Thursday 29 September 2011

Doctors, Angels & a Wounded Knee!

What a strange day it has been, weather more suitable to the middle of the summer and a longer than anticipated stay in the day surgery unit of our local district hospital!  The good Mrs. Awdry was the beneficiary of a cancellation appointment to do a long overdue operation on her poorly knee.  Work was great and allowed me the day to go with her and offer support, but if truth be told I was probably more worried than she was!  After they wheeled her away I stumbled off in search of subsistence but before I picked up a coffee and sandwich I popped into the newsagent and came across a publication entitled 'Doctor Who Adventures'.  
Now I have to admit that I have rather enjoyed the tweed wearing time lord's most recent incarnation ably assisted, as he is, by the delectable Miss Pond so under the circumstances I thought that this might be a suitably distracting read.  It may well have been that my choice of reading material might have been swayed by the fact that attached to the front cover were sixteen miniature weeping angels, a veritable army!
At a little over three and a half centimetres the figures have a soft plastic, almost rubber feel to them so I'm curious to find out if they will take paint.  They will also need a little bit of cleaning up so I have a horrible feeling that this could prove to be yet another wonderful distraction.
And the good Mrs. Awdry, well all seems to have gone well, which is great news but she will be laid up for at least a couple of weeks.  I shall have to brush up on my tea making skills but all in a good cause!

Sunday 25 September 2011


Now when I was ordering up my 'Sharpe' characters after having read Mark Urban's wonderful book these chaps inadvertently dropped into the shopping basket!  Well having purchased a pack of their waterslide decals for the backpacks and canteens I clearly needed something to put them on.

Once again lovely detailing from 'Alban Miniatures', I particularly liked the the little touches such as repair patches on the threadbare campaign uniform and rolled up trouser legs, just enough to make the generic poses a little more special.  I have to admit that the anatomical correct scaling of the miniatures proved to be more challenging than I thought but from a distance they make a passable unit.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

An Ambush of Tigers

I seemed to have got the last post a little out of sync so here are the completed unit of Tigermen fron 'Redoubt Enterprises'.  They really were great fun to do and were reassuringly solid in their casting.  As I mentioned in the previous post I have not yet done enough research into the shield designs so for the time being they will have to remain blank.  That said in this new batch there was one shield of a slightly different design and I was able to find reference to it in the Osprey title, 'Queen Victoria's Enemies (4)'.

Interesting Fact:  The collective noun for a group of tigers is an 'ambush' or 'streak'.

Monday 19 September 2011

Tiger Stripe Tutorial

Having just finished the second half of my Chinese Tigermen, I thought I would just show how the effect was created.  I used a combination of different makes of paints but key palette was "Foundry's" triumvirate of ochre.  I've recently taken to painting the bases of the model first, not sure why perhaps because having finished a figure I wanted to move on and not hang around basing them,  either way once based and face and hands complete the shade was put down where desired.
As you might expect this process was repeated, working through the various shades until the highlight stage which just picks out the top of the creases and folds.  A light beige or oatmeal colour, in this case Vallejo 'Iraqi Sand' was used for the edge of the hood inside legs and straps.
The weapons and shield were then done so the only thing left to do were the stipes.
After several abortive attempts it became clear that needed a free flowing paint with a strong pigment to create the effect that I was after.  The problem was that every time I watered down the paint it just didn't look strong enough.  In a fit of desperation I used black ink, carefully drawing the brush across the figure, every so often creating a double line like a branch on a tree.  Provided you take your time this is surprisingly straightforward just don't overload the brush or the air will turn blue!  Once happy with the pattern I painted in a few light lines using a little more 'Iraqi Sand'.  What you will notice is that the ink has a shine to it so the next stage is to apply a gloss varnish.

Once dry apply a coat of matt varnish this has the effect of subduing the ink stripes and blending them  perfectly; so there you have it, tiger stripes

Sunday 18 September 2011

Euro Militaire 2011

Not long returned from my second Euro Militaire and thought I would just put up this rather picture heavy post of some of the competition entires.  This event held in Folkestone, Kent brings together some of the finest military modellers and figure painters in Europe.  The 'Provost Marshal' and myself headed off at an unholy hour but were rewarded with a mighty fine bacon sandwich on arrival and learning form last year's disastrous visit (we spent too long in the bar and didn't get to actually see the competition entries!) we went straight to the main competition hall.
I really should have paid more attention to the individauls' names so as to give them the appropriate credit but as you can see from the photographs the standard was incredibly high; I felt like throwing out my paintbrushes and taking up a different hobby several times throughout the day!
Truly awe inspiring stuff and although not a collector of these larger scale models I did pick up my first 54mm model; a First World War British officer. (Yes I know not very Victorian!)  The brush work on some of these examples was exquisite with the free hand detailing on the shields and garments boarding on the impossible.  Upstairs in the main hall were the various trade stands, which has to be said were a little on the expensive side and of course Rifleman Harris, the honoured guest, signing photographs.  All in all a great day out, the crowds not being too oppressive on the Sunday and who knows maybe next year I'll feel brave enough to put my own entry in.

Monday 12 September 2011

Chinese Tigermen; They're Grrreat!

Sorry, couldn't resist the obvious link to a childhood favourite, 'Frosties' and the the irrepressible 'Tony the Tiger'.  Once again the Awdry inability to remain focused on one project for any length of time has seen me paint up the first half of this unit of Chinese Tigermen from the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.  I've managed to to find a little painting reference but haven't done anywhere near the required amount of background reading, which is why the shields have remained blank for the moment.

The figures are from Redoubt Enterprises and were another 'Salute 2011' purchase that I've only just got around to painting.  They are reassuringly 'chunky', especially compared to the 'Alban Miniatures' that I recently posted, but really good fun to paint as a result; not to mention easier to see.
Really scary!
Traditionally the Tigermen would act as skirmishers hoping to ape the ferocity of the creature whose costume they wear.  It is also said that the costume would frighten enemy cavalry but I can find no reference as to how effective they were in this role.

Sunday 11 September 2011

10,000 hits!

10,000 pageviews in almost exactly six months!   Who would have thought that this humble little of blog of mine would attract so many visits and positive comments.  I cannot thank enough, those that follow and take the time to post comments, ideas or suggestions; it is your contributions that help to maintain my enthusiasm for this project.

Having never managed a 'blog' before this has all been a bit of a learning curve but one that I have thoroughly enjoyed particularly the sense of community that I have discovered exists around this most engaging of hobbies.  With so much more to achieve I'm looking forward to '28mm Victorian Warfare's' continued development.  Thank you all once again!

Incidentally the photograph used to illustrate this post is one of the residency at Lucknow during the Indian Mutiny.  Originally an albumen silver print 23.6 x 28.7 cm, the following text is quoted from the Brown University Library and its Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection:

Formerly occupied by Sir Henry Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of Oudh, at the outbreak of the mutiny, the Residency became the last defended place for the British. The building was crammed with soldiers and civilians. "There is not one hole or corner where one can enjoy an instant's privacy," wrote one lady in her journal. The posed figure on the far right stands in front of the room where Lawrence was killed.

Saturday 10 September 2011

"Mother. Oh Mother"

It's been a busy start to the month as the demands of the 'day job', not unexpectedly, dominiate my time.   That said I have managed to finish off this rather wonderful little character piece from Alban Miniatures.  For fans of the 'Sharpe' series the name of Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill  will instantly bring to mind images of the 'ticking' portrayal of evil, personified perfectly by the late  Pete Postlethwaite.

The villainous Hakeswill, having risen to the rank of Sergeant, sadistically brutalises soldiers under his command relieving them of money or personal belongings.  Postlethwaite wonderfully brings to life the deprived antagonist in two of the 'Sharpe' stories  before ultimately falling foul of a firing squad from which there was no escape.  

The 'Alban' figure continues to display the high standards of casting and sculpting that I have come to expect from this company and the pose reflects the character's obsession with his deceased mother, talking to her picture that he keeps under his shako whilst cradling his Sergent's pike or spontoon described by Sharpe as "battalion company frippery".  Great fun to do and a wonderful addition to the collection; my resolve is weakening with regards to the Napoleonic era!

"You lay a finger on any of my men, Sergeant, and I'll bloody kill you."

Richard Sharpe

Friday 2 September 2011

The Chosen Men

More fabulous figures from 'Alban Miniatures' this time the 'Harris and Hangman' personality pack which bare an inescapable likeness to those wily and resourceful riflemen, Hagman and Harris from the Bernard Cromwell creation, 'Sharpe' .  Once again these 'proportionally scaled cast figures' look great and paint up really well, I'm even starting to come to terms with the smaller facial features.

You can see more clearly on these figures the '95th' transfers for both backpack and canteen.  These are waterslide affairs and are individually cut;  although small they apply smoothly enough and I think just give the figures that little something extra.  I noticed on their website that Alban were planning on releasing some line infantry decals which may be of interest to some of you. 

The 'Chosen Men', Hagman and Harris alongside Sharpe and Harper 

Here's forty shillings on the drum
For those who'll volunteer to come
To 'list and fight the foe today.
Over the hills and far away.

O'er the hills and o'er the main.
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain.
King George commands and we obey.
Over the hills and far away.

As sung by Rifleman Daniel Hagman in the television series 'Sharpe'.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Harpe & Sharper - Alban Miniatures

Now in keeping with my faddish habit of seeking out miniatures that in some way relate to the most recent book  that I'm reading, it was clear that I needed to find some Riflemen of the legendary 95th.  In turn, because it was the recent purchase of the 'Sharpe'  DVD box set that had led me to Mark Urban's riveting read, it only seemed fitting that perhaps I could see if I could  track down an actual Sharpe miniature. (Die hard Napoleonic fans belay those groans!)  With the power of the infoweb at my fingers it wasn't long before I came across 'Alban Miniatures' a company based in Hertfordshire specialising in 28mm Napoleonic figures.  The company's website displayed the proud boast that they were "Supplying superb quality, historically accurate, proportionally scaled cast metal" figures and I noticed that they had a character group entitled 'Harpe & Sharper', clearly a euphemism for the aforementioned hero of the Bernard Cromwell novels.  I say euphemism but of course it way well be purely coincidence that the officer is carrying a mighty big sword and the sergeant is armed with a seven barrelled Nock gun! Curiosity well and truly peaked I ordered up a pack (and several other packs if the truth be known, more of which later) and before long they were safely landed on the doormat of 'Awdry Towers' .
Required a little construction.
On arrival I could see exactly what they mean by "proportionally scaled", the figures being somewhat more slender than I'm used to.  This is not a criticism as the overall impression was one of elegance and they were indeed well cast and beautifully sculpted by the clearly talented Mr. Richard Ansell; that said I was obviously going to need a smaller brush!

I have to admit that they were a delight to work with, there been plenty of detail to pick out, but I did take a few liberties with colour palettes opting for the age old catch all, 'campaign style'.  I would certainly recommend the company and figures to anyone, their communication and service been f the highest order, the dilemma, of course, is do I stick with my Victorian era or through everything in and start a Napoleonic collection?

A quick comparison shot showing an Empress Miniatures British Officer from their New Zealand Wars range and an Alban Miniatures 'Sharper'.   When looking at height and body there is very little in it but when you come to the faces the evidence of the"proportionally scaled" figures becomes most evident.

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