Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Crimean War Royal Naval Artillery

I am delighted to finally see this group posted here, not least because they have secured me some much needed points in the ‘VII Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’.  I am doubly delighted to have them completed as they were a gift from my Mother in Law, who herself was a proud member of the Senior Service.  The Royal Naval artillery crew and guns are from ‘Wargames Foundry’ and are a tad diminutive in comparison to the more ‘heroically’ scaled miniatures of today.  That said, they are more than serviceable and required very little in the way of preparation.  
I was somewhat taken by the officer with his foot resting nonchalantly on a cannonball and was instantly reminded of a truly great Victorian hero, Captain William Peel RN.  Born in 1824 Sir William Peel, son of Sir Robert Peel was an adventurous soul.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War having been cited three times for acts of conspicuous bravery.  His citations read as follows:
 "For having on the 18th October, 1854, at the greatest possible risk, taken up a live shell, the fuse still burning, from among several powder-cases, outside the magazine, and thrown it over the parapet (the shell bursting as it left his hands), thereby saving the magazine and the lives of those immediately round it."
"On the 5th November, 1854, at the Battle of Inkerman for joining the officers of the Grenadier Guards and assisting in defending the Colours of that Regiment when were hard pressed at the Sandbag Battery." (Sir S. Lushington is authorised to make this statement by the Lieutenant-General commanding the Division, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, who is ready to bear testimony to the fact)
"On the 18th June 1855, for volunteering to lead the Ladder Party at the assault on the Redan, and carrying the first ladder until wounded."
Incredibly Peel managed to find himself in the thick of the action from the Siege of Sebastopol in 1854, to the Battle of Inkerman the following month and finally leading the assault on the Redan in 1855.  It wasn’t long before Peel had recovered from his wounds and found himself, once again, in action this time during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.  Peel played an important role in the capture of Lucknow, but was badly wounded by a musket ball.  During his evacuation to Cawnpore, Peel contracted smallpox, which would ultimately call time on the astonishing life of this truly amazing man.  There is a rather splendid entry for him at the ‘Victoria Cross Online’ website along with a couple of interesting images.
Finally then to the gun emplacements, which had been a bit of an impulse buy from 'Tabletop Art'.  I had come across these when looking for basing ideas for my crews, initially thinking that I would build something similar myself.  I kept looking at the marvellously painted examples on the company’s website and in the end succumbed and placed my order, justifying the purchase on the basis of saving time.  
I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with the customer service and the products arrived in jolly good time and were faultless in the casting of the resin.  I simply painted them to match the examples I had seen, which interestingly led me to base the miniatures on clear Perspex discs from ‘Sally 4th’ purely so that I could use the emplacements with other miniatures in the future.
So a good job done, not least because they have allowed me to post about a genuine Victorian hero on my misnomer of a Blog!  Seeing them finally painted and with the addition of the gun emplacements, I have to confess to being delighted with the results, certainly some of my favourite work this year.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Māori Artillery

More from the ‘Empress Miniatures’ New Zealand Wars range, this time a captured Royal Navy Carronade and a Māori crew.
Now I have to confess that I know little of the Carronade other than what I have gleaned from my limited research, but it strikes me as a particularly formidable short range, anti personal weapon, particularly when in the hands of a determined adversary – perfect for defending one’s Pā against the British!
This lovely set comes with three crew members and again sculpted by the talented Paul Hicks.  I couldn’t resist having a go at their facial tattoos or more correctly the Tā Moko, perhaps an unnecessary addition given the scale of the miniatures, but something that is so literally ingrained in the culture of the Māori, that I thought that it was worth the effort.
A final addition in the form of an etched brass Silver Fern, again a nod to national identity of the group. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Writing is on the Wall

Of all the bonus rounds, ‘Home’ seems to have really fired my imagination. This was to be a terrain build and from the outset I was keen to construct something more tangible than my usual vignettes – something that could be picked up and placed on the table, something with purpose.
All very noble sentiments, but what to build? What was home? All manner of starting points sprang to mind from a colonial farmstead to a hunting lodge, a Māori Pā to a Zulu Kraal, but in the end I decided that I would go for man’s first home – the cave! Now it won’t have escaped the sharp eyed visitor to ‘28mm Victorian Warfare’ that I have a love of all things prehistoric and a hankering from some Pulp/Lost World gaming and so this became my focus. After some initial ideas and sketches the build started to take shape, further enhanced by a chance find of Patchy the Pirate’s prehistoric home on the infoweb; thank you Spongebob Squarepants!
The base is a ‘Warbases’ terrain base to which I started to add chunks of blue Styrofoam to build up the sides.    ‘Windows’ and a ‘door’ were carved using a hot iron and before long the dwelling was stating to take shape.  I had an inkling that I wanted to have a roaring fire in situ and used a 'Ristul's Extraordinary Market'*
  *imported to the United Kingdom by 'Bad Squiddo Games'
camp fire as a starting point.  This was fixed to another Styrofoam off cut that I had hollowed out in order to site a flashing red and orange Blinky LED; for this to make any impact though I needed to drill some holes in the resin campfire and fill them with clear resin flames from ‘Zinge Industries’.
The interior just required the addition of some cave paintings and then my attention turned to completing the outside.  A ramshackle door made from coffee stirrers has been included along with some ‘Steve Barber’ prehistoric trees and plants, before the final adornment of two Mammoth Tusks framing the entry point.  
All the time that I was slicing, hacking and painting, I kept wondering who would live in a place like this and decided that what it really needed was some inhabitants.  Some ‘Copplestone Castings’ Cavemen Elders and a ‘Lucid Eye’ Neanderthal was duly primed and painted along with a Sabre Tooth Tiger from DeeZee Miniatures, available through Arcane Scenery and Models.  The final addition came in the rather voluptuous shape of a ‘Bombshell Babe’ Cave Girl complete with  a couple of little companions.
I imagine the three chaps all sitting around the fire telling tall tales of great hunting exploits and daubing them on the wall, much to the annoyance of the lady of the house who has clearly had enough and finally sends them on their way with a strong word and a wield of her club.  Silly, impractical and historically inaccurate it might be, but hugely entertaining to build nonetheless, now to find some Fred Flintstone miniatures to use it as a holiday home!
As always, if you can, do pay a visit to the main page and perhaps cast a vote for your favourites.  Just follow the link here.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

A thank you.

I wasn't planning on making a post this weekend, but wanted to publicly thank Andy of 'Da Gobbo's Grotto' fame for the marvellous dice bag that I found on the doormat of Awdry Towers on my return from work.  This was an incredibly generous prize draw giveaway as part of the New Year review on his Blog.  The bag itself is beautifully made by Becky from the 'Luck Orc' and has the Nerd Herd's logo emblazoned across the front - not sure if this makes me an honorary member though?  

This amazing prize just goes to reaffirm my belief that Andy has a wonderful generosity of spirit and such enthusiasm for the hobby we all know and love.  Through the setting up of a Table Top Gaming Club at school, I was introduced to Bushido by one of the pupils, which has subsequently become our game of choice on a Wednesday afternoon.  As a result 'Da Gobbo's Grotto' has become my 'go to' Blog for inspiration.  Andy's creativeness knows no bounds and he is always coming up with new and imaginative ways to spend my pocket money - as I write this I am awaiting my delivery of cherry blossom trees from China!
So my new dice bag will become my 'Bushido' dice bag  and on that note a couple of quick 'work in progress' shots of my Savage Wave starter set.  I managed to get these demonic creatures on the board last week, sadly not painted, and they proved great fun tearing around and plunging everything into darkness.

Once again a huge thank you to Andy.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

New Zealand Wars Naval Brigade

These are from ‘Empress Miniatures’ New Zealand Wars range representing Royal Naval command and personalities.  They are, as with my previous experience of this range, nicely cast and have been languishing in the lead pile for far too long. 
Before I was once again seduced by the bonus rounds, I was hoping to use this year’s challenge to find a way back to my beloved Victorian era and these would certainly be a step in the right direction.  Alas it would seem that I have already been distracted, but I am hopeful to add to my Crimean War and Indian Mutiny collections before the end of proceedings – time will tell if I have the stamina and willpower to achieve my goal.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Pikemen at the ready!

Today sees the launch of the long awaited ‘Pikeman’s Lament’ a set of Pike and Shot wargaming rules by Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck covering the 17th Century that allows you to recreate skirmishes and raids from conflicts such as the Thirty Years' War, the English Civil War and the Great Northern War.  I understand that the core mechanics of the rules will be familiar to those who have enjoyed Daniel’s ‘Lion Rampant’ ruleset, but with enough tweaks and new ideas to set it apart as a stand along game.
Page 24!
In the winter months of 2015, I received an email from Michael asking if I might consider taking some photographs of my English Civil War miniatures, in particular the Clubmen that I had painted for my ‘Witchfinder General’ project.  Although not able to make any promises, Michael hoped that they might be considered to be included in the new book.  Well this was wildly exciting and I certainly didn’t need to be asked twice.  I had been given some direction from Michael and set about creating a series of little vignettes that I thought might be what they were after.  A short email exchange later and my contribution was complete and it was just a case of waiting to see if any would make the final edit. 

Imagine how thrilled I was when I received a courtesy copy of the ‘Pikeman’s Lament’ last week with one of my photographs in it!  It was such a treat to be invited to contribute and to see my work alongside the likes of Michael and Alan Perry has given me a great hobby boost.  As for the rules themselves?  Well there will be much more knowledgeable chaps ready to give a full and frank review, but I will say that as with all ‘Osprey Publishing’ titles, there is a quality to the project and I am very much looking forward to giving the a good read in due course. 

I do hope the venture proves a great success for both Daniel and Michael and have been fascinated by the series of posts Michael has been running on his ‘Dalauppror’ blog demonstrating the make up of units and other considerations ahead of the title’s publication today.   As a last indulgence I have taken this opportunity to publish here some of the photographs that didn’t make the book, but were nonetheless great fun to set up and take. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Remnants of an Army

The second of the themed bonus rounds, ‘East’ has generated quite a bit of chatter due to its ambiguous, open ended nature.*   With no definite idea forming, I was considering skipping this round, thus affording one more time for the terrain build, ‘home’ due up in the following round, but as luck would have it I stumbled across what I thought to be the perfect solution.
*West is similarly causing me problems!

‘Studio Miniatures’, those fine purveyors of all things zombie, have a small, but growing, historical range; part of that range sees a tentative foray into the 1st Anglo Afghan War of 1839 – 1842.  This was probably one of the few Kickstarters that I didn’t back last year, but elements of that successful campaign are starting to filter on to their webstore; Assistant Surgeon William Brydon, been a case in point.
Dr. Brydon is, of course, renowned somewhat erroneously as being the last survivor of the 16,000 strong British garrison that departed Kabul in 1842, bound for Jalalabad.  Seriously wounded and riding a pony that was moments away from death, Assistant Surgeon Brydon is said to have uttered, in response to an enquiry as to the whereabouts of the rest of the force, ‘I am the Army.’
Immortalised in Lady Butler’s, ‘The Remnants of an Army’ painted in 1879 this remains the British Empire’s greatest military disaster of the 19th century.  I would suggest that it is Lady Butler’s painting that formed the inspiration from the miniature itself and what better solution to my dilemma, given that Jalalabad is ninety miles due East of Kabul.
Now I have to confess that I am a sucker for a character piece and this was always going to be added to the collection** but ultimately this one was a little disappointing form a sculpting point of view.  From what I can see this was one of the last stretch goals to be unlocked and I would suggest, possibly a tad uncharitably, that how it was to be sculpted wasn’t considered until quite late in the day.
Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with it, but you can see that it was sculpted on, or adapted from, an existing miniature with evidence of the previous saddlery still visible.  In my case there had been a miscast with the reigns, that I hadn’t initially noticed and didn’t repair due to time restraints and the pony itself feels a little ‘skinny’ for the rider atop.  Still all things considered, I am glad to have added it to the collection and will undoubtedly add more of the range to the ever growing lead hillock in due course.
**I had to have Flashman dressed as he is on the cover of ‘Flashman in the Great Game’ too.
So I present Dr. Brydon at the end of his ninety mile ride, bloodied and battered; an overwhelmingly striking image of endurance and survival at the very edges of the empire or an all too familiar damning indictment of another disastrous war in Afghanistan?
As always, if you can, do pay a visit to the main page and perhaps cast a vote for your favourites.  Just follow the link here.

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