Monday 30 June 2014

2014 Half Year Blog Report...

Its almost half way through the year so a quick update on the blog progress and what’s planned for the rest of the year.
First up the statistics…

I have finally managed to convince 252 of you to follow the blog – thank you to everybody.

Back in December I achieved the 100k hit mark – the good news is that I am now passed 165k page views and on the current run rate I’ll go past 200k around September. I am typically averaging 10,000 views a month which works out about 330 views per day. I am going to do my best to hit 250k by the end of the year!

This will be post number 225 so over the last two and half years I have been averaging 7.5 per month – around two per week. Its been tough to keep this rate going but I do believe content is king and to maintain interest I need to keep focussing on turning out new builds, reviews or battle reports.

With these sorts of numbers I think that the blog is now getting some serious traction so here goes a couple of requests….

1.       If there are any manufacturers interested in either advertising on the blog or would like me to do a review on their products please do drop me a line.

2.       If there are any publishers out there who would like to publish any of my articles or would like to feature any of my games again please do drop me a line.

In both cases you are probably best contacting me via the Lead Adventure Forum under the name of Eric the Shed. I should add that I am not looking for hard cash payments but discounts on ranges would be more than welcome.

The focus this year has been building Little England in the shed for my VBCW project. Its been great fun and there is still so much more to build.

I have plans for an aerodrome, a coastal village and some other smaller bespoke pieces. My initial plans are drafted but the serious work of construction has yet to begin.

Whilst working on the big stuff I have also been slapping paint on figures (close to 300 since January) and can now field forces from four of the major belligerents (BUF, Royalists, Partisans and Anglican League). These forces have been supported with a number of vehicles.

Of particular interest was finding out that the toy company Solido manufactures die cast tanks which are perfect for 28mm  - I have bought tanks for half the price of an equivalent resin version. They of course need a paint job but are worthy of the battlefield.

Perhaps the big highlight later in the year will be BLAM, a games festival for 20+ serious players who frequent the LAF. I have taken it on myself this year to coordinate the planning of this event…three days in my local pub in Surbiton. If its anything like the last couple of years we will be in for a big treat. The event is taking place in October so more on this as the time approaches.

I should state that this is an invite only event to LAF members and that all the available spaces have been taken.

Aside from the VBCW project I am also planning to get started on my Pulp theme games  - these will be based in the ruins of Ancient Egypt. Over the last few weeks I have been steadily building up the paraphernalia required and photos will appear shortly.

On a final note I seem to have managed to find myself another job and as such Ill be leaving my current employer later this week. With the new role starting in August It would appear that a few weeks off are on the agenda.

All the best


Eric the Shed

Sunday 29 June 2014

Tickets Please - An English Railway Station part 2

If you want part 1 first start here

Part 1

When I left you last the station was nearly complete. Well a bit of work later we are nearly there as you will see from the final photos.

To begin with a new parcel arrived on Monday from China. This contained 8 lamp posts of Victorian style. They are O gauge railway products bought on ebay working out at a about £1.50 a pop. Two of these sit in front of the station. 28mm German to scale.

These were purchased from here

You can both of them in the lower picture. These were glued onto the base board. They come with a copper wire inner for structure and support.

Next up I had to give my weary travellers somewhere to rest from the rain. The shelter is built from some old sprue and plasticard. The roof was given the same treatment as the rest of the building.

In time Ill add a door at the back of the building

With the station finished time to work on the groundwork opposite the tracks. The usual static grass and tufts

Starting to get there...

and now onto the finished product. The posters signs etc were all sourced from a railway company called Tiny Signs

From the front with level crossing on the right

A view along the tracks....

The telephone box is a tourist souvenir key fob - I bought 7 from my local newsagent for a £1 a pop

You can see in the above picture the final paintjob on the platform

The train will be here soon Godfrey....

The posters add a little bit extra of old England

So that's the station built ...onto the village hall and local school next....

Until next time

Friday 27 June 2014

Tickets please ...An English country railway station part1

Early in the year when I embarked on my railway build for the VBCW project I mentioned that I was going to build a small 28mm station. At the time I’d even laid the track on a sheet of hardboard (about 30cm square) but had no ideas for the rest of the construction.

The original station board

This whole track thing started here

This all changed when I purchased the Station Masters cottage from petite properties - the same dolls house company that provided the church.

Image taken from website

This would form the basis of my station. I positioned this on the board and worked around it. I had contemplated building two platforms but in the end decided one would be sufficient and much easier to build in the long run. The platform itself was constructed from three layers of form core and then clad with blue foam sheet. This stuff is great, although expensive, as you can emboss brick work on to it which then comes up a treat when painted. You will notice that the platform has a small section cut away where the building will fit into the space provided.

A word on scales – the platform itself is not very long. In fact it is less than one carriage long ! As I am sure you will all agree sometimes we need to make compromises in our hobby and in this case I deliberately went for the shortened version. It will look like a station but clearly its functionality will be somewhat limited.

The building itself was nice and easy to build and I treated the roof sections and wall sections in the same way that I built the Black Bull Pub (see earlier post). The really nice things about these dolls houses is that they are full of character and less like some of the boxy wargames style buildings. In the coming weeks you will see a few more appear including the post office, the general store and the Village Hall.

With the platform glued down on the board I turned my attention to the front of the station. The building was slightly higher than I wanted so I have to create a raised section in front of the building – I used some off cuts of blue foam for this. The whole area was then paved using cereal cardboard tiles and helps to blend in with the other pavement areas Ill be creating. To the right of the front of the station I have left one area clear and just painted this black. This will be the car park area. Either side of the building are two small sets of steps that lead onto the platform.


On the other side of the tracks I just covered the area in ballast and sand then drybrushed this up brown. This waste ground will get a coating of static grass and other foliage.

Fortunately I had kept some of the white picket fence back from the level crossing build so this will be used on the station board. I put one long run in along the open side of the track and used what was left to close off the ends of the platforms. The posts of the white fence on the platform itself are matchstickes fixed in with pva. The fences have then been cut to fit. Once this is all done the station and the level crossing should tie in together quite nicely

All the paving and the platform were drybrushed grays. The platform centre was then painted a lighter gray with a white drybrush to simulate smooth concrete.

In the part 2 i'll cover...
some shelter for my waiting passengers
signs an posters
benches and lampposts
I am rather pleased the way that this is coming out and it will certainly add another level of rustic charm to the English themed countryside.

Part 2 can be found here


Wednesday 25 June 2014

England versus Germany 1940

Having had a break for gaming in the shed for a couple of weeks my good friend Mark came over for a spot of Bolt Action. Rather than a VBCW game I decided that we would p[lay a fictitious engagement in Southern England 1940 just after the German invasion. A unit of German Paratroopers supported by a couple of Panzer 1’s had the objective of capturing the Norman Church – its tower being used as a forward observation post by the defending British.


I set up a 5ft x 5ft table and was able to use my latest terrain pieces – namely the church and the pub.


Starting with the forces:

The Germans were all veteran units (their morale and saves being much better and boy did it tell). Mark would play the role of the attacker.

The force consisted of a Command Group

Captain (SMG), a Submachine Gun squad of 4 men and a small mortar

Three Squads each consisting of an NCO (SMG), a 2 man LMG team and seven riflemen.

This was the first time my fallschirmjagers had seen action on the table and I was really pleased with their look.


The British Defenders were a rag tag band of Sailors and Home Guard units with NO armour but they did have a trusty medium AT Gun at their disposal.

 Sailor Unit – 8 rifle armed guys and officer (irregulars)

Sailor Gun Battery manning Medium AT Gun (regular) three crew
Home Guard Command consisting of Officer and Medic (Mainwaring and Godfrey) - regulars

Three squads of 10 men – each squad had an NCO (smg), a Lewis Gun and 8 riflemen

Two HMG units (separate units – regular)   

Because they were defending I had predetermined their positions before Mark arrived. 



The Germans entered on the southern road. We’d agreed that the tanks would be unable to traverse either the hedgerows or the stone walls prior to starting the game.  Mark pushed his Germans towards the village. Still the field remained eerily quiet. I placed all the British units on Ambush and waited.


In round two he swung his first tank around the outskirts of the village supported by a squad of paratroopers. As the tank crossed the road the naval battery opened fire striking the side armour of the Panzer. Sadly for the gunners their shot failed to strike home merely causing a small fire. This was hastily put out by the tank crew. The tanks was stopped dead in its tracks through pins. Not to worry I’ll get it next time I thought. With the first British unit shown the German commander sent his other tank around the Black Bull Pub to take ion the AT gun (each tank had its own dice for movement). With the tanks AT gun somewhat redundant against the positioned battery he let rip with his MG – one hit took out a crew member and therefore reducing the effectiveness of my gun crew. The rest of the Germans pushed forward into the village.


At the beginning of the third turn the Fallschirmjager mortar dropped smoke on the village crossroad – he missed the centre and the smoke drifted across the road blocking off the sight lines between the pinned Panzer and the AT gun. With my original tank target gone the battery switched it attention to the second tank behind the pub. Another hit scored but again the shot failed to penetrate the thin armour.


The leading Paratroop unit on the Far side of the village pushed forward. As they crossed the garden fences a hidden British squad opened fire, scoring several hits but the veteran training came into play and only two men dropped. In this isolated engagement the next two rounds the German superiority began was telling as their rounds struck home and drove the British squad into rout.


Elsewhere the Nazis pushed up into the village and took the pub. As they looked out of the pub windows the chatter of HMG fire erupted from the bunker emerged from the bunker. My two HMG units began to pour steady lead into the Public house. My dice rolling was awful and again the superior numbers of Germans began tell. Despite the protection of the bunkers both HMGs ended pinned and lost crew members thereby lessening their chances in return.


At this point in time a tit for tat exchange of fire was taking place between the AT gun and the Panzer. The next AT round hit immobilising the tank. The tanks MGs continued to pin the gun crew who valiantly continued to fire. Eventually a shot struck home and the German armour brewed up. By now the German mortar had sited in on the naval gunners and successive rounds of shooting drove them from the field in blind panic.  


Returning to the village the Germans pushed on round the flank towards the church yard. I decided to reveal the next squad lining the church walls. The Lee Enfields and Lewis Guns putting down serious amounts of fire but unable to holt the German advance.


With my pillbox based HMGs suffering the Fallschirmjager advanced towards the defensive position. As the crossed the open ground next to the War memorial I opened up with my last remaining home guard unit at point blank range – again insufficient hits were scored and my Home guard unit fell prey to the advancing German squad and to be finished off by the SMG unit.


Things were somewhat bleak for the British, two units and an AT gun down and the Pillbox about to get stormed. My Sailor unit had just reached the Church having originally been deployed on my far left wing. With no means to counter the Panzer now steadily advancing – remember the one I originally hit well it got going again and now significantly outnumbered the Home Guard surrendered.  


This was a fast and furious fight. The British suffered almost 60% casualties the Germans closer to 25-30%.  My original defences were laid out expecting a German advance from my left – through the country not the village, but Mark chose the opposite route. My ambushes were lousy – I delivered the hits but not the casualties and the high German morale soon made the pins disappear.


I rarely put on evenly matched games preferring to adopt a more realistic approach. Mark had no idea what he might be facing so each turn kept the suspense.


It was a great deal of fun and took just over a couple of hours to play.



Saturday 21 June 2014

Time Gentlemen Please - A Very British Pub - 28mm

Having taken a few weeks off from Terrain building (I have been painting figures) I finally finished off the Church and Lichgate and turned my attention to some gates and stiles.

 What the blog hasn’t shown is the mini production line going on some more typical English buildings – these in no particular order are the station, the post office, a small general store and of course the most important of British institutions the pub.

The basis of all these buildings are mdf kits and as I describe the builds I’ll give right and proper attention to the purveyors of such pieces.

However the one thing I don’t like about the MDF kits is the finish so I have elected to render all of mine which is typical of this period. I myself live in a 1930’s Art Deco style semi-detached house complete with flat roof and white render. Who knows maybe I’ll build this in 28mm?

The render effect is very simple – just coat the exterior of the building in pva glue then cover in sand or fine ballast. A top coat of white, cream or very muted colours (pink, light green, or yellow) acts as the finish.

This is the dolls house from Petite Properties rendered

With a cream paint job

The post office and general store - these are coming very soon

Once this is all dry file smooth the window and door appertures which may have become encrusted with glue and paint.

The focus of this post is the pub – the basic kit was procured from Warbases in the VBCW range. It comes complete with an outbuilding and a yard – more on this shortly. The building retails for around £16 and is perfect for 28mm

You can find this kit here

The building was assembled using the render technique discussed above. The windows and doors themselves are on a separate mdf sheet that slides in behind the front of the building. I painted the doors and windows gloss black.


English Pub windows sometimes have a frosted affect downstairs so to emulate this I found an old file with an opaque finish. The window panes were cut out and superglued to the reverse side of the window frames. I used clear acetate for the upstairs windows.

These panels were then glued into the building.

The roof is a very simple affair two sheets of mdf and some triangular brackets. These were ‘tiled’ using some excellent precut roofing sheets from jimbibbly’s Oshiro Model range. These certainly take away the pain of individual tile cutting and once painted look the business. This building used just over one A4 sheet.

You can source these here

The roof was given a black paint job then drybrushed grey to tie into the other slate roves on show. I have tried to do red tiling but I am not happy with the results.

My only gripe with this kit is its boxy form. So rather than use the outhouse inside the back yard I stuck this onto the outside of the building and then cut the yard walls to fit. This has the added advantage of creating a gap in the wall for a new gate. The posts for the gate are old bits of dowling glued into place.

The back yard walls were glued into place onto a sheet of ply and then rendered the same as the walls of the pub.

I was in two minds as to whether or not this should then be lawned or paved, in the end I decided that the paved area would be more appropriate. (cardboard squares glued down like paving slabs). The front of the pub was then paved with the design I’ll be using for all future pavements. These paved areas were painted black and then drybrushed greys with a final brush of brown to dirty then up.

The building itself is not going to be stuck on the board (storage reasons) but fits in the area uncovered by paving.

I have given it a light ink inkwash to dirty up the render.

Warbases are really generous and offer their customers a choice of three etched front signs – the Black Bull, the White Horse, and the Red Lion. In keeping with the black and white thematic of the building I decided on the first of these names. The sign was first washed black then given a coat of gloss plack paint. The letters were then picked out in gold.

Members of the Home guard take at rest

Can you see the downstairs frosted windows

The Law checks everything is in order out the back

The barrels are from my pirate games

I hope this was interesting...


Time please Gentlemen


Wednesday 18 June 2014

Gates & Stiles

Whilst browsing the other day I vcame across some bits and bobs on the warbases site that I thought would be pe3rfect for my terrain needs - some five bar gates and English stiles.

At a very reasonable price as well !

Without hesitation an order was placed along with their 28mm Pub - this will feature in a future post

Here's a link to their gates

And a link to their stiles

So onto the Gates - well these needed basing. I cut out some simple hardboard bases c2cm x 7cm and after sanding these down I drilled two holes through each end. the width of the gates.

Through these hole I push bamboo skewers and glued them into place. These were trimmed to the right height.

The rest of the basing was very simple - sand and ballast base fixed with PVA. A black coat of acrylic followed by successive dry-brushing of browns. Static grass and tufts were added to complete the affect.

The gates were then superglued onto the posts

As you can see from the following pictures the gates work well with all the types of terrain - hedges, walls and fences

A couple of Tommies come to inspect - 28mm in case you were wondering

The styles although small are very neat pieces of kit for just a £

Very English as well

Here you can see it has been given the same treatment as the gates. The figure taking his dog for a walk is the freebie from Salute. I decided to paint him up as my officer for my Naval Unit.

Here's the treatment with stone walls

and with timber fences..

Thanks warbases for some simple but effective bits of terrain...