Thursday, 2 March 2017

28mm Macedonian Successor War Elephant

This new Warlord Games War Elephant is the first sign of my taking the plunge and finally investing properly in an Ancients army. The elephant and crew come as a part metal and part resin kit. It looks like Warlord are pushing their Ancients range to new levels at the moment, with this and the release of a nice Macedonian Successor Starter Army. I also have the latter which includes another elephant, some (metal) companion cavalry and a hundred plastic Macedonian Phalangites. Like all the other Warlord Starter Armies, it's an absolute bargain and well worth the £75 investment.

Anyway, onto the figure itself. First off there was very little flash to clean up, a couple of sections underneath the howdah. Mainly where it sits in the slots on the elephants back. This didn't take much to cut away and I also noticed how soft the resin is. This is an added bonus because previous resin kits are sometimes quite brittle, and any cutting or snipping has occasionally caused parts of the detail to break off as well. The head fitted onto the body reasonably well and I covered the slight gap with some green stuff. The legs are 'coded' with individual shapes that fit into their particular slots, so you can't go wrong there either.

Once I'd glued it all together I gave it a spray undercoat of GW Storm Vermin Fur. This is a sort of dark brown/grey colour that I find gives a nice balance when painting base layers for darker and also lighter colours (I try to avoid undercoating with black these days, as it's a headache when base coating with colours such as red or yellow). The gold is GW Retribution Armour, which has a very high pigment content. Loads better than other metallic paints that tend to be very watery and need layer after layer. I later inkwashed the gold in a Vallejo strong tone and then dry brushed with the GW gold again. The red howdah and edging on the armour was done with Vallejo Flat Red then highlighted in GW Evil Sunz Scarlet. The elephant skin was done with a thin coat of Vallejo Air Stonewall Grey, inkwashed in strong tone again, then highlighted with Vallejo Medium Sea Grey.

Finally after painting the crew I blu tacked them into the howdah to check their positioning. Luckily I did, because I needed to adjust some of the arms and legs to make sure they fitted OK. It's very crowded in that howdah let me tell you! The main problem (and this is my only minor criticism of the kit as a whole) is that you have to be careful making sure the pikes and spears fit snugly and securely, without the figures getting in each others way.

Now to have a crack at painting the Phalanx!!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Rogue Trader Eldar

Myself and some friends had another one of our school reunions again last week. When I arrived my mate handed me a small bag full of his old miniatures he'd promised me. When I opened it I was over the moon. Not only were there almost a complete set of Harlequins and two War Walkers, the base colours on them were nicely done. Myself, Jay and Barry (another old school days gaming buddy) emptied them out on the pub table, and it was like unlocking a time capsule.

Anyway, over the next couple of days I gave the first few figures some ink washes and highlights and now they're pretty much ready to go. I love the old 80's style colour scheme, and couldn't bring myself to just strip them all. As these are the beginning of my RT force I've decided to copy a similar style with the rest. Photos of the War Walkers coming soon!

In other news I picked up a copy of the new Osprey Sci Fi skirmish rules 'Rogue Stars'. At first glance it looks pretty good. I think Osprey have done well with these new small (and incredibly affordable) rule sets. Top marks for the really great Mark Copplestone figures featured in its pages too.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Warhammer 40k On a Budget

It's no surprise that the Oldhammer Community have had a huge inspiration in sparking my return to fantasy and Sci-Fi wargaming. Games Workshop back in the early '80's was my starting point, as I'm sure it was for many people. Aside from time and family commitments etc it's usually the cost that puts many people off. What I've realised in the last few months however, is that this doesn't have to be the case.

The photograph above is my current collection of Imperial Guard and Dark Angels. Bought brand new, these would have taken a significant chunk from the weekly paycheck. But thanks to buying and selling websites like Ebay and Gumtree (as well as the Facebook page "Warhammer Buy, Sell and Swap" which is fantastic btw) I've gathered this entire force for less than £50.

The popularity of GW over the years is perhaps the reason that there's so much of it available cheaply secondhand. Like any wargaming fanatic, lots of folks go through phases of collecting - whereby they either decide on some other period or genre, or give up on the hobby altogether. Either way if the items don't end up on ebay or on car boot sales (this is especially the case with Warhammer stuff and is another ideal way of buying collections) or they get stashed into the attic.

I began with just asking friends who I knew had been into the hobby in the past. Quite often they had a couple of shoe boxes or carrier bags somewhere with unused sprues, vehicle parts etc. or a load of half painted odds and sods. Most were happy to part with everything for a couple of quid. If you're quite lucky you'll even get some decently painted figures. Many of my Dark Angels were already basecoated and had the armour highlights started. It took me a rainy afternoon to finish the guns and gear, and hey presto...30 figures ready to go.

Again, Ebay and Gumtree offer similar opportunities. The Imperial Guard here were in a sorry state with a particularly rough paintjob, but it doesn't take much to turn them around (some of my Terminators were spray painted in silver and gold - so the way I see it, almost anything can be salvaged!

I imagine the method of collecting I'm suggesting here is quite good if you've got children who want to get into GW. Especially if you're worried about coughing up £100 for the GW Deathwatch Overkill game, facing the possibility that it'll be discarded in favour of the XBox somewhere down the line. On that point in particular; Ebay sellers are currently flogging the Deathwatch Rulebook and tiles for £10-£15 without the figures. Buying a load of cheap Tyranid Genestealers secondhand, along with some space marines and Imperial Guard would probably mean you'd get everything you need for less than £35.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Lead Pile and other musings....

I've been working away on some painting commissions recently, which left me realizing that I haven't spent much time on my own figures. So I decided to open a few old boxes in the den and do an inventory of what I'd actually got. This proved to be surprising and mildly depressing.

First off was I discovered almost an entire 15mm colonial Sikh army for my Sudan project (I almost ordered more, thinking I had only a couple of units). Secondly it struck me how much time I spend buying and simply storing stuff "for future use".

So the last week I threw myself into painting as much as I could. I even avoided the usual complaints from my partner by moving my paint station downstairs (and hence spending time with her as she does her university work in the living room - the other bonus is that I can stick World at War on the TV, which is repeated endlessly on the Yesterday channel).

The above photo is a quick reflection of what I'm getting through. And what a mixture it is! You can see 15mm ACW, 10mm Franco Prussian, 10mm 1866 Austrian, 15mm ECW and even a Games Workshop Imperial Guardsman. Completely bonkers but great to finally get some of this finished and ready for some games.

Another solution to getting my armies completed more quickly, is looking for part-painted stuff cheap on ebay. The other day I managed to snag some base coated 15mm ACW confederates. Not very pretty and jammed onto some solid wood bases with what looked like bathroom sealant. Anyway, I removed them from the bases with a craft knife and ink washed them heavily. Next I gave them a few highlights then stuck them to my usual 20x25 MDF bases and flocked them with Kallistra Spring meadow flock (hiding any of the nasty sealant still clinging on). I think the end result looks spot on. I managed to do about three 36 man units within an afternoon, so it's definitely a time saver.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

King Arthur and Bannerman 28mm

Footsore Miniatures mounted King Arthur and his Draco banner. Here in his more historically accurate incarnation as a Romano-British warlord. These are lovely figures and I'd urge anyone who's collecting a Dark Ages Warband to check the range out. I managed to paint them up a few weeks ago whilst sat in front of the TV one evening. The Footsore figures generally don't come with weapons, but I'd quite a few left over from my Gripping Beast plastics.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Salute 2016: Northwest Frontier Game

A day spent playing our Wargames Illustrated participation game at Salute in London. Hordes of kids and Dads throwing dice around and causing chaos in the 19th century Afghan Frontier. Kenneth Moore suffered several train derailments which pleased the local natives very much. The terrain board and its creator Dave Marshall can be seen in April's issue of Wargames Ilustrated mag - showing how it was converted from 'Little Round Top' at Gettysburg to a colonial mountain wilderness.

Running a game or trade stall makes you understand the time and effort that goes into making these shows an enjoyable experience for the attendees. I arrived at the Excel Centre slightly behind time due to a station closure and diversion. This meant that Dan (along with his partner), Wayne and Keith had set everything up for me to start as soon as I got to the hall. I'd only been there long enough to drop my bags before people were asking to play. I must say that these simple skirmish games (very much based on our Evesham Medieval game from last year) are certainly ideal when introducing folks to wargaming in general. Which is why it was probably such a big hit with people and their children. It's amazing how after the first throws of the dice they really get into the spirit of things and get stuck in! I took an idea from my mate Steve at Warlord and managed to record the bugle call sounded in the original 1959 film on my phone. This attracted some attention when I insisted on sounding it whenever the Anglo-Indian forces made their move. I got so completely engrossed in the game at one point that I'd forgotten about collecting my preorders and checking out the show itself. I only realized when Keith came over and told me to take a break as it was now past 1.30pm!

And what of the show? Well for the time I got to wander around the place I felt there was plenty on offer. The new Ancients ruleset ('Swordpoint') due to be released by Gripping Beast looked good. I was also excited to pick up their new 28mm Late Roman plastics for my Romano British army. To compliment this Dark Age obsession I seem to be going through, I also grabbed a couple of nice books: "As Told in the Great Hall - The Wargamers Guide to Dark Age Britain" by Martin Hackett, and "Offa and the Mercian Wars" by Chris Peers which I bought from the Lance and Longbow Society stand. As I hurried to get back I'd noticed Curtey's had some lovely Medieval figures on offer too, along with a number of Dux Britanniarum starter sets. I'd already started to regret not buying some as I reached our NWF game again and eyed the growing queue of potential players. Thankfully this was remedied later when Keith kindly said he'd pick up the Early Saxon box for me when he was doing the rounds.

The rest of the afternoon continued very well. The eventual winner of our game (a group which included a very young lad, his father and grandfather) went away with an exclusive character set made by Artizan Designs I must mention how much I enjoyed talking to all those who took time to check out our game. As Keith mentioned they were "a thoroughly pleasant bunch" who in my mind made Salute 2016 worthy of some very fond memories.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Arthurian Adventures!

Having watched the rather excellent film 'Excalibur' for the hundredth time the other week I was intrigued to do some reading about what separates myth and reality in the Arthurian story. To this end I was thrilled to find that author Daniel Mersey (creator of my favourite Wargaming rules 'Lion Rampant') had written a book on the subject. After ordering "Arthur: King of the Britons" from Amazon I pretty much bedded down on my week off from work and got stuck into it.

I'd also ordered John Morris' work "The Age of Arthur" which is a slightly heavier academic book, but one that had been highly recommended. The Dan Mersey book in my opinion is an ideal place to start as it draws some excellent distinctions between the Arthurian story's development at the hands of those who were happy to place mythology foremost, and what can feasibly be considered a closer reality. All of this is done without sneering or putting down those such as the Medieval storytellers (and those since) who have all contributed to a fascinating icon.

Naturally for me (as my interest in history and wargaming always seem to inspire one another) my next step was to order some very lovely Arthurian figures from Footsore Miniatures . My friend Lorenzo had pointed me in their direction and from the moment I saw them on the website I knew these were ideal for the purpose. The character models are especially good and I just had to get painting the Mordred figure and his bannerman. The miniatures don't come with hand weapons but I decided on a battle axe for him that was left over from some Gripping Beast models. I imagined him stalking the battlefield in his intimidating and elaborate closed helm looking to defeat Arthur in close combat.