Sunday, 31 March 2013

Raising standards

To round off March and the first quarter of the year, I decided to fill in the gaps with a few standards. I still have varnishing and basing to do on all except the Clifford base that started all this off, but that will wait until I am in the mood - varnishing at least is very much one of my least favourite parts of painting figures, the worst being metal kits, then preparation and then probably undercoating and varnishing equal third worst!

All units in my 1314 project now have at least one standard/ banner and all have now featured on the blog, except for my Gloucester derivative, finished today, that adorns my unit of Welsh archers. That will feature in due course, probably after the aforementioned varnishing and basing.

I now feel I have Gloucester's command done. Two 12 figure knights/ men-at-arms units, the Cumbrian militia, Gascon crossbowmen and Welsh archers should be enough for the young Earl to misuse. I am currently part way through six knights for the Earl of Hereford which, when joined in the near future by another 12 sergeants/ men-at-arms, will complete both De Valence's and Hereford's cavalry units as originally planned. I still have just the one unit of Scots done, however, although they are at least stuck on their bases now!

I have also let my eight year old daughter loose on some plastic skeletons I have had lying around for many years. My cunning plan is to get her up to scratch and then let her loose on something I want to use!!! (Cue evil, despotic cackle......)

Enjoy the remainder of Easter!


Opening shot of the lesser men-at-arms and sergeants that will form the rear rank of "Gloucester's cavalry". I went for an oblong Hugh de Vere banner and a larger, square (cos he was more important) Ralph de Monthermer green eagle on gold.

The same bunch from a slightly different angle. The figures are again Fireforge except the rider with the De Monthermer banner, who is Black Tree I think. Note to self - tidy up the joins between the two plastic horse halves where necessary.

Gloucester's standard bearer, who has now joined the reckless/ hapless/ unfortunate (delete as appropriate) Earl on a sculpted 60mm diameter base, but still awaits the varnish and terrain treatment.

Friday, 22 March 2013

De Valence Part 2

Just a quick picture of De Valence's cavalry so far, with the addition of the three new knights.


From left to right we have Nicholas Kingston, Thomas Ercedekne, Giles D'Argentan, William Vescy, Thomas de Berkeley and Aymer Le Zouche.

De Valence's Retinue - work in progress

Hot on the heels of Gloucester's body of cavalry comes the front rank of De Valence's, with the heraldry taken from the Osprey Campaign book on Bannockburn.

Now, before you all go rushing out to buy said book expecting some lovely colour piccies of various shields, let me just point out that the image showing the heraldry is in black and white! What I have done (and I hope accurately!) is gauge the shades of grey against known each other, using liveries I know to shade match.

As a back up, check out websites such as the Danish Miniature Wargames one (, I think), other literary and web sources, heraldic and genealogy sites, etc.

Needless to say, any errors made are entirely mine.

So without further ado, it is time to meet and greet the three extra knights I have painted to accompany Thomas Ercedekne, Thomas de Berkeley and Aymer la Zouche from previous posts to form the first half of De Valence's cavalry.

For those who know the battle, and indeed those who do not, Aymer De Valence (aka the Earl of Pembroke) led the valiant though costly rearguard action that allowed Edward II to escape the field. A command base depicting him will join the ranks at some point, along with Hereford and Edward, so stay tuned.

By the way, thanks to everyone who posts comments about what I do. I enjoy painting miniatures and I am continually trying to improve as much as I can, but all comments received are excellent motivation, whether favourable ones or not! I am always open to new ideas, suggestions, critiques, etc. Thanks guys.


Nicholas Kingston, distinguishable from John Kingston by virtue of the red rather than white label.

I had to use the morning star mace arm from the Fireforge Teutonic Knights box at some point and Nicholas got the honour.

The tri-coloured lance referred to in a previous post, going one better than the one I did for Gloucester by the addition of some black bands! This is William Vescy.

Vescy was just 21 years of age when killed at Bannockburn.

I believe this heraldry depicts Giles D'Argentan, who was killed during the aforementioned rearguard action, but I have not yet verified it. This figure features in a colour plate in the Osprey Bannockburn book, in the same plate actually as De Valence, Edward, Ercedekne, Despenser, La Zouche, Berkeley and others.

D'Argentan was described as one of the three best knights of Christendom alongside Robert the Bruce and the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII. If this is not him, then I ought to paint up a figure to represent him should I discover his heraldry at some point.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Gloucester's retinue - work in progress

Having just announced the Earl himself, it seemed remiss of me not to bring on his boys. I painted three of the featured knights a while back, and published the details then so will not repeat the pics here. But the new boys are shown below, who, together with half a dozen sergeants, form a cavalry unit for Gloucester's battle.

The banners are still on my painting table, awaiting completion, which I hope to achieve in the next few days. Then just the usual varnish, base and texture. Figures are the Fireforge plastic Teutonic Knights and Sergeants except in a couple of cases. Whilst I have enough details to cover knights who were known to be in both Clifford's and De Valence's retinues at Bannockburn, I have as yet been unable to get definitive details on either Gloucester's or Hereford's retinues. Some of the knights in the collection going forwards may not even have been at Bannockburn, or even in Scotland during this period, but I have the heraldic details and I am going to use them!!!


One of the aforementioned possible/ probable non-Bannockburn knights is Sir John Giffard of Bowers Giffard in Essex. His heraldry features in the Osprey "Scottish and Welsh War"s book.

Fleur-de-lys frustrate the crap out of me and they usually end up looking like Christmas trees. These just look like Vladimir's trident from the Ukrainian football team badge, so that is an improvement in my book.

Sir Hugh de Vere, brother of the Earl of Oxford, from the same source as Giffard (sort of...see below)

This heraldry posed a problem. As depicted in Osprey and other sources, it can  have the red and yellow transposed and even have the mullet on the yellow. I chose to be heraldically correct and have my metals on colours, so the mullet went on the red first quarter, as described in the WRG Armies of Medieval Europe vol 1 for the later Earls of Oxford  - Quarterly gules and or, in the first a mullet argent. The indented border is from the Osprey book.

William Latimer of Corby. This heraldry too survives into the HYW.

And again.

The unit together, showing the various sergeants in the second rank. The figure one from left with the green horse housing is a Black Tree rider on a Fireforge horse, who is due to receive de Monthermer's banner. Hugh de Vere's banner will be presented to the figure with the quartered shield.

A front three quarter shot, showing Marmaduke de Thweng (white), Ralph de Monthermer (yellow) and Robert de Mohaut (Blue), now joined by the rest of Gloucester's gang.

Gilbert de Clare - work in progress

I have been busy these past couple of months and many of the bits and bobs I have been working on have already seen the light of day on the blog. Almost all of the activity year to date has been for my 1314 project and, following that theme, I present for you here another specimen, namely the dashing, young Earl of Gloucester, Gilbert de Clare.

Young Gilbert (just 23 at the time of the time of the Battle of Bannockburn) was joint commander of one of the English divisions with the Earl of Hereford, Humphrey de Bohun (whose far more complex heraldry will be attempted at some point soon). The young Earl was also the brother-in-law of Robert the Bruce.

Anyway, having a horse killed under him on the first day of battle did not seem to deter him at all from charging recklessly at the schiltrons a day later. So keen, in fact, was he to teach the recalcitrant Scots a lesson that he even failed to don his livery for day two of the battle, charging in without his tell-tale surcoat.......

......which probably explains why, despite the massive ransom he would bring, he went unrecognised when felled from his horse and was killed. Thus ended the last De Clare Earl of Gloucester.

All is not lost, however, and the particular silver lining with this figure is that the arms stay the same into the Hundred Years War under Hugh de Audley, Earl of Gloucester, so I can stretch the figure's historical suitability should I so choose. The modern arms of my hometown of Gloucester are very similar to those borne on that fateful day in the summer of 1314, with the addition of some red bezants to accompany the traditional chevronels.

I have a 60mm diameter metal disc base ready for a mini-diorama of Gilbert with his standard bearer (courtesy of Magnetic Displays in the UK at least). I hope to finish that soon, but here is the work in progress.


The figure is, I think, from Black Tree;s Hundred Years' War range, with a brass wire lance. AS the Earl was a very rich man, I am happy to have him in the absolute latest armourial fashion compared with most of my knights.

The "B" side as it were, showing the absence of a surcoat as mentioned in the main text, which ultimately probably cost him his life. The lance is a departure from previous figures, being striped, simply because I wanted to distinguish him from the masses. I have since gone one further with a tri-coloured lance, but more of that in another post.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

WMMS Eulogy

Hello again.

The annual WMMS show (known as "Alumwell" to us ultra-conservative die hard old timers from when it was held at the Alumwell school.........) was held at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton on 10th March, so Nephew Nick, Nephew Paul, second daughter Bex and I went along.

Disappointment - I was keen to put on our latest TYW offering, but with just the three of us available for a game which can easily accommodate twice that number, saw us decide discretion was the order of the day.

Totes Amazeballs - we shopped!!!!!!

The Purchases:
For once in my life (at a show), I actually got what I wnet for and did not stray at all!!!!! After picking myself up from the floor after that revelation, I can announce that 1st Corps did rather well out of me as they had enough (Welsh) archers, ribauld-types, mounted and foot command and other types in their Feudal range to fill out some big gaps in my 1314 project.

Magnetic Displays also relieved me of some hard-earned by offering me the usual sheets and bases, but also some cork bark - those rugged Scottish hills will not model themselves.

4Ground were relieved of some of their pre-painted medieval dwellings/ hovels/ shacks/ other, which I will paint anyway.

Redoubt sold me some highlanders, without muskets, as they too are for the 1314 project.

I bought the army books for Hail Caesar and some more TYW command.

This must be about the only time I did not buy anything from Caliver.....

I believe there were about 50 of all sorts, offering a great (IMO) selection of bits, pieces, odds, ends, collectables and other paraphernalia. I got what I went for, so 9 out of 10. It would have been nice to see a couple more major players there (no Gripping Beast, Old Glory, Essex, for example), but it is a jaunt for at least two of these companies.

Disappointment part 2. Now, I have every respect for those who want to go out and do something at a show, even when 90% speak to no one, but the visuals on display were down on previous years in terms of quality. I saw nothing that gave me any sort of "Wow!"

I would like to make a special mention to several of the participation gamers around however. Peter Pig was doing his best to offload some Square Bashing rules with his game of the same, there was some Dystopian Wars action (the naval stuff), but top kudos points go to......

I do not know who they were in truth, but their presentation of the "all-new) Wings of War game, neatly laid out on some very nice playmats depicting the green fields below, was very neat. They also spent time engaging people, explaining what was going on, etc. I have seceral of these miniatiures and invested in the game a few years back, so enjoyed the upgrade.

Traders good, demoes poor, participations good and we even managed to get parked relatively easily as the venue was not double-booked with various healthy, sporty types. 7/ 10.

See you there next year.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Two Months In...

Greetings one and all!

It has been over a month since I last posted and, as I have been lazy on the photography front (though I have painted a few things), it is words only for this early March return to blogdom.

So, what have I been up to?

Well, say it quietly through clenched teeth in the privacy of your own padded cell............."fantasy".

It took me a while to get going on the spending front, but, when the dam broke, I bought........fantasy.

There are a few blameworthy things to note in this deviation from the one true path.
  1. My first ever game of Lord of The Rings (yeah, OK, "strategy battle game"). I got to murder some dwarves with some Isengard Uruk-hai, and the juices started flowing. The fact that my ally's Moria Goblins were roundly toasted by Theoden and his cronies and I had to sort them out too did not go unnoticed (I have certainly not yet had my fair share of taunts at Nephew Paul's hapless misuse of the stunty cave dwellers, nor at Nephew Ben's inept handling of the bearded Ereborians). Thus, out came some long, lost Mordor Orcs, which were duly painted and added to with the addition of a few more Mordor Uruk-hai. Now, where did I put that Witch King (mounted and on foot) from the original LotR range from Citadel of 25 years ago or more???
  2. I played a 5K per side game of Warhammer, where my good, old Orcs & Goblins (estranged relatives of those mentioned above, but bigger and never having been in any films), allied with some Skaven, took on and thrashed some Lizardmen. In truth, the Orcs & Goblins did the thrashing, rather than the Skaven, and Slann Mage Priests make a satisfying "plop" sound when squished by giants......
  3. Games Workshop brought out new army books for both Warriors of Chaos and Daemons.
I have a soft spot for Orcs, Goblins, Chaos and dead stuff. I have a very large Orc and Goblin collection and a large Tomb King one. I have small Chaos Warrior and Chaos Daemon forces also. For Warhammer 40K, I have two Chaos legions, the Slaanesh-inspired Medusa Legion and the decidedly Nurgle-prone Death Guard. Buying the new books was a cert. I expect I will continue to play.


The WMMS show is just 6 days away, so normal service will be resumed from Sunday!!!!! (for a limited period only). What will I buy? What is on the "must have" list?

I will confirm that Welsh Archers for my Anglo-Scots stuff, along with a king or two, are pretty certain acquisitions. But I have also just taken delivery of something very different, which I also expect to add to in Wolverhampton this coming weekend.

How do you keep a blog reader in suspense? I will tell you later..........