I’m a regular over on the DakkaDakka forums, and since I’m often too tired to actually paint or do anything useful after work, I like to spend time in the Painting & Modelling Blog section to shoot the shit, share ideas, give encouragement and occasionally be inspired. It’s like the blogosphere, but more moderated and a bit more conversational. Not better, but a different aspect on the discussion and hobby of toy soldats – and one I equally enjoy to blogging. (And easier!)
One particular friend, Grimdork picked up a toy tank from Hobby Lobby for 6 bucks. It’s a 1:48 Revell snap-together kit that apparently usually retails for $10-12 bucks in the US. Grim made an offhand remark about using it for WarPath and then later rusting it up and using it for scenery. Later he made a comment of maybe making a tank scrapyard out of it and a few more. Unfortunately for me, this started a chain reaction that’s going to take months to settle…
I thought it sounded like a spiffy idea, and proceeded off to Google image search looking for “tank graveyard”. The main two sets of images that came up were of an actual Tank Graveyard in Ukraine that some clever 18-year old broke into and took a ton of photos of, and the Battlefield 4 map – Zavod 311. Well, I started looking, and while I did, I got more and more inspired. The fact that I’ve been a battlefield series fan since the Beta of 1942, and that I’m one of those weirdos that sees a kind of beauty in rusting and rotting armoured vehicles probably helped. Not to mention that Zavod 311 is probably my favourite map in the game.
So then it was decided. I was going to do it myself. Or at least look into it. After all, it would make for a brilliant battlefield for 40k, not to mention moderns or Bolt Action. You see, I’m one of those weirdos that doesn’t think that all of the architecture in 40k needs to look the same. Even allowing for STC, etc, the Imperium should have a HUGE range of architectural styles of everything, since it’s a “recovered” empire that spans a huge chunk of space and so forth. Not everything needs to be skull-encrusted eagle-mounted flying buttresses with skulls on the skulls and looking like John Blanche’s drunken napkin scrawls made solid.
To me at least – flat, unadorned austere, decaying Soviet-style architecture and fortifications are just as apt for the Imperium. To me, brutal and overblown Nazi architecture and well-engineered buildings covered in eagles and flags are just as apt for the Imperium (though actually very conservative compared to the actual aesthetic). Likewise, Ancient Greek and Roman-style buildings – from villas to the Parthenon and the Colosseum are just as apt for the Imperium.
And of course, then we get to Gothic architecture that actually looks like Gothic architecture – surely that’s as apt for the Imperium as anything else – but including more than just spires, arches and flying buttresses. (look up some pics!) And then, why not include Romanesque architecture, and descriptions of places like Ultramar always make me thing of an ultra-modern 20th century city – skyscrapers of glass and steel, – thinking Singapore or Hong Kong or Dubai. – And that’s all before we start talking about how Space Wolves live in space-viking space-longhouses and so forth.
So Zavod 311 and it’s real-life counterpart fit my 40k aesthetic sense perfectly.
I looked online for awhile to see about these six-dollar tanks, but to no avail. Not available at all here in Australia, apparently. I could eBay them, but they’d cost a fortune. And I wanted twenty tanks, dammit! I then realised that I’ve bought 1:48 scale tanks to use for 40k before from Korean sellers, and that I should check those out. At this point I traded in the idea of M60 Shermans for the T-72, which just fits the theme so much better – and while they all sell them for the same price, give or take a dollar or two, NewLangleyShop also had the magic “make offer” button next to it’s T-72s. I was able to sort out a batch order of 20 T-72s and 4 Merkavas (for hull variety, I’ll probably take the turrets off) in 1:48 scale for a very decent amount. Since they’re all going to be junked, I wanted to go as cheap as possible. I also lucked onto a bloke in Melbourne who happened to be selling off some 1:48 armour kits for $10 each, so I grabbed all 6 he had for sale.
So, with it all happening, I gave Andrew’s Hobbies a call, and explained my vision for a wargaming board, and asked a few questions about materials he has and can get in, as well as train scales that could work for our odd little mix of 1:56/1:48. I’ve always liked the idea and look of having some rails, a few flatbeds, rolling stock and freight locomotives on a wargaming table – Andrew happily spent 20 minutes on the phone to me (pretty much a stranger) giving encouragement and advice about materials and train scales. Apparently “O” scale is approximately 1:48. And it’s also hard to get hold of (especially here in Aust) and trains cost approximately eleventy bejillion dollars. (which I kinda knew, but wow… worse than I expected!) While I’ve bought the odd bits and pieces of modelling supplies off Andrew in the past, I’m not one of his mates and I doubt he’d even recognise me, and so I was very impressed at his being willing to give me that much time and advice. I’ll certainly be down there to pick up a lot of the parts I need.
I’m recognising from before even starting that this is going to take months. Much of the work will have to take place over the Christmas holidays when I can get stuck in during good weather, long hours of daylight and no work-weekend cycle to keep winding my energy and enthusiasm to paint and model down. In the meantime, it’s something else to work on between trying to finish the various army projects that I want to get finished – KoW Ogres, KoW Elves and Dark Elves, KoW Gondor, 40k Dark Angels, 40k Iron Warriors, 40k Imperial Guard, 40k Tyranids and 40k RT-themed Crimson Fists (amongst others) – no tot mention boardgame figures and random cool-looking models.
I’m also going in expecting that I should take my best time estimations for every bit of the project and quadruple it at best. I’m also not one of those guys who is a scratch-building genius, or even especially decent at stuff like that, so it may end up looking as rough as all hell. Let’s see how it goes…