dispatches from terra incognita

Category: Colonial Page 1 of 3

Bones Day

Two Saturdays back (July 3) was “Bones Day” — I received my box of Bones miniatures from Reaper’s 5th Kickstarter. It took me almost a decade to learn, but I finally figured out how to work the Reaper Pledge manager. I opted not to get the Core Set (as I’ve done the previous four times), which has saddled me with a sizable collection of miniatures I don’t really want. This time I used my pledge to purchase various expansion sets and specific collections from the core set. Thus:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The loose bags contain constructs, Halloween, kid heroes, and townsfolk. The dangerous (to my bank account) news from Reaper is that they have reopened the Pledge Manager for 90 days, so, I could in fact go back and order the Core Set after all…

 

 

Spring Update: “Bits & Pieces of Everything”

While things do progress apace on the painting front, I have been a thoroughly lax chronicler of my activity… In addition, I’ve been recalled to the classroom for in-person kindergarten. I have to be grateful — my family remained healthy, employed, and educated. But, alas, my glorious anno hobbyoso has come an abrupt end.

For the past year, I managed to squeeze in an hour — and often twice that — of hobby time daily. I completed a number of “sets” of miniatures, along with odd bits of terrain. I began a Hirst Arts “ruined church” inspired by this one and resumed 3D printing — until the heat bed on my Monoprice Mini finally succumbed to a well-documented design flaw. I even built a battleship, based upon Bob Cordery’s directions.

I picked up the History of Wargaming Project reprint of Joseph Morschauser’s How to Play War Games in Miniature. I love his clear and engaging writing style, but was stung a bit by the lines:

It is up to you to decide which type and scale you prefer. Consider carefully all the advantages and disadvantages of each. Then, when you make your decision and start building up your collection, stick to your choice until you have two complete war game armies. If you start making changes mid-point in your program, you will end up with bits and pieces of everything, and nothing complete.

It is quite possible and perhaps desirable to own a number of different sets of armies, each of a different type, scale, and historical period. Many war gamers do. But collect them one at a time. Mid-point change is costly and wasteful.

Joseph Morschauser’s How to Play War Games in Miniature, p. 21.

The above heterogeneous mess represents a significant portion of my hobby labor over the past year. Some intention and persistence is evident; but also, alas, too much caprice.

The excellent Graham’s Wargames blog is entirely responsible for this flight of fancy. His “canal city” setup was just too, too tempting. The buildings are from TT Combat (I have some modern buildings of theirs) which is acquired through eBay. I’m planning a moire extensive “MDF Roundup” to review my purchases from various companies.

Here’s my Bob Cordery battleship, before painting. He built his by laminating many, many pieces of basswood. I took the measurements and attempted to cobble it together from scraps in the workshop. I’m going to make one or two adjustments on this one, and have another go to see if I can do it better.

The painted miniatures range from some 54s, a lot of 28s (mainly Reaper Bones, Super Dungeon Explore, and Zombicide), to the 1:700-ish ships from the Armada Starter Set. I did my Orc sails in dark blue rather than red (to make them look more raggedy) but I believe it was a poor decision.

I’ll put together a more thorough tour of this stuff in the near future.

Thrifting in NC

Here are the fruits of several recent sojourns to new thrift / antique / junque stores in my corner of North Carolina. The first find was a pair of pairs of Native American Indians. 54mm, metal, old-lookin’, but with no indication of manufacture on the base.

A different store had a bit of a trove, but the fellow wanted too much for them I was forced to be discerning. This chap is a Britains, complete with the swingy arm. I have yet to research who he might be — I don’t recognize the uniform, alas.

By their headgear, I’m assuming these are WWI infantry. They are marked “ENGLAND” in raised letters on the bottom. The kneeling soldier with field glasses has it tattooed upon his leg, as did my kneeling Highlander.

The next two are clearly marked Britains. Both suffer from broken rifle barrels — I haven’t decided on how to best repair the damage.

I wouldn’t usually go for 15s, as I have so many unpainted, but these fellows looked so lonely, jumbled in an old take-out food container (which I’ve already thrown out).

They proved to be a fascinating collection:

I wonder if some of them were home casts, as there were globs of metal and tags with letter markings. The biggest bit of metal was mysteriously marked E WINDS. Then there were gun carriages and limbers, and what I assume are 6mm tanks and trucks.

Then there were some Roman types:

And the majority were Napoleonics:

I figured if I ever wanted to do big battles in Ascaria, this would be an economical start. Tossed in amongst the 15mm mess was this 54mm knight:

He very nearly got binned because I assumed by his gaudy appearance that he hailed from a Safari Toob or some such. Astonishingly to me, he is a Britains figure, though made in China. I later ran across a blog post of someone staging a whole battle with these knights.

All in all, I have been moderately pleased with the “finds” I’ve made. Of course, most of the enjoyment comes from the hunt itself.

Autumnal Splendour

Though working from home, I’m still working — and thus my poor hobby blog has suffered. One consequence of spending so much time à la maison is that the flora about the place has been pampered. Featured above are marigolds, zinnias, and lantana, showing out for fall.

Dipping in and out of various genres, time periods, and scales, I soldier on with painting. Here are a bunch of Foundry Old West figures, along with a couple of Reaper Bones who tower over them. These are some of the first miniatures I bought, based and primed for a score of years.

Next up are some poorly lit Armies in Plastic Woodland Indians. Inexplicably, I’m having a hard time finding suitable inspirational images online as models for the costume. Hence, I’m somewhat makin’ it up as I go.

Below are a quintet of winsome fantasy lasses, all Reaper Bones. I am storing the majority of the first four offerings from Reaper still unpainted, with the fifth offering arriving early next year. Enough to keep me painting for the balance of my days …

Next are plastic miniatures from the Zombicide boardgame. They are pleasingly characterful and paint up nicely. Once I get enough of them completed, I might even be able to try a zombie game.

These fellows came as an infrequent but pleasing surprise — a major miniature purchase that I did not recollect! I knew that I had some Foundry Darkest African native figures, but as I sorted through the blister packs, it became apparent that at some point, I had purchased the entire “Warchiefs & Witch Doctors” collection. I would have come into these soon after the Old West figures, nearly 20 years back. I am occasionally an impulsive purchaser, but I usually recall the caprice.

High Chief and Retinue: Marungu, Moobarik Bombay, and a chap in a “hideous mask”

Squigs. One of the many aspects of Warhammer goblinity that so tickle me. I bought a box of squigs a year ago, and have finally got ’round to painting them. Here are the herders. We’ll see the “beasts” themselves in the next update.

We’ll close with one of the rare metal Reaper miniatures I’ve acquired. I was reading through my Metamorphosis Alpha, 4/e RPG for the first time, really, since I bought it in 2006, and thinking putting together a game where characters awaken on a “colony ship” where things have gone mysteriously, and utterly, wrong. I would incorporate bits of Metamorphosis Alpha, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Planet of the Apes, Space Hulk, Mutants and Death Ray Guns, Traveller, and perhaps the kitchen sink.

50331 Rand Daingerfield, Space smuggler, apparently

Odd Trios

Ready for battle

Today we have a few recent completions, all of which came in groups of three. First up, some ancient Eureka Miniatures Hardlove Steam Driven Impervious Suits. Apparently unpopular or at least unphotogenic, inspirational searches for them on the web were fruitless. I also searched for “Steampunk mecha,” to no avail. I knew I didn’t want to paint them as mechanical Victorian redcoats … so, I was at a loss.

I eventually decided that they would be attached to an artillery brigade — and thus, would sport blue livery. A few metal steampunks gewgaws, and then a Union Jack on the right shoulder and a Roman numeral on the left (indicating their code in the Eureka catalog).

As a mournful coda, just after this photo was snapped, I placed them in their Plano storage box. The top could just close, but when I snapped the latches on the lid, it pressed down sufficiently to put a dent in each of those plastic helmets [sigh]. So, I’m looking for suitable little bubbles in packing material to replace them. If not one thing, it’s another.

All black is hard to paint.

Next up, three Reaper Bones gorillas. Two are standard issue, if immense in 28mm. The third, their presumed leader, armed and armored. I studied pictures, and gorillas really are mostly black, which turns out to be pretty hard (for me ) to paint. Then, my trust Chick Lewis Magic Wash had gotten imbalanced and extra-Futury, so they got a serious gloss coat that matte spray Could Not Tame. [I used to be able to Google and find the original web page with Chick Lewis’s recipe. I don’t find it now … ] Somewhere in my containers of unpainted Bones is Ape X, who shall make the fourth for bridge.

And finally … owlbears.

Whoo, whooo, grrr.

The rug, 3D printed, has already made an appearance. The other two are Reaper Bones. The owlbear is a fascinating beast. The individual components of the duality are each deservedly menacing, but the alloy seems … well, silly. I recall that Chris Palmer didn’t love the pose on the left — he did some repositioning, I think. I think it looks suitably ape$hite for an ursine avian, with a “cuckoo for Cocoapuffs” vibe, those of us of a certain American age should recall.

The middle fellow looks to me like a regular 28mm miniature wearing an owlbear suit. I’ve always wanted to do some type of a “costume party” scenario — he shall get an invitation.

An Unexpected, Though Pleasant, Diversion

Looking for a break from … well, everything I have been painting, with the added incentive of reducing the pile of boxes of unpainted Armies in Plastic, I reached for a box of Indian cavalry. They were from the AiP “Boxer Rebellion” range, “1st Skinner’s Horse.” I thought they’d make a nice addition to my Zafrarian army.

Now, I believe I was conflating them with these fellows, who I got in the same haul. The cavalry box had some less-than-helpful, monochromatic AiP art. I was thinking it would be a quick, mostly-khaki paint job, and another unit in the “completed” column.

Though I intended them for Imagi-nation use, I do like to do a little research when a unit is specifically identified. So, into Google went “1st Skinner’s Horse.” To my chagrin, they were not khaki clad at all. However, their uniform was a beautiful, intricate surprise, presenting an unexpected challenge.

Here’s the lot, poorly lit. I did try to be faithful with the uniform, but they would be hopelessly anachronistic in the late 18th-early 19th centuries, as the Imagi-nation of Zafraria is fully integrated. Thus, a panoply of races are represented (which doesn’t show up well in the poor lighting).

Command
Trumpeter
Lancer
Lancer
… and, Lancer.

Research took quite awhile as there were a variety of renditions of the uniform. Then, they were somewhat elaborate to paint — particularly the headgear. I also replaced the lances with wire, as the originals were unacceptably bendy.

So, they went into the “done” column, though not as expeditiously as I had hoped.

Beefing Up the Band

Your Humble Correspondent has been suitably prolific on the hobby front, but not sufficiently strict about documentation. I have much to share.

Whilst in quest of identification of my Royal Marine Band, I found an Ebay listing for a quite reasonably priced partial set — specifically, trumpets and a bass drum, which would complement my fellows nicely. Purchased!

Well, even I could tell they were not from the exact band as mine, but my eyes weren’t yet keen enough to notice those bases …

These fellows, it turns out, are of a much later vintage — circa the 1990’s, apparently. Here they are with pre-war counterparts:

These modern kids are more static — their arms are cast in position, rather than (more-or-less uselessly) articulated. I haven’t as yet had an occasion to parade them ensemble; I’m sure they’ll know many of the same tunes.

On a subsequent visit to the same vintage shop where I found my original band, I fulfilled a long-standing quest for a type case.

I’ve passed on many of these, but this one was in especially excellent condition. My initial thought was to display it turned vertically with 28mm figures. The slots proved too short, alas, so Plan B was for my VSF 15s. Suddenly, however, inspiration struck!

I had been wondering how to best display my marching Britain’s. I would leave the case horizontal (it already had handy hangers on the back to mount it on the wall this way) and give the band — and the rest of my nascent collection — the pride of place they deserve.

In time, I look forward to completing this case and purchasing a second to fill …

Good to Know

Gadding about the internet, as one does, he daily encounters innumerable morsels of guidance and advice. Some are retained for later use; others flutter harmlessly through the void betwixt the ears.

My first-ever purchased 54mm figures from Armies in Plastic were Zulu War artillery (who, as I know check, are apparently no longer available from AIP [!]). I acquired them during my Square Pegs phase, in order to have a model for scratch-building a 6-pounder and Gatling gun. I’ll also note these fellows annoy me to no end due to their state of inexcusable deshabille. Even in the heat of Southern Africa, I firmly believe that no proper toy soldier should be seen sans tunic!

Anyhoo, when I spray varnished them, owing to some hopefully-unreproducible atmospheric vagary, they got a slight whitish “frosting.” Because they were so unloved, I decided to decide that the frost was dust and left them as such. (Note, I also slopped a bit when drybrushing of the base color on his left trouser leg hem. That, too, I elected to ignore).

While scanning the Miniature Page one day awhile back, someone asked for guidance with a similar varnish mishap. I regularly use Krylon Fusion grey primer, which I will attest is so good it almost jumps out the can onto miniatures without my help. I have gotten spoiled and thus a bit lazy about shaking the can — it’s that good.

Kyylon Matte finish is less amenable, however. It never seems to be very flat / matte, which usually doesn’t bother me overmuch as I like a lively, toy-soldiery look. The chap on the miniatures page asserted that one had to shake the can of spray finish for an inordinately long time in order for it to have the desired effect. When someone bemoaned a “frosting” such as my troops had, another chap remarked that he solved the problem by spraying them again with varnish!

Now, doing the same thing that caused a problem to resolve it seemed counter-intuitive to me, but I apparently filed it away. I did immediately begin shaking the can of varnish for a full minute beforehand, and periodically throughout the spraying, and my figures these days have been a bit “flatter.”

A month or so later, I decided to see what could be done with the artillerymen. I gave one a well-shaken spritz, resulting in the expected wet gloss. When it had dried, however, the frosting was gone! [The lighting in the picture is bad, and his hem is still stained, but the frost has vanished).

Thus, another hobbying trick for the bag. I hope that taking more care along the way won’t necessitate its use. But, should I frost them again, I know what to do.

Mountains of the Moon

As promised, here are group vignettes of my Wargames Foundry “Mountain of the Moon Collection,” purchased about 20 years ago and only recently more-or-less completed.

The painting is passable at best, and the lighting was horrid, but I just wanted to create a record of the accomplishment. This band of souls intimidated me for about 18 years, with only a handful painted (Tarzan and Jane were two of the first, of all things). I’ve steadily knocked out the rest over the past two years.

Some of them got their eyes retroactively, as I’ve only felt comfortable painting them in the last couple years. As I notice on “the big screen,” it is clear I occasionally rushed. I’m still not 100% convinced that 28mm figures need eyes, but so many painters do it so well, I feel compelled to try.

DA1/1 “Eccentric Explorers,” now DA011 – Men of Substance
DA1/2 “Ardent Adventurers,” now DA012 – A League of Exceptional Gentleman. Note that Wilbur Vanhuysman (in dark glasses) has transformed into Teddy Roosevelt!
DA 1/3 “Askari Characters,” now DA013 – Askari Command
DA 1/4 “Askari Command,” now DA014 – Askari Characters
DA 1/5 “Heavily-Armed Askaris,” still (!) DA015 – Heavily Armed Askaris
DA 1/6 “Daughters of the Empire,” now DA016 – Deadlier than the Male
DA 1/7 “European Traders & Travellers,” now DA017 – Traders and Travellers
DA 1/8 “European Ladies,” now DA018 – Roses of the Empire
“Askari Rebels,” which I don’t find to be currently available …

“… Sgt. Pepper Taught the Band to Play”

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I found myself dutifully masked, hands a-glisten with sanitizer. I was assiduously perusing a local Junque Shoppe, a joy I had missed during the time of quarantine. I knew this store to have had toy soldiers — a box of modern-ish Britains — during my last visit, years ago, before I had contracted a passion for 54s.

Near the back of the shop, I discovered a booth with a few display cases of miniatures. One immediately caught my eye as being vintage and 54mm. I put back the art books I had been considering and convinced my wife that these fellows would be a perfect Father’s Day gift.

The lot clearly included two sets of figures, which I have regrouped here. The first were, I believe, Britain’s Royal Marines, marching with rifles at slope. Here’s a page from William Britain, which may well be them. The marine in the front rank, foreground, had a damaged arm, which resulted in an un-asked-for 10% discount on the sale! I did not expect that their left arms are articulated and rotate, though that only happens when one picks them up.

There were several command figures (with swords) so they may have come from separate sets. The lads have been confined in a display case for awhile and need work on their “slope,” as I begin to see.

Royal Marines, I believe.

These were the chaps who really caught my eye, though:

Royal Marine Band

All of the present figures were in good condition, though the paint jobs seem a little wonky. I could clearly see “Britain, Copyright, Proprietors,” &c. on most of the bases. I believe them to be the better part of a Royal Marines Band. Their leader was missing, so a Marine with sword is filling in.

Here are a couple of bands people had for sale on the internet, for comparison:

The whole band, someone had for sale on the internet.
And another.

So, I’m missing the leader, a snare drum, some woodwinds, the big tuba-thing. Preliminary research indicates that perhaps they were first issued in 1933, so may be pre-WWII? They weren’t any sort of a “deal” — the seller knew they were worth something and charged accordingly. I’m pleased with the find, though, and perhaps through time, I can track down the missing lads.

Postscript: Over the past few days I have been moving this blog to a new internet host. I believe some typography — including my precious Russian characters for my imagi-native language, have become broken in the process. I shall endeavor to effect repairs and perhaps this whole enterprise will eventually be more stable as a result. Fingers crossed …

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén