Monday, March 3, 2014


It's funny what happens when you clean. Tonight I found my digital drawing tablet AND stylus. So just like the good old times I sketched up a quick doodle and decided to write a blog post. How lucky!

I end now though, because the muted murmur of the electronic garage door under my feet has alerted me to my family's arrival.

Things are looking up. Take care.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Snow-Day for Volksgrenadiers

It's been snowing all day today, and we've had to cancel our plans. It's ironic that my friend, Jake, and I were supposed to recreate the wintry Battle for Bastogne via a game of Flames of War,  which took place in similar weather conditions. So amateur historians take note: Bastogne has been postponed on account of snow! So what else to do but to sit by the window and reminisce? I stayed up late last night repainting my volksgrenadiers for our game. These were the first 15mm scale models I had ever purchased, so I've been feeling pretty nostalgic while reworking them.

I got into Flames of War in 2007. I had finished grad school the year before and had been struggling with work. Having been laid-off my job, and currently working as a temp (grading proficiency tests for public schools if you were curious), I wasn't exactly happy with the direction my life was going. In general it was good though. I had gotten married to the girl-of-my-dreams, and all that. We lived in an awesome townhouse in Grandview. Great friends. Furry cat. Things were: moderately good.

Man, oh man. Most of the guys in the front 2/3's of this pic are from the Old Glory - Command Decision line. Amazingly cheap miniatures, and lots of good detail on their backpacks and stuff like that. Love these little guys. My first WW2 models ever.
So this crappy temp job happened to be right next to Hobbyland, and I'd sneak over there during my lunch break to kill time. Historical models in general had been kind of boring to me, but Flames of War was a game that combined models with actual rules where you could recreate historically accurate battles. It got my attention. And then I saw the cost-prohibitive price of this game, and the models you needed to play it. Ouch. Nevermind.

I'd walk out of that store feeling bruised and financially estranged. The guy at the counter would shrug and say, "yep, this hobby is expensive. Golf is expensive too. Blah, blah, blah." then his head exploded, or something. (now is a good time to note I'm writing this post on strong pain medication. Reader beware!)

This is a sturm platoon from Battlefront's line that came out last year. Very good sculpts. They mix in "okay" with the Old Glory models. I wouldn't mix figures from both manufacturers on the same bases since the proportions are a bit different. 
Lacking stable income, I couldn't afford this hobby. My friend Allen was nice enough to turn me on to other "cheaper" model manufacturers at this time. He pointed out Old Glory - Command Decision via an online store called I was skeptical of this website. Despite featuring thousands of products from various manufacturers they had no pictures of anything! What decade was this? Regardless of this, I had a good feeling and ordered from them. For about half the cost of name-brand Flames of War models, I could still play the game.

It was a two or three week wait for them to cast-up my order and send it out. It seems crazy in our "have it now" culture that I was ordering stuff that I had never seen beforehand, and then supposed to wait for weeks. In hindsight this would be my first steps down the Dark Path of the Old Fogey...

My package arrived and I had my work cut out for me. Assembling and painting an army of little 15mm soldiers for the first time was daunting. As an Old Fogey hobby, there really was no accessible tutorial in 2007 on how to put any of this stuff together. I looked around the internet for direction, usually to no avail. 

The mystery of it continued to pester me, so I kept digging around. Finally, I figured out what I needed to do: how to correctly assemble equipment, how to paint historically accurate colors, and how to use the miniatures to play the game. (finding the rules: tricky! finding other people to play: even more tricky!)

Now it is January 2014, seven years later and I'm still into this hobby pretty heavy. It's a social game that gets you out with other people, it's a brilliant craft that teaches patience and technical skill, and it's great for learning about history. And I guess I'm kind of into it for the long haul.

I still appreciate the old off-brand models that got me started, even though I mostly buy the upper-end Flames of War stuff now. But a little shout-out to the "other guys" for getting me started. Thanks!

The Volksgrenadier Company with Schutzen Platoons 1 & 2 (OG) on the left & center, and Sturm Platoon (BF) on the right.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Grenadiers with Assault Rifles

I was having a rough day today. Had to leave work early due to an exacerbated hip injury, and spent the afternoon and evening in a medicated haze trying to manage the pain. My wife, my absolutely amazing partner in all things, once again jumped in to take care of me and the kids all day. She took our daughter to the doctor this morning because she was complaining of an ear ache. It turns out she has an ear infection. It's just been one thing after another in recent weeks, and I marvel at how we all manage to hang in there. The simple answer is lots of prayer, and just knowing Jesus is taking care of us.

Well anyway,

We're living in that transitional period between the house we're renting, and the new house we are about to inhabit. My modeling projects all got packed up and moved to the new place. I won't really have access to them until this weekend. With nothing "hands-on" to stimulate that art-hobby part of my brain I've been on edge these past few days. And even in my current heavily-medicated state I can't shake that drive to paint and make something.

I ended up hobbling into the office/studio at some point today, digging through the handful of small boxes that haven't been packed up yet. And Behold, I found a platoon of Flames of War Germans with assault rifles that I had never painted. These guys were like a life-line! Time to get to work!

Germans armed with STG-44 assault rifles ready to advance.

This platoon was put together using figures from the Begleit Assault Platoon (GE738) and a couple other random guys.

I haven't decided what to use these models for yet, but they will see a game soon.

Thanks to my wife for always supporting me in all her countless ways.