Wednesday 30 May 2012

Sidney "Dirty Laugh" Cohen

This splending creation is 'Mutton Chop Miniatures' thinly disguised alternate identity for the 'Carry On' stalwart, Sid James.  For those that may not be aware, 'Mutton Chop Miniatures' is the on line outlet of Mr. Paul Hicks of, amongst numerable others, ‘Empress Miniatures’ fame.  The site contains his modest, but oh so tasty collections designed with the ecenricities of a 'Very British Civil War' in mind.  In Paul's own words,
It is a collection inspired by the spirit of the 1930s and Heath Robinson styled contraptions. You wont find any large ranges of historical themed armies here!. You will find figures that are full of character and great for skirmishing or adding flavour to a themed army.
 I have often viewed many superbly painted examples of his work over at the 'Gentlemen’s Wargames Parlour' and have often had to fight the temptation to get hold of them; well I'm fighting no more.  The will power finally gave way at 'Salute' and Sid represents the first of several packs that found their way into my swag bag.

As with so much of Mr. Hick’s work this unmistakeable character really was a joy to work on.  Try as I might it was almost impossible not to hear Sid’s ‘Dirty Laugh’ reverberating around my head when painting him.  Having seen Pete Barfield's wonderful example of the same miniature on his excellent blog, 'PanzerKaput's Painted Review' it was clear that I had to use the same inspiration, that of Sid's Safari suit from 'Carry on up the Jungle'.  This at least opens up the possibility that he might be included in some form gaming action, perhaps,  


Sid James, 8 May 1913 – 26 April 1976

Monday 28 May 2012

Perry American Civil War Rioters

"Why?"  I hear you ask.  Well they just seemed to have the perfect look for the huge expanse of wilderness, in or around the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th Century.   It is all to do with that with that thoroughly distracting 'secret project' again! 

There is of course nothing secret about about this, nor can it really claim to be a project more a collection of disjointed thoughts that are slowly knitting together. In essence the idea evolves from the Dinosaur hunting in Lost Lands that I was playing about with earlier in the year.  It occurred to me that just as much fun could be had in a more realistic setting and informed using the natural fauna or perhaps incorporate the native mythology.

Now I know I put some spare cartridges in this pocket somewhere!

If I am honest then it is really just an excuse to  go and paint what I want around a very loose theme, but with these additions all manner of possible scenarios could start to be penned.  Certainly a cursory glance at the painting queue would suggest that I haven't grown weary of the idea yet, so stay tuned for more '28mm Tales of Adventure!" 

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Whoosh! Whiz! Bang!

28mm Empress Miniatures Naval Rocket Unit

More from the wonderful ‘Empress Miniatures’, New Zealand Wars range; this time a Royal Navy rocket unit. Once again the supremely talented Mr. Paul Hicks does another excellent job on the crew, which were a delight to bring to life with a lick of paint. It was, however, the actual rocket launcher left me a little stumped.

From what I understand Congreve rockets, named after the man tasked with their development, were employed by Royal Navy crews during the wars. Unfortunately, such was the structural integrity of the Maori fortifications that were rendered practically useless, but still retained some worth as a psychological weapon – just imagine a firework display aimed straight at you! (Some might also remember the wonderful scene with the experimental Royal Horse Artillery Rocket Troop in ‘Sharpe’s Enemy’ that brought a much needed dose of humour to the episode.)

Anyway back to the rocket tube, it occurred to me that even at close range it probably ought to be elevated in some way so I decided to do a touch of ‘terra-forming’ and built up a slightly raised area using slate and some pumice gel. Having decided to work up the base a little more than normal, I reached for the etched brass bracken that I had used on my Maori warriors, it being deeply symbolic to the nation and the sharp eyed amongst you will have spotted a strange looking shrub at the back of the base. This was actually a palm tree that I had bought and a shining example of how one should carefully check the measurements of a proposed purchase before clicking the ‘add to basket’ button!

Those of you that have visited the sensational ‘Captain Richard’s Miniature Civil War’ will know that apart from been a hugely talented model maker he also has a propensity to ‘light things up’ with LEDs. I’d had some success at trying this with the ‘Wilderness Camp’ so thought I’d give it another go here. Not as successful or as obvious as I had hoped, so I may need to try again at another time.

Not that you would notice, but there is a light bulb in there!

Finally my apologies for the rather picture heavy post, but having invested such a considerable amount of time on the stand I just wanted to showcase it fully – well what is the point of having your own blog if you can’t do what you want with it? Just for those who haven’t seen the episode of Sharpe that I was referring to earlier, here you go… 

all together now, “over the hills and faraway”

If you really can't stomach another foppish British officer asking, "Aren't you the Johnny that Wellington raised from the ranks?" then the action starts about two and a half minutes in; enjoy!

Monday 21 May 2012

Black Scorpion’s Bromhead

I just had to have this miniature!  'Black Scorpion's' Bromhead was another 'Salute' purchase that I knew I had to have especially having seen Dave D's version on his wonderful 'One man and his brushes' blog!  It is fair to say that this miniature is a little larger than your true 28mm figure, but the sculpt more than makes up for this, dressed as he is with cloak and buffalo tail fly swatter. 

One of my favourite scenes has to be the first encounter between Chard and Bromhead, so wonderfully portrayed by Baker and Caine.  Wouldn't it be great if someone were to produce a mounted version of this miniature!  Just a quick comparison shot between 'Black Scorpion's' and 'Empress Miniatures' Hollywood version of Bromhead.

Bromhead: I'll tell my man to clean your kit.
Chard: Don't bother!
Bromhead: No bother... I'm not offering to clean it myself! Still, a chap ought to look smart in front of the men, don't you think? Well chin-chin... do carry on with your mud pies.

Michael Caine as Bromhead

Thursday 17 May 2012

New Zealand Wars British Infantry

The month of May has seen  all semblance of theme or direction thrown from the proverbial window in favour of a much more eclectic selection of miniatures.  It would be fair to say that I’m fighting the temptation to start new and wonderfully shiny  projects, but at the same time failing dismally to complete any one unit!  So, this then, is just the briefest of posts to introduce the latest troops to shuffle off the paint queue. 

More from 'Empress Miniatures' New Zealand Wars range, sculpted by Mr Paul Hicks.  As I've come to expect wonderful miniatures that really are a joy to paint; these ones have once again been painted to represent the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment who arrived in the country from Australia on the 22nd April 1845.

More of the same can be found here.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Top of the Fops!

Marshal Murat

As the excitement and merriment of Salute 2012 begins to fade into recesses of time I find myself drawing parallels, between the ever increasing lead pile and the stratum that make up sedimentary rock formations of a long forgotten era. Just as in those layers one would occasionally come across anomalies that just looked out of place. One such nugget of substance was this ‘Bicorne Miniatures’ ‘Connoisseur’ creation representing the ‘oh so flamboyant’ Marshal Murat.

Now, I knew that I hadn’t purchased him and through a more vigorous interrogation process it transpired that, my good friend, the ‘Provost Marshal’ had decided that it was high time that I got around to painting something from his favoured Napoleonic era (a cunning little ruse indeed!) and had slipped this gift into my swag bag. So not wishing to seem ungrateful, Monsieur Murat has made and earlier than expected arrival at the head of the paint queue.

The first thing I need to point out is that this was a completely different standard of sculpting to those that I’m more familiar with, such as the likes of ‘Empress’ and ‘Mutineer Miniatures’. It harks back to a day when anatomy could be brushed aside in favour of aesthetic and was all the more charming for it. This was most notable in the case of the charger who appeared to have an almost serpent like quality, particularly around the neck!

Armed as I was with copious amounts of reference material from the ‘Provost Marshal’ (Mrs Awdry, looks suspiciously at any bags he now brings into ‘Awdry Towers’!) I set about the miniature with more enthusiasm that I thought possible; it would appear that a change really is as good as a rest! That said it wasn’t too long before I was bemoaning the intricacies of Napoleonic uniforms and wondering if I would have enough gold paint to finish the job; the man really liked to show off!
Finally done I have to admit that the experience wasn’t all bad and I might (I stress the might!) be persuaded to have another go at a General or command stand in the future; something I know will bring a smile to the ‘Provost Marshal’s’ face. In the interim it seemed only appropriate to invite the good man to give a potted history on this, his favourite, flamboyant fop!

The following information was generously provided by the 'Provost Marshal':

One of the most celebrated and flamboyant cavalry commanders in history, Joachim Murat is as much famed for his taste in uniforms as for his exploits in battle. Born the son of an innkeeper in 1767, he was destined for the Church, but an encounter with a cavalry regiment led his life to a kingdom and eventually to a firing squad.

An early supporter of General Bonaparte, he brought up the guns for the “whiff of grapeshot” which saved the Revolution in 1795. He became Bonaparte’s ADC in Italy – later becoming cavalry commander, and then followed him to Egypt – being one of the select few who returned to take part in the coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire.

In 1800, Murat hitched himself to First Consul Bonaparte’s star by marrying his youngest sister Carol ine. It was a happy marriage, but the brains of the couple was clearly Carol ine, who devoted the rest of their married life towards garnering further titles and riches.

In 1804, he was named second in the order of seniority of the Marshals of France, followed over the next few years by an increasingly grandiose set of titles – Grand Admiral (it is hard to think of a less suitable candidate than the ultimate cavalryman), Prince of the Empire, Grand Duke of Cleves and Berg and ultimately in 1808, King Joachim of the Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily).

Throughout his many battles, Murat led from the front – often armed with a gold riding crop. He was present at Marengo, Austerlitz , and led the pursuit after Jena . His most spectacular charge was at Eylau in 1807, where he charged at the head of 10,500 horsemen in the middle of a blizzard. In Spain as the Emperor’s lieutenant, he savagely put down the Madrid uprising.

He took part in the 1812 campaign as cavalry commander, and when Napoleon left the Grande Armee, Murat was left at its head. He soon returned to his kingdom leaving the army to its frozen fate. Together with Carol ine, he started intriguing with the Allies to save their own positions, and after Liepzig - his last battle with Napoleon – took no part in the 1814 Campaign of France.

Following Napoleon’s fall in 1814, the Allies turned on Murat. He offered his services to the returned Emperor in 1815, but was rebuffed. He then marched against the Austrians, but was defeated at Tolentino. Fleeing to Corsica , he tried to emulate Napoleon by returning to his kingdom. He was captured in Calabria and ordered to face a firing squad on 13th October 1815. Waving away a blindfold, he kissed a cameo of Carol ine, and gave the troops a final order “I have braved death too often to fear it – Soldats, Faites votre devoir, droit au coeur mais epargnez le visage, Feu!” (Soldiers, do your duty, straight at the heart, but spare the face, Fire!).

Murat’s taste in uniforms was legendary. He designed many of them himself (often featuring his favourite colour - amaranthe). This is a relatively subdued one – a version of the standard Marshal’s tunic, but in white rather than blue, worn at the Battle of Heilsberg in 1807 . As the Empire continued (and Murat’s social position grew higher), the uniforms became more and more outlandish, this also coincided with a decline in his military prowess. In Russia in 1812, a number of his baggage wagons contained ostrich plumes for his many hats! Napoleon on more than one occasion had to reprimand him over his uniforms, once referring to him as a Franconi (a famous circus rider). At another time he dismissed Murat telling him to return to his presence dressed as a French Marshal.

Undoubtedly brave, and a soldier’s soldier, Murat cannot be described as a great strategist. General Savery wrote that “it would be better for us if he (Murat) was less brave and had a little more common sense." Perhaps the last thought should lie with Napoleon who on St Helena suggested that had Murat handled the French cavalry at Waterloo , the outcome might have been different.

Friday 11 May 2012

If you go down to the woods today...

You're sure of a big surprise!

More fur covered beastliness from the North American wilderness.  Once again they are from 'Trent Miniatures', 'DeeZee Miniatures Prehistoric Range' and again bought through the magnificent, 'Arcane Scenery and Models'.

This time dubbed 'Cave Bears' which were said to have become extinct around twenty seven and a half thousand years ago, but mine are hopefully going to pass for big 'Brown Bears'.  Once again I'm hopeful that they will form part of a 'secret project' I'm working on; now when I say 'secret', what I really mean is that I've not thought it through properly and have once again fallen afoul of 'Shinybloodyitis!'

Back to the bears - great, weighty sculpts and relatively easy to paint up; mostly dry brushing and a bit of detail work.  Given that they were quite straightforward I decided to have a bit of fun with the basing.  I've been looking for an excuse to try out a tip highlighted by the wonderfully talented Michael from 'Ministories'.  He had in turn spotted a great 'How To' on the 'Massive Voodoo' site for using the foam packaging that comes in the blister packs with our miniatures as moss. 

Packing foam 'moss' attached to pieces of slate.

This is really simple to do, but wonderfully effective.  Cut and stick to where you want your moss and when dry just tease at it with a pair of tweezers to make it more irregular.  Paint up as you like, but in my case I went for a rather conventional palette of green. 

Given that these 'big ole' fellas are likely to found in the woods I reached for one of my 'Salute' purchases;  'Antenocitis Workshop's' Decor Plus - Autumn Leaf.  Tiny little leaves coloured to represent, well Autumn leaves!  Pure, unadulterated showboating, but I love them! 

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Cry Wolf!


The Bank Holiday came and went with very little actually achieved hobby wise; that said I have finally managed to clear these cuddly canines from the painting queue!  They are from 'Trent Miniatures',  'DeeZee Miniatures Prehistoric Range' ordered up from the always reliable,  'Arcane Scenery and Models'.  They're  supposed to be Dire Wolves, an extinct member of the genus Canis, but I've attempted to give them a more of 'Timber Wolf' feel to them for use in a North American scenario I'm tinkering with.  This was heavily inspired by a wonderful 'tutorial' over at the very talented 'Paint Bard's' blog; a seriously good painter and well worth a visit.  The miniatures that I've used a perhaps a little smaller and certainly less dynamic than the ones used in the tutorial, but I think the general wolf 'flavour' has been achieved, either way a huge 'Thank You' to the the 'Paint Bard' for sharing his brilliant work.

From the Law of the Jungle:

Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back –
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Rudyard Kipling

Well with a post title like 'Cry Wolf! it seemed a little churlish not to include a link to A-ha's second single from their 1986 album, 'Scoundrel Days'.  More 'synthpop' nonsense, that was 'oh so meaningful' at the time - happy days!

Monday 7 May 2012

Book Review#12. - Closure Limited

It is difficult to explain why I find Max Brooks’ story telling so enthralling; the subject matter has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure, after all working in an environment that looks to uphold values such as compassion and consideration to others one doesn't expect to take enjoyment reading about the obliteration of the undead in the most violent manner imaginable!   
The sheer ludicrous idea that there could ever be such a plague of flesh eating ghouls does not prevent us from trying to imagine how we would cope in such a situation.  Telling ourselves, no doubt, that we would be the ‘oh so cool' Samurai sword wielding hero of 'Steve and Fred', the second of the four short stories served up in 'Closure Limited'.
That, I feel, is where the genius of Brooks’ storytelling lies; it is the believability of the tales that draws us in.  The incredible attention to realism and detail that catches us unawares and makes us suspend all notion of disbelief.  Each of these stories could so easily have been developed into a much larger concept, but Brooks just leaves us, mouths agape, staring at the last page.

This is a justifiable four crown collection of stories, it would have been more, but there is simply just not enough book to warrant it and just as in the brilliant, ‘World War Z’ I find myself wanting more!

The curiously addictive world that contains all things zombie seems to have really taken hold here at 'Awdry Towers'.  Not only has the paint queue been infiltrated by them ('Surf's Up!', been a case in point) but for some unfathomable reason I found myself ordering these bizarre delights from 'Candy Hero'.  

Zombie blood energy drinks are all well and good, but it was the zombie mints that piqued my curiosity.  I was drawn in by the wonderful tin but 'Brain flavoured mints' are wrong on so many levels!

Thursday 3 May 2012

Surf's Up!

May is shaping up to be demanding month and I'm already concerned that the life/work balance might be unavoidably skewed to the detriment of hobby related 'fluff'.  That said I did find time to paint up this chap form the wonderful 'Hasslefree Miniatures'.  He arrived on the painting table by the spurious 'Literary Link' route which allows me to go completely off task, provided that there is a link to a recently read book!  That book would be the wonderful Max Brooks' 'Closure Limited' - review appearing here soon!

Buoyed, as I was, by the very positive feedback that so many of you were kind enough to leave about the 'Indian Hill Tribesmen' I can't help feel a little deflated about this chap.  I'd been looking forward to starting him for a while, it being such a wonderfully original sculpt, but just felt that I didn't quite get the shading as I had envisaged in my mind's eye.  I did have some fun with the base, banking up the sand at the front thus allowing me to add some clear resin to represent the sea and a little shell that I had lying around.  If I have a little time over the Bank Holiday weekend, I'll see if I can take another photograph from a slightly higher angle so that this can be seen more clearly.

On the subject of photographs you will notice I've got a little carried away with an on-line photo editor.  I was a great fan of 'picnik', but sadly it has been sold to Google+.  'Picmonkey' looks promising (founded by some of the same team that were responsible for 'picnik') but the following were 'tinkered' with using Pixlr express; be warned it is a huge time sink, but great fun!

So once again '28mm Victorian Warfare' enters the,


just added a couple more photographs from a slightly different angle showing a little more clearly the resin used to give the effect of the sea.  I painted the sand 'in the water' a touch darker to help the illusion.  

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