Sunday, December 30, 2018

Dry Dock

Lots of 15mm ships under construction in the Lair's dry docks.

Ship building is messy business - very messy business.

Friday, December 28, 2018

AHPC IX: Submission 3 French Marines and British Limbers

 My third submission this year is also 15mm Napoleonics in the form of two units of French Marines and some British Limbers.

All of the figures are from Old Glory's Blue Moon Line.
 One of the real attractions of 15mm is the scale of the army that can be fitted on a reasonable table but you can still see the figure details.  I find painting limbers to be a bit of a chore but worth it given how they make a table look.
 There are 56 French French marines organized into two units of seven 4 figure stands
Lastly some 6 pounder British field guns.  Submission Four will likely be a good bit more aquatic in nature.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

AHPC IX: Second Submission - British Marines, Wagons and a Gunboat

 The second submission for this year's challenge is proof that while AB miniatures are superb nothing can beat the combination of good quality and great value from Old Glory's Blue Moon line - especially if one purchases the army Card 40% discount card.
 First up are 56 Old Glory British Marines organized into two units.

 These are really nice figures but I found painting them to be a bit of a struggle.  That's solely due to my limited skill set and not the quality of the minis.

 Next up are some Wagons - one never sees enough Wagons and general logistics on a tabletop!  Like the Marines, these minis are from Old Glory and are superb.

 And lastly, we have a simple gunboat from Thoroughbred Miniatures.  I've got six more much bigger ones to finish over the next few months!

This submission netted a tidy 238 points, and was a good jumping off point towards my trek to 3,000.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Analogues Hobbies Painting Challenge IX: First Submission

 My first entry into this year's painting madness is a pair of commands stands for my 15mm Spanish Army.

All three figures are from AB Miniatures which really do make some of the finest 15mm scale figures out there (ok, so technically they're "18mm").
There will be a lot of 15mm scale Napoleonic stuff during this years challenge.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from S Michaels, MD!

I hope you and your families are having a joyous holiday filled with good cheer and companionship.  Here in the Lair, Christmas has been wonderful as we're all together in good health.

All the best for a Happy New Year, too.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

It's a Christmas Miracle!

Crisis averted as my re-supply of Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes has finally arrived.

That's right guys no need to call off Christmas this year as I'm sure all of you were planing to show solidarity to those of us who might not have received their brushes on time.

And here are my new Pigment Warriors!

Very Shiny

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Sound the alarm, call out the guard and hide the silverware - disaster has befallen the Lair on the eve of the eve of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge commencement.  What foul fate has been visited upon your hapless correspondent?

I have been informed by those scoundrels at Amazon that the delivery my recently ordered set of Winsor Newton Series 7 Brushes will be delayed a few days.

Shocking isn't it?  I'll give you all few moments to compose yourselves.


Ok, everyone ready?  Traditionally, I start every challenge with a new set if W&N Series 7 brushes - sizes 0, 1 and 2.  By the end of our three month painting adventure these majestic brushes provide exemplary service and then are retired to an idyllic life in the country as scenery making brushes - you know just like valiant Roman Legionnaires.

But not this year, as delivery of those precious pigment warrior armaments has been delayed until Dec 22.  Naturally, once the shock of this unjust and unfair fate has worn off, one searches for why - why did this happen to ME?  After a careful, balanced and emotionless analysis of the facts, I was able to completely exonerate myself and the placement date of my order on 12/18 - nope no error there.  Sadly, my deliberations lead to only one logical conclusion - CONSPIRACY!

It's obvious to me (as I'm sure it's also to you) that my fellow Posties Rejects who are participating in the "Postal Strike" side challenge this year have gotten together and bribed Jeff Bezos to delay my shipment.  It's really the only logical answer.

Will this foul act of treachery prove fruitful to these evil doers OR will justice and right triumph over adversity.  We will all find out over the next three months.....

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Challenge Prep (yet again)

One of my goals for this years Challenge is to build 7-8 15mm scale Napoleonic ships.  Theses are not First Rate ships of the line but a few will be frigate class.  The models I'm building are from the wonderful Sea Eagles line from Thoroughbred Miniatures.  The kits are fantastic but have a lot of parts!

There are two ships in the picture - if you squint you can see a simple gunboat armed with a single 32 pounder cannon.  It's about 5 inches long.  At the bottom is the 17 gun USS Onieda which is a bit more involved.  I do love building ship models but have my work cut out for me right now.  Not sure if I'll fall the Oneida as British or French but lets see how the fleets shake out.

These ships will be part of my upcoming 2019 Historicon which will be a very fictional battle simulation Napoleons invasion of Britain.  The scenario will have the British player trying to affect the escape by sea of King George.  I still need to find some 15/18mm scale miniatures for to use for his Royal Highness and coach - any suggestions?

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Challenge Prep (again)

 Some more 15mm Napoleonic fun - Some generic wagons for an Army train, six British Limbers some six pounders and, of course, more French Infantry.  Everything in the picture is fro Old Glory except the Infantry - those are AB figures.
Speaking of French infantry - here are a few more...

There will be a large number of Austrians in the near future...

Monday, December 3, 2018

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge IX: Prep Work Commences

The start of December brings joy, excitement and industry here to the Lair.  Joy and excitement as December 1st marks our official start to the holiday season.  Industry as the early days of December are filled with prep work for the upcoming Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

You will see A LOT of 15mm (technically 18mm) Napoleonics this year as evidenced by the painting bench.  There are some Old Glory  War of 1812 US Marines in the upper left and next to them in the back row are some British Napoleonic Marines (also from Old Glory.  I'm going to paint the US troops to be French Marines - don't tell anyone OK?

In the lower left we have some standard French Ligne troops from AB miniatures.  The AB stuff is slightly better than the Old Glory ones but Old Glory has a crushing advantage in terms of price - especially if one gets the OG Army discount card.

You may notice some wagons in the picture also.  I've got some supply trains to build up and a lot of limbers, I hat painting limbers!

My 15mm Nappy's number in the 2,300 figure range in terms of painted and based and I'm shooting for close to 3,500 for the Historicon game in July, 2019 so there's a good bit to go here.

Oh and I MAY have a bit of a terrain bomb to set off over the three months of the challenge.....

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Turkey Day: Prep

 My favorite day of the year is Thanksgiving and my wife is cooking up a storm.
First wave of the dishes have been done - these are just the "prep" dishes - there will be more, a lot more....
The bird slowly cooking in the oven.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Analogue Hobbies Challenge Returns! "IX Fellowship" Commences Dec 21

Notify the authorities, alert the media, ring the church bell and bang the gong - Challenge Season is upon us.

My favorite Hobby event of the year is just around the corner - The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge!  This year is the 9th incantation of this arcane even and it has been christened "Fellowship".  The Challenge begins on Dec 21st and runs for the next three months during which 80 miniature hobbies will be ensconced in their hobby rooms feverishly painting away.  There are a handful of spots still open so register quick!


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Debts Paid, Part 2: Dice Towers with a "fancy" touch

The dice towers are nearing completion and should be in the post by Monday.  The towers themselves are all done and have had 4 layers of lacquer applied.  I think they look good.  I did find the trays a little stark and decided to add a little flavor by mounting some maps.  The internet i a wonderful thing if one Googles "Wargaming Maps".  I picked some sections at random and carefully cut them to size.  There just placed in the trays for now.

 Squad Leader was one of the formative games in my entry to the wargaming hobby so I was especially happy to find some map images from the game.

There are also some ACW battle maps.  These are the ones created by the Civil War Preservation Trust and are both very nicely done and useful for laying out a battlefield.

The final step will involve carefully mounting these maps to the tray bottoms - I'll be using a spray on contact cement.  Once mounted and cured, the map images will  be covered with 4-5 layers of Modge-Podge to protect them from the wear and tear of dice rolling.

I "stole" the image idea from the website.  Here's a link to the site's article on Dice Trays.

My next hobby related shop project will be fairly big - but more on that in a future post......

By the way, I'm not sure why my I-phone camera is adding a striped bar across the lot side of the image.  Surely it can not be due to user error!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Battle of Chattanooga: Alter of Freedom ACW

Last Monday the club got together and put on a really fun ACW game, using the Alter of Freedom ruleset which happened to be written by the game host, Greg.  These are "Grand Tactical" which emphasize command control issues.  It was my first time playing them and I was very impressed.

The game depicted the Battle of Chattanooga in 1864 which has a besieged Union Army under Grant trying to Break out.  The Confederate force is commanded by Braxton Bragg, who had a checkered reputation...

The first picture show the the start of the campaign with the Union to the right and the Confederates to the left.  My command, Sherman's Corps, is in the lower right.

Alter of Freedom uses a very intuitive command point system where you bid a set number of command points to get a division to move.  Want to make sure the division moves - bid a larger number but that means some divisions will not activate.  The turn clock moves down and if you bid a low number you make not get to move.  It took us a few turns to get the hang of the concept but it really does reflect command friction in a great way that is not entirely dice driven.

After a couple of turns my troops finally made it across the river and began our assault.

Josh's Union center got off their attack before mine could get organized and you can see them moving up on the Rebels.  On our far right flank was a furious fight for lookout mountain which saw a determined counterattack by the rebels that caught us a bit off-guard.
Command is represented by the army commander (Grant in our case) and corps leaders -  In this game Grant had 7 points which he can allocate to any other corps.  My General, Sherman didn't have a fixed number as, historically, in this battle he was off his game).  I had to roll a D6 and that was how many command points I got.  lets just say that Grant gave me a lot of points during the game.  In order to ensure a division moves you need to allocate at least 5 or 6 points so you can see how constraining it is.  I elected to leave my smaller, two brigade, division behind and just attack with the other two.

Commanders also get personal traits which can be +'s or -'s.  In my case Sherman got 2: "inept" and "hesitant", which we're not all that positive.  Even with a "challenging" commander profile, I found that game really fun.  To be honest, I think it made the game even more fun.
My left most attacking division goes in, supported by the armies lone cavalry brigade.
A shot of the battlefield towards the end of the game
My attack pushed the rebels off the ridge but my 2 divisions where pretty beat up.  The game ended after the 9th turn and was declared a very narrow Union victory.

Greg has down a much better write up of the game over on the club's blog.

I highly recommend the Alter of Freedom rules - check them out and consider a purchase, I think you'll like them a lot.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Debts Paid

 For various reasons, I ow a number of people some dice towers and this morning I finally decided to stop being a welch and started building the towers.

I got to use my new silicon glue-up mat from Rockler and I really like it.
 I'm using a combination of hardwoods for the towers - walnut, cherry, Paduak, Purple Heart and Mahogany.  I'd like to say its all do to a very elaborate plan but it's really what I have in the shop.

I made a good bit of progress this am and the four towers are basically assembled and glued together.
For storage thy nestle together as the demonstrated in the last photo.  Next up is sanding, finishing and some special details but these all should be off to their new owners by the end of this week.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


Chris, Eric and I have embarked upon a campaign of Gloomhaven - world's heaviest game.

We manage to learn the rules (well most of them) and play the first mission.  It was really fun and a I'm amazed at how all the parts seem to work together well.  There are A LOT of parts!

Monday, November 5, 2018

ProTip #1: Put the spray paint cap back on the right spray can!

This post is the first of a series where I impart upon the world my collective wisdom about the hobby.  Yes, yes I know that this is something all of you have been waiting for with baited breath - or dread, not sure which.

Sadly, my actual supply of "wisdom" is very limited, so I'll be going with posts about hobby mistakes and what I've learned from them and how to recover.

These posts will occur as the actual event unfold and, given my track record, there will be a lot of them.

Today's post is about keeping track of spray paint colors - always put the cap that indicates the color (or lack of color if it's a matte sealer) back on the can.  NEVER trust your memory that "yes, this is the tan spray paint - I'm sure of it.

I tend to batch up priming models / terrain pieces and often use multiple colors.  Every now and then I get get lazy and don't replace the cap on a can I know I'm going to use again.  The result of said lapse in judgment is pictured above.  This has also happen with white primer coat being mistaken for matte sealant.  On some once very nicely painted 28mm Perry French Dragoons.  I wasn't in the right emotional state to take pictures of that sad day, but it is remembered in the Lair as Black Sunday March 2013.

How can you avoid the heartache of spray paint color mismatch?

1) I now only buy the small cans of dull coat from Testors so I can easily discern what is spray paint vs matte coat.

2) Put the color code caps back on the damn cans in-between use,  This is revolutionary thinking but is worth the risk of being accused of blasphemy.

3) For those of you who can't abide by rule #2, only buy one color of spray primer.  As with nuking form orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

On a more serious note, I really enjoy the artistic aspect of this hobby but sometimes fall into painting process ruts.  I often need to remind myself that trying new techniques keeps the creative post of the hobby fresh but comes with an increase in the rate of mistakes.  Since 99% of mistakes in this hobby are recoverable its more than worth taking that risk.  As for the other 1% that are unrecoverable - get over it - it's just Toy Soldiers!

I suspect another hobby disaster from yours truly are just around the corner....

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Kill Team: Tyranids!

Kill Team fever has stricken the Lair, with another Kill Team on the painting bench.  There are some Tyranids.  The KT force comes with 8 gene-stealers and I've augmented the group with a Warrior how adds a bit of "shooty-ness" to what is a close combat force.

Like the Space Marines, these are a blast to paint up and look pretty good with just a handful of colors and some shading.

I thought I had given all my 40K stuff away to a friend whose son was getting into the game - I'd rather see someone else have fun with the mini's rather than keep them incarcerated in my closet.  Apparently, I didn't send everything as I've stumbled across a few additional boxes of space marines and Tyranids - enough for a few more KT's

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kill Team!

My Space Wolves Kill Team has been painted up and will, hopefully, get some play time in a few weeks.

I've heard great things about KT and decided to make the plunge back into a GW sponsored property.  I had forgotten how fun GW figures are to paint up.

As with most gaming projects there will be an opponent for these plucky astro pups.  There is a strong possibility of some Tyranids showing up either in the next few weeks or perhaps during the upcoming painting challenge.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Another Game of Trafalgar

Last night I hosted another game of Trafalgar.  It was the same scenario from the club game w/ some minor variations. The scenario objective is for the French/Spanish fleet to escort a frigate (in the harbor) off the far side of the board.  The only change from the previous game is there is only one frigate rather than two.  Last game was a decisive victory for the French/Spanish fleets.
The Spanish and British close for close action - the Brits (me) managed to get a maneuvering advantage over the Spanish (Eric) and we crossed the "T" of the Santisima

A wider shot of the game showing the French fleet (Chris) splitting up - sending the Bucentaure to aid the Spanish while having two other third rates continue to escort the frigate around the other side of the Island

Things didn't go well for the Spanish tonight as the Santisima was pounded into match sticks.  The Bucentaure also was sunk after accidentally ramming the Victory.

The outcome of the game.  My British fleet won a decisive victory in battle terms sinking or disabling 5 of 6 enemy ships of the line - a much better showing than last game.  There's only one fly in that ointment - the objective frigate still got off the board with barely a scratch so the win goes again to the crafty French and their brave Spanish allies.

It was a good game and still very close, so I like the scenario and will continue to refine it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rolling Troop Cabinet "Plans"

Several people have asked for plans for the rolling cabinet.  To be honest, the project was pretty much built on the fly, with the only real "thinking" going into the dimensions of the storage trays.  I'll summarize the logic below and provide a cut lists so, hopefully, that helps.

In the past I have used a lot of the plastic "Really Useful" boxes for storage and transport.  Iv'e got a ton of them and over the course of the years have made some interior organizers and wanted to make sure those fit inside the new drawers.  The internal dimensions of the standard 4 liter Really Useful box is 12.5 inches long by 8.5 inches wide x 2.75 inches high.

Those dimensions set the lower bounds of the drawer size.  The final interior dimensions for the drawers was set to:

9.5 inches wide
15.5 inches long
3 inches high (but wait there's an adjustment coming)

These would allow me to use all my past organizers and give a bit more storage space.

Now there was on more consideration in drawer design - the runners.  I could have gone with store purchase metal runners that attach to the sides but decided against that due to both cost and weight.  I went with very simple fixed rails that the drawers sit on top of.  The minimum size of the rails was guesstimated to by 1/2x1/2 inch and 16.5 inches long.  I used a 2.5 inch spacer to ensure the rails where space properly and then glued and screwed each rail into place.  The placement still wasn't perfect so there was a lot of hand sanding afterwords to get all the rails level with one another.

In hindsight it would have been a lot easier and more accurate to have cut dado's (slots into the plywood) before assembling the case.

The 1/2 inch height of each rail needed to be deducted from the drawer height to allow room for the drawer to slide in, thus the overall height of each drawer was reduced to 2.5 inches.

The drawers themselves were constructed to there width of plywood.  1/2 inch plywood for the fronts and backs, 1/4 inch for the sides and 1/8 inch for the bottom.  You could use the same dimensions - say 1/2 inch but that adds a lot of weight to an already heavy item that is intend to be mobile.

The final cut list for each drawer is:

Drawer Front and back:
- 2, 10" x 2.5 inch, 1/2 inch pieces of plywood with a 1/8 deep x 1/4 inch wide rabbet cut along the bottom.  A rabbet is just a section cut out along the corner of a piece of wood to allow another piece to fit snugly.

- 2 15.5 inch x 2.375 inch lengths of 1/4 inch wide plywood

- 1 10 inch x 16 inch piece of 1/8 plywood

Now do all those cuts 14 times......

The cabinet will hold the really useful boxes if the lids are removed but I liked the look of wood better than plastic - majestic miniatures soldiers should be stored in wooden boxes not mass produced plastic ones - it just seems to be the right thing to do!

The drawers are assembled upside down when glued together.  Since this is a receptive task, I strongly urge using a jig to keep all the section square and speed the build process.

Whew - that was probably more to type out than actually do.

With the drawer size set the next step is the build the cabinet.  I wanted to use 1/2 inch plywood and liked the look of two columns of drawers  in the cabinet.  Therefore, the width of the cabinet was set with the following very arcane and complicated formula:

width of 2 drawers:  2 x 10" = 20 inches
plus with of 3 1/2 inch pieces of plywood:  3 x .5 = 1.5 inches
plus 1/4 inch of room to allow drawers to slide easily = 1/4 inch

Total Width = 21.75 inches

The depth of the box was easy as the drawers were already set at 16.5 inches long.   I added another two inches to allow for storage in the drawers so the overall depth is 18.5 inches.

The height was the tricky part.  This thing needs to be able to fit in my car, which limited the overall height to be now more than 24 inches.

Butt joints and screws plus glue was used for the joinery - simple and strong.  The cut list for the case is

Sides and interior support
3 x 1/2 inch plywood 23 inches high x 18.0 inches deep
 (why isn't the height 24"? to account for the width of the top and bottom which are attached to the sides as pictured to the left.  Same for the width but with 1/4 inch plywood.

Top and bottom
2 x 1/2 inch plywood 21.75 inches wide and 18.5 inches deep

Front and back
2 x 1/4 inch plywood that is 24 inches high and 21.75 inches wide

Its really important when assembling the carcass of the case that everything be square - the drawer need to fit all along the width of the openings.  As you can see in the picture to the left, I cut some spacers and clamped them in place to ensure the box would be square and everything fit.

Rolling Base
The rolling case is just a simple 3/4 inch plywood box.  I went with 3/4 inch plywood to make sure the base was sturdy enough to securely carry the weight of the cabinet.  The dimensions of the base are 13.5 inches high by 22.75 inches wide and 19.5 inches deep.  The width and depth are one inch longer than the actual cabinet so I can fir a mounting lip around three sides.  The height was based on the plywood I had left but you don't want the base too much higher for stability concerns.  The cut list is

2, 12inch x 19.5 inch 3/4 inch plywood

Tops and Bottom
2, 19.5 inch x 22.75 inch plywood

1 12 inch x 21.25 inch 3/4 plywood

1 22.75 inch x 13.5 inch piece of 1/2 inch plywood that is then cut in half.

The mounting lip made of sections of 1/2 inch plywood.  There are 3 3 inch wide strips that run across the sides and back of the case with 1.5 inch protruding over the top.  2 18.5 inch x 1.5 inch strips are added to the sides to snug up to the cabinet and hold it in place.

The wheels are simple workshop rolling casters.  The front two have a locking mechanism which is really important - when loaded with minis this case could weight upwards to 90 pounds and that could gain a good bit of momentum if it was left on a slight incline....  Locking wheels are a must!

I think that's all the info I can provide on the "plans" for the case.  Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you if you find woodworking daunting is to just give it a try - it's easy after you get a little practice and anyone with the artistic skills to paint miniatures can easily acquire the more basic skills for elementary woodworking.

Good Luck!