Sunday, 16 January 2022

City Fight - Tram - modelling on a budget



I am trying to build up some city ‘street fighting’ terrain for my WWII ‘Pocket Armies’ forces, which are being built in 1/72nd scale. The good thing about the scale is that it is close to the rail modeller’s HO/OO scale, which has a ton of rail hobby related scenery that can be put to work on the wargamer’s table.

This is a short post that discusses the build of a knocked out tram, for a fairly attractive price.


please use the ‘read more’ tab for the rest of this post.



Having spotted a knocked out tram model on a recent YouTube video covering an ‘O’ Group Stalingrad game at Salute last year and seeing similar on a 15mm Stalingrad game on Storm of Steel’s video channel, it seemed like a valid and eye-catching piece of 1943 street furniture to include in some city firefight scenarios.

First stop was to check out Hatton’s (UK) model railways website to source a model tram, as they actually have a tram section and sell second hand items. 



Something old, second hand, tatty and even better, broken would have been just the ticket, but the closest thing that I could find currently available was an Atlas Editions pre-owned Metroplitan Feltham Tram, in good condition at £10. When it arrived it was in fact in superb condition and a lovely model - I had a bit of a guilt trip knowing what I was about to do to it!

But from a budget perspective, the patient gamer able to wait for the right model, could probably get a damaged example for around £3 or so, e-bay is probably the place to get that.  



Anyway, the first job was to ‘duff it up’. The advertising signage needed to come off and some damage added. That advert for the cigs is clearly of it’s time! and the tram is likely to be used across a variety of multi-lingual settings, so the ‘English’ wording needed to go. 

I used a wire brush attachment on a Dremel to scratch the bodywork and attack the signage. Those small hand held wire brushes that look like tooth brushes and a bit of fine sand paper would probably do the same job.


Some smashed windows were created with a small drill. Note, the hot drill actually starts to melt the plastic windows and the melted plastic wraps around the drill bit and sets rock hard. However, I was able to remove it with pliers little by little, but an old drill bit might be a good option, just in case.


To mount the tram, a shaped piece of MDF that I had bought as part of a pack of ‘shapes’ from Charlie Foxtrot came to the rescue. It kept the foot print small, while still taking the whole model. The tram was fixed to the base using a hot glue gun, plus a blob of ‘no more nails’ went into the centre of the base as a central anchor point - belt and braces!


To make the model look like it had building rubble falling around it, some earth mounds were built up around the bottom of the tram using kitchen tissue paper coated in PVA glue and rolled into small rough shapes and pushed up against the bottom of the vehicle, hiding most of the wheels.


Once dry, the whole base was coated with a paste to unify it and cover the tissue paper. I used Gesso paste (because for whatever reason, I have a big tub of it), with some drops of black acrylic paint to kill the severe white and mixed with a sprinkling of what I think is Chinchilla sand from the pet shop, to get a bit of texture. It doesn’t really matter what you use, filler, grout, acrylic caulk or whatever. The whole point of doing this is to save money and to just use the materials that are at hand.

 

This was dry within 24 hours. The base was primed with cheap black craft paint and then with a mix of white and brown paint (cheap student art tubed acrylics), layers of dry brushing went over the base to build up some highlights.




Just to hint at a sense of street furniture, a BBQ round skewer was cut down and added to make it look like a wooden pole had fallen and smashed into a window. Another piece was just allowed to lay on the floor. Cocktail sticks make good pipework if you want add exposed pipes in the ground etc. The wood was painted black and then light brown.




To give it a finishing touch, superglue was used to attach some bricks to the tram roof and some on the ground and then PVA was ‘splodged’ on the roof and base here and there and heavily sprinkled with course gritty sand, I used both red and brown sand for this with the excess tapped off. The bricks can be made out of anything, foam craft sheets, balsa wood, thick card or plaster.


Once dry, the model was spray mat varnished to unify it and to act as a fixative for all of the dusty sand. The mat coating does have the effect of dampening down the shiny glass effect on the windows, but I think in this instance, that is good, it helps make sense of the scratched glass and fine dust coating, that otherwise would leave them looking too clean and pristine compared to the rest of the model.


It is hard to put a final price on this because I had all of the materials needed except the model of the tram, but for a feature that has cost me £10 plus postage from Hattons’, I think it punches above its weight on looks and so it feels like a good value addition.


I ordered a couple of other small items at the same time as the tram (including model telegraph poles, which could have been used here!) and the postage (via courier) remained the same, so my total order was dearer, but more cost effective on the postage.


Anyway, wherever you are in the world, it might be worth checking out your preferred bricks and mortar or online model rail supplier, particularly if they have a second hand section, which most seem to.


We will meet our tram amidst some street action in the not too distant future, once a few more units make the perilous passage across the painting table.


Resource Section.

Hattons Model Railways LINK- www.hattons.co.uk

My sister webspace COMMANDERS is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and give a flavour of where current ongoing projects are up to. LINK.

https://commanders.simdif.com


35 comments:

  1. Nice work Norm...that is definitely the advantage of 1/72 or 20mm WWII... Using plastic kits and OO HO model railway accessories is almost always more cost effective than "official" wargaming stuff!

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  2. Thanks Keith, yes definitely, plus I am really enjoying doing a bit of modelling.

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  3. Wow a very nice piece of terrain to fight over, Norm. No ruined WW2 city is complete with one. Looking forward to seeing some city fights this year!

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    1. Thanks Steve, I am looking to some East Front Mid War and will be looking at ‘O’ Group, Rapid Fire and my own converted Tigers at Minsk to run some trial games.

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  4. An excellent terrain feature, very eye catching.

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    1. Thanks Peter, it actually worked out better than anticipated …. It usually works the other way :-)

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  5. An excellent post and a finely made addition to the city fight project.

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    1. Thanks Phil, hopefully to see action soon.

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  6. PS. Thank you for the Hatton link, bookmarked for future.

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  7. You are welcome, I have found them to be well stocked when searching for ‘that’ item you need and their postal service is very good.

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  8. That works a treat Norm and one of the advantages of the bigger scales, is that this sort of conversion is easier to do alongside the wider availability of stuff to play with, convert etc. Are you planning on making any tramlines out of interest?

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    1. Thanks Steve - no tramlines, but i am working on rail lines. I have a city mat, which has enough ‘uncertainties’ on it, that tramlines hopefully will not be missed.

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  9. Great job on trashing the tram, Norm!

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  10. Thanks Jonathan, the vandal in me coming to the fore! :-)

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  11. Lovely work - where would be without cocktail sticks etc, lol.

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  12. Thanks JB - I wonder whether manufacturers that do the likes of teddy bear fur or bristle door mats have any idea that half their sales are destined for a dining table :-)

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  13. Oh, what a amazing work!
    Great looking terrain.

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  14. Thank you Michal, I think this might be making an early appearance on the table.

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  15. Nice job Norm! You should have made a career from demolition derbies!

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  16. Thanks Mike, I don’t know, I did have a big guilt trip from destroying such a lovely model :-)

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    1. That pole through the window is a master touch

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    2. It does add quite a bit in such a small 3 dimensional space, I did wonder whether I should have used an actual model telegraph pole, fallen onto the top of the tram, but am happy that the current pole provides a visual key to combine the exterior and interior of the vehicle.

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  17. That's a delightful piece of modelling Norm, lovely. Can't beat a model railway shop and I must confess here to having built myself a small steam branch terminus layout about 20 years ago, there is a crossover between the hobbies, especially around the terrain building aspect. I wont go back to look at Hattons in case I get tempted again!

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  18. I think we are learning from the visuals that model rail enthusiasts use, but it seems to have taken a long time for the hobby to reach this point. There are now some cracking displays at wargame shows that show a ton of work. A major difference is of course that for the most part, we need our tables to be modular to whatever degree so that we can set-up and take down with each game.

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    1. Thank you David, even my regular spammer with his betting links seems impressed … he has tried to comment twice in 24 hours! :-)

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  20. A highly accurate representation of any vehicle left unattended in Feltham.

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  21. Hi Jeffers, it did pain me to ‘biff up’ such a pristine model, but this one is now anonymous and will be native to whatever city is being contested.

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  22. Somebody took care of that model tram. The took it out and placed where it was safe. Probably used stern looks to stop children from playing with it. They kept the packaging to keep it safe when not in use. Somebody cared for that tram. Somebody loved it.

    And you DESTROYED it. 😀😀
    (And did a good job too).

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    1. Hi Stew, I can only hope that they will be content that it is now re-loved and think “I wish we had thought of that” :-)

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  23. Nicely done Norm I know that feeling I have looked at several of my buses and models and thought about distressing them but I find it hard but you have given me an idea !!

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  24. Hi Matt, if you can get hold of an old one, all the better. Perhaps as creative souls, we find it difficult to diminish those things that already earn a respect / admiration.

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  25. Great looking distressed tram and applicable across pretty much all of Europe and Russia, very nicely done!
    Best Iain

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  26. Thanks Iain, I think this will help lift the scene for street fights.

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