Monday, January 15, 2018

Sharp Practice: 95th Rifles

Marching onto the roster are two 6-figure groups of 95th Rifles, headed by an officer and bugler. These are lovely figures from Warlord Games. As I recently opined elsewhere, I had an odd wish while working on these. As I said, gorgeous figures with much animation but sometimes just a little less detail would be nice. Well-sculpted figures require every little thing to be picked out. And I thought green uniforms with black belting would be dead-simple... once again, reality was far from presumption...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Xmas & Birthday Pressies for Offspring #1

Michael's birthday falls perilously close to Xmas and I was determined this year not to have  it subsumed into Xmas or worse... miss it! Thus, while I was preparing his pressies I wanted to be sure his birthday gift was the most prominent. This year, he's been collecting 28mm WWII Soviets to face his PanzerGrenadiers and I thought we might need some terrain to fight over.

First up, some 4Ground Russian cottages with new roofs...

And a resin barn from Old Glory...

And the coup de grace Birthday present (33 years old, if anyone's counting)...

The basic building is a resin cottage from Old Glory onto which I've scratch-built a steeple from card and balsa. I topped it off with a wooden drawer knob from Home Depot.

The shed extension is also a resin piece from Old Glory, meant to be a separate outbuilding.
A small shrine made from balsa and card.

The steeple was topped with a Russian cross made from balsa.

The whole collection!
Tucked in there are four small Pegasus Hobbies 1/72 plastic kits picked up off of Amazon for mere pennies. Although nominally 1/72 scale, they fit quite nicely as small workers' cottages.

Xmas Pressies for Offspring #2

Lucky I am to have two sons who are full-bore wargamers (albeit one plays with funny spaceships but, oh well, one must accept life's strangeness). Not only has this given me immense satisfaction over the years (two wargaming sons, not the spaceships) but it also makes choosing Xmas gifts infinitely simpler. As they both traditionally give me gaming presents, I try to find something for each of them to add to their existing collections (spaceships aside). This year, I was in the mood for buildings. And the itch to build was a bit strong this time...

On the Oromocto gaming table in the New Brunswick hinterland, Captain Dan plunked out his embryonic War of American Inconsideration collection to show off the new buildings. 

The top-left building is Captain Dan's birthday pressie (see previous post here). The church at the bottom left of the village is from Renedra and the small cabin (top-right) is from Perry Miniatures. These were fairly straightforward builds and painting was quick.  

The large plantation house was anything but straightforward or quick. This started as a seemingly easy conversion of a Warbases WWII mdf shell...

...into (hopefully) something like this beauty from Charlie Foxtrot:

Oh my, but was I mistaken about the level of commitment and perseverance it would take to pull this off! 

The first step was to clad the mdf shell in scribed card to represent  white clapboard. Along the foundation I added some plastic stone sheeting and constructed a small rear door and steps from card and balsa. Easy peasy! 

The next thing on the agenda was the front porch... how hard could it be? Let's just say that although I've scratch-built many things in this hobby over the years... this little piece was probably the most vexatious.

For the roof, I decided to use my extensive in-house stock of Warbases laser-cut shingle sheets. This process is quite easy but time-consuming. I try to treat it as a sort of meditative process (with variable levels of success). Before I even start, I try to accept that it's going to take a long time and that seems to make it easier. You can see the result in the last picture below.

Next up were the windows. My first thought was to scratch-build all of these from card and balsa but I soon was disabused of this idea. While the process of creating a window is quite simple, the thought of creating seventeen large and three small windows with all those panes was... well a pain! I don't mind scratch-building but I decided this would be too much. Onto the Warbases site I went and ordered up some of these:


The parts were painted separately (frames and shutters) for ease of access then glued onto card stock and balsa sills added. The whole combination was then glued onto the outer wall. I discovered many years ago that I don't need to actually cut the windows into the walls (which is a particularly onerous process). Mounting the entire window structure onto a card base provides the same effect (granted, you can't see figures when they're inside but that's a non-issue for me).

The finished product!

And some gratuitous shots of Captain Dan's budding AWI collection...

Sharp Practice: French force nearing completion

Still plugging away at my French force for Sharp Practice, I've added more skirmishers, formed infantry, and some heavy cavalry! 

The foot contingent: 
6 x legere groups (8 figs ea), 2 x legere skirmish groups (6 figs ea), 1 x engineer group (5 figs and cart), 1 x horse artillery group (4 figs), and various mounted and foot Big Men.

I delved into the hermetically-sealed vault and retrieved the horse artillerists and gun from the remnants of my previous Napoleonic collection (the rest of which went out into the world to pursue their own lives many moons ago). This group is made up of Front Rank figures in full-dress uniform and has one Big Man and three crew. Sharp Practice requires a five-man crew (sigh) and I actually have the extra two figures squirrelled away in the box 'o lead after adding them to a recent FR order. I just can't bring myself to get them out at the moment. So, it'll be either an under-strength crew or we'll ignore the first two kill results. There are a few more bits and bobs to add to the foot elements of the force. I'd like to complete a limber for the horse artillery (again, sitting forlornly in the lead pile) and repaint the caisson in the appropriate French green (the one shown above is from my former Carlist Wars collection and is, in fact, a French caisson from Perry miniatures). I'm also waiting on a Wargames Foundry order to add two 8-figure groups and one 6-figure skirmish group of Young Guard. These last will provide an alternative support option (and some really big plumes!).

The mounted contingent: 
2 x chasseur groups (8 figs ea), 1 x Empress' Dragoons group (8 figs), 1 x Grenadiers a Cheval group (8 figs), and various mounted Big Men.

Again, from the vault came the the Guard Cavalry to be re-based to match the rest of the force. Granted, there isn't much scope for the use of guard cavalry in le petite guerre but I have 'em and I'm gonna use 'em! In a pinch, the Empress' Dragoons can sub for regular dragoons. I also foresee a scenario wherein the Imperial pay chest, escorted by small contingents of guard cavalry and Young Guard infantry must traverse the length of the table and avoid capture. Included in the mounted contingent (and the last of the previous collection re-based) are three Front Rank aides-de-camp and a divisional general. Again, I'm sure the general wouldn't appear often in skirmish scenarios... but, well... it is what it is. And we might as well also ignore the Biggest Man of all in the French army, accompanied by Davout and Berthier. These figs may require some even more creative scenario creation.

One day last week, I was perusing my regular roster of blogs and gaming sites and came upon a great idea to track progress in a project. Unfortunately, I can't remember where it was (so I'm unable to ascribe proper credit). Using PowerPoint, I whipped up a quick project tracker. Square/rectangles represent SP2 groups; the numbers inside, the number of figures. Stars are Big Men and circles are supernumeraries (i.e. standard bearers and musicians). As I complete things, I can add the colour to the appropriate shapes. It's also quite easy to amend the plan by adding or deleting (as so many projects often go).

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Winter '44: OK, project not complete

Did I really post that this project is complete? Apparently, yes (link). Tallying up my years in the hobby, I find I bought my first set of Airfix figures in 1975 from a small shop on the High Street in Boston Lincs (that's the original Boston, for you Yanks!). That makes for 42 years in the hobby! You'd think by now that I'd not make sweeping "the project is completed" statements. This is especially applicable in a WWII context. Not only does it seem this is not the end of the Winter '44 project but it's not even the first go round with 28mm WWII. Some projects never end...

And so, after the first game in our Bloody Bucket campaign (link), I realized I had no STG44-armed German infantry to represent the Sturm sections in the Volksgrenadier platoons. Onto the interwebs and a walk amongst 28mm WWII manufacturers: 1) Taking advantage of Warlord Games' annual Xmas sales, I ordered up a box set of Winter Waffen-SS infantry but this would give me only six STG44-armed figures; 2) I then stumbled on Empress Miniatures' small range of late war Germans, amongst which are two packs of the required figures. Both these purchases were soon winging their way to The Great White North (along with sundry other bits and bobs... c'mon, why order just one thing from Warlord Games? ...that would be just silly).

Thus, making it in just under the 2017 year-end painting wire are two sections of Sturmtroopers...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sharp Practice: French (and five is an odd number...yes)

I've been beavering away for the last few weeks on my French Napoleonic force for Sharp Practice, despite the Xmas rush of people in the house disturbing the painting calm (having the brood home is wonderful but chaotic). I've found that because of the shorter spans of quiet time in the household, I'm better suited to tackling small numbers of figures. Before the recent additions, I took a quick shot of the force to date...

Two groups of chasseurs; three groups of infantry; one group of skirmishers.

Clearly the force was getting large enough to warrant some command figures. I had ordered these figures from Front Rank but realized how much larger they are than the Warlord plastics only when they arrived. No matter... they are Big Men after all :)

And with an eye to easy prep and completion during the Xmas chaos, a group of five French engineers  and a mounted engineer officer from Warlord Games. These are also bigger figures than the plastics... but they should be big burly men to wield the axes and shovels! But why five figures in the pack? Why not an even six? Sharp Practice "requires" six figures in an engineer group but this is frankly of no consequence to me. I'll field it as a five figure group and not stress even a bit about it (in the same way my militia groups are eight figures strong instead of the "required" ten figures... I've yet to be properly enlightened as to why, in the rules as written, militia groups "should" be ten figures and regular groups "should" be eight figures .. makes NO sense to me... and don't even get me started about five figure gun crews...sigh).

There is no off switch on a Tiger

There is no off switch on a tiger. - German proverb.

According to tradition, the offspring band together to produce a Xmas gift for me. They usually try to find something that would fit with my current gaming collections but something that I would never think to add on my own. Last year was the Sherman recovery vehicle (of which I seem to have no photos). This year's gift is a bit more aggressive...

Sturmpanzer VI Sturmtiger... 'nuff said!

Model acquired by Michael and assembled/painted by Captain Dan.

I also received this commission from Captain Dan: Pzkpfw VI Tiger.

Both are great models and Daniel has outdone himself on the painting!