Saturday 28 July 2018

Paint Table Saturday#247

I just thought I would share a quick 'Paint Table Saturday' post today.  Nothing too earth shattering, but the last few bits and pieces needed for the upcoming 'Witchfinder General' game.  It has been slow progress of late, with painting restricted to the mornings or evenings, due to the temperatures.  Not that you will find me complaining, especially as we are on holiday, but when the paint dries on the brush before you have time to get it on the model then it is probably an idea to try something different. 
Once again, I seem to have got slightly sidetracked with the little extras and non playing characters, but I am hoping that these will all add to the feel of the game.  I did, however take advantage of the fact that the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry' had hit the golf course the other day and started collecting together the terrain and miniatures required, before having a little play through with the rules.
One of those little extras mentioned are my 'Shaken' markers.  I had planned to use a couple of dead or wounded miniatures from either 'Redoubt Enterprises' or 'Warlord Games', both of which I had ordered in advance, but tried something a little bit different instead.  I have glued some 'Lego' hens to MDF bases and given them a quick spray with an acrylic aerosol.  Now each 'Shaken' unit will have the ignominy of been escorted by their Yellow Chicken until they pass a morale test and rally themselves!
As I am hoping to use the Donnybrook rules from 'The League of Augsburg', albeit in a pared down fashion, the rest of my day will be putting together lists and creating character cards for the different units.  

Thursday 26 July 2018


Just time to get in one more themed post this month and what better way of warning those with a penchant for straying from the right path than to see fellow transgressors rotting quietly in a metal cage?  The gibbet was simply that, a way of illustrating, with the utmost clarity, that crime doesn’t pay.  
Mine is originally from ‘Black Tree Designs’ and is a sturdy piece of metal, cast in several pieces; the base frame being one piece and the cage two. Turning over the pieces in my hand, I started to wonder if there was, perhaps, an opportunity to make something a little more unique? A quick trawl through the bits box unearthed a Games Worksop plastic skeleton whose original purpose is now lost to time. It wasn’t the greatest fit and a couple of compromises had to be made, namely an arm and a leg, but eventually the hapless victim was secured.
Basing everything on a ‘Warbases’ MDF disc, gave ample room to incorporate some ground work and a ‘Renedra’ gravestone was used to represent a milestone.  Finally, a plastic crow sits above the gibbet, it’s loud, distinctive caw adding to the eeriness of the grisly scene.
I am due to host a Witchfinder game, albeit using the Donnybrook rules, at the start of next month so this should form a useful reminder to the villagers of, well I don't know where!?  As I was starting to write the fluff for the scenario, I became acutely aware that I hadn't a clue where it was to be set.  It would be the work of seconds to Google some actual, humorous, English village names, I give you Scratchy Bottom in Dorset or Bell End in Worcestershire for example, but I can't help thinking that it should be a fictitious spot to avoid any unnecessary offence or litigation.

So if you have any suggestions then do feel free to share in the comments below and by way of inspiration, I have set up a couple of photographs, using the fruits of this month's labours, below; shamelessly indulging in a couple of filters to give the photographs that 1970s Hammer Horror feel.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Scold’s Bridle

Whilst looking around for possible miniatures for a crime and punishment month, I happened across 'Colonel Bill's Wargames Depot'. The Colonel produces a range of unusual pieces that add a little colour to the tabletop. In one particular range of non-playing 17th Century Villagers,  I spotted a truly unique miniature, a woman wearing a Scold’s Bridle. Deciding that this was something that I couldn’t live without, a pack was ordered and with outstanding service, duly arrived in good time.
I had not painted a Col. Bill’s miniature before and would suggest the scale and sculpting are a good match for ‘Redoubt Miniatures’. They share a similar, comforting style, which I often find more forgiving when it comes to painting. Although not troubled with super fine detail, the woman is clearly seen wearing the bridle and yet still holds a stoutly, resolute pose. This intrigued me and so I delved a little deeper into the contraptions history. If I am honest with myself, I hadn’t realised that a Scold was, according to a medieval definition, a woman with a vicious tongue. Someone likely to cause insurrection or argue against the church; not quite the nagging housewife that I had been led to believe then. As with all these barbaric devices there are a variety of styles or modifications, but essentially it was an iron framework that was worn around the head, with a protruding bit that silenced the wearer. A form of torture and public humiliation the scold’s bridle, sometime referred to as the witch’s bridle or brakes, was certainly not to be considered an easy punishment.
Jenny Paull, writing about Lancaster Castle’s bridle, makes it very clear how any wearer would suffer excruciating pain, 

“The bridled woman was really an outspoken woman and it took a brave one to incur the punishment for being so. This made the bridle a very effective means of social control. Her fate was to be dragged through the streets in the bridle as it shook about on her head; often with her jaw broken, spitting out teeth, blood and vomit and receiving all forms of abuse.”

To accompany my poor unfortunate scold, I took the opportunity to paint another miniature from the same set, this time a puritan preaching from the good book. I have chosen to have mine match my earlier interpretation and swell the ranks of the Witchfinders.

Monday 16 July 2018


Following on from the previous post, I decided that I needed some evil lackey that could inhabit the dungeon, meeting out all manner of cruel and unspeakable acts on the poor unfortunates that crossed his threshold.  I knew that I had a ‘Hasslefree Miniatures’, Narg the torturer but on closer inspection he reminded me of a cross between Big Daddy* and Thelonious, Lord Farquaad's right-hand man from Shrek.
*Those of us in the UK that remember World of Sport’s Saturday afternoon wrestling, will appreciate the reference.
Narg is a lovely miniature, but it didn’t feel quite right with the other pieces that I was working on.  Instead I went for one of the Executioners set from ‘Fenryll Miniatures’ supplied through 'Figures4Sale', an Ebay seller.  This is not a make that I was familiar with and hadn’t realised that they were actually resin until they dropped on the doormat, here at Awdry Towers.  I chose the smaller of the two, not least because the larger version was a multi part kit and I just didn’t have the heart to tackle it at the moment.
There were some tiny imperfections that I didn’t notice until I started to apply paint, but on the whole this is a lovely sculpt, with just the right balance of malice and comedy to work on the tabletop. Having decided on my choice of torturer, I looked around at all the other bits and pieces that had been salvaged, but not used at this juncture, and cobbled together a little vignette. Contributors include an executioner’s block from ‘Black Tree Deigns’, rats from ‘Warbases’ and a brazier from ‘Midlem Miniatures’.
Although there are no immediate plans to start work on a dungeon I thought, collectively, that these pieces could serve as a grim reminder of the probable outcome of any transgressor!

Thursday 12 July 2018

And stretch!

Now although there are no immediate plans to create interiors for my Witchfinder world, these resin accessories from ‘Dark Art Studios’ proved just too difficult to resist.  The iconic Iron Maiden is a solid one piece casting and was a relatively quick paint job.  Interestingly there is some debate as to whether the Iron Maiden was really used.  That it might actually be an 18th Century invention to reinforce the cruelty of the middle ages in literature and museums.
The rack, by comparison, was very much a real entity and its simplicity in design very much in its favour.  To be broken on the rack would be to suffer the most excruciating pain as your body, having been shackled by your wrists and ankles, was literally stretched.  Joints would be dislocated and muscle and sinew torn from the bone.  The pain inflicted could be accurately measured, but anyone who spent any length of time on the device would be disfigured for life, if indeed they survived!
The 'Dark Art Studios' version would certainly be capable of inflicting great pain, but I am happy to report that it wasn’t too onerous to assemble and paint. A really nicely sculpted set, that took paint well, my difficulty now is that I am starting to think that I need a torture chamber or dungeon in order to house them!

Monday 9 July 2018

Stocks and Pillory.

In their simplest form, a pair of stocks were hinged together at one end and, whilst at other end, a hasp and staple for a padlock was usually found.  The stocks would confine the victim’s ankles, who was then obliged to sit in that position, either on the ground or on a wooden bench.
 A pillory, by comparison, is an elevated set of stocks that would secure the victim’s head and wrists, again holding them in place.  By finding yourself in in either set usually meant that you were doing your bit for village morale by providing some much needed entertainment.  Audience participation was very much encouraged and all manner of produce might be launched at our hapless victims.
To that end, I could resist adding a little base, with a basket of apples and a sack pf potatoes to help get things started for the locals.  My poor unfortunates are from the every dependable ‘Redoubt Enterprises’ and require a little assembly, but nothing too taxing.  As with all 'Redoubt' miniatures, their slightly simpler style means that they a joy to paint.
These two unfortunate chaps are the companion pieces the ‘Redoubt Enterprises’ Stocks and Pillory and are, in fact, included in the same set; a stock collar and one in chains.

Thursday 5 July 2018

Crime and Punishment Month

You’ll be glad to hear that this is not a month long review of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s master work, but simply a series of loosely related posts that feature man’s ability to inflict pain and suffering on his fellow human being.

It was whilst watching the BBC’s latest retelling of the Gunpowder plot, a lavish, action packed drama that spared no one in its gruesome depicture of torture at this period of time, that I was instantly transported back to the London Dungeon in the late Nineteen Seventies.  Then situated in Tooley Street, the London Dungeon was a must see attraction and in a flagrant disregard for their young son’s sensibilities my parents plunged, headlong, into the darkness!
At this time, the attraction was a series of gory wax works depicting the most gruesome of British tortures and methods of executions, something that young Master Awdry was fascinated by.  Unfortunately, it was the eerie sound effects and a sign that simply said, ‘Beware of the Rats’ that did for me and I have this undiminished memory of been absolutely terrified, sobbing the whole way round!
These gruesome encounters are so far removed from my everyday life that they have remained of interest to me.  The sheer barbarity and complexity of some of the devices and methods are incomprehensible today and as such their absurdness has had a sanitising effect on the pain and suffering they must have caused.

Let us be clear ‘28mm Victorian Warfare’ does not condone the practice of torture in any way, shape or form, but the ‘Witchfinder’ world of the 17th Century was an unforgiving place.   Here extracting the truth from potential ne’er do wells or vassals of evil was an art form practiced by the dead of heart and strong of stomach.  As such it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have some acknowledgement of its existence on the table top.  To that end, I have scoured the collection and unearthed a couple of pieces that would not look out of place in any chamber of horrors yet I hope might make an entertaining series of posts – you have been warned!

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