Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I have a cunning plan!

‘Defensive Terrain’, as soon as I read this all I could think of were the trench systems of the First World War where both sides ‘dug in’ to take cover and hold their ground. With a continuous line of trenches covering some 400 miles from Switzerland to the North Sea, positions were lost, retaken and lost again with seemingly no escape from the mud and the imminent threat of death. Like many, I have been fascinated and moved by the exploits and memoirs of those that lived through this particular hell on earth. So it was that this ‘Defensive Terrain’ was to become the subject of my submission with the emphasis on one dugout in particular.
As with previous builds, foam board, balsa wood and cooks’ matches were pressed into action to give the basic structure before the bits box was raided to ‘dress the set’. This, I have to confess, was great fun and before long the piece was growing as sandbags and barbed wire were added, hinting at what was beyond the comparative safety of the dugout. Each addition brought new challenges like scaling down the maps and posters or creating chin straps to hang the helmets to the wall – the whole process became totally absorbing.
Finally, then, to the miniatures themselves; after an exhaustive search my hand fell upon a delightfully whimsical pack of ‘Scarab Miniatures’, entitled, ‘British Captains, Generals and Characters’ and whilst I acknowledge the glaring historical inaccuracies of my build, I make so such apology for these miniatures. 
[discussing how the war began]
Private Baldrick: I heard it started when some fella called Archie Duke shot an ostrich 'cos he was hungry.
Captain Blackadder: I think you mean that it started when the Arch Duke of Austro-Hungary got shot.
Private Baldrick: No, there was definitely an ostrich involved.
A sheer delight to work on, requiring the minimal of preparation this character pack bears a striking resemblance to a certain Captain Blackadder and chums. They are almost caricature in appearance, and as such will not be to everyone’s taste, but I cannot remember enjoying painting a set of miniatures more. This may well have been because I kept replaying episodes of the tremendous ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’, for research purpose only you understand, whilst painting them and found myself chuckling throughout. In fact it seems incredulous that it is now over twenty five years since the final episode of the series was aired. A program that, in my humble opinion, managed to combine humour and pathos in just the right balance to create a truly uniquely British institution.
Captain Blackadder: How are you feeling, Darling?
Captain Darling: Ahm... not all that good, Blackadder. Rather hoped I'd get through the whole show. Go back to work at Pratt and Sons, keep wicket for the Croydon Gentlemen, marry Doris... Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says: "Bugger."
Once again, I have become totally sidetracked by yet another bonus round but I am I worried?  Not a bit of it, especially when the process was so much fun.   Of course my entry is only one of many and I would urge you to go and see the others here; perhaps vote for your favourite?

As a final aside, I need to thank Mark Hargreaves, of 'Over Open Sights' fame for sharing with me his WWI painting guide for 'Tommies'.  Not only a very talented painter and modeller, Mark is a Gentleman and a Scholar, thank you Sir. 

98 comments:

  1. Another stunning piece of artistry from you Michael. You never cease to impress!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent, really excellent..but one Thing..where´s speckled Jim? :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Paul, now I had considered speckled Jim, nearly purchasing a WWI signally unit so I could get the pigeon! I also found a miniature wicker basket, but it was a little too big for the scene and looked more akin to something you would put your laundry in!

      Delete
  3. Wonderful scratch model building, sir. IMO, always keep an eye open for an ostrich.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jay, still looking for the ostrich, he must be around here somewhere.

      Delete
  4. Truly you are the Viceroy of Vignettes, Sir Awdry!!! And this one also caused my wallet to take a hit too!!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Viceroy of Vignettes, now that has got a ring to it! :) Sorry about the wallet taking a hit, but the same thing happened when I first saw them - I just had to have a set.

      Delete
  5. Really impressive bit of scratch building there Michael. I'm really fond of the whole vignette!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now you're just showing off ;)

    Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fantastic model making and painting Michael. Your attention to detail has become your trademark me thinks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Pat, I just really enjoying designing and making these - there are a wonderful distraction.

      Delete
  8. Absolutely top hole, Sir! You are a credit to your regiment! Funnily enough I'd already earmarked this set, along with Rogue Miniatures 'Eddy' and The Assault Group's 'Cunning Courtier, Percy & Manservant' set for a future Blackadder Project. Still need to find a certain Georgian Butler, Victorian moustache shop owner and future king of England...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jez and I had spied those other incarnations myself. I wondered if any of these Highwayman range might prove useful?
      http://www.outpostwargameservices.co.uk/new_highwaymen.html

      Delete
    2. I was aware of that range and was kind of looking for an excuse to order some anyway (along with the Inca mummy), but think I'll have to re watch Blackadder the Third first. For research purposes, of course...

      Delete
  9. Brilliant work! And an excellent series. The last lines strike me as the most poignant written for any sitcom.


    Private Baldrick: I have a plan, sir.

    Captain Blackadder: Really, Baldrick? A cunning and subtle one?

    Private Baldrick: Yes, sir.

    Captain Blackadder: As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?

    Private Baldrick: Yes, sir.

    Captain Blackadder: Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?

    Captain Blackadder: [whistle blows] Good luck, everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you A.J. and indeed a tremendous (not sure that is the right word) to end the series. I think all that watched it were brought down earth with a bump.

      Delete
  10. Amazing as usual. Love the figures and your brushwork really brings them to life.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Another absolutely superb entry! Just brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is very kind of you Gordon, thank you.

      Delete
  12. Really great, reminds me the "dad's army" series!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Luca, I rather fancy that set as well, perhaps next year.

      Delete
  13. A funny and poignant entry in a field of excellent entries, this certainly got my vote. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  14. A funny and poignant entry in a field of excellent entries, this certainly got my vote. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Evan, that is incredibly kind of you to say so.

      Delete
  15. Another glorious effort mate. The level of detail you employ is always impressive to say the least.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is very kind of you, but you certainly trounced me on the scale stakes!

      Delete
  16. Awesome! An atmospheric diorama & excellently-painted figures.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Another fantastic diorama Michael that really sets the theme off!

    Christopher

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is very kind of you Christopher, thank you.

      Delete
  18. Excellent figures and a stunning piece!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great stuff Michael. An interesting take on the theme.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mark, I felt a bit of a cheapskate when I saw the scale of what everyone else did.

      Delete
  20. "This is the stickiest situation since Sticky the Stick-Insect got stuck on a sticky bun."

    Another prize-winning entry, I'd say!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Ben, not sure about this one having seen the quality and scale of what everyone else has produced. That said it remains one of my favourite pieces to put together.

      Delete
  21. Excellent job sir! Grab yourself a coffee,just don't let Baldrick make it Darling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Bob, that scene still makes me cringe.

      Delete
  22. Can't say enough good things about this. We all owe a debt to the AHPC for the inspiration it engenders in clever chaps like yourself. There's so much I like about this, but I really really like the books and the coffee pot on the shelf. Those little touches add so much to the whimsical figures, which you're painted so well. Bravo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael thank you so much and I too can't thank the AHPC enough for the opportunity to indulge in my whimsical ideas. The support and encouragement are what ultimately engenders the ideas.

      Delete
  23. Baldrick's poetry preserved by the National Archives...
    http://eveningharold.com/2014/01/14/red-faces-at-national-archive-after-baldrick-poem-published-with-ww1-soldiers-diaries/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is absolutely priceless, thank you for the link.

      Delete
  24. Truly impressive sir...Many beautiful and realistic details, what a creative and splendid job!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Impressive work once again! And your choices of subject are superb as well :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. A fantastic piece. Well done sir.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A really top notch piece of work there Michael. Just beautiful painting, but more to the point the composition, which is often the really difficult bit is spot on.

    I rather enjoyed Black Adder goes Forth, though I think the writing owes a bit more to "Oh What a Lovely War" than to the actuality. I recall Paddy Griffith lamenting that Blackadder had made the serious study of the Great War almost impossible because it presented such a powerful narrative that any attempt to gainsay it in the popular sphere was immediately steamrollered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mr. Kinch and what a very interesting idea. I can quite believe that there is a generation of young people that believe that is how life was on the front.

      Delete
  28. That series seems to be quite popular in Britain. Haven't seen it, but to be fair I didn't even know it existed. Great looking vignette Michael! You've once again succeeded in creating a masterpiece full of little details.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Nick, I think my enjoyment of the series fuelled my enthusiasm for creating the piece.

      Delete
  29. Totaly stunning work Michael!!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Interesting vignette with a good story in it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thats bloody marvellous. I so do enjoy seeing your diorama's and especially when you post pics of them in progress. Fantastic work dude!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Simon, they are such a great diversion and good fun to do.

      Delete
  32. Hola
    Magnifica si señor
    super detallada
    un saludo

    ReplyDelete
  33. Michael, your work is astonishing - and I loved the Black Adder series!! So, this is a - yet another - perfect post! Thanks for sharing! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much, that is very kind of you to say so.

      Delete
  34. Outstanding work. Really good to see this level of excellence. cheers

    ReplyDelete
  35. Simply wonderful! Blackadder at his best! Excellent work on this vignette!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Another stunning diorama from you! Very impressive indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Michael, you surpass yourself with this! Thanks for your very kind words. Wibble!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mark and you are more than welcome, your work has been so inspirational in the making of this.

      Delete
  38. Amazing, over-the-top work as always, Michael! I think you have the edge when it comes to scratch-built terrain and scenery; not to mention your fabulous brushwork.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Dean, those are very kind words.

      Delete
  39. A real show-stopper, Michael. Superior work. Archie Duke would be proud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mr. Finch, hugely entertaining to do too.

      Delete
  40. Superb combination of attention to detail AND fantastic use of colours. :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you have to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Get your ex back with TEXT messages?

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...