Wednesday 14 December 2022

A train station for the Far East

Rail lines may not feature much in the fighting on the Pacific islands but in places like Burma, Malaya and China these key means of transport were often focal points of fighting. 

I've had lengths of rail track that I've used for terrain for some time and it's seen use in several games of Chain of Command.

For our Westwind Konigsberg campaign set in East Prussia the scenario Signal Box at Seerappen unsurprisingly featured fighting around a signal box and so I made up one of the plastic kits from Mini-Art and scratch built a set of signals. You can see more about that build in this post.

The acquisition of railway terrain continued when I managed to pick up a set of six railway carriages quite cheaply on eBay. That in turn led to a search for an inexpensive locomotive. I was looking for a 'non-runner', electric locomotives that no longer work and come up for sale from time to time, but was having no luck. In the end I decided to make one using the inexpensive plastic kits from Dapol. These kits date back to the 1950s and were once part of the Airfix range, but they hold up surprisingly well and will certainly do the job. Despite being more work than I was looking for it was a refreshing change from building model tanks.

So it made sense that I also add a station to the collection, but whereas the signal box would work in Eastern Europe this time I wanted something for the Far East. The sort of building I had in mind was this modest station in the picture below from 1930s Malaya. Sarissa Precision make a similar looking station in MDF. It's based on the station at El Alamein but I thought with a bit of modification it could be made to be suitable for a range of places from the Middle East to Malaya.

The MDF kit is a good start but it's a very basic structure. Two things would make an immediate difference - texturing the walls and finding a replacement roof. Texturing the walls was a simple matter of applying a small amount of filler and then with a wet finger spreading it across the surface of the walls.

I thought a pantile roof would make a big difference and so used a sheet of vac formed plastic from a railway modelling supplier and cut it to size.

MDF models are always instantly recognisable by their neat laser cut lines and flat surfaces so anything that can be done to alter those shapes often makes a big difference. With that done it was then a matter of painting and adding final details like window shutters.

A few small details were added to give the station a more lived-in look. Italeri do a very useful set of 1/72 Urban Accessories that are perfect for adding that extra level of detail. 

I made use of the tap that is part of a water fountain and a drain grill to make up a watering point. 

A bucket was a final detail and that comes from a metal set from SHQ.

The bench inside the station is also from the Italeri set and the crates on the platform are part of a resin set from Value Gear.

So that now gives me everything from rolling stock to a station - the perfect place for deliveries or pick up by my recently converted die cast trucks specifically for Far East settings.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Cavalry for the Sudan

The Sudan project started off with quite modest ambitions but I've found the Sharp Practice variant has delivered so many enjoyable games that it's inspired me to add a few additional units. The one thing the project has been missing is mounted units, so I've rectified that by adding a unit for both the Mahdists and the British.

These are all from the lovely Perry Miniatures Sudan range. The units are based on a standard Sharp Practice mounted unit of eight figures plus a leader, which is convenient as Perry sell the figures in sets of three.

For the Mahdists I've decided to mix up the groups to include those with rifles, spears and swords rather than have them as a homogenous unit with the same weapons. I'm imagining each warrior arrived with his own mount and choice of weapons.

The British represent the 19th Hussars, who all carry their sword but are also equipped with a rifle. A few of the figures lack the usual animation you'd expect from the Perrys but they work well as a group.

I don't know what it is about painting mounted figures but I find I labour over them. Perhaps it's the fact they aren't complete until you have done rider and mount and so the time from start to completion seems to take that much longer. Whatever it is, I'm always happy at the end but don't always enjoy the journey.