Friday, 25 December 2015

Finishing up Before the Challenge, pt.2

More accurately, finishing up during the challenge. 

Aye, more Spanish Civil War to show you, that I didn't quite manage to finish for the Wyvern all-day game, but worked on slowly this month. With two sections pretty much done, I'm working on support options at the moment and this Army Hotchkiss machine gun team should do the job nicely. From Empress, fine sculpts with a head swap to give both helmets, if a bit fiddly to assemble the gun. 

Also this Bilbao armoured car to support my Carabineros. A fine resin model, also from Empress miniatures. This featured in the all-dayer, though true to form for freshly painted miniatures, didn't really achieve much. 

As Gharak pointed out, it did need some weathering. I think I got a bit carried away. 

This served as a test piece for a pot of pigment fixer from Vallejo that I picked up. Previously, I was happy with the subtle effects that I could get, but unfortunately they were rubbed or blown off when dullcoting. The fixer seems to work well at what it should do, but instead I struggled to get the same subtlety of effect with it: it tended to clump where the fixer was placed. I think I need a lot more practice, and looking back at the result, it does need a bit of tidying up and re-application.  

Finally and belatedly, a shot of this year's box of miniatures prepared for the painting challenge:

A whole range of stuff to get me to my modest target of 300 points: plenty of SCW, a bit of Sudan, some Pulp single miniatures, 15mm WWII Germans leftover from last year's challenge, 28mm Napoleonic Cacadores that have featured in at least three (!) previous challenge boxes (and still not even started!) and a couple of surprise entries. 

Now, what to paint next? 

Merry Christmas to all.

Dearly wishing a very Merry Christmas to friends, bloggers, followers and all your kin. I hope you all have a happy and contented festive season. 

Thank you to my blogging Secret Santa, who generously chose me a selection of nefarious armed cultists from Artizan Designs. Very useful antagonists for Pulp adventurers, including one toting a flamethrower! Now, to do them as a Lovecraftian cult or the classic Pulp purple robed style? 

And thanks once again to Ian and Cath for organising the event, which never fails to give a cheerful surprise on Christmas morning. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Finishing up Before the Challenge pt.1

As the start to the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge approaches, I join many of my fellow challengers in clearing half-finished projects off the hobby desk. So a motley collection of minis to update you with. Like this 50mm mortar team to support my Requetes:

Empress miniatures as usual, and one has a head swap for a jaunty red beret. 

One of the great things about the SCW is the fine collection of flags on offer. I felt my Carabineros should declare their allegiance, another head swap for the full effect:

The flag is from the excellent and very reasonably priced Flags of War range of flag sheets. I rather dislike flagging, hence why I've recently used Flag Dude's pre-assembled offerings. I completely naffed up the first attempt at this one, ruining my preferred Republican. And I even made a couple of errors  on this second attempt, but managed to recover it. (Damn flag is upside down, will fix it in due course - thanks for pointing out).

And I found a half-finished Sudan casualty marker in the painting box, so finished tidying him up:

Im looking forward to the challenge start next week, but will ideally find a bit more time, and drive if I'm to put in a good showing in my three (!) side-challenges. Best of luck to my 85 fellow challengers!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Wyvern Wargames All-Dayer

Last weekend Wyvern Wargamers held the annual winter all-day club. Three of us, plus my visiting brother Gharak got all of our toys it to play a game of big Chain of Command Espana. We played the Battle of Seseña October 1936, an excellent scenario kindly posted by Gaming with TooFatLardies.

Following the fall of Toledo to the hands of the Nationalists forces in late September 1936, Madrid became now the next objective of Franco’s Army of Africa columns. These approached the capital city almost unmolested, as the morale of the Republicans crumbled and by late October they were to less than 100 km away.

After the arrival of Soviet tanks and advisors,  a short period of training and concentration, the first Republican tank unit was operational and the Soviet advisors  pressed the Republican Government to put it into action sooner rather than later as the risks of Madrid falling to the enemy were evident.
A decision was taken and the objective was to cut the road connecting Madrid and Toledo with a main attack in the South through the Seseña-Esquivias-Illescas  axis, supported by a secondary action in the north aiming to pierce the front at Griñón. A spearhead of 15 T-26 tanks made for Seseña on the morning of 29 October. 

Ian and Matt took two platoons of infantry to represent Lister and Burillo's Republican columns, equipped with light support weapons and a mighty three T-26s for their assault. Defending Nationalists comprised of a platoon of Moroccans (kindly lent by Wyvern Stu, cheers!) garrisoning Seseña and Gharak's Civil Guard in Esquivias. If we were lucky, a column of Armoured cars might turn up too! (standing in for the Italian tankettes present on the day).

As on the day, the scenario had the T-26s charging forwards into Seseña and on towards Esquivias.

The experienced Moroccans, caught by surprise, seek what cover they can.

But where are those T-26s heading now? They scatter for cover in the face of a single antitank gun. 

Emboldened by the armoured thrust, Republican infantry slowly make their way forward, but come under fire.

Meanwhile Gharak's Civil Guard emerge quickly from their garrison and into the countryside to  face Ian's infantry. 

A brave (or, foolhardy) Moroccan tank hunter team makes a dash for an unsupported T-26. Amazingly, their grenades and molotovs cause the crew to panic and bail out! What isn't pictured is the first team, that tried the same, failed to make the dash and were cut down in moments.

From the Republican side  - good progress on the left, where a bloody me lee has cleared Gharak's paramilitaries but stubborn resistance continues from my Moroccans.

Lunchtime brings stalemate and the end of our first game. The Republican forces hadn't managed to capitalise on their surprise and take Esquivias but keep a foothold in Seseña. The Moroccans are battered but remain an effective force, but of course two of those T-26s remain in a commanding position. Honours even, but a strategic Nationalist victory. 

After a break for lunch, we set up a second scenario to continue the Republican push, moving the battlefield westwards and each side bringing up reserves. We ran a patrol phase and the attack and defend scenario. 

Game two saw the appearance of my Carlist Requetes. Viva, Cristo, Rey! 

Once again, the experience of the Army of Africa is telling, having fallen back from Seseña, they quickly take up defensive positions outside the town...

...and lay down a heavy fire with their light machineguns. And the Natuonalist airforce is scrambled to provide close fire support. 

Game two saw Matt and I's infantry grinding away at each other from range, my Moroccons having the edge, but  three wounded leaders bruising their morale. 

Meanwhile on the Republican left, Ian Column, better supported by armour that we were unable to draw a bead on and neutralise, managed to maintain up relentless pressure, eventually shattering Gharak's platoon. Game two, a clear Republican victory, but at quite a cost. 

All in all a great scenario for the day. Taking the Nationalists, I expected a battering from all that armour and us to be able to do little to mitigate them. But I had Moroccan firepower, six command dice and a sprinkling of luck in my favour. Gharak's platoon suffered the worse, but I gather he enjoyed a day back at the historical gaming. 

There were three other fine looking tables taking advantage of a wet Sunday afternoon, a massive 14' AWI game using Carl's huge collection. This was still going on when we'd packed up and left but looked like a close game. 

A smaller game of Sharpe Practice, hosted by the esteemed Rich Clarke himself, using a work in progress second edition of the rules. 

And a fabulous WWII game using Ade's extensive collection. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Sixth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge

Yes, a sure sign that 'Winter is coming'. No, not the sudden turn for the colder in this fair isle, our favourite Canadian blogger's announcement that once again he is going to run the annual painter-blogger extravaganza, the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

If you've not heard of it already - where have you been hiding? Three months of a packed roster of great painters applying their craft to lead, plastic and resin. I heartily recommend it as a fine way of passing the winter months with cameraderie and just a little friendly banter. So if you fancy it, get on over here and sign up!

It's been quiet around here, but how's the time to get industrious. After a summer with limited painting, I feel fairly well prepped, both mentally and in undercoated lead and plastic. But there's still a bit for me to do in the next four weeks, including finishing off everything that's part-painted!

Right, now where did I leave those brushes...

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Wish List to Santa 2015

Christmas is coming! Which means the blogosphere is abuzz with excitement about Ian and Cath's legendary Secret Santa. Once again I'm joining the fun so I can look forward to opening something hobby-related to open on the day. 

I actually looked back over my wish list last year and much of it is still extant - clearly 2015 hasn't been a year with lots of purchases for me. Still, to keep things fresh, ideas for my Santa below:

Empress Miniatures Spanish Civil War (which ended up being a focus of painting this year, if not gaming)
Nationalist foreign legion firing
Nationalist foreign legion command
Republican militia - Any packs!  
Republican command
Nationalist Guardia Civil - Any
Antitank to deal with those troublesome T-26's

Sally 4th 
Pulp Alley Leagues - A Pulp Alley Expansion
Pulp Alley Fortune deck

Footsore Miniatures Arthurian/Late Roman ranges
Any! (Not sure what I'd game with them but they always paint up so well)

Perry Miniatures Sudan 
Egyptian Cavalry Gendarmes and command

Cthulhuoid creatures or Cultists from Artizan, Pulp Figures, RAFM or Modiphius

Hopefully that gives plenty of food for thought!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Kickstarter Find: Foldio2 Review

For a long while, I was dissatisfied with my hobby photography setup. It was awkward to use, and I couldn't seem to apply enough light to my painted minis, despite lugging my painting lamp up to he loft each time I wanted to take some snaps of my latest work. 

The lightbox offerings on places like Amazon were uninspiring each time I browsed, looking cheap and flimsy. But the Foldio2 Kickstarter piqued my interest. A simple, nicely designed collapsible light box with LED lighting, a second kickstarter was being run for a refreshed, larger design. Not particularly cheap by any means, at $65 plus shipping but I'd read good things about the first product and Kickstarter campaign.

And once again, OrangeMonkie delivered, pretty much on schedule. In a sleek box, that happily avoided customs charges, my light box, a choice of backgrounds and storage bag.

Opening it up, it's made in light but durable white plastic sheeting, and held together with quite strong magnets. These magnets hold it together when packed, and hold its shape when constructed.

It's a doddle to build up, just fold out and form an open-sided cube with the recessed magnets. There's a flap to stick one LED light strip at the top, and more magnets to hold your backdrop of choice in place. The backdrops are a nice matt felted paper.

The Foldio2 is a decent size to photograph even the largest miniatures - at 15" square, I think it'll take squads, vehicles or monsters easily. With a 28mm miniature for scale:

This shot was taken with just one LED strip, and the set came with two. And of course you can add further lighting if that's not enough. The LEDs are really bright and come with a dimmer switch built in. Both attach to a transformer with a choice of plugs, so should be usable worldwide. Each also had a light diffuser, meaning the Foldio2 claimed many improvements in the LED setup from the first Foldio.

One LED strip stuck in place on the top flap - you can see how the three side-panels overlap and are glued by the magnets. 

I've been using Foldio2 for a few months now and am really satisfied (look back and note the switch from my usual blue to grey background from July). I've found I can get more light, more evenly on the miniatures and am less reliant on pointing bulky lamps at small miniatures to get a decent shot, all the while struggling to reach the camera. It folds up and down easily for storage if needed. Simply, it does exactly the job I was looking for it to do. And it is durable and nicely designed. I've not tried OrangeMonkie's own photo-editing app to go with it, sticking with the reliable Snapseed for now.

I do have a few niggles with it. First, the magnets are held in recesses with white stickers, and a couple of mine have popped out. And of course, once a sticker has come off, it's never as strong. So sometimes when packing up/down, there's a game of 'find the misplaced magnet' to put back in its recess.  Second, the set comes with two LED strips, which is great (there was a four LED option too). But there's only one logical place to stick the LED strips and it seems wasteful to have them both on that flap. I've found that holding the second just above the camera's lens gets a great even light, though is a bit awkward. There is a bottom flap but I think having it that low it sheds too much light on the shadowed portion of the miniature and washes them out too much. I'm worried that the LED strip isn't durable enough for me to keep manhandling in this way. Thirdly, I'd have really appreciated a pale blue backdrop to be included - that's my colour of choice. The set came with black, white, green and grey. You could use any paper-thin background of the right size, but the ones provided are a nice photo-friendly paper. At some point I fancy making/buying a terrain backdrop to fit it and blue would have been great for that too.

I'd heartily recommend it as a solid option if you're looking to improve your hobby photos. The Korea-based company OrangeMonkie have created a good, well thought out product and fulfilled two Kickstarters on a large scale, on time - very impressive! But it does cost a good few pennies so is definitely a hobby luxury, for those of you trying to get the best photos of your work that you can. With the Kickstarter long over, it's  available at OrangeMonkie's website.

And, for reference, his was my old homemade backdrop, made from  cardboard box and some sheets of card as backdrop:

A significant improvement, all in all! I'd be interested to see other people's solutions. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Carlist Requetes Part Four

Good evening all,

I've been off work this past week, but even that hasn't meant I've scraped together much more hobby time. Still I have now managed to finish a few more Carlist Requetes to join my growing band. Once again, it felt like a slog to get these finished because of the range of colours and my perseverance with free handing, but I'm oh so fond of the fine sculpts and those jolly red berets.

New feature for this batch: the green checked shirt on the rightmost gent is lifted straight from this classic plate:

The religious icon seemed a bit bare, so I added the streamers with paper, worked to shape, hardened with superglue then painted over to lose the shine. I'm pleased with how they came out and hopeful that they'll be durable enough for the gaming table. The icon-bearer is on a large base, like my officers, as Chain of Command has them able to issue orders to nearby units. I'll also add a standard bearer to the unit at some point - can't resist another splash of colour.

I think that gives me 17 Requetes done and another 9 or so all prepped to paint over the coming months. A handful of them are in helmets so can also do double-duty as regular army infantry in shirtsleeves.

This gent will join the SCW collection as well. Like WWII, the CoC support lists offer medical orderlies to tend the wounded. As my forces are themed for early in the conflict, I was struck with an idea that a local doctor might have volunteered (or been 'encouraged') by one side or the other to tend the wounded from smaller skirmishes. 

I repurposed this gent from the lead pile, a civilian from Copplestone's Mafia range that seemed to have a scholarly look to him. He doesn't look too happy to be there, anyway.

He can also do double-duty as a civilian for SCW or Pulp games - the reason I dug the pack out of the bargain bin in the first place, in fact!

The SCW project will roll on, but soon you'll see something a teensy bit different. Bet you can't guess...*

* (though the project has been outed elsewhere already...)

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Trundling on...slowly!

Hello, hello, yes I'm still here. The summer is winding down - though the UK is experiencing an Indian summer of course - and autumn and winter loom. Does that mean more painting on the horizon? Hopefully.

Still, I've had the brushes and tools up and down. And off the painting table is a start on support weapons for the Spanish civil war. First up, an army Chaucat light machine gun.

Two prone minis in plain green uniforms? Yup, nothing too taxing.

The gunner is wearing the Spanish gorillo cap. I've piped it in green instead of the typical red to denote the unit as either light infantry or mountain infantry. I went this way with my general aim being to collect forces suitable for the Northern front. I used the blanket rolls to break up the endless green, and avoided a grey-green painted helmet for the same reason.

I've a couple of packs of infantry to join these two at some point, once I've finished off the beret'd Requetes!

Also, as the troops have started hitting the table up at the club, it was time to finish off some markers that I'd made up for Chain of Command. Four more large explosions taking me to eight to lay out barrages. And 40 or so 'pin' markers to give a cinematic impression of incoming fire. This idea shamelessly taken from the esteemed Mr Curt Campbell of Analogue Hobbies:

Not all pictured obviously. You'll have seen the unfazed Requetes before! 

I think the smaller markers work better, the taller ones, I realised later, being about waist height on a mini: probably a bit much. No doubt I'll need more in future and focus on making more little ones. 

In other news, those fine upstanding gentlemen Evan and Millsy are having a seventh - yes, seventh - blogiversary giveaway. There's some fine and very 'on trend' prizes on offer, so check it out:

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Other Partizan and SCW CoC

I got a gaming double-header last Sunday, kicking off with a visit to The Other Partizan up at Newark. Nor a show I'd been to before, held (for the last time) at the gloomy and labyrinthine Kelham Hall.

Unusually, I was completely uninspired around the traders, resisting more Empress SCW on the grounds that I've plenty more to paint still.

There were some fine games on offer though, most impressive being 'Berne Baby Berne' by the Bodkins. Full of excellent touches like this camp scene

Staggeringly big Swiss pike blocks (three of them!)

A gorgeous Burgundian Army

Other games catching my eye were Simon Miller's sizeable 'To The Strongest!', a large 'L' table with two games on

An impressive AVBCW game showing an assault on a BuF-held town

Something WSS-y? Good windmill feature

And in one of the even gloomier rooms a nice looking Pike and Shotte skirmish game.

So what did I think of Partizan? Well it was a nice day out, but felt like an 'old school' wargames show, similar in feel to Triples at the Sheffield Octagon. While the grognards may grumble , I think its a good thing for the hobby that many shows have moved on to more modern venues with better amenities - not least some decent lighting! After all, what's the sense in all the effort to put on lovely looking games if people can barely see them? And the trader shaving to supply torches to their customers is a joke , frankly. The show didn't seem busy on the Sunday, so hopefully the more to a new venue will reinvigorate it.

After the drive home, I headed over to Wyvern for a game of Chain of Command Espana with Ian and Matt. For a three-player game, we had two under strength platoons attacking Ian's Civil Guard. The balance didn't quite end up being right and Ian was up against the odds, but it was a fun game nonetheless.

My Carabineros take up positing in an olive grove, preparing to rush across the open ground

Ian deployed a Machinegun team in a do I any position in the church tower. With Los across most of the board, this could have caused real problems. But the dice offered a fitting moment - with its first shot, Matt's T26's HE she'll scored a direct hit, with a triple-6. Which invoked a rule I hadn't come across in CoC: the building starts to collapse, and Ian's gunners had to rapidly evacuate and  redeployed. A somewhat less dominant position!

Definitely a moment for a 'boom' marker to be applied

The Republican advance continues, making best use of meagre cover.

Taking up firing positions in a fruit grove, the two sides got bogged down trading shots for limited effect on the big sections. Matt's T26 was a threat, but advanced dangerously close to get firing arcs, cue a bold, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to bring it down with Molotov cocktails.

To break the deadlock, my troops led a desperate tear gas attack and assault against the fortified churchyard, but we ran out of time to bring all of the action to a close. While Matt and I's Republicans were steadily grinding Ian down, we hadn't achieved our objective of forcing the Civil Guard from the field: their heroic defence against massive odds took the game.

With that I headed home for a much-needed sleep!