Lee brings us the second part of his September/October hobby progress, this time looking at the Armybits portion of the activity.
I’ve never been a huge one for kickstarters and, prior to this, I had only taken part in one; Plastic Soldier Company’s 25pdr kickstarter.
But Keith’s early 3D renders of the Soviets in Afghanistan-era KLMK camo-suits grabbed my attention.
I had been kicking around doing Afghansti for awhile (having ended up with 12 HINDS) but using the Battlefront soviets, visually identical to my motor infantry save for the shoulder board colour, didn’t seem especially interesting paint wise. Keith, formerly of Army Armies, had seemingly solved my problem with his new venture, presenting some interesting alternative infantry figures. Given he had a good track record with fulfilling his ArmiesArmy kickstarter, it seemed a safe bet to invest. I opted for a “battle ready” company (a full strength infantry company with support weapons) at £47, plus a BMD2 platoon (3 BMD and an infantry platoon) for £27. The plan was to be able to combine the infantry to form two mid-sized afghansty company, plus have the BMD2 for a “BMP2 recce” platoon. One oddity was that the Infantry company came with 12.7mm HMG rather than PKM so I added some extra teams, plus an extra Spigot and Gremlin team too. The BMD was similar to BF’s metal and resin models in pricing but the infantry seemed pricier (though I struggle to find what the metal BF models cost to truly compare), but the variety of figures, including RPG loaders and the like, seemed a fair justification.
Of course, Covid did throw a small spanner in Keith’s works, but the order still shipped in September which, whilst five months later than Keith’s prediction, was still pretty impressive given the disruption!
The Infantry are white metal, generally cleanly cast with a few easily removed mould lines and flash as you’d expect from any such kit. The thinner tubular weapons like the RPG and the SA-14 did have a heavier mould line than other models and require a bit more cleaning, though nothing too onerous.
The sculpts have a lot of character and detail which is good to see. I liked the presence of RPG loaders and gunners with the triangular round carrier rucksacks and the SA-14 crews having AKSU carbines. The platoon came with RPK and SVD Dragunov marksman, AK-74 with UGL and a load of AK74 armed infantry. the only noticeable ommission was a radioman but Keith had provided a staff team set which did include one so that was nice. He also provided a mine sweeper and dog handler team for all the backers which was a very nice inclusion and will find its way onto an objective in the future.
The AT-4 Spigot gunner and post was noticeable for being a one-piece sculpt which resolves the headache I have with my Milan teams always losing their missile tubes! I thought there was a dedicated loader based on the 3D renders from the campaign but these did not seem to be present. I guess they may have been dropped .
The only real issue I have with the models is that the muzzles of the AK are sometimes quite fat and ugly, looking more like suppressed MP5SD. I recall this coming up as an update during the campaign as a manufacturing necessity and does at least save the snapped AK I have on some of my other models. Its a little jarring but not terribly noticeable at tabletop.
Whilst a little pricey (though its hard to compare like to like given BF switched to plastic) I have no regrets buying these models and they should make a for a distinctive Afghansty force!
The BMD2 Airborne IFV is a CAD-sculpted resin hull and metal multi-part kit. The resin is a light coloured grey with well captured detail, although the “washboard” wave breaker that should be in front of the driver’s hatch is absent (it was present on the 3D sculpt, oddly). This does appear to sometime be absent in real life so I’m not sure if it an issue. The hull is the later type with the squad leader’s hull MG deleted (because he was somewhat overworked. The turret ring is ovoid rather than round to ensure that the turret will fit with shrinkage and the like but does make for a loose fit on the five I had. A magnet or blue-tac will be needed.
The metal tracks and cannons were cleanly sculpted and cast with minimal cleaning required.
The turret is metal and is the only real point of annoyance, having an awkward and difficult to clean mould line and a slight touch of faceting from its 3D printed master used to make the mould. Happily the mould line can be cleaned up, and the faceting is a lot less noticeable with paint on. The AT-4 Spigot has no locating divot or other feature (a manufacturing decision to make the mould last longer, Keith revealed) so requires pinning to get a decent bond but most should be comfortable with that. The gunner’s hatch can be modelled opened or closed.
Whilst it has a few niggles, mostly driven by the necessities of production, its a nice looking kit and makes for a characterful addition to an Afghansty army as a BMP2 recce proxy or similar.
Painting – Infantry
I had already decided that, given the number of figures that the full strength company would require, I would try and paint the infantry with Contrast Paints, using the small platoon as a testbed. The trick was going to be matching up the Citadel range with what I needed. This had partly been solved by other people, Mark included, but there was still some work to do, two things especially.
Firstly, the camo suit which is basically a warm green with pale, almost white, blotches. Looking on the net found some decent colour charts of Contrast based on different undercoats. Citadel Contract (CC) Creed Camo over a Citadel Wraithbone basecoat seemed about right. The patches could be Vallejo Model Colour (VMC) Camo Medium Beige afterwards.
Secondly, the AT-4 and SA-14 missile tubes are an interesting yellow-green colour, quite different to almost universal Olive Drab colour of NATO missile systems. I thought this would be a tricky match but CC “Plaguebearer Flesh” on the colour swabs seemed pretty much an exact match.
I do my basecoating via airbrush so I needed to try and replicate “Wraithbone”. I opted for Vallejo Surface Primer (VSP) Grey, followed by a light coat of Vallejo Game Air (VGA) Aged White” to give a softer tone. In hindsight, I’m not 100% convinced it was worth that extra effort so may just go with the grey primer alone, going forward.
At any rate, I hot-glued the figures to some tongue depressors and set about applying under and basecoats before leaving them to dry overnight so the Contrast would work at its best.
Most guides to using Contrast paint mentioned two things: Start at the skin or lightest colour and work outwards. The darker contrasts can cover the lighter shades to a degree but certainly not the other way around so going light and staying neat will save a lot of headaches. The other tip is not to paint over an area that already has wet paint on it. Paint by sections, top to bottom, moving on and dealing with any areas missed once its dry. The contrast paints react badly to being disturbed whilst wet.
With that in mind, I first picked out the faces and hands with CC Guilliman Flesh, ensure I covered right up to the neck/helmet and sleeve lines, but no further. By the time I had done the last figure, the first was dry so I continued on to apply the CC Creed Camo on the camo suit areas, being careful to meet the skin but minimise overlap and keep areas like the weapon, boots and webbing clear.
From there I worked my way out with the following colours:
Webbing, RPG carry cases, large pouches: CC Aggaros Dunes
Magazine pouches: CC Militarium Green
Boots and metal parts of AK and RPG7 – CC Black Templar
Wooden parts of AK and RPG7 – CC Snakebite Leather
AK and RPK magazine – Gore-Grunta Fur
The helmets were the last part and here I probably made a bad choice. I didn’t think that CC Militraium Green or Creed Camo was the right colour so went with CC Ork Flesh. However, that was way too vibrant and I ended up applying a couple coats of Citadel Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil to dull it down. I think I’ll just paint them VMC Brown Violet in future. CC Militaium Green would also work if you wanted to stay in Contrasts.
I then applied the camo patches to the camo-suit. I initially used VMC German Camo Medium Beige, but this was too subtle so I later repainted the patches in VMC Ivory for a starker, ahem, contrast. I also used Ivory to add some additionally highlights to the face, and VMC Sky Grey to add edge highlights to the metal parts of the AK and RPG.
Finally, I applied a wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade to the camo suit and watered down VMC Luftwaffe Uniform to the face for stubble.
To finish the model I painted their sub bases in CC Wyldwood to ensure there were no grey parts of the base sowing. I then glued them to the base and filled any gaps. The AT-4 gunners have quite large sub-bases and the green stuff helped contour these bases into the mainbase. I then applied Windsor and Netwon Medium mixed with some VMC German Camo Medium Brown and matt varnish, drybrushing on VMC Tan Earth and VMC Iraqi Sand to complete.
A couple coats of Vallejo Mecha Matt varnish killed the shine that Contrast seems to generate and completed the model.
The actual process over a platoon was surprisingly quick; I started the prep on the 1st October and finished the models nine days later. Fast by my standards!
Painting – Vehicles
The vehicles were painted at the same time as the Carnations and Storms in the last article and used the same techniques.
MT-LBu Artillery Command vehicle
The MT-LBu was a test piece Keith provided me. It had some issues with the 3D printed master, hence the print lines on the rear, which is being redone and should be available to purchase in the future. The model itself is a nice alternative to the BMP1 OP and captures the odd lines of the MT-LBu well. One to look out for when it re-emerges as its handy as an OP or as the basis for a scenic objective marker.