Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Armed Might of Gaius Menusius

Aaand we're done!

Comanipulari to the bottom of the photo, Milites alongside them, with the numeri/levy bringing up the rear.

Tribune Gaius Menusius leads the charge.
All the shield transfers are on and the Romano-British army is ready to contest the Saxon invaders' attempt to conquer their homeland.

For some reason there are sixteen round shield designs in the LBMS set, but only one round shield in the Splintered Light Dux B pack the transfers are intended for. There are not enough for the oval shields. Since I was short four transfers for the champions and nobles, I painted those freehand. Luckily a few Chi-Rho designs are a lot easier to reproduce on a 15mm shield than later heraldic devices! I gave the natty little targe-type shield to the standard bearer, Fred Heckmonthwaite the Red, Pride of Spagthorpium*.

*Spagthorpium: Believed to have been founded in AD79½ as a small colonia of retired legionaries in what is now Yorkshire. The site fell victim to reverse coastal erosion in the 17th century. Sighted heading northwest in the vicinity of Leeds in March 1922, its current whereabouts are unknown.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dux B Shields - halfway-ish

More progress with the shields today. The levy/numerii are sporting theirs already. Now they can form shield wall, they're ready to take on the Saxon raiders in the brutal struggle for Britain.

So far the E6000 adhesive is holding well. It has good immediate 'grip,' and I was able to stand the figures up after only a few minutes. The label says 72 hours for full effect, so it should be fine.

The shields on the piece of card are drying off before the coat of gloss varnish goes on, which I'll probably apply tomorrow. These are the most colourful designs, suitable for the twelve Milites and six Comanipulari figures since they represent warriors with the cash to spend on fancier gear. I have seven shields left over, more than enough to equip the Lord, his sub-nobles and champion, but no transfers left to apply to them. At the moment I'm thinking of drawing the shield designs freehand. I could give the Lord the targe-like shield with the yellow design, but it seems a bit wussy for such a personage, so it could go to the standard bearer instead. We'll see.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tackling the shields.

A bit of progress on the shield transfers from Little Big Men Studios...

The instructions do warn they can be fiddly to apply, and yes they are, but not unduly so. Each sheet is covered with a clear layer of plastic. After cutting out the shield transfer with a sharp craft knife this layer has to be removed, exposing the sticky surface of the transfer beneath. The holes for the bosses are ready-cut, which is a thoughtful move. It allows you to align the transfer sticky side down with the shield. I use dental picks, tweezers and the craft knife blade to maneuver the transfer into place before dabbing it onto the shield surface. A drop of water to moisten the paper, thirty seconds countdown and off the paper comes, leaving a nice neat shield pattern. Once dry, the next step is to give the shields a coat of gloss varnish followed by one of matte to protect the design.

Easier than painting the designs, I think.

So far I've achieved good results, with only one transfer going slightly wonky. This was easily covered up by a touch of brown paint. If it goes really bad, LBMS advise scratching the transfer off and trying a new one. Touch wood I won't need to do that.

I selected the more monochrome designs for the levy, with a couple of colourful ones to break up the pattern a bit. Another feature I like about these transfers is the artist has included battle damage in his design. Exposed boards, scratches and dents are distributed nicely across the sheet, allowing for a slightly beat-up look to the groups and formations.

The next step will be to tidy up the shield edges with a bit of paint, then they'll be ready to glue to the figure. Lacking anything else I'll use E6000 industrial strength adhesive. It's necessary. My previous record of gluing shield onto figures is not too good. My old Seleucid pike phalanx shed shields like Autumn leaves.

Now, if I can work out a way to hold everything in place while the adhesive dries, that'll be great.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Victor Milán, RIP

A break from my normal posts about gaming and such now. Some of my readers may know my wife and I are regulars at Archon, the Midwest's premier SF/Fantasy convention held in Collinsville, Illinois. Sadly, one of the towering personalities of the con, Vic Milán, passed away yesterday.

Vic was a friend of ours, a genuinely nice guy, prolific fellow author, and associate of George R R Martin in his Wild Cards series. A veteran of Archon almost from its first years, he served as MC for the famous Archon Masquerade, where his wit, patience and kindness to the contestants, many of whom are nervous at appearing on the public stage, are legendary. Vic always had a smile and a word for everybody, and we'll miss the many times we spent chatting around the table in the con's green room.

Our condolences to his family and friends on his passing. The world of fandom is the poorer for it.
* * * *
I'll post about my progress on the Dux B shields another day. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dux transfers

Okay, so I wasn't exactly hovering by the mail box this last week, but I did keep a watch on it, anticipating the arrival of the shield transfers from Little Big Men Studios. They arrived yesterday, and very nice they are too, with beautiful detailing for both Romano-British and Saxon forces.

They came nicely packed with clear instructions for use. I can see I'll have to use my 'cheaters' (reading glasses) to work with them, but it shouldn't be a problem. Some preparation is needed on the shields themselves before the transfers can be applied, so I'll be working on that this next week or so. Hopefully it won't be long before the stalwart chaps of the Romano-British army are equipped with the stuff to make their famous shield wall from!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Up on the wall

A milestone passed yesterday when I framed and hung the Dux Britanniarum map up on the wall. Featuring the beautiful artwork by Coral Sealey, it now has pride of place over my desk. Picturing doing this was one of the things that kept me going through the stressful times involved in the house move.

Alongside it is my wife's framed collection of Doctor Who photos autographed by the dapper Peter Davison, the lovely Colin Baker, and the late Anthony Ainley, and another by Ray 'Diamond Geezer' Winstone from his Robin of Sherwood days.

Sadly another casualty of the move was revealed yesterday when my wife unpacked a box of ornaments. This little teapot-shaped salt shaker, a family heirloom and an antique over a hundred years old, had broken apart. Its mate survived, and shows what the other looked like.

Obviously the best way would be to have it professionally repaired, but that's beyond the reach of our pockets. If anyone can suggest a good adhesive I'll attempt a repair myself. All these modelling and sculpting skills learned over the years should count for something...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What a difference a shelf makes

Now the move is over we're unpacking slowly. I put up a couple of shelves in the gaming room closet so the bulk of my figures and scenery are now safely up and out of the way of other stuff as it gets moved around. It also gave me the opportunity to examine some of the scenery for damage caused by the long spell in storage. So far the Dux Britanniarum watchtower is the only piece that needs some minor repair. Three months spent in often below-freezing temperatures didn't do the walkway much good, and it's looking rather sorry for itself. Replacing the wooden supports should do the trick.

Talking of Dux Britanniarum, I ordered shield transfers for both sides from Little Big Men Studios, and they're on the way. All being well I should have done enough unpacking by then to find time to sort out my Romano-British shields at last. I've also found a nice frame for the map that comes with the rules, and once I get some matting card for it I'll hang it on the wall of the gaming room. The next project after that will be to buy the Saxons from Splintered Light Miniatures, and to make some fortifications and even an early monastery for those rascally Saxons to attack.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Settling in

Slowly but steadily, progress is being made in the new gaming room. I managed to set up a desk so I can get back to writing, and I'm uncovering more of the floor each day. My favourite Paul Daly artwork is up on the walls. It'll be a while off before I get the gaming table set up though, but I found a batch of casters which will do nicely for the table legs.

Then there's this little lot...

The garage shelf. Two rubber snakes add a bit of menace to the scene.

The previous occupant left the garage literally piled waist-deep in stuff, all of which she declared of no further interest to her. After sorting through it, which took four days, we found a load of toys, games and stuff that soon got donated to local schools and charitable organisations. I also found what eventually amounted to a whole shelf-full of crafting materials.

The white and the nearer brown box are full of aerosol paints, most of which are white, black or pink (not much call for that colour in my repertoire, squire...), and spray adhesive. Three hot glue guns surfaced, two of which were salvageable, along with a bag of glue sticks. There's also a whole bag of craft paints, all untouched. Four LED tea lights popped up, which will eventually be turned into flame and smoke markers. I forget what's in the furthest brown box, there's been so much stuff.

I hesitate to call it all 'loot,' since it's legally ours, but that's what it feels like. Eventually, once everything's done in the house and better weather arrives, I hope to set up a work area at the back of the garage and make use of it all.

House moves are for the birds...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

So then... I'm back.

The House-move from Hell is over. It took far longer to get into our new house than expected due to various shenanigans I won't go into here. Now we're well into the Marathon that is unpacking stuff from boxes, to the traditional cry of "why on Earth did we keep this?"

And I have a new game room.

It's cluttered with stuff at the moment, and the walls are a boring shade of beige (is there such a thing as an exciting shade of beige..?) but at least I can size it up and get an idea of where things can go. I have a little less space than the previous room, but it shouldn't be a problem. Once all the necessary projects like kitchen and bedrooms are done, I will get on with this.

For the boards I'm going to make a table support measuring 5 feet long by 3 feet wide out of 2x4 and 1x4 inch wood like that shown in the previous post. Martin had the good idea of setting it on casters so it can be moved around easily, which will be great for this size room. I'm going to add a gate-leg to the idea so it can support the extension piece when I want to use it. The whole kit and kaboodle will go lengthwise from the window. Hopefully it'll get enough light.

As for my figures... Ouch. I packed them well, but most didn't come off too good at the tender mercies of the moving guys. I see the need for a few touch-ups here and there. The best survivors are the Dux B gang who got rattled around a bit but are otherwise undamaged. Their village survived just fine, and is ready for them to occupy.

More news as it comes in. I've got a lot of boxes to unpack and flatten. :/


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