Friday, August 19, 2011

Kid in a candy store

I came back home from work last night to find 3 parcels waiting for me for various suppliers..., tearing open all the boxes I felt like a kid in a candy store!

First up was the replacement pack of strumpets from Reaper. I have to say although it took a while to finalise, Reapers customer service has been very good. I initially bought a couple of packs of Reaper products from an Ebay trader, but when they arrived, one of the figures was snapped off its base at the ankles. I contacted the trader, who also kept in touch through the the process. He refunded the cost of the figure and advised me to get in touch with Reaper directly.
I did so, and they offered to send me a replacement pack, free of charge. I waited and the pack arrived, but again the same figure had the same damage! Turns out it was a 'bad batch'. They sent a further pack as a replacement, so now I have three more strumpets, or should that be a Madame and two strumpets to add to my pirate setting :-)

Secondly, my small pack of goodies arrived from Eureka. Again Nic was very helpful, with getting a small 'fiddly' order together for me of a few bits and bobs I wanted to complete my C18th coach and horses set up I am planning, again to add a bit of flair to my pirate setting. More of that on a later blog post...

And finally my order from Wargames Factory - The WSS 'Brits', and a box each of Zulus, and Colonial British. All looked splendid.
One thing I found interesting is that they have given some thought to how the plastic sprues stack together, inside the box. Having pulled them out to have look, they very easily stacked up and went back in the box. This contrasts somewhat with the Perry plastics I bought a little while back! Don't get me wrong the Perrys are nice figures, but when I have opened a box and pulled out the sprues to have a look, its a real bugger to get them back in the box! Maybe that's a Perry ploy, to get you to paint them!?

Also I did note the faces of the WSS figures and can see why some of the painted examples (on the box and web) have very 'googly looking' eyes. The figures have been scultped with a rather protruding eyeball. They look rather like Marty Feldman:

I will have to experiment with trimming or sanding down the eyes, or just experiment with painting and see how they turn out.
Other than that the WSS are actually very nice looking figs, at least on their sprues. Time will tell as I assemble them!

So once again I am snowed under with painting jobs!

So many periods, so little time...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Painting eyes - do you or don't you?

I agree painting eyes can be difficult and a little time consuming but if done well can really bring a model to life and make it 'pop'.

It is perhaps more suited to some of the more 'heroic scaled' 28mm figs, that have a decent amount of facial features sculpted in.

It does take practice and steady hand and a fine tip brush.

Here's a pic of what i do, its a bit crude but you get the idea:

1. block paint base flesh colour
2. give a wash of brown colour, this will define nose and eyes
3. paint a white line across eye, this is usually the easy bit. If you make it too wide, let if dry and brush over with a slightly darker tone to base flesh tone you used (to match the base flesh tone plus wash)
4. Now do a vertical black line through the middle of the eye, starting by resting brush tip on middle of eye brow, and drag downwards. I find this far easier than trying to stab a black dot in the centre of the white line with a brush tip that will deform as you do so. It also helps your aim and focus and fines out the brush tip as you drag downwards.
5. Now reduce the excess black line carefully brushing over with a slightly darker tone to base flesh tone you used.
6. Add highlights to face to finish.

I will agree, this can be hard depending on posture of figure, and other things getting in the way; bushy beards and eyebrows, hats and helmets, especially helmets with face guards... but its still possible...

Another trick I have heard about though not tried is dotting in the pupil using a cocktail stick

Educational resource:
Online art classes are available for people who love art.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

African captive slaves - from Eureka

I first came across these figures by Eureka Miniatures in 'The Revenge of Carlos Plynkes' blog.

When I saw them I immediately thought they would make perfect 'background' figures for my pirate skirmish gaming.

Obviously merchant ships of the period would be actively trading and thus transport slaves from the African continent to the new colonials in the Americas and Caribbean.

So they will look great, newly brought ashore at the port.

Or perhaps they could also be the target of a capture the merchant ship or slaver ship scenario.

I have mixed them up here, but Eureka sell them as a males and females separately. You don't need to buy the set, you can buy the figures individually as you wish. Just drop Nic an email at Eureka specifying which ones you want.

Although falling foul of this style of ordering to start with, Nic sorted out my initial order mix up, and has helped me source more figures to fit out my C18th coach conversion work I have planned for a future project.

A foray into VSF

Inspiration - it's a dangerous thing!

Within the last year, I have become properly aquainted with a certain Mr Joe Harrison Esq., aka 'The Colonel O'Truth', here on the Kapiti Coast.

It was some months ago that I was invited to partake in a cowboy skirmish game, and having been presented with Joe's 'Leadwood' - I have to say it inspired me to do likewise, although with a differing genre that I had a previous interest in: Pirates! So that was the source of inspiration for all my recent piratical goings on.

Joe also has an infectious enthusiasm for all things of a VSF nature, or to give it it's full title, Victorian Science Fiction. For those of the uninitated, this is a period which draws heavily on the ideas and works of Jules Verne and HG Wells to name a couple.

It is a period that the GASLIGHT rules have been designed for use with, and these rules appear to nicely cover all the troops, heroes, machines and beasties admirably well.


Well I have to say, it's happened to me again - inspiration!

And so, after a bit of chatting things through, 3 locals have decided to give the whole VSF thing a bash; Joe, myself and Roly Hermans.

Now being a Brit myself, I would have been the first to jump at the chance of fielding some colonial British in their iconic pith helms and red jackets. I first saw these troops as a kid, watching that classic movie; Zulu. Stirring stuff, and what red blooded British male wouldn't find this movie inspiring and invigorating!?

However I have obviously already been pipped to the post by Joe, with his previously commenced project; HMSW Gargantua - his incarnation of a British steam powered quadruped walker, crewed by such stalwarts as Seargent Boddington et al.

HMSW Gargantua

And so with the British already in the field, a suitable colonial adversary would be required, and what better than the dastardly Hun!? Thinking on Germanic imigery of the proposed period (1880-90s-ish), I remembered another somewhat iconic image, that of Karl Gerhart Fröbe, better known as Gert Fröbe, from the movie; 'Those Magnificent men in the flying machines', wearing that characteristic pickelhaube helmet.

Gert Fröbe

With this image in mind I set about searching the web. I found that the Germans of the period had been involved in the Franco-Prussian war, and a quick look at more images confirmed the sort of figures I was after.

More web browsing found a range of models I was happy with, available from Brigadegames, from their Paroom range.

Some great figures available there. I am sure an order will be placed forthwith!

Now one thing that characterizes the VSF period are its machines. So my troops were going to need some kind of 'tank' for the battlefield, especially after viewing at long range the looming form of HMSW Gargantua!

Obviously tanks didn't come into service until late WWI, some years after our proposed period of time. Plus these early machines would have been powered by the internal combustion engine and not steam power, which is one of the hallmarks of VSF fun!

I did find the wonderful looking german A7V tank. The temptation was to build one of these and stick a large chimney / funnel on the back, but that seemed too easy, and 'cheating', and not especially tailored to our period.


One of the things I have found with researching this project is that lots of folks have come up with a great many ideas for vehicles, but a great many are 'seriously fictional', if I can put it that way? What I want from a vehicle is the idea it could actually work. So I did a fair bit of web search reading up on steam power, hydraulic power, steam tractors or tractor engines, and caterpillar tracks, and importantly their inception dates and rough abilities.

Consequently, what I am thinking, and propose here, is to make a fighting vehicle based on the steam tractor engine. However, rather than the large heavy wheels, which by all accounts made the vehicle unuseable over difficult boggy ground, due to its weight, I would swap these out for caterpiller tracks.

To armour the vehicle, I decided to build an enclosed cab at rear of machine and, using a later german idea; adding schurzen plates to the sides and also to the front, but in a large 'cow-catcher' shape.

Stugs, with schurzen side armour plates

"Cow Catcher"

I also need to arm this vehicle and propose mounting a gatling-gun team or cannon artillery team, in an armoured enclosure upon the tractors roof.

The only thing to do would then be to route the funnel, down and backwards, so as not to interfere with the Gun teams line of sight.

Another touch I need to think about is a fuel supply. Now I have seen these machines trundling around the place back in Britain at summer farm festivals and the like, but what I am unsure about is how long could one run for, before it needed more coal to refuel it? So I am therefore considering having the machine drag a similar looking coal tender behind it, either wheeled or tracked and with side schurzen plates again.

So thats where all my thinking with this has got me so far!

Roly, our third player in the group, currently seems to be pondering between a French themed army perhaps using French Foreign Legion figures, or perhaps Austro-Hungarians of the period... we shall wait and see what he comes up with.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Legends of the High Seas - 'Kidnap the Governors Daughter' - pictorial battle report

And so our saga of adventures on the Caribbean high seas continues, well actually our crews have not left the port yet, but that's another story!

After our first Clash of Swords battle report, Brett and I managed to have another two games following a storied narrative, that my Pirate crew, tried to seize a ship from the docks, defended by Brett's pirate crew. Brett secured a win here defending the ship successfully with some wondrous (read - 'lucky') shooting, which quickly dropped my crew to their break point. They skulked away to lick their wounds.

To follow on from this story, my crew then tried to sneak out of town, and we had fun with the sentry rules, as I managed to send one of Brett heroes off in the wrong direction who promptly became a sheep 'worrier' in a distant paddock ;-). I managed to sneak my crew down one the side of the board until they were spotted and then all Hell broke loose. I almost managed it but Brett succeeded in heading my crew off at the last minute and stopped my crew about 6" from the target board edge... Curses! Foiled again, and still stuck in this rotten port!

So the scene is set. Our two crews are still holed up in the town, with mischief afoot. It did not take long for the Governors mansion to catch the eye of our crews, and both crews appear to come to the same conclusion - Kidnap.

So our story starts...

Brett's pirate crew obviously must have got there first as they found themselves with their Captain Flint, and half their crew and the terrified Governors daughter, in position in the mansion. Just about to set off back to the ship, they notice my pirate crew heading their way, and many townsfolk milling about the streets...

Captain Jim Blackblood leads the toughest half of his crew towards the mansion from the docks, knowing they will likely take musket fire from the windows of the mansion.

Cap'n Blackblood leads crew from dock

Whilst quartermaster Beady Bill, leads the rest of the crew from the town side of the Mansion. New man to the crew Jock brings a blunderbuss with him, with which he hopes to have some fun.

Beady Bill leads the rest of the crew with new member Jock and his blunderbuss
Bringing on the rest of Flints crew, are Jim Hawkins and Mistress Grey, approaching from the side of town, towards Blackblood's mob.
Jim Hawkins brings on the remaining half of Flints crew from the flank.
Quartermaster Squire Trelawney, stands outside the mansion with his trusty musket. He's a fine shot, and hopes to drop a few more pirates this day.
Eagle-eyed Quartermaster Squire Trelawney takes up position at mansion corner
In the mansion on the top floor, the Governors daughter is held captive in her rooms whilst Long John with his musket and Will Bones with his grenades cover the approach from the dock.
The governors daughter - (what a flusie!), on the top floor, with two cut throats
Cap'n Flint and his odd little ships cook guard the ground floor of the Mansion. Flint is a fearsome prospect -  a fine shot and master with the sword.
Captain Flint and the ships cook on the ground floor
At the sound of footsteps approaching from behind him, Trelawney spies approaching figures, aims his musket and fires, getting his shot past the horse and cart in front of him... (with the help of a fame point)...
Trelawney gets off first shot of the game with his musket
...and nails quartermaster Beady Bill!
And immediately drops Beady Bill
Shocked by this deadly shot, at a range they can't deal with now, Ol' Ned leads the rest of his mob round the other side of the inn, hoping to get towards the mansion, away from Trelawney's attentions.
Old Ned, seeing Bill shot, changes direction and rounds opposite side of inn, away from eagle eyed Trelawney.
Jim Blackblood leads his crew on, as Hawkins brings on his men from the side. A round of pistol fire sees Hawkins shot down by Blackblood.
Cap'n Blackblood and Jim Hawkins reach pistol range. This exchange sees Hawkins shot down.
Seeing his chance with the pressed mob below him, Will Bones readies his grenade, lights the fuse, but in his excitement at the prospect off immanent carnage, drops the grenade at his feet. With a loud boom, and profuse smoke, Will and Long John beside him are left incapacitated!
Cap'n Flint moves to mansion doors
Flint moves to the Mansion doors to ready a shot out into the street as it presents itself.

Meanwhile, out to sea, a privateer brig can be seen making its way to the ship yard, to finish off its fit out. Sea trials have proved interesting without a wheel or anchor, or much rigging, and there is clearly need for more cannons!

Out to sea a Privateer Brig approaches, (heading for the shipwright to get finished!)
Ol' Ned and Dandy Jack lead Muzza and Jock towards the mansion. They see Flint looking round edge of mansion doors, and Trelawney off to the mansion side watching approach of Blackblood.
Ol' Ned leads the approach to the mansion, seeing Flint behind the door, and Trelawney round the corner. Another of Flints cut throats at far corner of inn.
Mistress Grey retreats her men away from Blackblood, seeing Trelawney moving to help. Trelawney is hit but not wounded by a pistol shot and retreats back round behind corner of mansion wall. It was this point the brave townsfolk became thoroughly meddlesome to Blackblood's efforts, getting in the way of his shots at, or charges towards, Flints crew.
Mistress Gray backs off in the face of an enraged Blackblood, whilst Trelawney readies another shot.
Ol' Ned and Muzza charge Flint at the mansion door, but the wily Flint manages to block Muzza's attempts, with the double doors, whilst fighting Ned. Despite parrying to the best of his skill, Ned is dropped by Flint's twirling blade! Dandy Jack charges the sneaking cut throat of Flints crew by side of inn, but fights to  stalemate. Jocks advances, lowers his blunderbuss, and lets rip at Trelawney. Trelawney is taken out of the fight!
Ned and Muzza try to get at Flint in the mansion, while Jock levels blunderbuss at Trelawney. Dandy Jack has charged the cut throat by the inn.
Blackblood incensed at the interfering townsfolk vents his fury at them and charges with Willie's big chopper help. The peasant is cut down easily. But this bold moves leaves the trailing less well armed part of his crew easily pressured as Mistress Grey leads her men back into the fight against Arabella, Zeake and Isiah with their muskets - not much use in a stand up fight!
Frustrated at townsfolk getting in the way, Blackblood and Willie charge the one between them and Trelawney

Dandy Jack uses his swordsmanship against Flints cut throat

Privateer Brig approaches port
The brig gets nearer the port and even at this distance the crew on board can hear the sound of action in the town!
With Blackblood busy, Mistress Gray leads the charge against Arabella

A brave attempt by Blackblood to get past the townsfolk to help his beleagured crew, with a 'No Quarter' fight is thwarted by poor dice... sniff sniffle
As the fighting across the town hots up, it all comes to a head on this final turn. Realizing his bold move has stranded more vulnerable members of his crew, Blackblood tries to fight his way back to his struggling crew, flinging throwing daggers and screaming "No Quarter!". But fickle fate is not his this day, and he sees two more of his crew cut down before his can reach them. Mistress Grey shouts up 'No quarter' also. Blackblood manages to to vent his furry against one cut throat, but finds himself now cut off and surrounded by three enemy crew.
Numbers start to hurt Blackbloods crews chances and cut throats begin to fall to Flints crew

Dandy Jack and Jock battle with Flints cut throat, as Muzza tries to hold off Flint at mansion door

The final melee sees Willie dropped, and Blackblood facing 3 of Flints crew, having managed to drop one himself just after this picture taken
Dandy Jack is still trying to drop this cut throat in front of him and Jock hurries over to help, but another cry of 'no quarter' has seen Flint drop Muzza at the mansion doors, and race over the cobbles to aid his crewman. More twirling blades fly all round but all emerge unscathed, yet out of breath.
With Muzza cut down, Flints Heroic No Quarter allows him and his cook to storm acorss to help his threatend cut throat.
At this point Blackblood realizes the game is up, he's down to three men remaining including himself, yet Flints crew is also only one man from breaking too. He ponders a while if its worth hanging in for one more round of action, but the idea of getting surrounded himself, and Flint still on the loose, and outnumbering Dandy Jack and Jock, the time has come for discretion to be the better part of valor, and to embrace that oldest and noblest of pirate traditions - to run away!

The post game sequence revealed some interesting results, both Arabella and Beady Bill were dead! And Ol' Ned had a smashed leg and would miss the next outing. However, as they fled the scene, in the confusion, Dandy Jack and Jock must have grabbed the slumped form of Trelawney, who it turned out was laterly exchanged to the authorities for small reward and he was promptly hanged! (A cruel choice but I'd lost 2 crew this game, and thus needed the cash to buy more, and Trelawney was becoming a serious pain in the posterior to my pirate career!)

Both crews gained experience from the events of the game, and several skill upgrade rolls were made. Booty was calculated, and both crews would have enough to make good their losses. It should be noted I think that 'man of the match' has to go to Mistress Grey who managed to drop 3 pirates this game with a little help along the way, including my doomed Arabella who had only recently been promoted from the ranks via the 'cabin boy did good' advance roll. Ah well, easy come, easy go!

This scenario is always a tough one for the attacker, and in reflection, the critical turn was Blackbeard's charge against the townsfolk. Brett played these well, and at the point Hawkins was dropped I could have easily pressed an advantage in numbers in a small local area, but the damned townsfolk were in the way. Perhaps I became a little impetuous, but was also potentially under pressure from other areas. Trelawney had been a real thorn in my side in previous games and this one, with his 3+ to hit in shooting, and Flint's 3 melee attacks were lethal! I caught a break when the grenade blew up 2 of Flints men, but lady luck seemed to turn the other way again.

I also most broke out of the problem, with throwing daggers dropping a peasant, and then calling a No Quarter. If I had dropped that intervening cut throat I could have rescued my struggling crew, but you cant do much about rolling a 1 and a 2 in a fight...!

Brett did comment part way through game his dice luck is legendary with his past playing partners! Looks like I am up against it!

But at the end of the day its a simple fun skirmish game and not worth getting too wound up about, and as the post game events show, money comes your way, and more crew can be bought for the next game to keep it interesting!

Looking forward to next game.

I have realized why the figures stand too large against the mansion doors ... They are in fact too big, or doors are too small! Working with a nominal 28mm figure scale in my head, I thus made doors 30mm high, thinking that would be plenty. Of course, the figures are '28mm' tall, but then they also have a cast base, and then I mount them small coins. This has significantly increased their size to the building doors. So...
the builders have been called in! I'm adding a layer of foamcore all round base of mansion, which will give a plinth like effect, and also a step up to mansion doors. That should fix it! Lesson learned!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

More pirates!

A few more pirates to swell my growing crew!

Since starting this Piracy project I've been scouring Ebay and Trademe for Foundry pirates and have picked up a few packs. Some to boost my crew but also just to make more figures available to show others the game, if they have not got their own crews already.

Plus to give me crews for NPC Merchants and Warships.

Some nice characterful figures in this pack. I especially like the 'Captain' - I see him as a Privateer captain perhaps or even a Navy type turned pirate. I'm also keen to try out the chap with what I believe is a blunderbuss type weapon.

The only figure I am not too sure about is the guy with the mask, and large axe. He looks more like a headsman executioner type. I may use him as figure to accompany my gallows set I plan to make.

Two more packs of Foundry pirates to go, but next up African Slaves from Eureka Miniatures...

update 8/8/11 -
I did find this image on wikipedia of grenade launchers suggesting these as C18th:

It would be interesting to find out if they were used as early as the 'Golden Age of Piracy' - and also what sort of rules to use for them in LotHS...
maybe make them maximum range of 12 to 15 inches (it should be less than a musket, more than a pistol)? Cost? Rarity?
I think if you roll a 1 to hit it goes off in the barrel!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tricorne temptations and Colonial captivation

My recent interest in all things of a 'pirate' nature and its accompanying period; the Golden Age of Piracy, and a major conflict of the period, the War of Spanish Succession, had me perusing for all things of a tricorne persuasion.

I already have a great fondness of the Black Powder rules, and when I heard of the immanent release of a C18th supplement for this rule-set being released: Last Argument of Kings, I have to say I was quite thrilled.

And so the fun hunt for suitable figures began. Whilst I love Foundry miniatures, and for the small numbers required for pirate themed skirmish games, they are ideal, the idea of buying up heaps of them for Black Powder scale games was not a financial option.

With the recent release of great quality plastic sets of hard styrene miniatures, at affordable prices, this had to be the way to go... but I could only find one suitable set:

War of Spanish Succession from Wargames Factory. An affordable plastic set, but by God Sir, they looked awful!

I have rarely seen such a poor paint-job be used to advertise and attract custom to a product!

So the hunt went on, but despite emailing the Perrys and WarlordGames, neither seemed to have any plans to release their own versions.

Hmph! I thought, and let it lie.

Then I stumbled across this pic, via a link on TMP:

What a difference! I have hope again for these figures, and intend to get a set. I just now need to find how best to order them for delivery to NZ. My usual source Maelstrom games has them for about 15 quid, which includes shipping. Wargames Factory themselves have them at $20US, but their site is not the friendliest and I can't see their shipping rates quoted anywhere...

Looking further through the Wargames Factory website, I came across their Colonial wars offerings:

And they obviously got somebody who could paint this time to advertise the models themselves:

They look superb. And with the possibilities of GASLIGHT rules for fun skirmish play, and also Black Powder larger scale action, I think they will certainly fit the bill.

And of course the Zulus are available and equally appealing, and are affordable as plastics when you need "fousands of 'em":

Equally well painted up:

I always fancied re-fighting the battle of Rourke's Drift, after watching that classic piece of movie entertainment; ZULU with Michael Caine and Stanley Baxter.

cockney accent "Don't throw...bloody me!", the most famous and oft impersonated line Michael Caine NEVER said ;-).

I also loved the portrayal of Colour Seargent Bourne in the movie too. I forget the actors name, but damn fine show he did of it. The sideburns were awesome.

Ah well, more plastic temptations to pull at my purse-strings... just don't tell the missus!
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