Friday 31 December 2010

Confessions of a Basing Nazi Part 4

This is a reprise of my (very very occasional) series on basing 28mm miniatures, and this post is about a trick I've come up with to speed up basing double-depth elements.

I find that double depth elements are very time consuming to base, because it is very hard to get the brush or palette knife into the space between the two ranks of figures.  Moreover, sometimes paint or gunk gets onto the finished figures which then need retouching.  Yet as the number of miniatures I own increases, I find that I want to base more and more miniatures this way, because they are quicker to deploy and move on the table.

Above are some of the splendid Foundry/Black Tree German figures that Nick has painted for me.  I've done very little too them aside from painting the bases to match the eventual colour of the earth that will surround them, and to varnish them.  I've arranged them on six 60x30 magnetic bases of my own manufacture.

In the above closeup, you can see that I like to position some of the bases so that the figures straddle both bases; this looks natural, and has practical value at a later stage.   I also like to use irregular numbers of miniatures, when possible.  The miniatures are stuck in place with wood glue, which dries relatively slowly and gives one time to move them around to get the most attractive arrangement.

Next, place the two bases next to each other on a magnetic surface, and cover each with your basing compound; I use a mix I've made up, that I call BigRedBatGunk (n.b. there is a square of tinplate under the bases in the photo).  Then  add a little extra gunk along the top of the seam  to disguise it.  It will then appear something like the above; the magnets hold the bases in place whilst the gunk dries like concrete.

And, once the gunk has dried, the two bases can be snapped apart, as above, leaving an irregular line along the break.   I then paint the two half-elements, separately. Once fully painted, the  two bases can be stuck back together along the edge with superglue, and this rough join is very much harder to see than a straight line would be; in fact virtually invisible.  Any figures straddling the join (as above) help to make it stronger.  I'll show the finished bases in a later post.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

On the Painting Table for Q1 2011

I’ve been planning what to do in the first quarter of the year, up to Salute.   After Salute, I hope to collaborate on a very big project for Salute 2012, which will take up much of my time.

Mini Marian Legion: I bought 30-odd painted minis on eBay, and Nick is going to paint up another 40-50, which will give me the 80 minis I need for another 80-man mini legion of 10 x 8 man cohorts.  This is the representative scale we used for the game with Simon MacDowell, and if I can get 7 or 8 such legions finished (and hopefully get friends like Nick and Dr Simon to muster  a couple more), then I could run a tidy little campaign using Simon’s rules to fight the battles.

Wagon Laager: This was a project that I started in January 2009, and which has been “resting” since then.  I need to finish prepping the 50-odd figures that will “man” the laager and send them off to Nick, who is superb at painting Celts and Germans.   I’ll then paint the wagons and base the minis into them.  I’ve not seen a big wagon laager in 28mm so this will hopefully be fairly unique. 

Indo China: I’m very keen to finish the above weapons company, which will give me a complete Viet Minh battalion, together with another company or two of French, and the rules I’m trying to write.  After this I’ve loads of tanks, trucks, guns and half tracks to do...  I like the 20mm stuff as one can fit a little bit of modelling into the odd spare half-hour.

Odds and Ends: I need to varnish and base the Germans on my painting table, and the EIR cavalry. Frustratingly, I realised last night that I’ve only painted 9 EIR cavalry, and need to paint 3 more command figures.  Still the 9 are coming on nicely.  They are actually really nice minis... some of the BTD stuff is really OK.

So that's me sorted for Q1 2011!  Plenty to do... I wonder whether I’ll be able to stick with my plan? 

Saturday 25 December 2010

Merry Xmas!

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year!

I hope that you, and your family enjoy a fabulous Christmas and that everyone has received lots of lovely new toys!

Oddly, the advent of Christmas has started me obsessing about  painting some more Early Imperial Romans.   Must be something to do with all the Nativity stories.  ;-)

Cheers, Simon

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Snow Stops Play!

I know that living in Britain we are supposed to have a variety of interesting weather types, but recently it has been getting a bit daft; between the short days, cold, snow and rain I've not been able to spray varnish or prime  anything!  Unfinished projects are piling up all around me.  Here are just a few of the things I'm currently not finishing...

Above are my first 2 dozen Ancient Germans (mix of Foundry and Black Tree), beautifully painted for me by Nick Speller.  I am making a few tiny tweaks to them; for example, I've painted nipples on them.  You wouldn't think you'd miss nipps on a 28mm mini, but they really set them off.  I also paint the bases and put a highlight along the sword edges.  Once I get them lacquered, I can think about matt varnishing and basing.

Above are my third company of Viet Minh, awaiting a couple of coats matt spray varnish.  Just off camera behind them are the support company, awaiting spray primer.

Here are the cavalry figures to go with the horses I finished... back in September! 

I've also been assembling 1/72 plastic kits for the Indo China project.  Some of there are terribly time consuming, once you start to slap on stowage and suchlike.   I've not finished any yet, but have at least half-a-dozen on the go.

Finally, yesterday, whilst getting out the Xmas decorations, I stumbled across another long-forgotten box of unpainted Viet Minh and a whole lot of resin terrain, including bunkers; an early Xmas present!. And on that topic, if I don't get to post again before Xmas, I hope you all have a great one!  

Sunday 12 December 2010

Broken Biscuits Repaired

I've finished a company of Viet Minh (mentioned in this earlier post), assembled from figures that were broken back in the late 1980s.  All the minis were cut off at the waist and dug into "foxholes" of greenstuff with greenstuff sandbags, and broken weapons were replaced. 

I'm really pleased with the way they came out!  At some stage I may buy more minis and do another company or two.  I'm now rather past half way towards being able to field my battalion; mostly just need to do the support weapons.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Not a Coventry Armoured Car

This is a Matchbox Humber II that I'm using as a proxy for the Coventry armoured cars, that the French  used in Indo China.  I've painted it as a vehicle of the 5eme Cuirassiers "Royal Pologne"; I struggled with the heraldry on the doors, but the number plates (second photo) are bang on!

It's very nice change to be learning how to paint vehicles, again.  I've bought an excellent book by Steven Zaloga, which is proving invaluable.  I don't need to paint to masterclass standards, just tabletop, but it is great to see how an expert does it!  He has a whole chapter on Olive Drab.  Last time I was painting tanks, everyone just used dark green!

In 1952 the Cuirassiers changed over to US M8 armoured cars, and I will certainly be painting some of those, in due course.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Broken Biscuit Battalion

I mentioned in a previous post how dropped and broke a fair sized army of Viet Minh back in the 1980's.  I've always felt sad about these poor crippled soldiers, and the time has finally come to restore them!  In the below photo, the figures broken off at the ankles have been planted in clumps of greenstuff "grass".   This gives each of them a pretty strong base.  I've mixed in a few new Miniatures brought from the ever efficient Tony at ERM.  When they are all painted, I'll disguise the clumps with Silflor.

Below are the "hard" cases; these broke off at the waist, and some lost their rifles.  I've dug them into slit trenches, and replaced missing weapons with wire.

These will be really convenient when I need to depict dug-in Viet Minh troops, and I'll paint them over the next week.  

Monday 29 November 2010

Somewhere in Tonkin...

2 companies of French Colonial Infantry cross a dusty field, supported by some medium machine guns and a mortar, somewhere in Tonkin (French Indochina), c. 1953.

These are my recently reconditioned 20mm Platoon20 French Indo-China War infantry.  The paint jobs are a bit basic but they look good from about 30cm away, so who cares!  They are organised in 2 companies of 2 platoons each (apparently the French adopted this organisation because of a lack of men and junior officers).
I've gone with a representative scale of 1:4. 

Next I need to paint a second company of Viet Minh so that they have someone to fight, and a hex-based rule system.  I am hoping that I'll be able to get a relatively simple system working; somehting more complex than Memoir '44, but simpler than Tide of Iron, and with local flavour.

Sunday 28 November 2010

French Indo China WIP

These are the first of my French forces for Indo China; not quite finished, yet.  They represent around half of an understrength battalion; 2 companies each with 2 4-squad platoons, and some heavy weapons.  I'll take a proper photo when they are finished, later this week.

They are more survivors of the miniatures I dropped from a great height around 20 years ago.  By the time they are finished they'll have been larely repainted and rebased; they should look a lot better than they did originally!  Most of the miniatures are Platoon 20, and the armoured car is a 1/76 Matchbox Humber which will be proxying as a Coventry armoured car (as used in Indo China).

Sunday 21 November 2010

Somewhere near Utica...

Yesterday Simon MacDowall very kindly showed my friend Ian and I his Civitates Bellatorum rules. We used them to play a game using most of my Republican Romans and Numidian Allies.

Above is a long shot of the battlefield. We diced for command of the armies, and I got the scruffier but rather more numerous superior Pompeian/Numidian forces, on the left.  The better drilled, armoured and more enthusiastic Caesarian forces are drawn up on the right, with their German cavalry on the wings.

The game started with a bang as (above) I threw my right wing cavalry forward in an attempt to win the battle on the wings before the superior Caesarian legionaries won it in the centre.  Not completely grasping the rules, I went a bit too far forward!

Caesar's well motivated German mercenaries promptly charged, chasing my bridle-less Numidians away, and smashing straight into Juba's Spanish bodyguard, who had become slightly fatigued by their aapid  advance.  They first routed the elite guards, and, to add insult to injury, caught them in the pursuit and annihilated them!  By the end of the first turn most of my right wing cavalry were dead or on the way back to Numidia.

I quickly created a Plan B; win in the centre before I lose on the flanks!  Above, the elephants are cranked into action.

Above, the Germans prepare to rally back as the elephants hit the Caesarian's skirmish screen.  Juba (left foreground) prepares to dash to the relative safety of his surviving infantry.  At this juncture we retired to the "Maid of Muswell" for a stirrup cup!

Upon my return form the "Maid", well fortified, I launched a general attack (with out, however, any great conviction as to it's ultimate success).  On the left, my Numidians rode forward and showered their opponents with javelins.  On the right my surviving elephant broke through the skirmish screen and began a long duel with the left-most of the three Caesarian legions.

Above are shown the centres, just before the moment of impact.  You can see that my legions were drawn up in 3 lines, with the opponents (with as much frontage to cover but fewer troops) are only formed up two deep.

Nellie (above in background) remained locked in combat with the enemy legion for 3 or 4 turns, forcing it to do a line exchange and buying me valuable time by delaying its advance!

 Nellie was posthumously awarded the Dicken medal!

Combat becomes general along the line...  in the foreground a unit of Germans become a Numidian sandwich.

Above, Pompeian reserves press forward into the fray (a lovely photo form Simon MacDowall).   The superior depth of the Pompeian formations largely negated the superior quality and training of the Caesarians.

And finally we ran out of time (above).  All the reserves had been committed, and most of the troops were on the verge of becoming shaken.  The general consensus was the at the Pompeians had the advantage because their surviving cavalry had the advantage on the wings, and because they were about to break the right-hand Caesarian legion, but there really wasn't very much in it.

We all agreed that the rules gave an exciting and realistic-feeling game; I'm definitely up for playing it again!  I definitely recommend trying the rules which are available as a free download from Simon's site.

Friday 19 November 2010

And now, both together; a 1:1 Quingenary Cohort

Long ago it occurred to me that 2 x 240 man 1:20 "legions", added together, would give me the same number of figures (480) as in a maximum strength quingenary Roman cohort.

I don't think we know, for sure, how many ranks this would have formed up in; presumably 4, 6 or 8.  These are draw up 8 deep.  The photo does give some impression as to how much space a cohort must have taken up on the battlefield, and how imposing it must have looked to a tribesman from the backwoods!

Now if I just had another 4,320 miniatures...  oddly, I could just about fit an entire 1:1 legion on my table, as the legion would be around 4 metres wide (assuming that there were decent intervals between the cohorts).  There's a thought... 

Thursday 18 November 2010

My other legion is pro-painted

This is my original, First legion. 

Unlike the first legion, I had nothing at all to do with painting these.  It was painted for me by a chap called Phil Hart, and have seen a good deal of action over the past few years! 

On Saturday, I'll be using all my Caesarians, and Nick Speller's too, in a game with Simon MacDowell of Legio fame.  Should be fun...

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Second Legion Completed!

For some time I've been in the process of raising my Second, or levy legion, and I'm delighted to say that it is finally ready for action!  

My concept is that the legion has been raised in haste during an emergency, and equipped with a mixture of shields and equipment recently drawn from civic armouries.  Around half of the figures are unarmoured.  They are in looser order than my other legion, and I think of them as being less well drilled.  The picture is clickable.

The legion includes 243 figures; mostly Foundry (or Companion) Caesarians with a few nice Aventines and a couple of Crusaders.  The majority of the figures were painted by my friend Nick Speller (thanks Nick!), and the remainder are from various eBay purchases, or painted by me.  I varnished and based everything (and I can tell you that there's a lot of Silfor on those bases!).

Above is the legion from the front.  I went with a mixture of red and off-white colours to bind everything together.  A few of the shields have slogans painted on them; I intend to paint some more on later.

Above is a picture of the First Cohort.  Most of the figures in this unit came from a single eBay purchase, and I decided to retain the pretty shield designs.

I'm really pleased with these, and look forward to gaming with them on Saturday.   I'll have some more interesting posts over the the next few days... 

Saturday 13 November 2010

The Unvarnished Troops

This time next week these troops will need to be "on the table", but they were delayed when I unexpectedly ran out of Dullcote.  Happily Antenociti came up with the goods, very quickly indeed; they provide a great service.  I plan to have them all on their bases with the grout in place by the end of today.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Varnishing Miniatures at Night in Winter

This is not exactly varnishing "Best Practice", but when I have a tight deadline to meet I find I can usually get away with gloss varnishing even at night. NEVER try this with a matt varnish!  

They are the last 32 minis for my recruit legion, fresh from the brush of Nick Speller, and I need them finished and based by the 20th for a game...

Monday 8 November 2010

First Viet Minh

These (clickable) minis are the first pic of the old 20mm Platoon 20 Viet Minh figures from a previous post that I've been reconditioning.  See if you can spot some of the ones that broke off at the ankles.  They represent, roughly, a company of Viet Minh regulars at  roughly1:4 scale.   I will need at least a couple more companies, and hopefully, eventually, a second battalion.  Hell, probably a whole regiment.  ;-)

Above is a closeup of a couple of very heavy machine guns, DSHKs I believe, and a 60mm mortar.

Above, Comrade Battalion Commander.  A crude but serviceable paint job.  I can't decide whether to give each company a red flag of its own, or not; I shall probably err on the side of generosity.

French Indo China War Storage

This is the storage system I've designed for my planned Indo China war infantry.  They are mounted, in 2's and 3's on 1.5mm thick 40mm diameter plywood disks, with magnetic sheet added.  In the Really Useful Box I've put a double-decker layer of 99p metal baking trays (separated by wooden spacers).  These should take up to 240 figures, with pace for dice or vehicles in the plastic drawers.

So far I've only finished one company of Viet Minh, but I should be able to base up a company or two of French, soon (figures mustering in the foreground). 

Sunday 7 November 2010

'Arfur Legion III

Here's the (slowish) progress on my second legion; 5 cohorts fully based, 2.5 partially based and the remaining minis awaiting reinforcements from Nick.  I'm planning to use them all in a game in less than 2 weeks, so I shall need to get my skates on!  When all 10 cohorts are finished I shall take a proper pic.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Missed the bus

I missed this from yesterday's post; in days of yore I painted this bus up as an informal troop-transport.  It may see duty evacuating planters and French-sympathisers from under the nose of the advancing Viet Minh menace.

And below, the destination!

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Looks like we got us a convoy...

I've excavated my 1980's collection of French Indochina stuff, and here are around half of the vehicles, displayed as a supply convoy.  They aren't too bad...  not brilliant, like Troop of Shrew's, but playable until I get better stuff.  

Above, an M8 armoured car patrols cautiously ahead of the convoy.  It is in the wrong shade of green (not olive drab), but with broadly correct markings. 

Above is the front section of the convoy.  The tanks are a slightly unfortunate hybrid of M3 and M5 (I converted from the former to the latter; perhaps it was hard to find M5's in the '80s).  But they are nicely weathered, and the Airfix M3 half track has the correct tent-like canopy.

Above is the body of the convoy; a US tanker and GMC trucks, and a rather lost-looking Matador that I bought around 1975, presumablly left behind by the Brits in WW2.  A third "M5" is in overwatch.

And to conclude (above) a closeup of one of the M5s.

I have around another half-a-dozen vehicles that need painting.  My plan is to supplement these with some of the new 1/72 Italeri and Pegasus fast-assembly kits, especially their GMC trucks, M3 half tracks and jeeps, and make up a GM100-like mobile column.