Blimey, another year gone!

Some year eh?

Nothing of any consequence to report for the past three months as far as hobby related activity is concerned. Even managed to miss the three shows I'd planned to attend. However, new resolve for 2012.

Barely had time to read other blogs, but it seems that the thinned AP wash and highlights is becoming increasingly popular. It's a good and effective method. Those tanks I mentioned were a complete disaster. The Ronseal wash was far too dark and they ended up with more or less a complete repaint by the time I'd finished the salvage operation. Got some excellent decals from Dom Skelton (Dom's Decals) so I'll finish'em off and post them up here. They'll not be up to the Model Dads' standard, but they don't look three bad so far. This coming year I might even get round to using that airbrush I've had in the loft for six years or so . . .

I had an attack of common sense a few weeks back and decided to rationalise (a euphemism for “get rid of”) the lead mountain. This means I'll only retain those figures I'll actually use (and paint!) and ditch the rest. Thankfully, (apart from Frank's attempts to unload his lead pile!) I've been pretty sensible for the past few years and the eBay exercise is manageable. However, the upside of all this is that I've got things in sensible perspective and, apart from the occasional ambush by those damned sculptors, I'll be well in the way to completion by this time next year (he said . . . .). One good trait I've got is that if I'm not interested in the history then it doesn't matter how nice the figures are, I won't buy them cos they're of no use to me. I can also be interested in the history, but not inclined to game it. Lucky me, but it's not prevented that bloody lead mountain!

So, after all that, of the stuff I'll never use, what's caught my eye lately?

Certainly the Empress Miniatures' Zulu War range has had my attention for a long time, but the new charging lancers are superb.

The Perry late medieval figures and equipment are inspiring, but this is definitely a case of history yes, gaming no. Same for their Napoleonics which are exceptional, but I'll not be swapping my 15's for them.

Paul Hicks' Mutton Chop Miniatures have found their way into the mountain, but I'll never use them. However, they're certainly going to be painted and I'm not parting with them because I'm really taken with them.

Likely candidates for this corruption of my principles also come from Emil Harky's Bohemian War range, Stephan Huber's ProGloria figures and the Breugelburg figure from Lead Adventure Forum. All lovely figures and screaming form me to start another project. However, they'll have to wait a couple of years (unless I weaken!). Then again, a few here and there wouldn't do any harm, would they?

I think the only likely expansion for me would be to get some of the new Blue Moon15mm Napoleonics to fill out my already too large plans for the existing armies. They look pretty good for the most part and dead easy to paint quickly. They ought to lend themselves easily to the wash and brush up technique, so they ought to land on my door step sometime this year. My only crib is the strange release schedule which had led to plenty of infantry figures, but few commands. I can have huge battalions of Russians, but no command bases. So far only the French and the Austrians could field compete units and even then not for the whole range. This will change soon, but I'm puzzled why it happened in the first place.

Anyway, there you go. More frequent entires this coming year and plenty of painting. The rest of you keep up the blogging to keep me selfishly entertained and don't be put off by the Olympics or the Jubilee!

I found a piccie you haven't seen yet and it's a photographic masterpiece, beautifully out of focus with just a hint of blur. It's one of Frank's Minden Miniatures Prussians from the 41st (Fusilier) Regt. Raised in Wurttemberg in 1716 and taken into Prussian service in 1741. Known as “Weid or 'Neuweid” during the 7 Years' War the regiment fought at Prague (1757), Kolin (1757), Kunersdorf (1759), Liegnitz (1760) and Torgau (1760).

Oh yeah, and a Happy New Year to one and all. Hopefully better than average for everyone!

Washing day!

 A recent short discussion on the Mongrel prompted me to put up some 15's that have been painted in slightly different methods (if you can paint in a method!)  to show the effect of the options for shading. Put very simply, you know the Army Painter stuff? Well for years and years I've had my own formula which is Ivory Black oil paint mixed with non yellowing gloss varnish and let down with while spirit. Mix it good and thin, splash it on the figure and it shows plenty of detail and shading. The details on the figures is pretty easy to pick out just like on a 28, but it take less time, but often aren't worth the bother. Field officers and commanders get a more refined treatment and are actually properly painted and shaded, but the rank and file get blocked in and washed. Course, this depends on the uniform colour as some need highlighting, but, generally, they're fast as lightning compared to 28's.

A lot also depends on the sculptor in question. AB are hardest to paint because of the temptation to go into fine detail on every figure, but they wash just as well as anybody else's. Probably the best examples of good figures for washing are the impending Napoleonic ranges from Blue Moon. Not as finely detailed as AB, but more deeply sculpted with exaggerated relief on cross belts and the like. I need to finish my Russian division and their early Russian types will do the job nicely - as well as being less than half the price of AB's range.

So, you can get as much detail as you feel you want/need on the figures and they look fine without having to paint in all the piping if you don't want to. My French have their lapel and turnback piping, but only the light infantry have collar piping. When I do the foreign regiments I've planned, only the ones with distinctive piping will get it. For example, the Swiss battalions will need piping because they had it in  pretty strong contrasting colours, whereas the French line don't get collars piped and some don't even get their cuffs piped. As an aside, hussars of any nationality are surprisingly easy to paint because of their frogging - an easy dry-brushing job.

Now then, I bought some Dark Tone Army Painter and it's pretty much like my own oil paint formula, except mine doesn't cost 17 quid. I've done some figures in this (but I let it down to minimise the staining on raised surfaces and improve its lining qualities) and some in my old stuff for comparison. posted below. I have to confess that  I sometimes do a little highlighting, but I tend to keep this to a minimum with units just to save time.

First off are some brigadiers who've been painted 'properly, without any washes The photos are a bit bright so you can't see all the shading properly :

These are all AB: the infantry brigadiers are just the ones from last time based.

 O.K., now some Saxon Infantry who've been essentially dry brushed over black undercoat with a few edges tidied up. They've had the 'oil paint wash' a, followed by matt varnish. They're actually some old French infantry I had knocking around, but who's to know the difference?

 Next an Austrian staff officer and an Austrian battery, both done as above, but the horse had a little dry brushing and the gunners did too here and there:

 And now, ladies and gentlemen, without the use of safety nets, some Examples from the French 1st Hussars. However, before reading on, decide which have been dome with the 'oil paint wash' and which with the thinned Army Shader Dark Tone. All the horses have been shaded to some extent beforehand, but nothing too drastic:

 The elite company troopers have the Army Shader on and the command group has the 'oil paint wash'. I can't see that there's much difference other than the elite company figures are about fifteen years younger (and a damn' site more expensive!) and so are better castings.
I've also bought some black wood stain (ebony, I think) and some mahogany wood stain and I'll do some figures in those too for comparison. When I've got the comparisons I'll bung them on here blog so people can see and decide for themselves which they prefer - unless I forget . . . .

Oh yeah, while I'm at it, I bought some Coat d'Arms supposedly 'dried earth' shade basetex stuff a couple of weeks ago and it was a disaster. Coverage is crap and it dries with a distinctly green hue. I had to over-paint the whole bloody lot - not impressed. You can get the original Basetex stuff from Trevor Holland at Coritani (nice bloke), but I think I'll stick to my tried and trusted sharp sand over PVA. It takes a little longer to finish the bases, but at least you can control the colours.

Right, let's get on with it . . .

So anyway, amid all the excitement in our 'ouse about young Henry, I've been knocking off the odd figure or two in the grand scheme to finish the 15mil Napoleonic element(s) of the lead mountain. That's the good news; the bad news is that I picked a handful of staff and field officers of various types which wasn't such a bright idea as I don't particularly like doing them. No reason why, but it's always been like that. Nevertheless I banged away a bit at a time and finished the first three last night. They're French (No? Really?), done in the usual Vallejo and whatever else I can get my hands on acrylics with a finishing coat of Revell matt varnish over some craft acrylic satin (or gloss – they look the same!). By the way, the acrylic varnishes from the various craft paint manufacturers is good stuff: non yellowing and tough (and cheap!).

Now then, Points of interest (or maybe not):
  • They're all AB and still in production.
  • The faces are simply a pale flesh washed in ink, but I had to pick out a few bits because it wasn't such a success.
  • The horses are layered acrylics, but the two chestnuts have had a coat of GW Gryphonne Sepia Wash (why do those buggers make up such stupid names?).
  • The two brigadiers (the first two figures) have (deliberately) the wrong colour cuffs and collars. That's because I like'em that way and these guys were noted for altering uniform regulations to suit themselves – see Murat, Boney's brother-in law, who was as thick as the proverbial, but who fancied himself as a bit of a Vivienne Westwood.
That's about it really. The figures will probably hang around until I get around to doing some ADCs for them. Can't do with all these rules on how many figures to a general's base etc. If you want the odd staff officer there too, bung one on; they're your leads!

I'm probably going to get started on the rules in a few weeks – when the weather closes in for the autumn. They'll be a combination of Shako, Le Feu Sacre and Valmy to Waterloo with my own pet likes included. They're for my enjoyment, so I can do, more or less, as I like. I tend towards the playability side (lazy, see?), but with a hankering for simulation, so there has always been a sometimes odd marriage of styles over the years. Things 'out' include buckets full of dice, little bits of paper all over the table, huge roster sheets, ten page QRS's and stupid symbols trailing behind each unit. I go for simple (but scenic) casualty markers with a stiff on a base numbered on each face and the occasional coloured die. Keep it simple as possible.

Now then, lately I've become even less tolerant of mithering buggers who populate various wargaming sites and whinge when an order takes more than ten minutes to arrive or suddenly become experts in sculpting etc. So, I think it's about time little people like us promoted the good operators and the talented gamers/painters/sculptors etc. who aren't this week's fad, but who keep the hobby moving without the banner headlines on PMT. I'm not going to start an 'Oh you've got a beautiful website' thing because some of the best websites aren't all that good technically, so no ego trips there. Right, first off, three of blokes who've been very helpful and are easy to deal with:

Ian Marsh- Fighting 15's

Mike Oliver – Warmodelling UK

Bob Connor – The Wargames Command Post

They're the first three that spring to mind and they're really decent blokes. More importantly (or maybe typically), they have a good sense of humour and a handle on the real world. Fast delivery and excellent communication.

Now a nod to Paul Hicks, a sculptor who has just launched his own Mutton Chop range. You all probably know his stuff, but I thought I'd give him a mention too simply because he's such a decent chap.

Finally, because he can attract more bad press than Rupert Murdoch as he's a cantankerous old bugger much of the time, a bit of recognition to Frank Hammond. Frank who? Well he was the original owner of Mongrel Miniatures and he currently lords it over Minden Miniatures (see the column to the left of this. His current Seven Years' War line is very nice and very accurate, but hard to get hold of because it's not a commercial outfit as such. Frank sells to a small client group to fund the expansion of the range which was originally designed to be only for his own use. Despite rumours, he's a decent bloke and if you buy off him you'll be pleased to know he's paranoid about turnround times on orders! No, I don't buy off him, but I've known him for ages.

Right, that's it. I'm not turning this into a 'Meeples' thingy (remember when he used to call himself 'Earthquake?) and I don't want to put Mike Siggins out of business (who's also a nice bloke), so this is an infrequent exercise.

Anyway, got to go; got to put me washing out . . . .


It's a good enough reason . . . .

Here's the reason for my silence of late:

Master Henry Patrick Rodwell. Should be making his debut for England in the Six Nations in around 2029 . . . .

Stop Gap

According to the ossie I should've been a grandad last Sunday. Needless to say, nothing happened and my daughter's now fed up waiting. I'm still on standby for the trip to the ossie and other odds and sods, so I'm just being patient and biding my time like the old trooper that I am. This is just as well as I've accumulated lots of odd jobs and finally got my son's mate to collect the stuff of his I was storing in the garage, which means I can begin the great garage blitz I've been planning for a while now. The wide open spaces the clearance will create will accommodate a (sort of) gym and an area for my wargames board (originally built about 25 years ago to replace one built about 40 years ago - we go for durability in this family). This, in turn, will give my lads a free run on home turf of a decent acreage (8'x5'), but will herald a drive to accumulate even more trees and assorted topographical features and many more leads to replace the ones I've flogged over the years to make up shortfalls in things mostly to do with bringing up kids.

Consequently, my major output for the foreseeable future will be 15mm Napoleonics, which will excite my longstanding opponent to thte point of orgasm. However, being me and knowing myself reasonably well, this onslaught will be interspersed with other stuff, so my AWI and ACW figures won't be neglected. It's a benefit of a dedicated lifestyle . . . . So, talking about old stuff (and not having the time to do all manner of exciting things and fart about with a camera) I've attached two piccies of bases from a Sassanid DBA army I used to have (about . . . er when did DBA first come out?), but which was subsequently sold off around ten years ago. They're from the original Battle Honours range when they were still owned by Tony Barton.

Time and tide . . . .

So, on the face of it, nothing to do all day but laze a round and keep busy doing nothing. This is propaganda put about by employers who want to reduce headcount. I've been so busy I wonder how I had the time to go to work!

Anyway, turns out Crouchie didn't want the mercs after all as they were for a long ago project (no reflection on my memory or the time it take me to get around to doing things!). So, his loss is my gain, so to speak. In fact I have no plans to use them for the foreseeable future, so they'll languish in a box in the loft with other stalled and almost forgotten projects. Next (in about an hour or so) I'm under instructions from Gray to get my 15 mil Napoleonics finished. It's like being at bloody work!

In the meantime, here's a selection of the mercs - not the best, just the ones least badly photographed. The 'uniforms are taken from photos on the web, along with information from a 'Mad' Mike Hoare book (bit 'Boys Own' really and no lack of ego). They're Mongrel Miniatures and, to be truthful, not very well cast. Several have deep undercuts filled and the mould's slipped in a few cases. I'd give 'em a wide berth to be honest.  :O(


More time than sense . . . .

It's raining, so the jobs I had planned are on hold and I can't be bothered to do things I had lined up for indoors. So, had another mess with some old images and Photoshop . . . .

First off some Mongrel Miniatures Arab Militias (some are mine and some belong to Crouchie):

Then some Foundry / Redoubt ACW:

And some Foundry Vikings with barn doors for shields . . .

Get back to slapping paint on some 1960's Mercs for the venerable Mr Crouch later this weekend . . . .

The Song of the Dodo

Yes, nice to see you too. Where have I been? Nowhere really, but I've been reading and ruminating and the like. Been cautious about wha...