I am getting to the point where I usually hate to rebase my troops. If I decide to work in my smaller scale, using beads for troops and using a minimalist design, I can construct, paint and base these troops in about the same time that I can rebase traditional metal or plastic soldiers, basing them in a 'realistic' scheme using glue, sand, gravel, flock and paint. (If the troops were fixed to the base using epoxy, I might not even be able to rebase the figures.) Some of the troops I have, especially those painted and based by professionals, I could never replicate the look, so I really don't want to take them off their bases in the first place.
So, if I want to try a new set of rules for a period where I already have figures, but they are not based correctly, I have either converted the rules to use the basing scheme that I already have, or I simply set the rules aside to collect dust. One of those sets of rules were Peter Pig's Poor Bloody Infantry (PBI). Although people say that you can use troops that are based for Flames of War, it involves a bit of conversion, which I am not going to get into. So for years I have simply set aside those rules. When a new version of PBI came out I resisted the urge to buy them, as I had not played the original version in all these years and I found out that the basing scheme was essentially the same, so why bother. I would still have the same issues.
Now that I am on the tail end of my Seven Weeks' War project – I am finishing the last limbers and expanding my cavalry units from four and five figures each to six figures each – I started thinking about a new project. Mind you I still have other projects in the works, such as the Spanish 1808 and the 25mm DBA Hun army, but still, I wanted a minimalist bead army project. That and I wanted to create new figures in new periods, as that seems to be what I enjoy the most. I like to see what I can create.
Having looked at Wyloch's Armory's work (see previous blog post) and being inspired about the possibility of creating simple vehicles from wood and plastic I decided to go for WWII, and specifically to finally build forces to give PBI a go. As I have never built a British force in Flames of War and because the British seemed relatively simple to create with button plugs, I decided to start with them.
The British infantry consists of two main pieces: a screw hole furniture plug with a button (or mushroom) top and a cube bead. In this scale the plug is 1/4" and the bead is 6-8mm. The rifle is a simple miniature dowel and I used Allure dimensional adhesive paint (see previous blog post) to create the arms and hands.
Note that these plugs are the same ones I used for my 1866 Prussians. In order to make it a little more 'pie plate' looking, I put a thin bead around the edge of the 'helmet'.
Very simple to build, very quick to paint and very easy to base.
Next up I wanted to try a Bren gun team. I wanted these troops to be prone, however.
If you look at the edge of the gunner's helmet, you can see that I did a better job with his helmet than with the others. The trick is to lay down the thinnest bead you can along the bottom edge.
The Bren gun itself is made of the mini dowel and two small scraps of wood. The first one goes on top and represents the magazine with the rounds.
The second scrap was glued under the barrel and then cut into a '^' shape to represent the gun's bipod. I simply painted the empty space black. This is minimalist after all!
I have to admit, the part that makes me smile was painting the bottom of their boots with mud. The boots are simply the rounded top of a flat toothpick, which I use for all sorts of parts.
I am still thinking about who I should choose to oppose them with. I did some prototype Germans, which I will probably show when they are finished, but given that I have nice German Grenadier and Panzergrenadier forces based for Flames of War I was really thinking about trying something else. I have some prototype German Fallschirmjagers being built, but if I did forces for the Battle for Crete then the British should be in a different uniform (I believe). But it could easily fit in France 1944 where they could fight the British or Canadians.
My next thought was doing the German Gebirgsjagers (mountain troops), which fought in Italy 1944. Once I started looking into them I found that the fought the French, Americans, and Poles. So these 'British' troops could actually be Poles. That might be interesting. I might have to look a little closer into that.
Finally, I thought about the Italians. Of course, the thing that leaps to mind the quickest is the Desert War, but I had not painted the troops for the 8th Army in the desert gear. So that probably meant fighting them in smaller campaigns (the Balkans?) or in Sicily or even hold-outs in Italy 1944. The funny thing is, Battlefront produced those books for Flames of War after I stopped buying their stuff, so I don't have any of that as reference.
For a tank, it will really depend upon what period I end up with. I was strongly considering doing a Matilda, just because I have nothing like that, but that would really mean France 1940 or Desert War 1941.
Decisions, decisions. WWII really is a huge subject because it covers so many theater and rapid technology changes. I will figure it out though and let you see the results. Honestly, a driving factor in this will, as always, be the 'hats' and 'helmets'. I have long ago determined that with model soldiers the singular piece of gear that is iconic, and helps a player determine what he is looking at, is the headgear. Having to create custom shapes with putty or dimensional paint is okay for two or three figures, but is a pain when the numbers are approaching 50 figures.
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