Monday, April 25, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

This is a rather strange but, nevertheless, welcome piece of recognition from another blogger.  Someone else nominate's your blog (in this case Steve for which huge thanks) and the rules require that, in order to accept it you:

1) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.

2) Share 7 things about yourself.

3) Award 10-15 blogs you feel deserve the award.

4) Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

So eventually, every one you know should have awarded it to each other.  Splendid!

This does not, however, detract from the fact that someone bothered to link to you at all.  So many blogs stop after a few months and, initially, I wrote mine solely for myself.  I was slightly surprised when I found out that other people actually looked at it and, in fact, this fact has meant that the reason I started my first blog (which was to force me to paint regularly) has indeed come to pass!  So, now to fulfill my requirements.

1) Steve thanked above but another thank you is deserved.

2) Seven things about myself.  This is tricky!

1.  I always wanted to be a paleontologist when I was small.  To the tedious extent that when I saw the trailer for One Million Years BC (1966) at the cinema, when I was six, I was appalled that they had depicted dinosaurs and humans as living at the same time. 

2.  I had my first glass of wine at the age of two and ahalf and protested loudly, in a restaurant in France, when I wasn't allowed another.

3.  I own three German First World War pickelhauben.

4.  I have visited over sixty countries.

5.  I am really, really scared of flying (or, rather crashing) hence number 4 gives me problems.

6.  I really don't enjoy driving, can't parallel park, can't reverse into a parking space in a car park and have never owned a car.  Fortunately, I have always had women to drive me around, although I do drive if absolutely necessary!

7.  Two of my ex-girlfriends have been on the cover of Vogue.

3) My nominated blogs are (and I don't think it matters if they have been nominated before):

1. Grimsby Wargaming not least because he is also a Chicago Bears fan!

2. Flintlock and Tomahawk is full of useful source material for the day I eventually do manage a skirmish wargame set in North American forests.

3. BigRedBatCave  His focus on Ancients, and Romans in particular, is awesome.

4. Tarleton's Quarter another chap with more focus than Greenwich Observatory.  I am convinced he is actually really a small Asian figure painting factory.

5. Waterloo to Mons is an inspired theme for a wargaming blog and also features Matt's very desirable Schleswig War figures.

6. Wars of Louis Quartorze offers an amazingly eclectic but still somehow comprehensive coverage of this period.

7. Solo Wargaming in the UK is also engagingly eclectic.

Well, I know that's only seven but on the same day my Darkest Africa blog also got a nomination so I can add my extra ones over there and reveal seven more things about myself!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A little Mexican interlude...

Seventy five figures painted over a continuous period.  Surely a record?

I'm taking a short break from painting Darkest Africa, having now finished my entire British force for the Zambezi campaign (apart from a Naval Brigade cannon).  In fact, I painted rather more figures than I needed.  So before I start on the Arab force (which is much larger) I thought I'd try and finish some figures lurking around on the workbench.

First off are these Boot Hill Miniatures Mexicans (Matamoros Regiment) from 1836.  I've no idea why I bought these (the prospect of refighting the Alamo is rather daunting) but I now have another six under way.  I downloaded the flags that Boot Hill produced but they seemed huge.  An enquiry on TMP revealed that they had deliberately produced them oversize.  Why?  I can't understand why anyone wants out of scale flags.  As printed from their pdf they worked out about 6'x9' scale size. 

A bit of research revealed the fact that Mexicans standards were in fact about 1 metre on a side and were square rather than oblong.  A bit of fiddling on the computer got the correct eagle for the Matamoros regiment off the surviving flag in Texas.  I added the Boothill flag text and re-sized and re-proportioned the standard. 

Next up I have started work on the 40mm Mexican Marine Infantry I bought from Gringo40s at Salute.  These are for the later Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.  I've never painted 40mm figures before and I will find them a challenge, I think, as my usual three colour shading isn't going to work on these lovely figures.  They remind me of the old 54mm Rose Miniatures I used to paint years ago.  The cavalry figures they are promising should be awesome.  Gringo40s have arranged with Two Fat Lardies (surely the worst gaming company name ever) to produce some Mexican-American War scenarios for their Sharp Practice rules, thereby encouraging the purchase of even more figures, no doubt.

Next up I'm working on a few Black Scorpion lady pirates and some Darkest Africa characters and then it's back on to the Arabs (who are mostly African!).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eye, eye...

Steve the Wargamer had an interesting post about painting eyeballs (or not, in his case).  Everything he said was quite right, of course, and yet I always paint eyes on my figures otherwise they just don't come alive for me: they look unfinished and dead, like zombies.  Now, of course, Steve posited that badly painted eyes (like mine) are worse than no eyes at all and he is probably right (I expect it was some of my squint-eyed masterpieces that got him thinking about it).  Not painting eyes on anything 20mm or below is probably reasonable but for 28mm figures, with their usually disproportionately big heads, I feel I have to put their eyes in, however anime-like they end up.

The figure above I painted a month or so ago and I am not arguing that this is a good paint job but her head is large for her body and you can see where her eyeballs are supposed to be; further, she has eyelids as some sculptors manage.  OK, they are exaggerated but then so are the size of hands and feet.  I was quite surprised to see how many comments (and there were a lot) were in the no eyeballs camp.  Who paints eyes well?  I have always liked the eyes Giles Allison  manages on his figures.  No mean feat on Perry figures, who have smaller heads than most!

I will carry on painting eyes on mine and hope that once in every ten figures I manage to get one that doesn't look like a cross-eyed Manga character!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Salute 2011

I'm trying to remember how many Salutes I've been to.  Probably not that many.  The first one I attended (and indeed my first wargames show) was in 1999, the last year that Salute was at Kensington Town Hall.  I remember then going to lunch in Chelsea (where I used to live) to meet up with my ex-girlfriend from my Rome days, I, who was in town.  I was a member (a princess no less!) of a very well known Italian historical family and, unlike most women, found the idea of wargaming intriguing.   

There seemed to be a lot of ECW this year but this alternative siege of Worcester 1651 was the most impressive

I have been to most Salutes since then, although have missed a few, usually due to being abroad.  I created a bit of a stir on TMP a few years ago by making negative comments about a group of what I saw as Nazi (rather than German) WW2 re-enactors when I felt that the South London Warlords should have had a word with them about some of the material they were selling but didn't.  The ensuing debate got quite heated.

Guy enjoyed this recreation of one of his xbox games, Battlefield Bad Company.  He said it looked just like the game setting!


Anyway, nothing so controversial this year as the re-enactors were for the American Civil War; this year's theme.  I have mixed views about re-enactors.  Some of them have done useful research which has thrown light onto some military puzzles from the past.  But I find it rather odd that people in the UK want to be American Civil War re-enactors.  Fair enough in the US but for some not really explainable reason I think that re-enactors for, say, the English Civil War are more understandable for people from Britain.  Maybe it's a throwback to seeing a TV piece years ago about people from Essex who dressed up like cowboys, looked totally authentic and then ruined the effect by speaking in Essex (or such like) accents.  Better than bad American accents anyway.

I had a list of stands I wanted to look at and things to buy (not much, really) and did quite well although, as usual I forgot some things (like getting some fully armoured pikemen from Warlord Games).

The biggest disaster was that I carefully charged up my camera battery and then forgot to put it back into the camera so I had to rely on my son Guy's Blackberry camera!  This was a shame as I was particularly impressed by the standard of the scenery on many of the games this year.  Guy and I thought it had the highest number of games with really good scenery we had ever seen.  All I have are a few very blurry pictures, therefore!

A slightly blurred Gallipoli!

Dave Bodley's Gallipoli board for Gripping Beast and Wargames Illustrated was indeed magnificent.  However, I think that it might have been a bit of a double edged sword given that part of the intention must have been to shift more Woodbine WW1 figures.  The problem was that the layout just demonstrated what a difficult battlefield Gallipoli is to recreate on the table top.  The cliffs, the steep hill and the trenches are really beyond the ability of most of us.  I just looked at it and thought: forget Gallipoli I will stick to the Arab revolt for the Turkish front: lots of nice flat sand.

Matt's Schleswig game.  No teddy bears were harmed in the making of this picture!


It was good to see Matt's Schleswig game.  His figures are really nice and I must paint up some more although I have to say I think I prefer the red coated Danes!

Purchasing wise I was pretty good.  I got a few packs of Foundry's new Normans to add variety to my Norman knights and that was it for the Dave Thomas stand.  Must be a record mimimun buy!  I got some more magnetic paper for my file boxes to stop my figures falling over on the way to Guildford Wargames Club.  I went a bit mad at Mutineer Miniatures and bought a unit of Gurkhas, some Sikh cavalry and some more mutineers.  About nine packs overall.  They'd sold out of GNW Swedish cavalry at Gripping Beast (if they were there in the first place) but I did get a pack of the brand new Russian Horse Grenadiers so that will be enough to be going on with. 

I bought the new pirate rules from Black Scorpion along with the limited edition resin figure of the impressively constructed young lady on the cover of the rules. 

Black Scorpion Alexis figure

It must be strange for the model for the painting, the splendidly named Alexis Eickelsbacher, to be reproduced as a small miniature.  I will try to paint her up this week.

The impressive figure of Alexis Eichelsbacher in real life

Finally, the one thing I did buy this year which I really wasn't intending to was four of Gringo 40's new 40mm Mexicans from the Mexican-American war.  I've always wanted to get some figures for this ever since I saw the bodice ripping American TV miniseries North And South some years ago.  Subsequent visits to Mexico City have had me looking, in vain, for a modern range of 28mm figures.  I bought 4 Mexican marines standing at attention which is not ideal for what must be a skirmish range but they looked so splendid!  Now I have had to spend £30 on reference books to find out what their uniforms were like.  I've already cleaned them up and based them so I might just get started on their faces anyway!  I've never had any 40mm figures before, they look huge, but I suspect these will not be a quick painting job!

So, I thought it was a good Salute this year and it seemed crowded despite the recession but maybe others were like me and spent less.  Best thing I am looking forward to are the Perry plastic Wars of the Roses men at arms.  My WotR army doesn't have any cavalry yet and these will fill a gaping hole.  The next best thing was the preview of the Immortal plastic Persians.  Can't wait for those ,although dreading painting them!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Salute Eve

Ah, Salute Eve rolls around again and with blisteringly brilliant timing my first regular payment for the job my firm is working on in Argentina came in from Buenos Aires today.  So Salute is now not looking as thin as I thought it might!

Things I am looking forward to seeing are Matt's Schleswig game, the Hail, Caesar demo and the Gallipoli game from Gripping Beast and Grand Manner.  I am keen to see what plastics the Perries are coming up with (and finding out what is happening on the plastic Mahdists) and the same on the Immortal Persians.  I am hoping to buy some Musketeer GNW Swedish cavalry (at last!) and some Mutineer Indian Mutiny figures. 

Other than that...who knows?