David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Thursday 30 April 2020

French Line Cavalry

In the shape of more Eureka Miniatures for my Wars of the French Revolution collection, also part of the Salute pre-order from two years ago. I had intended that Phil would paint these for me, but with lockdown curtailing our freedom of movement I decided I'd better tackle them myself, buoyed up by the generally warm reception my efforts at O'Donnell's Frei-korps received. I found an illustration of the 20th cavalry from 1795 showing them with rose pink facings so I decided to go with those. The flag is a modified free download from a French website, now defunct I think, and the bases are sabots and movement trays from Warbases. A few pictures which I hope will give an impression of the look of the unit ~

In the end they turned out to be less fiddly than I had feared, although the poses of one or two of the ones piece castings of the rank and file caused me some overpainting in correcting smudges where I'd caught details inadvertently. After these were completed, as my latest order for more Dixon Miniatures ACW figures had still not arrived, I cleaned up and undercoated some of the cavalry from my last order. Some New York cavalry I think.

Friday 24 April 2020

O'Donnel's Frei-korps 2

With the periodic cooperation of hand and eye I have finished the five bases which make up the full unit of O'Donnel's Frei-korps to add to my Austrian army in the Wars of the French Revolution collection. I'm satisfied with the final look of the figures and the unit as a whole. As usual a shot of the unit drawn up in line ~
And a couple of closer views which should disabuse those who think I'm a decent artist ~
The truth is I'm a 'looks ok on the table' sort of artist. As my dad used to say, "It looks alright from the top of a 118 bus!" Next up some French Heavy Cavalry from Eureka again, also part of the pre-order from Salute two years ago.

Monday 20 April 2020

O'Donnel's Frei-korps 1

The first bases of figures I've painted for my Wars of the French Revolution collection for many months! They are Eureka Miniatures figures I've had in the Lead Pimple for almost two years, so long that I can't really remember what made me buy them in a Salute pre-order or what I intended to paint them up as. So I cast around on the internet and hit on some period illustrations of O'Donnel's Frei-korps, natily attired in red and green, so I thought they'd do nicely thank you. The unit will be five bases, each of three figures when completed.  I'm finding it very slow and fiddly, the figure style is very delicate and my eyes and hand are struggling along gamely trying to cope. I'm confident there are several areas where the figures are incorrect for the chosen unit, but I'm no longer worried by such issues, they will do for me as toys in a game ~
What I have learned from this so far is that I'm better to concentrate my painting efforts on figures whose sculpting style is kinder to my aged eyes and hands. So, I'm waiting on an order from Dixon Miniatures for some ACW figures to supplement the diminishing Lead Pimple.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

39th New York Volunteers...

...otherwise known as the Garibaldi Guards. This is the second time I've added this unit to my ACW collection, the first time using the single Dixon Miniatures dedicated figure and modifying officers, standard bearers and drummer, but this time I'm attempting a portrayal of how they might have appeared mid war using a range of Dixon Miniatures instead. I also gave them three flags, adding a GMB Designs New York Volunteers flag to the two dedicated flags for the unit including the Italian tricolour. For now I used the two flags from the Battle Flag sheet of New York's foreign regiments, but the colours are too pale I found next to the GMB Designs flag, so I've ordered up replacement flags from there. Postal service permitting I'll exchange the flags before I varnish the unit. Here is my version of the unit for now ~
 Some closer pictures, faults and all, to give a better impression of the individual figures ~

I'm not sure what I'll tackle next. I have a unit of Dixon Union cavalry, but I really don't like horses! I shall think on it, as they say...

Saturday 11 April 2020

Home thoughts from...

...well, home; where else in this time of lock down, self isolation, endless depressing news headlines and bl**dy cats on Farcebook? You might guess then that I’m finding it all more than a little tedious. In truth, I feel as if I’m throwing endless double ones in the game of daily life...

Just as well then that I have a hobby to distract me! Although my hobby output and related activity is nothing alongside some -Ashton, this means you! - I’ve found both distraction and comfort in equal measure from my own modest output, but more importantly from following both blogs and Facebook posts of my friends and other fellow hobbyists. Keep it up chaps, you are seriously helping to save my sanity.
I’ve enjoyed following friends who have been posting reports and pictures of games they have played, solo or by media with live opponents and by email. For myself though none of these appeal in the slightest, I enjoy the face to face nature of a game played out over a table we can both see in its completion. Nevertheless I have enjoyed Phil’s three run through of a WWI I scenario with three different rule sets, Colin’s mammoth FRW games set within a campaign context, George’s several games and especially his remote naval campaign and Matt’s ACW game played with distant opponents using technology.
There’s been lots of great painting on display too, though I still get uneasy when I see posts on the Black Powder Facebook pages which ask questions which seem to suggest a complete lack of any knowledge of history in general and the period in particular. I feel like shouting out, “Buy a book!” or even,”Try googling it for yourself!” But of course I don’t, I leave it to those with deeper wells of patience than I possess to deal with them and I move on.
Following some good advice I read from a former prisoner I’ve tried to cope by dividing my day into short segments. As is usual I generally paint first thing, though now often for 90 minutes or more in a couple of bursts interspersed by breakfast and ablutions. Sue will generally be reading while I’m busy at the paint desk, but then we generally get together to tackle household tasks and plan the day’s menu. After lunch I try to read for a while, currently Martin Walker’s Bruno crime novels, though I’m still dipping into Trudeau’s ‘Southern Storm’ dealing with Sherman’s march through Georgia. After that we usually go out for a walk, being quite lucky really to live right on the edge of the city so we can walk in a more rural setting than many. Then after a tad more painting, or other hobby activity, and dinner we settle down separately to watch some TV. Hardly riveting is it? But it has helped so far in coping with the strange situation.
Currently I’m painting another unit of Dixon Miniatures ACW Union infantry as the 39th New York Volunteers, otherwise the Garibaldi Guard. Not though in their distinctive 1861 uniform, but rather as they might have appeared by mid war. I’ve also given them three flags, adding a GMB Designs New York Volunteer flag to the two in the dedicated set including the Italian tricolour. They are a ragged firing line, but I think they will look good when I’m through with them. I’ve found it so relaxing to dip back into my favourite genre that yesterday I ordered up another unit, in frock coats and Kepis to represent the 55th New York State Militia, the Gardes Lafayette , because I had the flags and liked the colours of the early uniform.
As you’ve probably seen by now I’ve also made two more small buildings for use in North American settings, though I’ve still to tackle the Star Fort to Vauban Fort project I bought earlier in the year. Besides these I’ve completed two articles for Wargames Illustrated and had the responsibility of taking my own photos to accompany each piece. I have learned a good deal from Dan in that area which I hope may feed into better blog photographs in future. Despite all this though nothing substitutes for my family and friends, so all who read this PLEASE stay at home, so that when we can meet again none of us are missing!

Thursday 9 April 2020

A small farmstead building

Following a day or two of reflection after I'd finished off the small cabin I'd repurposed from the Warbases 15mm barn. I felt ready to tackle the second upscaling project, the 'L' shaped 15mm barn. I'd spent some time thinking about what to do with it and in the end I plumped for a combined living area and integral small barn. The six wall sections made up really easily around the provided 'L' shaped base piece and the two roof sections fitted together easily too. However, the smaller section didn't quite sit tightly on the second larger roof, but I can live with that ~
The single barn door opening on the left has been covered by a 28mm size cabin door from my Box of Bits. The longer front face had two barn door openings let into it and learning from my first effort I cut a piece of card to size and covered the whole area before fixing a window in place. This should make it easier to plank the area than it had been on the first cabin! Leaving that aside to dry and harden off thoroughly, I decided to set about applying shingles to the two sections that make up the roof ~
On the small cabin I'd previously completed I'd applied the rows of precut shingles with UHU glue for a quickish fix, but for these I applied the shingles with PVA which I also liberally coated over the exposed service to give them greater strength. When hardened off the projecting pieces can be easily cut back to give a better finished look. Leaving the roof sections aside now, the next phase is the planking, which is really a long winded and fiddly task that I usually split over two or three sessions. At the end of that process it looks like this ~
When the whole has dried hard, usually overnight I've found, the next thing I'd do is to fix it to an MDF base for ease of handling when painting. The trouble is Warbases are closed for the duration and I don't have a base. However, Sue came to my rescue with some very thick card from her crafting stock, so I cut out a suitably sized piece from the sheet and fixed the building to it with generous amounts of UHU glue ~
The next stage in progressing this small farmstead is the painting of the building. Where the small cabin was going to be whitish, this one will have the lived in look of untreated wood, so it has a burnt umber base for the whole piece including the roof sections. Then a couple of progressively light dry crushed from Foundry Arctic Grey shade and mid tone. The base is textured with Basetex Dried Earth, which I use for all my ACW bases and static grass Nd clump vegetation are added to taste along with a few scenic bits I had lying around, as you do. The finished farmstead ~
 I decided to try to add a small area suggesting a garden to add a little interest to the piece ~
 Finally, a couple of pictures of the finished piece in situ in GHQ with part of my War of 1812-15 collection ~

Making these two buildings made a refreshing change from plodding on with figures, so much so that I'm well on with another ACW unit, the 39th New York Volunteers, otherwise the Garibaldi Guards.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Carl and Rose

In between working on my two building upscaling projects for North American settings here in GHQ I had these two Partizan freebie figures on my desk too. I could apply the odd splash of paint as I waited for glue to dry I found. I must say though that as sculpts go they are more than a tad uninspiring, very flat in pose, lacking movement and action, but they will do to add to my VBCW collection ~
After these I'm unsure what to tackle next from the Lead Pimple, I suppose I must wait and see how the mood takes me. I can choose from three ongoing expansion efforts I have on the go: FRW; War of 1812-15; and ACW. As I said, we shall have to wait and see where the mood takes me...

Friday 3 April 2020

From barn to cabin

I decided  a break from painting figures for a while would be good for both morale and focus so I looked around my box of bits for inspiration. I found two barns by Warbases, sold as 15mm buildings. They were for an abandoned project, at least it is for now, and I wondered if they might be repurposed. Testing the idea out it seemed I could make a small cabin out of the smaller of the two barns, so I assembled it and added the 28mm scale doors and windows to it and left it to harden off overnight. Here's stage 1 as it stood ~
The back of the cabin to be, which is really the front of the barn kit, looked very odd at this stage, but the planking will put that to rights later ~
The next phase is to start adding the planking. I use thin card for this stage, very fiddly for my hands and eye, but I  the want it to match the look of the buildings I've made before for the theatre, as far as possible anyway ~
When the planking has hardened the next phase is to add the rustic shutters to the windows. These are available from Warbases and were also found in my trawl of the 'box of bits' ~
I've mounted the cabin on a spare 3mm Warbases 'Terrain Base'. It's 100 X 100mm and left over from my Italian Wars project from last year. Next up in the process is applying the roof shingles using sheets of precut strips from Oshiro; messy but quicker than individual shingles! I added some spare plastic tubing to suggest the venting pipework for a pot bellied stove, after all they seem to have been first used in 1800 in Pennsylvania ~
The next phase was to paint the entire cabin. When that was done it could be weathered and the base textured. The final phase was adding static grass and tuft type vegetation to help bind the building into its surroundings visually.
I first washed the walls sparingly with GW's Nul Oil, but any thin dark wash would do. When that was thoroughly dry I dry brushed all the walls in a succession of Foundry Arctic Grey shade, light, Canvas light and lastly Arctic Grey light. The shingles I painted first Foundry Bay Brown shade (only because I'd let the glue run fixing the pipe to the shingles!), Then dry brushed lightly with Foundry Stone shade, followed by a light dry brushing with Stone midtone. Grassing and adding vegetation to taste and it was done!
And in situ here in GHQ~
Now it's on to the 'L' shaped upscaling...

Wednesday 1 April 2020

A small ACW vignette

After finishing my last unit of Dixon Miniatures ACW Confederate Infantry, the 3rd Louisiana, I decided to press on and complete this small vignette by Redoubt Enterprises. I bought it from Colonel Bill at the recent Hammerhead wargames show, remember them? They were labelled up as Union Generals and I gave them only a cursory glance before handing over my cash. I’d planned to add the scene to my Union camp collection but now I shall have to think about adding a Confederate camp collection! I quite like the look of the Old Glory 2nd Edition ACW camp sets, so I may order one up at some stage. I’ve altered the look of the piece a little, seating one figure on a chair and adding a pile of books on the long pew the three others are seated on (It’s from a Pulp Figures set, I just snipped the skull off!) There’s a drum wreck covered in a cloth between the pew and chair, with some representative drinks on top, for now. If/when normal life re-emerges from this pandemic then I’ll get some better items to replace them, but that will have to wait for now ~

As a break from figure painting I thought that I might have a go at repurposing a Warbases small barn in 15mm into a small cabin for 28mm games set from the F&IW up to the ACW. We'll have to see how it works out, at the moment it's assembled and I've added a door and windows in 28mm from the 'box of bits'. More in due course on this.