Monday 26 June 2023

Mortar Teams for AK-47 Republic

 When hunting for AK-47 Figures recently, I came across Keep Wargaming, who had a number of very temptingly priced 15mm figures.  As well as a number of nice sets of Alternative Armies Ion Age sci-fi figures (in their old Firefight packaging from the 1990's), I picked up some Skytrex Command Decision wounded, mortar teams, truck passengers, gun crew and other bits and bobs.

Base coat & webbing done.

I used Vallejo Khaki as the base colour with a sepia wash for shading.  Webbing was coloured using  Army Painter Camo Green Speedpaint.  Skin tones were touched in with a mixture of brown and pink flesh colours.

Base coat & webbing done.

Once boots etc had been added in black, the figures were gel superglued onto Warbases 30x30mm MDF bases.

Glued in place.

I tried to ensure a good mix of figures on each base and swapped out a couple of the crew for other gun crew for extra variety.

Ready for texturing.

The mortars come in 2 pieces, bipod and barrel.  These fit together very neatly, the bipod base curving around the barrel base for a snug fit.

Wood filler will hide the cast-on bases.

The bases were textured with brown wood filler, painted with burnt umber, coated with fine sand/grout and finally static grassed.

Transport will be a bit cosy in only 2 Landrovers.

Although these are WWII figures, the lack of personal weapons other than holstered side arms means that they will fit fine into a 1960's-80's army for AK-47 Republic.

"Left a bit. Up a touch." (Professional mortar spotter speak)

I added some camo spotting on their uniforms using Army Painter Camo Cloak Speedpaint and GW Gore-grunta Fur contrast paint.  This sort of paint provides a fairly subtle effect, which was just what I was after, with no additional shading or highlighting required.

"Shoot THAT way."

Larger rocks have been placed in front of a couple of the mortar positions, where the crew have made a half-hearted attempt to give themselves a bit of cover.

These fortifications will make us invulnerable!

Once I get my 3D printer set up again, I'll print a load of mortar bombs and ammo crates to stack around them.  There are plenty of empty spaces on those bases that I can fill!

Sunday 25 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 6

I swear you can hear it growing...

The ones I planted in the garden aren't looking as impressive.  I'm not sure whether they'll catch up or maybe just wither away and die...


Saturday 24 June 2023

AK-47 Republic infantry units

 My Old Glory UK modern African irregulars have been painted ready for battle.  Here's a quick description of how I painted them, it was a slightly different procedure from my normal method.

After a quick clean up and a wash with hot soapy water, they were attached to a long wooden batten with some double sided tape.  They were undercoated with Wilko grey spray primer, then touched up with some Vallejo cold grey to make sure there were no bare spots.  A heavy white drybrush pre-highlighted them ready for the next stage...

Undercoated grey with white drybrush.

Undercoated grey with white drybrush.

 I painted the base colour of the uniforms with Army Painter Camo Green speedpaint, the pre-highlighting enhances the contrast effect of these paints.  I left them to dry for a good 24 hours to reduce the reactivation issue of these 1st generation Speedpaints (apparently the newer gen 2 version doesn't have this feature).  I carefully painted in the webbing with Vallejo Khaki.  Flesh tones were added using a variety of browns: Vallejo charred brown, Vallejo Beasty Brown and GW Gore-Grunta fur contrast paint.  Weapons are GW Leadbelcher metal and GW Skaven brown for the wooden parts.  I mixed up a wash of 1 part sepia ink, 1 part black ink, 1 part matt varnish and 2 parts water.  This was applied to the flesh, weapons and webbing.  Metal parts on the weapons looked a bit dull after this, so were re-painted in leadbelcher.  Final details included black on the hair, boots, and parts of the RPGs and Army Painter Blood Red Speedpaint on the berets, followed by some Humbrol 60 matt scarlet for highlights.

Uniforms finished, webbing etc. base coated.

Uniforms finished, webbing etc. base coated.

Uniforms finished, webbing etc. base coated.

 Basing for standard foot units in AK-47 Republic is 3 figures on a 30x30mm square.  I ordered some MDF bases from Warbases, these come with neatly laser cut with rounded corners which will hopefully reduce the chances of them catching on bits of scenery or getting bumped and chipped.  The figures were peeled off the tape on the painting batten and fixed on the bases using gel superglue.  Brown wood filler was used to build up the texture and hide the edges of the figure bases.  I applied a coat of burnt umber craft paint to give an even base colour, then painted on PVA and sprinkled with my "soil" mix of brown grout and fine sifted sharp sand.  A mix of dilute PVA and matt acrylic varnish was dripped on with a pipette to seal the mixture in place.  I was a bit worried about whether the bases might warp slightly, but so far they seem OK, presumably because they're quite small, and they also have the protective covering of wood filler.  The final touch was to dab some PVA over the surface and sprinkle on some static grass.

Commander and radio operator.

This is Javis Countryside Scenics, "Autumn Mix" I think. It doesn't seem to photograph very well, looking very bleached here rather than the greener shade it appears in real life.

Rifle team.
  The Speedpaint worked well on the uniforms of these figures, so I'll be using it again for the rest of these Old Glory UK African Irregulars.  I didn't get any problem with reactivation this time when I painted the webbing etc, which was encouraging.

RPG teams.

The painting really brings these figures to life and the detail is much easier to see now. The Warbases MDF bases are very good, excellent value and speedy postage so I'd definitely recommend them.  The rounded corners add a touch of class and finish things off very neatly.

RPG team and kneeling figure.

 So that's my first unit of infantry for AK-47 Republic done, I have plenty of tanks so more troops and more APCs or trucks is the way forward now.

Family photo.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 5

 By 22nd June (53 days after planting), the Seafoam's really coming on.  I count at least 17 seedlings sprouting the branching structure.

The ones I planted out have also recovered from the transplant trauma and are looking good.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 4

By 16th June, some of the Seafoam is starting to sprout the branching structure that will form my model trees.

A few plants have withered away due to my clumsy re-potting damaging the roots, or possibly because I either a) over-watered them or b) left them in the sun too long...

The reserve plants in the original seed trays are still going strong, too.

Growth is accelerating by 20th June.  The tree structure is really coming on.

More side shoots are starting to appear on some of the other plants.

The reserve plant trays were starting to get a bit too overcrowded and some plants were beginning to wither, so I've planted them out in a few empty spots in the flowerbed.  We'll see how they fare in the wild.

They're a bit bedraggled because I've just planted them.  Hopefully they'll perk up in a day or two!

Saturday 3 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 3

 By 31st May, my little seedlings were ready to thin out and transplant.  Actually, they were ready several days earlier, but building work at home and keeping the kids amused for half-term prevented me from dealing with them sooner.  They were almost lifting the lid off the propagator tray.

Almost peeping out of the top of the propagator.

 You can see which side was facing out of the greenhouse towards the sun!  There are plenty of sturdy stems in there ready to transplant. The tray planted by Number 2 Son had caught up and possibly surpassed the tray I planted.

More than ready to transplant!

 Playgroup were planting Lobelia and Marigolds last week and I asked if I could have their old plant trays for the next stage of Teloxys planting, further cementing my miserly credentials.

One or two plants per section.

 The Teloxys looks rather droopy at the moment but should recover after a day or two.

Hopefully they'll perk up in a few days.

 After extracting the strongest looking plants, I kept the rest in their propagators.  I'll see how they do, they might be OK as spares just in case I manage to kill the ones I transplanted.

I'll leave the rest to see how it grows.

  Because I had so many plants left, I dug out an extra planter for a few more.

Room for another 14 plants in this one.

I'll leave these to grow on for a couple of weeks and then see if they look ready for putting in the flower border.

Friday 2 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 2

 By 10th May, my seedlings were starting to sprout.  The tray that Number 2 Son "helped" me plant weren't very evenly spread, but he is only 4, so he did fairly well, all things considered.

Here they come!

The tray I planted were more even and seem to be growing better.

Looking good so far...

 Should be ready to thin out and transplant into bigger pots soon.

Thursday 1 June 2023

Growing trees - Teloxys aristata (Seafoam) part 1

 I've seen Seafoam used for model trees and have always fancied using some to add extra quality to my scenery.  In keeping with my skinflint tendencies, I'd rather grow my own instead of buying the finished product.  I bought a pack of Teloxys aristata seeds last year from Chiltern's Seeds for £2.25 (along with some cherry tomatoes and some "Black Nebula" carrots), and I'm happy to invest the time in rearing these over the next few months.  A box of the fully grown sea foam would be between £15 and £15, and this should give me 10 times the amount.  I'm not likely to get a chance to use it for several months anyway, so the growing time won't be an issue.

As well as the seeds, I need a few other bits to start: seed trays and fine compost.

Compost (with scoop) and seed trays.

The seeds are tiny.  Don't sneeze whilst handling these - though with approximately 640 per packet, you can afford to lose a few.

Tiny seeds.  Gosh my hands look wrinkly.

I crumbled an inch or so of the fine compost into the trays and sprinkled the seeds thinly over the surface.  These propagators will provide a warm and cosy environment to encourage the seeds to germinate, especially as they'll be tucked away in the greenhouse too.

Propagators ready.

The last thing to do was ensure they are regularly watered, though not too much.  The water here is brown - that's not any special plant food, it's just from the bottom of our water butt, so rather cloudy.

A little drink for the plants.

The seeds were planted on 1st May and should be ready to harvest by late September.

Old Glory UK 15mm African Irregulars review

 One thing I've been lacking is some infantry for my AK-47 Republic armies.  I have a fair number of Peter Pig figures, but many of these are earmarked for basing individually as part of my ongoing 15mm Action Force project.  I'd spotted that Old Glory UK's Command Decision range of modern figures which included African irregulars, and I thought that these were worth a closer look.  PP figures are now £4.35 per pack, or just under 55p per figure.  OGUK are 50 for £18 which is 36p per figure.  Annoyingly, they were £16 a pack when I looked on Friday evening, but I was after the bulk discount of buy 5 packs get one free which is only available by phone.  By the time I telephoned on Monday, they had increased to £18 a pack, so I ended up only buying a couple of packs after all.

The big question is, how do PP and OGUK compare in quality.  I was also interested to see how they compared in size, given the never-ending debate over whether 15mm is to the eye or to the top of the head.  I couldn't find any breakdown of what was in each pack, so the following review may also be of use for anyone considering a purchase.


First up, pack CDMOD-09 African Irregulars AK47 etc.  This set contains 50 (or 53 in this case!) infantry in 7 different poses, all armed with an AK47.  Overall, the casting is excellent, with only a single bit of flash (mentioned below), minimal mould lines and small, easily removed vents.  Most of the poses are pretty good, though the fine detail is lacking in places.

The standing, firing pose wears a beret, webbing and is bare-footed.

The kneeling, firing pose wears a forage cap, boots, vest top and webbing.

My favourite pose, the machete wielding trooper wears a forage cap, boots and webbing including chest rig magazine pouches.  The AK47 is slightly lacking in detail, though this is improved by painting.

The standing pose is slightly awkward.  He wears a beret, boots and webbing.

The second standing pose is more dynamic.  He has webbing and is bare-headed (or possibly wearing a shower cap?!).

The running pose is bare-headed and has webbing pouches, one of which does merge slightly into his AK magazine.  The stock of the rifle is obviously a problem point, several of mine had some flash on the rear where the mould is obviously worn or damaged, but it was quite easy to clean up. The detail on the face is a little soft.

 Overall, I'd give pack CDMOD-09 GRADE B.  They are good value for money (especially if you get an extra 3 in the pack!), but there are a limited number of poses, one of which I'm not too keen on.  The detail is also quite soft on several of the figures.  I do like that there is a mix of different headgear and that there is also a barefoot figure in the mix.  For quickly bulking out an army, I think they'd be hard to beat pricewise, so I'd still buy a pack of these if I was starting a new faction.


The second pack of figures I ordered was CDMOD-10 African Irregulars Command and Weapons (including mortars, LMGS, RPG).  As with the first pack, mould lines were minimal, small vents and in this instance, no noticeable flash.

The light machine gun appears to be an old RPD rather than a more modern RPK (the magazine is vertical rather than angled), though the bipod appears to be attached in the wrong place.

The RPG trooper wears a bush hat, boots, webbing and carries a pack of reloads on his back.  There is a slight lack of detail on his RPG-7.  The casting is quite thin (which is perfectly in scale), so several were slightly bent in the packet, but the grenade and breech took only a few seconds to bend back into shape.

The officer wears a forage cap, boots and has a small, stubby pistol.

The radio operator has a backpack radio with corded handset.  He is bareheaded and wears boots.

One of the mortar crew wears a helmet, boots and is clutching a mortar bomb.  The other crewman wears a forage cap, is bare-footed and is ready to drop the mortar bomb down the tube.

Here are the crew with their mortar assembled.  The mortar is slightly odd, having a wheeled carriage.  I can't identify this, all the wheeled mortars I've seen have been big, towed versions such as 120mm, and I'm not sure why you'd put wheels on something this small (82mm?) instead of a normal bipod.

 Overall, I'd give the command and weapons pack CDMOD-10 GRADE B-.  As with the first pack, detail is slightly soft in places and the number of poses is limited.  It would have been nice to have at least a couple of different LMG and RPG figures and perhaps fewer radio operators and officers.  The detail on some of the weapons is lacking, and the mortar is very odd. (If anyone would like to correct me on that mortar, please comment below and I will amend this review!)


So, how do Old Glory UK compare to Peter Pig?

  • Both are well cast, with little clean up required for mould lines, flash or vents.
  • The PP figures have crisper detail, they also have thinner, neater bases.
  •  PP have a much wider range of poses available (30+ across the militia and regular ranges compared to the 13 from OGUK).
  • PP also have better detail and greater accuracy than OGUK on the weapons.
 Peter Pig are therefore the winners for me in terms of quality.  In terms of value for money, it's less clear-cut.  If I was basing figures individually for a small skirmish game, PP would win hands down.  For something like AK-47 Republic where you're multi-basing larger quantities in groups, individual detail matters less for me.  What I'm after is the overall effect, and in some ways the OGUK figures are better for this in that there is less fine detail to paint.  Because they are equal in terms of clean-up/preparation time prior to painting, the saving in cost means that OGUK edge ahead very slightly.

 For my size comparison, I took a couple of pictures to demonstrate how variable this is.  The PP figures are slighter and not quite so tall - though not by much in some cases, as you can see here.

OGUK on the left, PP on the right.

The difference in the RPG figures is much more noticeable.  The variation in height is very pronounced, as is the detail on the figures.  The RPG launchers look very different, but given the range of different grenade types, this isn't necessarily a problem.  The difference in clothing detail makes the 2 figures look very different, and they would look a bit strange together on the same base.

RPGs: OGUK on the left, PP on the right.

 In summary, Old Glory UK modern African irregulars will work well for AK-47 Republic, but it's probably best not to mix them with Peter Pig figures within the same unit.  Having PP and OGUK in different units within the same army should look OK, or using PP specialist gun crew for a mainly OGUK would be fine.  I will certainly be using both options in my armies.

I've got my first unit painted, and I'll post that in the near future, once I get a chance to photograph it properly.