Sunday, 17 September 2017

Half a century in the making

Hello again.

A few months ago, before the various technical and other challenges I referred to in the first post I published this month, I mentioned that I had a certain milestone birthday approaching. Well, as far as I am aware, Harry Potter and I have four things in common - we both wear glasses, we are both sans parents, we both have scars (though his main one is far more prominent than mine and was caused by something very different), and we share the 31st July as our birthday.

Yes, Monday, 31st July, 2017 saw yours truly turn fifty, whilst on a family holiday with around twenty others who decided they would like to join me at a collection of stone buildings down in rural Somerset where we stayed for an excellent, if slightly damp in places, week of relaxation, sightseeing, fun, laughter, games and the odd disagreement!

I had a jolly wonderful time and, as it was my birthday, although I tried to tell people we were not actually there for that, I received a number of very decent gifts from the entourage. The wargaming-related ones are here.

The "Travel Battle" was courtesy of wife and children - I must have dropped a few hints somewhere...

For those few of you not in the know on this one, it was originated by one of the Perry twins many years ago as a quick and portable option for a game whilst away at shows, conventions or re-enactment events. The box contains two armies, terrain and rules. The option exists to paint the two forces in the box, which are generic Napoleonic-style figures in red and blue plastic, so basically French vs British. Given that my passion in Napoleonic terms is to play Austrian, I wonder how the red ones would look in white...

There will undoubtedly be several articles on the web and in future magazines about how to expand this further, which I await with interest, but the set is on the conveyor belt of projects that is my "To Do" list. It can, of course, be played without painting either the figures or terrain, but that would not be very wargamer-ish.

Now this little offering was a very generous one from Nephew Nick and his wife, Claire. I had heard of it, and its derivatives, but never actually played any of them. It looks great and could very easily become my de rigeur choice whenever I want a quick WW2 game. It too is chock full of figures, including tanks and artillery. I very much look forward to giving this a go asap.

A good birthday!!!

See you soon.


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Tasters and titbits

Hello again.

No posts for two months and then three come along in as many days!

Not content with finishing a few dozen (well, over twelve dozen actually) 10mm Crimean War Russians, I have given some thought to what next year might hold for the Wyrley Retinue. Now, Nephew Paul wanted a World War 1 game and was sent off by the rest of us to source something suitable. He has not been heard of since....I reckon Malmaison would be a good bet, but hey ho.

So, Nephew Nick and I got our heads together in the absence of any feedback from Nephew Paul and thought we might use my French & Indian Wars figures in a suitable show-type game. Cue various ideas, plans, schemes and plots and....the purchase of several packs of Eagle Figures French and British Seven Years' War infantry and artillery at the Barrage Show in Stafford back in July. I am not convinced that this game will get off the ground, with various challenges to be met by one or two of us that seem to be draining will and time, but I have at least made a start.

Below are a few photos of the first of the French, but, actually, as I type, I have painted the sum total of 20 60th Foot (Royal Americans) for the British, with the command group still to do, a battalion of the French La Reine regiment and I am part way through (about 25%) a battalion of the Royal Roussillon regiment. Of course, I already have the figures from my "Muskets & Tomahawks" set up, so there should be no paucity of light troops and skirmishers, but I wanted to be able to field some good, solid line infantry too to fulfil one or more of the ideas I have been batting around, so these are progressing slowly. I expect to be adding more troops to the lead mountain at the Derby Worlds show early in October, so I am good to go regardless of whether the game makes it or not. I am enjoying painting some uniformity for a change and, having recently re-read a couple of Charles Grant's works, the 18th Century is quite an attraction at the moment.

I will post the pictures of the finished units soon enough, but even the "complete" La Reine battalion is not yet either varnished or based, so it might be a while yet.

Anyway, by way of a taster or a titbit, here are the aforementioned photos of a couple of new figures for the project.

See you soon,


The drummer for my La Reine regiment, in his alternative livery of red coat rather than the usual Livree du Roi blue.

And a rear view to show I did not skimp too much on the lace...

And another for Royal-Roussillon. I initially baulked at the drums these guys carried, littered with cannon, miniature regimental flags and so on, but it had to be done so I had a go at it. I don't think it looks too bad from this range!

And another rear view to show I did not cheat too much on the lace.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A long time ago, in a peninsula far, far away...

Hello again.

A few months back, as you may remember from a previous post, I made my usual journey to the WMMS show at the Aldersley Leisure Centre near Wolverhampton to demo our Vikings game and buy a few bits and bobs. Well, more than a few bits and bobs.

One of my major purchases was the Partizan Guide to the Crimean War and a starter force from Pendraken for that conflict, a Russian starter army to be precise, in Pendraken's usual 10mm format.

Well, the summer saw the completion of all except the cavalry element of that force, the dragoons in question being delayed whilst I sought some better source material than I had to hand, specifically covering flag details. Those dragoons are still not finished, but the rest of the force is.

This project will definitely grow as time wears on. I thoroughly enjoyed painting them and the timescale for completion thus far was measured in weeks rather than months. I still have a decision to make on rules, but have a few options there. I also need a good source of uniform and flag details for all arms, which I hope Laurence Spring's tome on the Russian army of this war will be, when I get the chance to peruse a copy, hopefully at Derby Worlds in a month's time. With both Pendraken and Magister Militum providing figures for this conflict in 10mm, I also have choices there, especially with MM's regimental light cavalry pack for the British having four regiments of cavalry, plus three gins, consisting of light dragoons, hussars and lancers, all for £27.50. Who said "Charge of the Light Brigade"?



Three battalions, each of six bases of four figures. Now, they might not actually end up as three battalions, as I have not settled on rules yet. Regimental Fire & Fury were my first option, but I will need a LOAD more figures for that. Thus, I also considered Black Powder and Ran & File, but no decision has been made yet. The figures are a mix of cap and helmet headgear, but all are greatcoated except the officers, one per battalion.


These are non-greatcoated figures, again a mix of helmet and cap. The army pack is pre-determined, so I made the best use, as I saw it, of whatever different figures I had to hand. To make the Jager stand out, they were all minus greatcoat. Fortunately, I had enough of each different type to make the choices I made with just a few spare figures left over.


Finally, I was able to muster six bases of four figures with cap and without greatcoat to form a Naval Infantry battalion. The flag was a lot simpler, but all are just rectangles of sticky label wrapped around the pole after being painted in the flat. I highlight them once they are hung. The Brigadier is the Officer from the dragoons I still need to finish.

Three generic field pieces with three crew figures each. The aforementioned brigadier is now a lowly battery commander.


Monday, 11 September 2017

Ebb and flow

Hello again.

I cannot believe it is over two months since I last put something up on the blog, but there it is. A veritable cornucopia of technical issues, family holidays, the sad loss of my beloved Border Collie, impending redundancy and other life events have seen my activity slip to what I would call "very limited", but here I am again.

So, to recommence my musings after this latest lay off, I am linking the last post I did with this one by way of showcasing a few choice items from my Death Guard, which, I hope, also convey quite why I was so excited by the new release of Warhammer 40K edition whatever, complete with the Death Guard miniatures.

Now, this trio of ne'er-do-wells are not the Bee Gees, nor Genesis post-Steve Hackett. They are not A-ha (which Occasional Wargamer Brother Kev has a penchant for, much to my amazement when I discovered it!). They are not even the Sugababes in any of their various incarnations.

No, these three scions of Chaos are the source of much amusement, a depiction of my mad desire for converting and scratch building much of my Chaos forces back in the day and also became a sort of figurehead for my Death Guard in its paltry number of actual outings to the tabletop, a sort of signature dish for how I wanted my force to look.

"Why amusement?" I hear you cry.

Well, in one particular game against Nephew Paul, one of them wiped out most of the Chaos army in dice-fuelled fits of psychotic rage. He did more damage to his own side than all of the Space Marines opposite could manage between them! Then another, in the same game, walked calmly across the battlefield, lascannon shots bouncing off all over, and ripped the offending Predator, with its puny, twin-linked lascannons, to pieces with its bare claws. It then promptly scored two wounds on the Space Marine Chaplain who was the only thing left alive on the opposing side...........and Nephew Paul promptly rolled a double six for invulnerable saves, thereby earning a draw! Happy days!!!

Anyway, all three of these beasts were converted from the plastic Space Marine Dreadnought kit from Games Workshop at least ten years ago, and probably nearer twenty, when I first set out on this Death Guard frenzy. A lot of greenstuff, bits of other kits, pieces of wire, plastruct and sundry other bits later, I had three Death Guard Dreadnoughts of my own, each unique and, in my eyes, showcasing exactly why Chaos was King. All that potential for conversion and creation at a time when most people just seemed to want to build the various kits according to the manufacturer's instructions. If I had wanted to do that, I would have settled down with one of Airfix's offerings!

Part of the "legend" was that they all had names and personalities. We had the troop muncher with the plasma cannon (I think I called him something like "Bubonicus", but my memory is failing somewhat!), the armour hunter with the multi-melta (Lord Tsetse, as the fly-resemblance is entirely intentional) and the bruiser with the twin close combat weapons (Lord Tetanus). According them noble titles emphasised the message - these guys were there to lead the footsloggers like good (or not) medieval knights.

I make no claim that any of them are the greatest/ best/ most reasonable/ other examples of the breed - I have seen some truly stunning GW kit in my time, converted or otherwise - but they are the sort of thing that first led me to build exclusively Chaos forces for 40K. Nothing has ever come close to making the workbench in 40K terms, as I just love the opportunities for modelling and creativity afforded by Chaos. Orks could have rivalled it, but I cannot get over the inherent silliness of the breed. Oh well.

Time for the photos. See you soon.


"Bubonicus" is all his glory. He was the first one built and I used the metal claw from the original, metal Dreadnought kit by GW. The rest of the kit formed the sole dreadnought from my original Chaos Legion, the "Medusa Legion", which had an Ancient Greek vibe in my imagination, with lots of red plumes and close combat weapons. I may show them at some point. The plasma cannon is from a boxed set of Orks from about 30 years ago, the rest a mix of greenstuff and sundry kit parts.

Ah, the front view seems to have failed. A plastruct girder is his main weapon, allied with a powerfist with built in flamer for that "up close and personal" combat experience, this is Lord Tetanus, all black eye and brute force. Subtlety not required... 

And, finally, Lord Tsetse, the fly-like leviathan who likes to eat tanks for a living. He is the most converted of all, with arms splayed more widely via inserts and greenstuff, a largely scratchbuilt multi-melta from plastic tube, prominent antennae and proboscis from brass wire, a face sculpted from green stuff, powerfist claws from more plastruct and token trophy rack with incense burner for that extra bit of religious iconography. The clawed foot is just another attempt to do something a little different to the other two.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Oops, I did it again...

Hello again.

Last weekend, on the hunt for my usual monthly-published reading matter in a local newsagents, I happened upon the magazine pictured below.

"White Dwarf" is a magazine I have not purchased regularly for some considerable time and the whole GW genre divides gamers like no other...

I remember the first issue I bought was number 61, though I have acquired earlier issues since, and I bought it for some time thereafter, month after month, then broke off, then started taking it again probably twenty years ago for perhaps another five+ years. The last issue I actually bought prior to this one covered the re-release of "Bloodbowl", as I thought it might inspire me to buy that game again. It did not.

So, what made me buy this one?

A new edition of "Warhammer 40K". Neat. My copy of the last edition is still in its shrink-wrap!

A nice cover picture? Same as always, I suspect.

But wait. "Look again," I told myself. The left hand side of that Space Marine's face is rotting, decaying, blighted by the disease of Chaos. Blighted by the touch of Nurgle...

I built myself a "Death Guard" army around fifteen years ago. Hm.

"Take a look inside," I mused.

The box contents did not disappoint!

The eye-candy did not disappoint either!!!

PHWOAR!!! The usual two armies! The usual plethora of other bits! Some very interesting changes to aspects of the core rules, notably to simplify the multitude of special rules I always forgot! AND ONE OF THE ARMIES IS......

DEATH GUARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not just bog standard Plague Marines though. Oh no. There is a "Foetid Bloat-drone." (???). There is a "Lord of Contagion", a "Noxious Blightbringer", a "Malignant Plaguecaster", some "Poxwalkers"...

AND SOME PLAGUE MARINES!!! (And some Imperial tat...)

So, with a BIG birthday less than a month away, do I buy it?
At slightly less than £100, do I buy it?
With so many half finished and not yet started projects already to hand, do I buy it?
With the final instalment of second daughter Becky's trip to Mexico this year to pay in a week or two, do I buy it?


And I bought the "Index: Chaos", which details every single Chaos option across the range for every budding megalomaniacal despot.

Yet, even with all this, I must end on a sad note. No one wants to wrap this up for me for the aforementioned BIG birthday, so I am forced to open it early...

AND, the "Death Guard" can no longer have the Terminator unit I so lovingly scratchbuilt/ converted for them those several years ago. They are no longer allowed in the new army list options for that Chaos Legion.

But I am still a VERY HAPPY BUNNY!!!

It is a long time since I read a copy of "White Dwarf". I may yet return to reading more...


Monday, 26 June 2017

The last knockings? (Part 2)

Hello again.

Following my last post of a couple of days ago, when the Rangers got an outing, I hereby present a somewhat less martial group, but no less important to the defence of North America/ assault on New France during the French & Indian Wars.

These are again Redoubt figures, bought at the WMMS show back in March. I painted them late in May/ early June, varnished and based them last week, and present them here as almost the last unit I could paint for this most enjoyable of projects. I would have liked a bit more variety, but you get what you pay for.

All I have left is a mortar and crew (not really viable for the usual FIW action, certainly not for "Muskets & Tomahawks" [???], but who knows if I will ever get a siege underway), a couple of officer-types for both sides and a quartet of Indians in winter clothing. That quite literally is it. But there are still those plans to acquire a couple of units of Regulars for both sides and the all-important terrain items...


Saturday, 24 June 2017

The last knockings?

Hello again.

My French and Indian Wars project has featured a number of times over the past twelve months or so, as I have worked my way through various random purchases from Regulars to Civilians via Indians and Irregulars. It has been a most enjoyable affair for me, different to my usual fayre, with plenty of variety and an end in sight early on, because it was basically the sort of large, skirmish affair I had so enjoyed with my SAGA forces. It was always destined to be a couple of hundred figures at most and I am almost there, at the aforementioned "last knockings".

Or am I?

I have painted practically everything I bought for this project, with the sum total of around a dozen figures left in the shoe box I have used to store castings for this project. This definitely constitutes a "last knockings" in my book.

But, I have no specific buildings yet. There are no log cabins, no longhouses, no stockades or maize fields or whatever. I bought a Perry North American Church kit several years ago and have not even built it yet. That would do for a start. I bought two canoes at WMMS back in March and they are still in their packaging. They would do too. And I have a desire still to add some more Regulars to the collection, but I cannot truly say whether I will do so or not...
And then there is the option of some artillery, perhaps some grenadiers, some light infantry...

Yet here, for your attention, is the penultimate group of figures I had on the "agenda". The leader is a Dixon Miniatures figure I bought early on in the project (the majority of that order actually being for Vikings!). The other figures are Redoubt bought towards the end of the project duration, at the WMMS show again last March. Based as before on 25mm circles (plastic or mdf, whatever I have to hand at the time) and textured with my usual mix of Basetex, model railway ballast, paint, static grass, the odd varnish puddle, etc, they fit nicely into the spare space in the box in which I keep this collection, sitting neatly in their mdf tray alongside the other "British and allies" troops.

So, here are the reinforcements for my Rangers.

All I need now is to get in a few more games. The last one was a couple of months ago...


A little shorter than most of the figures I have for this period, but not everyone is the same size in real life and he actually fits in well. I am never sure if he is smiling, grimacing, has just been shot or whether I have painted him wrongly with those prominent teeth. Did Freddie Mercury ever have any American ancestors?

Simple kit options for the frontier fighter.

Squad 1. I have still not done the research into specific units and what headgear each wore, so am happy to mix and match.

Squad 2. This now makes 18 Rangers plus an officer in my collection, so I an do a complete Ranger force for smaller games or a Ranger-led force for larger ones if I want.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

More loot and a late Christmas present

Hello again.

I have finally taken delivery of a present I bought myself, ostensibly for Christmas last year, on the basis that it might have been published by then. Five months later (about a month or so ago now), I finally took delivery!


 I have been a fan of these "Wargaming in History" books since the first one came out a few years back and have bought most of them to date. This is the second covering the Seven Weeks' War of 1866 and, on first browse, seems to be every bit as good as the first volume, which dealt with the early battles. Perhaps I will review it properly once I have actually read it!

This era is one I am seriously looking to get into, being the owner of several hundred Austrian figures in 15mm, roughly 30% of the relevant infantry being in the Kittel tunic (more 1859) and the rest in the greatcoat so synonymous with 1866. I also have a couple of hundred Prussians too. On top of that, I made a serious investment in 10mm ACW last year and treated myself to some 10mm Crimean War Russians earlier this. Why the small scale? Well, my table size for games has shrunk by half as changes in the family home have eaten into space, so smaller figures is the way to go for me at the moment. I WILL do this at some time...

A small snapshot of just one of the fine photo/ map pages.

The book is chock-full of great photos (hence the high cost of these books) and good maps clearly showing table layouts for playing games. These layouts are also used to show the movement of the troops during the game recreations covered in the book.

Finally, as I reach the "end" of my French & Indian Wars project (famous last words, as I do have plans to buy a few units of regulars for both sides as I have something in mind...), I thought I would add some terrain to my sundry collections. All the above was bought at a model railway show for less than £20. I have also been collecting lollipop sticks of a particular type for a while now, namely round ones rather than the usual flat variety, to use as log cabin walls. A recent article by Diane Sutherland in Miniature Wargames showed how to do it, so a few settler cabins for the FIW are not far away(I hope).
And that is about it for now. Painting time is very limited at present due to a change in my work hours to straight days whilst work undergoes some major changes, but I have at last managed to finish more Rangers and some Militia for the FIW, so will show them soon.
I have also just undercoated some Viking archers, which I hope to have ready for the Wyrley Retinue outing to the Barrage Show in Stafford on 9th July - just four weeks today! We will be showing our "Storri's Trek 2: The Rath of Cahan" game again, but always change something between outings to try and freshen things up and give the paying public something else to see should they have seen the game in a previous incarnation.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

TUTORIAL TIME! Unit basing tiny figures

Hello again.

When building my 10mm fantasy armies, I gave some consideration to how I would base them. The chosen rules ("Warband" by Pendraken Miniatures) require units to be based as a single entity on 100x50mm bases, rather than several small bases combined to make a unit as with most rules, so I was concerned at how I would base them with so many figures in the way of the glue, flock, textured paint, etc I use for such activities.

So, her for your delectation (or for you to ignore should you so choose), is my way of doing it. I make no claim to originality or even to common sense in how I achieved my aim. You may well read this and think "what a *********" (insert suitable derogatory term) at how I might have missed something obvious, but here goes.

Firstly, however, let me show you the sort of thing I am NOT concerned with here, such as this Elven command unit, seen in the first two photos. There is plenty of room in and around the figures in units like this to just stick them all down at once and texture and flock to your heart's content afterwards. So, in such cases, just get on with it!

NO!!! We are concerned with multi-figure units!

1) So, first up, gather your materials. A selection of textured paint, flock, white modelling glue/ PVA, cocktail sticks and bamboo skewers to apply the textured paint, small rocks sold as model railway ballast, grass tufts, bits of know the sort of thing, a selection of which is below.

2) Check out the two photos below, both of the same unit. Once you have your materials, take a 100x50mm base (or whatever size you are using) and paint it on both sides to help prevent warping later on.

3) Once this is dry (and after adding the little box for the unit record dice at the back left corner of the base, apply any twigs or rocks you want on the base, gluing them down securely. These will need to be bedded into the subsequent earth and grass textures to look the part.

4) Plan how your unit is to look and glue down the first row of figures, who will form the front rank of the unit when seen from the front of course.

5) Once these have stuck securely (I use superglue for this), take your chosen base texturing material (Basetex, Greenscene textured paint or whatever) and apply it around this front rank of figures, but ensure you cover enough of the base behind this front row to take the texturing up to where you intend to deploy the second row of figures. I use a cocktail stick in the main for this, but a bamboo skewer is fine for larger, less detailed work.  Sprinkle in a few of the tiny rocks from your pack of ballast as you go. They will be held in place by the wet textured paint.

6) Whilst the textured paint is still wet, glue down the second row, ensuring that you butt the front of the figure bases into the texture you have already applied so that it largely covers the front of the second row figure bases.

7) As with the first row of figures, apply more textured paint around the back of the second row of figures, again leaving enough to enable you to stick down the third row, again ensuring you push them partly into the textured paint around the second row of figures so that the front of each base of the third row figures is covered. Again add a few little ballast rocks to suit.

8) Then finish off the rest of the base with textured paint. Take GREAT care filling in any gaps by dropping in moistened textured paint form the end of a cocktail stick, pushing and shoving it into accessible gaps etc. If you do not take care, you may well end up dropping it all over a figure. If you do, wash it off immediately with water! Add a few more ballast rocks to suit.

9) Once the whole base has dried, you can add grass. Mix up a dilute solution of white glue/ PVA, apply it at the end of a row of figures and simply let gravity take it down the channels and around the figures. DO NOT allow it to build up like a snowdrift around any individual figures, but tilt the base to manipulate the flow of the glue.

10) Once you have applied the glue you want to where you want it, sprinkle flock and grass in a mix that suits your taste over the glue and tip and tap off  any excess onto newspaper, ready to collect it up later for re-use.

11) Once the grass has dried (give it at least a day), use whatever paint you like to highlight the bare earth of any visible textured paint.

12) Add tufts or other effects to the bases to finish off.

As you can hopefully see from the photos, a little care and effort, together with doing things in a suitable order, can lead to some fully based and useable figures with no gaps showing to spoil the overall effect you want. Job done!

I based my Goblins in exactly the same way, so it works for everything I have tried so far.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Finwe's Finest Finally Feature

Hello again.

The High Elves are here!

I actually painted the vast majority of the figures last year, but basing them has taken until this year to accomplish, as I have busied myself with other things, notably Vikings and Irish and then French & Indian Wars.

But the wait (for me at least!) is now over and the Goblins have some opposition of note (apart from fighting amongst themselves, at any rate).

The figures are all 10mm size and hail from the ranges of Pendraken. As with the Goblins, I bought the first ones at the Derby Show in 2015, buying one of the starter armies available at the time (and available still I believe, though the choices have expanded since then).

Blue is the theme colour and features on virtually all the figures to tie them together as a whole, unlike the rather more random look of the Goblins.

Now, I will show you the pictures as this juncture, but please tune in for the next post, as there are a couple of major considerations with these whole unit bases when it comes to texturing the bases that I would like to notify you about, should you ever choose to go the "Warband" route. I will do that next time...

So, till next time, here are Finwe's Finest.


The "Starter Army plus bits", which is still not the whole force available! The starter force is actually just 8 units, so this is a starter and a half!!!

The COMMAND stand, a mix of figures from the original command pack plus some additions.

The High Elf Sorcerers with pet statuette. It seems all the magician packs, regardless of which army they are for, get a pet statuette, rock or similar.


And a close up to show my attempts to shade and highlight 10mm figures just as I would 28mm.

The open grave on the back left corner of each base is to hold a small d6 which shows unit strength in the "Warband" rules.

BOLT SHOOTERS, resplendent primarily in yellow, but with that almost ever-present blue visible too, which ties them in with the army as a whole. My thought process was that blue was their colour, but different units or types of units might have different main uniform colours, hence the yellow here and... 

...the green of the SCOUTS (again matched with blue).

But those mounted types are rather more fanciful and independent-minded, so blue may not feature at all, as on this unit, the BLOOD KNIGHTS.

The knights of the STAR LORDS regiment are mostly blue-clad, however.

The STAR OF THE AINUR regiment. The banners in all cases are simply pieces of self-adhesive label folded in half around the pole of a normal spearman figure in the case of the infantry.

The RED WINGS regiment.

The SWAN GUARD regiment.

And the two-handed swordsmen of the GOLDEN OAK regiment.

And another ultra-close up showing my attempt to shade and highlight these 10mm figures.