Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Royal Mail restrictions on small pots of paint

Some readers may have read the article in the latest "Miniature Warfare" pointing out a new, but little-known, restriction by Royal Mail whereby they will destroy consignments of water based paints if they exceed 4 x 140ml pots.

I don't often buy paint by post for my figures, using mainly Citadel paints from the local Games Workshop. But my location will change soon and I will become more dependant on the postal system for my model paints and my artist paints. While the model paints are in small pots of 20ml many of my artist tubes and plastic bottles are various sizes up to 250ml. So I find this a worrying development and wonder where it will go next if we just roll over and accept it.

A petition is available for you to sign if you agree that this is regulation going too far.  You can find out more information here.



Acrylic paints in 250ml pots (more on the log buildings in a future post)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Waterloo Project: A mixture of tiny steps - Foot Guards, Horse Guards and "Farmyard detritus"

 I had planned only to show you the spectacular side of this project, like the 140 strong battalions, but there are now five of us beavering away at 28mm Waterloo items of various descriptions for any of our four intended weekend scenarios, and it's good for our morale to publicise the efforts. If you need a reminder here is a link to the previous post

Kevin's spreadsheet says we will need about 600 British Foot Guards figures for Hougoumont, and although not all at the same time, so we can "recycle" some, we will need a h**l of a lot! Our newest contributor, young James Fergusson, has made a good start on his first company - half of the Light Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Foot Guards.  I believe they are Perry plastics and are mounted three to a base so they can easily man the Chateau or garden walls.

I've made a small start on some of the British cavalry which will be backing up the infantry holding the "Elm Tree Crossroads" above La Haye Sainte.  The 2nd Life Guards of the Household Cavalry Brigade were in the closest proximity and took part in routing the nearest French elements in the first attack by D'Erlon's Corps. There were only about 235 of them in two squadrons so I'll be needing about 80 figures to represent them, of which I believe Kevin and Paul  have about 30 or so in their existing British armies.  So here are my first 10 towards the remainder.

I bought them unpainted on Ebay, some had separate right arms and torsos so glued together in slightly exagerated positions. Never mind, they were cheap and an interesting first step with this unit. If anyone can identify what make they are I would be interested to know. There are apparent anomolies in the uniforms but not big ones. For example the horse furniture does not have a sheepskin shabraque but has a rolled overcoat across the front of the saddle. I've painted these as if sheepskin as i hope my next btach will be more accurate. These are OK from "wargames distance".
The officer's twisted body and raised sword makes him good for doing the rousing speech urging his men towards valiant deeds.....not that British cavalry needed much encouragement at Waterloo!

I used the useful, though not always 100% reliable ,uniform guide on this website 100 Days - Mont St Jean
coupled with some very fine photographs of re-enactors of the 1st Life Guards in  "Wellington's Army, Recreated in Colour Photographs" by Neil Leonard- Europa Militaria Special No. 5, Windrow and Greene publishing.
Just to get in the mood, on a recent visit to the capital with the Duchess I persuaded her that two central London military related venues would be an entertaining use of her time. I'm a very lucky man that my wife likes anything to do with horses and stately homes. So, firstly, we went to the Household Cavalry Museum at Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall. This is a small museum, but very nice with snapshots from the Horse Guards' history, and a part where you can view the stables at close quarters. Here is a relic of a Waterloo helmet.
We got the timing right and were able to witness the 11 am changing of the guard, where one group of about a dozen Household cavalry took over, with much ceremony, their 24 hour shift  from the previous group. These are the men who stand unmoving at the sentry boxes on Whitehall in pairs. When not mounted they take turns at other duties around the entrance gate, museum and stables and at that time of day you can see them, through glass, settling the horses into their stalls and unsaddling. If you go I strongly suggest trying to fit in this mid morning ritual. Here's the website household cavalry museum
After lunch in St James Park we walked on up past Buckingham Palace to the corner of Hyde Park  to Apsley House, the former residence of The Duke of Wellington. It has a very large art collection but, as with most similar historic properties, the light is somewhat dim to protect the paintings. What struck me most was the number of fine gifts given to The Duke for his services in ridding the Iberian Peninsula, and Europe, of Bonaparte, and the collection of Spanish old master paintings looted by the French and captured by the British at Vitoria in 1813 . Why have the Spanish never claimed them back?

To be honest the military history itself is very low key and one visits this place more out of reverence for the many years spent there by one of the most famous generals n British history, than to learn anything new. It was good to see two famous Waterloo paintings - those by Felix Philippoteaux French Cuirassiers attack squares  and Sir William Allan From Napoleon's position at La Belle Alliance.  Worth a visit if you like classic art and 18th century architecture but it is now closed for refurbishment till April 2014.

From the sublime to the .....ummm........"Farmyard detritus"
Well, that's the artist's own description for Kevin East's latest painting of 28mm miniatures and he claims they can be used for Waterloo!

"Crazy I know..............but I enjoyed it.
Whilst I was looking after my Mum in Cheltenham and when there were quiet times I managed to paint a few items I had. I didn't want to paint troops which would have required a greater amount of time and more concentrative effort. So the results may or may not be useful. It doesn't matter as I enjoyed painting them as it didn't take long. See attached photos

All wagon contents are removable and interchangeable and the wagon with horses is removable from the base and can be used on its own. I have several model barrels as well. I do need to get a gardener for Hougoumont as I think the girl feeding the chickens can be used as his daughter.

I have a British supply wagon to paint next which can be used as the ammo wagon for one of the Hougoumont scenarios. Maybe La Haye Sainte might find use for it too,  possibly.

By the way none of this is impinging on the very important painting of troops. I am now painting batches of over 50 at a time which seems to be a good experience and not having an effect on the quality of workmanship. More importantly it keeps me on schedule ( I only used to paint a max of 36 at a time). I have 57 French infantry to finish in 14 days worth of effort.

The few civilian farm workers who are cutting crops which are in the photo are Wargames Foundry but the other figures, hay wagon, haystacks, boxes and sacks are by Hovels the miniature building manufacturers. The ladder and plank sided wagons are by Trent Miniatures, each of which comes with four horses. The two wheeled cart is made from 2mm laser cut MDF and comes as a kit by 4ground. It only took 10 minutes to assemble and didn't need painting. As a result it's not as realistic as the metal painted wagons at close quarters but is excellent value at only £3.60 from Warlord Games.  I also have many plastic barrels made by Renedra. So all the models cover many aspects of production including resin, metal, fibreboard and plastic. Quite a concoction. Finally, the base sheet is a grass paper mat from a model railway shop"

Great job Kev.  However we use them I thought them well worth bringing to my visitors' attention. See the right hand sidebar for Guest pages featuring Kevin's expertly painted military models . You'll notice that Kevin is now toning down the eyes considerably for newly painted miniatures, I look forward to seeing more of them.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Waterloo project: the madness continues with my first big battalion

When I've made big battalions before they were roughly 60-figure units for my 18th century Imagi-nation armies and were generally built up in stages. Half of our summer-long Waterloo project involves weekend refights round Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte at a 1:3 figure:man scale. Please see the previous two posts if you are new to this blog. That means battalions of between about 150 to 200 figures. I've volunteered to do four of them for the LHS games and thought it would make sense to start off with the "stars of the show" who held LHS throughout, Major Baring's 2nd Light Battalion of The King's German Legion. Since they were a very understrength unit they would be the smallest part of my madness, working out, in the end, at 138 figures. Essentially they were like the 95th Rifles but with subtle differences. Before I embark on the story of their creation here's a quick look at the lot in line with skirmishers out.

Why 138?  In the first rush of enthusiasm I noted the starting strength of 400, divided it roughly by 3 so about 135, and thought "6 companies of 20 figures each, plus command" that sounds neat. I ordered 60 x 2 figure plastic sprues of British Riflemen from Perry's and then realised how attractive the metal Hanoverian command pack was with 6 different figures, 2 officers, 2 sergeants and 2 buglers. But I would need 2 or 3 for each company to make my 135 and had to order 3 packs...so why not use them all, hence 138, and just to be equal each company has 23 figures. So blame History and Perry's for a non-standard size!

For those not familiar with these figures here's a photo of two identical sprues, front and back.
You can imagine that assembing 120 risked getting a bit tedious but I worked out a system. It seemed to me that by matching two different sets of leg/torso with two different sets of arms/rifles I could make four variations and so one for each of four of my companies. This left one company to throw together as "random" and another entirely of conversions, some of them very extensive, if not particularly anatomically sound :-)

These photos show some of the conversions and some of the metal command figures.

I didn't use Greenstuff or modelling putty as filler but brushed on different thicknesses of my favourite Acrylic Structure Gel till I was happy with the result. It dries fairly quickly and is like liquid plastic. You'll also see that I like to base my figures before painting, as it's quicker and easier I think. My watchword for wargame standard painting is "if you can't get to it to paint you probably don't need to!"

I assembled the whole 138 and then sprayed them with Army Painter "Army Green" primer.  I wasn't botherting with highlights for so many figures and Army Green is a medium shade, so I then diluted some Citadel "Caliban Green" and gave them all a wash with a big brush. When dry that had a nice effect of filling in the creases and making the ensemble appear a pleasing Rifle Green. Incidentally, the manager at Gloucester Games Workshop surprised me by his historical knowledge and recommended this colour for my "Rifles".  

It was now a long slog to do the proper painting with brushes. I'm a child of the Don Featherstone "quick fire" method of figure painting. That is - do the most obvious colours first and go through the whole lot with that colour, then gradually move on to the detail, but still do the whole lot to keep them in sync. I've also read good advice that says if you have a large number the same then break them down into manageable chunks and let each  chunk be a  stage or two behind the previous, to minimise boredom. Well, as I said in my first of these Waterloo postings, this is a new challenge to me and I wasn't going to fall at the first hurdle so I took it as a matter of honour to carry on regardless with all 138 in the same sequence. My concession to numbers was that, instead of each "colour" I painted each "item" throughout.  So 138 black collars, then 276 black cuffs etc. This does cut down on the thinking and changing brush strokes time.  I won't bore you with the stages but here they are finished and before the "marmite" stage.
Love it or hate it Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone is less like Marmite and more like Bovril!
But it certainly brought the plain grey trousers to life, without any other shading or highlighting, and gave the green jackets an extra darken which I think is appropriate. The black leather remains unhighlighted except where the light catches it naturally, but hey, it's 138 model soldiers for wargaming I'm doing here, not a diorama!

Just the bases to landscape and then a good matt spray varnish. Though there were one or two other details that I will show below.  
Here are two more views of the battalion in two rank line. Sharp eyed viewers wil realise I have not yet painted Major Baring himself - I need to find or convert a suitable mounted officer in bicorne hat with a lacy Rifle-type jacket and legwear...plenty of time yet.

The five company line is around 36 inches long, or about 110 metres on our ground scale.
And here they are in square 
Since sister unit 1st Light battalion KGL (less 2 companies) spent a fair bit of time at Waterloo in square it was good practice for me to see what that might look like. Also in our game we will be having at least 5th (line) Battalion KGL and the British 32nd Foot on the ridge above LHS at some stage, and they are both bigger.

Practically speaking at this scale 3 ranks deep of figures has to represent the classic four-deep British square. I've put the command stands in the centre which can pass as a sort of fourth rank if required. This amount of figures covers roughly 10 inches by 12 inches (30 x 36 metres).

Now here are some photos of my 2LB KGL alongside Kevin's model of La Haye Sainte by Hovels. It's fair to say that if he hadn't already had this model we might not be doing this project at all.  Obvioulsy he's just kindly lent it to me for this photo session and we will be putting it on a specially landscaped board for the actual event in 2015.

I'm happy that we've got the scale right. For the photos I've notionally put two companies defending the rear kitchen garden perimeter, a company on the South side where the orchard will be, and three companies within the farm itself. In fact as the buildings have hollow bases one can put a whole company worth of figures in each of the barn, stables and house. For the sake of playability some concessions will have to be made about how many rifles can actually fire out; in real life the lines of fire were quite restricted as few loopholes were made.

Here are some close-ups within the farm

 On the piggery and at the main gate. (I made these individual conversions before I saw the model and hoped they would fit on what I thought was a flat roof ----doooooh!)

 This is the stable block and the passageway through to the West side

In the last posting I waxed lyrical about the superb "95" decals available from Alban Miniatures and I decided, as I had transfer paper for my printer, to make some of my own for 2LB KGL. I have some of the wonderful re-enactor photo books in the "Europa Militaria Special" series.  Nr. 9, on German Napoleonic Armies, has a good feature on The KGL Light and here is a detail of equipment.

The back pack has a nice green horn on its side and I was able to copy that, modify it in the computer and produce some about 2mm square for the centre of  my backpacks.
That isn't just modelling nerdyness as I'm trying to think of distinguishing features on the table top to help players. In my game there might be up to 700 figures in dark green jackets from 4 different battalions. With your specs on you can see the "2" on these backpacks! I also produced some little transfers for the water canteens but these proved to be more of a liability and a waste of time, so I won't be doing them for other units.

Each company, bar the first, is distinguished by a small coloured blob of paint on the base - white, green, red, yellow and light blue and also a sticky label underneath each base to identify which company.

With any luck none of our players will be able to claim they can't track casualties as they can't distinguish companies and battalions apart.

I hope that's been of interest or some use. Next on the painting table a complete change doing my first 10 figures of one of the two squadrons of the 2nd Life Guards.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Fantasy female - The Huntress

Oh well, I thought my next blog was going to showcase my first really big battalion for the Waterloo project, but 138 figures is taking longer than I expected, and just to keep my readers interested I thought I'd show you a painting I did back in the Summer.

OK, she's not "military", but she does have weapons, so that's my excuse

Here is "The Huntress - Powerful yet Vulnerable"

During one of our photoshoots, when the Hussarette garb had hit the floor, my model sportingly took up some poses in her thong with the carbine and sabre.  Reviewing them later this one struck me as ideal for the kind of classic fantasy female made popular by the likes of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell. Another famous artist of this genre is Frank Frazetta, and his Tarzan comic book paintings often had eery jungle with tangled draping foliage.  While in no position to think I can match these great artists it wouldn't stop me having  a go. So I substituted the carbine for a powerful looking bow, added a quiver of arrows and a large hunting knife, played around with the thong and bra to give them a bit more substance, and invented some henna style tattoos for an additional sense of the mysterious.

Looking back through my photo reference library I came across some scenes from Gloucestershire's very own Puzzle Wood in the nearby Forest of Dean, which already had that quality of moss covered rocks and clinging dark foliage. Just changing the perspective a little gave me a good setting for my Huntress to be crouching, examining tracks of her prey, some kind of bear is what I had in mind, then hearing a threatening sound in the woods and looking sideways, warily.

I hope I've created the mood for the viewer of a woman very much in charge, and confident, yet in this environment she is still vulnerable to some hidden being or force.......

Female viewers might say "I'd feel vulnerable dressed like that wherever......." :-)

Fans of Legatus and his wargames ladies might think she could be at home with Professor Challenger, helping to populate his Lost World

Unlike all my Hussarettes this lady doesn't have a name, so readers are invited to give polite suggestions

The painting is oil on gessoed, stretched canvas and is 20" x 16" . I stuck to a colour harmony using only 
Cadmium Yellow hue
Naples Yellow
Cadmium red hue
Burnt Umber
Prussian Blue
Titanium white

The Huntress is for sale, at a mere £95. If you are interested, or fancy commissioning something in the same vein please contact me by email Chris Gregg or if you are not familiar with my other work you can see many of them on my website and its links (though it needs updating with more work since the Summer) Chris Gregg military art page

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Waterloo Project: In search of the 95th Rifles

This is my first follow up to the original posting on our Waterloo project
As you'll have read in that I jumped in with both feet to provide about 1000 figures representing something like half our requirement for the actions around La Haye Sainte on 18th June 1815.  I recalled the jargon of my Civil Service days when someone came up with a wonderful new project and needed a "quick win" to impress management. What could I have as my "quick win" to get this task on the road?

Around the famous sandpit and the "elm tree crossroads" the 1st Battalion of the 95th Rifles was deployed. We reckoned we needed about 160 figures at 1:3 figure : man ratio to give a good representation. Luckily Paul and Kevin had around 80 of these in their existing collections so I just needed to provide another 80 and I reasoned that 95th Rifles, being so popular, would be easy to find.

Alban Riflemen come in packs of either Firing or Moving
Well, a quick check of Ebay found some for auction, along with other things I needed.and, as I managed to win various small batches I asked the sellers if they had any Rifles for sale. Within the broad spectrum of "28mm" I'm not too fussy, and in this case I dropped my usual prejudice against buying painted figures as the overall project seemed so large I could justify slightly lesser quality paintwork. Before long I'd gathered a nice little collection of over 80, about 40 of which only need touching up and putting on landscaped bases and varnishing.

I learned, along the way, buying second hand, that there is a surprising variety of manufacturers producing Riflemen as either the 95th or 60th. Most of them I couldn't identify but just accepted at face value. One lot of 12 was identified as by Alban Miniatures, which was a new company to me. I won them and so was committed to buying some more to make up the required company strength.  So, one of the purposes of this posting is to bring Alban Miniatures to the attention of any Napoleonic enthusiasts unfamilar with them and looking for something a bit different in character.

You can also get a neat command pack of four figures.
 This officer is blowing a whistle, not dragging on a fag!
I'll let you explore the Alban website from the link above but they offer a nice selection of British, French and Austrian figures at somewhat expensive prices to my mind, but it depends what you like. Why these are different is because they are designed by Richard Ansell of Minden and Fife and Drum Miniatures fame. That means they are 28mm, but slim and elegant, and not easily blended in with the more usual brands like Perry, Victrix or Front Rank. Hence I have one company only of them in my 1st Battalion.

Here you can see the regimental number decals for the back packs and water canteens. The light blue spot on the base is to help players identify the separate companies as they won't be familiar with my esoteric approach to figure matching in units
A nice bonus I thought is that Alban offer a small sheet of decals of of "95" or "60" back pack labels and also very authentic looking water canteen unit markers. While I might do be able to paint the pack backs numbers I certainly can't paint in this detail on canteens, so they give a touch of class to what are already pretty classy figures. I hope you like my small sample presented here.

Close up the decal of  the Board of Ordnance regulation issue canteen  marking
Below is a picture of some of the rest of my 95th. The company in front are all makes unknown to me, the one behind is mostly Perry metal and plastic. But I draw your attention to the officers at the nearest ends. The one on the right must, I feel sure, be Richard Sharpe in view of the big heavy cavalry sword, which featured in the novels and is of course a long way from the shorter curved sabre of Rifle officers. The officer at the back is a diminutive figure, also with a big sword and I believe he is also intended to be "Sharpe" as he came along with a Sergeant of the same small size bearing a "volley gun" made famous by Sgt Patrick Harper's character in the TV series. I had to mount these two on artificially high sections of base so they would blend, at a distance with their larger colleagues. Whether these little chaps, which remind me of Parkfield Miniatures, will actually make it onto my field of Waterloo in 2015 remains to be seen. 

Here is a view of all three companies, about 60-70 figures, and I've since added more to bring them to 82 .
From the front - unknown makes, then a line of mostly Perry's and in the distance my company of Alban's. These photographs are taken on a prototype terrain tile I made to experiment with different ways of producing "trampled wheatfields" for that muddy day on Mont St Jean.

Assuming I finish them soon my next post on the Waterloo project will be about the 2nd Light Battalion King's German Legion.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Hougoumont model leads to big project

My friend Kevin East has big ideas, and the artistic talent to match, but modestly doesn't shout about his achievements much. Little did I realise when he came back into my life last year that I would be sucked into a wargaming project that brings me right back to the start of my wargaming life nearly 50 years ago.
Something to aspire to - a beautiful model of
The Chateau of Hougoumont
1965 was the 150th anniversary of Waterloo and to mark the occasion the recently departed great Don Featherstone put on a public display in London using the 20mm troops and sculpted terrain of Peter Gilder. Other notables of the day such as Neville Dickenson and Tony Bath refought the famous battle with, I suppose, about 2000 model soldiers on what was for those days a huge table.  I went with my friend Chris Beaumont and we 13 year olds were quite overcome by the occasion. I put that event down as the time I became a proper wargamer because we saw the real chaps in action and realised how a wargame was fought in practice rather than trying to puzzle it out from Don's book.
Tony Bath as Napoleon in 1965
Close up of the 1965 style Waterloo terrain in 1970
 I bought my first bags of Spencer Smith 30mm plastic Napoleonic figures....and the rest is history.

I later converted to doing Napoleonics in 20mm, and about 6 or 7 years after that, when they were "state of the art", collected 15mm armies.  About 15 years or so after that, inpired by a lecture by sculptor Anthony Barton, I made a passable collection of my own design of 15mm French and Spanish Peninsular figures. Many other periods and scales have been and gone and I eventually off loaded my 15mm Napoleonic armies about 3 years ago but have never lost my "love" and awe for the Napoleonic period for wargaming.

In 2010 at a 28mm Napoloeonic game he'd put on for our group my friend Paul casually said "You know, I've never refought the Battle of Waterloo", and I replied, "Well. despite all my involvement in the period, neither have I ". Paul added, "I'd really like to do it in 2015, for the 200th anniversary". There were murmurs of approval round the table but misgivings that we didn't have a venue big enough to do it justice. My response was "anyway, I'd love to do the terrain", and we left it at that........

....Until 2013.....

At this stage if you haven't seen them already have a digression to look at the three Kevin East Guest Pages in my right hand side bar.   Kevin has been building up specific Waterloo units in 28mm at a scale of 1 figure = 20 men and they are staggeringly beautifully done, but he says he is primarily a collector, with wargaming a secondary interest, and had no pre-conceived ideas about what games he would  do with them. Thus he'd quietly painted for about 5 years until coming back in contact with the Cheltenham Greatfield Group via me.

Now Paul has been the mainstay of our Napoleonic grand-tactical-scale gaming for more years than I care to remember, first in 6mm, then 15mm, and latterly in 28mm as his eyesight succombed to the inevitable ageing process. He has developed a very workable set of Napoleonic rules for multi-corps battles at one figure = 100 men. So the whole of Waterloo would need about 2000 figures.

Action hots up in Paul's recent refight of the second day of the
Battle of Eckmuhl 1809 (yes I know we are not very tidy!)
So it seemed sensible to put Paul and Kevin together to pool resources for Waterloo and we had our first meeting to discuss this project in August, knowing that we'd still need a long time to get it right.

By late Spring 2014 I expect to move into my own wargames room-cum-art studio because the builders start work on our new house in about a month or so. By 2015 we should have knocked this into shape for regular gaming and I hope to have enough room for a specially designed Waterloo set up 13 feet long by 6 feet wide, and with another 12 square feet added on to give extra depth. So that's the first madness - I've volunteered to make 90 square feet of customised terrain at a scale of 1 inch = 50 yard!  Kevin and Paul seem confident they can provide all the troops for this at 1:100.

But it gets madder....and that brings me to Hougoumont.

Kevin had acquired the neally nice Chateau and also La Haye Sainte models made by Hovels in a scale for 25/28mm figures, but as I've said, had no real idea of gaming with them until Paul and I saw them and exclaimed how could we resist not using them!  But a model as big as Hougoumont needs a skirmish level wargaming scale, and after a lot of thinking we settled on one figure = 3 real men and 1 inch = 3 metres on a 12 foot x 6 foot table with a couple of add-on pieces.   And before I knew it I was into a second mad decision - to make two more base boards for the Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte (LHS) scenarios, and rules to match.

But more madness was to follow..........

I hadn't thought this through properly.  In the excitement of the meeting I volunteered to organise and umpire the LHS scenario, thinking the other guys would take care of the figures within their already scoped games. It was only in the cold light of dawn, after my euphoria-addled head came up for air out of Mark Adkin's "Waterloo Companion", that I realised the LHS area was fought over by several battalions of green-clad King's German Legion Light Infantry and Hanoverians, and we had very few of those!  So, if I didn't do them we'd have no game. Just for added fun we'd have to recreate the various escapades up onto Mont St. Jean of French Cuirassiers and Dragoons, the 2nd Life Guards, the RHA Rocket Troop and the KGL Light Dragoons across this area of the famous field and through various times of the day. Also we'd need the French 13th Legere trying to take LHS itself. Each battalion will be between 140 and 200 figures.

And so it was that I found I'd volunteered to paint nearly 1000 28mm figures in the next 21 months! That's nearly 50 a month, or 1.5 a day. Sounds easy when  you put it like that but I do have a life, and work, and a family, and a house to renovate, and the terrain to make, and other wargame periods I had hoped to pursue (did you read my Stalingrad posts?).

It look like we will be scheduling  four weekends during our "Waterloo Summer 2015". Two different variations of the whole battle, a weekend of LHS scenarios, and a weekend of Hougoumont scenarios. Although many of the figures will be re-used I think we will be getting through about 4000 figures in those weekends, so it is no small undertaking for a tiny group like ours (yes we do have a couple more volunteers so far - thanks - you know who you are).

But, the good thing is that I've just received medical advice that I'm over the worst hurdle on my recovery from cancer.......I can expect to stay well enough to see this through. But if I'd had a "bucket list" who could imagine a Napoleonic wargamer not having Waterloo at the top? And if I do die in the attempt, what a glorious way to go......

I'm sure you will hear more about this, but for now I hand over to Kevin East. Please see the new Kevin East Hougoumont Guest page in the right hand side bar where he explains all about his lovely model and how he painted it, and there is an example of a 216 figure battalion too, of which we expect to have six or seven in play on each of our 1:3 scale weekends!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

In the interests of Colonial authenticity............

I've been commissioned by the notorious author of the "Tales of the Golden Head" adventures to paint a couple of big battle scenes in oil based on some of the drawings that appeared in the Classic Wargamers Journal in 2011. (Sadly there is no longer a link to Phil's CWJ page... best consign it to history I suppose). One of the paintings calls for a number of 1920s British colonial soldiers in East Africa to be posed at unusual angles. From my previous attempts I knew what a devil it is to get the elongated elipses of those sun helmets right so I bought a reproduction of an "India pattern" sun helmet for my photo shoot.

Looking suitably tropical against the Duchess' potted fruit trees!
It was a warm day today and the lawns needed mowing so I thought I'd protect my thinning scalp and I'd give the pith helmet a try out.  It certainly protected me from the sun but eventually I felt something hit my nose and thought it was a fly until there were more hits and I realised I had a minor waterfall of sweat pouring down my face. Taking off the helmet to examine it I realised the head band is just leather and totally non-absorbant. This was completely different from my beloved 30 year old "Hang Ten" floppy hat bought in Melbourne market and which has been to five continents with me since then, and from my more recent soft baseball cap featured in many Facebook photos. They both do a good job with the sweat.
I had to be my own char wallah unfortunately but that young sparrow in the
background had me for his water carrier.
Here he is, enjoying the fruits of my labour
So the question I have for you colonial experts who've stuck with me is:
"How did our forbears, who had to wear these things in hot climates, stop the sweat getting in their eyes so they could shoot the dastardly fuzzy wuzzies?"
The reason I ask is not just so wargamers can model fetchingly coloured sweat bands, but so I will know what props to use to render my 1920s heroes of Umpopoland in a realistic way in the painting. Your views very welcome please.

Writing the above made me realise that many readers of this blog might have missed the delights of my illustrations for CWJ so I have put them as a download in my side bar under "Miscellaneous", or you can see them via this link. 
Please respect the copyright, and a few of the originals are still for sale  - if anyone is interested just email me.