Accessorizing Action City's Waffen SS Plane Tree Smock
Customizing Tips

Well... I'm not an authority on WWII uniforms and insignias. I'm just a guy likes to look at pictures and who's in the process of learning more about this intricate and fascinating chapter of world history.

Action City has one of the coolest websites around, with big generous pictures of their product offerings. The diorama pictures in their "Uniforms in Action" are the best I've seen on the Internet. Like most customizers, they produce WWII uniforms for those with specialized tastes. Their offerings appeal to a more general audience though; mainly in their selection of visually interesting ("cool") uniforms. My kinda stuff.

I ordered their Waffen SS Plane Tree Smock without the full set of gear. It included the smock, pants, dickey and boots for $75. (Shortly after I placed my order, a "Sold Out" sign appeared at their web site, so you're out of luck if you want to order this... at least for now.) Why did I order it without all the stuff? I'd like to say that I did it for the challenge, but quite frankly I did it because I was feeling cheap! Anyway, the outfit itself is very cool-- I love the camo smock and matching helmet, and it's ten times better than my own pathetic attempts at painting camo. Besides, they knew the pattern for an authentic smock, and I didn't!

It worked out pretty well though: I got a true workout while producing accessories that would cost hundreds of dollars in labor time alone. It's time that I don't mind spending, since I don't have to pay myself. I'm sure that no one would want to pay me an hour's worth of labor just to put three clips on a helmet!

The most important thing is to have good reference materials. That's how I found out about the helmet clips. Now this might be considered "over the top" in attention to detail, but I saw 'em, and I wanted 'em. They're made of strip brass, cut to shape and formed around the helmet's edge. A spring clip is superglued over the clip. I drilled a small hole through them and into the helmet so that the snipped pin "rivet" would rest flush against the clip.

The collar details required a bit of research. I wanted this to be a platoon leader, so I assigned him the rank of Scharfuhrer (Sergeant). This meant that he could wear the collar lace (made from ribbon), and I copied the SS runes & rank insignia from the Osprey book, "The Waffen-SS". An observation that I might have missed was that the collar badges do not have white edging for this rank. The badges are made of thin Evergreen styrene, painted with the insignias. I prefer styrene because the texture allows you to paint a fairly detailed insignia (vs. cloth).

I adapted some binoculars of unknown manufacture-- The neat thing about them is that they actually have plastic lenses. I had to saw off the eyepieces to bring them closer together: This made them a little more authentic. The eyepiece cover was constructed of blister packaging plastic superglued together, trimmed and painted. Tiny vinyl loops were superglued to the cover so that it can slide along the strap to "protect" the eyepieces.

By the way, that's Action City's Knight's Cross!

The report/map case on the left is what made me decide that this should be a platoon leader. Its construction is similar to the eyepiece cover mentioned above. However, a leatherette vinyl was glued over the plastic form. The plastic form was necessary to preserve the basic shape-- it would have been too "floppy" without the form. It also gave a stiff backing which aided in the construction of the ridged pen storage pockets. Tiny Evergreen rods were glued to the surface, and the vinyl was placed over them and glued down in the gap between the adjacent rods. The vinyl was painted with an irregularly applied thinned wash of gloss varnish and the edges and worn areas were dry brushed using a brownish mix. The stitching is simulated with an off-white paint applied with a detail brush.

The Daimon flashlight was sculpted, and it wasn't easy misspelling the name at such a tiny scale! Likewise, the MP40 magazine pouches were sculpted. I sculpted these instead of using fabric because I wanted to be able to cast them over and over. They'll come in handy later, I'm sure.

The two Cotswold components-- the belt buckle and the grenade-- were just painted. Well... I did clip the buckle off and glued it to a belt with my own latching mechanism. Otherwise, a thinned dark wash was applied to tone down the shininess. The grenade was painted more accurately with field gray and brown. The matte acrylic gives the handle a more wooden texture; palette mixing with a variety of browns simulates the variety of shades in real wood. Just fer grins, I simulated some lettering on the business end, although I don't know what it's supposed to say.

The backside is a lot of fun to deck out too. It's a shame that you put so much work into it, and no one ever sees it!

The Cotswold entrenching tool was repainted, using the technique mentioned above on the wooden handle. The other technique is to simulate wear on metal parts by dry brushing with silver paint. I used this on the entrenching tool, the mess tin and the canteen's cup. You want to put it down lightly wherever a piece might logically accumulate some wear. The entrenching tool cover is made from kidskin, and the stitching is again simulated with paint. The canteen is a stock Cotswold model covered in fabric (it's hard to tell in the picture), with some strapping added, and painted. The clips which attach to the custom sewn breadbag's 'D' rings are made of strip brass, folded over. The breadbag is based on Matthew Mehlich's (Desert Forces) superior pattern, which opens and has the middle belt strap (unlike Cotswold's version).

I must say that there are lots of humdrum details that I left out here-- this is just to give you a general idea of some of the work that's involved with customizing. It should be clear that the main difference between a mass-produced article and a customizer's is Time, and the results often show this in the attention to detail. Soooooo... support those guys who are willing to give up a chunk of their lives so that you can have stuff that you won't ever find in a store!

(Hey! Don't look at me...I'm talking about the other guys that do this! I'm too busy doing it for fun!!!)

12/29/97-- Jimbob


Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM