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A Sad Loss

Posted by Adam on May 14, 2019 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (1)

A very sad day on April 13th when we heard that our good friend Nick Langford had finally lost his fight with Parkinsons disease. My sympathies are of course with his family who have the loss of a lovely man as well as a great Dad and Grandad to come to terms with. For me a good friend is gone as well as my opponent across the wargames table and collaborator in many a history or gaming enthusiasm, for nearly forty years.



Nick commented to me several times, over the years what a lot of enjoyment he had received from our hobby of wargaming. He was certainly the prime mover  in the evolution of our wargames from being all about the game to being as much about a few drinks and an excellent meal with friends. That's not to say Nick's competitive streak had waned. He still liked to mash an opponents army, by brilliant tactics or unlikely dice throws, and rub it in with gleeful laughter! 



Nick was in no small part the cause of my own interest in history. Great long discussions and debates about all manner of  subjects and our thoughts about what we had been reading last are one of the things I shall miss the most. I'm really not sure how I am going to feel about the projects that we tackled together (Macedonian Successors, Seven Years War, Moghuls and Maharattas...) It will be weird that Nick's not there when the toys are out on the table. On the other hand I reckon that any time the lowly Pindaris charge to an unlikely victory or the French fusiliers stand and fight against the odds, I will be able to hear Nick cheering them on.

Goodbye mate, thanks for everything.





Ottoman Progress

Posted by Adam on May 6, 2019 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Whilst the T's are crossed and I's dotted on my upcoming house move I decided to get at least a few Ottoman infantry finished. The post Salute enthusiasm period would not be wasted before I have to pack way my painting desk. First up was the completed unit of 18th C. Janissaries converted from Perry Zouaves with my own sculpted and cast up arms included.




My first time moulded items have worked okay ("good enough for Government work" I think is the saying echoing round my head.) I enjoyed converting one of the Perry figures by adding a Mahdist drum to create a a musician for the unit. The Mahdist figure has bare arms so I added some loose unbuttoned sleeves to the figure. The aggressive look of the unit and slightly irregular feel was exactly what I was aiming for. They are slightly more varied than I was thinking; with not only yataghan swords but firing muskets, pistols and wielding musket butts.




The Bosniak / Albanian figures from Warfare Miniatures were also crying out to be painted. I wanted these to be a little less brightly coloured than the regular troops of the Ottoman force so I chose a limited pallet for these. Apart from equipment and occasional decoration I went with dark blue, black, brick red, cream and white. Taking a cue from Barry Hilton's technique for these figures I didn't worry about doing highlights after painting and shading. I think the detail is all there in the sculpts.



I am not sure yet if I will give them a command stand made up from the generic officers or I might convert some of the musketeers into an officer and standard bearer.



Some Nice Danish Gunboats

Posted by Adam on January 26, 2019 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Made good use of a spare hour in Copenhagen this week and visited the Military Museum. They have a lot of excellent ship models so I took a few snaps. Some very cute gunboats from our period of interest:





Casting Up Some Turks

Posted by Adam on October 30, 2018 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have tinkered with home casting of lead* figures in the past mainly using Prince August moulds. Always imagined it would be very satisfying to field an army of miniatures tht were my own creations. The whole having to be able to sculpt the master that will be moulded hurdle kept this plan in check for many years but eventually the example of a number of blogs has pushed me to have a crack at it. It was inspiring to see a number of gamers just get on with it and not be too concerned with produing stunning works of art.  (*in fact some sort of white metal that is mostly tin I suspect.)



Prince August home casting kit.


My yen for an 18th Century Turkish army to take on my Austro-Hungarians, looked like a promising object for the plan. For the infantry I decided to use the Perry Miniatures  plastic ACW Zouaves modified to make them less regular and 19th Century looking. For the cavalry I would need an unarmoured rider who would serve as Timariot Sipahis and later mercenary / militia cavalry.  The cavalryman could have a separate head to allow for a bit of variation. Also a right arm weilding a scimitar, which could be swapped out for a lance of firearm for further  multiple use of the basic casting. The cavalry would be mounted on the nice plastic horses available from Perry Miniatures or Warlord Games.  I used a "dolly" from Ebob as the skeleton that I could pose and know was about the right proportions for a wargames figure.Epoxy putty was then added to give bulk to the body as well as clothes / other details.


The masters "ready" to go into a mould...


The infantry figure needed a new pair of arms. One weilding a wickedly sharp looking yataghan sword. The left arm carrying the musket. Again a form constructed of wire and plasticard was made for the putty to be added to. I started with grand plans for half a dozen interchangeable arms for the infantry and horseman but just the three minimum required took long enough to complete.I consoled myself with the fact that I could cut away sword blades to convert the right arms for other purposes (holding lances, flagpoles etc.)



The lego mould box to contain the liquid silicon rubber until it had hardened.


For my first ever silicon rubber mould I bought a tin of the correct grade of liquid rubber from Alec Tiranti in London. It comes with the catalyst that starts the reaction that turns the liquid rubber into the solid mould that can accept hot molten metal. I had read many articles over the years about home casting and got some good advice from current bloggers making their own moulds. I freely adopted the elements of others processes that looked like they would suit me and plunged in to see how it all worked.


Tools and containers required. The liquid silicon rubber stains everything it touches!


Some bits went well: lego for the mould box was very successful and versatile. I did get a bit too ambitious wit the number of components that I tried to stuff into one mould however (one body, three arms and two heads made the channels that the lead is supposed to travel through very constricted.) At the end of the process however I had a solid chunk of rubber with the clearly identifiable hollows where my sculted masters had been.


A completed mould!


My lack of experience iin laying out my mould became apparent when I poured hot metal into it for the first time. Less than half of the mould filled up correctly, it was a bit disheartening. I did remember that air getting trapped in the mould is a common problem and vents need to be cut to allow it to escape.  Some careful cutting with a sharp knife in the restricted space of the mould gave me the vents and some further surgery to improve the sprue to each component was carried out. Eventually I was getting the entire mould casting successfully on almost every pour!


The mould  with vents cut  and blackened by graphite powder which aids the flow of the molten metal.


Once I had enough bits to be able to contruct 8 cavalrymen and convert a bunch of infantry, I stopped the addictive process and went to work on the output. The drawback with my "clever" scheme with all the seperate arms now became apparent. Having to glue the bloody thing in place! Yes I do get instant variation in my Ottoman units but I pay for this with having to file every join flat to be superglued.I had probably over estiimated where my patience will run out with this. Instead of dozens of units I may not get beyond five or six.


Shiny new castings...


So far then not perfect but more of a success than I had expected. I will have learned from my mistakes for he next moulds. Yes there will be next moulds as the production of shiny new figures from a mould is quite addictive. My Turkish units from these initial castings will have their  shortcomings disguised in the ussual way; with nice looking bases and large pretty flags!


Lots of pieces packed in a mould. Too many it turned out.


Ottoman Foot

Posted by Adam on October 23, 2018 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

As well as casting up my own Ottoman 18th Century cavalry riders, I put into the same mould some pieces to help convert plastic infantry figures. The base figure is the Perry Miniatures ACW Zouave infantry. These are quite close to the look of many Ottoman infantry types (unsurprisingly when you think about it.)


I wanted a less regimented look to my Janissary / Sekban regiments than the poses out of the box. My idea was to have a right arm waving a scimitar or yataghan sword, which would give the right impression of ferocity. This would leave them needing to be holding their musket in the other hand (shoulder straps not seeming to be a thing in this period.) I will go into the sculpting and mould making in another post but I have ended up with a whole stack of the new sets of arms and of course the tedium of gluing the new combination of parts together.


As I am a new and untalented sculptor there is also a fair bit of work with greenstuff to get the new arms to fit and the results to look remotely human! To keep my interest levels up I decided to paint up the first stand's worth of figures (6 for Beneath the Lily Banners / Piquet). Here it is (the standard bearer is a Brigade Games Napoleonic Ottoman figure.)


(click on image for larger version)

This unit will be in fairly uniformI colours although the evidence is a bit lacking. Iam reasonably happy with the results but happier still that I now have the option of buying Warfare Miniatures take on figures for this period! I will certainly comp[lete the unit with the other two stands and then paint up a Warfare one so I can get a fair comparison.

My Own Ottomans

Posted by Adam on September 10, 2018 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

My first unit of Ottoman Sipahi cavalry with a quick paintjob to see how they turn out...




For my first ever sculpt (more or less) and first silicon rubber mould, I am reasonably happy with the results. (I'm not claiming the horses, which are Warlord ECW plastic miniatures - courtesy of their half price sprue sale.)  The acid test will come when they are sharing a table with professionally sculpted miniatures.


These chaps are intended to represent Timarli Sipahis for the first half of the 18th Century. Aftert this the Sipahis were pretty much extinct and I shall be calling these mercenary Levend cavalry.

Allied Triari

Posted by Adam on August 31, 2018 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes I buy figures just because I like the person behind a company or I am wanting to show some support for a smaller commercial project. Agema Miniatures falls plum into that category without a doubt. I do not expecially need any more Republican Roman figures in 28mm but I appreciate the ethos and historical approach of Greg's company. So of course I bought all of the packs of metal figures that were produed to supplement the plastic offerings. The plastics are nice and well-proporrtioned but a little bit limited in their number of poses, so doing extras in metal made a lot of sense. 


Once I had the figures in my hand the "Wow factor" took over. These are some of the nicest figures I have ever seen sculpted in this scale. Just superb little castings with amazing detail and very natural poses, both action stances and relaxed. I was particularly keen on the Triari pack with the old veterans leaning on their shields and in a variety of more expensive armour types. Eventually I had to spoil it all though by adding my painting to the party! First I came upon a problem  The Agema plastic Triari match the metal additions perfectly for physiology but they are all in the classic kneeling pose. Totally not going to mix in with the stood up versions. My solution was to hack up some of the other plastic legionaries so that they could be adapted to carrying the Triari's typical spear armamment. 


(Click on image for larger version)

It works okayish... I had to steal some arms from Victrix plastic  figures which was altogether a nuisance. However the good news is that the new Hannibals Veterans box of plastics from Agema will provide additional bodies and spear arms that will do the job perfectly.


Here's some from the Agema Facebook page.


Just for the record the figures, counted from the left are: 4, 6, 7, 12, 13,15 are Triari Characters, 9, 10, and 11 from Maniple Command, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 16 are plastic figures from the Legionary box, (3 and 5 with heads from the Roman Allies pack of heads.) Figures 1 and 14 are interloperas that have been lurking in the lead pile fopr a very long time. They seem to fit in okay. They were I think from a company called Alban Miniatures possibly now a part of Matchlock / Minifigs. Apart from the last two all these figures are available direct from Agema at http://agemaminiatures.co.uk/product-category/republican-romans/metal-figures/


Legions Assemble

Posted by Adam on July 7, 2018 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The motivation to get my Punic Wars Romans up to strength has been given a big boost (more like a jolt from a defibrillator I have to admit) by the announcement of the SOA Battle Day next year being Telamon. I have now finished the second Roman Legion in my army (Legion III) and I will be able to move on to the Allied "wings" forthwith.



Here are the two legions deployed for combat in their distinctive Triplex Acies formation. Light infantry Velites are at the front and then in order: Hastati, Principed and Triari at the back.  The Piquet version of this formation is made up of 7 units of foot and one of cavalry (not shown.) The right hand side of the formation above is the newly comleted Legion III.



The bulk of these figures are the excellent Wargame Foundry range. Still some of the nicest figures for this army available and in a huge number of poses and variants. If any faults could be picked upon some of the poses cause the pila and shield to clash when you are trying to glue them in place. These figures are at the small to medium end of the range of Republican Romans now available (see my comparison pictures here) but they are still one of the most accurate, nicely proportioned and have lots of subtle variants in armour and helmets without feeling the need to show every quirky variant from 200 years span and 1000 miles radius of Rome!




I have mixed in command figures from just about every range there is: Newline, Magister Millitatum, Gripping Beast and Crusader. The Velites are even more of a mixed bag with additional volunteers from Essex Miniatures, Irregular and Vicrtix. I am trying to strike the balance between a regular citizen army and one where much of the equipment was provided by the individual or aranged on a local basis. Thus the different shades of a basic shield colour within each legion.



With the Allies I will take a more varied approach. Each contingent (Piquet unit) will have their own shield colours and some of them blazons as well (I am going to try out some Greekish transfers for those with a Hellenistic heritage.) Hopefully they will be distinct from the Romans but still clearly belonging to the same army. The figures will be a mix of more Foundry (for the long term Romanised Allies sucvh as the Latins) and Oscan and Samnite figures for some of the more recent Allies. A fair few of these to do for Telamon including a big cavalry contingent. Even scaling the battle so that our usual legion represents 2 in the game, we are looking at over 1000 figures just for the Roman side!



After a bit of a hiatus...

Posted by Adam on June 3, 2018 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

We finally got some figures on the table. As we had a last minute loss of nerve about the quantity of young nerds at the Wayland Games venue (being ourselves very much old school nerds) we decided to do a game that would fit on my own dining table. Donnybrook was the obvious choice to me, so I told Les to bring his appropriately based ECW figures over.


A previous Donnybrook game set in the Highlands


Rooting around  for some scenery the first box that came to hand was a big bunch of adobe buildings. This got me thinking about perhaps a North African scenario but something different to the English garrison at Tangiers. This brought to mind a plan suggested by the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in a series of essays to Louis XIV that he should invade Egypt in 1671 rather than Holland. Whether this was just an attempt to deflect Louis from attacking a fellow Christian nation or a real attempt to build a coalition against the Ottoman Empire, it is one of history's great what-ifs.



This was enough justification to set a scenario in Egrypt with a French force (including Scots mercenaries) looking to capture supplies in a small town.  The first question was did I have enough figures to stand in for the Egyptian force? Luckily an Ottoman army is a long term project of mine so I had ten Sipahi heavy cavalry just sitting there on the shelf. Some generic turbanned  cavalry who have represented Arabs from the 7th Century through to the 19th contributed another two units and some Afghan musketeers stepped in as Egyptian militia.



The French had four companies of musketeers in their raiding force (2 French 2 Scots) and an Elite detatchment of pikemen. The Egyptians had two units of Elite armoured Mamluke lancers, two of drilled native light horse and a unit of a dozen recruit level local militian with muskets. Never having used a Tribal force in Donnybrook before I used one of each of the character types including: an Imam, a Weapons Master and a Fearless Warrior (a lone lunatic with a two handed sword.)



We are a bit rusty with the rules so probably made many mistakes but it wa great fun to fling tribal cavalry in with reckless abandon, who then mostly got shot out of their saddles!  



My Egyptian militia flung themselves into the town with the Imam cheering them on from the rear with a few choice quotes from the Koran.  Easy to disdain but they can cause some casualties with their twelve musket shots. Luckily they didn't get into a stand up fight with eith er of the superior Scots mercenary companies.



We ran out of time to fight it to a conclusion (I think you resigned yes, Les? :)  ) I was lining up to trample the French commander beneath the hooves of Sipahi unit as he was accompanied by only two remaining pikemen. If they didn't get him Khalil Ahabbi was sneaking up with his big chopper!



As a game a bit of fun and a good remonder that it is easy to knock together a scratch force just from ods and ends of figures I have sitting around.  The Arab with a two handed sword I bought in a pack of Citadel men at arms when I was about twelve!



Taking Stock of Projects: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Posted by Adam on January 16, 2018 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I have previously avoided looking too closely at my wargames hobby in terms of how many projects I have active or stored away for future revival or just hopelessly stalled. Inspired by Ross Mac's no-nonsense look at his own resources and interests on his enthralling blog  and where to commit his hobby time, I have decided to have a crack at something similar. I am writing as I review things, so excuse me if the mood swings violently!


My oldest collection of 25/28mm figures (not including Dungeons and Dragon RPG miniatures) is the Macedonian Successors. Started a little over 35 years ago when I first discovered playing with toy soldiers was a “real” hobby! My first purchases were towards a Pyrrhic army. This appealed to me from the pages of WRG’s 6th Edition army lists due to the diverse range of auxiliary type that could be added to the core of competent Macedonian pikemen and Companion cavalry. Elephants, Italian types, Keltic mercenaries, Cretan archers - basically all the fun of the fayre! Early recruits were able to get into action quickly thanks to my friend Nick starting a Hellenistic army at the same time. We were able to coordinate our buying and painting of figures and combine them into a joint army. (Often Antigonid Macedonian if memory serves.) A good starter army with no one “super-troop” unit that you have to pin your hopes on. There were a variety of dangers presented by this sort of army. I even had the Kelts pull the fat out of the fire one time, beating a unit of Varangian Guards when everyone else had given way.


Macedonian Successors

(Includes some Persians and Indians, who were allies and enemies)

Figures painted: 644 (plus 8 elephants)

Figures unpainted: Around 600 about a third are Achaemenid Persians.

Active status: Very active!





Even after all these years this period of history still enthuses me. The Macedonians are being reinforced on two fronts currently: The Bactrian Greeks are mostly painted and ready for their first game in 2018. Also the Society of Ancients Battle Day is Paraitekene this year so I am adding a small number of units to my phalanx numbers for that game.



So hopefully at least 3 games using these figures this year. This gives quite an “ancients” slant to the year already… My next largest collection I suspect will be Horse and Musket, particularly the 18th Century and Seven Years War. Although these were originally bought as a side project when I acquired a large number of Spencer Smith plastic figures just before they went out of production. It has become my other main period of interest, expanding into the latter part of the 17th Century with the recent Nine Years War focus.


18th Century / Seven Years War

Figures painted: 533 (plus several dozen guns and 8 elephants)

Figures unpainted: 120 or so Indian cavalry and sepoys. Less than a hundred(?) Austrian and French SYW

Active status: Active.





An ongoing interest almost as long as the Ancients armies. These have taken a bit of a back seat to the League of Augsburg / Nine Years War in recent years. However I am determined to get my Ottoman Turk project properly under way this year. Some figures have been bought for this already from Brigade Games, Old Glory and Dixon Miniatures. Some will be home caste and modified plastics and then there is the tantalising prospect of Warfare Miniatures starting their range. Not sure if they will hit the table in 2018 but a round dozen units painted and ready by the end of the year is a reachable target. Hopefully we will get the SYW boys out to play at least once as well.



My other “tricorn based” army, that I mentioned above, has muscled in on the SYW figures’ territory. These are the late 17th Century Nine Years War units, which have benefitted from usage once or twice a year at the League of Augsburg weekends in Derby and Dumfries, keeping them on the agenda. I have no ambitious plans for painting units this year. I am lucky to have a friend (Les) who has collected enough figures for us to play manageable games with our combined collections. If events in the Battle for Britain campaign call for it I may be tempted to paint up a unit or two…


Nine Years War

Figures painted: 336

Figures unpainted: 472 plus artillery? (just a side project  )

Active status: Active.




I will hopefully be able to attend at least one of the games up at Dumfries. I am likely to take along some or all of my painted units if they are needed. A fair chance we will get these chaps on a table closer to home at least once this year too.


My other main focus this year is related to the League of Augsburg via their skirmish rule set “Donnybrook”. I have a mainly Scottish themed 17th Century / ECW Donnybrook collection (~ 60 figures) which will in the course of time be expanded with more figures including Three Musketeers period heroes and villains. I think the rules should work fine for this kind of setting. More of a stretch is adapting the rules set for the new period that I started last year; the 1895 Heligoland Crisis.


This is a Victorian alternative history setting that I am greatly enjoying writing. The main opponents are the British Empire and the German Empire and the initial theatre of operations the British governed Heligoland Islands in the North Sea. I am taking liberties with history (but feasible ones) that have led to an Anglo-German conflict 19 years before the Great War. I am planning on expanding the conflict to include torpedo boat duels in the shoal infested waters around the islands and civilian / irregular forces for the 28mm skirmish games.



1895 Heligoland Crisis

Figures painted: 58 (plus 7x 1/600 ships)

Figures unpainted: 200ish

Active status: Active.





I have to accept that the effort for this project will be split equally between figures and terrain / rules tinkering. Getting to a usable version of the rules that gives the period a distinct flavour will be key to keeping up enthusiasm for painting new figures and organising scenarios for games.

 

The second ancients period that I have a big interest in is the Punic Wars and more generally the Western Mediterranean. This overlaps with the Macedonian Successors in the form of the army of Pyrrhos which included Italian contingents and of course the Republican Romans who clashed with him and, eventually, the other Successors. This project started for me with my buying and painting an Etruscan army with Gallic allies. There were no Etruscan figures available back then, so I used the multipart QT/Amazon range of figures to cobble together something that worked for me. For the Gallic warriors I used a bunch of the QT figures and a couple of examples from every range I could find. This gave me a fine irregular looking warband in the days before ranges had a lot of variants of any one troop type. This “project” has expanded in fits and starts over the years and now includes small forces for each of the Romans, Carthaginians and Samnites, to go with the Etruscans.



Punic Wars

Figures painted: 432 plus elephants and chariots

Figures unpainted: 300 - 400

Active status: semi-active.





One of our Roman army owners left our small band of brothers, so we were somewhat reduced in the number of Legions we could deploy on the tabletop. I have been bulking up my Romans to fill the gap but I have less empathy for them than other armies so it is less of a priority. Instead of classic Punic wars clashes we have turned to games featuring Kelts and mercenary forces instead. There is always a chance we will gwt these old favourites out for a game particularly if I restart my Truceless War campaign...


These projects I would happily call the "Good". Well developed, with enough figures to have a game. Still plenty of enthusiasm and new figures joining the veterans. I will come onto the "Bad" and Ugly" next time.


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