Thursday, 13 December 2018

Normandy Buildings.3.

Every Normandy village needs a church and Tiger Terrain make an excellent one. The package I bought came with an intact tower and optional ruined parts for extra flexibility. I see on the website the model has been updated and now comes with removable roofs and a detailed tiled floor though mine is the original version, open at the base and with integral roofs.

I used the same basic painting method as for the other buildings but also picked out a few individual stones with the splodge colours to break things up and make it look more interesting.

Finally, here are all these new buildings, plus a couple of older Hovels buildings that I had painted in brick colours. I don't like to see buildings just dropped down onto the plain playing surface so scenic bases for those buildings lacking them are certainly on my to do list but it might take a while for them to get to the top of it.

The Cromwells are from Skytrex with commander figures and the Humber Scout Car from Peter Pig, all painted as 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry from 11th Armoured Division.

I still have one more Tiger Terrain building to paint and I'm very tempted by their Town Hall but I really need to make some progress with the lead pile and complete my other scenery projects before buying anything else. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Normandy Buildings.2.

I clearly needed more buildings for 1944 Normandy. Unlike for the Italian Wars, for this period the Wargamer is almost spoilt for choice with many manufacturers offering models in 15mm. However, many of these didn't really match what I was looking for. I'm not a fan generally of MDF buildings as they just look too sharp and unconvincing (without a lot of extra work) and many of the resin models seemed too small, badly moulded, lacking in detail or just too generic.

Online image searches led me to the excellent models from Tiger Terrain. I can't speak highly enough of these - they actually look Norman and the attention to detail, modelling and production quality are absolutely first class. The prices and service are good too and there is a wide range of models covering town and rural buildings.

The first ones I painted were these two bomb or shell damaged village houses. They came complete with a cratered garden to create a small diorama but I left them as three separate pieces to give extra flexibility in arranging the village layout for different games.

One thing I really need to do is find some suitable lettering for a name above the shop - every French village needs a boulangerie and a café!

Next came a farm. One of the good things about the Tiger Terrain website is a gallery of painted buildings, several set on scenic bases and this inspired me to do something similar. As well as the buildings, the walls are Tiger Terrain but the base is just a piece of MDF cut to size and textured with filler and sand, using the same methods, paints, static grass and clumps that I use for basing. The trough and pump were scratch built from card, plastic rod and wire with the water in the trough represented with epoxy glue.

One thing I really struggled with was getting the stone colours right. I tried to follow the recommendations on the Tiger Terrain website or to replicate the typically subtle colours that Simon Chick achieved with his Tiger Terrain models but my colours came out too yellow or too grey. In the end I found a balance that I thought looked nice, albeit more Cotswold than Calvados. 

I mostly used (relatively) cheap Deco Art craft paint from my local Hobbycraft. The base coat is Country Maple then a heavy dry brushing of Antique Gold - essentially yellow ochre. To break things up I dry brushed patches of Storm Cloud Grey and Sandstone then gave the whole a light dry brushing of a mix of Sandstone and Antique Gold to blend it in, finally adding some white for hi-lights.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Normandy buildings.1.

Another issue from our Normandy Test game was a lack of buildings. This is an old Hovels building I'd had for ages but not got round to painting, put off by the combination of so many windows and the fact that the chimneys hadn't cast properly and needed replacing.

The solution to the first was to just grit my teeth and do it and for the second, thin strips of paper wrapped with lots of PVA around a cocktail stick then daubed with a PVA and gritty wood-filler mix to create some texture and hide the overlap of the end of the paper role.

The model came with interchangeable roofs for the two larger houses - intact, as shown, or war-damaged.

One thing I don't like about this building group is that it just sits there on the table with no surroundings to create context - I'll return to this later.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Wood for the trees

Among the irritations of my old scenery in our WW2 test games was that the individually-based trees were quite prone to falling over. I'd been thinking about rebasing them anyway because the ground colours didn't quite match my recent basing and table scheme so this was the final push needed to actually do something.

I have a load of old, rather small,  twisted wire and string trees - back in the day this was state of the art but things have moved on and people are making some amazingly realistic trees now. I was especially impressed with the Dagger and Brush blog's attention to detail.

I did think of binning my old, far inferior trees and starting again but in the end my parsimony/aversion to waste and laziness won out so I decided to make the most of what I had. The first priority was to rebase them on larger multi-tree bases so they wouldn't fall over so easily and would match the rest of my scenery. A secondary issue was that these and my bocage hedges were shedding flock all over the place so the first step was to spray everything with a load of Woodland Scenics' Scenic Cement. The actual basing was done with my usual sequence of flexible filler /caulk, PVA and sand/rocks then static grass and tufts.

I wanted to add a bit of extra interest so added a few rocks and fallen tree trunks, either sculpted from Milliput or actual twigs. I also added in a few bushes and trees made from rubberised horse hair. Having run out of old Amtico sample pieces, the base material was cut from a leftover 'plank' from re-doing the bathroom a few years ago - nothing wrong with being a hoarder!

I have a few poplar /cypress trees that I tend to use as scatter and within villages, especially for the Italian Wars and I rebased these too on larger washers for better stability. I need to get a few more cypress trees and larger than these rather garden-sized examples.

Inspired by the Dagger and Brush blog, I thought I'd have a go at making a tree from scratch by the bent wire method. It is actually quite easy and satisfying to get a decent, albeit far short of the excellence achieved on that blog, result but the time taken convinced me that I have far too much in the lead pile to think of starting over with my trees.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results - not as good as the best modern examples but a big step up from what I had and matching well with the rest of my scenery.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Expanding horizons

I started this blog to record my progress in building a 15mm French army for the 16th C. Great Italian Wars for FoG-R - hence the name. I completed enough units for that (plus some options) in the summer of 2016 then called a halt because it looked like the excellent Venexia 15mm range would be coming back into production with Sgt. Major Miniatures and I wanted to use those for the remaining units - mounted arequebusiers, archers, better gendarmes, for example.

Time passed,  Sgt. Major Miniatures closed up shop and my blog sat in suspended animation. I have been doing other wargaming things, as I mentioned in a post in October 2017, I have been doing other wargames and modelling things but the narrow blog title and scope I had chosen put these beyond what I thought I should include here. I started another blog 'Midland Shipyard' for my waterline ship models in 1:1200 and 1:1250 but I have a wide range of interests (some might say I'm just easily distracted) and I don't want to end up with a dozen different blogs.

Whilst I'm not going to change this blog's name, I've decided to make it a general one for all my wargames and modelling activities apart from the waterline ships.

There's a lot of catching up to do and exciting possibilities for the future.

I've been making a lot of scenery, prompted especially by some WW2 Normandy games and have just had my first game of Mortem et Gloriam so I am looking to re-base and complete my old Late Roman army for that.

Of course, Venexia 15mm Italian Wars is now back in production, thanks to Lancashire Games - I'm looking forward to getting some of those soon. Almost simultaneously, Blue Moon launched a very wide and high-quality range - none specifically French as yet but they were canvassing opinion on TMP a while ago so I'm hopeful. There are also rumours of new figures from Khurasan and their late 16th Century range looks really good too.

So many possibilities, so little time and focus!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Distractions, distractions...

Whilst on holiday on Normandy at the end of July, I almost but not quite completed the second batch of aventurier crossbowmen then got distracted by work, holidays, climbing and some other painting and wargaming.

A big interest of mine is warship design and models. After a childhood of 1/600 Airfix plastic models and some 1/1200 original Triangs, given to me by a favourite uncle, this lapsed for many years then I realised I could afford the definitive reference books (Friedman; Raven and Roberts; Burt; Grove...) and discovered the world of 1/1200 and 1/1250 waterline models. Since then I have built up a bit of a collection, mostly focussing on Royal Navy ships of WW2 and after. 

One I recently bought on Ebay was a Delphin model of a Type 81 frigate. I carelessly broke the mast off and one bit of restoration led to another so I ended up completely stripping it, remodelling the 4.5" guns, adding a lot of detail and repainting. Bear in mind this is 88 mm long.

The one part that is very unsatisfactory on this (and all other late WW2-1960s RN) ship is the mast - a solid casting just doesn't represent the characteristic scaffold-like masts very well. My longer term plan is to design some photo-etch brass but for the moment, I have just painted the original cast mast.

Another long-standing interest is WW2 land wargaming, especially Normandy. I have tried a few different rules over the years without ever quite finding what I was looking for: a battalion-scale game with good balance of simulation and playability. A couple of weeks ago we tried 'Iron Cross' from Great Escape Games

First impressions were good for playability but less so for accuracy of simulation and (especially) the possibility of scaling up to a full battalion and squadron of tanks. We are playing around with some ideas for house rules to meet these objectives. 

Another obvious deficiency from the game was that I don't have enough buildings and those I do have don't look much like Normandy. Thankfully Tiger Terrain have some excellent resin models so I have bought some of those. I was very impressed with the quality and efficiency of their service and the models look fantastic - much the best I have ever seen. If they did models suitable for 16th Century Italy, I could have saved a lot of time and trouble with tiny cardboard rectangles! 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Good news for Venexia fans!

In the gap between me stopping collecting and painting 16th C war-games figures, Venexia came onto the market and disappeared from it. Whilst I have managed to buy a few of these fantastically detailed figures second hand, it has been very frustrating to think of what might have been.

The master figures were bought by Sgt Major Miniatures in the USA and there has been a lot of speculation and anticipation about when and whether they would be brought back into production.

A few weeks ago I wrote to them asking and have just had a very welcome and encouraging reply:

Subject: Venezia Italian Wars range 
Sorry for the delay, I have been having some issues with the web site eating messages, and failing to alert me as they come in, cleaning up many old messages this morning... 
I am slowly working on getting the line back into production.  I have issues with the master figures they supplied when I bought the company, they melt in the mold maker, I think they must have some solder or something in the metal, its completely ridiculous! Anyway, the process to fix this is incredibly slow unfortunately.  I have gotten the Ottomans back into production, and the Italian Wars should be back in the next couple of months.  The Louis line is currently being re-done, and the rest of the lines will follow that.  Its been 4 years since I bought this line, and I want it back in production as much as everyone else, probably more, I haven't been able to make any sort of return on my investment thus far...  
Sincerely,Sgt Major Miniatures

Good news - the wait should soon be over and I'll be at the front of the queue for some gendarmes!