Friday 31 May 2013

(Dux Bellorum Month) My Dux For A Horse...

The Romano-British Noble Riders are progressing nicely but are unlikely to be finished by the end of Dux Bellorum Month. :-(

I have, however, finished and and based the 12 horses for them and the Mounted Companion base. The models are mostly West Wind with a couple of Gripping Beast. I don't have a standard method when it comes to painting cavalry, sometimes I glue the rider to the mount before painting, sometimes I paint them separate, there is no method to my madness!

Painting wise my techniques have changed over the years. For a long time I undercoated in an enamel brown before heavily painting oil paint over then wiping most off with a sponge. Very messy, takes ages to dry, but gives a nice result.

These days I just undercoat black, heavy drybrush a dark brown them drybrush with a lighter brown. The brush is fairly loaded so to avoid the end result looking chalky. I try to keep the lower legs dark and sometimes wash with black ink before painting socks, hooves, manes and tails.

They won't win the Grand National but they look okay and don't detract from the rider (which hopefully you will see tomorrow once I have finished painting the riders and brushed the loose flock off the horses!).

Thursday 30 May 2013

Onwards and Upwards!

I don't pay that much attention to the blog stats but as we hit a big milestone this month I thought it appropriate to flag it and thank everyone for visiting Bleaseworld.

This month's page views has broken the 20,000 barrier, something I never imagined possible. I was really chuffed when we got close to 10,000 in March 2011, but this year saw the blog break the 10,000 in January with 12,072 views and continue to rise month on month with 20,399 so far in May, Bit gobsmacking that...

So thank you all for visiting and al the feedback (I d read it all and it is appreciated).

Back to the Romano-British horses now...

Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of...

Eureka Miniatures are producing the miniatures for a really clever little beer and pretzels game that could make for a great family game as well as one down the club or at a show. A Cast of Thousands is 1930's film making miniatures game in which you take the role of film director, trying to make your movie by getting a star, extras and set in shot, whilst trying to thwart the exploits of your rivals.

The rules are free and apart from buying a film crew (above), you probably have most of the miniatures and scenery already in your wargames collection (yep, those are now extras and sets). The rules can be downloaded here and the cards here.

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up...

Tuesday 28 May 2013

(Dux Bellorum Month) Romano-British Ordinary Shieldwall III

I managed to finish the final Ordinary Shieldwall unit for the Romano-British Dux Bellorum army last night...

This base includes some command figures. This is not relevant in Dux Bellorum terms (each base is an individual unit which can be combined or operate separate from the others), but will be necessary for other games such as Warhammer.

The miniatures are all Old Glory this time. Whilst not as nice as some of the others on the market, they paint up ok, the command are very characterful and they paint up pretty good.

Here is a photo of all three bases side by side. Sometime I need to make up a 6 x 4 movement tray for a combined 24 figure unit in Warhammer type games...

Monday 27 May 2013

(Dux Bellorum Month) Romano-British Ordinary Shieldwall II

The second Romano-British Ordinary Shieldwall unit is now finished...

Not a lot different from the first. The front rank (below), like the first unit, are all West Wind (nice figures these).

The rear rank (below) are Old Glory, except the figure on the right which is one of the new Gripping Beast plastic Dark Ages Warriors. This is a very useful box and I'll do a proper overview when I get the chance.

I need to finish off the shields on the third and final Shieldwall unit this evening which I hope to do after Dad's Taxi duties...

Sunday 26 May 2013

(Dux Bellorum Month) Romano-British Ordinary Shieldwall

I managed to finish the first unit of Romano-British Ordinary Shieldwall for Dux Bellorum this morning.

The miniatures are a mix of West Wind in the front rank and Old Glory in the rear.

The Old Glory miniatures (above) are slightly smaller so I had to raise them with a sliver of plasticard inbetween the slottabase and the miniature base so they looked ok with the West Wind miniatures (below).

I wasn't too sure on whether the shields should be uniform in design or not. It does look a bit weird for Dark Ages miniatures, but it helps reinforce the Roman heritage so I went with it, painting an early Christian design on a white background (hopefully it does not look too crusaderish).

Two more units to go, before I can crack on with the cavalry...

Saturday 25 May 2013

A Damn Close Run Thing...

One of the benefits of working in Paris last week was that I could not keep checking the funding situation on the Spy or Die Trying Kickstarter. Just as well really as it crept over the finishing line achieving its funding total by just £12!

I'm glad the game has been funded and I surprised that given Warm Acre's track record and the subject matter it was such a close run thing (especially when people seem to want to throw money at Mantic). In the end I went for the game bundle which includes the Hour of Glory boardgame and upgraded to add the forthcoming Spy or Die Trying miniatures, which look pretty good.

It was interesting to learn that a number of people pledge on Kickstarter then withdraw with less than 24 hours to go (the cads!). It seems the authorities have got wise to this and if a project has reached its target within a day left then pledges cannot be reduced or withdrawn if it causes the project to fall below the target. Spy or Die Trying did hit around £16,500 with 48 hours left before some bids were withdrawn causing much  concern with gamers who had pledged and were keen to seen the game produced. All's well that ends well I suppose but it can't have been fun for the guys at Warm Acre.

Back in Blighty now, I have made some more progress on the Romano-British foot and hope to get them finished over the weekend before starting on the cavalry...

Friday 24 May 2013

Chaco This Out...La Guerra de la Sed Updated!

A little while back I was looking into the possibilities of playing some AirWar: 1918 games during the Chaco War. Whilst a few models could be found there were some big gaps. Enter Mike Pennock at Arctic Skunk to fill those gaps via Shapeways!

Here is an update on model availability...

Cuerpo de Aviación Boliviano (Bolivian Air Force):

Breguet 19: is now available via Artic Skunk (Shapeways).

Curtiss Falcon: will soon be available in 1/144th from Arctic Skunk.

Curtiss Hawk: is available via Artic Skunk (Shapeways).

Curtiss Osprey: is also available via Artic Skunk (Shapeways).

Vickers Type 143 Scout: is now available via Artic Skunk (Shapeways).

Vickers Type 149 Vespa III: is now available via Artic Skunk (Shapeways).

Fuerza Aereas del Ejercito Nacional Paraguayo (Paraguayan Air Force):

Fiat C.R.20 bis: available from Artic Skunk (Shapeways).

Potez 25: also available from Artic Skunk (Shapeways) in 1/144th.

Wibault 73: is now available via Artic Skunk (Shapeways).

Mike is also planning a Junkers K43/W34 which was also used as a bomber in the war so I think my joy is pretty much complete. I just need to plan out an order for the new planes and set aside some time to paint them.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Le Pilote à l'Edelweiss Deux!

Apparently there is a follow up to Le Pilote à l'Edelweiss, I may have to skip lunch and get over to the shops before heading for the airport!

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Le Pilote à l'Edelweiss

Apart from eating snails one of the things that sets us apart from the French is their love of comic books, even when they have "grown up". This is our loss as it is a wonderful medium for telling some stories and when I have to work in Paris I do like to leaf through the racks of hardback graphic novels and bemoan my schoolboy level French. That said sometimes the pictures do the talking...

This week a lunchtime trip to Printemps has led to the discovery of Le Pilote à l'Edelweiss, a wonderful  looking book about a French Nieuport 17 Squadron who encounter a mysterious German Albatross with a large white edelweiss painted on its fuselage.

I shall be getting busy with Google Translate later but the artwork is absolutely stunning and worth buying the book for alone.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

It's Going To Be A Long Month...

Dux Bellorum Month is not going to plan. Progress is being made and when I can sit down and paint I seem to be getting on quite well. Unfortunately the opportunity to grab the paintbrush over the last couple of weeks has been minimal and this week is going to be no better as I am working in Paris for a good part of it.

Looking ahead June is worse hobby wise with a week working in Eastbourne at the beginning of the month and then a week in Warsaw at the end (expect me to be rabbiting on about the Warsaw Uprisings then!)

So... I am combining May and June into MUNE! ...or more sensibly Dux Bellorum Months. This month I shall endeavour to finish the Romano-British, June will concentrate on the Saxons so that at least I have two armies to use. The Picts may have to wait on Lead Mountain for a while.

In the meantime please enjoy this lovely piece of Richard Scollins' Arthurian artwork...

Monday 20 May 2013

Fifth Best Trek Movie Ever!!! *

I managed to get to see the new Star Trek movie today and... it was ok.

I pretty much avoided the trailers and any spoilers so that was good but found the first two acts a bit underwhelming and CGI action heavy. It was not until the final act with "that scene" when the movie picked up, even if the chase scene was very similar to that in Star Wars Episode I.

During the middle of the movie I began to ponder why it wasn't pushing all my buttons. As an SF movie it was pretty good, it could have done with slowing down a bit and allowing some character interaction and development but Hollywood seems to believe we need one fast paced action scene after another these days. In the end I concluded it was the actors.

It is not reflection on them as thespians but Kirk and crew are characters I have grown up with over forty years and for me Chris Pine does not cut it as Kirk. Zachary Quinto has a fair stab at Spock, but Yelchin's Chekov and Pegg's Scotty are poor as well. They lack the chemistry of the original actors, which after two and a half TV series and several movies was pretty much nailed down. Shatner may not be a great actor, but he is Kirk and Kirk is him.

Benedict Cumberbatch was good, though due to an average script illicited little empathy and was more one dimensional than the character that appeared in the original series. That was clearly a failure of the scriptwriters and the lack of any meaningful or epic dialogue (at its heart Trek is cod-Shakespeare and should have cheesy dramatic bad guy dialogue).

It might be better on a second viewing, there are some nice touches and nods to the canon but I have to wonder whether J.J.Abrams blockbuster approach suits the franchise (he also needs to watch out for repeating things from previous movies. Stuntmen rappelling down scene? Check. Female crew member in underwear shot? Check).

Trek is an ensemble product and the characters are paramount not the explosions and effects. The powers that be ought to take a look at how Joss Whedon took what is a quite shallow group of characters in the form of the Avengers and turned it into a superb ensemble work which was complimented by its effects not drowned by them.

Overall, worth a visit to the cinema (it is after all Trek and should be seen on the big screen), but like Skyfall, not the best in the franchise and not the best villain.

* Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, Undiscovered Country and First Contact are all better than Into Darkness...

Sunday 19 May 2013

Saturday 18 May 2013

Burma Victory - Arthurian Defeat

"On the painting front the Romano-British spear are coming along quite well and I hope to get all three bases completed by the weekend if not earlier." - well if writing that on Monday wasn't tempting fate I don't know what was.  Work, more work, even more work, then SWMBO deciding that Saturday was garden tidying up not painting Arthurians day put paid to my unfounded optimism! :-(

Anyhow with thoughts still fermenting about the CBI Front I was pleased to see that Osprey have posted an extract from David Rooney's Burma Victory here, which they are reissuing later this month in digital format. The book focuses on the British and Imperial efforts in the last year of the war and should be a good companion to the American focus in Burma Road.

Of course you can still buy the paperback second hand here for as little as 15 pence, but it is still good to see Osprey making out of print books available...

Friday 17 May 2013

The Waiting Game...

I'm having an interesting new Kickstarter experience. Normally anything I'm interested in is fully funded in five minutes and I have to try and resist all the stretch goals (and usually fail). Currently I'm sat biting my fingernails waiting to see if one gets fully funded!

Last Sunday Warm Acre's Spy or Die Trying caught my eye and after watching the videos of the game I concluded this would be a lot of fun so in good old Dragon's Den style I decided I was in! With five days to go the Kickstarter is still short of its target. It is getting closer but with five days to go I'm getting increasingly concerned that it might miss the boat, which would be a hell of a shame as I'm quite convinced this could be one of the best new games this year.

So, if you aren't a backer and like spy movies (who doesn't?) go have a look and see what you think...

Hell, just pledge, you know you won't be able to live without it and I'll be really sad if it fails! :-)

Thursday 16 May 2013

Stalingrad 3D

I must confess that I am not overly enamoured with 3D films and that is not just that I have to wear the 3D glasses over my normal pair! However a new Russian film might tempt me to dig out the red and green glasses once more...

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Pondering Conscientious Objectors Day

On today's train journey to Birmingham I picked up a copy of the freebie Metro newspaper, normally a shallow read it surprised me to find an interesting article on Conscientious Objectors Day, which is today. The article largely focused on Joe Glenton, who, after one tour of Afghanistan, refused to go back.

It is of course easy to switch on the righteous indignation about "conchies" when brave men and women are dying for their country but it struck me there were two parts to the debate that warranted thinking about.

Whilst not all wars are just, and Joe certainly offers an opinion on Afghanistan that "It was conducted in a climate of racism and indifference to the Afghan people, completely at odds with how it’s sold at home", servicemen and women have laid down their lives for the cause of freedom and the right of individuals to safely express their own opinions, after all that is what democracy is about.

Of course this is balanced by the need for people to protect that freedom but in some way, that we allow for people to object on the reason of conscience reinforces the difference between countries where one is allowed to express their opinion and those that don't.

The second part of the debate was around whether soldiers should "pick and choose" the wars they want to fight. Of course this way leads to anarchy and as such should not be the case, but on the flip side it is established in international law that soldiers cannot use the "I was only obeying orders" defence and that they have the right to not obey illegal orders. The question is whether this extends to illegal wars and thus the relationship between the politician who starts the war and the soldier that fights it. SAS veteran Ben Griffin, who served in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, refused to serve in Iraq as he believed the role he was being asked (by the Government who led the country into the war) to undertake was contrary to that which he believed British soldiers should be undertaking.

The old fashioned simple view that a conscientious objector is just a fancy name for a coward is clearly false and many who object for reasons of conscience are clearly brave to stand up and cite their beliefs, especially when the outcome can be imprisonment (or in some countries worse).

I'm not sure what I think but Conscientious Objectors Day has given me food for thought and made me ponder the subject.

There probably is not a definitive right answer to the subject other than that war should only be undertaken as a last resort when all other measures have failed and it is the moral duty of  all free people to question the necessity of sending their troops into harms way and ensuring politicians are always fully accountable and held to task if and when they fail their country and its armed forces by leading them into illegal or unjust wars.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Almost Human

Fox have released a very interesting looking trailer for their forthcoming SF series Almost Human. From the people behind the excellent Fringe, all I can say is roll on November...

Monday 13 May 2013

The Burma Road

The postie delivered another CBI (China-Burma-India) volume for the collection today, Donovan Webster's The Burma Road. Despite the title, the book doesn't just focus on the construction of the Burma Road between India and China by 200,000 Chinese labourers but also the battles fought in the campaign. There may be an over concentration on the Chinese-American efforts but it will be useful to read about this aspect as much as the British and Imperial in other volumes.

The 384 page ex-library hardback cost just 1p plus postage from Amazon which is splendid value and no great loss if not up to scratch (though the reviews suggest it is). Just got to find some time to sit down and read it!

On the painting front the Romano-British spear are coming along quite well and I hope to get all three bases completed by the weekend if not earlier.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Spy or Die Trying... (or Get Thee Behind Me Kickstarter!)

I was feeling quite good about myself today having resisted the urge to go to the Lincombe Barn Table Top Sale and buy stuff I don't need, but my fortitude has been severely weakened by finding out that Warm Acre are running a Kickstarter for a new board game called Spy or Die Trying...

The game looks like it could be a lot of fun, a kind of '60's spy version of Space Hulk although you can play either side; the goodies of Peace Enforcing Nations (PEN) or the baddies of the Secret World Order (SWORD).

I really didn't want to buy into another Kickstarter at the moment but I must confess I am very tempted by this, it looks a lot of fun and one that will have family appeal.

Saturday 11 May 2013

(Dux Bellorum Month) Bowmen Based

Having come up with a multi-purpose basing solution last week, it is now time to put it into practice. First up are the bowmen and as discussed earlier because the unit base is 80 x 40mm the base required a pseudo-sabot approach to fill the gaps.

Here is the finished base adorned with some rocks, tufts and flowers...

Here is the base without the miniatures (I need to give the inside another coat of brown but will do this when painting another unit).

Here is the base with just the rear rank miniatures in place...

On with the warrior units now, the Gripping Beast order has arrived so I now have all the miniatures I need for the Romano-British army, I just need the time...

Friday 10 May 2013

The Battle For Burma

They say no plan survives contact with the enemy and in my case this proved true today. After a couple of days of meetings this week in London I was working from home so planned to use my lunch hour and overdue time in lieu to paint the next lot of Arthurian infantry. I hadn't counted on the nefarious machinations of human resources whose bumbling incompetence/evil cunning/genuine mistake (delete as appropriate) saw me spend most of the day (including my lunch hour) looking up email addresses of nearly one thousand employees to send them details on a consultation for them. Grrrrrr.... doesn't cover it!

So no painting at all but there was some good news in the form of the postie delivering some Silfor tufts and stuff that will go on the Dux Bellorum bases (hopefully you will see the first base tomorrow) and a copy of Roy Conyers Nesbit's The Battle For Burma. I was really chuffed with this as I picked it up brand new off Amazon for under a tenner.

I have only managed to scan through the book but it is chock full of photos from the fighting in Burma, including some of the Chinese army. The book is a basic history but it seems to cover all participants, including the Chinese, not just the British, so it should prove a good starting point for a future wargames project in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theatre. I have some other books on Burma coming in addition to this, good job SWMBO is away for a couple of days! :-)

Thursday 9 May 2013

(Dux Bellorum Month) Enter the Beast!

After some internet browsing I think I have come across some suitable riders for the Irish army, Griping Beast's Scots-Irish Mounted Ceithern. Of course it would be stupid to order just one pack of miniatures... ;-)

Gripping Beast Mounted Ceithern
Looking to maximise the postage I have also decided to order a couple of Romano-British cavalry to fill the gaps and a box of the new plastic Dark Age Warriors.

Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors
I don't really need the Dark Age Warriors but as I already have the Gripping Beast plastic Vikings and Saxons insulating the loft I am considering using them to raise Late Saxon and Norse Sea Raider armies for Dux Bellorum. Each box should provide pretty much all that is needed, but the unarmoured generic Dark Age Warriors will fill any requirements for skirmishers, bow, unarmoured spear etc.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

The Forgotten Army of World War Two...

The British 14th Army in Burma is often referred to as The Forgotten Army, and given the level of awareness of the efforts of British forces in Europe and North Africa it is an understandable monicker. However there is another army even more forgotten (especially by wargamers) WW2 army and that is the Chinese.

When I was buying the Revell Japanese for a Far East Battlefield Evolution: World at War platoon I gave some thought to a suitable opponent. Having enjoyed Keane's book on Kohima, it is pretty much inevitable that it will be British and Imperial in Burma, it will also allow me to give some thought to raising a small Kings African Rifle force which is something I have wanted to do for a while.

However, the British were not the only allied troops in Burma and I've started to develop an interest in the Chinese contribution to the allied war effort, after all, they were the first to fight, engaging the Japanese in all out war in 1937.

Whilst I know some broad sweeps, Burma Road and all that, I soon realised how little I did know. Further, given the level of China's contribution to the Allied war effort they really are a forgotten army when it comes to wargaming! Ok, the Far East is not as popular as North West Europe, the Eastern Front or North Africa but how many companies make WW2 Chinese wargames figures? Quite...

In 20mm all I have found is one box of plastic miniatures from Caesar (kudos to them) so I have snapped up a set to form the core of a 1944 Chinese platoon to fight the Japanese. They used a lot of Allied equipment and uniforms so they will be bulked out with some British and American troops, with some head swaps to reflect the mix and match nature of the Chinese.

Not sure when I will get around to the Far East, but the stockpiling has started!