Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Windmills of your mind.

I have noticed, over the years, that hobby related gifts from The Saintly Mrs. Awdry depend very much on her understanding, or enjoyment of, the individual piece concerned.  For example a pack of ‘cute’ African animals is a surefire winner, but not so a limber for a 9lb Field Gun.  Imagine my delight then when the proud sails of '4 Grounds' European Windmill burst forth from the exquisitely wrapped, not to mention exceedingly generous, birthday present.
Whilst slightly anachronistic for my Witchfinder world, it is such a lovely kit and I thoroughly enjoyed assembling it, although the glazed windows proved to be a frustration as I was instantly transported back to my youth and the glue smeared cockpit of a hapless Airfix model.
Safely constructed and standing proud on the tabletop, I felt that it warranted more gravitas and started to consider the possibility of a small hillock, or suchlike, to raise the sails above the treeline.  As luck would have it, I had recently seen such a build by the oh so talented James on his Jimbibblyblog blog.  This build called for a couple of new techniques and I was keen to give them a go.
Plaster was poured onto a crumpled carrier bag* and when dried broken into chunks.  These would form an interesting rocky outcrop that could be sloped down to the base, allowing access to the mill.   Using a piece of 2mm MDF as a base, I loosely placed the pieces of plaster to form the rocks, bolstered by off cuts of insulation from to give me the basic structure.
*next time I might try crumpled aluminium foil
These were then covered by a new product to me, Scuptamold.  This has a consistency of Papier-mâché, which you add water to.  It can be manipulated like clay and as it starts to dry can be smoothed to give a nice finish.  Once dry it is light weight and durable and can even be sanded making it a very versatile product for the budding hobbyist.  Once completely dried it was painted and flocked in my usual manner to tie in with my existing terrain and miniatures.  I have to say that I was delighted with the final outcome and need to once again thank James for the inspirational build that gave me the confidence to try my own.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Guardsmen of Blind Obedience

Following on from the Doom Riders post, I needed to find some troops to represent the Guardsmen of Blind Obedience, or Blinders, the rank and file of the Dark Prince’s army. I had an idea that these were to be uniformed, in stark comparison to the rag tag units fielded by the villages. I imagined that those in the employ of evil always get to wear the smartest clothes, the devil has the best tailor don't you know.
Having taken advantage of a ‘Warlord Games’ half price sprue sale, I was able to put together some likely candidates. I quite liked the European look of the Morion helmet and decided, for the sense of uniformity that this was the way to go. With time against me, I decided to try another new technique, that of the dip! Now when I say new, I realise that this process has been around for ever, but it was new to me. So having blocked in my chosen colours, I had to take that difficult leap of faith and smear the dark, treacle like substance all over my carefully painted miniatures!
Once dried the high gloss finish has a charm of its own, but it wasn’t for me and the troops were dutifully given a matt spray before picking out a few highlights. The Hag underwent a similar process, although with hindsight shading black with the dip probably wasn’t worth the effort! Having said that the skin and broom worked well and this ‘Westwind Productions’ storybook Witch was ready to take the field, causing mischief and mayhem wherever she went.

Monday, 4 February 2019

The Doom Riders!

Thundering across the battlefield the sun reflecting blindingly from their ornate plate armour, could there have been anything more terrifying that a troop of Cuirassiers? My Witchfinder world has thrown up all sorts of challenges not least being choice of miniatures to represent cavalry in the employ of the Dark Prince.
These ‘Warlord Games’ English Civil War Cuirassiers were the perfect choice to represent my Doom Riders with their faces obscured by heavy metal visors.  Truth be told they have been in the painting queue for an incredible length of time, I just find it difficult to start units of cavalry.  That and the fact that they were a real pain to prepare!  The horses themselves are plastic and relatively straightforward to assemble, with options for additional holsters but it was the riders that proved the chore with some badly cast and misshaped. 
Finally assembled they have languished on the side of shame for over a year until the grim realisation dawned that I needed them for a scheduled game.  Looking for a way to help speed up the process, the trusty airbrush was unpacked and the mounts were given a base colour before the saddlery was picked out in a bit more detail.  Having blocked the riders in with a metallic colour, I set about them with a series of washes, the last one designed to give them a hellish feel, with the subtle use of red. 
As is always the way, I am delighted when I finish any cavalry, often wondering what all the fuss was about?  That said there are still half a dozen that didn’t get done, but those that did proved their worth on the battlefield, with devastating effect.
Interestingly, I had taken a number of photographs of the troop fully assembled and ready for painting, but when I checked the date it rather alarmingly declared 4th May 2015!  As a result, I am claiming my first square on the 'Wargame Hobby Bingo' card, namely, 'Finish painting a model that's been in your to-do pile or that's remained unfinished for more than a year'.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

A Wind in the Willows.

Regular readers to '28mm Victorian Warfare' might remember the last time that I was seduced by the look of the rather splendid trees from '4 Ground', the mighty 'Oak Tree' being a case in point.  You might also remember that I had decided that, whilst very lovely, they were a tad pricey and one was better off building from scratch.  Well it will come as no surprise to many to hear that I have succumbed again! 
Now in my defence, I was at 'Salute', I had counted up my pocket money and knowing that I was looking to create a river system what would be a better accompaniment that a weeping willow?  Let me tell you, a weeping willow and three smaller willows, that's what!  Before you could say, Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty, they were paid for and in the swag bag.  
As this summer's 'Witchfinder' game grew closer, I finally got around to basing them up and I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to incorporate some of the characters from Kenneth Grahame's much loved classic.  Badger and Ratty are from 'Warbases', whilst Toad was a lucky find on the 'Master Crafted Miniatures' stand.*  Sadly Mole is not represented, I did toy with the idea of creating a couple of molehills on the final base, but time was against me and so he remains conspicuous by his absence.
*Not sure what I am going to do with the tortoises that I picked up at the same time, but I am sure they will come in handy!
So has all this changed my opinion on the pricing of the trees?  Well not really, they are very expensive for what you get, not even a pre-painted base this time!  That said, they are very nicely crafted and their distinctive shape and particularly the size of the larger models really does add something to the table.  So whilst I shall continue to whinge about the hefty price tag, I am thrilled to have them in my collection.

“It's my world, and I don't want any other. What it hasn't got is not worth having, and what it doesn't know is not worth knowing.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Saturday, 12 January 2019

A Swarm of Bats

Since the refurbishment here at ‘Awdry Towers’ there has been a certain amount of relocation, by this I mean that my little cosy corner of the dining room table has been banished!  With this banishment the lead pile was spilt over a couple of locations with the more esoteric elements of the collection finding further isolation in the loft.  
This was carefully considered at the time, with a degree of sorting out and labelling, but alas as with all good intentions the system has fallen by the wayside!  What this now means is that when I go in search of something it is now over several floors of the house and takes an inordinate amount of time!  All griping aside, this arrangement does have an unexpected upside, namely that when rooting around for one miniature you come across a number of others that might inspire a complete change of direction. 
So it was that I came to find a Vampire Knight, a Man-Bat and a swarm of bats in my hand at the same time!   Although not completely sold on the idea that the three pieces could show the transformation from human form to flying mammal, I started the process of preparing the miniatures.   The Swarm is from ‘Reaper Miniatures’, whilst the Vampire Knight was an impulse buy in one of ‘North Star Miniatures’ clearance sales and has more than a passing resemblance to Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the immortal Count, in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Finally, the Man Bat was from ‘Heresy Miniatures’ and was the most involved to prepare and took some pinning and filling to secure the wings to the body.  As with all Paul Muller’s work, it is a finely sculpted and balanced miniature and so worth spending some time to get the construction right. 
When it came to painting, and having spent so long building the thing, I panicked and just used the website’s images as a guide.  There was an idea that I could use some of the colours in the Man-Bat to tie the three elements together.  On reflection, I am not convinced that it has worked, but I certainly matched their bases to further reinforce the idea.
I am happy to report  that both the Man Bat and the Vampire Knight have both been blooded in action, taking on the roles of Alain de la Slaughter and Gareth of Oldham respectively in last summer's Witchfinding fun, 'The Scouring of Muchwhinging'.  I wonder what will crop up next?

Sunday, 6 January 2019

"Eyes down for a Full House!"

This year, I am going to be playing...
Mike 'the Dark Templar' Reynolds, alerted me to this 'Wargame Hobby 'Bingo' card created by the incredibly talented, and jolly nice chap, Rob Hawkins Esq.  It is generic enough to be used for any historical period or hobby style. Each row contains a square for painting, conversion work and scenery building, so you need to do a little bit of everything to fill it in.  The card is reproduced with kind permission from Rob, but if you haven't already done so, I would urge you to take some time to visit his truly inspirational site: The Rob Hawkins Hobby Blog

I have created a separate page, here, to chart my progress...

"Eyes down for a Full House!"

Thursday, 3 January 2019

2018 a year in review...

... and targets for 2019.
Now I have, in recent years, enjoyed this post, after all what is better than a spot of self indulgent retrospection? However this year it is tinged with sadness for no other reason than the self imposed exile, and subsequent mothballing of '28mm Victorian Warfare', due to the ever present demands of the Day Job. I shall not go into a lengthy discourse here, but simply acknowledge that it was a difficult end to 2018 with no real sign of any let up as we head into 2019. I should stress that we are all well and whilst tiresome the ever present difficulties are, hopefully, surmountable; I am certainly determined to try my level best to be more productive this year.

What I did notice, whilst I was away, was that I didn't spend as much of my pocket money on hobby related goodies as I would have normally done.  My withdrawal from all Blogs and news feeds meant that temptation was vanquished, well for the most part anyway; I didn't account for the enthusiastic machinations of Mike 'The Dark Templar' Reynolds with regards to Star Wars: Legion, but more of that another day.

So, gentle folk this will be a much shorter review than those of previous years, but I am hopeful that in creating it, I will feel inspired to return to our cosy corner of the Blogosphere.  So on to the review of last year's targets:

1 Play more games! Target Met! X-Wing Miniatures Game and Zombicide: Green Horde continued to be popular, but I was thrilled to finally host a Witchfinder game using the Donnybrook ruleset.  More recently we have enjoyed a couple of games of Star Wars: Legion, which is proving to be a very welcomed tonic to all the silliness that is going on in the Real World. 

2 Maintain a credible level of posts throughout the course of the year.  Target Missed!  2018 saw the fewest number of posts made in a year since the establishment of '28mm Victorian Warfare' back in 2011.  The thought that I 'had to post' hasn't helped of late and subsequently this target has been reset to 50 posts in the year.

3 Attend at least one convention/exhibition/expo this year.  Target Met!  The annual pilgrimage to Salute 2018 was as inspiring as ever and this year was supplemented by a visit to Tabletop Gaming Live at the Alexandra Palace.  This was a smaller, but hugely enjoyable event and perhaps something that can be revised in the New Year.

4 I would like to try to curb the additional expenditure on miniatures this year, or at least try to bring it into line with output.  A simple tally score will suffice, hopefully something that will 'shame' me into being a little more restraint when it comes to all things hobby related.  Target Met! Painted 155 - 49 Bought = +106 in credit!  Well I didn't see that coming.  Having removed the constant temptation of new shiny things, the tally looks more than respectable.  

According to my tally counter the numbers are as follows*:
Painted/constructed: 155
Bought: 49
Balance: +106
Detailed breakdown:
Foot: 51
Artillery: 2
Vehicles: 2
Buildings/Terrain pieces: 55
Livestock: 45
*All miniatures are 28mm scale unless otherwise stated

So what of 2019?  Well I had hoped to host another summer extravaganza, but I am woefully behind schedule on the preparation front.  Rather than put myself under any undue pressure, I am going to put that plan on hold for the time being.  Expect, however, a series of posts detailing the miniatures for last summer's Witchfinder clash and with Resident Evil, now in residence, some horror survival is on the cards.  What I can guarantee is more shenanigans from a galaxy far, far away!  Star Wars: Legion looks set to be around for a while and I have my eye on some Wookie shaped expansions to put pay to the evil Galactic Empire.  I am conscious that I missed out on 'Zomtober' and 'Dinovember', not to mention 'Forgotten Heroes' earlier in the summer.  These themed months are always great fun, but again I shall not make any promises, but wait to see what the future holds.

I do need to thank those that kept in touch during my absence, your continued support was so important and allowed me a tentative hold on the community that has come to play an important role in addressing the work/life balance.  On that note if you feel that I can be of any help then do not hesitate to get in touch and I hope to be removing the dust sheets sometime in the middle of March in time for 28mm Victorian Warfare's ninth Bloody!  So time to reset the 'Tally Counter' and present, in a roughly chronological order of creation, my efforts from 2018!

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