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Saturday, 15 June 2019

economic real estate

Well , it's certainly been a while.  I have once again had my gaming time diverted by health problems. Unfortunately it's never going to go away but I have learned to adapt.  Anyway, all fine now and I have finally found my interest in gaming once more.  For many years now I have always looked on the shelves of the cheap shops or pound shops as I think they are called in the uk. last week while looking for plastic boxes to use as carry cases I spotted some resin aquarium decorations that just might be useful.. The scale was well, generic but close enough not to worry me and I'm pretty flexible when it comes to scales for scenic items.  So here's the tale of some cheap toys. They were priced at 3 euros each and I have seen far worse for 10 times that in "official" pet shops.  Job done I walked away with 3 mini fantasy castles for just under a tenner .

                 The buildings were in  a ruined state so I went to work with the Dremel and removed all the rubble and broken wall pieces. When that was done out came the green stuff and they were as good as the day they were built. Well almost. They needed some retouching of paintwork and a change of some of the more garish colours and finally my vision was island pieces for my imaginations. A quick piece of island building with cork sheet , some polystyrene and PVA glue and there we go . So enough verbosity.

First lets take a look at what we bought:-

 This one was particularly ruined with piles of rubble and missing sections of roof .. This really needed a lot of work to make it lived in. 

I like this one a lot. First the separation of the buildings and all the multi level add ons that hung in space. When I built the island I built it so the slopes came under the hanging bits and they appeared to be built naturally on the island.

This was the most fantasy inspired design of the three so I decided to accept it for what it was , did minimal rebuilding and dulled all the colours down. They still look like fantasy buildings but I think it will look ok on the table.  This was built as an edge piece rather than an island.

Here are the finished items

 Nicely toned down Lots of rebuilding with green stuff but I think well worth it.

I really like this finished item.. I built a shallow beach on one side for fishing boats and a small wharf on the deep water side for the big Zondersee supply barges.

Bit too fantasy island for my taste but I built it into a lakeside piece and it won't look too bad.  

As an exercise in cheap scenic pieces I thoroughly enjoyed working on them and will certainly keep my eyes open for similar bargain price aquarium decorations. Now to get them on a table with some ships ..  

Monday, 21 January 2019

The round table rides again...............

                  This post really should have preceded the last one but never mind. As part of my 25mm adventure I invested in the footsore miniatures character pack of a mounted king Arthur. (he is real and yes he's only sleeping). These are beautiful models and just begged to be painted. Now I would like to point out that I haven't painted a 25mm mounted figure since about 1980. paints were enamels and came in little round tine. Basing was a bit of green cardboard and tints/inks/shades were unknown.  I did quite a bit of experimenting with techniques while preparing the infantry figures posted earlier and to my surprise you can teach an old dog new tricks. I approached painting the horse with great trepidation especially after looking at other folks offerings across the web. Finally I took the bull by the horns and simply upsized the technique i used for 6mm and 10mm to 25mm and hoped different varnishes ie gloss followed by matte would do the trick. I was rather pleased. What do you think?

 I was quite happy with the end result and it kind of left me with an urge to try my hand at more.

                          Next step was to get enough armoured and unarmoured cavalry to give me a reasonable amount to field in a 4 or 6 point Arthurian Saga force. Again I didn't NEED these troops so again it was more a pleasure project than a must have. Sixteen figures would be the target and the price of the metal figures kind of made my eyes water. I thought again and in the end I decided that my experience with Gripping beast plastic infantry had been a pleasant one and I still had a lot of figures and parts left from the 3 packs I had bought and thus available for spares and conversions. The plan was therefore to invest in a box each of late roman cavalry and dark age cavalry. twelve figures in each box would be enough for Arthur's pals and some late roman cavalry to go with my earlier painted army purchase.

                          When they arrived I realised they were going to need some work. I started to by carving out all the plastic inside the reins. It was just to ugly for me to ignore. I would have preferred mounts closeer to the shorter, sturdier mounts of the early dark ages but I had little choice but to accept the noble warhorses that come in the pack.  Anyway, I spent many hours and a lot of enjoyment preparing the figures . I mixed heads , weapons made brass spears and javelins. I added spare javelin bags to the horses and swords and scabbard slings to the dark age cavalry.  After the first few I started to change body positions cutting arms to different angles and cutting figures at the waist to swivel the upper torso round.  I really did have a lot of fun. I changed some of the horse legs from model to model to give even more variation and some of the armoured figures received horse armour from paper and card.. that was perhaps a bit laborious but it made a huge difference.

            So enough prattling on from me . Here is how it all turned out.

The first 4 armoured troops were action figures I had to change the legs on a couple to make them look more like charging but that was really easy. The armour on the charging horse was a pain in the arse and I left any further armour for standing horses .

The second group were standing or trotting mounts I only armoured one of the horses this time. that wasn't so pleasurable.

 Now my attention passed to the unarmoured guys.  I wanted to be able to use these in a number of dark age British forces so I made quite a few with Celtic or generic  dark age shield designs rather than christian emblems. Again lots of work but very satisfactory.

Again I did an action group and trotting group.   .

            So it ends or maybe not. I acquired a box of Saxon thegns recently and have a lot of dark age infantry figures left. I may just try my hand at Early Saxons next. Oops did I just order Saxon bucklers and shield designs... <SIGH>

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The last of the Romans.... I think

                       In my previous post I hinted that I had turned my hand to building, converting and painting 28mm cavalry for my SAGA forces. As a result, I invested in a box each of late Roman cavalry and Dark age cavalry. I built a large cavalry arm for my Romano-British forces and learned a lot in the process. I swapped heads, parts of heads, weapons, upper and lower body parts and even legs on horses. I added parts like horse armour and built folded cloaks and baggage from green stuff. I really enjoyed myself. When I "had finished "  the cavalry figures I needed (some 16 figures) I had quite a lot of bits left and so decided to make a small unit of cavalry for the late Rona army I had purchased. Now I will make a more extensive post on the forces of Arthur in a later article but present here my Romans in all their glory.

I particularly like the added baggage from green stuff and the javelin bags from paper and card.

the figures are a joy to work with and with the addition of paper strapping for the sword scabbards and heavy changes of limb positions they have provided me with an almost unique force.

  Next up will be the Romano-British cavalry.


Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A return to a once and future king. (don't ask just happened)

Since posting my purchased Late Roman SAGA army, I have played a number of games and have to say they are a delight. Simple and subtle at the same time and playable in a couple of hours.. Really loved them.. I was also in a bit of a stale period in that most of my planned projects were complete apart from scenery and its a tad cold in my garage for that. In a moment of fluttering butterfly wings I took a close look at my new army and weighed up the facts. The last time I painted anything bigger than 15mm was back in the 1970's. Humbrol was the order of the day and acrylics were a reflection in artists eyes. I have never used triple coats , or shading or toners in fact the most adventurous stuff I had tried was black lining detail.. Now as I said I was examining the troops I had purchased and in a moment of madness the thought struck me "I CAN DO THIS". As a result I looked for some old figures to experiment on. I found three I could do something with the first was a salute gift figure of "hereward the wake" he was an Anglo Saxon but with a bit of work could be worked up to a reasonable heroic dark age era warrior or even "KING ARTHUR" (we all know he was real right?). The next was a mithril figures Nazgul (yeah I did say Nazgul) again a bit of work and imagination and this one would become a warrior priest so enamored of the writers of fiction for this period. The third was a rather wonderful figure of Odin gathering up the dead to take them to Valhalla. A truly beautiful figure but of no use to me whatsoever. A bit of lateral thinking and there was Merlin searching for luck among the heather of the Welsh hills. Of course all weapons would be replaced and any ridiculous conversions that I thought of would be applied and I would experiment with as many new fangled painting techniques as possible. I also decided to use the wonderful shield decals from LBMS to make the figures really POP.

          Here is the result of the trial figures

L to R
Nazgul , hereward the wake, odin.

warrior priest, King Arthur, Merlin picking heather.

                     Now to say I was pleased with them is an understatement. Sure there are hundreds of guys who can do better but these were mine  heheheheh. So I decided to collect and paint an Arthurian SAGA force little bits at a time and treat it as a painting and modelling exercise rather than a must finish wargaming project. My first purchase was a few character figures from Footsore that caught my eye. They would form the start of a hearthguard. When they arrived , I LOVED them.. Figure makers really have improved way beyond my imaginations in the last century.. Lovely . Having said that I went to work with knives and files improving undercuts adding new weapons and generally tarting up. Here's how they turned out

 After these I was truly hooked .

I looked elsewhere  for figures and decided to try a pack of 5 characters from saxon miniatures.  Again lovely stuff. I attacked them with the same strategy as the previous ones. I now had a truly unique and varied hearthguard. Saxon miniatures as shown below

Nice figures but the animation is a bit overcooked for me but still nice.

So here I was. It was growing into a serious wargames army and though I say it myself , looking nice. I wasn't however prepared to spend copious amounts on similar looking metal figures. then I looked again at my purchased army (made from Gripping beast plastics), checked out the dark age warrior sprue and made the decision to buy a box of each, toss the bits in the air and use what came down. Well almost. I bought a box of each and started cutting and chopping.. Bloody great fun.  reminded me of those long afternoons model making with my dad some 60 years ago..
 the result is very satisfying and I am hugely proud of the end result. definitely pro standard . I have still got it hahahaha. I've never been the modest type .

my plastic warriors New weapons , swords and scabbards , extra javelins, new leather pouches. I really went to town.. So here you go

 On the table its hard to tell them from metal.. They are so nice to work with and hugely convertible.

I only need a dozen archers and slingers and they are good to go..

Oh BTW did I mention I bought a mounted figure of King Arthur (of course he's real) from footsore miniatures and had a go at that as well. Guess what?  I can paint horses too.  see next post lol

Sunday, 7 October 2018

I just blinked and there they were................

                   The ships and the islands for the Zondersee were now a routine part of my efforts. I have more than enough to play and can work on them when I feel like it rather than having to do it NOW.  The "·Rommel" project was complete although some game specific scenery would be added in time.  All in all I had survived the fluttering wings and stayed with my gaming objectives of one project at a time, just enough to play and don't move on till the project is basically complete.  So what next.

                  Of late I have actually being playing against regular opponents more than in previous years, probably as a result of My hyperactive friend of many years returning regularly from China. We had played a few games of "Saga" which I admit I enjoyed very much and there was a momentary temptation to purchase and paint but there were too many oh no's for me to do it. It had been MANY years since I last painted any 20-28mm figures and my skill set in that area were very much in the Humbrol and block painting era. I knew little of nothing about inks and shading and dry brushing I knew about but hadn't really practiced. The final touch was it would take me a lifetime to paint that many 28mm figures and that before I could play a game. Not the way I wanted to go.
               During a game with another friend who is also a very good painter he tried to convince me to get a force together but I resisted.  Out of interest I asked him about painting a force of late Romans and what price he would charge. Buying an army would be a first for me. He was a bit uncomfortable about asking for a reasonable payment but I insisted it had to be fair. The price he asked was good and it turned out that what he was offering me was his own Late Roman force. I agreed immediately. Still feeling a bit uncomfortable he asked if maybe I had some figures he might want to offset the cost.


           I brought out of storage the 15mm ancient lead piles. (yes I have several piles) It was a lot of figures with probably several armies possible. They were also carefully collected Donnington, Frei Korps and Irregular figures with a range of variants not often seen here in Spain. He was gobsmacked and asked how much of it he could take in exchange for the army. Now I should explain that to me they were absolutely worthless. I would never paint them , couldn't be arsed to sell them anywhere and would still be in the same box in the garage when I died. I gave him the lot.. It felt really good because I know how good they would look when he finished them..

                   So that's the story. I now own a very pretty late Roman saga force of some 50 figures including cataphracts and I am highly delighted and on top of that there is this beautiful empty hole where a part of the lead pile had been. really was a weight off my mind.  To finish off I thought I would share them with you. Oh there is just one other thing. I found an old salute figure of "Hereward the wake" and wondered vaguely if I still had the skills. So a little customisation and "Hereward" became a heroic figure of the Romano British period and you know what? I really enjoyed it.  Watch this space....  Armies I can't paint but a few figures here and there is great fun..

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Land Ahoy!!!!!!!

                        While enjoying an hour of  smashing little ships to pieces during my trials of the rules for the Zondersee ships, someone said "needs a rock or two" I laughed and then thought about it. Now I have never been to great on making scenery but I do have my super dooper static grass machine, so I checked out some videos and blog pages and decided "yeah I can do that!"

                        A few days with PVA glue, cork sheets and some expanded polystyrene (the white crumbly crap not the nice blue good stuff. Why make it easy'"  I had a few rocks that I quite liked. I also found a domestic crack filler in the local hardware shop that was extremely light and dried super quickly for smoothing over the polystyrene blocks forming the rocks.. So chocks away and lets do it. Armed with some very large and cheap pots of acrylic paint I managed to get some very presentable items. Monopoly houses and plastic cards provided evidence of habitation and suddenly I had some nice looking bits with a lot of gaming possibilities.

                       I set them all up with a new sea mat marked in 4" hexagons from tiny wargames   which is simply one of the prettiest sea boards I have seen. The overall effect was just delightful taking my level of talent into consideration.. I am so pleased with the end result. here is the end result so far with some ships added in for an idea of sizes. The ships are the lovely card kits from war artisan

Just enough bases to play he said....

               Goodness me is it really seven weeks since I posted here last?  there have been many reasons / excuses for not posting ranging from minor health problems to the effects of the hottest summer on record here in Cataluña. It's a humid heat and although we have air conditioning in the house our terrace experienced 40 to 45 degrees regularly for 3 weeks. It leaves you physically drained and I found getting stuck into the hobby difficult.. I did manage to do a few things one of which was to complete my gaming friend Albert request to arrange a game of Rommel before he returned to China. "Just enough bases to play" Naturally I got quite carried away and did rather more than I intended. As the day neared I set up the battle with what scenery fitted the 6" square requirements  of Rommel , took some photos and awaited his arrival. Sadly real life cancelled his trip and he returned to China before we could play.. Ah well, maybe next time.  I did however have a number of photos of the field that I have decided to post here as a record of this small side project. I also bought a rather nice new mat from Tinywargames It is premarked with 6" squares rather discretely and I really like it.  The figures are mainly H&R while the buildings are some very tasty 3mm buildings from totalbattleminiatures.

Hope you enjoy

The first shot is of the whole area which measures 12 miles by 8 miles depth. The mat is rather nice.for comparison you can see my cigarbox mat peeking out at the edges

The rest are views of the British bases. The figures are as stated previously rubbish from the 70's and 80's painted in enamels in a style that can best be described as experimental. I really like the way the diorama style hides that fact.

Views of the German bases to date. Again I really like the diorama, like a snapshot of an event within the area of operations.. Yes really does work for me.

Rommel is a board game with figures but the mechanisms are heavily into the cardboard and hex style. I don't object to that and the style of the bases makes it easier for me to understand the space and troop representation concepts involved.

               I still have a few divisional and Corps assets to base up but for now I think that's "just enough bases for a game" heheh. They however will have to wait as The Zondersee has aquired some new goodies. More in next post.