Saturday, 30 April 2022
Thursday, 31 March 2022
It would be fair to say that things are not going as I had hoped. All is well, relatively speaking, although Uncle Covid has visited both myself and the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry' for a second time. We seem to escape his visits unscathed, but it throws our respective day jobs into turmoil as we navigate the public health advice and that of our own respective institutions. It is the day job, good reader, that is putting paid to my hobby time. I suspect age and failing eyesight play their part, but I just don't seem to find the quality time to indulge in a spot of painting or model making as easily as I used to.
So it was that I found myself contemplating a photograph of an empty desk in a bid to make some sort of progress with my meagre task of a post a month. As I was sitting there, gently dusting the surfaces of this forgotten refuge, I spied my latest eBay win, still securely packaged in its bubblewrap and decided to share this with you instead.
By way of context, I need to share something of a backstory with you, which goes as follows. A cruel reminder of just how long it has been since I last painted anything, I noticed that the water in my trusty plastic water pot had completed evaporated. As I marvelled at this phenomena, the bone dry receptacle in hand, I gave it a gentle squeeze, thinking that this might dislodge the dried film of what was once dirty water from its sides. To my dismay there was a loud crack and the grim realisation dawned that I had done for my old friend. We had been together since art school, this was a genuine tragedy, what was I to do?
Setting aside my grief for a moment, I gazed teary eyed around the table, the pitiful sight of long abandoned projects did little to lift my moral, but then my eyes fell on my couple of Denby Stoneware pieces, a small milk jug that I use for storing my brushes and a storage pot, resplendent with guardsmen transfers that holds my smaller tools. I wonder, thought I as I stroked my bristled chin, could there be something in this range to replace my poor lost friend?
As luck would have it, with a mere couple of minutes of web based research, a likely contender in the shape of a jam pot without lid, was unearthed.* Enthusiastically placing my bid, the minimum required, I sat back and waited. A couple of days later I was notified that I had won and gladly paid the monies required, although it irked somewhat that the postage and packing was going to be greater than the object itself! My long serving water pot was replaced.
*Made from the exact same clay too!
There is nothing hugely remarkable about Denby Stoneware. These particular pieces are Denby Manor Green, which is perhaps one of the oldest ranges and one that is instantly recognisable as a classic Denby design. First issued in 1938, from a design by Donald Gilbert, the pieces were finished in a rich sage green glaze with a cream interior. Production continued until the late 1970s and as such they have a certain charm that we now refer to as 'retro'. For me they just feel familiar, items that despite their age just do their job, perhaps an allegory for this tired schoolmaster? Regardless, I am determined to christen my new acquisition during the Easter holidays, although as to what gets painted is anyone's guess!
Monday, 14 February 2022
So then, another 'Nam themed post this time showcasing some splendid 'Gringo 40s' miniatures. From the outset, I have to confess that I am a big fan of the Gringo's miniatures. They are beautifully sculpted, yet have a heft to them that reminds me of the Redoubt Miniatures range. They appear accurate and yet don't have so much extraneous detail of say the Empress range. This last factor has become more important to me of late as my failing eyesight finds the larger model more forgiving when applying paint.
This rather splendid group is a US Marine Mortar Team in M1 Helmets and Flak Jackets firing the M1 81mm Medium Mortar. With some lovely additional bits and pieces, I was able to base up a simple stand and enjoyed trying to get as much variety out of the seemingly limited green palette that was available to me. As I had mentioned previously, my fledgling collection is at somewhat of a crossroads as I decide which company to favour with my pocket money. In my naivety, I have previously claimed that I was untroubled by such trifling matters such as scale discrepancies between manufacturers, allowing me to just enjoy picking up whatever set caught my eye. This approach could be seen to have some worth, especially when viewing the next image.
Here we have an 'Empress Miniatures' combat photographer alongside the mortar team and you might, quite rightly ask, "what scale discrepancy do you speak of sir?" And you would be right, what with careful positioning and the fact that the mortar team are slightly hunched over, one could be forgiven for thinking that they were, in fact, cast from the same stable. It is on on closer inspection that we start to see the details like the giant feet and bulging biceps, but even then we could pass these off as just big men firing a big gun!
"But if they are this close in scale, surely you could combine them?" Again, looking at the comparison below* you would be absolutely right. Although considerably taller in stature than his Empress counterpart, this N.V.A. officer might pass, unnoticed, into the rank and file of the collection. They are mounted on the same size base and I have taken care to photograph them on the same line.
The problem comes when you see something like the discrepancy below. Again based on identical bases and photographed toe to toe, so to speak, the result is laughable. If I didn't know better I would say one was a 20mm miniature, but I can assure you that it isn't.
In conclusion, I am leaning towards the 'Empress Miniatures' range, simply because they are making more of the Special Forces units that my intended skirmish type games will use. That said, looking at the 'Gringo 40s' range it may well be that I continue to add the odd pack here and there as they are just too nice to ignore completely, especially some of the diorama packs which make the table so much more interesting.
So there we have it, the last 'Nam post for the time being at least. I continue to root around the backlog of unpublished notes, but can't guarantee any semblance of structure at the moment, just the flailing of thoughts and images as I try to keep a tangible hold on this most wholesome of hobbies.
Wednesday, 19 January 2022
My flirtation with second the Indochina War was always going to be a lighthearted affair. It was fuelled by the cinematic gems depicting the conflict rather than a desire to see history retold on the tabletop. That's not to say that I intended to belittle the sacrifices made by all combatants in what was a complex and enduring campaign, the ongoing question about how soon is too soon with regards to gaming modern warfare is a debate for another time, I was simply looking for an entertaining period to explore in miniature. With that in mind it was inevitable that a John Ramboesque miniature, or two as it happens, would be found.
Rambo, First Blood had, initially, passed me by, I was only twelve when it received its cinematic release, but I remember Rambo, First Blood part II causing a bit of a stir amongst us pimply faced chaps at school. Still a little too fresh faced to persuade the cinema intendant that I was old enough to witness the murderous intent of this one man army on the big screen, I had to resign myself to the book, which was a frightfully good page turner. Now I'm not here to tell you it was a quality novel worthy of critical acclaim, but it did suffice until a well worn VHS copy of the film managed to make its way to the senior common room.
All this is a painfully obtuse way of me saying that Rambo, as a character, was a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. I couldn't be further removed from the muscle bound warrior of the silver screen and yet I could sit quite happily and root for him as bullets seemingly 'ping' off pectorals as he lays waste to great swathes of steaming jungle. This butcher of bad guys whose dialogue was barely decipherable as he mutters through his lines was truly mesmerising to young Master Awdry.
So where did I find my miniature versions of this often maligned veteran? Well in cinematic order, John of First Blood was from 'Studio Miniatures' where as John II is from 'The Assault Group'. Both great fun to do, although I always struggle when painting acres of flesh as in the case of the, 'The Assault Group's' bare chested Rambo. With belts of ammunition suitably slung and brandishing the now legendary M60* general purpose machine gun, you can almost hear the brass shell cases cascading on the ground as our hero sallies forth to save the day. Hopefully one more 'Nam themed post to come, before a complete change as I unearth some long forgotten draft posts.
*Not to be confused with the Manchester Outer Ring Road.
Thursday, 6 January 2022
My apologies one and all, real world issues have seen nearly all hobby time evaporate before my very eyes as we wrestle with the protocols and procedures of returning to school. As I write this it is clear that the pandemic is going to have lasting implications on our institution, which may yet impact further. That said, we are well and for that I am grateful. I haven't picked up a paintbrush in two weeks, nor had the chance to write up a post or indeed catch up with the many splendid weblogs that I subscribe to. The reality of this is that the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon and so I am faced with a dilemma. Do I mothball, '28mm Victorian Warfare', shroud it in virtual dust sheets and wait for calmer waters or post intermittently with a reduced presence in and around our cosy corner of the blogosphere?
Saturday, 1 January 2022