Sunday, May 31, 2020

Of Tear Gas and Merchantmen

“My last waking thought, I remember, was that, while this was a hell of a thing to have happened to a respectable old gentleman in his declining years, it was all pretty darned interesting and that I could hardly wait to see what the morrow would bring forth.” ~ P G Wodehouse.

While I may not qualify for old, nor have I quite reached my declining years, I do hope I qualify as a respectable gentleman. Yesterday was, however, pretty darned interesting.

Normally I'll seldom touch on real life matters here on a hobby blog. This is an exception. I was asked to cover a protest rally outside the police HQ here in downtown Toledo. A lot of impassioned speeches were made in relation to the recent unpleasantness in Minneapolis and nationally in general. Three police drones buzzed above the crowd and a quartet of officers observed from the precinct house rooftop, but other than that the police presence was light. After two hours the crowd of around 1,500 moved off to march around the block. The marchers reached an intersection where they were to turn, only to be greeted by armed and armoured police - who promptly opened fire with tear gas and baton rounds.

Marchers fleeing the scene.

I was talking to a marcher some way back, and even so we caught a whiff of the gas. It's not a nice experience. My eyes stung, and although I wore a mask against COVID-19, of course it's no protection against gas. I still have a sore throat this morning. Several people were overcome by the gas, which drifted downwind into an area of apartment blocks. One young woman marcher was shot in the back of the head by a 'knee knocker' round whilst giving first aid, her wound requiring ten stitches. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the arguments on both sides, it was a gross over-reaction by the police to a hitherto peaceful protest. Shame on you, Toledo PD!

* * * *

On to the merchant ships...

Whilst I plan to scratch-build four 1/2400 scale German battleships and four British armoured cruisers, I thought a few merchantmen of one kind or another would be useful. Here's what I have so far, and I'll build at least a couple more.

They represent a couple of bulk carriers, one a seagoing or coastal vessel, the other a larger ocean-going ship. I kept them generic so they can serve any side in naval conflict. There's another useful aspect to these. Although guerre de course warfare - privateering - was banned by the Declaration of Paris in 1856, a form of it was reinstated in the Hague Convention of 1907, where privately-owned ships manned by naval personnel could attack merchant shipping of a belligerent power. Since this agreement comes at the same period as my hypothetical war between Britain and Germany, it opens another aspect for a campaign.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Butter market built

So here we have it - one butter market/market cross.

I initially painted it grey to match the church, but found it looked too drab. Mixing up a light mustard-colour I repainted it to look like Collyweston stone, a variety of stone found in the British Midlands which varies in colour from pale grey-beige to honey-yellow. The grey paving slabs on the base were drawn on using a sharp-ish pencil.

Of course, now I have a market cross, I need a market place to go with it. I'm thinking of using a section of roofing shingle coated with vinyl adhesive then painted. Not sure if it'll work or not, but I'll give it a go.

In other news, I find I'm horribly tempted to get into yet another field of gaming - WW1 Mesopotamia. The question I ask myself is - do I need another period with troops in pith helmets supported by river gunboats?

Friday, May 15, 2020

A bit of a butter market project

Having finished the church steeple I found myself assembling what buildings I have for the ECW period to see what it all looks like, and thinking the small community lacked something. Most old British settlements have a market place, which features or featured a market cross or a structure sometimes referred to as a butter or corn market. Having a few hours to spare due to rainy weather closing down gardening for a week or so, I thought I'd bung a few Hirst Arts plaster bits together to make a butter market structure. Again, it's in the Gothic style, and for the sake of the narrative was probably build around the same time as the village church.

Here's what I have so far...

The two-step platform for the building is made of metal discs taken from orange juice and Pilsbury dough containers, covered by cereal card and edged with strips of cardstock paper. Hirst Arts components make up the roof and supports, and the pyramidal roof is more cereal card. I'll add a cross to the roof pinnacle like the one on the church steeple. 

Next step will be to paint everything which will be inaccessible once it's all glued everything together then assemble it.

Sunday, May 10, 2020


So here it is, the completed steeple, seen in place on the tower of St. Aimless the Confused,* parish church of Much Giggling in the Hay.

Those fine chaps of Sir Rick Astley's** Regiment of Foote guard the church from incursions by those naughty iconoclastic sons-of-fun, the Parliamentarians.

Each of the four faces of the steeple has a small window made from rectangles of coffee stirrer cut to shape and shaved into wedge shapes so as to fit the sloping sides. The windows were painted on. The stripes marking planks, tiles, slates etc. didn't make it through the painting stage but enough showed I was able to go over them again with a sharp pencil. The cross atop the steeple took a bit of doing. A thin strip of wood provided the bulk of it, with the two arms being glued to either side to present a flat profile. I inserted the end of the cross into a small bead, pushing enough of the stem through to go into the apex of the steeple. Once glued in place I painted it all gold.

* Patron Saint of the Permanently befuzzled.

** Sir Rick Astley's a thoroughly reliable officer. He'll never give you up, he'll never let you down...

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Steeple learning curve

Not being in the mind for gaming lately I revisited an old scenery project instead. This N-scale/10mm English church model is a few years old now. It's built from Hirst Arts plaster components and the Gothic style means it can appear in any period from the late 12th century right up to modern times. It has a relatively small footprint to take up less space on the tabletop, but is quite tall to make it seem to fill more space than it does. I always intended it to be changeable to a degree so as to increase its use, so I made the top of the tower configurable. It can be plain flat, have a cupola or - now, a steeple.




The steeple is 3 3/4" tall and made from four isosceles triangles cut from cereal packet card mounted on a square plaster base to give it a bit of heft. Some steeples are octagonal, but that's a little bit too complicated a job for me to want to tackle at the moment. Maybe in future. The sides are marked with a fine Sharpie pen. I'm going to add thin strips of paper to the vertical edges then paint the steeple a neutral mid grey colour so it could be wood like early steeples, or tiles or slate, and the black stripes should show through to give the impression of rows of slates, tiles, planks, etc.


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