Saturday, April 22, 2023
Sunday, December 06, 2020
I haven't done any hobby stuff for months for a number of reasons but the principal one is that I was just not inspired by anything on my workbench. So, what to do? Start an entirely new period, of course! I have recently taken delivery of a bunch of Empress Miniatures new Jazz Age Imperialism British. This is a range I looked at when it first came out and regularly ever since but I didn't jump in subsequently as it had begun to look like one of those abandoned ranges some manufacturers have (although Empress have now told me they have plans for new figures, including cavalry).. Also, the only British army figures they offered were highlanders which I am allergic to. So, the new British have pushed me over the edge. These are lovely figures, as you would expect from Empress, although I am going to have to do quite lot of research on equipment colours, in particular.
So far, despite the terrible light, I have got the uniform base colours down and done some work on the hands and faces. I don't usually work on so many figures at once so it is going to take me some time!
I nearly had a nasty moment when I saw that one of the figures had a bipod for the Lewis gun attached to the top of the gun for separating and gluing underneath. I then realised that I had cut the bipod off the other gun and thrown it away, as I thought it was just moulding flash. After going through my bin, unsuccessfully, I considered making one and realised that that would be quite beyond my modelling skills. Fortunately, as I lay the remaining bipod on my desk there was the other one which had fallen onto it earlier. I quickly put them both in a bag after realising that attaching them was going to be a pig.
So these figures are going to be for the Waziri War from 1919-1921 and this chimes very well with my Back of Beyond and Afghan War interest (as well as the film High Road to China). I have learned that there were no Highlanders deployed in this conflict, thankfully! Empress claim you can use the figures for German East Africa and the Arab revolt but, in fact, they are wearing long trousers and tunics not shorts and shirts so they are for cold weather Afghanistan but then so are the accompanying Afghans, on the whole, who are more in winter dress too. I think that this might make a good Christmas project, especially as, hopefully, most of Christmas will be cancelled!
My computer packed up the other week (nothing serious, it just needed a new power unit) but in the day and a half I was without it I decided to start tidying my study. This picture is actually after I had already done an hour on it! The first stage was to extract all the books I have bought over the last two years and get them off the (largely collapsed) piles they were in on the floor. Then I sorted them out and completely rearranged the shelves on one wall so they could all be integrated by subject and/or author. In doing this I found a lot of paperbacks that I realise that I will never read or, in the case of those I have read, will never read again. Unfortunately, the local hospice book shop in Weybridge has closed down. This was a very good shop which only sells books. Most charity shops won't accept books any more or, at least, the ones around here won't. So I am left with lots of books I don't know what to do with. It's usually not worth eBaying them as the price they fetch is usually less than the postage costs. I just don't know what to do with them as even the municipal dump shop is closed now but I can't bear to throw them out.
I've been missing meeting up with my yarious ladies but have got back in contact with one I was particularly close to in the eighties, before the Old Bat (well there might have been some overlap). She also lives in Surrey so after things have got back to normal (at least a year, I suspect) we are going to meet up again. I haven't seen her since 1992! Glad I have lost so much weight. In fact none of my trousers fit any more as they are all to big around the waist. Speaking of ladies, a friend (well. more of an acquaintance) recently sent me this picture. "Isn't she the daughter of that girl you had a thing with in the early eighties?' he asked. After further research it proved to be the case that, yes, the lady, a German fitness model, is indeed the daughter of someone I worked with and got very friendly with at the office Christmas party, causing me to wake up the next day with a terrible headache in a dubious part of South London (actually anywhere in South London is dubious by definition). She does not have the (very) voluptuous form of her mother but the top half of her face bears a spooky resemblance to my glamorous former colleague.
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Paint Table Sunday: Back from a break, reading a wargames magazine over lunch, new temptations and devil dogs
I haven't been painting for around two months now, largely because the Old Bat has taken a turn for the worse with her Long Covid and Charlotte has been unwell too, so I have spent a lot of time running around after them, going to pick up prescriptions, take the Bat for blood tests, doing domestic stuff, gardening (ugh) and cooking with some work fitted around all that. Latterly it has been the Tour de France on TV as well. Really, however, I have just not felt like it. We had that very hot weather which made painting impossible and then it got very grey and dark and I really need good light to paint as I cannot manage it under artificial light at all. Mainly, however, I was in that situation where the figures I had started on my workbench (to use an inappropriately artisanal term which makes it sounds like I could actually make something) were really only just started. I find nothing more demotivating than having a load of figures which are a long, long way from being finished.
Today, however, I actually sat down and did an hour's painting. It was all base coat stuff and I was struggling with my eyesight again but I will try to do a bit every day; as I have done in the past. I have Lucid Eye Atlanteans, Crooked Dice V aliens and some of the new Wargames Atlantic Afghans on the go. Now, since I got the latter, Perry have announced their own plastic Afghans as well but I will just get those too. With Afghans you need as many different figures as possible. More interestingly, Wargames Atlantic have announced plastic mounted Afghans which I will need for my The Men Who Would be Kings force (as I have actually painted my British starter force). I suspect the Afghans will be quicker to paint than the others.
But I saw an early painted example (above) of the Vixtrix models which just made me realise that I can't paint Napoleonics any more. Does unattainable quality painting of this level actually put people off from buying? It did me. I couldn't even begin to approach this level of painting. Just trying would stress me out. Thinking about the stress I have experienced here in Chez Sick over the last months I realise that one of the reasons I haven't been painting is that I often find painting figures stressful, not relaxing, when things don't go the way I want them too.
Now, of course, I shouldn't buy any more figures but I did buy into the Kickstarter for Hot and Dangerous figures which are, essentially, 28mm models of attractive ladies in historical uniforms (what can be their appeal?). They are reasonably historical and not too pin-up like, compared with some I have seen, perhaps because, they have a lady designer. They are a Polish firm, I believe. Certainly some will go on eBay but I just hope I can paint them to the standard they deserve.
A major temptation are the Perry brothers announcement of plastic Franco-Prussian War figures. Will this mean metal ones as well? I bought some Franco Prussian figures from Eagles of Empire some time ago but they were, perhaps, a little too idiosyncratic in style for me.
However, this week Eagle of Empires announced a new range of First Schleswig War figures. Now some years ago Matt Golding, of Waterloo to Mons, started to produce his own range of (25mm) figures for this but the range went into limbo, so I might be very interested in these, depending on what the figures look like. Early examples look good.
Good news is that North Star have put their 1864 range back up on their website so I will order some more Danes to finish my first unit.
Two rants this week. One wargames related and one not.
Now, last time I derided the people who hijack new products launches with demands for information on forthcoming pet projects or different scales. This time I have recently seen examples of ridiculously inappropriate ranges in plastic. Some time ago Victrix launched a page on the internet where people could make requests as to what they would like the firm to do next. As ever, some of the answers amazed me. Now I see Victrix as what I would call a rank and file supplier. You buy lots of boxes of core troops in plastic from them and then fill out the more unusual items with metals. Making plastic figures is expensive so you need to be on to a sure seller to make money hence, no doubt, their focus on Napoleonics and Ancients/Dark Ages. Some of the suggestions are very sensible such as Biblical or Bronze Age figures where, rather like the Dark Ages, the number of different troop types needed is quite limited. It didn't take long for the first request for Dynastic Chinese to come in, then Renaissance Poles, fourteenth century Koreans, War of 1812, Bannockburn period, Spanish Civil War etc. Then there was a suggestion for Ancient civilians. And how much diversity will plastic enable you to do on these? Think, man, think. Then there were the people who said 'I know such and such a company already make them in plastic but yours would be better' (ACW and WW2). Then, of course, you had people suggesting plastic forts and dice. One woman suggested female figures including such future best sellers as RAF female supply pilots. Really? A plastic sprue of these? Calm down dear. Wargames Atlantic, who are even more a rank and file supplier, have also just launched a similar poll to equally inappropriate answers.
Speaking of which, one of Wargames Atlantic's recent sets was of Dark Age Irish, which would be quite useful for Vikings in Ireland type games. However they include no less than six warhounds in the set. I have noticed a plethora of doggy models coming out recently. Were war dogs really that common? I have to confess (and I know some of my readers really like them) that I hate dogs. Not just dislike but hate the stinking, filthy, barking, biting, disease carrying, aggressive carnivores. I cannot for the life of me understand how people can bear to have them in their homes. It's just medieval! Would you keep a sheep or a pig in your house? Ugh! No doubt this is all made worse by recent encounters on my walks by these bounding, yapping creatures jumping up at me when I am trying to walk, quietly. "Oh he is just being friendly' cry the owners, who are totally unable to keep them under control. No he isn't. He is a dog. He is seeing if he wants to eat me. Last year more than 3000 people in Britain needed surgery after dog attacks, Another 5000 had to go to hospital but didn't need surgery. Imagine if wargamers were injuring this many people. Wargaming would soon be banned as inciting violence. Before Lockdown, my lovely former girlfriend K suggested she drive over to see me. That would be splendid, I thought. "Oh I'll be bringing our dog. He is very friendly!" Sorry K, you can't come, I replied. When someone says friendly dog I just have visions of them licking your face. Just disgusting! You make friends with people, not dogs. Grr! I shall now see how many friends on Facebook I lose.
Today's music is Rick Wakeman's new album (as it is Rick Wakeman you can no doubt still call it an album) The Red Planet. This is very much in his The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Criminal Record (my favourite) mode, although perhaps there is a little too much guitar for me. The first non classical record I bought (or rather John Palmer at school bought it for me as he worked in Our Price in Kingston and got a staff discount) was Wakeman's White Rock which I then spent ages seeking out on CD as it wasn't released in the UK until comparatively recently, so I had to buy a Japanese import at great expense.
Today's wallpaper is William-Adolphe Bougereau's Biblis (1884). During his lifetime (1825-1905) Bougereau was considered one of the world's greatest painters but he fell out of favour at the beginning of the twentieth century, along with most other classicist painters, and was not really rediscovered until the nineteen eighties. Biblis (or Byblis), the legendary daughter of Miletus of Crete, is here depicted in despair, as her twin brother had just fled her amorous advances. Naughty!
Saturday, July 18, 2020
I haven't posted for six weeks or so as I hadn't painted anything but this has changed this week when I finished my 1864 2nd Schleswig War Danish infantry, so I can have another Paint Table Saturday post today.
These are a set of figures that I bought when they first came out, before I had seen the TV series 1864, which inspired them, of course. There is rather more information about the uniforms now, so that I could even do an accurate company flag. Unfortunately, North Star have temporarily taken the range off their website while they are running at a reduced staff level but I hope they get some more soon. They are even promising more figures for the range and I do have some Danish dragoons started. I used to travel to Copenhagen quite regularly (to the extent that I acquired a lady friend from the Danish Treasury) and remember a statue of a soldier in this uniform near to the Tivoli Gardens and Dansk Industri, where I was working at the time.
I also had a distant member of the family's Swedish branch, Lieutenant Johann Frederik Nielsen (1831-1886), who was in the Danish army at the time of the 1864 war. One think I vacillated over for years was how to paint the bases. The beginning of the war took place in cold, snowy weather but by the end of the war the weather was unseasonably bright and sunny. Having read lots of depressing stuff about all the ways doing snowy bases didn't work. I abandoned my plans to have snow bases (which would meant a snow board too, of course) and went for mud with the sort of yellow grass you get after the snow has melted and a semi-frosty effect on the earth.
In the second row are five figures I said I wouldn't get because they are made in China (it looks like the poor Old Bat may not fully recover from the Chinese Virus, according to her doctors). Unfortunately, I caved in and am delighted I did, as the new Wargames Atlantic Afghans are lovely. It still took me over an hour to construct five, however, although they fit together very nicely. Somewhere I have some Perry metal Aghan figures I have undercoated so I will move these along together.
So, what has been making me grumpy? Well, everything in the news, so I won't talk about that (several more people unfriended on Facebook in the last six weeks or so). Mainly, though, lack of social distancing in supermarkets. Rules vary, so Tesco are very strict (move in one direction, no overtaking and one queue for checkouts). If the person in front takes five minutes to decide what soup to buy everyone has to stop moving. Get a move on! Pea and ham or Lentil and bacon. That's it! Move! Move! Move! Don't stop! Cattle prods!
In Waitrose, however, it is almost a free for all, with people taking no notice of the distance rules and shopping in couples or families. Why does it take two people to do the shopping? You both write a list and then one person does it. It's not a social activity, unless you are very, very sad. If you see an unmissable offer on Brain's faggots then ring up your wife (who is probably called Vera or Mavis) and ask how many packs you need to stock up on. Well, you won't see them in Waitrose as they don't sell them, of course. Iceland, Asda or Budgens, probably. Actually I'm surprised the perpetually offended haven't objected to the name yet. Also.keep to the edge of the aisle so people can pass you (if allowed) if your brain is so small that you cannot decide what soup to buy. Do not block the centre of the aisle!
My wargaming related grump relates to Mr Non Sequitur. They appear in every manufacturer's model release thread. Proud wargames company with excellent new product says 'here are our lovely new 12mm WW2 tanks'. They want them to be admired. They want people to talk about what other 12mm WW2 will be coming out. No. Mr Non Sequitur says "What about the Persians?" or "Why don't you make Samurai?" No! That is not what we are talking about! Or. proud manufacturer with new 28mm range they have spent ages developing says 'Here are our lovely new 28 mm figures'. Mr Non Sequitur. 'Can you do them in 15mm?' No! No! No! 15 mm is for people who eat Brain's faggots and have wives called Mavis. They are for people with no appreciation of the proportions of the human body! They are, with very few exceptions (Copplestone Barbarica range) aesthetically offensive. Do not even get me onto 10mm and 6mm. Hello, we have made figures where their heads are the equivalent of two feet tall. I expressed an interest in the 12mm figures on the Victrix Facebook page and all these people appeared saying 'wish they had been 15mm'. No, they are not, so Victrix can sell more figures and tanks not supplement already existing collections. Then all these people popped up saying 'buy these lovely metal 15mm equivalents instead.' Guess what? They all had really weird proportions like most 15mm metals.
Keeping it Baltic, today's music is Swedish Composer Lars-Erik Larsson's (1908-1986) enjoyable symphonies one (1927) and two (1936). Larsson is little listened to outside of Sweden, which is a shame as he wrote some fine, melodic music.
Sunday, May 31, 2020
I finished another seven figures yesterday (that's twenty-nine in May!) in the shape of the Lucid Eye Jaguar Tribe for Savage Core. I stupidly decided to paint central American style art jaguars on their shields and really wish I hadn't. The good thing about the Savage Core rules, though, is that this is all you need for a force (plus the two jaguars).
I have already got the Atlanteans under way but, even though I have a few more Savage Core forces to paint, I will not start another one of those for a bit. Instead I will progress my 1864 Danes as they are rather more straightforward figures. I did a bit on them today and I might even get them finished next weekend, especially as my Nigerian work seems to have finished for a bit so I can do some in the early mornings if it stays sunny.
I was reading a piece in Variety about the twentieth anniversary of the film Gladiator (2000, naturally) which is this year. While interesting, in a behind the scenes way (I met Ridley Scott a number of times and disliked him immensely), it contained two extraordinary statements. Firstly, the otherwise estimable actor, Djimon Hounsou was quoted as saying that there were no slaves in Roman times (obviously slaves were only owned by American plantation owners who were sold them by the dastardly British). Secondly, Richard Harris said that Romans didn't wash, hence Connie Nielsen's herb fan in the film. I know he was Irish not British but had he never heard of the city of Bath? Perhaps he thought it was named after the biscuit. This just adds to my utter bemusement as to why people (they are probably the ones who refer to themselves as 'folk') would take any notice of anything an actor might say and treat it as if it were worthwhile, correct or important. Most actors are an ill-educated bunch who fall into acting because they are too stupid to get a proper job and messed around at school doing impressions and being the 'class clown'. I really hope, in a post viral world, that people realise what a worthless bunch most of them are.
The third Sy Fy channel series I am watching is Siren which is a quite good fantasy (not Fantasy) series about feral mermaids set in a fishing town in modern Washington State and filmed, inevitably, in and around Vancouver. One of the main locations is Horseshoe Bay and I stopped there for lunch once, with my particular friend Sophie, on the way up to Whistler and an insurance brokers' conference which, I am afraid, we largely ignored when we got there in favour of invigorating outdoor activities. The mermaids, when not walking around naked (no, nothing is shown as that would be too rude for Americans) when in human form eat a lot of raw fish and those scenes, for a fishaphobic like me, are really offensive. Although the lead actress is quite cute (despite being Belgian) the male actors are almost unbelievably ugly. I know they are supposed to be in a fishing village but some of the beards make me feel ill. You really need that blurring effect to be deployed that puritan TV shows use if anyone is naked. The following programme contains offensive beards. Ugh. At least Siren has survived for three series, I suspect Pandora and Vagrant Queen will not be so lucky.
Anyway, this is all an extraordinarily roundabout way of saying that my next figure painting project, now the Jaguar Tribe are done, is going to be...Romans. Not Early Imperial Romans, even though I have a bag (my daughter tells me that the boxes are much more eco-friendly and I should boycott firms who put figures in plastic packaging) of Victrix EIR which do look lovely. No, thinking about Gladiator got me seeking out the unit of Aventine Praetorians I started years ago for the Macromannic Wars (as depicted at the beginning of Gladiator). I found them quickly enough but then I couldn't remember where I had put their shields and pila but eventually located those too. Disappointingly, I thought I had painted a bit more of them than I had and they are not going to be quick to do but am happy to get going on them again after an (ahem) seven year break.
Completely, contrary to my intention I bought into The Drowned Earth Ulaya Chronicles Kickstarter during one of their live chats this week. Two things changed my mind: firstly, the dinosaur I painted last week came out quite well and secondly, we won another contract for the Nigerians (no, fortunately it is not the Oil Minister's daughter)and we get paid by the UK). Actually, another reason is that creator James Baldwin says some interesting things about creating games and figures and sends every backer a personal thank you note. It won't be out for a year, though so no pressure on the painting!
Today's music is Oscar nominated American composer Marco Beltrami's score for 1864. I also own his score for Gods of Egypt (2015) which I have played when painting some of my Dark Fable Egyptians.
Today's wallpaper is another illustration by an artist who worked for La Vie Parisienne in the nineteen twenties and, appropriately, features Ondine, the sea nymph who falls in love with a mortal (yes, The Little Mermaid is based on the same story), The French in the twenties were not worried about their mermaids being naked. This is the work of French artist Léo Fontan (1884-1965), He also designed posters for the Folies Bergère and worked on the interiors of some French ocean liners in the thirties. Some of his book illustrations were very graphic, in more ways than one.