Sunday, November 22, 2015

Painting block for 10mm figures

We have a dusting of snow on the ground and the garden is put to bed for the year. Having a bit more spare time now I thought I'd make a painting block suitable for painting 10mm figures, specifically my shiny new ECW collection. The block I already have is best for 15mm-28mm figures, and those poor little 10mm blokes look lost on it.

It's a simple design, based on one a friend of mine uses. Take a block of scrap wood, drill a series of holes in it, fill holes with a number of galvanized nails, and glue the figures to the nail heads using a hot glue gun. The nails make it easy to grip and maneuver the figures to get at all angles with your paintbrush. Bob's your auntie's significant other!

This block will take 45 nails, but I'll typically use fewer than that to allow a bit of handling space. The inaugural batch of figures to grace the block are musketeers for a Parliamentarian regiment of foot. These are Pendraken Miniatures.

I'll paint these up as Edward Montagu's regiment of the Eastern Association, which was raised in Cambridgeshire and issued with russet-red coats. Being early-war Parliamentarian they'd have roughly a 3:2 or 2:1 muskets to pike ratio, which I'm going to represent with 24 musketeer figures to 18 pike, including the command element.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

ECW Shininess

I'm back from a family event in southern Florida, with long road-trips through the south-eastern states there and back. Travel takes its toll and I feel like ten miles of rocky road - but! The mailman delivered my Pendraken ECW order today!

ECW shinies in all their glory.
The figures are clean-cast and have a nice heft to them without feeling or looking clunky. Sometime in the next few days I'll clean off what few pieces of flash there are on the bases, bung 'em in the soapy water to soak, then have at them with the paint. Something to look forward to.

In the meantime, I'm going to press on with a new project - river sections for the tabletop. These are an experiment I'm trying out, using lengths of clear plastic packaging material bound with thin strips of wood as stiffeners. The aim is to make the banks as low profile as possible so they don't stand too proud of the table surface. I'm toying with the idea of sealing off the ends with masking tape and pouring a thin layer of Envirotex Lite epoxy varnish mixed with a little blue acrylic ink onto the plastic. Once the varnish has set the tape is removed. The varnish should stick in place and show the surface beneath (which will be either green or brown anyway - both natural river colours), tinted a watery blue colour by the ink.  

The banks are covered with liquid nails adhesive, the kind you get in those cartridges that fit inside an extruder gun. I press this down (it takes a bit of work to get the stuff to stick to the surface, but perseverance pays), then sprinkle sand on top and press that into the adhesive. In the photo above are (left-right) the basic piece of clear plastic, a piece with the wooden splints glued into place using epoxy adhesive, and a piece with liquid nails smeared on and sanded. I used green sand to show the effect more clearly in the photo, but I'll use plain sand, paint and flock to get the final result.  The section above is a river bend in the making.

I've cut enough sections to stretch over five feet - the width of my gaming board plus a foot or so of bends and so on. The river should work in either N-scale as a river, or in larger scales as a stream. An N-scale bridge and ford will make an appearance somewhere once I've worked out my ideas on how to make the sections.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Je me souviens Paris

My wife and I were travelling down to Florida for a family event when the dreadful incident occurred, so I was unaware of it until now. The horror which was visited upon a city I know and love has left me shocked and saddened. My sympathies and condolences go to the people of Paris, especially those who lost loved ones. As a tribute to the indomitable spirit of that beautiful city and the citizens of France, here is the singing of La Marseilles from the movie Casablanca.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thistle do for trees

So, I've finished a batch of one dozen N-scale trees for gaming, with another dozen in the preparation stage. The thistle head method is generally working, although dealing with spiky bits whilst trying to trim the bloody things down to a safe level is a trial. Attaching the flock with spray adhesive is also problematic. It's not as strong a bond as it could be, except when gluing fingers to any loose object in the vicinity; then it works just fine...

Anyway, one vital step is to remove all seeds from the head. This takes some time. The cache shown below is from the next batch of twelve alone.

If this step isn't taken, given the right conditions the seeds will germinate, and you'll have odd tendrils appearing through the foliage! Unless you're gaming some kind of Weird War or Cthulhu scenario, it's probably not something that's desired.

Once the adhesive is dry, I paint the trunks a neutral shade of beige and attach them to circular card bases using hot glue. A spray over with cheap green paint helps stick the flock to the trees, although they still tend to shed if handled roughly. The bases are then painted. I gave mine a simple coat of green craft acrylic with a few brown splotches for soil. I'm not going for great detail here as I find it isn't required - a case of seeing the wood but not the trees once they're deployed on the tabletop. The whole process takes a couple of days for things to dry/set, etc, but the result isn't bad at all.

Those fine chaps at Pendraken Miniatures have emailed to let me know my ECW figures order is on the way. It's a courtesy I appreciate, because it means I can arrange for the order to be safely gathered in ready for me to get my sticky fingers on. I must do something about that bloomin' spray adhesive...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tree tribulations

Not a lot to report this week, although I have made a few trees from thistle heads to while away the time as I wait for my Pendraken ECW order to arrive. One experiment involved dipping the things in household latex paint, draining off the excess then rolling them in home-made flock created from dried tealeaves. It was not a success. The paint took too long to dry and didn't cover the outer part of the thistle head where I wanted the flock to stick.

The next attempt involved spraying the heads with adhesive and rolling them in dried chamomile tealeaves (there's a theme developing here...) allowing them to dry before giving them a blast with green spray paint. Success! - Except now I've run out of paint and my camera batteries have died, so I can't even take photos of the results...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ECW project

There seems to be a trend toward gaming the ECW afoot here in the cyberworld of wargaming. Tradgardmaster is dipping his toes in the water, and Jeff at the Saxe-Bearstein blog has an ongoing ECW project. I did game the period in 1/300th scale years ago, but it fell by the wayside. The occasional game at the New Buckenham club kept a small flame of interest flickering. I decided to fan it to life yesterday by ordering some of the excellent Pendraken Miniatures ECW figures, enough to give me three regiments of foot, a regiment of cavalry and a light artillery piece each. I'll add more foot, cavalry and dragoons by and by.

Rules-wise, I intend to use Victory Without Quarter by Clarence Harrison. Jeff kindly brought these to my attention as they have the facility for solo play. I did consider The Perfect Captain's Very Civile Actions: In the end they didn't appeal to me, but their campaign rules, Tinker Fox, look promising.

I'm quite looking forward to getting my new project going!

Monday, October 12, 2015

'The Smoke of Her Burning' & ECW Doodling

My good friend M J Logue's new English Civil War novel The Smoke of Her Burning is released today! She's holding a Facebook party this evening at:- The Review present: The Smoke of Her Burning by MJ Logue

...for those on the social media site; type the above in to take you there. There's fun and prizes, so head on over for a look.
Meanwhile, I'm noodling with various basing and formation options for an ECW army. I'm going to collect forces in 10mm to suit my current terrain, and I'm thinking in terms of early war, which is to say pre-New Model Army. The rules will probably be Victory without Quarter by Clarence Harrison.

With a few one inch square sections of card and a Sharpie pen I made up a profile of two regiments of foote, one Royalist (top) and one Parliamentarian (bottom). 'M' represents musketeers, 'P' pike, 'D' drummer, 'F' flag, 'O' officer. The early war Royalist foote regiments lacked equipment and had a preponderance of pikes to muskets. Parliament didn't have such trouble so typically had a 2:1 musket-pike ratio. I'll probably have a sergeant figure with halberd on two of the musketeer stands. It might work better to have the command figures on a separate base; I'll see.

I'm working to avoid any suggestion of 'sporty little battalions zipping all over the table,' as one rules critic said of a set of Napoleonic rules. The overall length of the regiment is six inches, plenty big enough for a modest sized table. At the moment this gives me an idea of what's possible.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ECW, Redux

We're back from a great time at the Archon St. Louis SF/Fantasy convention. As usual I wasn't able to take part in any gaming - I'm on too many panels during the course of the day for that, but all in all a terrific experience, and I'm looking forward to next year.

In the meantime I find my interest in the English Civil War(s) has been rekindled. 
I blame my friend, fellow author M J Logue for this! Reading her excellent Red Horse (An Uncivil War, Book 1) has put me in the mood for researching and collecting in this period again. Check out Red Horse, by the way - it's in paperback and on Kindle - for a great read with plenty of period detail and atmosphere. 
Not Hollie Babbitt, that sweary man - but close!

My original collection was in 6mm. This time around I'll probably get a couple of small armies in 10mm to suit my taste and pocket. Pendraken Miniatures has a nice comprehensive range, as does Old Glory. I'll need to locate some info on uniforms and so on - I sold or gave away most of my reference books when I emigrated - but given the pool of information online these days it shouldn't be too much of a hassle. Rules-wise, I read good things about Very Civile Actions from The Perfect Captain. These are tailored for small forces, and have a campaign system, Tinker Fox, catering for sieges and raids. They're free to download, although the authors do request a contribution to charity by way of thanks. 

The First Muster.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mortar, Sniper & Boyes

No, they're not a firm of warlike solicitors. These are a quartet of 10mm/N-scale figures made from scratch with Sculpey and a smidge of 'Scribbles' 3D paint.

The figure on the far left is a Pendraken Miniatures SCW standard bearer for comparison. The next two standing figures are crew for the 3" mortar wagon I made previously, and the two prone figures are (top) sniper and (bottom) Boyes AT rifle.

Obviously they don't bear comparison to professionally-sculpted figures, and I take my hat off to those who do this for a living. In spite of some initial concerns whether I'd pull it off I didn't find these that hard to make. A bit of work with the Sculpey, a length of brass rod for the rifle and steel pin for the Boyes, and they're fine for my solo VBCW games.

At the moment they're in the finishing stages of the painting process. A bit of dry-brushing then varnish is all that's left to do. I made the mortar team generic in appearance so they'll fit with any faction. The chap next to the standard bearer is wearing a Havelock cap. In the words of former BBC film critic Barry Norman, "And why not?" The sniper and Boyes fellows are in BUF colours for the next game of my campaign, which will be the Anglican League's pursuit of the BUF as they retreat to Bury St. Edmunds. I'll probably sculpt a few more in the colours of other factions. At the moment we're getting ready for the upcoming Archon weekend in Collinsville, Illinois. More news next week. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

War Wagon

Some time ago I made an N-scale armoured traction engine, similar to those used by the British army in the 2nd Boer War, for my Very British Civil War forces. The intention was (and is) to add wagons of various types for it to pull. So far I had a troop carrier wagon, but I wanted something with a bit of firepower. Hence the construction of a 3" mortar carrier.

"Leviathan" rumbles off, mortar wagon in tow, for a deadly date with the beastly BUF.

The sides of the wagon are made from sections of grooved plastic card. It's meant to represent planking but in this scale it works just fine for extemporised armour formed from lengths of railway track. The wheels are resin castings taken from the Hirst Arts small pipes mold. The 3" mortar itself is a length of plastic-covered wire and plastic card. I'm thinking of scratch-building a couple of crew for the mortar, but we'll see how my eyes hold up!

The traction engine flag can be swapped-out for those of other factions. At the moment it's flying the standard of the Anglican League based in Thetford, home of the famous Burrell traction engine works and source of this vehicle and its conversion.

Hopefully I'll field this little beast and the shiny new wagon in the next game of my VBCW campaign - The Pursuit of the BUF.


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