Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off the painting block - 3

Lt. W. W. Cooke leads the way to Greasy Grass.
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The mounted figures for the US cavalry I've been commissioned to paint are now complete. I have to say, the task was much easier to paint than most of my previous attempts at painting cavalry, all thanks to the painting block method. I'm not too keen on the Dixon's cavalry mounts, as they seem to resemble shire horses rather than ponies. Only the Lieutenant's mount and that of the guy with his hat folded into a bicorn (at the rear-right) seem to have the right proportions. The photos show the figures shinier than in real life due to the flash. No guidon is fitted; my client will supply his own.
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Next up, various dismounted figures of Custer and supporting cast. Someone close to me, who has Blackfoot and Cree blood in her veins, says it's nice to have a dismounted figure of the General. That way the good guys will be able to get at him... ;)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Off the painting block - 2

US Cavalry riders - undercoated

Cavalry horses ready for riders.
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Some further progress on the current project, the US cavalry. My method is to undercoat riders and mounts seperately with a coat of black paint into which I mix a few drops of Future/Pledge/Klear floor polish. This has exactly the same properties as an acrylic gloss varnish, but comes in 27 fluid ounce bottles for the price of only two or three ounces of commercial model acrylic varnish. It also mixes with ink and acrylic paint. Adding a couple of drops helps the paint spread easily.
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Once this coat is dry, I paint the horses and riders as usual using Vallejo acrylic paints, then attach the riders to their mounts using crazy/superglue. I complete the process with an ink wash and a coat of matt varnish. With luck and a following wind, I should finish these in a couple of days.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Cavalry horses

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With the first set of US cavalry dismounted figures complete I'm now making a start on the horses. A spot of Aileen's glue on each rod is enough to hold the beasts in place while I work. I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of painting cavalry, but this method does simplify the process for me. I'm using black undercoat for chestnuts and black mounts, brown for bays. Hopefully I'll have these done by the weekend when I'll make a start on the riders.
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Wargamers all over the world tend to have that "Ooh! Shiny!" reaction to new figures in new periods. I'm no different, except the period I'm tempted by is one I've already got. I'm talking about Colonial gaming, specifically the Sudan.
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I first went Up the Nile at Peter Gilder's wargames holiday center back in the mid-80's. I was hooked from the first moment I saw those huge tables set out with desert terrain, scrub, low hills and occasional villages. The sight of the lonely square of khaki and red-coated troops proceeding through the wilderness toward the town where they would rescue the Governor was quite stirring, especially when the Mahdists began to gather just out of rifle range. The Incident with the Egyptian Garrison: The Governor in the Rowboat: The Little Gunboat that Could - all fodder for fond memories.
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Not being able to afford the 25mm ranges at the time I opted instead for 6mm, and built up quite a collection of British, Imperial and Mahdists, along with terrain and gunboat. Now, having seen Peter Pig's range I'm tempted to start all over again in 15mm...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Off the painting block - 1


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The first sixteen figures out of sixty-plus dismounted US cavalry are now painted and varnished. Foot figures never take that long for me since I began using the block system. I also paint to the "Three Feet Rule." In other words, if a detail can't be seen from more than three feet away, it doesn't get painted. It's much easier on aging eyes this way.

Next up are the mounted troops, and they're horses of a different color.
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I will replace the guidon staff shown with brass rod. I have no quibble with Dixon's miniatures on the whole, but their white metal alloy is rather soft. Practically breathing on flag staves causes them to bend like a willow rod.
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Incidentally, does anyone know of a US source of horses compatable with Dixon's Miniatures 25mm Plains Wars range? I've tried Wargamesminis.com but they've sold out. Any help will be appreciated.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the painting block - 1

Plains Wars - US cavalry. Painting under way


A view of my painting block


Almost finished
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Here's my current project, a batch of 25mm dismounted US cavalry of the Plains Wars era, which I'm painting up for a fellow gamer. The sharp-eyed among you may spot two versions of General George A. Custer lurking somewhere in the middle!
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The figures are on my painting block, an idea adapted from the test tube racks found in laboratories. Each figurine is glued to a dowel rod using Aileen's Tacky Glue or similar. This allows me a firm grip, prevents paint dribbling onto my fingers, gives me the ability to reach any part of the figure at any angle, and I can also dip the figure into Pledge/Future & ink mixture for shading without mess. Once the figure is complete, I simply cut it free of the rod using a box cutter knife. I chose a sixteen rod configuration simply because this is a number I can paint in one go without growing tired of the process!
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Next up will be a batch of US riders and horses. Painting horses is something of a chore for me, but since only a dozen are required it shouldn't be too difficult this go around.
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Since I have a number of figures in this period, I'm going to use some of them for GASLIGHT games set in the Old West. The rest are up for sale, so anyone interested - contact me for a list!
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Amongst the figures I have is a wagon train camp set depicting a rather nice "cookie," complete with coffee pot and ankle length apron, and a man holding out his mug for a refill! These are just begging to be used in a game. I aim to build a steampunked Connestoga wagon and chow wagon, along with another Explorer vehicle to tow them. As for the natives, I have something in mind for a "force equalizer/multiplier" to take on the US cavalry. Watch this space...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

GASLIGHT goodies

Blue menace! The Spottiswood-Gallant Mk 1 Steamtank

The Spottiswood-Gallant Mk 1 on its travels.


The Spottiswood-Gallant Mk 1 Steam Exploration Vehicle


Commander Hugh R. Hardleigh-Worthit at work.
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And so begins a departure from my normal Seven Year's War imaginations blog! This is intended to be a wargaming/modelling miscellany, filling with material from other periods and eras that grab my attention, plus any other games-related odds and ends that take my fancy.
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Shown above are photos of two vehicles I built recently for use in GASLIGHT Victorian SF games. These are for sale, by the way, complete with cargo as shown. I enjoyed making them and will make more!
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In case anyone's not familiar with the genre, GASLIGHT rules allow wargames to be fought in the manner of Jules Verne, H G Wells, Rider-Haggard, et al. It's a field of gaming I took an interest in some time ago but I've only recently started to expand my collections to suit.
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One of these days I'll launch my Daftest Africa campaign. It'll take place in a pseudo-Victorian steampunkish world where Great (and not so Great) Powers vie with each other and various native peoples to be king of the heap. Needless to say, the would-be Colonial Powers won't have it all their own way. Strange things lurk in the jungles, deserts and the high country, just waiting for stray explorers to pass by. Maybe even a Spottiswood-Gallant Mk 1 steam tank won't be enough to stave off disaster...
 

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