Sunday, 29 June 2014

Fife & Drum AWI's.

Since my attempts last year at fighting AWI battles on the Commands & Colors board there have been some exciting developments that are calling me back to this period. Firstly numerous AWI scenarios have appeared over on the C&C forum and they seem to offer some nicely balanced and well thought out games.

Last year I simply replaced C&C blocks with individual 15mm figures and it worked well with what I considered good visual impact. It's nice to look back at projects occasionally so I have dragged up a few pics from one of the games last year. (Gibbo has become much larger and fluffier since then, we call him 'The Beastie' although he's nothing but, one of the softest male cats I have known). Now imagine this with 30mm figures!

The 15mm set up from last Autumn. All figures are by Peter Pig, and fine figures they are too!

General 'Gibbo' commanding the American forces!
Fife & Drum 30mm range.
I only learned a few days ago that this magnificent range of figures is now to become available in the UK from Crann Tara Miniatures. Both ranges have much in common, being sculpted by the talented Richard Ansell and both being to 1/56th scale, which makes the figures roughly 30mm tall. They are anatomically correct with true animation, none of your chunky Front Rank style chaps here, these figures are very realistic. It's been a good while since I painted 28/30mm stuff but the temptation to paint some of these is more than I can bear! Luckily, I only got eight figures painted from the Perry boxes before noticing the availability of F&D over here so I can switch without any real loss of time. The project will be a re run  of the above, but in 30mm with a new hex board to suit. It's a sideline to my commission work but I can still paint maybe 12 figures a week for myself on top.

I had been following the release of the range since they began to appear over on TMP but they only been available in the US far as I know. I noticed today some new pics of the cavalry figures ...... words fail me, they are simply brilliant!

British Legion, 16th/17th Light Dragoons and the 1st/3rd Continental dragoons.

So that's my decision made for the new project, sometimes things just come together perfectly in Life.

Head on over to Crann Tara to see the F&D range and of course Crann Taras own splendid 45 rebellion figures. (click).

Plastic Perry AWI's.
To be fair, for the price (around 50p each roughly) they are great value. I have a few issues however, just personal things but I'll share them.

Assembly. - Now I'm well used to fiddly work but I struggled with the arm positions on some of these figures, especially the British where the left hand is moulded on the musket so that the left arm has to be glued on to fit both arm and wrist, it just took me ages to get right, time that could have been better spent painting the things.

Pose - can't put my finger on it, but some simply look 'awkward' to me. The march continentals for example. The hanging right arms look wrong to me, I'd liked to have seem a few arms reaching round to steady the cartridge box or canteen for variation. I used a few different arms on my test paint of the continentals but they still don't look right to me.

Overall they are nice figures and great for building up large battalions, but from my perspective as a painter I'd prefer to spend the time on metal castings.

So, I have a box of each British and Continentals here that I won't be using, so if anybody can use them you can have them for £10.00 per box, postage included. Aside from the painted examples
which are of course included all is as new and still on the sprues. Paypal only please.

Perry Brits ... 

Perry Continentals in formal march pose.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Shiny 28mm AWI's?

It's been a difficult past few weeks on the hobby front and indeed for my painting service. After eighteen months of continuous painting I hit the dreaded 'block'. For me that's time to clear the decks and start again with something fresh.

I had to make the decision to focus my ongoing commission work on 20mm figures from now on, mainly because I have noticed that my eyesight is struggling with the smaller scales (6mm & 10mm) somewhat. Unfortunately this has meant returning a couple of 6mm jobs unpainted, something I was really loathe to do, but all is now sorted amicably I'm pleased to say. With the 15mm Napoleonics now sold and posted, together with two more units of early Spanish infantry (20mm) completed and delivered I feel that I can move on again. This morning I have undercoated and started on more figures for Old John, beginning with the Strelets  plastic set featuring Charles X11 of Sweden being carried on a litter at Poltava.

28mm Perry AWI's.
Last week I was browsing the Perry website and was drawn to the latest plastic boxes - the American Revolution British line and Continental line sets. On impulse I ordered a box of each to 'play around with'. Both sets are great value offering lots of variations and after a break from the brushes painted up 4 test figures from the British set. I'm pleased how they turned out, and after painting smaller figures for so long I found them remarkably easy to paint. The results you can see below.

Last night I gave them a final highlight to coats, flesh and belts and then sat back to think about varnish. I thought I would try a shiny finish so they were given a couple of coats of Klear wash. I kind of liked the results I have to say, the reds came up nice and bright and it seemed to lift the highlights slightly. However this morning I matt varnished them. I'm still not sure which I like best! I don't know what I'll do with them yet, I have no intention of starting another large collection, but I might - just might - think about using them for the new Commands & Colors AWI scenarios that are appearing on Just 50 or so figures per side would do the trick and could look quite spectacular.

Before final highlights.

Highlights added (coats brought up to scarlet) 

'Unfashionably shiny'..... nice though?

Yes, I kind of like this finish.

And now matt varnished - I can't make up my mind!
I like to listen to music when I paint although I'm quite selective and tend not to listen to the radio but rather individual tunes and albums of choice. Today's post on Tony's blog (click) re great guitar solos caught my attention. I find certain songs can match my mood, and often when I'm about to do some close painting work I'll choose carefully what I listen to. My tastes run from the seventies through to the nineties mainly, but above all I enjoy good rock/blues. One of my all time faves is Rory Gallagher, one of the great Irish rock musicians, I could listen to his music for hours, surely one of the classic rock trios. Last nights highlighting and varnishing was done while listening to several of my favourite Gallagher tunes, including this fine live performance of 'Bad Penny'. Sadly Gallagher died young, he was as he sang "a hard drinking man" and he died following a failed liver transplant. The battered old Stratocaster he played is now on display in Dublin I believe, and was the first Start to be delivered to Ireland I'm told, the rich tone he got from that guitar was always stunning and still sends shivers down my back today!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Napoleonics now SOLD.

This post is to show the complete Napoleonic 15mm collection to a potential private buyer as I'm having trouble sending emails with so many attachments today! It will be removed in due course.


Please click to view full size.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Zulus calling!

Given the recent downturn in enthusiasm for painting figures generally I'm now trying to get myself back to form again. The painting service has suffered badly recently but I do want to keep going once I have recovered from this dip. I have noticed that after 18 months of almost continuous daily painting my eyesight is now struggling with smaller scales and I can no longer paint 6mm as I used to. I intend now to stick with 15mm for myself and to focus only on 20mm figures for commission work. I consider myself lucky that my eyesight is as good as it is for my age (mid fifties) and I don't want to cause any more strain.

On a much more positive note I had a flash of inspiration the other day when it was mentioned that it was the 50th Anniversary of the release of the film Zulu. This is something I have had in the back of my mind for years - I still watch the film every year during the festive season when it is shown on TV and it never fails to move me. But what really made me think again was seeing the new 'Zulu variant' scenarios on the Battle Cry  website only a few days ago. I could hardly believe that somebody has produced a 'Commands & Colors' style game for this period. So I set to working out how I could do this as a 'side project' and how many figures/bases I would require. Here is the scenario for Rorkes Drift (linked via the BattleCry website):

Looks a fun scenario don't you agree? 13 x Zulu units of 5 blocks each and 10 x British of 4 blocks. To make this work visually I reckon 15 Zulus per unit (on 5 bases) and just 4 British infantry per unit based individually. This would give 195 Zulus facing 40 British and should look about right. I don't think it would take me long to paint all of those Zulus as I have a method in mind for them.

Here are the scenario notes, again from the site, I like the idea of the British having to survive 3 wave attacks to win.

British Troops: Lt. Chard; Lt. Bromhead
6 Command cards

Zulus: Dabulamanzi kaMpande
6 Command cards
Move first

Victory Conditions:
- British: At least 1 Unit (not LDR) must survive 3 attack waves of Zulus
- Zulus must destroy all British within 3 attack waves

Special Rules:

- Cross sabers hits only in melee

- Zulu Warriors: Move 0-1 hex and battle 3-2 dice OR
move 2 hex without battle

- Rorke´s Drift buildings are treated like Homestead

- Redoubt: Are treated like fieldworks

- Remove the CallForReinforcement, Short Supply
and ConstructFieldworks card, they are not used in this scenario.

- Retreats: The British can choose, to retreat up or down.
The Zulus on the top half battlemap retreats to top, the Zulus
on the bottom half retreats to bottom.
Zulus on the middle hex row (row with the british marker)
can decide, in which direction they retreat.

- Zulu Attack Waves: The Zulus starts each attack wave with
full strength units (a killed Zulu LDR will not replaced),
in the same hexes like on the first setup.
If they loose 4 units (not LDR´s), the wave retreat immediately
and the next wave is setup.

- British Reorganisation: The British can reorganisate there units
within Rorke´s Drift to any hex, before the Zulu player start his
next attack wave.

- British Recovery: Before the Zulu player start his next attack wave,
each British unit with lost figures, which is on a Hospital hex
(or is moved during British Reorganisation to a Hospital hex),
can roll 4 dice to recover units. For each INF symbol is rolled,
this unit recover 1 figure.

Now it must be said that the Essex Zulus are excellent and I would have no hesitation in using them for this, I think it would make an excellent show game and it could be quickly put together. This is extremely tempting indeed!

Essex Miniatures Zulus - one of many codes available.

I painted the additional cavalry 8 figures required to make the cuirassiers and carabiniers into two separate units and I need to do the same for the Dragoons (currently line and Empress together) this will make 8 units of French cavalry. Finally the Guard lancers need command adding and those forward thrusting lances moved to an upright position.

Note the altered head and sword positions on the below cavalry, just adds a bit more variation to the overall look I think. All 15mm Essex Miniatures of course.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Moving forward ..... Campaign Game Miniatures.

Well, it has become clear to me that Essex Miniatures are just not as popular as they once were so due to very low bidding activity I decided to withdraw them from sale rather than risk seeing them go for a price that does not reflect the casting cost and painting time. I honestly began to doubt that I would even recover the bare metal cost! I have no need to sell them, it's just what I do from time to time, but the last week has been quite an upheaval. I feel foolish, but at times I can tend to behave what may seem irrationally to those who manage to hang on to their prize collections for years or decades.

Reading around various forums the main objections to Essex figures seems to be the basic anatomy and animation, 'stumpy' was one description I read. Certainly the range is old now, I was buying these self same figures 15 years ago and very little has been to upgrade the range, but that said I still like them. I had been considering beginning the British for the 100 days campaign using Essex, but time spent looking through the images on the Essex site did little to inspire me. I thought about using an alternative range but all I could see was AB's really, everybody is mad about AB's right now and justifiable so, but obviously they were not going to work with my Essex figs. They are also very expensive. I think this caused me some frustration and possibly led to deciding to sell up.

A couple of days however I came across a review of Campaign Game Miniatures 15mm British Napoleonics, they looked brilliant figures and I noticed that the reviewer made a comment re them being  shorter and stockier than the 18mm AB's, mentioning that the legs appeared a couple of mm's shorter than AB's ...... possibly a good enough match for Essex? So I'm going to give them a try and order a few bags of British line. Once I have some painted I'll give them a review here.

I'd not seen this range before, you can see the lists HERE, but they are sold in the UK by TSS. Inspirational photos, I especially like the line troops in covered shakos and the Dragoons.

Images linked from CGM website - lovely!

The French range is brilliant too!

I think they look fairly similar to Essex in stature, not as lean and thin as AB's certainly!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Old Guard Grenadiers, lancers and terrain.

Lord only knows how I found the motivation to paint this collection but I'm staggered that it now tops 450 figures, and that in just six months of spare time painting. It felt the right time to add the Old Guard Grenadiers to my small Imperial Guard contingent and you see below the battalion ready for action. I wanted them to be a bit special so I decided to add a 'non combatant' extra base and to include the Napoleon figure previously painted. I added a few Sapeurs, the Essex figures carry a musket (correctly) but I wanted to feature a couple of the heavy axes that they also carried. A bit of fiddly conversion work did the trick and they did not turn out too bad at all I don't think.

My Guard therefore currently comprises Old Guard Grenadiers, Young Guard, Red Lancers and a battery of Guard foot artillery.

All figures by Essex Miniatures.


A unit of line lancers have also been added to the collection.

I have also been giving more thought to terrain and decided to tackle river sections next. For the proposed 125mm hex grid I asked Tony Barr of East Riding Miniatures if he could cut me some custom river sections to overlay the 125mm hex grid. With his usual excellent customer service he set to work to produce these for me and they turned out spot on! I'm very pleased with them and now have about twenty five sections to paint and edge, but four examples are shown below. I can't recommend Tony enough if you need something cut to your requirements, always friendly and the product is first class. I'm guessing other wargamers might be interested in these? The 125mm versions have now been added to his shop. Thank you Tony.
(Link to page, added to bottom of hexes at present)

Gradually things are coming together, just the main boards to do.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

'Firepower' Museum Woolwich - e petition.

I'd like to share here a post made by Bob Cordery on his blog re the intended closure of the 'Firepower' museum in SE London. Having been there a couple of times and lived in the area for many years I would personally be sad to see it go, and especially when you consider the long connection with Woolwich, where the Royal Artillery were founded in 1714. For over 250 years Royal Artillery gunners were trained at Woolwich and the museum is sited within what was part of the old Royal Arsenal. The closure of Firepower would effectively sever the final link with Woolwich from where gunners were sent to battlefields across the World. The gunners serving the cannon at Culloden, Waterloo and in the American War of Independence were trained there to name but a few. Please sign the petition to help try and save it. Thank you.

Link to petition.