Sunday, 25 June 2017

How to Make 28mm African Huts

I've been putting together some terrain for my Death in the Dark Continent project. A quick internet search for Matabele/Zulu type huts came up with quite a few resin cast ones. Very nice but a bit pricey (ranging from £6 to £15 each). Having already shelled out quite a bit on a Zanzibar slaver army, explorers and Matabele tribesmen, I wanted to keep my costs down. Next logical step was to make my own. So here's how.......

I bought several polystyrene balls, some plaster of Paris, foamcard, and air drying clay from the local craft shop. Then some hessian sheet and a small hand towel from a bargain shop. All this set me back about £10 and would provide enough for six huts (two large and four medium - a complete village). I started by cutting the balls in half.

Next I cut out some foamcard bases, leaving an extended bit at the front for the entranceway. I PVA glued the dome sections onto the bases and left them to dry for a while.

I cut the hand towel into small rough squares, making sure I snipped off the stitched edges and any embroidered logos.

Then I took the air drying clay and created the entranceways. I started by rolling them into small sausage shapes then flattening them out, then bending them into a small porch.

Again, I put these aside to dry for a while. I created these in the kitchen on a hot day, so everything was drying pretty quickly.

I grabbed a small plastic tray and mixed the plaster of Paris, making sure to fill the tray with water first then add the plaster (this and continued stirring stops it from going too lumpy). Too much water and it'll take ages to dry. Too little and it'll set in seconds!! I made it slightly thick but pourable. Even then I had to move fast due to the warm environment.

I soaked the small bits of towel in the plaster mix, then draped them over the polystyrene domes. Moving and shaping them as I did so. These began to dry within about 15-20 minutes, and were solid within two hours.

I did an undercoat of Tamiya Desert yellow (beware of aerosol on polystyrene!! Any exposed sections will melt due to the adhesive - you can use just artshop acrylics straight from the tube and use a large brush to apply). I next took some watered down dark brown and washed the huts - this brought out the towelling texture quite nicely!

I painted the curved wooden entrance, then added flock to the base.tooke may be happy to leave the huts like this, but I wanted a little bit more detail.

I cut up sections of the hessian sheet and stretched them out a bit to increase coverage and make them seem a bit more ragged. I then soaked them in watered down PVA, draping them over the roof of each hut. I used an old brush to add a bit more PVA to fix them in place properly. I then left everything to dry.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

2mm Wargaming? Madness!!!

That isn't a typo by the way, I really do mean 2mm!!

I happened to pick up the latest edition of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy this month and spotted Mark Backhouse's excellent "Siege of Portsmouth" ECW game in 2mm. In fact I kept the magazine on me for about a week and couldn't help referring back to it. "Does this work?" "Will it be just like pushing blobs around a board?" And most importantly "Can I sell this to the guys at the club, or will I be left a sad loner playing (*cough*) with himself?".

After some web research I discovered that there are in fact quite a few exponents of this scale of atomic level wargaming. They say it's not so much about dotting buttons and painting moustaches on those cheeky 28mm figs, but it's more to do with a broader view of a battlefield. In fact I agree, many of the photos of ACW and TYW era games really do lend themselves to what appears as an epic clash of arms. In some cases you can have every regiment represented on the table.

As for 'blobs' of metal, Irregular have units of ECW where you can see some fantastic detail. The command figures are easily discernable, with raised swords and other gestures.

The other things are price and painting time: £12.50 from Irregular miniatures for a big army pack of over 100 stands. The painting time for twenty ECW regiments yesterday was just under an hour. That's almost the entire parliamentarian infantry present at Marston Moor!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Cheap Aldi Grass Carpet Battlemats!! £6.99 each!!!

(Cats featured purely for scale)

Doing the weekly shop brought an unexpected surprise today. Aldi stores have their gardening range for sale, and I immediately clocked their "Artificial Grass Carpet" approx 6.5ft x 3.5 ft. All for the paltry sum of £6.99 each. The tuft length is very short, so suitable for 6mm to 28mm and beyond. The backing is non slip.

Given the bargain price I bought two of them in the expectation of doing larger battles. As with much Aldi seasonal stuff I expect there will be limited stocks. So grab a bargain, unless of course you're happy with paying £50 and upwards for exactly the same official battle mats available online?

Monday, 3 April 2017

Numidians Sir! Thousands of 'em!! least there will be once I've painted them all. I never intended to start a Numidian army, but I was visiting the TORM reenactors market near Coventry a few weeks ago and saw one of the stalls had some secondhand ancient plastics. After a bit of haggling I managed to secure two boxes of Wargames Factory Numidians still on the sprues, and a tub full of assembled ones. Mixed in with these were what I think may be Victrix Carthaginian. I'm going to use these as medium or heavy infantry.

The Numidians pictured above are the ones I've painted up from the tub so far, and are arrayed as slingers and javelin men to use as skirmishers.

The command stand is a medium infantry guard on foot, with a 1st Corps metal Numidian prince mounted. The latter is quite small when compared to Victrix or WF. But I've added some filler underneath him to raise the figure up a bit so the size difference is not as noticeable. I'm quite pleased with the end result. In fact I may use him as King Juba, especially since the recent Warlord Juba figure to me looks more like a Zulu warrior. I prefer to see him with a more Hellenistic or slight Roman influence in his appearance.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Antiochus the Great and another War Elephant

The Antiochus the Great command figures are from the Gripping Beast Polemarch series. Whilst the War Elephant is once again from Warlord Games. All lovely figures and an absolute pleasure to paint. The elephant was remarkably easy, and only took me two afternoons from construction to complete. This guy is being used as part of the second half of my Macedonian Successor army, hence the slight change in paint scheme.

Antiochus is naturally portrayed in all his youth and vigour. Looking like he's leading a hell for leather charge. My first phalanx is also coming along well, and should be to upload here soon.

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!!