Wednesday 18 December 2019

Happy Christmas One and All!

Not known to look a good diversion in the mouth, James and I have produced our own Christmas card this year.  Using many of this year's builds, along with a few new friends, we fashioned the above card as a bit of fun and by way of thanking all those who have offered us their support for our endeavours this year.  

Now safely ensconced in the bosom of respective families, we hope to enjoy the festive season, but rest assured good reader we will be back in the New Year with more updates as we race to get the Schloss ready for Salute! 

James has produced a hilarious, if somewhat irreverent, 'making of' post to accompany the card at his wonderfully creative 'Make it Miniature' Blog, just follow the link HERE.

So all that remains for me to do is to wish all visitors to '28mm Victorian Warfare' a very Happy Christmas and a productive New Year.

Saturday 30 November 2019

Warlord Games 28mm American G.I.s

Just the briefest of posts this morning as I try and catch up with all the other bits and pieces that this time of year brings.  A handful of American G.I.s from the free plastic sprue attached to a copy of Wargames Illustrated.  This rather fortuitous freebie will form the backbone of the American troops at the castle during the battle.
There is some discrepancy as to the number of American troops present, but Stephen Harding in his book, 'The Last Battle', my 'go to' reference, suggests that there were four members of the 142nd Infantry Regiment actively engaged in the battle.  The four G.I.s were told that they would be showered with medals  but not one received an award for the action.
The 'Warlord Games' plastic sprue gives plenty of options and they go together pretty well.  I hadn't noticed initially, that I had failed to secure the arms of the chap holding the M3 properly. The magazine not actually attached, looks rather like the G.I. in question is reloading on the hoof! 
The castle itself has moved on a lot this week, with James securing the base and attaching the profile edges.  Meanwhile I have been texturing the approach board and realising that I may have underestimated just how much material this is going to take! 

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Tuesday 26 November 2019

Vive la France

The ‘V.I.P.’ prisoners of Schloss Itter, found themselves the temporary caretakers of the castle on the morning of 4th May 1945.  The guards had fled and so it was that some of the most influential former, political leaders of pre-war France were left to ponder their fate.  Not unsurprisingly, given the differing political backgrounds, tempers became frayed during their tenure at the castle, but when they realised that they were at the mercy of the marauding SS Troops their resolve suddenly galvanised.
When help did finally turn up they were reported as being somewhat disdainful of the size of the relief column and with the first shots of the battle ricocheting off the stonework, the suggestion of them taking cover with the wives and children was met with Gallic outrage, the gentlemen preferring to stand their ground on the battlements rather than cowering in the castle basements.
I have decided to field a unit of French V.I.Ps. as part of the game and as you will see their shooting is ineffectual, but bravery remains high.  The castle defenders will have to decide if it is better to have them hide or add to the melee, in a bid to thin out the SS Troops?  Given that the game is effectively over if the unit is completely destroyed this is not a decision to take lightly!
When it came to selecting miniatures, I started with 'Artizan Designs' and stumbled across some likely candidates lurking in the Maquis and Partizans sets.  The addition of a couple of chaps from the Department of Paranormal Studies helped to fill out the unit, but felt they needed a little extra to ‘sell’ the idea of them being armed, yet doddery.  Fortunately I had a plastic sprue of ‘Warlord Games’ Germans to hand which offered up a few pieces of equipment that seemed to fit the bill.

I haven’t named the individual detainees as part of the game, but may revisit this nearer the time, instead I envisage them supported by characters such as Hauptsturmf├╝hrer Kurt-Siegfried Schrader, a convalescing SS Officer who was persuaded to stand and fight with the French Prisoners.

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Tuesday 19 November 2019

A work in progress!

There comes a time in every project when you start to worry that you are not making the progress that you should.  It doesn’t matter if this is the slog through a unit of troops or a substantial terrain build, the thoughts are the same, ‘will I ever finish?’  James and I have been having similar feelings regarding the Castle build and so we took the opportunity to take stock of progress, assembling the four boards that make up the playing area and arranging the elements that we have done to date.
Since the return from the half term break, James has been working solidly on establishing the road way between the Gatehouse and the Castle.  This has not proved as straight forward as it sounds given the lack of readily available photographic evidence, but James, as ingenious as ever has come up with several clever solutions that hint at the castle’s past whilst expanding the playing area.  As this was the first time we had seen the four boards in situ, as it were, the enormity of what needs to be done hit home and has galvanised us to push on with the landscaping, putting aside the diversions that we so enjoy.
In order for the castle to stand proud, it needs to be raised above the rest of the landscape and James is having to construct a series of piers to support the structure.  These will be locked in place with lashings of expanding foam filler and loft insulation boards as has can be seen in the bridge section.  Lots of lessons are being learnt on the job, but progress has definitely been made.  
I appreciate that not everyone enjoys a work in progress post, but hope you will indulge us in a bid to keep the momentum going!

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Tuesday 12 November 2019

…and so to bed.

Regular readers to this most humble of weblogs might recall mention of James’ designs for some Barrack Room furniture, first seen as part of the ‘Commandant’s Office’ instalment back in September.  
These seemed like the perfect way to fill the large space above the great hall, but when it came to painting we noticed that the locker design was a little tall when seen alongside the bunk beds.  
Apparently this wasn’t a problem and with his usual positivity James set about adjusting the scale on the drawing, this time including a couple of coat hangers to the sprue for good measure!  Once completed it was a relatively straightforward matter of applying some colour, but I did indulge with a spot of weathering and a highlight or two, just because I was enjoying the pieces so much.
We have always been keen to encourage any form of collaboration with James coining the phrase, ‘The Castle the Internet Built’, in recognition of all of you that offer your support and assistance in bringing this, absurdly large, project to fruition.  One chap in particular, Dave Stone Esq., was keen to make this contribution more tangible.  As soon as he saw the beds Dave suggested that he might be able to help with the mattresses.  As owner of the highly respected ‘Wargames Terrain Workshop’ the purveyors of imaginative resin scenery, Dave, seemingly in no time at all, had created three mattress options including one where the occupant was still fast asleep.  
A flurry of emails later and we had in front of us the requisite number of mattresses required to complete the job.  As with any of Dave’s work the casts were clean and crisp, not an air bubble in sight, although they were a startling green colour! Once primed it was, again, just a simple matter of adding some colour to sell the illusion.  
Having this collaboration arrive in the post really lifted our spirits at a point where the magnitude of what we were trying to do was starting to sink in.  The fact that Dave wouldn’t take any payment for his labours only further confirmed our belief that we are truly lucky to have the support of all of you that frequent this cosy corner of the Blogosphere.  
A huge thank you to Dave and ‘Wargames Terrain Workshop’ for your contribution to ‘The Castle the Internet Built’.

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Friday 1 November 2019

Capt. John C. "Jack" Lee, Jr.

... a character profile.
In May 1945, Capt. John C. "Jack" Lee, Jr., a charismatic, stocky man of twenty seven, must have thought that his war was over.  Hitler was dead and any German resistance was crumbling before the Allies.  Capt. Lee had led Company B of the 23rd tank Battalion into the Austrian Tyrol and in the waning hours of the war could have had no idea of the part he was going to play in one of the strangest battles of World War II.

As it stands our rules allow for characters to be attached to units in the game.  A player, on the day, will be allowed to add Capt. John C. "Jack" Lee to their G.I. squad, which will have the effect of increasing their dice pool by one.  Currently his stats are similar in shooting and cover to those of the G.I.s, but the additional bravery score and number of wounds could help to keep that unit of troops in the game for longer; an important factor given the overwhelming odds against them.

Quick Reference for Unit Groups
Defenders (Allies)
2 x 5 man Squads American G.I.s (6 crewman & 4 GIs)
2 x 5 man Squads German Wehrmacht
1 x 5 man Squad French P.O.W.
1 x ‘Besotten Jenny’ Medium Sherman Tank (M4A3E8 or Easy Eight) Special Item
1 x M2 . 50 cal. HMG (Heavy Machine Gun) Team Special Item

Cover Dice
American G.I.
Capt. "Jack" Lee
German Wehrmacht
French P.O.W.
Besotten Jenny
M2 .50-Cal. HMG
5 x D6
Standard range = 50cm?

Given the importance of the character I was keen to find a suitable miniature to represent the good Captain and several possibilities presented themselves, but in the end the choice came down to just one.  I stumbled across US Officer - Donny Drumpf, a Stoessi's Heroes miniature available in the United Kingdom through 'Great Escape Games'.  Donny is described on the company's website as being, "a colorful and polarizing gentleman who is well known throughout the world."  A wonderful character piece, that accusatory, jabbing finger and distinctive hairstyle being so reminiscent of...
...I digress, but as chance would have it, here was a miniature that matched Capt. Lee's description as written by Stephen Harding in his book, The Last Battle, 
"Waiting there was a squat, powerfully built man wearing a wrinkled khaki uniform and a .45-caliber automatic pistol in a shoulder holster, his teeth clenching a well chewed but unlit cigar."
A description that was mirrored in the photograph below, apparently taken two months before the battle at Schloss Itter.  Jack Lee, on the far right of this photograph, is with (from left) 2nd Lt. John Powell, one of his platoon leaders, and 1st Lt. Harry Basse, Co. B’s Motor Officer and Lee’s closest friend in the unit.
As thrilled as I was to have discovered Jack, a miniature to make my collection great again, I struggled with the right arm.  It was a hilarious addition, but didn't look quite right to me.  Fortunately a suitable replacement was unearthed, rather appropriately from the 'Warlord Games', American G.I. sprue.  The angle of the arm just seemed to fit perfectly and the addition of the cigar and stroke of good fortune.
Painting was all rather predicable, lashings of Olive Green, Field Drab and Khaki, although I couldn't resist keeping that shock of blond hair!  At the rear of the miniature I have added some red, white and blue stripes to hint at this being a character piece, but this may yet be changed for no other reason than it screams French character rather than American.
Clearly a few liberties have been taken with this representation of Capt. Lee, but I just felt that the miniature worked, especially when seen in conjunction with the 'Artizan Designs' Tankers.  The scale is a good match for the other miniatures and yet he still manages to convey an assured confidence, the sort of confidence that can carry the day against overwhelming odds! 

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Sunday 27 October 2019

Schloss Itter's Gatehouse

I have been looking forward to publishing this post for a while now, and must apologise to James for taking so long to realise it, but I am now delighted to reveal the Gatehouse to Schloss Itter!  I would usually show some work in progress shots for a build like this, but have decided not to on this occasion.  The reason being, I feel it only right and proper that James shows you how he went about designing and constructing what, to my mind anyway, is his best design yet. (A link to James' post is at the bottom of this page.)
Castle Itter's Gatehouse is a little architectural gem in its own right, a piece of Gothic whimsey with fairytale turrets and an arched central entryway.  Besotten Jenny, the Sherman M4A3E8, would guard this entrance point having reversed in to position.  Its main turret and .50-Cal. machine gun trained on the narrow access road that led to the town.  Meanwhile one of Jenny's .30-Cal. machine guns was redeployed in the cramped loft room of the Gatehouse, ably manned by Worsham and McHaley.
Working again from only photographs James drew out the design on the computer and so started the now customary process of adaptation as the design went through a number of revisions, each one addressing a different problem or creating a facet in a more appealing way.  It became apparent, quite early on, that this particular piece had really caught James' imagination.  His attention to detail now operating at such a level that saw the intricate tower woodwork realised along with two different types of tiles, a detail clearly visible in the original source material.
As we broke for the half term, James had already built, tiled and applied paint to his model before very kindly starting the assembly of a second.  If truth be told we don't need two, but I just could not pass up the opportunity to work on this delightful kit and have finally got mine to a place where I am happy to share my efforts.
As with the previous hall piece the texture was achieved by using play sand, this time sprinkled on to a PVA base to give a slightly lighter texture.  Very little was needed in the way of construction, just some card stock and lashings of PVA glue to stick down the laser cut tile strips, such was the quality of James' design.  Once undercoated colour was applied with successive layers of dry brushing, before picking out the details with a brush.
We had found some rather good photographs of the original building showing climbing plants festooning the sides of the towers and I was keen to give this a go.  I had found an example on the always helpful 'Terragenesis' website that had used something called eyelash yarn.  Not having heard of this myself, I popped into Sunshine Coast's mighty metropolis and spent a few minutes perusing the aisles of C & H fabrics.  Sure enough I found a couple of likely candidates, although I notice that in Blighty we refer to the yarn as Fur Wool.
I was delighted with the result, which helped to convey that feeling of nature starting to take hold of a once celebrated structure.  
With James having gone to the trouble of designing the loft behind a removable roof panel it seemed a shame not to populate it with a suitable representation of Worsham and McHaley, ordered up from 'Artizan Designs'.
Another wonderful addition to our ongoing project, which continues to move on apace.  James continues to delight with his designing skills and I am very much looking forward to working on the terrain boards on our return to school, but in the interim more miniatures need to be painted!

Please visit James' Blog to see how the Gatehouse was created:

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