Sunday, February 28, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission: Star Wars Legion - "They're not suits...They're Droids."


In Season 2 of the Disney+ television show, 'The Mandalorian', Dark Troopers were introduced as new villains for the Star Wars galactic heroes to overcome. They kidnapped Baby Yoda (Booo!), and helped defend Moff Gideon's light cruiser. These evil mooks were given a comic book origin; this third generation of trooper were no longer armoured humans, but powerful droids.

I wanted to introduce a few of these impressive troopers to our games of Star Wars Legion, but they are not manufactured by Asmodee or Atomic Mass Games. There is a strong community of sculptors and gamers out there, creating rules and figures for as yet unreleased or non-canon characters.

Accordingly, I picked up a couple of suitable 3D printed figure sets online to use as proxies: a 5-figure strong "Authority Dark Droid Squad" and a set that consisted of a "Rescuing Hero Wizard" with "Sliced Droids". For the latter two, one is crushed as if by a giant invisible hand, and the other is sliced in half from head to crotch, showing off its interior machinery. 

[The header photo above shows the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker figure I painted, fighting off a couple of Dark Troopers, as Mando & Baby Yoda (which I purchased for a fundraiser), and Sabine Wren (also my painting) prepare to deal with another.]

These 7 models are nice renders. I don't have a 3D printer, so I ordered resin prints, which had fairly subtle artifacts of printing (those horizontal lines). They are brittle; a couple arrived broken, but the resin broke clean and were easily repairable with super glue.

Studying stills from the show, they are basically black shiny armour with a few metal bits showing at the elbows and knees, with glowing red eyes and 4  lights on their chests. The armour really reflects lights sources.

After undercoating them with Chaos Black I under painted the guns with Vallejo Grey Black and painted the joints with various grey acrylics. I kept the rest simple. I arbitrarily selected a single light source located to their front and slightly to their left sides. I worked up reflections and catch points using indigo and titanium white oil paints. Other amour highlights were slightly rendered with neutral grey oil. I picked out the eyes and chest lights with GW Evil Sunz Scarlet. The sliced up one was further detailed with various orange and yellow acrylics and oils. Groundwork was Golden Garnet Gel (Fine), painted to match the sandy bases of most of my other SWL models. To finish I dirtied up their legs with Vallejo weathering powder, fixed with Vallejo Pigment Binder.

In the game these models are tough, shoot a strong gun, and are fearless, but they are not strong in close combat. Plus, characters with lightsabers will trash them. There's also online social media groups for unofficial game cards.

These were fun to paint and are a menacing addition to my Star Wars Legion collection. 

Painting Challenge Submission 14 - 10mm French Infantry and Command for FPW

10mm French troops, ready for battle in 1870!
Another submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - we have more 10mm figures for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Here is a unit of French line infantry, and some command bases with mounted figures. These are all 10mm figures from Pendraken.

Typical of my project so far - three bases to form an infantry unit.

The uniform of the French Infantry from the era of the second empire is just so fun to paint, a real "clincher" for my interest in the period and wish to game it. All the regiments with baggy red pants and kepis and epaulettes...just so cool. It is not a circumstance where you paint many units with "OK" uniforms to get to the cool ones...this is the uniform of the basic lignard, and it is already awesome (meaning the elite units are thus even more awesome). It is a lot of fun to paint.

So much lovely detail on these castings from Pendraken.

And it shows up so nicely, even in 10mm (although of course I am biased), because the sculpts from Pendraken are top-shelf, cunningly crafted and well-cast so there are details to work with, even at a relatively small scale.

Column formation to move forward...hope no Prussian artillery is nearby!

The infantry here would represent a Regiment for rules such as "Black Powder" and "1871", but of course such rules can scale up or down as you like, depending on the nature of the battle and scenario one wishes to play.  

Mounted officers - I initially intend to use them as brigade commanders, but these can be used for all sorts of purposes.

The command bases are similar - the bases with a single mounted officer are meant to represent brigade commanders for "1871", which the base with the two mounted figures would be a division commander. I placed a Cuirassier on the base as I intended this specific one for command of a French cavalry division - but again many different rules allow for many different command bases in different ways - for my part, the more figures on the base, the more senior the commanders.

Two figures on the command base, to represent a more senior level of command - a cavalry officer, with the Cuirassier to keep an eye on things...
The end of the Challenge is looming, and I find I'm still well-short of my goal. Hopefully I can still find time to get more done before the end of the Challenge in March. Stay safe everyone, and happy painting!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission 13 - 10mm French Cuirassiers for FPW

10mm French Cuirassiers for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Figures from Pendraken.

Hello again blog visitors! I continue to play blog-posting-catch-up with my submissions to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. For this submission, we return once more to a familiar setting for my brushes: the tabletop battlefields of 19th century Europe. Here are some 10mm French Cuirassiers from the Franco-Prussian War. These are metal figures from Pendraken. 

As always, the castings from Pendraken are amazing.

With their beautiful uniforms and bright, polished/burnished helmets and breastplates, the French Cuirassiers are an iconic military symbol, of both France's military prestige and the idea of heavy cavalry from the so-called "black powder" era of war. Through the Napoleonic wars, these well-trained, hard-hitting heavy cavalry were called on to make a decisive impact in a number of battles - and they did so, many times cracking the enemy when the Emperor called them forward.

Reverse-pattern uniform on the trumpeter in the foreground...I just noticed that I forgot to paint the stripes on their pants...oh well, they are only 10mm...

In the time of the Second Empire, the Cuirassiers strove very much to maintain this tie to earlier times, and the French army retained several regiments of these bad-boys, ready to deliver a knock-out blow on the battlefield. But as many accounts will share, technology and doctrine were evolving. Many sorts of cavalry found they could not overcome the massed fire of bolt-action rifles and artillery, and the Franco-Prussian War saw mostly empty saddles when cavalry went into the main battle. This was an issue for the cavalry on both sides, but the losses suffered by these glorious French cavalry troopers seem somehow more dramatic to me, especially as they often occurred in the context of a broader defeats underscored by the incapability of a French general staff to truly grasp WTF was going on while the Prussian forces enveloped them. The shattered regiments of Cuirassiers were a fitting symbol for fate of Napoleon III and his Second Empire.

Glory awaits on the tabletop...

Whatever the lessons of history, on a wargaming table, launching heavy cavalry is always fun, and I was looking forward to painting these figures. I just love the uniforms of the French Cuirassiers - they are among THE sharpest uniforms out there, and the Pendraken sculpts are fabulous, showing the troopers in reserve, ready to follow their commander along into one more glorious charge...these are great castings, and I really had fun working on them.

As with all of my previous 10mm FPW work, these are based for the "1871" wargame rules, in which two bases comprise a cavalry regiment. So there are meant to be two regiments here, but of course there are many ways to configure these for different rules. Thanks for reading everyone - stay sane and safe out there!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission 12 - 28mm Byzantine Light Cavalry

Light Byzantine cavalry - 28mm figures from Gripping Beast's line of Thematic Byzantines.

My 12th submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge saw my brushes return to a previous project...thanks to the timely arrival of some parcels in the mail,  my 28mm Byzantine project has been able to resume! Freshly resupplied with LBMS transfers and banners, as well as some steel spears, I  completed the next unit in my Byzantine collection. No surprise - more cavalry! These are lighter, skirmishing cavalry - although they can form up to fight in a pinch. The figures are 28mm metal castings from the fine folks at Gripping Beast, and the banner and shield decals are (obviously) from LBMS.

I enjoy the character of these castings - particularly the commander!

As with all of the Byzantine units there is a mix of arms/capabilities within the group. Six of the models are meant to be armed with a mix of throwing spears and or javelins, and four of them are mounted archers. They are meant to skirmish and harass larger enemy formations on the battlefield, and keep enemy skirmishers from doing the same to key elements of the Byzantine battle line.

Steel spears!! I love those things!! They make a difference for figures like these.

These castings from Gripping Beast have oodles of character, and were quite a lot of fun to paint. The LBMS transfers were, as ever, a real b*tch, but still 1000% better than trying to paint shield patterns on my own. The headaches those things cause are so worth it in the end!

Mounted archers in the mix, helping to pepper the enemy with missile fire.

I figured a musician would be important for a light cavalry unit like this, to directing them and their maneuvers.

These models are all based individually, so in addition to representing a unit of light cavalry in a game of Warhammer Ancient Battles, this group could be split up into various elements for a game of "Lion Rampant". The mounted archers in particular are flexible - they could be dispatched to join the heavier unit of cavalry to bulk it out, depending on the scenario. 

Off we go!

Thanks for reading - stay tuned for more everyone! Hope you are staying safe and, as always, staying sane...

Monday, February 22, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission 11 - 10mm French Lancers for FPW

French Lancers in 10mm for the FPW - figures from Pendraken.

So I have been lazy when it comes to posting things on the blog - time to catch up a bit with more submissions from Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. This one contains more 10mm Franco-Prussian War figures - no surprise there. I have been on a bit of a roll with it, so I want to keep it going. These 10mm figures are meant to represent two regiments of French Line Lancers, ready to ride to glory in the summer of 1870. The castings are from Pendraken - as always, a joy to paint, but with one sort of mysterious feature, one which I could not quite bring out in the photos, but I will share a little more about below...

Beautiful sculpts as always from Pendraken - but take a really close look at the musician, if you can.

Cavalry was very important to the armies of 1870, but the era of cavalry regiments closing to contact and having a decisive impact on the battle itself was coming to an end. Of course, no point wasting you time advancing those views in the summer of 1870, right? These brave fellows will run down any enemies foolish enough to mess with Imperial France! What should they be scared of? A bunch of foot-sloggers with black powder muskets? No,...they have rifles you say? Breech-loading you say? How many shots per minute? Backed by breech-loading artillery? Well...I'm sure it will all work out in the end - debrouiller, as the French say. Instant glory awaits. You should charge that Prussian line right now.

Maybe check the musician in this photo? No...a bit blurry...

These are based for the "1871" game rules, where a single base represents two squadrons of cavalry or so, and two bases together represent a regiment. Of course, as with the infantry, the scale of the game can be increased or decreased, so different combinations are possible, but the intent for now is that these will represent two different regiments ready to fight in some of the early engagements near the French/Prussian border.

Yellow facings for this unit.

It was difficult to find clear uniform references for the Lancers in this period. The relevant Osprey book is a bit of a disappointment in this regard, so in the end I bodged it a bit. One of the regiments has yellow facings and collars, the other red...I think I ended up exaggerating the amount of colour on the facings, but it helps when the figures are in this scale.

To battle! Vive L'empereur! I mentioned at the outset there was something odd about the musicians. Can you spot it? Probably not...but each bugler is missing his right forearm - a flaw in the casting, I suppose. And pretty odd that both musicians had that issue. But you only get one bugler per pack, and I didn't want to order new packs of Lancers just to get more the "ghost bugles" will help lead these riders to battle on the table!

Thanks for reading! Stand by for more Franco-Prussian War cavalry...stay safe and stay sane!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Forth Eorlingas!

This is the second part of my 'Heroes of the Riddermark' project. It consists of five mounted figures depicting Théodred, Éomer, Gamling, a Rohan Royal Knight, and Éowyn. I had actually started the project by painting the horses, but then moved to the dismounted figures before coming back to finish the mounted characters. As much as possible, I tried to match the colour palette between the foot and mounted figures of the same character, so I kept the completed dismounted figures on my workbench to use them as a reference. I painted two of the horses as bays, two as chestnuts, and one as a dun, so only one new colour scheme for my horses having already done a chestnut and a bay on some mounted Gondor miniatures.

Théodred was a Prince of Rohan, and the only son and heir of King Théoden. He was slain by an Orc-man in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen. I copied the paint scheme on his armour from the Games Workshop website, and painted his horse as a dun. Alas, I only have a mounted version of Théodred. Dismounted figures are still available, but only as a part of a set, which makes it an expense proposition for only the foot figure.

Éomer, Marshal of the Riddermark, is the nephew of Théoden, and one of Rohan's foremost warriors. I gave him a bay to ride. He will make a nice addition to the tabletop.

Gamling, Captain of Rohan, is the Royal Standard Bearer. This was probably the most difficult figure to paint due to the sculpted standard with all its folds and creases. There is no raised detail on it, so I had to paint the running horse freehand. It was why I did this one last. I also mounted him on a bay.

A Rohan Royal Knight, he is part of King Théoden bodyguard. I mounted him on a chestnut with two white socks on its front legs. I still have a two more of these in unopened blisters, but I will leave them for another day.

Éowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan, is the daughter of Éomund and Theodwyn, younger sister of Éomer and niece of King Théoden. Disguising herself as Dernhelm, she fights at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, where she and Merry kill the Witch King of Angmar. I mounted her on another chestnut. Since it was the only horse of the five without a chanfron, I gave it a blaze.

With the exception of Éowyn, all the other figures have very intricate designs on their armour. I found I could only paint one a day before my shoulder and neck muscles started to tense up trying to maintain the fine control on the tip of the brush. 

Time now to move on to 'building an army worthy of Mordor'. Stay safe and healthy until we can meet around the wargames table again.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Vauban Style Star Fort

 This is a terrain project that I completed last July when I was able to work in my garage and set up a work table for sawing and painting. It is a star fort that my father made in 1966 as a Christmas present. The walls had been constructed primarily from the wooden ends salvaged from apple boxes. This became the focus of my initial dive into wargaming, although at the time my brother and I used spring loaded metal tubes my father had made to launch wooden projectiles at each other's troops. 
The base measured 1.2m by 0.8m. Originally the fort and base were all grey, but I had painted the base green at some point in the 1970's so it would look better on the wargames table. The large size of the base meant it was still a bit unwieldy, so it was time to trim things smaller as well as repair and improve the overall appearance. The impetus for the project came from watching a video by the Terrain Tutor on flocking gaming boards. I used a number of techniques presented in that video to do the upgrade.

The black lines are the cutting guide for my Skilsaw to trim the base as close to the bastion corners as I could. You can see a lot of the cracks where the wood had split over the years, and the grooves on the outside of the some of the bastions. That was supposed to be where the interior platforms were to slot in, but these were accidentally cut on the wrong side.

 The base was trimmed, and the sharp edges sanded to give a more rounded profile. All the cracks and the unnecessary grooves on the outside of the bastions were filled with plastic wood, and everything was sanded smooth. The 'stone work' (rectangles of heavy paper and cardboard of varying thicknesses) was glued on using PVA. I also used pieces of self-adhesive address labels sent to me over the years by various charitable organizations. I cut them to the desired size and stick them on to give a hint of stone or brickwork.

The entire fort was repainted in a dark grey with highlighting and drybrushing of the stone work in lighter shades. Then sand was glued to the base using PVA and painted brown after the glue had dried. The paints used for all the colours were latex paints from Home Depot. They often have smaller containers for sale in the 'Oops' section of the paint department. Anytime I pass through there, I have a quick look for shades of brown, green, and grey that might be useful for wargames terrain projects.

I constructed three ravelins from polystyrene foam and mounted them on cutoffs from the original base that were trimmed to give an equilateral triangle. To get a consistent size and shape for the pieces of polystyrene, I first cut a pattern out of cardboard that was used as a guide for my handheld hot wire cutter. The simulated stone work was done in the same manner as the main fort.

 After the brown paint on the bases was dry, I flocked them as outlined in Mel's tutorial video, mostly using a medium green blend, with patches of darker green near the bottom of the walls, and lighter green where 'high traffic' or drier areas might be. A few clumps of lichen were added here and there,  just to give some variety. The gates were constructed using balsa wood and match sticks, and then given a coat of dark brown paint followed by drybrushing on lighter shades. The bridge that spans the moat was originally something my father had made for a sand table he had constructed for training soldiers. It was originally just a 1 by 2 cut with a curve and some square arches. It has been augmented with popsicle sticks on the sides, and coffee stir sticks for the planks. It was painted in the same manner as the gates. 

 With the ravelins being separate pieces, it is possible to use the fort without a moat, or without the ravelins completely, depending on the scenario.

The fort was originally designed to be used with Airfix American Civil War Union and Confederate Infanty and Artillery, so the the barrack doors and windows are HO scale. Here's a view of the fort interior.

When I repainted the base many years ago, I thought I might use it for 15mm Napoleonics or Seven Years War, which would have made the barracks too large. I made some 'quick and dirty' facades using cardboard and felt pens to cover the fronts of the barrack blocks and look like buildings that butted up against the fort walls. The buildings in the center are 1/160 scale resin models. I may do some more elaborate facades at some point in the future, as well as some 'battle damage' pieces to place against a wall section or bastion to show where a breach has been established.

This was a project that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time, so it gave me considerable satisfaction to finally get it done. Now all I need to do is find a good set of wargame rules for sieges in the 17th to 19th centuries. I know Conscript Dave is already thinking about doing the 1565 Great Siege of Malta. The possibilities abound.
I hope you have enjoyed my little journey down memory lane. Until we can meet across gaming table, stay safe and healthy.