Sunday, 27 November 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well another year older but probably not wiser!  Wonderfully lazy day at home with the good lady wife; thoroughly spoilt by friends and family, with a considerable amount of lead now winging its way towards Awdry towers!  

A splendid day all round; now what to start first?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tommy's Tailor

Now that the distraction of the 'swamp' is out of the way I have found a little time to do some more on 'Tommy' here.  As I have mentioned before this has been a complete departure for me and one that I still  have mixed feelings about.  That said I was so buoyed by the very positive and encouraging comments from so many that I am committed to seeing the project through. 

As you can see 'Tommy' has started to get himself dressed thanks mainly to the 'Smillie' passing on his secret formula for painting First World War miniatures.  This certainly took some of the uncertainty out of the process and Mr. Smillie, next time you find yourself anywhere near the Sunshine Coast then there is a beer waiting here with your name on it.  Just as a very brief aside if you haven't visited Smillie's 'Painting Diary' then I thoroughly recommend a visit, you will not be disappointed.

'Tommy' has had some issues with stability of late, he keeps falling off his base, hence the paint job stops at his trousers.  Next job, therefore is to try and fix him a little more securely, finish off the painting and come up with something original for the base!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Through the Swamp - The Conclusion.

So here it is, the conclusion of my mini project to recreate an 'American Civil War' trading card!

The original card, printed in 1965, was part of a much larger set and a gift from my father when I was a boy.  Known as 'Civil War News', the cards depicted historic events or battles that occurred during the war, their graphic violence leaving a lasting impression on a ten year old Mikey.  


With the figures and alligator safely attached a little sisal string was used to represent the reeds and weeds.  These were positioned with P.V.A. and needed a little bit of colour to tone them into the rest of the piece.  Although the base only had a very shallow lip, it was enough to allow me to flood the remaining space with a clear drying resin.  This was my first attempt at a water effect and so I was a little apprehensive, worried that I was going to ruin several weeks worth of work!  Fortunately a colleague was on hand, thanks Jemma,  to guide me through the curing and colouring process so all went according to plan.  There was just a little more painting and leaf litter to add and then finished.  I have picked up so many useful modelling tips along the way  and without wishing this post to read a little like an acceptance speech, there are one or two people I would like to thank:

'Provost Marshal', whose generous donation started the whole thing off.  See 'a Beer and a Bag' for further details.

'Laughing Ferret' over at the 'Laughing Ferret Lab'; your tutorial was superb and carefully guided me through the pitfalls of constructing 'Spanish Hanging Moss'.

'Captain Richard' of 'Captain Richard's Miniature Civil War'; your piece entitled 'Weeds' was simply superb and really helped me to visualise what had previously been just a collection of random thoughts and ideas.

Finally a huge thank you to all of you who have taken the time to post comments along the way as the project developed.  They really do help to keep the spirits up and make the process have a very definite sense of direction. 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Through the Swamp - Part 3, The Build

Having had expected to have been at work this weekend I was thrilled to find that the event was rescheduled presenting with  a little priceless time to move on the 'swamp' build.  There has always been a clear objective in that I wanted to recreate a 1960s American Civil War trading card using 28mm miniatures.  The Union boys and the alligator safely completed I needed to turn my attention to the matter of the swamp itself.  I had collected together all manner of different bits and pieces and had recently seen some wonderful examples of model making that served as inspiration.  Captain Richard's wonderful 'weeds' post and the Laughing Ferret's wonderful 'how to' for 'Spanish hanging moss' been two of the most influential.

The base is a 10cm diameter 'Fenris' casting bought through 'Hasselefree Miniatures' that I had kicking around and on to it went all manner of things including real stones, twigs and roots (thank you Captain Richard).  There was also bits of aquarium plastic plants, hand sculpted root system even bits of Christmas tree made an appearance.  I had roughly planned where the miniature were going and consequently left a space for them.  

Once the glue and household filler had dried the whole thing was sprayed black and then sprayed again with a couple of different green sprays I had left over from the 'Bamboo' build.

Again once dried I started to pick out details using a suitably muted palette and then followed the 'Laughing Ferret's' tutorial for the hanging Spanish moss.  It really does take you back to play school but was wonderfully effective.

So now its just a case of placing the figures, probably a little more painting and final details and we should be there!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

"With some guts behind it"

Colour Sergeant Bourne: It's a miracle.
Lieutenant John Chard: If it's a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it's a short chamber Boxer Henry point 45 caliber miracle. 
Colour Sergeant Bourne: And a bayonet, Sir, with some guts behind it. 

Perhaps one of the most memorable exchanges in the 1964 classic 'Zulu'; the immaculate Colour Sergeant Bourne quietly reminding the 'Officer of Engineers' that the British soldier armed with little more than a stiff upper lip could hold out and carry the day!

Nigel Green's portrayal of the larger than life Colour Sergeant owes much to the movie's appeal and it seems only fitting that Empress Miniatures  created a likeness in their 'Hollywood' version of the Defenders of Rorke's Drift set. 

As always the sculpt and pose make these miniatures a delight to paint.  My only dilema was in deciding whether to paint him accurately or in the 'Hollywood' style!

Pte. Thomas Cole: Why is it us? Why us? 
Colour Sergeant Bourne: Because we're here, lad. Nobody else. Just us.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Rev. Otto Witt - A Conversion

Many months ago when I started this ramshackle collection of thoughts and musings the intention was to document my first tentative steps into this most wholesome of hobbies by initially building  a collection suitable for gaming the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. 

The long and short of it is that I felt it was high time to get back to the original concept, if only momentarily, and so here is my interpretation of the Reverend Otto Witt as portrayed in the film Zulu by Jack Hawkins.  Hawkins' portrayal of the tormented Witt was so superb if not historically accurate, and I knew that I wanted a fearsome, bullish character and this Victorian Gentlemen seemed to fit the bill.  Originally designed by Wargames Foundry to have a lady on his arm and a faithful hound at his side it was unlikely that I was going to need him any time soon so I wasn't too worried about getting struck in with the Dremel!  Firstly the top hat was rounded off and the brim was pulled down flat with a set of pliers.  If the truth be told, I was a little too forceful and managed to deform him a little, but it all helped establish the character!

Jack Hawkins as the Rev. Otto Witt
Original miniature
I decided to leave the dog's lead in his right hand, but painted it as a piece of rope or whip, however I did feel that I needed to add a little of the fire and brimstone alluded to in the movie.  To that end I cut into his left hand and positioned a scratch built bible there.  This was created by cutting little rectangles of foil gluing them together and then folding them over to create the effect of a book with pages; these pages were even given a gilt edging.  The only other addition was to fashion the bow tie into something resembling that worn on set.  Again fine slithers of foil, suitably folded and placed gave the effect I was looking for.

Bible & tie in place

I've got to say that I'm really pleased with how things turned out, normally I'm the sort of chap that likes to have very clear reference and instructions; 'special' my wife refers to me as, clealy a term of affection! 

I seem to have been sidetracked at every turn; there is so much out there that is capable of turning a chap's head, so to actually get around to finishing something that I set out to achieve has come as a bit of a boost.  Perhaps I should bear that in mind when I'm next contemplating somethinmg new and shiny!

Hawkins and Baker on set

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Fleshing out Tommy

Just the briefest of updates on this modelling aside.  I had hoped, sadly in vain, that he would be completed for an Armistice Day post but as you can see I am nowhere near ready.

I have to admit that I'm really struggling with this project.  The sculpt is wonderful but the painting technique required is really frustrating me.   What one can get away with at 28mm is not viable at this larger scale.  Blending is obviously the way to go but it is such a time consuming process, constantly going back and forth.  I will obviously keep going and with a bit of luck will get something that looks half way decent!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Through the Swamp - Part 2

The second part of my mini project to try and recreate an American Civil War trading card from the 1960s, sees the introduction of boys from the North!   Now I'm squaring this away by the fact that the conflict did at least fall during the reign of Queen Victoria, tenuous I grant you but it works for me.  

There certainly isn't a shortage of miniatures out there covering this period; Perry's, Foundry, Renegade so many to chose from but where to start?  I knew that I needed the troops to look fatigued and at least one had to be charging with a bayonet.  After quite a period of searching I happened upon Redoubt Enterprises' range that had just what I was looking for.

I have to say that I really enjoy painting Redoubt's figures, true they are not the tidiest sculpts out there but there is something very reassuring about their weight and the poses were perfect for what I wanted.  The soldier with the bayonet will be the brave soul taking on the Gator, while the others fight their way through the Florida swamps.

Decided not to go for the red top to the kepi, must be a creative decision on behalf of the illustrator as I don't seem to be able to find any referemce for it.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Through the Swamp

Who knows where my next distraction will come from as this post will surely illustrate.  Some will remember the dubiously entitled post 'a beer and a bag' where I was given the most bizarre mix of miniatures you could ever imagine, one of which was a crocodile like creature and I immediately envisaged building a wonderful terrain piece reminiscent of the rope bridge scene from 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'.  (I even went as far a ordering up some additional crocodiles and vultures!)  It wasn't until the 'Laughing Ferret' (his tremendous blog can be found here.) pointed out that the said beastie was in fact a gator that stirrings of a possible project began.

Many, many years ago I was presented with a set of trading cards depicting scenes from the American Civil War.  This gift from my father left such an impression on my young mind as the illustrations were incredibly violent but brilliantly presented, full of dynamic composition and colour.  On the reverse of each card was a news report relaying was happening in the war at any particular juncture.  Some cards left more of an impression than others but I had a very vivid memory of one with a gator in it.  Sure enough after several hours of scrambling around the dirty loft space at 'Awdry Towers' the collection was unearthed and to my joy and delight 'Through the Swamp' was there, just as I remembered it!

Well that I was it, I now had to recreate this scene using my Gator!  Phase 1 is now complete in that I have found a suitably large base and painted up Mr. Alligator here.  He looks far too happy, observed the  saintly Mrs. Awdry, but that is probably because he knows that he is going to be able to get his teeth into some Union Boys before too long!  

Just as an aside does anyone know if the red top the soldiers' kepis is accurate or is it just an artistic device?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

No Jacket Required

What a week!  So much for my plans to get this chap finished early on, but finally able to get some paint out today.  This wonderful creation, again from 'Hasslefree Miniatures', was to be the companion character to 'Wolfie', posted on Monday.  A sort of before and after if you will; hence similar base and trouser colour.  

Finally united!  Great fun to do, perhaps I need a section called 28mm Victorian Gothic Horror?
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