Saturday, February 03, 2018

Paint Table Saturday: Painting progress and some Kickstarters

Good progress on the Carthaginian war elephants this week and the elephants are now, well on the way to being  finished. They need to be varnished and metal work done but it is cold and damp here today, unfortunately. The next jobs are the howdahs and crew.  The Little Big Men transfers look very good but do not precisely fit the model so some touching up was required.  I found then extremely fiddly One of the small one popped out of my fingers as I was bending it to remove the plastic coating and disappeared completely, lost somewhere in the clutter of my desk.  I am not looking forward to putting the very tiny transfers on the howdahs.  This weekend's job is to get those moved along.  

I have put bases on the Zulus and undercoated them (although somehow I have lost a shield bearing arm but I think I can fix that from the bits box).  I have also based a couple of the Wargods of Olympus figures (see below).  I am now also starting the tedious black bits on the 1864 Danish infantry.  Slowly but surely!  Any way this is what is going to see some attention this weekend.

I seem to have bought rather a lot of art books lately and desperately need shelf space which is currently being taken up by a lot of old wargames magazines.  In addition I have a pile of wargames magazines on the floor.  I have decided to be brutal and get rid of them.  I don't read them again, anyway and usually only find one or two articles in them worth keeping but as they do feature in my occasional Reading Wargames Magazines over Lunch (TM) posts, I won't stop buying them.  Instead, I am going through them and removing any articles I might want to read again and scanning them.  I can then file them in the relevant section of my computer and it makes it much more likely that I will refer to them in the future, as I will know exactly where they are.  So the first one I scanned last night was a Sudan scenario from this month's Miniature Wargames.

Back in 2014, I bought into the Crocodile Games Wargods of Olympus game Kickstarter.  Not because I was interested in the game but because I was interested in the figures for my Jason and the Argonauts project.  There were huge delays on this and I contacted them again recently and they told me they had my parcel all ready to go but they needed my address confirming. Well, they said they had sent me an e-mail asking for it but they hadn't. Anyway a massive box of stuff arrived yesterday and it looks very good.  A huge impact on the lead pile, though!

The figures come on slotta bases, which I hate so I will saw off most of the tab and will mount them on my favourite steel washers from Hurst in Cowes.  The gods and goddesses are a head taller than the rank and file figures, appropriately, and I will start with some of these I think.  In fact the goddess Artemis (above) and the god Dionysus seems as good a place to start as any.

Ewoks, anyone?

I have bought into a number of other Kickstarters and, on the whole, have found them a good experience.  A couple I regretted, like 18mm Forged in Battle ancients (although I like the look of their new Dark Ages Kickstarter) and Mars Attacks (I still have them all somewhere) but usually I find them a good way to pick up new ranges.  Sometimes I change my mind before the Kickstarter ends and cancel, as I did with The Drowned Earth (I really liked the miniatures but reckoned the scenery would cost a fortune).  This week I cancelled another Kickstarter, Freya's Wrath by Bad Squiddo games.  Now I should really want lady Vikings and I have the Foundry ones plus some other odd figures I picked up for a planned Frostgrave Force.  I decided that Frostgrave probably isn't for me, despite buying some figures, as the magic element seemed to make it far too complicated for me to understand and Eric the Shed didn't think much of it when he tried it.  The rules we play at the Shed are usually excellent so I trust his judgement on this. The real issue I had with the Freya's Wrath figures was that I decided that I didn't like the sculpts.   These are squat ladies and suffer from, not only big head syndrome, but also old style Gripping Beast fat calf syndrome (like their Early Imperial Romans).  Life is too short (especially for me) to paint average figures. Now, to be fair, you can't always tell proportions from photos, as the camera often distorts figures but I can always look at them, once they are out, at one of the shows. Instead I put my money into the new John Carter range (something I have wanted since I was about ten).

On Thursday I also pledged for Dark Fable's bunny girls Kickstarter.  I have no idea what these will be used for but they are sculpted by Brother Vinni and he does the best 28mm women on the planet. I have bought most of Dark Fable's Egyptian harem girls and even painted some, so I know these will be excellent and they were fully funded in a couple of days.  Fortunately, I have just the right reference book for the figures: Osprey's  Playboy Bunny Girls in Urban America 1960-1988

Well, no, of course, but I do have this in my extensive Playboy library so that will help with research, enormously.  I did once have a notion to do a (perhaps) Black Ops style fight in the sort of nightclub you used to get in Alias, using the excellent Sally 4th Terra-Block bar.  Now I could build a miniature Playboy club! Hmm. 

Winterhalter - Florinda (1852)

Talking of scantily clad ladies, today's wallpaper is Florinda by Queen Victoria's favourite painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873).  I saw this painting in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight this summer and it featured in the most recent episode of BBC4's enjoyable series Art, Passion and Power: the Story of the Royal Collection.  At the time, this would have been something of a daring painting for a woman to purchase and a rather surprising birthday present, as it was, from Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. It must have been a favourite of both as they had it hanging over their adjoining desks in the Queen's Sitting Room in Osborne House, where it remains to this day.  In her diaries, Victoria bemoaned the fact that it couldn't be a secret gift (perhaps she was conscious of its  perceived raciness as a gift from the monarch) as it had to appear in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition that year.  Likewise it looked like Winterhalter hadn't expected it to sell quite so quickly as he had to rapidly paint a copy (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) for the Paris Salon the following year.

Bernardo Blanco -King Rodrigo before his defeat by the Moors at the battle of Guadalete in 711 (1871)

The subject is based on an old Spanish/Portuguese/Arab story.  Florinda was the daughter (or wife, depending on the version of the story) of Count Julian governor of Cueta for the Visigothic King Rodrigo in the 8th century.    Illustrated in Winterhalter's painting is one version, where King Rodrigo (just visible in the bushes at the far left) spies on Florinda and her lady companions as they prepare to bathe in the River Tajo, near Toledo castle. Instantly falling in lust (not surprisingly given, Winterhalter's lustrous treatment of flesh) Kind Rodrigo either seduced her and she became his lover or he abducted and raped her ('falls violently in love' as the Royal Collection euphemistically calls it).  Some versions of the story have Florinda as the seducer, however. Whatever, her father/husband Julian is none too pleased so colludes with the leader of the Ummayad Caliphate, Musa Ibn Nusayr, then running riot in North Africa, to invade Spain and kick out King Rodrigo and the Visigoths. This of course they did, leading to the death of King Rodrigo at the battle of Guadalete, centuries of Moorish conquest, flamenco music, a heroic crusade to oust the Moors, a Hollywood epic feature film with a wonderful soundtrack by Miklós Rózsa and a Warhammer Ancient Battles supplement.  That's a lot of stuff caused by one naked woman. In some versions of the legend, despite the rocky start to their relationship, Florinda, distraught at the death of her lover Rodrigo, commits suicide by jumping into the river where she was first spied upon by the King.  Her spirit, embarrassed at the terrible fate she had caused to befall Spain, would haunt the area ever after, especially if you have consumed too much Manchego and La Mancha wine, no doubt.

Winterhalter - Leonilla, Princess Sayn Wittgenstein (1843)

It was a popular story in the mid-nineteenth century (less so now) and indeed Queen Victoria, with Albert, had attended the world premier of the opera by Swiss composer Sigismond Thalberg, Florinda, ou Les Maures en Espagne, the year before she bought the painting, so was well aware of the legend.  The bodies in Winterhalter's painting would have been professional models but many of the faces were that of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn Wittgenstein, as Queen Victoria noted in her diaries. The Russian Princess Wittgenstein had been painted by Winterhalter in Paris in 1843 in a remarkably sensuous, for the time, odalisque style, portrait. She was famous for her intellect and her beauty and in 1860, when she was in her mid-forties, Queen Victoria noted that she was 'still very handsome'.  Born the year after the battle of Waterloo, she died in 1918, at the age of a hundred and one.

Thalberg's opera, Florinda has never been recorded and these days he is best known as a pianist who was a bitter rival to Liszt and who produced a number of piano arrangements of other composer's opera music.  So to keep the theme I am listening to the monumental soundtrack of El Cid, by Miklós Rózsa, in the truly excellent re-recording of the complete score (all 150 minutes of it) by The City of Prague Philharmonic.  


  1. Hail legatus, strangely it was your blog that turned me onto the Wargods of Olympus kickstarter. So thanks for that. I decided on Amazons which arrived yonks ago. They are so lovely and detailed it is a bit daunting. Finally I just decided to go for my block paint and dip method. Managed two units and a load of heroes in a couple of weeks. I like them so much I have started buying the Aegyptus figures. They are a delight even if the bigger characters are a pain to put together.

  2. If you are chucking out old magazines I'll give the ones I am missing a home....;-)

    catch up soon