Bolt Action Starter Set; A Build Blog by Howard Nason

Part 6 of 6 – Buildings & Fortifications

At last, I’m in the home stretch.  With all the figures painted along with the half-track, I have the buildings from the starter set to finish off and some fortifications for scenery.

I started with the farm buildings and the assembly was straightforward.  These buildings are a little finicky to put together.  Not difficult, but the fit won’t be perfect.  I didn’t sweat it for these, and once the paint is on most folks won’t notice little gaps etc.

You get two buildings in the starter box; a ruined farmhouse and a smaller ruined barn.  They’re made to look like stone structures covered in stucco, with larger stone blocks on the corners, in the windows and doorways etc.  So I decided the stones would look earthy while the stucco would be a light grey on the outside and warmer beige inside.

Here I made a planning error.  I had previously sprayed the buildings with some brown paint I had in a rattle can, to be the undercoat for the stone.  Then I realized I should have primed them grey, which would be good for all the corner blocks and heavy stone around windows and doors but more so it would also be the mortar colour in between the stones in the walls. Whoops!

So I had to go back in with a brush and some grey paint and paint all the areas of stones.  Once dry I dry brushed a stone colour I chose, in this case, Flat Brown, I believe, or something similar.  You can see in the pictures below how, for the most part, the “cement” colour is showing between the stones, which is what I wanted to achieve.

 

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Starting the base colours on the farmhouse

The wooden floor got a coat of brown, Vallejo “US Field Drab” 70.873 was my choice, I believe (sorry, I didn’t keep good notes for all this!).  There’s good wood grain texture on the floorboards that will show up well with a wash, so I wanted a lighter tone to start with.

After this, I blocked in the stucco and larger cornerstones and window & door frames.   Exterior stucco I chose “Deck Tan” 70.986 and interior stucco I went with a warmer tone from the Vallejo Panzer Aces line of paints, “Highlight Africa Korps” #340.

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Once the colours were blocked in, I dry brushed the darker grey stones with a lighter grey, just so the edges stood out a little more, and it was time to hit the buildings with an oil wash.  No pin wash this time, I just grabbed a large brush and slopped the dark black & brown oils all over.

Once dry, I used a moistened flat brush to drag some of the oil down the walls, looking like rain-streaked grime and dust.  Since the roof had been blown off and the building exposed to the elements, I did this both inside and out and then sealed it all with dull coat.

I toyed with the idea of basing these on some sort of scenic base with rubble around etc. but decided they’d be better off as simple models where players can position their figures without limitations.

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The finished farmhouse.  A quick and easy paint job!

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The finished buildings from the starter set, with the German squad and half-track.

This completes the entire starter set, which is satisfying!

Next up, it’s on to the defences so that players have some other terrain to fight around, and perhaps even tackle some D-Day battles at the store.

First off, I snipped off all the anti-tank obstacles and figured out how I was going to mount them.  I opted to put them on plastic card, anticipating that the styrene wouldn’t warp like most thin pieces of wood, but this seems to have been wishful thinking!  If you’re putting these together, I’d suggest some thinker wood!  I had some 5mm plywood at home I should have tried out…

The issue here was that when you glue things down, and especially apply things like white glue to stick on grass or flock or sand, as the glue and scenery dries it can contract and cause a thin base material to curl.  You can mitigate this by painting both sides of thin wood sometimes, but again, I didn’t think the plastic would have that issue since it wouldn’t be absorbing any moisture.  Lesson learned…

If it becomes an issue, I can retrofit them with some thicker wood I think and touch up the scenery on them.  But if stored flat with a little weight on them, I hope they settle down.

Moving on, once I decided how I wanted to organize the various obstacles, I glued them to the styrene with liquid plastic cement (the reason I wanted to use styrene!).  This should hopefully mean that over time, the glue having literally fused the two plastics together, it’ll be unlikely that any players should accidentally knock off the pieces.

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Once assembled, I took the models outside and primed them black (always a good start for concrete, in my opinion) and when dry I used two rattle cans of spray paint that I had lying around; a sandy/tan colour and a grey colour.  I first sprayed the grey, making sure everything was well dusted.  It’s okay if it’s not totally covered, the black can show through a little and helps to give some layering.

Next up I spray the sand/tan colour, with the intent to have a very light dusting of the tan over the grey.  Again, I want layers of colour showing through, not full coverage.  Where too much tan went on, I’d hit it with a light dusting of the grey again.  When I felt I’d achieved a nice grey with a hint-of-sand base colour for the concrete, I left to dry in the lovely summer sun.

Hobbying is so much easier when it’s summer and things dry in a few minutes, instead of hours in winter.  (I actually try to assemble as many different projects as I can and get them primed and even base coated in the summer months, so I can avoid spraying in the garage in winter and rushing the models inside.  I leave them in the downstairs bathroom, where I’d installed a heated tile floor.  With the fan running, it keeps the fumes out of the house and models dry ‘okay’ on the heated tile, but take a long time, and for some washes, it takes 24 hours.  So use the sunshine while you’ve got it!  Then you’ve got a stockpile of primed and base-coated models to work through over the winter.)

For those wire obstacles I had a spray can of Tamiya Hull Red, but nothing in a deep rich red/brown colour.  So I just decided the red would do in a pinch.  Better than trying to get in all the nooks and crannies with a brush, and the red will still be a good undercoat for rusty metal.

At this point, the concrete items get a dry brush with light grey to really highlight the edges and then everything gets a good muddy black/brown wash.  When it’s dry, I clean it up with some low-odour spirits, to drag any dark blotches down towards the ground and not have any puddling.  But I liked the heavy wash and tried to make sure much of it stayed behind.

For the wire obstacles, I brush over a slightly watered-down German Camo Black Brown and when dry I dry brush with a lighter brown so everything looks nicely rusted.  Either they’ve been getting lots of saltwater and spray from the English Channel, or they’ve been installed for years somewhere inland.

Next up, like the figure bases earlier, everything gets my CA glue coating (do it with some ventilation!).   I squeeze the glue all over the bases, getting around all the obstacles, working in smaller sections while the glue is wet.  Then I pour on the Woodland Scenics model railroad medium ballast I used for the figure bases too.

Next day the models get a dark black/brown wash all over the ground cover.  I had a bottle of Mig Products “Dark Wash”, an enamel product I’ve not used in a while, so this seemed like a good time since it’s ready-mixed.  Here I actually had some of the wash creep up the sides of the some of the obstacles, bleeding into the paint for some reason. But with some mineral spirits again and flat brush, I was able to drag the worst of the blotches down and actually liked the effect once it was cleaned up.  It gives the concrete a weathered, wet look in some areas, like it’s been wicking up too much moisture, or it’s going a little mouldy or mossy.

The final step is some white glue and static grass, leaving some areas of dirt showing through.

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Completed anti-tank and wire obstacles

Finally, the last two items are ready to be built!

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Assembly of the bunkers isn’t difficult, just a little fiddly, and these are also pretty large models. While a tighter fit than the buildings in the Warlord starter set, there are still some gaps that can be filled if you’re keen, or at least can be sealed up with some liquid plastic cement so you can’t see through. I recommend taking the time to dry-fit all the pieces and make sure you’re comfortable with how it all fits together.  Using the top piece of both bunkers was a good guideline for how the walls should look when assembled and they also help ensure that the shape is correct while the glue is drying.  You don’t want to let the plastic cement set up and then realize the top doesn’t fit!

One bunker has a lumpy top, representing the dirt that was piled on top so the grass would grow for camouflage.  The other has an AA firing position on top (AA gun not included in the kit).  This really cries out for some modelling attention, like spent shell casings, sculpted tarps draped over the side, ammo boxes etc, but as it’s a store wargaming piece, I opted to keep it spartan to avoid any breakage.

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Both bunkers have very similar sprues, with only a few different pieces in each box.

 

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Both assembled bunkers.  Dirt-covered and anti-aircraft top, but you can see the same basic kit under the top pieces.

Painting for these will follow the same base-coating steps as the AT obstacles; grey and tan spray paints in light dustings until I like the grey/sand mix I get.

When I’m happy and they’ve had some time to cure in the sun again I dry brush them with a light grey to pick out some of the edge detail.    I then do a wash over the whole bunker, again with oils using black & brown.  I’m trying to ensure the wash collects in the lovely little casting marks on the model that represent the various pours of concrete during construction.  It’s a nice detail well-captured in the Warlord kits.  Between dry brushing and washes, I’m hoping I can accentuate it some.

At this point, I want to do more work with oils, so it’s important to dull coat the models ensuring that the initial oil weathering is sealed and ‘locked-in’.

Now I want to focus on rain streaks and other areas, looking for areas where the water would flow and deposit dirt streaks down the sides.  Corners are obvious areas, and if you see little imperfections in the surface of the concrete, that’s a good spot to have streaks.  These are applied with the black/brown oil mix with a thin brush and then when they’ve dried for a bit, I use a moistened flat brush to drag the streaks toward the ground, like on the half-track.  Here I want it nice and pronounced, so I might do several layers or darker browns.

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Base coated with an oil wash all over.   After dull-coating to protect the wash, rain streaks are applied. Note all the “layers” of concrete pours that are replicated nicely on the models.

The last few steps are just about dressing up these large models a little.  The AA platform gets some rusty doors picked out (probable spaces for ammo to be stored?) and some oil stains.  If a player has a 20mm or 37mm German AA gun it’ll look great sitting up there!

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The other bunker gets the sand and grass treatment on top of it, and finally, I use some camo netting I’ve had sitting around forever to help hide from Allied air superiority!

These were cut to the size I wanted and then I mixed up watered down white glue and just dabbed it on, ensuring the netting was taking the shape of the bunker’s curves and corners, and that it was hanging convincingly.  Once dry, they’re pretty much solid pieces of the model and quite hard.

Both bunkers have doors on the back that I painted green and applied some washes too.  The AA bunker also has a ladder up the back that was picked out in several brown colours, with some rusty washes streaking down from the mounting points.

Any battle damage gets picked out with some rebar painted brown and then black pigment applied, with some faint soot streaking from the explosives.   No rain streaking on the battle-damaged areas though, since those would be fresh!

And with that, the entire collection is complete!   Here are some views of them, with the US forces gathered triumphantly around their recently-captured bunkers.

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What’s the Over/Under on this ladder surviving the first game at the store???  😀

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey of assembling and painting the starter set and these additional fortifications.  It’s been fun to document my process. Once COVID settles down and life starts returning to normal, I hope you get to take these models for a spin in the store.   Happy gaming folks!

– Howard Nason

 

 

 

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