Sunday, September 13, 2020

Paint Table Sunday: Back from a break, reading a wargames magazine over lunch, new temptations and devil dogs

I haven't been painting for  around two months now, largely because the Old Bat has taken a turn for the worse with her Long Covid and Charlotte has been unwell too, so I have spent a lot of time running around after them, going to pick up prescriptions, take the Bat for blood tests, doing domestic stuff, gardening (ugh) and cooking with some work fitted around all that. Latterly it has been the Tour de France on TV as well. Really, however, I have just not felt like it. We had that very hot weather which made painting impossible and then it got very grey and dark and I really need good light to paint as I cannot manage it under artificial light at all. Mainly, however, I was in that situation where the figures I had started on my workbench (to use an inappropriately artisanal term which makes it sounds like I could actually make something) were really only just started. I find nothing more demotivating than having a load of figures which are a long, long way from being finished.

Today, however, I actually sat down and did an hour's painting. It was all base coat stuff and I was struggling with my eyesight again but I will try to do a bit every day; as I have done in the past. I have Lucid Eye Atlanteans, Crooked Dice V aliens and some of the new Wargames Atlantic Afghans on the go. Now, since I got the latter, Perry have announced their own plastic Afghans as well but I will just get those too. With Afghans you need as many different figures as possible. More interestingly, Wargames Atlantic have announced plastic mounted Afghans which I will need for my The Men Who Would be Kings force (as I have actually painted my British starter force). I suspect the Afghans will be quicker to paint than the others.

In the past, my far from eagerly awaited pieces, Reading Wargames Magazines Over Lunch, have described a succession of meals in London, usually in what would otherwise be non productive gaps in my work schedule between meetings. No such luxury these days, as I haven't been to London since 28th February, so it was a rather unexciting tuna salad (the only fish I eat, along with smoked salmon) in the garden as I am on yet another gentle fitness programme. 

A long time ago as photographed by Sophie...

This one is working quite well, mainly because I do not have the Old Bat bullying me into running which I can no longer do, due to bad knee and hip joints (caused by doing too much road running in my twenties and thirties). Instead, I spotted something on Facebook called the Conqueror Challenge where someone (in New Zealand, where there is little to do) organises set walk routes which you do virtually. So you choose your target walk (I chose the ninety mile Hadrian's Wall) and you go out and walk (or run or cycle) whenever you want and put the total down (I've worked out how to do this on my phone or, rather Charlotte did).  You pay £28 per challenge and then have a homepage you can plot your progress on. The Old Bat thinks that paying someone else so you can walk is insanity but it is working and I have been doing it for three months now. I completed Hadrian's Wall and am now doing the 280 mile Grand Canyon (as I have visited there). You can even see where you have got to, virtually, on Streetview. The Streetview views of the Canyon are not very interesting. It's a rocky canyon with a river at the bottom. That's it. Even Up North looks more interesting than that.

They even send you a very blingy medal when you finish so you do get something for your money. When I started, in June, I struggled to walk a mile and a half and was puffed and had chest pains but a month ago I walked six and a half miles home from Epsom hospital after my latest eye injection. You aren't allowed to drive after the injection and the Old Bat is still too ill to drive me, so the fact I could walk that far (in thirty four degree heat) shows how far I have come. No more breathlessness and no chest pains! I have to admit that accompanying wine and food for the Tour may have had a somewhat retrograde effect in the last two weeks, though, so I did another six and a half mile walk today.

Wargames Illustrated have been giving away a lot of Warlord Games figures. I can't bear to throw them away but I don't want most (any?) of them. There must be lots of wargamers with piles of these things. It's like accumulating Salute figures or free plastic rubbish from cereal packets in the sixties. The idea, of course, is that you look at your freebie and then go out and buy more. The opposite has been true of me, I am afraid. I looked at a set of Warlord Napoleonic cavalry and was so unimpressed by the poor sculpting and lack of crispness in moulding I vowed never to buy any Warlord plastics again. Victrix they are not. Anyway, last month the give away was a set of rules for Warlord's new French bread pizza naval wargame, Victory at Sea, which I have no interest in, having seen the ridiculous bases the models are on. Maybe it's not selling very well. Despite being interested in warships and having built many an Airfix ship model in the past I have no interest in naval wargaming. I just see an article in a wargames magazine on naval wargaming and my brain goes into power-saving mode. Yawn. So I didn't bother reading the rules showcase on the rules or another article about eighteenth century naval wargaming. I don't scan over the articles in Miniature Wargaming because the type is now so small I struggle to read it even with my reading glasses. I have to really want to read it to strain my eyes that much. Surely most wargamers are old like me and have eyesight that has deteriorated? Perhaps not. My father in law is 92 and doesn't use glasses for anything.

There was quite an interesting article on how wargames manufacturers are coping with the Chinese Virus but I was surprised, given Baccus employ seven staff, to discover, according to the article, that Warlord employ 103 people. One thing that occurred to me, regarding all the lockdown stuff, was how many rules writers were producing new solo versions of their games. I think I wouldn't buy a set now if it didn't have some solo rules as, realistically, I am not going to be able to organise my own games for multiple players. None of my close friends are interested in wargaming (possibly because most of them are women). I am still too nervous about the Chinese Virus, seeing what it has done to the Old Bat, to venture over to the Shed, despite Eric's kind invitations. Will things return to normal and solo players be forgotten again or will the Chinese keep churning out deadly viruses every year in their bat infested labs until they have achieved the crushing economic dominance they are seeking in their, no doubt, forty year plan?

Starlux 54mm (cicra 1970)

I always look at the figure reviews in magazines and in the August issue I discovered that the new Plastic Soldier Company 15mm ancients figures are made of that new plastic resin which gives them bendy spears, No thanks. I had enough of that with my Airfix figures. Presumably, if they used hard plastic the spears would all break off, which demonstrates, once more, how inferior 15 mm is as a scale for model soldiers because the material you make them from seriously distorts the look of the figures (metal ones have fat spear syndrome, of course). Also, in the review section were the new Victrix French Imperial Guard lancers, How lovely are these? I would love a box of them! My father bought me a Starlux, painted 54 mm figure of a Dutch lancer (sorry, it's a better uniform than the Polish ones) when we went to Paris when I was small (I still have it).

 But I saw an early painted example (above) of the Vixtrix models which just made me realise that I can't paint Napoleonics any more. Does unattainable quality painting of this level actually put people off from buying? It did me.  I couldn't even begin to approach this level of painting. Just trying would stress me out. Thinking about the stress I have experienced here in Chez Sick over the last months I realise that one of the reasons I haven't been painting is that I often find painting figures stressful, not relaxing, when things don't go the way I want them too.

The theme of much of the magazine was command and control which writers all seem to think isn't considered very much in wargames magazines but actually seems to come up quite regularly. This is of great import to the gamer (rather than painter, like me) end of the hobby who love to bang on about it all the time. I remember many tedious discussions about it when I went to Guildford Wargames Club (an old school sort of club) which I no longer go to, partly because of the stress of driving down the A3 on a Monday night in an eighty mile an hour traffic jam. I didn't read any of these command and control articles as they are probably designed for all those people who used to write orders on paper or have courier models to deliver orders. They tend to not care if their wargames table are covered in counters (which I hate). 

There was one article I actually bought the magazine for. I recently picked up Dragon Rampant, as it was reduced, and this article by Daniel Mersey, the rules' author, included all the statistics for the Copplestone Barbarica range of 18mm fantasy figures. Well, the name Barbarica is fairly recent, they weren't called that when they first came out (18mm Fantasy was the catchy name Mr Copplestone devised) and I bought a lot of them. Having been rude about 15/18mm figures in my last (and this) post I am quite excited now about organising some armies for these rules, as they require small forces. I painted some of these about nine years ago (above) and have some others underway (if I can still manage to paint them!). They are very small.

Now, of course, I shouldn't buy any more figures but I did buy into the Kickstarter for Hot and Dangerous figures which are, essentially, 28mm models of attractive ladies in historical uniforms (what can be their appeal?). They are reasonably historical and not too pin-up like, compared with some I have seen, perhaps because, they have a lady designer. They are a Polish firm, I believe. Certainly some will go on eBay but I just hope I can paint them to the standard they deserve.

A major temptation are the Perry brothers announcement of plastic Franco-Prussian War figures. Will this mean metal ones as well? I bought some Franco Prussian figures from Eagles of Empire some time ago but they were, perhaps, a little too idiosyncratic in style for me.

However, this week Eagle of Empires announced a new range of First Schleswig War figures. Now some years ago Matt Golding, of Waterloo to Mons, started to produce his own range of (25mm) figures for this but the range went into limbo, so I might be very interested in these, depending on what the figures look like. Early examples look good.

Good news is that North Star have put their 1864 range back up on their website so I will order some more Danes to finish my first unit.

Two rants this week. One wargames related and one not.

Now, last time I derided the people who hijack new products launches with demands for information on forthcoming pet projects or different scales. This time I have recently seen examples of ridiculously inappropriate ranges in plastic. Some time ago Victrix launched a page on the internet where people could make requests as to what they would like the firm to do next. As ever, some of the answers amazed me. Now I see Victrix as what I would call a rank and file supplier. You buy lots of boxes of core troops in plastic from them and then fill out the more unusual items with metals. Making plastic figures is expensive so you need to be on to a sure seller to make money hence, no doubt, their focus on Napoleonics and Ancients/Dark Ages. Some of the suggestions are very sensible such as Biblical or Bronze Age figures where, rather like the Dark Ages, the number of different troop types needed is quite limited. It didn't take long for the first request for Dynastic Chinese to come in, then Renaissance Poles, fourteenth century Koreans, War of 1812, Bannockburn period, Spanish Civil War etc. Then there was a suggestion for Ancient civilians. And how much diversity will plastic enable you to do on these? Think, man, think. Then there were the people who said 'I know such and such a company already make them in plastic but yours would be better' (ACW and WW2). Then, of course, you had people suggesting plastic forts and dice. One woman suggested female figures including such future best sellers as RAF female supply pilots. Really? A plastic sprue of these? Calm down dear.  Wargames Atlantic, who are even more a rank and file supplier, have also just launched a similar poll to equally inappropriate answers.

This is how I see all dogs.

Speaking of which, one of Wargames Atlantic's recent sets was of Dark Age Irish, which would be quite useful for Vikings in Ireland type games. However they include no less than six warhounds in the set. I have noticed a plethora of doggy models coming out recently. Were war dogs really that common? I  have to confess (and I know some of my readers really like them) that I hate dogs. Not just dislike but hate the stinking, filthy, barking, biting, disease carrying, aggressive carnivores. I cannot for the life of me understand how people can bear to have them in their homes. It's just medieval! Would you keep a sheep or a pig in your house? Ugh! No doubt this is all made worse by recent encounters on my walks by these bounding, yapping creatures jumping up at me when I am trying to walk, quietly. "Oh he is just being friendly' cry the owners, who are totally unable to keep them under control. No he isn't. He is a dog. He is seeing if he wants to eat me. Last year more than 3000 people in Britain needed surgery after dog attacks, Another 5000 had to go to hospital but didn't need surgery. Imagine if wargamers were injuring this many people. Wargaming would soon be banned as inciting violence. Before Lockdown, my lovely former girlfriend K suggested she drive over to see me. That would be splendid, I thought. "Oh I'll be bringing our dog. He is very friendly!" Sorry K, you can't come, I replied. When someone says friendly dog I just have visions of them licking your face. Just disgusting! You make friends with people, not dogs. Grr! I shall now see how many friends on Facebook I lose.

Today's music is Rick Wakeman's new album (as it is Rick Wakeman you can no doubt still call it an album) The Red Planet. This is very much in his The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Criminal Record  (my favourite) mode, although perhaps there is a little too much guitar for me.  The first non classical record I bought (or rather John Palmer at school bought it for me as he worked in Our Price in Kingston and got a staff discount) was Wakeman's White Rock which I then spent ages seeking out on CD as it wasn't released in the UK until comparatively recently, so I had to buy a Japanese import at great expense.

Today's wallpaper is William-Adolphe Bougereau's Biblis (1884). During his lifetime (1825-1905) Bougereau was considered one of the world's greatest painters but he fell out of favour at the beginning of the twentieth century, along with most other classicist painters, and was not really rediscovered until the nineteen eighties. Biblis (or Byblis), the legendary daughter of Miletus of Crete, is here depicted in despair, as her twin brother had just fled her amorous advances. Naughty!