Sunday, 30 January 2011

(Ancients Month) Where Did the Days Go?

Ok, so there is still just over a day left of "Ancients Month" and I should have a 40 strong warband and 8 additional skirmishers finished by then (dip was painted on tonight) or maybe a day or two after. Obviously this was not as much progress as I expected to make...

After the initial burst of skirmishers I thought getting most of the 186 infantry done would be a breeze.  However I forgot about work which sent me to such diverse places as Haverhill, Bolton and Basingstoke this month, seriously impacting my available painting time. That said, despite this I should have 64 done by the end of January (or as near as).

So was is the idea of a dedicated month a good idea or a bust?

I think it's a good idea and may have worked better if real-life work hadn't had such an impact. I certainly found it helped discipline me from starting new units/projects (I had such a craving to paint some Wargames Factory Shock Troops up it was untrue!). Perhaps my 186 target was too ambitious given my lack of familiarity with the subject (the irregular nature of the clothing is taxing) but I'll still have painted more figures this month than I have done in many years previous so that isn't bad.

I have decided that once the figures on the workbench are finished that I will put the bulk of the remaining Celts away for a month or two before having another "Ancients Month" (I may keep the chariots out and make them up). Next month will be something different period wise and scale...

Celt painted running total:

16/186 infantry
0/24 cavalry
0/3 chariots

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Johnny Red

I had planned to go to Crusade in Penarth today but I'm absolutely shattered and didn't feel up to the drive and I would also ended up spending money I didn't have on things like the Bolt Action Chindits which would be another new project. So I've decided to spend some time this afternoon trying to finish my Celt warband, this morning being spent with my head in Johnny Red: Falcon's First Flight which at long last has been published by Titan Books.

Johnny Red was the top story in Battle comic before Charley's War started and recounted the adventures of disgraced and cashiered RAF pilot Johnny Redburn who serving in the Merchant Navy steals a convoy Hurricane whilst under Luftwaffe attack before landing in Murmansk going on to serve with the Soviet Falcon Squadron.

As a product of its time it is a bit gung-ho but is worth seeking out for the excellent Joe Colquhuon artwork that brings the Eastern Front and the Siege of Leningrad to life.

Whilst Johnny Red's adventures have been available online for sometime it is nice to have them in a hardback volume to enjoy. Flicking through it certainly brings back lots of memories and I am now planning to paint up some models as the Falcon Squadron for use on the tabletop.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Leave The Libraries Alone

I don't know how many of you have had the chance to read Philip Pullman's excellent speech about the value of libraries, but if you haven't you should go here and do so.

I'm not going to go all political but if it wasn't for little old Clevedon library I may never have discovered wargaming (they had all the Grant and Featherstone books) or such a love of military history (the head librarian, a WW2 forces veteran, made sure they had plenty of Men-at-Arms in stock).

Public libraries are a national treasure. They may need updating and made more relevant (whatever that means) but they don't need closing...

Monday, 24 January 2011

Horror In The Desert

The PDF bug sunk its teeth into me so I cracked on with getting Firewall 2136AD, Iron Cow 2103AD and Voyages Extraordinaires up on Wargame Vault, so unfortunately the Celts didn't see any paint yesterday.

The morning school run was interesting in that TalkSport radio is running a promo competition for a new DVD called Stranded which was released today. They run these quite a lot so it was a surprise when they started going on about French soldiers trapped in the Algerian desert, surrounded by rebels and then facing a worse enemy! I have only found a French language (albeit subtitled) trailer for the film (which has been dubbed into English) but it looks a bit of fun along the lines of Outpost and thought it might be of interest for horror gamers...

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Having worked away most of last week and not been anywhere near a paint brush I then got sidetracked with the PDFing of some old Wessex Games rules for Wargame Vault.

I've managed to get four done this weekend,  ColdWar: 1983, Gangland, Strange Grogge and Strange Tydes. It has been a while since I really looked at these rules and I have to confess the urge to paint some DPM or convert an Airfix HMS Victory into an Orc man'o'war or dig out some Dwarf pirates or prime some of Brigade Games C19th rioters was quite hard! :-)

However I shall resist the siren lure of these projects and steel myself to doing some more painting on my Celts, hopefully I can get the first warband finished this week...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

It was hard to tell who was more excited, Saul or myself, when we saw this...

Many, many moons ago I did start work on an Iron Cow derivative called Invasion: EBE allowing the use of modern tanks v SF ones (IIRC I intended to use the Renegade Legion ones). Might dust it off...

Die Verdammten

The postman just delivered a nice surprise, a box of the brand new Studio Miniatures 28mm plastic German zombies. Obviously I've not had time to paint any(!) but opening the (double video tape size) box you get fifteen identical two figure sprues.

My initial reaction was that of being slightly underwhelmed at the lack of variety, but upon examining the sprues Studio have been very clever as they have included three separate sets of arms that can be positioned at any angle as well as a spare head and a field cap. With the judicious use of a scalpel it is going to be very easy to imbue a wide degree of variety into the zombie horde.

The box also includes a metal officer which is very nice and I think these will fit in nicely with the West Wind zombies and Artizan WW2 stuff I have. 31 figures for £20 is good value and just as well as you need big units in Gehemkrieg.

A Base(ic) Dilemma

Wargames Illustrated 280 has tossed me on the horns of a dilemma (as well as tempted me with with lovely pictures of Sudan miniatures) and that is basing... One of the "things" that has always bugged me with Ancients (and I admit Fantasy) is irregular troops like Celts (and Orcs) being based on square bases in rectangular units with ranks and files as neat as the Guards at Trooping The Colour (indeed if anything neater).

Pete Brown has written an interesting article on this in WI, though not really coming up with any real satisfactory answer but it has caused me to look at my Celtic warband and wonder whether I should adopt a radical (and probably more accurate) approach by basing them on round bases and moving them as a blob like mass or leave on the 20mm square I have glued them to, on the rectangular movement tray I have made out of plastic card. I really like the idea of regular troops being mounted on square bases and irregular ones on round, I just don't know if I have the courage to do it...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Wargames Factory RIP?

Unfortunately I didn't spend as much time painting this morning as planned as I was somewhat distracted by the news (or more correctly lack of) about US plastics producer Wargames Factory.

It appears there is some sort of corporate takeover going on with what looks like is going to result in a train wreck. A takeover announcement has been made by one party which has been refuted to some extent by another. The worse thing is that some customers have paid money for product they still haven't received...

Quite what the future is is unclear, but it doesn't look good from the battle that is going on. From the various forums it seems the situation could get worse with IP rights being owned by one party, the moulds by another. All in all it's a shame as the company had some promising releases lined up including classic Orcs, Amazons and Spartans (all of which appealed to me). Whilst they may not be up to Perry standards model wise you can't deny WF tried to produce something different.

From a personal point of view there is the issue of model availability for projects underway. I probably have enough Celts having picked up a couple of boxes of cavalry last week and I have ordered some German cavalry of eBay last night for use as Republican Roman auxiliaries. I'm unsure whether to stock up on Ancient German warband boxes. They were a third force I was planning once the Celts and Romans were done as they could fight both the Republican and EIR, no sure what to do.

The other project is Saul's Shock Troops. He has two boxes, so that's 36 troopers which is enough for a platoon, but there are no heavy weapons. WF were planning them but working on a worse case scenario that we never see them perhaps I should get an extra box in and use them for conversions. I'll have a ponder as I watch the footy...

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Another Battlefield Evolution Bargain

A busy week of work away from home has meant no progress on the wargames front, even a promised game of Zombies!!! at a friend's in Ipswich was lost to the joys of home brew barley wine and curry... I had planned to get on with the first warband today but SWMBO requested I accompany her shopping as this would ensure you didn't go AWOL for several hours. That plan crashed and burned in the first craft shop! Hopefully I can grab a some time tomorrow before the Merseyside derby (I have dug out some Foundation paints I forgot I had for the planned "session").

The only gaming 'activity' was winning a copy of Battlefield Evolution: Modern Combat on eBay for 99p, which should be good for 2ECW in 20mm and zombie apocalypse games and the arrival of Wargames Illustrated 280 which is a Sudan special which is very interesting and has an interesting article on Ancient Germans (which prompted me to dig out the Foundation paints!) - they are a tentative third force once the Celts and Romans are done. I haven't read much, just browsed the pictures. The latest Ancient Warfare mag also turned up which I haven't looked at yet but I trust will be as interesting as ever to an uneducated peasant like me...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Leviathan Dwarf War Golem

Last year Leutenant Brittan, who runs an excellent blog for the old post-apocalyptic fantasy game Leviathan ran a give-away of various odds and sods of models from the Scotia range, the only condition was you had to paint it! Fortunately he didn't stipulate a time limit... :-)

Several months later I have finished the Mk 2 War Golem he sent me!

Whilst the model is a bit static and I must confess I prefer the original Mk 1 Golems (one of which I have 80% painted), I am quite happy with the finished model that has now been donated to Saul's Dwarf Hold (we'll have to come up with some WHFB rules for it).

I do have a small pile of other Leviathan models in the attack, including Orc dinosaurs. I had originally planned to use them for Flintloque but will probably now look to use them in WHFB.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

(Ancients Month) Celt Javelinmen

I managed to finish the eight Celt skirmishers with javelins earlier this morning. All the figures are from the Warlord box and the more dynamic poses do seem to suit the skirmishers best. The only non-Warlord bits are the javelins themselves which were taken from the Wargames Factory box which has a ton of extras like these. The nice thing about the plastic was the ease of altering hand positions to convert sword holders to appropriate javelin poses.

As previously the figures were block painted and then brushed with dip. I did take a while studying Phil Hendry's excellent dipped Celts and concluded he is quite conservative with the dip and resist the urge to smoother figures with it, consequently I am trying a similar approach with what I think are passable results. I certainly more pleased with this second batch of Celt skirmishers.

The first Celt warband is now constructed, undercoated and sat waiting for a bit of free time before I start on the painting. I do now need to have a serious think about shields and decals. I'm torn between the simple and relatively cheap approach of VVV or the more expensive but visually stunning LBMS.

Celt painted running total:

16/186 infantry
0/3 chariots

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Battlefield Evolution Bargain

Ancients month progresses, the javelin skirmishers are almost finished (I forgot to Tetrion the bases last night) and I have stuck together the first 28 man warband, just a few bits of Green Stuff filling needed where I reined some of the silly waving arms in before undercoating.

The postman delivered a shed load of books this morning including two supplements for Mongoose's Battlefield Evolution rules that I picked up off eBay for just 99p each! Whilst it isn't going to win any awards for originality I do like the WW2 version of Bf: Evo so was happy to pick up the Pacific War supplement for such a low price. I'm not sure if I'll be doing anything South East Asia wise for a while but I do have a few old Airfix Jap tanks in the attic and odds and sods of polythene infantry and the Kohima book was fascinating so who knows.

I also picked up Apocalypse Z, the zombie supplement. I already had this as a PDF but just 99p for the book? Well... The supplement itself is pretty good and whilst there may be better zombie games out there I like it was a useful adjunct to both the WW2 and Modern Bf: Evo rules expanding those games into either Weird War Two or traditional contemporary zombie apocalypse.

Anyway, that's enough distractions for now, back to the celts...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

(Ancients Month) Celt Slingers

Ok 'Ancients Month' is now officially off an running with the first painted Celts done with these eight slingers. These models are all made up from (primarily) the Warlord Games Celts with a few accessories (and one torso) from the Wargames Factory box.

Both sets have their plus points, as well as a few negatives. Whilst the Warlord box is probably slightly better detailed, the 'dynamic' poses are not (to my mind) wargames friendly and the lack of shields (only enough for half the figures) and other weapons is disappointing (the slings here are from the Wargames Factory box). I did try one Wargames Factory torso on Warlord legs to check compatibility and whilst the end result is ok, I probably won't make a habit of it.

I did reposition a few of the 'outflung' arms and these was easy to do with a little bit of Green Stuff being needed to fill gaps. I also used Green Stuff to make the pouches for the slingers shot to be carried in. Painting was by using dip. whilst they are not my favourite painted miniatures in my collection, they are done and were done quickly.

Celt painted running total:

8/186 infantry
0/3 chariots

Sunday, 2 January 2011

January Is... Ancients Month!

Trying to bring a little focus and order to my projects I have decided that my primary efforts each month will be dedicated to one specific project in order to progress it and shift some lead/plastic. This doesn't mean I won't tinker with some odd bits and pieces (I have two Tactical Nuclear Penguins and a Dwarf War Golem in an almost finished state on the workbench), but the bulk of my efforts will be dedicated to the particular month's project, and this month it is ancients, specifically focusing on my Romans v Celts project.

Now I will confess I am not expert on this period and my haphazard approach will no doubt have more dedicated ancients gamers pulling out their beards but I'm giving it a go. I'm not sure what rules I'll end up using, probably WAB to start (I have v 1.0 somewhere) but am looking forward to seeing the Black Powder inspired ancients game later this year as well as others (possibly Phil Hendry's). Whatever, I am basing figures as I do for WHFB, individually and using movement trays.

I am also trying a new approach to painting by painting the least interesting/most effort/larger force first as I have identified this as a possible reason for projects remaining unfinished. Accordingly I am not starting with the interesting, uniform, small unit Romans but with the Celts.

Counting my boxes I have 186 foot, I'm not 100% sure how large my Celt warbands should be, kinda assuming 28 or 35 (ranked 7 x 4 or 7 x 5). Anyway the first effort has been to convert some into sling and javelin armed skirmishers and eight of each are now in various states of painting/dipping at present (so only another 170 to go!). Hopefully pictures in the next day or so.

To help improve my ignorance of the period I have picked up and started reading Stephen Dando-Collins' Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion, which may not be 100% accurate judging from the reviews but is eminently readable.

Celt painted running total:
0/186 infantry
0/3 chariots