Friday, 18 April 2014

Friday again already!

Not too much to report this week, progress continues on the French & Russian 15mm armies. New units completed this week are shown below, I have just another eight Polish infantry to complete 'phase1' and then I'll expand at my leisure. The little mdf markers you see are a new idea and will follow the units around the table during games. They simply show the Commands & Colors unit classification (where not obvious from the figures!), the strength of the units in 'blocks' and the lower left corner denotes any special characteristics, for example gold means the unit has some 'elite' qualities as shown on the quick reference sheet. White denotes miltia type units. They are 30mm x 15mm and I plan to place small round markers on them as losses occur. I could of course remove 'blocks' of figures but I think I'd rather keep the units together as it makes packing up afterwards so much easier than trying to put units back together again. I don't think the markers will be too unsightly once tucked at rear of the units.

I'm starting to mark up a S&A scenics grass mat in 95mm hexes so that I can quickly get going with a game - re using all the old 95mm hex terrain I made a couple of years ago for the 6mm version. Trees and other bits are on order and I'm now pondering what buildings to for, Hovels 15mm or maybe Timecast 10mm buildings and I'm currently leaning towards the 10mm option as time cast models tend to be quite big anyway.

Busy today with garden fence panels, wanted to get them in before the forecast weekend rain and luckily a couple of friends turned up, down for a few days break so I quickly put Dave to work helping me to fit the panels!

Pictures show units completed this last week.  I used a different pose for the second rank of Guard lancers - probably should have been swords in reality but the lances do look nice.

All 15mm figures by Essex Miniatures. The Russian militia officer is actually a spare Pavlov officer with a head swop.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Another lead mountain arrives and more 15mm.

The arrival of another box of 20mm goodies for painting from Old John is always an exciting event as I just never quite know what's going to be inside! This time it's mostly more ACW stuff and includes many rare figures as well as some interesting pieces such as Brady's mobile photographic studio with horse and a timber observation/ signal tower. Pics show only the first layer that I unpacked! So many different manufacturers are represented including Qualiticast,  kennnington, Hinton Hunt, RSM, Rose, Musket Miniatures, Drebblerr and more. Looking through the lists I see the 79th New York Highlanders, which should be a real fun unit to paint. I consider myself lucky to have just a few regular customers who keep me going without any pressure, and John is happy to allow me to paint as I choose from the box without any time constraint, so it's a genuine pleasure to be able to add to his HUGE collection of wargame figures.

A big box of goodies

Well that's the top layer!

Essex 15mm's.
These continue to grow at a reasonable pace and this week I have added a few more bits including another unit of Voltigeurs (8) another unit of French line (16) another artillery base - this time French line horse artillery (5crew and gun), 4 Empress Dragoons and 4 more Russian Cuirassiers. I also decided to re base my command figures on 40mm circles (thanks again to Tony at ERM, I now have an official MDF mountain!). I consider this a good move as I'm well pleased with the results, especially the Napoleon figure with 4 Old Guard Grenadiers - just makes me smile to look at it.

By the end of next week both sides will consist of:

6 infantry units each of 16 figures.
2 'light infantry' units each of 8 figures
4 cavalry units each of 8 figures
3 artillery bases
3 command bases.

Enough for a reasonable game of Commands & Colors to begin with I think and I'm really looking forward to it. I think the focus then will be to boost the line infantry numbers and I now have some 15mm x 30mm 'half' bases so that I can produce '3 block' Russian units of just 12 figures as per the expansion rules.

Rebased French commanders including a couple of new figures.

Expanded Cuirassiers

Guard and line Dragoons - together for the time being as generic C&C 'heavy cavalry' 4 blocks..

New artillery battery - line horse.

French artillery - will be adding more line foot guns.

The rebased Russian commanders.

Another new unit, fast and simple to paint in greatcoats but I'll be doing more full dress  to follow.

I intend to stick with Essex figures, for me it's kind of nostalgic journey as I said previously, remembering our family Saturday morning trips down to Canvey Island when the kids were younger, all of us including one large Golden Retriever squashed in the car, half hour in the Essex shop for me followed by a long walk in the country park and McDonalds on the way back home. I think we did this about once a month when the weather was good. Aside from that though the figures are very good and robust, ideal for handling.

Dymchurch 'Day of Syn' - Health and Safety madness!
This year it's our bi annual public event - the 'Day of Syn'. It's actually over three days of the August Bank Holiday and features lots of free entertainment (a rare thing these days) for visiting families culminating with a skirmish on the beach between Napoleonic re enactors and a band of historical local smugglers known as the Aldington gang. The re enactment has for many years (since 1964 infact) featured the fictional character of 'The Scarecrow' mounted upon a splendidly large horse, but Health & Safety concerns now means he is reduced to being on foot for these events, a very sad thing given the presence of horses on the beach on a regular basis. I mean lets face it, even if he took a tumble - and he is always a local volunteer rider - he was only ever going to land on soft sand. Funny old world.

As it was - at full gallop.

As it is - where's my bloody horse? Not quite the same is it?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

20mm Spanish Napoleonics, 6mm Russians and ...... I did it!

As the painting enthusiasm gradually returns I have been fairly busy making the most of it. I guess the first thing to report is that after saying I was determined NOT to rebase my figures I have gone and done it! Soon as I had painted the first command figures I just knew I had to form them into larger units. I went for a simple 4 infantry per base format, 30mm x 30mm mdf bases with 16 figures per unit and I'm incredibly pleased with them so far, well worth all of the work. of course I still need to expand some half size units and sort out the cavalry units but this is a good starting point and I hope to see this expand into a nice Napoleonic collection over the next couple of months. I still intend to use them with C&C Napoleonics, and having given it a lot of thought I have decided to invest in Hexon terrain (click) over the coming months to save me having to do any more terrain work myself. I intend to add houses, trees etc in order to achieve a more 'traditional' wargame look overall. The Hexon hexes are 100mm so will leave room to deploy some nice landscape features.

I'm currently finishing off another French battalion in greatcoats then I'll expand the cavalry units ( I'll probably keep some units 'mixed' ), and the infantry units that are currently only 8 figures each. I still intend to follow up with a British army, but this time I'll go with the Waterloo campaign uniforms and include Dutch |Belgians, Brunswick etc for which Essex do some very nice figures. That's the plan ahead anyway for Summer.

All 15mm Napoleonics by Essex Miniatures.

Commission work.
Thanks have eased off slightly as I felt I needed a bit more time to do other things and to work on expanding my own armies, but as you can see I have still been quite busy. The two battalions of early Napoleonic Spanish infantry are the start of Tony's new planned army and I could not resist setting them up for a photo or two before they return home. I'm now working through a mass of 6mm H&R stuff (Napoleonics and more WoR) for mark who has stuck with me since the start of my painting service and for whom I must have painted thousands of 6mm figures by now - Wars of the Roses, Ancients and masses of Napoleonics! The H&R range may be old now but a careful paint job does produce a nice effect en masse and they are well detailed.

20mm Spanish Napoleonics.

6mm Russian line infantry by Heroics and Ros.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Getting things back to normal.

Ups and downs!
It's pretty unusual for me to go so long without a photo update here, but I have had a bit of a tough time over the last week or two and painting slowed right down. The thing with any depressive illness is that it can come back and bite at any time, even during a period of strong recovery, and when it does I find it leaves me in a kind of 'lock down' frame of mind where even the simplest everyday things become a major challenge. Dysthymia is an odd illness, it robs you of the ability to enjoy stuff, and what one day might seem like something to be really proud of can become a thing of total contempt the next! Probably goes some way to explaining why I usually end up selling so much of my painted stuff off, but I'm determined it won't happen with my Essex figures. So it's been an up and down week or so and I apologise to anybody waiting for me to reply to emails etc as I usually find I tend to blank things out which in turn leads to falling behind with things and so on! Anyway, I'm feeling a bit stronger mentally now so I'm ready to post some pictures and get back to my painting again and to catch up with emails.

Plans for my growing Essex collection.
One thing I have had in mind recently is how I can use my growing Essex collection both on the C&C game board AND in a more conventional way with larger units and a more realistic terrain board. I'm determined that I will not rebase, I like my figures mounted individually and the basing method has taken a lot of work. They are perfect for use on the C&C board as intended and I won't change that. However, as I have started to add in a few command figures I have become aware of how nice slightly larger groupings of 12 infantry figures can look. So I have been scouring the net trying to find a movement tray solution that will allow me to do this. I have tried MDF bases but after coming across the resin trays from Battlezone I have decided to order a few trial trays to see how things look and fit. The 'standard' bases look slightly too chunky for my liking so I have gone for the 'shallow' trays, 80mm x 60mm internal size, which will take 12 of my infantry figures or 8 cavalry figures nicely. The edges are textured and the internal part of the tray is open, just what I was looking for. I should have them within a few days and if they work then I'll order more. The plan going forward is then to rebuild the old 95mm hex table (remember it?) and adapt it for 15mm scale battles. I'm thinking that I can add labels to the rear and use markers for casualties rather than removing figures, just as I used to. Further, I could combine cavalry types in each tray, so for example French 'light cavalry' tray could hold 4 hussars and 4 Chasseurs and so on which would allow me to paint different types at will. 'Light infantry' bases could consist of just 8 figures in a looser formation within the tray. Fingers crossed the trays will work out, otherwise I'll look at MDF trays instead.

More new Essex figures.
The pictures show recently painted Essex 15mm figures - the first command figures, French and Russian, French Guard lancers, more Russian Dragoons and some Young Guard with those distinctive plumes - plus a few shots of the overall collection so far before I re organise into 12 or 8 figure units.

Young Guard - awaiting recruits to bring them up to 12 figures.

The first of the French command figures, flags by warflag for the time being.

This is how the planned 12 figure units will look once placed in the movement trays.

Dutch 'red' lancers of the Guard - in C&C terms simply 'Guard Light cavalry' so to bring them up to 8 figures I'll add 4 guard Chasseur a cheval. 

Russian line (command are actually Grenadiers, but all will be sorted).

Russian lights.

More Dragoons.

And how 8 will look together.

Commission work.
I'm about a week or so behind schedule, Old John has been as supportive and patient as ever - thank you John - but his ACW figures are now ready to make the journey home, and Monday I'll start on Tony's lovely Spanish figures.

More 20mm ACW for Old John, some truly characterful figures.

I love the guy with the spindly legs having lunch!

Artillery crews - Charleston cadets.

Mounted officers/generals and corps guidons.

A fine horse casting.

Below: two images from Graham showing the recently painted Earl of Essex's Regiment of Foote 1642 - great to see them all based up and ready for battle. The impact of a unit 54 figures strong is quite something!

Phew, a long post that one!