Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Claymore 2018

Right, I know this is remarkably late and despite it already being mid-September by the time I'm getting round to writing this, it has to be said that the first week in August wouldn't be the first week in August within a visit to Scotland's premier wargame show, Claymore.
East Neuk Irregulars - Anglo-Iraq War 1941
Every year I marvel at long we've been coming to Claymore (since 1979 I think: estimates vary) and also how fashions and interests change.  For example this year there were no Very British Civil War (VBCW) games on at all, but then perhaps as something similarly pointless and costly is playing out inexorably in British politics at the moment, there's a reason for this.

Anyway, to the games and the ones that caught me eye (and/or could photograph before my phone filled up).  First up is Gourock Wargames Association and their D-Day Orne River Bridge game.
Getting the Orne just looking at this frankly.
I'm always impressed when a terrain piece is scratch-built and/or purchased that is so recognisable that it can only be used for one scenario.  That's dedication.  Then there was the Carry On Up the Khyber participation game (Leuchars Veterans) that looked quite good.
Just waiting for the Khazi of Kalabar to arrive.
One of my favourite Carry On films that, particularly the dinner party scene.  Also Terry Scott (Sgt MacNutt) asking Charles Hawtree (Pvt Widdle) what he was doing painting a red line across the compound "That's t thin red line - they'll never get past this!" "Widdle, if you don't get out of here, I'll paint a thin red line across your thick white backside!"  Ah classic stuff.

Another interesting one was the Iron Brigade's Napoleonic game, supposed to be a Seven Years War battle (Zorndorf?  I didn't write it down) so with Russians fighting Prussians.  I was confused by that at first.
Prussians v Russians
Finally in the 'atrium', there was an interesting one put on by Supreme Littleness Designs / University of Edinburgh.  This was a siege of Byblos crusader castle in Lebanon, which was billed as "wargame terrain and scenarios design meets academic research".
Byblos Castle
The idea was that this would be a fusion of game design, which is of course a 'big thing' at the moment, and no doubt subject to academic study itself, and the findings of medieval historians, one of whom (from Edinburgh University) was there to talk to (very interesting guy).  I was particularly interested because I had actually been to Byblos in 2001 so I knew what he was talking about.  Further information on the project can be found here.

Moving on to the main hall, I was impressed with East Neuk Irregulars' (they're from Fife) Anglo-Iraq War 1941.  I like the silver biplanes from that period especially.
Staying in the main hall, the prize for the longest game (dimensionally) went to Chris & Pat Brown / Aberdeen Wargames Club with their Road to the Reich game.  I couldn't quite get it all into one shot.
I'm tired just looking at that
Other games included 'T in the Park' (Berlin 1945) by Kirrimuir Wargames Club that was getting an official prize of some sort at one point (best game?).
Russian tourists invade Berlin
That Reichstag got a fair old battering before and after the war didn't it.  Finally, there was the Suez 1956 game put on by the very friendly Gottenburg Gamers.
East of ... where was it again?
It was a participation game but we just chatted to one of the gamers (I forgot his name).  What was sorted out was that they weren't actually from Gottenburg or indeed Swedish, but were actually from East Lothian (near Edinburgh) and based in a pub called The Prestoungrange Gottenburg.  I think some of them were ex-SESWC.

So overall, another good year and I hope that I'll get more posts done in the months before August comes round again next year.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

French Generals

I've not posted for quite a while but that doesn't necessarily mean I've been idle on the wargames front.  Although I have.  A bit.  Anyway, here are some figures I completed recently.

They are three 20mm Minifigs French generals that I must have bought some time in the 1980s and which have been lying around undercoated for decades.  So, as I've been painting 20mm French Napoleonics recently I thought I'd get these finished too.
Acceptable casualties.
Having improved my horse painting (in my opinion) over the past few years with my efforts on dragoons and cuirassiers, etc., the horses were straightforward.  However, for these guys I wanted to have them on round bases (not WRG 1685-1845 standard general bases, note) with something else going on to distract from what are fairly dull figures (apart from the paint job obviously).

For the first one shown I finally managed to work in a casualty figure from my first ever box of Airfix Napoleonic French (c. 1976), just lying there whilst the general rides by nonchalantly.

The next one is probably the dullest figure in terms of pose (ignore the hat), so I painted him as per the illustration on the dust cover of my trusty 1977 reprint of Jack Cassin-Scott's Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars in Colour 1796-1814, which apparently was Marshall Bessieres' getup.
You want it in green and red?  Why, anything you say colonel.
For this one I decorated the base with some gravel and behind the figure is a tree-stump made from a clove I found in a takeaway curry (I've got a few of those drying in my bits box now).
Note clove pretending to be a tree-stump.
It was a bit bendy even after drying so it has had a good few coats of paint to stiffen it up.  Also, I had thought to add some foliage to it but then considered that maybe there would be just too much green on this one.  It's amazing how much you can write about something you found in a curry.

The last figure is more soberly attired and sitting calmly on his horse beside a wheel from a (1970s) Airfix cannon (the one that came off the cannon on a dragoon base in fact).
Three wheels on my waggon... no wait, here it is.
However, displaying remarkable sangfroid the general is ignoring something else going on on the other side of the base, which is slightly more alarming.
Well pick it up and chuck it back then.
As you can see, a large cannonball has furrowed the ground just next to his horse.   This was made using one of those round headed pins you used to get with new shirts.  I cut most of the pin off leaving about 5mm so I could secure it into the base.  A spot of black paint and some light dry-brushing with steel finished the job.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Takistan Compound

Since coming back from holiday I’ve been avoiding committing to the plastic/lead painting mountain for some reason.  This is, I know, associated with some deadline pressures at work (which I’ve missed anyway, which makes it worse in a way as the extensions just mean they haven’t actually gone away).  
But when that happens making and painting individual terrain pieces is what I usually turn to, and as noted in an earlier post I have been making various 15mm desert type buildings intended for AK47, ancients (DMB) or even Mexico.
Anyway, here is one of the pieces I’ve made, a compound that wouldn’t be out of place anywhere in Central Asia or Africa.  This is actually based on the examples you can find on the 'Takistan' terrain, originally part of the ARMA2 'mil-sim' PC game, now ported to ARMA3 (using the CUP mod, in case you're interested).
Clearly the terrain is supposed to represent Afghanistan, although maybe it is meant to be Tajikistan (or, heaven forbid, the unpronounceable Kyrgyzstan).
Modelling was my usual technique of cutting strips of thin pizza-base polystyrene which were then glued together onto a cardboard base.  Everything was painted a chocolatey earth colour and then fine sand was stuck to the walls (with PVA wood glue) and a coarser sand glued to the ground.   Walls were then painted in shades of sandy earthy colours with various washes to dirty them up.
Some static grass was added in various places and a tree put into one of the corners.  This is a piece of heather stem (we have a lot of it lying around in Scotland) with some of my home-made clump foliage stuck to the top.
I’ve a plan to make a whole forest of acacia trees using the bag of heather I collected a few years ago, but haven’t got around to it yet.  Overall, the compound turned out quite well and makes a contrast from the mainly white-walled 15mm buildings I also made, which I will post about later.
I may make a few more of these ‘Takistan’ type buildings but we shall see how much time, inclination and not to mention storage space, I have to do that.
Russian on the roof

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Claymore 2017

Well, it was a few weeks ago but I've finally got around to posting about Claymore 2017.  Sadly I was only able to be there for a couple of hours and didn't really get to speak to anyone but I did take a few pictures, which I thought I'd share.
First up is a very nice Napoleonic game pitting Bavarians (with some French backup) against Austrians.  I think this was put on by Falkirk and District Wargames Club using General d'Armee rules.
The figures were beautifully painted but as you can see it was early in the engagement so there wasn't much blood on the uniforms, yet.
Near it was a 'Halo' participation game that my teenage son spent half an hour on, so I have to show it.  Lots of dice to be thrown so I think he enjoyed it.
As usual the crew from Tyneside where there, using their versatile 'Great Captain' rules.  This year it was a battle outside the gates of Troy.  They always have a lot of figures on the table.
A particularly impressive game was the Crossing the Waal game (Nijmegen) during Operation Market Garden.
I've got a similar bridge myself, though made out of cardboard.  We played similar games ourselves in the past so this was fun to see.
A particularly colourful game was an 1877 Russo-Turkish War game and an attempt by Russians to force their way through a pass defended by Turks
Looked a bit tricky, particularly as the Turks were well placed and had all the high ground.
Another impressive game was the Burma 1944 Bolt Action demonstration put on by Chris & Pat Brown/Aberdeen Wargames Club.  I'd meant to say hello but it was so busy I couldn't get near them.

There were lots of things go on on that table but unfortunately I couldn't stay to see how it turned out.
I liked the Beaufighter on the airstrip.  One of my favourite aircraft, though sadly this one was a bit worse for wear.

Finally, there was this small game set in Indonesia (1962-66), one of those British end of empire 'police actions' that we aren't taught about in school.

There was certainly an impressive amount of foliage on the table and it has reminded me that I have a large box of plastic aquarium plants that need attending to.  Apparently there are some orangutans on the table though it was not clear which side they were on.
Anyway, despite only being able to spend the morning there, I was more organised than usual and actually had a few lists of things to buy should the appropriate traders be there.  I'm therefore glad to announce that I managed to add to my Blue Moon Malburian lead pile and also impulse bought this from Helion Books.
I'd never seen this series of books (Africa@War) before, but they are very interesting to me as I've got a couple of AK47 type armies looking for some inspiration.

The series has one on wars and insurgencies in Uganda (1971-1994), and as I know the country quite well (and have stumbled across abandoned munitions myself in allegedly undisturbed savanna) that is one of the series I intend to get.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tembe in 15mm

As promised in my previous post, here is the tembe I made.  For those of you who don't know, and I didn't until last week, a tembe is a square African building used by nineteenth century Zanzibar slavers and such like.
Apparently the name indicates its intrinsic squareness as opposed to the normal round huts that everyone lived in during that period (and still do, in some places, as I have seen for myself in Uganda).
Such buildings were used to keep the slaves in (and to stop other slavers stealing them) before shipping them off to wherever they were sold to.
The inspiration for building this (in 15mm scale) was the recent article in Wargames Illustrated magazine (No. 356), where a 28mm building was showcased.  The version featured was made of mdf and had a thatched roof.
However, it struck me that a tembe could have a variety of uses in various periods and locations including ancient near east (as a villa), nineteenth century Mexico (a hacienda) and of course modern Africa, to complement my Peter Pig AK47 armies (as a police station, customs post, or similar).

From the African angle my reasoning was that the building may have been an old tembe that had had a new roof added, which is why I changed the roof to what could be interpreted as tiles (or corrugated iron) instead of thatch. 
Construction was my usual pizza-base polystyrene 'foamboard' stuck to a cardboard base.  The roof was made from corrugated cardboard; actually the cardboard insulating sleeves that you can pick up with take-away coffee.
Around the doors I stuck on matches to represent a timber finish and bars were put on the windows.  These were actually cut from some thick wire - the low 'E' string I'd removed from my electric guitar (a beautiful 'Artists' Series' Ibanez AR420-VLS) when I changed the strings recently.

Ibanez AR420-VLS
For this model (the tembe, not the guitar) I made the roof removable.  This was then undercoated in black and roughly painted with a rusty terracotta colour.  All of the walls were painted in the chocolatey brown colour I normaly use and then coated in PVA glue and covered in fine sand. The floor of the courtyard and the surrounding ground were done in a coarser shelly sand I use for basing figures.
The sanded walls were then painted off-white with smoother areas left the undercoat colour, as though the plaster had fallen off in places. Walls were dirtied up with various washes of dark earth.  Interior rooms were painted black.
The ground was painted a sand colour with some static grass (recently acquired from WWS) added.  Overall, I was pleased how this turned out, as well as its potential versatility for various periods as mentioned earlier.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Step Right Up

As always seems to be the case, I have multiple projects on the go at the same time, hardly ever finishing any of them completely.  This usually happens when I have figures to paint and then I come up with a displacement activity instead.  I don't know why because when I get going I actually enjoy painting figures.  Anyway, this week it has been making/ refurbishing buildings for various things.
This post is about the 'Indian Mutiny' buildings that I have been working on.  This has been in response to dangerous talk with Geoff about him getting his old Foundry figures out again for some skirmish games using the WRG's Fire and Steel rules.
To contribute to this initiative, I dug out the old buildings I had in the box and repaired, refurbished and touched up the paint on them a bit.
I don't have any Indian Mutiny figures so have illustrated them with some 28mm Copplestone explorers instead.
In addition, I added a new building, made in my usual way from polystyrene foam pizza base (poor man's foamboard) and cardboard.  I just stick everything together with wood glue (PVA), scoring the polystyrene edges as neccesary to enhance adhesion.
The idea was to make a slightly larger building with some steps up the side and flat roofs for figures to stand on.  As with most of the buildings I make these days I don't make them enterable, which means they are more robust as I can just glue everything together (and don't have to paint the inside).
As you can see, the offcuts of cardboard I stuck on the outside make the walls more uneven, implying some extra strengthening, rather than being the flat slabs they would be otherwise.
After construction was finished I painted all surfaces with some tester-pot emulsion paint I'd picked up years ago.  It's called 'Fired Earth' and is a sort of milk chocolate colour (used here for example).  After that I coated everything with wood glue and dipped the building in a large tin of fine sand I have.  I undercoat first and then do the sand texturing afterwards because the wood glue sometimes doesn't spread evenly over the smooth polystyrene.
Walls were then roughly painted in some off-white emulsion and then dirtied up with various washes of Revell Dark Earth.
Finally some static grass and small bits of my home-made clump foliage were added.
The thing about buildings though is that I never seem to make them one at a time, preferring a sort of batch process.  A back-up displacement activity perhaps.

In this case I made some similar 15mm structures intended for ancient (DBM), modern Africa (AK47) and/or possibly mid-nineteenth century Mexico for the Maximilian Adventure (not that I have any figures for that, yet).
I'll post about that lot when I've actually finished them, plus today I saw an interesting article about building a Zanzibar slavers' tembe in this month's edition of Wargames Illustrated (No.356), which I am finding difficult to resist...