Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Commanche Indian in 28mm

I joined a new Yahoo group about wargaming the Plains Indian wars. I have generally avoided that subject mostly because I grew up with the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and in my day Scouts had almost a reverential attitude towards the American Indian ways. The wars were glossed over. But, now I live in the West (AZ) and I am surrounded by history, yet I have been refusing to game it. I figured it was time to get over my reluctance. After all, the American Indian warriors could be quite colorful.

As before I used a simple shaker peg for the figure. What needed to change, however, was the 'skirt'. I figured that for this figure I could use a combination of breechcloth and leggings, so the skirt in the front and back was still appropriate; it would represent the breechcloth. I sanded out a space on the left and right and everything looked perfect.

The feather is a simple flat toothpick very delicately sanded (along with my fingers) to get the shape. I intentionally squiggled the line in the feather so it looked more natural.


The flesh color I used was Game Workshops' Dark Flesh. As my reference picture was Chief Low Dog of the Commanches - and he was very dark - this looks better than all of the other flesh colors I have as it has that tinge of red. If I were to do more figures I would definitely mix my own pot of paint using that as the base.


Almost all of the details are done with marker pens. My experiments with the Early Armenian army, where everyone is a different color scheme and pattern, showed me that these tools need to stay a permanent part of my tool box.

The hardest part of all for this piece? The tomahawk blade. I needed it thick enough so it would take glue, but thin enough to look okay as a blade. That was very hard to cut and sand to the proper shape; many skin cells gave their lives for the creation of that piece! :^D

It is a very colorful piece, allowing me to be creative in a number of ways, so I can see getting into this period. I just have so much going on right now it will probably stay on the shelf as a one-off experiment until the mood really hits me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Seleucid Elephant WIP

As stated previously, in order to play my Early Armenian DBA army I need to make a Seleucid elephant for my opponent (as the army he purchased wasn't a legal list). I thought it would be fun, and a nice break from sanding all of those darn Roman helmets.

The basic model is three split eggs - the size I use for my 40mm cavalry - and a spool for the body. As I did with my cavalry, I decided to add a flat plug for the neck, with some added wood filler to fill the gaps. The ears are teardrop shapes from the Woodsie round shapes pack. I used these for shields in the Armenian army. Grinding off the bottom, removing the point, made it look about right. Clearly this elephant is not yet excited as the ears are not flared out, as they usually are with most commercial models.


The mahout is the standard micro shaker peg (a.k.a. heart peg) with the bottom cut off and the head sanded down. Nothing really to discuss here, but I will add tile spacer legs to it rather than painting them on.

The howdah is simply a craft stick cut into square pieces. In hindsight I should have used the square Woodsie shapes; it would have been so much easier. As it stands, now I will have to fill the gaps with wood filler.


Inside the howdah I glued in a square platform for the crewman to stand on.

On the sides of the elephant I glued craft stick cut into rectangles to act as aprons or armor (depending on how you paint it).


The howdah crewmen will be standard heart pegs. The pikeman will have both arms up, holding the pike pointing downward, while the javelin man will be throwing a javelin and the left arm down.

I'd like to paint this beast, but I am giving Don the first right of refusal with them. If I want to paint one, I guess I will have to make one - with a corresponding army - for myself. :^)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Starting an Early Imperial Roman Army - the Helmet

After posting pictures of the Early Armenian army I built and painted I received quite a few comments, one of which was from my painter in Canada, Bob in Edmonton, who does all of my 15mm troops of late. When I posed to him the idea of painting a scratch-built army, he said he was game. So, now I am building an army, which for the first time will be painted by a painting service. I am excited.

Looking about in the DBA army lists - those that are an enemy to the Early Armenian army I just built - I see that the Early Imperial Roman army is listed. To be honest, I have never really fancied a Roman army after the Punic Wars, but given the iconic image of this army, I felt it was almost a must to use them.

So, what are some of the problems with making Romans? By and large it is the helmet. It is close fitting, can have a peak at the front, and has a neck guard at the back. One thing I have noticed is that there are several styles of helmet; it is not all uniform across history. The second problem is the curved shield, which almost curls protectingly around the soldier's left side. There are numerous shapes to use - rectangular, oval, oblong hexagonal, etc. - but for the legionnaires the shield is curved in this period. (For the auxilia the shield can be straight, which also helps distinguish between the two.)

Other iconic details include the segmented armor, which is detail simply painted on, and a mixture of pilum and gladius. This should be fun.

But first, I have to solve the problem of the helmet. I start with the standard micro shaker peg (a.k.a. the heart peg) and sand off the excess to make a simple rounded head. I then draw out the portions where the face and ears are exposed.


Using small bits I sand out a dent where the ear will be. Normally, I am against creating 'lines' which force where the painter must paint. The indentation where the ear is serves to mark the line where the neck guard ends. To create the neck guard I cut just above the line defining the bottom of the helmet. I then sanded a hollow out, creating a flare, then reshaped the head of the helmet. Although it does not show in the photographs below, I sanded below the flare, thinning the neck, giving further definition to the neck guard.


In the figure below you can see that I also sanded out the area for the face. Subsequently I stopped doing that, preferring to let the paint define those lines. Nonetheless, you can see the sort of effect it has if you want to expend the effort, say as with a single figure or a few for a skirmish game. In those cases I would also sand below the cheek guards to further thin the neck, giving the helmet greater definition.


I'll show more pictures later, of more variations, but suffice it to say that this design allows me to cover all of the legionnaires, auxiliaries, artillery, and cavalry. The only thing that looks different is the single element of LH, which represent Numidian cavalry, which will have a head shape similar to my LH Armenian horse archers (i.e. long hair).

The more I look at this, the more I realize that with a peak on the front, I have a pretty good pickelhaube for the 1860+ Prussians and Germans...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

28mm DBA Early Armenian Army Completed

My goal was to scratch-build and paint a 28mm DBA Early Armenian (II/28(b)) army in twelve days, but I did not make it. More like 24 days, especially considering that the bases arrived yesterday. But, it was not about the amount of time it took, but more to compare a hand-made wooden army to the commercial metal figures and show the proportions of the figures. Ultimately the question to answer is: can you game with both figures on the table? Or must the hand-made armies always be pitted against other hand-made armies?

For me, it is a question of style, more than of just proportion. I remember growing up playing Napoleonics and our club used 1/72 Airfix, Scruby 25mm, Hinchliffe 25mm, and Minifigs 25mm, together all on the same table. As we were playing Column, Line, and Square, which uses bounce sticks for artillery fire, the proportions of the figures actually came into play. "Triple-ration" Minifigs Austrians always took more casualties from artillery than the Airfix or Scruby French units. If you based your Scruby Mamelukes just right, the enemy could fire a horse artillery shot straight down the center of the unit and not hit a figure! (At least that is how I remember it from my childhood.) So, let's just say that I was used to gaming with figures that were not perfectly matched within a command (although no one ever mixed figures within a unit).

I don't have any pictures of the Great Comparison, but here is the Early Armenian army. You start with these:
Micro Shaker PegWooden SpoolSplit Egg
And you end up with these:


If you would like to read the process of building and painting these figures, see my previous blog entries:  Using the Micro Shaker Peg, Making a Basic Horse and Rider, Making the Cataphract, Making the Horse Archers, Making the Warriors Part 1 and Part 2, and Making the Foot Archers.

I look forward to taking these guys into battle. If the amount of effort you put into painting (and making) troops would manifest in success on the table, these guys would rock! Unfortunately, that is rarely so...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Armenian Army - Almost There

Well, I am almost done with my 28mm Early Armenian DBA army. It is only "almost" because I still have not gotten my bases from Litko. [grrrr] They are running a little late...

I finished the remaining three elements of Armenian Warriors (Auxilia in DBA).


I threw in a couple of different poses and shield shapes, but for the most part they are small round shields and armed with a short spear held overarm.


If the swordsman's head looks strange that is because I painted him with male pattern baldness. Not something you usually see in a commercial figure, but all of my wooden warrior units have at least one.


Finally, a shot of the whole army, save for the two new optional elements that will be in the DBA 3.0 list (two Bow elements).


It has been great fun building this army from scratch. Once I get it properly based, I will post the results to Fanaticus, Lead Adventures, and TMP and see how the "proper" world responds.

New DBA 3.0 (Draft) Army List for Armenia

Well I was just looking at the WRG website and reading the draft army lists for Section II of the upcoming DBA 3.0 rules and noticed that the Armenian list I am building has had a change! Instead of 2x2Ps it is now 2x(Ps or Bw), so that means I can build two more elements (six more foot archers) in order to have some options!

I am not sure under what circumstances I might use the Bow elements over the Psiloi, but options are options.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Armenian Archers and More Armenian Horse Archers

I still have 2 1/3 elements of Armenian Warriors in the last stages of gluing, but in the interim I have finished the two elements of Armenian Archers (i.e. psiloi in DBA) and finally gotten around to photographing the last two elements of the Armenian Horse Archers.

First the Armenian Archers:


Nothing new here, in terms of construction. The bows are tile spacers, about the only thing I will use them for anymore. The arms are pieces of wooden coffee stirrers sanded down with a Dremel. The figure on the far left, in the above picture, uses a Faber-Castell artist pen. The tip almost looks like a paint brush, so the lines are excellent compared to those where you use a nylon nib. In this case I have painted on little "X" on the white trim. The ink is waterproof, but not permanent, so you need to varnish it pretty quickly.


I have been using thinned-down Elmer's Clear School Glue as a varnish. Although it is shiny, it is not more so than Future Acrylic Floor Wax. It might actually make sense to use both - the Future to penetrate the wood and the glue to coat it - in order to maximize protection. At this point I have not tried both. These figures only have generous dollops of the clear glue.


The archers, being the poorest class of troops of them all, are less richly dressed than the other figures, but I still put some trim on in places.

The new horse archers are not different from the previous ones in any way except the paint schemes.


I decided to try a few skull caps for head coverings on this batch.


All in all I really like the color schemes. I am still debating about adding one or more quivers per figure. Although it would certainly be appropriate, it would also clutter the figure more than it already is.


Let me know if you have an opinion on this.

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