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The once and future....

The once and future....

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Saturday, 1 February 2020

Still hanging in there.

Damn, last August! Has it really been that long.

                                    Usual excuses I guess. Ill health and the brutal death of a childhood friend pushed me into a long term of deep depression. I have niether gamed or painted until recently. I have however planned a million things in my head none of which will ever see the light of day but they have kept me sane.

                                   Recently I managed to drum up the enthusiasm to complete another seascape piece, a church on a headland. Nice. I also painted up some longboats that fit nicely with the 1/300 ships and the scenary. Let's hope I can keep the enthusiasm going.

The Former principality of klagenfurt Has kept m pretty enthralled since it's birth as a vaguely mid European 18th century state through it's transformation into a purely fictional geographic imagination.I am hoping this month to mount a game of Maurice at our local open day and hope it will keep the juices flowing.
Oh BTW the longboats are 1/450 from Peter Pig.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

I do like to be beside the Zeeside

             I have played quite a few games on the Zondersee and apart from an island or two there is little to show for it being an inland sea. I decided it was time to add some coastline.  Built in much the same way as my earlier scenic pieces i used mainly cork sheeting and very light, strong drying plaster filler called Pluma here. Cheap as chips but a great modelling media. It seems to be similar to modelling plasters I've seen on the net but comes prepared for use.

              Not a lot more to say really. I have about 12 feet so far of modular coastline and am working on a system for a permanent backdrop on the garage games table because the difference with and without is spectacular. heres' a few shots of my efforts so far.

 The harbour was the most difficult piece as it involved a lot of scratch built and monopoly buildings, I also wanted it to be on the inclined slopes of the surrounding cliff and that wasn't easy either.

The coastline is drawn to adapt roughly to the imprinted hexes on the seamat I bought.

I'm still working on the ordinary coast pieces adding farms and small towns or just plain forestland as the feeling takes me.

             Having built and seen the pieces on the table I am of course getting ideas for combined operations perhaps using hair curler troops with a couple of battalions per side.  Who knows?

Monday, 8 July 2019

Teaching old dogs new tricks.

                                      My enthusiasm for The Saga skirmish system for a fun couple of hours gaming shows no signs of waning. On learning of my groups intentions to hold a day of games using the crusade supplement I spent a few brief moments of insanity considering buying various boxes of shiny plastic crusade era figures to paint up a couple of armies. Then sanity took over and I decided against it. A couple of days later I was casting my eyes over the rows of troops stored lovingly for oh so many years, something I often do while looking for inspiration or even disbelief at the time invested there. Not to speak of the money. Anyway I spotted away up in a corner a couple of shelves filled with 25/28/S (I give up on figure scales to be honest). They were my WRG 6th edition armies of Asiatics and Ghazanavid forces filled with various manufacturers from Airfix to Hinchcliffe (see mixing scales was never a problem for me) I climbed on some steps I have and looked hard at the shelves and there at the back was a large mass of Asiatic horsemen both lights and heavies from I'm guessing, mainly Dixon miniatures.  They were a fairly generic lot and could serve as anything from I'm guessing Huns to Hungarians and anything in between. A quick look through the Crusade supplement and sure enough there was an eligible list , the CUMAN horde. Time to inspect.

                                   These figures are over 40 years old I'm guessing and very well used in the days of use which were before I left the UK in the 80's. I had already reconciled myself to a fair bit of repair and painting , expecting normal gaming damage and wear and tear.  Lo and behold they were in great condition. Now these figures are far from my current painting style and were almost certainly one of the first armies I performed a lot of conversion on so not perfect. The horses were painted with artist acrylics in tube form and very presentable. The riders resplendent in gaudy colours from Humbrol. not an ink or shader or two tone or even I think a dry brush. Having said that they weren't bad at all. Mounted on ponies and not horses , for their day these figures were the dog's bits in my opinion and still look good today.
                                       A lengthy production of bases and tufts some remounting and 21st century base texturing and there they were. Very pleased I am too. What do you think?

armoured nobles on cataphract horses. I think these were Dixon riders on Hinchcliffe horses. The only change I would make to these now would be replace the lead lances with brass ones.  I hate bendy lances.

 Armoured nobles on ponies all dixon. Those ponies must have been tough little buggers.

More Nobles. Quite a few conversions to be seen here.

 The next four pictures are the light horse classed as warriors with composite bow in saga. there are some really great figures in this lot with lots of character. Dixon was one of the first figure makers to give his figures real faces.

I should add I think I saw enough Arabs and Mameluks to make some sort of Saracen force as well.
Who says you can't teach an old dog (army) new tricks. 

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