Monday, 19 September 2022

Inspiration

You often come across discussions about how people got into this hobby and people often talk about being introduced to a particular game, being bought a few miniatures or encountering a particular form of media.

For me it was none of these things. My introduction to wargaming came long before I knew Games Workshop existed, before I'd turned the first pages of The Lord of the Rings, before I'd been to my first wargames show and spent my pocket money on 20 15mm fantasy figures from The Tin Soldier.

My introduction came from these...


For as long as I've been alive, there was a cabinet of miniatures in my parents' house full of miniatures painted by my dad.

I remember sitting quietly at the table watching him paint, captivated. I would stare longingly at the shelves of miniatures wanting to play with them, sneaking a couple out when I thought I could get away with it.

It was my dad who took me to my first shows, and introduced me to the labyrinthine complexity that were Wargames Research Group rules (what the f*** is a 'bound?) and who let me 'command' a unit of Prussian Landwehr in a massive refight of the Battle of Borodino at his club.

It's my dad and these miniatures that has been responsible for me spending a huge chunk of my life engrossed in this hobby.

My dad died in July.

Now, the very figures that started me off have been passed on to me and so I thought I'd show them off.

The Romans


The shelf I would stare at most as a child was full of Republican Romans. I think technically (according to WRG) the army consists of three legions and an allied legion, even though a consular army should have been two and two.


In an interesting detail of how understanding of different periods has changed, the principes (the second line) are armed with long spears, which is apparently only appropriate for Romes early wars against the Gauls and Samnites. Later on, certainly for the more famous Punic wars (for which this army was made), the principes were armed with pilum like the hastati at the front.


I've always loved the allied infantry drawn from elsewhere in Italy. There's actually an allied cavalry unit to complement the small Roman detachment, accurately reflecting the weakness Roman armies had in this period in terms of both the number and quality of cavalry they had at their disposal.

The Carthaginians


The Republican Romans were built to face off against a much larger Carthaginian force.

I think the Cathaginian army is large for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Hannibal is probably the historical commander my dad admired the most. Certainly, if you judged him by the books on his shelves, Hannibal's name was most common and enduring.

The second reason is probably the fact that as a mercenary army, the polyglot Carthaginian army would have been much more interesting to paint.


Perhaps my favourite unit of anything he ever painted are these citizen cavalry. Each shield had painted in an individual design that this photo doesn't do justice to.


The Numidian cavalry also show similar attention to detail. My dad admitted that the leapordskin and zebra-skin shield were probably somewhat fanciful, but he liked them.


No Carthaginian army is complete without elephants, and this army doesn't disappoint on that front.

In fact, there are so many that there's only really the battle of Zama that could possibly require so many.


My dad fell out of painting for many years until I started taking him to a club when he visited. This not only got him painting again, but also saw him begin to rebase models  such as these Gauls for use with Warhammer Ancient Battles.

In fact, he even painted me a full Carthaginian army for WAB, so by combining the two I now have a frankly massive force which can probably be divided into separate smaller armies for the Gauls, Numidians and Iberians.

The Scots


My dad's historical and painting passions shifted from the ancient to the English Civil War, specifically the conflict in Scotland and the campaigns of another of his heroes, James Graham, the 1st Marquess of Montrose.

As with Hannibal, dad had something of a soft spot for the tactically brilliant hopeless cause.


I'm in no way an expert on the English Civil War, and so I don't know what each regiment is, but I am aware that this large force consists of both royalist and convenanter units.

There's some work ahead to work out which is which.


There are a large amount of cavalry, of which Montrose never had many, but that flag right at the front is definitely the royal standard of Scotland, and so at least some of these are royalists.


There are several regiments of highlanders for launching recklessly at the enemy. A tactic that became increasingly less effective as firearms became more ubiquitous.


There are also lotos and lots of artillery pieces.

I think one of the reasons for this is that I bought an ECW army (including plenty of guns) on impulse at one point and then gave it to him when I realised I would never paint it.


To go with the artillery, there's also a fairly hefty baggage train, which point to another of his passions: making things look right.

My dad spent a lot of time painting those things that added nothing but aesthetics to the table. There's a whole load of buildings for different eras that I haven't unpacked yet (due to lack of table space).

As a taster of this, here's just the livestock he painted to go with his farms.


Along with the buildings, there are also several Saga warbands to unpack, complete with civilians and lots of scenery. 

Also, there's only a handful of unpainted models (not added to totals yet, there are decisions to be made about them), demonstrating that lead piles aren't mandatory, a lesson I should take to heart. 

However, in lieu of a lead pile, there is an entire lamdscape's worth of basing materials. Perhaps wargamers are all destined to be hoarders in some form.

This isn't meant to be a maudlin post. I'm going to miss my dad massively, but he has left me with so much. I'm not talking about the figures (although there are A LOT of them), but more the passion and interest in painting and playing wargames and a fascination with history.

I'm going to miss sharing that passion with him, even when he looked at me as if I was mad when I tried to explain what the hell 'Tzeentch' was or the plot of my latest 'He-Man vs Captain Scarlet' game of 7TV

I'm going to miss hearing him rant about people on the Saga forum giving Dark Age Scots tartan kilts and saltire flags.

I'm going to miss the only person in my family who actually understood this madness.

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Vlad's Army

Continuing my theme of only painting plastic models as I'm currently out of superglue, I've turned my attention to the 7TV feature pack Vlad's Army, in which a supernatural strike team of Nazi undead take on the stalwart Home Guard of Walsingham-on-sea.


Although there are some official models from Crooked Dice, I've taken the opportunity to raid my bitz box and lead pile for this project. I have bought the model for Hauptmann Kurtz (the vampiric second-in-command), but he's metal and so has to wait.

I've been really quick and dirty in terms of painting. If I don't mention it, just assume I've gone for a straightforward contrast-drybrush-wash approach.


Major Schreck is the vampiric leader of the invasion force and star of the villainous cast. He was built from a German Winter Infantry sprue for Bolt Action that I got free with Wargames Illustrated some time back.

His pale skin, red eyes and blood trails on his chin mean he's unlikely to ever line up alongside my Fallschirmjäger army any time soon.


The Nachtjagerkommandos are lesser vampires who act as elite troops for Schreck. Despite the wings, these guys can't actually fly.

All three are different Heroclix Man-Bat sculpts I'd collected over the years. Their uniform trousers and the addition of some German equipment to their belts (which you can't actually see) are my only concession to their military service.


The scenarios require a host of Totgangers (zombies) and so my first four are made from the rest of the German Winter Infantry sprue.

Fortunately, these models are all in motion and so I was able to pose them as staggering forwards. Open hands from a range of sources, a couple of lost limbs and a liberal dollop of Blood for the Blood God complete their transformation into the undead.

The zombie skin is my usual recipe: Kislev Flesh, green wash, drybrush Ushabti Bone, Agrax Earthshade wash.


The rest of the Totgangers are made from a Fallschirmjäger sprue I had spare. Unfortunately, some of the poses were not very zombie-like and so I took more time to use spare zombie bits from old Studio Miniatures and Wargames Factory sprues to get them looking right.

This also led to a more gruesome appearance meaning that the fictional Vlad's Army TV show would be almost certain to draw the ire of Mary Whitehouse.

As a historical note, at this point in the war the Fallschirmjäger shouldn't have camouflage smocks. However, I'm not sure I'm massively worried about the historical accuracy of my zombies...


The final model is not actually for Vlad's Army but fit the theme and was easy to do. There are Wolves in tje feature pack, but they are smaller than this beast.

This is a Fenrisian Wolf from 40k. It's likely to pop up in different games when I need a Dire Wolf, Warg Chieftain or other monstrous dog. Despite having two eyes I can certainly work as Black Schuck, the spectral hound from the Children of the Fields programme guide.

As mentioned, I still have Hauptmann Kurtz to paint and some bats to rebase as swarms, and I have some undead wolves from Descent I can use to complete the cast.

After that, I need to move on to the Walsingham-on-sea Home Guard. I had intended to just use my Operation Sealion/VBCW models to represent them, but after being given a set of Warlord Games Dad's Army Miniatures at the last 7TV day, it would seem churlish not to use them as Captain Mainwaring and company are the obvious source material for Captain Bannerman's command in Vlad's Army.


A good chunk of progress only slightly undermined by the arrival of more Space Marines this week. With them being plastic and the Dad's Army miniature being metal, I'm likely to return to the 31st Millennium before completing the Home Guard cast.

Acquired: 130
Painted: 141

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

The time of the Orc has come!

Well, the time to do five more of them anyway.


These are Oathmark Goblins (not Orcs, they're much bigger) which I have painted to add to my burgeoning forces of Mordor/Angmar for Lord of the Rings.

One of the problems of the old plastic LotR minis are the limited range of monopose sculpts. This is more of a problem for the Orcs than for the more uniform troops like Uruk-Hai or Easterlings.


Therefore I picked up a sprue of Oathmark Goblins to add a bit of variation, and as you can see, they scale pretty well.

The sprue has five models and a range of hand weapons, spears, shields and bows just like the Dwarf sprue. There is a head and large axe suitable to denoting a champion (which I haven't used) and unlike the Dwarves, there's a banner pole that I've decided to take advantage of.


The poses are a little bit samey, and so I wouldn't want to use too many of them alongside the more dynamically posed LotR Orcs, but a handful amongst the throng looks fine.

Having said that, these are also £25 for 30 and so do come out as a cheaper alternative to the official models.


I used the same simplistic approach to painting as when I painted the GW Orcs: base coats, drybrushing and washes over a black base, which works well enough and demostrates that these are more than detailed enough.

I'm not sure about the banner (I never am when I do freehand) and so it's not attached yet, and won't be until I'm certain I can't improve it. The saving grace is that Orc banners can cope with being rubbish as they're made by Orcs.


I feel like I'm finally building up a head of steam again and making some progress through the backlog.

It's a shame I've actually got to go back to work again on Thursday.

Acquired: 120
Painted: 127

Monday, 29 August 2022

A Short Break

Having run out of Space Marines and also out of superglue, my attention turned to what other plastic miniatures I had knocking round that I could be getting on with.

My attention settled on these little fellas.


These are Oathmark Dwarves which I picked up a while ago with the express intent of using them in the 7TV feature pack 'Orsa The Fearless'.

Having now painted them I think I've pretty much got everything I need to play through the campaign.



The five Dwarves are the contents of a single sprue, which come with options for hand weapons, spears, bows, shields and a couple of character elements like the ornate helm and axe above.


They are simple and effective miniatures which took me back to the way GW fantasy kits used to be - open to interpretation and flexible.


I particularly like the faces, which are packed with character and take both contrast paint and washes well. I think there are 10 or 11 head options, meaning that a unit certainly wouldn't look monotonous.


There are obviously limitations with the kit, areas of less detail or awkward mould lines, but given that these have an rrp of £25 for 30, I would easily be able to forgive those things if I was building an army.


When it can to painting, I kept things simple, using contrast paints for faces and beards, and then washes overcbase coats for the rest of the model.


I'm waiting on a delivery that includes some paint and superglue, so expect a few more plastic meanderings in the coming posts.

In other news, I'm finally back in the black!

Acquired: 120
Painted: 122

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Big Red One

After a short break to go on holiday it's back to that big red grindstone that is my Blood Angels Horus Heresy army.

And actually thr biggest and reddest bit so far.


This is a Leviathan Siege Dreadnought and is essentially a big stompy robot of doom. In fact, it's one of the biggest models I've ever painted (I think Treebeard and a couple of my Soviet tanks are recognisably larger).

Here's a picture to give a sense of scale.


I really enjoy putting together these larger GW plastic kits as they are so well engineered that it's like doing a 3d jigsaw, although I'm not sure how successful I've been at trying to give him a dynamic pose.

My only gripe with the kit was the lack of any real weapon options. As he's geared for close combat, I've kept him cheap with Flamers as his support weapons which means there will be no reason not to just barrel him forwards.


I'm terms of painting I kept things simple and went back to how I did my original Blood Angels.

I spray undercoated it silver and did a base coat of Mephiston Red on all the armour plate before giving the whole thing a wash of Nuln Oil.


After this I went over the red again but left the shading in the panel lines. This left just details and tidying up to do.

A few transfers and basing and the big fella was done.


In terms of transfers, I made the decision not to bother ordering the new Horus Heresy transfer sheet for three reasons.

Firstly, I have a load of Blood Angels transfers and the differences are purely cosmetic. Secondly, the transfers are sold out all over the place and I'm impatient. Thirdly, the new transfer sheets are REALLY expensive and I could get another unit for the same price.


Having made my judgement call about the transfers, I also got all of my Tactical Marines done at the same time, meaning that barring the chainswords on my second squad, I now have a 1500 point army.


I'm now out of Horus Heresy miniatures to paint and so whilst I wait for more little red men, I'm going to get back to a couple of other projects.

Acquired: 117
Painted: 120

Thursday, 11 August 2022

A Vexing Process

In a turn of events that will surprise nobody, I've painted more Blood Angels.

Ten of them.


That makes for a second compulsory squad of 'line' troops and makes the army I've assembled for Horus Heresy so far game legal.

I still need to add transfers and I think I want to give this squad chainswords, but they are certainly useable.

However, for a number of reasons I found the process of getting through these troublesome.


Firstly, the whole sub-assembly thing, although beneficial for painting is actually slowing the process down quite significantly.


Secondly, the way I'm painting the armour is also time consuming. Painting over the base coat of Flesh Tearer's Red contrast paint is working for the shading but takes a lot of time when doing a unit of ten.

Additionally, having made the desicion to paint the studs on the shoulder pads separately and also do thin lines on the 'underarmour' joints is also adding to the process.


Thirdly, despite carefully lining up the arms to the guns each time I build a marine, I seem to get a couple of marines in each batch which are wrongly positioned by the time I come to put the guns on.

I have a rigid system of enduring that the guns are kept with the correct marine throughout painting, so I'm not sure what's going on.


On a different note, I made the decision to not have the sergeant's crest match the vexilla of the squad as not only did a yellow crest look weird, but colour coding the squads came off as proper dorky.


The vexilla combined almost all of these issues and needed recovering as a green vexilla looked weird. On top of this, for some reason I just couldn't get it to glue to the pack.

I don't know whether it was the temperature or the glue has 'gone off' but I ended up taking the connecting parts off the banner pole and pack and making a new pole section (which glued just fine) and using superglue to connect it all.

All in all, this squad has been frustrating. However, they are now done and I don't need to paint any more batches of infantry for now. I do sense a mob of assault troops on my future when GW get round to releasing them, but I have nothing larger than squads of five on the agenda for the forseable.


I'm almost back on an even keel in terms of painting numbers and in other news I took part in the chat of a livestream done by a group of content creators surrounding the announcement of the new Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game starter set. They eaven responded to one of my comments on the stresm at one points and so I feel fully justified in ticking off another box on the Hobby Bingo card.

Acquired: 120
Painted: 116

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Terminator 2: Salvation

I'll be back at the Tactical Marines in no time, but I fancied a bit of a break.

Not that much of a break, obviously, it's still red space marines.


Following the game on Monday, it became apparent that as bullet magnets extraordinaire, my Indomitus Terminators (that's what this type of armour is called in the Horus Heresy) might need a few extra bodies.

Three factors came together to help this happen:

1) Pete kindly gave me a Terminator he had got on the front of White Dwarf years ago that is the same as the ones my squad.

2) He also generously gave me two lightning claws to enable me to make use of the body that has been sitting in my bits box for a similar amount of time.

3) I shall get my maths right and not leave out a sixth Terminator and only take five.


As mentioned before, my Terminator squad are built with the models from the Assault on Black Reach box (5th edition?) plus a few promo models from White Dwarf.

I've not painted these exactly the same way, I've done Flesh Tearer's Red contrast as a base coat rather than doing a Nuln Oil was over Mephiston Red, but they fit in quite well.


The lightning claws guy is a bit of an anomaly as I don't think I can use him in a regular Terminator squad in 40k, so he will be Horus Heresy only.

As such, I think I'm going to give him a vexilla at some point (when I get my hands on a spare), as that's also a Heresy only element.


Here's the squad together.

They are still outmatched by Pete's Cataphractii Terminators, but I'm hoping that the new additions might mean more than two of them make it into combat next time.


Still chipping away at that deficit, but at least I've gone a couple of days without buying any models. I also had to tear a knackered Rohan horse off it's base (and chucked it into the bin) to complete these two, so I'm attacking the tally from both ends.

Acquired: 120
Painted: 106

P.S. I know the title is wrong, I'm just trying to trigger Matt.