Friday, 23 May 2008

Ten Months And Counting

I have some sympathy for Frederick and his problems with Croats. In my case it is not irregular infantry hovering on my flanks that are causing concern, but various garden pests that launch their attacks on my veggies. Add to that the sun suddenly going AWOL, and the joys of modelling seem all the greater.

With painting metal soldiers, I can blame only myself if they don't turn out the way I want. I suppose in a way this might be seen as a disadvantage: no excuses are possible. So when I see all the mistakes I have made on the figures I have painted so far, I have to shudder. Indeed, I have to marvel at the sheer variety of them. If I look back I'd ascribe 70% of them to impatience, the urge to get on to the next step before properly completing the current job. The other 30% are due to sheer cack-handedness and lack of talent.

It is now ten months since I started on my SYW 30mm army (the blog didn't start until much later) after a break of roughly twelve years since last wargaming. The internet has changed the hobby markedly during my long period of inactivity. We now have easy access to information of all kinds: uniform details, orders of battle, descriptions of tactics etc. that were hard to get hold of when our only ready sources were the local bookshop, library and periodicals. But, for me, the most crucial change has been the manner in which we can all communicate our own thoughts on every topic to our peers. We can now all play a part in forming the opinions on which the future direction of wargaming depends.

On a more personal note I can take stock of the progress made in the last ten months: nine companies of infantry, three cavalry squadrons, and two guns and their crew. Counting all the supernumaries, it works out at about twenty Olley painting points a month: rather more than I imagined before I sat down to count. I think ten months is a good enough basis to be able to figure out future timescales. The maximum size of battle I'd envisage doing would be that of Sittangbad. Any greater number of figures and I suspect the chore of moving them individually would be excessively tedious: I should have to use a multiple figure basing system if I wanted to do this. I make Sittangbad to be roughly 840 Olley painting points: so, subtracting progress already made, that would take me a little under three years.

Ten months work

Henry Hyde's post on hisFaltenian Succession armies mentions the hazards of being drawn into different periods. For those fortunate enough to be fast painters this is not a problem: for slow painters like me it is 'madness' as the authors of Charge! put it. The most tempting for me would be WW2 as this presents a very different game. Luckily this problem is solved by the simple fact that the best WW2 wargames I have played have been on a computer, using Close Combat 3 (in my humble opinion Close Combat 4 is nowhere near as good a game). I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to try out WW2: you get all the advantages of using a computer, including concealment, accurate morale, proper determination of the effect of suppressive fire (the last is key to allowing proper tactics), all leading to an excellent wargame. And the biggest benefit of all is that you don't have to paint another army, so your modelling efforts don't get diluted by period creep.

At the moment I am working on adding a second squadron of dragoons. This takes a lot of time as I have multiple parts to attach with epoxy glue, so there's not much to show at the moment. Hopefully I'll be able to show the enlarged regiment next post.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Messing About On The River

I'm currently working on bits and bobs at the moment: with the weather having suddenly switched from winter straight into mid-summer there's too many jobs in the garden to occupy my time. Its a fact of life that unpainted metal figures have infinite patience, while vegetables require attention when weather permits. And anyone observing Mitchell Towers at just the right time of night will see me out there, torch in hand, engaged in a savage battle of man versus slug.

One task have have finally gotten round to is to add a little polish to the river sections I created for BlastHof (hence the Cheesy title). The most accurate representation of a stream would use subtle colouring to indicate the reflection of sky and banks in the water. I decided that wouldn't do at all though. I think that with 'water' thats really no more than a few coats of varnish, this would not give the effect of depth that I want.

So my stream sections use a black undercoat with nothing more than a fairly light drybrushing of medium blue on top. The drybrushing is concentrated towards the centre of the stream so that its 'banks' are casting their shadows. Its not realistic: I don't think I've ever seen a stretch of water at all like this, but it does give the impression of something with a depth of more than a fraction of a millimetre.

Stream Sections

I've glued sand onto the banks themselves using PVA. I also experimented with using static grass to represent aquatic plants at the stream borders, but this didn't work too well so I abandoned it after a bit. I think you'd need larger bristles to represent this type of vegetation. There are other embellishments that could be added - such as grit to represent rock - but as stuff like this would make it harder to place figures I think we are moving away from practical wargames terrain into the province of diorama makers. After all, I've already deviated far from the chalked-on water features in Charge!.

On the figures front, I'm slowly painting an officer to lead the Cuirassiers. The Suren figure has its hand sticking out to the front in an attitude that doesn't seem to serve any particular purpose. So I decided to bend this down to a position close to the reins; a pose that looks far more natural. The problem here, of course, is that metal figures don't have elbows so the entire upper arm bends in a gradual curve rather than getting a sharp bend at just the elbow (which would probably snap the arm if you managed it anyway). To fix this I filled in the inside of the arm with milliput and then filed the outside of the arm to remove the curve.

As the only officer painted so far, this gentleman will get to lead the entire regiment (albeit of only two squadrons at the moment). Later on he'll be demoted to squadron commander: the final complement of officers will have two more like him, plus a converted 'special' in overall command.

Suren Cuirassier Officer (Stadden Horse)

I am starting to think I ought to photo my figures before I start painting them: I can see a bit of mold line in the photo that had quite escaped my notice. Oh well, time to get the file out.

Monday, 5 May 2008


Given the title of this blog, it's about time I added some of these gentlemen. As usual (when the range includes them) the figures I have chosen to use are Staddens. The first company, of twelve men, is done and shown in the photo below.

I've painted these figures to represent Fusilier Regiment 41. Bleckwenn shows the coat for this regiment being of a slightly lighter shade of blue than the norm: I've tried to indicate this by using a heavier highlight than usual. Bleckwenn does show some variety of shades of blue amongst the many regiments of the Prussian Army, but as I cannot read the german text of his books I'm not sure why this is. Duffy says that FR41 was transferred from Wurttemburg, so I wonder if the difference in shade in this case reflects the unit's origins.

I did paint these a little hastily. Sometimes I find the urge to get a unit finished is overwhelming, particularly when its a new figure. As a result, I've missed off some detail on the cuffs, and I am still wondering about whether to fix that or not.