Figure reviews are not something I normally do, but having just finished my first M113 ACAV platoon for Charlie Don’t Surf I feel inclined to put pen to paper, or at least fingers to keyboard, and talk about the Peter Pig model of this quintessential Vietnam AFV.
I must first admit that I had planned to buy the Flashpoint Miniatures model as it had been recommended to me by a friend in the US, however the supplier that I went to was out of stock, and being a typical wargamer I was not inclined to wait before I purchased more lead. What was more, my US troops for Nam are all from Peter Pig anyway, so this was not uncharted seas. I was pleased to discover that the Piggy version was £6 per vehicle, while the ones that I had originally intended to get were £8.50 a throw. When you’re looking to field two or three platoons the difference is worth saving.
The Peter Pig model comes in several parts; the main body, the left and right tracks, the rear panel and then the crew and the turret. Clearly the Piggies do a number of variants – I got three different ones so my platoon of four tracks looks attractively varied. Sticking together was simple enough and with very little (if any) filing needed to ensure snug fitting of parts. I added some detail with Green Stuff just to add to the variety, a few kit bags, the odd roll of tarpaulin and general bric-a-brac that makes units look ‘lived in’ and a few crew sitting on top to add even more variety.
I have to admit that at this point I was a little disappointed with the models. I couldn’t really put my finger on why, just a general feeling of them looking a bit boring. But I pressed on with a black under coat and then a base coat of Vallejo Brown Violet (what a STUPID name for a colour – rather like calling something ‘Blue Pink’) followed by a wash of black ink thinned with windscreen wash and water. As an aside I have been using this solution since I stopped being able to get Klear floor polish in the UK, it’s not as good but it’s the best I have found.
I let the ink dry overnight, then dry-brushed the colour up from there. Mainly Brown Violet with white added, but I also like to add on some other greens in there too, just to get depth and a bit of variation, so things like Russian Green and US Olive Green all got used as well. Once that was done I mixed up a very light mix of Brown Violet and white and highlighted the edges. At this stage this creates a very skeletal look, rather like an anthropod, but it will all get toned down as we go.
Next I pained the baggage black and while that dried I painted the crew with Vallejo Russian Uniform for the main colour and with Bronze Green for the flak jackets. The webbing was a mix of Russian Uniform and Stone Grey. The kit then got painted in a mix of dull colours, so some English Uniform (another dreadful name, ‘British’ please Vallejo!) US Brown Drab, Russian Green and so on. This then got ink washed and highlighted up. After that it was details, like the Stars and Stripes that is rolled up ready to be planted on a suitable objective, or the names on each vehicle.
Finally I painted the track black, dry-brushed them grey and then gave them a very heavy dry-brush of Flat Earth. This is a more red brown than I’d use for Europe, but it suits the soil of South East Asia. I then gave that a lighter dry-brush of Khaki and then an even lighter one of Stone Grey, before adding some streaks of dirt with heavily watered down Stone Grey. I like my vehicles to look more dusty than the “completely covered in crap” look that you see sometimes.
And the end result? Well any sense of disappointment disappeared very early in the painting process. I am really pleased with these models, they have lots of character and obviously match perfectly my Peter Pig US infantry which, despite being one of their earliest ranges, are superb figures which really capture the feel of the conflict.
Anything I’d prefer to change? Well, for my next platoon I am going to drill holes in the anti-RPG screen on the side of the M113 models that have them. It will take an hour or so for each one, but it’s something I can do while watching the rugby and I think that the time spent will be repaid with a really individual model. All in all these a re really nice models that paint up really well.
So, having planned that out I decided to leap straight in. I was originally going to build the loading bay from mounting board, but I soon realised that blue polystyrene would be easier. A few slices with the kitchen knife and we had the basic structure ready. I then used a 4.5″ boning knife to