Monday, 31 May 2021

'Battlescale' buildings and this weeks output.

This weeks ECW output is two foot regiments (grey and dark red), a regiment of horse and two command bases. In addition I painted and based the 5 half timbered buildings by 'Battlescale', really nice resin models that work well with 15mm figures in my opinion.

I'm planning a run through of the Forlorn Hope rules within the next few weeks to get a feel again for them. So far the five regiments of foot that I have completed are all of 24 figures plus the command strip, I really need to paint some smaller units, I'm thinking 6 pikes and 12 muskets next. FH uses 10 sided dice, something I don't have in my extensive dice collection so I have ordered some from eBay. 

From this week things will slow down a bit as I'm going to be painting other stuff for Graham and John. To be honest painting ECW infantry can get a little repetitive and I don't want to burn myself out on these. Saying that I still plan a unit of foot and a unit of horse each week!

Below: the command bases will be 1 mounted and 1 foot figure. I love the 'General Coaker' foot figure (left holding hat) which was a little freebie from PP with my initial big order. (photo pre satin varnish).

Monday, 24 May 2021

Getting back in the ECW swing!

I appreciate the comments on the previous 'Front Rank' post, it was in response to some of the very negative comments on the Facebook thread that I read and I feel more optimistic now that a buyer will be found for the business as they do make some superb model soldiers. On another note I see that Tony Barr of East Riding Miniatures has also taken the decision to retire (HERE), and that his figure ranges will also be offered for sale, including Lamming Miniatures, another long established range of figures.

ECW Progress.

Funny enough I really don't feel like I have been spending that much time at the painting desk but the new units are coming on at a very pleasing pace. No question that I am starting to feel the benefits of having some insulin in my body and the related lifestyle changes which I'm sure is helping, and I'm also finding that my eyesight seems to have regained it's focus for painting model soldiers. As I said, I have no desire to rush this project along as it's intended for the long term, but I'm finding the Peter Pig figures such a pleasure to paint. You can see the results so far below.

When I painted the blue coated Regiment of Foot I was not entirely happy as they looked very flat despite there being some highlighting. It bothered me so much that I decided to do something about it. I took pure azure and added stronger highlights, but this resulted in too strong a contrast so in order to try to knock it back somewhat I carefully ran some Vallejo blue wash over. Bearing in mind that the unit was still based this required some tricky brushwork, being careful not to let the thin wash run over any other detail. The result when retouched with satin varnish is as shown, I'm much happier with the overall look. I know from past experience that the combination of the Vallejo azure with the applied blue wash works well and I intend to use it again. I like the Vallejo washes and have several of them, the red wash also gives good results over flat red.

The Dragoons are burnt red with flat red highlights and green cuffs, being the coat lining turned back. I decided to stick with the 120mm unit frontage for all units so far, but reduced the depth of the dragoons bases to 25mm with 4 figures per base. I need to add a flag. There is also a horse holder base to mark where they dismount to fight on foot.

The cuirassiers were quite easy to paint being a metallic dry brush over the black base coat. I used steel for most but included a couple in bronze armour, a little silver or gold were added as highlights. I'm searching for a suitable flag for them. 

More Foot will be next up this week. 

Thursday, 20 May 2021

A fair price for Front Rank?

There was a lively discussion yesterday over on the FB Napoleonic page following the announcement that Front Rank Miniatures is up for sale due to the owners impending retirement. Alec Brown started the business back in 1986 and the figures continue to have a healthy following to this day. You can read the announcement HERE if you have not already done so. The asking price of £260.000 (offers above £225.000 + £35.000 of stock) was the subject of debate, given the business currently has an annual turnover of £100.000. The price is for the company assets but not the shares. I just wonder what you all think about this, is this a fair asking price for this business? I have always liked their figures, although these days they do appear somewhat stocky in stature, something that was once more fashionable. It would be a terrible shame to lose such a popular and established range of figures so hopefully somebody with the  relevant experience will take it on for the future. When the old Hinchliffe was recently sold by Ian Hinds, also due to semi retirement - it was split up although all ranges remain available, One has to remind oneself just how long some of these old model soldier businesses have been around.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

More troops & a first piggy head swap.

Spending a bit more time back at the painting desk now. The Pigs are a pleasure to paint and of course ECW's are a fair bit easier and faster than  Napoleonics for example, having basic coat and breeches mostly in a single colour as issued, stockings and some kind of hat! 

Under Forlorn Hope army lists the of 'West Country' forces comprise quite small units with the Foot being between 16 and 20 figures with many units fielding just a 1:1 ratio of pike to shot. Horse are 5 to 8 figures strong. I only checked this after painting the first two units at 24 figures strong so they will stay as they are and I will reduce future units accordingly. With two foot and one horse completed I'll be doing two foot units next of 18 figures (plus the 3 command). The smaller size of the units will suit well my smaller space idea of using just a 4 x 3 table eventually.

Martin at PP produces many head packs for all periods so I bought a couple - 'Puritan hats' and 'Morion helmet' - and followed the simple instructions to twist off with pliers, drill a hole to create a neck cavity and pop in a replacement head. Worked a treat on the standard drummer in Monmouth cap which I replaced with a Puritan hat. I'll do more of course, replacing the pike 'soft hat' figures with helmets, one thing learned from SK days is that when fighting in the pike block a steel helmet is an essential item, especially when worn with a thick reproduction Monmouth underneath for padding.


Wednesday, 12 May 2021

First ECW Regiment of Foot.

I'm gradually starting to feel a lot better, getting used to jabbing myself with insulin, (which is really not that bad), and the regular recording of blood/glucose levels which are far closer to 'normal' now than a few weeks ago so it's all been well worth it. I'm still weak, but I'm back walking the dog again and walking is something I plan to do a lot more of as a means of building up my fitness. I have stopped drinking and lost a stone and a half in weight so far so I'm trying to focus very much on the positive side to this recent experience.

Right then, lets get down to business. I present the first painted ECW Regiment of Foot, a generic red coated unit, (I will name it in due course), of 8 pikes and 16 muskets plus a separate 3 figure command base. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to base my units before deciding on this, the command base does not count toward the numerical strength of the unit so in Forlorn Hope terms this represents a 24 figures unit with a 2;1 musket to pike ratio. Note that the actual ratio of pike or muskets is not important in FH as the ratios can be randomly determined by a dice roll, but I prefer to stick with actual numbers. As things progress Foot units will be larger and smaller, for example 12 Muskets and 6 Pikes representing 600 men or 20 muskets and 10 pikes representing  roughly 1000 men, it's also possible (in the case of the Cornish troops) to have large combined pike blocks with muskets drawn off as a 'Forlorn Hope'. This offers some flexibility in building the units and is also historically accurate. FH suggests that very understrength regiments be combined into larger units, but Foot Regiments can be as small as just 12 figures (8 muskets and 4 pike).

I am considering this project as very much something that I will keep for myself, I have become aware of a slight deterioration in my eye sight recently, and it has made me think how lucky I have been to have been able to paint the thousands and thousands of soldiers that I have over the years/decades but you never know what the future holds so this one is for me to keep and enjoy. Eye test being booked for me, (thanks to the Paula Carr Trust), but the change has been only very slight, I can't see the fine detail on 6mm figures any longer and even these 15's are just slightly less sharp to my naked eye, that said it may be that the better part of six weeks away from the painting desk has caused me to lose my focus somewhat and I'm working on that! At 63 I guess I'm lucky to still be able to paint these figures without glasses so I'm honestly not complaining, just finding myself in a reflective mood about life in general at the moment.

Basing: I was going to change my basing style for this one and try the Vallejo base paste, but decided to stick with the fine grit and static grass. This works much better when the dry stone is totally soaked in the Vallejo Sepia wash before highlighting with buff when dry. I know the Napoleonics got a slightly watered down version of the Sepia and so it did not work as well, I think the difference is noticeable here where the thicker dry wash fills in between the grit and leaves a smoother surface. I'll add a few tufts once they arrive from eBay, I do like a bit of dressing of the bases.

Overall I'm pleased with this unit, future red units will begin with a darker base colour (burnt red) as this turned out a little bright. I went with the trusty satin varnish as the matt looked a bit flat to me and I like that slight lift the satin gives. Of course I have to add that the Peter Pig figures are a joy to work with, no cleaning up, just trim the pegs from the bases and that's it. The variation in pose/equipment within every pack means you can build nicely animated units and I fully intend to take advantage of the numerous ECW 'Head packs' that PP offers for further conversion possibilities.

Next I'm going to do another 24 figure regiment, this time a blue coated unit, then the first regiment of horse, probably 8 figures. 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

A gradual recovery & sorting the Pigs!

As I'm still out of action on the painting front I have turned my attention to doing a bit of planning for the ECW project as a means of taking my mind off jabbing myself with needles and monitoring, as my blood/glucose levels are very gradually being bought under control from recent raging highs! It's looking like I'm going to be insulin dependent, but to be honest at least I know I'm going to feel better and I'm getting excellent care in these difficult Covid times.

Today for the first time in ages I sat at the painting table and based the last three units of 6mm WSS figures for Gerry and have to say I really enjoyed it. Once the glue is fully dry I'll give them a soak of Sepia ink followed by some static grass and finally the red/blue edges to match the rest of Gerry's collection. This will complete the seven additional bases.

Planning the Pigs.

I have been giving much thought to this over the last couple of weeks and have decided to go with the Peter Pig plastic bases (40mm x 30mm) as my standard infantry and cavalry base. This means that my foot regiments will comprise two bases of 8 muskets and a central base of 8 pike plus 3 or 4 command figures and horse of multiples of 2 figures, probably 8 per unit. I considered deeper/larger Foot Regiments but have in mind the bigger picture of a planned 4 x 3 table where I want to be able to create a little bit of 'Olde England' with it's towns and villages, enclosures etc in modular form with the flexibility to lay out campaign based terrain. I want this to be a long term 'keeper' project where the terrain is as important as the model figures.

With another smaller top up order from PP that arrived this morning I made a start on sorting them all out into plastic business card boxes and it's a very satisfying sight seeing the lead mountain for the months ahead. Small additional monthly orders going forward should keep things ticking over nicely. I also have an order in to Battlescale for some of their half timbered buildings in 10mm scale.

Once I'm back painting again I'll be keeping busy with commission work for Old John and some ACW Peter Pigs for Graham C in addition to my own stuff. I doubt I will do any more 6mm's unfortunately as I have noticed it's been slightly harder to focus on the fine detail work in this scale.

My focus for the ECW armies will be Hopton v Waller 1643 from the Forlorn Hope army lists, but more in due course. 

Below: One for Gerry (finally!).

Below: The planned composition of the Foot Regiments, possibly two colour bearers in front rank if Martin at PP will allow me to vary the contents of the command packs as I believe is possible on request.

Below: left to right, Foot command, pikes, muskets, horse in helmets, horse command and horse in hats. Still to sort are artillery, dragoons, cuirassiers and a few other bags.