Monday, 25 July 2011

WW2 Japanese

Bashing through several WW2 armies for Rapid Fire late 2009/early 2010 meglomania took over in the Cavalier wargames show in 2010, and I acquired a couple of boxes of Waterloo 1815 Japanese and a bag of old Airfix Japanese too from the Harfield's stand. Having finally finished the Eastern front forces in March of that year, WW2 fatigue overcame me, but by the end of the year, I was able to get the Japs out of the cupboard. After the enormous headache of trying to assemble all the vehicles to fill a Rapid Fire order of battle for a German, Russian, American or late war British army, I was quite looking forward to tackling an army with mainly infantry, which could borrow trucks from there German allies, and where a few light tanks and artillery pieces, and perhaps a plane or two would be 'the icing on the cake' rather than essential.

The main task was researching uniforms, which mainly revealed lack of much consensus on uniform colours. The basic colour was pea green, which often faded badly, and was apparently substituted for a light khaki in 'tropical' areas. All of this research led me to conclude: go for a colour that looks nice! I ended up mixing some green paint I used for basing with some buff paint I use for WW2 German tanks and washing the figure at the end with a brown wash. Seemed to work. You can judge for yourself from the pics.

I finished painting well over a hundred figures last winter. The pleasant surprise was how good the Airfix figs looked when painted properly. These must have had a thousand bad paint jobs and lain around unpainted or with chipped paint in thousands of play boxes, which is how a lot of us think of them, but this figure set sculpted back in the early 1970s actually stands the test of time and painted up they looked as good as the Waterloo 1815 figures released a year or so ago. The Waterloo 1815 box is crammed with goodies like HMGs, knee mortars, radio operators and flame throwers, so many in fact, I was glad of the Airfix to make sure I had enough riflemen. I've not including any of the Heavy Weapons in the shots, but barring a few extra 'ammunition carriers' I make up by trimming off weapons, so that under Rapid Fire rules I have enough weapons crew, virtually everything is painted up, if not varnished and based.

My chief innovation for this project was basing. As I'm sure I have bored Steve to death about already, basing for me has become something of a minor obscession, having completely ignored its importance for most of the time I've been painting figures. If you collect 20mm plastics in wargaming circles you develop something of an 'inferiority complex'. 15mm gamers smile and tell you big figures and vehicles like that are 'oversized for the table', while 28mm 'metal snobs' say, "gosh aren't they small, how do you paint those?" So to counter this, I am always striving to make 20mm plastics look as good as I can on the table. You can only go so far, by painting, and when I ran my online shop and took a professional interest in painted figures, I started to notice a 'well-painted' figure was usually a 'well-based figure', and a pretty averagely painted figure can look great with good basing. I started to notice the difference when I worked a bit harder on the look of the bases for my DBA elements. When I switched back to painting WW2 figures, I had based them on 5 peseta coins I had from when I lived in Spain. Smaller than 1p coins, they 'did the job' but I noticed that they seemed to 'diminish' the figure. I have variously experimented with 2p coins, but for WW2 I initially fielded by German and Russian armies on 5 peseta coins. I decided that it didn't do them justice, so started to study the brillantly well painted figures in the Rapid Fire books, noting the common convention of basing quite a few two-to-a-base on generously sized and well-terrained bases. I therefore, left my figures on peseta coins, for extra weight, but stuck them on larger card bases, which I then terrained with rough sand and also normal static grass.

For the Japs, I've gone one step further and to a further extreme. I want to make up some Jungle Terrain, for these boys, and bought a bunch of acquarium plastic ferns etc. and having so much, put a few sprigs on the base of the figures.

Although I principally intend to use Rapid Fire rules, I really used to enjoy 'Crossfire' rules too at my last club, which is a particularly good simulation of 'company level' infantry combat across dense terrain. This works especially well for jungle fighting. Most 'Crossfire' players I've come across use 15mm figures, but there is not as such any reason that 20mm figures don't work. Crossfire, does, however, mainly use 'element' basing, the size of an element not being fixed, and it can represent a squad/section or a platoon or even a company. After playing around I thought it would do no harm to base a few dozen figures on three figure bases, which could still be used for Rapid Fire, but looked the part as a 'Crossfire' element.

These looked particularly good with 'heavy terrain', but judge for yourself....assuming you can find the figure in all that foliage, of course! I haven't ruled out adding more 'tufts' and such 'high-end' basing accessories to these bases, despite my cheapskate nature.

Unfortunately one of the 'downsides' of using such generous basing, is that the army rapidly grew to require more storage boxes, which I had by this stage just run out of! The final pic is the full force, half based for now, until I have somewhere to store them all.

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