Saturday 31 August 2013

Come on in...

...the water's fine.

As the warm summer's sun of August comes to an end there is just about enough time to squeeze in one final update regarding my 'coffee table' board project.  Those that have followed the progress from the start will remember the catastrophe that befell my beloved creation as I poured a molten hot water effect over the board only to watch it dissolve before my very eyes.*

The level of support for my predicament was tremendous and I would just like to say thank you again to all of you that suggested possible solutions; they were all very gratefully received.

In the end I went for a combination of ideas starting by sealing the affected area with a quick drying satin varnish.  To this I added 'Vallejo Water Effects', a cold, supposedly clear drying paste.  On reflection I probably applied this too thickly as it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to cure.  As a result many of the newly applied weeds are still masked by it!

Impatience got the better of me and onto this still drying substance was layered 'Vallejo Still Water'.  I was relatively happy using this product as it had proved just the job for the muddle puddles along the path.  Each new layer was given a dash of coloured ink or wash to build up the colour; each time exposing more holes in my blu-tack shuttering that needed to be plugged! 

Finally, however, it reached a level that I was happy with and although not the prettiest solution, when seen in its timber frame and from the right angle the effect is pleasing enough.  The addition of life belt on the jetty making sure that the piece meets strict health and safety requirements.

(This can be removed for games set in era where the rules on personal safety are less stringent.)

The jetty legs and the sunken rowing boat were both from '', which is run by Andy Slater who in turn runs TerraGenesis, a truly fabulous site chocked full of ideas for terrain.

(This is where I found the idea for the Birch Trees seen in 'The Wood from the Trees' and a link to the site can be found in my 'Links of Interest' list to the right of this pane.)

Both these pieces were just what I was looking for to lift this section of the board and I was really pleased with how they finally came together.  I should also mention the quality customer service provided by Andy too, his site is definitely worth a visit, it might just have what you ere looking for too!

So all that remains is to Varnish the sides of the timber frame to give it a bit more of a finish, but to all extents and purposes the board is finished and of course has already been Christened when the Romans and Celts ran amok over it while play testing 'The Dark Templar's' new rules, 'The Dark Crucible'.

So finally then a playing surface to bring to life some of my miniatures, particularly those girls from St. Trinians as they see off the hordes of shambling undead, but wait, what is that?  Just beyond the jetty, could it be?  Is that...

... oh yes, everything is definitely more fun with dinosaurs!

Wednesday 28 August 2013

The Anti-Rooster!

Earlier in the year, '28mm Victorian Warfare' celebrated its second anniversary with a little prize giveaway.  One of these prizes was to involve yours truly painting a 'Command Stand' of the recipients chosen miniatures and I am delighted to say that Dave D of 'One Man and his brushes' fame, finally received his earlier in the month.

It will be of little surprise to many that Dave supplied some cowboys for me to paint in the shape of  a 'Crusader Miniatures' retired US Marshall, mounted and dismounted.  Dave's only requirements  that they should obviously be painted as the same character, not on the same base and to consider said character as an 'Anti-Rooster' or evil twin of his original version, which can be seen here.

Although I was aware of these splendid miniatures this was in fact my first go at painting one of them and I was instantly struck at how simple they were, no extraneous detail to hinder one's individuality, but with that I was suddenly aware at just how much I've come to rely on this detail with my own painting! After a period of head scratching a vague concept started to emerge of a evil Irish, gambling twin and so pinstripe trousers, ginger locks and a Leprechaun green neckerchief seemed the order of the day.

One of my favourite aspects of this most wholesome of hobbies is the 'terraforming' of bases and I had envisaged, as part of the 'Command Stand' giveaway, that this would be the case here; so to hear that Dave wanted his miniatures based separately threw me somewhat.  Not perturbed in the slightest, I concocted a display base that would allow Dave to 'show off' his miniatures, but also to remove them to game with individually.

Blue foam, model railway cacti and pumice gel formed the basis and then I simply carved out the base shapes and lined them with plasticard to form docking areas for the miniatures.  By painting up the terrain to match the bases I was hopeful that they would merge together. 

It was at this point that I was struck with an idea, what if I provided a couple of additional 'plugs' that could fill the gaps when the miniatures were been used?  This would give Dave an additional terrain piece and allow me my terrain building fix. 

The completed stand with all the miniatures and additional 'plugs'.  Great fun to do and a wonderful distraction from the St. Trinians girls.

Monday 26 August 2013

Wargaming Cherry

The skies darkened as the rain tore at the already saturated earth; there is never a good day to die in this godforsaken place thought Marcus, the weight of his scutum now starting to tell.  He glanced at the three remaining members of his patrol, how many more would he lose?  Gripping the pommel of his gladius with renewed determination, Marcus offered up a silent prayer to the Gods that today would not be their last - welcome to the world of the 'Dark Crucible'.  Fortunately for me, Mike 'The Dark Templar' Reynolds wasn't deterred by the weather as he battled with torrential rain to reach 'Awdry Towers' on Saturday morning, his mission - to get this reluctant wargamer a game or two under his belt.  I’m sure many of you will have read Mike’s post regarding his recently revealed ‘secret project’ – The Dark Crucible, a set of skirmish rules combining historical and fantasy elements, well today was going to be my first encounter. 

Now before I go much further I need to admit to the heinous crime of not recording the event photographically – so excited was I at actually playing a game that it completely slipped my mind; as a result I’ll endeavour to keep this report brief!  I was playing the Celts, which gained me two extra characters to compensate for the Romans superior armour.  I should also point out that we were playing the most basic version of the rules so as not to completely lose me, that said I found them quite intuitive and before long felt comfortable with the format.  The scenario was ‘Last Man Standing’ and after rolling for initiative each character is activated in turn and has two actions to perform.  As we were using my still to be completed coffee table board is wasn’t long before the two factions were locked in mortal combat as I was started to rue my decision for not going for the more heavily armoured troops!  The speed of the game and small amount of miniatures on the board meant totally immersion was inevitable, with gentle banter being the order of the day.  In the end it was the Celts’ speed that was to win the day, preventing the Legionnaires from forming an impenetrable shield wall – much to my relief!  Although we only scratched the service of the game, I have to confess that I was hooked and have already started tinkering around with unit lists and sourcing possible miniatures so as to have my own war band for any possible future encounters – yes, yet another distraction!  

After a brief pause for a bacon butty or two and the obligatory debrief it was time to embark on the afternoon’s gaming – ‘Star Wars X-Wing’.  I am a huge fan of all things Star Wars and Mike had picked up on the fact that I was desperate to have a go at this game, so you can imagine my delight as he began to unpack the wonderfully detailed miniatures.  I’ve read so much about this game on other erstwhile weblogs and was curious to see if it could live up to my expectations, but I can honestly say that I was not disappointed.  We played a couple of quick and simplified games that saw Luke Skywalker blasted from the skies in the first and then the Rebel Alliance exact their revenge on Darth Vader in the second.   Oh yes this was definitely for me, I've ordered up a starter box of my very own this morning!   I can’t thank Mike enough for his patience and willingness to travel down and show me just how much fun gaming could be.  Finally, then, the gaming cherry has been popped, what happens next though is anybody's guess!  

Thursday 22 August 2013

Celebrating Milestones

Just the briefest of posts to help celebrate the 'Laughing Ferret Lab' reaching its most recent milestone of 200,000 page views, a splendid achievement and no mistake.   I am particularly delighted as David, the proprietor of the esteemed, aforementioned weblog is a tremendous talent and jolly nice guy to boot.  Hugely generous in his praise of others, David has extended this generosity further to include a marvellous giveaway, all of which you can read about here.

 The 'Laughing Ferret Lab', is a treasure trove of creativity, but particularly renowned for its truly exceptional 'Blood Bowl' teams.  In the time that I have been following, I have been transfixed by the imagination and quality of the execution of the teams that David has produced; some personal favourites include:

the ingenious 'Aslan's Asskickers',

and most recently, the 'Hurston Oilers' 

...but if I had to pick one?

Part of the giveaway invites us to highlight a past update that "you like- something you enjoyed or think is useful, interesting, weird, or whatever criteria you have.  Just to get the older stuff noticed again."  Impossible thought I; just a cursory look around the pages will leave you salivating at the sumptuous work and then I remembered a wonderfully useful tutorial that I followed as part of my American Civil War vignette, 'Through the Swamp'.  So those of you that ever feel the need for a spot of Spanish hanging moss need look no further than here and I will happily testify to its effectiveness.

So here's to the 'Laughing Ferret Lab', 200,000 page views, but I suspect that there will be a lot more to come!

Now while we are on the subject of milestones and giveaways, I feel it only fair to direct you to yet another splendid weblog, 'Canister and Grape', which has just surpassed 50,000 page views.  What is interesting here is that it is run as a collective, with the chief protagonist been the ever enthusiastic 'Millsy'.  A wonderfully diverse selection of loveliness on show there is something for everyone here.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

28mm Flashman & his Lady

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this humble weblog that on completion of the final chapter of the current reading material,  a spate of frenzied activity is often to be witnessed here at 'Awdry Towers' as I scour the lead pile for something suitable to represent recently shelved story.

If the truth be told this example had already been spied at 'Salute 2013' in readiness for just such a moment, but sadly I had left it too late in the day to purchase him and the vendor, 'SHQ Miniatures' had sold out.  Unperturbed at retuning home empty handed, (if only that were true!) I duly ordered the elusive miniatures from the company's website and before long Flashman himself dropped onto the doormat.

These are great fun, characterful sculpts perhaps even bordering on the comic, befitting of the characters from the story.  Flashman resplendent in his cricket whites, sabre slung over his shoulder looks every bit the gentlemen, but Elspeth, his lovely wife has an expression that suggests that she is less than impressed with our cowardly antihero.  

The miniatures are reassuringly 'chunky' and although perhaps devoid of the extensive detail that we have come to expect from current sculptors were still hugely enjoyable to paint up.  They are, however, a little on the tall side!  Listed as 25mm, they dwarf a Perry American Civil War rioter positioned next to the happy couple for the purposes of scale.  Still a fun addition to the diverse and ever growing collection and good to see a little Victorian frippery once again gracing the pages of '28mm Victorian Warfare'

Monday 19 August 2013

Book Review#18. - Flashman's Lady

Flashman’s lady proved to be another absolute gem in Macdonald Fraser’s series, this time seeing our cowardly rascal of a hero set sail for adventures in Singapore, Borneo and Madagascar.  The opening chapters concern themselves with Flashman’s prowess at cricket and the rivalry between himself and the dashing Don Solomon, who proves to be a worthy adversary in all matters from womanising to wickets.  This ultimately leading to a literal and metaphorical voyage of discovery for all concerned as they travel to the enchanting, but troubled waters of the  South Sea Islands.
I have clearly gone about the whole series in completely the wrong order, reading them as an individual book is passed on by a generous friend or  I spy a special offer at the local bookstore, but that doesn't seem to spoil my enjoyment of them and in fact 'Flashman's Lady' proved to be a fast paced and totally outlandish tale, yet strangely accurate in its historical detail.  For example this was to prove my first introduction to James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak; surely one of the most interesting and exciting nineteenth century gentleman adventurers there has ever been.  This must have been a fictitious creation of Fraser's thought I, but to my surprise he isn't!  

The joy of discovering another fascinating facet of Victorian history aside, 'Flashman's Lady' proved to be one of my favourite tales in the series so far, this may of course be down to its inclusion of my beloved game of cricket, who would have thought Flashman achieved the world's first hat trick,  and thoroughly deserves its four crowns.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

A Monster face-palm...

... for an epic fail!

It was all going so well!  Everything was going to plan, the support from the comments was truly uplifting, but then came the lake!  I had thought that this was going to be the 'La pièce de résistance', a real 'wow-factor' element, but what is it that they say about a pride and a fall?

The plan was simple, paint the lake bed in acrylic colours using a tried a tested formula - dark for depth, light for shallows.  Once done a whole myriad of extras was to be added including a ramshackle boating jetty or fishing platform, weeds, reeds and the occasional aquatic plant.

This was all going to be encapsulated in some 'Woodland Scenics E-Z Water', to represent the lake; what could possibly go wrong?  The 'E-Z Water', recently purchased during our 'Modelzone's' closing down sale, is a non-toxic modelling product that you heat and pour, it really is that simple.  Having primed the area with acrylic paint and prepared shuttering, all that remained was to pour on this magical product and then sit back and enjoy what was going to be a deluge of congratulation from the loyal following that '28mm Victorian Warfare' has amassed.*

*Please note that I have deliberately over egged the congratulatory bit for artistic licence; one would never take such things for granted, that would be positively ungentlemanly! 

My advice to you all, 'Always read the instructions'!  Yes this product is safe and yes it is non-toxic, but oh my goodness it is incredibly hot a sticky when melted and what was the line, in the clearly printed instructions, that I had overlooked due to a bout of manly brashness ? -

"take care not to melt foam or plastic structures."

I might as well have been pouring napalm onto my prized and exalted gaming board, "what had I done?"  As the surface of the lake bed melted, the foul and viscous liquid seeped out from the resulting fissures - a total disaster!

I was of course mortified, but with a dented pride and a very sore finger*, I resolved to think on this ecological catastrophe in the cold light of day and sulked off to bed.  These final images show the devastation that remains of the lake bed now that the 'E-Z Water' has returned to a very solid state; back to the drawing board then!

*Yes I knew it was hot, but did that stop me trying to turn the tide of inevitability with a carefully aimed finger prod? - oh no it didn't, yes it would appear that yours truly really is that stupid!

Monday 12 August 2013

Home Turf

Buoyed, as I was, from the very generous and encouraging comments left on the previous post, 'On the subject of gaming boards', I endeavoured to push on with the terraforming of the new gaming board over the weekend.  Firstly a brown base coat, followed by a succession of dry brushed  colours left the surface looking a little like the Martian Red Planet, complete with craters! 

Some very useful advice from Andrew of 'Loki's Great Hall' fame, saw me revisit the '4Ground' wood sabots in a bid to make a better fit.  They are so tight that the slightest bit of detritus from the painting and construction phase can cause havoc with the siting of the bases, something I should have been more mindful of in the first place! 

The playing field was flocked appropriately and the process of detailing began in earnest with the rocks and pebbles painted to match my standard basing technique.

There are now some fearsome, water filled potholes on the track down to the lake!

The wooded area in situ and, as luck would have it, some of my earlier birch trees* were 
 based on the same sized base to fit the sabot.

With just the lake bank to work on, T-Rex enjoys a run out the paddock!

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