Helping the economy recover – the American one!

As per my last post, I have plunged ahead and placed an order for some more of the excellent Minden Miniatures, now in the care of Jim Purky alongside his Fife and Drum collection in the States. Jim was very helpful in explaining the new pricing model, and generous in providing not only the current offer of $10 worldwide shipping, but also a nice discount in the form of a free Baron von Knyphausen figure (the F&D item I was after amongst the Mindens). See the link below.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cKEjXFVZ_aw/Um8GOVv2TkI/AAAAAAAAA0Q/hG91g-pEJ64/s1600/Knyphausen.jpg

On the way then are the mounted Prussian and Austrian command packs, more Prussian artillery crew for battalion guns etc, some standard bearers which I prefer to use in units otherwise made up of RSM figures, and a small unit of Dragoons. With the high proportion of mounted figures the order value made me wince a bit – especially considering Christmas is never a cheap time of year, but I need the figures and getting them in one go made sense.

Using that logic I then ordered a handful of Huzzah! Miniatures from Fighting 15s, who always provide a super-fast service. These will make up the second command/flag base for the 2 battalions of these figures that I’ve already painted. Finally, I also need just a few from RSM – another company in the US, so I’m having a final ponder about what to get before I commit.

Overall this lot will keep me busy for the lead-up to the big 18th century imagi-nation game at Ayton at the start of May. I just hope I don’t leave the last of them until the morning of departure, as I have for the last 2 years!!

A Little Re-organisation

Having just finished my latest 18th century infantry unit I have been pondering a small expansion in battalion size – from 30 to 36 figures. The larger size would offer me a number of advantages. The main one is the ability to add a second command base. This provides a second flag (allowing me to have one state and one regiment flag per unit, which always looks good) and I’d then also have the option of playing games with half-sized units and making two from each battalion – something I’ve been thinking about doing in the future. Finally, bigger units look more imposing on the table! The downside is more figures to paint to get a unit finished, and I’d have to go back to the three battalions I’ve done already and add the extra base with its fiddly-to-paint command figures.

The pics below (with a second command base borrowed from the Borganza Regiment) show what I’d be getting if I take this approach. Stick a battalion gun on the end and it’s even more impressive. I have to admit I like the look and it’s pretty compelling, so… I guess I’ll need to get some orders in for some top-up figures from Huzzah, Minden and RSM! What this means for my cavalry unit sizes (12 figures) I don’t know yet…

 

New regiment based and flagged

A Sunday evening painting session finally allowed me to finish the bases and add the standard to the newly raised Vantua Infantry Regiment. I’m very pleased to have made this progress and can now look to finish fairly quickly the other unit I’m working on.

As mentioned last time the bases were first undercoated black with slightly thinned matt ink, then painted with Sandtex Chocolate Brown and dry-brushed with Vallejo Iraqi Sand. The foliage and rocks each had two shades, to match my terrain boards.

The flag was designed in Microsoft Excel, using a clipart eagle in grey/black and adding the letters A (for Duke Amadeus) and M (for Medetia) as text boxes. The flag is yellow to match the regimental facings so I printed it with a yellowy-brown background to highlight up with brighter paint. I’ve previously done some standards in 15mm using this method and it works pretty well, allowing me to have flags with much better artistry on them than I could ever hope to paint freehand!

Looking ropey part-way through

The finished unit

 

The Gritty Bits

A bit delayed but I’ve moved the new battalion on to the next basing step. A full covering of sand, stuck down with more wood glue, added to with some cork rocks and.. loose leaf dried tea straight from the packet. This is a hardy basing material with a coarser granularity than sand, and I find it works very well for generic grass/vegetation. I guess the only tip is to avoid immersing your bases in boiling water at any point in the future!

Next up, once the glue has dried, a coat of black to seal it all in.
In the meantime though, it’s back to the cuirassiers I’ve been painting, and which will get a post of their own soon..

Two basing stages done

The Vantua Regiment have now been formed up and are going through the phases to match the basing style I use for my 18th century forces. First up they go onto 50x50mm (sorry Iain!) laser cut mdf bases from Warbases. This might seem the easiest part but actually it’s a a challenge getting them lined up perfectly both within a single base and as a unit overall. This involves a lot of squinting and minute adjustments – which has to be done before the glue dries! With Old School style Lace Wars units I think it’s important to achieve a formal regimented look where possible and these Huzzah! figures look their best when neatly aligned. Frederick would approve 🙂

Actually, as a pre-stage 1 activity I sealed the bases first with a slightly watered-down coat of wood glue (I believe PVA shrinks a little as it dries so I avoid it now for basing) so that the bases wouldn’t warp later. You never know if this will be 100% successful until a bit of time has passed, but hopefully they’ll stand up to the rest of the basing and painting process.

Once the figures were in place I (carefully!) applied a layer of ready-mixed filler all around the figure bases to bring the ground level up to a consistent height. While they are drying I’ve taken some quick pics (below). Next up comes the really messy bit – applying a layer of sand. I used to stick this down with nice thick black masonry paint (and still do on the odd ocassion where I’m basing unpainted figures) but as you can imagine, one accidental swipe of the brush and that’s a lot of re-painting to do! Nowadays it’s clear PVA or wood glue as a damage limitation tactic. I hope to get this stage done tomorrow.

In the meantime:

Re-organisation, with a little help from Sweden

I did some rationalisation of my hobby storage at the end of the summer, and made some decent progress in the face of the challenge of new stuff regularly being added. Getting into 28mm in the last couple of years has brought with it a serious volume problem in terms of storing the figures and scenery. So, a decent amount of stuff got thrown out or moved to the garage, and drawer and cupboard space was rationalised to provide me with some room to expand into again. The next issue will be the new terrain boards I’m planning and although they’re only 1 foot square they will soon eat up space.

This made my remaining task to equip the games room’s wall cupboard with more capacity, which would be courtesy of an IKEA bookcase from the good old Billy range. Naturally this resulted in a delay to the project as a trip to the massive human processing plant that is an IKEA store wasn’t something I was looking forward to! This Sunday just gone was the day however. Despite not having darkened their door in the best part of a decade it was everything I expected, but we actually did quite well and dashed round averting our eyes from the endless stuff-you-don’t-need-but-might-as-well-buy-now-you’re-here on display.

Once we’d escaped from the carpark of eternal despair and made it home, I cracked on and assembled the unit (which I admit was a very simple process due to the quality of the design and components), which is 40cm wide and 2m tall. It fits in sideways alongside the wider unit of the same style I already have in there and after an hour of shifting everything out, and then back in, I have my new terrain storage in place and less unwanted stuff in the rest of the games room, sorry – office.

Pics of a cupboard are tricky due to the light, and not that thrilling due to the subject, but it’s a blog so here goes:

 

 

At last..

.. I’ve finally finished the next battalion of 28mm musketeers for my mid-18th Medetian century army. Why is this a big deal? Because I started them in July and frustratingly ground to a halt a few weeks ago, despite being within sight of the end. This created something of a self-induced painter’s block as I was determined to finish them before painting anything else.

Although these Huzzah! Miniatures figures (from Fighting15s) don’t perhaps have as much detail as some, the uniforms of the day still make them a challenge to paint en-masse. 30 figures is a lot for me in one go, and I’m not the quickest, so units of this size require a fairly big investment of time. Seeing them ready for the table is, of course, the reward – so I need to crack on and get them based now (and add a standard). In truth, I’m also intending to add a battalion gun and a grenadier company, but psychologically it’s important to tell myself the unit is ‘done’!

In the meantime, here are the newly raised Vantua Regiment who will soon be formed up in close order ready to march off to join their comrades in the (slowly) growing Medetian army.

 

 

The lighting isn’t great today as one of my spotlights has failed and it’s very dull outside!

A new bit of scenery

I’m never one to pass up a good quality piece of scenery at a show, although I can’t for the life of me recall when I bought this one, or who makes it! The cave/mine entrance is a favourite for Hordes of the Things players, and although that’s not a ruleset I use for my 15mm fantasy games, I like this model and its handy space for a 40mm wide element in front of the entrance for a dramatic defence or the arrival of horde reinforcements.

The only modification I made before painting it was to add sand to the flat entrance way and around the edges of the base, to allow me to blend it in better with my terrain boards. A black undercoat was then followed with a few successively lighter layers of grey, and some brown for the ground, and voila, a nice new piece of scenery to go on a board edge for my next game with Orcs or Dwarves.

Before and after pics (I guess it doesn’t look that different but some effort Did go in, honest!)

Crossing the River

I’ve always been interested in battles and campaigns that involved the use of pontoon bridges. The ability to identify a crossing location, devise a plan and put the necessary bridging resources in the right place, at the right time – often under the noses of the enemy, was a skill demonstrated by the best generals and staffs.

So, wherever there’s a river on a tabletop battlefield, there’s the potential to throw a bridge of boats across it. Even if it plays no part in the game itself it still presents an attractive point of scenery interest. Although I admire other gamers’ pontoon efforts in the larger scales (Charles S Grant’s for example), my aspirations definitely lie at the smaller end of the spectrum! I have a number of 6mm armies and the potential scope of games in this size allows for grand tactical activities, including the crossing of major rivers.

Rather than have to create miniature pontoon units for each period and each side, what I wanted to do was have a single bridging force that could serve as required. This is something that 6mm is well suited to due to the size of the models but even so some nice generic (ie. drab!) colours were required. I’d had a few suitable models from both Heroics & Ros and Irregular Miniatures for some time and finally decided to get them together and finished off.

Here are some pictures of the results, on the march and bridging both small and large rivers, in a couple of period settings (Medetian mid-17th century and Frederick’s Prussians 100 years later). The bridge elements are scratch-built from card. I’ve actually got plans for completely new rivers, which will be the subject of future posts when I get started on them, but these little guys will still be able to bridge them.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

First Post – An Introduction

So here goes, my first post..

I realise that there’s not exactly a shortage of wargaming blogs, many of which I frequent and enjoy, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time and I hope it will offer something of interest to others – and a point of focus for me.

Like many 40-somethings, I made my first foray into gaming with miniatures at a young age with Airfix plastic figures, in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales, enjoying swirling battles across carpet and tabletop. From there it became more intriguing, as well as more complicated, with metal figures and commercial rules, although even at a youg age I always enjoyed the challenge of writing my own. Lots of different periods have been tried since then, with figures from 6mm to 25/28mm, and after plenty of dead ends, U-turns and re-basing campaigns, I’m probably happier now with my gaming choices than at any time previously.

That doesn’t mean I’ve got it all sorted, or am crystal clear in my thinking and focus – I wouldn’t be a true wargamer if that was the case now would I? I do, however, try to limit reckless changes of direction when something new and appealing appears, although I’m not always successful in this! The last couple of years has seen some projects leading me into new areas of interest and I’ll be posting about these as I continue to collect and paint for them. I tend to work on more than one thing at a time which keeps my interest levels up, although my painting output is by no means huge.

One of my key interests is imagi-nations, as the name of this blog suggests, for which I have or am working on 17th Century forces in 6mm and 28mm, and 18th and 19th Centuries in 28mm. Madness perhaps, but the options for creativity this offers makes it worth it. I also have 6mm Franco-Prussian War and Seven Years War collections, and a couple of others in that scale that need a lot of work to get them on the table. In 15mm it’s Ancients, Dark Ages and Fantasy, and then there are some naval periods and other odds and ends. I guess one of the benefits of eclectic interests is that there’s always something different to move on to when you hit a block with what you’re currently doing..

These days I also try to play games, whether with a friend, forum group or solo, as often as possible – something I’ve allowed to slip a bit too much in the past. For a hobby called war’gaming’ I suspect that a lot of people play very little or not at all – a poor reward for all the effort and money they expend. My personal mission is to make more time for playing, as I find it’s the best motivator for everything else hobby-wise, and always enjoyable too. That said, I’m sure the majority of posts will be about painting and modelling, but I’ll put up as many as possible about the games I play too.