Monday, 29 December 2014

SAGA - Starting a Norman warband

For a couple of months I was pondering about painting some miniatures to start a Norman warband for SAGA. After I read Curt's bonus themes for this year's painting challenge I decided that the second round "Mount(s) and Rider(s)" is the perfect moment to do so.
These seven Normans are the start for my Norman warband for Saga. The guy on the large round base shall serve as my warlord while the other six knights will be his loyal hearthguard.
The miniatures:
There are a lot of nice miniatures for the dark ages in general and suitable Normans specifically. But since I’m a great fan of the Perrys’ style of sculpting and their slender figures I decided to use their early crusaders for my warband. The warlord on the rearing horse is from the character pack while the knights are from two of their mounted crusaders packs.
As for the quality of the figures I wasn’t disappointed at all. They are exelently sculpted and cast. There was little flash to clean away and the usual mold line. Especially the shields are very nice because Alan and Michael made three different shape so you can mix them a bit to avoid a too uniform look.
The colours:
As usual I employed Vallejo Model Colours to paint the tiny fellows. Most of them is covered with chainmail which was done rather easily and quickly. For the other parts I tried to use different not too bold colours. For the shields I used transfers from Stephen Hales’ awesome Little Big Men Studios range.

Actually nothing special, only my usual mix of sand, gravel, static grass and modelling flowers. I chose the warlord’s base larger than the usual 25mm x 50mm because I wanted to have him stand out. Thus he is occupying a 50mm circular base.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Painting Challenge Roundup: Week 3

The last two weeks were dominated by Christmas preparations but nevertheless Curt's painting challenge went on. After a good start with 85 points from the "Cold" bonus round I planned to prepare a couple of Normans for the second bonus round "Mount(s) and Rider(s)". Arithmetically fell back behind my plan slightly because I didn't manage to finish anything during Christmas week but meanwhile I compensated that with two more Normans than I actually planned. Thus I reached my target for week 3 exactly:
Hopefully Curt will show the entries for the second bonus round today but here's a little preview for my Normans:
Yesterday I started with the figures for the next bonus round and since it's only three miniatures to paint this time I hope to start with my "Myth" entry rather soon. In case that I'm diligent enough I might have finished the next two or even three bonus entries rather soon... We'll see how my plan to prepare those for me mandatory entries soon...

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Many thanks to "Santa Claus" and "Secret Santa" !

This year it was my first time in the "Santa Claus" and "Secret Santa" ventures and thus I was really curious what my counterparts sent me. Luckily both parcels arrived in time and I opened them on Christmas Eve which is the traditional time for handing out the presents in Germany.

And from both gifts I was pleased beyond all measure.

Many, many thanks 
to "Santa Claus" and "Secret Santa" !

"Santa Claus" painted this awesome Royal Horse Artillery howitzer for me:
Crikey! What a gorgeous gift!
The set is a perfect choice for my collection since I have all the other sets I need for a complete battery but didn't own the howitzer until now. And besides that it's extremely well painted. Unfortunately I don't know the generous donor but many, many thanks this way! In case that he (or she) would be willing to reveal his or her identity I would be delighted to get to know the colours which were used to adjust my very own RHA figures.

"Secret Santa" was likewise generous. He or she sent me two sets of Great War Miniatures representing a British WW1 13pdr Mk. I gun and an appropriate crew of 6 men. Really the choice I was hoping for when I presented my wish list a couple of weeks ago. A perfect addition for my WW1 Tommies.
The late war crew I got. (picture from Northstar)
The gun with ammunition wagon and early war crew. (picture from Northstar)
But more important for me was to please my counterparts. Luckily I read on their blogs that they received my gifts in time and that they were rather pleased about them.

Last but not least many, many thanks to the organizers of both projects. To Cath and Ian for "Secret Santa" and to Chris for "Santa Clause". I'm looking forward to 2015 and hope that they'll start the ventures again. I would be delighted to take part again.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year !

The last weeks were pretty busy. Preparations for Christmas, my efforts for the painting challenge and the annual settlement at the office. Therefor it was rather quiet here a couple of days.

Anyway the year comes to its end and the next weeks will be as exhausting as joyful. We'll spend a lot of time with the family and some friends, so please don't expect too many update until New Year's day.
Until then keep calm and stay healthy.

I wish you all a merry and blessed Christmas and all the best for the New Year !

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Retreat 1812 - Duchy of Warsaw figures

Finally this weekend I was able to send Curt the first entries for his painting challenge. Since I didn't have time to paint anything else during the first week of the challenge my first entries were my contribution to the "cold" bonus round:

A band of Duchy of Warsaw soldiers for Napoleon's retreat from Moscow
The miniatures:
The miniatures are from Murawski Miniatures. This small company run by Roger Murrow publishes a nice range of 28mm Napoleonics for Polish troops especially for 1812 - 1814. Above all he has some excellent figures in campaign and full dress but likewise two sets of ragged soldiers for the retreat 1812 theme. The seven miniatures I’m presenting here are from one of these sets.
The miniatures are sculpted by extraordinarily gifted Paul Hicks and by themselves a feast for the eye. The details are crisp and clear, the casting quality is extremely good and each and every of the figures is full of character. To cut the long story short: It was pure joy to paint those fellows.

In case that you like the figures have a look at Roger's (Murawski's) homepage. He's offering free shipping until 31st December.
The colours:
As usual I used Vallejo Model Colors to paint the boys. Because of the chaotic background of the retreat I didn’t want to paint them too uniformily and so decided to use different shades of brown and grey for the overcoats. But nevertheless the band should contain an idea of cohesion. Therefore I tried to give all of them special items in dark green. Most of them wear scarves or gloves where I seized this colour. Only exception is the grenadier which unfortunately doesn’t wear anything else than the tabard which I painted brownish.

Most of the figures didn’t have gloves because they’re operating their muskets. Anyway for some of them I painted half-fingered gloves because I found it plausible that they might have protected themselves this way.

Actually I used nothing too special. The usual mix of sand, filler, (white) paint, static grass and PVA glue. As snow I use “Korundsand” (engl. May be: corundum sand). It’s a fine-grained and pure white abrasive which dental technician use for sandblasting. It has some sparkling grain in it and keeps its colour very good. Besides it’s extremely durable so actually perfect for the hard missions on the wargaming tables.
I hope you like my humble work.
Although Curt didn't actualise the standings yet those chaps should have earned me 35 points in addition to 50 point for fulfilling the bonus round. A good start which pushes me slightly above my expectations.
My goal for this week is to get as far with the figures for the next bonus theme as possible. This time it's "Mount(s) and Rider(s)" and I'm painting a couple of Normans / Early Crusaders for it. Deadline is 28th December but I'm pretty confident to have them finished before Christmas.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Painting Challenge Week 1 - On target so far

Finally the first week of this year's painting challenge is over and luckily I'm on target so far:
For the first week my goal was to paint six Murawski Poles for Napoleon's Retreat in 1812. Fortunately I managed to finish seven instead so I'm slightly better off then I calculated. Only 5 points but better 5 points in front than 5 points behind.

Here's a small preview for the 1812 Poles which I'll cover more detailed tomorrow respecting Curt's request to publish the pictures 24 hours in advance of us condributers:
During the weekend I started to paint the horses and riders for the second bonus round on 28th December. That departs a bit from my initial plan but I decided that I should do the compulsory tasks first. We'll see how that'll come out on the spreadsheet but actually I hope that preparing the bonus rounds in advance should create some space during the later weeks of the challenge.
Unfortunately I wasted nearly the whole Saturday with searching Thor for the "Myth" bonus round and spent yesterday evening with my lovely wife and the second part of the Hobbit triology. On the one hand a good time to relax but on the other hand I feel a bit behind my schedule on the painting table.

So for this evening "Full steam ahead !" is the motto. My wife will leave me behind with our girls but I hope they'll fall asleep early and will mete some free time out to me.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Generous Mr Awdry !

Constant readers of Michael Awdry's outstanding blog 28mm Victorian Warfare might have noticed that I was the lucky winner of his 500k hits raffle. Today I realised how incredibly lucky I was because his highly generous gift arrived today. A gorgeous selection of precious items awaited me inside a prudent wrapping:
Crikey! He even added a tea bag to his splendid mug: Newby's Earl Grey tea. Although I didn't know this brand Earl Grey is my favourite flavour. Either Michael guessed right or we share some similar preferences or Earl Grey is simply THE tea for wargamers. Anyway I was really pleased to find it besides the mug and a very witty pair of cufflinks. Another perfect item since I actually prefer shirts with double cuffs. Maybe these are not the set to choose for business but they'll find use during some leisure activities.

Most eye-catching part of the set is maybe the miniature Michael included. A set of two wounded British soldiers from Empress Miniatures' excellent Anglo-Zulu War range painted by the goodman of Awdry Towers in person.
My picutres hardly do justice to this piece of art and it demands to be framed with a collection tackling this theatre of war. Originally I wanted to disregard this conflict but at least a couple of South Wales Borderers will follow sooner or later.

As well as those miniatures the mug found instant entry into my household. Here you see it besides my other two favourite mugs:
Last but not least Michael topped the set off with a very nice Christmas card and best wishes from him and his dear wife.

Honestly I don't want to over-egg the pudding but I cannot thank him enough for this generous present which really made my day.

Finally I sat down to finish my set of miniatures for the first bonus round of Curt's painting challenge. Of course I had to employ my new mug to hold a sip of Michael's tea and added a slice of Christstollen a traditional German fruit cake which my mother baked:
What else can I say?
Exactly my cup of tea.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

(Secret) Santa is early

Actually it's busy on my workbench but unfortunately nothing to present yet. My six miniatures for the Cold bonus round of Curt's painting challenge are about to be finished but unfortunately I'll not be able to present anything else this week.
A pity not to use this free to publish anytim week but more than those six men are beyond my possibilities I'm afraid.

However a couple of days ago the postman brought a very nice package. Secret Santa was as good as early and sent my very first Christmas present this year. It's very hard not to open it for the next two weeks but of course I'll endure that somehow. Anyway the rattling sound the parcel makes is really promising. It sounds like a couple of metal parts... Hopefully it's a couple of figures or a little kit which Secret Santa put in and not only on piece. At least after shipping it's a more than one piece...

Irreleveant what's inside:
Many, many thanks to Secret Santa !

And by the way a short notice to Chris and Ian:
My gifts for "Secret Santa" and "Santa Clause" are on their way and should arrive just before Christmas at the aimed fellows.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Here we go again - 5th Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge started

Yesterday it was the 5th December, finally !

So after weeks of preparations, deflashing models, priming miniatures and sorting the things to paint during the next three months the great day came and Curt's 5th Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge started.

Of course this was an occasion to celebrate appropriately and thus I opened a bottle of Talisker single malt whisky which I bought this summer and kept it for a special day. So with a toast onto our noble organiser the Rt. Hon. Curtis Cambell Esq. I sorted my paintbrushes and paintpots for the initial brushstrokes.
Additionally there six Poles from Murawski Miniatures were of the party. Really a couple of excellent figures which incredibly gifted Paul Hicks created for Napoleon's retreat from Moscow in 1812. As you know this topic is one of my favourites so I fell for them as soon as I saw the greens. Anyway I chose them to start the challenge and tackle the first bonus task next week.

Luckily dear Mrs Monty and our heavenly daughters are out tomorrow so maybe I'll get some work done then.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Spreadsheet magic

Some of you might have guessed that I tend to be well organized. Some might even say over-organized. Thus Miles caught me with his spreadsheet idea and I tortured my computer a bit:

It was rather easy to include the bonus rounds which I'm targetting primarily. That granted me a total of 529 points. Since my goal are 750 points I split the remaining 220 points on the weeks without bonus rounds and done.

During the challenge I'll fill the blue line and then see how desired and achieved points diverge...

Less then a day until the challenge starts...
Ladies and gentlemen, prepare your brushes!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Secret preparation for the challenge...

Last week was very quiet on my workbench. Actually I didn't do much more than preparing miniatures for the Painting Challenge. A lot of lead and plastic has been deflahed, cleaned, undercoated in black or coloured... All in all there are more than 100 28mm figures on foot and two dozen mounted miniatures which I might paint during the next months. Actually that's a lot more than I'll be able to finish but anyway I feel well prepared.

Here's a look into my WIP drawers:
A lot of figures for Saga (Normans and Nomads), Napoleonics (French and Poles), the Northwest Frontier (British) and World War I (Tommies again) which are waiting to get painted. Of course the partly painted paratroopers (2nd drawer) will not be part of the challenge.

During the rest of the week I'll have to prepare the figures for the Victorian bonus round (11th January). Probably I'll change my initial plan and go for some of Northstar's characterful tea time miniatures. And Thor must be prepared for the 4th (Myth) bonus round two week later...

So there are some preparations to finish but all in all I feel well prepared for the painting challenge. We'll see whether I'll be able to reach my 750 points target...

Friday, 21 November 2014

Naval November

On Wednesday evening I had very intense hobby session. Mrs Monty and the girls had gone to bad and our livingroom was deadly silent. Thus I took the nearly finished 1/1200 HMS Royal Sovereign and a skein of rayon threat and started to rig my first ship:
The ship is from Langton Models' excellent 1/1200 range. It comes with a hull of two or three parts and seperate masts and sails. I decided to take white metal sails which are thicker but easier to assemble than etched brass sails.
After assembling the small ship I painted the hull and the masts seperately and glued them together afterwards. As usual I used Vallejo Model Colours and some Armypainter washes.
Finally I covered the whole ship with matt varnish and made the rigging of rayon embroidery threat. Probably the rigging is not correct in the details but for a landlubber as I am it's satisfying I presume. Unfortunately I hit the main mast with my forearm yesterday so the rigging sags at some points. Clumsy me!

Typing these words I realize that I forgot to assemble the ratlines. I'll have to catch up on that this weekend.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Defending the bridge head - Another Retreat from Moscow game report...

Some time ago when we played our latest game of White Death. Another playtest of our ruleset for 1812. This time we played an episode from the Battle of Berezina in late November 1812.

More precisely we recreated the 28th November 1812. Part of the French retreaters had already reached the western banks of Berezina River and were regrouping there. But meanwhile the Russians under General Chichagov were approaching and tried to empocket the bridge head. Finally General Fournier and General Doumerc saved the French by leading a daring cavalry charge with the reamins of their forces.
The battlefield... Berezina River is somewhere on this side of the board.
We as players led three warbands of retreating soldiers. It was pur goal to stand firm long enought to buy time for the cuirassiers to gather and prepare to charge. Regarding the rules this worked by special event cards which we were able to collect during the game. After this we were free to launch the cavalry charge or wait a little longer to collect more cards. The more cards the more powerful the charge but the Russians became more numerous and more dangerous during the game as well. A difficult situation...
Our warbands taking their initial positions.
Anyway a very exiting game arose and we had to fight hard to resist the Russian pressure. Here are some impressions from the game:
One of our soldiers taking cover behind a tree.

Allied troops ready to fire at the approaching Russians.

Luckily we had some artillerymen who where able to man a gun we found.

Chichgov's Russian in sight

They're fielding a sledge gun. Dangerous !

A Russian Jaeger officer leading the troops.

The Russians advance across the clearing in the middle of the board.

Their pressure becomes more and more unstoppable...

...but our curassiers gather as well. Relief seemed near!

More Russians...

Then suddenly Russian hussars appearing at our flank...

... luckily they meet the Old Guard our best fighters there...

...and underlie.
After we repulsed this charge our boys were at the end of their tether. Thus we decided to launch the French cavalry charge and luckily it was a success. Thus we defended the French bridge head and Napoleon and his troops are able to retreat further west...

Once again an absolutely entertaining and exciting game. Actually the core rules for our very own 1812 ruleset are working very well. Hopefully we'll manage to do some playtesting of the campaign rules this winter.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Winter is coming - Taking Curt's challenge again..

Winter is coming and that doesn't only mean the festive season but Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge as well. 
"Official" picture by Curt
After my first participation last year I was lucky enough to get a slot this year again. This time the motto is "Anti-Heroes, Rogues and Ruffians". As usual the challenge lasts from early December (5th) 2014 until 20th March 2015 (spring) and the participants achieve points for painted figures they send pictures of to Curt. In addition he created a couple of bonus rounds which aren't mandatory but very gainful with 50 points for each fulfilled one. So my primary target is to complete each and every of the bonus rounds as I did last year:

1st Bonus Round: Cold (14th December):
There are some nice 1812 Poles by Paul Hicks (release by Murawski Miniatures) which are waiting for paint. Wonderful sculpts by this master of his business! At least a couple of them should be finished in time to achieve this bonus round.
Picture by Murawski Miniatures
2nd Bonus Round: Mounts and Riders (28th December):
Actually I wanted to start my Saga Normans earliert but probably they'll have to wait until December to become my entry for this round.

3rd Bonus Round: Victorian (11th January):
A unit of colonial British troops as a start for my North-West Frontier collection could be nice I presume. Or some of their 1860s British intervention force maybe...
Picture by Perry Miniatures
4th Bonus Round: Myth (25th January):
As mascot for my Vikings for the Of Gods and Mortal ruleset I bought a 40mm Thor from Wargames Foundry a couple of months ago. A good entry for this round I think.

 5th Bomus Round: Hot (8th February):
Not sure yet... Maybe another addition for the North-West Frontier project. Actually I have more than one unit ready to be painted...
Picture by Perry Miniatures
6th Bonus Round: Comedic (22nd February):
First I thought of some animals in uniform like Eureka's SYW Teddy Bears but more likely I'll go for a figure or two from Warlord Games' Dad's Army. Probably not the whole bunch since I'm not sure what to use them for afterwards... So maybe I'll turn to some of Artizan's Thrilling Tales figures. They make interesting sets and at least Big Joe and his mates should be comedic enough, shouldn't they?
7th Bonus Round: Anti-Hero (8th March):
Another difficult choice... Although I was first thinking of some great military leaders who finally failed tragically like Napoleon or Rommel but I'm not sure whether they really satisfy the term "Anti-Hero". So maybe I'll go for one of Batman's incarnations by Knight Models.
And besides this?
Actually I should paint a couple of French Napoleonics and a bunch of late WW1 Tommies during winter. We'll see how many of those chaps I'll be able to add to my Painting Challenge Account. Anyway my goal for this time is 750 points. That is slightly more than last year and would bring me into the midfield of the painters. With 350 points for the bonus rounds (7 x 50 points = 350 points) that would mean another 400 points to reach with painted miniatures. For example 80 28mm figures on foot or 40 mounted figures... Rather a lot for me but I'll take the challenge !
If anyone of you is interested in a little side challenge then let me know.
Last year Sir Michael from Awdry Towers and me decided to take all the bonus round together and in the end we suceeded. On the other hand I lost the 600 points race against Fran who got a pair of painted Scotsmen as price then. 
Although I don't fear to loose a bet I presume racing for points isn't my cup of tea. I'm simply too slow with painting...