Challenging Challengers: A lesson in Paint Stripping!

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Oh, the road it took to get here. Filled with swearing and other such fun stuff!

Confession time…I hate painting camouflage. Absolutely hate it. I love the idea of it, but the actual time and painting skill required can be extremely daunting, and I never really attempted it. Until last week.

The British Army of the Rhine I’m working on historically had a quite simple scheme of black and green, and I figured I could rattle-can the process, and get it done really quickly. I followed this idea from Battlefront themselves, https://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=5329, and figured I could use Blue-Tack to accomplish the same task.

This. Did. Not. End. Well.

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Oh, it looks so fine and alright. For now.

The issue I ran into is that not all Blue-Tack is the same. The brand I used was an off brand, a terrible gloopy Plasticine mess that stuck to the model and stubbornly refused to come off. Realistically, this wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own, as I used a sub-standard product. To be clear; Don’t use no-name brand Blue-Tack for this. Actually, having found another solution, I recommend not using Blue-Tack for this at all.

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After a bath in Isopropyl Alcohol 90%, the Blue-Tack was finally gone, and most of the original paint too! Acceptable casualties.

Now, I had to get the paint and Blue-Tack mess off. Plastic models aren’t as bad as resin to strip paint of off, but it is still significantly harder then metal. There is a lot of debate as to what the best solution is. I can only offer my personal solution, and make no claims that it is the “best”. I must warn you that I have no idea how this works on resin, so be warned!

What you want is this!

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Less Messy then Dettol. Just as good.

This, by far, in my experience the easiest and least fuss method. Simply pour the 90% isopropyl alcohol straight into a plastic container (Tupperware style), and let the plastic miniatures sit in it for a few minutes to a couple of hours. It should, depending on how thick the primer and paint was, come off fairly quickly. It may stain the model, but this doesn’t happen very often and also is of fairly little consequence as the new paint should cover it entirely.

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Silly Putty! Childhood nostalgia comes to the rescue.

So with Blue-Tack turning out to be a bust, a bit of further reading turned up Silly Putty as a masking solution. I applied it much the same as I did the Blue-Tack, and resprayed the models, emptying my last can of Firefly Green in the process(Luckily, some advice from several people on the Team Yankee Facebook page has led to a suitable replacement.) Not only did it not stick to the model like the Blue-Tack, it is also reusable! This is a massive improvement, and leads to the models you see as the end result that you can see here.

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Yes. I used the same picture twice. I really should document stuff better!

In all honesty, I didn’t document this process as thoroughly as I should have, since I was not exactly in the right mood for it. Lots of swearing, and overall malaise kind of took over. Lesson learned though, and it provides a decent start to begin painting in earnest. I do think I need more green and less black in the scheme, and the rest of my army will take that into account. On the bright side, one of the two boxes of Charlies Chieftains I found online has arrived, and the other hopefully will arrive soon, giving me Lynx helicopters and a solid core of Chieftain tanks, a cheaper alternative for when I don’t want to take the Challengers. The Lynxes I’m torn on if they should be assembled with TOWs or as transports; I’m leaning toward the latter to give me options to drop troops with nasty Milans in places they shouldn’t be.

This may not have been my most fun experience, and a less cheery blog post then I normally put out. But if my experience can help someone else, it’ll have been worth it! Beyond the scope of the Team Yankee project, I have also been tasked by my gaming Clubhouse to help build a website for them, and hopefully soon the fruits of those labours can be shared with all of you!

But until next time, Happy War-gaming, wherever you might be!

 

A Comedy of Errors: Team Yankee reinforcements!

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More stuff! That I built wrong, and primed maybe the wrong color, but stuff!

Sometimes, Murphy’s Law happens; If it can go wrong, it will. Luckily today’s minor errors fixed themselves pretty easily, and it wasn’t too painful. But they were annoying, and of course, leads to more time spent tomorrow trying to fix them!

I had received the ADATs vehicles last week, but only started cracking on them a couple nights ago. As a metal/resin hybrid kit, there was a potential for some issues, luckily my casts were mostly clean, and didn’t take a lot of work. The metal was in good shape too. They weren’t overly hard to build, but the turrets were quite difficult to assemble, and once complete the turrets were not exactly balanced. Luckily, the addition of magnets fixed that issue.

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The firepower will be worth the effort! These will go into my friends Canadian Army.
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An extremely unique platform, trialed by both the US and Canada. The Canadian military eventually did adopt the system in small numbers.
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The missiles could be fired at both Aircraft and Tanks, hence the name, Air Defense Anti Tank, or ADATS! In Team Yankee these vehicles pack a monstrous punch, but make up for that by being a massive target and having to do very different roles.
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Eventually, both neglect and age killed the system. While advanced for its day, by the time of its retirement the missiles had serious issues. The Canadians never fought a war where it could do its job as needed, and therefore was sidelined. It acted as defense for the Kananaskis G8 summit, and that was its last “deployment”. Incidentally, I lived in Canmore at the time, and the summit made for an interesting change of pace in the small mountain community. The military presence while not obtrusive was obvious. As a kid, it was all very fascinating, and probably added to my interest in the military as an adult.

 

The other package today included two platoons of M113’s with T50 turrets, another box of Scorpions and Army Painter Army Green spray paint. I also got lucky and received from a UK store another Australian mechanized platoon, completing my infantry contingent of my Anzac forces.

The M113’s were where things started to go awry. Badly assembled rear hatches, forgotten top hatches, T50 turret machine-guns assembled the wrong way around….it was a bad idea to hobby while talking to people on Discord and trying to text people at the same time. I’m just glad I didn’t injure myself!

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As you can see from the unpainted plastic pieces, I forgot a few! At the end of the day, at least it isn’t immediately obvious that things are wrong here…
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The M113 in Aussie and Kiwi service was commonly fitted with turrets. This was a result of experience borne in Vietnam. Oddly, they were the only countries to use these styles of turrets on their M113s; a fact that puzzles me, as the advantages are obvious. Someone more knowledgeable then me can explain it better.
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These are an older Battlefront kit, and the vast array of parts offered allow you to make a frankly insane amount of different variants. The M113 was certainly a workhorse platform!
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Ah, Bent barrels and bare plastic. This thing fought me the whole time…I hope the next five go better!

Finally, I took the whole lot of stuff outside to prime. Army Green? I’m not entirely sure what I expected, but using it on historical miniatures I know to be a different but close shade, I think it was that I could get away with it. I’m undecided, and it is probably salvageable…

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I should invest in an airbrush…

As Chieftain Green is now out of production, and my can being empty after finishing my British, I took a chance on using it on my Canadian ADATs. Bad call, as this color isn’t right at all. Luckily, I can cover most of it with a camouflage pattern. On the Australians, the color isn’t as egregious but still not quite right. It is close enough that once darkened with a wash it should be closer to true, but as people who have read my Vostroyan project blog know, I’m not a great painter and like to get the color as close to the end result with the priming step.

As for the British, they are finally, sans infantry, primed!

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Weather cooperating, finally! Got the whole lot done.
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I absolutely adore this colour! It is a nice British Army of the Rhine base, and when I get a can of black spray to do the camouflage pattern it’ll go nicely with it.

It could have gone smoother, but at least it all is done for now. Wait, nope, still got five M113’s to do. Unfortunately, I need ten more, and the supply in Canada for them has run dry. Waiting for a daily deal from Battlefront or a good sale somewhere else is probably my best bet. My Leopard’s are not primed yet, as I got a comment on my last post about modifying them to Aussie spec, and I want to try that first. As well, I need a good paint for German “Gelboliv”, which Australian Leopards were delivered in that color and not repainted until later.

While I thought my British were “finished”, I found a place in Canada selling the otherwise difficult to find Chieftain kits! One is part of the older Charlie’s Chieftains set, a good buy as it gets me a template I don’t own, and two Lynx helicopters as well, while the other is a standard box. While I am happy to get the good ole’ backbone of the BAOR, with my Chieftain/Firefly Green paint can having finally given up the ghost, I find myself looking for a suitable replacement. I’m not too picky in having it match exactly, but it should be close. I should invest in an airbrush, but my family enjoys their peace and quiet….

Anyways, that is all I have for today! I’ll be back with more progress when I have some. Happy War-gaming folks, wherever you might be!

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At least it was a nice sunset to cap off the day!

Cold Weather for a Cold War: A Foray into 15mm

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Oh boy, here we go again!

It feels good to be back! It has been a long time since my last post, with my own personal situation and the global chaos that has been 2020 having caused a whole slew of issues, with my problems at least finally back in control! I apologize for the few of you who read my content, but for now at least I’m back.

With Covid-19 looming large, and a shutdown (albeit a soft one) in Canada, I found myself with not a lot to do. A quarantine project was needed, but having burned out of 40k(again), I couldn’t really muster any enthusiasm. Luckily, as it so often turns out to be, my friend asked me a quite innocent question that caused an avalanche.

“Hey, Andrew, you ever hear of a game called Team Yankee?”

I had, but not paid it much mind. 15mm was a scale I’d sworn off on doing, what with the tiny models and multiple infantry on one base thing. But 28mm was a topic my group had covered quite comprehensively, and my research showed me a game that was fun, if not entirely always realistic. The Cold War is also a fascinating topic, with lots of ground to cover, from Korea all the way to the hypothetical situation in West Germany with the Able Archer exercise causing a global thermonuclear war. Interesting, and also terrifying. As well, unlike many of my peers, my parents didn’t grow up with the terror of the Cold War looming as they had the quite real terror of the Indo-Pakistani wars instead, so it was a topic I needed to study myself. So it was a solid background for a tabletop game, trading my current existential terror of the pandemic for the historical existential terror of World War Three.

With my interest in the history, real or otherwise piqued, I turned to the game. Team Yankee is based off the venerable Flames of War system. I have heard many things about that game, not all of them good, admittedly. But Team Yankee from, at least from all the battle reports I had watched, looks incredibly fun. Simple to learn, with a degree of strategy above Bolt Action(which does platoon level infantry action really well, less so armored combat) or 40k, where many games I’ve played having been decided in the list-building step. The smaller scale also means that company level warfare was now playable on our 4×6 tables.

As for what countries each of us would play, my one friend picked the Soviet Union, while the other picked West Germany. Myself? I had a couple in mind, but the first one is the focus for today…

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“We’re fighting a land war in Germany….again?”

The British, or more specifically, the British Army of the Rhine, was my first choice. With a strong defensive focus, and a few nasty surprises, these chaps hit like a truck(or is that a lorry?) and can take it in turn. I wasn’t able to get the Challenger starter box, or either of the older Charlies Chieftains boxes, so my army was made up of what was available in Canada at the time. I didn’t know until later that this was one of the stronger nations to play, that was an accident, I swear!

We all agreed to build up to 100 points, and to have that 100 point army painted and complete before the next time we saw each other. Without any further distractions, onto the pictures!

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Your average British infantryman of 1985. Soldiering on with the L1A1, this model is actually superbly detailed for 15mm…
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…with his webbing and equipment well defined and easy to see.
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Four to a base, with specific weapons, usually three rifleman with anti-tank rockets, and a special weapon. This stand has instead replaced a rifleman with one with a radio, and the special weapon for an officer. This is the command stand.
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The full platoon. This size force is usually your entire army in Bolt Action or other 28mm platoon level games, but here it is simply part of a larger formation.

 

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Warrior IFV’s(Infantry Fighting Vehicle). This is a newer unit in Team Yankee, being rushed to the frontlines. These are solid, safe transports for the infantry. Three, the ones without the MILAN missile on top, are my troop transports, while the other two without are my MILAN Warrior Anti-Tank unit.
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These are in scale with the infantry, and you can see how they might fit into the transport.
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I’ve uparmored these Warriors, which isn’t correct for 1985-87 if this was a historical wargame, but being an alternate history of World War Three, I figured I could take the liberty. Also, it makes the vehicle much more survivable. In reality these kits I think first saw action in the UK contribution to the First Gulf War.
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The MILAN anti-tank missile, fitted to the top of this Warrior. This gives me an additional anti-tank option. Again, I don’t believe this configuration saw real life use, as the British didn’t want their transport crews to get any funny ideas and try to kill a tank.
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These cute little tanks are Scorpion Light Tanks. Traditionally used in the reconnaissance role, these guys let me expand my deployment area. They can also hammer enemy light vehicles, and maybe even kill a few!
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These things are small! Armed with a 76mm cannon, these little tanks can be a nuisance.
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Ah, finally, the real meat of this list. Five Challenger 1 main battle tanks. With the best armor in the game, these lads will survive almost anything coming their way, but will be heavily outnumbered in doing so. These are also up-armored with the ROMOR armor package, making them considerably more expensive but even more hard to kill. This package was first seen during the Gulf War, but I think they existed earlier; they just had no need to fit them.
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You can see the size here! A solid mass of still to this day classified armor, they will be a serious threat to Ivan.
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And, while completely ridiculous, we have on table artillery. While they shouldn’t even be on the battlefield, what with their massive range, that is an allowance to make it a game, not a simulation. In any event, these are MLRS platforms, and fire a scary barrage of rockets over a massive area. They will devastate anything under the template, but will not survive enemies who close in to kill them.
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These platforms can be taken by the British, Americans, and the Germans! A NATO vehicle through and through. This should help even up the battle against waves of enemy BMPs and infantry.
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And now we leave the realm of reality for fiction. These are Chieftain Marksman AA vehicles, armed with twin 35mm cannons firing at a rapid rate. While the system did exist, and was trialed, it was an entirely civilian venture, and was not adopted by the British Military. It was picked up by the Finnish later, who would put it on their T-55s, and later, Leopard 2s. In this timeline, it isn’t completely crazy to assume that a British government might see the need for such a vehicle…
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A Resin, Metal, and Plastic kit. Not a nightmare to work with, but a serious pain in the butt. Still, I know my enemy loves Hinds, so this is an investment to prevent any “Ride of the Valkyries” shenanigans.
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Conveniently, said kit came with the full plastic Chieftain kit, allowing me to make the normal Chieftain Main Battle Tank as well. These older tanks have the Stillbrew armor package; A measure meant to expand their service life. While my side armor is still thin on these guys, the main gun and frontal armor is very, very good for a 70’s era tank.
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And the whole army. I’m quite happy with this, not an overwhelming amount to paint, and very sturdy, at least in armor. Morale with my small units could be an issue, however.

As my friends complete their armies, I’ll ask them if they are okay with me showing off their progress. While it will be a while before I can play, it’ll be a fun project. I’ve already learned a considerable amount about the last years of the Cold War, and painting…when the weather finally cooperates to allow me to prime, will be a blast. Except for the infantry, in their fancy DPM uniforms. Almost makes me want to play the Warsaw Pact!

In any event, I didn’t stop here, as that would be an intelligent option. I also picked up another book, for cheap, on eBay. Reading it gave me an idea for another force…

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Oh boy! More tanks!

As the weather is downright miserable in Canada(at least my little corner of it.), I’ll be cracking on with assembling this second army. A few clues to what it is. Firstly, it is in the Free Nations book. And secondly, I will be posting progress pictures on April 25th. If you got a guess lemme know! You won’t win anything, but it will be slightly amusing! I’ll see you guys then.

As always, Happy War-gaming, wherever in the world you might be! And, stay safe everyone. May not be 1985, but we still got a crisis to worry about. Take care!