Wednesday, 25 April 2018

On to bigger things!

Since my late Teens I have always told myself that one day I would own a large collection of Napoleonic soldiers. Lord knows I have painted and sold many thousands of figures over the years as my enthusiasm for wargaming - though not painting - has ebbed and flowed. I had recently been looking into painting and collecting 54mm figures for display, but I like to build units featuring the different types, fusiliers, grenadiers, light company etc. I started to paint some of the 18mm Blue Moon figures the other day, but it's a busy time with a lot going on right now and I found it hard to focus. I always find starting something from scratch demanding.

When I saw that Andy Copestake of Old Glory Uk was selling off his fantastic collection of 40mm Peninsular War figures by Sash and Saber, I was unable to resist contacting him. It struck me that 40mm is large enough to satisfy my 'collector' instinct and they will look great in the large glass fronted display cabinet that comes with our new home, while still being a practical size for 'old school' wargames once in a while. Upshot is that I am now about to become the new owner of these lovely figures, I am delighted with them and Andy has kindly allowed me to share some photos here. I fully intend to add to them as the range is quite extensive. They run to about 240 or so figures painted, plus another 80 odd with basic blocked in colours waiting to be finished. The French 2nd Hussars comprise 16 figures and are magnificent!

Going to be a while before I can get my hands on them as they will probably travel out to Spain with my Son in Law on 16th June for a safer journey in the lorry with our furniture. I'm going to order some extras via Andy's Old Glory UK webstore and hopefully they can be posted to Spain. I want to add British Heavy Dragoons to start with.

Here are a few images from Andy to begin with, and a shot of what will be our new home in Turis, Valencia by mid June.... if all goes to schedule. I have already picked my future hobby room on the 1st floor, large enough for a 6 x 4 table, a painting area and the display cabinet, it is lovely and bright.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Sourcing Vallejo paints in Spain.

It's been a busy few days, we have found our new home and started the legal process of the purchase. The house is in the centre of a wine producing region and as such is surrounded by vines on all sides, it feels very rural and typically Spanish, yet is only 30 minutes from the bustling centre of Valencia. The local village is Godelleta, just 6 kilometres away. A  bus service operates from Godelleta to Valencia daily. Our drive into Valencia to complete the paperwork was quite eventful, especially when still getting used to left hand drive on the wrong side of the road! The Spanish are very keen on the car horn if you show any hesitation. But Valencia is lovely, beautifully clean and the people are relaxed and friendly.

Today I managed for the first time to check my box of paints and brushes properly, all survived the long journey intact. I wanted to be sure that I will be able to source Vallejo paints relatively locally here - they are of course a Spanish company - and was surprised to find that there are actually two stockists in Valencia, and one in Gandia so I should have no problem in stocking up as and when I need to. I had already checked with Andy at Old Glory that I would be able to get more troops posted out to Spain so that's sorted. I will need more line infantry and command packs.

I have the first figures ready to undercoat, British line battalion. I'm simply going to take my time building conventional units and  see where it goes. I'm now thinking that 24 figure battalions work best, allowing for the addition of the flank companies. Just one issue to solve now, that of suitable bottle tops for holding the figures. I need to start again, but all the local Rioja still has corks so water bottle tops it will be.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Spanish hobby plans!

We are here in Calpe for 6 weeks and our property hunt begins in earnest with plenty lined up to see. It was hot enough yesterday for my youngest daughter to get a touch of sunburn on her shoulders despite parental warnings.

View from the roof terrace towards Calpe and the Mediterranean.

I have two hobby related projects planned for life in Spain. Firstly, 18mm Blue Moon Napoleonics, and a newly acquired game - 'Sails of Glory' that recreates ship to ship action in the Napoleonic period. For those who have not seen it, the game features superb models of Napoleonic fighting ships, and the game can be further expanded by a whole range of different ship models. They come pre painted and are very nicely done, but I intend to add a little more detail to them in due course such as staining the sails, basic rigging, ratlines etc. I may well use the models with a different set of rules such as 'Action Under sail' and must admit it was the quality of the ships that attracted me to the game. I acquired my set at a discount from Dave Ryan due to a slightly damaged box corner, and then added a further two larger ship models, one French and one British, the latter being HMS Victory as I simply could not resist them. Once settled I'll feature this game and a review on the blog.

My Blue Moon order arrived from Andy Copestake at Old Glory and the figures are superb, I would say easily on a par with AB Miniatures. With the Peninsular War in mind and to reduce postage going forward I ordered a fair few packs as you can see below! Some pretty serious painting lies ahead. I have decided to base them conventionally in units of 16 figures to begin with, but may expand in the future. I'm trying to decide on a set of rules to use.

The quality of the Blue Moon figures is superb. Thanks to 'Big Andy' at Old Glory UK for getting my order out in time to make the journey to Spain.

I have settled on a painting area - my box of paints and brushes all survived the long journey intact - the light is so good that I wont need a painting lamp here. I had my eyes tested for new glasses before we left the UK and was delighted to be told my close sight was perfect, and even my distance sight had improved slightly, I had expected some deterioration. So as usual I remove my glasses to paint figures, not bad for a 60 year old.

Now to try and source some blu tac and superglue out here, and I want to order new brushes and MDF bases may have to come from the Uk possibly.

I'm also delighted to say that I'm only 20 minutes away from Parcent where Paul of the 'Napoleonic Wargaming' blog lives, and we plan to meet up for a coffee when he and his wife are here in Calpe on one of their weekly shopping trips.

Finally......... the Rioja is beautiful and less than half the price of the Uk!

Friday, 30 March 2018

The adventure begins!

Thank you for all of the messages wishing us good luck on our move, they are much appreciated. We are booked on flights to Alicante on the 14th April with an initial 6 week rental on a lovely villa as we view as many properties as possible that we have bookmarked. We are looking to buy a 5 or 6 bedroom villa with the obligatory pool and nice views as we have a large family and my wife is interested in offering B&B accommodation ..... her passion is cooking so guests would be well fed!

Whilst still here in the Uk I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on what to do next with my hobby time. I'm currently in a hotel overlooking the English Channel, it's cold and wet but the sailing club is out as are the fishermen, hardy souls. From Saturday onwards we have booked a lovely little cottage on the Kent/Sussex borders, dog friendly so I'm looking forward to getting out for some good walks. I'll be taking Commands & Colors with me, so plan a couple of evenings playing Peninsular scenarios from the base game, if necessary in front of the log burner!

I still feel the need to paint wargame figures and my thoughts have turned increasingly to the Peninsular War, I plan to visit as many battlefields as I can once settled. So I now have on order a goodly number of Blue Moon 15mm Napoleonics from Andy at Old Glory, they will be delivered to my Daughters house next week and will be driven out to Spain by my Son in Law on the 13th April along with my paint box and C&C sets. He is also taking Poppy the dog and Sheldon the cat, both of whom now have pet passports to travel.

And once there, I plan to work my way through the 'Sharpe' series again by way of inspiration!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Pastures new!

On Monday 26th March we complete on our house sale and a new adventure awaits as we move to Spain. I decided that I want to make a completely fresh start hobby wise too and so it was a pleasure to meet Rob this morning who has taken into his care my Hinchliffe ECW collection. After a bit of indecision - although I knew in my heart that I wanted to pass them on - it was with not a single regret that I saw them go to a new home where they will be well used and enjoyed. The fact that 'Wellington Man' who I know to be a big fan of the Hinchliffes may be visiting Rob on his travels and seeing them 'in the flesh' as it were was a bonus.

I wanted to make a complete break and so I am really pleased that I will be passing on the two fully painted sets of 'Travel Battle' to Bob Cordery, who will I'm sure get much pleasure from them in conjunction with his 'Portable Wargames' rules. Bob and I lived only a few minutes apart for more than a decade before we moved down to the Kent coast, yet we never met. I admire his commitment to the hobby.

I will be taking Commands & Colors Napoleonics and all the expansions that I have with me, funny enough speaking to Rob this morning I realised that the only expansion I don't have is the Spanish one, something of an irony considering where I am going, but I'll put that right and grab a copy before we leave for Spain mid April. I may also get the base game C&C ancients too. I do intend to expand my board game collection, but I'm sure that I'll paint something again once settled!

I'm sure that you will see something new appearing on this blog in due course, although it may be a couple of months before this happens.

All the best for now,


Saturday, 3 March 2018

Establishing desert tones and collectables.

I glued up the first section of 10 infantry from the Perry 'Desert Rat' set, they were far quicker and easier to put together than the Napoleonics I did a few years back, possibly because I have had a lot of practice with plastic multi part figures, but also there are a hell of a lot less separate parts to these latter figures. I then set about deciding how to approach painting them. After some thought I decided to stick with my trusty black base coat and to work with a fairly dry brush to build up the colours. I started with Vallejo British Uniform, highlighted with uniform + Off White. Still not happy with the resultant shade I went back to Flat Earth with about 20% added Off White and this produced a better shade to highlight with, again still keeping the brush fairly dry, not loaded with paint. At this point I felt I was close to the tones as illustrated on the box artwork, if a little patchy here and there. For the flesh I went a shade darker than usual Vallejo Beige Brown as the base and Sunny Flesh Tone as the highlight. At this stage I still did not feel happy 100%, the flesh needed a more suntanned look.  Vallejo Sepia Wash was brushed over the flesh - not forgetting the knees - and this produced a look that I was happy with. I also brushed a watered down wash of the same over equipment and uniform folds etc. They need varnishing, but on the whole I think they give a reasonable representation of the Desert Rats uniforms.

They will be based for Bolt Action with sand bases and represent a British Infantry Section consisting of a Sergeant with machine gun, 8 riflemen, one of whom supports the Bren Gunner with extra ammunition and the Bren Gunner himself. The Perry box contains 3 such sections together with mortar and anti tank rifle support weapons plus command figures/radio operator to complete a Platoon, as such it's very well thought out. Additional metal figures are available from Perry of course, including a fine Vickers medium machine gun section.

Bits and Bobs and a question.
With completion date set for 26th March we have been going through lots of old boxes from the garage and loft and found a few interesting things including my late Father in Laws small collection of pen/fruit knives, lots of old gold and silver jewellery, a Box Brownie camera and other things. Most of this has been sat in boxes since we moved into this house 14 years ago and it's been fun rediscovering these oddities.

A bit of research tells me that some of the fruit knives have quite an age, my favourite by far is this lovely little one with elegantly engraved mother of pearl handle and hallmarked silver ends and blade, the hallmark would appear to be for 1888 which I find remarkable, I'm keeping this one for myself! What I am most curious about is the object shown below, again it's hallmarked silver with a steel inset that opens and closes and appears to be designed as some kind of cutter? Too small for a cigar cutter, I would really be interested to know what it is? If any fellow bloggers have any ideas on the matter please share them with me.

Victorian Fruit Knife - Mother of Pearl with hallmarked silver blade and end caps

The mystery object - hallmarked silver body with steel moving insert section.

Any ideas.

Some of the collection - at left is a 1943 Farthing with a fold out blade.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Perry 'Travel Battle' sets completed.

I should start by saying that the '800 Hinchliffes' post was actually intended to be posted on the Civil War blog, but confusion between signing in and out between blogs meant I accidentally posted it here! Still I'm glad the video got good exposure and all comments are very much appreciated. My aged Golden Retriever Marcie decided to start click clacking around the kitchen and then take a long noisy drink, which made for some interesting background sound effects.

Painting time is at a premium and the house is full of packing boxes, some furniture is being sold off and we are making lots of trips to the recycling centre and charity shops. However, I have managed to finish off my two Travel Battle sets, purchased almost a year ago after the launch at Salute. I think it may be useful now and that it will live up to it's title.

The four plastic terrain tiles can be laid out in a variety of configurations and occupies a space of just 20"x 20", the grid is 1" squares. I must admit I find the tiles very pleasing on the eye with the winding roads, farms and outbuildings, fields and hills etc. All I did was to very carefully drybrush the green plastic with Vallejo Buff, paint the roads in Vallejo Flat earth and the fields the same before drybrushing with Flat Earth/Off White to add highlights. The figures were all black base coated and the colours carefully picked out, leaving some black to add depth, my usual small scale style. For variety I painted one French heavy cavalry unit as Dragoons, a simple paint job that seemed to work OK. I have - for the time being - left the plastic bases a flat green, but that may change.

So here we are, two sets that fit comfortably in one of the TB boxes. 16 bases of infantry, 8 bases of cavalry, 4 artillery and 4 Generals per side. The sets also include nice blue and red dice plus a set of somewhat simple, fast play rules that I'm about to try out.

A previous close up of the British infantry.