Tuesday, 29 January 2013

More flowers of English chivalry

The last post for my 1314 project until I get some more painted is the last of the nobility painted to date.

I have a couple of command bases (Gloucester and Hereford) along with some lesser men-at-arms on the paint table, but they are a couple of weeks off for the moment. If the weather (i.e. light) improves, I may get them started this weekend.

In the meantime, I will sign off for the present with these last few shots of work done to date.


Robert de Mohaut

Marmaduke de Thweng

I was surprised to see how rare the use of green was in English heraldry, even more so when used as a base colour, so de Thweng's parrots and de Monthermer's eagle (see a previous post) will largely be it.

Thomas de Berkeley

Thomas was an old man at the time of Bannockburn, but still made the journey north with his son, Maurice. Maurice's heraldry is the same as his father, apart from the addition of a blue "label of three".

Thomas Ercedekne.

Just how do you pronounce "Ercedekne"??? I am going with "Airssdun"......

Aymer de la Zouch

Painting circles (sorry, bezants) is even worse than trying to do straight lines, so I attempted both on this figure.

Carlisle and the Cumbrians

Hot on the heels of the recent couple of posts for my 1314 project comes my latest (and last for a little while) unit of infantry.

As I have posted before, finding heraldry for the nobility of the time is quite easy (special mention to the DMWS website and their medieval page, for example), but what the commoners carried on banners and shields is a bit more elusive. I could just paint lots of St George crosses, but that would be too easy (and not necessarily even accurate....)

Whilst looking for suitable badges, devices and flags for various potential city contingents, I started by simply typing in the name of a city that existed in medieval times in the search bar (Bristol, Norwich and York are good in this context, Birmingham and Milton Keynes are not!). Images of current city badges came thick and fast and, using a bit of licence, guesswork, further research and by removing likely later emblems, I came up with a few ideas. Going back to Bristol for a moment, I can report that the Bristolians of the 14th Century will not feature in the project, as their city badge has an 18th century sailing ship on it! That was a giveaway without any further research!!!

Using this basic premise, their geographical location and their part in anti-Scots actiivty in this era, I settled on Carlisle for this contingent, simply removing red roses from the current badge (too early for Lancastrians, you see), which basically left me with a red cross on a yellow field - entirely plausible I hope you will agree.

The fact that the cross featured is fluted at the end of each bar (I forget the correct heraldic term for this.......) adds a bit of interest to a simple design.

Hope you like it.

Thus, I give you "Carlisle and the Cumbrians", not a northern folk band, but a motley crew of northern English city militia, equipped to go and fight the Scots (if they do not get ridden down by some impetuous English noblemen first!)


The complete unit, Fireforge figures mostly, based as a "standard" unit in Hail Caesar, but flexible enough for other rulesets. As you can see, I have not standardised my red cross, but painted several variants within the unit. This is purely a choice thing. The shade of yellow has also been varied throughout the unit, from a reasonably bright new issue (left of shot), through more mustard tones to a pale cream. A couple of figures just have unpainted cloth/ leather-covered shields for further variety.

Close up of the banner, calico again and painted with water-based acrylics as always.

The chap on the right has seen some action recently. I tried some gore effects on a few shields in this unit. I am still looking for my favourite way of doing it.

The unit also features a couple of variously-dyed livery surcoats.

Essex command figure and rear rank chap with glaive alongside the usual Fireforge figures and more gore effects. I have also combat-distressed some of the shields to show a variety of age of equipment  and usage within the unit.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Gascons get a flag too!!!

In addition to the Scottish banners (they are banners and not standards, which I have discovered are long things with forked/ rounded tails - I should have known this before...), I also took the time to finish off the Gascon crossbows unit by completing their banner.

The design is simply the arms of Aquitaine, which my sources state is sinonymous with Gascony - "a rose by any other name" and all that. If the sources are wrong, then they will simply become Aquitainian crossbowmen!

This unit had to be for one reason in particular - my youngest daughter is named after Eleanor of Aquitaine (yes, I called the little darling "Aquitania"!!! Sorry, I mean "Eleanor"...). Aquitaine/ Gascony simply had to feature in any medieval English force I chose to create, seeing as we owned the place at the time.


Essex figure with the golden monkey/ lion (delete as you deem fit) of Aquitaine. I am not entirely happy with the lion and its apparently slightly simian heritage, but my wife thought it was a lion when I showed her, so it cannot be too bad I suppose. Actually, looking at the guy's face in this shot, I am not entirely sure it is not Galen from Planet of the Apes holding this banner.......

Given the caption for the first photo, it is probably fitting our banner bearer stands in the rear rank....

The first Scottish standard bearers

With the rest of the schiltron painted and awaiting varnishing and base texturing, I busied myself bringing the standard bearers into play over the past week.

Here, hopefully for your delight, are the two standard bearers for schiltron number 1. I chose these particular standards for a couple of reasons:-

  1. They contrast each other nicely in terms of the colours featured.
  2. Neither noble represented had a specific command at Bannockburn, but were important figures in the Scottish hierarchy. Thus, I felt they could and indeed should feature somewhere. There were other choices I could have made (Argyll, Lennox, Mar, Buchan, etc.), but these two got the nod this time.

Another Fireforge Games figure, but this one has a mix of parts from the Foot Sergeants (body) and Mounted Sergeants sets (head and arms), as well as a spare shield from my bits box. As you can probably tell, the standard itself is cloth, calico to be precise. I paint all my standards separate to the figure but attached to it's staff. When the basic colours are done, I glue it to the figure and shade the banner according to how it falls when fixed, to try to avoid glaring anomalies in light, etc. This one is the Earl of Sutherland's standard.

The standard of Walter Stewart, High Steward of Scotland. The figure is Essex, I think, the shield a plastic one from the Fireforge sets, the pole brass rod.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Scots wha' hae (or whatever)

Hot on the heels of the Gascons comes my first opposition unit.

These figures are again Fireforge Foot Sergeants, but most are converted to take a brass rod spear, as the plastic one supplied in the set is too small for Scottish spears. I have mixed in several metal figures into the overall unit, including a couple of (Essex?) dismounted knights to command this particular schiltron. Standards are also underway, for Walter Stewart (High Steward of Scotland) and the Earl of Sutherland, so the complete unit will be here soon. In the meantime, here are a few samples to get me started.

I do not think I will use this boxed set further for Scottish spearmen as I do not think it ideally suited. The need to convert each figure to take the new spear and the less suitable nature of some of the poses for what I want in my schiltrons will lead me to buy metal figures for the rest. The plastics will be ideal, however, for English militia, retainers, etc.

Just one more thing.

I have taken a little licence with this unit, as I may well do with all Scots spearmen for this project, and allowed for a few shields in the group. It is debateable whether the average linguistically-challenged hairy from north of the (English) border would be able to wield both a twelve foot spear and a shield, but some at least of my supermen can! The jury is out overall it seems. I have added in a few bucklers to enable some two handed weapon use also, whilst retaining that modicum of extra protection. Most simply go unshielded, relying on their aketons/ gambesons alone. Bring up the archers!!!


The sort of pose I would want for future Scots spearmen figures using the Foot Sergeants box. I would prefer a gambeson, but the open hands supplied for use with a crossbow are not too bad for holding the brass rod spear.

The buckler was sourced from my spares box, the spear from brass rod as before.

As well as the shield itself, I have used some artistic licence in having the Scottish flag on the shield, which I doubt happened too often in reality. The saltire adds colour to the unit, however, and leaves the ignorant or the uneducated in no doubt as to who this guy follows. The arrow is also brass rod, with flights from two very small pieces of card glued on.

Far more reasonable to have the saltire appear on clothing I feel. Another buckler from the spares box also features.

One of the metal figures I found in my lead mountain, with brass rod spear and added buckler. Essex???

Another of the poses in the boxed set. As with several of the figures in the overall unit, the original weapon was cut away and the hand drilled through and/ or sliced open to receive the new spear.

Gascon crossbowmen

Hot on the heels of the mounted sergeants shown earlier, I have the first of the infantry figures painted for my fledgling 1314 project.

Built from the Fireforge Games Foot Sergeants box, with the addition of a standard bearer (not in shot) from some small, discreet, largely unloved scree slope of my lead mountain, they are obviously crossbowmen and will be identifiably Gascon crossbowmen (from the King of England's territiories in France, you see) once I finish their banner!

The figures go together well, but as is usual with multi-part kits, you do get a few less useable poses, namely the stooping ones in this case, which would be better I think in a melee unit (watch this space....)

As stated above, this is the first infantry unit I have completed for this project. Only another couple of dozen to go.....

I did not take my usual route and paint a few samples, but dived in and did the whole unit. I am also still looking for details of liveries and similar worn/ carried by commoners in this era, so if anyone has anything of note or can direct me accordingly, that would be marvellous. Needless to say, there is a hoard of info on those colourful noblemen for both sides.


The whole unit, with standard-less standard bearer in the middle of the back row. Bases are Renedra 40mm square for probable use with "Hail Caesar", though I must get a good look at "Deus Vult" before I finally commit to a ruleset of choice for this project.

The right flank

The middle of the unit. I had not noticed how arge the crossbow's loading stirrup is on these models before I saw this shot...

The left flank. The boxed set comes with lots of loose arms and crossbows, as well as some fixed arms already holding a crossbow, enough to make a total of 24 crossbowmen from each set. Numerous head variants on each sprue is also a boon. I do not envisage making any more crossbowmen, as the weapon was always rare in England. Welsh archers? Now, that is something else entirely.


I have finally finished the painting part of the mounted element for Clifford's retinue at Bannockburn (at least, my representation of it), with the addition of a standard and some men-at-arms/ sergeants.

The standard bearer is a metal figure of unknown origin (but I believe Black Tree), mounted on a plastic Fireforge Games horse from their Teutonic Knights set. The other figures are straight out of the Fireforge Sergeants box - five down, seven to go!

Just the varnishing and basing to go then. I tend to varnish and base several units/ regiments/ contingents/ etc at once, so this unit will be properly completed once I have a few more bodies of figures done to base etc alongside them.


Lord Clifford's banner in the rectangular pattern apparently favoured in the late 13th/ early 14th century before they went square later on. The ratio of length to width is roughly 1.5 to 1.

And a clearer shot of the standard bearer's mate.

The whole men-at-arms/ sergeants complement

Close up of Bert, Tom and Fred.

And a close up of Geoffrey, who seems to have forgotten his helm....

Sunday, 20 January 2013

2012 Analysis

Hello again.

My last post touched upon the cost of last year's wargaming purchases and hinted at the analysis of said purchases, which I have now undertaken.

Be warned!!! It is with good reason that the word "ANALYSIS" contains the word "ANAL"!!!

The basics:
  1. As I said before, I spent £5 short of £1500 overall from 29th Feb 2012 onwards on books, kits, figures and other wargaming paraphernalia, only paint being discounted from the overall tally.
  2. This expenditure was split between 23 different periods/ projects.
  3. I made a total of 86 separate purchases within these periods/ projects.
  4. I bought a total of 747 figures and kits.
  5. I bought a total of 28 books.
  6. The top 5 projects in expense terms, in order, were 1690 (10.71% of overall expenditure), WH40K (9.74%, and I have not even played it for years!?!?!?!?!?), Ancients (7.86%), Non-specific (7.80%) and FIW (7.63% - never played a game yet, but inspired by "Muskets & Tomahawks").
  7. The top 5 figure quantities purchased, in order, were 1314 28mm (132 figs/ 17.67% of total figures bought/ £106), 1690 28mm (130 figs/ 17.40%/ £160, i.e metal vs plastic for 1314), Ancients 28mm (108 figs/ 14.46%/ £117.50, again mostly plastic), Afghanistan 20mm (73 figs/ 9.77%/ £86) and Late Medieval 28mm (64 figs/ 8.57%/ £79.50).
  8. The top 3 book/ rule purchases by period were Renaissance (6 books/ 21.40% of overall book purchases/ £62.50 - all 16th Century subjects, which I do not even play...), Modern (5 books/ 17.86%/ £77.97 - those Force on Force rules and various supplements) and Ancients (3 books/ 10.71%/ £52.50).
  9. Of the 86 separate purchases, 45 (52.33%) require painting.
  10. Of the 45 that require painting, 10 (22.22% of the 45) have been.
  11. 32.56% of my purchases were books.
  12. 30 different publishers/ manufacturers took my cash, directly or indirectly.
There is more, but I will bore you no further.

What does all this mean???
  1. Two words spring immediately to mind - "Impulse Buyer".
  2. I have an interest in pretty much the whole gamut of military history, as the above purchases cover everything from Ancient India vs Macedonia all the way up to current conflicts, with fantasy and sci-fi thrown in. There were some areas/ centuries not represented however - 19th Century, the Far East, Biblical, etc.
  3. I am far too fixated on what I want to do next rather than finishing what I am on now!!!
  4. I need to rationalise and spend much less!!!
  5. I really do not play enough to warrant all these different collections, but building and painting are where I get my kicks.
To cut a long story very short, I can see Peter Young's logic VERY clearly - it is madness to spread between periods.

But I like to, so will continue to do so!


Sunday, 6 January 2013

2013 and taking stock

Well, a very Happy New Year to each and every one of you.

I have done my usual perusal of the lead (and plastic) mountain to try to plan 2013.
I have tried to chart the likely workload involved in each hillock of said mountain(s).
I have even tried to get a basic cost in my head for each hillock, in order to expand it into its very own mountain.

Yes, sad I know, but I find it helps even if I do not stick with it. A paradoxical statement? Yes, in part, but each step helps me understand what I can do, not just what I want to do, enables me to visualise a schedule and thereby keeps me motivated on what I am doing. I long since realised I am one of those vacuous/ mad/ inconstant/ plain lost types Peter Young cautioned us all about when he said doing more than one period was madness (I forget the exact quote....)

So far, I have lined myself up for nine months' worth of my 1314 project. We will see if that comes off, but I have so far finished 12 knights, 6 men-at-arms/ sergeants and 16 crossbowmen, with 24 Scots spearmen and another 16 generic infantry built ready to go. The knights were done a while back to see if I could get into period (painting samples is my way of checking this detail out), the rest over the past month. The Scots are up next, having sprayed them with newly-bought undercoat this morning.

I am still analysing last year's numbers (yes, VERY SAD.....), but one thing is clear for this year. I made the mistake of totting up the cost of my various wargaming-related purchases, starting on 29th February, 2012. I counted only figures, kits and books, so paint came as a "freebie".

I spent £5 short of £1500 in ten months.........

2013 is the Year of the Miser in the G Calendar.