Friday, February 28, 2014

Servants of Ra completed

I have finished the first of my In Her Majesty's Name companies from North Star: The Servants of Ra.  They are even due to see action, as I have a game scheduled with Alastair at Guildford the Monday after next.  We were due to have the game on Monday this week but I had to cancel due to having to see  a fellow from Brazil in London.  We met at the Charlotte Street Hotel which is very close to an old office of mine.  

St Giles Rookery in the mid nineteenth century

Now a very trendy area full of advertising agencies, architects firms, film companies, restaurants and bars the area immediately to the south of Charlotte Street used to be the location of the St Giles Rookery, one of the worsts slums in London and the setting for Hogarth's Gin Lane.  By the time of In Her Majesty's Name, however, the slum had been cleared, partly to make way for Oxford Street.  Many of the Irish immigrants who lived there moved to the East End.

It was worth missing the game, though, as the man from Brazil has promised me enough money for speaking at a couple of overseas events to keep me in figures for a decade!  No doubt, however, any money will actually all be hoovered up by my wife's plans for an extension to the house.  I had to pay for a shed this week to hold everything that will have to be removed from the garage when it is demolished.  I was imagining a couple of hundred pounds from B&Q but no, it has to come from John Lewis so is costing more than ten times that, even after our 25% discount. 

Or you could buy a brand new Ford Fiesta

The proposed extension is to provide a bigger bedroom for my son (not a wargames room, sadly) and will have a bathroom, so my wife was looking at  her favourite bathroom shop in Oxshott.  She was very excited when she saw they had some ex-display clearance bargains including this "tasteful" malachite bathroom accessories set.  My taste in furniture runs to the more modern or, at a pinch, Art Deco but the Old Bat likes her interiors to look like a nineteenth century Parisian bordello.  Fortunately, this little set was reduced but even more fortunately only down to £7,100.  Still, a saving of over £4,700.  It's a towel rail, a loo roll holder and a toothbrush mug for heaven's sake!  Who'd pay £11,846 for that?  To be fair they do throw in a  bathrobe hook and a tissue box cover as well.  Only in Oxshott!

Here is a better photograph of Akhenaten reborn and Zairah (more about her back story on my Victoriana blog).  The picture of the two figures I put up originally was a bit wobbly as I have had the stress of having a non-functioning computer for most of the week.  The PC started to power down randomly last week and fearing a drive crash I spent most of the weekend ensuring everything was backed up.  In the end the machine completely died on Sunday evening but I was too busy in London to get it looked at.  Fortunately, the excellent KAD computers in Esher (conveniently next to the Majestic Wine Warehouse) sorted it out in a couple of hours.  It was the power unit, not the drive and was well worth the £80 I paid them (plus the £100 I spent in Majestic, of course).

Guy was very disappointed, as he has been banging on about me getting him a new computer so he could play bigger online games on it.  We used to play Pirates of the Caribbean online, the only computer game I ever really got into, apart from the original Tomb Raider (I have a Copplestone not Lara Croft figure somewhere). Disney closed the game down last September but a group of amateur programmers have got together to rebuild it.  Amazingly, Disney have given them all the code, the rights to the characters and the music for free, providing they don't make a profit on it.  This has reignited my interest in trying to make some models of the buildings in the game.

Sir Lawrence conjures up a mummy. Or is he just showing Zairah the pose he requires again.

I have also put a bit more up on the Victoriana blog about Sir Lawrence Swann whose name, of course is a conflation of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the Victorian classicist painter and Kingdom Swann, from Miles Gibson's enjoyable novel Kingdom Swann: The Story of a Photographer (1990).  Swann is a sort of Alma-Tadema painter anyway and the book is littered with references to Alma-Tadema's real models. Gibson's book was turned into an equally enjoyable BBC film, Gentlemen's Relish (2001) starring Billy Connolly and a pre-Primeval Douglas Henshall (playing his character with a nineteen sixties Michael Caine accent).  Both are well worth seeking out although the DVD is hard to get.  I had to get mine from the US so it's Region 1.  Incidentally, I had some Gentlemen's Relish (Patum Peperium) for the first time recently and I am afraid to say that I found it absolutely disgusting.  It smelt like cat food but no self respecting cat would eat this appalling product.  

Anyway, I hope to finish a couple of "unofficial" figures for the Servants of Ra this weekend which I may field in my game with Alastair!   The Scotland Yard company is next!

Today I am listening to the soundtrack of The Mummy (1999) by Jerry Goldsmith which contains many excellent tracks for Egyptian adventures!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Akhenaton Reborn

Not so much painting time at the weekend, again, but I did finish the last two figures for the Servants of Ra company (at least as produced for the North Star Pack).  I have other ideas for figures for this company but some of these aren't in production yet!

I haven't much time this morning so only had time to take a quick snap.  More later in the week on my Victoriana blog.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

A depressingly similar paint table to last Saturday with hardly anything done this week partly, it has to be said, because I have been watching a lot of Winter Olympics.  

I still need to finish my last two figures for the Servants of Ra and did get a bit done today on them but we had to go over to my parents in laws and start washing the mud out of their garage and off everything in there as all the flood water was contaminated. Another Victorian lady has been added since last week.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Mummy!

Despite a disastrous weekend's painting, due to spending most of it at my parents in law as we got their house back together following the floods, I have finished the next figure for my Servants of Ra company for In Her Majesty's Name as I have a game with Alastair next Monday (I hope).

This is a mummified priest which, in my version of the company, has been brought to life by Sir Lawrence Swann, orientalist painter and delver into the arcane rituals of Ancient Egypt.  According to the rules you can field a number of these and I have another Foundry mummy somewhere.  North Star also have a particularly nice example which I will have to pick up too.  

The Legatus on location

Most of the models I have seen painted have gone for a sort of zombie flesh pale pallor but I'm basing mine more on some of the the ones I saw in the Cairo Museum in 2006, which were a dark reddish brown.

I have two more figures to complete for my Servants of Ra (who I gather are utterly useless in the game!) but they are well on the way.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

My wife and son head down Chertsey Lane today

Another late start today as we had to go over to Staines to check on my parents in law's house by the Thames.

The army's here now

What a contrast a week and some TV coverage makes.  Last week we went over to lift all the furniture as it looked like the water was going to come in and on Monday, when they were evacuated by boat by the Royal Engineers, it was only about half an inch from pouring into their house from both sides.  

Truck loads of sandbags but we needed them last weekend

There was no-one helping last Saturday but today the army was there in force handing out sandbags.  Too late for most people along Chertsey Lane, however.  

Fortunately the water has dropped about a foot since last Monday, which must have been disappointing for Spanish TV, who had come to film in the area. 

All of the water in the foreground is actually garden.  The Thames is in the background.  Fallen tree on the right.

The water didn't quite get into my parents in law's house, fortunately, although in the big storm we had last night one of the trees in  the garden came down.  There is still a lot of water in the garden but it has now moved away from the house and they still have power, although the waste water isn't working yet.

Anyway. as a result of all this flood protection activity last weekend and again this morning I got very little painting done.  Tomorrow we have to go over and get all the furniture back in place.  So my paint table is pretty much what it was last week: a mixture of steampunk and pirates.  Hope to get an hour or two done this afternoon at least.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

The weather isn't nearly as good as last week as we are enduring yet more rain and high winds. The light is poor but I will try to get on a bit this weekend.

On the table today are the final three characters for my In Her Majesty's name Servants of Ra company.  There's actually quite a bit to do on these so I don't expect to finish them. There's also three pirates, a Victorian lady for my Darkest Africa project, another steampunk figure and a Viking, who was just sitting around on the table so I decided to start during the week.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Not the Peninsula Project I intended...

My latest Perry Miniatures based and undercoated

I have always had a hankering to paint some units for the Peninsula War and, thanks to Sharpe, initially was looking at doing Talavera, which featured in both the book and the TV adaption Sharpe's Eagle.    Later I became interested in the battle of Barossa where Sergeant Patrick Masterson  of the 87th foot took the first French Eagle of the Napoleonic Wars for the British (and was promoted to ensign as a result).  Indeed, I actually started to paint quite a lot of 20mm plastic figures, so I could reenact this battle, about 15 years ago.  More recently, I bought quite a lot of Victrix plastics but just couldn't face putting them together. There were no instructions and I couldn't work out what pose they would eventually be in from looking at the parts.  I also didn't like the anatomy on them (particularly the French). I bought Sharp Practice thinking I might do some skirmishes but that never happened.

More recently, I finished my first full Napoleonic unit,the 27th Dutch Jaegers and started to paint some Perry Prussians, having now got over my fear of painting Napoleonics.  They were slow and tedious work but I wasn't frightened of them any more.  My biggest problem has been that I try to paint forces only for historical battles.  I can't bring myself to line up random units for a fictional encounter.  As Steve the Wargamer said in a recent post it's because I also come at wargaming through an interest in history.  Therefore trying to paint figures for a specific Napoleonic battle (even a small one) is patently insane when you are doing both sides.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this again when I saw the first of the Perry's Confederation of the Rhine figures.  Now I have always only ever been interested in the 100 Days and the Peninsula.  I dismissed all the people who bang on about Austerlitz, Lützen and Leipzig and wanted Austrian and Russian armies.  I had no interest in these parts of the Napoleonic Wars at all.  I have to confess that I didn't even know whose side the Confederation of the Rhine was on!  So I ignored the first Perry figures in this range.  Recently, however, they have brought out some troops for Reuss and Waldeck and I am lost!

For no reason I can logically explain I fell in love with the uniforms of these principalities because of my Blandford Military Uniforms of the World book by Preben Kannik.  I must have been given this book just a few years after it came out in 1967.  My favourite part of the book, when I was little, were the twenty pages of Napoleonic uniforms and my favourites of these were the Reuss and Waldeck uniforms.  They were not even the flashiest Napoleonic uniforms in the book but their striking blue and white colours appealed to me.  I even painted some of my Airfix French (the soldiers from the French artillery set with the big shakos) in the colours of Waldeck.   I never imagined that figures for these forces would ever be released in 28mm.  Once I saw them I knew I had to have them but what would I do with them?  Then I discovered that they fought in the Peninsula in a composite battalion.  I could have both the Reuss and Waldeck figures in the same unit: the 6th Confederation of the Rhine regiment.  The Perry Miniatures site even has a helpful organisation chart for the battalion in Spain.

So I will need six companies altogether in the French manner. One company of Waldeck grenadiers, two of Waldeck fusiliers and three companies of Reuss fusiliers.  I will aim at 6 companies of four to start with, with the option to expand to companies of six if I get along with them.  I need to buy a command pack and can include one figure in each company.

Even more interesting they fought in the battle of La Bisbal. It wasn't much of a battle and the outnumbered Confederation troops soon surrendered having been pinned down in a small castle in the town centre.  It all took place, however, in a part of Spain where I used to go on holiday when I was young. So names like Palamós and  Girona resonate with me.  The only source I can find on the battle mentions 2 battalions of the 6th Confederation of the Rhine and two battalions of the 5th, the figures for which the Perries also do.

The very promising looking Eagle Figures

For the Spanish it was in the period before they were issued with the British-made uniforms so would have been still resplendent in their bicornes. I have found a company I have never heard of before called Eagle Figures which does figures of a similar build to the Perry ones (the Front Rank ones are far too chunky, for example).  They even do a figure representing one of the Swiss regiments which was present at La Bisbal plus artillery and cavalry.  They only sell figures individually (no choice of poses but then the Perry ones are all in the marching position too - very old school) so I have ordered one to see what it looks like compared with the Perry ones.

One thing I have discovered as regards searching on the internet is that it pays to search in the language of, in this case, the location of the battle you are looking for, so I managed to find some pictures of a 200th anniversary reenactment of the battle which has given me at least one interpretation of the uniforms of the Spanish.  Fortunately, this does match with at least one written source I have found. Interestingly, the Spanish also had basically light blue and white uniforms ,so the two sides will compliment each other most artistically!  Having started off saying that I am not interested in fictional battles this one will be a slightly "what if" conflict given that a bunch of Germans holed up in a castle who surrender as soon as the Spanish started massing outside doesn't make for a very interesting wargame.  Anyway my wargames projects are all only really an excuse to paint figures.  The gaming bit almost never happens!

So, another Napoleonic project begins but I am very aware that the only unit of Napoleonics I have finished took seven years to complete!  Still, you're not a proper wargamer if you don't have some part-painted Napoleonics under way!  Any progress on this will be recorded on my Napoleonic blog.

As a budding artist at school I was always really offended by the appalling perspective on the cannon on the LP cover!

Today's music was actually written to commemorate a Peninsula battle (Vitoria): Beethoven's Wellington' s Victory.  This, again, is my favourite version which I had on record before I found the CD. It is Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra again, in full flight.  The 1812 on this record is also my favourite version. A few years ago I had a very clever CD player which brilliantly removed all the bangs on the basis that it thought they must be faults on the disc!  

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Servants of Ra: Part 1

Eight down, three to go

Well, Sofie's Paint Table Saturday is certainly focussing my efforts and I have just finished most of the Servants of Ra company for In Her Majesty's Name.  I have three more characters to finish but they are well on the way, so they will be next week's target.  I have made a conscious decision to just go for OK wargaming standard on these rather than try anything more polished.  As a result I have now painted as many figures in a month as I managed, on average, in three months last year.  

There will be more about these on my Victoriana blog in due course.  Although the statistics of the company will be as same as in the rules (I have had to order another copy as I have lost mine somewhere) the back story for them will be slightly different to fit into the world I am creating.  So our gentleman in the crimson coat is famous painter Sir Lawrence Swann, who has just returned from two years in Egypt.  Having just watched The Mummy again I am thinking of some chaos in Cairo type activity for these people, which is one of the reasons I went for the beige colour robes rather than red.

Today I am listening to Rachmaninov's piano concerto No 3 which has never been as popular as the more famous second, which is currently top of Classic FM's Hall of Fame.  In fact, calling their top 300 list a hall of fame totally misses the point of the concept which is to take something (usually a person) and add it to a list of worthies forever.  What Classic FM has is actually just a "most popular" list which varies from year to year; like the far more interesting FHM sexiest women list.  In a proper Hall of Fame once you are in, you are in.  It isn't an annual ranking.

Anyway, I prefer Rachmaninov's third piano concerto, however, and the recording I like is Ashkenazy's with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy, which is probably the best recording of the work there is.  Oddly, for the other concerti and the Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini I prefer Askenazy's Previn recordings.  Over the weekend I heard a bit of Yuja Wang's new live recording of the third with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra.  Much as I like Wang as a pianist she has come unstuck here, playing some passages much to fast and, unusually for her, as a  result, losing the precision, delicacy and sense of space in the third movement.  I'll stick with my version!

New Games Workshop magazines: White Dwarf and Warhammer Visions

Unattractive model

I was in Epsom on Saturday to try to get some issues with my new smartphone sorted out (grr, technology) and so popped into Games Workshop to get some hunter orcs for my Hobbit project.  While there I had a look at the two new GW magazines.  Oh dear.

Much better value at under €3 (and more attractive models)

Not surprisingly, there is no mention of The Hobbit in either so I won't have to buy White Dwarf any more.  I can use the money saved to buy the new French Lui magazine instead, to get my under-dressed skinny continental models (the other sort, of course) fix; especially as it's much cheaper! 

Unattractive model

The new weekly White Dwarf just looks like the old one internally except with only 32 pages.  Very dull.  And thin. The new Warhammer Visions is half the page size (what used to be called digest sized) but has many more pages. All it has in it, however, are pages and pages of photographs of GW models.  That's it. There is almost no text, just a caption on some pages (in English, French and German).  Warhammer Visions is The Girls of Penthouse to old White Dwarf's Penthouse.  All the sexy pictures without all that tedious writing.  Maybe picture editors are cheaper than writers. If you like Warhammer or 40K then White Dwarf might just be worth it but I can't see Warhammer Visions being a big seller, except with people who can't read.

Needless to say, I didn't buy either and spent my money on Airfix Model World instead.  Now that is how to produce an attractive hobby magazine but then they acknowledge the existence of other manufacturers. At least the one man shops mean that you don't get engaged in tedious conversation by the staff any more, as they are too busy sorting out rules arguments between 12 year olds.  I much prefer the Orcs Nest approach where they ignore your existence completely.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Paint Table Saturday...with added sunshine!

Well, here is a surprise for paint table Saturday (the first in the Chinese New Year). Sun!  It's been the wettest January in the South East of England for a hundred years with 237% of the normal monthly rainfall.  The local river, the Mole, is due to burst its banks again in an hour.  Glad we live on a hill.

Now, I was contemplating working on my Chinese Back of Beyond cavalry today to celebrate the Year of the Horse but since last week I have arranged a game of In Her Majesty's name with Alastair at Guildford Wargames club so I better get on with completing  a faction.  So today it's all effort concentrated on the Servants of Ra!