Friday, February 21, 2020

Painting Challenge Submission 15: A New Project - Quebec 1759

The 28th Foot - 28mm figures from Warlord Games.
Hey - just what every hobbyist loves, a new project! Apologies in advance for what might a longer see, this was a sort of secret project, one I had hoped to work on, under wraps, until I could just sort of surprise everyone one day with a game...but that was not a practical plan. Besides, a couple of Conscripts have already seen some of these figures, so I might as well post them.

The 35th foot, ready to give a volley. 28mm figures from Front Rank.
I guess we can just start with the technical bits - here are the British 28th and and 35th Regiments of Foot. These are 28mm castings.  The 28th Regiment (with the yellow facings)  are metal figures from Warlord Games. The 35th Regiment (with orange facings) are metal figures from Front Rank - although both casualty figures are also Front Rank castings. All flags are from GMB. These figures are intended to provide tabletop representation of British infantry units which served in the Seven Years War. In one specific battle...

The Siege of Quebec 

An engraving showing Wolfe's army making their daring crossing of the St. Lawrence and assaulting Quebec.
My hometown, Winnipeg, is about 2,500 kilometres (give or take) from the beautiful City of Quebec, in the Canadian province of the same name. This distance physically, geographically and culturally between Winnipeg and Quebec City is significant. Yet a great deal about the life I have been fortunate to lead to this point here in Canada was shaped by the events which occurred outside Quebec City on September 13, 1759, during the Seven Years War. On this day a European-style field engagement took place between a British force led by British General James Wolfe and the French forces of General Louis-Joseph Montcalm.  This was the battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Officer on the left, keeping thing in order...
As battles of the era go, this one was small, and relatively short - a shattering volley of musketry from the British side settling matters and sending the French reeling. This was not Leuthen or Zorndorf or Minden. But its impact on history was significant, leading to the fall of "New France" and, for a time, British rule over a substantial portion of North America (until certain subsequent events). The Battle of the Plains of Abraham is an important moment in the history of the country known today as "Canada".

The uniforms of the British infantry musicians in that era were really something...
The British conquered "New France", and in subsequent negotiations, ended up keeping the territory...and, well, more than 2,000 years later, here I sit in Canada. Lots of history there, too much to cover in any one blog post :) 

Rear view showing the detail on the Front Rank sculpts. Very nice, very pleasing to paint!
But the lines of history are amazing to much drawing back to this one battle, a brief and yet so significant engagement, a turning point in history.  So, so much, even today, all going back to that one moment outside of Quebec when the British infantry unleashed a devastating musket volley...

Rear detail on the Warlord sculpts - the grenadiers are fully loaded, but the regular troops are not carrying as much.
I studied it all from when I was very young.  I visited Quebec City in junior high, and was stunned by the battlefield park, the walls of Old Quebec, the old, it captured my imagination. Our teachers in school had their biases, and in their telling this battle was just one more hapless military moment for France - just like WW2 (France as a hopeless case in things military is a staple of popular culture and history in North America).

But of course nothing is so simple. I read the amazing book "Death or Victory" by Dan Snow.  It is a gripping read, and it is fascinating to put the battle that day into its proper context of a drawn out and dangerous summer campaign - one that was actually quite terrifying and vicious. Yes, the British won, but it was a close-run thing.  There is so much more to share - for example,  the defeat on the Plains of Abraham is well known, but the part where the French returned to Quebec the next year and defeated the British at the Battle of St. Foy, putting their victory in Quebec at risk, is not so well known... :)

But I'm already blabbing too long about this. That is all best left for other posts or comments from smarter people.

A little closer view of the command and colour party - that one ensign is carrying, like, a broadsword? In one hand? Bad @ss fellow, I'm sure. Odd sculpt. But overall, I really enjoy these Warlord figures.
Some years ago, it occurred to me that it might be fun to wargame this battle.  I know many gamers do the "French & Indian War", but I was very focused on this one battle: Plains of Abraham. That battle, that moment - that was what I was interested in.  This one, formed up, European-style battle that took place in North America in the Seven Years War.  Cool uniforms,, it would be so neat!

Read this book!!
I started doing the research, faffing around with figures, which scale etc. This has been going on in the background for years.  I was always painting something else too, so hardly hobby paralysis - but this project was going in my mind for a long, long time...I don't know why, but I thought I could, somehow, paint all of the units and surprise everyone. But, like, come on...that was dumb. So here we go!

The 35th and 28th Foot were on the right of Wolfe's battle line that day in 1759.  The 35th seemed unique because they had orange facings, and even now when I see them I feel like having some ice cream for some reason.

Many thanks to Byron and his 3D printer for making the little dice trays that I placed on to the casualty markers.
The Front Rank figures are a lot of fun. I love the sculpts. The heft. They are just great and relaxing to paint.  But Front Rank sadly charge extortionate amounts for shipping and their "battalion packs" are a bit...unusual, at least for me (YMMV).  The main bump for me is the inclusion of two musicians in the 24-figure pack.  Again, it's all personal taste, but that is not what I would do with a 24-figure unit. Also...the uniforms of the British musicians are insane - certainly a challenge to paint, and doing two of them per unit isn't my ideal...although it's a chance to practice, I guess!

A casualty figure on a round base - with a little tray for dice useful to mark casualties for different game systems.
The Warlord sculpts are very, very nice.  Huge bonus - the Warlord musicians and grenadiers have the details on their hats and uniforms cast right into the's pretty amazing! Great stuff.  But Warlord sometimes is just...odd. In this case, the unit boxes come with 18 figures.  This is a strange number, when so many people out there use 12 or 24 figures for a unit.  You can buy extra musketeers of course, but it's very strange/irritating.  Seems like a GW-style move to me.

Gotta love the grenadiers! Man...those hats...great sculpts from Warlord.
I'm working my way "along the line" on this project - starting from the right, and painting each unit in turn for each side.  I have it relatively mapped out...will still take a while, I'm sure, though hopefully just general posting and sharing pictures will help it go faster.  I might change up my approach - the so-called "Louisbourg Grenadiers" would be up next for the British line, so I might change gears and start on the left of Montcalm's opposing line, or just skip to the British centre.  There are still things to figure out in terms of representing the Louisbourg Grenadiers on the table - would they have carried a standard? If so, which regiment, the senior one? Would their officers have mitres or tricornes? Things to ponder.

The line starts to take shape on the Plains of My Kitchen Island.
Anyway, my brushes have turned to other projects for now. But I hope to have more to share with this project as I go along .Thanks for reading, and I hope you are not asleep.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Judge Dredd Sovs from Mongoose

Before current license-holders Warlord Games started to tear up the Judge Dredd gaming world, Mongoose Miniatures had the license and raised a little Hell of their own. One thing they did was a massive Kickstarter campaign back in 2012... the last of which was still being delivered in 2018!

Anyway, back at that time Conscript Perry was a backer of the Kickstarter and asked me if I wanted to share in his support. Did I! I ended up getting a bunch of stuff from the campaign, including these Sov/East-Meg "Apocalypse War" Judges that just hit the painting table. Above is Judge Officer Gagarin.

Here's Senior Judge Drago. Some notes on painting: pads and helmet trim are Mephiston Red washed with Red Ink, with Nuln Oil applied around the edges. Black bodysuits were highlighted a dark grey. Gloves, boots and ammo pouches are Catachan Green highlighted with Camo Green. Speaking of the ammo pouches... I know that in the comics, you sometimes see these coloured red, but I thought they looked better in green matching the gloves and boots. So there.

Judges Tretiak and Federov.

Judges Markov and Kozlov.

The Karpov MF7 Sentenoid in its full glory... this is a pretty cool model.

"Drokk! Satellat!"
The Satellat... a sentient helper-robot-drone that assisted Orlok in introducing the Block-Mania virus into Mega-City One's water supply, prior to the Apocalypse War. TMI???

Lastly, here's some of the group posing alongside a Rad-Sweeper, the main Sov armoured vehicle used in the Apocalypse War. Readers will note that the Rad-Sweeper is represented by the T-640 tank I built, converted and painted for my FuturKom force, years ago... funny how these things can cross over!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Kitech "1:48" Soviet T-72M1

Back when the Conscripts started getting into WW3 in 28mm, we discovered a range of inexpensive modern tanks from a company called "Kitech" - never mind that the actual molds probably came from Academy or some other company. These models and the eBay source we got them from ("North Korea Store"!) live on as a reminder of those more innocent times ;-)

Anyway, with the recent completion of a set of Eureka's Soviet tankers, I figured that they should have a ride. I asked Conscript Greg for recommendations on resin T-72s, but in the end, I decided that the best option is the one you've already paid for, so I dug a Kitech T-72 kit out of the tub where it's spent the last 7+ years, and just assembled and painted the dam' thing.

The painting part was super-easy - I primed black then sprayed a coat of Rustoleum Army Green Camo Paint. I'd initially thought it might be too light a green, but after a coat of Agrax Earthshade it looks suitably Soviet, albeit maybe a bit faded, which is OK. The rubber skirts were painted with a mix of Catachan Green and Mechanicus Grey, then the whole model was lightly weathered with drybrushing in shades of brown.

The kit itself is funny... it's based on a motorized chassis that is shared in common with all of the models in the Kitech modern AFV range. So not only does the T-72 share a chassis/platform with the T-80 kit, it's also shared with the Merkava, Leopard 2, M1 Abrams, etc... meaning that the notional 1:48 scale is just that - notional.

The result is that the T-72 is somewhat larger than it should be... this is especially evident when compared to 28mm infantry models. It doesn't look bad in the foreshortened picture above, but the Kitech T-72 is quite a bit bigger than it should be, I think. However, back in the day, when true 1:48 or heaven forbid, 1:56 models of modern AFVs were not readily (or inexpensively) available, the North Korea Store came through with these models for something like $5 each. Good enough!

Star Wars: Legion - Sibling Rivalry

"I am a Jedi like my father before me."

As I indicated in my earlier Star Wars: Legion post, my own contribution to the project are the various heroes on both sides of the galactic conflict. With the commander version of Darth Vader already completed by Steve, and with The Empire Strikes Back version of Luke in Cody's capable hands, I turned my attention to Return of the Jedi and two of the main protagonists: separated-at-birth twin siblings Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan, and Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight.

The model for Leia was released by Fantasy Flight Games back in May of 2018. It's a decent casting, in a soft plastic, that captures the general features of Carrie Fisher. In the game, Leia is an excellent commander, able to direct troops to take cover, rally off their suppression and panic, get soldiers moving, and give accurate supporting fire with her favoured sporting blaster (in the movies, I do not recall her ever missing a shot).

In contrast, the "Operative Luke Skywalker" model just came out a couple of weeks ago. The sculptors have really stepped up their game; it's a very nice likeness of Mark Hamill. In Legion, Luke is no longer a leader of troops, but rather a lone wolf. His powers and abilities are off the hook, able to leap over obstacles, bend others to his will, deflect blaster bolts, and slice up tanks with his lightsaber. The soft plastic is also better formulated; I was able to take a finer grit sanding stick and sand off the mould lines on his saber, which you cannot do with the earlier version in the started box.

After priming with Chaos Black, I started off with many very thin layers for zenithal highlights on Leia. Only 7 drops of colour (6 drops Vallejo White and one drop Golden Sepia airbrush paints) in the small metal cup in the airbrush, 6 drops of thinner, and the rest water. This was airbrushed downwards at a 45-degree angle all around the model. Then, switching the pigment portion of the mix to 6 drops of only Vallejo white, I airbrushed downwards at about a 60 degree angle from above and in front of the head of the model, giving a spotlight effect on the front of the figure.

Emo!Luke is wearing various tones of black. I masked off the rest of his body with a plastic bag with a hole cut in it and taped to the painting handle, and sprayed zenithal highlights on his head. I then masked everything but the saber blade and sprayed that with an even coat of GW Wraithbone, a yellowish off-white colour, which I thought would be a good base for the green glowing effect I was going to add later. I then hand painted Vallejo Black Grey on Luke's boots; this is Vallejo's default army boot colour.


Leia and Luke have different complexions. Luke grew up on a desert planet with twin suns, and Leia was raised in the halls of nobility on Alderaan and the corridors of the Senate on Coruscant. I under-painted their faces in Vallejo acrylics with this in mind.

For Leia, I worked from dark to light using Black Red, Beige Red, and Light Flesh, working the contours of her face like makeup. I used the shadow tone to completely cover the black paint under her arms and chin; I did not want too harsh of a contrast. In similar fashion, I painted Luke's face and left hand using Burnt Cadmium Red, Brown Sand, and highlighted with Basic Flesh Tone. Leia's lips got some Flat Red, and Luke's lower lip was sketched in Violet Red. Note that I did not paint in eyeballs. For both figures, the eyes are sculpted as slits, with well-defined upper and lower eyelids. The eyeballs themselves are not rendered. I decided to concentrate on the features around the eyes. Especially for Luke, this would give a steely expression.


Next up was the oil painting of the skin tones. I laid out several colours on my palette, as seen below. Note the number of flesh, brown, red, and neutral tones, all useful for the figures' skin. As in the past, I used very small amounts of pigment. I focused on highlighting things like the shape of Leia's skull around the edges of her forehead, refining the shapes and details around the eyes and middle face of both figures, adding ruddiness to both their cheeks, shaping their jawlines (I used the neutral tones mixed with flesh, to give shape without making it a true highlight), picking out the knuckles and refining the general shapes of the hands and arms, and blending the transitions between all these various tones. Leia's lips had a couple of catch-points of  Titanium White, and Luke's lips highlighted with a pinker version of his flesh tone.


Leia was finished fairly straightforwardly with glazes of GW acrylic shades, using some oils to lighten up the shirt and lighten the top edge of the stripe on her pants. Looking at various photo references of Carrie Fisher on-set, I intentionally lowered the brightness values of Leia's shirt, vest, and pants, as compared to the movie versions. This was to focus the viewer's eyes more on her skin tones. Her hair was glazed with various browns, more to emphasize the overall shape of her hairdo, rather than to pick out details of the individual braids.

Luke had an added complexity. I find black is a difficult colour to work with. You don't shade black, you can only highlight it. But you cannot add so much highlight that the article of clothing reads as "gray" instead of "black". I used neutral gray oil tones to bring out some of the folds and upper edges of Luke's uniform, belt, right glove, and boots, feathering them into the black. Some lighter gray and white highlights picked out reflections on the metal of the equipment belt, the handle of the lightsaber, and the shinier leather boots. The inside lining of his shirt was painted with GW Ulthuan Gray, and edged in Titanium White oil. 

I painted Luke's hair with Reaper's Blond Shadow, Blond Hair, and Blond Highlight acrylics, with the light source again above and to the front of the figure; some GW Seraphim Sepia glaze pulled the hair colours together. I masked Luke with another baggie and lightly airbrushed his lightsaber "blade" with Golden's Fluorescent Green, working up the blade from the tip, lightening near the hilt, giving the effect of a hotspot of the plasma blade at the hilt.

Following Steve's formula for the sand on the bases, I started with some fine grit acrylic medium, sculpted some small sand "waves", painted the groundwork with Vallejo Desert Yellow, shaded with GW Seraphim Sepia, and highlighted with Vallejo Iraqi Sand. Again using the airbrush, I slightly dusted the figures' boots with Desert Yellow. I edged the bases with Vallejo Black.


A thin coat of Tamiya TS-79 Semi-Gloss spray, and the figures were done!





I think the figures turned out pretty well. They are instantly recognizable as the characters from the film. As an added bonus, they will provide very powerful support and strike capability for the Rebel forces.

Perry Miniatures WW2 US and British Tank Crews

There's a bit of a story behind these models (the crewmen I mean). As readers will know, Conscript Greg B. is currently neck-deep in WW2 Winter Germans he's painting for the Analogue Challenge. As I'd love to see those models out in a game, I thought I'd revisit my WW2 Americans to see if I could tune some up to face them.

On my "American shelf" sit three Tamiya Shermans obtained years ago as assembled models. One has its hatches buttoned but the other two are open on top, but I've never had any US crews for them. Obviously this would need to be remedied immediately.
I commenced a search for 28mm US tank crewmen and came up with a few options. The best of these appeared to be Perry Miniatures' offerings, with four half-figures and two full ones for 7.50GBP (they also offered Brit crew which I picked up as well).

The models are well done, as you would expect from the Perrys. They might be a skosh on the small side for 28mm models, but fit well in the 1/48 Tamiya turret hatches.

Here's the other two American crewmen.

... and the five half-figures in the British crew set. They look like they're set for the desert but should fit (for the most part) in Italy and NW Europe as well.

The issue was how to mount them in the turrets! I happened to have some thin ferrous metal bases handy so I superglued these onto the inside roof of the turret under the hatches. I then trimmed down the half-figures to the appropriate height and superglued 5mm magnets to their bottoms. Hey presto - swappable crewmen. Plus, they stick down nicely onto thick washers for storage!

Two newly-crewed Shermans ready to face the Germans!

Painting Challenge Submission 14 - 1/56 Scale Hanomag APCs for Winter WW2

1/56 scale Hanomag APCs - models from Warlord Games "Bolt Action" range.
More output for my late WW2 winter Germans.  I have painted up a nice basic force of infantry, but they will need some vehicles to get around the gaming table.  These Hanomags should do the trick - they are 1/56 scale plastic kits from Warlord Games "Bolt Action" range (and I think Italeri is involved somehow too).

Seated plastic figures to be used showing some troops are embarked.
When I started this project, one hobby quirk I needed to make peace with is the use of 1/56 scale models in 28mm gaming.  I laugh at how consistently the gaming world insists that 1/56 scale is the "proper" scale for 28mm figures. So many manufacturers go to the length of adding "1/56" right after "28mm".  And yet, even the most cursory observation on any gaming table shows the link doesn't hold up.  A better scale would be 1/50 or 1/48...

The 28mm infantry look huge compared to the 1/56 APC...oh well.
And yet...while 1/50 and 1/48 options exist, they are either too much fuss (complex model kits with too many parts), too expensive (the rare Solidos - they are pricey now) or made of resin that is difficult to work with (check for "#flakegate" over at the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge).  1/56 scale is the least-bad option, and because so much of the hobby industry remains committed to this group hallucination, 1/56 scale offers the most options in terms of available vehicles to choose from. Thus I swallow the blue pill...1/56 scale is perfect for 28mm!

AA MG mounted on the backs of two of the APCs. 
The Hanomag is an iconic piece of German WW2 kit.  They built thousands of these things, but there were never enough to meet the enormous demands created by all-out war on two fronts. They would typically be found among one of the battalions of the Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions, and among "favoured" units.  These are 251/Ds, later models of the basic troop carrying half tracks, apparently easier for German indsutry to build.

Bring on the winter muck!

Don't look too closely...the license plates all have the same number. I wish Warlord would vary their decal sheets...
I suppose one can go too far when it comes to weathering vehicles, but when it comes to winter AFVs, as far as I'm concerned one cannot go far enough. Winter is beautiful, but the pristine white snow lasts for so long as you stand still and never move...winter conditions are somehow still muddy, dirty and - yes, it's true - somehow even DUSTY.  I know this, I have grown up with it. Here in Winnipeg we in peaceful times in a city with concrete roads, and yet in the winter my red truck turns grey about 72 hours after any snowfall, and a grey-brown about 15 minutes after any thaw.

Vehicle 412, ready to roll out.
Another view, showing the optional embarked infantry models.
These vehicles would be driving through mud, on dirt roads, then snow...seeing snow, dirt, and even rain (it happens in the winter, after all). Plus, it's a war!  The white-wash would have been applied in a hurry, at a depot or rear area, probably with one eye on escape as the Russians could arrive at any moment...I want my winter German AFVs to "look the part", and so I have mucked them up here.

Tried to put some muck and snow inside the halftracks.
Open-topped vehicles are always an extra challenge in large scales...after all, you can see inside them! I tried to muck up the inside a bit. I also painted a few of the seated infantry figures that came with the kits, so as to use as markers to show when an infantry unit is aboard the APC.  I see that Warlord sells winter MG-34 gunners for the Hanomags...wish I had thought to order some.  Oh well.

Out for a walk in the forest with my dogs - it was so nice to see the sun!
Some more WW2 items are still clearing the painting desk before other subjects pop up - stay tuned for more, and thanks for visiting!