Sunday, January 29, 2012

War of 1812: US Militia, Artillery and Command Units Started

 After a couple week break due to robotics, I was able to get back to the work bench and have started a few new units for my US War of 1812 army.  The first group is a set of three command stands ( 1 Army command - 2 figures and 2 Brigade commanders (1 figure each).  All of the figures are 28mm Knuckleduster.  It took some work to get the figures to sit properly on their horsed, but after some heavy filing that task was accomplished.

The next photo shows the 36 man US militia unit in "frontier" garb and then to the right with blue coats are 2, 4 figure US artillery crews.  Despite being in the analogue hobbies painting challenge, my painting production will likely be very slow over the next month or so due to commitments to coaching robotics - I'll get back to the table soon enough!

Monday, January 23, 2012

War of 1812 Infantry

I've magnetized all 8 of my completed Infantry battalions and added flags  to 7 of 8 of the battalions (I ran out of flags for one of the British battalions).

The British flags are from Vaubanner Graphics and the US flags are from Iain over at Flags of War.  Both sets of flags are very nice and were easy to put on.

The flag poles for the US figures are simple brass rod and the Battle Flag Flags's where very easy to install.  Battle Flag uses a thick style of of paper which is very durable but does require a bit more glue and water to both hold down and make pliable when adding the folds.  You can see the thickness of the paper given the white edging of the flags.  No worries a slight amount of black wash will take the edge of that.

 All the British infantry figures are Perry plastics and use the standard plastic flag poles.  The Vaubanner flags are a bit oversized and needed some notches removed at the top on bottom of where the flag wraps around the pole so they can fit in place.
Both companies have nice selections for the War of 1812 and are very good choices for flags.

Next up on the Painting table - US commanders, A US Militia unit and some US artillery and then the Glengarry Lights.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reinforcements from Mabuhay Miniature Painting Service

Late last November I placed a relatively large order for 28mm Napoleonic figures from Mabuhay Miniature Painting Service (MMPS).  MMPS is located in the Philipenes and is run by a gentlemen by the name of Fons.  Stop right there, I don't think he looks like Henry Winkler and goes around saying "Heyyyyy...".  Anyway, this was a fairly large order: 200 British Infantry, 3 British Guns crews, and 24 French Dragoons - all 28mm plastics (Perry for the infantry and Calvary and Victrix for the Artillery).  The entire ordering process was very easy and Fons was very reasonable in pricing in some special requests I had.  He was also very clear on delivery timeframes and set the expectation of a late February delivery which was acceptable to me.  I placed the order and then received several update emails showing the progress of my commission which allowed me to both confirm the details and get some comfort that I would receive the figures.  I was very pleased to be informed that the order was ready and posted on January 6th.  It arrived in Maryland intact on January 20th.  Hmmm, lets see MMPS sets realistic timeframes for delivery (and in this case exceeded them) and provided updates along the way - two big positive marks there!

Like a small child on Christmas morning, I eagerly opened the the shipping box and found inside four boxes like the one pictured in the first photo.  I also found a short note instructing me to open with a vacuum cleaner nearby.  Why would that be?  It seems the MMPS packing material of choice is miniature styrofoam balls that range in size from a 28mm cannon ball to a 28mm beach ball.  I soon realized the having a vacuum cleaner ready was very sage advice.

As I shifted through the first box and started to take out figures I noticed that in addition to getting some great miniatures,  MMPS had arranged a refresher course for me in the properties of static electricity - how very thoughtful!  I set up a little process where I'd remove a figure from the left, shake it over a trash can in the center / pick out any clinging balls and then place the figure on a tray to the right.  While I tried to be careful, I had stop and vacuum up balls at least four times.  One note wherever you unpack do so in a spot that is not subject to air movement.  Sneezing while near an open box with the styrofoam balls is also not recommended - trust me on that.

Unpacking the four boxes of my 240 fig order took about an hour and a half, which wasn't that bad.  Now here's the amazing part - there was no damage, not even a bent bayonet or flag pole.  Those styrofoam balls may be a bit annoying, but they sure do work.  Another big positive check mark for MMPS.

I hear some of you out there moaning, yeah, yeah, yeah this packing report is boring, lets get to the heart of the matter - how are the figures??  The figures are superb and way better than I could manage on my own.  The picture to the left is of the two French Dragoon units (12 figures each).  I really like the guys in the back with the pink facings - very French.

Here's a close up of the 2nd French Dragoon unit.  The painting quality is as good or better than the pictures on the MMPS site.  Truth in advertising, yet another big positive check mark for MMPS

Here are the 200 British infantry figures, in 5, 40 figure line battalions.  Please note I put these groups together very quickly and some on the fig are with the wrong uint.  Still, they look sharp and will hopefully prove to be worthy opponents to my US and French armies.

A close up of one of the infantry units.  The painting quality is superb - the drummers came out fantastic.

Last picture is of the three artillery batteries.  Fons said in an email he swapped out some Perry heads for the Victrix ones to improve the look - I agree these crews look fabulous.

As for pricing, it's the standard rate advertised on the MMPS site plus a very nominal charge for my basing style which wasn't the normal MMPS method.

So what's the bottom line on MMPS.  To put it directly, they exceeded every expectation I had:

- honest / realistic delivery expectations  CHECK
- flexibility / reasonable pricing for special requests CHECK
- periodic project updates CHECK
- careful and effective packaging CHECK
- superb painting quality CHECK
- great pricing CHECK

All-in-all, I am a very happy customer and will be ordering more figures from MMPS in the near future.  I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a quality painting service.  Well done Fons!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gaming Table Re-Model, Part Two

 A bit more progress on the re-do of the gaming table.  The basic shelving has been put in including the bookcase for rulesets at the front of the table.  The bookcases are 12 inches deep and are very sturdy.  I'm using 3/4 inch furniture grade plywood as it looks good and is very durable.  The additional framing has made the table almost immoveable - so it can take a beating from the robotics team with much worry.

 The basic shelving for the under table storage is in.  The open space to the right is 24 inches wide by 36 or so tall and is meant to store the robot.  All in al,l I'm gaining about 70 cubic feet of useable storage.  I'm waiting for the runners to come in for the sliding doors.  Once the basic framework is complete the next step will be to add some sliding shelves for miniature storage.  Think of the trays used in large cafeteria carts, but made of wood so they have some visual appeal.

 Here's a picture from the other end of the table.  One other change I'll be making is to remove the painted molding around the edge with some that's not painted.  The white edging just seems too stark with the natural wood.  There will also be a set of hanging cup-holders and rule desks that we can use so those items don't end up on the table itself. I got the last idea from Ernie's table and that concept was reinforced by a few posts on TMP.

 One last picture of the table.  My tools take up a lot of space right now but they'll go out to the shop when I'm done.

 I've had a few people ask for pictures of my son's robot so here they are.  It's a bit of a beast and they team is in the process of rewiring to maximize performance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Remodeling My Gaming / Project Table

 I've decided that I need some more storage space for both my wargaming hobby and my son's Robotics team.  The first step involves the installation of some book shelves and more extensive under table storage.  The first picture shows the frame for the book case.

The under table storage will consist of roughly 3 feet of stacked shelves and a open area 24 inches long, by 48 wide and 36 tall to store the robot when the team isn't working on it.  When it isn't robotics season that space will be used to store 2 foot by 4 foot terrain panels.

The under table storage will be hidden by sliding panels so that we "class-up the joint".

The additional framing will also make the table a lot stronger as I've had high school aged kids sitting on it while working on the 'bot.

In a nod to the Mrs, who tolerates my hobbies, I will also likely sand and stain the wood so the whole thing looks a lot better

Thursday, January 5, 2012

US Rifles Completed and a 3rd Unit Started

 Last Saturday, I completed the second unit of my 28mm US War of 1812 army - the 4th US Rifles. All of my US figures are from Knuckleduster and I really like the sculpting style.  The Knuckleduster style has slightly more exaggerated features, sharper cheek lines, larger noses and the equipment is a tad less symmetrical than you would see on a Perry plastic.  This style isn't a bad thing as it lends a bit of world weariness to the figure.  They look less parade ground and more battle worn.

 Anyway the figures are a joy to paint and I highly recommend Knuckleduster.  My command stand will be using some left overs from a US Regular infantry command pack so they don't have the exact uniform style but their uniform colors match.  I think they'll do fine.  You can see the command figures in the far left of the second photo.

 One last photo of the Rifles.  These will be classed as an elite unit.  I'm thinking of re staging the Battle of North Point for my first game scenario and a US Rifles unit figured very prominently in the fighting.

The final picture shows the next unit up for painting, another US regulars infantry unit.  This one will be painting in Spring / Summer uniform (blue tunics and white pants).  I should get these guys finished over the weekend and then it will be on to either some US militia or the Glengarry Light Infantry.  I also received 2, 40 man battalions of British Infantry (Perry plastics) that I had painted by a friend on commission (Mike M). They came out great and I'll get some pictures up when I can.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking Back on 2011 and Forward to 2012

I'm a little late with the obligatory retrospective on 2011 and forward to 2012.  Oh well, better late than never.  2011 was a good year gaming and modeling wise for me.  The highlight of the year was preparing for and then Game Mastering for the first time the Hail Caesar demo game at Historicon last July, 2011.  I had a blast doing so and plan on GM'ing another game at next year's HCON.  What didn't go so well is sticking to the initial set of goals I laid out for the year - it seems that the course of my hobby is rather random than pre-planned.  There are worse fates

Other big positives from 2011 include:

(1) Watching and helping (in a small way) Ernie's Architects of War business continue to grow.  Each month his business has increased and he's expanded his range of products.  Right now I think AofW if the goto place for 28mm historical gaming. 

(2) Meeting a new group of local gamers led by Dick C and Les M - they are great guys and have a very fun / welcoming sense of gaming.  It's always a pleasure to be invited to game with them and I look forward to more events in 2012.  Dick and Les have a fabulous collection of 1/600 Houston dreadnaught's! 

(3) Participating in the Analogue Hobbies Second Annual Painting Challenge.  This has been a very fun web-event to participate in and it has spurred me to a very high level of painting efficiency 75 28mm figures in less than 2 weeks!  For me that's a breakneck pace.  The best thing about the competition is that it goes through March 2012, so there's a chance I may actually finish my War of 1812 project

In terms of painting production, 2011 was an efficient year with the final tallies being:

28mm: 273 Infantry, 41 Calvary, and 3 Artillery

1/600 ACW Naval: 3 ships

1/1200 Napoleonic Naval: 12 ships

6mm ACW: 684 Infantry, 60 Calvary and 20 Artillery

In terms of era's games I added two to the "ever-expanding" list of periods gamed with the addition of the great SAGA Medieval skirmish rules and a "jump with both feet in" foray into 28mm War of 1812.  Of course my wife has more "choice" terms that describe my hobby range than "ever-expanding", but I want to keep my blog's PG rating.  I do try to point out to her that, as mid life crises go, I choose a rather mild path with toy soldiers and sail boats rather than sports cars and 20ish women.  I think her response with "fat chance" on that last path not taken troubles me a little bit.  Anyway, Mary Beth is actually rather supportive of the hobby.

I am getting to the point that it may be time shed one of the eras that I game, both for storage purposes and the fact that it's unlikely some of these periods will ever be re-visted.

My best modeling output from 2011 were my Sarmatian Cataphracts (Warlord Miniatures) and the 1/600 Alabama and Kearsarge (Thoroughbred Miniatures)


Lets see how I did with my initial set of 2011 goals:

- continue to stress gaming over collecting and host at least 6 games at the house, including running a 6mm ACW campaign game - FAIL: I played in 14 games last year  and hosted only 4 (2 at my house and 2 at HCON) - still to low a number

- revamp my game room to allow for more storage and complete the "man-cave" conversion - FAIL: The game room revamp didn't pass beyond the plan stage due to my son's robotics team's successful year

- build some modular terrain boards - FAIL: No boards built

- finish up the 28mm Imperial Romans and get them on the table - PASS: Finished a Roman and Dacian army

- attend Historicon in July (pending executive spouse approval) - PASS: Went to HCON and hosted two games of Hail Caesar

- participate in a tournament style gaming event (likely FOW) to see how I like it - FAIL: Didn't even play FOW in 2011

- try focusing on finishing armies rather than adding new ones - FAIL: While I did finish the Romans and Dacians, I added two more era's to game

So lets see the tally: 5 Fails and 2 Passes, that's not so good.  Hey wait a minute, I do remember saying that those targets weren't really resolutions - they were more like guidelines....

Despite the poor showing for 2011 goals, oops I mean guidelines, I'm still setting out the following targets for 2012:

(1) Attend and host a game at Historicon (probably one of three options: Hail Caesar, War of 1812 with Black Powder, or Saga) - your thoughts are appreciated here.

(2) Finish my war of 1812 project (both British and US armies) = ok with the Brit's I'm cheating as I have most of them being done on a commission basis.

(3) Host 4 Games at my house - why 4?, because is twice as many as I did in 2011

(4) Implement the planned redesign of my game room (after robotics).  I have a nice space for gaming / modeling, but it can be better organized and made to feel a bit more "clubby"

(5) Remain gaming era neutral - If I add a new era / game system then I need to get rid of an existing one

(6) Finally decide if I want to get back into model railroading and is there a way to link the two hobbies?  How cool would it be to be able to play a war game while having a train running around the table.  I'm thinking either 10mm miniatures with N-Scale trains or something in HO/20mm maybe WWI or WWII.....  This might be a very dangerous course!

I think that's enough for this retrospective.

All-in-all, 2011 was a great year for my family and me and given the times we are very fortunate to be able to say so.  Here's to an even better 2012 for all of us!

Happy Gaming

The "Uber-Geek"