An Eagle Has Landed…On My Scorecard!!

Well, yes – a golf post for a change  (this blog is titled Life, Golf, Miniatures & Other Distractions after all)!

Please note that normally I would not just post a mundane golf story about myself.  So, apologies in advance if I seem to be a bit self-focused here.  I would not want to be too narcissistic, but some background for the reader may help.

I have been playing golf, mostly as a hacker, since I was 12.   My late grandfather (who drove an M24 tank in WWII and was a hero of mine) got me started.  He was absolutely terrible – he would be lucky to break 110 or even 120 for 18 holes.  He did imbue me with a love of the greatest game – and I carry that with me to this day.  I still have golf balls of his that I carry in my bag to honor his gift to me.

In the Army, I played when I could, and even joined clubs at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, at Ft. Belvoir, VA, and even the Canadian Forces course at Lahr in Germany.  That Canadian course was fun as for one you had CF-18 fighters zooming overhead (quite low) and secondly it was the only place to be able to get Canadian beer like Labatts (the Germans would not allow it to be sold and the US had only American and German beer for sale at the Class VI store).  I left the Army in 1992, and I did not play very often until 1998.

At that point I had moved to East Brookfield, MA, and was happy to discover that there was a golf course 0.3 miles away!  The first tee was closer to my house than it was to the first green!  That was Bay Path Golf Course – and I was a member there for 21 years.  I was playing nearly 70 rounds a year (mostly at Bay Path), which is a lot when you consider that our Massachusetts weather is only good for golf from April to October for the most part.  I kept a spreadsheet of all my scores, just to track progress and focus on improving. One goal eluded me, that being getting an eagle.

For those of you non-golfers, an eagle (not to be confused with my Eagle Warriors) is a score that is two shots under par.  On a par three, it would be a hole-in-one.  On a par 4, it would be a 2, etc.  At Bay Path, it became a running joke that I had not gotten an eagle, even just from luck.  I came close several times, only to be denied.  I even hosted a pool for charity where members could bet whether I would get an eagle that year or not.  Most all bet “not” by the way.  Last year, Bay Path closed (sadly), forcing me to join a new club, Quail Hollow in Oakham, MA. It’s about a 15 minute drive from home.  It’s a nice club, but a much more difficult course than Bay Path.

According to my spreadsheet, by last Tuesday, June 9th, 2020, I had taken 115,136 plus strokes since 1999 with never an eagle.  That equates to 1,293 rounds – not including any scrambles by the way,  So effectively, that’s about 5,172 hours of golf – or 215.5 days of golf!  Many birdies, but no eagles!

stats (2)
Data as of the morning of 6/9/2020

Even more sadly, play was delayed here because of COVID-19.  So while normally I would try to play in March or April, I did not get to play or even practice until late May.  My game does not rely on any real talent – it’s based on hard work and practice.  I also track my golf progress here for myself on the blog (see the main menu as well).  So I had little expectations about early play and knocking off any rust.

There is a group that plays on Tuesdays at Quail that I joined up with called “Pit’s Crew” after the guy that runs it, Pit Caron.  We play a 4-man scramble.  On June 9th, we approached the 3rd hole, a par-4, 249 yard hole.  I was the “B” player, and drove my ball right next to the green on the left fringe – maybe three feet off of it.  For me this was a very good result as the fairway is quite narrow and the green is guarded by a deep bunker in the front.  I then used my 56 degree wedge and chipped my second shot – it went up, up – it rolled – and plunk, it dropped in nicely!

EAGLE!!!!!

I was happy that one of my teammates was a fellow former Bay Path golfer, Jim Kularski, who was our “A” man.  It was gratifying that he got to see me accomplish something that he knew well that I had been trying to get for so very long.  I also had on lucky golf gear from my West Point reunion last year.  While it was a scramble, I played the same ball (a found Titleist Pro-V1 that I was using so as not to lose one of my preferred Titleist ProV1X’s), from the same position, so I am counting the eagle as having been my first.  After all, at this pace, my next one will be in 2060 when I am 98…

Oh yeah, we also came in first place out of 18 teams.

So here’s some pics (thanks to Jim Kularski for the pictures – again, more to commemorate than to brag – but like I always say – it ain’t braggin’ if ya do it!

1 Eagle in!
IT’S IN THE HOLE FOR AN EAGLE 2!  (note the mask too!)  I am holding my putter along with my wedge – no need for the putter on that hole that day!
2 Get the Eagle ball!
Get that ball for safekeeping!
3 Get the Eagle ball!
I was sooooo happy to pull this ball from the hole!  And nice Army hat huh?
4 it's a 2!
It’s a two!
5 HAPPY!
Unfortunately I could NOT stop smiling for days!

Thanks for indulging me by looking!

Views From My Windows – Sort of…

Greetings from the Massachusetts lock down!  I hope all of you are safe and that soon life will be returning back to normal for us all.  If you have lost a loved one, a friend, or a job, or just been stressed out, my thoughts and prayers with all of you.  This will eventually pass.

I have not been doing much on the blogging front except trying to keep up with others’ posts.  At the beginning of April, the projections for death in the US were for 100,000 to 200,000 if we were lucky and did everything correctly in terms of mitigation.  Frankly, that floored me and I went into a bit of a focus on the news, keeping up with my family (Mom and daughter/granddaughter).  My Mom is on her own, and I worry about her.  My daughter lives nearby and has taken walks with our 3 year-old granddaughter so we have gotten at least to see them.  It kills us not to hug them both, but as my daughter works in a cancer radiation treatment clinic at a hospital in Worcester, we have painfully practiced “social distancing” during these brief but welcome visits.  Of course there is communication via phone and Facetime, but it’s not the same.

The death toll has been mercifully less, but still very bad.  Here in the US, as of this writing there have been over 48,000 US deaths, and approaching a million cases.  In Massachusetts the surge/peak is coming up – and we have had 42,000 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths.  I know that all of you are dealing with this and it’s horrible.  I have some strong opinions on this, but I don’t want to get too political on my blog.  My thoughts could be summarized by the article here.

My wife has been home on paid leave, but who know what will happen on this front.  I have still been looking for a job, but with millions of Americans out of work and the understandable difficulties with interviewing – I have been staying home.  I did fly to Virginia on March 9-10 for a face-to-face interview – which was an eerie experience.  By the end of the week, everything was shutting down and we were in lockdown.  And then the job did not come through.

Needless to say, tabletop wargaming is at a halt – and golf is impossible as all the courses are closed as nonessential.

I kept busy researching and working on a supplement for Buck Surdu’s upcoming game of Feudal Patrol™ – basically a new game similar to his Combat Patrol™ WWII card-based gaming system.  It will cover the pike and shot era and earlier.  My project was based on the Spanish Conquest of the 15th Century – so Aztecs, Maya, Inca, Tlaxcalans, Mixtec/Zapotecs, and of course Conquistadores.  This has been on my “bucket list” – and I will share some more of that in future posts – but it did consume a lot of time (which I had to spare).  I started painting Aztecs as well – but more on that later as well.

By the way, Buck redesigned his website – and it is an incredible free resource for unit organization and equipment for WWII.  Here is an example.

Also, besides watching the news and the business channel, I watched TV, played cards (a rummy type game) with my wife, and did the grocery and pharmacy shopping.  Thankfully I have a respirator that I use when I airbrush – so I wore that on these infrequent trips out of the house.  It reminded me of my Army days with the old M17 gas mask.

I have a treadmill, and that helps with exercise too.

Earlier this month maenoferren22 at Bogenwald posted a challenge to share the view out the front window.  I’ve enjoyed looking at others – so I thought I’d join in.  It took a bit longer for me to get involved – as we are in early spring and it’s been cold and rainy.  So. here’s some shots of my East Brookfield, MA home from inside and outside.

View 1 looking at porch
The front of our home – daffodils are out and grass is just turning green.
View 1 porch
A look from the front porch towards our church across the street (St. John the Baptist).  We last were able to attend on March 15th – and since then (including Easter) – we have watched the Bishop of Worcester’s Masses on TV.
View 2 house
The other side of the house.  It’s a “Dutch Colonial” and probably dates to the 1930’s or 1940’s.
View 3 house
Right side of the house.
View 4 house pond
The backyard – my garage (which is not great) on the right.  The pond in the back has a nice view – and a lousy name “Mud Pond”.  There is a beaver lodge in it – and I have seen many Great Blue Herons hunting here.  I have seen a bald eagle as well, and many hawks and falcons.  There are raccoons, bobcats, snakes, turtles, and bears as well.
View 5 pond
A little closer view of the yard and pond.
View 6 house
A reverse view from the pond towards the house.
View 7 porch
View from the back porch.
View 8 upstairs window
The view from the upstairs bathroom window.

That’s it.  Oh yeah, I do also listen to a couple of podcasts.  Many of you know IRO (imperialrebelork).  Along with his buddy Big Waz in Australia – he has The Fly on The Wall Podcast.  He also just started a nice hobby podcast named, Imperial Rebel Ork podcast.  I enjoy both – and TFOTW has been around a year now.  Helps to get over the pandemic a little bit.

Here is my little promotion pic, with my Australian-descended friend, Caesar (who is 26 years old now).

FOTW me and Caesar

Stay safe and more to come, I’m back!

2019 Hobby, Gaming, and Blogging Roundup

2019 was a bigger year for this blog and my gaming and hobby activities.  I was able to run several games of Combat Patrol™  and What a Tanker© at HAVOC, BARRAGE, the Fort Devens Games Day, The Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge, and monthly sessions of the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  I managed to get an award at HAVOC – and attend HUZZAH for the first time in Maine.  It was a busy gaming year.  

Always happy to get this type of recognition!

In support of all these activities, of course I had a number of projects in terms of assembling, painting, and creating. I documented these here. Being an analytical type of guy I kept a spreadsheet of my hobby activities (below) and listed them on a page of this blog with links (also below).

My hobby activities tracker

The entire list and links are at the end of this blog which will refer to each project. These links are very useful to me in reviewing previous projects as to what paints I used, what techniques, etc.

The building and painting of tanks and support materials made up the largest part of my 775 project activities in 2019 (106 tanks I believe – 43 German, 23 UK, 18 US, 15 Italian, and 7 French), and the remainder were models for retro sci-fi games (around 50 or so).

The blog itself grew by a lot, and I was very pleased about that. In 2019, there were 20,965 views (versus 13,743 in 2018) by 13,819 visitors (versus 8,295 in 2018). I managed to get in 36 posts, 3 more than in 2018. I must say a huge thanks to all of my readers and followers of my blog!  I especially appreciate all of you (and you know who you are) – who took the time to give me feedback – it was great to hear all of your perspectives. THANK YOU!

So what’s next for 2020? My goals are always changeable (hell, its a hobby right), but here is my current list:

  • Games:
    • Run convention games at TotalCon, HAVOC, HUZZAH, BARRAGE, and the Fort Devens Game Day (and a few more maybe)
    • Grow the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club with new members and new GM’s
    • Support the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge 
  • Models:
    • Build a suitable force of French and German tanks for the Battle of France scenario for 80th anniversary of this event
    • Build 2 or more new platoons for retro sci-fi games of Combat Patrol
    • Start the Nomonhan project
  • Other:
    • Complete a supplement for Feudal Patrol for Mesoamerican warfare (Aztecs, etc)
    • Be productive, but never sacrifice quality
    • Grow the blog and find new ones to follow!
    • Entertain my audience!
  • Golf:
    • Get my handicap below 14 (if I have enough non-gaming time!)

Thanks again for reading this and making my little hobby blog a part of your day!  Here are the massive details of 2019 below:

2019 Total Miniatures & Projects to Date: 775

  • 153 figures painted
  • 57 figures cast
  • 86 figures assembled
  • 28 terrain pieces made or assembled
  • 36 terrain pieces painted
  • 1 figure conversion
  • 2 creation or component sculpted or scratch-built
  • 2 molds made
  • 410 game pieces/game aids made and/or painted

January: 52 projects

  • Figures painted (26):
    • 9 British tanks painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa:
      • 2 A10 Cruiser Mark IIA (Desert) tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR023)
      • 1 A13 Cruiser Mark IVA (Desert) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR026)
      • 1 Valentine II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR060)
      • 1 Valentine III tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR061)
      • 1 Crusader II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR032)
      • 1 Crusader III tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR034)
      • 1 M3 Grant tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR100)
      • 1 Churchill II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR070)
    • 17 German tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa and France 1940:
      • 2 Panzerjager I’s (one for France 1940 and one for North Africa)(15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE100)
      • 3 Panzer IIC’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for France 1940
      • 6 Panzer IIF’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for North Africa
      • 2 Panzer IIIE’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE030) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IIIH (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE031) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042) for North Africa
      • 1 M3 Stuart “Honey” tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR006) –  one captured by the Germans for use in North Africa 
      • 1 Tiger I (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE070) for North Africa
  • Figures assembled (10):
    • 10 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled:
      • 2 Panzerjager I’s (one for France 1940 and one for North Africa)(15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE100)
      • 5 Panzer IIC’s and F’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IIIH (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE031) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042) for North Africa
      • 1 Tiger I (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE070) for North Africa
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (16):
    • 16 dashboards built for What a Tanker© games

February: 71 projects

  • Figures painted (13):
    • 12 Italian tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 1 M14/41 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT040) for North Africa
      • 4 Semovente 47/32 tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT101) for North Africa
      • 1 Semovente Carro Comando M41 75/18 tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT110) for North Africa
      • 1 Semovente 5/18 tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT111) for North Africa
      • 3 M13/40 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Wargame Models in Ohio for North Africa (repainted)
      • 2 L6/40 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Wargame Models in Ohio for North Africa (repainted)
    • 1 German tank painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVD (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) for North Africa
  • Figures assembled (8):
  • Terrain pieces made or assembled (5):
    • 1 German Panzer IVD tank wreck made for North Africa as a terrain piece using a defective tank (15mm/1:100 scale) from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) 
    • 4 smoke/blast markers made
  • Terrain pieces painted (5):
    • 4 smoke/blast markers painted
    • 1 German Panzer IVD tank wreck made for North Africa as a terrain piece using a defective tank (15mm/1:100 scale) from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) 
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (40):

March: 138 projects

  • Figures painted (5):
  • Figures assembled (5):
    •  3 Italian tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 3 M11/39
  • Terrain pieces made or assembled (19):
      • 8 ITC Terrain Series Damaged Urban Barricades assembled
      • 11 smoke/blast markers made
  • Terrain pieces painted (23):
    • 4 berms painted for use with my Wasteland mat
    • 8 ITC Terrain Series Damaged Urban Barricades painted
    • 11 smoke/blast markers painted
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (86):
    • 22 dashboards built for What a Tanker© games
    • 64 “Bonus Attack Cards” built for What a Tanker© games
      • 18 Infantry Assault Cards
      • 12 Combat Engineer Cards
      • 12 Artillery Support Cards
      • 12 Anti-Tank Gun Support Cards
      • 12 Air Support Cards

April: 16 projects

  • Figures assembled (16):
    •  11 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy and the Eastern Front
      • 1 Marder III tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE104) for Normandy
      • 1 Panzer IVE tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE041) for Normandy
      • 5 Panzer IVH tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX121)  (2 for Normandy, 3 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042)  for the Eastern Front
      • 1 Panther tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE060) for Normandy
      • 2 Tiger I tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX107)  (1 for Normandy, 1 for the Eastern Front)
    • 3 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy 
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US003) for Normandy
      • 1 M4A2 Sherman tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US045) for Normandy
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US102) for Normandy
    • 2 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in the ETO
      • 2 M24 Chaffee light tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from some guy on eBay (magnetized turrets and cleaned up model)

May: 25 projects

  • Figures painted (22):
    • 3 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy 
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US003) for Normandy
      • 1 M4A2 Sherman tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US045) for Normandy
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US102) for Normandy
    • 2 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in the ETO
      • 2 M24 Chaffee light tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from some guy on eBay
    • 17 German tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy and the Eastern Front
      • 1 Marder III tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE104) for Normandy
      • 1 Panzer IVE tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE041) for Normandy
      • 5 Panzer IVH tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX121)  (2 for Normandy, 3 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042)  for the Eastern Front
      • 1 Panther tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE060) for Normandy
      • 2 Tiger I tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX107)  (1 for Normandy, 1 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Elefant/Ferdinand tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE132) for Normandy
  • Terrain pieces painted (3):
    • 3 fields painted

June: 190 projects

  • Figures painted (14):
    • 8 German tanks/tank destroyers/armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe and North Africa 
      • 5 German armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe and North Africa
        • 3 SdKfz 231 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031), 2 for North Africa, 1 for Normandy
        • 2 SdKfz 233 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031), both for Normandy
      • 1 Jagdpanther tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z106) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Jagdtiger tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z105) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Tiger II (King Tiger) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z101) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
    • 3 American armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
    • 3 British armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
  • Figures assembled (14):
    • 5 German armored cars assembled for What a Tanker©
      • 2 SdKfz 231 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031)
      • 3 SdKfz 233 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031)
    • 3 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker©
      • 1 Jagdpanther tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z106) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Jagdtiger tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z105) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Tiger II (King Tiger) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z101) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
    • 3 American armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
      • 3 M8 Greyhound armored cars (15mm/1:100 scale), Old Glory/Command Decision (#CD207) bought from Old Glory Miniatures
    • 3 British armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
      • 3 Daimler Dingo (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR310)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (162):

July: 28 projects

  • Figures painted (9):
    • 9 British tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 1 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR041)
      • 5 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX31)
      • 2 M10 Achilles tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111)
      • 1 Churchill IV heavy infantry tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR074)
  • Figures assembled (16):
    • 9 British tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 1 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR041)
      • 5 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX31)
      • 2 M10 Achilles tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111)
      • 1 Churchill IV heavy infantry tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR074)
    • 7 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 5 M4A1 Sherman tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX42) – British Shermans to be used as Americans
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun to be used as an M10 Wolverine
      • 1 M36 Hellcat tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US106)
  • 1 terrain piece painted
  • 1 figure converted
    • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun converted as an M10 Wolverine
  • 1 creations or components sculpted or scratch-built

August: 49 projects

  • Figures painted (7):
    • 7 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 5 M4A1 Sherman tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX42) – British Shermans to be used as Americans
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun to be used as an M10 Wolverine
      • 1 M36 Hellcat tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US106)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (40):
    • 40 tank destroyed/blast markers made for What a Tanker© games
      • 20 brewed up tank burning markers
      • 20 knocked out/disabled tank smoke markers
  • Molds made (2)

September: 72 projects

October: 23 projects

  • Figures painted (5):
    • 5 classic movie monsters painted for Halloween diorama piece
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Dracula” (#01-014) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1976.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “The Mummy” (#01-020) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1976.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Were Wolf” (#01-061) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1979.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Werewolf” (#98-003) from the “The Adventurers” line, circa 1979.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Frankenstein’s Monster” (#98-003) from the “The Adventurers” line, circa 1979.
  • Terrain pieces painted (4):
    • 4 slag mounds on old CD’s.
  • Creations or components sculpted or scratch-built (1):
    • 1 Halloween Diorama
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (13):
    • 11 casualty cards made for “THE MIND AND THE MACRON”
    • 2 unit data cards made for Combat Patrol

November: 7 projects

  • Figures assembled (7):
    • 3 French tanks assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 3 FCM 36 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-608)
    • 4 figures for my Retrovian Platoon
      • 3 “The Bra’sheer” three-legged Retrovian vehicles, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-07)
      • 1 “Garkkon” monster, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-11)

December: 104 projects

  • Figures painted (41):
    • 7 French tanks painted for What a Tanker© for France 1940
    • 34 figures for my Retrovian Platoon
      • 3 “The Bra’sheer” three-legged Retrovian vehicles, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-07)
      • 1 “Garkkon” monster, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-11)
      • 2 “Retrovian Captain” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-50)
      • 3 “Retrovian Trooper Aiming Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-54)
      • 15 “Retrovian Trooper Advancing with Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-55)
      • 4 “Retrovian Sniper with Vision Enhancer & Needle Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-56)
      • 6 “Retrovian Two Man Sonic Cannon Team” figures (6 figures total), 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-58)
  • Figures assembled (10):
    • 10 French tanks/armored cars assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 1 Hotchkiss H35 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#FR020)
      • 2 Hotchkiss H39 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#FR020)
      • 1 Hotchkiss H39 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP33)
      • 3 AMC 35 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory (#CD606)
      • 1 Char D1/D2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FFV10)
      • 1 FT-17 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP252)
      • 1 Panhard 178 armored car (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP25)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (53):
    • 7 dashboards built for French 1940 tanks in What a Tanker© games
      • 3 FCM 36 dashboards
      • 1 H35 dashboard
      • 3 H39 dashboards
    • 6 unit data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards updated for my Mark 1 Sphere tanks use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 34 casualty cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games

 



Remembrances etc. from my 35th West Point Class of ’84 Reunion

This blog has the subtitle Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions.  Mostly it has been focused on hobby stuff- notably miniatures and gaming – and less on the other – and often more important – aspects of Life.  This post will be a bit different for some of you regular readers and I hope that you find it interesting.  As of this writing I am happy to say that this blog has had nearly 25,000 visitors and over 100 followers from dozens of countries.  It’s an enjoyable aspect of my blogging, and I have been able to connect with many like-minded people all over the planet.  Here, I aim to give a limited view into my alma mater and a bit into my own related history.  It’s a personal glimpse to a large extent, and by no means complete, but one I decided to share some thoughts and photos.  Hopefully it’s not overly self-indulgent, but I wanted to write this up.  If you are my classmate, or fellow USMA grad, and reading this, I hope that you get that, and of course GO ARMY!   BEAT NAVY!

Last month I had the privilege of attending my 35th college reunion.

Thirty-five years – wow.

I am a proud member of the United States Military Academy Class of 1984.  Our class motto is “Best of the Corps” – which we chose while just fledgling members of the USMA Corps of Cadets.  That motto certainly did not endear us to the upper classmen from the classes of 1981, 1982, and 1983 at the time.  Some of you may be more familiar with USMA’s more common name – West Point.  We were all commissioned into the US Army in May 1984 as second lieutenants.  Only a handful are still wearing the uniform on active duty.

Regrettably, I had not attended any previous class reunions – something “always came up” with family or work.  Our class of 985 people has now lost 32 brothers and sisters.  Four of the lost are even former roommates of mine, and many more were friends I knew well.  Some of course I only knew from seeing their faces in obituaries.  No matter what, I was never going to see these fallen comrades again, and that really stuck in my craw.  This time, I was determined to attend, honor the fallen, and share some camaraderie with my classmates while it was still possible.  I fervently hope to attend more class events in the future, and hope that we all grow old well.  As for the lost – I also wanted to honor my late classmates by attending the Memorial Service for them.  Below is the program booklet from that service.

1 Page 1 Memorial2 Pages 2-3 Memorial3 Page 4 Memorial

The service was very classy and moving – and those who participated as lectors and speakers (noted above) all did an outstanding job.  I’ll always remember how Craig Bohn sat next to me in the pew and sang “The Corps” and “The Alma Mater” like an angel (really impressive).  On the list of the lost above, many I called friends.  I knew most, and roomed with four – Craig Hogan, Bill Fallon, Troy Overton, and Mike Wooley.  Too soon for all of them, and honoring them was a major motivation for my attendance this year.  God rest their souls.

After the service, which happened on Thursday, we had several activities through the weekend which I will share some shots of as well.

4 Memorial Service F-4
Mark Morin, Bruce Bruno, and Angie Gaston – all company F-4 Frogs – after the Memorial service.

The first reunion event was actually a class golf outing at the West Point Golf Course on Wednesday (the day before the Memorial Service).  I did not want to start with describing it here, as the Memorial Service, in my view, was more important.  I played with Glenn Goldman and Matt Johnson and we had a blast.  I did not play up to my desired level, but hey, we had fun.  I only wish that I had some shots of us playing.  I had not played the course since the early 2000’s – and the hole markers were awesome.  Each described a war/campaign/battle in a lot of detail (especially for a hole marker) and referred to the West Pointers involved.  They covered the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts.  I really liked them and thought I’d share them below.

The Thursday golf was a nice start to the weekend.  Much catching up occurred that night back at the Park Ridge, NJ Marriott – to continue all weekend.  Things started well with a few beers with Tom Eisiminger.  There was certainly a lot of socializing over the weekend – ending up with a class dinner on Friday night, a parade on Saturday, revisiting West Point, and of course an Army football game against Morgan State.  It was great to be among fellow classmates and graduates.

For those who are not USMA grads or classmates, some background.  As a start, I was in company F-4 (company F, 4th Regiment) for my last three years.  I was in C-1 during my plebe (freshman) year.  My yearbook photo was fine – well sort of.  Fellow F-4 Frog Bruce Bruno (from photo above) wrote my blurb underneath.  Only by the time it went to press the girl I was involved with (and had at the time planned to marry) had broken it off!  I also had Aviation branch listed (the wings).  I started after graduation as a helicopter pilot, but decided to leave flight school.  As I had failed a simulator check-ride in instruments, I was told that I’d have no chance to get into Apaches or Blackhawks as a result, only Hueys.  So, I changed branches, became a combat engineer officer, and enjoyed that greatly until I left the Army in 1992.

1 Me back in the day

5 Michie on Friday
At Michie Stadium on Friday after the Memorial Service.  I reported here on July 1st, 1980 and my parents left me in the loving arms of the US Army.  On May 23, 1984, we graduated at on this very field.

16a BOTC Beast squad
My “Beast” (Cadet Basic Training) Squad shot, summer 1980.  We got a ride in a UH-1 Huey which was awesome.  I am in the middle row on the far right.  Standing behind me is Pat Scanlan from Chicago – and we got to catch up a lot at the reunion which was nice.

6 Class Dinner Bruno, Morin, Sgro
Fellow Frogs Bruce Bruno, me, and Jeff Sgro.

7 Class Dinner Ray and Morin
One of the most fun classmates I ever hung out with – Kyle Ray.   Great dude!

8 Parade Cabacungan and Morin
Fellow Frog Gil Cabacungan and me at the parade.

9 Parade Cabacungans (Alec and Gil) and Morin
Gil’s son Alec has raised millions for Shriner’s Hospital for Children – and it was an honor to meet the fine young man.  He has been on TV nationwide for them, and is very inpiring.

10 Parade Line view
The view of The Plain from our place on the parade field.  Third and Fourth Regiments would march by our reviewing position.  The Plain is where we in our class all took our first oath to the Constitution.

You can see multiple pieces of equipment in some of these shots – helicopters, tanks, artillery, and more.  They were there to show the First Class as they decided which branch of the Army they might want to choose to enter after graduation next May.

11 Parade Line view
Third and Fourth Regiments in formation.

12 Parade Line view
A view down our reviewing line.

One of my classmates who has really served the nation well  (and there are many who have) is one hell of an impressive dude.  H.R. McMaster is a retired three-star general, the author of Dereliction of Duty, and formerly President Trump’s National Security Advisor.  We got a chance for a photo together on the Plain after the parade.  Today he’s at Stanford University.

13 HR McMaster and Mark Morin
H.R. McMaster with me…

13a HR McMaster and President Trump
…and H.R. McMaster with his previous boss…

At the parade in the reviewing stand was also the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, USMA Class of 1986.  With him was the current and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, LTG Darryl A. Williams.   He is a member of the USMA Class of 1983, and was in my company F-4.  He was also a very tough football player.  More importantly, he was smart, decent, a true leader, and funny as hell.  He has had a stellar career.  My first semester Firstie (senior) year (1983),  he was assigned to my platoon as he was a December grad – so I was his last platoon leader – and the late Mike Wooley (from above) was with me as roommate and platoon sergeant.  It is very gratifying to see him as Superintendent developing new leaders for the US Army.  He was swamped with people after the parade, but we F-4 folks snuck in for a photo and that was great!

18b F-4 1984 in 2019
Gil Cabacungan, Bruce Bruno, LTG Darryl Williams, Angie Gaston, and me

 

14 LTG Darryl Williams and Mark Morin
A very impressive soldier and me

After the parade, we hit the old officers club for a pre-game tailgate and to change into more suitable game for an Army football game.  Angie Gaston and I took a stroll along the Plain to our old barracks, checked out the equipment, and watched the helicopters take off.

15 Chinook
CH-47

16 Scout, Apache, Blackhawk
Apache’s and Blackhawks – still serving!

17 Helicopters departing and equipment in front of barracks
You can see the aircraft moving away over the barracks and the other equipment on display.

17a Helicopters departingAngie Gaston and I then made a visit to our old home – that being the 43rd, 44th, and 45th Divisions – our old barracks, Scott Barracks, which dates from 1938.  The Divisions are very different from the other barracks.  Think of them as stacked milk cartons  put side-by-side with no connections horizontally (except occasionally on the first floors).  Divisions are thus arranged vertically – with four cadet rooms and a restroom per stacked floor (with 5 or 6 floors per Division) – if fading memory serves.  Again, as opposed to long dormitory hallways there are no horizontal connections between the Divisions.  It was a fun environment, though if you were on the top floor you got a workout going back and forth to class.  A current G-4 cadet was nice enough to take our pictures – and now this is part of G-4 as F-4’s current barracks is located elsewhere.

18 Angie and me in front of 43rd Division
Angie Gaston and I on the 43rd Division landing…

18a F-4 1984
…and our F-4 class 35 years ago.  GO FROGS!  I’m on the the top row second from the left.  Angie Gaston, Bruce Bruno, Gil Cabacungan, and even Darryl Williams are in this shot.  Jim Kelly and Larry Carroll attended the reunion but I did not get pictures of them for this post.  Of note, the late Bill Fallon and Mike Wooley can be seen here too.

19 Angie Gaston and me in front of 43rd Division

20 Morin and M1A2
Those who follow this blog know I love tanks – so here’s a shot of me and an M1A2 in 2019…

20a Morin and M1
…and one of me and an M1 in 1981 in Fort Knox, KY.  I’m happy I went Engineer, but part of me always wishes I’d gone Armor (and that I weighed the same now as here).

21 Artillery
Artillery and movers

21a Artillery
Self-propelled howitzer (155mm)

Then on the way to Michie Stadium, we got some shots of LTG Williams current home!

22 Supe's house

23 Supe's house
Angie Gaston on the front porch avoiding detection.

24 Supe's house
She wanted this shot for our friend Darryl!

The game was a blast – and it was a very warm and sunny day.  Hung out with Pat Scanlan and Kyle Ray – and even got some Steve Kreipe and Shamus Hanlon time in!

25 At the game
And on to Michie Stadium for the game!

26 Army's got this!
Army defeats Morgan State 52-21!

It was a great weekend, and one that I will cherish the memories of for a long time.  We are all getting older and a 35-year gap is frankly way too long between catching up.  That’s on me – I will do better.

Classmates Jack Picciuto and Curt Cozart did an outstanding job in organizing the reunion – and great thanks to them.   Also, a shout out to Steve Epling, Randy Lee, and Meg Gordon who keep us all connected on the world wide web.  Lastly, I want to thank all of my fellow classmates who I got to catch up with and who thankfully retained a memory (mostly good) of me.  I definitely was thrilled to relive memories with you.

As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have in the comments section – thanks for looking!

Until we meet again, GO ARMY!  BEAT NAVY!

 

US Armor for 75th D-Day Anniversary

I am working on creating a Normandy scenario for a What a Tanker© game that I plan to run at a monthly gaming session at both the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club and the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge.  With the 75th Anniversary of D-Day coming up in little more than a month, I thought that would be appropriate. 

My challenge was that I really did not have enough historically-appropriate tanks and tank destroyers for such a scenario.  I did have 9 plastic British Shermans and 2 Fireflies that I bought on eBay that were well-painted.  I also had 2 resin Shermans and 2 resin Stuarts that I got from a guy who makes his own models and sells them already painted.  The British stuff came with a bunch of infantry that I sold, so the nice plastic British armor ended up costing me net only $1.40 each!  The US tanks were OK for the tabletop, and for the price (about $5-6 as I remember), a relative bargain – but I wanted better.  I also had no Germans for that theater, so that is part 2 of the project.  For this part, I am focused on five US vehicles.  Together, I will have enough to make a joint US/UK force.

Three of the five vehicles came from Battlefront and were metal and resin and some plastic:  one M3A1 Stuart (#US003); one M4A2 Sherman (#US045); and one M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (#US102).  The other two were M24 Chaffee tanks that did not make it to D-Day, but replaced Stuarts starting in the latter part of 1944.  These two were 3D printed models from somebody on eBay – and not great detail-wise.  But, the M24 was the tank my grandfather, Marcus C. Delaney, drove in Europe during WWII, so I thought I’d work on those at the same time.  I used many of the same research books that I have cited before – and I did not take pictures as these are more recognizable to most gamers and modelers.

Above, you can see the group – below is a group shot after assembly.

1 all assembled
Ready for paint – 2 M24 Chaffee’s, an M3A1 Stuart, an M4A2 Sherman, and an M10 Wolverine – with its crew on toothpicks.

2 turrets
Turrets mounted for painting.

I mostly used my airbrush for painting – and on the M24’s I tried to minimize the 3D printer lines with paints, washes, and weathering.  I decided to try a few Vallejo weathering products that caught my eye – I made a test of them first.  Of course, these are applied with a brush!

3 weathering
I thought the brown mud was too heavy, and the industrial splash mus was too thin – so I went with the other three.

3a weathering
I really liked these three – very nice weathering products.  The white labels on the top are what I do to help identify them in my supplies.

4 turrets painted
Completed turrets.

It’s now time to share some eye candy of the completed tanks and the tank destroyer.  Of course, I am also using these 5 as the first entry for a monthly painting challenge from Australia’s own Azazel – this being “Mechanismo May ’19 Community Painting Challenge“.

5 M3A1 front
M3A1 Stuart in the bocage.

6 M3A1 side
Side shot of the Stuart in a field.

7 M3A1 rear
Rear shot of the Stuart – it’s not as shiny as this!

8 M4A2 side
My M4A2 Sherman – “Deuces Wild”.

9 M4A2 front
Nice shot coming through the bocage – I really liked the mud and grass effects.

10 M4A2 rear
Rear shot – beware lurking panzerfausts!

11 M10 in field side view
Side shot of the M10 Wolverine cutting across a field into a gap in the bocage.

12 M10 in field side view
Another side shot – this was a very fun model to build.

13 M24's front
My two M24 Chaffee’s.  They won’t be at Normandy, but they will be later in the war.  I do like that I was able to give them some better texture with the weathering products.

13 M24's rear
Rear shot of the M24’s.  

13 M24's side
M24’s in convoy.  They were mostly used as scouts, and were used (and some are still used) by many different armies worldwide.  My grandfather told me many stories about his service driving one.

14 All US painted
My 5 US tanks for this project.

15 3 Shermans
For comparison, here you see three Shermans – from left to right – my M4A2, a plastic British Sherman I bought already painted, and the resin one I bought pre-painted on eBay.  

16 2 Stuarts
Here are the two Stuarts for comparison.  Mine is on the left – and the eBay resin one is on the right.  I will treat the resin ones as M5’s, which are better in What a Tanker

17 all Allied ETO
My complete ETO Allied vehicles – there’s a couple of Fireflies in there too.  I will use all of these except the M24’s for Normandy.

Now I have 18 US/UK vehicles for Normandy – which should be plenty.  I also know that some folks are bringing some DD Shermans and a couple of Churchill’s.  I have 6 German tanks and tank destroyers for Normandy and 11 for the Eastern Front (all about 60% completed), with 3 more to assemble (plus 5 scout cars).  That should be enough for a couple of fun games.  Stay tuned as I’m hoping to complete the Germans soon.

Thanks for checking this out – below are the paints etc.  Let me know your thoughts if you would!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS AND FLOCKING USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  2. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  3. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  4. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  5. Vallejo Model Air “US Olive Drab”
  6. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  7. Battlefront “Black”
  8. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  9. Battlefront “European Flesh”
  10. Battlefront “Skin Shade”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Bright Brass”
  12. Vallejo “Base Grey Primer”
  13. Vallejo “Neutral Grey”
  14. Army Painter “Military Shader” 
  15. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  16. Polly S “Rust”
  17. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Rust Wash” (wash)
  18. Gorilla Glue
  19. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  20. Microscale Micro-Set
  21. Microscale Micro-Sol
  22. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  23. Microscale Satin
  24. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  25. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  26. Vallejo “European Mud” (Thick Mud)
  27. Vallejo “European Slash Mud” (Splash Mud)
  28. Vallejo “Crushed Grass”
  29. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  30. Aleene’s poster tack

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my blog readers and followers!

As 2018 comes near to a close, and with Christmas nearly upon us, I wanted to wish all of my readers and followers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  You have all been so supportive of this blog, which is a big part of my hobby work.

So, please know that I appreciate all of you from all over the world who take the time to read my blog and to share your feedback.  And you know who you are, to include  Azazel, Buck, IRO, Roger, Subedai, Alex, JNV, Faust, Dave, Pete, Tichy, maenoferren22, Alexis, Le Bim, Wudugast, The One, theuniversalgardener, theimperfectmodeler, savageddt, Luke, redcaer1690, Matt, reductivetendency, patmcf,  backtothehammer, and many, many others (and I hope I got most of you – if not apologies).

I am so grateful for your blogs as well.  I aim to not only share my work but to amuse and inspire you, as you inspire me.  If I get you to chuckle or say “wow”, I have hit my target.

As you can see from my hobby tally, I had a very productive year, and I hope to add to my total before year’s end.  Of course, I need to get in some golf posts once in a while, but that will have to wait until April at least as I do live in New England!

I hope that I make you smile a bit over the years with this blog – and while I cannot send a beer or a glass of wine (or a pint for you Brits, Aussies, Kiwis!), I do send my best wishes and a card below.  Please keep on reading – I aim to keep it going in 2019!

 

Retro Sci-Fi Sphere Tanks – from a Callaway Golf Ball!

I am happy to begin the 2017 blogging season with a very complicated project.  While I began work on this project in December, I had been thinking about it since last May.

So what happened in May 2016?  I was traveling for work, and sat down in a Cracker Barrel in Connecticut for breakfast (Uncle Herschel’s with a sweet tea of course).  For those of you who have never been to a Cracker Barrel, there are always old photos and curios all over the walls.  I looked to my left, and saw this on the wall:

1-popular-science-cover-july-1936-by-edgar-franklin
What started this journey

I was amazed at this and wanted to dig in more and learn the date of this issue of Popular Science magazine and see what the article said.  The article was just a paragraph with another picture – here is the link and a shot of the July 1936 article on page 37.

1a-popular-science-article-july-1936
The page 37 article

The concept of the “tumbleweed tank” tank was one of two outer shell halves rotating independently on rollers over a solid stationary sphere.  More or less, the outer halves acted as the vehicle’s treads.  I do not believe that anyone ever tried to build this as a combat vehicle, but I still found the concept fascinating and worthy of a project.

During the intervening months, I conceived of an idea that I could make a model of the tank, build a mold,  and cast it for tabletop wargaming.  As I have been building units of Star Rovers figures for sci-fi Combat Patrol™, my first thought was to make a retro-sci-fi tank, probably for the Frinx.  I was not enthusiastic about the weapons design as shown in the magazine – machine guns alone would make this a very boring retro sci-fi tank.  I also considered making it modular – so that I could adapt different weapons for it.

While thinking about it, I wanted to have a great sphere – and my sculpting experience is at best weak to nonexistent.  I have seen a few blogs that I follow where folks are sculpting their own figures, and that helped to inspire me.  As I also cast – this was a chance to go from beginning to end with the project.  But what to use?

The answer came easily to me as a golfer – a golf ball!  That would be an easy thing to work with and would afford me a chance to see what works.  I had an idea that I wanted it to be armed with ray guns in the side sponsons.  I had not decided on the main weapon, when I had a brainstorm – 1953’s War of the Worlds Martian Heat Rays!

3-movie-poster-46e79e5484b555331466b0e71f4029aa
1953 movie poster

4-war-of-the-worlds-1953-martians-attack-humans
The Martian ship

So with this plan, I went forward to try to create my new Mark 1’s (what else to call them!).  I thought that I could learn from the project (and I have).  I used a “Line ’em Up” golf accessory to create lines on a used Callaway golf ball, and drilled a ½” hole in the side of the ball on two sides.  I like the Callaway for this as it has hexagonal dimples.

 

 

5-first-cut-on-ball
First drill hole into the Callaway

 

After this, I used a Plastruct 2mm x 4.8mm styrene strip to size up the gap between the ball halves.  I used my Dremel to cut the outer surface of the ball – it ended up being messy and needed a lot of Exacto knife work.  The Dremel cutting blade tends to melt the outer ball cover – another lesson learned

 

6-ball-ring
After cutting the chassis ridge with my Dremel

 

I then needed to create the tread ridges.  I used an Exacto knife to carve small channels along the lines for the treads.  This took a lot of cutting!  Using some old plastic membership cards, I cut out each tread, sized them to the holes, and glued them in with super glue.

 

7-ball-ring-treads
Tread ridges cut from plastic membership cards

 

I then drilled a ¼” hole for the attachment of a main weapon –  which I would cast separately with the sponsons in a single mold.  To build a base for the model, I used three 1¼” washers, and glued them together with wood glue.  I then covered them with Apoxie Sculpt, leaving a hole to mount the ball to the base with a wood screw through the washer.  This ended up being a base that I feel in the end was a little too tall, but usable, and castable.

 

8-ball-ring-treads-installed
A Callaway golf ball converted into the tank chassis 

 

I originally was going to use Milliput or Apoxie Sculpt for the sponsons – when I discovered these ½” Button Plugs from Lara’s Crafts – which were the right shape and fit perfectly into the holes on the sides (got lucky here).  I bought a set of Niji woodcarving knives (which I wish I had when I was carving the treads and the middle gap!) and used them to make the sponson shells.  After trial and error (where I learned the hard way that I needed to wear a cutting glove with these very sharp knives), I carved two sponsons and sanded down the middle slots.

 

10-sponson-start
Making the button plugs into sponsons

 

I initially thought that I needed to smooth out the golf ball dimples and the tread cuts, so I first tried with Apoxie Sculpt, with poor results.  My next attempt was with Citadel “Liquid Green Stuff”, which was better, but I think was an unneeded step.

 

11-sponson-fitting
The master figure and sponsons mid-project

 

I drilled a 1/8″ hole in the sponson shell, and mounted a short piece of Evergreen Scale Models strip styrene 1/8″ tube.  For the ray guns, I turned to the use of model airplane parts.  I used two Dubro products – a 2mm socket head cap screw with three 2 mm flat washers superglued to it.  To line up the washers evenly, I found that using toothpicks on both sides and underneath to define the gaps and make the washers relatively parallel worked well.   I inserted the guns into the ends of the styrene, after coring out the ends of the styrene rods for a better fit.  Eventually, I primed the sponsons black with Citadel “Imperium Primer”, as I wanted there to be less tackiness to the Quick-Sil from the wood.

 

12-sponson-with-ray-gun
Nice view of the ray guns in the sponsons

 

 

13-sponsons-with-ray-gun
Another view of the ray gun sponson

 

I then moved onto the main weapon, the heat ray.  In the 1953 movie, the heat ray was rectangular, leading to the distinctive head.  I eyeballed the length, and designed the head.  I sculpted it in two stages, with the “eye” section being attached to the neck, which itself was on the Plastruct strip styrene.

 

15-main-gun-sketches
Designing the heat ray – this worked!

 

 

17-main-gun-phase-1
Initial heat ray sculpt on styrene strip

 

I cut the styrene strip to size, and used more Apoxie Sculpt to make a mount that would fit into the main weapon recess.  After it hardened, I saw that I would have to bend it in my mold, or otherwise I would have a very turtle-like appearance.  As the styrene is flexible, this was not a problem.  I made two two-piece molds with Castaldo Quick-Sil – one for the chassis and one for the weapons.  I also tried some new innovations with venting with the use of some more model airplane parts – in this case flexible fuel lines that I cut for venting.  As you can see below, I bent the heat ray in the mold to my desired shape.

 

19-first-mold-half-weapons-mold-mark-1
Weapons mold before Quick-Sil

 

 

20-first-mold-half-weapons-mold-mark-1
After first half molded

 

 

18-first-mold-half-chassis-mark-1
Chassis mold before Quick-Sil

 

 

19-first-mold-half-chassis-mark-1
Chassis mold after first half molded

 

In the end, the mold for the weapons worked very well, needing little work on the finished weapons.  However, the chassis mold had a few issues.  First, I knew as a golfer that golf balls compress when struck.  What I did not realize was that there would be a strong interaction of the flattish sponson holes and the pressure exerted by the curing Quick-Sil on them at 90° angles.  As a result, the cast ball would be visibly compressed somewhat.  Additionally, the flow was not perfect – leading to my needing to add Apoxie Sculpt to the finished models’ chassis.  Lastly, because the mold for the chassis was thick, and the casting was large, it took a long time to cool, and used a lot of metal (see phots for weight below in the blog).  Unfortunately I discovered this when I opened the mold once and the metal flowed out!  I will incorporate these lessons learned into the Mark 2’s.

 

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The master and the molds

 

 

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Shrinkage!  Was he in the pool? (Apologies to George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld)

I managed to successfully cast two chassis, and decided to use the master as well as I already had the mold.  So I cast three sets of weapons, and assembled three tanks in total.  I used some Apoxie Sculpt to fill in the gaps in the back where flow was less than ideal -and this worked fine.  Next, I mounted the assembled tanks to a 1 5/8″ steel washer for magnetic storage in my gaming boxes.

 

 

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Assembled tanks

I then primed the tanks with  Citadel “Imperium Primer” – I must say I like this as a brush primer – it’s a nice product.

 

 

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Primed tanks

 

After priming, I moved on to painting them.  Painting these proved to be challenging, especially the fully-cast models, due to the weight of the models.  The metal ones weighed about 14 ounces, while the master weighed in at 4 ounces!

I used Citadel “XV-88” on the base and the chassis gaps.  For the chassis and the heat ray, I based with Tamiya “Gun Metal”.  I used several light coats and had a shiny finish to deal with – but a smooth one.  The trick with Tamiya is a wet brush and a lot of shaking and shaking again.  I then used another Tamiya metallic, “Chrome Silver” to paint the sponsons, the tread ridges, and the business end of the heat rays.  I painted the tips pf the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray with “XV-88” and Citadel “Gehenna’s Gold” in anticipation of future colors.  The base I gave an application of Americana “Ebony”.

 

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After base coat

 

I then used my new Citadel Technical paints.  Remember that the Martian craft had orbs that were glowing green.  To recreate that feel, I applied two coats of Citadel “Waystone Green”  to the sponson tops and bottoms, the tread ridges, the chassis gaps, and the main portion of the heat ray.  I also painted the first and last rings of the ray guns with this technical paint.   I wanted the slot of the sponson to be a bit darker – and Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” helped me to achieve that look.  For the tips of the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray, Citadel “Spiritstone Red” gave a nice focal character to the weapons.

 

28-mark-1-tanks-after-base-coating-and-mid-highlighting
After highlights

 

To accent the green, I shaded areas around the “Waystone Green” with Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSSY”.  As I was going to dull down the overall shiny paint job, I thought this would work better – and I think it did.  I drybrushed the bases with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”, and then applied a light flocking with Army Painter “Ash Grey” on the washer alone.

 

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Ready for varnish!

 

I was now ready to varnish, and for the first time I used Army Painter’s “Anti-Shine” matte varnish.  This is an aqueous varnish.  I liked it, and am excited as varnishing in New England in the winter is always a logistical challenge.  I uses 2 parts varnish to 1 part water, and applied with a fan brush lightly.  It came out nice and smooth.  After it dried, I sprayed the models with Testors “Dullcoat” is my cellar bulkhead after I got it warm enough.  This enabled venting of the fumes outside after I was done and kept my wife from killing me when she got home!

To finish the models, I needed to deal with the elevated bases.  Using a lot of Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” applied with white glue, I was able to create an image of the tanks plowing through grass.  They are heavy though, but sturdy.

 

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This is a heavy model!!!  In English and metric units!

 

 

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The master weighs a lot less!

 

Here are some close up photos of the final product.

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Run!

 

 

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Convoy!

 

 

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Nice group shot

 

I am very happy with how these came out.  If I get enough interest, I may offer some for sale as kits.  Certainly, these are my first real creations from conception to creating to molding to casting to painting.  I learned a lot, and I am sure that my next iterations will be better.

They will be an  excellent part of my Frinx forces for Combat Patrol™!

 

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A bad day for these Aphids!!!

 

 

Lynn’s Got Clubs!

Happy Independence Day!

Lynn and I celebrated with a round of 9 holes at Bay Path Golf Course in East Brookfield, MA today.  We had picked her up a nice starter set of Top-Flite Women’s clubs on Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Worcester.  We hit the range, and she tried them out.  She also got a “fancy” orange towel, some purple Pinnacles, and a couple of gloves.

Today, after all the other golfers were done, we played her first round with her new clubs.  She did try golf at the couples league on Friday night by borrowing some clubs from Justyne Smith – but this was just her and I.  I am so grateful that she is giving this a tentative “go” so far.

I did want to take a picture there at the course, but I worried she’d get upset.  Golf is not easy on the beginner (or the veteran player for that matter).  She was a GREAT sport, and did her best.  We will be back out sometimes, but I don’t think that 18 holes in in the cards anytime soon for her.  Still, I truly enjoyed spending the time playing with her on her first day with the new clubs.  I love my wife!!!

Here she is afterwards barbecuing some delicious chicken breasts!

07042016 Lynn and her clubs

 

Bay Path Golf Course Opens for 2016

The 2016 Golf Season started (for Bay Path) on Saturday, March 23rd with a round of 18 with Bob Tilton and Jerry Dufresne.  Not my best pic, but selfies are not my thing!

The course is in good shape for March Thanks to the hard work of Jeffrey and Justyne Smith.

Temperatures were cold.  It ranged from 38° F to 43° F, and we were all rusty.  We had a quota match.  Bob and I tied on the front, and Bob won the back and the total on the 18th hole.  Anytime you can walk 18 with an 83 year old, and lose to him, well that’s pretty cool!  We at least got to be the first to play, and I got my first birdie of 2016 on the 10th hole!  I did not play on Sunday as it was Easter, but I did work on miniatures – see my next blog entry!

03262016 opening day
Mark Morin, Bob Tilton, Jerry Dufresne at Bay Path Golf Course Opening Day

12th Annual USO Benefit Golf Tournament at Bay Path Golf Course – Success and Thank you!

The 12th Annual USO Golf Tournament was held at Bay Path Golf Course in East Brookfield, MA on September 5, 2015.  It does not seem possible that our event has now had its 12th go around!  We had 65 golfers spread amongst 17 teams. This was down a bit from last year, but thanks to very generous hole sponsors we are very close to our annual goal to support the USO and the work it does to support our men and women in uniform.

As for the event, the weather could not have been nicer.  Jeffrey and Justyne Smith had the course in great shape and the clubhouse was packed.

With a few late hole sponsorships still pledged to come in (and yes, I can still take them just send me a message – all it takes is a check written to the USO!), we should just be shy of raising $6,000 for the USO!  This brings our total for the time we have had the event to over $46,000!  Thanks to everyone who donated or competed!

I want to give a special thanks to our sponsors.  They were honored with placards on our “Wall of Honor”.  Please click the link below to see the Powerpoint Show for our generous sponsors and how they were represented – there are some great images here not to be missed:

2015 Hole Sponsorships

Please note that we had some late donors who did not make the wall but who should also be acknowledged as well – Ed LaFlamme from Ken’s Citgo in East Brookfield, Ted Boulay from Voya Financial in East Brookfield, and Ron Lacaire from East Brookfield.  Thanks!

As for the event, it was a very competitive event.

Here are the results – the 50/50 on the par-4 2nd hole was a closest to the pin on the second shot over the pond.  This was won by Nick Guerin at 14′!

There were 5 skins – won by Jerry Dufresne, Pit Caron, Kyle Waterman, Jim Hemenway, and Stacie Chandler.

As for our individual winners, we used the Callaway scoring system.  Nick Guerin shot 82 and had a Callaway score of 71 (-1) to win best scoring Male golfer.  Stacie Chandler shot 85 and had a Callaway score of 73 (-1) to win best scoring Woman golfer.  Bob Tilton (age 83 and 2 days) shot 74 and had a Callaway score of 72 (Even) to win best scoring Senior golfer.

Top Individuals - Nick Guerin (Best Man), Stacie Chandler (Best Woman), Bob Tilton (Best Senior)
Top Individuals – Nick Guerin (Best Man), Stacie Chandler (Best Woman), Bob Tilton (Best Senior)

As for the top three teams, as a USMA grad it pains me to say that both Air Force and Navy beat the best Army team (which was my team), but congrats nonetheless!  We also used the Callaway Scoring System for team play.

The 1st place team played for the US Air Force, and comprised Jim Kularski, Lisa Kularski, and Mike Kularski, and had a score of +3.  Congrats to the Kularski’s!

USAF WINNERS - Jim, Lisa, & Mike Kularski
USAF WINNERS – Jim, Lisa, & Mike Kularski

There were three teams at +4, so it went to a couple of tie-breakers.  The second place team played for the US Navy and comprised Michele Holm, Ellen Morse, Stacie Chandler, and Denise Bruso.  Well done ladies!

NAVY TAKES 2nd - Ellen Morse. Denise Bruso, Michele Holm, & Stacie Chandler
NAVY TAKES 2nd – Ellen Morse. Denise Bruso, Michele Holm, & Stacie Chandler

ARMY TAKES 3rd – The 3rd place team was mine, proudly playing for the US Army.  My teammates were Bob Tilton, Russ McGee, and Jerry Dufresne. (I did not get a picture!).  Thanks for playing with me guys – and watching an 83 year old shoot (Bob Tilton) 2 over par is a great spectator event for sure!

Here are the overall team results:

Place Team Team Captain Score
1 USAF Jim Kularski +3
2 US Navy Michele Holm +4
3 US Army Mark Morin +4
4 US Army Jim Hemenway +4
5 USAF Stein Berthiaume +5
6 USAF Jeffrey Smith +7
7 USMC Brian Ingman +7
8 US Navy Ray Lareau +7
9 US Army Ralph Davies +10
10 US Army Paul Sanborn +10
11 USMC Mike Waterman +10
12 USMC Pit Caron +11
13 US Army Sally Fiske +13
14 Army/Navy Jerry Perron +13
15 US Navy Linda Clayton +14
16 US Army Mike Morgan +16
17 USMC Jason Thompson +18

There were some nice side stories as well.  Jim and Janice Howe from Colden, NY sponsored an entire team of US Marines (Jason Thompson, James Dea, Carlin Monroe, and Austin Ahmed) from Springfield, MA.  They had a great time and were very thankful for the sponsorship!  These Marines are buddies of Russ McGee’s son and Bob Tilton’s grandson, Bobby McGee, who was killed tragically by a wrong-way driver on the Massachusetts Turnpike in 2012 as he drove to his USMC reserve weekend drill.  You can see a picture of Bobby on the 2015 Hole Sponsorships link above in this blog.

This event for the USO reunited them and Janice and Jim, you really did a nice thing!  It also was a great reminder of the main reason we do this – support of the troops and the great work the USO does in support of our men and women in uniform, of whom we are so very proud!

USMC Team sponsored by the Jim and Janice Howe
USMC Team sponsored by the Jim and Janice Howe

Just a few fun shots to add:

Mark & Lynn
Myself & Lynn Supporting the USO!

Lynn Morin & Debbie Rice working on the 8th Hole
Lynn Morin & Debbie Rice working on the 8th Hole

A Great Raffle
A Great Raffle

LAST BUT NOT LEAST!  Special thanks go out to the committee for all their help.  An event like this is a lot of work!  Without these folks and their dedicated help this event could not happen:  Jeffrey and Justyne Smith for all the support from Bay Path; my lovely wife Lynn for her baskets, her help signing folks in, her work at the 8th Hole Contest, her well-received desserts, and overall help, love, and support; Jerry Dufresne for his help with the door prize raffle and the set up; Ray Lareau, Sr. for his help with the 50/50 and the scoring; Bob Tilton for his help with the Skins and the set up; Jim Hemenway for his help with the set up and the scoring; JP LeBoeuf for his help with the sign in, the scoring, and getting sponsorship; Debbie Rice for her help with the raffle and the 8th Hole contest; and Lisa Kularski for her help with the scoring.  Of course, thanks to all the golfers who supported this event!  Let’s keep this going next year!

Last, let me end this post with the motto of the USO:

“Until Everyone Comes Home”

God Bless you all and God Bless America!