Everything But The Kitchen Sink

With Chris Allen

“Sergeant Ferris!” Lieutenant Armstrong bellowed as he walked up to his platoon for the first time, just having arrived with the reinforcements.


“I know I’m new here but we’ve got to police up these tanks.”


“Sergeant if you look at anyone else’s tanks they’re bare hulls, maybe a little kit in the bustle but our tanks, Sergeant there’s more kit on theses tanks than in the quartermasters shop, look at that one, does that tank have a DShK on it?

Sergeant Ferris blinked, looked up at the sun and looked back down, blinked again, “Sir, we could have left it for the commies to pick back up, but in all honesty it’s kinda a good luck charm. Plus you should have seen how confused they were when we opened up on them with it one time, the Int guys said there was comms chatter for days about friendly fire”

“Fine, but sergeant you can’t tell me we need that many Jerry’s on a tank, I’ve been assured we’ll receive nightly resupply, in my experience on course…”

“Lieutenant, I’m happy you’ve been assured, but in my experience in battle”, he let his word hang “when resup’ doesn’t show for two days because things get hot and we get caught behind the lines, those jerry’s keep us killing Ivan and get us back home.” 

The Lt looked down, and then back at the tanks. “Sergeant, is that a case of beer on the back of that tank?” 

A head popped up from the back of the tank, the young man stared down from the tank “Sir, you ever tasted a beer after killing commies?” 


A wry and knowing smile crossed the sergeant’s lips as the Lt looked back down “You will” 

With some social distancing going on it’s a great time to not only start something new but spend a little extra time making it something special, something of your own. I’ve been playing Soviets since the introduction of the game, but after moving across the country I wanted to start a second force to help introduce the game to new players. There was no more appropriate or iconic force to pit against the Soviet threat than the might of the American military. So picking up a box of Bannons Boys I wanted to make something that really showed the differences in the two forces.

My Soviet force is a monument of simplicity, uniformity and application of conscript forces. So what better way to make the opposition stand out and show the divide of culture and doctrine than to make each vehicle individual. With this as the concept there was only one option, the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank.

With the new Team Yankee Americans book coming out, we all knew that the M1A1 Abrams was about to appear in the game, so what better opportunity to jump in ahead of the release to have built a model we all have access to but isn’t yet on the table!

All you need to do is type in Abrams in google and you’ll find pages upon pages of pictures of Abrams tanks through the years, and every single one looks different. But the pictures give great inspiration for stowage, paintjobs and just getting the models on the table. I tried to find pictures from Operation Reforger and other major exercises but also looked for inspiration in the conflicts in Iraq. While I didn’t want to put on all the really modern pieces like recognition panels and such there were tons of examples of how to stow kit on a high speed tank.

I didn’t have too look far to find what I needed to accomplish this. Battlefront is amazing at providing us with extra pieces of kit to customize our forces and make them not simply markers on the table but our own private armies to command. Looking at most sprues you’ll find extra pieces, boxes, road wheels, guns and such, all ripe for the picking and enabling us to make our toy tanks individual and our own.

For my Abrams I found some of the parts in the following places:

The Abrams sprue itself: Road wheels, jerry cans, tool boxes, even extra machine guns are all there.

The Sherman Sprue out of hit the beach: tarps, jerry cans, oil cans.

TUSO10 US Vehicle Stowage (below): This blister is life. With rucksacks, kit bags, ammo crates, road wheels, tarps and wrapped kit, this has a lot of everything you want. I need to order more to customize up my Americans as I expand the force.

USO212 Half-Track Stowage (above): This is full of wrapped kit and equipment and is pure gold for adding strapped down equipment to vehicles in any era and if you have it for your Mid or Late War Americans, you can use it to give a little love to your Team Yankee Americans.

These made up the mainstay of my bits, but I scrounged weapons like machine guns off of M113 and T-62 Sprues, there are literally great bits on almost every sprue that can work and add to your force being unique and your own.

The one bit I wanted but couldn’t get was spare tracks. There is spare track on the Leopard-2 sprue but it’s not quite right for the Abrams. So what’s a guy to do? Improvise, adapt, overcome.

To be honest I didn’t know if this was going to work, but it did.

I laid down a thick bead of hot glue onto my cutting mat and let it cool down to where it was starting to get that white colour back and I pushed the Abrams track down into it and let it fully cool. I carefully pulled the Abrams off of it and voila a push mold for an Abrams track.

I mixed up some GF9 green stuff and poured some water into the push mold  (poor mans release agent) and in a few minutes I had more track than I knew what to do with. If I was to do it again (Which I did) I’d of put the hot glue on a large Popsicle stick so I could reuse it and move it easily.

This is the mindset a modeler needs, everything can be a bit, or become one. I cut up and shaped sprues and squared them to become boxes of rations, and a case of beer.

Now came the fun part, adding it all together.

If you’re a Sergeants Major or First Sergeant, skip ahead a paragraph, you won’t care to follow where I’m about to lead you. Uniformity only goes so far. Every armoured vehicle I’ve ever lived out of was different. There were some key things in some key places, stretchers, admin boxes, tools. After that it was up to the vehicle commander, and each had their likes, wants and needs. This for an army on the table means variety but commonality and can make a cohesive army of individuals.

I started my Abrams platoon by picking what my key essential kit would be. For my vehicles it was an ammo box made into an admin box, two jerry cans, a road wheel and the vital sleeping tarp. I picked where these were going to go by test fitting with blue tac and glued them down on the four tanks. This gave me a base to work from and individualize further.

With that I was open to do what I like but I ensured to keep the blow out doors of the protected ammunition and the antenna mounting points free and clear of stowage. It’s a safety thing. And knowing is half the battle.

I wanted these tanks to be really lived in and so I made sure that each crew member would have not only a ruck but a kit bag, a bit much sure but the tanks doing all the lifting so who cares, might as well bring everything you might need.

I tested and moved around stowage to make each vehicle individual, but the common items and open space of the blowout panels made the platoon cohesive. They looked not uniform, but common.

Things really started to come together and each story started to tell its own story of the crew manning it. In the field I’ve seen no end to crazy things strapped to tanks by the crew so the machine guns, boxes of MREs or even a case of beer started to come together.

One thing I will note is that if you plan on putting this much stuff on your Abrams I suggest magnetizing the turrets. I didn’t. And then once I had more than doubled the weight of the model, all on the rear of the turret, I had to dig out the pins and insert magnets. They work amazingly well and I have no issue with the turrets tipping now. Learn from my pain.

In the end I’m really happy with how the platoon turned out. It’s my first American unit for Team Yankee and I think it’s going to set a trend for my force.

Now I just need to figure out if I’m adding camouflage nets and find a paint scheme I like. I’m thinking NATO 3 Colour so they can blend in with the allies.

The new Team Yankee American book is going to add a lot of fun and flavour to the game and I for one can’t wait to see the iconic M1A1s hitting the table. Some people love the look of stock tanks, stripped down to the essentials, ready to fight light and fast, I know I do with my Soviets. For my Americans I want a lived in tank that nobody is going to confuse as anyones but mine, and the M1A1 has the stowage capacity and cool factor to help make this happen.

Happy hobbying.


Chocolate Chip US Infantry

With Evan Allen

With the timeline for World War III: Team Yankee expanding out somewhat I decided to paint my US forces in a Desert Storm type paint scheme instead of adding to my existing Euro force.  After some research that meant the infantry would have to be in Desert “Chocolate Chip” uniforms but with Woodland pattern body armour. All the paint I used is from the Vallejo model colours range.

European Uniforms
I’d already painted two platoons of US infantry in Woodland pattern for my Euro US force so I just copied that again for their body armour jackets. I also copied the same colours for all the web gear and weapons, Russian Uniform (924) on the web gear and pouches, black for the M16s and Olive Drab (887) for the LAWs etc.

The base colour I used was a quite bright USA Uniform (922), the effect darkens up when the rest of the camouflage scheme is done so the extra brightness to start off with works well here I think. Next I added large blotches of Beige Brown (875). Finally, I painted thin strips of Black and Dark Sand (847), I try to do these in “Y” or “V” type shapes. One thing I also do is think about where the clothing seams are and stop blotches of the brown at those lines. Also resist the temptation to add too much at the beginning, less is definitely more here!

Chocolate Chip
After a black undercoat I start off with base colours for the uniform (Dark Sand 847), body armour (USA Uniform 922) and the webbing and pouches (Russian Uniform 924). I block paint in the three colours leaving thin black lines around the clothing and equipment, sometimes I rush this and have to go back later and re-do some of the black lining if I’ve covered too much or want to tidy up. I also use the Russian Uniform on the hands to represent the gloves commonly worn as well.

The next step is to add cloud like blotches of Beige Brown (875) on both the uniform and the body armour. Don’t go too far, try and leave plenty of the original colours and remember those seams and joints.

Now we get down to the trickiest part, the dots and stripes! Using a #00 sized brush I add dots to the uniform equally on the sand and brown portions, again don’t add too many as it’s all too easy to fill up the space and loose the overall effect – plus it takes longer the more dots you do!

Once you’re happy with the dots add the stripes on the body armour portion of the figure. I try and use “Y” or “V” shaped strips running on the edge of the brown to green edges. This can also be a good time to do any edge or joint tidying up with the black paint out and a fine brush in hand.

Continuing with the dot theme I go to the white dots next. They show up best against the beige brown blotches but I still put a few on the sand areas as well. I try to sometimes superimpose the white against some of the black dots for some extra colour pop.

Finally, for the body armour I go back to the Dark Sand colour and add the same type of stripes I did previously with the black. This time I try and cross over the black stripes where possible to get more of a colour pop again.

Once I’m happy with that I finish off by adding the face flesh colour, paint any equipment like LAW or Dragons etc in Olive Drab (887) with some fine yellow lines added for the instructions text and finish off by adding a dry brush over just the weapons, gloves and web gear/pouches with Deck Tan (986) to bring out the detail again separate from the uniform and body armour.

Then before they’re game ready with the desert basing of your choice. I use Acrylic house paint test pot brown mixed with Vallejo pumice gel followed by highlight drybrush with Vallejo Dark Sand.

How To Build: MLRS

Released earlier this year, the MLRS is rapidly becoming a favourite round the office. Join Aaron as he puts this model through its paces on the modelling bench.

Make sure you check out Chris Allen’s article (coming later today) as to why you need both the M109 and the MLRS in your arsenal.

Designing Airborne Figures

with Ales Potocnik

Hi! My name is Ales, and I am a designer behind some of the figure miniatures produced for Flames of War. For this article, I will guide you through the process of creation from beginning to final product. It is quite a specific line of work since the production of miniatures requires knowledge in different areas; such as 3D sculpting, casting processes, working with small scales, materials, and prototyping equipment. I also had a great opportunity to learn from Charles Woods, who was kind enough to provide me with some guidance. I couldn’t do what I do without a great team behind me, providing me with useful tips and ideas to even further push the miniatures look and improvements.
There are a lot of things that are very specific when you are designing to such a small scale. Not only the size, there are certain technical requirements due to the way the final plastic miniatures are produced. Lines have to be extra crisp in order to get out as much detail as we possibly can, there is a necessary increase in the thickness of certain small bits, because in the end you are left with a choice. Either you can have a detail that is slightly off in size, or not have it all. The same issue would arise with long thin plastic objects which would be prone to breaking. My job is to think ahead for all the processes and final design and adjust the best I can for the best possible result. 

The designing process starts off with a brief that gets written up by Miniature Design Lead Evan. The brief then gets either approved or refined and after that, it ends up in my hands. Briefs will usually include details on uniform and equipment layout, height of the miniatures, and specifics that will need to be taken into account on what we want.  I tend to gather up as much additional material, books and references as I can, since some of the details are very specific or certain parts can’t be distinguished easily in the historical photographs due to quality and size. After all I am looking at gear details on photos where it is not always the intention to capture that at all.

At this point I will start designing in 3d software, usually starting with a 10mm bottom round platform for size reference, moving on to uniforms and then moving on piece by piece. While I design the likes of shoes, pants, belts, entrenching tools, ammo pouches, gasmasks etc., I’m still not designing absolutely everything. Often I am provided with weapons that were designed by other freelance 3D artists working for Battlefront, shaving down the time I would spend on it as an individual, meaning, we are moving faster in the creation. This part usually takes quite some time, since all the parts are designed in a way for them to be as distinguishable as possible, and there is A LOT of gear that differs from soldier to soldier based on their tasks and ranks. While I am at this step, I often bug game designers with searching questions, or I ask for additional information from the Miniature Design lead.

Once we are happy with the miniature design look in digital form, I take over the process of prototyping on our high-accuracy 3D printer. Sometimes when we are in a pinch and we can’t decide for example, a helmet size, it really comes in handy to test them out in physical form. As I am satisfied with the model, it gets a final check up by Evan, and then gets prototyped so we can send it over for inspection.

We make absolutely sure we go through all the quality control steps. Previewed by Miniature Lead again in physical form, checked by our staff members and me, then checked and later on approved by the bosses. If the miniature is not up to standard, we repeat the whole cycle, but most of the time we only need to make minor corrections & adjustments. It is essential that we are communicating a lot at this stage through the way the miniature is designed. If we miss this window of opportunity and we want a change later on to a basic model, I have to make changes to all of the miniatures I’ve already made. For example: if we are not happy with the way shoes are made, I have to remove the old ones, add the new model of the shoes I have made, pose them, and add the details and folds for each individual miniature. Once you stack up 50 shoe changes it turns out to be a few work days of work, making it difficult to stick to deadlines.

Finally, we move on to what I refer to as “making the range”.

This is the process of creating the miniatures and posing them. More direction at this part, since the figure range gets segmented. Riflemen, Mortars, Bazookas, Light machine gun crews and many more. Each usually have different and distinct equipment.

Always looking for cool poses, we base the soldiers on image references, our previous miniatures, and sometimes just trying out something that we think would look cool. At this stage I am looking for any possible undercuts (area that do not have straight lines and would cause the plastic to grab if cooled in the mould) and any other problematic areas which could cause trouble in production by orienting the miniature in an imaginary mould. The gear that I have previously designed now comes into play and gets added on each posed soldier, and adjusted based on the pose, gravity, and orientation. They are also given the right weapons if they carry them.

Each individual figure gets reviewed at this stage again and approved – one by one.
After we are happy with the pose, there comes detailing. Based on the pose, I am adding folds to the clothing, shape to backpacks and pockets based on how full they are, straps and different unique attributes to each single one of them. You must be careful not to overdo it with the gear stacking though! Soldiers can start looking like waddling penguins real fast with all the gear at such a small scale. This process is most difficult for a 3D artist to get used to, since small miniatures are treated completely differently than the large ones. Each crease and fold needs to be exaggerated and needs to be as sharp as you can get it.

As I add the details, myself and Design Lead go over all of them and review them one more time – digitally. After this it’s more prototypes being printed and again, we all review them since you can never get the exact same result you get on screen. Here we make any final adjustments to the  entire range of figures. When the adjustments are done, we are left with final version, Version 2. The soldiers get grouped up, sprues are added in 3D software to specifications and requirements, and off they go to mass production!