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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bolt Action - IJA Bamboo Spear Tutorial

(Next time you're batch painting a bunch of IJA, you owe it to yourself to try Nemesis A's approach to painting. Here's a guide to the bamboo spear method he mentioned in Speakeasy episode 19. He's a talented painter and modeler, and this is one of those tips you just can't afford to miss. - Judson)
When I decided to build an IJA force to take to the Bolt Action tournament at Cold Wars this spring I new one thing – my list was going to include at least one Inexperienced Bamboo Spear Squad.  There is just something about a squad of soldiers making a desperate last ditch Banzai charge armed only with a sharpened bamboo stick that appealed to me.  The fact that the unit is also a fairly good buy for the points didn’t hurt either.  But ask any one that plays IJA and they will tell you that the problem with this unit is that finding models armed with a bamboo spear is difficult at best.  I think I was only able to find a single model from all of the different manufacturer’s ranges that I searched through.  I am not a fan of unit that looks like it is made up of clones so a single model just wasn’t gonna cut it.  Especially since the unit I was envisioning would be 15 bodies strong.  Well if you can’t find them – build them.

Luckily for me the Warlord Games plastic IJA box set provided a perfect start for my conversion project.

Step #1
Cut spears for the conversion.  I used the banner arms included in the kit for several of my Bamboo Spear Guys.  Simply cut the banner to length using a single angled cut.

Of course, I wanted to add a little variety to my unit, so I converted several of the other models using a hobby “Q-tip” cut in half and glued to appropriate arms.  The IJA boxed set has several good options but for even more variety the arms from the US Infantry boxed also set match up well.

Step #2
Finish assembling the models using your newly converted spears and arms. Pretty easy, huh?  Just two steps.  Now if you look at the finished unit at the end of this article you will notice that I did a few metal head swaps.  I really liked the look of the metal heads that came in the anti-tank blister with the Kamikaze-style head bands so I added as many as I could to the unit.  I thought it gave the unit a more desperate look that fit poorly trained and equipped conscripts.

Now, models without paint just are not gonna' cut it at Cold Wars.  There are some seriously good looking armies in attendance, so we are going to have to paint these models up.  When I was researching the bamboo spears, I have to admit that in most of the pictures I found, the weapons had that typical, dried bamboo color.  This wasn’t going to work for me, since I decided to paint my IJA force in a khaki uniform scheme.  I felt that the spears would just get lost in all the yellow-brown already on the model, so I opted instead for a fresh cut bamboo look.

Step #1
Paint your IJA troops in the uniform color of choice.  When you are ready to paint the spear, start by painting the entire length in a nice medium green.  I made a custom mix for mine, and regrettably did not write down the formula.  If you have a decent collection of paints, it should not be difficult to find a color that looks about right.  A 50/50 mix of Vallejo Reflective Green and German Cam. Bright Green should look appropriate.

Step #2
Next, you want to add the segment lines that will make your green stick look like actual bamboo.  The color you will use can be mixed by adding a cream color to your medium green base.  You should end up with a very light green color, like a mint green.  Start by painting four to five equally spaced bands around the spear.  You don’t need to worry about making the lines perfect as we are trying to represent a natural wood look and nature is rarely perfect.  Quick tip – don’t be afraid to paint these lines fairly wide as it will make the final step a little easier; and if you don’t like the width after step #3, you can always go back with your base green and narrow it down later.  Once your bands are all painted, you need to paint both ends of the spear.  I used Vallejo Dark Sand (a bone white color) for this part.  Carefully paint a small oval at the end of the spear tip to represent the inner color of the bamboo, being sure to leave a little green on the edges.  Do this again at the other end of the spear as well.

Step #3
Next, what you need to do is finish painting the segments in your bamboo spears.  Taking a dark brown or black - I used Vallejo German Camo Black Brown for this step - paint a thin line in the middle of your light green band.  Again, don’t worry about making the lines perfectly straight.  The lines should be relatively thin and divide the light green band into two fairly equal sized lines.  When you are finished your green stick should look much more like recently cut bamboo.  Once you are finished with the bands take your dark brown color and paint another smaller oval inside the white oval on both ends of your spear.  This will create the illusion of a hollow bamboo length.   This step requires a fairly steady hand but, not to worry, after you do a few you should get the hang of it.

Step #4
Base up your model.  Good basing really makes a model pop, and can do wonders to unify an otherwise diverse looking force.

Step #5
Get your unit on the table for their inaugural game!

My finished unit - ready to take on Judson’s Soviet Hordes!
(How cool is that? Chat us up about it, or your own methods, on the forum by clicking below! - J)

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