30 Dec 2013

...and a happy New year!

Well, I didn't really plan to write this post at first, but I guess looking at the previous year is a post worth writing...if nothing else, it can surely inspire me to work some more on my hobby projects.

I have to admit the time is running past me so fast, I don't even have time to complain about wasting my life. So I checked my past posts to see what I've been mostly up to.

As a whole, I've apprently planned so much I haven't got much done, except for the mid-year, where I can proudly said hobby really kicked it off.
Most of the work done has been related to Strange Aeons game of eldritch horror. I even played quite some games (shown it to two guys at my club at two occasions!), but none in a while.  I have really covered most of the profiles in the game and I had a blast. I really like adding my touch to my miniatures, so I prefer plastic kits, as they can be easily customised. I have done just about anything imaginable with my Mantic zombies. They were used for zombies (doh), degenerates, ancient warriors, some were used as part of other monsters and some turned out to be great ghosts.
I've also sculpted from scratch a lot and I'm really proud of what came out.

I have started major sculpting project of modern slovene infantry, but the project has bogged down since and I haven't done anything for it lately.
Looking at my posts, around october (thats also when I've defended my postgraduate tesis by the way :P) the enthusiasm faded and not much has been done since. That's odd, as I got all the time in the world now. On the other hand, I've mostly stopped buying hobby related things as I think I'll need my savings sooner or later if all this free time persists.  I've bought myself some thin wire for sculpting and I still got loads of miniatures to paint, so that's not such a bad thing. But I've found out income of fresh lead really kills me. Ever since I've painted my last FOW miniature, I have no joy playing the game anymore :D.

In April, I went to England. I have to admit I had no intention to ever visit it until I went to London two years ago. While it was nothing like what I've expected, I liked it. Being the guy I am, I had most fun in the museums. Anyway, this year I was saving money for another trip and I was decided to make sure I can attend Salute everyone talks about so much. I had some high flying plans about visiting multiple destinations, but I've eventually settled for a visit to Newcastle's finest and London, about a week each. It was a first time I traveled alone, but I have to say I didn't mind it too much. What I didn't like was the fact nobody was there to share my enthusiasm when I saw something interesting, but on the other hand, nobody ever finds things I like amusing. Being alone, however, means I do what I want. Which is always nice. I would like to thank for a millionth time to Bryan and Joe, as they've taken the time to show me around. I've seen all I cared to see and then some more. They even took me to the beach, ah! Salute was great, especially as I could meet other bloggers there, most notably Clint and Dave from the ZBA. I've also had the chance to thank Geronimo from Fenris personally for a nice miscast piece of a Sun stone he sent me earlier this year. I've even met the infamous Rejects Big Lee, Fran and Ray (or is it Ray and Fran?) and Postie himself :P.

Thinking back, I've been all over the place this year, as I was accompanying my dad on his "recon" trips to Prague, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and even Leichenstein. As I've already mentioned, I made lots and lots of planns for various projects and to be honest, its a good thing I'm only planning and not leaving them half done!

On non hobby front, I've decided to use my abundant free time in a spirit of my education, so I am now researching the interwar era fortifications around my home. Not much is left, as Italians were destroying them systematically, and most of them were never finished anyways, but I'm having great fun finding forgotten roads in the middle of the woods and just imagining how majestic it would all look like finished. I mean, visually. People that lived here back in the time were less enthusiastic about having a fortified front line running 200 meters from their houses.

I would also like to thank every and each of you who have taken time too read at my posts (or at least take a peak) and I really, really promise you, next post will have miniatures in it again :D. I am also painting 4 zombies (2 Studio miniatures males and 2 Vixens) at the moment and I plan do paint them in batch of 4 at least until all the vixens Bryan gave me will be painted. Once that is done, I think it would be time to test the Grekwood rules. That will probably be the minor project for the early 2014, but I plan on continuation of my work for Strange Aeons later in the year. I'd love to have scenery and miniatures for special scenarios.

Happy New year,

24 Dec 2013

Happy holidays!

Hey guys, just a short post to wish you all happy holidays, whichever you celebrate!

Also, thank you for all the comments and posts views, it does help the thing going. I sure hope I will restart my hobby enthusiasm in 2014...I got way too many plans not to work on any of them! Given it's a hundred years since 1914...will there be any better excuse to finally build some trenches?

Other than that, here is a photo of the "parkelj" or as you might know them, kramupus. They're way cooler than Santa (but I have to admit I hated those buggers back in the days!) and they're getting overly commercialised by certain nation across a certain pond :P. I don't remember them being that elaborate, but I certainly remember the noise they made with chains and the mess they've made with charcoal :D.

Those photos were taken by Andrej Vodopivec and more can be seen here. They were taken at the Slovene-Austrian-Italian Parkeljni gathering at Podkoren (Wurzen in Austiran).

Talking of Podkoren, just above it lies a mountain pass we call Korensko sedlo and Austrians call Wurzenpass. Its a border between the two countries since post war era and during cold war, Austrians were heavily fortifying that border. Below is a photo of a bunker with a Centurion tank turret mounted. You can see more here.

And that's about it for today. Not that I'm overly busy, but if all goes as planned, I won't be back before 2014! :D


20 Dec 2013

T-90 and other projects!


not much going on hobby-wise here unfortunately, but I can't say I've been too busy overall. Following the post about bunkers, I've started a project that was my first idea for (very elaborate :D) master's degree. I'm outside a lot, marking the ones I know about. The map I will get as a result will then help me pinpoint the locations where more might be. Using this dead simple approach, I've managed to find a couple of bunkers that Italians actually didn't blow up - for reasons unknown as those two are in the middle of the forest as any other and all other bunkers next to them are blown up. I am setting up a separate blog, but there will probably be no posts before 2014 - even less so in English. But once something will be done, I'll certainly let you know!

Other than that, I've put together a sprue of Zombie Vixens I've got from Bryan way back in April. I will hopefully paint them before New year to get me back in the hobby! My ultra modern sculpting project has came to a halt. I have bought some new thin wire (yes, those are the gifts I am buying myself :D), but  I haven't yet used it! Again, I hope thing change soon, as I would like to have weapons finished ASAP. 

To at least do something modern, I've put together a T-90 I've got a while back. Brummie, thanks again for picking it up for me!
It's a Zhengdefu T-90 russian tank. It is made to fit a motor inside, which I didn't dare assemble. I don't need it and it all looks like it might blow up. Which reminds me, according to the internet, Zhengdefu or "Ki-tech" is a Chinese company that steals other company's old plans and makes their tanks. Even box art doesn't show the exact model that is inside (I'm not sure that was the case with T90).

Set up instructions were horrible, so I had to improvise a bit here and there. Somewhere, I've deliberately done some changes, to make the model more sturdy. In the end, I was left with some leftover plastics (like extra 6 couples of smoke launchers for some odd reason) so it's all odd, but hey, I won't complain for a 1.7 GBP or somewhere along that price.

All in all, it's a nice russian looking tank that will have to represent anything from T-50 to T-90 and in between. I am not demanding, it has somewhat low profile (for a tank) and a round turret - so it's good enough until I can find a similarly great deals for other tanks.

 So, here it is:

 The smoke launchers I was talking about. I've set them to rest on the tool box, which made sure they won't fall off every time I'd rotate the turret. The machine gun, by the way, is all weird.
 Front of the tank with turret facing backwards. Nothing much to say that would be of any great importance, I've broken the lamp guards and glued them on regardless...who's gonna know, right? There are some cameras or sensors all over the hull that I shouldn't put on, as you can see.
 A size comparison photo with a humvee I've done way back in the summer. You can see T-90 is enormous, yet smaller than it's western counterparts.
 A close up on the turret. I really wanted to have the commander's hatch opened as I like people peeking out of my tanks, but as it opens forward, he couldn't really reach the machine gun, so I've decided to close it instead.

Well, that is it for today, I hope I'll manage to get some sculpting or painting done at least every second day from now on!

Thanks for looking,

13 Dec 2013

Mechanic revisited!

Hey guys,

after I've shown you the photos of my so called WWW2 mechanic, I've decided it needs improvement. I've thus slightly converted a miniature, I've sculpted gloves and the side cap.

I have also finally got around to watch the infamous World War Z after reading Vampifan's review. I was in no hurry with it as I kept hearing negative reviews, but my younger brother said the movie was great. Now, I am no film critic and I apparently got an odd taste as I don't really like the Walking dead series (I do watch them and I have to say it is getting better :P) and I have even quit watching Game of Thrones, which everyone loves so much. Now, I've watched it very open minded and I've came to following conclusions:

Film is good as any other they make these days. I suppose it's a lot like Prometheus or Avatar...a great idea that went wrong. Or something. There is one thing I loved, all those zombie hordes shots, just amazing. Really nice. And the rest was shit. Climbing walls of Jerusalem included. The whole film has no story at all, mr. Pitt just flies all over the world and everything is happening so fast nothing actually happens. They mention Cardiff, so that's a plus, I suppose. I have no idea what was the point with that israeli soldier gal. I've noticed the lack of blood Vampifan mentioned...that was really odd, it was all so clean. And by the way, gawd fast zombies make no sense. I loved 28 days later, but fast zombies are still not really my thing. Also, an ending is just...ah...
Anyways, I'd still say it's not THAT horrible if you watch it as a film about some infected someones (that can only be put down by a head shot) - zombies are fiction anyways (sorry Bryan!), so they are entitled to their own version..no matter how inconsistent they made them. I mean...there are tons of zombies climbing walls of Jerusalem, but the roofed road leading to the city is zombie free. But oh well...I was putting together my zombie vixens while watching, so I might have missed an important detail or two. I rate it better than that zombie movie with a tiger in it!

And that's it for today,

thanks for looking!

8 Dec 2013

the Western front

Hey guys,

before I even start, that's another historical post. Sorry!

"The western front" I will be talking about has nothing to do with THE western front. Instead, it is an official designation of the so-called "Rupnik line" - line of fortifications that were built (or planned) along (at that time) Italian - Yugoslav and German - Yugoslav border.  In other words, it's Yugoslav Maginot, Siegfried, Metaxas, Mannerheim and many other -lines. Fortified lines were awesomely popular things to do and every worthy country had to have it. The whole idea was, they were sort of a permanent extra tough trench lines that western european countries hated. Everybody knew there was going to be another war, so the idea was to fortify as best as possible. Needless to say, most of them were kinda useless - Rupnik line included.

On the left, there is a map of present border (to give you the general idea) and locations of Italian and Yugoslav lines. You can see where Ljubljana is and 20-25 kilometers to the west, there are Vrhnika and Logatec. I used to live in both, now I live in a small village in between them. This is the area that I know, so, by checking the second map, you can see I will mostly talk about sector 1.  Sector 1 was built to prevent the possible attackers from reaching Ljubljana. Talking of sectors, sector 6 (northern sector) was started later, after anschluss in 1938. Speaking from Yugoslavian point of view, there were other defensive lines as well on the eastern borders. Yugoslavia didn't really border on too many friends, if you look at it that way.
(none of the maps is mine work)

As the village I live in is quite spread out, it is divided in lower and upper part - the lower part had 16 houses in 1934, when gendarmerie officers first started patrolling the area and gathering information related to security and how the locals acted. By 1936, the works started. It all started by building roads, as you could imagine and huts for the workers. Group of 15 huts was code named Logor 507 grupa. Logor seems to be serbian word for a "camp" - Slovenia was part of Kingdom of Yugoslavia at that time, the main language in the army was serbo-croatian. They've started building bunkers in 1937 and it was expected that works will be finished in 1946 or 1947. In 1938 they had to change locations of the bunkers (just few meters to the left/right/front/back), as they tried to deceive Italians, as they somehow got the plans and knew where each block was planned to stand - a big no no for a static defence line! Nothing interesting has happened while bunkers were being built, but apparently some people fell in love and there were occasional fights between yugoslav officers and the local population. In one of those, an officer was killed - bar fights were much more serious affair back then!

You won't see this on the photos, but, obviously, the trees around the bunkers were cut to provide a good field of fire. Bunkers were defended with barbed wire and minefields. A kind old lady, living few meters away from my house, remembers how one of the lower ranking CEOs stepped on one of those mines on his way to get milk at her farm. Those mines were mostly removed after the WW II, but in 2001, a dozer has driven on an old "anti transport" mine while working on a construction yard for a new industrial centre.

 There were many different variants of bunkers built, most known variant is large-ish machine gun bunker, armed with two heavy machine guns and one light machine gun, but they could have anti tank rifles and even smaller anti tank guns. Most numerous, however, were light machine gun bunkers for two soldiers. Most of them have three shooting slits in a small fighting compartment and a hallway leading to the position. Those hallways were broadened at certain section to make space for soldiers to sleep in.

Below are photos of the bunker that was on the ridge just above the village (same bunker on the first photo).

The big hole in the round tower you see would be covered by a steel plate with three shooting slits. Those slits were meant for light machine gun, more often than not czech M37 and M40. The bunkers from 6th sector (Austrian border) are nice example of how weak this shield was, as it could be (and was) penetrated by the 37mm anti-tank gun. The steel here was removed by villagers, as I've mentioned.

The black thing you see is a hydro insulation. Bunkers should by all common sense be covered by earth at least to those levels. Those never were. Some say they were left like that intentionally, to inspire fear in the Italians. Now, the area was undefended because Yugoslav army was withdrawing from the German push (on Austrian border, one of those bunkers kept on fighting for three days). But I've mentioned the bunkers were emptied days before invasion, so I guess it could be possible that they weren't dug in because they simply weren't finished. 

From this bunker, village is bellow on the right hand side:
 back of the bunker. Again, village (and Italy) on the left side now.
 And again:
 Here is a view of the side that overlooks the village, the bunkers below and "Italy" - so a side where Italians would and did come from. You can see the largish shooting slit. It was covered by a steel plate and had a heavy machine gun mounted, probably austro-hungarian schwarzlose.  The tower is facing in the forest towards north, where 3 other bunkers of that kind are hidden. Mind the black paint where bunkers should be covered by earth.

Here are photos of the fore mentioned bunkers Those are way better preserved, some even have original wood work in them!

Back shots:

 Side shot, this one is showing its rear to the bunker I described first.
 Damaged tower.
 An air hole. I don't see how this could be interesting to anyone, alas, there it is.

I think this is the roof of the tower, it certainly isn't the floor:
 Again, the tower and the side slit. Side slits were used by heavy machineguns, anti tank rifles and some even say light anti tank cannons.
 Thats a nice photo...if you don't mind the sorry state the bunker is in:
 Remaining wood work. Very stylish photo:

One of the bunkers with shot taken from the top:

 Some more wood work. I actually think this is from the sleeping quarter of one of those light bunkers:

 And another bunker:

 And the first one again. Enjoy the panorama! (Italy to the left again)

 This bunker (yes, that's the first one) is actually on the field where cows are kept now. I've actually seen them be in it in the summer heat. One of the holes seen on the left side of the door was a grenade shaft. If the defenders felt really mean, they could toss a grenade in it from the inside and it would roll out to do some serious bombing.

This is the view of the inside. Another grenade shaft and a slit to meet the unwelcome visitors. Yikes!

And another bunker. This one, as you can see, has line filled with concrete for some reason.
 And the entrance. This one is dug in a bit and actually looks a bit better.

Now, here are some shots of other "objects" as they were called. Some are a bit more elaborate, others are much simpler and others are ruined:

 There are many in middle of the village. One of those is this one...don't hold me for my word but I dare say a house stands on top of it now.

A staircase to a light machine gun bunker - 2 man machine gun bunker representing the front line. They had 3 firing slits each. An interesting curiosity - not all entrances have hinges, so it's safe to assume not all had doors! We've also noticed some bunkers were built with huge rocks, which makes it much less durable, but I suppose also cheaper. Apparently they were saving iron on those, as well - so they wouldn't be somewhere you'd want to wait for a bombardment to pass in!
 A ruined light machine gun bunker (there are remains of over 60 of those)
 A blockhouse, made after Czech model. This one lacks a steel turret, firing slits are built in and it's locked as it sits next to someone's private house. It used to be a disco back in the days (before I moved here).
 A close up on one of the firing slits.
 The locked doors and built in firing slits. I'm still hoping I can get a chance to go in one day.
 The side that is looking towards Logatec (ergo Italy again) - the pipe you see is a pipe of a small stove.

 Here a steel cupola was meant to be. It's believed it was never installed. The left side of the photo is pointed roughly to the west, for orientation.Not too far was another large bunker that has whole upper ("combat") floor demolished.
And yes, that's our dog photo bombing :D
 If you walk up to the end of the hill on top of previous photo, this is the view:
 For orientation. On the left side, there is Logatec and, yet again, the way Italians invaded from. Behind "us" is the bunker from the previous photo. And to the right, there are similar rolling hills with the bunkers I've been showing at the first post. Now that I'm thinking about it, I should really make a simple map or something. I wanted to map the bunkers as a research for my masters, but I have decided against it as I could never find all of the bunkers. Nothing stops me from using my abundant free time to start mapping them now I suppose...at least roughly, as I believe it really puts things into perspective. (EDIT: I have actually started mapping them just yesterday and I'm thinking about starting another blog to show off the project - got to keep my miniature blog for my miniatures!)

 Some more wood work from other bunkers:
 A farm (yes, an actual farm and not a bunker) in the village. IIRC Italian officer's mess hall was here when they came here.
Next couple of photos were named "observation post".

 This one is special. It's a big block, with two smaller blocks looking out of it for some reason. It looks like british mark IV from the WWI...except it's concrete and has no guns.

The one on the other side is breaking. To get the idea of the size, by memory this chunk is higher than 3 feet:
 An entrance to the tunnel. Photos are from last year and I wasn't the one taking thme, so I can't really say where this is leading to. I'd say a fore mentioned prism. I'm not even sure the photo after is of the same tunnel, but admire the stalactites!

 And another secret shaft with original support logs:

When Yugoslavia was invaded in april 1941, most of the bunkers in Sector 1 were empty. There was no heavy weapons installed yet and most of the soldiers were in the huts I've mentioned before. Apparently, Yugoslav army left the bunkers en masse on 4th of April 1941 at 1500 - 2 days before the invasion! They've burnt their huts and not a single bullet was fired from the fortified positions. Italians were bombarding bunkers in this sector from Hrušica - the location of ancient roman Ad Pirum fortress I was talking about earlier this year! Yugoslav artillery answered with counter battery fire and they were shooting at each other for about an evening. After retreat of the Yugoslav army, Italians came to the village. They were destroying the bunkers through the time of occupation, but interestingly, apparently they weren't stripping steel from the bunkers. They were in the village until 11.11.1941, when they retreated to Logatec - resistance was getting stronger so Italians massed their forces in towns and didn't bother defending smaller villages that were easy prey for the partisans. Eventually, they've organised voluntary militia from the locals, but that's a topic for another day!

Again, this are only the photos of the bunkers within the walking distance of my home. Not too far away, there was a ridge fortress planned (huge complex with more bunkers connected with underground tunnels). Only tunnels were built. On a hill really close to me (that is now closed as a military training ground), they had also great plans, that were reduced to less great plans, but still involved three cannons rising from the ground to shoot and then detract again...alas, nothing was built. Even further up north, there are better preserved bunkers and some are even turned into an open field museum. We tried to get the municipality to put some information signs around some of those bunkers, too, but nothing happened past the verbal admiration.  As my village is on the border of two municipalities (Vrhnika and Logatec), that's even more work. We came up with two circle paths, shorter is on the Vrhnika side only, about 1 hour long and contains the first bunkers I've been showing. The longer one could take up to 3+ hours, but there's really a lot to see if one is interested in such things.

Hope you found a post useful or at least entertaining and thanks for looking,