Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Resurrected Armies Project 1: Salvaging Soviets

April is the cruelest month, said the poet, and so far it has been cruel to my painting intentions. Easter Monday, the first day of the month, was continuing to ready our old house to go on the market. OP LIVING ROOM commenced Monday at 09:00hrs with sanding the crown moulding:

Plans were changed on the fly when Madame Padre decided that the ceiling needed to be painted. I hate painting stucco anhd I hate painting ceilings, but it got done. Adapt and overcome.

Tuesday night however I had a chance to start thinking about something I mentioned here back in February, my Resurrected Armies project, which will run for the sixty days of Easter. The goal of the project is to find figures from my collection that have suffed the slings and arrows of time and multiple moves, to dig them out of their storage boxes, give them some TLC and play a game or two with each of them. I decided to start with all my 20mm Soviet kit, which has never all been on the table at the same time, so I thought a parade of the Red Army would be in order.

I had forgotten what a lot of tanks I have, all mostly late war. Originally, not knowing any better, they were all painted in Tamiya Flat Earth (chosen from a limited selection at my local hobby store), but some years back I discovered the Vallejo line and switched to their Russian Green. At the time I was blissfully ignorant of washes, weathering, drybrushing, pigments, airbrushes and such, so the paint schemes are quite basic. In the foreground are two Fujimi SU85s in their Russian Green, and to the right are two HO scale trucks (Rocco or Minitanks, can't recall which) posing as Lendlease US trucks in their original Flat Earth.

More tanks. A Fujimi KV2 at the back beside an ESCI KV1, while to the right two Matchbox T34/85s in my first brown paint scheme (you can see an early attempt at green camo) sit in front of two more T34/85s that someone gifted me - I think they are also Matchbox kits? A couple of T34s are visible and to the right there is a Ukranian kit of some sort, a Zil truck whose wheels keep coming off and which needs some repair.

Here's the original cadre of my Soviet infantry. Most of these figures are either the ESCI hard plastic Soviet Guards troops or else the soft plastic set by ESCI. a few of them are metal figures from the RAFM Platoon 20 range. I bought and painted these chaps sometime around 1990. I was thinking last night about the difference between then and now as far as painting guides and resources. 1990 was pre-world wide web, so there were no blogs, painting guides, hobby websites, or forums, and no google to reach them with. There were Osprey books, if one could find them, and I think I painted these fellows in Tamiya Flat Earth because it seemed the closest thing to what I thought at the time Russian uniforms looked like. How quaint. The basing is quite rudimentary as well, just thin sheets of carboard with green paint and some basic flocking. They were organized into fireteams as per a friend's homebrew rules. The standard for basing was lower in those days. Note the standard-issue Soviet army officer pose, with pistol pointing heroically but uselessly skyward.

At some point in the 1990s I decided that my little Russian army needed some anti-tank guns, so I bought two by mail order from, I think, Skytrex. I discovered Skytrex in an issue of Miniature Wargames that I somehow got my hands on - old school mail order where one went to the bank or post office, got an international money order, sent it off, and a month later started watching for the postman. Ordering stuff online via paypal and getting it days later seems quaint now. I got two ZIS 57mm AT guns, of which one was assembled and lost over the years. The one here needs to be assembled and painted. The crew show my painting style in transition, with some having a lighter uniform shade and green (rather than the original Flat Earth brown) helmets. I love the officer - I think he is supposed to be looking through binos, but the sculpt looks like he is sucking on a vodka bottle.

Here's the real deal, a recently ( 3 years ago?) purchased box of Italieri AT guns, with what the box translation whimsically calls "servants". Really good kit. I assembled the guns and started painting the "servants" for the Analogue Painting Challenge but never got them finished. They have a Fall of Berlin look about them.

A smaller group (maybe a dozen) of what I think of as my second generation Russian infantry. These chaps were based indivually for a skirmish level set of rules called The Face Of Battle. It was well intentioned and I tried hard to make it work. FoB required that one keep track of individual soldiers, and whether they were standing, kneeling, or prone, and so I tried hard to assemble three poses for soldier A1, A2,etc before I eventually said sod this for a game of soldiers. The lighter uniform colours show that by the mid 1990s I had armed myself with the Osprey Book on the Red Army of the Great Patriotic War, a very fine reference. However, my knowledge of and access to paints was still sketchy. I think the odd colour on these chaps Folkart acryllic English Mustard, which looked somewhat close to the Osprey plates. There is some rudimentary attempts at shading visible, and proper green helmets. The two kneeling figures in the foreground are actually painted in Vallejo Russian uniform, and date from the middle of the last decade, when I finally had access to a decent hobby store.

The internet and hobby forums wised me up to other options for this period, and about five years ago I shelled out for some lead Brittania figures, after hearing good things about them on the Guild forum. They were pretty good, and I started painting some before a posting, but didn't like the results of a GW/Citadel flesh wash I tried at the time, so at the very least I need to repaint the flesh on these Ivans, and possibly the uniform tunic as well. I think when I base them I will follow my now standard pattern of putting them on circular bases by the half-section.

As part of the same order, my Russian army got a command group. Britannia makes a nice collection of Russian officers getting a briefing, which no doubt includes a warning that the last one to the Reichstag gets an interview with the NKVD. Primed and ready to go. That's the Britannia command truck behind them, waiting to recover from the Great Pigment Pickle.

And some Britannia tank riders, who have rather a few tanks to choose from once they're ready. Behind them are a mittful of Britannia figures waiting their turn in the paint queue.

It wouldn't be fun without air support. I assembled and painted this Matchbox Sturmovik about ten years ago and it's never been in a single game. It's lost a few bits over the years but it's still in fairly good shape, flying high on its home made dowel stand that I'm rather proud of.

Top view of the Sturmie as it flies over the battlefield. I found an unopened box of Esci figures in a box of plastic kits that Madame Padre scowls at every time we move, and I should paint them up and try some customisations, including a flag for one of the open handed figures rather than a weapon.

And finally, it wouldn't be a wargames army without cool troops like these Black Sea sailors. I have almost a platoon of these fellows, each a fine example of my painting and basing style ca 2000. These are from the old FAA range of WW2 figures - FAA as I recall were pretty cutting edge for their day, or so it seemed to me. I was in Chicago on business in a previous life, and have fond memories of driving across town to The Emperor's Headquarters, a now defunct wargames store that was big in its heyday. I found six packs of these figures on a spinner rack and bought them all, then spent an extra hour trying to navigate my way out of town (pre iPhone GPS days). I still have a support weapons pack to paint, including an ATR team and two DP LMG gunners.

So what would resurrection look like for this army? Here are some goals that are, I hope, attainable before Pentecost Sunday, May 19, the end of the sixty days of Easter.

1) Paint and base the Britannia figures as quickly and cleanly as possible, with a little more attention to the command group.

2) Finish the Italieri AT guns and get the Skytrex one assembled, painted and based.

3) Get the T34s into shape for a game of Battlegroup Kursk.

4) Paint and base my support weapons Black Sea sailors.

5) Fix the damn truck.

6) Play a game of Battlegroup Kursk with some of these troops.

7) Do a quick upgrade of the older ESCI infantry, using some of the speed painting techniques at the Guild forum - - now if only I can find some FOW German Yello Spray - maybe just use some Vallejo German Yellow w my airbrush as a start?


  1. Might I suggest that you decide what game you want to play now, work out the troops needed and prioritise those troops first.

    That way even if you don't get all your boxes ticked - at least you've a better chance of getting those fellas finished and getting a game in.

  2. I reckon Comrade Conrad is on the money, there, although I'm inferring that 'Battlegroup Kursk' is your rule set of choice? I do hope at any rate you continue with at least an occasional series of progress report postings. It might help me get up of my chuff and do something with my Red Army. I'll be posting a WW2 batrep featuring them fellas in the next day or so.

    Owing to the shortage of easy-to-get-hold-of kit, I ended up making a lot of it out of cardboard (See Archduke Piccolo 'Cardboard Guns' July 3 2012) [].

    By the way, I'm pretty sure the front (brown) T34s are Airfix with the 85mm gun turret (hope you kept the 76mm gun turret - being able to swap turrets made the Airfix kit a very good buy). The rear ones I can't identify. I'm fairly sure Matchbox made only the 76mm gun turret for their kit. I have a couple of those, for one of which a built a 85mm gun turret out of balsa, cardboard and odds and ends.


  3. Nice post Mike, lots of classic kits on parade. Ion is correct those two T34/85's are Airfix jobbies, not Matchbox.

    The Sturmovik is a Airfix kit rather than Matchbox as well, and you have done well not to break off any of the props.

    Keep up the good fight.

    1. Yes - The props have broken off one of my Shturmoviks. I've decided to make a virtue of whatever this misfortune it is to replace them with a clear circular disk suggestive of spinning propellers.

  4. I always find it comforting in a way to resurrect old armies, I'll try not to dig too deep into why.

    One certainly used to see lots of colour references to very brown looking Soviet troops. When I got to painting up some Esci Russians a couple of years ago, I hemmed and hawed and eventually opted for something more brown than green for largely nostalgic. One never knows, perhaps it had to do with the way the dyes faded?

    Ordering straight from a magazine ad? Ah yes, that was a big improvement over having to do the money order thing and wait for a catalog first! Somehow I don't think downloading patterns to our personal 3d printer is going to be quite as exciting.

    Anyway I look forward to seeing how the refit goes and reading about them in action. Hopefully there's a copy of Al Stewart's Roads to Moscow on hand for inspiration.

  5. Thanks chaps.
    Wise advice from young Kinch there, to be sure. In examing the Kursk rules, I find I have several PZIIIs and IVs and a Panther to do something on the German side, so all I need to do really is refurbish the T34/76 models and upgrade the infantry, starting I think with the Britannia figures.

    Ion: Thank you for the link to your blog - your scratchbuilding skills are quite good, and you are blessed with more patience than I would have in making those.

    Ross: I had some experience selling the first generation of 3D printers, though I gather the ones I saw are quite crude in comparison to the kit out there now. Can the Star Trek replicator be far behind? I have a lot of time for Al Stewart. I was once part of a New Wave band and tried to get the guys to learn Roads to Moscow, but they thought it was bollocks. Peasants.


Blog Archive