Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mad Padre On The March

This is me on the left, at Canadian Forces Base Suffield, a few weeks back, doing our annual Battle Fitness Test. The BFT is a 13km march with a 60 pound load plus weapon, helmet and webbing, to be completed in 2 hours 20 minutes with some silliness (a casualty evac drag test and a trench dig test) at the end. As a noncombatant I paid homage to one of my favourite war films and carried my trusty umbrella, vice the 9 pound rubber rifle everyone else carried. I made up for the weight of the rifle with a few fat books and my communion kit strapped to the back of my rucksack. I was pleased at how many young soldiers got the umbrella reference.

If any figure sculptors see this and are insppired, feel free to contact me offline. I think this pose would make a dashing addition to any contemporary warfare range.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Volley Fire (Lights) Aimed At Your Wallet

This may be the most ridiculously clever piece of marketing fluff ever aimed at wargamers. Those Warlord chaps are brilliant. It's not a new idea, to be sure. I've seen people do similar things with dollar store lights and cotton balls to represent burning tanks, but this is marketing brilliance, because there are hordes of us afflicted with the "Ooooh, shiny" syndrome who will drool from the mouth while reaching for their wallets.

Or, it may go down in wargaming history as the silliest, most peculiar product offering since FOW came out with those little dust cloud thingies to put down behind moving tanks in desert war games. Perhaps time will tell. Thoughts?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumping (Out) Iron(clads)

Besides demolishing a festive thanksgiving turkey with friends and family, this long weekend saw the launching of a small flotilla of Union warships. Back in May I posted on the two Confederate ships first part of this project. I have now finished four Union ships which will be part of my ongoing ACW campaign.

Sometimes you just have to spend the money on the right tools. When I did the CSA ships, I tried to use a Dremel tool to drill holes in the smokestacks so I could insert pins for attaching steel wool smoke clouds. The Dremel was a a bad idea, and ruined a smokestack, since I had very little control over it. So, thanks to comments from followers Scott Lesch and James Manto, I saw the light and bought a tool I should have bought a long time ago, a pin vise. It worked like a charm.

These models, like the CSA ones, are all 1/600 scale models from Thoroughbred. These are lovely models and worth every cent. Here we see two Union tinclad gunboats (model TS-23) which in my campaign will represent the USS Chaffee (grey w blue trim) and the USS Golconda (brown w white trim). There is a lot of guesswork as to painting ACW warships. I wanted these paint schemes to be colourful, on the theory that as requisitioned and converted riverboats, they might well have their civilian paint schemes. Besides, the different colours makes them recognizable on the table.

Two more ships which aren't so colourful but which are 100% business. These are both Cairo class casemate ironclads (Thoroughbred model TS-06, the Union's heavy hitters in the riverine campaigns. I've been fascinated by this class since I toured the USS Cairo museum at the Vicksburg National Battlefield. In my campaign, they will serve as the USS Carondelet and the USS Ironton.


The flotilla at steam. Do you think that's enough smoke? :)

Thanks for looking. Before I finish, I'd like to welcome two more recent followers to my blog. Ashley is an interesting voice on the Too Fat Lardies discussion group, a writer and a fan of Mecha, SF warfare and big stompy things. I like her blog Paint It Pink. Steve is a former US Army officer with service in the Middle East. He does exciting things with smaller scale Napoleonics and ACW, among other things, and his blog, Sound Officers' Call, is worth visiting. Thanks for following this blog, Ashley and Steve!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cutting (And Painting) A Rug

For much of the summer I've had my eyes out for the kind of welcome mat rug that might be suitable for turning into stubble or wheat fields for the wargaming table. I finally found it, a short synthetic fibre mat with a rubber backing that was more or less the right colour. It did have a floral pattern but I felt that I could paint over it.

I cut the rug into four equal size sheets. Here's the unpainted version on the left. On the right is another piece that has been heavily drybrushed with Folkart brand Yellow Ochre, a relatively cheap water based paint that I buy at a crafts store called Michael's. I'm wondering, as you look at this photo, if you can see the pattern on the drybrushed section, and if so, is it because, having seen the unpainted version, your brain knows what to look for?

Here are two of the drybrushed sections side by side. To my mind the pattern isn't visible any more, but perhaps you can see it.

Since starting this project, I discovered Elladan's wonderful website where he demonstrates how to use an airbrush and teddy bear fur to achieve some amazing scenic effects. I am thinking this would be a good opportunity for me to break out my new air brush and try my hand on the rug, perhaps blending in some green or dark brown patches since most fields I've seen have bits where weeds, grass, or bare earth are visible, rather than a uniform level of crop coverage. It's a long weekend as we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada, so I may have time.

Before closing, I am pleased that over time this little blog has gained 83 kind souls as followers. Inspired by Paul of Paul's Bods fame, I'd like to copy his practice and welcome some recent followers, so starting at 83 and working backwards, I would like to mention Paul J, who doesn't seem to have a blog, and Whisperin' Al who runs a great blog, The Wargames Shed, and who shares my interest in Too Fat Lat Lardies products. Thanks for following, chaps.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More Weird War Baddies: Leutnant Manfred Gruber and Schutze Willi Stumpff

Here are the rest of the baddies that I've recently finished for my ongoing Weird War Two project. They are both from the Warlord Games Christmas Surprise set, and were originally sculpted, I believe by Richard Ansell, to celebrate the personalities behind Too Fat Lardies. The German officer is, I believe, modelled on a follower of this blog, but I won't say who that is. If he sees this post and cares to comment, that would be cool.

Minimal fluff tonight. After painting a werewolf and a vampire, I felt that some ordinary people were needed for comic relief.

Leutnant Manfred Gruber is an effete fellow from Cologne who really didn't want to go to war. Yes, I know, he needs a little tank.

Gruppenfuhrer Strasser chose Lt. Gruber as a staff officer because Gruber worked in an art gallery before the war and will therefore be useful to him as he plunders the Great Masters of Europe. Gruber is happy to have such a cultured man as his boss, but wonders why Strasser keeps odd hours.

Schutze Willi Stumpff is Leutnant Gruber's orderly and dogsbody, and is the cheaplaffs character of our story.

Stumpff is a simple fellow from Berlin who fought in the Great War and has a glum view of things. He is happiest when he has his hands on a good piece of bratwurst. His motto is "A soldier never knows where his next meal is coming from" and he takes this to heart. He thinks Gruber is a bit of a poofter but he has to admit that it's a good go working for him rather than being at the front.

The baddies in a group portait. A field test of the werewulf project, perhaps?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Weird War Two Baddies Continued: SS Gruppenfurher Strasser, AKA Das Stillet, AKA Herr der Finsternis

Warning: Copious fluff follows mini pictures.

Besides werewolves, vampires seem one of the natural bad guys for Weird War Two gaming. Warlord Games has provided me with figures for both. This fellow, from their "Out For The Count" set, has been seen here in previous posts as a work in progress. Now he's done. This macro photo, taken with my wife's fancy camera, seems unkind to my painting. I really think he looks better in person than he does on these photos, though I now see a bit of grey on his red leather boots that needs fixing. There's always something to fix. :)

When I first started this project, I canvassed the discerning readers of this blog as to whether I should paint this mini in Whermacht feldgrau or in sinister SS black. You the readers weighed in with the latter, and so he became an SS vampire. However, like Sturmbannfuhrer Ingrid in my previous post, the SS uniform, particularly the red and silver cuff, is my own invention. The choice of skin colour now seems ill advised to me. I used Army Painter Necorotic Flesh with a GW wash, on the theory that he was old and really undead, but now I think he looks like some weird fish guy from an HP Lovecraft novel in a Nazi outfit. But I'm too tired and too busy to repaint him, so green he remains. The one thing I'm happy with about him is that I think I achieved some shades of variation in his black cloak and uniform, using successive shades of Vallejo SS Camo Black and some dark gray.


So, who is he? In keeping with my Weird WW2 project, some backstory for those of you what want it. If nothing else, these posts will all be helpful when I go back and try to consolidate this into a larger project. So if you're still reading and you enjoy this, it's a happy bonus.

He has inhabited many names over the centuries, but Sigismund is the first he remembers. That distant name belonged to a knight of an ancient Rhineland family, heading to Constantinople and a ship to the crusades. Somewhere in the forests and hills of Carpathia, while hunting en route, he vanished and after a week of looking, his comrades and retainers left him for dead. He remembers a castle and the allure a lady, Sophia, whose hair was dark and lustrous and whose eyes were sad and old. Perhaps because she was lonely, and he was young and fair, she spared him and made him into her likeness. Years followed, and she grew tired and careless as her kind often does, and she faded away, leaving him to return to a world grown strange.

Constantinople had become Istanbul, and there he met the princes of vampire society, navigated their vicious politics, and rose in skills and power. Eventually he made his way back to the Rhine, and found that reformation, religious war and revolution had stripped away the castles and feudal orders that had once protected his kind. He found new shelters in the structures of dictatorships and brutal systems that had risen in place of the medieval world. He was a secret policeman of the Czar, a spymaster for Napoleon and an interrogator for the Hapsburgs. Along the way he amassed a huge fortune and developed his powers. He has gone by many names, but in German those who fear him call him the dark one or Herr der Finsternis.

The Dark One distrusts the Nazis as a chaotic and dangerous crew, but has carved out an important place amongst them to protect himself and to await developments. During the Night of the Long Knives he eliminated two of his younger vampire rivals who were using the SA to rise to power. He became prominent in the SS, where officially he is known as Gruppenfuhrer Strasser or code name Stillet. Only Himmler and a few around him know his true identity, and they simultaneously fear him and find him useful. While he has been sparing in making offspring, he has a child who is highly placed in the Party whom he mostly trusts to safeguard him. Rumour has it that this other vampire is Reinhard Heydrich, but no one knows for sure. In his spare time, he collects art and rare postage stamps, and tries not to think of how one day he might tire and allow himself to fade away as Sophia once did.

The powers of the Dark One include suggestion, a degree of mind control over corrupt and ambitious types, the ability to animate and control a number of bodies of the recently dead, and possibly shapeshifting. Sunlight has a debilitating effect on him, but is not immediately fatal. Religious symbols do not bother him, but a pure and true faith is a sharp-edged thing he fears. Fortunately there are few people now who are such a threat to him.

The Dark One became known to Fr. Tristram Mercer and Brigadier McAllister when the Abdication Crisis led to the downfall of the last vampires in Great Britain. He is a known threat to S Commando, who would dearly love to locate and destroy him before his powers give the Third Reich a decisive edge in the true Shadow War.

More to follow. In the meantime, stay vigilant, chaps.

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