Monday, April 26, 2010

RMC weekend

Made the trip up to Kingston on the weekend, this time with Diana. She wanted to see her brothers' school and we thought we'd get some gaming in at the same time. Saturday night we played a spirited game with Daniel's cowboys. Some random shots of the cowboy game and the RMC campus below taken with my Crackberry (so they're a little fuzzy).

Daniel, Diana & Michael in front of the Mackenzie Building at RMC.

A new tank commander for the Canadian army?

A very bad shot of Daniel's new stagecoach (from Old Glory) racing down the main street of Deadwood.

A shot across the main street of Deadwood with the new stables in the center background.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Carlists!

Seems I've come to the end of my Carlist Wars purchases from Cold Wars and Hotlead. The two units I've just finished (see below) bring my Carlist army up to 30+ figures, still only one third of the Isabellinos. Looks like another Perry Miniatures order is on the horizon. Meanwhile, I can finish painting the Carlist and Isabellino mounted command figures that have been patiently waiting on my desk for a few months.

In keeping with my desire to model the Army of the Center (to compliment Vidal's Army of the North), the first unit up is infantry of Aragon. There were nine or ten battalions of these troops in Don Cabrera's army and said to be extremely tough and rigidly disciplined.

Aragon infantry. Perry Minatures.

Next up, some Carlist cavalry. These are Aragon lancers, quite flashy in their green tunics and red boinas (the big, doughnut berets). I particularly like the reversed colours of the trumpeter.

Aragon lancers. Perry Miniatures with Adolfo Ramos flag.

I think the next purchases for this army will be some artillery, another unit of lancers, and irregular infantry. Onwards....!

Friday, April 16, 2010

War of the Roses: a new project?

Of late I've been contemplating how I go about starting a new gaming project. In the past, I've found my approach to new projects rather haphazard but I'm now finding that I prefer a bit more pre-planning (besides, the planning and dreaming is a fun project in itself). I've started to appreciate a more contained approach. By this I mean more modest goals in terms of project size and scope. In this case, size and scope means number of figures, painting time, and terrain/scenics considerations. Two good examples are my WWI naval and 28mm First Carlist Wars projects. For the former, I planned the entire project before purchasing anything. I chose the rules (Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts), the ship manufacturer (GHQ), the size of the movement stands (custom ordered from Litko), and the game markers (also from Litko). Everything was ordered at the same time. The project was limited in size (15 ships per side) and achievable in a reasonable time frame (3 months in this case). The project is completely finished, meaning I have enough to play a variety of different scenarios or even a small campaign. I can always add onto the project in the future (in fact, I just added three more ships when I found them on sale at Cold Wars) but for all intents and purposes, the project is self-contained and finished. This is in stark contrast to my massive 28mm Napoleonic collection which has no end in sight and continues to grow like a fungus. In the case of the First Carlist War project, I used a similar approach, although the purchases have been spread out over a longer period of time. The total figure count for the basic armies combined is approximately 300 figures. The rules, army compositions, basing and figure manufacturer were all decided on beforehand. Having said all this, my (current) criteria for new projects are the following:

1) Manufacturer: I would prefer a single manufacturer so that the sculpting style remains consistent. This is not a make or break criterion if two or more ranges have similar styles that I feel are compatible. Lately, I've found myself attracted to new genres/projects merely because of a new range of figures (the Perry First Carlist War range is case in point). Is the one manufacturer's range complete (or are here concrete plans to make it complete or at least expand)? Now, I suppose one person's idea of complete is not the same as another's. Do I really expect the Perry brothers to release figures for the one Cristino hussar unit that served with the army? Probably not. But this brings up another point: does that manufacturer/sculptor have other ranges from which figures can be co-opted for the planned project. In the case of the aforementioned hussars, the Perrys have just released a box of plastic Napoleonic French hussars which I'm sure, with all the various options provided, can provide the necessary figures.

2) Cost: This is always a consideration but higher costs can be mitigated somewhat. Spreading purchases over time can help (besides, I can only paint so fast). Using the Old Glory Army discount can help. The new plastic ranges are also attractive for this criterion.

3) Scope: How many figures/models do I need to build two basic armies with a good dose of variety? Hopefully I can keep this below 300 figures (with, of course, scope for adding at a later date if the mood strikes me). Is the projected painting time reasonable? I would much prefer to have a maximum two year time frame for project completion (the three month completion of the WWI naval is a bit of an anomaly and obviously not really achievable with most projects).

4) Familiarity: Do I really need to be familiar with the historical genre? If I'm attracted to a project by a range of figures, I suppose not. Some passing interest is helpful though. A big attraction for me is the research and development phase; finding the resources, learning about the historical period/genre, etc. (Why haven't I ever started a Fenian Raids project?)

5) Uniqueness: Is this project unique, to me or to the hobby in general? Have I ever tried this period/genre/scale before? Is anyone in my immediate gaming community doing it? Is it a niche genre in the hobby at large? None of this is terribly important. After all, my biggest project to date is 28mm Napoleonics; hardly unique. But for a smaller project of the type I'm contemplating, a unique character is a nice bonus.

6) Aesthetic Attraction: While I'm not averse to khaki armies, bright colours for me are like shiny things for a raccoon. There has to be something that attracts me aesthetically; the uniforms, the scenic setting, etc.

7) Basing: I don't mean the basing conventions in a given set of rules (to which I don't normally adhere anyway). Do Litko or Gale Force Nine carry the bases I need or will they custom make them? A related issue: are there pre-made game markers for the rules/period available? For my WWI naval project, Litko supplied Victory at Sea turning templates and other markers, such as smoke, shell splashes and torpedoes. Again, this is not a make or break criterion.

So these are some of the criteria that spring most quickly to mind. How do these translate to a real project for me? Recently, Michael and Daniel and I had a discussion about this very thing. I asked them about ideas for future projects, given some of the criteria listed above. Of all the suggestions, the Boxer Rebellion was perhaps the most attractive. But after some thought and noticing (again) the Perry box set of plastic War of the Roses infantry, my imagination started to drift to medievals. This is a historical genre/period for which I've always had an interest but have never carried through on to a real project. How does the War of the Roses meet my criteria?

1) & 2) Manufacturer & Cost: Actually, this will take abit longer to explain and I'll leave it 'til last.

3) Scope: I think I can build two representative armies for 300 figures or less. This can even include the more exotic troop types represented by Continental mercenaries (i.e. handgunners, artillery, pikemen). If I use a Sharpe Practice type rule set, I can base the figures singly for a pseudo-skirmish type of game and use movement trays for larger battles (perhaps with a different set of rules, such as Piquet).

4) Familiarity: I have some knowledge of the basics of the War of the Roses but nothing extensive. I
won't be starting my research from scratch but I still need to learn enough to maintain my interest. I have all the appropriate Ospreys and the old stalwart publication, Armies of the Middle Ages, Vol. 1 by Ian Heath and these give me the basics. More detailed information about battles and campaigns I'll have to search out (and it gives me an excuse to add to my book if I need one).

5) Uniqueness: War of the Roses is not terribly unique in the hobby, although it's far from being one of the major periods. Few, if any, game this period/genre in my immediate gaming community (at least not that I've seen). And it is unique to me, which helps to swing the decision-making balance.

Perry Miniatures WotR Foot

(from Warlord Games website)

6) Aesthetic Attraction: Oh yeah! This is a very colourful period. Brightly coloured tunics and banners contrasted with the shiny armour of the men-at-arms and knights!

So, on to the manufacturer and the costs. My initial interest was sparked by the Perry Miniatures War of the Roses box set but there are other options.

Perry Miniatures

The plastic box set currently offered "contains enough components to build forty complete (40) plastic 28mm infantry figures (there are 14 different body designs), including four (4) fully armoured command. The distribution of parts allows for up to eighteen (18) billmen or thirty (30) archers. There are also
additional arms for the command to allow you to build two (2) standard bearers, and also pairs of arms with trumpets. A total of 56 heads are included" (Warlord Games). The list price from Perry is £15.00 or $23.43 CAD. That equates to just a little under $.60 CAD per figure. These are complimented by a small metal range of mounted figures but since very few mounted knights would be needed (if any at all), I'd only need to worry about command figures. Three mounted metal figures = £7.50 or $11.72 CAD ($3.91 CAD per figure + horse). There is another plastic box set on the horizon as well that will include handgunners and pikemen. Perry Miniatures also has an extensive Hundred Years War range from which I could pick and choose.


plastic figures that allow variety of poses

sculpting style

variety (coupled with Hundred Years War range selections)

X plastic figures = assembly

X not compatible with Front Rank

Front Rank

Front Rank has a very large range of WotR figures (and an extensive Hundred Years War range to pick out of as well). These figures are much bulkier and of a decidedly different sculpting style than the Perry figuress and for the most part can't be mixed. Foot figures are £1.05 or $1.64 CAD per figure. Mounted figures (+ horse) are £2.65 or $4.14 CAD each. The greatest advantage of the FR figures is that they can be ordered singly.

single figure ordering

sculpting style

variety (coupled with Hundred Years War range selections)

X not compatible with Perry Miniatures

X cost

Front Rank men-at-arms.

Old Glory

The biggest advantage to choosing Old Glory are the variety of figures available (as with most OG ranges) and cost. Foot figures come in bags of 30 for $19.20 USD or $19.46 CAD, or $.65 CAD per figure. Mounted figures are $21.00 USD or $21.29 CAD for 10 figures, or $2.13 CAD per figure. OG sculpting can be inconsistent but their WotR range seems to be one of their better ones.


/X? sculpting style


/X? compatibility with Perry Miniatures (not sure)

X large bags of same/similar figures requires extra purchases to get variety

Old Glory men-at-arms from:

I'm leaning more to the Perry figures, mostly because I like their sculpting style, price, and the attraction of learning to work with the plastics. Old Glory is coming in a close second place. Although I like Front Rank style, I'm not as attracted to their price.

Hmmm, the planning goes on!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Napoleonic French Artillery

For some of you, the name I'm about to mention will dredge up some memories, Joe Dillon. Yes, he's still alive (and kickin') and busily painting away his free time in the the pretty lakeside burg of Burlington. I was over to his house the other day for tea and I was able to take some photos of one his latest creations. Joe is busy on a new 28mm French Napoleonic army (which reincarnation of this project is this, Joe?) and you'll see a French 6lb foot artillery battery below. In order to model all the impedimenta that accompanies an artillery battery, Joe decided to add a caisson stand behind the battery. Rather than suffer the expense of a caisson model for each gun model (and they're damned pricey!), Joe had the novel idea of one large stand with one caisson model. As you can see in the photos below, he's created a mini diorama to place behind the battery guns and represent all the mess of stuff that would be there. The guns and crews are from Perry Miniatures and the caisson and horse team from Essex Miniatures.

Carlists and Cowboys!

Having almost finished my First Carlist War Isabellino army, I've recently switched over to the Carlists. Since Vidal has been painting his Carlists as part of the Northern Army under Don Carlos (from whence the movement's name comes), I thought I'd try something a little different. Vidal's northern infantry units wear the standard grey greatcoat with white or red trousers and blue beret. Most of the infantry in this northern force followed this pattern (as you can see in this photo of some of Vidal's figures). The Army of the Center (or the Army of Maestrazgo) was a completely separate force from Don Carlos' Northern Army, based in Aragon and commanded by Ramon Cabrera. The most interesting thing about this army for me is the greater variety of uniforms. The first unit I've decided to model is one of the Tortosa battalions. I've chosen to use figures in frock coat, to further differentiate them from Vidal's troops. This unit (and its sister battalions) were clad in blue coats with (strikingly) white berets. They are also one of the few units for which evidence survives of company distinctions. I've thus made six of the figures from the grenaderos company, with red tassels. The flags for this unit are also rather unusual; skull and cross bones on a black field.

Tortosa infantry, fusileros. Apparently these were some of the best and most highly disciplined troops in the army.
Perry Miniatures with Adolfo Ramos flag.

Tortosa infantry, grenaderos. Perry Miniatures.

Tortosa infantry. In Sharp Practice terms, this gives me one 12-figure group, one 6-figure group, a standard and one Big Man.

And for something completely different, I spent an enjoyable evening painting some figures for Daniel's ever-growing western gunfight project (see here for some of that project). I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring and paint a gang for myself. As you can see below, they are more colourful than your standard John Wayne-esque cowpokes!

The Christmas Gang!
So-called because Bart "Papa" Magus and his cronies robbed their first bank on Christmas Day 1883 (that's him on the far right). Everyone knows when the fancy-pants gang has arrived.