dispatches from terra incognita

Category: Colonial Page 2 of 3

“It was 20 Years Ago Today…”

Well, not exactly, but ’round about. Aflame with inspiration from The Major General Tremorden Rederring, I fired up my internet machine and sent off to the Wargames Foundry in Old Blighty for The Mountains of the Moon Collection. In 2000, it set me back the princely sum of $125 US, shipped gratis.

The Whole Lot

It has taken me, lo these 20 years to get them all painted. I’ll share vignettes of each group presently, though the painting hardly merits it. I’ve written previously how some miniatures — these in particular — intimidated me. John Hanning Speke’s checked shirt alone seemed beyond my meager skills.

Helpful, but intimidating …

Plodding along, mostly during the past year, and mostly pre-“sheltering in place,” I completed the set. Checking the Foundry website, it seems they no longer sell these collections — just the individual groups of 7 or 8 figures. And they’ve changed some of the names of the groups. Apparently, even 20 years ago they had regrouped them, as I received the extra figures as well.

We’ll return to them later; for next post I have some Big News!

Sweet Jane

Here’s a roundup of some recent completions. First up is what I consider to be one of those silly Reaper fantasy figures that I will likely never use. A bard, I presume, whose “axe” is every bit a modern-day guitar, with a bunch of extra bass strings you could probably pick out were I a better painter. ‘Tis a better picture of the Stutz from my last post, though.

“Ridin’ in a Stutz Bearcat, Jim,
Those were different times…”

Next we have some sort of steampunky-chronomancer type fellow wearing a big Power Hand and goggles. Again, seems a bit silly. I did stick the steely-eyed gaze.

Two final Reapers for this post— tough lasses. I gave the witch really big yellow eyes, which make her otherworldly. Other painted examples of her online did the dress more elaborately, so I guess I took the easy way out on this one.

A fine pair.

On to a bit of history. Three fellows from Foundry’s Darkest Africa collection. I’m going to put the whole band together for my next post.

An Old Glory pirate captain, poorly lit.

Avast! This light is horrible!

And at long last, my Thos. Foss largess is complete. Two 10mm cardstock horse and wagons and one 54mm 18th Century chap. It seems the Skull & Crown store is up and running again. Alas, the comrades for this fellow or Queen Victoria’s Robot Wars remain elusive …

A bit of a jag

Even before the recent “sheltering in place,” I seem to have gone on a bit of a painting jag — the term is, apparently, an Americanism: “a bout of unrestrained activity or emotion, especially drinking, crying, or laughing.” There is no rhyme or reason, just a gentle swirl through the unpainted masses. In the spirit of sharing, we have:

This fellow was a gift from him creator, Thomas Foss. I’ve noticed that his Skull and Crown web store is unavailable; hopefully indicative of a big relaunch. I’ve been hoping more of these fellows to become available.

Let us stay with the big boys. These are the first five Franco-Prussian War Prussians. They are to serve as stock villains for my Isla Victoria VSF setting.

Next up, my current “new shiny object.” When I acquired my Vintage Christmas Haul of Armies in Plastic 54s, one benefit of buying in bulk (in addition to free shipping) was the extra bags of random miniatures. I had long thought that I would press some of these lads into service in an Imagi-Nation. That plan has been set into motion.

Picked from the fellows in the bags plus an additional bag of random AIP Napoleonics I purchased, I have the first unit of Ascodali infantry. I’ll do a subsequent post on what I’m dreaming up.

Now we’ll move on to smaller souls. I’ll note at the outset that my painting style (block colors with a wash) and my not-so-matte sealer make the minis appear a bit blotchy here on the silver screen. They look better— to my eyes, at least — in person.

Here are four adventurous ladies from Wargames Foundry’s Darkest Africa collection. I accidentally captured an appropriate mania in the missionary lass at left.

I tried to create a little vignette for this lone, piratical captive. (Old Glory). Would have been better if I put a little ship in the background, I suppose.

 

Here is a pulp-era Dame or Gun Moll, I suppose, looking quite blotchy. This was my second attempt at sheer fabric (her stockings) which look terrible in the photo and not much better in the flesh [sigh].

When I began painting this chap years ago, I didn’t understand who he was supposed to be. As often, it was likely Maestro Chris Palmer who informed me Reaper intends him to be “a hougan.” I’ve since become better acquainted with the Reaper Figure Finder for positive IDs.

Last historical stop, the Old West. A couple of entrepreneurs in dispute with a cow herder. No doubt, just a misunderstanding. (Foundry Old West figures).

On to the world of fantasy. The leader of my orc army along with a chariot, as yet un-crewed.

Some villagers (Reaper Bones) …

… and an elf, maybe? As I got into the color scheme, I imagined her as a fantasy Bridezilla. Perhaps adventurers will interrupt her nuptials and invoke her wrath …

This one is meant to be a paladin, I think. With my color choices, I asked: what would happen if the god she followed wasn’t obsessed with purity evinced by chastity? Hence, a “Hot Paladin.”

I don’t know if GW does any female dwarf characters at all. I imagined this young lady as a “Slayer-in-training.” Hence, not yet nude (a shirt skirt and training bra-type-thing you can’t see here) and just a bit of the orange dye in her hair.

This fellow has a silly, Peter Mullen-ish over the topness that appeals to me. I tried — and failed — to paint mystical swirlings on the crystal ball. Looks like a bad globe [sign, again].

The final two were “hate painting,” really, just to get them out of the queue. I recall that Chris Palmer didn’t like this lass when he painted her, either. She’s clearly running away from something — something BIG as she seems to be looking backwards and upwards. I’m hoping it’s whoever sold her that outfit …

Finally, Reaper’s “Mr. Bones.” I don’t get what this guy even is. Skull face, which Chris Palmer refers to as “a mask,” which, I guess, it is, as he has regular hands and feet. Who is he? What is he doing? WTF? I have the next-year’s-model on the desk now. At least he has boney hands and feet as well.

Odds & Sods

Missed the traditional Saturday, but I submit a brief painting update.

First up we have the first painted fellow from my recently-won WHFB 6/e starter set. I hereby revise my assessment of the sculpts from “aren’t my favorite” to “absolutely my favorite.” Wide swaths of uninterrupted plastic make them a joy to paint.

Orcky Mc Orkface


Next up is one of my inexhaustible Reaper Bones. Historically, I’ve been intimidated by larger figures, so I’m making an effort to tackle some of these giant-types. It’s just like painting a 54mm, really.

Finally, the penultimate figure from my antique store triumph. This chap is the sole nemesis for Her Majesty’s army, an unmarked 54mm Zulu flat:

… And please show your right profile…

Toy Soldier Update

The toy soldiers I found in a junk store (last seen here) have been successfully stripped and repainted. Here they are after a lengthy bath in acetone and then Simple Green.

The chap on the left is clearly an authentic Britains of unknown vintage. His colleague was marked simply “ENGLAND.”

The highlander, you may recall, had experienced some battle damage. I performed a bit of reconstructive surgery with an epoxy sculpting material from Home Depot — poor man’s “green stuff.” No pictures of the process, alas, and my sculpting skills are rudimentary. Here he is with a spot of paint.

He didn’t have an integral base (I glued him to a washer) and I didn’t notice until the paint was stripped that he has “ENGLAND” in raised letters down his left arm! Particularly vexing for a Scot, one would imagine.

Here is the Britains infantryman in a Zulu war era uniform and then his comrade, in what is intended to be home service uniform.

This Doesn’t (Usually) Happen to Me

I am ever envious when miniatures bloggers — most often those living in the U.K. — post about how they stopped by a “charity shop” or “car boot sale” and come away with a bag full of vintage Britains, or dust collectors that just happen to be sized perfectly for 15mm terrain, or a beautiful Matchbox Models of Yesteryear car… Well, I’m here to tell you that such felicity does occasionally befall a yank as well.

A few weeks back, my wife and I visited a local “junque” shop by name of Grandaddy’s Antique Mall, nestled between my home and Guilford Courthouse. “Two acres of antiques,” claim they, and it was truly something. There were several booths engorged with die cast vehicles, but mostly of the modern-era. Alas, nary a Gault ceramic. However, tucked away on a shelf, I espied a plastic bag marked $6 with a motley assembly of real tin soldiers!

A trio of stalwart Defenders of the Empire

The highlander had sustained battle damage

Their sole opponent was a flat (or possibly semi-flat) zulu.

Slender, yet undaunted

The most classic toy-soldier-types of the lot were these fellows:

Bearskins at the ready

There was one civilian, and, interestingly, he was the only one clearly stamped “Britains” on his base.

A true Britain

Overall, I believe I am what one calls “chuffed” at my lucky find. I’ll do a bit of research about restoration and see if I can’t return these fellows to splendor.

Post Script: Next to the bag was a plastic case with what looked to be about three unpainted 15mm WWII miniatures. “Granddaddy” was asking $24 for them, which was too rich for me as I don’t game WWII and I couldn’t ID the minis. I do plan to go back, so perhaps I’ll offer them a bit less in cash.

Peninsular Approximations

Soon after I bought and didn’t paint a bunch of Foundry Old West miniatures (about 20 years ago), I bought some Old Glory Pirates from a now defunct gaming store in Atlanta. Both have languished in bags on the shelf — my oldest miniatures. I’m now on a kick to plow through the layers of my lead pile, so the pirates have joined the painting queue.

I find that working on buildings and terrain (which I prefer to painting miniatures) serves as inspiration when my desire to paint flags. I have had my eye on the peninsular village created by Eric the Shed, as shown on Shed Wars. They are the Modular Buildings from Warbases. As I was too impatient to wait on shipping from the UK, and they look fairly simple in design, I decided to attempt replicating the buildings as The Major General would, with foamcore.

Warbases helpfully provide measurements for the buildings, so I could work out the dimensions for the various modular components. I am a much more comfortable as an imitator than an improviser, so I will begin by replicating Eric’s buildings.

Mine are true Frankenstein’s monsters, though. The shells are foamcore covered with sand and spackle for texture. I 3D printed the windows, resizing some from Fat Dragon Games. Finally, the pantile roofs are cast from Hirst Arts molds.

I plan to try his method of using sheet foam for paving stones as well, which seems quite a bit simpler and lighter than Hirst Arts castings.

 

The Year That Was

I can say “long time, no post,” but when an entire year has passed since I attended to this blog, it seems a bit ridiculous. When I finally did check in a week ago, I discovered that the blog had been offline since April! Oh, well… A little elbow grease and filthy lucre and we were back on the net again.

I did manage to have a thoroughly productive 2018 on the hobby front. Christmas 2017 brought me a pile of lovely little boxes full of 54mm plastic warriors from Armies in Plastic, last seen here. Some, not all, was painted during last year. Here is the proof:

First up, Afghan Tribesman, both on foot and mounted. Apparently I thought I needed many of these fellows as I got three boxes. A little over half are finished. [I will note that my lights gave an unpleasant yellowish cast to all of the photographs, compounded by my oldish phone. However, I have pledged not to let “perfect be the enemy of good” this year, so the pictures come with all of their warts.

Pathans

Pathan Cavalry

Next we have the Brits. The Officer came in one of my free bags — he’s from a different era and war, but I like to have officers distinct from foot soldiers.

British Infantry

And Cavalry:

British Cavalry

I wanted lancers as well, so I supplemented the AIP miniatures with some from Expeditionary Force. They are a bit of work, as they come in pieces that one must glue together. Stunning, though.

“X Force” Lancers

Aside from the Pathans, the British will battle Prussians as well. AIP didn’t have the artillery I desired (little balls on the pickelhauben) so once again I sprung for Expeditionary Force. They’re listed as British, but paint re-patriated them.

Finally, a possible British ally or thorn in its side are the plucky US Marines.

US Marines

More anon!

Vintage Christmas

I came to miniature wargaming as an adult. Childhood Christmases did include wondrous gifts, but never the tubs of little plastic warriors that so many boys enjoyed.

As an aside, I did yearn for that crate of Revolutionary War Soldiers advertised on the back of comic books in the 70’s. I’m quite sure I could have scraped together the $1.98; I think it was lack of postage preventing the transaction.

My recently developing 54mm VSF bug coincided with a big sale at Armies in Plastic ($12 boxes for $7.50) and thus I placed a robust order timed to arrive just before Christmas.

The packaging — cardboard boxes and plastic bags containing the figures — is a bit excessive for 2017 sensibilities. I had a vision, though, of how wonderful it would be to walk into a store that stocked them. The box art is suitably stirring and could serve as painting guides, should one be not girded with preconceived notions…

My preferred look for the British army is the red-coated Zulu wars era. Alas, the AIP figures are in “shirt sleeve order” which, although likely appropriate for the hot African climate, was too informal for the likes of me. My soldiers need to be in uniform.

These chaps from a conflict a few years later could be painted to fit the bill. They seem to be wearing gaiters, but I have already painted them black to look like boots.

The highlanders will be painted as a detachment of the Black Watch and there will be cavalry support as well. I intended for them to be the 17th Lancers, but they are brandishing sabers instead. I may do some modifications with Egyptian lancers. Finally, there will be Indian troops in support.

Next come the opponents: frontier tribesman and Prussians. The uhlans might well be converted to Death’s Head Hussars.

Inaugural Combat

Following an unplanned hiatus, I have every intention of resuming semi-regular posting to this blog.

Part of my time away was spent on some 1:1 terrain building. Inspired by Eric the Shed, specifically expansion of his eponymous structure, I endeavored to nearly double the size of the building which houses my carpentry workshop (known in my family as The Shed for far longer than I’ve known of Eric’s). The additional room has become my Hobby Shack, dedicated to innumerable non-serious pursuits.

I’ll post a bit more concerning construction later. Today, however, I shall focus on inaugural combat conducted in the new hobby space.

Aside from the new space, I have drawn from two ancillary inspirational founts:

  • I purchased and devoured Neil Thomas’s One-Hour Wargames. This little gem, about which I’ll wax to further length poetic at some later date, provided perfectly concise rules for me to conduct a solo battle; and

  • The resumption of posting by Dale Hurtt and Matt Kirkhart to Wooden Warriors. Part of the reason I labored doggedly for two months (I’m a one-man crew) to build my Shack was to have room to battle with my Square Pegs.

The Square Pegs are my 54mm craftee toy soldiers fashioned from clothes pins. (Their inspiration came from Kenneth Van Pelt and is recounted here.)

The initial conflict would be Scenario One, a Pitched Battle, somewhere in the wilds of Isla Victoria. Army sizes were regrettably halved to 3 units each, as my Prussian jæger and both sides’ artillery languish incomplete.

Thus, the British would be represented by two infantry detachments — 74th Regiment of Foot and the Black Watch — and a troop of 17th “Death or Glory” Lancers.

The Prussians brought to bear detachments from their First and Second Infanterie, supported by the infamous Death’s Head Hussars.

The two small forces faced off thusly:

Now, in my enthusiasm I shall beg your indulgence for this one illustrated After Action Report. I find them tedious as a rule and so you won’t find many here. This occasion was auspicious in that it marked my first foray into One-Hour Wargames, the initial engagement between Square Pegs, as well as the 21st anniversary of the day upon which I was wed. Caveat lector.

Turn the First: The Lancers, who for reasons known only to themselves bore the guidon of the 1st Lancers, charge en avant. The boys of the 74th and the Highlanders press onward to glory. Answering with a cry of battle lust, the Prussian Hussars make for the British cavalry. The 1st Infanterie marches straight towards the scrum while the 2nd have the Highlanders in their sight.

Turn the Second: Plucky British lads soldier onward, closing the gap. A model of malevolent malice, the Death’s Head Hussars not only reach the Lancers, but close on their left flank! They inflict 4 hits.

Turn the Third: Undeterred, the Lancers charge the 1st Infanterie and the 74th closes to shooting distance of the Hussars. The Hussars wheel right to engage the Fighting 74th while the 2nd Infanterie treads implacably towards the Black Watch. The 1st Infanterie fires on their tormentors (3 hits) and the sabers of the Hussars slice into the 74th (6 hits).

Turn the Fourth: The cry “Death or Glory” echoes from the looming mountains as the Lancers renew their charge. Both the 74th and the Highlanders engage in disciplined volley fire with their opponents, inflicting 6 hits on the Hussars and 4 on the 2nd Infanterie. Sensing weakness in the Lancers, the Hussars wheel to the attack. Both foot detachments return fire. The Lancers sustain 5 total hits from saber and shot and the Highlanders receive 5.

Turn the Fifth: The battle rages on with more hits sustained by all (Hussars, 7; 2nd Inf., 3). The Death’s Head Hussars close for the coup de grâce on the Lancers. Alas, sustained fire from the 1st Infanterie cuts down British horse pitilessly. Unit eliminated!

Turn the Sixth: Returning the favor, measured firing of the 74th decimates the Hussars.

Turn the Seventh: Placing themselves in the hands of Fate, the 74th and the Highlanders close on Prussian foot. Alas, needle gun made short work of the Black Watch (Unit eliminated).

The thin red line of the 74th prepared for Prussian onslaught. Martini-Henrys blazing, they take out the battered 1st Infanterie. At the end of the day, there were only souls standing to send final dispatches of the battle to Berlin, recounting the glory of the 2nd Infanterie.

The actors regain the stage to take their bows.

 

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