Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Musketeer Miniatures on the way..

I ordered some more Swedes today so I can build a unit. This was just as well as I heard that SELWG has been cancelled due to asbestos being found in the building. I managed to get a few base colours down on the first Russian this evening but I found out today that my US trip is definitely on. I leave on Friday for Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, Las Vegas and Sacramento and don't return until Sunday week.

It looks like my monthly total will be seven for September!

Warhammer Ancient Battles Armies

It is a source of much amusement to the likes of Mike, of Black Hat Miniatures, that I am constantly working on dozens of Warhammer Ancient Battles Armies but never actually finish one (if you can ever finish an army!)

Recently I have decided to admit that I am never going to get some armies painted so they will have to go on eBay. These include my Ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, American Civil War and American War of Independence figures.

A quick analysis of what I have left, just for WAB, is still rather alarming (figures in bold I actually have one or more units painted, figures in italics a a half dozen or dozen or so figures. The rest are unpainted or only consist of one or two painted figures:

Bronze Age Northern European
Classical Spartan
Classical Greek
Later Spartans
Macedonian Greek
Republican Roman

Caesarian Roman
Early Imperial Roman
Third Century Roman

Ancient German
Ancient Iberian

Early Saxon
Romano British
Late Saxon

The only ones I am currently working on are the Early Saxons. The various Greek armies only get a bold entry as I painted over 60 skirmishers and cavalry for Cynoscephalae and they can be used across several armies. The three armies which are closest to being viable WAB armies are the Early Imperial Roman (1500 pts), Gallic (600 pts) Viking (600 pts) and Ancient Germans (1200 pts). I keep thinking that I need to get on and do a couple more units for these bigger ones. A unit of Cavalry, another unit of Auxiliaries, and a bolt thrower would probably give me 2000 points for the Romans (they are currently about 1600).
So many armies so little time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Musketeer Miniatures Swedish Infantryman

I finished the Musketeer Miniatures Swedish infantryman at the weekend. He was very easy to paint and the only problem I had was on his musket. I wasn't quite sure where the barrel of his musket finished and the stock began but as this is on the inside it wasn't too critical. The bayonet scabbard is a separate casting which looks nice but it is a bit fragile and I have accidentally knocked it off once already.

As to colours I had a look at the displays in the army museum in Stockholm.

They have several reproduction uniforms, such as the one above, and a few real ones. The level of detail in and quality of the reproductions indicates to me that these are very carefully researched indeed and are not just knocked up for show. Certainly the colour on the reproductions matches the original examples. The blue did not look nearly this bright in natural light: this is closer to pure Humbrol 25 in the picture which it certainly was not in reality.

This is an original coat from 1756, slightly later than the Great Northern War, but the uniform had hardly changed other than the coat turnbacks. The colour in this photograph is pretty spot on to what was there and this is what I based my colour scheme on. It is always hard to tell how much things have faded in 250 years but this sort of tone is justifiable and to me, anyway, looks right. Note hos pale the yellow coat is in the background.

With flash photography the colours are never quite as they are (there is a green cast to my pictures) but I am happy with the colours that I used. I may try to get some daylight pictures.

For the coat I had originally imagined quite a dark navy blue, like the current Swedish Guards uniforms. Comments on the Musketeer Miniatures Forum indicated that the coats were "lighter than had been thought". Certainly the ones in the museum were what I would call a mid-blue. I had to mix a colour specially: one third Humbrol 109 WW1 blue and two thirds Humbrol 25 Blue.

For the yellow facings I wanted to avoid bright yellow; these were pre-chemical dye times. One of the reasons I prefer enamels over acrylics is that they offer a more muted palate. I used Humbrol 81 Pale yellow rather than the brighter 24 Trainer yellow.

I think that this gives a good approximation of what I saw in the museum.

All in all I really enjoyed painting this figure, particularly after a rather fallow period, and I have now based and undercoated the other seven figures I bought at Colours. I have started work on a Russian infantryman. I bought these figures just as a painting exercise but I am now contemplating three units of infantry, a unit of cavalry and a cannon for some skirmishes. There are, apparently, a couple of very good books on uniforms which I will have to get.

So far, Musketeer have enough Swedes (musketmen, grenadiers, pikemen and command) so that you can build an infantry unit. Flags from Little Big men studios are also under way. They only have two packs of Russians, both musketeers. Somewhere on the forum they say that the Russians aren't selling so well, but if you can't build a unit it's not surprising. They are promising more Russians and cavalry for Warfare in November. I will probably be going to this as Guildford is running Cynoscephalae again. After that they are promising Danes (hooray) and Saxons. It is quite good to be getting into a range as they are released as hopefully my painting can keep up with their releases! The danger is, of course, that they never finish the range!

My next challenge will be to find a set of rules. There are some specific GNW rulesets out there and another to come from the League of Augsburg club but they all have element basing which I don't like. I wonder if anyone has any patches for Warhammer ECW?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Armémuseum and Historiska Museet, Stockholm

I've just spent three days in Stockholm, which is one of my favourite cities in Europe, if not the favourite. One hundred museums, excellent restaurants, attractive buildings, heart-stopping blondes and water and boats everywhere. Perfection. And, of course, everyone speaks English. Not just good English but often accentless, idiomatic English.

Although I had a busy couple of days: two presentations and chairing a workshop, I did manage to get some time on Friday to visit a couple of museums I hadn't been to before. The number one museum is, of course, the Vasa museum: an experience that is just gob-smackingly staggering but I went there on my last trip so, having picked up some Musketeer Miniatures Great Northern War figures at Colours, I decided to check out the Army Museum.

The museum is on three floors. The third floor goes from the Vikings through to the beginning of World War 1. This is a lot to cover especially given the fact that the Vikings, Thirty Years War and Great Northern War would deserve a floor each. In truth, the early periods are only represented by a few items each.

The museum mixes original artefacts in display cases with (brilliantly done) scenic tableaux using reconstructed uniforms and equipment, like this Thirty Years War encampment.

They also had a model of a "small army of the 30 Years War": 5,800 30mm figures! This is just a small section; the whole display was about 40 feet across!

There was also this small section of a pike block using Action Man sized figures. Click on the picture, the detail is superb.

I was looking forward to the GNW stuff and they had a stunning life sized representation of three Swedish cavalry charging. Just got to wait for Musketeer to get their cavalry out! I'll post more about this when I get some figures finished.

The second floor covered the period from 1914 to the present day and was a little less mainstream in content (the Swedes, sensibly, haven't fought anyone for years) but there were some more great tableaux and a series of rooms full of weapons of the Swedish Army from 1600 to 1860. From this I spotted a little detail which I incorporated into the musket of my first GNW figure!

On the ground floor was an artillery display with lots of colourful Swedish cannon plus some more modern weapons.

A short walk away from the Army Museum was the Historical Museum. I only had time to look at the Viking and prehistoric sections but there was a lot more to see.

The Viking collection was extensive with military items such as spear heads, swords and shield bosses as well as some of the famous rune stones depicting Viking warriors and their ships.

My favourite item was a model of the Viking town of Birka. One day I will build a model of a Viking settlement!

The earlier stuff was interesting too, with some 7th century helmets from Vendel and some fine Bronze Age swords: from the same period as my Foundry Bronze Age warriors!

Entry for both museums was very reasonable: SeK40 (£3.00) for the Army Museum and SeK50 (3.75) for the Historic Museum. The Army Museum display captions are all in Swedish but there is a reasonably good summary of the museum in English freely available. The Viking section of the Historical Museum was labelled in both Swedish and English but the prehistoric section was in Swedish only. Even the Swedish I could get a sense of, English has a lot of Norse in it after all, or maybe it was my 12.5% Swedish genetic material!

I walked back through the Royal Palace where the guardsmen wear a nineteenth century style uniform. The spiked kask was introduced into the Swedish army in 1845 and was modelled on the Prussian uniform. Ironic really, considering much of Prussian military doctrine was modelled on the Swedish approach from centuries earlier!

All in all a very good day and a rare opportunity for me to get out and see the city I am visiting.

Finally, I must thank my Swedish friend, Anna, for loan of her PC in a crisis, a guided tour of the Old Town, dinners in interesting restaurants and much else (her delightful companionship not least). Also, I thoroughly recommend the Grand Hotel as a splendid place to stay. Writing up my notes whilst watching the boats and drinking Pol Roger was very pleasant!

Swedish Infantryman

Just returned from Stockholm, more of which shortly, and decided to have a go at one of the Musketeer Swedish Infantryman I bought at Colours last week. I want to get him finished tomorrow so I can chalk up at least one figure this week (month!).

Here he is as at this morning. The colours aren't right in the photo; the blue is darker than this. If we have decent weather tomorrw I will try to take a daylight picture of the finished figure (he is drying before varnishing at present).

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Went to Colours in Newbury today. It's one of my favourite shows at it doesn't take very long to get there (I can do door to door in under an hour), you can drive and park easily and it is quite spacious (compared with Warfare at Reading which I loathe) . I only have to be inside these shows for 5 minutes and I run into Dave, from Guildford. It's amazing. happens every time. Mike was there too on his Black Hat stand. I always feel guilty as I never buy anything from him but that is because his 15mm Napoleon in Egypt range, whilst exquisite, are just too small for me. My mother came along (for some reason she likes the show too) and had a good look at the Front Rank 40mm AWI figures. She thought this was an eminently sensible size for wargames figures and couldn't understand why anyone would want to paint anything smaller. I am coming around to this view myself!

I did quite well on my shopping list:

More Wargames Illustrated binders-I've got 15 years worth bound up now, some Wargames Soldiers and Strategy backnumbers and this month's Miniature Wargames, which is getting harder and harder to find in the shops.

I got some more Perry Beja on camels and a few more spearmen in ambush for my sneaky Beja unit. I bought some more British Sudan infantry (running at trail) for my Royal Marines light Infantry. I also bought a pack of Indian Service Dress infantry just as I am getting sick of grey uniforms.

I spent a fair amount at the Musketeer Miniatures stand getting a nice Early German banner sheet from LBM for my Arthurian period Saxons. Bought a couple more packs of Duguth for my first unit. I haven't finished any more figures again this week but I have nearly completed my first five Duguth so will have them up on my Dark Ages blog next weekend. I bought the General and the standard bearer for the Saxons but he is a lot bigger than the rank and file. I know that Games Workshp do this but it annoys me. I know that you can argue that your leader would be a bigger tougher man ect. but.. He is nice though, so I may get him based quite soon. I also got some LBM transfers for the Saxon bucklers but they really aren't worth the effort. I bought plain ones and they take so much longer to put on and tidy up it's quicker just to paint them I think.

My impulse buy of the day, egged on by my son, was a Chieftan Miniatures Panzer III. Haven't done much World War 2 (only one figure in 28mm) but quite tempted by North Africa as that was where my father served in the War. It is certainly a solid lump (or several lumps) of metal.

I nearly always buy figures with the intention, however remote, of building some form of wargames army or unit with them. But I found myself buying some Musketeer Great North War Swedes and Russians purely to paint. I don't know why I just like the look of them. I am going to Stockholm this week so may go into the Army Museum as they have some uniforms, apparently.
My other, just for painting, purchase was a pack of the Perry charging Cuirassiers. They are one piece castings and are utterly gorgeous. For me, Cuirassiers are the ultimate Napoleonic troop type; forget Imperial Guard Grenadiers or hussars. They were, of course, the first figures I ever painted (the Airfix set) and I also had a painted Starlux 54mm model of a Cuirassier which my father bought me in Paris when I was a little boy. My son still has it on his shelf, I am happy to say.

So, although it has been another week with no finished figures at least the end is in sight for the first Saxons and I am making good progress on another five Spartans (having watched 300 for the first time this week).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Another zero figure week

I've been in Mexico City all week so haven't finished any new figures..again. Did get a bit done on the Musketeer Early Saxons which are very nice to paint. I will try to get some LBM shield (or rather buckler!) transfers at Colours next Sunday.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Painted Figures for August

A very disappointing month with only 12 figures painted. They did include finishing my Naval Brigade unit and the Gatling Gun which were pretty fiddly, I suppose. Too much sailing on holiday ate into the time I thought I was going to have and trips to Canada and Poland at the end of the month didn't help either. Also the light is now starting to fade in the evenings so I can really only paint at the weekend and that has been busy too with a trip to the Cowes Powerboat Festival with my little boy over the Bank Holiday weekend.

So the total was:

8 Sudan Royal Navy sailors
1 Gatling Gun
3 Beja on camels

..for a rather sad total of 12 figures. The yearly total is now 203 in 35 weeks or 5.8 figures per week. So I am now 7 figures down on my target for the year.

This month I have to go to Mexico City, Stockholm, Los Angeles and possibly Dubai so it is not looking too hopeful. At least I have about 15 figures well on the way.

Much better figures at the Cowes Powerboat Festival at least!