Saturday, 31 October 2015

Nautical novelties

Something a bit different today. I decided I would spend an evening painting for myself, and thought I'd have a crack at a ship. I recently bought two packs of 1/1200 Galleons from Valiant miniatures, just to see what they were like, as I have an urge to play some games from the era of the Spanish Armada. This has been greatly helped by the release of a ruleset by Ganesha Games called Galleys and Galleons, which I've been following the development of on the Irregular Wars blog. Half a dozen ships a side and an hour to reach a conclusion sound ideal to me.
An English race built galleon. One of two in the pack.
I had a good look around for ships to use. I considered the Zvezda 1/300 ships, the Triton 1/600 ships from Skytrex, and the Tumbling Dice 1/2400. Being a bit of a stinge I didn't want to invest too much into what would be a bit of a niche, so I settled on 1/1200. It was either Navwar or Valiant, but I saw that Valiant were having a sale and my decision was made.
Nicely packaged in blisters.
The ships arrived from the States in just under a week. They were well packaged in blister packs and came with little information sheets about how to assemble, paint and rig the ships. This was good, because I really am a novice when it comes to naval matters. I still had to google a few images of the period to make sure that I had things right.
A close up revealing how steady my hand is not...
I was feeling pretty happy with where this was going until I realised I'd put the poop deck (I think that is what it is called) on upside down... given that I'd just finished painting all the little details I really couldn't face pulling it apart and redoing it, so I've made sure the other English galleon is correct and when I build the Spanish ones I'll know what I'm about.
'And in a couple of hundred years you'll be as big as me...'
The only other 1/1200 ship that I've ever put together is a Navwar Napoleonic battleship. I took the time to do rigging with thread , and would have done the same with the galleon, only I wimped out because it is so small.I put them next to each other and was blown away by the disparity in size.

I thought I'd make some little paper flags for the top of the masts, once again an exercise in teeny-tinyness, but I feel it needs a little bit more. I haven't thought of a name for her yet. I wasn't planning on using any historical vessels - just my own imagi-fleet. Feel free to come up with suggestions.

The painting tray contains my current commission - Black Tree British WWII infantry for Craig and some figures I'm painting for Tim from Heropress. It's also got some Lancashire WWI Bedouin on camels and the other English galleon. Hopefully I'll have these all finished by the end of next week.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

World War One Wednesday #6

This week, W B Wollen's painting of the defeat of the Prussian Guard at Ypres.
This painting featured on the cover of the issue of Purnell's History of the 20th Century that featured the early battles of WWI. Heavily romanticised, it nevertheless remains the quintessential image of the early war to me.


Who's Who Wednesday #4

Another great '80s team from the imagination of Mike Barr is the Masters of Disaster.
Rather than theming a team around firecrackers and other conservative American values like he did with Force of July, this time the team is based around natural disasters. This is a much better option, and although he missed out on being able to give them a punny name, the rhyming almost makes up for it. My favourite member of the team has to be New Wave, because you can't get any more '80s than that.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

NZ Mounted Rifles in Palestine

Allan from Lancashire Games sent me a couple of figures of his new 15/18mm range to paint up, this being the Middle East in World War One. I have to say that I'm impressed with the sculpts, especially this one - a horse holder trying hard to keep his gee gees in line.

This vignette is actually the Australian Light Horse range, but I cut off the plume to make this guy a member of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade that fought in Palestine alongside them.

On the subject of ANZAC, I don't know if anyone has noticed, but of three sporting world cups this year - cricket, netball and rugby, the finals have been contested between the ANZAC partners. Australia have been triumphant in two of these with the result of the third this coming weekend - hopefully for NZ it is third time lucky. Is it a coincidence that these sporting achievements have been in the year of the hundredth anniversary of Gallipoli - an event that both countries see as fundamental to their national identity?


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Command for Hastings' Regiment

These are the last few figures that I had to paint for this round of Geoff's figures. Command for Hastings' Regiment.

The button colour was silver/pewter, so I figured lace would be white for most of those that had it, but Officers bought their own tailored clothes, so they would have had gold lace I think. For the same reason the officers have a richer red coat than the rank and file. Some of the officers have buff leather gloves and some have crimson gloves. The drummers probably had reversed coat colours, but I had painted them before I thought about it. Geoff is OK with the red coats, so that is all that matters.
OK, mission accomplished - time for bed.


WWI Wednesday #5

Some British propaganda this time:
By and large the women of both sides were not portrayed in negative ways - unlike the men who were always fair game. This poster has a double whammy effect of portraying a German nurse - a woman dedicated to caring for the wounded - as cruel and inhumane. The dehumanisation of the enemy became more and more vicious as time went on and people began to ask what they were fighting for and whether it was worth the suffering. The hate machine made sure that people were in no doubt that civilised life as they knew it was at stake. Some people still believe this about the need to defeat Germany. Needless to say, it is not a position that I share.


Who's Who Wednesday #3

Vartox - elder sibling of Botox - is not the worst name I've ever heard, but just look at that get-up! At what stage of the 80s was wearing undies and thigh high boots acceptable for men? Just call him Super Mardi Gras Guy and let him be himself.
More DC goodness next week.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Boba Fett and the wolves

That would be a freakin' awesome name for a band if it wasn't for the fact that Disney would sue my ass off.
Anyway, it refers to the latest painting to roll off the tray. A Knight Models Boba Fett for myself and four Otherworld wolves for Geoff.
The meanest bounty hunter in the galaxy and coolest Star Wars character.
He fits really well with the plastic Wizkids Star wars miniatures
 I painted Boba with a combination of washes and drybrushing - a departure from my normal technique, but it came out OK I think.
'Let's run with the dogs tonight...' with apologies to the Pet Shop Boys
These Otherworld wolves are beautiful models, and I hope I didn't mangle them too much. Once again they are wash and drybrush work. I hope Geoff likes them.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Hastings regiment

These boys seem to have taken a lot longer to paint than I thought they would - and they still aren't finished. This is the rank and file for Hastings Regiment of the English army.

A search online revealed that these guys didn't have any hat lace, but did have yellow hat bands. The picture also had them with yellow bows on their shoes, but I couldn't bring myself to do that to them.
I still have 9 figures of this regiment left, mostly command. These are sitting on the painting table now and should be done by the end of the week.


Saturday, 17 October 2015

Commands and Colours board WIP #2

An hour in the shed this morning and I practiced my geometry, cutting out hexagons from cork tiles to make hills for my homemade commands and colours board.
29 hill tiles ready to be flocked.
I again used the plastic hexes that came with the Samurai Battles game to trace around. There are going to be cracks between the hexes in places, but generally the result is fairly pleasing. Some of the cork tiles will need to be trimmed off as they have extraneous bits poking into each other. In case you were wondering the cork tiles were painted grey for a previous unfinished plan - it isn't their natural colour.

You can see there are a few crevasses in the hills, but the units will be a perfect fit.
Now in my previous post only a c couple of days ago I had said that I was going to stick to using the blocks for the Napoleonic and Ancients versions of C & C. Well, two days is a long time and I've decided that 15mm minis is a completely viable option. I plan to base the figures singly on 1 x 1cm (1 x 2cm for cavalry). Artillery will have a gun and 1 crew figure substituting for each block. I have pretty much all of the infantry I need for the French and Russians, I just need a few more cavalry and artillery. I'm now planning to buy enough figures for the Brits as well as Romans and Carthaginians for the Punic Wars a bit later on. More money for Allan at Lancashire Games!

Built up area
For town hexes I'm planning to just plonk down these Dutch buildings I got in Amsterdam a long time ago. They may not look very Russian or Spanish, but they have a perfect footprint to allow a unit to fit alongside them. I will look to make some buildings that fit at some future point.

you may also notice the felt in use for the river in the background, as opposed to my prettier ones made from plasticard. The reason is purely practical. Felt doesn't slip on the grass mat.

OK, time to go and do something useful around the house.


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Taking stock

In July I did a mid-year update of where my wargaming plans were at and where they were going. It is really interesting what has happened in the short space of time since then. I've sold some stuff. Quite a bit of stuff actually, including all of the Great Northern War pocket project that I not only painted in record time but played out a whole campaign with. So what does that leave in my cabinets, awaiting their day under the paintbrush?
Will I fall asleep when I fight the Russians, too?
My 15mm One Hour Wargames Pocket Projects include:
French and Russians for the Napoleonic Wars
Union and Confederate troops for the American Civil War
Paraguayans and Brazilians for the War of the Triple Alliance
French and Prussians for 1870.
1/3000 WW1 Naval British and German
Look at these guys wasting time - I plan to get the battle finished in one hour.
My 15mm 1914 armies include German, French, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, British and a few Belgians.
Lemberg - I find WWI Eastern Front battles fascinating
In the cabinet across the way I have the beginnings of German and Soviet WWII armies for use with Flames of War. These are coming from Craig - I paint his figures and he gives me painted figures in return - it couldn't be more perfect!

In 28mm I have :
the Star Wars collections.
Lord of the Rings
Batman miniatures game.

This is rounded off with X-Wing.

Alongside this I'm also planning to play a bit of Command and Colours - I have the Ancients, Samurai and Napoleonic versions, and I'd like to add the Great War to that at some point too. The Samurai game is the only one I intend to paint miniatures for, the other two I'll keep as board games.
Punic Wars and Peninsular War - two of my all time favourite historical campaigns.
For the future, I'm pretty excited about the Team Yankee game that Battlefront is looking to put out, and I'd like to do a 15mm Imperial Rome pocket project.

The next post should hopefully be some painted figures although it feels like I still have ages to go with this commission. A solid couple of hours tomorrow and Saturday should do it though.


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

World War One Wednesday

I haven't done one of these in a while, but I've just finished a couple of books on posters and cartoons of the First World War, so I'm going to revive World War One Wednesday with some of my favourite images. I find the art of this period very evocative. I find it helps define the way I perceive the war, especially as a contrast to the black and white photographs and film which can make the era seem distant and alien. The aesthetic of the poster and cartoon art brings me closer to the time than any of those other images can.
'Twice I have held and won on the Marne.'
A French propaganda poster from 1918 encouraging the French population not to give up. Not long after this was created the French won the war (with a bit of help from their friends).


Who's Who Wednesday

I enjoy a pun as much as any other nerd, but this one is awful. The Force of July doesn't stop with a terrible team name, though - no, there is much more to inspire the cringe factor in the modern reader. The characters have abysmal names and terrible backstories. Take for instance, Sparkler, a 'young boy whose powers make him a human fireworks display.' Or Lady Liberty 'a woman presumed to be of French origin' of course, despite this being a top secret US government operation. How about Silent Majority - a man who doesn't talk much and can produce duplicates of himself. It is like someone sat down and decided they needed a team that represented conservative American values, rattled off some words associated with Stars and Stripes patriotism and then made characters that would fit the names. In fact I'm pretty sure that is exactly what their creator, Mike Barr, did. Pretty hokey for the 1980s, but enough to make me choke on my tea in 2015.
'You'll never take our guns...'
More cringe-worthy characters to come next Wednesday.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Commands and Colours board

I've had the Zvezda Samurai Battles box with the Commands and Colours rules and Napoleonic Commands and Colours sitting around for a few months now. A couple of nights ago I finally got around to reading the rules properly, and I am impressed, even without having played a game. I wasn't too impressed with the Zvezda Samurai figures - I found them brittle and painful to assemble, so I had always planed to use 15mm figures. In order to track casualties, rather than removing individual figures I decided that I would use mini-dice like I do with my One Hour Wargames rules. Finally, I decided that I'd put together my own board to play on. I used the mountain tiles from the Samurai set to trace around and drew up hexes on an old grass mat that isn't really used any more. The result was better than I thought it would be.
The board set up for the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima.
A closer look. Ignore the two bare MDF bases on the top left  - I was measuring what would fit well in the hexes.
I had considered basing all of the figures individually on 15mm squares, but dismissed it as a bit fiddly. It would also mean rebasing all of these figures, which was not a pleasant prospect.I'd also have to order a few more archers and arquebuses. I plan on painting the back edge of the bases with the dice colour that matches them.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Who's Who Wednesday

I'm busy painting Geoff's figures at the moment, which means nothing to blog about in the miniatures line for a while. So I'll do one of those rare comics posts. In fact, I'm thinking about making this a regular feature, if I can manage to sustain it past two posts.
I recently acquired the complete DC Who's Who from the 1980s. This was an attempt to do for DC what Marvel was doing with the Handbook to the Marvel Universe, which I still have as I collected it at the time (although Dan was in possession of it for a long time). Looking back through the pages, there are a number of characters that just make me giggle. Now I have to admit that I didn't really read DC comics in the 1980s - Justice League International for a short period - so apologies if I knock any memories that are near or dear to you, but looking back from 2015 I just can't believe that some of these guys were ever created.
Number One on the hit-list is this guy - Grimbor!
'And the safe word is...'
Occupation: Chainsman. Really? Forget 50 Shades of Grey - apparently you just need to read Superboy #221. And we all thought Wonder Woman's magic lasso was riding close to the edge.
Who will it be next time? I have my eye on a team entry that just makes me cringe...


Monday, 5 October 2015

Batman on a budget - WIP

I still haven't played a game of it yet, but the forces are aligning for the Batman Miniatures Game. I've shown off the Joker and a couple of his goons here and here, but Heroclix has a very limited amount of the thugs which the Batman game needs. I could have bought some from Knight Miniatures, but that would defeat my attempt to do Batman on a budget. What I needed was a cheap source of goons. And then it dawned on me. Why not use the Wargames Factory Apocalypse survivors? One box and I  have all the goons I need for the Joker, Two-Face and Penguin.
First up, my Batman team. The Bat himself, the Huntress and Batgirl. Not pictured is Robin.
The Wargames Factory figures were good - nice and customisable, but a little on the short side. However, heroclix themselves are notorious for the variable size of the minis. My Two-Face towers over them, but Catwoman and Batman himself fit right in.
The rest of the Joker gang
Two-Face and his gang - you can really see the size difference here.
Poison Ivy and three plant slaves. Some aquarium plants with green stuff 'heads'. 
Two Face himself is much bigger than any of the other Heroclix, and a quick look at the DC Who's Who says that he should only be 6'. The Joker is 6'5" and Batman is 6'2" so the fact that the figure towers over them means that he is totally out of scale, so it will be off to Toad and Troll to find a smaller version. The figure from the Unleashed set is an alternative, so we will see if he fits.
Poison Ivy is also a little on the large side - she is meant to be 5'2" but is about the same height as the Joker. There is an alternative version in the 'Batman' series I can try.
I'll make sure to keep posting as the project continues.


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Rest of the Holiday

The visit to Te Porere was actually on the way home from a week in the snow. This was my wife's birthday present, and it was the first time the kids had been in snow in their lives. It was also my first time in New Zealand snow - I had previously only experienced snow in Europe. We stayed in Ohakune which is very close to the Turoa ski field on Mt Ruapehu - a volcano next to Mt Ngaruhoe, better known as Mt Doom from the lord of the Rings films.

While there we were only 20 minutes from the Waiouru army museum, and we managed a visit there on Wednesday morning.
Liv on top of the Centurion tank outside the army museum
The gremlins and their cousins climbing all over a Scorpion tank.
No pictures from inside the museum. there had been a few changes since I was last there 9 years ago but my eldest daughter was freaked out by the wax works and the dark Western Front exhibit. She is such a wuss. The other two charged through doing their treasure hunt so didn't spend very long looking at anything.
On the way back from Waiouru we stopped at the Tangiwai memorial. This was a train crash on Christmas Eve 1953 caused by a lahar wiping out a rail bridge.151 out of 285 passengers died.
The bridge as it is today.
The memorial
My poor kids. This is what happens when your father is a historian - no vacation is complete without some history thrown in.
Next we went to Whakapapa ski field to do the sightseeing chairlift ride. There was an option to do this at Turoa, but the chairlift for this particular activity was broken. Never mind - the Whakapapa views were spectacular.
Your author, somewhere up a volcano - Mt Doom in the background.
Views down...
...and views up
I don't ski, so while my wife went up the mountain, the kids and I did some tobogganing. It was all great fun, except I had what I thought was a migraine the whole time. I went to the quack yesterday after we got back and discovered I have a sinus infection. This morning I awoke without nausea for the first time in a week! Now I can get back to the brushes.

This morning I watched England defeated by Australia in their Rugby World Cup match. They now have no way of making the finals stage, and are the first ever tournament hosts not to make it out of their pool. Despite my support for the Welsh, who are definitely through to the quarter-finals as a result of this morning's result, I feel a bit sad for the English. I think the tournament will lose something for not having them in it for the last few weeks.