Friday, 29 June 2012

Beware the Hodag!

What on earth is a Hodag?  Well pour yourself a cup of tea, pull up a chair and let me tell you a story of what has been lurking in those woods.  In the autumn of 1893, Eugene Simeon Shepard made a startling discovery when he came face to face with a bizarre creature whilst out walking near his Rhinelander home.  Shepard had heard of the legend, often whispered in the lumber-camp bunkhouses of Wisconsin, but this was the first time that he had come face to face with a Hodag!

The creature was reputed to have weighed in excess of thirteen stone and been seven feet long.  It had a reptilian appearance yet was covered with short black fur and when alarmed its nostrils spouted flame and smoke, emitting a horrible odour, which Shepard described as,
“a combination of buzzard meat and skunk perfume".
Narrowly escaping with his life, Shepard gathered together a hunting party armed with,
 "heavy rifles and large bore squirt guns loaded with poison water." 
They came across the Hodag close to where Shepard had first sighted it; the hounds were released, but subsequently reduced to shreds by the creature!  The hunting party’s weapons proved to be just as ineffective; but the mighty Hodag had no answer to dynamite!  The charred remains were duly carried back and displayed, but three years later Shepard was handed the opportunity to capture one alive!  

taken in 1899, Shepard is on the far right of the photograph

Now the autumn of 1896, Shepard and a group of lumberjacks surprised a Hodag in its den and asphyxiated the monster with a heavy dose of chloroform – perhaps best not to ask why a group of lumberjacks were carrying around a dose of chloroform!  (Altogether now, ‘I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…’) In true entrepreneurial style Shepard announced that he would proudly exhibit his recently captured prize at Oneida County’s first fair; perhaps unsurprisingly the Hodag proved to be the event’s main attraction.  

As many of you will have no doubt have already realised this Hodag was an elaborate hoax; a carved tree stump covered with an ox hide and cattle horns.  Shepard’s own sons were said to have controlled the beast by wires whilst making appropriate growling noises, safely concealed behind the exhibit.   That said it didn't stop the public flocking to the area in their thousands.

Well I’m here to tell you that Shepard’s Hodag was not the only one!  In and around an area simply referred to as the‘secret project’ there have been more and more disturbing reports of sightings of a similar looking beast.  This coupled with the mysterious disappearance of several head of cattle and the unmistakeable odour of buzzard meat and skunk perfume can mean only one thing – the Hodag has returned!

Once again these strange creatures are part of the range released by Pontoonier Miniatures via ‘Newline Designs’. Curiously labelled ‘Old West Mythic Creatures’ they form part of a fantasy Wild West range and are responsible for sowing the seeds that have led to the ‘secret project’. Just as with the Bigfoot miniatures I began with a series of dry brushed colours and then some time spent picking out the details. The basing was to prove a little problematic in so much as I had hoped to keep all the creatures on a similar size, but one of the sculpts just didn’t fit. In a brief moment of insanity I decided to file back the metal base; a task that was to prove a lot harder than I could have imagined. 

original miniature
filed & primed

 They were given the now familiar ‘Autumnal’ detailing to tie them all together. Given my predilection for all things Victorian, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if a small town or outpost at the end of the 19th Century was susceptible to all manner of visitations from folklore, legend or popular culture. Well the ‘secret project’ is all about that very premise, not hugely original but should certainly prove to be fun!

For a full account of the tale and what the Hodag means to the area please visit 'the Hodag Press' who should take credit for much of the information posted here.

On a completely unrelated note I need to draw your attention to the wonderful 'giveaway' over at Ray's brilliant, 'Don't throw a 1' blog.  To celebrate reaching a quarter of a million page views (Really 250,000 hits, I kid you not!) Ray is offering his painting services to the lucky winner of a draw; go and give it a go, what have you got to lose?

'Don't throw a 1' amazing giveaway is here!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Run to the Hills... for your lives.

More 'good ol’ boys' for the ‘secret project’!  Once again a selection from the wonderful ‘Perry Miniatures’ American Civil War rioters pack, this time with hand weapons as opposed to firearms.  I have selected those that I thought could pass for woodsmen, farmers or local businessmen from late 19th to the early 20th century.  Half the fun has been coming up with colour palettes that have a bit of individuality to them whilst still holding the chaps together as a unit.

As with the Dinosaurs, the ‘secret project’ continues to be a huge distraction, but at least I’m starting to write some of the ideas down now.  Broadly speaking it all happens somewhere that is not that dissimilar to what is now known as the Pacific Northwest of America, sometime in the final throes of the 19th century and early 20th century.   A series of seemingly unrelated and bizarre incidents plague the area and its inhabitants; at present these gentlemen.

"They're not from round 'ere!"

But what are they running from?  Wolves, bears and large-footed beasties aside there would appear to be an even more mysterious and potentially dangerous creature hiding in the woods.  All will, hopefully, be revealed soon!

Monday, 25 June 2012

50,000 Hits!

Being a modest sort of chap I clearly wouldn't want to make a 'song and dance' about this, but '28mm Victorian Warface' has just crept past the 50,000 page view marker!  I am somewhat flabbergasted as it has been just over three months since the first anniversary of the blog and in that time there have been an additional 20,000 hits! 

It goes without saying that I must thank all of you that peruse the pages and especially those that have 'followed' or take the time to  leave a comment on a post. 

The blog, that started as a bit of fun, is now firmly entrenched as part of the gaming hobby, giving me the incentive to keep the painting queue moving along at a steady pace.  The wonderful camaraderie that exists within the 'blogosphere' was such an unexpected but welcomed surprise; I was delighted when I had the chance to put faces to names at 'Salute' this year.

Once again a huge thank you to one and all.

The image is from the V & A collection entitled, 'Elsie's great novelty step toe dancing on a snare drum'.

Friday, 22 June 2012

And now for something completely different...

A slightly odd post this as it was intended to show off a couple of the 'Empress Miniatures' Anglo-Zulu War range that were found kicking around the periphery of the lead pile.  Wonderfully characterful poses that have become synonymous with Mr. Hicks' sculpting and, as always, a joy to paint. 

Then we get to the Meerkat!  As with many households in the United Kingdom, 'Awdry Towers' underwent a Spring clean the other month, part of which involved trying to sort out our postage stamp of a garden; who would have thought something so small would need so much work!  Buoyed with enthusiasm myself and the saintly Mrs Awdry found ourselves at a garden centre investigating water butts, at the time the hosepipe ban had just been announced and this seemed like a suitable solution to withering plant life - can I just add that since the water butt has been installed it hasn't failed to rain!  As we were heading to the pay out counter my attention was momentarily caught by a flash of scarlet.  upon further investigation it turned out to be nothing less than the ubiquitous meerkat resplendent in his tunic and white helmet!  Given Mrs Awdry's predilection for all things cute and fluffy he was instantly snapped up and safely repatriated to the homestead where he has ingratiated himself into the collection but sadly refusing to admit that there might be issues with scale!  As the deep cleansing continued apace I found myself disappearing upstairs to shuffle a few papers around - two is a crowd when it comes to hoovering I have discovered!  During the process I happened upon an old leather briefcase that belonged to my grandfather and was now used to house all sorts of long forgotten treasures or pseudo-important documents.  Having established that that the hoovering had ceased downstairs I was closing the case when a small piece of plastic was dislodged from the folded leather hinge.  Lo and behold!  One of my first Zulu Wars British Infantrymen, painted in the naive style and dating back over thirty years!  Ah such halcyon days, with bucket loads of plastic spread out across the bedroom floor!  Suffice to say the saintly Mrs. Awdry was not as nearly as excited with my discovery as I thought she might and armed, as she was, with duster and polish; a tactical retreat seemed in order!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

More Maori!

In a bid to regain some sort of normality here at '28mm Victorian Warfare', I've dug out some more of these splendid 'Empress Miniatures' Maoris from their 'New Zealand Wars' range.  I have to confess that I never tire of painting these wonderful miniatures, but always have a little wobble right at the end when deciding whether or not to have a go at the tribal tattoos or Moko. 

I continued my habit of adding the fern as a motif for the Maori troops and enjoyed picking out little details like the hem of the chief's clock; the warrior blowing the conch shell, typical of Mr. Hick's wonderfully characterful sculpts.  As always one or two liberties have been taken with the colour palette, but only in a bid to tie the unit together.  In the past I've been using dark blue ink, but that has all dried up so I have resorted to using black, which I hope is not too obtrusive.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Falklands Commemorated

As hoped I've managed to finish off the vignette to accompany the modern British infantry that were completed to commemorate the cessation of hostilities over the Falkland Islands thirty years ago.  A simple blank CD base and a few off cuts of foam and other bits and pieces that I had lying around, have all been thrown together to recreate the tough and unforgiving terrain found in the South Atlantic.

Basic construction textured and awaiting paint.
I did treat myself to a replica, miniature South Atlantic Medal bought from the National Army Museum's online store.   The Campaign medal was awarded to all personnel who took part in operations.  To qualify the recipient had to have at least one full day's service in the Falklands or South Georgia, or thirty days in the operational zone.  A rosette was added to the ribbon for those who served in the combat zone.

Coincidentally as I was finishing the miniatures, Curt posted a rather thoughtful piece entitled, ‘A Question of Historical Wargaming: 'Ok, Who Wants to be The Bad Guys?’ on his marvellous ‘Analogue Hobbies’ blog.   The post was a reflection on the appropriateness of wargamers playing more modern conflicts or conflicts that included scenarios that were perhaps a little troublesome to square away.  I didn’t comment at the time, the post demanding a bit more in the way of a response than the customary winking smiley!  That said I found myself concurring with many of the issues raised by Curt and indeed many of the considered responses from fellow bloggers.  

Why mention it here?  As a young boy, I too, was excited about the prospect of our boys going to take back the Falklands from the Argentinians – once we found exactly where they were on a map that is!  As the reports of the conflict started to filter home it became apparent that this bravado was going to have a real human cost for both sides.  Warfare suddenly leapt from the history books and was propelled to the domain of the headline news; I know that I found the whole experience very confusing.

Now somewhat older, if not wiser, I find myself painting 28mm miniatures representing a variety of different periods from history.  Ultimately, I am doing little more that painting pieces of lead and plastic that represent the past, I’m certainly not looking to make any form of political statement or show any disrespect to those that fought and died in any of the conflicts.  I do not condone war or any of the political ideologies that bring about conflicts, but I am happy to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of individuals.

Many of the comments that followed Curt's post displayed a thoughtful and balanced consideration to just such matters.  One that seemed to resonate more than others was by Sidney Roundwood, who said;

Perhaps (at least for me) the hobby has a great deal to do with commemoration. I'm comfortable playing a game when one of the aspects is commemorating and respecting what happened in history.

Certainly a sentiment that I'm happy to side with.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

28mm Falklands War British

The Falklands War ended thirty years ago today with the surrender of the Argentine forces to Major General Jeremy Moore.  It seems incredulous that time has passed so quickly and when perusing the various trade stands at ‘Salute’ in April, I came across these ‘Mongrel Miniatures’ on the ‘Newline Designs’ stand.  They are diplomatically labelled as NATO forces, but are wearing suitable attire to represent the British forces at the time of the conflict.


I had hoped to produce a little vignette for the occasion but simply ran out of time, but I'm hopeful to complete the project over the weekend.  These are my first attempt at a camouflaged uniform and I have to admit to being a little apprehensive at the start.  In the end I had to dig out my old cadet force smock from the loft of ‘Awdry Towers’ in a bid to try and fathom out in which order the colours went down to create the  DPM look.

When I first started to clean up and prepare the miniatures I didn’t think they were particularly well sculpted - the barrels of the SLRs seemed a little stunted, that sort of thing, but I soon changed my mind when the undercoat went on!  As with so many things, they are what you make of them and these proved to be no exception to the rule.  There were some lowly little touches like the binoculars tucked into the officer's smock and the first field dressing taped to the '58 webbing of one of the riflemen. They really were tremendous little miniatures and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I assume will be a very brief jaunt into the modern era; but then again!

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Wood for the Trees

Just the briefest of posts to highlight the birch trees featured in the previous post, 'Bigfoot!'  It needs to be said from the offset that this wasn't my idea at all, but instead one that I came across on the marvellous 'TerraGenesis' forum.  Unfortunately I can't find a name to credit, but whoever it was deserves a medal for the sheer brilliance of this design.  It called for a couple of 'ingredients' that I hadn't heard of before but with the power of the infoweb at my fingertips they were soon tracked down.  To make the three stands I used one pack of white paper covered wire at £1.69 and half a roll of white stem tape, used for bouquets, costing the princely sum of 65p!  The rest of the bits and bobs I already had lying around so there was no other additional cost; as I said earlier the design is brilliant!  I won't repeat the whole process here but have collaged some photographs together to illustrate the method.

1. Paper covered wire rolled in stem tape then marked with a Sharpie.

2. One pack of wire and the tape produced all the trees pictured.  They were fixed to MDF bases and textured.

3. I got a bit carried away with the painting and texturing of the bases, but wanted to have them match the recent additions to the livestock here at 'Awdry Towers'!  They really were that simple to make and helped in the staging of the photographs, but of course would work perfectly for gaming  too.  A few more interspersed with fir trees and you have instant forest, perfect for all those backwoods scenarios.

Whilst on the subject of  trees I picked these up from the 'The Model Tree Shop' and based them the other day.  Perhaps a little on the pricey side, but fantastic service and the etched brass fronds do look great.  Obviously the ideal would be to make one's own and recently I saw a wonderful post by Paul of "Paul's Bod's" fame.  However this project is on hold until I find a squirrel! (click the link to see what I'm wittering on about!)

Friday, 8 June 2012


A Victorian era Sasquatch, I hear you cry?  An incredulous,"Really?" heard around the blogosphere!   There I was quietly perusing the 'Newline Designs' website, when out of the virtual pages leapt theses great big hairy beasties!  What was a boy to do?

Ever since then there have been spurious reports and sightings of these bipedal hominids in and around the lead pile at ‘Awdry Towers’, but it wasn’t until the wolves and subsequently the bears were flushed out into the open that an idea started to germinate in my confused and jumbled brain.

I have, now fading, memories of ‘Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World’ a television program first aired in 1980s – I was very young!   One of the episodes, entitled ‘The Missing Apeman’ investigated the evidence for the existence of both Bigfoot and the Yeti.  This was the first time that I had seen the 'Patterson-Gimlin' film and long before the average household had the technology to rewind and view again – if you blinked you missed it!  For those few fleeting seconds I was totally absorbed; I had seen Bigfoot and it was real!

Being such an impressionable lad, this sort of imagery left an indelible mark on young master Awdry and so you can imagine my delight when I came across these curious cryptids  by 'Pontoonier Miniatures'.   Perhaps a little too reminiscent of the creature from that 1987 cinematic marvel  ‘Bigfoot and the Hendersons’, they were certainly nicely weighted and proportioned.  Like the bears, relatively straightforward to paint, although a little more time was required on the chest, face and hands to bring out a sense of personality.  The bases were done to match those of the recently completed bears and to bring a sense of cohesion to the still fledging idea that is slowly gathering pace.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Private Widdle...

of the Queen's Own 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment

Having painted up the wonderful 'Mutton Chop Miniatures' Sidney "Dirty Laugh" Cohen, I was left looking at his sidekick 'George Hartree' (again a thinly disguised alter ego for 'Carry On' star Charles Hawtrey) and wondered 'what if?'

What if, with a bit of converting, I could bring about a transformation to represent the luckless Private Widdle, infamous for losing his woollen pants to the Khasi of Kalabar whilst patrolling the Khyber pass.   The idea proved too tempting to resist and before long a set of three 'Carry On Up The Khyber' miniatures was dreamt up using a combination of 'Perry Miniatures' Sudan range and a 'Wargames Foundry' Indian Hill Tribesman. 

Before and ...

After much snipping, filing and swearing they started to take shape, but not before I had to rebuild Widdle's chin due to an unfortunate run in with a scalpel blade - the project nearly came to an abrupt end at this point!  The Indian Tribesman, now representing the ruthless 'Bunghit Din' had his shield removed and now proudly shows off his new trophy; Widdle's underpants!  Finally I couldn't resist a little fun with the Sergeant who loosely represents Terry Scott's character, 'Sergeant Major MacNutt'.  If you are wondering why he appears to have a football corner flag sticking out of his back then watch the trailer below.

It has to be said that this was hugely entertaining distraction and already the thought has crossed my mind to to create a Sir Sidney Rough-Diamond.  Mind you if Mr Hicks would oblige in creating a Kenneth Williams look-a-like then what would be more apt than the the Khasi of Kalabar himself?  'Carry on up the Khyber' remains one of my favourite of the 'Carry On' films to this day, not just because of the subject matter, but of the childhood memories it evokes; memories of a seemingly much more innocent time.

I was having so much fun setting up the photographs that it seemed churlish not to give 'Nellie' a run out.  More on her can be found here.

Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond on hearing news that the Native revolt has reached the gates of the British Embassy: 

Do? Do? We're British. We won't do anything... 

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