Steam Tank-tastic

As a bit of an aside from my 28mm efforts of late, I recently spotted a likely addition to my 15mm fantasy collection in Black Hat Miniatures’ Martian Wars VSF range. A few years ago I built a number of 15mm armies based on the Warhammer background, which to me is a decent blend of high fantasy and fun. I don’t play Warhammer itself and I don’t use GW figures (obviously, as they’re 28mm) but the races, armies and troop types have been absorbed fairly successfully into the rules I use.

The Empire army was the first one I worked on. It was one of those wargamer’s odysseys which involved looking for the right figures from across a wide spectrum or historical and fantasy ranges, and requiring lots of conversions to get the results I was after. One thing that I couldn’t find and didn’t fancy scratchbuilding was a steam tank. When I spotted Black Hat’s model it was a no-brainer, even though I knew there’d need to be some customisation to get the right look.

Here’s the model and the potential add-ons I’d salvaged from previous projects, alongside some of my Empire Halberdiers (Old Glory) for a sense of scale:

And here it is after being festooned with an engineer (who still needs a pistol and hat feather), extra funnels, Empire iconography and other decoration:



Once I’ve finished painting it, I guess this army will have to be first subject matter for my resuscitated of Army of the Month concept!

Renedra Fences

Renedra have come up with some very effective plastic scenery kits in recent years and I’ve previously made up one of their wooden pontoon bridges and some of their barrels. This time I had 2 packs of their fencing, about 2 feet in all.

I based everything on strips of plasticard, mostly 2 fence pieces to a strip (making about 6″), with a few singles. I cut across the corners of the bases so that the fence ends could butt up as closely as possible. The usual basing materials (mostly sand and glue) were added to the bases (some time ago I have to admit) and everything got a black spray undercoat (much more recently!). Painting was super-quick; brown, grey and sand drybrush layers on the wood, and my standard green and brown bases. About an hour in all yesterday evening.

Nice and simple, but very effective I think – and a real bargain, especially when you’re bought them as a present! ūüôā



More Desk Space Recovered

Another on-going project finished! The Games Workshop Fortified Manor kit has been part-done on my workbench for several months now (since my earlier May post). All that remained was finishing off the painting, which I’d been putting off due to the amount of fiddly bits it involved. So this week I decided to get back to it. A couple of hours of painting later, and it was done. I guess I shouldn’t have left it so long!

I decided to go for a yellow-with-blue-roof look, which would be toned down a bit by the use of grey stone and my usual sand coloured final dry brush. For simplicity I didn’t bother with things like rust on the metal fittings, I just gave them a brown wash to add a bit of depth. All in all I’m pleased with the result. It’s no model painting masterclass, but rough and ready as it is it should fit in well with my other buildings in this scale. I’m just glad I didn’t stick on the other 100 bits included in the box, or I’d still be painting!

All the component buildings and wall sections are still separate, for storage and on-table flexibility, although I can see the walls being a pain during games with the smaller sections easy to knock over. I may decide to stick them together if necessary but I’ll keep them as-is for now. The pics show the full complex on the one paved board I have, which I’ll generally use with this model. Now I just need to dig out some swashbucklers and have a game with it!





Finally finished – a few more 6mm buildings

Following on from a recent post about clearing up part-finished projects…

I put together a few more 6mm buildings over a year ago (June 2013 it turns out) to go with my existing scratchbuilt scenery for the Medetian Wars of the 17th century. They’ve needed finishing off and painting since then and following on from the other 6mm scenery I did earlier this month, I’ve finally got them done.

The buildings are fairly generic and I tend to just use a small cluster to represent a village or town. As my armies had grown, I’d decided to increase the number of buildings I had so that a bigger battlefield with several settlements could be represented.

They’re simple card constructions, with card doors and shuttered windows (for ease of painting, and because if war’s coming to town I think most people would close up their property!) Applying sand on the bases (and some patches of wall) and painting didn’t take all that long in the end, and I added a poplar tree to the church and the farmhouse.

Here they are from last year, in production and next to some older finished ones.


And here they are finished. I’ve now got about 15 so I’m good for 3-4 villages or small towns. There’s also a windmill (Irregular Miniatures, not my own work) and the watchtower I finished recently too. I think they’d work for the 1859 war in Italy too, if I ever decide to do some Austrians!



Some small scale scenery

While I’m taking some time off from bigger painting projects I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to dabble a bit here and there, and finish off some things I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Most recently this has involved painting (or in some cases just basing) some 6mm scenery items that I’ve had for a while but not gotten around to.

First up are some poplar trees I bought from Timecast a while back. I’ve used a few on the bases of buildings but I decided to use up the remaining ones by adding a few more strips of trees to the collection – useful for lining roads in sunny Medetia. I cut some strips of platicard and stuck strips of card on top to drill holes into for the wire trunks. As these come as twisted wire I decided to add a little plaster to them to hide the pattern when painted. The bases got a layer of plaster, with sand on top.

When finished they look OK – here they are with a new wheat field.

The field is made from some scourer material torn from a sponge, based on card and surrounded by some Timecast fences. The shack is just 4 bits of thin card which I hacked about to give a dilapidated look.

Next were some fields and hedges which I must have made about 10 years ago, but which got a black spray for an intended re-paint before being put away unfinished (common theme emerging!). They’re simple pan scourer hedges with the odd bit of extra lichen-type stuff, on plasticard strips or field bases. I have some already to add these to, and I think they give a decent effect, especially on a brown board like this one.


Finally in this batch there’s a small watchtower, scratchbuilt in card and based on a piece of slate from the garden. I had mostly completed the model a few months ago but put it away unpainted at some point. I decided it needed finishing off so now it’s done. All it needs is a couple of flags (one Medetian and one Fleurian) to fly from the top of the tower to denote who’s occupying it during games.The piece is about 60mm tall and is basically intended as table dressing to go on a hill and look pretty.


Everything together from this small batch of bits and pieces..

The Medetian-Fleurian borderlands are a pleasant and picturesque place, no wonder they fight each other so hard to possess them!

I have more items to get through, and am enjoying completing these little unfinished projects. When I checked back through some records of old orders to traders I found a few shocks. The Timecast stuff here was ordered in July.. wait for it… 2002! Twelve years to get round to using and painting it. I have 6mm figures to paint that I bought before that, and I’m sure I really ‘needed’ them at the time! So my new mission is to get through as much old stuff as possible, while I’m in the mood to potter. It’s not the wasted money, it’s the principle. Also, unpainted items and random modelling materials take up at least as much storage space as the finished product, so I might as well get the maximum benefit from them. After that I may decide to depress myself with a review of the lead mountain, and the age of some of it..

Messing about on the water

Seeing as my order to Ainsty Castings finally arrived last week, I decided to get stuck in and paint everything rather than have it sit around for a few weeks before being filed away under the heading ‘stuff I bought but now I’m not sure why’.

So, 2 boats from Games of War (as posted about previously) were now joined by a rowing boat and jetty set from Ainsty. The latter are traditional resin, nice and heavy and with lots of good wood grain effect. They took a black undercoat very easily and I was good to go. The same can’t be said for the more plastic-based Games of War boats which, although very nice models, utterly rejected any water-based paint despite me giving them a wash beforehand. After my third effort with a different paint I was tempted to look over my shoulder to see if there was a Candid Camera crew filming me. In the end I resorted to a solid blast with some matt black spray paint, and all was well.

Although I’d considered painting one of the boats in white to look a bit smarter, in the end everything, jetties included, got a 3 tone layered drybrush of Colour Party earth brown, Crown matchpot mid-grey and Vallejo Iraqi Sand. I like the weathered wood look this combo gives, and it’s incredibly quick – even to the point of no brush cleaning between shades and no real need to wait for anything to dry fully before going in with the next colour.

After about an hour or so’s painting I now have a few modest scenery pieces for messing about on the water in 28mm. They’ll serve for river and lake-side features and give me some transport for skirmish games. Who knows, I might even get something a little bigger to go with them, there are several nice schooners and cutters out there to choose from..

Ainsty boat on the left in the first pic, the other 2 are from Games of War:




Once you have rivers, you need boats

I have plans for lots of Sharp Practice games set in the post-Napoleonic period, with Medetia and Fleurie again going at each other, and I fancy having the option for some riverine and amphibious actions. Now that the river bank sections are done, which can also serve as coastline or lake shores, I need a few boats for the men to use to get themselves into all sorts of trouble dealing with currents, contrary winds and the like.

I have scratch-built one in the past as a test piece, and was reasonably happy with it. However, boat building is time-consuming and I decided I’d rather see what was on offer to buy. So far I have liked the look of the Small Row Boat that Ainsty produce, and also fancy two that are available from Games of War.

I decided to order a sample of each, and the Games of War ones have arrived first (very speedy service). These are the Jolly Boat and Tender from their pirate equipment range, and lovely models they are too. They are very detailed and produced in a very light resin-type material, to a high quality. I’m very pleased with them and may order a few more. The added bonus is their price: ¬£5 each, with free postage. The ¬£2.80 postage the package was marked with therefore brings these excellent models down to the equivalent of ¬£3.60 each. That’s a bargain in my book.

Each will hokd about half a dozen 28mm figures on 1 inch bases (such as those below), or a couple more of the 19mm round bases I use for my 19th century forces. That’s fine for my purposes and will pretty much allow a Sharp Practice ‘group’ of about 8-10 figures to be carried in each boat. Handy.

Once the Ainsty order arrives I’ll post a picture of their boat, and the other related item I bought..

A Bit of Structure

With the Ayton painting deadline behind me I have been enjoying¬†the freedom to¬†dabble with various mini projects. Some scenery items have included finally (the receipt says September 2010!) constructing the GW Fortified Manor kit I’ve been intending to do. Say what you like about them, but this is a superb model and decent value – at least at 2010 prices! I’ve left most of the building components separate so I can use just part of it or change the configuration as I want for specific games. I’ve also added 2 floors in the tower so that figures can¬†be placed within on the various levels.¬†Although it’s a fantasy model, I left off many of the more ‘Warhammer’ options to keep it as generic as possible and it will see use in 17th century skirmishes and no doubt 18th and 19th century battles and games of Sharpe Practice. Painting it will be a bit of work however..

I also spent a few minutes (literally) painting this guard hut from Warbases that I’d bought and assembled a while ago. It’s nice and simple and will be a nice scenery piece to add to the table on occasion.

I’m also currently working on some pack animals and a bit of livestock – just for variety!

Bridges, bridges

Since completing my new river banks I realised two things:

1. I didn’t have enough bridges to provide the scenery options I might need for future 28mm¬†games
2. The bridges I did have were now compromised as they weren’t designed to work with 9-10mm banks – their centre supports wouldn’t reach the water!

So, to fix problem one I decided to find a decent stone bridge model and after some web surfing I settled on the Italeri plastic kit. This provides a very simple by effective model, with a road width just under 80mm, a span of about 130mm (more than enought for my 90mm rivers) and total length of about 230mm. I ordered mine via Amazon and it came within a couple of weeks Рfrom Hong Kong, for a total of under £14 including P&P. Not bad.

Here are the kit components, 2 sides plus a top roadway and a underside arch, all nicely detailed with stone and paving.

With box cover art to make sure I put it together properly!

Ta daa! It took about 20 minutes to put it together, requiring a small amount of prep to ensure the arches went fully¬†into the slots on the side sections. I used plastic cement, the same I’ve used for hard plastic figures, and it worked very effectively as you’d expect. I used the old rubber band trick for holding it¬†together while the blue dried, and the result is a pretty sturdy bridge ready for¬†undercoating and some fast dry-brushing.



Slightly blurry picture of the finished article. Painting took about 30 minutes. Black undercoat followed by¬†a mid grey¬†and then a light grey build up of dry-brushes. I then¬†used a pale yellow/brown shade for the feature blocks and¬†covered everything with a diluted GW brown wash. Finally I gave it all a light dry-brush of Vallejo’s Iraqi Sand, which softens everything and ties into all my terrain and other scenery as I use it for pretty much everything.

To solve problem 2 I added the necessary depth to the centre supports on my other 2 bridges. The (Hovels?) stone bridge received a stack of thick card pieces, stuck together and carved to shape. They then had a scraping of quick-dry plaster before being painted to a reasonable match for the existing stonework. The Renedra wooden bridge had a couple of plasticard struts added, which were painted to match. Now my troops can cross and re-cross my rivers with abandon!


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!)