Friday, January 28, 2011

A large Middle Eastern building

On to a bigger Middle Eastern style building than my normal range. This one is inspired by and similar to the large building depicted in "Furt's" excellent Adventures in Lead blog (see link to the left). It could serve as a residence for the local bigwig, a mosque, or seat of government.

It measures 8" by 4' (5 1/2" including the stairway), and 5" to the top of the dome. As usual construction is foamcore and card, with spackle serving as adobe rendering. The stairs are Hirst Arts components.

I made the roof for the second storey removable using a section of corrugated cardboard laminated with a thinner sheet of card. It works, although another time I think I'll use thick poster board. The dome itself is a 2" polystyrene Christmas ornament cut in half. Access to the lower floor is gained by lifting the whole thing up and popping in the figures.

Privates Harry Balls and "Chopper" Nostrum defend the house.
Other progress: I've made a series of walls and a gatehouse for the Arab village shown earlier. When I get time I'm going to make some cards for the Sharp Practise rules I bought recently so I can try them out with an eye to converting them to Colonial-era gaming. Watch this space...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Battle for the Wilderness

For those interested in the Civil War, click here to read about a threat to the

Friday, January 21, 2011

On Afric's burning shore

I now have a few buildings ready for my Africa Station campaign. It only remains for me to make some walls and a gate or two, then I can assemble the necessary warlike inhabitants.

Sunrise somewhere in east Africa. The villagers rise early and begin their daily tasks as the river slips quietly by. No vessels are moored at the jetty, but who knows what the day will bring?

Fatima, Mahmoud the merchant's wife looks down on the tiny village square as her neighbours go about their business. A bearer has already collected a bundle of goods from her husband's go-down by the river and is heading for the house. Crime must be almost non-existent here judging by the goods left by the door. The tiny mosque is open but no one seems to be home. Perhaps the mullah has been called away - is there trouble brewing?


(I have another village like this for sale at my Etsy store. Click here for details!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pocket Personalities from Smiling Assassin

Announcing a new venture by Theophilus Saxe's Emporium to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War! Our Pocket Personalities range depicts a Union and Confederate soldier, along with General U. S. Grant and Robert E. Lee!

Check them out

Check out the rest of our range on YouTube and meet Mark Twain and his friends!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Raising standards

Here are another couple of additions to my Africa Station collection, again from the figures I bought on eBay.

Certain rules have provision for standard bearers to act in the historical roles of rallying points and morale-raisers for their units. The eBay figures had these two fellows in the batch.

The one shown below (which I think is Foundry) had hands poised as if holding a spear or staff, but the hands were solid. I drilled these out and inserted a length of stiff wire to make a flagstaff. The device on the flag is a piece of free clip art found online.

Since this guy is going to be the standard bearer for Sunny N'Sher's mercenary band, I decided to give him a flag that has European influences while still echoing African traditions. I chose the emblem of a bull's head since cattle were - and are - a valuable resource in Africa.

The clip art had to be re-sized to fit the scale, but this was easy enough to do with the basic PC Paint program. I then printed it off and trimmed the paper to size. A wash of Pledge/Future/Klear mixed with a drop of sepia ink gave it a weathered appearance. The polish is a good medium to use on any materials printed from a computer since it doesn't cause the ink to run or smear. A small rectangle of tinfoil was inserted between the sides before they were glued together to stiffen the flag so it can be curled in a realistic way.


In certain African tribes it was traditional for chiefs to direct combat from well behind the lines. Not for them the undignified rough and tumble of warfare! Some chiefs used umbrellas or parasols as personal standards, and the eBay batch had a figure which I could use for this.

It turned out to have some problems though. Although touted as suitable for Darkest Africa, it appeared to be more a candidate for an ancient society. He has rather chunky legs, which led me to suspect the sculptor may have intended the guy to wear greaves. If so, they were badly rendered, and so was the staff for the parasol he clutched in his right hand. It looked more like a rough-cut plank! Another hint as to his ancient origins lies in the satchel of scrolls he wears over his shoulder.

The parasol staff went right away, the hand being drilled out to take a length of wire. There wasn't a great deal I could do for his legs beyond a little filing, so in the end I left them. The parasol itself turned out rather well, being painted in a fetching shade of pink. The new standard bearer is shown in action above, shading his boss while showing his location for all to see. He holds a satchel of scrolls so the boss can indulge in a little light reading between his onerous duties.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


The first batch of figures of the New Year came off my painting block today. They're four nice models, bought off eBay and make unknown, depicting British army medical personnel circa. 1880. I've a set of camp cookhouse figures of the era from the same purchase, again make unknown.

Private Bastable receives attention while a concerned mate looks on. Two steamboats wait at the riverbank beyond, ready to evacuate the wounded.

I've yet to decide on what kind of basing to give these figures - individual or on a multiple base - although I'm already thinking in terms of making a medical wall-tent. We'll see.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! The last day of the old year closed with a whoosh. A tornado touched down about a mile west of us a little after noon and tore up a city block's worth of damage. No-one was killed, thankfully; some minor injuries is all, but a number of houses were destroyed and a church roof torn off. We were lucky and had nothing more than a strong wind and heavy rain for a spell. Let's spare a moment of sympathy for those who suffered and had their celebrations spoiled, and hope the New Year is less dramatic!

On a more pleasant note, the manuscript of my novel Rebel Hearts has just been accepted by eXstasy Books! Updates as they happen can be found over at my website.

So, the New Year is less than a day old here in the United States. What of the future, gaming-wise?

My Colonial Africa Station project is advancing slowly. The main problem is most of my collection is still in the UK, and it costs a wheelbarrow full of cash to mail anything of any weight across the Pond. Add to that the fact that no less than three parcels mailed to me from the UK failed to arrive in the last year, and you can see my concern.

Still, onwards and upwards. I came across references online to a structure called a tembe, a fortified building found in east Africa which has a lot of potential for African gaming. The pictures I've seen show a square single-floor structure with thick mud-brick outer walls and a flat thatched roof built around a central enclosure where animals could be driven for safety in the event of a raid. The interior was divided into several rooms leading into one another, each of which made an individual strongpoint in the event of the outer door being breached. It sounds like an African version of the pele tower found in the English-Scottish Border country.

Another project I hope to get to in the New Year is a British blockhouse of the kind found in South Africa. The preserved example below is located in the grounds of the Museum of the Boer Republics, Bloemfontein. More information about fortifications in Africa can be found at this excellent website.

It's a fairly simple structure, prefabricated from corrugated iron, ready-fitted with a water tank, and easily transported from site to site at need. It was cheap too at only £16 sterling! The blockhouse would be augmented by a deep trench, or local field stone as shown above should the ground be too hard. The garrison was typically six or seven men, an ideal unit size for skirmish gaming. Although originally created in the last Boer War, I feel it could serve very well in earlier Colonial times.

One thing which is eluding me - a source of MDF, or Medium Density Fibreboard. I have a hunch it may be known by another name here in the US. Can anyone enlighten me as to what it's called, and where I can get some of 2mm thickness? Any help or suggestions appreciated!


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