Monday, October 28, 2013

TUTORIAL; How to make a realistic tree for dioramas or wargaming in 10 minutes

Welcome to my first proper tutorial of this blog, and the first with video. I've always wanted to make trees for wargaming, but never found out how to do it fastly and without spending a lifetime making one pine tree. After following some advice on Benno Figures Forum, I found that my sawdust had mysteriously escaped my modelling boxes, but while searching for something else (damn, I've still haven't found 1/72 arab tents!) I found these vegetable fibres for Christmas Nativity decorating, and the same day I went out to the mountain and found the perfect dry bush. 
So, by chance, I had the perfect ingredients. I leave you with the video that explains everything;

If you've liked this tutorial and want to say thanks, the best way is just make a click on the advertising below, that will help me buy modelling materials and dedicate more time to the hobby and less to work!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sturmpanzer IV Brummbar Sd. Kfz. 166 Review "Stupa" Italeri Nº7050 1/72 Esci Humbrol

Today we'll review another Italeri (originally Esci) kit, the mighty Brummbär.

This is the original box. It looks dead weird, the tank seems that it is floating, the cannon is longer, the crew seems american and the shadows are incongruent. One of the worst early Esci boxes.

Here there is the typical Humbrol box with the model completed. The model is nicely done, except the decals which you can obviously see were very poor, the days were decal-setting liquid wasn't as popular or common as today.

What I have just noticed now, is that this model had elastic tracks, not rigid ones. I don't know if the modeller just changed them or Humbrol changed the tracks.

And finally the last Esci example, a dark artwork which at least shows better proportions than the first one, and looks quite temible. 

A very interesting box, nicely done. Depending on how you depict the Brummbär, it can look quite boring, a Jagdpanzer with short cannon, but this artwork makes it look very interesting and different.

Just on a side note, the artist depicted the Brummbär with Zimmerit covering the body, and the model kit doesn't.

THE KIT -8.7 >>

One of the best Esci kits, it stays very well up to date. Detail is crisp (I think it was one of the kits that wasn't very mass-produced by Esci, so the moulds are in very good condition) and everything fits nicely. Fitting the side protections can be a bit tricky, but it is nothing that patience and super glue can't solve.

EXTRAS - 7.0 >>

With it's crew of 2, you get 1 pilot more than the average, so I suppose one can be happy here, where actually the norm is no extra at all. 


The Brummbär, as many late german tanks, has been blessed with an array of very interesting camouflages. It makes me want to build several just to use the camos!

Here I show you just an example (the first pic is the back of Italeri's box);

(These two final pics are Easy Model's ready built model.) 

PRICE/VALUE RATIO - 6.0 (eBay) 7.0 (Retail) >>

It's not really very cheap, ranging at about 11 pounds shipped. A bit cheaper on retail usually. Considering that is a quite old model, and it has to compete against the Dragon and the Trumpeter models which are superior and at least the Trumpeter cheaper, plus the ready built models from Easy Model. 


"The historical importance score is determined by how many were built, and how much operational service they had, and how much influence they had on the conflicts they were involved in"

If we count all the Sturmpanzer's versions (this model kit is the Mid-production model, the late version differing hull shape and added gun, but quite similar nevertheless) 298 were built from 1943 to 1945. It fought in all the active fronts except North Africa. Even if they weren't built on massive numbers, they had a good amount of combat.

You can find out more here; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brummb%C3%A4r

WARGAMING - 7.0 >>

Not very hard to build, one of the easiest Esci kits. Just the side protections will be a bit of a problem.

OVERALL - 7.2 >> 

This model kit has a tough competence, Dragon and Trumpeter, makes this exact version with lots of detail, much better than this one. Even Trumpeter makes also the late version. But personally this is still my favourite; the inclusion of the two pilots, and the lateral protections (if you have a spear set of these, and two spear Esci pilots, better you buy the Trumpeter), makes it my choice, as detail and accuracy comes second in my preferences, always considering that it has a decent level, which this kit has.

In one phrase; Much more than a Panzer IV with a heavy cannon, this kit is worth having.

IMAGES OF FINISHED JOBS  (click on the pics to see them bigger)

Thanks to Neil Lyall for his permission to use the photos you've seen of his beautifully made kit. (he added the Zimmerit on the body).

 Model kit made by myself, painted with enamels. If you wonder why it doesn't has the other pilot ,the sad answer is that; it was lost in combat that same day, while taking pics! sniff! we will remember you, Fritz!

Thanks for reading!!!

If you have enjoyed this review and you want to support the blog, it will be very appreciated if you could make a click in the advertising of the blog! (Thanks!);

First Entry update; Arab Cavalry

I have added a new pic to the first entry, showing another way of painting the Italeri Arab Cavalry by Miniaturas Aconcagua, giving them a very dark and modern movie appearance; 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Today we'll speak of something else than a review, we'll discuss about how to represent a specific sub-tribe or sub-people, that are usually over looked by manufacturers and englobed in generic titles such as "Celts", "Germanics" or even more vague ones as "Barbarians". 

When one starts to collect Ancient soldiers (Napoleonic and WW2 is another story), at least in my case, you hardly think about lesser tribes. You want to have romans, greeks, gauls, arabs, mongols, medieval christians, etc. But with the passing of time, and the increase in the collection, you start to find some gaps. "Those peoples were destroyed by those others, and I don't have them in soldiers". Or you start wondering yourself who habited that area in Roman times, or in Medieval times, or whatever.

And maybe what it triggers the "diversification" of soldiers is; this is my 4th set labelled as "Germanics", and some of them don't look like the same between themselves, and I already have too many of them to have a proportioned representation. Heck, the Romans will be outnumbered seven to one if they fight against all Celts/Gauls!!. 

So then, one of the solutions (besides selling off half of each set) is to separate into tribes and to modify some of the figures.

In my case, I started separing the "Medievals" into the different kingdoms, a so generic label as that is of little use besides fighting "Arabs". 

But let's return to the subject. We have thousands of Celts. The Celts were separated in hundreds of tribes, sometimes in war among themselves, others in peace. Actually many Celtic tribes decided to help the Romans and betray their fellow companions. Some acted as mercenaries for the Carthaginians. We need at least 3 different sorts of Gauls/Celts. So, as we're doing it, let's do it well.


What I do to differentiate them, to easily recognize them, is give a basic colour to each tribe. As the can't wear any type of uniform neither shield pattern as some ancient peoples did, I generally try that each soldier has a bit of that main colour, like in some computer games like Rome Total War (not so blatantly obvious, like painting all trousers pink).

So, the first thing you should do is decide how many tribes you want to make. Once we have decided how many factions, we should assign a colour to each faction (in this case, I have assigned black to the Veneti). With some luck there is some historical basis, like some tribes wearing prominently blue tattoos. 

After we have to assign the number of forces. You can give a standard balance among themselves, to give a good level of variety, what you can also do is try to historically represent the amount and quantity of each type for each tribe.

For example, the Veneti were expert seafarers, so I give them less cavalry, just a symbolic quantity, and I give more skirmisher troops like archers. They weren't the richest of the Gaulish tribes, so less armoured men for them. 

One of the good things of merging a lot of sets together, is that you get a very nice "barbaric" feel, without the homogeneity that some sets give us (like the terrible Italeri Gaul Warriors set, with 9 figures with the same pose).

Finally, I choose a colour for the stands, and a different shade of brown or green for each tribe, this will help us to avoid confusion with other tribes when using them side by side in wargaming. 

Here are the pics of the final result;

This is the pic of the different sets used;

I'll explain a bit the choices of soldiers here; 

The first row are the Esci Barbarian Warriors, I've selected those that wear the celtic collar, that indicates that they are clearly not Germanic, and so they really don't fit with the other figures in the set, besides a bizarre Celtic-Germanic alliance or mixed tribes. I've painted tattoos on some of them, and I've modified all the leaders to make them more different and not so standard.

Then there is the Celtic Cavalry from Italeri, the Veneti basically enter in history for their combats in fortresses or at sea, but I considered that they needed a minimal representation.

Then comes the Revell Celts, which is a set that again merges Celts with Germanics, or early Vikings, so all those have been discarded. A small quantity of the Italeri Gaulish Warriors, which in small numbers look interesting.

I've also broken up the set of Carthaginian Allies, they add a nice variety. The Hat Celtic Command is a set that you must break up, as they are leaders and champions so their function is to represent the elite of a faction. 

The Airfix Britons are not the best Celts to use, but after purchasing some second hand lots, I have so many I need to make them fit everywhere I can :) . Note that I have changed the shields so they doesn't look so Briton.

And finally, one lonely HaT Celtic Cavalry to give more "colour" to the cavalry.

 That's all. In the future, I hope to make more proper tutorials, as how to paint big quantities of miniatures fastly, and making small houses and fortifications as scenario for wargaming or dioramas.

Thanks for reading!!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pegasus PANZER E25 e-25 Prototype Jagdpanzer Review 7602

Welcome to another review, today we will be reviewing the Panzer E-25, a fast-assembly model kit.

BOX ART >> Pegasus doesn't bother with artworks, in exchange they show you the real model built to a good standard in a wargame scenery.The good thing is that you see what you are getting, and yes, in this case two models.

THE KIT - 8.5 >>

To be a fast-assembly kit, it is fantastically done. It was the second kit of these kind I bought, and I was surprised by the detail. The first thing I thought was "why all manufacturers couldn't do tracks like these, all in a part!" as they are really very well done. Okay, you lose a bit of depth, but it is really impressive the moulding quality.

The only "but" is that some of the equipment moulded at the side of the tank looks a bit flat, and would have really been better that it was made without them, and left to the expert modeller if to add them from another kit or not. All the same they can be easily cut off.

Everything fits very well, and really, you don't need glue, except maybe for the telescope.

EXTRAS - 4.0 >>

Just a extra canopy, you can choose between turret with machine gun and some weird telescope.


A bit hard to say, as we are speaking of a prototype that only 5 were built, and it is supposed they didn't fight.

So you could say the possibilites are just limited by your imagination, or simply very limited; just a non-painted half built. Or you could argue that amid the chaos of the end of the war some of the prototypes were finished and used in a sort of operational training.


 They roughly cost 10-14 $ shipped, judging by Amazon, eBay and other model kit websites. This is quite a good price for two well detailed models. If you find it in a retail shop for 10 € in Europe, it will be a very god bargain. I bought for this price and I was very happy with the purchase.


"The historical importance score is determined by how many were built, and how much operational service they had, and how much influence they had on the conflicts they were involved in"

Besides wasting a bit of Germany's metal, time and effort in them without serving any purpose, it was not very influential in history.

We could argue that it inspired the post-war Jagdpanzer;


Made for wargamers, and it serves perfectly the purpose. Easy building, good detail, two in a box, fair cost, a 10. Always considering you accept in your wargames models that is unlikely they actually fought in WWII.

  OVERALL - 8.0 >> 

I would like to see more kits of this kind, but not just of prototypes, from real tanks that took an active role in the war, probably some forgotten early war tanks, and while still giving two tanks per box, if different models (or turret variations) it would be perfect. 

These tanks are recommended both for beginners and expert collectors. For novices because it is cheap and of easy assembly, and for expert collectors because it is one of those models you buy once you think you have everything that had tracks and was in WW2.



                             BUILT EXAMPLES

Kits made by myself.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Orion BYZANTINE INFANTRY 12-15 centuries ORI 72827 1/72 scale constantinople painted soldiers figures miniatures

Today we talk about.... the Byzantine Infantry from Orion, a set that  most probably filled the most important army in history without 1/72 representation. Does it convincingly fill that gap, or it is a insult to our beloved Byzantines? Discover it in this review!

The Box

Following the unique Orion style, the artwork is a bit strange, just showing three men of a set with many different types of soldier.This is not a very good choice. It seems a strange 60s poster. Behind, we are shown the silhouettes of the soldiers, because it is impossible to see anything else with such dark pics of the soldiers. It is even wrong in listing the quantity, as instead of 42 figures, there are 44, so this box averages quite bad.

                        The Sprues

Painted examples;

SCULPTING - 6.0 out of 10

Something went wrong with this set. The sculpting is good as with nearly all Orion sets, with lively poses, and very good proportions, but the flash is present nearly everywhere, the spears are bad jokes, they have tempted me to substitute them all (and I am one of those non-perfectionists guys that would hardly even think of that possibility). The arrows of some archers are just a blob, and worst of all, two of the poses don't have a face. You will wonder then, what do they have then? My best bet is a sort of monstruos scarred flat face. (the italian hand-gunner and the man pointing down his spear).

So congratulations to the sculptor, and death to the productor/technician that made the moulds. I cannot give more than a 6, even if the sculptor's job was good, the product was quite spoiled. I think that you can be lucky and get a better set, with less flash and maybe the face of the spearmen, but from what I have seen, the spears and the hand-gunner face are lost forever.


Orion has just copied many plates of Osprey books, like other companies, but this time, without hardly reading anything of the book nor researching the most minimal reference outside those plates. The Albanians and Bulgars should be cavalry, but as depicted in the plates they were dismounted, so they have been done like this. There are other small problems of accuracy, but these could be passed over as not very important.


"The army representation score is the potential of the soldiers to be used for other purposes different to the one originally intended"

 The native Byzantine Infantry is hardly  usable for anything else (except probably the spearmen without a shield that could be of any Medieval Kingdom), and you would have to convert them slightly, which I hardly see the point  of,there being so many medieval troops.

But then here come the auxiliaries, which are nearly the 40 % of this set. There are Cumans, Almughavar and Venetians, which could have a lot of uses; the Almughavars as any barbarian or mountain tribe, the Venetian as any medieval hand-gunner, and the Cumans as any nomadic faction.


"I feel that many reviews are oblivious to this point - there are fantastic figures, which you can´t say anything against, but they are just too "correct", maybe too static, and just boring. So I feel that this is an important point when deciding if you buy this set"

The regular Byzantines are quite dull (except the officer, which is a fun addition, although he is wearing a court fine dress, and wouldn't be dressed like that in battle, we can consider he is defending a city, something which the Byzantines did quite a lot in these eras, and he hasn't had time to change his garments) but then there come the auxiliaries.

I consider it a great idea having done Albanians, a very interesting and obscure subject, and the first representation of the Almughavars, the famous catalan mercenaries of Roger de Lluria, which after his death at the hands of the Byzantines,  assaulted various cities in Greece and founded a small principate that lasted roughly 50 years.  Both Almogavars use a spear, but at least they should have been given a pose with a short knife, which had  made them famous, as they used one to stab the stomach of the enemy horse, and  then to finish off the knight once on the floor.


The ratios and proportions of men are strange and hardly good. First, it should have a proper military commander, not just a court dignitary for defence. They  completely lack  Byzantine light infantry, which I suppose you are intended to draw  from the other two sets that Orion produces of earlier Byzantines, but they would have changed a bit and it is not a 100 % fulfilling solution. All the native Byzantine infantry are heavily armoured and many of them wear a sash on their chest, which was used to show the rank, and so they are officers.


"The price value ratio of this soldiers will vary between any shops you go to, and the best I can do is judge by their average price on eBay"

Their average cost is 10 € shipped, which is good. I bought this set in a heartbeat, I would have probably bought just about any set that had "Byzantine" in it's title. At first I complained a bit, as it isn't a very representative set for the Byzantine Empire, but with the later releases of the two other earlier sets, it is a very nice addition. When they first appeared, I would have paid the double to have them, to soothe my Byzantine soldier' thirst.


Help support this blog by clicking on the ads. All clicks will be greatly appreciated.


Some of the worst soldiers you can plan to paint, and yet, some of the few I've painted. They have big amounts of flash, and due to the elastic nature of the plastic, when you cut it it leaves a  very annoying roughness . I was literally HOURS trimming and cutting, and even then they weren't perfect to paint. 

And as mentioned earlier, some figures do not have a face, which is bad if you don't paint them, awful if try to do it. Once you paint the spears, you fully realise they are using short wooden branches to fight, instead of proper spears. 


Even with all the problems it has, this is a good set, with a certain "life", that other sets lack. However, some perfectionist collectors and exigent wargamers will have to discard some of the figures due to bad moulding.

I always asked myself why any manufacturer made a so important and well documented theme as the Byzantines (or Roman Empire, as I am already hearing you call it, historical geek).

At the moment of their release, they were a absolute must, but now with other Orion sets maybe you would want to skip this one and get the other two ones, that have better moulding (although spears are still sticks without point).

Conclusion; a bit flashy, but fun, worth if just for the mercenaries.

"If you have painted these figures, I would love to include the pics in here, so everybody can compare and use this blog as reference when painting their soldiers. So if you want, send me a email with the pictures to tam_cob@hotmail.com and I´ll gladly include them"

First half of the figures.

Second half of the figures.

Rebellion of the auxiliaries!

Rebellion of the auxiliaries 2.

General view. Figures painted by myself.

Thanks for reading, and see you in the next battle!