Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Through the Mud and the Blood and the Plastic

Although I have the ongoing Fallschirmjäger project happening, it hasn't stopped me from turning my attention to other things, (It must be the prospect of painting all those Stumpfmuster 43 smocks...) namely some First World War figures for the rules Through the Mud and the Blood, by the Two Fat Lardies. Inspired by Sidney Roundwood's excellent blog, I wanted to turn my attention from the big scene in World War One through Square Bashing (as great a game as it is) to the smaller trench raids and skirmishes that also occurred in the conflict. A couple of caveats here though, although I already had Germans and British armies for SB, they are based for that game, so I needed a new set of figures to do the rules justice. This is when I started to think about 20mm plastics, the ranges are reasonably good, the figures can be quite nice, and lastly they price is also low. So, I could set about getting together a hundred or so figures with minimal layout from my pocket's point of view.

I raked through the First World War section of the Plastic Soldier Review and thought that the 'Emhar 1/72 WWI British Infantry and Tank Crew' looked about right for my initial needs. I ordered a set from EBay and they duly arrived. These were the first 20mm figures I have bought in literally decades... Looking over the set of figures I was pretty pleased with how they appeared, except for one glaring anomaly; many of the men weren't wearing the standard Small Box Respirator. It's usually slung on the front of the chest and is quite a distinctive piece of kit for First World War British soldiers. However, being plastic, this may be easy to remedy; simply cutting off the SBR from other figures and gluing it to the chests of the men without it.

That is the real pleasure with plastics, the ease with which they can be converted quickly and easily. For example, I wanted to use the officer figure on the right, but he needed a steel helmet, rather than the soft cap he is wearing. I knew I would be using the tank crew figures on the left, so...

...cut the helmet off one of them and reattached it to the officer. Hey presto! A fully protected Lieutenant!

After this swift conversion, I grouped some of the figures together and was able to make a Lewis gun section of eight men (two on the Lewis) and a Bomber section, also eight men strong, as laid out in my favourite war time pamphlet SS143: Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action, 1917. This was augmented by the addition of four Big Men, upon whom the game is pinned. It is the Big Men that allow the other units to move and fire, so they are incredibly important during a game. I mounted the Other Ranks two to a Flames of War Small Bases, with the Big Men mounted individually on pennies for ease of recognition and movement.

I then test painted the Lewis gunner and his number two with the following: English Uniform for the tunics and trousers/puttees, Khaki for all the webbing and helmet covers, Black boots and Beige Brown for all the wood. Then they were ink washed in Quink Black writing ink and highlights of Green Ochre applied to the tunics, trousers and puttees, Khaki Grey highlighted the webbing, etc. The sand on the base was first painted in German Camo Black Brown, highlighted with Khaki and static grass (which I later dulled down with a wash of brown) and crushed cork added to break it up.

So this was my first foray into 20mm plastics for decades, the figures are nice, despite the minor historical inaccuracies and were easy enough to paint. It won't take long to get a usable force together!


  1. Very nice job. I really like the Emhar figures and they take a wash very well.

    I use the tank crew figures with boxes as carrying parties.


    1. Thanks Martin, yes, they are nice little fellas. That's a good idea about the tank crew, at least then I'll be able to use them in a game.