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!

Monday 17 March 2014

A quick update.

Unusually for this blog there are no pictures today, although I have plenty coming soon! Had a few days 'down time' although I have still been painting as and when. Next update will have more Essex figures including Dutch Guard Lancers, more Russian Dragoons and the first of the planned command figures.

Commission work - Just completed more 20mm ACW's for Old John mounted officers, and the last of the infantry figures from the current box ( I think we are going with more Marlburians next). Looking ahead I have more 20mm ECW's for Graham and the first two units of Spanish Napoleonic infantry for Tony, also 20mm so I have some nice work in hand.

Main reason for this post was to add a link to the excellent range of  1/56 (approx 30mm) from Crann Tara Miniatures. I understand that this is Graham's venture and he sent me some samples that I have to say are quite stunning. I'll add a link to the shop where there are some great pictures of what is clearly a superb range of figures. Once I have a few of the samples painted up I'll add the images here of the Jacobite Rebellion Scots.

Crann Tara Miniatures.

Back shortly.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Borodino - Utitza scenario - another Commands & Colors bash!

Borodino - Utitza - 7th September 1812. Scenario set up. (C&C

Another small yet balanced scenario from the Russian expansion. As I had a free afternoon I set this one up and played right through it. It turned out to be a real infantry slogging match, the French with their +1dice advantage in melee against infantry and the Russians who ignore the first retreat flag made for a hard fight along the centre. As the French player I decided to go for an all out attack against Utitza and after some initial success in routing Russian jaegers came up against solid units of Russian line infantry - some brought up to paper strength as a result of the 'Pre battle Mother Russia roll - who stubbornly stood their ground supported by artillery. Casualties mounted steadily on both sides but the French were unable to dislodge the Russians from the village. At one point a French 'Elan' card saw an all out assault in the centre ( the French had frustratingly few centre cards to play), but still the Russians stood their ground. I was a little shocked to see a Russian militia unit rout a french line unit in ranged musketry combat, must have had a bit of extra training those guys! The game ended in a narrow Russian victory 7 to 5 VP's and was fun from start to finish. Even playing solo the game rattles along and as I never look at what card I pick up after discarding the last played card it retains an element of uncertainty as to the strength of the command hand.

I enjoyed pushing my individually based figures around the board and have decided not to go for any type of movement tray now, but rather I need something to get the figures from storage to the board and back again afterwards, as this seems to be the most frustrating part of the process. I hope next game to get some more of my cavalry on the board.

The Napoleon 101 Podcasts.
I estimate that I must have spent around 60 + hours  listening to this excellent series over the last year or so and many have been revisited recently, for example the 2 Peninsular episodes and the 4 episodes relating to the 1812 Russian campaign as well as the 2 'Hundred Days' episodes. But for some reason I had missed 4 great later episodes (I think 50 to 54) which featured professor Alex Mikaberidze talking about the 1812 campaign from the Russian perspective. Having given these a listen I can thoroughly recommend them to anyone interested in this campaign. Mikaberidze's style is most engaging and delivered with a nice touch of humour, his knowledge of the burning of Moscow and the crossing of the Berezina I found fascinating and it certainly fired me up for the game above.

A few pics from the game, Essex 15mm figures of course.

Set up as above map.

Almost over.

Thursday 6 March 2014

The Earl of Essex's Regiment of Foot 1642.

I have about completed the first of the 20mm ECW units for Graham. I think they are going to look impressive on the table with a block of 16 pikemen flanked by 32 musketeers plus 6 officers, drummers, ensigns! I think they have a nice early war period look to them and were enjoyable to paint.

Not done so much painting for myself this last week but I'll have a bash over the weekend. I did manage these 6 Guard Foot Artillery crew, Essex 15mm figures as usual.

I find have sufficient troops in various types now to fight at least 2 of the C&C Russian scenarios. I have been thinking about simple movement trays again, single figures but placed on a tray to speed up deployment and movement. I can't quite make my mind up yet, but here are two early experiments, not sure that I like either of them! I'll come up with something or other.

Saturday 1 March 2014

15mm Russian Hussars and 20mm yankees.

I finished off the 10 x American Civil War Yankee cavalry unit wearing wet weather gear yesterday, I'm pleased with how they turned out. These are of course for Old John, more to follow.

I also painted these four Russian Hussars for my 15mm C&C collection. I experimented with lighting to get some better close ups and sharper images. 15mm Essex figures as usual.