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 – from 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!)

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.