Monday, 22 July 2019

Fun with de-basing

I believe that only three things are certain, in life: Death, taxes and the need to re-base miniatures.

I base well over 1000 minis a year, mostly onto the very large bases I designed and use with "To the Strongest!" and "For King and Parliament." Perhaps half of these need to be stripped off old bases, first, usually the 2mm MDF bases that we have learned to love over the last decade.* Following a discussion on TMP, I thought it might be useful to describe how I do this, because I have had a lot of practice!

The steps are:

1. Find a tray with a flat bottom, a jug of water and, ideally, a stack of pennies.
2. Place the bases in the tray on a couple of pennies each (this allows water to get under the bases, and speeds the process). See pic above.
3. Carefully pour water into the tray, to bring the level of the water level with the top of the bases. If a little water goes onto the top of the bases, that's all for the good. However, should the minis be in water up to their knees (or hooves), you risk damaging their paint. See below; the water is just wetting the top of the base, but not enough to frighten the horses.

4. Leave the bases in the water for 24 hours or rather longer, especially if the bases are 3mm thick. The longer, the better results. The bases will gradually absorb water and get  thicker and thicker. Top the water level up, if necessary. A nice by-product of the process is that, after the first hour or so,  the thrifty baser can often salvage any tufts. Just remove them with a pair of tweezers (below), leave them to dry and re-use, later, with a little PVA. 

5. Give some of the minis a gentle tug, and see if they will pull off the base. If they were originally glued with wood glue, they will, most likely, come away very easily.

If, on the other hand, they were glued with superglue or UHU, you'll need to "crumble" the MDF base away (see below), and carefully trim away the remaining MDF and glue from under the individual bases with a sharp craft knife.

And there you have it; it's easier (and safer) than hacking away at dry MDF with a scalpel.

*... although theologists talk of an especially hot corner of hell, that is reserved for those who superglue minis to pennies, or, worse still, plywood.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Gallic Horse

Here are some photos of my extended and re-based Gallic horse. These are, strictly, part of my Gallic army as seen  at Salute in April, but they weren't needed for the Mancetter battle. Shaun McTague very kindly painted a dozen more for me, which I mixed in with the 36 I already had, to give me a generous total of 48. Each unit now consists of a whopping 16 miniatures. This gives me a broadly similar representational scale between my infantry and cavalry units. I'm gradually adding extra cavalry to bring my other armies up to the same standard.

Almost all of the minis are Wargames Foundry. I took the opportunity to "tart up" the existing figures and re-based onto my 20cm grid-half bases, which fit together to make a unit 19cm wide by 13cm deep for the 20cm grid. The photos don't do them justice.  :-(

These are half the heavy cavalry that I require for my 2020 To the Strongest! Salute game. The other half will be "Romanised" Gallic horse- semi-uniformed types, proto auxiliaries, in fact.

I've been basing a lot of other great stuff- I hope to post some more photos, next week!

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Royal Dragoons WIP

I've been very busy painting and basing, recently, too busy to post very much, although I will catch up. But here is a WIP shot of the Royal Dragoons, for a future Sedgemoor project. They are North Star 1672 minis, very nicely painted, mostly by chum Steve Spence, although I couldn't resist painting a couple, myself. They are nice Copplestone-sculpted minis, with a fair few variants, and (very conveniently) North Star have recently begun to extend the range with some new dragoon command groups and rumours of Spaniards.*

I've decided to go with the dragoons as a 24-man unit which (at least for Sedgemoor) will operate in two halves, on the wings of the Royal army. I also plan to do the unit dismounted, with all 24 horses and horse holders. Raising a regiment of dragoons is a serious commitment, and not for the fainthearted!

*Some grenadiers in furry hats, with firelocks, would be a splendid addition, Nick  :-)

Thursday, 4 July 2019


Here is the first finished battalion for my Late c.17th project, in fact the very minis that attracted me to the period. David Imrie very kindly sold me these miniatures some five years back. They represent a battalion of around 1690 from the French Regiment Tournaisis, which served in Ireland and elsewhere. The picture is clickable. David's painting is superb- I can't get anywhere near this standard.

All of the miniatures are from the superb Front Rank Late c.17th range, and the flags are Flags of War. Having bought the 40-odd minis from David, I find that I have bought some four hundred and fifty more painted minis from various sources. Eventually there will be a set of rules and a display game, but don't hold your breath. :-)

It took me years to decide how to base them, and I settled on two wings of 12 shotte, 8 pike and a command stand of 5. My friend Ian Notter and I designed a series of wobbly-edged bases to carry them. There are four bases which means I can swap out the command stand for one with different flags, from a different nation, perhaps, or swap out the pike for an extra stand of shotte so that I can use the minis for the early c18th. The new bases can be found in the BigRedBatShop, here.

Finally, here's a closeup of the command stand. What I love most about this period is the cut of the uniforms, but I'm also mad for the floppy hats with ribbons around the edges.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Louis Quatorze's Warses

This week I've had a really heavy cold and haven't been fit for much other than some light basing duties. Here are some miniatures that David Imrie (Saxon Dog) painted that I've finally managed to re-base onto one of my wobbly-edge command bases. They will lead a brigade of French that I am slowly building (one of the battalions also painted by David); pictures to follow next week.

I'm also basing my first British battalion, Kirke's Lambs. These incorporate minis from three or four different painters, including myself. Much better photos and more details of the completed unit are to follow in a week or so. I absolutely love the Front Rank minis; it is entirely possible to build a 37-man unit with 37 different variants.

Eventually there will need to be some rules so that I can put the minis on a table. The working title for these is Louis Quatorze's Warses, which name was picked at the end of an evening of brainstorming (=heavy drinking) before Colours, last year. I won't start on the rules before I've finished Renaissance, however.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Wargaming Butterfly

Much of the time I'm painting and basing on some huge project or another, against a tight deadline. At the moment, though, I'm not and consequently I'm flitting about, completing projects that have been on hold for six months or more, just for fun.

This weekend I've been painting Kirke's Lambs for the battle of Sedgemoor, 1685 (a long range project that probably won't be delivered for three or four years). I blame David Imrie for this 'cos he sold me some stunning French, three of four years back, and the project has subsequently ballooned into an obsession. There's something I love about the cut of the uniforms; also the relative obscurity of the period.

Today I more-or-less completed the 37 minis for this regiment, there is the work of three painters in this (including me). I have decided to ride roughshod over my mild OCD and have painted the minis with colour variations in the tunics; some are bright reds, and others a subdued madder red, with the facings in various green hues. I think it will look unusual and interesting, once based in a week-or-so.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Florentine Mounted Crossbows

These are the mounted crossbows who will accompany the recently-posted Florentine swordsmenSome people think that Italian chaps such as these might well have ridden to the battlefield but dismounted to fight, which means that these minis are somewhat redundant. Others claim that they are a valid mounted troop type, equipped with a lighter crossbow. I'm conflicted; I need to do more reading to establish how both they, and the equally tricky mounted arquebusiers, will work in the Renaissance rules.

At the moment, pending eventual rule/list changes, these guys perform a vital role, screening the advance of my Milanese knights and skirmishing on the flanks, and generally looking rather dashing!

You will be able to see them in action if you sign up for the To the Strongest! "Knight Fever" tournament in the London Games Tourney on September 15th. So far we have 13 TtS!ers signed up for this massive gaming event- the largest in the world, I believe, with getting on for 1K entrants.  It'll be the familiar 130 point 28mm army format, drawn from any of the three Medieval army list booklets. You could field plucky Normans, for example, or steel-encased Italian later knights, or even an army of Mongols- all of these were at the last tournament. Teutonic knights are very popular. Many different Medieval armies are available in plastic and I reckon quite a few different armies could be built for under £100. I will have some spare units that I can lend out, and will provide terrain if necessary. There will be four games in the day, with modest prizes and great glory for the victors!

Details are at  Knight Fever Details, and you can book your place at Knight Fever Bookings. This will be a terrific event and mustn't be missed!

Friday, 14 June 2019

Machiavellian Swordsmen

Here is my first completed Florentine unit, some unusual-looking Italian swordsmen; I just love the character of these chaps. It's quite uncommon to find infantry equipped with just a sword and no missile weapon, and very little armour. There are very few in the army lists.

This unit has been a slow burner; I bought 16 of these Perry metal minis around two years ago, mostly painted, from a chap in Sweden who had been planning to use them as soldiers from the Free City of Braavos. Chum Shaun McTague painted 8 more and I highlighted and painted the shields, which I based on Florentine heraldry and guild symbols. The flag is from Pete's Flags on eBay. I have based them on my FK&P6 bases; this means I can use them either as three bases on a 20cm grid, for shows, or, dropping a base, two on the 15cm grid we often use for To the Strongest! competitions. The bases came out really well; its hard to see the joins, and the wobbly edges vanish into my gaming cloth.

I suppose that having these (and some Florentine mounted crossbows that will follow) necessarily means that I am building a Florentine army. Machiavelli would be delighted! :-) 

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Black Bands of Giovanni

This is my first proper Renaissance unit, representing the pike element of the Bande Nere of Giovanni de' Medici, as they might have appeared in the 1520s, after his death. Uniform details for his "orphans" are scarce, other than they wore predominately black mourning clothes. They are a sombre unit!

The superb black flags, with demons, are from Peter's flags on eBay. The minis are all Perry plastic mercenaries, painted by Shaun McTague, Richard Hampson-Smith and myself. I based them on my favourite wobbly-edged Batbase, the FK&P06, which I designed for the ECW but which turn out to be good for pretty much everything. I can field two of the elements on a 15cm grid, or all three on a 20cm grid.

Below is a shot including a command stand. I am currently raising the Bande Nere arquebusiers- I plan to field at least twice as many as there are pike. I am also sorely tempted to add a fourth rank of pike, and some mounted infantry.

I've no particular idea what I'm going to use them for, yet, but they are too good a unit not to represent!

Saturday, 18 May 2019

La Garde march North!

Here are another detachment of La Garde just about to march to Leven via Newark.  These grognards are exceptionally well travelled, having flown to Paris where they were painted by chum Lionel Bechara, posted to Scotland where chum Saxon Dog detailed and weathered them, then back down to me for basing* and now back up to join their comrades for the coming Waterloo game in Glasgow. There will be around three times as many when they are all finished and assembled. 

*I didn't have time to tuft- I'll leave that to David, who can take proper photos.

Friday, 10 May 2019

On my basing trays!

Mea culpa- it's been almost 4 weeks since my last post. Since Salute I have been painting and basing various things- mostly late medievals- that have been stuck in queus behind my Celts. It's great not to be working to a punishing deadline! Above are some Bande Nere de Giovanni pike, Perry plastics mostly painted by Shaun McTague and Richard Hampson Smith. I discovered today that my chosen yellow-ochre and black colour scheme is a little too... yellow. So I will mix in some more black-garbed minis. Behind them you may be able to make out some Florentine swordsmen. 

Below are a pair of command stands for Florence and the Bande Nere, respectively. They need to be flocked, of course. I've used lovely flags from Pete's flags on eBay, which are essential purchases for the Italian Wars.

Here are some arquebusiers- again, Shaun's going to paint some more in black, and I'll remove around half of the above from the bases and replace. The bases are shallower Batbases from a new set I've had made. Below are four Florentine mounted crossbows, I'll need to get some more done because I want to be able to deploy them in big units of 12. If one is painting plastics, there's no excuse for stinting on the unit sizes!

Finally for the Medieval period, we have above 24 Burgundians painted by French chum Lionel. I've added a highlight to the flesh and will give them a very gentle wash- I don't need to do much because they are superb paint jobs- there will be better pictures when they are based.

One reason I'm furiously basing late Medievals is that I'm hoping to get a couple of spare armies ready for the To the Strongest! "Knight Fever" tournament at the London GT in September. If you've not yet entered this, please give it some thought- it'll be a great day at what I suspect must be the world's largest wargaming tournament. The details of the tournament can be found here- it's in Edmonton and the To the Strongest! tournament is a one-day event on Sunday 15th September- so you have more than enough time to get an army in the field! 

All you need is 130 points of Medieval figures- perhaps as few as 70-80 miniatures- which you could get from perhaps 5 boxes of Perry (or Fireforge) plastics costing less than £100 at a show. I will likely play my Italian Condottieri again- they have proved to be tough opponents in the last two tournaments- although I am very tempted by the pretty Burgundians...

Above and below are some minis that I'm basing for chum Howard Litton- mostly Aventines. Their Volscians, above, are a stunning range that are all too rarely seen on the gaming table. Below are some Aventine Polybian command and Warlord artillery beautifully painted by Shaun Watson.


Finally, here are some Victrix Garde painted by chum Lionel in Paris, detailed and highlighted by David Imrie in Scotland and based by me in London. Once I've flocked them, they'll be heading back to Fife again and David can show photos of the finished units. We need to do six more of these units for the big game in June...

That's all for now! It's just struck me that perhaps 90% of the minis on this post are plastic- that's pretty much a first for me!

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Mancetter to Salute- Part II

Apologies for the delay in posting the second part of this- I have been frantically busy since Salute! All of these lovely close-ups of our Mancetter 61CE  To the Strongest! game were taken by Alan Daniels.

The chariots are mash-ups of the Wargames Factory kits with Newline and other ponies.

Above is my favourite warband, based on Tacticus' account of the druids at Mona. "On the shore stood the opposing army with its dense array of armed warriors, while between the ranks dashed women, in black attire like the Furies, with hair dishevelled, waving brands. All around, the Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven, and pouring forth dreadful imprecations, scared our soldiers by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as if their limbs were paralysed, they stood motionless, and exposed to wounds. Then urged by their general's appeals and mutual encouragements not to quail before a troop of frenzied women, they bore the standards onwards, smote down all resistance, and wrapped the foe in the flames of his own brands."

Celtic women cheer on their menfolk. I see that d****d scene-stealing flock of sheep has crept into the foreground!

Another chariot. The look of the chariots was much improved by the recent flockathon.

Some of the warbands include armoured warriors, representing dismounted noblemen and chariot warriors.

Above is a downhill shot. The legions in the reserve line were not much engaged; the fight falling to the the auxiliaries, further down the slope.

Finally I was really chuffed to receive the Bill Brewer Memorial Award for best presented game: runner up; a super seal on the event. I'd like to thank everyone who helped with the project, especially Shaun McTague and Ian Notter, and, on the day- Ian, again, Mike Brian, Tim Thompson, Andrew Brentnall and Neil Graber. Also, of course, everyone who played or stopped by for a chat! And lastly the Warlords (especially Philip Andrews) who run the event with great (and often unappreciated) efficiency.

Onward to Salute '20... for which I already have half a plan!

Monday, 8 April 2019

Mancetter to Salute! Part I

Here are some lovely photos that chum Ian Notter took of our To the Strongest! Battle of Mancetter 61CE game. The shot above catches the back of the laager, warriors, slingers, Roman skirmishers, Auxilia line, legionary line and flanking horse.

Here's a wide shot. You can see that the British line is wider than the defile between the two forests, and the size of the hill which was perhaps 20cm high. 

The British had 12' of light troops and 12' of warriors, 2' of chariots and 4' of laager. The Romans had 4' of lights, 7' of auxiliaries, 4' of legionaries and 2' of cavalry. I might revisit this battle another year if I can get a few more units of warriors painted. :-) 

Above the shots show the forests. These attracted a lot of praise; they were assembled by the simple expedient of sticking ALL the trees that Ian and I own together, in close proximity to each other. The tall trees that people particularly liked, come from Debris of War.

Another show-stealing element was the flock of sheep in the foreground. From 1stCorps, and painted by chum Shaun McTague, these aroused more interest than the 900 freshly-flocked Celts. :-/

Above, druid offer a much-needed sacrifice. Below, a downhill shot, taken from behind the Roman lines. You can just make out the British women in the distant laager.

The British warrior units are three ranks deep, bolstered by heroes. These turned out to be quite formidable of which more, in part II, tomorrow!

And finally, here's a photo of me grinning like a loon, nicked from Antonio Dimichele.  As you can see, I had a VERY good time!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Meet the Flockers!

Here am I (left) with chum Ian Notter (right) with the 100% flocked and tufted British army that we've just completed for our huge "To the Strongest! Salute game. Many thanks to Ian- it's not something I could have done all by myself- I think I would have gone mad! Well madder, anyhow.

There are 18 warbands, each of around 36 minis for a total of 640-odd hopping mad Britons. Many of these (250+?) have been freshly painted by Shaun McTague, others come from Shaun Watson. Most of the original warband were painted by Nick Speller some years ago and have all been re-based. I reckon there are at least 90 standards and 30 carnyxs.

Here are 90 skirmishing slingers that will screen the brave (suicidal?) uphill charge. All of the units are based on irregular-edged bases from my TtS!20 series, which should blend nicely into the terrain cloth.

Here are twenty light horse and some command stands.

On the left are 18 British chariots. On the right, the wagon laager.

Finally, here are sundry baggage elements and battlefield dressing.

I'm really delighted to finish these off! Please come by and see our huge Romans vs. Boudicca game, "Mancetter 61 CE", using the "To the Strongest!" rules, at stand GA12, just to the right inside the Salute entrance- the first table you'll come to! I'll be the one in the shirt. :-)

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Flocking Britons Day 4

Day 4: The entire dining room is covered in a thin layer of flock. Beer in hand, Ian is contemplated the last remaining unflocked unit of slingers.  After this there are the 18 chariots and the laager to reflock, and then about 2000 tufts to apply. I am 92% there according to my spreadsheet!