Monday, December 17, 2018

Zouaves! French Zouaves in 28mm

28mm Zouave infantry from "Eagles of Empire" 
Do you ever get into painting/collecting a period or setting with one specific type of troop or unit in mind? I mean, yes, you are interested in the whole period and the whole setting, but there is one particular thing - a tank, a uniform, a character a certain unit - something that will come along in the course of painting, and bring the whole thing together...?


NCO on square base, regular troops on round bases. 
I first saw Zouaves on a wargaming table a long time ago, like 25 years ago, in an American Civil War game.  I was captivated immediately - and also totally confused.  WTF was up with those incredible outfits? And...why were regiments in the Union army garbed in this fashion? Helpful gamers tried their best to explain it to me, and kept mentioning France. Which, at the time, made even less sense!

Some incredible character on these castings. 
At the time I was ignorant of the relevant history and related inspirations. Reading more about France, and finally about the battles in Crimea, in Italy and finally the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 - as well as visiting the Pont de l'Alma in Paris - finally put these super-cool looking troops into the right context.

Unit officer on hex-shaped base...NOTE - I made a mistake in his uniform - I missed the gold trim on the front of his coat - this was corrected subsequent to these photos being taken.
The Zouaves began as North African troops, and the unique cut of the uniform is inspired by that climate, region and culture - the short coat, the baggy trousers, the fez and turban caps.  Of course, the snappy facing colours and lace patterns...well, that's France for you! Over time the Zouave regiments became "European", although North African troops continued to make a very important contribution to the armies of France in the form of the feared "Turcos", the notorious Tirailleurs Algeriens (and also the mounted arm - the "Chasseurs d'Afrique").

I love the fluid nature of this casting! Such elan, such spirit!
The Zouave and Turco regiments were front and centre amid the ill-fated campaign against the Prussian assault in 1870. They battled tenaciously, from the opening engagements around Wissembourg, to the doomed envelopment at Sedan, and subsequent abdication of the Emperor.  When I started my Franco-Prussian War painting project in 2017, I looked forward to stage in the painting where I could turn my brushes to some of these remarkable soldiers.

These are 28mm castings from the incredible folks at Eagles of Empire. Soren and the group released these figures back in the summer of 2018.  Sculpts from this company have a very unique look and feel - for 28mm figures they are kind of tall, very slender...but SO much character.  The Zouave infantry are not only extremely cool, with their super-funky outfits, but they are sporting a heroic amount of pots, pans and tent stakes! Not only are they ready to fight hard, but they can also whip up some soup when the time comes!

Group of Zouaves - ready for action. 
As with my other Eagles of Empire figures, I have based these figures on individual bases for skirmish gaming set in the Franco Prussian War.

Check out all the stuff on those packs! Ready to fight, AND to cook & camp! Vive la France!!
These castings come with separate head sculpts for you to choose from - you can make the models up as either Zouaves or "Turcos".  In this case, as you can see, I went with the Zouave look (stay tuned for more work featuring "Turcos", however).  I salute the efforts of the folks at Eagles of Empire for trying their best to offer us gamers flexibility, BUT I do find separate heads can be tricky sometimes - and as you can see, one or two of the fellows are showing the side effects of those challenges - some of the figures look like they are "looking down" instead of forward.

Second group of Zouave infantry - two "squads" of 8 models each. 
Another small quibble is the bayonets...these miniatures have the incredible sword-style bayonet cast right on to the ends of their Chassepot rifles.  But I am not a fan of casting bayonets on to rifles using the thin/slender style of Eagles of Empire - the reason being that they bend off and break during shipping :( That is why you only see 17 finished figures even though I had two boxes - a number of broken bayonets :( 

But for all these small troubles, these figures were still an absolute pleasure to paint. Just so much fun! The style of sculpting at Eagles of Empire is very different from a lot of other sculptors out there, and I love it, just love it! If you are interested in this period, you need to get some of these figures, just to have the pleasure of painting them yourself!

As Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge approaches for another run, I hope to be posting & sharing more stuff from this period.  Thanks for visiting, hope you have a great day!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Team Yankee BMP-2 Company and TTCombat Buildings!

Another update in Team Yankee escalation - this time on the Soviet side for me, as I finish up my Soviet Opfor to use against my British and Bundeswehr Bunch (tm).

Last time the update was massive, covering my Hinds, Acacias, Shilkas and Motor Rifle company. As alluded to in that post, this one will add the "motors"...

These are BMP-2s from Battlefront - two boxes worth. The BMP set comes with hulls and turrets to build either -1s or -2s and I opted for the latter, mainly because of their somewhat better in-game stats and concomitantly higher points cost. This can be important because of the disparity between points values for most Soviet vs. NATO stuff (USA, GB and West Germany anyway) - those sexy tanks are expensive and you need a lot of Soviet stuff to balance that.

The BMPs are all injection-molded plastic kits and are very well designed and easy to build. My only gripe is with the tiny searchlight as it is easily broken.

Such a sleek-looking APC - you know this was a trend-setter among the world's armed forces. Building two boxes (10 models) when combined with the two I built from the Yuri's Wolves set gives me 12 - enough to outfit the Motor Rifle Company. Sorted!

A project of an evening this week was painting these Shops from TTCombat's 15mm "World War" MDF scenery range.

I really can't praise these models highly enough. They look great, are easy to build and paint, and are inexpensive to boot. Compare the cost of your favourite resin or pre-painted buildings from MBA or Battlefront to these... it's only 8GBP and change for what you see here :-)

Scale looks good with these Bundeswehr troops defending their town.

The buildings all have removable roofs and constructed second floors as well for easy model placement inside. I did a pretty basic paintjob on these and I expect they will do yeoman's work on our Team Yankee tables for a long time to come.

TTCombat are a great bunch - I emailed them with a compliment on including chimneys with these models (the Townhouses I have from them don't include chimneys and that's a bit of an oversight) and I quickly got a message back saying that they'll be adding chimneys to future cuts of the Townhouses. Can't ask fairer than that!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Bloodbath at Orks' Drift! 40K Battle Report

A few weeks ago, Founding Conscript Curt was in town so we decided to host a Thursday game that he would be sure to get a kick out of - a 40K 8th edition smackdown pitting Conscript Greg's amazing Praetorian Guard against my all-metal all-Rogue-Trader-era "Red Star" Space Orks.

Of course we had to call the battle "Bloodbath at Orks' Drift!"

The idea was that the Praetorians were defending an outpost and some ruined buildings on some forsaken planet or other that had been overrun by Orks. The outnumbered (but sadly not outgunned) Praetorians had to hold out against overwhelming odds to defend the outpost.

Praetorian lascannon battery (!)

Lots of heavy weapons in the Praetorian force. They are obviously believers in the "bigger gun theory."

Conscript Curt and I took command of the Ork horde. We had three large units of Boyz as well as some Tankbustas in a trukk, two Deff Dreads, a unit of 10 Stormboyz, and a Boss in Mega-Armour with a Mega-Armoured retinue... and of course, Da Red Barun!

Deff Dreads followed by Mega-Armoured chaps.

Da Red Barun cruising for a target.

Trukk with Tankbustas.

Imperial Commanders Mike F. and Greg.

Ork bosses me and Curt!

Da Red Barun and his extra-shooty plane evaporated a Praetorian heavy weapon squad in a pink mist.

The green tide flowed across the battlefield in the classic "Headbutt of Mork" formation.

The Stormboyz did not do great in this outing - Praetorian shooting wore them out to the point of ineffectiveness. They did manage to take out the Ratlings though - but just barely!

Greg's Ogryns were tough opponents.

Praetorian commander pondering his next move.

I'm not gonna go into great detail on the battle itself as frankly, we're more about the social interaction and spectacle than who wins or loses. (This is especially true if I'm on the losing side). Suffice to say that the Orks did not succeed in wiping out the Praetorians as was required to fulfill their victory conditions. However, we did have a ton of fun playing with some models that hadn't seen action for some time, and that was cool. But I guess I shoulda brought out the Stompa after all! :-)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Renegade Bomb Rats?!?

For my birthday this year my wife bought me two sets of Anvil Miniatures' superb little bomb rats. Each comes with four cute little rodents strapped with explosives, jerrycans, artillery shells, etc. I thought that these fellows would be a great addition to my 40K Chaos Renegades army (some Renegade content here, here and here).

The paintjob on the rats is pretty straightforward - Mournfang Brown fur and Cadian Flesh muzzles, with the explosives and webbing in shades of red and tan respectively, the whole washed down with Agrax Earthshade.

Love these guys!

Their Renegade handler is painted in the standard Renegade style with field-grey tunic and camouflage pants. The pointing arm is from a Cadian Heavy Weapons box. The other arm is a GW part, but with the "controller" hand included with the rats pack.

I'm not sure what rules we'll use for these fellows if they ever make it into a game, but in any event they're certainly a fun and quirky addition to the army!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

More Soviets for Team Yankee - Hinds, Shilkas, Acacias and Infantry

Unfortunately my painting (as well as blog posting) hit a bit of a dry spell over the summer, but I'm trying to make an effort to turn that around. This starts with picking up a paint brush. This week I've finished some models for my Team Yankee Soviet forces that I wanted to post. Conscript Greg has more Soviets than we'd ever use in one game, but already having painted West Germans and British, I wanted to have a small "opfor" that could ally with Greg's in a large game, or that could even stand for itself if Greg's models aren't available. I started with the excellent Yuri's Wolves boxed set and have continued from there...

I picked up two Hind attack helicopters, just because Hinds! The Battlefront models are awesome of course and embody the extreme menace of these Soviet death machines!
The anti-aircraft defence role for the battalion is filled by two ZSU23-4 "Shilka" vehicles. These models aren't from Battlefront but are some excellent and inexpensive models from Zvezda. It's somewhat fiddly to assemble the guns, but other than that the kits are great, and represent excellent value for money, especially when compared with Battlefront's premium pricing.
The latest addition is a battery of 2S3 "Acacia" 152mm SP guns. I'm a sucker for SP artillery and knew I wanted to add either these or the smaller "Carnations"... the sheer size of the pieces, plus the availability of special "Krasnopol" ammunition tilted the choice in favour of the 2S3s.


Of course the big hump to get over when painting the battalion was getting the infantry company done. Awhile back I'd bought Battlefront's "Motor Rifle Company" pack to paint. These are really nifty models. They come on sprues and are made of semi-hard plastic. Downside is that they can be slightly bendy, but this is outweighed in my mind by the fact that they require NO cleanup, they're lightweight, and they are relatively inexpensive. You get enough figures in the pack to make a whole Motor Rifle Company with attached AA, plus a significant number of extra figures - the Company is 79 figures but I reckon you get nearly 90 in the box.

The company includes nine RPG-7 stands.

A large base with the attached SA-14 "Gremlin" AA missile team.
Large bases also accommodate the two included PKM light machinegun teams.
 Ten AK-74 assault rifle teams make up the bulk of the company.

Plus the battalion commander brandishing his pistol of course!

The infantry received a basic paint job as I really wanted to just get them done. The base uniform colour is GW XV-88 (ugh) with web gear highlighted Zamesi Desert. Helmets and ordnance is Catachan Green. Rifle furniture is Mournfang Brown. Skintone is Cadian Flesh. After the basecoating the whole model was washed with Agrax Earthshade.

The models were glued to popsicle sticks for painting and once completed, were superglued to the supplied bases. I really like how Battlefront now mold their bases with holes to accommodate the round figure bases, making it much easier to position the figures and do the groundwork on the base.

Of course, being that these are "motor rifle" troops they do require "motors"! I picked up two boxes of BMPs last weekend on a Black Friday trip to the States and that should give me just enough, when added to the two I've already done up. After that, another five T-64s (also Black Friday booty) should pretty much finish up the battalion.