Thursday, February 28, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 13 - 28mm Austrian Grenzers for the SYW

"This way, lads!" Austrian Grenzers for the Seven Years War - 28mm figures from Front Rank.
And now something...well, not completely different, but just...a bit different, a slight adjustment to the control dials of historical periods.  These are Austrian Grenzers from the Seven Years War. The castings are 28mm metal figures from Front Rank.

Lovely reds and greens...the Christmas skirmishers!
The Seven Years War is another one of those long-simmering-but-never-boiling gaming interests of mine.  I do love gaming the Austrian side in just about any conflict, and my real heart-and-soul Austrian interests have been found in the Napoleonic wars. I have a small-but-healthy collection of Napoleonic Austrians, and have played some wonderful games with Curt and the crew over the years.  Curt was the one who pointed me in the direction of the Austrians when I we first got to know each other and I was just getting interested in Napoleonic gaming.  Of course I was hooked, and this has just increased over time. I love Austrians!

Love the animation of that officer...he looks ready to jump right into action...
Ah, the lovely long hair, tied with a black ribbon...
Following this into the Seven Years War seems(ed) like a natural step. The Austrians were a major participant in the wars, still wore cool white uniforms and had very cool-looking units. But I haven't yet dived in...I have done all of the preliminary things that help one get set up for a new period - like amassing a considerable amount of supporting info on the uniforms etc.  But I haven't yet tackled the painting part of fact, my Austrian Seven Years War collection in 28mm so far amounts to a single unit! have to start somewhere, right?

Another view showing the kit, canteen, blanket roll and sword.
Anyway, I found these Grenzers while rummaging around in my pile of shame last week.  Inhabitants of the "grenz" - the border areas between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires - the Grenzers were fierce fighters and fine light infantry/skirmish troops, a nice dash of violent flexibility for a military establishment which was otherwise quite hidebound.

These poor figures have been sitting in there, primed, since 2013. That's six years ago! Yikes! I saw them and I thought it would be fun to just knock them off.  After all, the Grenzers wore some pretty fun colours in the Seven Years War period. Why not crack open the paints and enjoy! I flipped through some handy Osprey colour references, and came across the Carlstadt Liccaner Grenz. Red! Cool! Off we went! 

Ready for some skirmishing...
The figures are from Front Rank. I have not painted a lot of Front Rank figures, but wow, I really like them.  They are hefty, "well-fed" and have a certain character to the sculpting and posing that I just love.  And they are so fun to paint!  These guys were a treat.

These are based individually so as to represent a skirmishing formation for rules such as "Black Powder".  Grenzers always seem to be skirmishing, so I thought this approach most appropriate.

This is now, technically speaking, a second unit for my Austrian Seven Years War collection...hey - progress is progress...right?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Star Wars Tatooine Buildings by Northern Lights

Some folks despise painting terrain; others love it. I kind of fall in the middle - love to get it done but procrastinate like Hell over getting the project underway.

"Rods" hot-rod speeder shop.
One fellow who never seems to procrastinate about anything is Conscript Byron of Northern Lights terrain. I've proselytized his stuff on the blog before but I just finished another batch of his MDF terrain and wanted to post it.

These are his "Sci-Fi Desert Buildings" and they are absolutely ace. Clearly inspired by the buildings seen on the desert planet Tatooine in the Star Wars saga, the set includes five structures of various sizes: two small houses, one larger "duplex" house, a "garage", and the Cantina.

The buildings are laser-cut MDF and assemble quickly and easily. They also include some greeblies that can be used as decoration, keycode panels, etc. and these are quite handy. You supply your own syrofoam balls to cut in half for the domes.

I used some mis-tinted latex paint picked up at Home Depot (for a buck a pot, no less!) to paint the buildings. I got two pots - a darker brown and a light tan. I added clean sand to the darker colour to make my own texture paint and basecoated with that. Step two was to liberally drybrush with the lighter tone. After that was final signwriting and work on painting and weathering the doors.

Here are the buildings with some of the WotC models from the late lamented Star Wars Miniature Battles game.

Jawas corner a helpless R5 unit. Look out! (Sign says "Chalman's Cantina" in Star Wars script)

Threepio and Artoo after being thrown out of the Cantina. Power Droid commiserates.

Stormtroopers check the side-by-side house for droids, or misdirected mail.

Norther Lights' terrain kits are awesome and highly recommended. The Sci-Fi Desert Buildings set retails for $80CAD and is available direct from Northern Lights.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 12 - 28mm French Hussars, Franco-Prussian War

French Hussars for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.  28mm figures from Wargames Foundry.
There was a little gap in my painting production for Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. For whatever reason, the clients who retain the services of the firm where I am employed do not, apparently, pay me to paint! What's up with that? I mean, the world is a better place if we get more miniatures painted, is it not?

Some cavalry support for my French infantry...
Oh well. At least I'm back for this week. To the surprise of precisely nobody, the theme is, once more, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870! This is a unit of French Hussars, some cavalry support to counter the Prussian invasion.  The figures are 28mm from Wargames Foundry's excellent Franco-Prussian War range.

1e Hussars

Ah the dash, the derring-do, the romance of the French Hussars! Dolmans and colpacks galore, with lace and...what's that, you say? We are changing the uniforms? Mon dieu! Ce n'est pas possible...mais les prussien arrivent!

A French Hussar of the second empire - new regulation uniform.
When war with Prussia came in the summer of 1870, the French Hussars were in the process of getting new uniforms. The new uniforms were still quite flash, if not quite as flash as the lovely Hussars of yore (at least, in my opinion).  There was still lace, yes, but the new uniform had a coat and a kepi - more in tune with the infantry of the second empire than the cavalry of the old empire.

I do like the drama of the pose on the Commander in front.
Of course, the process of switching to new uniforms in the military was never smooth in the 18th century. In fact, I doubt it goes very well even in the modern day. But the administrative challenge would have been particularly acute in the middle of a war, one which sees your entire government defeated and then replaced with a whole new government, your capital put under siege and Prussian army groups swarming across your landscape. In the middle of all this it seems only one Hussar regiment actually received the new outfits in time, while others wore combinations of the new and old...I have painted these fellows as the 1st Hussars...or, at least, my best estimation.

Kepis all around...with a couple of exceptions...
You see, I didn't really pay close attention to my Wargames Foundry order the day I selected "French Hussars" from their 1870 range.  The sculpts showed up in the post as, low and behold, I see they are wearing the new uniforms! Thus I was plunged into all of the confusion of trying to find clear painting references on the Hussars, particularly for the new outfits.  The relevant Osprey book is, as you might imagine, quite the disappointment, chock full of course of many colour images relating to the numerous and varied elements of the useless Imperial Guard but otherwise showing little of the basic infantry, and nothing helpful for the Hussars.

The bugler retains some swish headgear...
The upshot? Well, what you see here in terms of the uniforms contains a healthy percentage of conjecture! On the plus side, I had all of my light-blue paints handy from painting the coats of the Turcos :)

A view showing the detail on the kepis...these are great sculpts, by the Perry brothers...of course!
The Franco-Prussian war saw one of history's greatest and most well-known cavalry charges - the "Death Ride" of Von Bredow's Prussian Cuirassiers at the battle of Mars-La-Tour. That notable event hogs the headlines, but the war was really a rough one for battle cavalry.  Between rifles like the Chassepot and the steel breech-loading artillery of the Prussians, a cavalry charge in the Franco-Prussian war led, more than anything else, to empty saddles and heavy losses.  The "Death Ride" excepted, ordering a cavalry charge, generally speaking, could buy a commander some time, and not much more...

For the Emperor!
It's always great to put another unit into a collection, but in this case, there is a bit of extra joy, as this will be the fifth 28mm unit for my small-but-growing Franco-Prussian War collection, meaning there  are now enough French and Prussian units for a small game of "Black Powder"! 

Monday, February 18, 2019

And Now for Something Completely Different... Superheroes!

Marvel's Alpha Flight: Back row: Shaman, Snowbird, Sasquatch, Vindicator/Guardian, Aurora. Front row: Northstar, Puck, Marrina.
One of the more "fringe" genres in tabletop wargaming has to be superheroes. Sure, you see the odd WW2 game with Captain America playing some minor role, but for the most part, superhero gaming just isn't done - by either the traditional "historical" community or even by the more adventurous sci-fi/fantasy bunch.

Omega Flight: Wild Child, Smart Alec, Box, Flashback with his "future men", Diamond Lil
For me, "peak comic book" was in the mid-1980s. I followed the Marvel titles almost exclusively, and the Uncanny X-Men with particular fervor. My favorite artist and creative person was the British-Canadian polymath, John Byrne. Together with scripter and co-plotter Chris Claremont, he created some of the best superhero stories of all time, including the "Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past" storylines in the Uncanny X-Men.

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants: Avalanche, Mystique, Magneto, Pyro, Blob, Destiny
Byrne was also tapped by Marvel to create Canada's superhero team: Alpha Flight. Originally created (according to Byrne) "just to survive a battle with the X-Men," Alpha Flight proved to be so popular that they were spun off into their own title, written and drawn by Byrne. The prime adversary group for Alpha was Omega Flight. Like the Alphans, Omega Flight was created by "Department H" of the Canadian government as an officially sanctioned team of supers. While Alpha Flight were the prime team, Omega and Gamma Flights consisted of supers-in-training... and when Department H was disbanded due to budgetary considerations, the lower-tier supers took the easier rout of using their powers for selfish purposes. This allowed them to be manipulated by Delphine Courtney, a humanoid robot and agent of Jerry Jaxxon, an aggrieved former boss of James Hudson (Vindicator) who sought revenge against Hudson for "stealing" the battlesuit designed by Hudson for the company they both worked for, when Hudson discovered that the company was to turn over his invention to the US military. This resulted in a downward spiral for Jaxxon, who was fired and subsequently rendered paraplegic after a suicide attempt... Dark stuff for kids' comic books eh!
The Uncanny X-Men: Phoenix, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Professor X, Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine
So as a side project some years ago I started buying and rebasing (and sometimes repainting and converting) Wizkids' "Heroclix" figures to create the supers of my youth. Heroclix figures can be hit and miss in terms of sculpting quality but they're usually cheap, and the variety of them is really monstrous. Pretty much every super you can think of has been made into a Heroclix figure (sometimes multiple versions), but having said that, I've still had to do conversion work on figures like Omega Flight's Box, Smart Alec, and Flashback, as well as on the "future" Colossus and Storm, before their specific models came out. For the most part, though, I just applied a black or brown wash to the models as-is and rebased them. Easy. The other great thing about Heroclix is that they're approximately 28mm scale so all of my modern 28mm models can be used with them. Great for those games set in the mid-'80s with our Eureka Soviets and US Army models!
The X-Men (Days of Future Past): Colossus, Storm, Logan, Kate Pryde, Franklin Richards

Wizkids also made Sentinels in their range - these are the giant mutant-hunting robots that have featured from time to time in the X-Men and other Marvel books. I've got two versions - the original (left) from the initial "Infinity Challenge" range and the "Alpha" at right which came later. I really prefer the sculpt on the Alpha version, and it also has exchangeable arms, torso and head to create a "damaged" version - cool. However in the Days of Future Past setting I can use both versions; the larger ones can represent the "triad patrols" combing the ruins of New York City circa 2013, while the smaller more detailed models represent the "Omega series executive cadre" that eventually kill the remaining X-Men (spoiler alert!)

Sentinel with Logan and Kate
The tricky part, of course, is actually playing games with the models. What rules to use? Well, we once played a "Days of Future Past" game years ago, I think using a modified version of GW's Lord of the Rings skirmish system. That was OK. But recently I picked up a trove of old TSR Marvel Superheroes RPG stuff so we may give that a try. MSH is pretty simple and might be suitable for skirmish gaming. There's only one way to find out, right!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 11 - Tirailleurs Algerien for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870

Turcos ready to defend the Second Empire.
My 11th submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge veers once again back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Here is a unit of Tirailleurs Algeriens, the "turcos", colonial soldiers in service of the French Second Empire, ready to stand their ground in some Franco-Prussian War gaming. The figures are all 28mm metal castings from Wargames Foundry's Franco-Prussian War range - with the exception of the standard bearer, who is actually from Foundry's US Civil War range. For whatever reason, the Perry's never sculpted a standard bearer for the Zouaves/Turcos in the Foundry Franco-Prussian War collection, but thankfully the US Civil War Zouaves look nearly identical, so I swapped a figure in from that set and all was good to go!    

1e Tirailleurs Algerien

28mm figures from Wargames Foundry
The French army of the Second Empire featured many units raised from their colonial possessions in North Africa/Algeria - Zouaves, Tirailleurs Algerien and the Chasseurs D'Afrique (cavalry).  These units fought in the Crimea and Italy and built excellent reputations.  While the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 went super-very-bad for the French, these units were present at a number of the major engagements and fought bravely, among the toughest troops the French could call on.

Get your fez!
They also look cool. SUPER COOL. I love the cut of these uniforms, certainly a very unique sight on a European battlefield. 

I get a bit confused by it all, but by 1870 I believe the "Zouaves" were basically "Europeanized" units that retained the super-cool North African-style uniforms.  The Tirailleurs Algerien, however, remained as North African troops.  Naturally, they also had the super cool North African uniforms, but there were variations on the colours - the Zouaves had darker blue jackets and red pants, while these "turcos" had sky blue jackets and white/canvas coloured pants - although, confusingly, I have also seen them with sky blue pants as well...I opted for a white/canvas legging look.

As always, the packs feature plenty pans & stowage :)
The 1e Tirailleurs Algerien regiment was present at the Battle of Wissembourg, holding the town and train station against a number of Prussian attacks.  You may have noticed that I often refer to this battle in my posts - that is because the first game I hope to play will be loosely based on that battle.

I messed up when mounting the flag - it is too rolled it just looks folded in half. Oh well.
I was so very excited to get painting this unit. Really, really pumped. But there were a number of small setbacks and frustrations along the way with this group... 

The standard bearer is a US civil war Zouave casting...he fits right in!
The flashing and mold lines were a real issue, and you can still see some nasty mold lines on several of the figures, mold lines I just couldn't eliminate even with hobby knife/file etc. The packing & shipping process was poorly executed, so every single figure had a badly bent rifle and bayonet, an issue I could not 100% correct, even with hours of careful bending/straightening. I wasn't sure about the sky blue on the coats (and I'm still disappointed - I don't think I found the right contrast). I tried to use colours to represent the right North African skin tone...and it didn't work, but I just coudn't find the right ones. The flag did not go on properly, and so when I folded it over, it glued dry in a folded-in-half position, so you can't read it or really get a good look on it. It looks more like the folded piece of paper that it is, rather than a nice flowing flag I meant to give an impression of...

Bring on the Prussians!
Basing the unit was a challenge too...the selection of poses for the FPW Zouave figures from Foundry is...annoying. I was able to use different types of figures in my other French regular infantry units to have a front rank firing and a rear rank that is advancing/supporting, but I can't for the the Zouave/Turcos - the figure selection doesn't work out.  It would have to be both ranks firing (or running, or attacking or whatever).

I had wanted firing poses, so went with all-firing poses without thinking it through...once they were all painted and I started to line them up for basing, it was a drag - very hard to get them to line up well. I experimented with different approaches...and in the end it still doesn't look great.

But for all these woes, well, I'm thrilled to have them finished.  While all of the little issues listed above were a pain, now that they are firmly in the rear-view mirror, who cares?! It is very exciting to have an iconic and colourful sort of unit such as this one completed and ready for a "Black Powder" game.

In terms of overall progress on my 28mm formed units for the Franco-Prussian War, things are (knock on wood) starting to come together. For the Prussians I have six units of infantry, one unit of cavalry and three batteries of artillery. This is my fourth infantry unit for the French - they also have an artillery battery and mitrailleuse battery to support them.  Just need to work on some cavalry for them, I think, and we should be nearly-all-set for a game of some sort...stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 10 - Vostroyan Heavy Weapon Teams

Vostroyan lascannon teams for GW's Warhammer 40k setting.
Back to 40k again for my 10th submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  These are some more Vostroyan troops, members of the Astra Militarum Imperial Guard in GW's "Warhammer 40k" game.  This is a heavy weapons section - a trio of two-man teams equipped with Lascannons, the heaviest of the approximately-man-portable heavy weapons in the 40k setting, or, at least among the heaviest available to the Imperial Guardsmen (certainly the multi-melta gives a run for the money, but those are not available in this way).

Great sculpts from GW, back in the days when they made proper, metal castings.
I had an earlier submission featuring an officer and some special weapon troopers. As with that lot, these figures have also been sitting in my hoard for several years. It is a great feeling to get some paint on them, and continue to build my small collection of Vostroyan troops into something large enough to stand on its own on the gaming table.

Spotting a target down reality, these things will be doing a lot of point-blank shooting.  It is 40k, after all.
Imperial Guard forces count on their heavy weapons to have any chance in the face of the assorted alien and heretic nightmares which plague the universe of the grim and dark far-future. These lascannons will be critical.  They can knock out vehicles, monsters and heavily-armoured infantry, and the three teams firing together helps to compensate for the fact that, when I am rolling the dice, at least two will miss with every volley...

Seems...not so safe to kneel that close to a heavy weapon? Oh well...
Of course they continue to feature all sorts of baroque whackiness all of the Vostroyan sculpts have - re-breathers, spooky goggles, colpacks etc.  Some of it even features on the lascannons - note the silly embossed "V" on the weapons.  It's a touch nutty, and I really like it. These are very cool sculpts, full of character.

The dismal Winnipeg winter can be seen in the blurry distance from my kitchen...not sure what these troopers would make of it...
Hopefully as the Painting Challenge progresses I will get enough Vostroyans knocked together that they can face off against Dallas' awesome Chaos renegade guardsmen in an 8th edition smack-down.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Painting Challenge Theme Submission - Renaissance Mercenary Commander

"Can anyone tell me the way to Milan?"

This figure is another "theme submission" for Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - it is a mounted 28mm Renaissance-era mercenary commander, of the sort which might have been seen in or around the battlefields of The Italian Wars. The figure is a 28mm casting from Wargames Foundry's excellent range for the period - sculpted by the Perry twins.

28mm sculpt from Wargames Foundry, sculpted by the Perrys.
Over the past few years Curt and Peter in Regina have been building up a very nice collection of troops to game the Italian Wars in 28mm.  I have really enjoyed following their efforts. All those pikes, all of those colours (and a lot of colourful personalities), man, it would be fun to get in on that!.  Every so often I am tempted to try it out myself - after all, the efforts of our friends tend to inspire us. The period is extremely daunting, however, so while I do have a small smattering of figures that work for the setting, anytime I thought I might give it a shot, I have turned tail before raising a brush on a figure.

Even the horse seems a bit confused...
The "mercenary" theme from this edition of the Painting Challenge inspired me to try again - as Curt says, it's a painting challenge, after all - a good chance to stretch your skills/painting experience, just a bit. I thought I would paint up one figure, just to try it out.

"The pikemen are in...Regina? Oh my goodness, that seems a long way off..."
This figure was supposed to have been carrying a (I suspect ceremonial) spear, but Foundry failed to include the spear (or any lances for the Knights...sigh) - and I liked the pose without the spear regardless.

He has a kind of confused look on his face - after all, he should have a big block of pikemen nearby, right? Instead, he is all alone in my kitchen...oh well, fun to try this out, and he'll look neat on the shelf for now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Painting Challenge Entry Number Nine - 28mm Franco-Prussian War Artillery and Infantry

28mm Franco-Prussian War figures from Wargames Foundry.
My ninth submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge returns to a consistent recent historical theme - more Franco-Prussian War material! There is some more artillery for the Prussians, but we also switch over the French side, with an infantry unit for the French Empire. These are 28mm figures from Wargames Foundry's Franco-Prussian War range, sculpted by the Perry brothers.

Prussian Reserve Artillery

Ready to fire! Prussian reserve artillery in 28mm.
I had already done one artillery piece for the Prussians during this edition of the Challenge, and had not expected to ad a second.  But the gang at Wargames Foundry, while generally very nice, have this way of screwing up orders a touch (and also not replying to email, but I digress...).  In an order received last year, I found this Krupp gun in the box, even though I had not ordered it. Its packing code is quite similar to that of some figures I did order, but did not receive...

The crew figures are spares from other guns.
Anyway, we got it all sorted eventually. This is different from the other Prussian artillery I have painted for the FPW setting, as this is one of the larger 90mm guns that would have been part of the Prussian's Corps-level artillery reserve.

The finest product of Krupp's foundries...
The Prussian artillery - rifled, breech-loading guns - was very, very effective in 1870, and this 90mm piece barely qualifies as a black powder-era weapon.  I had planned to basically have reserve artillery be off-table for my 28mm games of "Black Powder".

The basket seats on the gun carriage make me chuckle...certainly a unique look.
But a free model is a free model! I had spare Prussian crew from the other guns, so I thought I would throw it together.  I'm sure we'll find a use for it on the gaming table - even just as a marker to show the game is about to be over as the Prussian Corps artillery is about to open fire...

78th Ligne

The 78th Ligne, ready to take their place in the French battle line.
And finally, we get back to the French! I just love the French uniforms from this period, really a central motivation inspiring me to get into this setting in the first place.  While I like painting the Prussians, really I am painting the Prussians just so I can paint the French!

Incredible detail on these wonderful 28mm sculpts from Wargames Foundry.
I just love the whole presentation - the red kepis, the baggy red trousers, the epaulettes, the blue! What a great uniform - and this is the uniform of the regular troops!

NCO exhorts his troops as they prepare their deadly Chassepot rifles...
As with the other formed units I have painted, there are 24 figures in the unit. I'm doing relatively small numbers of castings in these units in order to allow for a bit more of them on a normal size table, and to make the overall goal of a "Black Powder" game more realistically achievable.  20 of the figures are used to represent the main unit, with four individually-based figures available to represent a mixed formation where a portion of the unit is deployed as a skirmish screen.

Individually-based figures used to mark out/represent skirmish screen to the front of the unit. 
The 78th Ligne was present at the opening battle of the Franco-Prussian War, Wissembourg, which would see a French division hold through most of a day against elements of a Bavarian and several Prussian corps.  The flag was printed out from Warflags (I have yet to find a source of French flags for the Franco-Prussian War - if someone knows of one, please leave a comment).

It's great to be painting some 28mm FPW French again, and I am getting closer and closer toward being able to run a small game of "Black Powder" using these formed units! I hope to have more FPW stuff painted as the Painting Challenge goes through its second month...