Sunday, July 21, 2013

First 4Ground Building

The first item I tackled from the vacation haul was the 4Ground building.  I have really been looking forward to building one of these kits ever since I first learned of them.  This kit was $20 from Brookhurst and that makes it comparable to the Battlefront houses I have been getting on the subscription deal.  The BF houses run about $21 each.

These kits come in a plastic bag package, so nothing real fancy.  Inside there are several laser-cut sprues with the various parts.  The 'pre-painted' aspect of these involves using different painted MDF boards for various parts.  These boards are painted prior to the laser cuts and, therefore, show some scorch marks that mar the color.  In addition, the color is not on the edges of the pieces which is quite noticeable once the model has been built.

I found the instructions for this kit to be excellent.  The are full color and have a nice step by step process.  If you take your time and follow the instructions the kits is not too difficult to assemble.  If you are like me and think you know it all you might have to redo some bits here and there.

At the end of the instructions they have included some color signs and posters to enhance your model.  I thought this was a nice touch.  Being the 'with it' dude I am I promptly threw away these instructions, and the cool signs and posters, once I was done building the model. *sigh*

I am not going to do a step by step on the assembly as the instructions do a really nice job of that.  Besides, I forgot to take pictures as I was working on it.  One important thing I learned is that some of the parts can be quite delicate.  It is strange to me that some parts will literally fall of the sprue and others take some work.  I did manage to break one of the roof sides while taking it off the sprue.  Fortunately I was able to repair it and the damage is not noticeable.

The ability to remove the roof and the second floor for interior access is really nice.  You can fit one Flames of War medium base in each side of the building but to fit them in the bases must be facing the walls rather than the windows (sorry, no picture of that).  This not that big of a deal but if the model was just a few mm longer you could fit bases in much easier and in all directions.

Here is a side by side with one of the Battlefront houses.  In the end, being that these are basically the same price, I prefer the BF model.  The BF model is fully assembled and nicely painted for only $1 more.  The 4Ground building took me nearly 8 hours to assemble as was fiddly in a few spots.  I can see that people who do not enjoy building models will not like these kits.  The paint on the 4Ground model needs work in my opinion.  Either the whole thing needs to be repainted or I need to find the 4Ground paints that they produce to match the kits.  As hard as it is to find these kits in my area the paint would be impossible so I would have to order it online.  For a $20 kit that is too much trouble so I will just repaint it.

I will likely purchase a couple more of the 4Ground kits but I think next I will try one of the unpainted kits.  These are cheaper but, it seems, they are simpler kits than the pre-paints.

If I were t do the whole star rating thing I would have to give these 3 out of 5.  If this was a few dollars cheaper they would rate much higher.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation Hobby Haul

Last week the family and I, along with Tim and his wife, spent an amazing week in Southern California for our annual family vacation.  We spent several days at the beach and going to various attractions around the LA area.  As usual, Tim and I had to take some time to hit a couple of our favorite game/hobby stores in the area - The War House and Brookhurst Hobbies.  You can read about Tim's experiences here.

As usual, I went with a rather large list of items for existing or new projects.  Mostly I am looking for items that are hard to find locally but I do have my eye out for just about anything interesting.  This year I really looking for lots of Flames of War items.  I have learned that Battlefront has a bit of a supply issue so if you see a FoW item in a shop and you want it, buy it.  Your local shop might not get it for months, if at all.

The first stop was The War House in Long Beach.  This is a cool little hole-in-the-wall shop that looks like it has been around for a 100 years.  It has an interesting mix of old and new products.  It is the kind of place that you have to spend some time in to dig through all the stuff.  But that is time well spent if you can dig out one of the gems.  This year I scored a Battlefield in a Box set BB103 Normandy.  This terrain set was originally released in 2008 to support the (then) new Normandy hard back books (or maybe it was the soft back books, I can't remember).  This set contains three large pillboxes, a couple of AA pits and lots of anti-tank obstacles.  The original price was $90 and they tend to go much higher on eBay when you can find them.  It appears that these items are not available at all from BF anymore.  I got this at the original 2008 retail price for an unopened, but shelf worn, box.

The next stop was Brookhurst Hobbies in Garden Grove.  I have been going to BH for many years and I must say it just keeps getting better and better.  I did find a bunch of items I was looking for but I have already spend a big chunk of the budget so I had to keep some composure.  I picked up a box of Perry Miniatures plastic British 8th Arny figures.  I have been waiting for a long time for these and I am excited to start working on them.  I also picked up a 4Ground 15mm building.  I have been really interested in these for a while and I was glad to find a 15mm building.  They had lots of the 28mm but very few of the 15mm.  I also picked up a box of Plastic Soldier Company Panthers for my Kursk project.  I actually need two boxes but I will get the rest locally.  The final item was a Battlefront P-38 for my mid-war Americans.  You can use this for late war but to me the P-47 is THE late war ground attack plane for the Americans.

I must say I am pretty happy with this trip even if I didn't bring back LOTS of stuff.

Monday, July 8, 2013

El Guettar Turns 9 and 10

Our El Guettar campaign continues, slowly, but surely.  I have already covered turn 9 in detail in a previous post

Turn 10 saw a return of the same US force that fought in turn 9.  The Germans, however, were another story.  Tim decided to go back to the Panzer Grenadiers for this game.  He took the CO and two platoons in half-tracks.  He had a couple of PaK38 and some 105 artty.  The icing on the crap cake was not one but two Tigers!  And if that was not enough he also had air support.  This was going to suck but I knew I only needed 2 VP in order to capture El Guettar so I was ready.

The scenario for this battle was Hold the Line with the US defending.  I have come to the conclusion that I am not very good at these Defensive Battles as the defender.  I have a very hard time making good decisions as it relates to reserves and deployed units and this game would be no different.  I started the game with an HMG platoon, an infantry platoon and the 105 artillery on the table.  Why?  I couldn't tell you other than it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The objective placement for this scenario seems to follow a predicable pattern - defender places an objective marker in the center-rear and the attacker place one forward towards one side.  Naturally, Tim would move his Tigers towards the near objective so I placed my artillery there...then I realized that they cannot do much to the front of a Tiger.  This really set the tone for the rest of the game.

In the end, the game became a slugging match for the near objective.  I was able to get my reserves in and gradually fed them into the German meat grinder.  The Germans would win the game but could only manage a 4-3.  The Americans capture El Guettar!

The current campaign scores are:

Victory Points
US - 37
Germans - 33

US - 170
Germans - 95

Vehicles lost
US - 58
Germans - 50

Guns lost
US - 7
Germans - 7

For the next campaign I think we will track planes shot down.  The Germans have lost a lot of planes.