Sunday, 4 September 2016

A Few More French

As the title of this post suggests here are a few more 20mm(ish) plastic French Napoleonic infantry that I completed last month.
These are the next regiment of Italeri French that I posted about a few months ago.  As I mentioned previously there are enough figures, including command figures, in the two boxes I got to make six regiments of 16 figures each.  These are based for the WRG 1685-1845 rule system.
Reviewing where I am now though I'm not sure I'm going to need many more infantry regiments so I will take a view on what I need and whether I should be using my time more usefully on some of my (many) other projects.

However, next up on the plastic Naploeonic front are some cuirassiers and some very nice Italeri Hussars (in shakos) which I am looking forward to getting finished.  I'm also going to get a better camera as these images are far too blurry and not up to my preferred standard.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Claymore 2016

Well it's that time of the year again, or rather it was, earlier this month.  Yes!  Edinburgh's premier wargames show Claymore 2016 has been upon us, as always on the first Saturday of August, staged brilliantly as usual by the SESWC.
Edinburgh, yesterday
And as usual it was very well attended with all the demonstrations, participation games and vendors you would expect to see.  Over the years trends are visible and this year for example I don't think I saw an eighteenth century or A Very British Civil War game.
What the hell, just invite everyone
However, there did seem to be a couple of Napoleonic Sharp Practice games on as well as various Dark Ages and WW2 games.
Italians defend the train
One game that caught my eye was the Falkirk and District Wargames Club Boxer Rebellion game.  Apparently every colonial nation available (including the Japanese) was on the table.
Pizza Express tests controversial new doughball delivery system
And it was comforting to see the WW2 games.  I think there were three on, including one using Flames of War, another Bolt Action and the last using Rapid Fire, which was nice to see.
Bolt Action, StuG IIIs
The Bolt Action game was Arnhem/Oosterbeek, put on by C&P Brown of Aberdeen (not sure if that is a club or not).  I didn't see much movement over the day but something must have been been happening.
Not Much Action, Oosterbeek
The Rapid Fire game was a refight of Tobruk over a very large table put on by one of Glasgow's clubs (Tradeston).  I think Glasgow has four clubs now, at least.
Tobruk - greener than I thought it would be
My particular delight, apart from learning that people still use Rapid Fire, was seeing the old Airfix gun emplacement on the beach.  I used to have one of those, but I think that all we've got left now is the hexagonal bunker that we cut holes in to make it into a free-standing pill box.
Any colour you like as long as it's grey
We've been attending Claymore since at least 1980 and now my son has started to come with us as well.  Being of the X-box generation he tends to like the futuristic sorts of things and so he spent over an hour hovering around the Dropzone Commander demonstration, put on by the Glasgow Games Group.
Dropzone Commander in progress
The game is one of those that has lots of supplements and vehicles that you can buy, with new factions coming out all the time.  I have to say that though, if you like that sort of thing, the hardwear is impressive (all at 10mm scale).
There really is a building a bit like this in Edinburgh.  It has a pub in it.
I also liked the futuristic urban terrain, all made by 4Ground.  Apparently they are laser-cut MDF with layers of printed card pre-applied, which means they don't have to be painted (unlike the models).
Strangely familiar.
Obviously each of the factions (I think there are four now) has different styles of vehicles with differing stats.  My son took part in a participation game and said he'd enjoyed it, so perhaps there is hope for migration away from the computer to the tabletop.
Russo-Japanese War naval - Old Glory ships
Other participation games included a Wings of Glory dogfight (I think it was WW1), Custer's Last Stand and a couple of others (Halo & Bloodbowl?), plus two Dark Ages games put on by Gripping Beast, using the new Sword Point and alternatively the SAGA rules.
Sword Point or SAGA, not sure which
The Pancho Villa participation game by Glasgow and District also looked very nice.
Mexican standoff
And here are a few random pictures of other games of interest.  I really need to get a new and better camera.
Ye "Cannae" break the laws of physics [Tyneside; Great Captain]

Iron Brigade ECW game
Finally, even though my shelves are groaning with books and rules, I went and bought the latest (3rd) edition of Chris Peers' Contemptible Little Armies and the Back of Beyond campaign supplement.
I've been thinking about this for a while, particularly as my work has recently taken me to a number of exotic places in Central Asia such as Tashkent, Ashgabad and the bed of the (former) Aral Sea, not to mention the western terminus of the Trans-Caspian Railway at Turkmenbashi (Türkmenbaşy, formerly known as Krasnovodsk) on the Caspian Sea.
This is what happens when you play billiards with a shotgun (never grows old)
All I need to do now is get those Copplestone Siberians and British sailors I bought five years ago painted up plus maybe a few Sikhs, Bolsheviks and archaeologists...

Friday, 29 July 2016

Affordable Ruins

Further to a previous post where I made some 1/300 scale 'affordable housing' I thought I'd construct some ruins to go with them.
The aim was to make beaten-up versions of a few of the undamaged buildings to replace them or to be standalone, as required.
My construction method was the same as before using polystyrene packaging (poor man's foamboard) and cardboard.

Before and after, sort of.
Wooden floors and roofs were devised by scoring and nicking coardboard sections, with some rafters and additional beams glued in place as required.
'Nice bit of planking'
The various planks, bricks, tiles and rubble were easily made by taking thin slices of cardboard (using a scalpel) and cutting them into appropriately sized bits.
Everything was glued together using standard PVA, with judicious placing of rubble piled up within and around the walls.
The models were then undercoated in black acrylic and painted in similiar colour schemes to the houses I'd made previously.
So, that's plenty to be going on with for now.  I was thinking to do some bridges next and then some roads,so watch this space.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

It's Clump

Taking a break from the fascinating political turn of events that has happened this week in the UK (i.e. Brexit), my thoughts have turned (naturally) to wargame scenery.  Actually, there's no link at all but it's been an odd week.  Anyway, basically, with a certain amount of economic turmoil likely to lie ahead, my idea was that it is always good to save the pennies and, needing some scenery material, I decided to make my own clump foliage.
Sponges
This currently costs about £10 for a large bag but, with a small amount of effort, you can make it yourself much more cheaply.  My starting materials were a packet of kitchen sponges that I got for a pound (in the pound shop) and my plan was to use the method described in detail in the Shedwars Blog.
Billy Whizz
Therefore, the first thing I did was to cut up the sponges into small pieces with scissors and then whizz them up in an old blender, adding a little water to make it easier.  You can see what the product looks like in the bowl on the left
Like cake, only more so
This bowl has four sponges worth of bits in it, with most of the water squeezed out, to which was added some paint.  I happened to have some tubes of acylic paint lying around but anything water-based works fine.   I also added a little bit of white PVA glue to help it clump together.
And here's one I prepared earlier
Once mixed, the foliage was spread out over some tin foil on a tray to dry.  This can take quite a long time and in my case took about three days.  However, it turned out really well and I was very pleased with the result.  So I made some more with the 4 + 2 sponges I had left, producing some different shades of green this time.
Any colour you like as long as it's green
I reckon that all in all it cost me about £1.20 of materials, and a little time, to make £20 worth of clump foliage.  Well worth it.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Affordable Housing

The last wargame we had a few weeks ago was a brief 1/300 scale WW2 encounter on the western front.  Sadly it didn't work out too well and as my phone was full I couldn't take any photos anyway, so there is no AAR.
Back gardens - 1/300 BTR70 for scale
However, one thing that did come out of it was the realisation that we had a lack of suitable 1/300 buildings in our collection, so I've done something about it in that I've spent the last few weeks making some 20th century structures suitable for western Europe.
Of course when I embark on such projects I never do things by half and so my plan was to make a dozen buildings or thereabouts.
My materials of choice are (nearly) always cardboard and the thin polystyrene sheets that come with some brands of supermarket pizza (poor man's foam-board as I call it).  Everything was glued together with Evo-stick wood glue (normal PVA), which, if you make simple structures, can be remarkably sturdy.
For the factory shed roof I had some nice cardboard with narrow corrugations that had come from some sort of fancily bound document in my collection (Historic Scotland's Annual Accounts I think).
Inspiration came from various sources including my PC game of choice ARMA3.  Here is the model I made based on the building shown below.  In my mind's eye it is a perfect match with regard to the original.  What?  No?  Just me then...
I also made a couple of Ardennes style stone farm buildings (based on another WW2 PC game/mod called Darkest Hour).
So overall quite fun to do and, as I painted all the roofs red, a good match for other buildings I'd made previously (see the DBR AAR from a few months ago).

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Pretty in Pink

Like a lot of people I've always been a bit nervous about painting horses and therefore cavalry, but needs must and I actually enjoyed painting these 1/72 scale Napoleonic French dragoons by Italeri.  I decided to get these figures because previously the only plastic cavalry I had had were the original Airfix cuirassiers, which are really terrible figures.  Plus, I thought it would be nice to have dragoons instead for a change. 
The figures are excellent and the plastic is quite stiff and takes the paint fairly well.  There are 17 horsemen in the pack so I could therefore just about make six bases of three (on 60mm x 40mm bases as per WRG 1685-1845).  The box art has them depicted as one of the regiments with pink facings and so I thought 'you know, why not?' 
After the figures had been washed and glued together (with standard PVA) they were undercoated in black acrylic.  I painted the horses first, giving them a liberal coating of Tamiya Red Brown (XF-64), Hull Red (XF-9) or Linoleum Deck Brown (XF-79), apart from the trunpeter's horse which was base-coated in light grey. 
Thereafter, using a combination of dark washes and highlights the horses were finished.  Quite easy really.  Once the horses were done the riders were painted using my usual 2-stage technique, that is I block in the main areas with a shade coat and then just add one layer of highlighting - my eyesight and skills aren't good enough to do more than that (plus I've not got the time).
For the final base I was one figure short of the 18 that was needed, so instead I had two figures galloping past a destroyed cannon.  This was an old Airfix one from the 1970s that was still knocking about but had lost a wheel.  This was repainted and added to the base.
I quite like this little diorama because although actually the same figure, the riders look different because they are on different horses.  I also like the way they seem to be looking down at the gun as they ride by.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

French Infantry

Things are a bit chaotic at the moment (at work and at home) and my small workbench is barely visible what with half painted figures, bottles of glue and bits of polystyrene and cardboard all over the place.  All the signs of frenetic multi-tasking.  Anyway, here are some figures that I finished last week or so: Italeri French Napoleonic infantry.
These are very nice figures and far outstrip any other 1/72 scale plastics I've seen (mainly on Plastic Soldier Review, rather than in the flesh).  Being later period figures they are wearing trousers over their breeches which makes a change from the old Airfix figures I have painted previously (see here and here).
I also took the opportunity to make them a bit more campaign style with some of them wearing brown trousers.  The poses in the packs are fairly static but they are nice and robust looking and the detail easily rivals things like the 28mm Perry plastics (in my opinion).  In fact these figures are actually quite tall, being closer to 25mm than the regulation 20mm.
There are voltigeurs and grenadiers in the mix but for my units I just painted them all as fusileers (although I left the red strips on the grenadiers' shakos - I may paint over them later).  I quite like the figure reaching back into his cartridge box, although from some angles he looks like he's massaging his lumbago.

Having bought two packets of these I can make six 16 figure units (based on 60mm x 20mm bases as per WRG 1685-1845) and because there are three officers, drummers and standard bearers per pack that means I don't have to scrabble around in my spares box looking for figures to convert for the command elements.
For information, my painting style for this scale (and 15mm) is to undercoat in black and then paint a shade coat (light grey for white areas) and then overpaint the main colour, letting some of the shade layer show through.  I'm not patient enough to do that whole three layer system thing required for larger figures.

For the faces I paint them a sort of rust colour and then dab four points of flesh on the chin, nose and cheeks, which does the trick.  Finally, I base them using coarse shelly sand stuck on with PVA glue, giving it a wash of dark earth, followed by a dry brush with a sand colour and then with some Javis flock added leaving plenty of earth showing through.