Welcome to my blog. I have upwards of 100 projects in various stages of incompletion or total abandonment, so you may well find something of interest. I try to post about everything I do, not just what goes according to plan, so it's a blog all about stumbling along in a roughly forward direction rather than reaching the destination, with lots of ideas for potential projects that will probably never see the light of day!
I have three ex-Corgi die-cast Sherman M4A3's in support of my Bolt Action late war US infantry platoon but they definitely need some more stowage and weathering to look the part. I've been hunting around for some affordable but good quality 28mm scale resin or plastic stowage bits for ages but stumbled on this today completely by accident. There's a good variety of tarps, boxes, jerry cans and bags in the set, so it should be easy to glue them all over the tanks in suitable places.
Where's all my kit gone?
This way to the stowage pile!
It looks like I'll have enough bits and bobs to deck out all three tanks and have some left over for the M3A1 half tracks that I have yet to paint up. In fact, I've been thinking of turning the platoon into armoured infantry anyway, as I have enough tracks and tanks to transport them around and would only need about a dozen more figures to bring them up to strength.
I finished the mounted versions of my lawmen yesterday, which I had previously painted but hadn't completed and which required some shading, detailing and washing. These are now ready for a game Fistful of Lead Reloaded that I've set up for Tuesday at the club. I'm now going to complete three mounted figures for my Mexican posse which require a bit more work to finish off. If I get the time, I'm also going to assemble, base and paint some Woodlands Scenics plastic trees to use as cover and to kick start my terrain collection for the Wild West.
We got back from France last night after a long, hot journey but I found some time to dig out the figures for the wild west posses that I'm starting in September. The first consists of an outlaw bank robber gang of ten figures made up from the Artizan and Crusader ranges. These are all dismounted as I haven't got any suitable outlaw figures on horse but that's not a big problem.
The second posse is a based around the Artizan pinkerton figures, which I think are some of the best in the range. I don't have these yet but decided to order both packs as I've always wanted to use them, although not as Pinkerton agents. Instead, along with a Foundry 'Doc Haskins' mounted / dismounted character that looks similar in style, they will be Wells Fargo agents or work as enforcers for a railroad or mining boss.
In the meantime, over the next couple of days, I'll be finishing off some mounted lawman that I painted years ago but didn't get round to completing. These only need the horses tidied up, an overall wash in Army Painter quickshade and some base decorating with static grass and tufts to be finished. I'll then have a mounted version of my lawman posse ready for a game of Fistful of Lead Reloaded.
Over the last couple of weeks or so I've been thinking about booting up my Old West project, which I originally began way back in 2004 and which ended up with two complete posses, one of Lawmen and one of Mexican outlaws. These were used for a number of very enjoyable games using the then newly published Legends of the Old West rules. After a while, however, these fizzled out and I moved onto other things, despite tinkering with The Rules With No Name and enjoying a couple of games of Dead Mans Hand at the club.
I've always wanted to expand the project beyond the two existing gangs and have a box of Foundry, Artizan and Black Scorpion figures to do so, set aside waiting for a new set of rules to grab my attention. With my recent acquisition of The Law of the Gun and Fistful of Lead Reloaded, I now have a perfect opportunity to get at least one more posse rounded up from my leadpile of figures. This will now be my project for the Autumn, alongside the continuing Japanese infantry platoon for Chain of Command, with a Cowboy and/or Outlaw posse as the objective.
I'm also going to spend time and funds on some of the laser-cut mdf western buildings that are now widely available at a reasonable price. The first time round, I had to scratch build some suitable buildings and terrain, as the only alternative was expensive resin or flimsy cardboard. Now, however, I will be assembling enough mdf to kit out a small frontier settlement, complete with sheriff's office, saloon, general store, boarding house and bank, alongside other generic western buildings. I'll also aim to get all the fences, railings, barrels, wagons and other stuff to provide some soft cover during gunfights.
I can't afford the expensive option of the pre-painted buildings from 4Ground, so will be falling back on the Sarissa Precision and Battle Flag ranges, which are very nice all the same despite needing to be painted and weathered by hand. I'll aim to scratch build or adapt some terrain features including a 3' x 4' baseboard and some hills and bluffs for scenarios set beyond the outskirts of town. I already have a railroad train and carriages, so all I need to make that useful is some track and a station. I may not get all of this done but I will have enough terrain to run some games at home for the boys, which is the ultimate objective of the project.
I'm really looking forward to this project to complete over the next few months up to Xmas, putting the colonial project ideas back until the following year, unless I can squeeze in the tribal army for In the Heart of Africa at some point in the next four months? This is another of my existing projects that I'm set on for 2016, especially as there are a couple of new sets of skirmish rules for Darkest Africa just over the horizon including Congo and The Men Who Would be Kings. There's a definite feeling that things are coming around full circle at the moment, at least as far as my interests in wargaming genre are concerned.
This was one of the visits we made during our recent camping trip to the north of Brittany. I'd been there before about twenty years ago but hadn't been able to visit the castle itself at the time. If you do go to see Fort La Latte, I'd suggest not to do so in mid-August as it was heaving with tourists looking for something to do on a rainy day, complete with bored teenagers, whining kids and bemused overweight parents...and that's just my family!
The castle itself was pretty impressive although much smaller than it looked from the outside. It has several phases of construction and alterations from the mid 14th century through to the late 18th century, although there's little in the way of information to guide you. I particularly liked the shot oven that dates from the Napoleonic phase of the fortifications, when the castle was used as an element of the coastal defences for St.Malo.
You may also recognise it from the very cheesy but classic 1958 film The Vikings starring Kirk 'I am Spartacus' Douglas, Ernest Borgnine and Tony Curtiss.
I started on some of the pirate ships for Galleys and Galleons over the weekend only to realise that I hadn't packed the requisite paints to finish them properly, so have re-boxed them to ship back home where they can be finished with the right colours. In the interim I've done the boots, belts and cartridge boxes for the 28mm Japanese platoon, although this was complicated by only having an 0 sized brush, the 00 having been binned after it lost its ability to paint in only one direction at a time. The forty odd figures with their inaccessible leather equipment took a couple of days to do and will need some serious tidying up, but they are now ready for the faces and arms to be blocked in tomorrow. Please remind me not to try painting more than a half a dozen 28mm figures at a go next time I decide to take on a big project like this one...well, big for me at any rate!
I've been very kindly offered the chance to review the new edition of Fistful of Lead, which is a very popular set of western gunfight rules devised by Jaye Wiley (thanks Jaye!). The rules are very well presented and elegantly straightforward, without being at all over-simplistic or limited in scope, so I'm really looking forward to giving them a try.
I'm setting up a session at the club in a couple of weeks time but will hopefully give them a solo playtest beforehand, once I get back home in a few days time. I've been looking for a set of western gunfight rules to play with my kids for ages and these look like they're exactly what I've been searching for! Now all I need is some decent terrain, some buildings being at the top of the shopping list for Colours next month.
I'll post an initial review later this week, once I've had a good work through of the sequence of play and mechanisms, which make clever use of a standard deck of playing cards and a D10. We're off to the supermarket this afternoon so I may even be able to get hold of some cheap plastic cowboys and Indians for an ad-hoc playtest with the kids, although I'd much rather use my 28mm Mexican bandits and lawmen.
....I'd be able to decorate it with this, which I found as a reproduction poster sized print at a market stall in Paimpol a few days ago. Instead, I'll just add it to my collection of original front page illustrations of French colonial derring do from Le Petit Journal. I only have to wait another six years and there will be a spare room in the house, assuming number one offspring leaves when he's eighteen? Anyway, it's further inspiration for some sort of colonial project In the Heart of Africa toward the end of the year.
I spotted this 28mm laser cut mdf kit on eBay a few days ago and thought 'I need that, not sure why, but I do?', so I put in a modest bid and promptly won it. It's based on the strong points constructed to protect the line of the Suakin-Berber railway, half built to link the Red Sea coast with the Nile in the 1880's. It's not exactly like the original but it's jolly impressive nonetheless.
If it doesn't get used as a redoubt in the Sudan then it will be used for my long planned In the Heart of Africa project. I have a tribal army assembled and ready for painting but have yet to decide what form the opposition will take, be it a colonial military column, a naval landing party or an explorers expedition, but this blockhouse will fit in very nicely as a 'stratagem', as permitted in the army lists for some of these forces.
I'm back from the camping trip and will post some photos of that later today. In the meantime, having forgotten to pack a paperback for the week away, I've been flicking through the usual wargaming, military history and aviation magazines. There's some good stuff this summer including an interesting article on Japanese tactics in Ligne de Front and the Whippet tank in TnT, for example. I always get something useful from Aerojournal too, with a detailed overview of the famous Aerosiluranti torpedo strike squadrons in this months issue, including some excellent colour profiles.
I'm thinking of getting some of the 1/450th Peter Pig pirate ships painted when I get back from our camping trip next weekend, in an effort to complete at least one painting task that I set myself at the start of the holidays. I've promised to put on a few more games of Galleys and Galleons at the club, this time in glorious techni-colour rather than black and white, so I need to paint at least two or three ships for both sides.
Now that the rules have been published and are available to download, I'm hoping that they will take off as a club favourite, with more players assembling their own fleets for multiplayer games. It would also be good to finish at least one project this year, as my output has been pretty hopeless thus far. I really need to get some of the things I've started on completed, rather than beginning anything completely new, so I'm going back to some of these projects to blow off the cobwebs!
We went to the local Decathlon sports store yesterday to get some bits and bobs for our camping trip next week. We're off to the other side of Brittany for a few days tomorrow as the weather looks pretty good. While wandering about I found a really neat little bag in the fishing tackle section, which includes four plastic storage boxes for bait, hooks and the like.
Each box has removable dividers to create up to 18 individual 30mm x 40mm slots which are perfect for a 28mm figure or a 15mm Peter Pig size base. You can also create longer slots for vehicles or guns, assuming they are on 30mm wide bases, although you couldn't fit mounted 28mm figures as the boxes are too shallow. You could find some deeper boxes to fit them in I suppose.
The bag also has a front slot for dice, tape measures, counters and so on, making it possible to cart around everything you'd need for a skirmish game like Dead Man's Hand or Ronin, for example. It only cost 13.95€ as well, which at the current exchange rate works out at a piffling £9.91. I'll probably get another one before I go home as it's a great way to store and transport stuff for games at the club.
I'm thinking of a colonial something or other in the latter half of the year, although Lion Rampant and Frostgrave also high on the list of things to do, assuming the Chain of Command Japanese continue to creep their way forward to completion by Xmas! With this in mind, I'll be doing some reading around the subject, starting with Beyond the reach of Empire which I'll be packing for my camping trip next week. This might mean skirmishes in the Sudan could be on the cards, but they could also pop up in Darkest Africa, Zululand or the North West Frontier?
I've been (very slowly) chipping away at these over the last few days, when I've been able to grab a spare half and hour or so. I've blocked in the bread bags, rifles, water bottles and the tabi split-toed shoes, which doesn't sound like much but has been a bit fiddly as I'm trying not to spill over onto the basecoat too much. I did these stages in dribs and drabs but I think they're beginning to look less like yellow blobs and more like infantry.
The next thing will be to block in the leather webbing, pouches, holsters and boots, which will also take a while as some of these bits are in awkward places. This will probably come after I've painted in the faces and arms, as this is a bit easier and will be quicker to complete. Once this is done I really only have the black basecoat for the metal bits and some highlights to do before they get some brush washing and tidying up.
It's all looking a bit slapdash at the moment but will be cleaned up right at the end, which is looking like the end of the month at the rate I'm going. We're off camping next week as well, which means yet another disruption to the painting schedule, so the support units and heavy weapons will have to wait until I get back home. I may find the time to squeeze in a couple of the Peter Pig pirate ships right at the end of the holiday but somehow I doubt it.
One of the two or three things I'm thinking of doing in the autumn is a couple of wizard warbands for Frostgrave, one 'out of the box' and a second using a bit of lateral thinking. I have a box of the plastic soldiers and a necromancer with his apprentice, so the first bit is covered, leaving the 'do it yourself' half of the project to work out along with some monsters and undead.
After some thought, I've decided to go for an unusual approach and use a selection of castings from the Artizan Designs range of Andalusian and Moorish foot figures. This idea came about when I was chatting with a gaming friend at the club about 'non-frosty' alternatives to the background fluff in the game, which led to an Arabian Nights inspired theme amongst other ideas.
Whilst this would be pretty neat in its own right, the search for suitable figures led me down the Artizan path where I discovered the potential of the Moors and Berbers as the basis for a Frostgrave warband. Some of the figures have bare feet but that can easily be fixed. The layered robes, covered faces and scale armour are, however, ideal as protection against the freezing elements rather than the blazing desert heat.
There are archers, crossbow men and spearmen plus some excellent character figures including a book wielding looney, who would make a very effective sigilist wizard. The spearmen have open hands so could easily be re-armed with spare daggers, swords, cudgels and other pointy things to kit out a variety of soldiers as described in the rulebook. I think this has a lot of potential for a really interesting and different warband!
Hang on a minute! Wasn't this supposed to be a Malaya project? Yes, it was but, having done my background research on the shambles preceding the fall of Singapore, I've decided to switch focus to later in the war in Burma. The figures will still be useable for North Africa, so it's not a total wipe out and it will allow me to field some decent armoured support.
I've been re-reading Bryan Perrett's excellent book on the use of tanks in Burma, Tank Tracks to Rangoon, which I originally read about twenty five years ago and which inspired a long running interest in the subject, especially the use of M3 Lee tanks as bunker busters. The first chapter, for example, deals with the actions of 7th Armoured Brigade which covered the retreat through Burma in 1942.
This is fascinating stuff and, in wargaming terms, opens up the potential for some decent armour versus armour scenarios featuring Stuarts and Lee/Grants against both tanks and tankettes, as well as against Japanese infantry units. A lovely 1/56th resin Stuart is available from Blitzkrieg Miniatures, along with an M3 Lee for bunker busting in the Arakan and on the road to Mandalay:
I think this is a better option than my original Malaya focus and so the posts for this project will now be for Burma, rather than the previous title. It also makes it possible to use my new Warlord Gurkhas as the core of a platoon, although it will be less straightforward as the only heavy weapon I have is a Vickers team and Warlord have yet to release any other dedicated XIVth army figures, apart from the Chindits.
I've been really busy the last couple of days so have had no time to spend on painting, although I'm hoping to get a whole day to paint at the end of the week. In the meantime, I've been reading through the rules and the campaign system set out in At the Sharp End. The latter will need some fiddling to adapt it to Malaya and Burma but should work fine with some thought given to new character background for Japanese NCO's and officers, as well as context for the campaign ladder.
One other thing I've realised is that my anti-tank teams are not correct for 1941-42, as I've equipped them with pole charges rather than molotov cocktails or anti-tank grenades. I remember reading about the Japanese using glass chemical grenades filled with a type of acid, designed to smash on contact and either dropped into open hatches or broken next to vision slits, resulting in the crew being knocked out by the fumes.They also used petrol bombs for use against the engine decks.
When I get back home I'll need to glue together a couple of two man teams with anti-tank grenades or molotov cocktails, as the lunge pole charges are only appropriate to 1944-45. This won't be difficult as I have some unused plastic figures on the sprues leftover from assembling the rest of the platoon and heavy weapons crews. I also quite like the idea of adding some extra infantry figures, which can either be used to bulk out the sections to thirteen or as the basis of a stand alone rifle section for the support lists.
I used to play a lot of Laserburn and Imperial Commander back in the early-80's with my mates at school, so I was really pleased to see the 35th anniversary of its publication being marked by a neat special offer from 15mm.co.uk. If you like the idea of some retro sci-fi gaming without all the gothic gloom, endless rules revisions and for a reasonable cost, read on.
The deal is that for a minimum £10 order from the Laserburn 15mm range you get a free Glaive APC worth £5, which covers the cost of postage straight away. If you order more stuff there are further free models included in the offer, which makes it a good deal if you wanted to assemble an army for Imperial Commander from scratch.
The old Laserburn figures are very much of their time but aren't bad, having mostly been sculpted by Brian Ansell. I really like the Red Redemptionist trikes and the Imperial Dreadnoughts, which are great fun to paint up. The Imperial Commander rules are also showing their age but are perfectly good, although any suitable set could be used instead, especially if they are adaptable to a 'space opera' setting.
I may order some more vehicles and extras for my Laserburn leadpile but I've already spent my pocket money for the holidays, so it'll have to be a small one. It's great to see this vintage range being promoted, even if it doesn't stand up to the latest 15mm sci-fi figures, or have all the whistles and bells associated with newer or more sophisticated rules.
I spotted these on eBay yesterday and decided to add them to my Chain of Command / Bolt Action project as mid to late war opposition for my Japanese in Burma. These will be separate from my early war Malaya British project, which is using the smaller Perry figures, although I'd like to have a Gurkha contingent for that too, if they ever produce some suitable bits to convert the plastic 8th Army figures. Anyway, I will now have a couple of Gurkha rifle sections and a Vickers MMG team to start with but will add another rifle section and some more support elements, when I can find some more good deals on the Bolt Action figure sets.
This is crawling along slowly but surely although I'd like to get more done each day. I've done the dry brushing over the basecoat and wash using Foundry Base Sand today. I've also painted the helmets in a basecoat of 50:50 Vallejo 921 English Uniform and 887 Brown Violet, as this looked closer to the actual colour than just the latter, which I thought looked too green.
The camouflage netting will get a dry brush with something lighter later on and the whole lot will then be re-washed in Army Painter Soft Tone. The parents in law are visiting for lunch tomorrow so I doubt I'll get anything done but, if I do, I'll focus on blocking in the rifles and water bottles in Vallejo 983 Flat Earth followed by the bread bags and water bottle straps in Vallejo 880 Khaki Grey.