Saturday, 18 August 2018

Picking up a few modelling products here.

We have had a couple of wet days here in Spain, perfect for a trip to the DIY superstore Leroy Merlin. Our main aim was to purchase bamboo screen and plants for our balcony, we spend a lot of time out there and as it's a generous 16' x 12' it needed a good few large plants. We now have a lovely orange tree, an avocado tree and a couple of Jasmins all going in large painted pots and we are just looking for a lemon tree to finish things off. Our wooden herb box includes the usual household herbs plus a couple chilly plants, all in all very satisfying, just need it to stop raining now so we can get out there and organise it all. We eat our evening meals out there and watch the sun go down over Monte Corona.



As I'm sure any wargamer does when in such stores I'm always on the lookout for useful modelling materials, and following on my recent Superglue experience was especially on the prowl for a good quality glue. I did come across a really useful range of earth coloured pigments, just a couple of euros for the jar you see below, they also sell in other earth shades, and it's very useful stuff for mixing up my base texture shade. Well pleased with it and I will go back and grab a couple more no doubt.


My trusty pot of basing texture mix. 

The cheap version above (yuk!) and the 'extremo' version below.


Don't recall seeing this in the Uk but it's excellent stuff for basing or groundwork.


Leroy Merlin also sells plants!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Not so super - glue!

You guessed it, this is another one of those posts lamenting the results of a session trying to stick model soldiers together. I wanted a break from infantry so selected 4 of the 40mm Sash and Sabre British Light Dragoons as this weeks painting job, and as they come in several parts as you see below I bought a tube of Superglue from the local hardware shop for use on them. 'Gel' it said on the pack, and  I usually have more success with the gel, so I pierced the cap and prepared for a short relaxed session that turned into a bit of a sticky nightmare.

I started by attempting to stick the torsos to the legs, nice thing is that you can set them at slightly different angles, forwards, leaning back or turned to the side. I quickly realised that what ran from the tube was anything but gel and within less than a minute I had a pair of troopers legs firmly stuck to my finger that needed to be pulled off leaving my finger rock hard with glue. I then tried to attach the legs using my tweezers but that resulted in a torso glued to them that also had to be carefully removed. Refusing to abandoning the session - as I probably should have done at that point - I persevered, and eventually got the job done, although attaching the carbines to the slings was a bugger of a final challenge. The end result was worth it, once I had spent several minutes scrubbing the hardened glue off my fingers. What did surprise me was that when I undercoated them some time later some of the glue must have still not been set resulting in a ruined (luckily old) paint brush.

 

All in all it was a frustrating session, but I felt lucky to end up with no damage to the detail of the figures. I'm now looking out for a better quality gel superglue. Next question for me was how best to paint these mounted figures, given that I always generally prefer to paint cavalry with the troopers glued on now days. I have often found when sticking painted riders to mounts that scratch damage can occur that then needs to be touched, so I'm going with my 'one piece casting' method again and the result is as you see below, ready to get started on.

Photos show the undercoated dragoons with the single painted trooper that came with the lot I purchased from Andy. Wonderful paint job, I only hope that I can achieve something close to this.

All figures 40mm by Sash & Sabre USA, available in the UK via Andy of Old Glory.








Friday, 10 August 2018

Kilt patterns (again), and The Rain in Spain!

The 92nd Highlanders continue to grow in strength with 24 figures now painted. I'm going to add 4 of the flank company figures from the pack of 5 that I have here and a planned mounted officer wearing the bonnet to complete them at 29 figures in total. A large unit in 40mm scale, but as discussed previously can be drawn off and fielded in smaller units if required, for example companies of 8 for Sharp Practice.

Of the current 24 figures only 12 have been painted by myself, you can tell these from the black/brown bases. I found the initial 4 a bit of a challenge to be honest, being started in the rented villa where I really was not in the mood to paint, something I find is very important. Now things have settled down and I'm in my own home with my familiar things around me I'm finding myself increasingly back in the old mood again and feel the need to spend more time painting and for longer sessions. It has taken a little time to get my eye 'back in' and I think this shown in the painting of these 12 Highlanders, with only the last 4 being of a standard I find up to scratch. Once the flank company figures are finished the entire unit will get another run through during which I hope to pull everything together, touching up, matching up and generally bringing the unit together. For example some of my faces I am not happy with, some of the original 12 figures have yellow lace which should be white, my original 4 figures have very messy lace, whilst my latter 8 have much crisper lace, all such things will be corrected before I can consider them finished. And then there remains the question of the kilts ..........

The 92nd Highlanders wore a very distinctive tartan and the background shade was predominantly blue not green as on my Highlanders. I think the overall pattern is pretty well done though with the olive green lines and squares and the yellow central spots, but I know that I wont be happy with them until the main shade is more blue, so how best to go about achieving this without a total repaint job? I have been looking at a few interpretations of the 92nd tartan and now have a pretty clear idea of how I want mine to look, and the best way I think I can do this without a total repaint is to carefully paint in blue squares between the existing olive green checks. You see below a couple of 'test paints' for this to see how it works.


Following which, being satisfied with the general impression ( for such it is ), I went through the entire battalion and even gave the officer some tartan trews as opposed to the blue grey overalls he was wearing. I may have to bring the two standard bearers into line now, but for now all looks much better to my eye. I touched up the yellow lace with white and then gave all of the coats a lighten up with a mix of flat red and orange on the highlights. I could have used scarlet for this but prefer the more Gilder like highlights with the orange. Some faces continue to bother me!




The 5th Foot are now on the production line, coats have been highlighted as above, cross belts brightened up and facings all repainted green so far. Lace needs a tidy up next and the faces require attention. I will add 2 standard bearers, a drummer and a mounted officer once they arrive.




My wife and I have just about unpacked all the boxes that arrived from the UK and the garage area is almost clear again and ready for my wargame table. I have been giving this a lot of thought and I'm about ready to get started down there. It has been unseasonably hot here recently, even for Spain with temperatures nudging 39 degrees during the day, so I have been waiting for things to cool down a little. A couple of nights ago a wild fire broke out in the La Safor mountains and we could clearly see the orange glow and within an hour or so the air was thick with smoke, quite worrying. Next morning it was under control with  helicopters carrying huge bags of water slung beneath them flying back and forth most of the day. Today it's back to a more manageable 29 degrees and it's been raining all morning, only the third time we have seen rain in four months! I have been looking at the colours of the landscape here with a view to painting the table surface and there is a distinctive rust red and cream shade that prevails - although I'm not sure how this compares with further West and into Portugal as yet. THis picture shows the earth and rock colours at the end of our small back garden, taken this morning in the rain. Sometimes I almost expect to see Rifleman Harris up there!





Thursday, 2 August 2018

At last, some painted figures!

I can't describe how good it feels to be back painting some figures again after what has probably been my longest break for 30 odd years! We left the UK in April and only now do I feel settled enough to paint soldiers, sitting at the old desk with my familiar box of paints and my modelling tools in the drawer. I have had to buy a new lamp, and after much searching I found this one in a large B&Q type store in Gandia, the wonderfully named 'Leroy Merlin'. Beside the usual household goodies I found they have a sheet wood cutting service and I mentally priced up a 5' x 6' table, which is surprisingly cheap, certainly a lot cheaper than the equivalent in the UK. Whilst some estimate the overall cost of living in Spain to be about 50% of that in the Uk, some goods are certainly more expensive, and the all singing all dancing lamp came in at 80 Euros. I like the fact that it can be switched between 3 modes of lighting, a bright white, a 'yellow' and - my favourite - a 6500 blue or 'daylight' and I'm using the latter to paint under and the white for photography. Besides this it has a USB port for charging the phone as well as displaying date, time and room temperature, which displays a very comfortable 23 degrees with the air conditioning running on a low setting, not bad considering it's averaging 32 outside at the moment.

I have finished off the 4 Highland infantry I started back in May and the next 4 are undercoated. I tried to match Andys painting as best I could and I'm actually very pleased how they turned out. The current 16 Highlanders will be bought up to strength of 24 foot and a mounted Colonel using a spare bonnet head. After much head scratching I have decided to set myself a basic 'phase 1' for this collection, the basing being flexible enough for a couple of sets of rules I have in mind, one being Sharp Practice and the other using full size units. Phase 1 will comprise 4 infantry battalions per side, the British being 24 to 28 figures plus mounted officers, and the French being slightly larger at 36 figures each, this is simply to use the number of painted figures that I have here. In addition each side will have 2 squadrons of cavalry, each of 8 figures, plus 2 guns and crews. This is basically as they will sit on the display shelves, but like I say can be used in any combination and unit size that I fancy, be they companies, battalions or indeed brigades as discussed in previous posts.

Beside 8 more Highlanders to complete I'm also working on finishing off 20 of the 'blocked in' British infantry, these will form the 5th Regiment of Foot with green facings. They are actually pretty good, just requiring me to repaint the facings and give them a general touch up and tidy up. My next order from Andy contains more command packs so I will add 2 standard bearers and a drummer plus a mounted officer to finish them.

Finally for now, we are planning a day in Valencia hopefully next week where I hope to source some Vallejo paints and some new brushes from one of the three shops listed as stockists on the Vallejo website. It will be a bit of a novelty actually going into a store again to buy modelling materials but it's not so easy to buy stuff online here. In order to obtain a mailbox here one has to go to the local Town Hall (of course!) and request a box and key from them. It was not too difficult to be fair, back to Ador, a bit more paperwork and the key was ceremoniously handed over so we now have our own mailbox. Apparently, if you have a parcel to be delivered you get a ticket in the mailbox and need to go to the Post Office - which is of course attached to the Town Hall in Ador - to collect it. That's life in Spain!

The new lamp can be adjusted to a variety of positions, this is how it works for me when painting as I can bring it down low for fine detail painting.

All my own work these 4 chaps .......at last!

Highlanders rebased with separate command figures. Another 8 to go.

The piper had been hidden in the rear rank before rebasing,


These are in the process of becoming the 5th Foot.
 
Fine officer I selected to command the 5th, he will of course have his facings repainted.



Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The return of the desk!

After what seems like an age we finally have our belongings from the UK. Son in Law Jay drove from Kent to Valencia without an overnight stop, he clocked just over 1000 miles and it took him around 26 hours. My wife has been furiously unpacking boxes since Thursday and it's been nice to see some of our treasured possessions back out again. Some may recognise my painting desk, I must have painted many hundreds of figures sat at it. It was my late Mother in Laws, it's a bit battered from long use but works well for me. It not being a full sized desk I can't actually get my legs fully under the thing, so have always sat kind of side on but that's never really been a problem and is very comfortable now that I am used to it. I tend to have my I Pad set up on the right so that I can listen to and glance at various historical videos as I paint. I just need to find a small suitable painting lamp, although the room is flooded with natural light most of the day, it's beginning to feel a lot like more like home now. The fan in the picture is today being replaced by air conditioning, with the temps in the mid 30's most days - much like the UK at the moment I understand - it's more an essential than a luxury and will create a lovely cool room to sit and paint.

I have now based up the additional 40mm figures, and they are now in the desk drawer as I start to work through getting them finished with texture and static grass. There are around 70 of them, more French than British but I have a good number of unpainted Highlanders to get stuck into next job to make the numbers up. I'm still playing around with ideas on how I want to use them, I'm thinking company sized units, maybe 16 figures per company looks good now, inspired by Big Andy's lovely 'Shinyloo' game on his blog with his 30mm figures. I put the 16 French Voltiguers together to form a company, I think they look good, although of course they could be used as 4 x 4 figure light companies for 24 figure units of 6 companies, the basing is very flexible which is something I like after years spent rebasing multi based figures.




Life in Spain continues to delight us. Attending the local village town hall in Ador to complete some paperwork was an exercise in Spanish efficiency, the staff could not have been more helpful and friendly. It was a hot day so we had a cold beer in the bar opposite afterwards with the customary complimentary plate of nuts and olives. 


More Spanish efficiency, 3 men fitting 3 air conditioning units in one day. This has involved drilling through walls to feed pipework from externally mounted units via bathroom false ceilings, a noisy and disruptive job but well worth it.


Monday, 16 July 2018

Thinking about formation and table plans.

After a busy three Months in Spain during which I simply have not had the time or inclination to get down to some proper painting of model soldiers I'm just days away from  having my old painting desk set up again in our new home. It's due out here on Thursday, along with the remainder of our furniture and packed boxes. A few days ago we took delivery of flat pack bookshelves, TV unit, bedside cabinets etc from Ikea in Valencia and I have been gradually putting the stuff together, certainly not my favourite job. I am really looking forward to some quiet days spent sitting at my painting desk again next week, we are also having air conditioning fitted next week, a couple of days work, but after that things will settle down to something more like normality!

The shelves are finally up, and the first thing to go on them was my 40mm Napoleonics. It was a moment of great joy to stand back and look at them all together for the first time so of course I had to take more photos! This has led me to spending quite a bit of time thinking about how I plan to use these figures on the tabletop - and I DO plan to play wargames with them this time. Over on his 'Napoleonic Wargaming' blog Paul has made a couple of very thought provoking posts recently on the subject of formations and how they are represented on the tabletop, and he has had some interesting discussion. This subject has caused me much anguish over the years, and to be honest I have never really found the answer that suited me. This time round, and with large scale figures, I'm determined not to get too hung up on this issue, the basing style is flexible enough to play 'Sharp Practice' large skirmish style games with 8 figure companies, or indeed to follow Paul's example and deploy 4 x 16 figure infantry units, a couple of guns, an 8 figure cavalry unit plus a commander to represent an entire division, the latter looks quite impressive in 40mm and it's really just making that mental adjustment from the days of Big Battalions in Peter Gilder style, to understanding that groups of figures can represent anything I want them to be, and I don't need to feel guilty!

The photos show the figures as I arranged them on the shelves and after a bit of fiddling around with them. As you can see the bulk of the British infantry are arranged into 2 x 25 figure units, each including a mounted officer. That's another option of course, and I think they look great, but again I can deploy them anyway I wish and the 4 x 16 figure option also looks good en masse. I do of course have another 50 + figures mostly painted but unbased still in the box.

As said previously I intend to add to this collection considerably, unpainted in the bags here I currently have British Light Dragoons, French Chasseur a Cheval, Highlanders to expand the 92nd and more Royal Artillery crew ans another gun. The cavalry will be painted and deployed on the shelves in units of 8 figures. The 92nd Highlanders will need to be rebased to conform with the rest of the infantry and more figures added including flank company. On order from Andy are more infantry and command packs for both sides and British Heavy Dragoons - my favourite British cavalry of the period in bicornes.



Great characterful faces.

I really like the kilts on these.







These are the only 4 figure in full dress, but again beautifully painted examples.

No doubt inspired by 'The Gun'.
 
A solitary light dragoon superbly painted but not by me. He will form the 'test figure' for the rest of the unit.



Into the underbuild!
I have won the right to build a wargame table down in the underbuild as it is called here. It is a considerable space that will easily accommodate a table 5' wide and 7' long with plenty of room to move around it - I would not want a table any larger than this. As we tend to unload our shopping from the car through the space and up the stairs to the kitchen the table will need to be able to push against a wall when not in use. It's also quite cool down there, even on a day when the temps push towards 40 degrees as they did yesterday.

So all in all plans are going well,.

Far too useful to park the car in surely? The tiles are each 30cm so you can see no problem getting a decent sized table in there.

To the left is another useful space, will be converted to extra guest accomodation.

I really love it down here!