January 13, 2016

Meet our newest Trench Runner Pat Hillard

Pat Hillary joins our merry band and has graciously offered to write about modeling in 28mm and smaller mall scales including painting, gaming and whatever else strikes his fancy. In his first article he compares models kits from Warlord Games and Rubicon Models. So let's meet Pat...

Hello all; I’m Pat. I live a few miles outside of State College Pennsylvania. I have returned to building models after many, many years away. As a youth I spent all of my spare time and money on model kits. I started with hotrods and got bored quickly. I discovered military models and there was no turning back. My favorite kit was a Lee/Grant Tank kit with two British crew (I can’t remember what size or company manufactured it). I loved the realism of having the crew and I was hooked.  I ventured off into different kits from time to time but always came back to military models. My uncle gave me one of the huge Trans Am kits for Christmas one year; it wasn’t a tank so I didn’t get around to building it until several years later.


Life has a way of distracting you from the things you enjoy doing so I drifted away from modeling. My interest in history continued to grow. I always loved the John Ford Cavalry trilogy; as I grew older I read every book I could about the cavalry and their tactics during the American Civil War and our expansion westward. My father was in Korea and one of my uncles was in WWII; this influenced me as a youth to have an interest in military history. Books, movies and documentaries helped to fuel my interest. Due to a chance meeting I found myself doing living history and ACW reenactments as a mounted trooper on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. I road as a Federal trooper in the 2nd US Cavalry, Company A and also as a trooper in the 9th Virginia Cavalry, Company D. Four years in the saddle presented opportunities that I never could imagine. 

Well years later I found myself working full time for a Big Ten University and trying to operate a Quarter Horse breeding/riding facility. I needed something to help shut down after dealing with two full time jobs each day. I discovered the table top miniature game Flames of War. It was by accident that I saw an article about it, this led to some videos and I once again discovered modeling. I really love the game but unfortunately in my area there are very few players. My options have been to drive an hour and a half to Harrisburg, PA or about 40 minutes to Altoona, PA to play. Neither source provided a core group of players so I am always on the hunt trying to find local people that share my interest. 


I started with the Open Fire set and built the STuG’s; I really enjoyed the build and the challenge of painting the 15mm models. I went from brush painting the vehicle and its camouflage to buying a quality air brush. The air brush makes all of the difference between an ok model and something that I am proud to put on the table. Since starting about two years ago I have created a very large German force and enjoy adding to it when I can. I do not get an opportunity to play too often any more but creating the models is very enjoyable to me.


I discovered the Bolt Action rule set and began painting a German force for that game (I enjoy the variety in German vehicle camouflage and also the uniform variants). The 28mm figures have allowed me to go from an 8 color 15mm figure to using 18 colors on the larger models. It has helped me learn better shading techniques and also learn dry brushing and weathering techniques that I did not bother with on the smaller figures. The 28mm vehicles are fantastic! I spent hours on my first attempt (Hetzer) using diluted oil paints for water and rust streaking. That was followed by a Tiger, PZIV and a Puma. I also paint some 28mm French and Indian War figures for the Musket and Tomahawk rule set. I have played several games and really enjoy that game also. Unfortunately like Flames of War; Bolt Action and Muskets and Tomahawks have a very small player base where I live. For now I am content building my forces and hoping one day to find opponents that enjoy playing as much as I do. My 10 year old son is starting to show an interest so hopefully he will want to play one day.



I have a few projects on my “to do” list. The first is my ongoing creation of the 1st Hungarian Cavalry from WWII. It is in 15mm size and has been a daunting task. I did not read the rules for fielding cavalry when I started painting and did not realize that every mounted base would also need a dismounted base. When completed I will have an HQ, 3 cavalry platoons, mortar platoon, heavy weapons platoon and a pioneer platoon. There will be a mounted and dismounted section for each platoon. I did not like the Hungarian mounted models that were available so I purchased several hundred German mounted troops that I modify to become mounted Hungarians (remove gas mask container and remove the boot that the rifle butt fits in); it isn’t a lot of work but repeating it over dozens of figures becomes monotonous. I have an entire US Airborne army in 15mm (HQ, combat platoons, AA, anti-tank, recon and artillery sections); I recently started the HQ section. The airborne uniform is a challenge in 15mm. I will be representing the 82nd Airborne so painting the shoulder patch will be interesting. I have some test models finished for an early war 7th Panzer army and I’m very pleased with how they came out. I have tried the Zvezda models and I am happy with them. Once shaded and weathered they look as well as any of the finished resin models and at a fraction of the price. Warlord Games has recently come out with two separate blisters of SS Cavalry; I am really looking forward to working on them. I should have started them by now but I forced myself to begin the 82nd project.

I am always learning new techniques and looking for creative approaches for my figures and their bases. I want to try some larger scale vehicles and figures and place them in dioramas. I have been doing some research on color modulation and find it very interesting. I am not sure how it will scale on the different size kits. I really enjoy using various weathering pigments, there is just something about a clean AFV that annoys me. 



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