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Friday, August 30, 2013

Bolt Action - Soviet Infantry! (Or: Surviving a Sale!)

If you're reading this, chances are you've seen a Black Tree Design sale or ten since Bolt Action first hit the scene a bit over a year ago; and if you're anything like me, you've taken advantage of one or all of these sales. To those of you familiar with what I'm talking about, this will look familiar to you:

Degenerates order by weight.

Yep, that's a moron's dozen BTD Soviets right there, and you have to wait until about 1:30 to catch the reference, if you care to, not that it has anything to do with this article. These several pounds of Soviets were not a acquired in one big purchase. If memory serves, I picked up a few dozen Soviets the first time they had a sale, and kept picking up a few more dozen at each subsequent BTD sale. These were the sorts of purchases quite familiar to degenerate gamers, such as myself, or perhaps your significant other that keeps coming home with this or that, "because it was on sale!" I'm calling it a moron's dozen, because there was no plan; no rhyme, no reason to the purchases; and not a drop of paint hit the ever growing pile until August, 2013. Doing this, instead of buying and painting your stuff slowly over time, is amassing a moron's dozen, BARbarians.

Some of them. The table couldn't sustain the weight.

I'm not sure exactly where the motivation came from to start working on this pile. The Historicon tournament had just ended, and there's nothing like the end of a tournament to inspire you to try something new. There's something in all of us, I think, to keep testing new builds, really. I don't know any war gamer that's built only one force and stuck with it for years. Really, after a while, my own guilt and shame drove me to stop buying and start painting Soviets. After a while, we cease to be gamers and become some sort of sad hoarders. Regardless, you'll find your motivation, so have faith. Just make sure you take advantage of it while it's there, before you buy another few pounds of metal and discourage yourself as the pile grows.

I've found my drive, so now for an unrealistic goal: Paint these one hundred Soviets in under twenty-four hours of cleaning, assembly, and painting. I had no idea if this was attainable for me when I first set out, but a time limit was needed. I'm the kind of painter that will spend too much time on small details that yield greatly diminishing returns in the grand scheme of things. We're looking at these things from a few feet away, people!

As for the Black Tree stuff, it has its pros and cons. The infantry for my other two armies came from Warlord Games, and although I'd never volunteer to assemble that many plastic Soviets, I did miss the variation between figures you're capable of with those plastic kits. BTD offers a lot of different poses, but in great numbers, you eventually end up with with many multiples. I've got eight copies of a couple different versions of Soviet riflemen. That said, gluing one hundred plastic Soviets is not my idea of a good time. I couldn't even start painting them until the pile collection dust on the window sill started to block out the sunlight.

Some of the moron's dozen cleaned, based, and ready for priming.
As my first foray into 28mm WWII metals, it's impossible to compare them to anything else. I have dealt with metals in other genres and scales, though, so I can safely say that these models were very clean. I didn't need to spend a lot of time shaving these guys down or trimming off much more than a piece of flash here and there.

Getting them cleaned and on bases was as quick as you might imagine. As quick as wisely only purchasing and modelling a single squad? Nope. Still, it was over in just a couple hours; and that's including a generous application of Vallejo Grey Pumice on each base. I'm a big fan of the stuff for 28mm work, as the slightly coarse texture really holds a wash in the low spots and grabs a highlight on the high spots.

Love me some spray!

These guys took spray really well. The War Store still stocks some Italian Armour (Desert) Spray Paint that CH told me would serve well enough as a base color for Soviet uniforms. As I expected, the excellent spray covered well, and I wouldn't need to paint another uniform color over the top of them. This was, however, the first time I ever used an entire can of spray on one single project. For those of you that want exact measurements, it takes one whole spray can to paint a moron's dozen of Russian 28mm infantry.

The spray phase is one of my favorites. You feel like you accomplish so much in so little time.

Somewhere in the midst of applying single colors to ... too many Soviets.

The next phase made me appreciate the spray paint portion even more. Fortunately for me, I only paint whole forces at once; so the familiarity of the pain of painting two hundred boots is dulled a bit. It is, though, still entirely painful. Please, put your forces together one squad at a time. I've never done it, but I imagine it's quite enjoyable in comparison. The process here comes down to squirting a bunch of one color out onto your palette and applying it to one hundred of the same exact feature of each model. It's pretty mind-numbing.

As for the figures, I actually preferred painting these metals to the plastics I was used to. I prefer the thin look of the plastics, but the exaggerated details of the metals does tend to make painting easier and more effective. I put a color on a highly detailed, but relatively subtle feature of a plastic, and it's noticeable. I put a color on a exaggerated metal model and it's a world of difference. Combine this with the fact that I didn't spend hours gluing together hundreds of fiddly arms and weapons before this phase, and I can see the attraction people have to metals.

I fall somewhere in between in the battle of metal versus plastic. I really enjoy the look of the Warlord plastics, but I appreciate the relative simplicity of getting BTD metals ready for the tabletop.

Still not finished.
The colors are still being applied. I can't say I'm having the best time doing it, but I am enjoying how they're coming out. The khaki color will look more "khaki" once I get colors and grasses on those bases, and the more I paint these guys, the more I appreciate how this exaggerated metal style takes paint. A few of them needs skin tones, and they all currently need to be washed with a brown, then based.

I'm about fourteen hours into this project now. That might sound like a long time, but I can see this ultimately taking me somewhere in the eighteen hour range. That's going to amount to around eleven minutes per soldier, bare metal in a bag to completion. Once they're done, I'll do a follow up article; or at the very least, they'll surely feature in a battle report or two on the site. If you're a sicko like me with a sack of metal in the corner, waiting to be painted, get it out and get it painted. If you can't, get on the forum and talk about it!


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