Monday, December 16, 2013

What was I thinking?

Well the Fourth Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is off to a flying start.  My goal is to paint 2,000 points of bare metal, plastic and resin.  You'll see most of it below.  I decided to prime the miniatures in batches.  It doesn't take long, and the really time consuming part of the preparation - cleaning and mounting on bases - is almost complete.
The terrain in the background is not really part of the challenge, just some stuff waiting to be done for a Late First World War scenario.  In the foreground you'll find Early WW1 Germans, WW2 US paratroops, Waffen SS, some 15mm WW2 US infantry, WW2 British paras, WW1 German cavalry, Fallschirmjager, and Early WW1 British infantry, and a couple of Mark IV tanks.  My output so far?  One non-combatant padre for the Great War.  You have to start somewhere.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

To the Brushes!

Despite my unrealized best intentions and dismal personal performance in last year's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, supremo Curt kindly invited me to return to the fray for another winter painting frenzy.  This time it will be different!  Well, we'll see.  Its actually a fantastic idea - not so much about competing with fellow painting gamers without borders - but rather attempting to set a goal for yourself and in the process enjoying the creativity and camaraderie of others who are also excavating their respective metal mountains.

Speaking of which, last night I sat down and took a cold hard look at what I wanted to work on for the next few months.  It was somewhat sobering for reasons I will explain below.

Firstly, I won't have to buy a single figure to participate this year.  The image below represents approximately 2,000 points in the painting challenge system.  Some of these I've had lying around for a while.

So what will I be painting?  Probably close to eight years ago I painted up a ton of 15mm Fallschirmjaeger and German armour for Flames of War.  I also did some really great Bocage terrain.  I'll have to post some pics later.  I've never really gotten a chance to put them on the table.  With my sons reaching an age where we can at least attempt to game, I wanted to paint up some adversaries for the Krauts.  So here you'll see some 15mm Battlefront Americans with five Shermans from Plastic Soldier.  The boys love tanks, so let's see if we can't get them on the table in time for a Spring offensive.
Next, some 28mm World War II figures from Warlord Games' Bolt Action series.  Early this year I'd intended to paint them up for the new Bolt Action rules.  Here's the chance to get them on the table: Fallschirmjaeger, SS, Screaming Eagles and Red Devils.  Did I mention my boys love armour?  Also in the pile are some nicely sculpted figures and vehicles from West Wind Productions "Berlin or Bust" series.  These mix well with Bolt Action.

I continue my fascination with the Great War.  The impending centenary of the beginning of the First World War will, I'm certain, be commemorated by many gamers around the globe.  I wanted to paint up some early War figures - British and German.  Included in the pile are German cavalry from Wargames Foundry as well as German and British infantry and artillery from both Great War Miniatures and Battle Honors Miniatures.  

I bought a couple of 25mm Old Glory Mark IV tanks a while back too.  In a previous blog, I noted just how large they are in comparison to the Foundry version.  I toyed with the idea of returning them to the vendor, but now its too late.  So I'll paint them for the campaigns in the Middle East, and more precisely the Second Battle of Gaza.  When did I start doing the Great War in Palestine you ask?  Well, right about now.  This means of course I'll have to buy some more figures: Ottoman Turks, Australian Light Horse, German Asia Corps, British infantry in tropical kit, Indian cavalry.  It just so happens I have a few figs lying around, but not nearly enough of course.    And Brigade Games have some great sculpts.  Such is the nature of addiction.

Finally a few odds and ends: Great War German casualties, a padre (hoping that Curt will allow him as a non-combatant), and somewhere tucked away I'm pretty sure I have some unpainted miniatures I was going to do for Legends of the Old West.

The biggest lesson I learned from last year's challenge was not to wait unit the first day of action to start preparing and priming the miniatures.  This always takes way longer than I anticipate.  So from now until December 15, the sound of filing, snipping, and spraying will ring out from my workshop.

Perhaps the most sobering part of all this is to total up the value of the unpainted miniatures piled on the table above.  In many cases I didn't pay full price.  I've traded them, bought them as part of an Army Deal, or purchased them at discount.  But even taking that into account, they represent quite an investment.  The sensible thing is to get them on the tabletop where they belong.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

German Support Weapons and Specialists

Rounding out my collection of Late War Germans, I've converted and painted a few specialist miniatures.  These, as I alluded to in my last post, should have been completed for the Analogous Hobbies painting challenge.  They never quite made it to the front line unfortunately, and their completion is almost twelve months behind schedule.  Where does the time go?

Firstly, some nicely sculpted snipers from Great War Miniatures.  I mounted the prone figures on large round bases.  Leaving off the bases would have increase their versatility on the tabletop, but I liked the more "finished" look.  The addition of a nicely detailed base is a little like putting a picture in a matted frame.  It just looks better.

Next a couple of trench mortars.  These are a mix of figures from Old Glory and Brigade Games.  The Old Glory figures are shown serving the mortar.  I took a second wheeled mortar from Old Glory and combined it with a team from Brigade Games that was initially designed to drag a Maxim.  I filed down the rings on the ends of the straps that were sculpted on the figures, and then attached strips of thin plasticard.  I quite like the effect, although I'm not sure how they will "game" on the table.

I did further conversions on a group of Old Glory figures designed to be part of a mortar team.  These are shown here hauling forward a Brigade Games Maxim on each corner of its forward legs and sled.  One of the Brigade Games' officers is wearing a rare helmet cover

The stationary Maxim below comes with its original Brigade Games crew.  .

The granatenwerfer team are from the same specialist Great War Miniatures pack.

Monday, November 4, 2013

10mm Republican Romans

This is something of a digression from the scales that I've normally featured on this blog (25-28mm) and time period (predominantly early 20th century).  In the weeks ahead I hope to upload images of some of my collection of miniatures that date from earlier enthusiasms and a period in my life when I had more time on my hands to paint and game (i.e. before Liam and Patrick came along).  In this post I'm taking you to the epic world of 10mm and a distant past when a young Rome began to flex her imperial muscles.  These figures - predominantly Magister Militum and Pendraken if memory serves me correctly - were painted up back around 2006, just after the first edition of Warmaster Ancients came out.
It seemed like a good idea at the time for each member of our local wargaming club to paint up an ancient army in 10 mm.  I chose Republican Rome, and set about producing the early legions in all their tenaciousness.  I personally like the period and the variety that can be produced on the tabletop: Roman heavy cavalry, Spanish allies, Greek hoplite allies, and various grades of Roman infantry from the nimble velites clad in wolf-pelt to the battle scarred triarii held in reserve.  The club loved the game, pitting Romans against Carthaginians.  What did us in was the painting - all that effort and so few figs on the table!  But when we combined our individual 1,000 point armies, the effect was truly epic.

Republican Roman Army: Infantry in the center, Greek allies on the right flank, Numidian cavalry on the left
Roman left flank with velites in front of Spanish and Numidian cavalry
Numidian Cavalry
Scipio Africanus in command

So what's next?  For me at least, the Thirty Years' War with its masses of pike and armor-clad cuirassier.  How long will it take to produce?  At my current rate, probably the better part of a year.  We'll see.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wings of Glory

My two sons have become fascinated with biplanes, and so I surveyed available rule sets to try and find a simple game system that we could play together.  I got plenty of advice via The Miniatures Page.  The consensus was heavily in favor of Wings of War, or as its now known, Wings of Glory.  Next up, I bought their introductory rule set and we tried it out.  The basic rules were very easy to learn, even for the youngest.

The set up was very simple on our dining room table, but of course I wanted more.  I contemplated buying the commercially produced gaming mat.  But then I got the inspiration to scratch build one.  The process went something like this.  I used a method I've successfully employed before to produce flexible and durable game mats.  I had a sea mat that I'd never gotten around to painting up, so I decided to recover it and make it into a bleak Great War No-Man's-Land, viewed from a few thousand feet up.  Those who've followed my previous blogs will realize that this was not my first foray in Great War terrain making.

First up, I reapplied a coat of Elastomeric Roof Coating.  I wasn't happy with the texture, so I decided to try something different.  I sprayed on a coat of the sort of texturing used on drywall.  This looked good, but tended to be unstable, so I applied another layer of roof coating over the top.  Then while it was still wet, I used the hard end of a paint brush and marked in the front line trenches, communications trenches, and second lines as well.  This was left to cure overnight, aided by some very dry atmospheric conditions.

Next we applied a coat of paint - not the darkest color I'd used to produce trench terrain in 28mm, but rather the second, lighter color.  This seemed more appropriate for the scale.  Then I brushed on a light cream color to highlight the broken ground.

Next I traced the outline of the "green fields beyond" with soft pencil and then I blocked in a variety of greens and browns to create a patchwork effect.  I painted the ragged lines of the trenches with a heavier brown and delineated the fields further with GW Dark Angels Green representing small copses and lines of trees on their borders.  I'm contemplating making this into more of a three dimensional representation using flocking material to represent vegetation and possibly some smoke and shell bursts.  But for now, its ready to game.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Great War Workbench

Its been a while since I posted something due to a variety of interruptions - work (the necessary evil), family (what would I do without the blighters?), and a certain amount of lethargy.  Here are a few things that have been sitting on my workbench for a while - a few now finished, and some very near completion.
Firstly despite my best intentions, I didn't quite get around to painting as many figs has I had hoped for the painting challenge late last year.  The Late-War Germans you'll see below were almost done for the competition, but time ran out.  They've remained almost done for a while now, but in the week ahead I think I can finally push through with some finishing touches.  Perhaps the biggest learning I took away from the painting challenge was to do the preparation and priming up front before the countdown begins.  I always tend to underestimate just how much time that takes, and in doing so, I lost some valuable days.

I did however manage to complete a few vehicles - a couple of Foundry Mark IV tanks, an Old Glory A7V, and an Old Glory Lanchester armored car.  Below you'll find an interesting comparison between two versions of the A7V. On the left is Old Glory's version.  On the right what I believe is Brigade Games'.
I painted them based on illustrations from Osprey's book on Great War Panzers.  Of the two models, the Brigade Games' version seems more historically accurate. Note for example the modeling of the shielding around the tracks and also the positioning of the exhaust pipe.  Mephisto has already been featured in one of my earlier blog posts.

Above: "Nixe"  Below: "Mephisto"

I've also spent some time producing a few battlefield accessories, including poison gas markers and barbed wire markers, both with "Through the Mud and the Blood" in mind.  The barbed wire is mounted on round  toothpicks set in pieces of 4" x 4" plastic card, and the base then textured and painted.  I purchased the wire from the local craft chain store, Michaels, in the jewelry-making section.  Its just the right scale for 25-28mm.  Interestingly its called "German Wire"!  The gas markers were produced from round cork coasters, again from Michaels.  Texturing the base tended to warp them slightly, but not too much.  I added in a few spare body parts from a pack of GW Zombies that I'd painted up years back for Hordes of the Things.  I also dug around and found some casualties that the kind people at Wargames Foundry had sent me free of charge when I ordered a couple of Mark IVs.  The gas is made up from white aquarium filter, spray painted with a garish green.  Its possibly too bright for the real thing, but works quite nicely on the tabletop.
Above: Gas clouds and barbed wire
Above: finding a gap
Above: Only the dead have seen the end of war
Above: uncut wire
Above: A7Vs and flame throwers

Finally above you'll see the flame thrower markers I made, using Sidney Roundwood's excellent tutorial on the subject.  Who says gaming the Great War is dull and boring?