Saturday, September 21, 2013

The allure of 3mm

I'm having a bit of a laid back weekend and working on getting some basing done, which is neither terribly interesting nor highly photogenic. I received a small shipment from Picoarmor on Thursday which expands my WWII Italians for the campaign I hope to get organized before too long, the ill-fated 1940 Italian invasion of Egypt and the resulting British Operation Compass. Some of the things I got:
65mm infantry support artillery, heavy machine guns, 81mm mortars, and anti-tank rifles. Also, 20mm Breda AA guns and Dovunque 35 trucks, but they didn't make it into the photo. More on all of these as they get painted.  

The Italians, as well as the Germans, used the Swiss-made, German-designed Solothurn 20mm anti-tank rifle. 
Of course, Oddzial Osmy doesn't make it and the only anti-tank rifle they do make is the Soviet PTRD. 
It looks absolutely NOTHING like the Solothurn and it's obvious even at this tiny scale, but I have no other choice. So, the Soviets have been pressed into service as Italians. That's them in the foreground of the top photo.

Given that I'm not doing much that's photo-worthy this weekend, I think it's a good excuse to talk about why I find 3mm so attractive. For me, 3mm has several very strong pluses. In no particular order:

1) You get a lot more bang for a lot less bucks. Let's take my M11/39 Italian medium tanks as an example. If I spend $10 (let's ignore postage here) with GHQ, I get one pack of 5 models. A platoon, plus one tank. If I spend that same $10 with Picoarmor, I get 33 models! That's 2 whole companies, including all the command vehicles, with 5 models leftover (enough for another platoon plus one!)!!! I don't know about you, but that had me sold right there. My monthly hobby "allowance" buys me a whole lot more. 

2) A lot smaller also means a lot lighter and a lot less space taken up. Storage and transportability aren't near the headache that they are with 6mm and bigger. I can store an entire division in a single, small dresser drawer! As I live in an apartment, space is always a prime concern; a thought which Mrs. History PhD frequently avails herself of the opportunity to impress upon me.

3) Painting goes MUCH faster. Visibility of tiny details is very limited in this scale. These little models are stunningly detailed for being so small and it's not that I haven't seen maniacs try to paint it, but honestly, most detail work is wasted effort and completely invisible. It's major colors and major components here. I just pick out the very obvious details, like mufflers, treads, tires, etc. After all, can you see minute details from 3-6 feet on something the size of your little fingernail? I sure can't! The same goes for painting intricate camouflage patterns. It all blends together and your tiny masterpiece looks identical to my block-painted stuff. When it comes to camouflage, I put down the base color and add a few blobs/squiggles in whatever other color(s) necessary and that's all it needs. Additionally, since these models are basically half the size of 6mm, I use up my paint at half the rate. Hobby paints aren't cheap!!

4) The cost of these little gems is so affordable that I can now tackle all those areas of interest that I could never afford before. In bigger scales, my money doesn't go as far, so I'm limited to what projects I can afford to do. With 3mm, I can now go haywire and indulge myself. 1940 Western Desert is in the works. Next might be 1940 Italian invasion of southern France or maybe I'll try Jena or Stones River. Who knows?  These little models open up vast areas of interest that I never thought I'd get to explore. 

If you've tried 3mm or just thought you'd like to, a) I urge you to give them a try if you haven't and, b) if you have, I'd love to hear your reasons for liking them. 

More from me next weekend!!


  1. Great post. I'm tempted by 3mm on the cost grounds alone. I've got quite a few aircraft in the equivalent scale of 1:600. I have yet to take the plunge on ground forces. Planning to try out A Fistful of TOWs with a friend, but I'm yet to swing him onto the 3mm rather than 6mm... I think we could get a much bigger game and cover a greater area and it could look incredible. I think I've commented before - 1:600 also opens up the prospect of Riverine with quite a few models on Shapeways.

    1. I agree. 3mm is affordable and visually impressive. I've also been eying those artillery barges on Shapeways