Monday 27 February 2012

WARNING! This post contains nudity.

The desire to venture deeper into the depths of uncharted territory continues unabated with yet more goodness from the very talented Mark Copplestone.  

These 'little chaps' are from the Botocudo Indian Archers pack and were a delight to do once I had settled on a palette for the skin.  In this case I ended up using a combination of Foundry and Vallejo Model Colour.  So from shadow to highlight the skin was represented thus;

Foundry Musket Stock Brown (Light), Vallejo Red Leather and finally Foundry Conker Brown (Light)

Several Amazonian tribes are mentioned in 'The Lost City of Z' some feared to have cannibalistic tendencies, others proved to be helpful to Colonel Fawcett on his exhibitions, but all have a mysterious quality that I wanted to achieve  with these miniatures.  To that end they were given black, face paint blindfolds based on photographs that I had seen of actual Amazonian tribes.  

It seemed only right and proper to have a go at stringing the bows.  Paul, of 'Paul's Bods', manages to do this with 1/72 miniatures to great effect (A fabulous blog, that I would recommend to anyone), so surely I must be able to achieve the same with a 28mm figure...  Oh my goodness!  There was cotton thread and superglue everywhere, but in the end we managed to get a passable result.

Friday 24 February 2012

A Great Snake!

Well there's shameless, attention grabbing title that I couldn't have envisaged writing a couple of weeks ago!  The '28mm Tales of Adventure' distraction continues apace with this contribution from 'Otherworld Miniatures'.  I am laying the blame for this purchase squarely at the feet of my good friend the 'Provost Marshal'  who seems to take far too much delight in finding these distractions for me.  That said I knew that as soon as I saw it it that I just had to have one. It certainly was a rather splendid sculpt and the intention was to paint him as a fairly generic constrictor, ideally representing the great Amazonian Anaconda, but I'm not sure I should have spent quite as much money on him as I did!  

In 1907, whilst on one of his many South American expeditions, Colonel Percy Fawcett (for more information see the post on 'The Lost City of Z') reported seeing, and shooting, a sixty two foot Anaconda.  He is said to have 'fired at the object until smoke filled the air'.  As the canoe, the party were in, pulled alongside the body, Colonel Fawcett pulled out his knife, apparently with the intent of selecting a sample of skin.  As he cut into the creature it jolted towards him resulting in the party fleeing in fear!

The following advice is actually an urban myth, purporting to be from the US Government Peace Corps Manual for its volunteers who work in the Amazon Jungle. This, then, is what to do in case you are attacked by an anaconda:

1. If you are attacked by an anaconda, do not run. The snake is faster than you are.

2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another.

3. Tuck your chin in.

4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body.

5. Do not panic.

6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet and - always from the end. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles.  Do not panic.

7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.

8. When the snake has reached your knees slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the side of the snake's mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg, then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake's head.

9. Be sure you have your knife.

10. Be sure your knife is sharp.

‘28mm Victorian Warfare’ and by association ‘28mm Tales of Adventure’ cannot be held responsible in any way if this doesn’t work!

"Did you bring your knife?"

WARNING! Those of a delicate disposition should think twice about viewing the following video entitled, 'Huge Dead Snake'; you have been warned!

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Jolly Good Chaps!

Well the wheels have well and truly come off my good intentions for the year as I find myself wonderfully distracted by these gentlemen from 'Copplestone Castings'.  I could square this away by saying that they are the latest folly to be influenced by my reading habits but the truth of the matter is that there is all manner of curiosities taking their their place in the painting queue; I think we just need to see where this takes one!

I think the first thing to say is how taken I am with 'Copplestone' whose service and quality of work are tremendous.  There two are from the 'Jolly Good Chaps' and 'Armed Archeologists' sets and picked out because of their 'Britishness' and resolute stiff upper lip; Colonel Fawcett would be proud I'm sure.

So it's off to the last remaining undiscovered area of the map for these gentlemen and who knows what they will they find?  Stay tuned for more instalments from

 '28mm Tales of Adventure'.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Book Review#9. - The Lost City of Z

Ignorance, they say, is bliss until of course you have that cold dawning that you're the one that is being ignorant, at which point it's just plain embarrassing!  This is how I felt a couple of chapters into David Grann's 'The Lost City of Z'.  I had picked the book up in the summer and, if I'm honest, solely due to the cover art and dust-jacket blurb foretelling a great Amazonian trek by an eccentric British explorer.  On the surface this was nothing more than a rip roaring adventure yarn set amidst the verdant backdrop of the Amazonian rain forest at the turn of the Twentieth Century.  Our hero, a seemingly indestructible Englishmen, with the constitution of an ox and the mindset of a monk, apparently redefined jungle exploration at the time.  There appeared to be several other side threads running alongside the main narrative, the most predominant been that of a reporter, seemingly absorbed by the legend.  It was shortly after this that I realised my naivety.  The Lost City of Z, was actually based on a true account of the life and mysterious disappearance of Percy Fawcett. 

Fawcett in 1911

Narrated by David Grann, who has taken up the cause, the book charts the life and early career of Colonel Fawcett and is an absolutely fascinating read.  We are drawn into the mindset of a sigualrly polarised explorer who was determined to locate evidence of a once considerable civilisation deep in the jungle.  His paranoia growing to such an extreme that he trusted no one with the jumping off coordinates for what was  ultimately to be his last expedition.

For someone with little knowledge of this period of exploration to one of the world's most inhospitable places, this was a great start.  Fawcett is most definitely a man that legends are made of with bushy moustache bristling on a stiff upper lip.  Stylistically I was left feeling that the author was stuck between two devices that of narrator and travel writer and subsequently it felt a little cumbersome in places.  What I can say is that I am absolutely hooked by the idea of Victorian exploration and adventure, the book  highligteng the fate of many who went in search of fame and riches or simply, because it was there.
I know only too well that I will become wonderfully sidetracked in my hobby as a direct result of this book!  A well deserved three crowns.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Zulu Casualties

Enjoying a little holiday period at present and managing to clear the painting table of half started projects before what promises to be a somewhat diverse couple of months - at least hobby wise anyway.  This curious group of wounded Zulus by 'Empress Miniatures' struck me as a little odd as I was painting them up;  I understand the need for casualty markers to indicate the loss of units but these of course are in the throws of shuffling off this mortal coil and seem a strange addition to any front rank of troops!  I'm sure someone will have a better handle on their possible use than I, but back to the actual figures themselves.  The usual high quality ones expects from 'Empress', although I take exception at the chap second from the left, who looks far too healthy to be included in a casualties pack!  In essence you have two married and two unmarried Zulus to bolster your numbers.

The Zulu, a hardy warrior at the best of times, was suddenly exposed to an all too devastating array of weaponry during the British invasion of 1879.  Whereas prior medical care would have consisted of washing, packing and perhaps stitching a wound they were now faced with having to deal with blast injuries from artillery pieces, rocket burns and of cause the horrific damage caused by a high velocity Martini-Henry round shattering the bone.  Not surprising then, that any serious trauma sustained on the field of battle often proved fatal to the Zulu.

Monday 13 February 2012

Naval Brigade Gatling Gun

Another abandoned project finally sees the light of day and jolly glad I am too.  I seem to talk myself out of attempting anything new, worried that I may not like the results.  In this case it was the lack of any real knowledge of Naval Brigade uniforms that initially derailed the project, but thanks to a bit of web based research these splendid 'Empress Miniatures' finally reached completion.    

 I have fond memories of the Gatling gun stealing many a scene in the old western movies of my youth, but it is not until relatively recently that I have given any real consideration to their destructive power on the battlefield, particularly when employed against an indigenous peoples armed with little more than spears.

The Gatling gun had multiple, rotating barrels turned by a hand crank, firing rounds without the need for links or a belt.   One of the key design features of the Gatling gun was its gravity feed reloading mechanism, which allowed a relatively unskilled operator to achieve the high rate of fire of two hundred rounds per minute. 

Two hundred rounds per minute is all well and good but sustaining this rate of fire in the heat of battle must have taken some considerable nerve; particularly when the drum needed changing or the blasted thing jammed!  Take a look at the video clip below to see just how difficult it must have been to maintain a serviceable unit in the field, especially with a Zulu Impi about to overrun your position!

Saturday 11 February 2012

Water Cart

Buoyed with the enthusiasm of finally completing Otto Witt's carriage, this post sees another, long overdue, project completed.  I came across this idea on the Arcane and Model Scenery's blog where they created a water cart using composite parts from the 'Trent Miniatures', French Revolutionary Wars range.  The pieces in question were French Gribeauval Limber (£5.00) and the Large Wine or Sherry Casks (£6.50 for three)   and by following the really straightforward 'how to' they were promising a rather lovely water cart that I thought would be just perfect for dishing out a refreshing cup of 'Adam's Ale'  to sun parched members of her Britannic Majesty's Imperial Infantry. 

Composite parts prior to assembly

It really did go together rather well, a little bit of liquid greenstuff (a truly amazing modelling development!) made sure that any cracks were hidden.  The bucket hook was created exactly as described in the 'how to'  but the tap was actually made from the tiny off-cuts of flash after cleaning up individual miniatures - I really have started to horde everything!  The cork on the top actually came from an old retractable pencil's innards. 

Painting was again relatively straightforward, having decided to go for a British Ordnance grey and a rather natural looking oak barrel.  That should have been it but decided to add a few little extras in the shape of some 'Ainsty Castings' crates and a couple of loose water canteens in a bid to make it a more prominent objective marker; I'm thinking,  'defend the water cart at all cost' type of scenario.

Just as an aside I notice that 'Warlord Games' have just released their water carrier from the 'Horns of the Buffalo' kit.   Sadly mine doesn't compare too favourably, as the sum of the parts came to £11.50, as opposed to the £8 charged by 'Warlord Games'.  That said I do have the added advantage of having an additional two large sherry casks with stands for a future project!

Thirsty work!

Monday 6 February 2012

Reverend Otto Witt's Carriage

Finally another idea comes to fruition.  In all fairness this wasn't an original idea but inspired something similar on the sadly now seemingly inactive 'The Zulu War in Miniature'.  I have often seen other Lledo models transformed into great pieces and just fancied having ago myself.  The project started to gather a little momentum after the Rev. Witt conversion, but like most things simply fell by the wayside when something new and shiny appeared on the horizon!

Having won my carriage on eBay for £1.99 was a great start, but the first observation was that the accompanying horse was a bit rubbish really!  I managed to track down a suitable replacement in a cart mule from 'Redoubt Enterprises' that you could buy singularly so it subsequently became the new nag. 


Initially I was just going to spray the carriage, perhaps a bit of dry brushing and that would be it, but in the end I decided to add a few personal touches the most obvious of these were the mud guards, created from  small off cuts of plasticard.  

Other than the film itself I could find very little in the way of visual reference but I knew I wanted to try and imply that the carriage was in fact covered by a tarpaulin.  More strips of plasticard were employed along with some liquid greenstuff to give the impression of fabric.  A few button fastenings were achieved by using, of a things, the stem of a remembrance poppy.

Painting was fairly straightforward and consisted mostly of dry brushing on the carriage and the usual palette for the pony.  One final detail was the use of a really thin strip of plastic tied in a knot to represent the reigns.

I have to admit that I'm absolutely thrilled with the results and of course delighted to have got another stalled project off the table.  Apart from been another piece of table top frippery I envisage it been used as a  possible side chapter in a game; for example, can the Witts escape before the Zulus arrive? 

One careful owner...

Friday 3 February 2012

Building the Barricades

Another little set of figures that have been lurking on the periphery of the paint queue.  This time from 'Wargames Foundry' and reassuringly 'chunky' compared to the more elegant sculpts that I'm used to form 'Empress Miniatures'.  That said, they are a rather lovely, characterful set, great for tabletop dressing but probably rather limited in a game scenario.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Under Canvas

A tentative (sorry, just couldn't resist!) first post for February and after a month spent completing projects in the Crimea it is time to switch focus and return, once again, to the Anglo-Zulu war.  I had ordered up these Renedra bell tents some time ago, but was a little disappointed when they arrived as I felt they were a tad small.  Recently, however, I have seen some wonderful examples of these 'plastic pitched pavilions' (take a look at Stuart's camp at 'Dust, Tears & Dice' for example)  and decided it was past time to get mine painted.  

Although they come in a set of four I decided to base them as a three; keeping one back for no other reason than to try to emulate Silver Whistle's wonderful 'Colonial Camp Set' at a later date.  Absolutely stunning work on show at his blog 'Wargaming with Silver Whistle' and I would encourage anyone who has not been to go and have a look for themselves.  

They were relatively easy to paint up, using an appropriate palette and a little Games Workshop, 'Devlan Mud' as part of the weathering.  A few tufts and some static grass and all done!

In a bid to try and make my own mark on the project I included a few tent pegs, undoubtedly out of scale and too few to be of any use, but I do feel that they add a little something!  They were created using bits of cocktail stick and 'Beadling' wire wrapped around the top then glued to the underneath of the tent rim.

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