Monday, 22 October 2012

Life - WIP

Just a quick post to reassure the faithful readers of this blog that I am still alive and well(ish). As I'm sure is typical of a great many of follow bloggers daily life keeps on getting in the way of my hobby.

After far too many years of drinking honey sweetened ale (Enville, in case you're wondering) and eating pork scratchings my teeth decided they'd had enough and opted out (literally in one case). I've since been affected with a quite unpleasant dental infection left me looking rather like Sloth out of the Goonies. Any form of modelling or painting has been greatly hindered as I sat around feeling generally sorry for myself. A subsequent visit to the dentist has left me stuffed full of antibiotics, the looming prospect of heavy duty pliers, dentures (blimey, I felt very old when the dentist said that!) and very little spare cash.
I love Chun...castles!
However it isn't all doom and gloom (honestly). I have managed to make progress on the great tower. The wooden hourding have finally been painted, well, several times actually. I had initially painted the woodwork red but this looked plain awful. I hope to post pictures of the WIP as soon as I can.

If you thought the main hourding was complex (and you'd be right, it was) the stairway and entrance is proving to be a nightmare. The combination of the open woodwork and the curved nature of the stairs is proving a very tough nut to crack, at least in order to make it look reasonably accurate and lifelike.

The one strange result in the recent lack of any painting (five weeks plus now and not a paintbrush in sight) is that I now want to paint and finish something. The next figures in the sights will be something completely different, from a manufacturer never previously seen on this blog and which I've been strangely felt compelled to paint (what a tease!). If I can get these done soon then I think I will finally be able to get back into a productive painting phrase.

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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Derby Wargame Show 2012

On a beautiful bright autumnal Saturday, my friend Ade, my brother and myself travelled deep into the far east, well to the Derby Wargame Show at least. The event this year was at Donnington race track after being previously held at Derby University. This is the only other wargaming event I regularly attend apart from the local WMMS (Alumwell) show.
new venue
Finances are as tight as ever this year so I had to chose my purchases carefully. From the Dave Thomas stand I picked up a Perry Miniatures ox drawn wagon, I had planned to buy a number of Crusaders packs of crossbow men to go along with my other Crusader figures for my Cry Havoc project but there were none available. However Crusaders loss was Curtleys Miniatures gain, from whom I also bought a number of knights, archers and flags. Apart from a book on War of 1812 and a few Knuckleduster figures that was it. 

Ade, the main man behind wargamingforfun, is interested in gaming something entirely different from his usual Warhammer fantasy stuff and is looking at getting into WWII games, which before the weekend was initially going to be Flames of War. Knowing that Warlord were in attendance and demonstrating their new Bolt Action game we decided to linger around their stand until we had the opportunity to have a go. I won't detail the gaming dynamics but it was easy enough even for me to pick after a short while. After a few turns, where I controlled the British and Ade the Germans, the game was quite evenly balanced despite the fact that I'd stupidly left my command figures hopelessly exposed in the middle of a field where they were promptly shot to pieces. 
Warlord's Bolt Action demo game
Image courtesy of Goose

Ironically (or fortunately depending on your point of view) in the action shot of us above playing the game you can't actually see me. Ade is just about visible to the left of the table and my brother is to the right. Note the awaiting crowd ready to carry me on their shoulders, victorious from the battlefield.

Knowing that several other attendees were waiting to have a game and playing up to the audience slightly, I decided to go for 'Death or Glory' tactics. My brave boys fixed bayonets and went in with cold steel against Fritz. To paraphrase Corporal Jones from Dad's Army, "They do not like it up 'em, they do not like it up 'em.". Result? They certainly didn't like it up 'em. It was absolute bloody slaughter! Everyone was wiped out, British and German alike. In fact the only figures left on the table were the two support units, the German mortar and the British machine gun crews. 
Warlord Bolt Action Demo - note my casualties in the bottom corner
Apparently I had won but I only realised this when Ade said "Congratulations" and shook my hand. As the only figures left on the table were the two British Bren gun operators I think it would be definitely classify as a Pyrrhic victory. I wouldn't like to be a squaddie under my command. Ade and myself both enjoyed the game.

After playing the demo we're both keen to take up the game properly, Ade bought the rule book soon afterwards. There is only one slight drawback; neither of us wants to play the Germans for various reasons. I recognise this may seem unusual but Ade would prefer to play as the British, Commandos etc. and I'd rather play as the Russians. To get round the rather obvious problem of not having any historical or traditional 'baddies' to play against we thought we may try and play it as an alternative history - May/June 1945 where British/Americans fight against the Russians. From what I've read it was a quite common belief amongst German soldiers later in the war that, at the very last moment, the Germans would join up with the western Allies to defeat the advance of the Communist threat. Considering what actually happened soon after the war finished (Berlin airlift, Iron Curtain, Cold War etc.) isn't as far fetched as it may initially sound. 

There was way too much going on to detail everything that caught my eye but I'd like to single out a few things that worth noting. 

A simple game based on the battle of Naseby put on by a very friendly and approachable Stoke-on-Trent wargaming group. The game and table were quite minimum but the figures and terrain were nicely done (one of the chap sells his stuff online - The Bunker 13) The emphasis seemed, correctly in my opinion, to be put on the gaming aspect of wargaming.

There was a jolly nice chap demonstrating how to paint 6mm (Baccus) figures. Yep, shock horror, I do plan to paint two armies of these tiny terrors but more of that in the future post. He gave a very useful and informative idiot's guide (i.e. so I could understand it) to painting up these figures. It's basically a whole different approach to painting to what I'm used to. I couldn't quite work out why the painter appeared to be was dressed as a pirate though, I can only assume he was taking part in demo game or perhaps he was attending a fancy dress party straight after the show.

One thing I did find surprising was the low presence of Dark Age games, only the one was being played as far as I'm aware. Considering the buzz on the blogoshere I thought there would be more but there were plenty of traders that had the stock for sale. The majority of games seemed, to me at least, to be WWII based using various scales.
Pirate demo game

All in all a very pleasant day out. The venue was large and there was plenty of space to wander around. The new location was easy to find but the noise of racing cars on the adjacent track did start to become annoying after a few hours. Food and booze was relatively expensive but perfectly adequate.

One thing that made me chuckle late in the day was when Ade said, "If ever we decided to become master criminals, such a show would be the perfect hideout." When the call went out to be on the lookout for rather chunky, 40 plus, bearded males with glasses then there would be at least several hundred suspects we could hide amongst.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Church/Great Hall Building

The model detailed in this post is one I made for Arjun (Cor Blog Me), after he kindly sent me a number of ECW figures as a trade. The model is loosely based on the medieval St. Teilos church now located at the National History Museum at St. Fagins. The model is made, more or less, entirely from foamboard, cardboard and wooden coffee stirrers.
The original St. Teilo’s church,
St. Fagans National History Museum
Reduced model version of St. Teilo’s church (with Porch)

After a very long wait for Arjun, this is the completed model. A few of the technical puzzles I encountered while making this model included:
  • Making a freestanding structure with removable roof complete with bell tower/chimney,
  • Removable porch,
  • Sloping gable walls,
  • Unusual windows/tracery,
  • Stone effect walls. 
Gable View
Arjun asked that the building be single span around seven inches long. A nice touch that Arjun asked for was to make the porch separate, something that would have never occurred to me. This simple idea allows the model appear more like a church (with the porch) or a substantial home or great hall (without the porch) where the bell tower could represent a chimney for the great hall.

I believe I'm correct in saying that the majority of early medieval buildings would have been covered inside and out with plaster or render (as were most Roman structures). Occasionally this thick plaster is still be seen on the interor walls of castles (and, even rarer still, on outside walls such as at Conway). The only stone work left visual, I assume, would be the high quality dressed stone (such as the imported Caen stone on Norman keeps, for instance) normally only seen on the corner edges of square towers and around windows or door ways. This actually makes producing a model of a stone building relatively easy.

The effect of the painted plastered stone walls seen here was taken from a technique I remembered reading as a kid in an article many, many years ago in Military Modelling. The piece by the late, great Ian Weekley (a genuine master-model maker) showed the very simple method of sticking random pieces of rectangular card (I think he may have used thick blotting paper, remember that stuff? kids - ask your parents) on to a wall and then painting over it with textured paint, I think this was basically regular paint with a tiny amount of fine sand added.

Roof tiles were made from strips of cardboard, and then using a pair of scissors simply cutting notches at regular intervals. This was then stuck on the foamboard roof with PVA woodglue. These were painted to resemsble Welsh state (naturally).

A small bell in the tower was made from greenstuff glued to a length of chain and painted bronze.

The windows were made from plastic card which I drilled and cut so that it resembled ornately carved stone. I then glued a matching piece of clear plastic (taken from a piece of packaging) to the back and then fixed all this into the rectangular hole cut into the foamboard wall.

The main door was made from (yep, you've guessed it) coffee stirrers. The door actually swivels on hinges that I made and built into the wall. It's probably a bit too detailed and boring to describe how I did this without WIP photos (apologies).

I realise I probably should have taken some WIP photographs but this particular model was made almost entirely in the early hours of the morning when I often can't get to sleep and so listen to Radio 4 Extra (at the time it was Journey into Space - The Red Planet with Jet Morgan, Mitch, Doc and Lemmy - pure 1950's Sci-Fi audio popcorn). To be perfectly honest I normally forget to take any photos or usually don't want to stop, create enough space and take snaps once in the 'flow' of actually making the model, especially at two o'clock in the morning. 

The floor was covered in sand and painted  simply to the cover up the smooth surface of the foamboard.

The 'painted' interior murals are scaled down colour photocopies of the actual paintings that were recreated inside the church.

If you'd like to see some decent photographs than you can can find more on Arjun's blog:
Cor Blog Me St Teilos Church