Thursday, May 13, 2010

something completely different

From the long forgotten ashes of an abandoned project rises the Phoenix of 1940! As many know, some years ago I had built up a respectable 28mm WWII collection (upwards of 400 figures, 50 vehicles, and countless terrain pieces). You can see some photos of it scattered about here. After having fought a crap-load of games with this collection, I did what seems to be a pattern for me: I sold it all! OK, not quite all of it. Just before I decided to part ways with the collection, Daniel and I had begun the sub-project of 1940 France. We hadn't moved much further than assembling a few vehicles and guns and purchasing a platoon's worth of French from Crusader. Rather than move them out the door with the rest of the collection, I decided to keep these for some future incentive. That incentive seems to have been long in coming (5 years?). Recently, Vidal and I have been trying out a few WWII rule sets with his 15mm and 20mm collections. We seem finally to have hit on one that we both like, Disposable Heroes & Coffin for Seven Brothers (quite the mouthful) by Iron Ivan Games. So, as I've been waiting (impatiently) for my Perry Carlist Wars figures to arrive, I pulled out a squad of Frenchies and started working on them. The results are below, along with some shots of the previously started 1940 collection.

A platoon of 1940 French infantry, minus a rifle grenadier (Crusader Miniatures) and backed up by a Somua 35 (Army Group North Miniatures).

A closer shot of the Crusader French. As with the last batch of Carlist figures, I used the Army Painter matt sealer and it leaves a noticeable sheen that I'm not happy with.

Platoon sergeant, front and center.

The French 1940 uniform is really quite drab (but aren't most WWII uniforms?). Makes them easier to paint though.

AGNM French Panhard armoured cars. These show my first attempts at airbrushed camouflage.

AGNM French R-35s. Daniel decided to paint these in the unusual but not unknown blue-grey colour scheme to take a break from the camo schemes on his other French tanks (below).

Brigade Games French FT-17s. Daniel has done a great job on the tri-colour French camouflage on these WWI-era tanks.

A closer shot of the S-35 from AGNM and painted by Daniel.

German 75mm infantry gun. AGNM gun with Bolt Action crew.

German 37mm anti-tank gun. AGNM gun with Bolt Action crew.

German Sd222 armoured cars. AGNM models.

German light tank platoon with one command Pz IIf and three Pz Ib tanks.

All in all a good little start to the project. I have two more squads, a platoon command and some support weapons for the French infantry and some vehicles for the Germans. Now if I could just get Vidal to paint some Germans!

Don Carlos et al

While waiting for my next Perry order to arrive, I've been finishing up some command figures. First up is Don Carlos, after whom the Carlist movement was named (and, by extension, the conflict itself). When King Ferdinand VII of Spain died on September 26, 1833, his wife Cristina was made regent on behalf of their infant daughter Isabella (hence the name for the movement, Cristino or Isabellino). Don Carlos, brother of Ferdinand, opted to believe that he should succeed his brother rather than the infant Isabella and he chose to fight for his perceived rights as King Carlos V. For a good synopsis of the war, see here.

Don Carlos in his familiar black overcoat.
I've switched to
Army Painter matt sealer and it seems to give a bit of a sheen to the figures that is emphasized by the photography. Not sure I'm sold on this product yet. I may have to put a coat of Dullcote over it.

I've also painted up some infantry command figures for my Carlist army, in anticipation of the infantry coming in my next order.

Many of the Carlist standards were simple patriotic slogans on a white background:
"Viva la Religion, Viva Carlos V" and " Carlos V Rey Absoluto."
These are some of the exquisite Adolfo Ramos flags.

And finally, a small vignette. With my latest issue of Battlegames magazine, I received two of the new plastic Perry Napoleonic French dismounted dragoons. After seeing these beautiful figures, and since I've been inspired somewhat of late by the vignette work of Der Alte Fritz on his blog, I decided to create a small cavalry piquet vignette for my Carlist project. The uniforms and equipment on these figures very closely resemble those used by Isabellino line cavalry units. The only serious exceptions were the lapels or plastrons on the tunics and the tall riding boots. Quick reference to Cairn's The First Carlist War 1833-1840 showed that Isabellino cavalry in the early years of the war still wore the tall boots and an all blue (or turqui) uniform. This is in contrast to the later yellow uniform and trousers (without tall riding boots). I had to carve off the lapels but fortunately there were only two figures to deal with. I used an extra Perry horse and replaced the arm on one figure with the separate bugler's arm from the Carlist metal command pack. The most difficult conversion work was in modelling the reins in the bugler's hands. I carved the reins off of the horse and replaced with brown needlepoint thread soaked in a glue/water mix (a fiddly business).

Isabellino cavalry piquet.
For the most part, this stand will just be window dressing for the table but there is provision in
Sharp Practice for the use of sentries and piquets.

I've finally run out of Carlist Wars figures and I continue to eagerly await my Perry order!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Practical Painting

I've been asked a few times of late about my painting technique; not so much about how I put paint to figures, but the more particularly about the way I prepare my figures for painting. So, following on a recent trend in the gaming blog world, I thought I'd show a few shots of my painting desk. I'm lucky to have one of the bedrooms of our house given over completely to a painting and computer room (the latter half of which I share with my ever-patient wife). There is nothing particularly revolutionary about my painting set-up in general. You can see all of the usual suspects that inhabit most painters' desks: paint racks, drawers full of figures and other paraphernalia, brushes, tools, etc.

My painting desk. This is an old IKEA corner office desk with various wooden IKEA cabinets for storage.

The computer desk, as you can see, fills the adjacent corner of the room. This allows me easy and quick access to music, email, etc. I can also have painting guide images on the screen for easy reference, if necessary.

Two things, I think, set it apart from others. First, the lighting: I use three adjustable goose-neck lamps with daylight bulbs. Why three lamps? If only one is used, as I often see elsewhere, there is a strong potential for shadows when painting. I used to find that a single lamp created shadows on one side of a figure while painting. I had read an illuminating (?) article about photographing miniatures that advocated multiple light sources to mitigate the effect of shadows and thought to try it for painting as well. Because I have three lamps shining from different angles, I rarely (if ever) have any dark unlit areas when I'm working at the desk. As my eyes continue to fail me, I need all the help I can get!

Second, I use racks to hold my figures. Most painters mount their figures on something to allow painting without touching the figure. I've seen small wooden blocks, plastic bottle/jar caps, cardboard, etc. I've tried most of these in the past but I find them a nuisance. If I want to move my painting around the figure I have two choices. I can twist my wrist to accommodate or put down the figure and pick it back up again after having spun it about. I borrowed the painting rack idea from a friend many years ago. I mount my unpainted figures on 1/2" diameter dowels with a hot glue gun (so they can be easily and quickly popped off). The dowels sit in a rack, simply constructed of 1"'x 3" pine with holes drilled to hold the 6" long dowels. Six inches seems to be the ideal length: if longer, they catch on my wrist; shorter, they don't sit comfortably in my palm. The dowels allow me to easily hold the figure for painting. Because the holder is round, I can spin the figure in one hand without ever having to put it down while painting. I simply roll the dowel in my palm and fingers to access the entire figure.

Three of my painting racks. You can easily see how rough the construction is. I'm not particularly concerned with perfect angles and cuts. I can build one of these racks in about 20 minutes with the right materials to hand.

A closer look at the construction (cheap pine, carpenters' glue and a few small nails). The holes are drilled in upper and lower decks to accommodate the dowels. You may notice the last dowel on the right is on a bit of an angle because I misaligned the upper and lower holes. Oh still serves its purpose.

One of the dowels in my palm. You can see how easy it is to simply spin the dowel and gain access to all parts of the figure.

The racks also allow me to prime the figures easily. I clean and attach the figures at the desk, then carry the entire rack down to the garage for the spray prime (you can see many years of black primer accumulated on the racks). When the figures are finished, I can then take them back to the garage for their coating of spray sealer. As you can see, the racks are not precisely built, and nor do they need to be. My first experiments with building these took far too long because I was too worried about getting all the measurements and cuts correct. This is just not necessary. It will soon be covered in paint etc so there's no need to make a perfect little rack. One key to the design, though, is enough room between holes to allow mounted figures to sit atop the dowels without banging into one another (mine ar 2" apart and staggered to maximize the available space). You'll also notice that I have more than one rack. Usually, these are filled with figures in various stages of production. Just happened that I took these photos when the racks were pretty much empty (except for some 28mm WWII French). The racks sit to the side of my painting area. When I want a particular group, I simply lift that particular rack to the painting area under the lamps. I don't have to worry about moving a host of figures singly mounted on cardboard or some such material. The painting area is also left clear for other work when I'm not painting.

Thus, the grand design!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

End of an Era

More specifically, it's the end of a collection. I've just sold a large portion of my 28mm Napoleonic collection. The Austrian and Prussian armies have gone as whole lots and and the majority of my French army as well. I've kept two portions of the French army, however. The Wurttemburg contingent of four battalions and two batteries and two Westphalian cuirassier units are staying put. These I can use to contribute to any Napoleonic games at the club. Secondly, I kept some Front Rank commanders, artillerists, legere and Guard cavalry for possible use in Sharp Practice games. This will require some re-basing to single stands for the semi-skirmish genre but that is for the future. I've also kept my entire War of 1812 collection, which includes size-able British and American armies.

Unlike some gamers, I have no real issues with selling collections. The emotional attachment is relatively minimal and the transaction is mostly a cost-benefit analysis for me. I'm realistic enough to know that I'll never get back what a collection is actually worth so I take what I think is reasonable. I also take into account the buyer and his location, especially with large collections. I could probably get more for some collections if I sold them on eBay etc but the hassle of shipping is trumped by selling to a local buyer (which is the case with this sale). I'll take slightly less for the convenience of delivering the collection locally. In the case of these Napoleonics, I've had several years of enjoyment from them and its time to move on. Kinda' like girlfriends in, enjoy, move on!

So farewell to the Irish and Swiss regiments! We've had a merry time....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rummage Sale 3

A smaller lot this time around: 28mm French Napoleonic Old Guard. I'd like to sell both these units as one lot (and thus there is no unit price). There are 32 figures for $128.00 USD.

Old Guard Grenadiers & Chasseurs (32 figures: Foundry)

Old Guard Grenadiers (16 figures: Foundry)

Old Guard Chasseurs (16 figures: Foundry)

Rummage Sale 2

Continuing from my last post, here is the next collection up for sale. As with the Sudan collection, I'd like to sell it as a lot rather than individual figures or units. Of course, I'm not averse to selling them by the unit but the per figure price is lower if the entire collection is purchased (plus the bonus figures...see below!). I'll accept PayPal payments or cash, if you're local. For those who don't know, I'm located in Canada, near Toronto, and shipping will be at cost (i.e. you want it fast, it'll cost you more).

54mm War of Independence (the American sort)

Below each photo there is a description of the figures and the unit cost. In total there are 36 foot figures and 1 gun. The total of the unit prices is $360.00 USD. If the collection is bought as a whole, $320.00 USD (plus the bonus gift in the last photo).

Continental Line (14 figures: All the King's Men Toy Soldiers) $140.00

British Light Infantry (8 figures: All the King's Men Toy Soldiers) $80.00

Pennsylvania Light Infantry (8 figures: All the King's Men Toy Soldiers) $80.00

Continental Artillery (6 figures + 1 gun: ATKM and CTS conversions) $60.00

Conte Continentals $30.00. If you buy the entire AWI collection, these are gratis.

Rummage Sale!

I've been rummaging about in my seemingly never-ending pile of gaming boxes and I've decided to get rid of a couple of projects that have never been finished. You'll see pictures in this and the next post of 54mm Sudan and 54mm AWI collections. Both are relatively small collections and I'd like to sell them as whole lots rather than individual figures or units. Of course, I'm not averse to selling them by the unit but the per figure price is lower if the entire collection is purchased. I'll accept PayPal payments or cash, if you're local. For those who don't know, I'm located in Canada, near Toronto, and shipping will be at cost (i.e. you want it fast, it'll cost you more).

54mm Sudan

Below each photo there is a description of the figures and the unit cost. In total there are 49 foot figures, 2 guns and 7 cavalry. The total of the unit prices is $595.00 USD. If the collection is bought as a whole, $525.00 USD (plus the bonus gift in the last photo).

British line (8 figures: Armies in Plastic) $80.00

Royal Marine Light Infantry (8 figures: Armies in Plastic) $80.00

British artillery (6 crew + gatling gun) $60.00
These are conversions from the talented hands of Ken Cliffe of All the King's Men Toy Soldiers.

Marine Artillery (6 crew + gatling gun) $60.00
Again, conversions by Ken Cliffe.

Cavalry (3 British lancers + 3 Bengal lancers + 1 cmd) $105.00
These are conversions using CTS French Napoleonic dragoon bodies as a base to work from and AIP heads. The Bengal officer is a metal rider, the origin of which I can't remember. The horses are from CTS on ATKM metal bases. These were created before AiP brought out their British and Bengal lancer boxes.

Ansar warriors (10 warriors + 1 standard bearer: Armies in Plastic) $110.00

Ansar riflemen (10 riflemen: Armies in Plastic) $100.00

French Foreign Legion (9 figures: Armies in Plastic) If you buy the entire Sudan collection, this unit is gratis (even though it's not really a Sudan Wars unit).