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.

Saturday 31 October 2020

Small Plantation Barn

 Having only utilized four of the five female field hands in my small cotton field vignette I decided to base the remaining figure on its own circular base. While waiting for the glue to dry I set about making a small barn for my modest plantation to suggest a housing for the cotton gin. 

It's based on the 15mm 'small barn' from Warbases. (If you saw Wargames Illustrated Bitesize#3 during our Spring lockdown you will have seen my first similar effort.) The wooden shingle strips covering the roof come from Oshiro Models while the planking comes from cutting up thin cream coloured card. The doors and windows are from Warbases as is the base. 

When it's all assembled it had two coats of Crafter's Acrylic Burnt Umber and a third coat of Foundry Bay Brown Shade. The whole is roughly dry brushed with Foundry Arctic White Shade. I used Dried Earth Basetex for the groundwork with added static grass, Tufts and the like. The barrel is a wooden piece from a craft store in the USA I picked up on a trip one time. The chimney is an offcut of plastic pipping. It's deliberately off true as to suggest a rather run down sort of place.

I've also started another building for my 'plantation' again using Warbases' products in the form of two lean-to additions. So far I've put the shingle strips on the roof and fixed the door and windows in place. All being well I'll do the planking next while I await the larger terrain base I've ordered from Warbases. On the longer term terrain front for a N American setting I've two more Warbases building kits in stock: the farmhouse and the old barn. These should provide the occasional and necessary break in the figure painting cycle over the winter months. 


Thursday 29 October 2020

The 'Peculiar Institution'...

 As I mentioned in my recent blog post on completing my Carthaginian army I just needed a break from bronze. The first 'intermission' project if you like is a small terrain feature which can be utilized in American settings from the AWI through to the ACW. Woke Wargamers should probably look away now, but for the overwhelmingly normal majority, please proceed to read on.

I've planned this piece for several months really. I got the pack of five female field hands from Eureka Miniatures UK a while ago. I wasn't sure what context I wanted to use them in, certainly two of them were obviously suited to a cotton setting, but cotton plants were entirely another matter. Quite by chance though I saw Ray Rousell's Haitian Revolt blog where he had utilized plants sourced from Vietnam! A quick Google search located the firm in question and a scroll through their web page located cotton plants! Success! So an order was placed, a confirmation email and despatch email received, and then, I waited... Sure enough, well within the timeframe quoted, they duly popped through the letter box! Then they waited their moment patiently in the queue, and now here it has finally arrived.

The MDF base is a left over offcut from some MDF building I did last year. I fixed the plants by bending 3mm of the bottom of the twisted wire stalks at right angle and gluing them into place a row at a time using UHU glue and a drop of Superglue to harden it instantly. Each row was textured then using Dried Earth Basetex and four of the five field hands fixed into place similarly row by row. (The fifth figure I've put on a seperate base as I felt it was a tad crowded. In all the piece took an afternoon to finish off. The figures probably a day or so to paint, mixed in with whatever Carthaginian figures I was working on that week.

Slavery is an uncomfortable historical truth, but in representing this in a small vignette I have no intention of giving the 'peculiar institution' my approval. It was a fact of life then and will add something to the look of the game. (As a counter I can field a Brigade of US Colored Infantry, something incidentally you don't see much of in ACW armies on the wargames table.) Now I have to consider a building to house the cotton gin... Oh, a Wargamer's work is never done!

Tuesday 27 October 2020

And with that it was finished...

 Well now,  there were many times since I started out on my Punic Wars project when I wondered if it would ever be completed, what with age, eye, hand and coronavirus malarky all stacking up against me. However, with the completion of this second base representing another Celtiberian warband the Carthaginian army can be signed off as completed, for now anyway!

The figures used are from Crusader Miniatures, both their mail armoured Celtiberian packs and three figures from their Celt command pack. As poses go they are pretty static, not at all what I would have preferred in generating an overall look for a warband, but, as I said in the post accompanying the first Warband base, hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing.

Like the first Warband they are similarly based on a 100x80mm MDF base, from Warbases as ever, and the A&A shields are fitted with the wonderful LBM shield transfers! I don't think I can face any more bronze for a few days, but I do have one or two other things on the go, so I won't be entirely idle...

Monday 26 October 2020

Celtiberian General base

 To assuage the boredom generated by painting the second Celtiberian warband figures from Crusader Miniatures - largely caused by their mail armour combined with limited and uninspiring poses - I've also been putting paint on three Aventine Miniatures figures from the Northern Italian Hill Tribes command pack. They are close enough for me to proxy as Celtiberian figures and will make a fine command base for my Spanish contingent of the Carthaginian army. They will also allow me to field a small Spanish army fighting  against the Republican Romans if a quick game is needed.

The base is a 50mm round base from Warbases as ever and the shield transfers are from LBM. Painting these has made me regret buying the Crusader Miniatures Celtiberian infantry figures in preference to the Aventine Miniatures Galatians. Wonderful thing hindsight, just ask any passing politician...

Saturday 24 October 2020

Celtiberian Warband

 Then End is Nigh! Well, at least it is in sight for the Carthaginian army in my Punic Wars project with the completion of the first of two bases of Celtiberian warband figures. The figures are from Crusader Miniatures, mostly from the Celtiberian codes, supplemented by a few Celt command figures. These are mostly sporting bronze pectorals, with only two upper crust figures affording mail armour ~

The bases are from Warbases as ever and are 100x80mm. In our games this single base can represent the whole warband or be combined with the second base (underway as I type this) to form a more impressive large warband. The shields are a mixture of A&A Miniatures Celtic shields with the appropriately shaped shield transfers from LBM. The lone Roman casualty on the base comes from the Aventine Miniatures Hill Tribes command set.

The second warband base will feature figures armoured in mail, the more experienced warriors I thought or at least those from the upper echelons of society. While I complete this base I've the three figures from the command set I mentioned above to form a sub-general base for the Iberian elements of the army underway too. When these are finished then all the Carthaginian army figures will have been painted! I still hope to complete the project by the end of the year, but it's looking a bit tight right now. We shall see...

Sunday 18 October 2020

More Hanibal's Veterans

 It seems to have been forever and a day since I started these figures! It's not that they've proved especially complicated to paint, nor that they are merely more of the same after two previous units of Veteran Infantry, but rather that I seem to have lost my painting mojo. I guess it's just another aspect of the Pandemic Fatigue that I alluded to in my last post. Anyway, here they are, finished at last ~

The figures are from Aventine Miniatures, their Imitation Legionaries with suitably Carthaginian seperate heads. The Unit Pack deal comprises 4 Command figures and 12 Imitation Legionaries, so I added a pack of 4 Imitation Legionaries in Linothorax for variety in bringing the unit up to 20 figures. The device on their banner is simply a cut down LBM Carthaginian shield transfer ~

I'm not a fan of multipart figures as you'll know, mainly because hand and eye issues seem to combine to compound my 10 thumbs syndrome and leave little globs and strands of glue where they show. But, hey-ho, I've made the best job I could and they will have to do!

Next up will be two bases made up from Crusader Miniatures Celtiberians and Celts. Each will feature 12 figures arranged on a 100x80mm base to represent two warbands in games. With those completed the Carthaginian army will be finished for now at least. I'll add some Spanish cavalry I hope at some point but until then it'll be back to the Republican Romans in the shape of Allied Italian cavalry first, hopefully followed by an Allied Legion using Aventine Miniatures' Etruscans. But, as for plans; well, we know what happens to them?

Tuesday 13 October 2020

More Coronavirus malarky!

 So 'Ronald MacDonald Johnson' and his partners in incompetent government have once again put the boot into my hobby. I can't have friends to game face-to-face in GHQ, nor can I now go over to Phil's or Jon's for a game! I am truly Billy No Mates again for at least a month! 

So, as these new restrictions don't kick in until tomorrow, I decided to go over to Spirit Games in Burton-on-Trent today and take advantage of the closing down sale. Yes, sadly another bricks and mortar hobby store will close down on 21 November reverting to a Mail Order only business. I've had many a happy trip out there over the years as Phil actually stocked Dixon ACW figure range. Granted it was sometimes a bit sparse, but I usually managed to get what I wanted. Today proved no different, in that I got the figures I'd hoped to get to supplement the large box Matt had sent me last week. I now have six 20 figure infantry units in the Lead Pimple for next year along with some Artillery Command bases I've wanted to make up for a while now. 

I've been active on the internet purchase front too: I managed to source a copy of Neil Thomas's Ancient and Medieval Wargames as the earlier order disappeared somewhere, or perhaps never existed - only Abe Books know the truth there. The book arrived safely yesterday, so that saga comes to a happy end. I also took the decision to add the 14th Brooklyn to my Union army in their distinctive Chasseur uniforms. Sadly Dixon have no really suitable figures so I took the plunge and ordered some Sash and Sabre figures from Old Glory UK. Hopefully they will be with me this week, Royal Mail permitting of course!

On the painting front I'm more than half way through my third 20 figure unit of Hanibal's Veterans, using Aventine Miniatures Imitation Legionaries in mail and linothorax. I've also got a few Eureka Miniatures figures underway for one of my ACW terrain projects. I hope I will have finished at least one of these this month to share with you. I'm also in the early stages of preparing two articles for Wargames Illustrated for their May edition, number 400. I'm looking forward to working on both of these, though the deadline is tight for me at the end of December, mainly because I'm trying to also complete my Punic Wars project by the year's end. Well, better get back to it then!

Take Care and Keep Safe all of you!

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Cretan archers

 Either side of my Cornish holiday, in late September and early October, I've been working on a unit of Cretan archers for the Republican Romans. The unit(s) comprises four bases of three archers each in a mix of firing and loading poses. They are from Aventine Miniatures with the bases from Warbases, as ever.

It seems to take me ages to get all the base colours on the figures, painting them three at a time, but no time at all to do the highlights. I'm sure that's a subjective viewpoint myself, but it's how it seems to me. 

The bases are textured using a mixture of Woodlands Scenics Buff Ballast. It's in three grades: Coarse, Medium and Fine in a mix of about 1:1:2 or 3. I coat the MDF bases with Hobbycraft School grade PVA and then put the base in the mix and rock the box back and forth until the base is buried. I wait a few seconds and then take the base out, turn it upside down to remove the loose texture and out it aside to dry, usually overnight. For these bases first I've added a few random larger rocks in groups or singly to create more interest.

When the texture is dried hard I wash it with a diluted coat of Crafter's Acrylic Country Maple, about 50:50 paint to water. When this is thoroughly dry, and it may take a while, I apply the static grass to a pattern of PVA, rather like aircraft camouflage. I add clumps of larger grasses to taste, usually in three or four shades of green. For these bases I've added a larger clump here or there and a small clump of more obvious weeds. Overall I find the effect pleasing as well as having the added bonus of distracting the eye from my painting efforts!

Friday 2 October 2020

Loot, and other holiday stuff.

It's just so nice to get away from home for a change of scene and air! Though it proved a different holiday experience in small ways it was mostly really enjoyable, as you can see ~

I might not have bought any painting with me for our Cornish break, but you can't keep an old Wargamer down! In Liskeard on Monday dodging the unforecast showers - the Met Office is rubbish! - I bought these two Blandfords, both in excellent condition, for £10.00. 

Bearing in mind what dealers try to extort at wargames shows I was quite chuffed by this!

We made the most of the sunny Autumn days to get to the coast and walk on the beaches, but we did visit one castle, the circular castle of the Earls and Dukes of Cornwall at Restormel. Not a lot of military interest there, but a pleasant stop on the way back to base from Looe.

The weather was turning just as we left for base via the Duchy of Cornwall Garden Centre and Tea rooms - NO TABLES! As a die in the wool Republican I nearly went in the loos to scrawl Death to Kings on the walls! Still, coffee and cake was free at base camp Notter!