Saturday, May 19, 2018

Paint Table Saturday: Byzantines, tempting figures,models from the past and an art blog

So, it is another Royal Wedding today and, luckily, the Old Bat will be glued to the TV all day, enabling me to get a decent amount of painting done.  The Old Bat doesn't even like the couple; Harry is a 'dim, bush mush' and Markle is an 'American trailer trash golddigger' who is 'making the Royal Family a laughing stock'. It won't stop her watching everything, though! Mainly so she can insult guests fashion choices.

I hope to get on with my Byzantine Infantry, which I have done a bit on this week.  If I can get all the black and leather bits done this weekend I will be pleased.  I have also got the shields started and have got some transfers for them, although I am already getting stressed about how to deal with these.  I have bought some Micro Sol and some Micro Set but even with my glasses I can't read the instructions on the bottles.  The key question is: do I still need to paint them with gloss paint or gloss varnish before I put them on? Also the transfers have no hole for the boss so I have no idea how I am going to deal with that.  Stressful times ahead!  As my particular friend A says.  Isn't this supposed to be a relaxing hobby?

Why come to Israel?

To relax I am enjoying watching the Giro d'Italia at present (although possibly the accompanying regional selection of Italian wines is helping in this) , although they haven't had the best of weather. It was even cloudy in Israel.  Talking of Israel, during Eurosport's coverage we are getting the usual travel advertisements for Tel Aviv Jerusalem; two places I wouldn't dream of visiting, despite the (rather engagingly old fashioned) use of alluring girls in the commercials.  

Follow me!  Oh, alright then

Last year's advert (only people who work in TV call them commercials) had top Israeli model, Shir Elmaliach, filmed in a point of view way, leading a lucky man through carefully selected highlights of the two cities.  Linking them together as a destination is quite clever (the original advertisement won a lot of awards) given that Jerusalem is an interesting historic city and Tel-Aviv appears to be like Basingstoke on sea with added bus bombs.  It was one of those adverts that I actually used to stop fast forwarding through the advert break for, so as to better appreciate Shir's pert posterior in a variety of clingy outfits.

This year, although they have bought back Shir (sadly, largely filmed from the front - it was like when FHM did a pictorial on Jennifr Lopez and only photographed her from the front) they have teamed her with British presenter Sian Welby (no I have never heard of her either - perhaps she is on the Shopping Channel or some such).  The new advert dumps the disembodied man being led through the two cities' delights and just has the two girls taking selfies of each other and people taking selfies annoy me enormously. Instead of intimating at naughty fun in the sun for the male visitor, as in last year's advert, in this one the girls actually look like they would prefer naughty holiday fun with each other.  Using two girls is not necessarily more effective than one! Sian is quite annoying, gurning her way through the film, and is not a patch on Shir, even though the latter looks like she has patently never ridden a bike in her life as she wobbles through the scenery.  Epic fail, as my son would say. It is supposed to evoke an Instagram story, apparently,whatever that is.

It doesn't quite have the Marmite effect of another travel campaign, for Tui (originally Preußische Bergwerks-und Hütten-Aktiengesellschaft), shot in Turkey and featuring gap-toothed British model Bethany Slater.  This advert carpet bombed our screens from last October and started to drive me mad with its stupid dancing crabs and annoying, gets into your head, synthesizer riff. The simpering singer, murdering the Rufus and Chaka Khan hit Ain't nobody, makes you think the girl miming in the advert is an insipid simpering girl herself; probably called Alison who probably lives in an unfashionable part of North London somewhere and works in HR.  Sorry if you know someone called Alison but I once had a simpering, insipid girlfriend called Alison (very briefly) who lived in Belsize Park.  She didn't work in HR but was a nurse which should have been more exciting than it was.

The advert has Bethany as a rather tragic singleton whose life is transformed by flying to a Tui resort in Turkey on a Tui airliner (they probably have their own Tui tank division as well,  so at least they might be able to get you out of Turkey if there is another attempted coup), having her face painted green and dancing badly, to the extent that in the follow up advert she appears to have sex in the pool with some random man (hopefully she uses a Tui condom).  Well, that's the way it looks to me.  You too can have naughty fun on a cheap package holiday, although not as much fun as promised by Shir in Israel (I would imagine). One of my friends loves gap-toothed Bethany and watches it every time it comes on, although latterly Tui seem to be using other more normal looking people in their adverts now, disappointingly for my friend.  Maybe the concept of Bethany being a tragic singleton is just too unrealistic, given her leggy charms.

Plastic Victrix Vikings sketches

Anyway, these aren't the figures I was meant to be discussing. As is well known, I can'r resist a shiny new range of figures, so if I see thone I tend to make myself go away and calm down for a bit before ordering them.  Kickstarters are particularly bad, as I get carried away by them and end up buying stuff I don't want (like Mars Attacks).  One I saw recently was by eBor miniatures (who I get muddled up with eBob) for Seven Years War plastic French infantry,  Oh, plastic people with tricornes I thought, excitedly. Shiny!  But when I looked into them, despite the Kickstarter having launched, there is virtually no information about them and just a picture of one figure.  Given they are asking for a rather eye-watering £40,000 and have only raised about £2000 I think this one I can give a miss.  Maybe if they had started with British figures.... Likewise the new North Star and Fireforge fantasy ranges, while tempting at first, would seem pointless given the number of Games Workshop Lord of the Rings figures I have got.  If you are going to have elves and dwarves at least have them sculpted by the Perry twins. Much more interesting is the recent announcement by Victrix of plastic Vikings (first), Normans and Saxons.  The first Victrix figures I bought were their Napoleonics and I didn't like them at all but their recent ancients have been wonderful. I will definitely be getting these!

Fraxinus posted about the new Airfix Vintage Classics range, which they are bringing out shortly.  These feature many of the models from my past. Plastic models, that is, not the walking up and down on a catwalk (sorry, runway) ones I used to know when I was younger, when hanging out in Milan during Fashion Week. It was no coincidence that Lloyd's Italian brokers day was organised at the same time as Milan Fashion Week. No coincidence as I organised it, with my Italian colleague.  During one of these was the only time I literally saw grown women eating just lettuce for dinner, when I went to the birthday party of a Brazilian model and my Italian colleague entirely failed to chat up Carla Bruni. Should have aimed slightly lower down the model pecking order. Heh, heh.

The Vintage Classics line will use some of the old box art.  Models will include the Bismark, the first model ship I built (it sadly ended its life in the garden being riddled with .177 pellets from my air rifle) and the Panzer IV, which I must have made a fair number of in the past (did anyone ever make it with the tragic short barrelled cannon?). The Panzer IV was my favourite tank kit and I might just get one to put on my shelf somewhere.  I wonder whether you can get a 1/56 one?  But then it would need some Perry Afrika Korps and that wouldn't go well.  I was looking at the Airfix website recently and was amazed by the almost complete disappearance of their historic ships ranges but now, at least, some of these will return. I did build the Royal Sovereign model in the past and it sat in my mother's lounge for decades as I, amazingly, actually completed, painted and rigged it.

Under the sea

When I thought my eyesight had deteriorated too much to paint wargames figures I did think about going back to making model ships again but the question for me is where do ship modellers keep their finished models?  You can't really hang them from the ceiling like aircraft.  That said, I recall reading an AE Van Vogt short story, once, where an alien creature sat in a space craft under the sea but could not sense water, so passing ships appeared to be floating in the air above.  Could you hang your ship models at exactly the same height so that they appeared to be floating in invisible water? Like the Grand Hyatt hotel in Dubai where I used to stay, sometimes.  It would be worse than trying to get pictures to hang  at the same height, though.

That said, I did dig my model of the RMS Mauretania out of the loft after visiting the ocean liners exhibition at the V&A,  Maybe I'll take it to Cowes this year.   I never made the HMS Belfast , either. and always wanted to, although back when I made model warships you didn't have to worry about the dazzle paint scheme!  That would be a nightmare!  Usually the biggest stress with ship models is getting the waterline stripe right. At least there would be more room on my workbench, now, for a ship under construction.  These old Airfix models are very crude compared with modern ones but that is part of their charm, really, as no doubt Airfix hope.   They are promising more than the initial release of 25 models (depending on how they sell, I suppose) but some are lost forever, the original moulds having being destroyed in the Second Iraq war (they had been sold by Heller to an Iraqi firm), supposedly).

Odalisque (1873)

Given it is the Giro I should have wallpaper by an Italian artist, so here is a Turkish-style odalisque (the lowest grade of girl in the harem) by Francesco Paolo Michetti (1851-1929). The orientalist subject matter is unusual for the artist who specialised in outdoor scenes.  Michetti originated in the Abruzzo region of Italy and after studying at the Academia in Naples moved to Paris to continue his studies, exhibiting at the 1872 Paris Salon.  In 1883 he bought an old convent building, back in Abruzzo, as his studio and home and took much of his inspiration from the local people and landscape.  He also exhibited in Milan, Naples, Berlin and at the first Venice Bienalle.  For the last twenty years of his life he lived as a virtual recluse and stopped exhibiting.

Given I haven't started a new blog for ages I have decided to do one which just features art from my Paint Table Saturday wallpaper, Art Friday on my Facebook Page, as well as a number of my other blogs.  Initially I have collected (and in some cases expanded) the pieces I have posted before.   You can find it here.  Expect lots of naked ladies and the occasional military, maritime and Baltic landscape painting.

Italian music too, with Giuseppe Sinopoli's tremendous Nabucco.  It's not my favourite Verdi Opera, that is Aida, but the first act charges along at a tremendous pace and is full of fantastic melodies.   I bought my copy in the legendary Farringdon Records in Cheapside, from the legendary Tony.  I got it when it came out in 1983, having bought the DG Aida the year before.  It is excellent music to cook Spaghetti Bolognese to!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fireforge Byzantines construction and a chicken recipe for the Giro

I put two posts up on a couple of my other rather neglected blogs over the weekend.

Firstly, a look at building some of Fireforge's plastic Byzantine infantry which is here.

Secondly, a chicken recipe to go with Stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia which is here.

Hmm, I thought.  I'll never get a picture that links Byzantines and chicken to illustrate this post with.  Wrong.  Isn't the internet wonderful?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Paint Table Saturday: Byzantines, a tidy workbench and a trip to Cowes

Regular readers of my paint table Saturday posts may be surprised by the absence of paint in this picture.  Previously there were dozens of pots of Humbrol enamel to the left, where my mug now resides in solitary splendour.  Under the computer screen were piles of figures I was working on and to the right was a horrible pile of paints, unopened figures and paintbrushes.  Chaotic does not even begin to describe it.  Then I read about a storage system in a review in Wargames illustrated and in less than 48 hours was presented with a heavy box of nicely finished plywood pieces.  Perhaps emboldened by my work in assembling my Victrix war elephants I charged straight in to start working on it.

I was so impressed with the unit and my skills in assembling it (er) that I sent off for two more units of drawers from the same manufacturer.  These went together as easily, although were not quite so robust, being MDF, but once painted black fitted pretty well with the big unit.  Together, the two were the same width as the large unit, although a little less deep from to back.  They came with drawer dividers but I wasn't going to use them so chucked them out.  No doubt Eric the Shed would have used the bits to make a Northwest Frontier fort!

So, here are the three units in situ.  Glue, filler, files and glasses top left.  Paints I am currently using underneath them.  Below that three drawers which hold tall bottles of varnish and paint, taller figures in process (Byzantines with spears) and bases,  The big drawer underneath that has all my Citadel paints and washes and the bottom draw has other figures in progress.  In the centre there is a space for white spirit and matches for stirring paint.  Top left there are special racks for paintbrushes and next to that are  knives, my magnifying craft glasses and my water pot.  In the big drawer below that are bits and transfers.  The bottom two drawers are more Humbrol tinlets.  It really is amazing how much I got into this thing!



I couldn't quite get everything in.  My pots of sand and gravel with some overflow paints have gon onto my old paint rack behind the computer screen but it is an amzing improvement on what was there before.



This is just part of an ongoing tidy up of my study.  There is still an awful lot to do but I now have one tidy corner at least.  The next job is to file a load of DVD's into albums and free up some shelf space for books,  Step by step!

So now that I have a less stressful working environment what is on today's workbench?  I haven't forgotten about the Carthaginian elephant crew but I am waiting the arrival of some Micro-sol and Micro-set for the shield transfers.  In the interim I have started the Byzantine infantry I got at Salute.  These aren't as refined as Victrix plastics but are perfectly serviceable and do not suffer from gnomish big head syndrome like the Gripping Beast plastics I have seen (at least their Vikings). I bought the extra resin command and these are very nice indeed.  Assembling the resin figures was a bit of a pig as even superglue takes ages to dry on them and you need to wait an hour after sticking on one arm, for example, before attempting to glue the next piece.  This is the second batch for a unit of twelve for Lion Rampant.  I have already started painting the first five but will leave them now until I get these up to the same stage.

I didn't get any painting done last weekend as I was down in Cowes for my father in law's ninetieth birthday party at the Royal Yacht Squadron at the Castle.  The Squadron are brilliant at this sort of thing and the weather was wonderful, which helped a lot as it meant that guests could wander out onto the lawn overlooking the Solent.  Tea on the lawn (technically tea overlooking the lawn) being a popular activity during Cowes week. A couple of years ago I had a nice chat with Zara Tindall, Princess Anne's daughter, there. Princess Anne knows my parents-in-law and has been sailing on their boat a number of times.  She is very nice too and was quite prepared to muck in on the boat, clean the decks, empty the bin etc.  The Old Bat is not convinced about 'that trashy American' due to marry into the Royal family imminently.  'I wouldn't curtsey to her!' she maintains. "She just wants a title then she will dump Harry and will be back to America and hope to become Jackie Onassis for the rest of her life!" says the Bat.  She'll still watch the wedding on TV, though, so she can be rude about all the women's outfits.

You are not really allowed to take pictures inside the Castle but I couldn't resist taking a shot of the Kaiser's racing ensign, from the Imperial yacht, just outside where the lunch was held (which isn't in the main building anyway).  There were two types of guests: yachtsmen and supercharged medical people.  All of them (and especially their wives) were snapping away inside on their mobile phones, disgracefully.  My father-in-law asked me to look after a girl (the youngest person there by about forty years) from a boatyard on the Thames who had single-handedly restored a Dunkirk little ship. He was worried she might be a bit overpowered by the type of guests (three potential Nobel prize winners) but there were enough boaty people for her to feel at home.  Last time I had seen her she was bending planks of wood to fit the hull of a boat. Talk about having all the skills I don't.  She came on her motorbike and despite wearing a nice blue dress, her arms and thighs (it was a very short blue dress) were speckled in paint.  Splendid, I thought, until I realised that I was old enough to be her grandfather. 

Lunch was excellent and, as a bonus the Old Bat wasn't there as she had to work and she certainly wouldn't have liked the Bembridge lobster. 'What sort of person eats something like that?" she cries in utter incomprehension.  Me, actually.  Isle of Wight lobsters are some of the best in Britain and when Mary Berry did a TV programme on them it was to the Island that she came.

The Squadron are very good at using local suppliers for their food and they had the full range of Isle of Wight cheese and even local crackers.  Yum yum.  It isn't that many years since the Isle of Wight was famous for being the only county in Britain without a single entry in the Good Food Guide but now it produces wonderful crustacea, lamb, tomatoes, garlic (especially), wine, beer and even gin.  There is even a Michelin starred restaurant on the Island now but I have never been.  The Old Bat would object to the price (she doesn't approve of going out to eat when you can 'buy the same food in a supermarket'),  Guy only eats breaded chicken and pizza and Charlotte is a vegetarian.  It's no wonder that I go out to eat regularly with ladies from my past!

I went to the Ocean Liners exhibition, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, with one of these ladies recently.  This really is the best exhibition I have attended for some time and is highly recommended.  I have always wanted to cross the Atlantic on a liner, although my father-in-law says it is often a rough experience.  He lived and worked in the United States in the late fifties and returned home in the SS Saxonia.  He had bought a new car in the US and provided it was over a year old he would avoid the import purchase tax of twice the value of the car that would be levied on arriving in Britain. He had calculated that he would avoid this by one day but the Saxonia was making such good speed that it was due to arrive a day early and he would be clobbered by the tax.  Being my father-in-law, he asked the captain to slow the ship down!  This he couldn't do but instead, took an unscheduled detour to Le Havre instead and saved my father-in-law hundreds of pounds.

It is appropriate that today's music is the official CD of the Liners exhibition which is a great collection of twenties, thirties and forties music, which played inside the exhibition.  I bought the book too.  I really need to get my bookshelves sorted!

Nude lying on a couch (1873)

Today's wallpaper is by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894).  Caillebotte qualified as a lawyer and also an engineer but was drafted into the Garde Nationale Mobile de la Seine in the Franco-Prussian War. It was only afterwards that he began to study art seriously and he first exhibited in the second Impressionists exhibition in 1876. Although, as can be seen here, many of his paintings showed a tighter realism than his peers. Caillebotte's brother died at a young age and the artist (rightly) thought that he would not live into old age, so he wrote a detailed will leaving his collection of his and other impressionist paintings (Renoir was his executor) to the French State. Impressionism still wasn't really accepted in Paris by the authorities and they didn't want them balthough an exhibition of part of Caillbotte's collection, after his death at the age of 48, was the first show of impressionist paintings held in a public venue, at the Palais de Luxembourg.  More than thirty years later, the French government, having changed their mind about impressionism, tried to grab the collection but the Caillebotte family saw them off and many of the paintings in the collection were bought by Albert Barnes and taken into his Barnes Collection in Philadelphia, where the Legatus went to see them a few years ago.

This is an uncompromisingly realistic nude for 1873 and has none of the usual themes that artists used to justify painting naked ladies at the time; such as bathers or classical subjects.  As a result, it has a timeless quality which makes it look more modern than its 145 year old age.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time to sort out the workbench

Utter chaos!

While I really should be finishing my Carthaginian elephant crew I have come to the realisation that my workbench (which gives it a whole artisanal air neither my skills nor it deserves) really needs sorting out.  Since before Christmas it has got encrusted with unopened packets of (oddly (or perhaps not) mainly female) figures which are burying my paintbrushes and other tools.  Inspired by a review in Miniature Wargames this month, I bunged off an order to Hobbies Ltd for a Hohbyzone organiser.  Now, I actually have a paint organiser on my desk but it is so disorganised I hadn't seen it for two years. 

A big heavy box turned up in well under 48 hours and I opened it up to find a quite terrifying number of pieces.  Fortunately, I had ordered an extra, optional drawer, which was packed separately, so I set to on making that on Friday.  The reviewer in Miniature Wargames said it was straightforward and he had assembled the whole thing in an hour.  Well, it took me around half that time to assemble one drawer but I am a DIY manqué. It left me stressed and tense and the look of the completed drawer brought back horrific memories of woodwork at school, where we had to make a box.  'Cut the wood on the waste side' bellowed my woodwork teacher (the memory of whom is so terrible my mind has completely erased his name and face, unlike all my other teachers, I realise) as I messed it up yet again. In fact that is the only single thing I learned from a year of woodwork.  In my school report that year I got D- for the subject.  'His work completely lacks any sense of care, accuracy or finish' wrote my woodwork teacher. I hadn't thought about woodwork classes for over forty years.

I had actually forgotten I had done them at all until I assembled this drawer.  A terrifying, suppressed memory of that ghastly room has now flooded back.  I am sure it has something to do with my complete hatred of undertaking any practical things to this day or, in the alternative, perhaps this skill is innate and I just don't have it.  I, very unfashionably, believe that some things (maths, music, sport, languages and art) need innate skills.  These cannot be learned, except to the most basic level.  You can do them or you can't. Your brain works like that or it doesn't.  No amount of tedious teaching can help, although, I suppose, I admit that I am very bad at learning things, as I am attempting to do with Spanish at present.  Basically, I am not interested in spending time learning how to do things.  Essentially, if I can't do something instantly (as I found I could with drawing) then I am not interested in learning it; as the fear is you waste endless hours on it and still find you can't do it.  Best not to waste the time and just accept you can't do it, as I do with DIY and modelling skills.

Crafty people love Gorilla glue.  I do not.

Still, I was very impressed with the material of this.  No smoked fish smelling, laser-cut flimsiness here.  It is good, solid plywood which is very well finished (made in Poland).  Fortunately, the Old Bat had some of the recommended Gorilla Glue (she has a lot of DIY stuff) to use on it, although I found the applicator totally baffling and ended up with it going on the floor, on my trousers and all over the bits of wood.  I decided to assemble the rest of it in the kitchen today, as the Old Bat was out of the way, otherwise I would have got ' you don't want to do it like that' comments, and I have run out of blood pressure pills at present.

On the move (on the move, we're on our way again  - as the theme to an early Bob Hoskins TV show used to go)

The plan is to install this crosswise on my desk (fortunately, it is the exact right size) but to do this I have to move all the other stuff, principally my plastic boxes of figures in progress (to use the term loosely).   I had a master plan for these in that they were going onto the shelves behind my chair where there were a lot of DVDs.  These are, ultimately, going into a new DVD storage case.  This whole operation is not so much juggling objects about but more a rather involved conveyancing chain but it will all contribute to the gradual tidying of my playroom, which is an utter tip at the moment.

So, this afternoon I found that the little Chinese take away boxes I keep my figures in fit perfectly on the shelf.  The Force is definitely with me on this one!  While moving them I also found a box of rocks which I had been looking for for weeks.  Tidying is good!

The worst part of my work bench is what lurks behind my computer screen.  What horrors lie behind it?  My screen is like the wall on Skull Island.  Out of side, out of mind.  Just looking at this photo I can see more figures, more paint, a WW1 tank fascine, some sort of Games Workshop tank and a load of paintbrushes I had completely forgotten about.  This will all have to come out but only after I had assembled the dreaded new storage unit.  I am already thinking about getting a couple more to go underneath it.

It is Sunday today and there was no paint table Saturday yesterday as we went down to Hampshire for the Old Bat's sister's sixtieth birthday lunch, which was very enjoyable. although the Old Bat glared at me for having  a pint of Itchen Valley Brewery Watercress Ale (which is brewed very close to the English Civil War battlefield of Cheriton).   So I was able to put the thing together on the kitchen table.  The man in Wargames Illustrated said it took him an hour but it took me an hour and forty five minutes.  I have to say that the fit of the pieces was just perfect.  I didn't have a soft headed hammer, as the instructions recommended (who has such a thing?) but a few good thumps with the side of my hand soon had everything in place, although I did resort to a hammer when attaching the base but only because my hand was becoming sore!

Finally, I gave it a coat of black spray paint so it matches with my other paint stand and my (nineties) desk.  I have now cleared the growing lead pile from my desk so next I have to remove everything else temporarily before starting to re-install things.

So by this evening I think I have cleared around one sixth of my desk but at least my original paint storage unit is now visible.  This is going to go behind my screen for storage purposes.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reading wargames magazines over lunch and a journey to the Dark Side.

Yesterday I had a meeting in London, which was one of those where the timing keeps moving about until the last minute.  Well, I say London but actually it was at Holloway Road which is much further north in London than I like to go.  It's almost the Midlands!  Originally scheduled to take place between 12.00 and 13.00, the meeting was shifted to 13.00.  I arrived at Waterloo early, so had time for a cup of tea (I thought you might not be able to get tea in North London) and a quick trip to Smiths and picked up May's Miniature Wargames. I then got a phone message to say they had moved the meeting forward to 12.30.  Anyway, it all meant that I was out at 13.30 and desperate to get back to civilisation.  As I hadn't had lunch I headed south as fast as possible and pitched up at the National Cafe at the National Gallery.  Basically, I wanted to waste some time so that Old Bat would be at home to pick me up and save me the walk from the station, as I have a bad foot at present.

Now although I don't like its new poncey incarnation (could this be the name for Warhammer's first gay hero?) compared with how it used to be (all change is bad) the food there is very nice, apart from a baffling preponderance of fishy dishes.  They had one of their exhibition specific menus again (Monet) but now, annoyingly, they only serve these in the evening (more change for the worse).  Anyway, apart from my newly purchased Miniature Wargames I also had April's Wargames Illustrated in my bag.  Time, therefore, for another  thrilling episode of Reading Wargmes Magazines over Lunch!  Before I could start, given it was susprisingly warm yesterday, I needed a cool drink and so chose a Côtes de Provence.   This was a pale, almost transparent, fragrant pink which reminded me (in many ways) of a former girlfriend's favourite pair of knickers; although not as expensive (I was with her once in Wimbledon when she spent an eye watering £105 on a pair of La Perla black knickers).

Leek and potato with wild garlic soup for a first course; although in reality it was more garlic soup with a little bit of leek and potato.  Miniature Wargames new May edition first and a look at their Forward Observer review section.  Firstly, review of the new Osprey Outremer: Faith and Blood rules, for Crusades skirmishes using between five and ten figures a side, which strike me as being too few (surprisingly) so I will pass on these, despite the fact that I have some painted figures for the First Crusade, done for a Society of Ancients game some years ago.

The problem

The solution?

Far more interesting was a review of a paint station which, at two feet long might, hold a lot of rubbish cluttering my desk.  One side of my desk is a complete tip (actually so is the other side) but this has racks for paint brushes, drawers and lots of space for paint. I bunged off an order to Always Hobbies and hope the reviewers claims that it was easy to assemble will prove accurate!

Picnic girl by Ron Cobb for Mayfair July 1972

Many articles in wargames magazines have tried to categorise the different tribes of players and Conrad Kinch had a go, this month too, looking at their motivation.  In a way, these pieces remind me of those articles you used to get in Mayfair, which would examine the different characteristics of 'birds' in the early seventies; country set girls, librarians, air hostesses, secretaries, au pairs, etc.   These were usually illustrated, falling out of their clothes, by Ron Cobb who would go on to do concept art for films like Alien and Total Recall. None of them look like wargamers, of course!  Kinch's categorisation had four types: Socialite - who games to meet up with people (definitely not me), The System Master - who loves mastering the rules so they can win at all costs (not me either), The Daytripper - inspired by history, films or TV (that is me) and The Craftsman - who likes painting figures, making scenery and devising scenarios (a bit me).

A member of my Sudan Naval Brigade encounters some cavegirls

There were several other articles I was interested in: one on making rocks out of yoga blocks (no, I had no idea what a yoga bloc was either) and a piece from the Wargames Widow on making a swampy river.  I have to say (cruelly, given my lack of ability at constructing scenics) that I find many of her projects a bit lumpy and agricultural but this one may be worth keeping.  There was another one of those four staples of generic wargames magazines articles (along with the aforementioned type of wargamer, the greying of the hobby and the decline of shows) on historical versus fantasy wargaming (two out of four of these tropes in one issue?).  The position taken by the author seemed to be that historical and fantasy games were all after the same objective but historical gamers were more hamstrung by...well, history. He also takes the view that historical games are in decline.  Hmm.  This is not something I want to get into but I think that the sheer number of, in particular, plastic historicals coming out says that the decline isn't as steep as some thing. I think that, perhaps, big battle historicals are on the decline, with the rise of the semi-skirmish type of game like Lion Rampant,  Many historical games are now fought with forces of several dozen, rather than hundreds ,of figures a side, as seen in Fantasy and SF gaming for some time.  This is partly due to time constraints, I suspect, and cost.  I actually think that one thing fantasy wargaming has given to historicals is nicely produced rule books, coming from Warhammer Historical and now Warlord Games, there are still some who prefer the ring bound efforts of the past but being a Daytripper/Craftsman, according to Mr Kinch's definitions, I think glossy, beautifully produced rule books are inspirational.  Also, I think that while younger wargamers (and most wargaming women) focus on Fantasy, contraty to the author of this piece,  I don't see a situation in thirty years time when lots of fifty year olds are still playing Warhammer.  This is because I think, like myself, many who wargame at a younger age stop for years, as adult life takes over, only to return to the hobby years or decades later.  When they do return I suspect they are more likely to take up historicals as opposed to fantasy, if only as it may feel more acceptable to their peers.  'I play wargames with Orcs' not being so, justifiable, perhaps, to others as 'I recreate battles of the Crimean War'; even if the gaming mechanisms are almost identical.

However, the thing in the magazine that had an immediate effect on me was the actually rather poor review  (he reviewed the figures not the game, with which there are issues, I gather) of Star Wars Legion. I had been excited when this game was first announced (I think my daughter pointed it out) but with my eye problems of last year, I gave up on it. It was delayed so often I lost interest.  However, the review in Wargames Illustrated seemed to indicate it was out and I gather it was being demonstrated at Salute, although, needless to say, I didn't see it.  However, now that I can see much better again, I wanted to get it, especially as Charlotte seems keen on playing it (some of her friends play X-Wing).  Quick phone call to Dark Sphere and a short walk from Waterloo Station and there I have yet another impulse by.  Much more on this in due course.

On to my main course of duck with spicy liver sauce and Wargames Illustrated's April edition.  The themed approach is always a bit hit and miss and aviation wargames are a definite miss for me but the Thirty Years War is something I have been interested in a for a long time, not least because of the old Revell 1:72 plastics of years ago (there was an article on other suitable plastic figures in this scale in the magazine) and several visits to the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm with my friend Anna.  It seems that this would be an ideal period for The Pikeman's Lament so I will keep the articles from this issue.  One thing, however, is that the uniforms  (not that they were) from the period are not the same as those from the English Civil War.  I recently read about a European firm that was starting up a range of 28mm Thirty years War figures which looked really nice but I can't remember who?  Were they Russian? Probably just as well I can't remember!

There was also a piece on Warlord's Shieldwall supplement for Hail Caesar which I haven't quite finished reading et.  I haven't played Hail Caesar but perhaps this will be what Eric the Shed uses for his big new Norman and Saxon project.  Coincidentally, after I returned from Dark Sphere, I ran into Eric on Waterloo Station, after I had collected my big Star Wars box.  He said I should take the game over to the Shed, which I may do when I have painted the figures (in about 2020).