Friday, January 18, 2019

Saxon Fyrd Unit and Entire Wing of Battle of Hastings

Finally finished the Saxon Fyrd unit I was working on which finishes off one wing of the Saxon line for the Battle of Hastings game.  Nothing new, but here it is anyway.

That means that I've finished one entire wing of the battle for each side.  Here are some shots of the left wing/right wing of the Norman/Saxon lines for the Hastings game I'm working on.

The Fyrd right wing of the battle line.

The Breton (Norman) left side of the battle line which you've already seen, but I thought I would post another picture anyway.

Onto the first half of the middle, which for the Normans means a repeat of the above units and for the Saxons two more Huscarl units (I did the first one a while back).

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces 1941

Sometimes it is not how long a project takes to complete, but how long it takes to get started. I crafted my WW II USMC/USA 1941 troops way back in January 2017. The idea was to create a small force – one infantry platoon in defense and two platoons in attack – so I could play a test game of Peter Pig's Poor Bloody Infantry (PBI) and see if I liked it.

I love the last line of that blog post:
Next up, the special figures of the USMC and the start of the Japanese SNLF platoon.
Yeah, that was almost two years ago that I was going to start my SNLF project. Like I said, what matters is how long it takes to start a project because making and painting your own figures is quick and simple. Once you start, that is.

The picture above shows the parts that I used.
  1. This is a small, strange bead that I found at the local store that was cheap. I imagined that the 'band' in the center could serve as a separator between the upper and lower body, but in this build it did not matter, unless I wanted to paint it as webbing. (I did not, as this is a minimalist build.)
  2. This is a classic 'button' or 'mushroom' head plug. Makes for a great head with a helmet. This was used for all riflemen and LMG crew.
  3. This is a round head plug. This was used as the head for the standard bearer, who is bareheaded.
  4. This is a flat head plug. This was used for the head of the officer. Flipping it upside-down it looks like the jungle cap with apron covering the back of the neck.
  5. This is a simple mini-dowel. I use these for the rifles, LMG, sword, and staff for the standard. I prefer these over toothpicks because of the standard diameter.
  6. These are 3cm wooden bases for the troops.

You can see the build is really simple for the riflemen. Glue the button head plug on top of the bead for the body and add a 1/2" piece of dowel for the rifle. I use dimensional paint to create the arms and hands.

As you can see – or maybe not, as it is a little dark – the color scheme is very simple. The helmets are a light green (I have seen all kinds of colors for this) and a medium jungle green for the trousers and jacket. Although it might seem silly at this scale (12mm to the eyes, but chunkier) I always try and get the weapons correct. The Japanese Arisaka Type 99 rifle had a metal bolt mechanism and barrel, but the area between the bolt and the end of the barrel was covered in wood.

The Type 99 Light Machine Gun was also made with the dowel, but was 3/4" long and uses a lot more dimensional paint to represent the gun stock, bipod, muzzle, and carrying handle. I do not have the distinctive magazine sticking out of the top. The next platoon I build with have the gunners in the prone position, so that detail will be present. The build for the figure itself is the same as for the rifleman.

The standard bearer uses the round head plug for the head, but the same bead for the body. The flag is from and is simply glued on to the dowel.

The officer uses the flat head plug, flipped upside-down, for the head. A small piece of dowel, shaved flatter, is used for his katana, and the pistol is simply formed from dimensional paint.

Here is the whole platoon, six rifle stands, three LMG stands, and one command stand. I need to make some casualty markers, and of course another whole platoon. Hopefully this time it won't take me another year to start!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Breton Allied Command Finished!

Got my last unit of Breton infantry finished today, which means that I have the entire Brenton Allied Command for my Battle of Hastings game finished.  Here is the unit I just finished by itself.  Nothing new construction wise, although I have started to just hot glue the figures to the bases now instead of screwing them in from the bottom.  Not as strong as the screws, but clearly strong enough and it takes a) way less time to hot glue them on, and b) it is SOOOOO much easier on my hands.  Screwing the figures to the base, even with a power drill, was really tough.  Anyway, here they are.

I did remember to paint the tunics sticking out below the bottom hem of the chainmail or padded armor this time (I forgot to do that on the Huscarls unit I finished earlier this month!).  I didn't go with the angled shield arms for these, I went vertical with them, that is except for the axe-wielding guys, their front arms are obviously glued to the body at an angle.  Not as cool looking as the angled shields, but easier to do.  I might try and do a mix and match unit with some straight up and down arms and others angled on the same base.  It gets tricky when you do stuff like that, though, because you don't really know how the shields are going to go in terms of spacing until you actually glue them on, which is the last thing I do with these figures.

I decided to set up the Breton Allied Command in its entirety on my new battle mat.  It's one of those neopryne (I'm sure I'm spelling that wrong) battle mats which is essentially a thin mouse pad that is 6 feet by 4 feet (the one I bought has those dimensions, you can get other shapes as well) with a scenic top part printed on the giant mousepad.  I wasn't sure how my guys were going to look on it, it's pretty realistic looking, but I think it looks okay.  I planned to use this battle mat for the actual game.  Here are some shots.

Archers in front, infantry behind, and cavalry ready to ride out when needed in the rear.

The Saxon's view!

View from the rear.

The next unit I'm working on is another Saxon Fyrd unit, and when I get that one done I'll have the Saxon's right side of their line finished (the one that opposes the Brenton allies).  So, when I get that done, I'll post a picture of this entire side of the battlefield with the Saxons facing off against this Brenton allied command.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saxon Huscarls Unit!

Real life has been incredibly busy this fall so I haven't been able to get as much hobby time as I would have liked, but I finally got my first unit of Saxon Huscarls done for my Hastings game.  Here are some of my standard shots of them.

They are very similar construction wise to the previous Dark Ages infantry I've been doing but there are some differences.  First, I wanted to put some face masks on some of them to help me tell the difference between them and, say, the Norman allies.  I may also go back and paint some facial hair on them too, but I'm not sure I'm going to do that.  I also put a mixture of round and kite shields in the unit, which also makes it easier to tell them apart from the Norman side (I use only the kite shields for them).  I also gave them a greater mix of weapons with spears, swords, and two-handed Dane axes.

The face shields were easy, I just fashioned them out of paper and glued them onto the head.  The top part of the shield was a straight edge so that it would lay flush against the bottom of the helmet piece, and I creased the center so that it would have some 3D effect that is consistent with the way they were constructed, at least as far as I can tell from the pictures I looked at.

I also angled the shield arms a bit away from the body so that it looks like they are holding their shields out to accept a charge, the bottom part of the shield sticking out further than the top part.  It also keeps the shields from being perfectly parallel with the body, which is not very natural in terms of how people really hold a shield, at least for any length of time.

I like how they turned out, they are "regular" enough in their appearance to denote skill and training which of course would be a part of a more elite Huscarl unit, and "chaotic" enough in their weapon choices, shield types, and arm positions to convey their ferocity when in actual combat.

Now onto another Norman allies unit and one more Fyrd and I will have one entire wing for both sides finished!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Craft Paints, Gesso, and Dark Age Colors

Interesting that Matt has been working on his Dark Ages forces recently as so have I. I have a huge backlog of audio books to listen to and computer gaming has gotten stale, so it is time to cycle to other interests, like picking up a paintbrush again. And my subject: finishing off my 42mm Anglo-Saxon force for Saga. No pictures yet, but you can find their enemies, the Anglo-Danes, in older posts.

Matt and I have talked about, through this blog and emails, about craft paints. Matt swears by them and I, well, swear at them. I hate the lack of covering power and don't really fancy painting figures several times to get the color I want. Painting larger figures exacerbates the issue as your are painting more surface area, increasing the time and expense. The two things craft paints bring to the table, however, are color range and cost. So it is hard to completely discount craft paints.

Gesso is a compound of plaster of Paris or whiting in glue, often used as surface preparation for wood. I have increasingly been using gesso on my wood projects as it reduces paint absorption in the wood, thereby reducing the amount of paint required to color the surface. When mixed with color, specifically craft paint, it reduces the number of coats required to get the color you want. With some colors, one coat of craft paint and gesso is all that is required.

The issue with gesso is that it is itself colored, either white or black. So mixing it with craft paint changes the color. No matter how much of the paint you put in, it will never go back to that color if it has gesso – white, black, or both – mixed with it. So mixing becomes an adventure in and of itself.

Working on my Anglo-Saxons, I wanted to try and use more 'realistic' colors for the cloth, so I found a page with some yarn dyed with materials available during the Dark Ages in Europe.

I was actually surprised by some of the colors. Basically, by mixing modern, vibrant colors with white, and sometimes a little black gesso, you can achieve some pretty nice colors for a Dark Ages palette.

So I decided to give it a try. Start with a little blob of white gesso, add some color that is more vibrant than a color similar to the above, then start mixing. Add another color, add some black gesso, and so on. One of the things it does is make the color slightly inconsistent, as maybe a stray bit of color is not as thoroughly mixed as the rest. This adds a nice, minor variation in the color, whether it is on one figure in a large surface area or it is between two figures.

In the end you tend to add a little color to the previous colors, getting more variations in color, and allowing you to paint several figures with like colors, but not exactly the same color. This makes the figures less uniform. Your palette also ends up looking very strange, with colors you used completely obscured.

I am not ready to declare complete success, but we will see after the paint dries on my Anglo-Saxons. I have the cloth parts done, but there is still a lot of work with the shields and the faces, so it may be some time before I get them done, especially as there are 24 infantry and 5 cavalry to do. I will be showing them later. But, I have come to wonder something else. How color-coordinated were they really back in the Dark Ages? Is it okay to combine colors that we would not combine today? Or are we, in the end, doing all of us for our eye?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Norman Cavalry - Whole Unit

Finally finished the entire unit of Norman Cavalry.  I had one base done a while ago, but ended up realizing that putting the cavalry on the same size base as the infantry made the cavalry units too bunched up looking, and also made it impossible in many cases to put them into base contact to their front or rear, which is obviously not idea.  So I rebased the one stand that I did and the three new stands that I just finished on double depth bases.  What I did was take two of the precut bases I use for the infantry (3 inches wide by 1 inch deep roughly) and glued them together to make one base that is double depth.

Here is the unit.

There are four stands of three figures each in a 2 x 2 stand formation.  I kept the spear position the same for all the figures (it's a lot easier that way even if not very realistic) but tried to make it so that they were not in perfect lines.  I also turned the horses heads in some cases from side to side just to break it up a bit.

I think they look particularly good from the front.

Here they are from the "shield side."

Nothing at all new construction or paint wise except that I used hot glue to glue the horses to the base.  Even after sanding the horses "hooves" piece (the split egg) a little flat so that you get more surface contact between the base and the horse, with the white glue alone it's just a little "wobbly" sometimes.  Being liberal with the hot glue does make quite a strong bond, and if there is extra glue sticking up on the horses legs I just painted it green so that it looks like grass.  No one is looking at the horses feet when they look at these figures anyway, let's be honest.  No reason losing any sleep over the place where the hooves come into contact with the base!

I'm most of the way through the build of the next unit, which is a Saxon Housecarls unit.  I've got swords, axes, and spears in that one with a little more variety in terms of arm and weapon position.  I'll also use a mixture of round and kite shields, so they should look pretty cool, at least I hope so.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Barrage! Recap Video from Little Wars TV

The guys from Little Wars TV ran some games and did a videography of Barrage! 2018.  They were nice enough to do a little interview with me and included shots of my wooden fantasy figures in the video summary for the convention.

They were fantastic to me and really loved the figures.  I am hoping that they ask me to do some tutorials for their channel.  Because they are a historical gaming channel, if they do ask me I’ll focus on my ancients.

They have a very cool channel if you are interested in historical gaming.  Very good production values, tutorials, and actual video of game play throughs.  Here is the link to the Barrage! 2018 video summary.



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