Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A repainting project...Copplestone Castings female jungle troopers

Following on from my recent visit to the Shed, I was inspired to dig out my Copplestone Castings Future Wars figures but was disappointed at how badly they were painted.  So I have decided to see if I can successfully repaint them.   Here they are in their 'before' state.

'Improved' Ruga-ruga

Now I haven't re-painted many figures.  In fact, I think I have only done some Darkest Africa ones, as they were around the first metal figures I painted back in 1998.  These were Ruga-ruga who were first painted in 1999 and then re-done in about 2008.

I painted these Future Wars figures when they came out in 2001, when I hadn't started to use static grass on bases. I had half-heartedly dry brushed their weapons with gunmetal (whereas modern weapons are black) and I was using my old skin shading technique.  The camouflage looks OK, though so I may not have to re-do that. These are lovely figures, so as long as the paint doesn't clog up the detail I will have a go at freshening them up.  

So these are the female troopers with an unpainted officer who I found in a surprisingly full drawer of unpainted Copplestone and Foundry Street Violence figures.  Like all the officers in this range she is taller than her troops.  In order to get involved with them I have to name them all, of course.  This will encourage me to give them the love they deserve!  Lets see if they end up improved!  

Left to right we have:

Lieutenant Betsy Johnson. Canada. 6'1" Joint Task Force 2. McGill University, St Hugh's College, Oxford University (Rowing Blue). Rhodes Scholar.

Sergeant Carolina Velasquez. Colombia. 5'7"  Agrupación de Fuerzas Especiales Antiterroristas Urbanas.  Former Colombian 63kg powerlifting champion.

Private Hildegard (Hildy) Greissman. Germany, 5'10" Kommando Spezialkräfte.  Bavarian kickboxing champion.

Lance Bombardier Kate Rowan. United Kingdom, 5'6" 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery.  Sub 2 hour 35 minute marathon runner.

Corporal Paola Capelli.  Italy. 5'9"  2° Reggimento Alpini.  Free climber.

Private Ariella Ben-Ezra. Israel. 5'8" Israeli Defence Force Nachshol Reconnaissance Company.  Open water swimmer.

So we have a multi-national force to be deployed against terrorists, Russian criminal oligarchs (what do you mean that's tautologous?) unfriendly nations, alien invaders, undead warriors from the past, genetically altered humans and all sorts of other miscreants.  Not zombies, though!  I can't stand zombies!  I've also found a Foundry sniper who I will add to the team.

As the range suggests they are from slightly in the future and unlike the Foundry Street Violence figures, which appeared about the same time, their firearms are fictional.  In fact, some of them seem to be loosely based on the guns of the Colonial Marines from Aliens.

Anyway, a different sort of figures for me to work on! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bug hunt at the shed and Osprey Black Ops

The temple...of doom!

I had another kind invitation by Eric the Shed for a game yesterday.  Eric's scenery is legendary but I thought he had surpassed himself with his Egyptian temple set up. Set around thirty years in the future there were three of us with four figures (United Nations marines, or some such) each; a leader and three grunts, looking for some scientists who had gone missing in the Egyptian desert.  

The two of us who had arrived first set off to explore the scientists' camp only to be confronted by a horrific apparition which exploded out of the tent (like the Old Bat in the morning after the night she went camping on Hayling Island - her flirtation with camping lasted exactly one night, given the cold and no bathroom - I stayed in the Portsmouth Marriott).  Eventually, the two teams brought it down but it exploded, splashing my leader with acid.  One of many lessons learned that evening.  Don't get too close to exploding bugs!  

My team edges around the temple only to be confronted by one of GW's worse (or is that the knights of Dol Amroth)

We both sent our teams into the temple entrance in the cliff face and soon started running into all sorts of nasty creatures.  Armed with a collection of weapons we had chosen from an options list (such as assault rifles, light machine guns, grenade launchers, flamers etc.) we quickly learnt what did and did not work against the seemingly endless collection of horrible creatures lurking in the tunnels.  Eric gleefully generated our opposition as we searched for the missing scientists.  

Behind the temple Eric had set up a maze of tunnels which were only revealed as we entered them or were able to scout them ahead, on a dice throw.  I'm not sure how much use scouting was anyway as it just revealed the presence of the nasties.  We had to take them on anyway!  Our third marines player arrived and took a different route into the tunnels. 

A few grenades soon saw off this lot

After over three hour blundering around in the tunnels we had found one dead scientists but didn't have time to finish the search as all of us had taken dead end tunnels.  All three of my surviving troops (I lost one early on to a giant spider) were down to only one or two stamina points (out of 8 or 10) but I still had four medical kits which could have restored them.  Could we have won and rescued the scientists from the Queen of the hive (one of a lot of nicely painted Games Workshop Tyrannids)?  Who knows!

The rules where Eric's own and we had played them before in his Predator jungle scenario.  You have to manage your ammunition (unless you find a lot, which I did) watch your health and decide which weapons to use on different enemies.  It is almost more like a computer game than anything like I have habitually played. The tunnels were great and I thought that they would work for a nineteen twenties Egyptian setting and some of Dark Fable's mummified priests.  Another possibility would be a tabletop version of the old Disney Pirates of the Caribbean online game where you explore tunnels and mines and have to deal with undead pirates and the like.  Because the nasties were randomly generated it would work for a solo game.  Something to think about.

One of my Copplestone Future Wars (lady) troopers

Eric's figures were all Copplestone Castings Future Wars ones and it reminded me that I have a lot of these and have even painted some (badly)!  I did them when they first came out back in 2001, however, so they will need a lot of work to bring them up to scratch.  If I can take them along next time we do a bug hunt or Predator game that would be good.  My figures love playing on Eric's scenery; it makes all the hours of painting worth it to see them deployed on such gorgeous terrain!

In a similar vein I was intrigued by the announcement of Osprey's Black Ops Tactical Espionage Wargaming rules, which are due out in September.

Amazon describes them thus:

Black Ops is a skirmish wargame of tactical espionage combat for two or more players. It recreates on the tabletop the tension and excitement of modern action-thrillers such as the Bond and Bourne films, The Unit or Burn Notice TV shows, and the Splinter Cell and Modern Warfare series of video games. The fast-play rules use regular 6-sided dice and a card-driven activation system to keep all players in the thick of the action, while the mission generator provides a wide range of options for scenarios, from stealthy extraction or surveillance missions to more overt raids or assassinations. 

Stealth, combat and technical expertise all have a role to play, and players may select from a number of different character types - spies, mercenaries, criminals, hackers, special forces and many more - to recruit the best possible team for the job. Players may also choose to join a faction - powerful organizations, intelligence agencies, criminal syndicates, militaries or rebel groups, each with a stake in international affairs. By doing so, their team may receive certain benefits, but may also find itself limited at a crucial time. With the variety offered by the characters, factions and scenarios, no two games of Black Ops should ever be the same! Although the standard Black Ops setting is an ultra-modern world just a hair removed from our own, the rules are versatile and adaptable enough to suit OSS operations behind Nazi lines, Cold War-era infiltration missions in Moscow or Berlin, or sabotage runs against a rival corporation's interests in a cyberpunk dystopia, and the rulebook will include a guide to running games in such settings. 

What is the appeal of this show to the Legatus?

I really enjoy the TV series Nikita and have been thinking for some time that the setting would be perfect for the Future Wars figures.  It sounds like these rules may be just the job.  Combining these with the Sally 4th Terra-Blocks system will give you all the secret labs, nightclubs, Defense Department facilities, warehouses and  office complexes you could need.  And I don't have to buy any more Copplestone figures as I own them all (needless to say)!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Paint Table Tidied

Well, I know it doesn't look very tidy but believe me this is as tidy as it gets!  I had a good go at the paint table and put away all the figures I am not actively working on.  So this leaves North West Frontier, Neanderthals, Carolingians, some IHMN, some pirates and some nineteen twenties pulp figures. Positively pin-point focus for me!  I just picked up the second season of Black Sails in Sainsbury's this morning so I will certainly get enthused on my pirates again! 

This week I did some more on the Carolingians and Neanderthals and finished five more British for the 2nd Afghan War.  So now I have finished 11 of my initial purchase of 17 figures from the Artizan Designs initial release.  I will try to get the next six done in the next two weeks so I can justify picking up some more st Salute.

I'v also started work on a couple of other Lucid Eye figures for their Savage Core range.  There may buy some more of these at Salute in a couple of weeks as the range is growing and now a set of rules has been announced.  SO far each faction is a leader and six figures, which is manageable for me. The rules and figures are for a Pellucidar-type subterranean world which would work equally well for a Lost World on top of a plateau.  If I did the former I would have an excuse to paint my burrowing machine which you can just glimpse at the top of the picture of the paint table, above.

Iron Duke Indian Mutiny

Now although I told myself that I would not be starting any more ranges I have just discovered First Corps Mexican-American War range and their figures look very nice indeed.  I am trying to buy some which I can pick up at Salute but although they tell you to pre-order for shows, the website gives no details as to how to actually do this.  An email got a quick reply but my reply with my order has been unanswered.  I am trying to give you money, chaps!  Another intriguing announcement has been Iron Duke Miniatures new Indian Mutiny range through Empress.  These look wonderful and although I have quite a few of Mutineer Miniatures figures I am very interested in these.  I'm sure they won't be compatible with the chunky Mutineer figures but they are promising a very comprehensive, campaign specific range. 

I did have to tidy my room a bit this week (hence the workbench sort-out) as I had some new work colleagues over to install some software on my computer, so at least I can walk around the room again without tripping over stuff.  I still haven't found the missing lens from my "best" glasses though, annoyingly.  It is in here somewhere!  I've been going up to London rather more than usual lately and revisited my City office (otherwise known as the Tapas Bar) for the first time in some months.  Unfortunately, my trip to Turkey has been confirmed (I thought if I kept my head down it might disappear) but no.  Even worse I have to take the 7.05am flight from Heathrow.  Argh!  That means leaving home at 4.00am!  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Paint Table Saturday

Today we have some of the Carolingians I have under way for Lion Rampant.  I got the first archers undercoated and started this morning so they join the spearmen and command I have been working on for several weeks.  Dark Ages figures take ages due to the lack of uniform but having a big group like this is is better as you can take one colour and do the tunic of one, the trousers of another and the cloth banding on the calves of a third.  The trick with Dark Ages is to restrict your palette and basically stick to greens, greys and browns with the occasional flash of brighter colour on the command to break it up.  They'll take a good few weeks yet, especially as I have been distracted by a couple of female figures I did some work on yesterday evening.  Behind them is my second set of Lucid Eye Neanderthals for the Lost World project. Another five British for the North West Frontier are moving along too.  I won't have much time to paint again this weekend as Guy has a big rowing race tomorrow (if the weather holds which looks fifty fifty at present).

In the background you can see my recent post about cassoulet on my Food and wine blog.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Some more British for the North West Frontier, workbench plans, ECW, retro dinosaurs, medieavals and some Philip Glass

Well, I finished another four British infantry for the Second Afghan War today.  They are going to look good en masse I think (given my idea of en masse is about twenty figures!).  I have eleven more to do before I get on with some of the Indian figures.  Although I enjoyed painting them, I have some issues with these Artizan figures, which I expand upon in my Sub-Continent blog.

Elsewhere on the workbench, I have some Lucid Eye Neanderthals I want to finish, which I may have a go at over the weekend.  Work also continues on the Carolingians for Lion Rampant, with the first eight archers being based and ready for undercoating.  I am going to see if I can get some more of these at Salute, which is not far off now.  For the first time ever, given the tedious wait I experienced last year, I have pre-ordered a ticket, although I usually get there at about eleven, when there is no queue. I really don't want to significantly add to the lead pile this year so will confine myself to Carolingians and North West Frontier (if they have them).  The only thing I might get, if available, will be some of the new Footsore Franco-Prussian War figures.

Empress Oxford Army pikemen

A couple of pieces on the Wargames News and Terrain site caught my eye this week.  Firstly, Empress Miniatures have released some new figures for their early English Civil War range.  I bought some of the initial release, even though I have a lot of the excellent Renegade figures, because I am more interested in the early years of the war than the New Model Army period. I though the range had died and hadn't realised that Empress had been steadily releasing a lot more packs in this range.  I must dig out the ones I started. The new ones are for the King's Oxford Army of 1643 which were quite effectively uniformed in red or blue with montero caps.  

Antediluvian Megalosaurus

The other interesting post featured a new company to me, Antediluvian Miniatures, who have produced a couple of large (15cm) dinosaur models based on the reconstructions put up under the supervision of Richard Owen at Crystal Palace in 1851.  Of course, these reconstructions are nothing like what we now know Iguanodon and Megalosaurus looked like but as Lost World or centre of the earth type creatures they are very effective and, indeed, rather charming.

I read an enjoyable novel by Greg Bear, a few years ago, called Dinosaur Summer, which is about a world where Professor Challenger and his successors bring dinosaurs back from the Lost World plateau for dinosaur circuses.  Set in the thirties the book features an expedition to take one of the last surviving circus dinosaurs back to the plateau.  What was interesting about it, from this point of view, is that it contemplates the fact that the dinosaurs on the plateau have continued to evolve so do not necessarily all resemble those in the fossil record.  I like the idea of these Antediluvian creatures having evolved from their original therapod ancestors into these lumbering quadrupeds.

It says something for the buzz around Lion Rampant that Crusader Miniatures have come out with some more packs for their 7th Crusade, mid thirteenth century, range in order to provide all the troop types for the rules.  These days I find Crusader's figures a bit too chunky for my tastes but they are certainly easy to paint and I have got quite a few of their Dark Ages figures.

Today's music is from my quite large collection of minimalist music; which consists largely of Glass, Adams (or is he a post-minimalist?), Reich and Nyman. The Legatus is something of a completist and for many years one of my favourite minimalist CDs was Philip Glass' Dancepieces, which featured five pieces from his ballet music In the Upper Room.  This week I was browsing through iTunes, looking for something else, and I found the complete suite so I was able to download the four tracks I was missing from the piece.  It is always rather satisfying to discover extra pieces of a well loved work and this particular piece is powerfully nostalgic.

I discovered this piece when I was living in my first flat, in Wimbledon, so it is forever aurally reminiscent of my girlfriends at the time.  I had moved in to the flat in May and, rather disgracefully, I was running five ladies at the same time during that memorable summer in 1988.  Although one of these, A, the girl in the flat downstairs, who was a nurse, soon cottoned on to the other young ladies coming to stay over, so she soon went off in a huff.  "I don't want to be part of a harem!" she said acidly, after I had cooked her a rather good paella, complete with a lobster on top, and she had drunk most of a bottle of CVNE Imperial Rioja Gran Reserva 1976.  If she had told me this before lunch I could have invited K around instead and she would have been a lot more appreciative.  Two of the other girls knew about the existence of each other and while not happy about it they didn't go off in a huff (reader, I married one of them).  Two of them had known each other at university (they were in the nature of lingering ex-girlfriends) and we had rather 'elastic' relationships, which meant, essentially that we 'went out' with each other if we didn't have anyone else serious on the go.  I think the modern term is 'f*** buddy'.

Anyway, one of these girls (I have written about her before in relation to running in Richmond Park) really liked the Philip Glass piece so it reminds me of her and my decadent summer of juggling (and what lovely juggles she had too).  

Incidentally, what is it with people called Philip (in this case)?  Why on earth can't they all agree on how to spell their name? If I am emailing someone called Philip I always have to double check the spelling and if I haven't got my glasses on all the 'l's and 'i's merge into one, zebra-striped blur anyway.  Are they Phillip, Philipp or even Phillipp.? Sort yourselves out, Phils!  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Paint Table, er, Friday, music for the North West Frontier, an undetectable eclipse and Eric the Shed's Birthday!

Paint Table Saturday, which I haven't contributed to for a very long time is, naturally, on Saturday, but I am posting my paint table on Friday as Saturday is looking horrendously busy.  I did get an hour done this morning, while waiting for the invisible eclipse, on my North West Frontier British and Indians.  Front to back we have the British, the Sikhs and the Corps of Guides.  More on them in the next month or so.

Given I am back to the grinding tedium of painting figures for units (while I retain the enthusiasm) I need some good stirring music (especially as I use Humbrol enamels) to paint by.  So what to use for the 1879 colonial sub-continent?  Well if we go back to 1878 (it takes some time to get tunes from Europe to India - although the phonograph was invented by Edison in 1877 it was some time before the device could reproduce music properly) then the biggest piece we have is Tchaikovsky's fourth symphony.  However, that always reminds me of Ivanhoe as it was used for the theme music for the BBC series in 1970.  It featured Peter Dyneley as Cedric the Saxon who is best known, by me anyway, as the voice of Jeff Tracey from Thunderbirds.  "Five-Four-Three-Two-Wun!" as he memorably intoned at the beginning of each episode of my absolute favourite TV series ever.  Also premiered in that year is another favourite, Dvorak's Wind Serenade which has a rather martial sounding opening.  We also have my favourite Violin Concerto ,by Brahms, which is certainly dramatic enough.

Dropping back to 1877 there are less blockbusters in the classical word (I'm sorry ,I just don't care about Bruckner) but there is a link to an Islamic war with a European power in one popular song from that year.  This is Abdul Abulbul Amir by the Irish songwriter Percy French. The first three verses go like this:

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold 
And quite unaccustomed to fear, 
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah, 
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir. 

If you wanted a man to encourage the van, 
Or harass the foe from the rear, 
Storm fort or redoubt, 
you had only to shout For Abdul Abulbul Amir. 

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar, 
And the bravest of these was a man by the name 
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Defence of  Beyazid, June 8th 1877 by Lev Feliksovich Lagorio,  Russian (foreground) troops and Cossacks (roof) repel the Turks (background) 

The song is a satire of the Russo-Turkish War which took place between 1877 and 1878.  Outpost Wargames Services even do a range of 28mm figures (no!) for this obscure conflict which, nevertheless had a large impact on the future of the Balkans and saw Cyprus coming under British control as a reward for Britain supporting the Ottomans against the Russians in the post-war Congress of Berlin.

The names of the heroes of the song will be very familiar to anyone from Britain of my generation, as the song was re-written for a series of  eighties TV adverts for Whitbread beer (starring a young Stephen Fry as Ivan Skavinsky Skavar).  The original song was a huge hit and was performed around the world, so is quite likely to have been sung by British soldiers in India.  Sadly for French, he sold the song for £5 to a music publisher and failed to copyright it, so never made any money from the music sales.

However, while sitting here this morning, waiting for the eclipse (a good title for a novel) doing the tedious black bits on my British (I hate doing the black bits) I was looking at my iTunes playlists and spotted the Elgar one.  Haven't played that for  a long time, I thought, as the garden stayed just as light as it had been earlier.  After the usual Pomp and Circumstance marches and other tunes (I have eight and a half hours of Elgar, I'm surprised to note) on comes the Triumphal March from his oratorio Caractacus.  This, I remembered, was used for the theme of the BBC TV series The Regiment, starring Christopher Cazenove, in the early seventies.  The first series was set in the Boer War and the second in India and the North West Frontier.  Perfect!  Victorian bombast at its best.  Slightly anachronistic, of course (it was composed in 1898 so would be perfect for Studio Miniatures North West Frontier line), but just the job!  A perfectly stirring piece with a particularly strong finale.

Charlotte's shot of the eclipse

The eclipse, in the South East of England was a great disappointment.  It was so murky anyway that I really couldn't tell the difference between eclipse and non-eclipse.  Charlotte, on the roof of the Meteorological Department in Edinburgh, had a better view and sent me some pictures she took.

The Shed in all its glory!

I can't let today pass without noting that Eric the Shed has reached his half century today.  Congratulations!  The existence of his shed has latterly made me (nearly) a wargamer, rather than just someone who vaguely paints model soldiers in  a vague style!  His focus and output is legendary!  He does amazing things with cork bark!  I hope he has a good day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

North West Frontier: First British officers and some Port

Well, inspired by the recent new releases for Artizan's North West Frontier range I have finished the first figures for my British force.  The officer on the left comes from North Star's delightfully eccentric tea time range.  With his properly extended little finger he makes a nice contrast with the grizzled chap on the right, from the main command pack.  More on them on my Subcontinent blog.

Eric had to postpone his latest Shed Wars this week which meant I could escape and have an illicit free evening, which I did with my friend A.  Wondering what to take her in exchange for dinner (which I ended up cooking - so wondering what to take her in exchange for ingredients would be more accurate) I found a small (50cl) bottle of Tawny Port at the bottom of my wine rack.  We had been discussing Port during our last breakfast and as I'm not really meant to drink that much of it I thought having someone to share it with would be a good idea.   More about this on my food blog, naturally.