Thursday, September 27, 2018

Saxon geoguth completed

As the title says, I finished the Saxon geoguth (warriors) yesterday. They're all based up and the shields attached. Once again I used Little Big Men Studios decals for the shield motifs. They save a lot of faffing around painting those tiny designs in this scale.

The geoguth are the run of the mill warriors who form the backbone of the Saxon army. They range from men equipped with nothing more than shield, axe, sword or spear, to men of greater means, perhaps veterans of an earlier raid on Britain, who gained enough loot to afford a helmet and better quality weapons.

I have the Gedridht (hearth guard) on the painting block now. These men are heavily armed and armoured and form the elite troops of the Saxon army. Wonder of wonders, I found my acrylic inks so I can make richer colours for cloaks and tunics and so on. Now I just have to find the silicone mold to make movement bases for the Saxons.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Tunnie's Terrain

A shout out now on behalf of my old friend Stephen Tunmore, of Tunnie's Terrain. This guy has taken on the mantle of the late Ian Weekley where it comes to producing superb wargames terrain set in multiple areas of conflict. I've had the pleasure of gaming over his scenery several times. An example of his work, taken from the North African battle of Bir Hacheim is shown below.

French Foreign Legion troops prepare to defend the settlement against the Axis forces.
If you're in the market for excellent terrain at reasonable prices, pay Stephen a visit here

With luck and a following wind we'll be heading over to England for a visit to family and friends in a few week's time. Stephen's promised to roll out the battlefield shown above at our club in New Buckenham, Norfolk for a game.
* * * *
In other news, I've almost finished the Early Saxon Geoguth (Warriors) warband for Dux B. It's been quite a while since I slapped some pigment on wargames figures, but it didn't take me too long to get back into the swing of things. Splintered Light make excellent 15mm figures and it's a pleasure to paint them up. This batch have just gone through the indignity of being dipped in the varnish/ink mix. All I need do now is let them dry, apply the matte varnish, then base them up. Photos to follow sometime this weekend.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

All wips* together

A peaceful Sunday morning was spent cleaning up the Saxon Dux B force and intermittently frowning at the 1/2400 Majestic class battleships.

Splintered Light Miniatures produce lovely clean, crisp castings so I had very little flash to remove. Once done I popped them in hot water with a few drops of detergent and vinegar to clean off my sticky fingerprints and any casting powder residue.

I'm frowning at the ship models because during the week the dark grey undercoat dried enough - at last - for me to give them a top coat of light grey. Now I have the same problem with the top coat of paint failing to dry completely even though it's been three days since I sprayed them. We are having a spell of humid weather again, so I suppose I'll have to wait another day or so for the stuff to dry. A bit frustrating, but I'll manage.

The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things, of Saxons, Ships and Painting Blocks, and trash-filled worktop scenes.

*Writer-speak for works in progress. Exciting, eh?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Battleship Row & Saxon Shinies

Construction of the Majestic-class battleships is finished, and I got a primer coat on them using Rustoleum grey. The weather has turned cooler and damper, so although I sprayed the models a couple of days ago the paint is still wet in parts. All very annoying. Still, they look okay.

They took a bit of cleaning up beforehand. Although the silicone works as a molding material, it starts to degrade after about the fifth casting, so I'm going to limit all future casts to that number of ships or fewer.

Much rejoicing followed when the early Saxons marched in this afternoon. I ordered the starter army plus a pack of Romano-British archers from Splintered Light Miniatures. They were mailed yesterday afternoon and arrived within 24 hours. Excellent work by the USPS!

I ordered a batch of archers, as reinforcements can reach the warlords or be hired by them over the course of a Dux B campaign, and archers/skirmishers are first on the table of extras in the rules.

So, I'm going to be busy for the next week or so painting Dux B figures as well as working up opposing forces for the pre-Dreadnought games. It's one of those times when projects seem to take ages to come together then everything happens at once. Them's the breaks...

Friday, September 7, 2018

Casting call

So, the silicone molds work after a fashion. I'm now able to turn out a number of vessels quite quickly. The castings are rough but I can work with them, cleaning up the rough areas, adding the main armament and building fire control towers and masts. Here's a photo of the results so far.

To the left is a trio of Apollo class protected/light cruisers, to the right a trio of Majestic class battleships. The Cressy class armoured cruiser mold... failed. I won't show the resulting cast - it's too hideous for sensitive souls to look upon, but I can cannibalise the bows part of it to make a sinking ship. I'll repair the master model, take a new mold from it, and see how it goes. I'd like to have at least four of these ships. The prototypes had interesting and all too frequently tragic careers.

My aim is to produce eight to twelve battleships for the Royal Navy, which will make two or three divisions of four ships each. There were nine Majestic class ships, but I think I'll make eight and the rest will be another class. I may stick at four Apollo class cruisers since these were dispersed all over the world and seldom operated together in great numbers.

The German navy built three five-ship classes of battleships - the Braunschweig, Kaiser Frederich III and the Wittelsbach classes, so I have a choice of making ten or fifteen battleships total. Fifteen ships might be a better match up for the two sides in a fleet action, since for some reason the pre-Dreadnought German navy stuck to guns of around 24cm calibre when other navies were increasing the size of their main armament to 12" or greater.

I'm still debating a campaign set up. The German navy wasn't large or powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy of this era head-on, but a guerre de course campaign is a good prospect. Much like the Bismarck, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau of a later era the German navy faces the challenge of breaking out of the North Sea so it can launch attacks on Britain's huge mercantile fleet. The Royal Navy, of course, aims to stop them doing just that...

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A qualified success

So, the mold came out okay after a fashion. It needed some tidying up and patching because the silicone is getting rather old. At this stage it's thickening and doesn't flow too easily into crevices. The master model also broke apart on extraction, but I expected it to happen and if necessary I can repair it.

Still and all, I got a result.

Majestic master model in the mold.

The shattered wreckage of the master model lies beyond a pristine (?) new mold.
It doesn't look like much, but believe me it's a good result. Once the patching has dried overnight I'll clean it up a bit more then try pouring some resin.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Making a battleship mold

The long Labor Day weekend gave me the chance to work on the next step of the nascent fleet -  creating a silicone mold. The Majestic master model is the first - and so far the only one - to go through the process. A technical hitch in the shape of a broken glue gun prevented me from doing the others.

Still, here's what I have so far...

To start with I coated the master model in diluted PVA to seal the wood and close off any tiny gaps and cracks between the layers. Since PVA this thin is near colourless when it dries, I put a drop of paint in it to show where I'd covered or missed bits.

Silicone caulking is viscous stuff, especially as it gets older. I advise using disposable gloves when handling it as it will stick to everything that isn't wet. Water will stop the setting process so keep the work area free of anything wet while working with the stuff, and wait until any paint/glue/whatever is dried on the master model before using the silicone.

Once dried, I glued the model to a rectangle of foam core. The sides and ends are cut out to enclose the model with about a quarter inch to spare all round.

To make sure all the undercuts and overhangs are filled I worked the silicone into them using a coffee stirrer. It's kind of like applying fondant or icing to a cake.

I then assembled the coffer around it using a hot glue gun. Quick and easy.

Majestic nestling within its box, awaiting the rest of the silicone. A host of destroyers lurk in the background.
Not long after I took this photo the brand-new glue gun decided to break under the moderate strain imposed by doing its job, so it's back to the store with it. The good part about the process is fresh silicone will happily stick to itself even when the first layer is dry, so I can pick up where I left off without problems.


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