Thursday, May 31, 2012

TQD Castings British Infantry Part One

Recently (well, February), I mentioned that I was going to take a chance buying some figures from TQD Castings, a line of figures made under the UK's CP Models banner, because they make a 20mm padre figure, which happens to be the scale I do WW2 skirmish gaming in.

The pack (TQD-BR3) I wanted includes an officer in shirtsleeves, a dispatch rider, and a padre. Done and dusted, I said, and ordered them. At the same time I ordered a five figure pack (TQD-BR3), a useful looking set of British infantry, none of them looking especially in a hurry, that could be useful to flesh out scenes or show infantry moving up to the front.

So here's the lot, set up besides some vehicles from my collection:

The officer figure. He's cast with his sleeves rolled up, and since I've worn a battledess tunic and don't see how you could ever roll up the sleeves on that garment, I decided to give him a cream coloured shirt rather than a standard issue khaki one - maybe his wife sent it to him. I'm planning to use him as Lt. Denis Audet in my Platoon Forward games, which are chronicled on this blog. If you're wondering about the vegetation on his helmet, it's bits of dill weed from the herb cupboard. I dried crushed basil flakes, didn't work.

The dispatch rider, who to my mind looks like he's directing traffic. I'm not too happy with his lips, he looks like he's blowing someone a kiss. Perhaps I should fix it, or find a pretty 20mm French young woman figure for him to be looking at!

And the padre figure. If it seems that the finish on this figure looks a little, well, bumpy, you're right. Once the black spray paint I was using as a primer had dried, I was horrified to notice that it had dried in a somewhat granular form. I scraped as much of it off as I could, but I was quite upset because he was the reason I bought this pack. However, from a distance, he doesn't look too bad.

So what to do with a padre figure on the tabletop? Still scratching my head on that one. Thanks to one of Sidney Roundwood's posts, I am thinking that I could use him as a first aid man for skirmish gaming where first aid rules are allowed. To that end I thought about painting a red cross on the satchel, but too much of it is covered by his arm. Perhaps I should go back and give him a Red Cross armband. There's a thought. Here's the good padre with some AB Miniatures casualty figures from my collection.

Ill put up the other figures tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for looking, it means a lot to me. Cheers, Mike

Monday, May 28, 2012

The American Civil War Day By Day

There are a number of sesquicentenial (175 years if you're wondering) anniversary blogs tracking the American Civil War, but one I discovered today and wanted to flag is this labour of love by a talented amateur historian, Allen Gathman, Seven Score and Ten: The Civil War Sesquicential Day By Day. A quick glance of some recent posts shows that it covers an interesting gamut, from military to social and racial history. Fans of the Civil War should bookmark this blog.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Renegade Miniatures Confederate Infantry Officer

Two posts in one day is unheard of for me here, but as I was using a rebel colour palette to do the dismounts in the previous post, I opened up a package of Renegade Miniatures Rebels (Skirmish 01) and dug out this officer to give him a test paint. I also sorely more single based Rebel officers for Terrible Sharpe Sword skirmish gaming.

At first, because his hat is so big and so low over his face, I wasn't going to give him eyes, but I relented at the last minute and I think it was the right decision. I like the somewhat staring look, it goes with the set of his mouth (yelling a battle cry? screaming orders to keep the line straight as the shells come in?) and it reminds me of one of Secundus' excellent caricatures at Iron Mitten.

The tunic is medium gray with a black wash and then drybrushed in two lighter shades of gray. I find I am moving away from drybrushing and using a layered effect more and more frequently, as I like the precision it allows, but here I think the drybrush is ok.

I quite enjoyed painting this fellow, and I'm looking forward to getting the rest of that box onto the painting table. However, some unruly Irish chaps, shouting Erin Go Bragh or something like it, pushed their way on first, claiming seniority in the lead mountain, and they are destined to be the second regiment in my Irish Brigade project.

A rare view of a Confederate back.

Sash and Sabre Confederate Cavalry Dismounted Command

At the start of the year I committed to the Guild Wargamers year long build project to doing several batches of 28mm ACW figures, including a regiment of Confederate cavalry, including both mounts and dismounts. The mounted chaps have been done and posted here for a while now, as were some of the dismounts, but I had delayed finishing the dismounted command. That project is now complete. Here's the complete dismounted unit.

The dismounted unit is a bit of a dog's breakfast. The sturdy looking chaps holding rifles and carbines are mostly Redoubt, but the smaller fellows are from the ancient RAFM Missouri guerrillas blister, which I bought, well, a long time ago. The four figures in the command group are Sash and Sabre's CS8 four figure Reb Cav Command pack. Sash and Sabre makes true 25mm figures and advertise them as such. In an age of scale creep, their figures compare well to Foundry's line, but are noticeably smaller than Redoubt or Renegade, but they have their charm.

Sash and Sabre commander, a modern D'Artagnan wannabe, leans into the camera, exuding charm. This same pose has devastated the belles of Charleston on many occasions. Followers of my Bluffsburg play by email campaign, meet Col. Romney Wagner.

There's an interesting story behind these figures, which reflects well on S&S and so I want to tell as a thank you to them. I had ordered S&S' reb artillery crew pack and received C9, the cav figures, in error. Christopher at S&S was very kind about allowing me to keep these figures as a freebie, and shipped me the right figures. It was more than a few emails between the two of us, and it probably cost him more time than the order was worth, but he made it right and I am grateful to him.

S&S standard bearer, obviously a fan of General Burnside's whiskers, holding a GMB banner, protected by one of those Missouri Guerilla figures I mentioned. On the left is another S&S figure, a sergeant, based individually. He will be a useful fellow in Sharpe Practise / Terrible Swift Sword games, I think.

Commander with his S&S bugler. I tried for a very motley quality to the uniforms of these fellows, to suggest a mid or later war ad hoc medley of uniforms, but I wanted the bugler to have a proper cavalry jacket with yellow piping.

Another view of the S&S sergeant. Of the four figures in the pack, I think he's the best. I find S&S figures are a little hit and miss in the crispness of their detail, but this fellow really stands out. The pose is very dynamic, he looks like he is shouting crders in the heat of battle, and has a tough veteran's aura about him. My photography isn't kind to him, but I even managed to get something of a wood grain on the furniture of his carbine, something I'm just starting to figure out. My favourite figure of this batch.

And another view, just because.

I will note as I close that Mad Padre Wargames ticked over 30,000 page views this weekend. Yes, most of those were mine, but I am very grateful to those of you who follow this blog, I enjoy your company and encouragement, and I know that putting my work up here makes me a better painter, so thank you for that. Blessings, Mike


Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Tale Of Two Undercoats

For pretty much as long as I can remember I've used black undercoating for my miniatures, usually just a flat black spray paint from the local DIY store. I told myself that the black was forgiving, it saved time for belts and boots, took a simple silver drybrush for swords and chainmail and armour, etc. I knew that other painters used different, lighter colours for undercoat, and several years back painted some 20mm figures that had been primed in white. I found that experience irritating, and was always seeing white bits that I had to back and paint out. It wasn't that good an experience for me. However, I always wondered, was I sacrificing brightness and vividness, since black tends to suck out some of the vibrancy of the colours painted over it.

Last week however I was reading the article by Stokes Schwartz in Issue 29 of Battlegames, "Simplify Your Painting", and one of his suggestions if to use a white undercoat. Being the open minded (impressionable? easily manipulated?) fellow that I am, I thought an experiment would be in order. I bought some Army Painter white spray primer and applied it to a small number of Warlord weird war figures that are on my painting bench.

Here's the Warlord vampire hunting Padre in white, next to a Foundry Union cavalryman in my usual flat black. My hope is to put up several comparison shots as painting continues, and to get your feedback as to what you think looks better and why.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Confederate Ships Launched

A while back a Works in Progress post showed two ACW ship models near completion. I'm happy to report that they are now launched and beginning a very brief shakedown cruise before they engage the enemy in my ACW Bluffsburg email campaign.

Both these models are 1/600 scale ships from Thoroughbred Models. I had a great experience with proprietor Toby Barrett, who shipped my order promptly and without hassles. The models are finely sculpted pewter and quite lovely. Here is TS13 Confederate Cottonclad (River Ram & Gunboat) taking to the water as the CSS Maccabbee, steaming upriver to defend Bluffsburg.

Close behind is model TS75 CSS Missouri (Western River Ironclad) in its campaign role as the CSS Joshua, the flagship of the small armada protecting Bluffsburg. Just a little bit of rust on the casemate, especially around the seams and gunports.

For the bases I used thin plasticard, painted green as per this video showing two fine fellows cruising on the Kentucky River.

For the smoke I used steel wool, spray painted black, over a bit of paperclip, the end of which was glued into holes drilled into the funnels. My technique with the Dremel tool was none too steady, I fair came close to wrecking the funnels and had to quickly repair them. Mrs Padre asked me a very good question, are these ships buring coal or wood? If wood, she thought the smoke would be whiter. Coal, I hastily answered. They're burning coal. I am not entirely sure what coal supplies would have been on the Mississippi, especially for the CS, so I hope I'm right.

The bow waves and churned water by the paddlewheels and at the stern were made using Golden brand artist's moulding paste. I see I slopped a little onto the side of the Joshua, I'll have to go back and retouch that. I tried to be sparing, but I think I caught the sense of movement through the water.

So these are the first ship models I've built and painted in ages. There are some more ships on the slipways for the Union, and they should appear here soon.

Anchors aweigh, y'all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Beginner Napoleonics Reading

Not that I need a new period, really, but Napoleonics were some of the first figures I ever painted (early 1970s Minifigs that my older brother Alex bought for me since my youthful allowance wouldn't cover it), and then in high school SPI's epic and quite beautiful monster boarsgame Qellington's Victory was a passion for some time. There was also a brief foray into GDW's early 1980s System 7 cardboard counter substitute for miniatures.
Lately I've been thinking that 6mm might be the scale for me to try Napoleonics in an affordable and feasible way. But then I realized how little I knew of the period, other than the 1815 Waterloo campaign, so I thought that some basic reading might be in order first.

Last week an intriguing and quite novel bag was left on my front porch.

Aha, I said, that must be my order from Naval and Military Press in the UK, and sure enough it was.

Inside was a copy of Philip Warner's account of the Zeebrugge Raid, which NMP was flogging, appropriately, as its St. George's Day special. No interest in gaming that action, but I remember reading about it in my grandfather's set of Times Illustrated History of the Great War, and remembered Zeebrugge as a desperate and gallant affair (most VCs in a single day since Rorke's Drift) so it seemed like a great piece of summer reading.

The two Nap books are H.C.B. Roger's Napoleon's Army (1974) and Gunther E. Rothenberg's Art of War in the Age of Napoleon (2000). Of the two, I gather that Rothenberg was the professional academic while Rogers was a career soldier turned amateur historian. No matter, I am just looking for some good Napoleonic primers at this point.

Anyone out there have any thoughts on these two books? Any other recommendations on essential Napoleonic reading for the beginner?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 11, 2012

Yankee Cavalry Project - Mounts Finished

Today was a day off work, and about half of it spent pushing on and getting the mounted portion of my Yankee cavalry project finished. The dismounts still need a fair bit of final brushwork and then basing, but I am happy to say the mounts are done.

Here are they are having a bit of a parade outside in the late afternoon sun. You will noticed that except for the two ancient RAFM castings clutching their carbines, all the Yanks are holding drawn sabres. This assembly was quite intentional, as I wanted an early war look for these figures, influenced in part by my ongoing ACW campaign. If I do a third box of Perry figs as Union cav, I shall certainly do them holding carbines and pistols.

I'm quite pleased that the yellow piping on the collars, pant legs, and at the back of the cavalry jackets looks ok. The only yellow I could source locally was a jar of Tamiya Flat Yellow, and it was a beast to work with, thick, gooey, and continually needing to be watered down. Yech. Glad it turned out ok.

Being a bit cheeky here - had a surplus rebel banner that I slipped onto this base, to suggest they charging pell mell after their routed foe.

And here they are cantering down a road somewhere in the Shenandoah valley. Quite a peaceful scene.

But suddenly the Colonel orders the regiment to halt. Has he seen something?

Indeed he has! Rebel cavalry moving on the column's flank! These figures are the first box of Perry Brothers cavalry I bought for Part One of the Guild Year Long Build project.

The Yankees deploy from column to line on their right flank. Will they complete the move in time?

The two lines hurtle towards one another. Who will emerge victorious?

Blue and grey, sabre to sabre.

And cut! OK, that's a wrap. We will never know who wins. I just took these pictures for fun, as I wanted to see what two painted boxes of Perry plastics and five months work looks like. Not bad, I says to myself. And don't those GMB flags look nice in the middle of that melee? Lovely stuff, the GMB flags.

Now to crack on and get the dismounts finished.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Things Are Starting To Get Weird

A few posts back, I put up some pictures of Hugh Jarce, my sole 28mm WW2 figure, and mentioned that he was being recruited for a special hush hush unit being put together by the intrepid Major Terntadust, the British Army's most kickass padre. As some of you sharp readers may have guessed, that was my way of intimating a slight addition to my wargaming interests.

Really, I was just interested in obtaining this model from Warlord Games of a cross-wielding Padre, part of the "Out For The Count" set that includes a sinister Nazi vampire (and can anything be more sinister than a Nazi vampire? Speaking of which, I need some feedback as to how to paint this fellow. Would a Nazi vampire be a vulgar SS type in black, or would be an aristocratic type in Whermacht General's feldgrau with red stripes and tabs? I'm leaning to the latter, but I will consider your comments.

A nice looking vignette to put on my bookshelf at work, was my innocent idea. But I couldn't stop there. I also ordered another Warlord Games set, the "Wulfen SS" werewolf and his handler, Fraulein Grauler of the SS. I just thought it would be fun to paint, really.

But then I thought, well, so much Nazi occult evil, that's too much for the good Padre to handle all by himself. Who will keep that werewolf off his back while he deals with the Count? So naturally, Major Terntadust needs someone at his back, hence the good Captain Jarce.

So that's probably enough painting diversions for me, when I get tired of cranking out ACW figures (the Union cavalry are almost done, next post will show them) but I am worried that I won't stop there. Surely Hugh and the Padre won't be able to reach their objective by themselves. They'll need some stout Commando types at their back, to deal with all the Nazi henchmen that the Count and Sturmbannfuhrer Grauler will have at their beck and call. Who knows what those henchmen will consist of? Sinister Nazis from Bob Murch's line of Pulp Figures? Some of those awesome Whermacht zombies from Studio Miniatures? Assorted German types from Artizan? And who knows if our plucky lads won't find some strange allies, maybe resistance types, or Germans who are appalled by the dark depths that the Reich is sinking to? Who knows if Padre Terntadust won't find some German Resistance clerics to aid him, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
Stay tuned, gentle reader. Things are starting to get weird.

Boardgame Night: ASL

If that real estate looks familiar, than like me you are old enough to remember Avalon Hill's Squad Leader. There was a time when I was in high school where I knew the four original game boards the way a Talmudic scholar knows the Torah. After SL I bought Crescendo of Doom, the early war supplement, and the rules got more complex. Then I went to university, met girls, and lost interest in SL. By the time it became Advanced Squad Leader, whatever wargaming I was doing was with tabletop miniatures, which had ways been my first love.
Almost three decades later I found myself revisiting SL. Tyler at the local boardgames club is the only member with a wargaming bent, and has been an ASL fan for years. The few times that he has enticed othe regulars into trying it, I gather that they've been slaughtered, and so Squad Leader hasn't caught on. But Tyler knows that I'm a wargamer, and that I'm desperate for a fix, even a cardboard fix, and so last Thursday we agreed to play ASL. The scenario Tyler had chosen was one of the originals, The Hedgehog of Piepsk, an all-infantry game in which a large force of Russians, half regular, half conscripts, try to take a key building from a much smaller force of regular Germans with lavish LMG and MG support and one offboard arty mission. I took the Russians.
The ASL rules felt similar but different. After almost three decades I could remember the basic SL rules, but it all seemed a little askew. Offboard artillery was more complicated, there was a sniper rule I didn't really understand, MGs worked a little differenty, particularly the sustained fire rule, and funky things could happen to leaders on certain rules, which actually benefitted me later on when my senior leader rolled 2 on 2D12 for a morale check and became a Heroic Leader, which was a great bonus for me.

My force was a 50/50 split of regular 4-4-7 (if you know SL you'll know what this means) and conscript (4-2-6) infantry, with two 8-0 and 1 9-1 leaders. My plan was to send most of the regulars on a flanking move to the left, through the hills, and the conscripts on the right, through the woods, while leaving enough squads to try and seize as many buildings on my board edge of the centre map as possible so I could have some As you can see in this second, rather shiny photo, Tyler's deployment far back from the main objective, the three-hex, two story building on the centre board, allowed me to grab some of the centre real estate in my first move, while only taking fire from one of his machine gun positions. In this picture you can see a German stack on the centre hill, and that effectively had the flanking move of my 4-4-7 squads checked, but Tyler decided he needed it to retake the objective and moved them down into the village. While he trashed my poor conscripts on the right, I was able to get around behind Tyler's squads, charge down off the hill, and eliminate his core units, leading him to concede the game.

Would I play SL again? Probably, if only for the nostalgia game and because, around here, it's oone of the only wargames I have an opponent for. However, after spending several years buying into the concepts behind the Too Fat Lardies rules, SL seems too frictionless for my liking. Admittedly leaders are prominent in Squad Leader, but function primarily, through their moral benefits, as force multipliers on the attack and force protectors on the defence. Leadership in terms of command and control is not really modelled in SL. You can move as many units as you like, each turn, regardless of the presence of leaders, and running a platoon or even a company seems much more effortless than in TFL rules such as TW&T or IASBM.

Good fun, nevertheless.

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