Sunday, 27 April 2014

Cossacks on my mind!

Turned into a fine afternoon here and I have been sitting contemplating Cossacks - amongst other things - and the use of them in Commands & Colors games. At a measly 2 blocks they don't really pack a lot of punch and so are best used for harassing and pinning enemy units, and are especially good for hunting down those units reduced to a single block. The big advantage is that when a cossack unit is lost it does not give a way a victory point as with other units, so you can throw them a round a bit.

I want to use quite a lot of cossacks in my games and have found the figures as I had based them quite uninspiring and the tight basing did not reflect the nature of these troops. The Essex cossacks are fine, a few variants, nice beardy faces although maybe the 'ponies' are somewhat well fed! Be nice to have a bit more choice in cossacks maybe but will be fine, I'm contemplating a bit of conversion work with future packs.

I like circular bases, not sure why but they appeal to me and I thought the 40mm bases I had would be good for mounting these irregular troops in a way that would give them a bit more visual appeal on the table, add a little mdf label and it's job done, I think they look far more satisfying now.

Took a few pics outdoors in the sun.

Most of the units now have labels - 15mm x 30mm mdf with printed labels glued on and tidied up a bit - and I'm producing the casualty markers, same style 15mm circles in 2mm mdf so easy to pick up or place down. All great stuff and thanks to the great service from Tony at ERM once again.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Essex progress and 20mm ECW's.

Having now pushed my 15mm Essex collection up to 350 painted figures over recent weeks I'm in a position to ease back a bit and return to regular commission work again. I'll continue no doubt to add a couple of units each week. This week I added an elite company to my French hussars, finished off a Polish infantry battalion, added another French artillery battery and painted the first half of a Cleve Burg unit - could not resist a few white uniforms. I only noticed the epaulettes on the 'fusiliers' as I was painting them but no matter, they will be finished off with command etc and fight as standard 'line infantry - 4 blocks'. I have more Russians on order now together with some Chasseur a cheval to finish off the fifth French cavalry unit. I'm keen to get them all into battle now.

The French artillery - note I have re painted the Guard battery with blue trousers. I'm still not happy with the colour of those guns!

In researching French Hussar uniforms I bookmarked this excellent blog dedicated to French Hussar uniforms. The short video I found fascinating, I'm not sure where it's taken from. If you are looking for info on any French Hussar unit this is a useful site.
French Hussars c1812.

I'm also waiting on more S&A Scenics trees, some Timecast 10mm buildings and more general scenics supplies. The S&A mat has been marked up in 95mm hexes for the time being as I need to keep buying figures and will then turn to the Hexon system. It's interesting looking back over my journey into the world of gridded terrain, I have learned that its important to get the hex size right for the figure bases in order to allow sufficient space for trees, buildings etc without leaving the units too over spaced. I think 95/100mm is about right, although possibly 120mm hexes could be slightly better. A table marked up in 95mm hexes comes down to about 4' x 3' only, so larger hexes would produce a slightly larger table. I'm still thinking and playing around with this. Still, things are slowly now coming together.

Commission work.
I'm into Graham's second 20mm ECW unit now, a greycoat unit, again of 54 figures. I'm a couple of weeks behind schedule owing to the Essex 'push' but now back into the routine and enjoying painting these figures again.

Bit overlit these pics, I forgot to put the grass mat down and got reflection off the glass I think.

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.