Thursday, November 27, 2014

Clearing the Painting Desk

 Languishing upon my paintuing desk for almost the entirety of the year have been these half-dozen Italian vehicles.
 Trucks are by Minimi.
 Tanks are Italeri quick-builds. They've obviously had a hard life. I should do the right thing by the crews and put some sandbags on the glacis.
The L3/33 tankettes are by S-Model/Sextant.Lovely little kits and much less fiddly than the newer releases by this manufacturer.

I have one more truck waiting for me, then we're done with them for now. The top highlight is GW Bleached Bone which looks rather good over the army Painter Desert Sand which I damp-brushed up with a 50:50 mix of that and GW White. The chipping is almost the last of my long-lived pot of GW Catachan Green. The lining in is a suitable dark brown with a teeny drop of black in it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The War to End All Bores


I've been re-reading Packenham (among others) on the Boer War these past couple of weeks.

I think I have my head around the main features of the early war.

* The relative deadliness of the beaten zone - both in it's depth and in the volume of fire that could be laid down. In my mind, getting killed in a battle by missile fire is more the outcome of a lethal accident pretty much throughout history, but one that becomes more and more likely as we get closer to our own - doubtless charming - modern age.
* The difficulty that may be encountered in locating an enemy who is well concealed both by design and by the use of smokeless powder. We begin to see the emergence of the 'empty battlefield'. The relative ineffectiveness of artillery due to this issue.
*Entrenchment. Let me simply cite Magersfontein for the correct use of this expedient and Spion Kop for it's incorrect application.
*Communication was a liberating and a limiting factor I feel. Easy to disrupt and hard to maintain, the telegraph allowed improved comunication at the strategic level, but at the operational level, I believe it encouraged generals to believe they could command from the rear.
*Infantry tactics. It took more than a few disasters, and I cite again the battle of Magersfontein and the experience of the Highland Brigade who got themselves trapped 400m before the Boer lines in quarter column and were shot to pieces as they tried to deploy, before the British started to adopt open order and fire-and-movement tactics.
*Poor tactical reconaissance. Would the Highland Brigade have had it's terrible experience otherwise? Would Hart have stuck his head in the noose if he's known the trap he was walking into at Colenso? Indeed, would Long have ridden his guns into rifle range of the Boers that same fatal day? Tactical reconaissance was lacking at this time.

More as it gells. Any input would be more than welcome.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


...or some Valiant German paratroopers.

For my nephew, Max. Max, they're done! Well, almost. I just noticed a water bottle or two that I missed.

We have an arrangement where he builds them and I paint them.

Nice figures, and easy enough to paint although I would not like to do the assembly myself.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Resuming Normal Services

Lo, and I present for your delectation a unit of Royalist horse in the form of a bunch of one-piece ECW Colonels.

Oh how they languished on my painting desk as I writhed in the grip of my various painting demons. Battles completed and Teen Turtles out of my system (for now) I can turn my attention to the next part-painted unit that similarly pine for the touch of my synthetic bristles.


I note in passing today the centenary of the sea-fight between HMAS Sydney and SMS Emden at the Cocos Islands. In this unequal struggle four Australian sailors were killed and another sixteen were wounded. One hundred and thirty-four German sailors were killed and sixty-nine wounded. One hundred and fifty-seven come through the action unharmed.

I'll not go into the remarkable cruise of this small German cruiser nor dwell on the inevitable end of her career. Needless to say the cruise of the Emden and the astonishing escape of her landing party are pretty well my favourite sea-story.

I'll let Mike Carleton, journalist and broadcaster finish with a small vignette from his "First Victory" where he quotes the letter of an unknown German sailor who had been badly lacerated by two pieces of shrapnel, one of which had torn a hole in his back:

"We were rowed along to the Sydney one by one, put into a crane and hoisted on board. I myself was put into the ward room, which had been transformed into a hospital. Here too were berthed the wounded of the Sydney. we were at once properly bandaged and well treated as far as circumstances would allow... Next to me lay a sailor of the Sydney. He had his right foot blown away. He bent himself toward me and gave me his hand."

The Sydney sailor was Rich Horne. The two men lay there, side by side, holding hands in silent affirmation of their humanity.
Lest we forget.

Monday, November 03, 2014

SMS Emden

With the 100th anniversary of the fight between SMS Emden and HMAS Sydney at the Cocos-Keeling Islands on the 9th of November fast approaching, I've failed to resist temptation once again and bought the 1:350 Revell twin boxing of the Emden and the Dresden, and at quite a good price, I think.

Both ships are of pretty much the same design, the main difference between the two being the number and arrangement of the screws which Revell have catered for with alternate rear-lower hull pieces.

I note with some interest a good number of after market bits for these kits includeing self-adhesive wood laminate for the decks and frets of photo-etch for the super detailers.

I'm looking forward to these.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

TMNT Game... just thinking aloud

Tank Girl April O'Neill
A fairly cheap TMNT game is currently available: TMNT Clash Alley

According to Boardgame Geek:

Splinter has sent Leo, Donnie, Raph and Mikey on important missions: grab the Mutagen, find April, retrieve the AI chip... and pick up a pizza!
On the way, the Turtles team up to battle Kraang, powerful Mutants, and the insidious Shredder in a maze-like warehouse!
-Object: Be the first Turtle to complete your mission by collecting your Mission Tile and returning to your corner home space.
-Game features:
-Three ways to move! RUN through the warehouse, CLIMB onto stacks of boxes, and LEAP onto enemies!
-Multi-level board!
-Customize the terrain by stacking boxes differently every game!
-Play your Action cards strategically!
-Before beginning the game players must place all the platforms on the board, as well as the mission as villain tokens as shown on the front cover of the rule book.
Each player selects his/her Turtle and receives a mission.
Players begin the game with a mission card and two random special action cards.
Each player begins the game in their turtles designated corner of the board. In turn each player rolls dice to move, leap or climb as you navigate through enemies and obstacles in search of your objective.
Players may attack enemies on the board and can even team up to defeat enemies. Defeating enemies allows players to collect additional action cards. Once they have found their mission tile, players must play a "Go for mission" card to collect their mission tile. The first Turtle to find their mission and escape back to their corner wins!
Sounds like a pretty good basis for a simple, self-contained game.

As it is, the game has great production values for its price. In the end its not a great game for a serious gamer, but it does have some great 3D terrain that is very portable and usable for any miniature game.

I'd probably upgrade it somewhat for my own purposes and even integrate it with my Space Hulk tiles.If that fails to float your boat, there are plenty of other game tiles out there online.

Another idea might be to make up a gridded "battle mat", set the 3D elements up on it and off you go.

You could even pack the whole thing away in a Pizza box.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 Master Splinter. Let us simply say that this is a miniature with very little detail! Still, a quite easy figure to paint. I thought the face turned out quite well.
 Shredder and his Foot Clan ninjas. Shredder was also an easy figure to paint with some pretty fair detail on his bladed accessories in particular. The Foot Clan were challenging insofar as their limbs really cried out for some painted-in detailing, although their clothes and bug eyes were quite fun.
I found the comic book at my local library yesterday and thought the orange made for a good contrast, especially on the green of the Turtles.

Next time, April O'Neill. I'm trying hard to resist painting her up as a kind of Tank Girl analogue.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Foot Clan

Thats the first of the evil henchmen. Foot Clan Ninjas. Equally capable of doubling up as Foot-bots once the Kraang tech transfer gets going.

I must start thinking about that game-in-a-box idea.

I wonder if my Space-Hulk floor tiles might be useful.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


 I've been sliding into a bit of a painting slump recently, so I decided to paint something fun.
 I bought these figures about six months ago after reading a fun blog entry on painting them.
 They are cheap, mass market plastic figures that come with a "My Busy Books" book/game thing for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
 I got a couple of the books for about twenty dollars. Each has about a dozen figures in them. The Turtles are the best detailed - only fair! they are the heroes, after all.
I've a Master Splinter and a quartet of evil Foot Clan Ninjas on the blocks with Shredder and April O'Neill coming up behind them. The trick with painting these is to paint the detail on what are fairly simple figures. The next trick will be to base them up on some suitable 30mm bases. I'm thinking of some of those resin, textured types. There are plenty of "streetscape" or cobbled ones for a sewer effect.

Now I just need to come up with a game-in-a-box for them. probably something invoving pizza or mutagen.

And, yes, I am a fan going back to the olf 1987 cartoon series and , no, I have no intention of seeing the movie whatsoever!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Clearing the Desk

I have I think a working surface that is about 120cm by 60cm.

It is completely covered in various bits in odd stages of completion.

I have decided it's time for a bit of a focus on cleaning things up.

Nothing new until the back of this is broken.

So, to begin, I painted these:

A pair of Spencer Smith plastic artillery pieces to add to my Imperials.
 I played about with a couple of different approaches, but in the end, the white undercoat seemed best with the yellow carriages. And I was pleased with the "naive" style of the nails or rivets or whatever they are called.
I am very happy with how the gun barrels came out.

Next I'll get cracking on my ECW cavalry. I have eighteen that are about 95% done. Shall we say about two hours' work?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Christmas in Safi?

LCVP and crew
 That's the plan, at least.
LCVP and LCM III - both by Frontline
These landing craft are on the one hand cheap, and on the other a bit rough and require a bit of sanding and filling to bring them up to a decent standard before painting them. Recommended on the whole.
 Gunners. More are in preparation; I am waiting on more Raventhorpe heads to arrive here.
 About two-thirds of a battalion of Tirailleurs du Maroc. I need another ten and the batallion staff. Getting there quite quickly. The twenty figures here took only a week to plough through.
 The odd red chechiy'ya is left uncovered for effect. Very dashing!
 And of course, Pook's carbineers. I will be starting to prep up another ten light cavalry as my next batch for painting.

Friday, September 05, 2014


No pics yet, but the following WiPs are that close to being done.

* For the Safi/Torch project, the "Bernacole" and a handful of crewmen. Does anyone make 20mm US sailors in dixie-cup hats? I needs a few. The superstructure on the Bernacole needs doing and am waiting for a few bits to make the forward gun platform to arrive.
* Ditto for the Safi project, some Vichy artillerymen and the first of my Moroccan Tirailleurs.
*Another nine ECW Cavalry. Carabiniers, or light cavalry, I suppose. Butt of weapon braced on the thigh. Fairly quiet horses, which is a relief. They've been a while in the painting, but came together in a rush at the end as the lining-in was done. Really just need gluing to their horses to be done.

On the Hinchcliffe ECW cavalry, I am rapidly becoming a Gilder fan-boy. So much is revealed as you go on painting the castings; yet the "so much" is just enough. One might say so much and no more. Or even  - an elegant sufficiency. The castings are perfect and respond so well to acrylic washes on a white undercoat.
 I like them more and more.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Isi Godolo and Pals

Just a little eBay find
Cheap too, just like me.

I recall reading that numbers of Zulu girls would follow the army out for a day or two providing some logistical support until their food ran out then they'd make for the old home kraal.

Willie figures, of course, the breasts are unmistakeable.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

So, what did you do this week..?

Who're we fighting this week? Italians? Germans? English? les Americaines?
 I painted a small pile of Raventhorpe early war French, this week as I waited on my next batch of Hinchcliffe ECW cavalry to arrive in the post. I'm looking to put together a few units for the old Rapid Fire! "Safi" scenario eventually.

This is not a big job, as the scenario pits a couple of battalions of French with a company of light tanks, a battery and a little air support against an American landing force with a few light tanks, a large battalion of infantry, a couple of jeeps and lots of heavy naval bombardment. Say 120-140 figures in all.

RF! is 20 years old this year and what better way to celebrate?
Painting: It's a wash of the basic colours, a thinner wash of very greatly thinned Army-Painter dark-shade and a bit of dark green lining, applied quite selectively. All on a white undercoat.
 As you can see, the Raventhorpes are an older style of figure, but certainly none the worse for it.
That's a HaT Renault FT-17. Excellent kits, great value for money. Thinking of their 75s for the artillery and hang the inaccuracy of spoked over pneumatic wheels.
 I've painted them using a wash-and-line technique, doubtless familiar to the Gilder fans out there. Personally speaking, I've always liked those figures Richard Marsh painted for the original RF! book and they've always been an inspiration.
Probably a white cover on the kepi would be more accurate, but where's the fun in that?
 The Laffly-White armoured car was knocked together in about two hours' worth of painting session time. this is a great product from the Ready-to-Roll range of vehicles. I regularly comb through this particular catalogue. You never know. I'm eyeing off their French hal-track trucks, although Frontline Wargamings are cheaper and also look the business. As do their Renault R-35s...
MG is pale grey with a black wash on top of that. I'll rub a bit of graphite on for a bit of a sheen.
One of the best things about the Raventhorpe range are the multiple head options. Expect to see these figures again some time with fezzes on as Moroccan Tirailleurs.

SAE Horsemen

I recently won an eBay auction a week or two back, the fruits of which arrived yesterday.

If I am not mistaken, they are sculpted by the incomparable Holger Ericsson. The thickness of the bases suggests SAE to me, as do the paint-jobs.

The subject matter is another thing altogether.

Up until now, I had thought SAE had produced ACW, AWI and WW2 toy soldiers only. These look to me very much like FPW Prussian dragoons. Equally interestingly, the mounted figure in dark blue seems to be riding a limber horse and quite frankly, his helmet speaks to me of the British army of the last quarter of the 19th Century.

Was there an SAE Franco-Prussian War Range at some time? One day will I turn up a forgotten SAE gun and team?

Fascinating prospects.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Ye Horse

 Stand fast! They're more scared of your pikes than you are of them! In hommage to Mr Gilder, I'm preparing my own King's Lifeguard of Horse.
 The Cuirassiers thunder pasw, trailed by their lesser bretheren.
 Colonel Pook? perhaps. He's a Hinchcliffe one-piece casting. I rather like one-piece cavalry. Quite easy to deal with. Now I think of it, I really ought to do a Peter Young tribute figure. Is that an assasin levelling his piece at the Colonel?
The horde. 29 figures. MAny pin-swords and minor bits of animation in the form of head-twists and arm-bends. This is a fairly ticklish business with the hard white metal used in the casting, but I am relieved to report that I've not yet had any breakages. I have another few in the stash which I'll get sorted out before I make another order to Hinds'.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pook Manor IV

 Not quite finished yet, but getting there. Still chimney-pots to add and some merciful outbreaks of ivy to hide my sloppy joints.
 The gable is a bit too high for the roof and might benefit from being about 3mm lower!
 Pooks Lifeguard of Horse are mustering in the gardens. Still one or two to paint up.
The thatch was made from strips of towelling stiffened up with PVA after being fixed to the roof. It was then painted with spray-paints. The bone coloured paint is - you guessed it - GW Bleached Bone and the red brick was mixed up from a cheap students' set of gouache paints I bought for $6.

I might take some more photos in natural light. the flash is rather unkind.

I want to mount the whole thing on some 5mm MDF I have and then model a little walling, a few trees and perhaps some ornamental hedging from pot-scourer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pook Manor III

 Pook manor, now with all the mullions in, card brickwork added and basic assembly done. At last!
The roof formers are in and a more fiddly bit of cutting out I have never done. Nonetheless, they are there and ready for thecking.

A few minor details remain for the building - a front-dor for one and some decorative moulding from string for another. Then i can go on and plaster the whole thing and undercoat it. thatnis of course when the real fun will begin - painting it. I am planning on doing the main work with gouache washes and then finishing it off with a little light spray painting.

Then I can think about basing it and incorporating a small hedged folly of some sort.

Now, about those rules...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pook Manor II

 Well, as you can see I've spent some time cutting out and framing the windows on Pook Manor.
Millions of mullions. I have one more wall of eight windows to do then I'll put together a chimney stack and glue some sort of diamond mesh to the back of the windows to finish them. Then comes the initial assembly of the walls and the first tentative stabs at the surprisingly complicated geometry of the roof.

I intend to apply some brickwork here and there from paper, wash the entire thing over with some very runny plaster filler, undercoat and then apply my main colours. I am intending to use gouache, just to mix things up a bit.

Roofing will be from wither plumbers' felt a la Weekly or teddy bear fur if this proves to be impractical.

More cavalry have arrived in the mail, so progress will slow as I work on them in parallel.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pook Manor

Whilst waiting for more miniatures to arrive, and tiring a little of painting horses after 22 of the foolish creatures, I've decided to build some terrain.

I'd alweays wanted to have a go at the ECW fortified manor Ian Weekly showcased in Mililtary Modeling way back in December 1984 and so, 30 years later it's about time I had a go at a rather telescoped version.
 Just the foamcore shell has been cut out and blu-tacked in place to check the proportions are about OK. I think they are.
The building is about 12" wide at it's greatest measurement whilst the shorter wing is 7".

Monday, July 07, 2014

Naseby Order of Battle - Royalist

I have spent the past couple of weeks banging my head against a wall rather over a Royalist order of Battle for Naseby.

The long and the short of it is that none of the sources I have looked at so far really agree. There are some units whose strength and location on the battlefield are known - like Rupert and Maurice's Lifeguards, or the King's Lifeguard of Foot. So far however, I am coming up with strengths which vary greatly. from 3300 to 5000 foot on the one hand and 4100 as many as 5000 horse.

Currently I am strongly tempted to split the difference at the lower end and guesstimate 3500 foot and 4500 horse. Note that this is a ratio of 7:9.

I am perfectly happy to be corrected in any of this; my reading has not been comprehensive.

Translating this to the table, and keeping in mind that I think I'd like to keep this within a 4' frontage so as to allow me to represent the Sulby hedges on the Royalist Right, I'm thinking of a maximum army size for the Royalists something like 164 foot and about 200 horse. Not perfectly at that ratio, but not too far out.

I'd break the foot down into four, thirty-two* figure units and one forty figure unit. Two of the thirty-two figure units would each form the first and second lines, whilst the forty figure unit would form the reserve.

The Cavalry I would like to see in two lines, each of five units of eight figures per wing. Of the remaining forty figures, twenty-four would be stationed behind the Second infantry line, whilst the remaining two units would be with the reserve.

This is not perfect, and again, I am more than willing to be debated on this deployment. Certainly I would like to have less cavalry!

*16 muskets and 16 pike

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Pooks' Horse

The Lord of Hosts!
 Sir Samuel Pooks' Regiment of Horse. Pin-swords, bravely aloft.
All are standard Hinchcliffe castings, which range is fortuitiously being recast at this time. Good show, Mr Hinds. The only changes I made were to replace the cast swords with beheaded pins and a little animation of the castings with a pair of pliers whose jaws I padded up beforehand so as not to mark the castings.

For the most part I painted these with acrylic washes over the best white undercoat I could get onto the figures. A little lining in was done, just to tidy the shapes up. The metals were 1:1 black and GW mithril silver that I later gave a quick flick with a dry-brusk of plain mithril silver to catch the edges on their pots.

I so had to restrain myself from adding the little red hoops on the arms of the figures. Maybe another regiment.

I'm still looking for a design to paint onto Pook's trumpeter, and there are a few spots where handling has rubbed away the paint. The washes are really quite delicate like that. I found I needed to do an intermediate coat of varnich to protect the figures as I finished up the painting!