Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reading, Bath, Bristol, Beverly Hills

Well, it's been a busy week. I came back from a trip to Poland last Friday and did a quick trip to Warfare in Reading on Saturday. I bought quite a few more Crusader Normans and got some LBM shield transfers for them and managed to finish a batch to add to the other one I did last week. I am really enjoying painting these as they are so quick and easy to do.

I acquired a Great War Miniatures Mark IV tank as I am reading the truly excellent Band of Brigands by Christy Campbell at the moment which is about the development of the tank in World War 1. Of course, that means I will have to acquire some late war World War 1 figures to add to my early war figures. I am glad to see that GWM have just announced their first early war cavalry as the production of the promised Uhlans will stop me hankering after the lovely Helion cavalry that Matt has been painting on his Waterloo to Mons Blog (I love his new Danes!). I bought some trench pieces, mainly for my little boy but also to be used in WW1.

I also bought a few more Perry Sudan so I can finish my small unit of British Mounted Infantry. Putting Camel Corps riders on Cavalry horses looks fine and I only need a four man unit. Hopefully I can finish these at Christmas.

This week I visited our Bristol office and stayed with my friends in Bath. They have a huge Games Workshop in Bath and I went in to have a look at the new plastic modular battleround. I have to say it was much more impressive in real life than on the web. The hills are much taller than they look in pictures. There are several annoying sections full of Warhammer type skulls but I reckon I can just use plastic filler to cover them. They said I could buy one, even though it was a day before the release, but unfortunately I wouldn't have been able to get it on the train. It comes in a carry case but it is still 24"x24"x8". Too big to lug around! I reckon I need three, one for desert, one for Northern Europe and one for Mediterranean areas. It's £150 though (I am sure it was £100 when I first looked!) so it will have to wait until after Christmas (if they have any left, they havent made that many it seems).

I got back from Bath yesterday but am now in Terminal 5 at Heathrow (again!) waiting for my flight to Los Angeles. It's not one of my favourite flights as it's eleven and a half hours during the day so you always arrive shattered. Never mind a few days in the sunshine at the Beverly Hilton should set me up for my conference on Tuesday. Then it's Anaheim, Tallahassee, Miami Beach, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Washington DC. I don't get home until 19th December so that will comprehensively torpedo this year's painting targets, even with a good go at Christmas!

So there probably won't be very many entries for a while!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Workbench

The Normans are coming, the Normans, are coming!

Everything is up in the air since my last workbench post. Three weeks ago it was all about plastic Warlord Games Romans with a subsidiary concentration on WW1 Germans, Zulu Wars, Sudan Highlanders and Early Saxons. That was before I bought some Perry French plastics of course! Looking forward to very little painting time between now and Christmas (I will be travelling for four weeks) my workbench is now looking very different!

At least I finished the batch of Early Saxons I was working on but this has got me back into Dark Ages again. With my little boy doing the invasions of 1066 at school I rounded up a few odd Anglo Saxons I had in the lead pile for basing; a mixture of Gripping Beast and Black Tree Design. I am very fussy about not mixing miniatures from different manufacturers but for warband types even I don't mind so much. Then I saw Foundry had a good sale on Darkest Africa and went and bought an army deal of Baluchi mercenaries. Given that I wasn't paying the postage I added a couple of packs of their new (ish) Anglo Saxons too. The Baluchis are great (I'd forgotten just how good (especially with faces) Mr Copplestone is compared with many of his rivals) and I will paint some up fairly soon.

I was in Oman recently and see that many of the figures are armed with the characteristic khanjar dagger. I was quite tempted to bring one of these back but I only had hand luggage on the way back from Muscat to Dubai and didn't think the security people would have been too impressed!

The real surprise were the Anglo Saxons. There has been a lot of criticism lately over Foundry's new offerings (there is a lot of criticism of Foundry anyway) but these Anglo Saxons are superb. Lots of real character and wonderful sculpts. On these the criticism is that they only have round shields but kite shields are easy enough to buy (Gripping Beast and Crusader do packs of them). Anyway by not giving them too many kite shields I can use them for the earlier King Alfred period; confining the Kite shields to those figures who are obviously late 11th century.

To compound the Dark Ages revival I also got a good lot of Crusader Norman infantry on eBay and the one I have painted was very quick to do. I have just ordered some bowmen and a few cavalry. I also ordered a pack of Crusader's Anglo Saxons. I suspect that these will be a bit shorter than the Foundry figures but mixed up it shouldn't be too noticeable.

I'm still working on the Napoleonics though!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Plastic v Metal Perry French Napoleonic

Plastic on the left, metal on the right

Metal on the left, plastic on the right

Well, I have started work on my first French unit (100th Line) and have actually completed two figures this weekend, which is not bad as I had to go around a possible school for my little boy and attended the Barry Gray 100th anniversary concert at the Festival Hall.

I did two figures in greatcoats so I could get them done quickly. A few observations. The plastic figures have better faces, more inscale rifles and bayonets but less fur detail on their packs (I had to paint a fur effect rather than dry brushing). There is only one small bit on the left coat turnback where the figure is indistinct because of the moulding process (not visible on the greatcoat figure). The detail on the rifle is not as crisp as the metal figure but then it doesn't bend either!

The main difference is that the plastics have the round pom poms of the first battalion whereas the metals have the flat discs of the subsequent battalions. This only applies to fusiliers, of course, the flank companies had the same shako plumes.

100th Line so far. One of the first two units to engage the Dutch 27th Jaegers at Quatre Bras

This has an effect on my first unit. The 100th Line had 3 battalions at Quatre Bras and at 1/33 the regiment comes out as 3 battalions of 12. I think a 36 man unit should be fine for the Charles Grant rules. I need another drummer and a mounted Colonel for this unit so will send off an order to the Perries next week. I also need a flag so will look at GMB for that.

With my left over plastics and metals I have started to base some figures for the 4th light, the other regiment in Jamin's 2nd Brigade of Foy's 6th Division. This will be a bigger unit with 48 figures (he says casually).

The next three French are under way along with a couple more Dutch Jaegers and a cuirassier. I can't believe I am painting Napoleonics again!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Arab Revolt

The last thing I need is another army to build, but Artizan have just announced their new range of Arab Revolt figures. Oh dear! I travel to Jordan a lot on business and my father in law is close to the Jordanian Royal family (lets face it, King Hussein met his first wife on the set of Lawrence of Arabia). When I was at University I was Art Director of the Oxford Union Magazine and we were always being told that Lawrence had read every book in the Union library (obviously a man with a low boredom threshold). President of the Oxford Union when I was there was one William Hague and, of course, David Cameron is a Brasenose man like me (although, sadly, much younger).

The key thing for me is will Artizan make Arabs on camels rather than just infantry? The camels would clinch it for me. Then I'd have to buy a lot of Turks (somewhere else I travel to a lot).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bases tonight.

I have just bought a nice metal ruler in Smiths so can make some more bases tonight! I have run out of drawer space for my lead pile so am having to base stuff to put it into the "in progress" boxes. I have a load of Warlord Games figures to base plus some more Sudan camels.
I hate making bases but it's just too dark to paint much at the moment and I feel less pressured now I know I cannot possibly hit my yearly target. I am travelling to Poland the week after next and then the end of the following week I am off to California, Florida, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Washingto DC on a three week painting busting business trip.
Oh well, there is always the Christmas holidays I suppose.

Painted figures for October

Probably equivalent to 8 normal figures!

Not a brilliant month again. Only 12 figures painted.
8 Zulus
4 Sudan highlanders
That's 191 figures in 43 weeks or 4.48 figures a week. Well short of my target of six a week: I should have painted 258 by now. I'd have to paint over a hundred between now and the end of the year to catch up.

Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboard

I am very excited about the new games Workshop modular plastic battle board! During our pirate games on Monday Mike of Black Hat and I were discussing the fact that one of the things that stopped us playing certain games was a lack of scenery. Although he was referring to things like the correct buildings for me it equally applies to not having the right surface.

I only recently acquired a Games Workshop battle mat so that if I was to run a game at the club I could have a reasonable surface to play on. Green snooker baize seems to be the default surface at the club but I can't say that I am particularly enamoured of it. My other issue is that I am not fond of separate hills; they always look ridiculous, especially the stepped ones.

These six plastic 2'x2' tiles look great however. Ideal for Lord of the Rings and, if you paint them appropriately very good for the Sudan. The rocks look just like the black ones in the Sudan desert. I suspect I may buy a couple of sets as they are only £100 each and they come in their own bag. They connect together using little clips so they won't slide about.
The really good news is that in this month's White Dwarf they indicated that they would be adding extra tiles for rivers etc. Fantastic!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ruled Out

Bad planning or an unexpected wormhole?

There are three credible theories about objects which mysteriously disappear.

The first is that a wormhole briefly opens in the space time continuum and the object (your favourite biro, the EIR standard bearer you know that you bought, Lord Lucan, Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra etc) are sucked into another part of the galaxy and turn up on Deep Space 9 (only to be bored to death/become part of the decor at Quark's bar- depending on their corporeal form) or Babylon 5 or some such.

The second theory is that the object is hijacked by aliens/time travellers from the future. Inanimate objects for study/putting in a museum/selling in a 22nd century eBay (imagine how much a set of Copplestone Zanzibari regulars would go for in 2108: I had to pay twenty quid last year!). People either get dissected for research, chopped into pieces and sold at Alien Waitrose (I am sure the John Lewis Partnership is run by aliens anyway) brainwashed and returned so that they can destoy the World economy (Mr Gordon Brown), implanted with a domesday chip to explode in the next decade or get replicated as an external skin for a reptillian alien so that they can move amongst us unseen whilst plotting world domination (this explains many things about the Chinese (an easy area to grab people without anyone noticing) and also explains why my friend who was in China last week was served pickled frog at a banquet.

Kidnapped women, of course, have one purpose and one purpose only (same as on Earth, actually) and that is as breeding material. The plan is to create slaves/replace the infertile human race of the future/create human cattle ("much cheaper to breed them here on Hashkewahee, Mr President than fly all those trans-light jaunts to pick up food directly from Earth! It's all right for the rich Salamanderoids with their wild Earthling steaks but the ordinary working Reptiloids of this planet just need to get cheap meat on the table". There is an alternative theory that aliens from a rival planet are also breeding humans for food. But on Earth. Their Walking Fishoid race has invested heavily in MacDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Walkers Crisps to ensure that come harvest time Earthlings will be fatter and more delicious than ever. Corduroy wearing, pinko, liberals on their home planet complain about the quality of life of the poor Earthlings but that doesn't stop them eating us.

As for the best breeding material, the crafty aliens have set up the European Union (why else have it?) to bring down national barriers so that saucerloads of gorgeous Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Czech women can freely move around Europe without anyone knowing where they are. I was in Warsaw recently and the number of attractive women had noticeably diminished (they can't all be working as waitresses in the City can they?).

Reptiloid Alien/human skinsuit hybrid

Of course, some gorgeous breeding mares have to be replaced by replicants/lizards in skin suits as they are too high profile on Earth. You can spot these easily, just look for any gorgeous woman who appears to be really, really strange (Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry). A quick perusal of a Hello magazine interview will usually give you a clue. Over time of course, if they stay on Earth too long, the Alien lizard inside melds with the human skinsuit to become a sort of ghastly hybrid. In some cases due to a supply problem with the commissariat on the saucer the real person and the replicant are loose at the same time (how else do you explain Tina Fey and Sarah Palin?). One of them is an alien.

Alien plan to take over White House fails

The third way that objects disappear (and the theory I favour) is that of the multiverse. We are all constantly whizzing through myriad alternative universes where most things are the same but certain key things are different (some Mongolian peasant has three not four children, for example. Will it effect me? No. Unless the missing fourth child decides to be the new Ghengis Khan). Occasionally, and this is the point, we drop into a universe where every single thing is the same but my metal ruler doesn't exist. This has just happened to me. I was searching through my lead pile last night and found over two dozen Perry metal Napoleonics (French and Dutch). Well, I thought I'd base them up so went to the drawer to find my metal ruler and it had gone. Much fruitless searching and then my wife said that my 13 year old daughter (who has just overtaken my wife in height - 5'6" is quite tall enough, thank you) had been using it on the kitchen table. I cleared everything off but couldn't find it. Mydaughter admitted she had been using it and had left it on the table. I told her that her chances of getting the Dancing on Ice Live Tour 2008 DVD were looking pretty slim if she didn't find it. Nothing. I am unable to make bases.

This morning, however, we solved the problem. It wasn't a plunging mutiverse scenario. It was a wormhole scenario. My daughter admitted that she "may" have knocked the ruler so it went down the back of the radiator that, annoyingly, sits right next to the kitchen table and half an inch below its top surface. The gap between radiator and wall, because of the wood planking (it's all a bit New England -my wife really does love cream) is only about 3 millimetres but huge amounts of stuff have disappeared down there over the last 14 years. There must be a wormhole there because nothing ever drops out of the bottom even though there is a gap.

So that's it. I have to buy another metal ruler (and they cost a fortune) before I can base any more figures. I am really busy today and so don't know if I can get out to WH Smith to find one. Unless Games Workshop sell one for £25, of course.

Quark's Bar: My ruler is in there somewhere.

So my ruler is probably now being used to stir pitchers of Romulan Ale cocktails at Quarks Bar (not the one in the Las Vegas Hilton, where I went last year, as I think they are closing it and flogging off all the Star Trek props). That'll take the shine off it.

Grr! Life.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Blog Hit Parade: October

An interesting month. Pulp Warriors plunges from 4th to last place. Obviously the Blogger "objectionable content" warning is putting people off. The cavegirls hits have plunged too. I obviously need to put some more naked ladies onto both sites as it doesn't matter now!

1 (2) 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 2,851 (28,311)
2 (1) Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis 1,639 (95,900)
3 (3) Legatus' Wargames Armies 1,580 (19,835)
4 (5) Spartan WAB 823 (9,472 8,649)
6 (6) Return to Darkest Africa 751 (5,565)
7 (8) Dark Ages WAB 414 (3,269)
8 (7) Wargaming the Great Northern War 339 ( 3,293)
9 (10) 3rd and 4th Century Roman WAB 308 (2,602)
10 (9) Lord of the Rings: Armies of Middle Earth 289 (1,569)
11 (12) Punic War WAB 285 (3,611)
12 (11) The Great War 267 (998)
13 (13)Wargaming the Zulu War 240 (409)
14 (14) Byzantine WAB 200 (2,571)
15 (15) Swashbucklers 65 (401)
16 (4) Pulp Warriors 57 (48,781)

Perry Napoleonic French: assembled

The contents of the box, based.

I sat down and put these together over the weekend. It took about an hour and a forty-five minutes to get them into this state.

My first impressions are very, very favourable. Apart from the six skirmishers and the command figures, where you have to stick on their arms, the figures are complete, except for their packs. The separate arms don't fit perfectly and will need a tiny bit of filler. I have started to paint one figure and experience has shown that it is much easier to stick on the pack after you have painted the figure (avoids poking a brush into small spaces to paint belts). I also, stupidly, stuck on a backpack with greatcoat to a figure wearing a greatcoat (there are two sorts of pack: with and without greatcoats) so I had to prize it off and start again. There are many spare heads but I just used the (attached) shakos (all the figures come with shakos the other headgear is only on the spare heads) for the first set (oh dear I am already contemplating another box). Swapping heads may be quite tricky as the rifle is so close to the head so I will need to be careful.

There are a few mould lines (no flash) which can be scraped off in seconds with a sharp modelling knife. In fact I would say that preparation is quicker and easier than metal figures. I only cut my fingers twice (the plastic is hard). There really is little or no loss of definition compared with the metal figures and the size is spot on next to the metals (why couldn't Warlord Games manage this with their Romans?). I have nearly finished painting one of each metal and plastic figures so I will post them soon.

I reckon that at 1/33 ratio the box pretty much represents a two battalion regiment for Quatre Bras or Waterloo. I think I will start with the 3rd line who were one of the first units engaged at Quatre Bras. I reckon I need a mounted Colonel and another officer and drummer for the second battalion. Only the first battalion carried an Eagle, of course. The figures have round pom poms on their shakos so represent the first battalion of a regiment. The metal figures all have the flat discs of the subsequent battalions (I found that I have a number of these already). The Perrys reckon you can squeeze the pom poms to make the flat discs. I think I might try and cut them instead (more cut fingers). Something for the second box and, anyway, if you mess it up you can just bung on a new head! I also remember reading somewhere that the first battalion was likely to have had a better uniform issue than the others who were more likely to have just had greatcoats issued so I will make sure my first battalion looks a bit smarter. The chaps in any third battalion are going to look very tatty!

I think I will keep them as one unit as I don't think units of 15 or 16 will be that viable using the Charles Grant Rules.

I am so enthused about these figures that I resumed work on the two Dutch jaegers I need to finish my first company of the 28th (the first allied unit really engaged on the day of Quatre Bras). I'm also now thinking about finishing my first cuirassier!

Could a Napoleonic Blog be that far off?