Saturday, October 18, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

I won't be getting anything done today, I suspect, as we are off to support Guy at the Silver Sculls rowing regatta in Walton.  Also the light is not very good but maybe I will get the sand onto the bases of the velites which I forgot to do last week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Archie Buller trilogy by Richard Hough

Mr Robert Cordery has been waxing lyrical about the splendid sounding series of Halfhyde novels by Philip McCutchan.  These are naval novels set at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century.  While reading about these I remembered a trilogy of novels set during the same period which I read some years ago but couldn't for the life of me remember who wrote them or what they were called.

I gave a brief description in a comment on Bob's site but he didn't seem to know them (at least from my description) and as he seemed interested and I knew I hadn't read the third book in the series I set out to locate them.  Now this is not so easy given that all my books are shelved two deep (one of the reasons I am putting all my DVDs in albums) but I had a feeling that they might be behind some of the books in my shelves.  They are so precariously stacked that there is always the danger that they will fall off when moving them but after five surgical mining digs (rather like a trench on Time Team) behind my World War 1 and World War 2 reference books I actually located them a little further along.  They were with some unread Patrick O'Brien novels and some erotica by Anaïs Nin behind a rather miscellaneous section which consisted mainly of books on James Bond but also some others which have ended up at the end of the shelf until I can sort my shelves out so they can fit in the right place.

When I finish reading a novel it usually goes up into the loft (to free up space) so I was surprised that all three were still down in my room.  I think I probably intended reading the first two again before starting on the final book.  A quick search on Amazon to see if they were still available (yes, second hand) told me I bought the second volume in 2004.  I think I picked up the first one in a charity shop in Cowes and must have returned from holiday to search for the other two.

Anyway, briefly, the first one, Buller's Guns, introduces us to our two heroes: The aristocratic Archie Buller from the Cotswolds and working class Geordie, Rod MacLewin, whose two stories will intersect over the course of the novels.  This one begins in 1865, covers the British invasion of Egypt in 1882 and finishes on land with the Naval Brigade in the Boer War in 1900.  The second novel, Buller's Dreadnought begins in 1904 and concludes at the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915.  There is also some undercover work in Germany before the war and a beautiful German countess!  The final novel, which I have yet to read, covers Jutland, action off the Falklands and Chile.  I think I will have to start again from the beginning!

Author Richard Hough (1922-1999), was an eminent naval historian, an expert on dreadnoughts and a biographer of Lord Fisher, Mountbatten and Captain Cook, amongst many others. It was his book, Captain Bligh and Mr Christian which formed the basis of the screenplay by Robert Bolt for the 1984 film The Bounty starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson.  Hough's interest in the navy originally manifested itself in building model ships but his determination to join the navy was blunted when his father made him cross the North Sea in a fishing boat!  Instead he joined the Royal Air Force, initially learning to fly in Los Angeles where he hobnobbed with Hollywood stars, before flying Hurricanes and Typhoons.  Having shot down two German bombers on one sortie his own plane was hit and he suffered a crash landing in which he broke his leg, leaving him in pain for the rest of his life.  After the war he worked for the publisher Bodley Head but decided he wanted to write his own book.  Drawing on his vast collection of naval literature his first book The Fleet that Had to Die (1957) was about the Battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War. Over a hundred other books followed.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Games Workshop stores rebranding and Perry News

Lots of people seem to have noticed the re-branding of a number of Games Workshop shops to just "Warhammer".  Apparently, just three shops have been done so far: Chiswick, Bath and Edinburgh.  The Legatus sent his Scottish correspondent out yesterday to get a picture of the Edinburgh one (well, it is only five minutes from her flat).  Now, there seem to be a number of comments about this move, from, "a name change won't make any difference to them going down the drain" to "everyone calls it the Warhammer shop anyway so its sensible to reflect that".  Re-branding is big business and you can bet that GW would have had to hire a very expensive consultant to do this.  

 Lloyd's logo by Alan Fletcher (1984)

I used to work at Lloyd's of London and got involved in a re-branding process there in the nineties, due, largely, to my artistic background.  We had a firm that, after many months, suggested changing the name from Lloyd's of London to Lloyd's. Probably because the previous logo (above) had looked like we were called (Lloyd's Lloyd's of London - it was much derided when it came out) They came up with all sorts of fanciful logos involving (largely inappropriate - as they well knew) nautical elements but I suspect that all along that was just to guide us to their preferred solution: A new font for Lloyd's and less writing (less is more in the branding world).  This process cost just over £1 million and that was without the cost of changing all the stationary etc.  Having been involved once, I got dragged in to the same process at a subsequent company.  The discussions about which colours reflected which core values and such like were truly bizarre!   The new Warhammer store design looks like it should be on an interior design shop rather than one selling toy soldiers and isn't hip and edgy like the new 40,000 graphics so, maybe, on second thoughts they did do it themselves.  It will be interesting to see how this develops.

So, from a purely artistic point of view the new shop front is very elegant (too elegant for fourteen year olds?).  It's not part of a country-wide roll-out but just a trial.  The real issue seems to be the number of people who go into the shops looking for Playstation games and the like (I've heard this happen on a number of occasions) so from this point of view it's sensible.  The only slight negative I can see is that there is an increasing wave of anti-military (or, more properly, anti-war) feeling amongst some parts of the population and Warhammer sounds more aggressively martial than Games Workshop.

Anyway, my daughter said it was packed yesterday; the busiest she had ever seen it and she had to wait ages to take these pictures as, there were so many people at the window and taking pictures of their splendid Goblin Town diorama.  Inside she said all the branding and the bags remained the same (she was very brave, as a nineteen year old girl, stepping over the threshold!).  Now the real question is, is whether a move like this, iceberg like, may just be indicative of other radical thinking going on at Games Workshop now Tom Kirby is off.  Or not.  

More interesting to me is that the Perry brothers have announced (via a comment from Alan Perry on TMP) that they will be doing a full range of Peninsula War figures.  I wish they'd stop messing about with "what if" wars in Canada and lovely but of very limited use Retreat from Moscow figures and get on with them  (but they are artists.of course). However, at the rate I paint it won't matter anyway!   
I was hoping to get on with my Romans today but now my sister has announced that she is coming over to tea.  Better go cake shopping!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

Not much done today except some undercoating on some more Victrix Romans between rain showers.  Then I realised I hadn't put sand on the bases first.  Grr!  I'll have to sort it out tomorrow!  Three units of triarii and one of Velites under way.  I'm still wondering about getting shield transfers or not for them,  They do make the figures look good but I do think, sometimes, that the LBMS designs are, perhaps, a bit too sophisticated, especially for this period.  Hmm.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A wargaming first, some Miniature Wargames articles, a fantastic prize and some splendid flags...

Well, not much progress on the painting front this week, other than a little bit of work on the Romans and a tentative start on my first Mars Attacks Martian.  My wargaming activities, however, continue apace thanks to the generous invitations of Eric the Shed.  This week, in the Shed, it was another new set of rules for me as we played Warmaster, the micro Warhammer game.  This was an interesting set of rules and for me, anyway, who is used to 28mm games, the amount of manouevre was rather liberating.  Although perhaps some of the permitted 180 degree turn sweeping manouevres were perhaps a little too extreme.  Still, I am gradually adapting to the concept of a game as opposed to a historical reenactment.  In fact, I realised, this was the first wargame I had ever played in anything other than 28mm!  It certainly made me happier about the big War and  Empire 15mm Kickstarter I have signed up for as maybe I will be able to play a game with mini figures!  Whether I'll be able to paint them is a different question.  Next week I have to decide which army to start with and I haven't got a clue yet! 

These were just our casualties

Eric and I were on the side of the Empire and our now quite regular other shed visitors played orcs and goblins.  In the end, after nearly three hours play, we had a draw; with both sides having lost half our units.  We played in quite a leisurely way until Eric, sensing a crushing defeat, went into blitzkrieg mode and ruthlessly selected enemy units to destroy to bring us back from the brink of disaster.  It's all about destroying whole units and I was spreading my attacks amongst multiple units, instead of wiping out one and moving to the next one, so my opponent scuttled off to a remote part of the board (and with 10mm figures you can have remote parts of the board) with several remnants of units which, however, did not contribute to our victory conditions. Something to remember next time!  I just don't have a gaming brain!

Some of my painted Battle of Five armies figures

I do have the GW Battle of Five Armies 10mm set which uses a version of the Warmaster rules, so maybe I need to get those out.  The only problem is that any extra figures now cost a fortune on eBay!  

A fiercely contested hill

I have only played one game of Warhammer; about seven or eight years ago at Guildford. I have embarked on collecting Warhammer armies several times for the full scale version (Dwarves, Empire and Dark Elves) but always got rid of them, reasoning that Lord of the Rings was enough for fantasy games for me.  Still, it is a shame that Games Workshop has stopped supporting Warmaster, as it was a fun way to play in the Warhammer universe without the incredibly time consuming painting their larger figures now need. I do wonder whether the increasing detail on these figures, and subsequent longer painting time, contributes somewhat to a loss of interest from teenagers.  Maybe a simpler, cleaner sculptural approach like Mike Owen's would work better and encourage more painted armies.  

Apropos to this subject, this month's Miniature Wargames contains one of those 'wargaming is dying' articles.  These are rather like the articles about hypersonic planes flying from London to Sydney in ninety minutes; I am sure I have been reading them for thirty years now.  Mr Barry Hilton bangs on about how all wargamers are middle aged and no youngsters are coming into the hobby.  Sound familiar?  My theory on this is that wargaming is, mostly, a middle aged man's hobby, always has been and always will be.  I played as a teenager and then stopped and didn't resume until I was in my early forties.  As I get older I get more nostalgic for things from my past (probably why I bought a book on Captain Scarlet yesterday) and I suspect others come back to wargaming, or even start it anew, when they are older.  So I suspect that those who give up on Warhammer 40K at the age of sixteen (or whenever else they discover girls) will reappear as historical wargamers twenty-five years later.  

Henry Hyde, the otherwise estimable editor of the magazine, has been trying to get his readers to sign up to Twitter (has anything been so aptly named?) and this month explained how to retweet something.  I have to say I didn't understand a word of this piece and it wasn't helped by being illustrated using text that was so small that even with my glasses I was struggling to read it.  The core of his argument was "the more people who retweet us, the more widely our posts are seen and the more followers we get".  This, to me is where I fundamentally fail to understand this aspect of social media.  I enjoy writing my various blogs but almost solely for the pleasure of writing about something other than infrastructure projects.  I enjoy the bits of research I do and taking, locating and formatting pictures.  I do this for myself and am constantly amazed that anyone else wants to read my ramblings.  With Twitter and Facebook, however, the prime motivation  seems to be to collect friends, followers or likes; like Red Indians collecting scalps.  I am pleased that I have some followers who regularly take time to comment on my blogs but the bizarre Twitter and Facebook system seems to venerate the acquisition of quantity of followers and is not concerned, for example,  with any inherent quality of content.  It's not, "how interesting are my thoughts" but "how many people like them".  Tragic.

Anyway, much more positive news this week with the arrival of two books from Mr Daniel Mersey, author of Dux Bellorum.  He had a competition on his blog to win a copy of his new medieval rules, Lion Rampant.  Much to my surprise he kindly selected me as the winner and yesterday I took delivery of Lion Rampant and his book on King Arthur plus some roster cards..  Both of these were on my shopping list so I was surprised and delighted to win them.  These look ideal to sort out the issue I have of a number of late dark ages/early medieval periods I have been thinking about for some time.  I am initially thinking of, perhaps, Normans and Byzantines or El Cid or, indeed, Wars of the Roses.  ALl of which I have some painted figures for.  I am also very taken by the work Dalauppror has been doing on some Scandinavian forces and am very tempted by that too.  Also, there are the new Perry plastic Hundred Years War figures which give me thoughts of small encounters in France, without having to build full sized armies for Agincourt. Then of course there is Robin Hood!   Lots of options!   I'll do a more in-depth post on the rules another day but 24 to 60 figures a side sounds perfect for me!

Another splendid fellow came to my rescue as regards flags for my recently completed Afghans.  Someone was asking on TMP (yes, I am still going there) about Afghan flags as well and Mr Patrick Wilson of that excellent site The Virtual Armchair General said he had got some he would email for free, as they were something of a work in progress.  Well, I thought, a work in progress is better than nothing at all so I sent him an email and he sent the lovely flags back by return.  I have bought his flags for the Sudan in the past and they are excellent.  I plan to give my Afghan standard bearer something to wave this weekend!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Paint Table Saturday

Despite the appalling light today I am going to move on with my Victrix Romans.  The rain means I won't be able to undercoat the next batch though!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Victrix Republican Romans

After a four and a half year gap there is a new post on my Punic Wars Blog where I take an initial look at the new plastic Victrix Republican Romans in chainmail.  I hope to do a bit on them this weekend.  This is for Geordie who prefers Romans to girls!