If you follow me on my blog Dale's Wargames you will know that I really like the rules Tin Soldiers in Action. One limitation of them is that they only cover 1650 through 1914. I like the core mechanics, but could not use them for other periods. After speaking with the author he indicated that the did expand the range, to include from ancients to futuristic. He sent me the Hastings scenario which has the necessary rules and order of battle to game the battle.
As it happens I have sufficient troops in 15mm metal, but I am actively trying to decide on how to reduce my collection. Although I have decided to keep 15mm as the scale of choice for mass battles, I am considering selling the painted troops I have and replacing them with wooden miniatures. Why? Well I like the creation process for one, and now that I am retired I have more time on my hands. But more to the point, I am concerned that when I pass I will leave my wife with trying to get rid of my collection and trying to recoup some of the money. (If she gives them away it would not be a disaster as she will be well taken care of, but I would probably roll over in my grave.) However, if they are my wooden creations I would neither be upset if they are given away or even thrown away. (Strange, I know.) Besides, I really need to downsize anyway.
With that morbid thought in mind I decided that the Hastings project was a great start to see if I even have the ambition to carry it out.
I decided that I wanted to use the minimalist style that I started some time ago, rather than the larger, more detailed style Matt used for his Hastings project. (I love Matt's stuff, but can't match his paint jobs.)
If you follow the first link you can see how I build these figures. They come out about 12mm tall, but about the chunkiness of 15mm. They have a cartoony 'big-headed' (chibi) style where the upper wooden part represents the head and hat and the lower wooden part represents the torso and legs. (This is how you achieve that chibi look in such a small scale.
In the image above, I used a mixture of round beads and round head plugs to represent the upper part, and round beads, cylinder, and flat head plugs for the lower part. The shields are ½ a sphere of clear plastic, to represent the shield. As always, spears are made from a standard toothpick.
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The above are ones that I made and posted about in 2016. (All projects eventually get finished!) They are all round beads for the upper part and square beads for the lower part. Shields are made from thin craft foam using a hole punch.
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More figures from 2016 that use a small flat 'bead' for the shield. I could never find one the proper size, so I switched to craft foam hole punch shields.
To emphasize the metal helmets, beyond simply painting them a metallic color, I used button (mushroom) plugs. Some figures have a 'Phrygian' cap, like the end figures in the second rank. Here is the look I was going for.
The intent was to use two beads and some filler to simulate it.
The light gray bead is a cylinder. Although mine was square with rounded corners, it would have looked better if it were wider than it was tall. The dark gray was an oval bead, very much wider than tall. Finally, the white represents where I put filler, to try and hide the gap between the two beads at the back of the head, but leave it in the front, in an attempt to give it the 'floppy cap' look. In the end it sort of fails because I always have trouble filling gaps.
As a side note I can see using this same technique to represent a beret, with the open gap to the side and gluing the top bead at a slight angle. I may also have come up with a better gap filler: 'sprue goo'. Sprue Goo is where you take plastic sprue from plastic models, and dissolve it in acetone or plastic cement (acetone and butyl acetate). You can use it like liquid plastic which will harden. I used it in this experiment below to make spear points on the toothpicks. (It worked but was too much trouble.)
Some people ask me: why do you spend all of that time making figures? Isn't it faster to just buy miniatures? My response is always: how long do you think it takes to glue two beads, a toothpick, and a hole-punched piece of foam together? How do you think it compares to removing flash from metal figures or mold lines from plastic ones?
The real time savings comes with painting. Because there is zero detail on the figure – it is all shape – you can add or leave off as much detail as you like. Further, exact placement of details is not necessary and further gives your figures a more realistic look in that everyone is not perfectly uniform, in either detail nor pose.
One factor I did not mention, and is something I have been pondering, is 'block painting' versus 'figure painting' versus sub-assembly painting. What do I mean by those terms?
- Block: all of the figures are assembled and then glued to the bases before being painted.
- Figure: all of the figures are assembled, glued to painting strips (typically popsicle strips), and then each figure is painted before being glued to bases.
- Sub-Assembly: the figures are partially assembled, painting each sub-assembly before assembling them into complete figures and gluing them to bases.
Why would you do any of these particular methods?
Block painting allows you to ignore painting details that can't be seen, i.e. if your paint brush cannot reach it, you generally can't see it either, so why paint it? This saves time, but sacrifices quality. (It also cannot be used if you are mounting the figures individually.) The surest way to make this method look good is to prime everything black so that the unpainted portions look like they are in shadow. The 2016 figures above were all block painted.
Sub-assembly painting is the other extreme. This allows you to easily paint everything producing the fewest mistakes (in terms of your loaded paint brush accidentally hitting an adjacent figure or part). It is very easy to paint details that you do want to appear. Hiding the glue spots after painting will be your hardest task. The figures I consider doing this with the most are the cavalry.
Finally figure painting is the happy compromise. You will still end up painting details that might not be easily seen, but will still have color in those hard to see, but still visible spots. Gluing will be covered with paint. All of the figures painted in the last month used this method.
I am curious what you do (or would do) and does it change with scale of the figure?