August 18, 2019

We were away from home this past week so not much work was done at the workbench.  Having decided that my next big project would be Napoleonic Spain in 1809, my opening efforts on this project were to begin work on the three star forts I will be using to defend the Spain town that will be central to this collection.  Over the year I have purchased three of the Ian Weekley star forts.  My guess is that most people engaged in this hobby in 2019 probably are not particularly aware of Ian Weekley.  In fact, I thought I would provide a short backgrounder on him in this write-up and was sad to discover that the internet has very little to say about him.  I believe he has been dead for 20 years or more, but when I became interested in this hobby he was one of the original manufacturers of terrain.  By today’s standard most of his terrain is rather crude, and some of the items don’t make complete sense.  For example, the three star forts I will be using in this project are complete of two halves each.  What is particularly odd about this is that both halves are identical so when you put them together to form a single fort, you find yourself with two entrances.  Consequently, in order to have forts that looked appropriate I had to cut away one of the entrances and replace it with a new gun port made from Milliput.  I also found the entrance provided to be without necessary detail so I cut that gate away and replaced it with a new entrance/gate made from Evergreen plastic.  Despite all that I am very happy to include these Ian Weekley forts as part of this project because once completed they will look fine, and it is also an homage to one of the early leaders in this hobby.  My only real accomplishment at the workbench this week was to modify all three of the forts and paint two of them.  The British and French soldiers in the pictures are 15mm and provided for scale.

August 11, 2019

The workbench didn’t see much action this week.  This is in part due to the fact that I am still pondering what my next project will be.  This has never been a real issue in the past because most of my previous projects were big and during the time I was working on them their ultimate look became clear well before the work was done, and in the time that followed, my mind tended to sort out where I would go next in terms of a project.  But the Dr. Who and Mountain Men projects were relatively small and moved very quickly leaving me with no firm focus on where to go next.  In the last couple weeks, I have been trending toward another large 15mm collection.  I have several 15mm collections awaiting my attention.  Two of those are large… North Africa 1941-42 and Napoleonic Spain in 1809.  Right now Spain is having the greatest appeal.

As to actual workbench efforts this week, I have done only one thing.  At the end of last week I built and slightly modified the Monogram Stinger from SeaQuest.   So I opened this week by spraying the entire model with Testors’ Flat Black and let it dry overnight.  Once it was completely dry I began giving it some color.  I started by drybrushing the hull with Vallejo Burnt Red.  I followed that with a mix of Vallejo Amaranth Red (a deep orange) and Scrofulous Brown (a rich golden brown with a lot of yellow tone).  I repeated the Amaranth Red and Scrofulous Brown coats several times, each time increasing the balance of the mix to Scrofulous Brown.  When that was done I painted the canopy and lights black.  I then painted the lights Vallejo Andrea Blue.  I then highlighted the lights with a mix of Vallejo Andrea Blue and Off-White.  I gave the canopy a couple of slanted swipes with Off-White, and then turned my attention to the base which I drybrushed first with Vallejo London Grey highlight and then highlighted very lightly with Vallejo Brown Sand.  I painted the plants with Vallejo Flat Green highlighted with Vallejo Yellow Green.  Once it was done and dry, I sprayed the finished model with Testors’ Dullcote.

As the week comes to a close, I haven’t done much on the workbench, but I am very close to a decision on what my next focus will be in terms of a collection… looks like I’m leaning hard toward Napoleonic Spain in 1809.  If that is where I go, it will include British, Spanish, Portuguese, and French infantry and cavalry.  Most of the French are done because I have them in my 1809 France vs. Austria collection although I do intend to make a few ragged French units (too long in Spain) and the 13th Cuirassier which is the only French Cuirassier regiment that saw service in Spain.  As for terrain, it will include a good sized Spanish town, as many as three forts (the old Ian Weekley semi-star forts/Vauban-style fortifcations) and some vineyards by Flames of War… now out of production but fortunately I bought a few for this purpose years ago.  I’ll probably find a way to slip in some siege trenches like those I used with my FIW collection (in fact the same ones), and a river.  Could be a good-looking table and will keep me busy for 6 to 9 months.

What time I spent at the workbench on Saturday was focused on a purchase I made that day at the swap meet.  One of the vendors had tables piled with old models.  Most were missing some parts, some were missing nearly all the parts and a few seemed complete.  The vendor’s stall was made up of six tables, each six feet long and about three feet wide and set end to end and side by side in two rows of three.  As I passed around the tables, I first found a box of Preiser HO scale farm figures and wagons.  It appeared to be complete with perhaps a few extras included by the previous owner.  The next model I found was another Monogram SeaQuest model, the Deep Ocean Transport which appeared to be complete or close to it, and like the Stinger I found last week would serve well with my Gordon Institute’s Loch Ness research team.  Nearing the end of my tour of the tables I came upon a very large box of a model by MPC.  The model was of the Star Wars’ Shuttle TyDirium.  I knew this to be a rare and expensive piece but I doubted that it was complete.  When I spoke to the vendor I was told I could have all three for $10.  When I got them home I sat down at the workbench to see if I could do an effective inventory of the shuttle.  It took a bit more than an hour because I went through the piece three times, each time finding it hard to believe my luck.  It appeared to be complete.  When I checked the model out on eBay I found that the current asking prices ranged from $68 (price and shipping) to more than $100.  That was a nice way to end the week.

August 4, 2019

It’s been a slow workbench week.  My workbench is in the garage and it’s been a hot week and really warm in the garage so my stays out there have been limited.  On top of that we had two power outages in the neighborhood this week… no lights, no painting.  That said I did work on a couple things.  Because of the heat and the amount of concentration I need to work on my Oh Jenny house remodel, I put that aside and turned my attention to a motorized submarine I bought at the swap meet two weekends ago as a broken toy.  When I saw it I immediately thought that with some modification and a new paint job it would work well as a 2-man research sub for my Loch Ness research division of the Gordon Institute For Archaeology And Paranormal Study… and it was only $2.  It’s 9” long, which is a nice size.  I unscrewed the hull pieces and removed the engine and wiring.  I then cut it to waterline and set it in a “water” base of Milliput.  Once the Milliput was dry, I gave it a new paint job.

With the submarine done, I decided I would take on another Loch Ness-related project.  For reasons that I can’t explain in terms of the practical, I decided that my Loch Ness research team should not only be looking at the Loch but also at what might lurk beneath the ground near the Loch.  For that I decided to create a mine entrance.  I used a resin mine entrance feature by Ainsty Castings that I purchased awhile back and attached it to a plastic rock feature I bought at the swap meet for a dollar about a year ago.  I added some Milliput-shaped rock, created the illusion of an interior (as viewed from the outside) using Milliput and Evergreen Plastic, and crowned the entrance with some shoring lumber made from Evergreen Plastic. 

As mentioned in my open, it’s been a hot week and the heat sapped my workbench drive. On the upside, the US Postal Service delivered some Artizan Design Thrilling Tales figures for my planned Gordon Institute Loch Ness research group, and I realized that I needed a period seaplane for my Loch Ness collection.  Fortunately, for a number of years I’ve had the perfect seaplane tucked away for the future use… the “future” is coming.  It’s a beautiful plane, the 1936 Keystone-Loening Commuter (“The Duck”) which is part of the Texaco diecast collection.   It’s a swap meet find and perfect for 28mm.  Since I will be painting it to make it blend in with the rest of my collection and to hide the Texaco emblems, I knew I would need some new letters and numbers for the wings since the current ones would be lost when I painted the plane.  Unfortunately, 1” tall block letters in white are not easily found, and I say this as a guy who lives only a 20-minute drive from the home of Microscale Decals.  I called them to see what they had… always nice people to talk with… and learned that they did not make letters and numbers in that size.  I also learned that I was not the first person to ask that question and despite their own efforts to find a place they could direct customers, they had not found anyone who made them.  I’ve decided to make homemade decals for this purpose in black since white (a non-color) is not practical in terms of my knowledge and skills… black will be fine.

By Friday night I was sure that my time at the workbench was done for the week.  Saturday was going to be another hot day; I had nothing planned to work on, and the renovation of the toy house requires too much thought and concentration for the heat.  As it turned out I was wrong.  During my Saturday swap meet visit I found Monogram’s model of the Stinger (1:20) from SeaQuest.  It was $5 (best price on eBay about $25 including shipping, but it goes up a lot from there) and appeared to be complete… that is not the norm with models found at the swap meet.  As the scale indicates, the Monogram Stinger is far too large to serve as a one-man craft for 28mm, but it would be great as a two- or three-man research sub for the Gordon Institute.  It’s a simple model; probably fewer than 20 pieces (skill level 2).  When I got it home on Saturday, I couldn’t resist putting it together, adding a small modification to the cabin’s canopy and covering an oversized starfish on the model’s base with some textured Milliput.  Next week I’ll paint the Stinger which will help give it a look more appropriate for 28mm.  It probably should be noted that I began this week modifying a sub to serve as a Gordon Institute research sub and ended the week building a second sub that will probably replace the one I made at the start of the week.  That said, both will find a place in some collection.

July 28, 2019

I opened the week repairing the damaged figures that arrived from Foundry last week.  I got the three mounted Indians and three mounted mountain men painted and based.  I doubt that anyone would recognize the terrible shape they arrived in.  I also based and painted the two small bears I cut from the Dept. 56 waterfall.  Interestingly on Tuesday morning (after most of the repair work on the Foundry figures had been completed) I received an email from Foundry in response to the email message and pictures I sent them regarding what I had received.  That email stated that they had never seen anything like that before, apologized, and said they were sending me replacements.

Once the above work was done I turned to painting the trade goods and pelt bundles for my mountain men project… lots of barrels, bundles, and boxes, and lots of different shades of brown.  By mid-week everything I currently have for the mountain men project was done.  I’ll use the replacements Foundry is sending with my non-winter mountain men project planned for a future date.

By mid-week I also learned that my Dr. Who Gallery is almost ready for posting.  Its posting was delayed for a couple weeks because stuff got in the way, but I hope to have it up late this week or early next.

At present I am completely between projects.  Normally I would know exactly what I am going to do next, but with two unposted collections completed, my planning has not kept up with my painting.  I may do another small project involving a toy house I picked up at the swap meet that has a lot of potential as a modern house (interior and exterior) for a future, as yet undefined 28mm collection.   Or maybe I’ll do it just for fun.  I’m also thinking of doing my 15mm Napoleonics for Spain in 1809.  I have a nice Spanish town and some star forts.  Because I have already completed an 1809 France vs. Austria collection, most of the work for the Spain project would center on British forces and terrain with some battered French regiments added to my earlier French forces from the Austria collection.  It will probably be developed around a siege by the British of a French-held town and its fortifications.  While in my “what’s next” frame of mind I have also decided to put together another Gordon Institute collection.  This one will center on the Gordon Institute Loch Ness Research Division.  This will be the third time I will have used the Gordon Institute in a collection (Pulp Egypt and Gangsters and Stuff previously).  This project will allow me to make use of a lot of odds and ends that I haven’t found other uses for: a number of Citadel buildings (watchtower, fortified manor, observatory, chapel, and lake town houses), some old-school motorboats, a nice repurposed toy sloop, a resin Pegasus Gothic ruin, a repurposed/modified toy sea serpent,

some Atlantis the Lost Empire vehicles, and some Malifaux figures.  With this project in mind I just ordered 9 of the Artizan Designs’ Thrilling Tales figures that will serve as the core of my Gordon Institute staff on this project.  It won’t be a big collection, but I think it will be fun. 

On Friday I decided to do some work on a toy house I purchased at the swap meet a couple months ago.It’s a big structure and normally this kind of toy playhouse would be far out of scale in terms of 28mm figures but not this one… doors and windows are perfect for 28mm.The interior and exterior have a lot of repurposing potential.The interior includes three floors… on the first floor there’s a garage, a large entry hall and what may serve as a study.On the second floor there are three rooms, one of which is a kitchen.I removed the kitchen sink and counter in order to make it easier to provide a new floor.On the third floor there are also three rooms, a bathroom and two bedrooms.I removed the bathroom elements so I could more easily provide it a new floor.Both the kitchen and bathroom elements will be returned once the floors are finished.The only real damage that has been done to the house is that the garage door is missing.That won’t be hard to replace.I’ve included a 28mm Star Wars figure for scale.The last few days have been hot so prep work is all I have done, but I think this will prove a nice terrain piece when finished and furnished.I’ve done some looking around on eBay and have found that it was marketed in 1988 by Matchbox under the name Oh Jenny Family Home.In its original state it also came with a pool, stable and tree house… none of these were with the one I found and none of those items have the same look as the house.On eBay, with a few small pieces missing, the asking price is $199 plus $67 shipping.In new condition and still in the box the asking price is $550 plus $37 shipping.It really is a remarkable piece and well worth the $3 I paid.

July 21, 2019

I spent the first half of the week completing my resin trees and basing and painting two deer removed from a couple of Dept. 56 stream sections.  Dept. 56 makes some wonderful pieces but they are a little loose in terms of keeping scale consistent.  I removed these deer because they are a little large, but I rebased and painted them because they may work as stand-alone accent pieces if they are kept away from the actual 28mm figures.  I also repaired and based a couple of jars and boxes taken from the Lemax Egyptian tomb.

Late in the week I received the Foundry figures I had been waiting for over the past two months.  What I got was a disaster.  The shipping box looked like it had been hit by a baseball bat… the box was badly dented and torn and the packing foam was coming out.  When I opened the box I found that one pack of Indians was in as bad a shape as the shipping box.  One of the horses was broken off the base and its tail was broken off as well.  The other two horses were badly bent and I had to cut one off the base in order to straighten the horse’s legs.  After much work I was able to get the third horse’s legs reasonably straightened.  One of the Indians had his right arm broken off, a second had a badly bent rifle, and the third mounted Indian was not the correct figure.  It should have been an Indian with a bow.  Instead I received an Indian holding a war club.  A second pack of Indian figures was once again missing the lances/spears that are supposed to come with the figures.  A third pack of mounted mountain men had two of the three horses damaged… a broken tail and a seriously misshapen base. I have been a fan of Foundry figures for years, but this recent experience is a reflection of the worst quality control I have experienced from any company in the last 40 years.  The individual who filled my order and packed it for shipping clearly had no interest in doing their job right.  It took me a couple of hours but I managed to repair all the damaged pieces.  Over the years I have come to expect and accept that an order will arrive now and then with something that needs repair.  This was far beyond that expectation.

On Saturday the Dept. 56 Mountain Creek Waterfall arrived in the mail.  I will be using it with my “summer” version of the Mountain Men so no snow.  I will be using the waterfall piece and a second Dept. 56 beaver pond (again no snow) in conjunction with the stream sections made by Pegasus.  This second Mountain Men project is for a later date, but I decided to spend some time on Saturday doing the essential modification to make the waterfall piece usable.  I removed the wooden bridge that crossed the create… it was too small for 28mm and a bridge would be inappropriate for the intended wilderness project.  I also removed two small bears that I will rebase for use as independent figures for this project.  Once the bears and bridge were removed I covered the areas where the pieces were removed with Milliput in the shape of rock.  I also used a lot of Milliput in the shape of rock to hide a lot of the snowy look of this piece.  Once the Milliput dried to a hardened state, I reboxed the piece to be painted and used at a later date.

July 14, 2019

This was a week with a lot of distractions in terms of time spent at the workbench… mostly good distractions but distractions nonetheless.  Monday was a day where my attention was fully focused on something that I have wanted done for years but finding a way to get it done appeared to be difficult without spending huge money.  I have owned a 1963 Porsche 356 for 35 years.  It’s a wonderful car and it runs great, but while I have kept it mechanically sound, I have never devoted much attention to the exterior/body of the car and over the years it had accumulated some significant chips in the passenger side door.  Getting those chips repaired and repainted is not as simple with a car that is 55 years old as it is with a new car.  Its paint is single stage and most people don’t want to have anything to do with area painting single stage paint on 55-year-old cars.  But I became determined to get it done and fortunately was able to track down the perfect person/company to do it… Pacific Match Paint.  The company owner came to the house and after working on it for 4 and a half hours he had achieved what I had come to believe couldn’t be done without repainting about a third of the car.  And he did it at a very reasonable price.  This week I also took a buddy out for lunch to celebrate his 63rd birthday, and my wife and I took our granddaughter to Disneyland. 

In the time I had for the workbench this week I finished painting the last of the Dept. 56 stream sections.  This one is by far the largest and most complex.  It is called Mill Creek Pond and includes water areas on two levels, lots of trees, a beaver dam, a small waterfall and a swimming beaver.   When I completed that, I returned to painting trees… most resin.  All of these were purchased at the swap meet over several years…discarded Christmas décor.  I also based a couple more wire trees using metal washers and Milliput and added a Heroclix owl to the branch of one of them.

I ended the workbench week by painting and adding baking soda snow to five more resin trees.  Saturday turned cool(er) so I decided that rather than paint miniatures I would take advantage of the cooler weather and spend the day doing some reorganization in the shed.  My reorganization efforts paid off.  I was able to find nearly 200 winter trees (pines made like green bottle brushes with snow flakes) that I purchased more than a decade ago at the Home Depot as part of their after-Christmas closeout of holiday décor… $3 for a pack of 21 trees.   While they are not the highest quality terrain pieces, they will serve to fill out my winter mountain men forest at a much cheaper price than if I had to use only the resin type, and they are already based so all I have to do is set them on the table… no additional work required.    

July 7, 2019

Work on the stream continues.  I began by painting the bridge section that I modified to serve as two rock outcroppings over the stream.  It was a good place to begin not just because I had already made serious changes to the piece but because when I undertake to change one of these pre-painted pieces, I worry that I’ll screw up what was already a great-looking item, though not exactly as I want it.  So trying my new paint scheme on this highly modified piece was a safe place to experiment.  In order to have a record of that paint scheme as part of my website (in case I misplace the paper I have written it on) I am going to document the paint scheme here:

Base Coat:

Flat Black spray


London Grey

Sky Grey or Light Grey highlighting


US Field Drab


Prussian Blue

Prussian Blue + Dark Blue mix

Dark Blue

Dark Blue + Andrea Blue mix

Andrea Blue + Dark Blue + Off White mix

Tree Trunks:

Burnt Umber

Tan Earth highlight

Tree Foliage

German Cam Medium Brown (under branches)

Flat Green + Russian Uniform Green mix (upper side of branches)

Yellow Green (1st highlight)

Yellow Green + Off White (2nd highlight)

The above paints are Vallejo Model Colors except the black spray that is Testors.

I am writing this as the week and the work progress.  By mid-week I have completed eight of the nine sections of river but have become concerned about how strong the attachment of the baking soda snow is to the tree branches.  Consequently on Wednesday I painted a single tree and added the baking soda snow to the branches.  My plan is to let it dry overnight and then spray it with Dullcote as an experiment to see if this will strengthen the attachment of the snow to the branches.  My big worry is that it might strengthen the attachment, but discolor the snow… we’ll see. 

It’s Thursday.  I carried out the plan and it worked well so I gave all the completed stream sections a shot of clear flat spray to help secure the baking soda snow.   

As indicated above, the photos posted for this week represent eight of the nine Dept 56 stream sections I will be using with my mountain men.  At 8 inches each, that will give me slightly more than the five feet of stream I will need to cross the board.  The ninth stream section is the most unique representing a small waterfall, pond, and beaver dam.  It’s about 9 inches and will allow me to have the stream ramble in a more or less indirect fashion.  The first of the stream pictures posted here is the strong bridge section that I modified last week to form two stone outcroppings, one on each side of the stream.  In the picture posted here there are no baking soda snow patches.  That’s because after putting the snow on it, I tucked it away and I’m just too lazy to get it out for a picture… your imagination will have to serve!  I’ve also included a picture of five trees.  Four of them I removed from stream sections because I didn’t like the way they looked next to the pines on the stream banks.  Nonetheless, I thought they were worth keeping so I rebased them using metal washers covered with Milliput and then gave them a baking soda (snow) and Woodland Scenics Earth covering.  The fifth tree is the resin pine I spoke of earlier on which I did the experiment with Dullcote spray over the baking soda snow to fix the snow more firmly.   When completed, the stream will be a dramatic terrain piece for the mountain men project.  I collected it at the swap meet over a period of about three years and because it was purchased at swap meet prices I was able to buy it at a fraction of the asking price on eBay.  The fact is that the ninth piece (with the waterfall, pond and beaver dam) is priced at about $100 (price and shipping) by itself while I paid approximately $55 total for all nine sections.

Last weekend I purchased a Lemax Halloween piece entitled the Cursed Tomb (Egyptian).  It was $5 and just too good to resist.  I removed all the lights and undesired odds and ends.  I then repaired/filled the light holes and dips in the base with Milliput where the removed odds and ends had been.  This obviously has nothing to do with the mountain men; just a little aside that I wanted to get ready for some future use with another collection… maybe my Stargate collection.

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