Thursday, January 19, 2012

My table - stowage and substructure

I won't describe the way I made the table and will only refer to this tutorial. Although it's in German, I believe the pictures speak for themselves. Simply made of styrofoam with wooden bands at the edges - light weight and robust. In this post I only deal with technical problems around the table.

One of the main resources a wargamer needs is simple and at the same time often difficult to get: space! When I started the tabletop hobby 8 years ago (damn it, thats nearly a decade...) on the age of 16. I lived in a village in Brandenburg (for all wargamers out there, that is former Prussia ;) ). There was not much (especially no jobs) but one thing in Brandenburg: space. I lived in a house which was built for five people, but we only were three. So I had plenty space for my hobby - I even had an own cellar for crafting. So I never worried about how to store my table, which was in fact a massive board of plywood, 48x72 inch or 120x180cm in size. But, as you all know, things in life change and so I went out for studying. I came to a big town (even if many people would argue that Kiel is small - for someone from a village it's still big), which ironically meant that my space became less. So, my space decreased dramatically, not just for the table and scenery, but for my crafting stuff as well. I of course continued my hobby and when I realized that I don't like wargaming clubs I knew I had to built a new table, as the old one was too heavy and big for my new home.

I tackled the problem and had some special objectives which I wanted to reach. First of all, my new table should be stored in my flat itself, not in the basement or the attic. Second, it had to be kept safe and clean. Third, it should be stored in a way that nobody can see it in daily life. The last aspect is very important as I live together with my girlfriend and don't want to annoy her (even more) with my stuff. Another problem was (and still is), that there is no place for a real dining table, so I had to built a substructure as well, which also had to be stored. And thats how I solved my problem:

Substructure fits under the bed (IKEA made).

A normal couch...? (also IKEA :D)

The rest of the table plus some scenery directly under the couch. The boxes in the left are full of scenery, the grey paper in front keeps the table segments free from dust.
The exposed table segments.
Some words on the whole system. My table segments had to lie horizontal, so they don't buckle. I therefore installed wooden bars in three levels. As a result the segments rests on the bars. They also don't touch each other, which means that there is no abrasion of static gras or, even worse, colour or sand.

The storage system based on bars.
Detail of the table storage bars.

Now I'll show the substructure. First, again, some thoughts why I made it the way I did. Instead of buying cheap wooden bents I took the metal ones. They cost about 12€ and are therefore four times more expensive than the cheap ones. But they offer an important advantage: they are robust and will serve me a long time. I then drilled a hole into them. This hole holds a pin, which connects the bents with the bar the table will rest upon. I did that, so, when the table is fully installed, it won't slip away. I noticed that players often come into contact with the table while playing, sometimes even a bit harder. This could lead to the table sliding away and falling down (I actually did this once myself). Now it can't happen anymore.
One bent with a small hole.
The connection between bar and bent.

The bars themselves are very simple. Just bars with a lenght of 180cm or 72 inch. I added a hinge, so I can use the bars on 120cm/48 inch or the full length. They are also easier to store and to transport. I mentioned the holding pin above.
The bars.
Bars at full length.
The bars retracted.

The last thing concerns the table segments themselves. I added wooden "tracks", which work in combination with the bars where the segment rests on. So they can't be moved and the whole table is an entity. You may know the problem of parts of the table gliding away, because someone hit them and the whole board slides - this can't happen to me anymore.
Track system in "action".
The complete table with two of the three segments.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Falling leaves... or not?

Hi there,

today I added static grass to the bases of my trees which I have shown earlier. As gras only would be a bit boring I tried something new. I read the hint to use oregano as dead leaves on the ground and so I tried that on one base. Here's the result (the pictures aren't the best, sorry for that):

So what do you mean: should I add oregano to all bases or should I stay with gras only?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Results of a weekend

I had high ambitions and I soon realized that they were too high to reach them. Let's have a look:
  • finish all my wip Wehrmacht vehicles (3 tanks, 2 trucks + 4 tanks and 2 halftracks with minor workload) - only the 4 tanks and 2 halftracks are finished, but the rest is on the way
  • finish my Italian Autoblinda 41 (a recon vehicle) - not finished, but almost
A workbench filled with work...

  • finish the bases of my trees (that means drybrushing and flocking) - only the flock is missing now, but for a reason: I want to test oregano as leaves on the ground

  • start my Ukrainian village - nothing here
  • at least prime my Italian infantry - also not yet done
  • base the rest of my Wehrmacht infantry - nope
  • finish the boxes for my tanks - done! Only some foam is missing, good, that doesn't count as I still have to buy it
Raw material...
...only glue to come...
...some pressure...

Time for a  review. I'm of course a bit disappointed because I only achieved one goal on my list, but there is also something positive. I could push many things on the list much further so it is foreseaable that I can complete them this week. The aims were always in my head while working which motivated me to continue, although I was sometimes halfhearted. As a result, I'm convinced that I accomplished more than I would have without the pressure of my public plan. So, my personal conclusion is that my blog motivated me, but I have to lower my expectations then it comes to plans.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Leisure time = crafting time

Just a small update. I finished a paper for my studies (political science in this case), so I have leisure time until monday. Of course I want to spend it getting something done. So here are my plans for this weekend (today included):

  • finish all my wip Wehrmacht vehicles (3 tanks, 2 trucks + 4 tanks and 2 halftracks with minor workload)
  • finish the bases of my trees (that means drybrushing and flocking)
  • finish my Italian Autoblinda 41 (a recon vehicle)
  • start my Ukrainian village
  • at least prime my Italian infantry
  • base the rest of my Wehrmacht infantry
  • finish the boxes for my tanks
Thats quite much. Damn.

Love and hate - often closely connected

Yesterday, after I wrote my second post here, I returned to my work station to finish my Panzer III (I showed it in my first post). I wanted to try matt varnish on it, so it would be protected from sticky fingers and other things which rub off paint. A friend of mine also used it on his tanks and was satisfied. So I was optimistic and started to apply the varnish. It looked a bit wet even after drying, so I waited a little more. But the wet effect stayed. Now I'm disappointed, because the tank looks darker than before and the dirt I painted lost it's nice dusty look. It's not really a big deal, but if you paint such nice models and they are just the way you wanted them - and than something changes, it can daunt you. In my case it did. 

Compared to a similar tank. Note the shiny, wet looking dirt and the slighty darker grey on the left tank.

So, I decided not to varnish my tanks. Only the decals will get some, so they loose their gloss. My poor Panzer will get some new dirt but not more

But that wasn't all I did. I also finished some markers for Disposables Heroes. Just small stones on a one €-cent coin, painted and varnished. Not much, but necessary for a game and they look good on the table.

Last but not least my trees, or, to be specific, their bases:

I was told to make the bases brighter then I normally do and so i did. I like the result (thanks again Björn!). But that lead me to another decision: I have to pimp my table. 
I built it three years ago and I made a mistake, because I painted it very dark by using a black primer and a dark brown as base colour. I liked it in the beginning and so painted all my scenery bases in the same scheme. Today, I regret my decision, but I was too lazy to change all my stuff. However, I will tackle that in the following months, as I am very optimistic at the moment. I will of course show that project to you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I've done today - Trees and thoughts

Back again.

At the end of a day I often ask myself: "what have you done for your hobby today? You had so big plans and still have so many things to do." Today, I worked on some trees which lay for a month in my basement and bought some things. Nothing big.

But it was indeed a good day for me and my hobby, because I did something which keeps the hobby alive just as painting and building does: I met a friend and we talked a lot. We not only made some scenery together, but we shared thoughts (not only about wargaming). That sounds simple and sure, it is. But it's just as important as playing, because I believe that a game is only fun if both parts have the same goal. And that is, for me, to experience a cool scenario, a small story, the thrill about leading inferior forces in a tough situation or to flood the enemy positions with your men - but not to achieve victory. That's also the reason I play historical wargames - the percentage of people sharing my view on how and why to play wargames is much higher than in other areas. Unfortunately there are not so many of 'us' in Kiel. Thats the negative aspect: if you know what you want, you also know what you don't want - and that can result in loosing many potential takers.

Anyway, lets come back to the real stuff. I based many trees today (thanks to Björn), which I bought months ago. I'm pretty shure to finish them until sunday. To make them more durable I always use cheap hair spray, so they loose less flock (and smell like hair instead of glue ;) ).

And some small things. A light bulb (for my work bench), a set of fences (I wanted to buy them since august) and some felt (it will protect my tanks some day).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome on my blog!

Welcome on my blog! 

You may wonder why I called it "An Average Wargamer". I believe that I don't have any skills I am particular good at. However, I want to show what I am going to paint and build because of some reasons. First of all, I want to get motivation by sharing my projects. Secondly, I would also like to get some feedback. Thirdly, I believe that there cannot be enough blogs with cool stuff on the internet and so I want to contribute something after years of only consuming.

In the following months and years I am going to share my projects with you. That will include not only pictures, but also thoughts, background information, scenarios, book reviews, and things like that. Anyhow, I know how important eye candy is! An therefore, before I begin to reveal my plans, I will start with some pictures:

A Panzerkampfwagen III J (only missing matt varnish)

A Sd.Kfz 251/1 (also not fully finished)

The might of Macedonia - a phalanx

 Macedonian cavalry - hetairoi