Wednesday, 19 January 2022

"You're not hunting him... he's hunting you."

My flirtation with second the Indochina War was always going to be a lighthearted affair.  It was fuelled by the cinematic gems depicting the conflict rather than a desire to see history retold on the tabletop.  That's not to say that I intended to belittle the sacrifices made by all combatants in what was a complex and enduring campaign, the ongoing question about how soon is too soon with regards to gaming modern warfare is a debate for another time, I was simply looking for an entertaining period to explore in miniature.  With that in mind it was inevitable that a John Ramboesque miniature, or two as it happens, would be found.  

Rambo, First Blood had, initially, passed me by, I was only twelve when it received its cinematic release, but I remember Rambo, First Blood part II causing a bit of a stir amongst us pimply faced chaps at school.  Still a little too fresh faced to persuade the cinema intendant that I was old enough to witness the murderous intent of this one man army on the big screen, I had to resign myself to the book, which was a frightfully good page turner.  Now I'm not here to tell you it was a quality novel worthy of critical acclaim, but it did suffice until a well worn VHS copy of the film managed to make its way to the senior common room.  

All this is a painfully obtuse way of me saying that Rambo, as a character, was a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine.  I couldn't be further removed from the muscle bound warrior of the silver screen and yet I could sit quite happily and root for him as bullets seemingly 'ping' off pectorals as he lays waste to great swathes of steaming jungle.  This butcher of bad guys whose dialogue was barely decipherable as he mutters through his lines was truly mesmerising to young Master Awdry.

So where did I find my miniature versions of this often maligned veteran?  Well in cinematic order, John of First Blood was from 'Studio Miniatures' where as John II is from 'The Assault Group'.  Both great fun to do, although I always struggle when painting acres of flesh as in the case of the, 'The Assault Group's' bare chested Rambo.  With belts of ammunition suitably slung and brandishing the now legendary M60* general purpose machine gun, you can almost hear the brass shell cases cascading on the ground as our hero sallies forth to save the day.  Hopefully one more 'Nam themed post to come, before a complete change as I unearth some long forgotten draft posts.

*Not to be confused with the Manchester Outer Ring Road.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Hollywood style N.V.A.

A quick win with this post insomuch as it was one of the drafts that I alluded to previously.  That said it certainly hasn't been 'quick' in the making as a cursory glance at the date stamp for this draft reveals that it was started on the 6th September 2020!  I had even penned some thoughts that I am going to include as they are a record of how I was thinking at the time...

My apologies one and all, real world issues have seen nearly all hobby time evaporate before my very eyes as we wrestle with the protocols and procedures of returning to school.  As I write this it is clear that the pandemic is going to have lasting implications on our institution, which may yet impact further.  That said, we are well and for that I am grateful.  I haven't picked up a paintbrush in two weeks, nor had the chance to write up a post or indeed catch up with the many splendid weblogs that I subscribe to.  The reality of this is that the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon and so I am faced with a dilemma.  Do I mothball, '28mm Victorian Warfare', shroud it in virtual dust sheets and wait for calmer waters or post intermittently with a reduced presence in and around our cosy corner of the blogosphere? 

Clearly I decided to mothball the blog and here we are, well over a year later, showcasing these lovely sculpts from 'Empress Miniatures'.  My 'In Country' project never really got started, although rule sets were investigated and some troops assembled.  At the time there were two growing collections of miniatures available, the aforementioned 'Empress Miniatures' and some amazing sculpts from 'Gringo 40s', the big decision was which way to go?  There were definite scale discrepancies and so I purchased packs from both companies with the intention to paint them up and see if they were compatible.  I had an inkling that I was going to come down on the side of 'Empress Miniatures', simply because they were producing more of the special forces units that were probably going to feature in my skirmish level games.  That said when you see the amazing game boards of Dave Docherty Esq., he of 'One Man and his Brushes' fame it's hard to resist the Gringo's miniatures - they just look superb!  For the time being, I shall put off making any decisions, returning instead to more familiar territory as I look towards a project to get on the table for the summer holidays.
Here then, painted in a Hollywood style, were my first attempts at assembling a force for the North Vietnamese Army.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Happy New Year 2022!


A very Happy New Year to all that pass by the pages of '28mm Victorian Warfare', here's to a fabulous 2022 and whatever it may bring you.  For yours truly, my immediate focus is to reconnect with a hobby that has brought me so much joy and fostered friendships around the world, yet has been sadly lacking in my life of late.  

2021 has not been a good year for many of us, but I am determined not to let the difficulties that it presented define who I am.  That said much has changed and so it is with a degree of caution that I launch into this latest foray of the most wholesome of hobbies.  Gone is the self congratulatory review of the year, simply because there has been very little to crow about, but I do hope to show a meagre increase in production over the coming months.

Changes to my role at work and difficulties with the infrastructure have caused an unprecedented level of frustration that has seen any joy stymied.  As a result, I withdrew in upon myself, not seeming capable of producing anything noteworthy to share.  That's not to say that 2021 was a completely devoid of hobby love and as I reacquaint myself with the intricacies of Blogger I see I have 46 draft posts!  Many of these are nothing more than titles or references to ideas that I wanted to try, but nonetheless they present a tangible resource to mine in the coming months. 

I am making no predictions, nor targets, just a tentative first step, back to a world of creativity that has been sadly devoid of late.  With that comes the tantalising prospect or re-connecting with a great many of you that I have become to know as friends.  Throughout my self imposed absence, I was truly buoyed by the many messages enquiring after my whereabouts, gestures that have inspired me to remove the virtual dust sheets from this tired old weblog.  Decisions as to whether one continues with Blogger can wait, for now let me, once again, wish you all a happy and prosperous start to the year.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Not there yet...

I had hoped for a much more joyous post than this for my first one back, but the simply fact of the matter is that sadly James, myself and the Castle will not be appearing at Salute this weekend.  Essentially we are all physically well, but both of us are battling with ongoing mitigating factors that have put paid to any sort of hobby time of late.  

We are so desperately sorry and didn't want to let anyone down, hoping to attend right up until the end, but the fact is we are simply not able to make this work for us at the moment.  I still hope to share the Castle with a wider audience at some point, but loathed to make any promises at the moment for fear of letting you all down again.

I miss, terribly, the interactions and friendships that this most humble of weblogs has spawned and my heartfelt thanks to all those that have reached out or offered support;  I hope that, before too long, to find myself back at the helm, but until then I hope that you all stay safe and well.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

A castle update!

My apologies one and all for it has been far too long since I have posted here.  I am pleased to report all is well, but such is the pace and involvement of working with the new procedures and protocols that hobby time has been in short supply of late.  I have found that I miss, terribly, the interaction with those of you that pass by these pages and so have looked to Facebook as a means of maintaining an online presence.  If truth be told, I haven't quite got to grips with it yet, but hope that this might serve as a creative outlet in the months to come; do please seek me out, I promise no pictures of kittens!

The main purpose of posting today was to give the briefest of updates regarding the Battle of Schloss Itter project. A couple of weeks ago James and I finally managed to assembly the four boards for the first time in the front hall of my school. It was a wonderful to see the layout as planned and although some elements were not as finished as we had envisaged, we were looking forward to taking some photographs and video. Unfortunately the second lockdown has curtailed our plans again and we are faced with the inevitability that the castle will need to be quietly dismantled and stored away. In the brief time that it was available to the pupils, parents and staff we were heartened by the interest it garnered and so felt that we needed to commemorate the achievement in some small way. To that end James and I have recorded a Zoom conversation to share our thoughts about the concept and construction of the project.  The link to which is at the bottom of this post.

Regular reading of this most humble of weblog will remember that my good friend and colleague, James Walters was the creative genius behind the architectural modelling of Schloss Itter. During the lockdown period James has kept himself busy creating much of his beloved Bexhill West railway station and sharing many of the techniques employed in the castle design in a series of informative tutorials. This channel has gone from strength to strength and any you that may harbour a desire to create your own laser cut terrain pieces will surely find something of interest.

With regards to our conversation, I warn you now that speaking on camera is not something I find comes naturally to me, but I hope that those who have persevered with our journey will enjoy sharing some of our memories with us. Given today is Remembrance Sunday it seemed a fitting day to reflect on the broader purpose of the project, which was to celebrate the end of hostilities in Europe seventy five years ago.

I hope that you are all remain safe and healthy,


We Will Remember Them

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Jungle House Completed

 Following on from the 'Jungle House W.I.P.' I am delighted to present the finished abode as my entry in Dave Stone's, 'Summer of Scenery Challenge'.  This is a 'Sarissa Precision' kit and having completed the build in the previous post all that was left to do was to paint and detail it.
I tried to keep this as straightforward as I could and dry brushed colour on to the woodwork in a succession of lighter tones; for the record Vallejo U.S. Olive Drab, Khaki and Stone Grey.  The vines were picked out in a variety of green and then had some fine turf sprinkled along them.
 I was a little nervous about dry brushing the delicate feathers and so started by making a series of passes with the airbrush and then picked out the batons and ropes followed by more fine turf and leaf litter to try and convey the feeling that it had been there for some time.
 Some subtle wash colour under the eaves, a few leafy tufts and more leaf litter and we were there, completed!  Sarissa really do make some lovely little kits and because of their study construction are fun to enhance and personalise.
A big thank you to Dave for giving me the inspiration to get some terrain done this summer, perhaps not what I had originally envisaged but nonetheless a rather fun diversion and a couple of new tricks learnt along the way.  All that was left to do was to get some of the other toys out for a quick photo-shoot!

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Jungle House W.I.P.

There is a cruel inevitability to all summer holidays, that realisation that it is coming to an end and the plans and schemes, so carefully considered, have again fallen short.  Last week saw me return to work, preparing for the release of this year's A-Level results and then having to try and make sense of the carnage that was left behind.  Not that I want to get into that here, but suffice to say hobby time was somewhat limited and if truth be told I have found it difficult to get back into the swing of things as the spectre of the new academic year looms into sight.
Fortunately I have one or two items in the bag, so to speak, and plan to share those as I go in search of the illusive mojo.  Some considerable time ago, I expressed an interest to take part in Dave Stone's, 'Summer of Scenery Challenge'.  At the time I was mulling over some ideas for pieces for my Tatooine themed Legion Board, but these fell by the wayside when I stumbled across a 'Sarissa Precision' jungle house on stilts.  I have no recollection when this was bought, or why, possibly as a trading post for the Congo board, but decided that it would prove a useful piece to work on, especially given the current project.
As with all Sarissa products it was relatively easy to put together, but all the time I felt a pang of guilt, this not being a building designed and cut by James! Once constructed I couldn't help but feel that it needed a little more love and attention, especially if I was to enter it into a scenery building challenge so set about the base board with the trusty Dremel, bevelling the edges before adding pumice gel for the groundwork and a few decorative pieces for added interest. 
Using an idea that we had employed in the castle build, fur wool or eyelash yarn was used to represent climbing plants festooning the sides of the stilts.  This, base section, was then undercoated in grey primer, before I turned my attention to the roof section.  The kit has a tile design etched into it, which didn't seem quite right for the sweltering jungles of South East Asian, so went in search for a different approach. 
In the end feathers were used, having sourced a cheap bag from Amazon.  Using PVA glue the feathers were assembled to look like palm leaves, one or two having sections removed along their shaft.  To these were added some fibrous bristles that I had lying around and, when dry, were undercoated to match the base.  As I started to add colour to the base section it was clear that the effect was starting to work, but something didn't feel quite right and so I added so off cuts of veneer and florists' wire to hint at the batons and rope that may have been used in the roof construction.
More unifying undercoat and I was ready to finish the painting...
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