another game at TCOW, and I’ve been enjoying it so much it’s inspired me to finish a few things.

Here’s 750pts of DAK German Veterans finally varnished. They’re a bit of a mixed bag, having been painted in a variety of techniques over the nine years I’ve owned most them. This is sort of obvious if you look at the bases. They’ve been ink washed and over-painted, some have been speed painted with dip, and the last lot finished were over-painted ink washes again, with a different set of inks. Not the greatest of paint jobs, and I hope to be a little more consistent with the Late War Germans I’ll be painting next.

Bolt Action has surprised me to be honest. It’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun playing a war game and it seems to have spurred a great deal of painting and terrain building. Bolt Action feels like what 40K should have been for decades now, and indeed playing it reminds me of how I used to feel playing Rogue Trader 30 years ago. It comes as no surprise that Alessio Calvatore and Rick Priestley, both GW alumni, were the game designers. Bolt Action mercifully discards the cumbersome ‘I go, you go’ system which has always made 40K and WHFB tedious and often powerless feeling games when it’s not your turn. Unit activation by dice draw is hardly an original idea, but the way the dice also represent both the command a unit has been given and the state of that unit is both clever and convenient.

Bolt Action also presents a similar level of complexity as the 40K rulesets I remember (4th Ed being the last version I played), and even the rulebooks feel similar to GW’s when you’re reading them. Indeed, like GW’s rulebooks they also seem to leave a few areas open to vigorous discussion at the gaming table. Bolt Action is a skirmish game, but the activation dice system seems like it would scale well to fairly high points values. In fact adding more units simply means your game goes longer, while you’re still left fretting what to do on each dice draw.

As the game is set in World War II you can put together a 28mm or 15mm army easily and cost effectively from a wide range of manufacturers, particularly Warlord Games who are the publishers of Bolt Action. There’s no original IP to vigorously protect, and the open market of 28mm WW II figures keeps everything competitively priced for the gamer. This is in stark contrast to the closed, overpriced, monopoly that 40K represents. This becomes immediately obvious when you compare the cost of a box of 30 plastic multi-part German figures from Warlord Games, ($41usd) with the cost of 30 plastic multi-part Space Marines from Games Workshop. You’d actually have to buy three boxes of Space Marines to get 30 figures (at $43usd a box or $129usd)!

Tutorial: Rubicon 1/56th Stug III Zimmerit

Rubicon Stug III Zimmerit I plan to use the Rubicon Stug III I built recently for a Late War German force, which will be fighting against my mates’ British and US Paras in Normandy.

Stugs in Normandy had Zimmerit because it was applied until late ’44. Stugs also had their own specific ‘waffle’ style Zimmerit applied by the manufacturer. If you’re working in 1/35th scale there’s all sorts of after-market brass etched kits you can buy to apply to specific Stug models. Of course 1/56th is a less common war-gaming scale so you’re obliged to find a solution yourself.

One common trick is to cut a texture stamp and use that on putty applied to your vehicle. That’s what I’ve done here, the first photo shows the plastic-card texture stamp and the first pieces of Zimmerit that were applied to my assembled Rubicon Stug. The texture stamp is a little over-scale for the Zimmerit being applied, but there were practical limits to how small I could cut the stamp. It’s also for a war-gaming vehicle rather than a scale model, so visual effect is more important than exact historical accuracy. Hopefully the rivet counters will forgive me.

Rubicon Stug III Zimmerit Front The Zimmerit was applied in batches, over a course of four evenings. The putty used was ‘grey stuff’, which is very similar to the usual ‘green stuff’, except quite a bit less tacky. It was rolled onto the dry body using the wetted end of an Xacto handle. The edges and corners were trimmed and tidied up with a sculpting tool. The smooth putty was then stamped carefully with the tool that was been dipped in water every few rows. The water is to stop the putty from sticking to the stamp rather than the tank.

I’ve tried to follow the historical pattern of application, with some limitations. Zimmerit was definitely applied to vertical surfaces where it was designed to stop magnetic mines from sticking to the sides of the vehicle. Looking at historical photos and it appears it was also often applied to the flat bow front and the roof of the cabin. I’ve avoided doing that for this Stug because it was unfortunately assembled before I decided to apply Zimmerit. That means the gun and mantlet are basically in the way of the bow top. The cabin roof was left bare because I didn’t want to work around the detail there. Some historical photos do appear to show cabin roofs without Zimmerit too.

Rubicon Stug III Stowage It was also wasn’t applied to the hull sides, because I’m putting schurzen on this model. Nor was it applied to the engine deck because I’ve covered at least half of that with stowage as you see in this final photo. The back of the cabin was done because fortunately I’d failed to glue the ventilator/antenna/rail piece on properly so it was easy to snap off. I then pushed it back into the setting putty, which seems to be holding it on better than the glue did. The metal stowage is from Ebob Miniatures, and the rather over-scale crate is from my own personal collection.

Overall I’m happy with the final effect an am looking forward to painting it up. These 1/56th vehicles are great fun to experiment on. The Rubicon models are so well priced I feel comfortable messing around with them too. If you screw up and it turns into a disaster you’ll only be down $46nzd or so.

Review: Rubicon 1/56th Stug III

Rubicon 1/56th Stug III Goodness we haven’t actually played Bolt Action yet and I’m already putting together a second force. I’m building 750pts of German Late War Wehrmacht from two boxed sets. The Rubicon Stug III plastic kit, and the new Warlord Games German Grenadiers plastic box. That’s an entire Bolt Action force to at least 750pts for around $100nzd excluding shipping. The Grenadiers could easily stretch to 1000pts if you use every one of the 30 figures in the box, and play them as Veterans.

First up the Rubicon Stug arrived this week from Mighty Ape and I immediately assembled it as a Late War Stug III Asuf H with most of the trimmings. The Stug III went together very easily, like their Panzer III I have already built. The basic chassis is the same, both historically and on the Rubicon model. That means it also has a handy set of tracks you can leave unglued until everything is painted. This time however I spent a little more effort on the inner road wheels. On the kit they’re joined together as a single piece with bits of 2mm plastic between each wheel. It’s not a biggie, but those can be visible on the final model and make painting the road wheels a bit harder. All I did was cut and file each inner wheel so they’re separate before gluing, and the track sets still slip on and off the vehicle easily.

The Rubicon kit has a slew of options for the early, mid and late War Stug III. Including multiple barrels, mantlets, frontal armor, three different cabin tops and even engine exhaust options. Fortunately the instructions are very clear about which parts are appropriate for which period, which makes things easy when assembling. I’ve gone late war with the remote operated MG, pig’s head cast mantlet, schurzen and stowage rack. That rack is going to get some stowage in the form of crates and 55 gallon drums.

Also like the Panzer III kit the schurzen are slip on to the vehicle body. That means the kit is missing some historic detail in the form of mounting racks for the skirts, but frankly that’s a small price to pay for ease of painting. Rivet counters could probably fabricate the missing racks with some cut plastic square rod if required. The only other bit of work I need to do is drill out the barrel of the main gun, which you can see is cast with a blank end in the kit. All of the gun barrels are like this, for ease of molding I think. Another excellent kit from Rubicon and great value for money at a modest $46nzd from Mighty Ape.

Review: Warlord Bolt Action German Grenadiers Plastic Box

Warlord German Grenadiers Box This arrived in the post today from England. Warlord Game’s new German Grenadier plastics box. This is enough plastics to make 30 German Late War Grenadiers in a lovely mix of weaponry. Opening the box you’ll find five copies of the same six man sprue, enough bases for them, an instruction sheet and a small sheet of very tiny decals for rank markings.

The sprues are up to Warlord’s normal standards with a great mix of uniforms, head options, weapons and equipment. The weapon options on each sprue are:

– Rifles: Kar 98K, firing Kar 98K, held Kar 98K, Gewehr 43, firing Gewehr 43, held STG44 x 2, STG44
– SMGs: Soviet PPSh, MP40 x 2.
– LMGs: MG42, MG42 held.
– Heavy: Panzerfaust, firing Panzerfaust

With of course a variety of holding and gripping arms that can be combined with the free weapons. The mix of uniforms and heads mean you can make officers plus rank and file easily. Here’s a couple of sprue shots to show the details. Now I need to do some planning on how to use every figure in the box and bust out the poly cement.

Warlord German Grenadier Sprue Front Warlord German Grenadier Sprue Back

Bolt Action: Lady and the Tank

Rubicon Panzer III Painted TCOW gaming club met last Sunday, and I was up for my first game of Bolt Action, so I painted the Rubicon Panzer III up for it in rather a hurry. As I still have cans of Tamiya paint in the garage, it got the old ‘Marmite weathering’ paint job as per other vehicles in my collection.

I really should endeavour to paint vehicles in a different fashion, but when it comes to desert armor it seems I can’t help myself. It just has to look like it’s been driven all over Egypt and Libya through terrible sand storms.
Continue reading Bolt Action: Lady and the Tank