Saturday, June 27, 2015

Paint Table Saturday 27th June

Today we have the prospect of a group of figures just at the start of the painting progress.  Exciting and depressing at the same time!

To celebrate my new job I actually bought a few figures this week, which all arrived within a day or two. So full marks to Iron Duke Miniatures (Indian Mutiny British left and centre) and Antediluvian Miniatures (adventurers front right).  I am also just starting on a trio of Lucid Eye Amazons (back right).  Other stuff that might get some attention this weekend is behind. 

Lots of ferrying family about today but hopefully some proper painting tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

James Horner 1953-2015

As regular readers will know, I cannot paint figures without a musical accompaniment. Mostly I listen to orchestral film soundtrack music and try, as far as I can, to get the music to fit the subject matter. I own a lot of film soundtracks and actively seek out those (often at some expense) which may be more difficult to acquire, due to limited release or the fact that they are long out of production. In the past, “original film soundtracks” were often nothing of the kind with specially recorded arrangements (Henry Mancini was notorious for this) being recorded by, often, much smaller orchestras (Basil Poledouris’ Conan score, for example particularly suffered from this).  There are a number of firms now, however who are going back to the original masters and producing limited edition expanded soundtracks.

One of my favourite soundtracks (and one where I did seek out the expanded soundtrack) is the one from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982); the breakthrough work of James Horner who was tragically killed in an air crash yesterday. Horner was a prolific composer, producing no less than thirteen scores in 1993 alone but amongst the slew of scores for action films, historical dramas and children’s films he composed were some of my all time figure painting favourites. 

So here are my favourite half dozen James Horner scores.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

The first Horner score that registered with me. I went to see this film at university where the Trek-loving lady who accompanied me was delighted at the quotations from the original TV scores in it. Horner nailed the concept of Hornblower in space with his epic, swashbuckling main theme but there was brilliance throughout a soundtrack which I never get bored with.  Director Nicholas Meyer famously hired Horner as he was much cheaper than Jerry Goldsmith who scored Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  By the time Meyer took on Trek again for The Undiscovered Country, though, he couldn't afford Horner.

Good for: Building pirate ships to (oddly).

Favourite track: The Battle in the Mutara Nebula; a tone poem worthy of Richard Strauss (or, stylistically, Rimsky-Korsakov and Khachaturian). 

Krull (1983)

One of those soundtracks where the main theme is so strong that I could remember the tune having only seen the film once on TV.  Many films tried to jump on the Star Wars bandwagon and Krull was supposed to be the fantasy equivalent and a franchise launching (and big budget) production. The film was a flop but Horner's music is probably the best thing in it (apart from Lysette Anthony). 

Good for: Painting 18mm fantasy figures to.

Favourite track: Main title and Colwyn’s arrival. 

The Rocketeer (1991)

This film is a Pulp favourite and was sadly under appreciated at the time. Horner takes on Hollywood in the thirties with some nice pastiches of Korngold, a big love theme for Jennifer Connelly's character (well deserved!) and a stirring main theme.

Good for: Painting pulp figures to.

Favourite track: Main title/takeoff

Titanic (1997)

Part Oirish whimsy and part clanging metal (Horner loved his clanging metal) action cues, the biggest selling orchestral soundtrack of all time (27 million copies) is redeemed by some atmospheric music in the first third of the film, which depicts the doomed ship and always pops into my head when we are leaving Southampton on the Red Funnel ferry to the Isle of Wight!  Oh and there is a song in it too.

Good for: Making model liners to
Favourite track: Take her to sea, Mr Murdoch.

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

After Titanic, something a little different with this score and the successful use of the percussive sound of the feet of flamenco dancers as a musical instrument in their own right.  Zorro's theme is another stonking tune.

Good for: Painting Mexicans to.

Favourite track: The Plaza of Execution

Troy (2004)

Horner was notorious for not only reusing his own themes (but so did Handel) but “interpreting” bits of music by other (mainly classical) composers. So this has a big theme which is, essentially, a retread of Elgar’s Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.  It is also lumbered with one of those inappropriate songs that soundtrack composers are now forced to add in an attempt to replicate Horner's own success with My Heart will go Awwnnn from Titanic.  

Good for: Painting Bronze age warriors to. 
Favourite track: Achilles leads the Myrmidons.

I have other Horner scores on my system (Braveheart, Star Trek III, Avatar etc) but these are the ones I  listen to the most.  Horner had his detractors and some, in film music circles, were quite vicious but, given his large output, his ability to regularly produce major scores put him at the top of the post war generation of film composers, approaching some of the greats like Williams and Goldsmith and well above hacks like Hans Zimmer.   He could regularly pull out a monster tune in the way that, for example, the much vaunted Alexandre Desplat cannot.

He will be missed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Or not...

So, I had it all planned today.  A nice long day's painting, for the first time in months.  That was until I woke up (at 9.40, as I stayed up until 1.15 this morning watching Jurassic Park 2 and drinking Hobgoblin) and found we had no electricity.  A little work on the internet on my phone yielded the information  that it had gone off just after 4.30 am.  Argh!  No tea!  My wife had already discovered from the neighbours that they had no electricity either.  I had just been about to suggest that I go over to check with Miss Special K, the glamorous lingerie model who lives opposite, too.  Foiled again!

Well, the loss of power shouldn't effect my painting, except that I was planning to work on my velociraptors, based on the photos I had taken of the life sized ones they have had at Waterloo station for the last two weeks.  But all the pictures were in my computer.  "That's what comes of relying on technology!" said the technophobe Old Bat.  The UK Power Networks website said that the power would be back by 10.30am.  I contemplated going to Sainsbury's for breakfast (no tea!) but my usual breakfast companion is in California. "Anyway, it probably won't have any power, either," said the Bat, who is usually well out the way on Sunday, working, but has been signed off sick for the next two Sundays, having had an operation.  

"I need tea!"  I said, distraught.  "I need to do the ironing, do three loads of washing and mow the lawn," she wailed.  "It's Islamic terrorists, the Chinese or the Russians!" she declared, picking on her usual most hated list, although even she couldn't put this one at the door of "immigrants".  By 12.20 we still had no electricity.  The Power Networks website had been updated and said that the power would now be out until 17.30pm.  Then my phone ran out of battery. The Bat started to worry about things going off in the fridge.  She is always worried about things going off and is constantly throwing away perfectly good food because it is one day past its sell by date.  She thinks we will all get food poisoning, even though no one in the house has ever had food poisoning.  "Yes, because I throw all the out of date food away!" she maintains, triumphantly.  Actually, I end up eating most of it.  We live in a household where I am hard pushed to think of one thing that all of us eat, so it is completely separate menus for every meal.  

So I sat down and looked at the array of part painted figures on the workbench and vacillated.  I had had it all planned.  I got the base shading done on the dinosaurs yesterday and I wanted to do the patterns on their skin today.  But no.  I decided instead, continuing with the prehistoric theme, that I could finish some Lucid Eye Neanderthals but when I opened my pot of Humbrol 160, to finish off their furs, I discovered that the little that remained in the tin had solidified.  Even worse there wasn't a spare pot in my reserve boxes.   I could finish my Amazon princess, but she needs a jaguar skin shield (well, she doesn't need one but she really, really wants one) and my jaguar skin reference pictures were also in the computer.  I was getting nowhere fast and then had to go out to Sainsburys to get something for Guy's lunch as we couldn't cook his tinned chicken in white sauce (he has limited taste in food, like the Old Bat).  Another hour wasted but I did discover the power problem was just confined to our road, as the presence of five UK Power Networks trucks round the corner demonstrated.  I could have had breakfast in Sainsbury's after all.  Foiled again!

64th Foot

The Old Bat wouldn't let me open the utility room fridge in case it let all the cold out so my planned corned beef sandwich was out too.  So, to the kitchen fridge where I found some "stale" rolls (they weren't really-three days past their sell by date) with "well past its sell by date" cheese (guess what? It was fine.  Still no food poisoning).  After lunch (no tea!) I settled down again to paint.  I had just, for no real reason other than the fact that they were sat in front of me, started to do a bit on my Iron Duke Miniatures Indian Mutiny figures when my friend Bill came around on one of his many expensive bicycles; a Planet X titanium road bike, for those who are interested.  "Planet X specialises in bikes at no nonsense prices", they say.  If you consider £1900 a no nonsense price for a bike, that is.  

Foiled again!

Bill was one of my key tea drinking friends at  college and sometimes takes a forty mile cycling detour to travel the three miles to our house for a cup of tea or three.  "No tea!" I declared, deciding instead that we could go up to the The Bear for a pint of something more interesting instead.  Then the lights came on.  Powerless no longer!  Four thirty pm.  Of course with Bill and I in the garden I wasn't getting any painting done either.

Fortunately, of course, it is the longest day today so we have good light in the evening.  Just enough time to finish my Lucid Eye cavegirl.  More on whom later.  Then I could do a bit more on my Indian Mutiny British.  Except Humbrol 160 (Neanderthal clothes fur) is also British infantry rifle stocks colour.  I couldn't do the next a stage on them.  Foiled again!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Paint Table Saturday

Well it's not all about Waterloo at present (I wish it would all go away and stop me thinking ridiculous thoughts about 10mm or, even worse, 15mm figures) as there is a certain blockbuster film doing well at the cinema too.  I'm trying to persuade my son to go but I think, for some reason, he would rather find a rowing blonde to accompany him.  I do have a friend who I go to the cinema with sometimes but he doesn't like CGI and prefers his films to feature Monica Bellucci (who I literally ran into once, coming out of an Italian restaurant in Toronto).  So, in the meantime, I might have a go at these this weekend.  Copplestone Castings figures.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Waterloo (1970) souvenir brochure

I cannot let today's anniversary pass without some recognition, so I have scanned the pages of my souvenir brochure of the film Waterloo and posted them on my Napoleonic blog.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Victorian science fiction film location

I passed a location from a Victorian set science fiction film today. Details on my Victoriana blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Waterloo monument at Waterloo

More distracted by dinosaurs at Waterloo Station last week I popped upstairs on Friday to have a look at the new Battle of Waterloo commemorative plaque unveiled by the Duke of Wellington last week.  It is based on the original Battle of Waterloo medal awarded to the combatants.

It's up on the relatively new gallery that was put up over the concourse two years ago.  Waterloo is the busiest railway station in Britain, by passenger movements; over 94 million a year.  Originally known as Waterloo Bridge Station when it opened in 1848 it became officially known as just Waterloo Station in 1886.  Waterloo has always been the railway station I have arrived at in London.  Originally when I lived in Staines I would arrive at the platforms that for the Windsor and Reading lines.  Six extra platforms were built in 1885 to service the Windsor trains and this station within a station was known as "Khartoum" because of the conflict in the Sudan.  Later when I lived in Wimbledon and now today I always travelled into Waterloo.  I will be going there a lot more often from Monday week, when I start my new job!  

Waterloo used to be the terminus for the Eurostar when it first opened and having the monument might have been an issue for French people arriving if they still arrived there from Paris (Not for Belgians, presumably). Well, probably not, but I'm sure the slightly deluded French Ambassatrix would have kicked up about it.  

The next exciting happening at Waterloo is the reopening of the Marks & Spencers food store next week. This closed last July for expansion and renovation and was supposed to reopen in the spring but has been delayed.  It was enormously useful for picking up last minute, milk, wine, houmous, pizza, etc on the way home and has been sorely missed by the Legatus.  For some reason they are opening a clothes shop on its first floor.  I can't think many people will want to buy clothes on a railway station unless it is people going off to or returning from illicit nights away who need new underwear, shirts, blouses etc.  Anyway, one other good thing about the M&S shop was it had fantastic air conditioning so when the glassed roofed concourse got really hot in the summer it was an excellent place to cool down.

I hoped to get some painting done today but I had run out of white which limited what I could do.  Need to find somewhere I can get Humbrol paint this week!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Paint Table Saturday

Well, for the first time in many months I am actually intending to get some painting done.  Not sure quite what yet.  The light is very poor this morning.    Roughly, left to right, we have Iron Duke Indian Mutiny, Copplestone and Foundry Future Wars, Black Scorpion and North Star pirates and North Star In Her Majesty's Name figure.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jurassic Railway Station

So, into Waterloo station this morning to discover that it has been transformed into the gateway railway station for Jurassic World.

Walking down the concourse towards the Jubilee Line entrance what should I glimpse, above the ticket machines, but an actual velociraptor?

Blonde for breakfast

They had escaped from their In-Gen crate and were about to make a meal of this blonde.  Nobody seemed to care, in typical Waterloo way.  I would have saved her myself but I'm not that partial to blondes and, anyway, as the lovely brunette actress Sean Young once commented: "Most blondes aren't".  I do prefer a consistent girl.  Also, I was lacking something along the lines of a Joseph Lang 6 bore elephant gun.

Anyway the sight of  dinosaurs on the concourse would have delighted a young Legatus who owned a plethora of dinosaur books when he was young.  Actually I still have quite a few, although the dinosaurs in today's books are considerably more colourful than the grey, lumbering monsters of my childhood.

They're behind you!

Somewhere I have some Copplestone velociraptors.  Now where are they?

Tuesday, June 09, 2015


I looked at all the 200 followers graphics on the internet and they were all awful so here, instead is Miss Carol Willis, the 200th Playboy Playmate (July 1970).  And why not?   Her only connection to military matters is that she is part Cherokee, which is quite enough for my purposes.     

Well, much to my surprise I reached 200 followers yesterday thanks to Mr Julian Hill, although I cannot link to his blog as Blogger tells me he does not exist, so he may be a phantom or it may be Blogger playing up again. Anyway, I will happily count it and I hope he is a real person.  If so, thank you for following.  I am very aware, that unlike more polite people, I do not thank those who choose to follow my blog.  This is because it would be invidious to start doing so now when I haven't thanked people in the past, so I have decided to treat everyone equally and be rude to them all.  Perhaps he came via Facebook, as I have had a few more followers to the blog since I joined that.  Oddly, there is a road I pass, near Brooklands, on the way to Weybridge called Julian Hill.  

It's not quite two years since I reached 100 followers and just over  a year since I reached 150.  Having people follow the blog does make me want to post regularly and also, as a consequence, does get me to try to paint something at least once in a while.  I haven't done much painting lately, due to work issues but I have just got a new job and will be employed, rather than self employed once more.  I enjoyed the freedom of being self employed but the money was inconsistent, to say the least. Now, although I won't be earning as much, I will have things like a pension, sick pay and holidays!  It's still an internationally focussed role and there will be some (although not too much) international travel.  The only bad thing is that I will have to become a commuter again!  

I will now be able to do a bit more painting without the Old Bat nagging me about getting a proper job.  She will probably just nag me to mow the lawn instead.  Oh, how I hate gardening.  I am making progress on the Wargames Foundry Hydra and a Lucid Eye cavegirl is close to being finished too, so maybe this weekend I will actually get some figures up on the painted list.  For the next few days I am giving a course in London so won't have much time.  I might do a bit of basing in the evenings as I want to get my other Lucid Eye figures (above) on the go.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Two weeks on Facebook...what does it all mean?

So, I gingerly stuck a toe into the morass that is Facebook two weeks ago and sent out a few friend requests (coaxed over the phone by my daughter).  So what have I learnt in the last fortnight about this creature and was my initial scepticism of it well founded? Well, I have discovered-
  • That people seem to be able to locate you and friend request you even if you didn't contact them.  This was a surprise.  Why on earth would anyone want to connect with me, if I haven't invited them?
  • That in amongst the welcoming messages were several dire warnings about it.  
  • That, unlike a blog, you cannot control the content on your page (I knew this). 
  • That it operates in the world of real names (see below) and it is sometimes difficult to work out who someone is when I only know their blogger name (as I found out at the Salute bloggers meet).
  • That you quickly discover far more about people's lives than you ought to, or want to, know.
  • That there are Facebook pages for a number of wargames companies I support, with up to date information on what they are up to.  This is the biggest discovery, I think.  I had always assumed that company websites would have the latest news but this is not so.  
  • That there are groups of other users which revolve around particular hobby interests.
  • That there is a danger, as with my children, that it takes over your life.
Well, some surprises but mostly what I expected.  I am still not sure if this is going to be an ongoing thing or just an experiment for when I have to launch my work focussed one.

The real issue is one of identity and persona.  Scott pointed out that Facebook (unlike Blogger, for example) doesn't like pseudonyms.  Recently, (and he has done it before) John Treadaway, of the South London Warlords, was urging TMP members to use their real names.  One of the things that surprised me is how many people are prepared to put their real names out there and then hold forth with their views on all sorts of stuff.  I may just be paranoid but this doesn't seem to be a good idea to me. However, your personal experiences shape your views on this, I suppose.

If we look at identity, then one key aspect of my life is that the first name I was given is not used by any of my family and never has been.  My sister, for example, doesn't call me by any of my real names and those of my parents friends who are still about don't either.  Many assume that this name (originally derived from a nickname when I was a baby) is my real name.  When I got married many of the people attending the wedding came up to me afterwards and asked about my name, in genuine surprise.  My wife and children don't use my real name as they know I actually don't like it very much.  So, I have always had a situation where I have my real name for things like school (actually I had a different nickname, again, amongst my friends at school), work and acquaintances and a completely different name for family and family friends.  This created two separate personae for me too.  I think everyone has many different personae (maybe they don't) but it seems that with Facebook, in using your real name, you have to be happy to let your different personae be revealed and the different parts of your life be exposed to all.

This leads to another point about keeping different aspects of your life separate which, again, Facebook militates against.  You can, of course, cant your page so it defines one aspect of your life as I have done with mine and wargaming.  I won't, on the whole Friend request someone whose Facebook page doesn't have wargames content because they they may want to keep that aspect of their life away from their family life, for example.  I also wouldn't post something on someone else's page or share a post, on the whole, either as, again, you are risking treading on other people's personal space, I feel.  Personally, I have a number of different interests but I wouldn't put them all into one place (as critics of my multiple blogs berate me for!).    I also have, for example, different groups of friends who I wouldn't want to meet each other.  Just because I like A and B doesn't mean that A would get on with B.

For some reason I am unable to explain, the word "politics" always conjures up a mental image of potato salad.  

Coincidentally, here was something on the internet, when I was setting up the Facebook page, about what things you should never discuss with work colleagues.  It was common sense, really, but I will never discuss religion or politics, for example, simply because, firstly, I'm not very interested in either and, secondly, they can be very, very divisive.  It's a matter of degree about what you talk about with friends and colleagues, of course, but you always have to assume that anything you say to someone may get repeated to someone else (just like anything you post online).  I am surprised by the number of political comments I have seen from people.  I have recently been helping a firm to recruit some specialist staff.  The Chairman gets his HR department to search candidates social media for an online presence.  If he sees political statements on Facebook which don't match his own politics that person is not going to get recruited.  This is why I don't support the John Treadaway "lets all use our real identities" view.  There are aspects of peoples lives which, if I knew about them, would have a similar effect on me if I was recruiting staff.  I have met people who view any interest in military matters as dubious, for example.  I was speaking to a friend this week (who doesn't have Facebook) and he relentlessly cyber stalks anyone he comes across at work and informed me of how much information you can find out about someone just from knowing their real name (especially if the name is a little bit unusual).

Another thing I have discovered is that posting on Facebook with a link to one of my blogs has demonstrated an immediate effect, as can be seen from this chart looking at my Argonautika blog after a Facebook link.

Overall I quite like Facebook so far.  I like being able to do shorter posts than I would on a blog.  I like access to up to date information from figure manufacturers, I like seeing what other people are painting and gaming and I like some of the military photographs posts I have seen.  What I am not so keen on are political statements, "wittily" captioned pictures, polls and so forth but that, of course, is because people use Facebook for a wider circulation than just wargames contacts.  It's mixing "friends" from different lives, again.  The experiment continues for the time being...

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Crusades with Lion Rampant at the Shed

Another invitation to Eric's Shed yesterday and another run out for his marvellous desert terrain.  This time we were back in the time of the Crusades.  I have wanted to play a Crusades wargame for years and the first of the Perry ranges that really tempted me was their First Crusade range.  

This nearly happened almost exactly nine years ago when Guildford Wargames club put a game together for the Society of Ancients Battle Day in June 2006.  I painted up 30 Turcoman horse archers for the recreation of Dorylaeum (1097) and also a pack of armed pilgrims (above).  Unfortunately, I had to go to Vienna at short notice so missed the game, although my troops did take the field without me.

So it was nice to actually use some of my Turcomans (above) last night in Eric's Crusades game; my second experience of playing Lion Rampant.  No doubt he will put up one of his excellent accounts of the game shortly, which I will link to from here.

So I shall confine myself to a brief look at the game from my point of view.  Eric's game preparation is always excellent; from  game specific laminated play sheets to his superb scenery and well-balanced scenarios that nearly always, as last night, lead to a close game.  Yesterday's game saw the Crusaders led by Alastair, from Guildford Wargames Club, attempting to escort a body of monks (and some monkettes) to a waiting ship on the coast.  Eric and I had two bodies of Saracens to stop him.

My force consisted of three units of Turcoman cavalry and two of foot.  I really like the Lion Rampant rules as they enable you to field enough figures to look good but not so many that you will never finish painting them!

The scenario meant that the monks couldn't be killed by bow shot but had to be defeated in melee.  My tactic was to ride for them with my horse archers but I got off to a slow start with one unit failing to activate on the first turn.  As in our previous Robin Hood game we abandoned the rule that said that if one unit fails to activate then the whole force is prevented from taking any actions.  This just leads to too much standing around doing nothing.  So we played the house rule that if a unit fails to activate then the next unit can try to activate as usual.  This leads to a much more fluid game.  

The ability of horse archers to skirmish forward, loose their arrows and then retreat (for a shooting penalty) certainly recreated the tactics of their historical counterparts and both sides' horse archers swirled about, darting forward, shooting and riding away again.

Alistair's vanguard (top right) charges towards the village while his Turcoples and crossbowmen (middle left) cause me a great deal of pain as I try to drive towards the monks (top left)

Alistair, I have to say, played a superb tactical game; sending forward a flying column to attempt to secure the village on the coast, sending a harrying rearguard back to hold up my forces while protecting his marching monks, who kept edging sideways away from the threat, with a bodyguard.  His early success started to run into trouble later but I will leave Eric to describe the whole game.

This game did, however, confirm the appeal of Lion Rampant and the fact that putting together forces for these rules is  much more achievable for a slow painter like me (Eric has painted a whole Saracen army since Christmas!).  Both Alastair and I have thoughts of painting some Wars of the Roses retinues to use with the rules too.  I must find out whether he is a Yorkist or Lancastrian so I can paint the other side!   I am still working on my Carolingian force and am also thinking about  El Cid too for this.  It has started to occur to me that I should focus my painting on forces that I can field at the Shed games!  It was nice to play another game with Alistair and thanks, as ever, to Eric for the invitation to the Shed!