Thursday, 31 October 2013

Men of Shropshire

With just four weeks and two days to go before the "Wargamer" show in Birmingham and the inaugural outing of the 1314 project that has dominated my work for the past year or so, I am trying to stack up completed units as quickly as possible to save myself some late nights as we wend our way through November!!!

Latest new kids on the block (although I painted them a while ago, and did the flag, and even varnished them, but only based them yesterday!) are these "Men of Shropshire", hardened veterans of many a skirmish against the dastardly North Welsh and now set on meting out the odd beating to the more northerly Celts of this sceptre isle.

These hard-bitten veterans have damaged shields, mixed armour and bad attitudes, but will no doubt help keep the Earl of Hereford's command out of trouble for a while when they finally hit the table.

As with the "Carlisle and the Cumbrians" unit I painted and posted about ages ago, I have taken modern and older references to Shrewsbury and Shropshire and stripped them back to get something I find more plausible for 1314. The blue and yellow is here to stay, but gone are the lions' heads, the modern day ermine on the yellow chevron, etc., leaving just said chevron on its field of blue.

The figures are my usual Fireforge plastics, with just the odd conversion thrown in.


The completed West Mercians in all their glory

A veteran bunch of hard-bitten mercenaries

Distressing the shields was easy given their plastic manufacture. Painting some in paler, washed out tones, helped the illusion of them being in regular use I feel.

I like chevrons, especially in the run-up to florry counter-florry!

The whole unit again.

The side the Scots will not see (unless I am playing the Scots when the time comes., of course!)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Bruces plus one

Just a quick post to show that I have finally taken enough Dutch courage to do some more "florry counter-florry" in order to finish painting my Scottish command elements (the non-hairy bits anyway).

The Islesmen are now about half way to completion, then it will be a mad month of varnishing and basing, plus as many odd bits as I can muster before the first outing.


Robert the Bruce, in case you did not know. The hairy lumps are painted coir doormat to represent some wild grasses on the moorland of somewhere in Scotland.

A detail of that heinous "florry counter-florry border". Heraldry can be a crime against painters! Now I reckon I know why Chaucer had it in for the "knight" character, making him anything but chivalrous. He must have had to paint some hell-spawned heraldry at some point...

And baby makes three...

Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, and some more (the last!!!) of that florry counter-florry.

And again.

This element is a mix of Black Tree (Randolph) and Fireforge figures.

Edward Bruce.

The snot is a spare lump of Green Stuff from doing my Islesmen conversions, which will be painted as a rock.

Another mixed bag of figures, this time 1st Corps (Edward) and Fireforge.

Monday, 28 October 2013

(Not the) 51st Highland Division

Following completion of my English units for "Phase 1", and most of the Scots, I decided on a few "hairies" to round out Bruce's army, hence the need for Highlanders and Islesmen.

Here are the aforementioned Highlanders (plus dog!), newly painted and awaiting the usual varnish and base treatment. All figures are Old Glory except the dog, which is a Vendel mastiff. I just thought it went nicely with the unit and helped emphasise the more feral nature of the subject matter.

Not quite sure how to get these figures to my liking, with the "need" for lots of stripes and checks, and also lots of flesh on show, I tried two different basic undercoat options. The first, used primarily on those figures without too much in the way of clothing or armour, was a bone-coloured undercoat. The rest were done in my usual black.

In the end, I do not think it made a blind bit of difference!

Top Tip: If you want to paint Highlanders for any pre-clan tartan era, paint a batch of different castings all with the same patterns. Do this several times over, changing the colour(s) used and pattern completed with each batch. When you have enough for two or three units overall, mix and match to taste. Why do this? I started these figures doing different patterns on each but then thought that they would probably have made a batch of cloth which everyone could use, so identical patterns would feature. However, as we want colour and variety in our figures with minimal work, I reckon this is the best way to achieve that aim!


A horde of hairies plus very large dog.

Bone and black undercoat side by side. Like I said, no difference really.

I started off painting different patterns on each figure, but soon realised that they would probably have made a bolt of cloth which several people would have used, so some patterns appear more than once, but on differently posed figures.

The Laird of Clan Lard with his pet.

Ginger, breechless, barbarous - must be a Scot.....

And another, who must have beaten up a Viking somewhere along the line given his natty headgear.

As you can see, I have based half the unit singly. This is to allow me to use the figures for SAGA, WAB Arthurians, etc.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Almost there.....

It has been a good twelve months spent almost exclusively painting stuff for my 1314 project, but I am, indeed, almost there.

By the middle of last week, and with time off this week to look after my children (some poor soul has to and they are at least mine!), I expect to have completed my painting of all the units for "Phase 1" by the start of November, leaving varnishing and basing to complete by December 1st and the "Wargamer" show..

Yet, in a last minute attempt to make my job harder, I made a decision regarding those final troops, which were to consist of Angus Og MacDonald (a three figure command element) and 16 Islesmen with two-handed axes. I could have bought some Redoubt Gallowglasses and, had they had them at Derby (apparently, they do not take their Renaissance ranges to shows), would have. I looked at Norse-Gael types in the SAGA starter set too, but there was not enough of what I wanted. I also checked out what appear to be excellent looking figures from Claymore Castings, but baulked a little at the price and I do like to see what I am buying in the flesh.

Thus, I set myself up with a few Fireforge plastics, a box of Viking Hirdmen from Gripping Beast, some brass spears, a few spare 1st Corps command figures and an inch or two of Green Stuff and set about converting a few Islesmen of my own.

Sculpting in this way is something I have not done masses of before, but with which I have dabbled from time to time. My first major foray was the "Medusa Legion", a Warhammer 40K Chaos Space Marine legion I built using plastic fantasy Chaos Warriors, using Green Stuff for horsehair helmet crests because I wanted them to have an Ancient Greek feel to match their "fluff". I continued in this vein with my Death Guard, especially the three Dreadnoughts I built for them from the loyal Space Marine kit. I may post some pics of these old warriors at some point.

So, with various pictures in my head, I set to lengthening mail shirts into hauberks, aketons into more full skirted versions, adding sleeves and hoods and filling a few gaps in the castings after my attempts at changing various arm positions, etc.

They are now undercoated and ready for a paint job. Some of my attempts, as you will see below, are a tad crude, but the whole thing took me just a couple of days' work and was most therapeutic. I will see how they paint up and can always spend some money on replacements if they really do not look the part!!! It is fair to say that I need a lot more practice with the modelling putty and associated tools....


"Swing low..." Fireforge Foot Sergeant in aketon with mail coif head from Mounted Sergeants box. The axe is made by cutting the head from a plastic axe (Fireforge or Gripping Beast to taste). This is obviously the pre-Green Stuff kit.

Fireforge body and arms again, but with GB Hirdman head and Danish Axe. I can live with the extra haft thickness on the plastic casting vs my wire and axe head versions.

GB Hirdman body and arms, Fireforge head with arming cap and another of "my" axes.

Angus Og MacDonald himself. Hirdman body, mailed Fireforge arms, Fireforge helmet with head removed and hollowed out plus another of my axes. The head is also from the GB Hirdmen set.

"Swing low..." with his mail coif extended into a mail cape.

And from behind. The sword is from my bits box.

Arming cap man, now also with a mail cape.

Yet another mail cape on the figure from the second photo above. I tried to blend the Green Stuff into the mail "skirt" around the back of the helmet in order to make it a continuous thing.

I did rather more work on Angus, extending his shirt into a hauberk and adding short outer sleeves to hide the mismatch between the GB body and Fireforge arms. I also added a mail hood attached to his hauberk. It must be a warm day in the Hebrides since he has doffed his headgear.

Angus again. A bit more work on his right sleeve would have been beneficial.

I am happier with his left sleeve.

Another extended shirt into hauberk conversion, this figure will carry Angus' banner. I tried to create a sense of movement in the skirt.

And another hood attached to a mail shirt.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Scottish cavalry

Not the most common of troop types in Medieval Scotland, so I am only planning this one unit, though I may get a few border horse types should there be a "Phase 2". Supposedly less well-equipped and certainly less numerous than their English counterparts, I fully expect these fellows to punch great holes in anything they meet whenever they take to the table!!!

Unsurprisingly, Scottish heraldry is not the most commonly available......Thus, I have used a bit of conjecture and included some stuff from later on, though managed to avoid the red heart motif on Douglas - that one is much later than 1314! Using the Osprey "Bannockburn" title and trying to match shades of grey against known livery from the Scottish shield plate (printed in black and white) in that book has been a good source.

The majority of the figures are Fireforge Mounted Sergeants, the rest 1st Corps. Douglas is a mix of the two. Banners are the usual calico and brass wire.


The whole shebang head on.

Front three-quarter no.1

Front three-quarter no.2

Robert Keith, Marshall of Scotland

James Douglas, "the Black". I tried a Fireforge figure on a 1st Corps horse for this one, building up the saddle to account for the fact that 1st Corps figures have the saddle moulded on the figure and Fireforge ones are moulded onto the horses.

Robert Boyd. I have seen a Scottish knight with blue and white checks on red, but I am sure this version is correct for Boyd.

Neil Campbell of Lochawe. I just fancied doing a gyronny pattern.

Lawrence Abernethy. He was belatedly on his way to join the English army for the battle, but fell in with Douglas' pursuing cavalry, so wisely changed his mind and joined in the pursuit of the fleeing Edward.

Conjecture time. I am claiming this one is Peter de Haga. The Osprey gives no colour at all to this, just the pattern, but I have seen evidence to suggest later De Haga's had blue and white colours though a different design, so went with the blue and white.

Somebody Sinclair I think. Possibly later, but I have borrowed it anyway.

Maxwell, again possibly later than 1314.

A couple of Keith retainers who have joined in to make up the numbers. The trumpeter is a 1st Corps figure on a Fireforge horse (minus moulded saddle!), the lancer Fireforge throughout.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Bruce

With just seven weeks left until the planned first outing, I felt it high time the Scots had some commanders to lead them against the might of England.

Thus, enter one Robert de Bruice, his brother Edward and his stalwart supporter, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, along with a few hangers on. The figures shown are all 1st Corps, except for Moray, who is Black Tree I think, and probably more Otterburn than Bannockburn, but I had the figure available and so used it. All three personalities were present and had commands at Bannockburn, however, hence my choice to paint them.

I have made the standards but not yet painted them, so will show these when all is done. Just some Highlanders (undercoated and ready to go), Islesmen (probably conversions from Fireforge and Gripping Beast plastics when I get round to them), Angus Og MacDonald to lead the hairy contingent and a host of supernumaries for vignettes to paint, including a Highland stag for some flavour!!! Then the varnishing and basing.......

I am confident all will be ready. What else I decide to do after the first outing will depend on that first outing. I have absolutely no idea how many points of troops (sic) I have for either side, having just painted up what I think are representative troops formed into representative units. Will the game be balanced? Do I even care so long as it looks OK and we present it to the paying public as best we can? No, I don't. To the victor the spoils and all that.


Robert himself, presumably before he broke his axe when cleaving the skull of the hapless Henry de Bohun on the first day of Bannockburn.

And again.

The intended English view of Robert (so long as I am playing the English when the toys come out to play, of course!)

The trumpeter has the arms of Annandale, of which Bruce was lord, on his caparison and shield.

Alexander Scrymgeour, who was apparently Bruce's standard bearer at Bannockburn. The arms are apparently those of the modern Scrymgeours (Earls of Dundee, no less). I would be keen to discover if they carried these arms in 1314, but I will not be repainting either way!!!

Gold lion rampant armed and langued blue, holding a gold-hilted white scimitar overhead - whatever that is in herald-speak.

Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. As stated above, perhaps a bit too modern for 1314.

And again.

I do not care if I never see another "florry counter-florry" border again after tackling both Moray and Bruce, but I guess they still both need their standards......

Edward Bruce and his nice, easy heraldry. If I can rustle up the time and effort, I may do a Faughart game in 2018 to represent the 700th anniversary of his death at that battle against the Anglo-Irish.

Axes are obviously very popular amongst the Bruces.

Another nice view for the English.