Saturday, April 22, 2023

A slightly disappointing vist to Salute...

I was very excited to go to Salute again today as the last one I attended was, thanks to the Chinese, four years ago.  I hadn't even been on the London Underground for three years so that was stressful as I am still one of those people who wears a mask on public transport given I am in the 'vulnerable' categoty altough less vulnerable than I was. For those who don't know, dear readers, I had some cardiac problems back in 2019 which resulted in me having to have a triple heart bypass almost a year ago. Since then, however, I have felt much better and all my key medical indicators are the best thay have been for 15 years. This tedious medical history is pertinent in that it has effected my general outlook and my view on wargaming in particular.

After my operation on May 4th last year (the Force was, indeed, with me) I had no less than nine holes in me which I hadn't had before. The worst wetre the two in my leg where Mr Yap at Barts removed an artery. This area was painful for three months afterwards. "Oh yes they never tell you that is the worst," said my father-in-law a former eminent cardiac surgeon himself who facilitated mt getting to a top hospital. It meant that I could not sit comfortably at my desk for months which meant no painting so I contented myself with reading a lot (which I hadn;t done for ages) and watching old films on TV. The second most painful part was my breastbone which had been sawn in half so they could spread my ribs open and then stapled back together (you can feel the staples under my skin; they don't come out). Sneezing was not something you wanted to do after this for three months.  Now, I am not the most sensitive soul but the pain caused by these precision incisions was very bad for many weeks and it just got me thinking about what a bullet wound must feel like.  The thought of this still makes me queasy and is something I had never considered in my all too infrequent games of war.  In American TV shows, where they spend most of the time shooting each other, if the good guy (or lady) gets shot then they are portrayed happily sitting up in hospital with a small dressing on and then a week later are bounding around as normal. This, of course, is nonsense.  One of my scars (in my wrist) is still sore and the scar down the centre of my chest (I have used it to horrify my young neices) itches and I am consious of it  all the time. The upshot of this is that I am now very conscious of the real impact of battle wounds on soldiers. It won't stop me wargaming or painting soldiers but I do think about what the real thing must have been like, especially in hospitals with no anaesthetic and no lovely young nurses to look after you (goodness, the ladies in Barts were lovely - well as far as I could tell from their eyes but as I know from trips to the Middle East and the early months of the Chinese Virus most women look lovely when all you can see is their eyes).

The other effect of my surgery was for me to consider my finite future. My cardiologist at East Surrey Hosital (excellent in every way) told me my surgery would give me an extra 25 years. Unfortunately, Mr Yap, having seem my heart ("when did you have your heart attack? - I had no idead!) told me that I should get another ten years (one of which I have already had). So as I wandered around Salute today thinking about, as I had beforehand, getting some Oathmark dwarves I stopped myself and thought that I already have far more figures to paint than I can do in my remaining lifetime (frankly even with the twenty-five years originally promised I would not be able to paint all my figures). So I walked away from the Osprey Games stand and just came back with two boxes of the new Perry Miniatures Franco-Prussin War French which were released today.  I will post seperately on all the figures I nearly bought over the last more than three years I have spent away from my blog; this post being a way to reactivate it and see if there is any interest in it.

So, I felt rather disappointed walking around Salute today. Ennui might be a better term. So many figures I will never paint. So many games I will never play. So many rules I will be unable to comprehend. Yes, the French term is most apposite, especially now that Guy has acquired a sparky French girlfriend who lives with us from time to time. The lighting was worse than I remembered (or is it my eyes) which menat that I couldn't even really see most of the games in progress without standing about ten inches from them which you either couldn't becuas eof crowds (Big Red Bat's spledid Ipsus game) or didn't want to in case you are pounced upon by keen people trying to recruit players (I don't want to play games with people I don't know).  

This was even more the case for trade stands but this was partly because I felt that there were a lot of people there (not surpisingly considering the interregnum) but a lot less trade stands. In the past all the outside walls of the hall had stands against them, but not this year. A lot of firms I expected to be there, like Victrix, were not. There seemd to be more big firms with big stands many of whom were SF and fantasy games I had never heard of. There were a lot less (other than laser cut MDF) scenic makers. Resin scenery seems to have all but disappeared (compounded, no doubt, by the disappearnce of the much missed Grand Manner) and where were the usual foliage (or follidge) stands? It struck me as a very stripped back show. This may be because ExCel's fees are now so high that only bigger firms can afford it. It will be interesting to see if these scenic firms appear at Warfare or Colours this year. Of course it may all be because I couldn't see any of the stands!

I suppose I spent about an hour and a half there, very much my shortest trip. There were no ta lot of real showstopping games but I did like thie Never Mind the Billhooks set up. I was pleased with my Perry French (although they are going to be a right fiddle to paint) and it was a delight to run into Eric the Shed who has kindly invited me to view his new shed in the next week or so. Will I go again next year? I'm not sure. I've always preferred Colours not least as I can drive there and don't have to use public transport. It was the fiftieth anniversary show, however, so I felt I should go (I did go to the last one held in Kensington Town Hall so that must have been several decades ago).

After what sounds like aratoer negative post I did sit down when I returned and dis some work on my Repblican ROmans, however, so maybe just attending will kick start my painting for the yeat (although I am still waiting for some decent light!)

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Paint Table Sunday: Jazz Age Imperialism

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. 

The Old Bat thinks they should all go, of course. I am reminded of the line from Porridge: 'I read a book once. Green it was.' I don't actually remember the Old Bat ever reading a book. She has looked at them, usually to find out how to do things like make complicated pleats on curtains but a book without pictures? No. Anyway, I am very happy with having sorted my books out (military and art books are on other shelves, on the whole). 

Another reason for the sort out was to give the plumber access to the radiator to see if he could get the long dead radiator in my room going again. Alas, he reckons we will need to replace every radiator in the house and do a flush through (or something). This would mean we had no heating or hot water for a week so not to be done at this time of year, I think. Still my far wall looks the neatest it's been for years (only because you can't see all the displaced mess. Next I sorted out the remainder of my DVDs into albums which freed up a lot more shelf space for paperbacks. 


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. 

Another daughter of someone I used to know, when at the same firm, is the lovely Anna Popplewell who starred in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 2005. I travelled with her father, then a very junior barrister, when I was a very junior trainee solicitor, up to Shrewsbury for our first court hearing, about which I can remember absolutely nothing. I don't think he was even married then but what a world class beauty his daughter is, here in Mary Queen of Scots TV drama Reign. Such a long time ago!

Today's wallpaper, model writing postcards (1906) is by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson (1853-1919). Born into a very poor family his talent for drawing was such that it was recognised at the poor school and he was sent to the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts at the age of thirteen.  His first work was as an illustrator and despite studying in Paris in the eighteen seventies he rejected impressionism and retained his crisp, clear style. His wife, Karin was also an artist and designer and between the two of them they developed what, even today, is known as Swedish Style; a cool minimalist approach to interior design and an embracing of the English Arts and Crafts movement.

Today's music is ideal for listening to when painting colonial British soldiers; Elgar orchestral pieces. The best piece for this, of course is the triumphal march from Caractacus which I remember as the theme from the BBC series The Regiment in 1972 and 1973, Following a British army unit from Britain to South Africa in the Boer war and on to an early twentieth century posting to India.  I remember it as rather cheap and studio bound (apart from some location shooting in Cyprus, standing in for India) and Elgar's music was very much the best  thing about it.

More wargaming stuff next time. I apologise if the layout of this post is a bit wayward but Blogger have introduced a new 'improved' layout which, of course, doesn't work as well as the old one.

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.

In the past, my far from eagerly awaited pieces, Reading Wargames Magazines Over Lunch, have described a succession of meals in London, usually in what would otherwise be non productive gaps in my work schedule between meetings. No such luxury these days, as I haven't been to London since 28th February, so it was a rather unexciting tuna salad (the only fish I eat, along with smoked salmon) in the garden as I am on yet another gentle fitness programme. 

A long time ago as photographed by Sophie...

This one is working quite well, mainly because I do not have the Old Bat bullying me into running which I can no longer do, due to bad knee and hip joints (caused by doing too much road running in my twenties and thirties). Instead, I spotted something on Facebook called the Conqueror Challenge where someone (in New Zealand, where there is little to do) organises set walk routes which you do virtually. So you choose your target walk (I chose the ninety mile Hadrian's Wall) and you go out and walk (or run or cycle) whenever you want and put the total down (I've worked out how to do this on my phone or, rather Charlotte did).  You pay £28 per challenge and then have a homepage you can plot your progress on. The Old Bat thinks that paying someone else so you can walk is insanity but it is working and I have been doing it for three months now. I completed Hadrian's Wall and am now doing the 280 mile Grand Canyon (as I have visited there). You can even see where you have got to, virtually, on Streetview. The Streetview views of the Canyon are not very interesting. It's a rocky canyon with a river at the bottom. That's it. Even Up North looks more interesting than that.

They even send you a very blingy medal when you finish so you do get something for your money. When I started, in June, I struggled to walk a mile and a half and was puffed and had chest pains but a month ago I walked six and a half miles home from Epsom hospital after my latest eye injection. You aren't allowed to drive after the injection and the Old Bat is still too ill to drive me, so the fact I could walk that far (in thirty four degree heat) shows how far I have come. No more breathlessness and no chest pains! I have to admit that accompanying wine and food for the Tour may have had a somewhat retrograde effect in the last two weeks, though, so I did another six and a half mile walk today.

Wargames Illustrated have been giving away a lot of Warlord Games figures. I can't bear to throw them away but I don't want most (any?) of them. There must be lots of wargamers with piles of these things. It's like accumulating Salute figures or free plastic rubbish from cereal packets in the sixties. The idea, of course, is that you look at your freebie and then go out and buy more. The opposite has been true of me, I am afraid. I looked at a set of Warlord Napoleonic cavalry and was so unimpressed by the poor sculpting and lack of crispness in moulding I vowed never to buy any Warlord plastics again. Victrix they are not. Anyway, last month the give away was a set of rules for Warlord's new French bread pizza naval wargame, Victory at Sea, which I have no interest in, having seen the ridiculous bases the models are on. Maybe it's not selling very well. Despite being interested in warships and having built many an Airfix ship model in the past I have no interest in naval wargaming. I just see an article in a wargames magazine on naval wargaming and my brain goes into power-saving mode. Yawn. So I didn't bother reading the rules showcase on the rules or another article about eighteenth century naval wargaming. I don't scan over the articles in Miniature Wargaming because the type is now so small I struggle to read it even with my reading glasses. I have to really want to read it to strain my eyes that much. Surely most wargamers are old like me and have eyesight that has deteriorated? Perhaps not. My father in law is 92 and doesn't use glasses for anything.

There was quite an interesting article on how wargames manufacturers are coping with the Chinese Virus but I was surprised, given Baccus employ seven staff, to discover, according to the article, that Warlord employ 103 people. One thing that occurred to me, regarding all the lockdown stuff, was how many rules writers were producing new solo versions of their games. I think I wouldn't buy a set now if it didn't have some solo rules as, realistically, I am not going to be able to organise my own games for multiple players. None of my close friends are interested in wargaming (possibly because most of them are women). I am still too nervous about the Chinese Virus, seeing what it has done to the Old Bat, to venture over to the Shed, despite Eric's kind invitations. Will things return to normal and solo players be forgotten again or will the Chinese keep churning out deadly viruses every year in their bat infested labs until they have achieved the crushing economic dominance they are seeking in their, no doubt, forty year plan?

Starlux 54mm (cicra 1970)

I always look at the figure reviews in magazines and in the August issue I discovered that the new Plastic Soldier Company 15mm ancients figures are made of that new plastic resin which gives them bendy spears, No thanks. I had enough of that with my Airfix figures. Presumably, if they used hard plastic the spears would all break off, which demonstrates, once more, how inferior 15 mm is as a scale for model soldiers because the material you make them from seriously distorts the look of the figures (metal ones have fat spear syndrome, of course). Also, in the review section were the new Victrix French Imperial Guard lancers, How lovely are these? I would love a box of them! My father bought me a Starlux, painted 54 mm figure of a Dutch lancer (sorry, it's a better uniform than the Polish ones) when we went to Paris when I was small (I still have it).

 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.

The theme of much of the magazine was command and control which writers all seem to think isn't considered very much in wargames magazines but actually seems to come up quite regularly. This is of great import to the gamer (rather than painter, like me) end of the hobby who love to bang on about it all the time. I remember many tedious discussions about it when I went to Guildford Wargames Club (an old school sort of club) which I no longer go to, partly because of the stress of driving down the A3 on a Monday night in an eighty mile an hour traffic jam. I didn't read any of these command and control articles as they are probably designed for all those people who used to write orders on paper or have courier models to deliver orders. They tend to not care if their wargames table are covered in counters (which I hate). 

There was one article I actually bought the magazine for. I recently picked up Dragon Rampant, as it was reduced, and this article by Daniel Mersey, the rules' author, included all the statistics for the Copplestone Barbarica range of 18mm fantasy figures. Well, the name Barbarica is fairly recent, they weren't called that when they first came out (18mm Fantasy was the catchy name Mr Copplestone devised) and I bought a lot of them. Having been rude about 15/18mm figures in my last (and this) post I am quite excited now about organising some armies for these rules, as they require small forces. I painted some of these about nine years ago (above) and have some others underway (if I can still manage to paint them!). They are very small.

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.

This is how I see all dogs.

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

Paint Table Saturday: Danes and an off the wall SF project

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. 

Not surprisingly, given my glacial painting rate, I started these twelve figures in October 2015 but had real trouble finding uniform information about them. I started off painting them dark blue until a helpful Danish reader pointed out that actually only the jackets were blue and they were all wearing greatcoats which were almost black. I took this to mean very, very dark  blue but, in fact, the coats were very, very dark grey. Having painted them all blue I gave up on them for a bit and only sporadically went back to them. Over the last few months they have had much more attention and I finished them on Tuesday.  The backdrop, which enhances them considerably, is a painting by the nineteenth century Danish painter LA Ring, who painted some wonderful Danish landscapes.

The Little Hornblowerr in Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard, Copenhagen

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.

So what are my current three projects, now? Well I have put the Romans on the back burner again as they are going to take forever. Doing the black undercoat for the metal armour on the figures will take an age but every time I use some black I will paint one. So the next ones I work on will be the Lucid Eye Savage Core Atlanteans. 

I had started the seven figures they do but then spotted a new one I hand't got. I added some more character figures frm the range which were relatively new so then had a group of five extra on order. These are lovely figures to paint so I will keep them to hand. I have now based the extra Atlantean so need to get him to the same initial stage as the other figures and then I can do all eight together.

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.

I had several girlfriends who were reptiloids underneath

The third group of figures is one of those insane impulse purchases I sometimes go in for. I am on the 7TV Facebook group (for some reason) even though I don't play the game (I may have the rules, somewhere) and someone showed some photos of some characters from the eighties TV miniseries V.  Now, I remember watching this in the summer of 1984 when ITV ran it against the opening of the Los Angeles Olympics, which the BBC had exclusive rights to.  Lo and behold, there it was on Amazon prime. I watched it again and quite enjoyed it. I noted a number of things. The special effects were pretty poor (but probably good for a TV show at the time). The accuracy of the aliens' blasters make Galactic Stormtroopers look like Stalingrad snipers (you would have to make it throw a one to hit). At this time, American actors had normal coloured teeth and not fluorescent white ones. Despite being resistance fighters, living in a series of secret bolt holes, they all had access to hairdressers able to blow dry their hair (even the men). Michael Ironside played a character appropriately called Ham. The best thing about it, of course, was Jane Badler in a cardboard scenery chewing performance as Diana; one of the best female SF villains ever (up there with Jacqueline Pearce's Servalan in Blakes Seven). So to find I could get a little model of her was enough for me to order all eight figures Crooked Dice make. They are promising more fairly shortly. More on this bizarre project as it develops but my initial main concern is finding the right shade of burnt orange! I am now watching the 2009 reboot but it is rather dreary so far, despite the presence of the luminous Morena Baccarin and, frankly, the special effects hadn't come on as much as they should have. At least the hair was more under control.

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!

Victrix 12mm WW2

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.

Another rant, about plastics companies asking customers for what they want released, will be in the next post.

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.

Today's wallpaper is Erigone: daughter of Icarius by the French painter Georges-Marie-Julien Giradot (1856-1914). He quite often employed this tight framing on his subjects rather than a more distant full figure view. Apart from his mythological studies he produced many paintings of village life. In a complex plot, even by Greek mythological standards, Erigone ends up being deceived by Dionysus who seduced her after disguising himself as a bunch of grapes. Hmm. Anyway Erigone is Virgo of the Zodiac.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Paint Table Sunday: Jaguar Tribe and back to Romans!

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.

Current projects

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.

Very happy to be assimilated

That brings me to Star Trek: Picard which I realised I can watch on Amazon Prime. I am quite enjoying it, even though I found the Picard character rather annoying in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  In fact, most of The Next Generation cast were annoying, other than Michael Dorn's Worf.   I hadn't realised Star Trek had jumped into the random swear words pool as I've not seen Star Trek: Discovery. But Stewart is an Ac-Tor who also thinks that people should take notice of what he says because he cam memorise a few lines and employ a portentous voice.   In fact, I was surprised how frail Stewart's voice was in Picard (I hadn't realised that he will be eighty in July). I was surprised to see a Star Trek TV show with state of the art modern digita1 effects. I was also surprised to see how good Jeri Ryan looked at 52 (Borg implants, eh? - she claims not).  She was, of course, the only reason to watch Star Trek Voyager and, indeed, her appearance in that show pushed the ratings up 60%.  There have been some complaints about some nasty violence but, of course, the actors in the bedroom scene (in Star Trek? I thought they all went to bed and had a cup of replicated cocoa) keep there underwear on so God doesn't get upset (or, rather, her peculiar self-appointed representatives on earth don't get upset). 

McGregor: characterful

It is much better than two of the other Sy Fy shows I am watching, Pandora (shot in Bulgaria, so you can imagine the budget and, indeed, all the sets look like, well, modern Bulgaria - I even recognised some of the buildings) and Vagrant Queen (shot, more interestingly, in South Africa on an even smaller budget).  The latter is saved for the Legatus, in a Jeri Ryan sort of way, by South African actress Alex McGregor who has an interesting nose (I do like a lady with a characterful nose - see also Claudia Black from Farscape).  It does generate a slight urge to think about some dusty SF backwater type gaming. I wondered what Rogue Stars might be like but saw some reviews of it which put me right off.

Would you like mayonnaise with your fish and chips

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.

Perhaps being a bit ambitious here, although Eric the Shed would have them painted in an afternoon.

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.