Friday 29 July 2016

A bit of luck on eBay!

In order to give the Sharpe Practice FIW project a bit of a kick start I decided to see if there was anything going on eBay that would be useful. I was surprised to find a couple of units of the Warlord FIW 'British Regulars' boxed set of metal figures on there ready painted. One unit took my eye immediately as the figures were painted in a style very similar to my own and individually based. The same seller also had a six figure 'Colonial Rangers' set for sale. Knowing as I do the Warlord ranges quite well, I was sure they would fit well alongside the Front Figures I have. They arrived yesterday and I'm pleased to say that by adding the FR figures already painted I was able to present three companies (or groups in SP) of 8 figures plus two 'Leaders'. I see no reason at this stage not to count the colour bearers, drummer and sergeant as standard 'fusiliers' for the purposes of the game, but may replace them later. I'm planning to add a Grenadier company of 8 figures plus a light company to bring the strength of the battalion up to an impressive 40 figures broken down into 5 'groups'. The Rangers require a leader and I have a suitable FR figure for that (rangers are in groups of 6). The hatmen are in mixed poses, advancing, firing and loading which I feel works well for the campaign.

I'm now working on painting up three companies of French infantry, each of eight figures. The first is underway and I went with an undercoat of Vallejo 'London Grey' instead of my usual black, followed by a careful drybrush of  Ivory. I'm sure this will speed things up a great deal, and having quickly painted in the flesh base of Light Brown they looked remarkably 'painted'! Pics show them at this stage before I got started on the overpainting and detail. The figures are Front Rank, and have obviously been on campaign for some time in the woods and forests so have removed much of the facing detail such as cuffs and have untied the turnbacks resulting in a rather plain look that makes painting them faster.

I am seriously thinking of getting my 2 bands of woodland Indians painted for me, something I have never done before. I need two groups of 12 Indians plus 2 'leaders' to get me underway and I have no idea how to approach painting them. I already have the figures here, lovely FR castings, and I'm going to approach the painter of the British regulars and Rangers who trades on eBay under the name 'Kingscolours' as I really like his style.

I'm close (or at) my budget ceiling now, but to round off my terrain collection I now have on order six of the new TSS 600mm x 600mm 'Space Saver' green boards. I have always liked the TSS boards and wanted some for years, this is the latest in the product line as described below on the website:

Space Saver Terrain System
The idea is simple!

We use Styrofoam for all plain boards.  This is a very high density type of foam board that is virtually indestructible provided you don’t run over it in the car or let the cats at it.  Other than that, once you have a set, you are unlikely to ever need to buy plain boards from us again!

They are just 20mm thick and should be easy to store, they will bring my table size up to a full 6'x4' as required for both Bolt Action and Sharpe Practice. On the subject of BA I'm adding another 30cal MMG team to my Americans as they can take up to three such for the single selection to represent the higher number found among US platoons.

A few pics.

Officer painted by Kingcolours.
Front Rank & Warlord figures together, I'll need to repaint the leggings and rebase the 8 figures I painted to match.

Rangers by 'Kingscolours'
Stage 1 for the French, grey UC followed by Ivory drybrush and flesh (brown) base.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Sharpe Practice - underway!

Despite a poor painting output last week I managed to paint the first 8 British infantry for 'Sharpe Practice' French & Indian Wars over just two lengthy evening sessions. I'd been looking forward to painting some colourful uniforms again and am quite pleased how these turned out. I wanted to paint strong vibrant colours, so for example the uniform red is Vallejo flat red over the black undercoat, followed by 50/50 mix of flat red and scarlet, and finally a few touches of pure scarlet for highlights. When I paint the officers I'll highlight slightly more 'orange' to reflect the better quality officers cloth. Probably given the campaign and the nature of the terrain uniforms should be more realistically faded and worn, but I want my toy soldiers to jump out a bit!

I based them on 1" steel washers, although these will add 14p to the cost of each figure, but I'm planning magnetic movement/storage bases. I have found with my Bolt Action figures that getting them on and off the table can be a bit of a chore and a few have had chipped paintwork as a result of my impatience that I have needed to re touch. They got an initial heavy coat of satin varnish for protection, followed by matt coat 24 hours later as they will need to withstand a fair bit of individual handling. As usual I use Vallejo paints and varnishes throughout.

A second company of 8 figures will follow later after I have tried my hand at some French line infantry. The uniforms are predominantly grey/white so should be slightly less demanding than the Brits. I'm considering an undercoat of Vallejo 'London Grey' as an experiment for the French.

Photos not brilliant, a touch over lit I think, but the strength of the red hopefully comes through.

First company of  'hatmen' - 28mm Front Rank Figures. Large bases just for the pics, I'll be making magnetic thin trays for each unit.

Slowly working my way through the rulebook. I like the deck of cards that came with them.

Finally for now I added a touch of Nock 'leaf' flock to the completed 4Ground walls and fences, simple but effective I think?

Tuesday 26 July 2016

schwimmwagen for Bolt Action.

So where did that week go? I have done very little painting this last week but did manage to finish off this Warlord Schwimmwagen kit that will add a fast light recce vehicle to my Bolt Action German force. Took some patience this one did, particularly getting the steering wheel to sit convincingly in the drivers hand. The driver consists of a body, separate left arm and separate head! The wheel was also a separate part and it was a bugger to fit, I knocked his head off a couple of times fiddling with the steering wheel .... bloody superglue. I painted it with the crew in situ, which also made it a bit more demanding and added a rifle to the front seat. I still have the entrenching tool to fit. I think I'll leave it this shade (Middlestone base, sepia ink wash followed by rust pigment), but may use a black ink to pick out a touch more detail, still I'm pleased with the overall character of the model and it's crew.

Post edited by author 27th July.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

New arrival & a review of 4Ground MDF products.

Baby Lilly arrived on Monday, weighing in at 7lb 4oz, both Mother and Daughter doing well and back home. Lilly is our second granddaughter.

It's been a busy couple of days, but yesterday evening I managed to spend an hour up in the hobby room putting together the first pack of newly arrived 4Ground MDF kits that I ordered a couple of weeks ago. I had not seen these products before but there is an incredible selection on the website,  clearly taking lazer cut kits to a new level of creativity. I wanted some wall section for my Bolt Action set up and also ordered fences and a couple of carts looking ahead to Sharpe Practice. The quality of the kits, the packaging and instruction sheets is first class and it was a breeze to put the first pack of wall sections together. The actual wall sections are cut from 3mm mdf with exposed brickwork cut from 2mm so you do get a 3d finish where the render has fallen off exposing the bricks, very clever. Some of the brick sections are tiny but fitted perfectly, and once each pair of walls are glued together and slotted into the bases you end up with a realistic 6mm thick wall capped off with 8mm capping (see pics below). I used pegs to hold everything together while it dried, then gave the bases a quick texture to match my other terrain items. The result is very pleasing and what's more they come pre coloured and only the bases have been worked on which really speeds things up.

The images show a single pack of four 6" sections, next I have another pack with short 3" sections and includes a couple of gates and posts etc, hope to do this one this evening. I took a few pictures to illustrate the quality of the products, I can highly recommend a look at the 4Ground website and I plan to order more to dress up the table including tables and chairs for the Normandy cafe, a street piano etc plus more wagons.


I have also invested in a little more terrain for Bolt Action, narrower rural road sections and narrower matching river sections, all ready painted and textured from Small Terrain Miniature Scenery, who supplied my wider 'metalled' road sections. Finally, I went back to Simon at S&A scenics who custom made my tall trees having seen his excellent hedge sections and asked him if he could supply it at 30mm tall which he could at no extra cost so I placed an order for 4 packs which will give me no less than 12 feet of hedgerow! My own previous effort was falling to bits and not as convincing as these so I'll rescue all of the clump foliage and dump the bases.

This is Simons 'size 4' hedges, mine will be slightly taller at 30mm.
Once I have everything here (all is made to order so a week or so to wait) I'll set up my Normandy table and play a BA game against a real life opponent and write the game up, I'm looking forward to it.

Links below:


Small Terrain Miniature Scenery.

S&A Scenics.

Monday 18 July 2016

Phew, what a scorcher!

That will teach me to complain about the weather, it's roasting here today! Middle daughter has just gone into labour, ( no not THAT Labour although I have just sent off a rather frosty email on the subject of new members being banned from voting in the forthcoming leadership election but that's a different story), and granddaughter #2 is well on her way.

I now have my copy of Sharpe Practice 2 and it's evident that it's been trimmed back and streamlined in order to make the game much more playable, my impression is that it shares many of the mechanics of Bolt Action now ( or vice versa), with activation chips in the bag as an option to drawing cards from a deck, something I really like. I'll be focusing upon two small forces to start with, 8 man companies for line infantry, 12 for Indians. The Front Rank figures are outstanding, and I'll only need to paint around 70 or so figures in total to get me started. The French and Indian War section offers several small forces to begin with, for example British Regulars 1756 onwards is made up as follows:

Leader, status II
Leader, status I
Two groups of 8 fusiliers, muskets.
Leader, status I
One group of 6 colonial rangers, muskets
Leader, status II
One group of 12 Indians, Tribe, muskets.
Points value: 51.

Not a bad way to start? The French force is about the same size. Of course you can expand into much larger forces in due course. I will of course want to add Grenadiers and artillery etc later, most of which is already on order from Front Rank together with the French and Canadians. There is a lot of depth in the rules with optional extras, for example I like the fact that water carts are required to prevent the troops from becoming dehydrated from thirst, and that it's possible that some might slope off to the local tavern to visit the' ladies'. I like the humour of all these touches, it's early days yet, only an initial read through, but it's already clear that I'm going to have fun with these rules.

I have  several bits and pieces that I want to clear out, and had intended to get them on the blog over the weekend but time seems to be whizzing by right now. I'll list them next post, it's a giveaway to fellow bloggers as I can't be arsed with eBay and would rather see them put to good use. Quite a bit of stuff to make space for the new collection including Warlord Romans and Celts, MDF bases, casualty dials and dice cells and a fair bit more. The creative juices are flowing again, time to get painting.

Thursday 14 July 2016

We interrupt this blog to bring you a newsflash! .......

After weeks of seeking inspiration for a new project/direction I have finally made up my mind and committed to a new period, something I have never done before, but always  fancied having a go at. Romans/Celts are out, 18mm Napoleonics are also out as I really wanted to start something fresh and different, and inspired by second edition Sharpe Practice and the beautiful figure range produced by Front Rank it's going to be the French Indian War. I have not been able to get this conflict out of my head for months since watching several hours of 'The War That Made America' documentary on Youtube, and it's just perfect for large scale skirmish games. Figures are on order and due any day now, and I'm already planning ahead on how to base them, individual bases with magnetised movement trays. A trip to B&Q this morning sourced some excellent 28mm washers as well as a new painting lamp and I am really looking forward to painting some bright uniforms again. From the Lardies came the rules and mdf tokens plus cards etc and I have been actively reading and watching battle reports. This will play second fiddle of course to Bolt Action but I don't plan to add anymore to the collection beyond terrain.

I have needed a change for some time now as motivation has really dipped recently. The wargame room is sorted and cleared out, table is back up and edged and storage/shelving sorted as I have a fair bit of BA related stuff up there now.

A bit of Summer would be nice, the constant wind and rain has got me down. Yesterday lunchtime after taking the car for it's MOT and passing, I had to drive into Folkestone to unblock my debit card following a telephone security check, and I was not a happy man by the time I went through the seemingly endless procedure to get it sorted out, it poured with rain and I was of course wearing just a t shirt so got soaked. I made my feelings known in the branch then drove home. By the time |I got home I really fancied a pint as I was gasping, the sun came out so off we popped across the road to The City of London. We sat outside, it clouded over again and down came a heavy hailstorm shower that went on for ages. A couple of pints of IPA later though inside the pub in pleasant company restored my mood and it finally cleared up revealing a blue sky. It really has been a rubbish summer down here so far, but today the sun is shining.

I will get back to finishing off the last few 'Last Levy' figures today, I notice one of the figures is firing what looks like a rifle fitted with an attachment to allow it to fire round corners, I thought it was flash at first! A bit of research revealed BA rules for this weapon, a  Krummlauf assault rifle, more on this in due course but you can see the figure in the Warlord box set image below at top right.How useful is that!

Sunday 10 July 2016

More terrain items.

Not had a lot of time for modelling this last week, but have managed to paint and base the Warlord tank traps and barbed wire set that has been sitting here for weeks now. My aim now is to try to break up the table with plenty of cover and obstacles and to this end I have on order some excellent pre painted mdf wall and fence sections from 4Ground as well as  a couple of carts, and these will be used to create the back yard areas for my buildings. I'm also going to be adding further details such as chicken coop, wooden sheds, duck pond etc to try to bring the table to life a little more.



On the painting front I have also decided to finish off the 'Last Levy' box set as I still have a dozen figure left in the spares box and these will make up two six figure 'Hitler Youth' squads and a seven figure Volkssturm squad. I know such representations are not to every ones taste, but the figures are fine castings with loads of character and I will enjoy painting them. They are bristling with panzerfaust and various other weapons.

The 1944-45 'Holding the West Wall' list from the Armies of Germany BA book makes for an interesting mix of veteran Grenadier squads alongside Hitler Youth and Volkssturm squads, no transports available to them, but they do get to take a 150mm Nebelwerfwer, a model I don't yet have in my collection that is available from Warlord. With the Allies firmly in command of the skies they also get an Anti Aircraft gun. I like this aspect of Bolt Action, you can build specific points lists from different theatres of the war by expanding a core German force. I am also being increasingly drawn to the earlier Blitzkrieg lists, and Warlord do produce some fine sets for the Polish, French and British forces, the French are very tempting. At this stage I see no point in trying to start another project as this one still has lots to offer in terms of expansion and the figures are amazing. I do have a slight issue with the cost of the individual Warlord castings, with most listed at £2.50 per figure, but the box sets work out cheaper, around £16.00 for ten figures. I'm sticking with metal figures now where possible. I'm not sure how these prices compare with other companies 28mm figures, but I will stick with Warlord.

A second edition of Bolt Action is due later this year and will take into account all of the errata and F&Q updates that have arisen since the first book. As it stands I'm happy to play the first edition as they are, but will get the updated rules when they appear. It seems that High Explosives will be toned down a touch and possibly require the use of templates in order to decide which troops can be hit. As it stands if you successfully 'hit' with an HE shot it's possible to wipe out an entire squad (depending on the HE D6 number of dice to wound/damage), and it's slightly  bothered me that when you roll to hit you point at your target spot and it's either hit or miss, no falling short or beyond, so you target the centre of a squad and if you hit them they are all potential casualties. I did question the rule re line of sight through woods on the BA forum, but was told that that's correct and that only hills and buildings block LOS in BA, one guy posted images of some nice 'open' woods to support the rule, but they certainly don't look like any woods I know where the undergrowth most certainly does block LOS. It's a funny old game is BA, but I can't help liking it!

Another quick point re rules (and it all helps me to retain it in the brainbox). buildings can only be destroyed by scoring 12 hits in a single turn, and it takes something pretty big to do that, the damage is not cumulative and any troops inside a building can only be targeted through doors or windows so you cannot target the building itself to kill troops inside it. If the building comes crashing down then those inside are lost, but it's a near impossible thing to do even with very big guns. If you want to get troops out a building then you have to assault it by reaching an opening (only 1 figure needs to reach a door to count an entire squad in the assault), and then the defenders get first strike as they count as defending an obstacle. When assaulting any pins on a unit are automatically removed, both attackers and defenders, this apparently reflects the fact that the adrenaline is pumping as everyone fights for his or her own life. Hand to hand is brutal in BA and is decided in one turn.

A few pictures of progress, I'm close to the point of being able to give the room a coat of paint and turn into a dedicated wargame room by removing some of the clutter and adding a new single shelf storage unit, my painting table is going back downstairs again where I can paint watching TV and overlooking the garden. I'm on the lookout for prints and posters etc relevant to the period. I have also added a couple of shots of the completed Soviets sitting on the shelf awaiting storage boxes.