Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A generous giveaway, an injured neck and some little news

Well then first for the good news:
Fellow blogger Andi "Loki" Saunders took the 100.000 hits line. To celebrate this step he organizes a great raffle with four different lots. Even for those not interested in the lottery there is some eye candy hidden in his post (look here)...

Last sunday I visited my mate Bernhard and we had an excellent winter 1812 photo shooting. I haven't sorted all of the three hundred photos by now or discussed with him which to publish here but it was great fun to employ his excellent collection for some nice shots.

Just one teaser:
My lately painted boys lurking around an abandoned hamlet...
Now for the rather mediocre news:
Things on the workbench are going well so far. Or at least they did until monday but more on that later. Actually a couple of frozen French 1812 retreaters are nearly finished, the FIW British for "Bloggers for Charity" as well and besides I'm currently doing a rebasing job for a friend of mine. And not to forget some Vikings whose only need are their shields.
Anyway nothing too special but my task for Curt's painting challenge doesn't seem to be in danger.

And the bad ones:
But on monday afternoon conditions changed. During my weekly volleyball workout I made a clumsy move and hurt my neck. The day after I went to a sports physician and the deep hit came unprepared. The major problem isn't the inflammation of the intervertebral joints which I suffered but the condition of my cervical spine as a whole. Between three vertebrae both spinal discs are too thin and the cartilages are severely worn. So that means six weeks of inflammation treatment and buildup therapy and no guarantee of how much use that'll be in the long run. And during those weeks I#m not able to work on my office job... So on the one hand I'm feeling guilty of leaving all the work for the next week with my colleague and on the other hand I'm just puzzled about having such problems in my mid-thirties.
And of course long painting sessions won't be a good idea as well...

So I'm not sure what I'll be able to finish during the next weeks. I'll do my very best to stay true to my word and finish all fortnight bonus rounds for Curt's challenge side by side with Michael and the other guys from this pledge. Besides this our preparations for Tactica will proceed but next to those tasks I'll have to wait how my neck is doing.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Another 1812 game

Last friday at the club we started the final act of our preparation for the Tactica convention in Hamburg this February. This year we'll present a selfmade ruleset for Napoléon's retreat from Russia in 1812. It'll be a scenario driven skirmish game that will make the special situations come alive which French and allied soldiers faced on their way back home. The game is based on an idea of our fellow club member Bernhard Hennen who realized it during the last year with some help from other team members here and there. Holger who is a professional graphic designer formed the layout, Robert one of our most gifted terrain builders prepared the board and I had the pleasure to contribute some humble text work.
Anyway last Friday we played the first test match with the -for the moment- final version of the rules and here's what we experienced:

It's late November 1812. Napoléon's Grande Armée fell at the last hurdle when they found Moscow plundered and burning. They started their imperative retreat much too late and were suffering from hunger and cold from the very beginnings. After they reached Smolensk around 11th November they had no other choice than proceeding because the city was empty of rupply and the Russian forces were gathering to prepare the final blow against the French. A few days later the enemies met near Krasnoi. The Russians tried to surround Napoléon's forces and block their way. From 15th to 18th November there were several skirmishes fought and only a daring attack of the French Imperial Garde made an escape possible because their fierceness and audacity let Kutuzov hesitate. But not all of Napoléon's troops were able to use the chance. Ney who commanded the rearguard was cut off with his corps by Russian troops. So he had no choice but seeking another way. He turned down the Russian offer of honourable surrender claiming that a French Marshal would never surrender. On 18th Novemver he managed to enforce a gap in the Russian encirclement and by night he withdrew over the frozen Dnieper River.

Our scenario starts on the very next morning. Our warbands (called 'companies' in the game) were roaming around in the woods at the Northern banks of Dnieper River. During our nightly passage our corps lost all its heavy equipment including all of its guns and all heavy wagons. In addition a lot of our comrades broke through the partly thin ice and found their freezing deaths. 
But we made the way over the river. Now we are wet, confused and disoriented but at least alive. The land is cloaked in thick morning mist. Behind us there are sounds of others. Are there other French stragglers or the ever-present cossaks chasing us? Not knowing whether these are friend or foe we're stumbling forwards to find a warm and dry place to take breath.
The scenario board... In the middle the first figures, at the bottom our unknown followers and on top the space to discover.
The board was set up rather simple. Because of the fog our sight distance was reduced to 6". We started vaguely in the middle of the table with a lot of unknown things behind us (represented by markers which are labelled on the back) and some unknown terrain in front of us (the empty space on the other side of the table). Our mission was to recce the terrain and find a place to take shelter for a few hours.
My Old Guard company fighting side by side with some ragged cavalrymen.
So on the one hand we wanted to advance quickly to find out what's at the unknown part of the terrain but on the other hand we didn't want to plunk into an ambush. So we split our forces. While Heinz and me represanting some Old Guard troops went forward Holger and Axel covered our backs. Luckily Axel found out that at least a part of our chasers were stragglers which we didn't discover aerlier because of the limited range of sight.
At least one group behind us were stragglers...
While he tried to help some of these unlucky comrades, Heinz and me made our way to the edge of the woods. Meanwhile a well known personality joined our vanguard. Marshal Ney the "Bravest of the Brave" took lead of our band and gave us moral support.
Some Old Guard chasseurs exploring the clearing.
So after the first one or two turn our four companies had spread widely over the gaming board and we were a bit confused where danger and were shelter might lie in wait.
Hoping that all of the guys behind us are just French stragglers we turned downwards to the clearing across the woods.
Here are some further impressions of our approach:
My grenadiers forming a line to be able to stop any surprising assault.

Some of Holger's cavalrymen supporting some weak stragglers.
Finally we discovered that there was a small hamlet in the woods. Although it didn't seem to be very luxurious it looked large enough to provide shelter for our ragged soldiers which were chilled to bones. Suspiciously there came voices from the cabins which sounded Russian somehow...
Carefully we advance...
Actually we wanted to be careful but one of Axel's officers was too chilled to wait any longer. We ran to one of the houses and looked inside. Unfortunately a bit too careless because the cossacks inside spotted him the very same moment he caught sight of them.
The unlucky officer and some upset cossacks...
So hell broke loose. Alarm cries echoed through the village and out of each and every house there were cossacks appearing. Within moments our comrads therein were surrounded and faced grim melee combat. Fortunately Heinz had the presence of mind to rush towards the sled gun which was located in the middle of the hamlet and fired it at the advancing foes. Well, Old Guard chasseurs are no artillerymen. Somehow he managed to hit a single cossack only but at least the canon was discharged and no danger for now.
The Old Guard chasseurs near the large sled rush towards the gun.
So for now the hamlet was save. This was the chance for Holger and me to stormed into the croud of cossacks and slice to pieces. While Axel's German allies were clearing the front of the buildings our two companies charge the Russians which had no chance against our skilful fighters.
We're gaining the upper hand.
Ney cheering bravely.

The Russians last stand.
As fast as the quarrel started it was over. A dozen cossacks lay lifeless in the snow which was dyed red meanwhile. We completed our mission and found safe shelter for the night. One of the rare chances to dry our clothes and rest our exhausted bones.

But luckiest of all was Colonel Marbot the leader of Holger's company. Somehow he managed to catch one of the cossacks' horses and safed a new mount for himself.
A cossack holding the horse which will be caught by Marbot later.
At our next fortnight meeting we'll play another game and will practice another scenario for Tactica. Besides that our collections are growing steadily. Most of the excellent stuff you see above is from Bernhard's collection with a small couple of additions from myself. Figures mostly by Perry Miniatures, houses from Grand Manner and trees mostly selfmade.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

28mm Horsa Glider - A huge and excellent blog of resin...

The last two weeks were quite here. I've been working on many different miniatures but didn't produce anything finished. Simultaneously I had some busy days at work and some efforts for the 1812 ruleset I'm taking part in. Many irons in the fire. Maybe too many...

Anyway I didn't want to bore you with daily WIP-shots. For the next week there'll be some more Vikings, the FIW British for BfC and some more 1812 French and allies.

But now for my entry for the recent fortnight bonus round of Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. The theme was 'vehicles' and I decided to prepare a 28mm Horsa Glider which I need for the Pegasus Bridge project.
The eagle has landed and the Red Devils disembark.
For this bonus round I painted a British Horsa. This glider was used by British and allied airborne troops to be carried into combat during Word War II. Its most famous employments were the invasion of Sicily, the airborne landings prior to D-Day and Operation Market Garden in September 1944. The Airspeed Horsa glider measured a length of 20 metres and wingspan of 27 metres. It had no engine and was drawn into the air by a larger towing aircraft like the Handley Page Halifax or the Douglas DC-3. It was capable to carry 25 fully equipped soldiers, a jeep or a 6pdr antitank gun.
The huge model is about 30cm (about 12  inches) long.
This actual model here is a 28mm Horsa by Grand Manner. It's a hugh model. A solid blog of resin from Dave Bodley's gifted hands. It shows all important characteristics and was assembled very quickly. The only thing I improved were the supports of the main wings. I substituted the white metal rods with solid brass ones since I thought it might be slightly too heavy under the hard circumstances on the gaming table...
 For painting I used my old airbrush and Vallejo Model Colours with suitable thinner. All in all it was an interesting experience to paint such a great model. Merely the tail seems to be a bit too short. Although I didn't paint the white and black stripes too broad I wasn't able to attach the transfers on the side correctly. Therefore I attached them slightly forward. It looks fairly alright to me but for the next Horsa I would repaint the tail with thinner stripes...
Wingspan nearly 36 centimeters (more than 14 inches).
However I'm glad to have this piece finished. Another step for my Pegasus project and another fortnight bonus round passed on the painting challenge. With around 260 points I'm nearly half done with my 600 points target and I'm rather confident that I'll be able to collect the missing points with the remaining fortnight bonusses and the other stuff on my workbench.

By the way Fran Lee won our 600 points race! Congratulations!
Therefore I owe him a painted miniature as well deserved price. Drop me an email mate to talk about the what when and how.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Retreat 1812 - More frozen Frenchmen...

Although my main task during the last two weeks was to finish the Broodlord for the fortnight bonus round, there were some other figures to be finished. Last year I bought some sets of the 1812 retreating Frenchmen by Alan and Michael Perry. Unique figures for a backgrounSd most manufacturers ignored until now. Maybe they thought there isn't enough chance to build an interesting range around Napoléon's defeat in Russia but the twins prove that black is white.

Here are the eight miniatures I painted lately:
Württemberg Grenadier
The miniatures are from different sets from the Perrys' Napoleonic range more exactly from their sets FN168 to FN171. Some of them are wearing a rather usual kit as provided by the French army and other look ragged and wear civilian clothing they might have looted somewhere in Russia.
French infantry officer with a looted pelisse

Grenadier of the Old Guard

Grand Duchy of Berg Lancer with civilian coat
French Fusilier who might have robbed Santa

Allied Officer wrapped in a simple blanket
Chasseur à Cheval with a rather original kit
Voltigeur who improved his kit with a civilian jacket
It was real fun to paint these miniatures. They are all extremely well sculpted and cast all the details are crisp and clear. Especially the faces are awesomly vivid and full of expression. Although I'm a great fan of Perry miniatures there are some range where the faces are a bit impassive which makes it very difficult for me to work out the highlights properly. But these Frenchmen are absolutely top notch. Until now I've rarely painted better figures.

As usual I painted the miniatures with Vallejo Model Colours paints and some Armypainter Quickshade for the shading. But after shading I took the time to highlight the clothing and the skinny parts in one or two stages and especially the faces work worth every stroke of the brush. Although I saw much better painted versions of those guys I'm absolutely happy with the result since it is one of the best for me so far.

For the basing I used corundum sand mainly. It's a very white and very fine sand which is usually used as grinding medium in dental technology. In addition to its bright white colour it has some sparkling grains in it and is very durable. To prevent that the drying PVA glue shines through yellowish I mixed a drop of white colour into it when I glued the sand onto the base. The grass tufts are by Mini Nature and come just ready to use. Fortunately I found them in a wargaming shop in Düsseldorf randomly.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Broodlord for the Challenge

Two weeks have past since the last bonus round in Curt's painting challenge took place and so last weekend it was time to present another model for the next round. This time our theme was "villain(s)".
Looking through my lead mountain I found a miniature I bought ages ago. Or more precisely Mrs Monty bought it during a time she tested her wargaming luck with Warhammer 40K Tyranids. It's a Broodlord by Games Workshop. Those fierce aliens are kind of symbiotic species and usually leaders of hordes of genestealers. Therefore I thought it might serve well as a kind of villain from outer space and it gave me the chance to get a long ago started thing done finally.
The miniatures is about 48mm high and this one is the old white metal version. As far as I know Games Workshop was selling the figure as finacast model for some time but it seems to be . Nevertheless it's a nice dynamic sculpt and it was nice to paint.
As usual I used Vallejo Model Colour and Armypainter Quickshade to paint the model. Quiet straight forward and an excellent model for Quickshade since it has crisp details and only few plain areas. For the basing I used my usual mixture of sand, pebbles, static grass, clumb foliage and model railway flowers. For such an alien some kind of technical base or sci-fi waste would have been nice as well but I wanted to have the Broodlord fit to my gaming board and the other Tyranids I (and my wife...) painted years ago.

In addition I finished some Frenchmen for retreat 1812 last week. I'll present some pictures after Curt had them on his blog. Now the next bonus round is in store for me. This time it'll be "vehicle" and I decided to leave my original plan. Instead of a 20mm tank I'm preparing a 28mm Horsa glider for my Red Devils. A huge model and I'm curious how it'll turn out...

Saturday, 4 January 2014

SAGA Viking Warlord

One of the first models I finished this year was a project I started weeks months ago: A Viking warlord for Saga.
Ragnar the red leading his men to the shores of Northumbria
The figures are from Gripping Beast's nice viking hirdmen plastic box. I combined parts from the command sprue and the "average" sprues to build these two Vikings which I mounted on a 40mm round plastic base. As usual I painted them with Vallejo Model Colours and Armypainter Quickshade on black primer.
Ragnar's loyal henchman Ubba.
It was real fun to paint the miniatures which are cast very crisp and clear. Especially the faces are very well sculpted and facilitate painting very much. I decorated the base with two stones made of cork and a mix of static grass, model railway flowers and clump foliage.

Honestly I didn't paint the shields by myself but used some excellent transfers by Steve from Little Big Men Studios. The were easy to use, look excellent and are much better than my freehand painting skills.

The only thing I don't like too much is the composition of the models on the base. Although I thought it might be a good idea to have the warlord fighting back to back with one of his champions the couples looks a bit strange after the vignette is finished. Anyway I have another warlord figure left to build a second base later. Now my SAGA warband is becoming playable slowly and hopefully I'll be able to present some further northmen next week.

Unfortunately this vignette is not submittable for the painting challenge since I started to paint it before 15th December 2013.

But next week pictures of some other finished models will reach Curt...