Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finally, 3 Completed Units!

It has been a long road since I embarked upon my Napoleonic project (July'09) but I've finally got three completed units (including basing and flags).  On the far right of the picture is my 28 fig Carabinier unit, which took about a month to complete and comes from 2 boxes of the Perry Plastic French Heavy Cavalry.  This was the first time I've done a cavalry unit outside of 6mm and I was a bit nervous how it would come out.  Overall, I'm very pleased.  I used the light shade from Army Painter for dipping the block painted figures and it worked really well.  I should warn you that one should apply the dip in a very well ventilated area as the fumes are very strong and somewhat persistent during the drying process.  The shading worked well but I'll likely try the medium tone on my next unit to see what the contrast is.  Here is a close up shot of the unit:

As I've posted before I am a big fan of the Perry plastics but I did run into a minor glitch with the cavalry.  The Perry's come with some pre-printed flags to use with the figures but I found the length of the flag pole (from the top to the holders hand was about 1/8 of an inch too short to use the provide flag.  Not really a big problem as I just downloaded a flag from the net and printed it to size.  By the way, the table I'm using to take pictures on isn't my gaming table as that is currently being used by my son's robotics team.  Were using an old ground cloth over a card table as a make shift photography studio today.

The 2 36 man infantry battalions are also Perry plastics, but in all honesty, were not painted by me.  I was introduced to a very gifted painter in the UK, Adrian McWalter, via John Stallard of Warlord Games  After a few emails back an forth, I commissioned Adrian to paint 2 battalions and they arrived on Christmas Eve.  As you can see, Adrian is a very talented artist and I'm very happy with both his work and service.  In fact, I liked the progress pictures so much that I commissioned another 2 battalions!  I did the basing, so if the shoes look a bit off, that's my fault.  Here are some close ups of the units - I now have something to aspire to with my painting:

My club is having a large game on 1/23/10 and I hope to have a completed force of 5-6 infantry battalions, 2-3 cavalry units and a few artillery pieces completed and table-ready.  I've got 3 other infantry battalions painting and awaiting dipping and one other about 60% painted so there is a lot more to do


Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Geek's Lair

Merry Christmas everyone from St Michael's, MD.  I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and that you get to spend time with your family and friends, as that's what the holidays are really all about.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

28 Carabiniers Ready for Dipping

I managed to put the time windfall from being snowed in to get the 28 figure carabinier unit ready for the dip.  The basic painting is complete and all the extra parts (sword hilts and carbines) have been attached to the basic figures.

I'll let everything set up tonight and start dipping in the am.  I'm going to use the light tone from the Army Painter product set.  Army Painter may be a bit pricey but I know it works so I keep using it.

Still rushing to get my Frenchies completed by mid January.  I hope those of you in the mid-atlantic states are using this weekend's blizzard to good use by catching up on your wargaming projects!

Snow in Maryland!

Wow - it's really snowing here in Maryland.  As you can see from the picture to the left we've got about 14 inches, as measured by the incredibly accurate horizontal depth gauge we have on our back deck.  The gauge also functions as a table in warmer months so it's a multi-tasker.

Outside of being fun (I've always enjoyed the change of pace inclement weather causes), the snow storm has created a nice pause in the normally hectic and somewhat commercial prep for Christmas.  Usually our family is running around getting ready for the holiday getting silly trinkets and such to prepare to spend time together.  Being snowed in has slowed things down and, I for one, am really enjoying it.  Of course there may be some additional rush freight charges from the online merchants but that's a small price to pay.

Rest assured that I am using my "Christmas Snow Day" to also catch up on my miniature painting.  I should finish up the basic painting on my carabiniers and begin to dip a few later this afternoon.  I also have another box of Perry French infantry to assemble and prime.  My petite version of La Grande Armee, continues to grow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

7 More Carabiniers

I finished another seven of the French Carabiniers today, bring my current tally to 14 completed and 14 still unpainted.  As I've posted earlier, I've become a big fan of the Perry plastics and the heavy cavalry box is no exception.  Progress has been slow this week as I've spent most of my free time helping my son's robotics team.

I'm hoping to get the remaining 14 carab's finished up in the next week or so.

I did win an e-bay auction for some cuirassiers (again the Perry Plastic Figs).  I'll let you know how this foray into the e-bay world of miniatures works out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Seven Carabiniers

I've completed the first seven out 28 plastic Perry Carabiniers.  Well "completed" is a relative term, as I still need to dip the models and base them, but their status is close enough to show a picture of.  I really like these models and found the painting to be easier than I expected.  I'll be painting them to be part of the 1st Carabinier regiment and have been trying to following the enclosed painting card as best I can.  It took me about 5 hours to complete this batch of seven so I'm confident I can get the rest done in the next few weeks.

I have discovered that I have more fun and do a better job painting figures in small batches of 5 - 7 figures rather than as either a single fig or a whole unit.  I recently tried to paint a 42 figure grenadier unit like a color based assembly line - lets paint flesh on 42 figs, then white etc.  It took a lot of the fun out of painting and the quality of the middle figures was pretty poor.

On other wargaming fronts, I have been reading the new Black Powder ruleset and have found it to be both a good read and a very interesting ruleset.  I'm thinking of giving it a go with my 6mm American Civil War (ACW) armies.  I'll need to adjust the movement and shooting distances down a bit but it looks like it might be a fun endeavor. I saw that yesterday over in the UK there was an official Black Powder event that sounded like a lot of fun.  Perhaps Mr Stallard and crew will elect to host something over hear in the colonies some time in the future?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Sharpe Skirmish Scenario

Last night I got together with my gaming club for a skirmish game based on the "Sharpe's Rifles" characters.  As you can see from the pictures, both the figures and terrain are top-notch.  Of course, none of them are mine but they are a real pleasure to play with.  My only claim to fame is that one of my photo's of the same gaming room is featured in the recently published "Black Powder" ruleset (page 4).  Who knew an I-Phone could take pictures worth publishing?

This was my first "skirmish" type game and it was a lot of fun.  I got to play Sharpe and his Rifle company, which you can see leading the British column in the first picture above.  Our mission was to deliver a load of rifles and gold to some Spanish Guerillas who were holding the town we were marching to.  Unfortunately, there was a large French column heading in the same direction so the race to the town was on.

The first day's march was a comedy of errors as each column had to roll for various special events and the french were further delayed by some time lost dealing with broken wagon wheels and issues with the camp followers (yes there were even figures for them also).  The end result was that a french dragoon unit made it to the town first but got caught in between the spanish guerillas in the town and my intrepid lads:

After breaking the French Dragoons, the British were declared to have seized the town and both sides were able to redeploy our forces.  The French prepared to assault the town while the British and Spanish were defending.  The river was declared fordable and the we (the brits) were further hampered that the regulars were all new recruits who had a unfortunate tendency to bolt at the mere sight of the French - thank goodness for Mr Sharpe and his hero stats being able to rally on a roll of 11 or less.  I was having so much fun I didn't take a lot of pictures except towards the end of the evening - the next one shows a counterattack on a unit of French Grenadiers who had successfully taken the bridge.

Oh yes, there was a certain Sgt Hakeswell within the ranks of the British regulars who seemed to cause no end of troubles - taking pot shots at our hero, Sharpe, and then actually trying to steal both the gold and the game from us - you can see Sharpe and the dastardly Hakeswell in a melee as Sharpe was trying to prevent the loss of the gold.

In the end, the game followed the script and Sharpe won the day (but just barely).  All-in-all it was a grand game that was beautifully staged and well deserving of the bottles of spanish red I brought to celebrate the evening.

Our next game will be in January and will be a more normal Napoleonics battle but on a 20-24' table.  I'm tasked with completing 6-10 french units, of which 5 are done - it should be a great game!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Perry French Heavy Cavalry

Just a short post as an update on my progress with the 2 boxes of the new Perry French Heavy Cavalry that recently arrived to bolster my meager forces.  Overall, I am very impressed with the quality of the product.  Each box has fourteen figures that can be modeled as 11 troopers, 1 bugler, a standard bearer and officer or as up to 14 troopers.  You're also given 2 head options to model the figures as either Cuirassiers or Carabiners.  I chose to model this batch as carabiners for the sole reason that they looked more interesting to paint - I know the historical fanatics cringe when that type of logic is used.

The assembly process was very quick and there was almost no flash on the sprues.  It took me about 3 hours to assemble, clean-up and prime the 28 horsemen.  I found this to be a much faster rate than it takes me to clean-up and prime metal cavalry figures (Perry French Light Cavalry).  I modeled the riders separate from their horses to facilitate painting and will attach them once the details are complete.

The horses are modeled in half sections and there can be some minor gaps that occur (usually around the breast of the horse) that will require some minor filling with green stuff.  There's a very good article in Battlegames magazine, issue 18, on assembling Perry plastic ACW cavalry which I found helpful for these guys.

While a small detail, this version of boxed plastics comes with a very useful card for painting and unit identities, etc. which I found very useful.  Overall I would highly recommend these figures for all Napoleonic gamers.  I'm looking forward to the upcoming Hussars from Perry!

Even though they are just primed in white, 28 French cavalry massed together makes a very impressive sight - now I've got to finish them to get them on the table.  I think it will take me three weeks to get them done, assuming I take advantage of the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays here in the US.

My gaming group is planning a massive Napoleonics battle in the first week of January and I'm committed to bring 8 units (5 infantry, 1 cavalry and 2 artillery) of which only 5 are complete!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Very Busy Week

This week was a very busy one both work and wargaming wise.  The heck with the work stuff, here's the wargaming stuff.  I managed to finish my Uncharted Seas Orc and Dwarf fleets as you can see in the picture to the left.  Uncharted Seas is a simple fantasy naval game which I like playing as a diversion from 28mm  Napoleonics.  It's also a relatively inexpensive game to get into as you can get the rules and 2 starter fleets for under $100.  The game plays quick and is a lot of fun.   I'll post some more pictures of the "fleets" at the end of this post.

The war game table looks a bit cluttered as it's currently being used by my son's robotics team to build their robot for the FTC competition this year.  I'm coaching them and its a lot of fun, but we loose the ability to play war games for 3-4 months each year while robot engineering is underway.  Oh well, it's educational!

In addition to finishing up the fleets, my local wargaming club got together for a game with a Star Wars ground-attack theme.  Kind of silly but at least there were no Ewoks!  It was a set of house rules which played very nicely - think WWII in a galaxy far, far away.  I played on the rebel side and was able to steal the imperial shuttle and win the game.  I will say the scenery was top notch (sorry no pics) and it even featured a working mono-rail (complete with a Disney-tour sound track if you pushed a button on the top). The mono-rail brought in Darth Vader and some imperial reinforcements.  It was a different, but a very fun game.  I also learned that there is an inverse correlation between beer consumption (bass) and the humor of "may the force be with..." quips.  Who knew?

On Saturday morning, I drove up to Gettysburg to attend the Fall-In show with a friend.  We wandered around the show for a bit and bought a few things - I mostly got scenery pieces for 15mm WWII.  The crowd was very light and the mood a bit subdued so it wasn't the best show.

Here are some more photos of the Uncharted Seas Fleets:

Lastly, I just received a couple of boxes of these guys - can't wait to get started!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Grenadiers Completed!

I finally finished off my battalion of Grenadiers, with the exception of a few mustaches I need to go back and finish.  As a relative newcomer to 28mm Napoleonics, this was my first "all-metal" unit.  At the risk of sounding heretical, I think I like painting plastic figures over the metal ones.  I find I can see the details better in the plastics than I can the metal and the overall painting experience is more enjoyable.  I do like the "weight" of the metal figs when pushing them about the battlefield but I', happy to give that up for the better painting experience.  I'm sure my past experiences with the GW 28mm 40K fig's has influenced my opinion.  Next up on the painting list is finishing 2 more battalions of Perry plastics (you can see one of them behind the Grenadiers above) and then (hopefully) I'll have received the 2 boxes of Cuirassiers (the new plastic ones from Perry).

There was yet another mis-step on the Nappy front.  I had ordered some Old Glory limbers in an effort to save a few bucks, but like their artillery figures, the scale is a bit small and the quality really poor (look at me becoming a miniatures snob!).  The limber models were really not usable so yet another effort to save money via lower quality ends up a failure.

As for other modeling, I completed 2 basic starter fleets for "Uncharted Seas"- Dwarf and Orc.  I found the models a lot of fun to paint.  I tried to do some free-hand skulls for the Orc sails but was disappointed with the results so I'm looking to find some details.  The game is a simplistic naval game and it's both quick and fun.

Lastly, I have a confession to make.  As I've reflected on my glacial painting pace with 28mm Nappy's (3 units in roughly 3 months) I've realized that it will take close to a year to get a nice sized force in place.  Being somewhat impatient, I've decided to hire a painter in the UK who was brought to my attention by some acquaintances over there who are in the war game industry.  My initial commission is for 2 infantry battalions.  His quality is outstanding (you'll definitely notice the difference from my efforts).  It's a bit pricey, but as I've learned one usually gets what one pays for (see the Old Glory reference above).  If the quality is a good as I've seen, I'll recommend the painter in a future post.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Change of Pace

This weekend I decided to give the Nappy's a bit of a break and paint up some WWII items.  First on the list were some 28mm US Paratroopers from Warlord Games.  I picked up a starter force on a bit of a lark.  Overall, I was very impressed with the figures and found painting them to be a lot easier than those fussy frenchman.  I've completed 12 out of the 32 or so I have in the force.  These figures were a lot of fun to paint and there is a good deal of free info on the web for uniform guides and corresponding Vallejo paint colors.  I also found the manufacturer, Warlord Games, a pleasure to deal with and I recommend them highly.  While wandering through their site, I did see the new "Black Powder" rules which I've placed on pre-order.  Now all I need is a set of 28mm WWII rules to use with these guys - any suggestions?

I need to decide on how to base these guys.  I'll likely go with the 25mm round GW bases for individual figures and 40mm for crew served weapons (the 30 cal machine gun).

My second project of the weekend was a 15mm terrain piece.  I picked up a resin model of a fortified casino (as in D-Day) which I'm planning to use as an objective for a "Kelly's Hero's" scenario I'm planning using Flames of War.  I'm going to play test the game a few time with my son before inflciting it upon my local gamers.  The picture's not that great - I didn't realize the background wall was almost the same color as the model!  The floors are removable, which allows for a bit a room-to-room fighting in the scenario.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Annapolis Sail Boat Show!!!!

Sailing is one of my favorite past-times and, to be honest, it slightly nudges out wargaming for the top spot most the time.  One of my favorite events is the US Sail Boat show, which is held in Annapolis. The show is billed as the largest sail boat show in the world.  I'm not so sure about that, but it's a blast.  I've been spending most of my free time the past few days going to some of the manufacturer receptions and strolling about the show grounds.  To put the show in a wargaming perspective - it's like the vendor area at Historicon, except the venue isn't a big convention room is a giant series of temporary floating docks (over a mile) and the vendor stalls are boats.  The sizes range from small single person racing lasers (12') to two masted monsters that require a small crew to operate!

One can really see the impact of the economy by observing the show this year.  The discounts on the boats are very significant, especially if you wait until the last minute and the vendor is facing the cost of transporting the boat back to wherever they came from.  The spreads the vendors lay out are also reduced but that helps my waist line!  It's still very hard for sellers of new boats to compete right now with the used boat market right now, where the discounts are extreme and there is a very large inventory of boats that people bought when they thought they were flush.  There is a bit revenge here on my part for some of my former compatriots in the financial services industry.  One does reap what one sows.  Enough moralizing on my part.  There's a show rumor that the FDIC has a small tent with pictures of foreclosed boats they've taken possession of from bank seizures but I haven't seen it.

I'm not really in the market for a boat, but then again they are all so pretty and my son mentioned something about wanting to move up to the comet racing class.....

Of course, the most likely way you'll discover if I do acquire a new boat will be from my lovely and fierce wife's posting of my obituary.

The one unfortunate aspect of the boat show is that it has impacted my progress on my French Nappy's.  I've almost completed the grenadier unit and have made some good progress on the light cavalry.  We are heading into the prime wargaming season so I need to get moving!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More Battalions

I received part of my recent order from Foundry a few days ago (the guard and light infantry battalions) and got right to work cleaning and priming the figures. I found the quality of the figures to be very good. You can see the Guard unit in the front of the photo and the light infantry in the upper left. There where no real problems with the guard figures, a a few casting "strings" and some bent bayonets which were all quickly dealt with. The Light Infantry came a bit worse for wear - 4 figures didn't have the pom on top the Shako and I broke off 5 bayonets bending them back. All in all, easy things to fix. As you can see I've started painitng the guard unit and since it's supposed to rain today, I think I'll get some quality painting time in. I wonder if it's a sign of age or advanced "geekedness" that I'm more excited to be able to paint toy soldiers than go sailing today?

While I was waiting out the final hours of the primer curing time, I also assembled my third box of Perry Plastic infantry (just behind the guard unit). I've got one more Perry box on order along with 2 boxes of the new plastic Cuirassiers and that should complete my force for now.

I did discover a useful painting tool by accident yesterday - the plastic container from a Bindi Profiterole dessert makes a great paint palette and water container. The top is cone shaped and has a small inner ring with four gaps that allows one to put the paint on the outside of the ring and the thinner on the inside and then draw the paint through the gaps. It really helps to add more control over the thinning process. The large cup can serve as a water reservoir or bits holder. Of course, I did need to eat the rather tasty profiterole dessert in order to gain access to this little modeling gem. Oh the travails I endure to push forward the frontiers of our hobby.

After some input from this blog and several other sources I have decided to roughly model my force on a specific French formation (division) which will aid greatly in helping me select the correct flags and other minor add-ons. Of course this will also require another trip to the Osprey web site.

Oh well, back to painting imperial guards!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Unpainted Reinforcements

I took the plunge the other day and purchased some more 28mm French Nappies. My first order was for yet one more box of Perry plastic infantry (bringing me to 4) and a pre-order of 2 boxes of the new Perry French Heavy Cavalry - I really like the preview pictures of those models. I then wandered over to the Foundry website and decided to buy 2 french infantry units (one light infantry, one guard) and a guard artillery unit (four guns & crews). I think that will be enough of the Nappy's for awhile - HEY! I hear all of you sniggering right now.

When complete my little force will have:

4 battalions of infantry (36 figs each) (Perry Plastic) - I'm excluding the 3 battalions worth of Victrix that I just can't paint well

1 Battalion of light infantry (Foundry)

1 Guard Battalion (Foundry)

1 Light Cav Unit (Perry)

1 Heavy Cav Unit (Perry)

5 Guns (Foundry / Perry)

1 Command

I'd like to hear any suggestions for additions or changes to the force

I should have a playable force completed in the next month or so.

As for gaming - not much on the historical side and only one 40k game with my son. Now that Sean's back in school his gaming time is a bit curtailed - this homework "thing" is very inconvenient for gaming.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Perry vs Victrix, an evolving opinion

I have been busy working on my 28mm French Napoleonics. As you know my infantry consists of plastic Perry and Victrix miniatures. I've completed 84 Perry's (2 36man battalions plus 12 other figs) and have been working on my third battalion of 36 Victrix figures. I must say, I'm finding the Victrix a lot harder to paint than the Perry's. I thought, at first, it was just the change from painting so many Perry's in a row. After working through my first 18 Victrix, I'm very disappointed with the results, so much so I think the odds are better than even that the manufacturer might be tempted to buy my figures back just to protect their brand image!

The Victrix figures are of high quality but the details are very fine, the figures are "thinner" and the details less raised than on the Perry's. They look great unpainted but I'm having trouble getting the detail painting to look "clean". In fact, the results look like I was painting these guys while riding a roller coaster. My comments are not meant to slam Victrix products, they are good looking figures and fun to build. It's just that the level of painting skills needed to make them look decent are a bit beyond what I can muster. I think I'll put aside the Victix's for awhile and come back to them in a few month. I would not recommend Victrix for 28mm beginners.

Since 3 of my planned 6 infantry battalions were going to be Victrix, I'll need to find some replacements. I polled some of my gaming friends and received a very vocal endorsement for metal Perry or Foundry figures. I've come to understand that both the Perry and Foundry figures are really the same thing since they're both sculpted by the Perry twins - very talented fellows. I think I'll give Foundry a try as they have an extensive range so I can augment my little army with some elite Guard units! They are a bit pricey but what the heck.

I did paint my first horse figures this weekend (2 mounted officers for a command stand) and found that painting horses wasn't as difficult as I thought. In fact it was fun. These figures are the first horses I've painted in detail - I don't count 6mm cavalry figures as there is not a lot there. I've got 21 light calvary figures (Perry metals) to paint so may start them next weekend. I am looking forward to getting a few boxes of the new Perry plastic French Heavy Cavalry when it's available.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Second French Battalion Almost Complete

The second of hopefully 6 french battalions is nearing completion. This one is about 80% done. I still need to paint up the shoes and finish some of the finer details (hair, buttons, etc). I manage to paint these figures over the Labor Day weekend so it was relatively fast for my pace. The next battalion will be made up of Victrix figures which I primed a few days ago. I've learned (the hard way) that it's best to give priming coats a few days to really dry so I'll get to painting this next lot in a few days.

You can also see in the background my initial attempt at painting a horse in 28mm scale - I don't know why but I'm not looking forward to painting horsed - oh well it's a skill I'll need to develop, especially if I want to grab some of the new Perry French Heavy Cavalry that's coming out this month. If anyone knows of some good online resources for painting horses and calvary figures please let me know.

Here's a picture of my currently painted French Army:

Nothing new to report on the gaming front - I didn't get a chance to play any games this week. My son played a few 40k games with his friends and he keeps working on his Space Marine army. When I get a chance, I'll post some pics of his force.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

August Painting Totals

Surprisingly, August was a productive month painting wise. Unfortunately, despite my faster pace, I seemed to have acquired more miniatures to paint so my net inventory of figures-in-waiting has grown. Oh well, it's a nice problem to have.

Here's what I completed in August:

28mm Napoleonics:
- 36 Completed infantry figures (Perry plastics)
- 90 Partially completed infantry figures (Perry / Victrix plastics)
- 4 Artillery crew (Perry metal)
- 1 6lb gun (Perry metal)

15mm Flames of War
- 2 M10 Tank Destroyers
- 1 Armored car
- 1 Recon section (2 jeeps and 6 scout figures)
- 3 houses
- roughly 10' of bocage terrain

Warhammer 40K
- 6 Eldar Fire Dragons
- 4 Eldar Wraithguard

I realize that some of you may be shocked at the inclusion of the 40k stuff but my son plays it, so it helps me keep up with him and I find there is a bit of creative freedom with painting the 40k figures. There aren't a lot Osprey "Men-at-Arms" plates on Eldar uniforms for me to follow so I can paint them pretty much anyway I want. Plus, as castings, the quality of the GW stuff is pretty top notch.

As for acquisitions, I've added a good bit to Napoleonic inventory and added, yet again, another scale: 28mm WWII, with the acquisition of a US paratrooper platoon from Warlord Games' "Bolt Action" line. The figures are really well done and I'm looking forward to painting them later this month as a bit of a break from Nappy's. My club has been known to play 28mm WWII so at least there's a chance the figures will see the table. I really like what I see on the Warlord Games site - it's a dangerous place to go if one has a credit card in hand!

As for my goals for September, I'd like to complete at least 2 additional French infantry battalions (72 figures total), a light calvary unit (24 figures), a command base (2 figures) and an artillery limber. We'll see how I do.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Completed Battalion!

I've finished painting my first 36 figure battalion! Ok, I'm almost finished as I still need to finish the backpack tie straps, shade or "dip" the figures, and scenic the bases, but I'm rounding up today. As you can see, I've also got a second and third battalion assembled and partially painted. The first two formations are Perry and the last row is Victrix. Outside of some minor marking variations they work very well together. I also have 1/2 of a fourth battalion assembled with the extra figures in each box.

I have one more box of Perry's and two of Victrix to assemble and add into the painting pile. I'll need to pick up a fourth box of the Perry's so I can match up the with and without great coats versions.

This weekend was my most productive painting wise - I completed 27 figures and got started on another 36. I think the quality slipped a little bit as I have more touch up work to do than last time but overall I'm happy with the results. My gaming club picks up it's activity in the fall so I need to be able to field an army soon - hopefully by the end of september I'll have 4 battalions of infantry and some artillery ready to go. If I get brave, I may even try to paint up some cavalry!

I did move my painting station from my office to our kitchen table, which allows for more direct sunlight and I can watch the football (NFL) games on the TV in the family room. We have Direct TV, which means I have the Sunday Ticket so I can watch any game while painting. I was able to watch my Saints spank Oakland while churning out painted figures. I like my "mobile workspace" more and more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer's Drawing to a Close

Yikes! It's August 24th already, were did the summer go?

As the summer draws down, I'd thought I would look back to see what I accomplished war-gaming wise. For me, like most gamers, the summer is a period of limited gaming activity given the weathers nice and there's too much fun to have outside. After thinking a bit, I was surprised on how much I accomplished, especially when one "risk-adjusts" the results to reflect my glacial painting pace.

The biggest wargaming event for me this summer was my decision to add yet another time period and scale to my inventory - 28mm Napoleonics. The local gaming club ECAMGA has a large Napoleonic following and I was lucky to play a few games - it was a blast. So in time honored war gamer fashion, I executed the classic jump right in plan - you know, the one where you buy a bunch of figures, start painting, and then think about what you want. Thank goodness for the quality and low price of the new Perry and Victrix plastics! Despite some missteps, I'm really enjoying the painting and look forward to fielding my French force sometime in the late fall.

The other area of summer progress for me is building some terrain for the table top. Most of what I built is for my 15mm Flames of War stuff, but at least the table is looking a lot better. I did break down and buy some pre-fab hills the "Terrain-Guy" but most of the scenery is home made. As I may have pointed out in earlier posts, I used to be a model railroader, some I do have some decent terrain making skills.

Lastly, the other big change was with my son. Previous to this summer, Sean's wargaming was pretty much limited to playing with Dad (don't worry he took it easy on me), but as with most 14 year olds he found that somewhat limiting socially. This summer he has gotten into GW's 40K system and has been playing with some friends and other people at the local GW retail outlet. I've been very impressed with the whole GW experience even when I factor in their pricing. I never thought I'd be able to get the deck re-sealed for the cost of a new "Space Marine Terminator Unit". Hey, I think I just found a way to get the GW margins to work in my favor! It's nice to seem him develop some independence and take the hobby in his own direction. I think he'll still tolerate playing with me - as long as I don't tell anyone.


Sean's other big news is he gotten very interested in competitive sailing so a lot of our summer was devoted to carting his around to different regatta's and such. All-in-all, it's been a grand summer.

I look forward to the Fall, as it's my favorite season, the weathers still nice in Maryland in September and October and all the tourists go away. The NFL is in full swing and my modeling pace picks up.

Happy Gaming!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Flames of War Game

It was a rainy day today (thank you, hurricane Bill) so my son and I decided to play a game.
As a change of pace from Napoleonics, we decided to play a Flames of War (FOW) game pitting an American armored company attacking a depleted German paratrooper company with tank support. Sean played the Americans and I was the Germans. We didn't bother to tally up the point totals but the forces were roughly equal.

Here is the line up:

US Tank company (10 M4A1 and 7 M4AE8 Shermans)
1 Armored Infantry Platoon
1 M10 Tank Destroyer Platoon (2 M10's plus scouts)
4 Priests
3 M8 Armored Cars
P-47 CAS

German Force
2 Depleted Paratrooper Platoons
1 MG Section
1 Assault Gun Platoon (5 Stugs)
1 Tank Platoon (5 Pz IV's)
1 Heavy Tank Platoon (2 Tigers)
1 Artillery Section (2 105mm)

Well, it seems we took a lot a set-up pictures, but then forgot to take any "in-game" shots - Dohhh! Never fear, those doughty Americans with their air cover won the day, although it was a close run - Tigers can be very handy in the bocage. This was one of our first FOW games on the new table and I think it looks pretty good. I need to build some more bocage sections and some hills but our scenery is shaping up. Some of it is "store-bought" but that's OK - at least we're playing.

You can see some of my son's 40k stuff in the background of some of the shots. He plays Space Marines and is building the new "Ironclad Dreadnought". He's gotten back into 40K in a big way. We're fortunate to have a store and one of the "battle bunkers" close by so he's been doing some playing lately. I hear a lot of negative chatter about GW, but our experiences have been very good. They do charge an arm and a leg for there products but there is the overhead of the game stores/experience and they own the I.P. From a business perspective you gotta respect those margins!

Anyway that's all for tonight. Sorry about the picture quality, I was using my I-Phone tonight.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

9 More Nappy's Completed

I just completed painting 9 more French infantry figures and finished basing the entire battalion. It took me about 2 hours to finish this batch of nine plus get started on 9 others so my pace is picking up. I must say I'm enjoying painting these Perry figures and my confidence is growing that I may yet end up with a decent army. Of course, I haven't tried to paint 28mm horses yet.

I did get a good bit of basing material from Litko. The basing configuration I'm using is individual figures on 20mm x 20mm wood squares with a magnetic backing. These squares on then mounted on a 60mm x 4omm metal base for each infantry company. There will be 6 companies per battalion (1 grenadier, 1 skirmisher, and 4 line). The club rules we use require individual figures be removed for casualties so magnetic basing was the way to go.

Here are some more pictures of this latest batch:

You might notice in the background 2 unpainted cannon. They are from Old Glory and are supposed to be 12 lbrs. I also picked up a pack of artillery crew (20 figures) 2 more cannon (8 lbrs), and 4 limbers. Overall, I was disappointed in both the quality of the figures and the smaller size - the 12 lb Old Glory cannon is smaller than the 6 lb Perry one! Given that I really like the Perry figures, I doubt I will use the Old Glory cannon or crew. I may use the cannon for a scenery piece. They were not that expensive so I'm not that put out about it (one more example of impulse buying = bad outcome). I will use the limbers as they are serviceable and the limbers from Perry or Foundry are astronomically priced.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Move to Blogger

Ok, normally I'm a big Apple fan and love my Mac Book Pro laptop and pretty much the entire look, feel and functionality of software that's built for a Mac. But now there is one exception. I have grown to really despise both I-Web and the Mobile-Me publishing environment. I'm sure a lot, if not all, of my frustrations are due to user error on my part - but that's the point. The aforementioned and never to be referenced again packages are supposed to let a moron like me dance upon the internet just like Al Gore did when he invented the damn thing. Alas it was not to be and I have been awakened from the narcotic stupor that Apple's marketing efforts had ensnared me in. I just hope I can moderate myself and not go back to, shudder, Windows.

So as of today I'm moving my website to a free service (Blogger) as it seems to be both highly functional and easy to use.

It will take me awhile to get all the pictures moved over and learn how to work the image aspects of blogger.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

First Completed Napoleonics

We’ll I’ve completed my first group of 28mm French Napoleonic troops - a 6lb artillery piece with 4 man crew and the first 6 infantry (2 grenadiers and 4 fusiliers). All of the figures are from the Perry brothers (plastic infantry, metal cannon and crew). I’m trying different forms of shading - the artillery crew was “dipped” in the Army Painter medium tone product and I used the GW wash “Delvan Mud” for the infantry. I think I like the GW shade better.

I do need to coat the lot with a matte spray but it was very humid today, so I’ll be waiting a bit - I’ve heard some horror stories about matte spray applications and humidity, so I thought lets put that step off.

I am finding that painting in a “production line” method helps me control the brush better when painting details (straps, facial hair, etc). While these are not up to the standards of some of my club members, I’m very satisfied that we’re off to a good start.

Here are some more pictures - let me know what you think!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

28mm Napoleonic Plastics: Perry or Victrix?

I’ve made some progress building painting and building some of my new French 28mm Napoleonics. My infantry is all plastic figures from either Perry or Victrix and I’m developing a relatively informed opinion for both. Here are what I see the strengths and challenges for each set:



  • Very good sculpting, with the detail features both easy to see and paint
  • Very quick and clear assembly time, I especially like how the arms and musket for firing poses are one piece
  • 36 of the 42 figures have roughly the same marching pose (minor variations) which I find aids “assembly line painting”
  • Pointy parts are relatively strong (bayonets, swords, flag poles) which means a more durable table-top piece
  • Cost per figure is $0.67 (source the WarStore) vs $2.58 from Foundry


  • I’m not a fan of the mixing of infantry with and without great coats - 15 of the infantry sport a great coat and 15 don’t. This isn’t a problem if your just starting out and buying multiple boxes but if you only buy one box you’ll have an odd mix of with and without winter gear.



  • Lots of variability in poses (all figures need to be assembled and consists of a body, two arms, a head and backpack).
  • Very good detail (a little more “realistic” than Perry)
  • Cost per figure is $0.58 (source the WarStore) vs $2.58 from Foundry


  • Very long assembly time
  • Pointy parts (bayonets, etc) are very thin and delicate - they will need some minor repairs from table top mishaps.
  • Can be a bit awkward to mount on six figure company stands (this may be more due to how I chose to assemble the figures)

Bottom Line:

I plan on using both. I will use Perry for may basic line infantry battalions and I’ll use the Victrix for my “elite” light battalions that fight in open order based on the rules my club uses. If I had to pick only one, I’d go with Perry, but that’s more because I’m just starting out and want to field a force fairly quickly.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

28mm Napoleonics, Part Duex

I’ve been going through some pictures of old Napoleonic games and I must say I’m hooked both on the period and the scale. While my painting skills haven’t progressed to what you can see in the picture above, I can improve them a great deal by working on this project. So now you have it - yet another project to be completed - do war gamers ever actually finish any project?

Anyway, I recently took a drive up to Lancaster to go to Historicon and came away with the makings of a initial French force:

3 Boxes of Victrix French Infantry

3 Boxes of Perry French Infantry

1 Package of Perry French Officers

21 Perry French Light Cavalry Figures (expensive little buggers)

1 Perry 6lb artillery piece w/ crew

I’ve got enough for 6 36-man Infantry battalions, a light cavalry unit and some artillery. I’d like to get some French Dragoons and a 12lbr to round out the force.

I didn’t pick up an artillery limber as they are awfully expensive - perhaps I can scratch build one using some plastic horse models and some strip wood.

Once I finish the French, I’m thinking of picking up some Foundry US war of 1812 figures (in the same scale).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Fleet Expands

Two more ships have entered the US 1/1200 scale fleet - another 74 gun ship of the line and the famous 44 gun US Constitution. Of course, they still need to be rigged but that should get down soon. My build times for these Langton models is now around 5 hours each and I must say it’s a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

“Mobile Modeling Manufactory”

I’ve always wanted to have a mobile model building setup so that I can take my hobby with me when the family and I are at our weekend place. After much procrastination and fruitless internet searches, I finally decided to just wing it and build one myself. My “Mobile

Modeling Manufactory” (M3, for short) consists of two major components - a storage unit and a work surface.

Storage Unit:

The storage unit is a metal Craftsman 4 drawer tool box. Now before we go on, I do need to disclose I’m a huge Craftsman Tool fan. Craftsman hand tools and tool storage units are the best I’ve ever used and the guarantee is superb. I selected the 4 drawer version. Here’s a link to the Craftsman website for the item. The top storage bin has enough room for the critical modeling tools and the four tool drawers seemed to be designed to hold Vallejo paints. I can fit 40 bottles per drawer - that’s a 160 paint bottles!

I do suggest you install a thin foam liner so the bottles don’t roll around.

As for my M3 list of critical tools: here they are (suggestions for additions / deletions are most welcome)

Xacto Knife (#11 Blades)

Various Glues

2 pair of tweezers

Small Curved pliers


Small file set

Metal ruler

Sanding block

Spray on Primer

Chopper II” Cutting tool

High quality paint brushes (I think they’re worth the money)

Work Surface:

The work surface was cobbled together with some excess finishing wood I had left over from a boat repair project. The overall dimensions of the work surface is 24” wide by 22” deep. I added a small shelf on the back to place models for drying. I also drilled some holes for brushes. I covered with wood with 5 coats of polyurethane to help with durability and prevent warping (we’re on the water, so the elements play havoc with unprotected wood). My design has more than a passing resemblance to the paint station sold by GW - isn’t mimicry a form of flattery? There is one difference, the GW item costs $40.00 and is made out of MDF. My version is made out a marine grade wood and cost maybe $5.00 - plus about 90 minutes of bench time.

The bottom of the work surface is cushioned with 12, 1 inch wide felt pads which help ensure heavy usage on the bench doesn’t damage the table underneath - very important in keeping the warden, oops, I mean the wife happy.

I use a bungee cord to clip the work surface to the tool box for storage in the hall closet.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ship Scale Bake-Off Results

I’ve finished both the 1/2400 and 1/1200 versions of the 74 gun Ship-of-the-Line. The final verdict is the same as the last post - I like the 1/1200 Langton a lot more. The Langton’s are a challenge to build but it’s a fun challenge and I

really like the end product. After completing the rigging (which is not as detailed as the instructions indicate) I have realized I need some special model ship rigging tools so it will be off to the Micro Mark website after posting this update. I still need to weather the sails but that cam wait for now.

During this latest build step I completed the rigging, added the etched brass ratlines and finished the detailing. All-in-all I’m very happy with the results and have already started my next Langton - the second of 4 74 gun US ships-of-the-Line for my “what-if” fleet. All told it took me about 12 hours to complete the model. I’m very confident that with the experience learned on the first model that I can get the build time down to the 6 - 8 hour range. I’m not sure I want to go any faster as the building has been a lot of fun.

I did have a tricky time with the etched brass ratlines - they can be a little finicky but they’re worth the effort.

I will be completing the rest of my 1/2400 scale ships that came with the intro kit I got as it’s a shame to waste them and they’ll be useful to recreate a large scale battle. I will probably build them as a large British fleet since the first one is painted in a UK color scheme.