Friday, April 21, 2017

More 15mm WW1 French

The 15mm First World War project continues, and I've added a few more figures to the French platoon. After the disastrous encounters of 1914 and 1915, French infantry platoons (like those of their allies and enemies) saw the development of many specialist roles to allow the unit to employ a variety of new weapons. Fortunately the excellent Peter Pig WW1 lines give you a lot of great options in modeling these.

Every platoon will need a lieutenant and a couple of sergeants. Without their leadership even the best-trained men will falter.

Bombers are men with a talent for grenades, a very useful skill set on the modern battlefield. Their job is to get in close while their comrades suppress the enemy, deliver a deadly volley of grenades onto the entrenched enemy, and move in to the wreckage.

To engage targets at longer range while the bombers get in to position, picked members of the platoon employ rifle grenades. The technology has come a long way since the beginning of the war, and these guys are significantly less likely to blow themselves up than they might have been a year or two ago. Honest.

Of course we're going to need plenty more ordinary riflemen too:

To lay down some really heavy fire, you could do worse than a Hotchkiss heavy machine gun:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

15mm First World War French - Peter Pig

I recently came down with a very strong impulse to start a 1st World War project, and after deciding on 15mm scale I fell into Peter Pig's offerings in a big way. I loved the look of the figures, and their French line in particular is awesome.

My goal is to build two platoons worth to start, one mid war French and one mid war German. I intend to use these with the TFL ruleset "Through the Mud and the Blood" which I've been told works best with one to two platoons per side.

So here is the first French squad - a corporal, a chauchat gunner and his assistant, and 6 riflemen. The figures themselves are a joy to paint, with lots of character and great poses. I like the proportions, and I was pleasantly surprised with the strength of the metal, which makes the bayonets more durable than I had expected.

Eventually the platoon will sport one more squad similar to this one, a team of bombers, and one of rifle grenades.

Here in isolation are the corporal, the chauchat gunner and his assistant:

Here are just the riflemen, the backbone of the French army:

And here is a look at their backs to see the details of their gear. Honestly I probably didn't need to bother painting the backs, as I am confident they will never be shown to the enemy anyway.

Friday, January 27, 2017

USS Washington - Langton 1:1200

Here is another of Langton Miniatures' very small offerings, this one the 20 gun galley Washington, built in 1776.

To quote the Nautical Research Guild's summary of the history of this vessel:

"The Continental Galley Washington was a lateen-rigged, two-masted row galley built in the autumn of 1776 on Lake Champlain at Skenesboro N.Y. On October 6 1776, she joined the small fleet established and commanded by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. Washington was among Arnold's ships that anchored in the narrow body of water between the western shore of Lake Champlain and Valcour Island to await the expected British move. On October 11th the British attacked from leeward. As a result of the battle Washington suffered the heaviest damage to the American fleet.

"Arnold regrouped his fleet and slipped past the British fleet in a desperate attempt to escape. However, they caught the retreating Continental force on October 13th, at Split Rock near Crown Point. Arnold managed to beach and destroy four of the galleys and his own flagship, Congress, while most of the remaining ships escaped upriver. Washington, at the rear of the van, was captured by the enemy; she struck her colors, as Arnold reported later, "... after receiving a few broadsides." After her capture Washington was repaired and put into British service on the lake. It was during this period that her lines were taken off."

You can find the NRG's description and an amazing guide to scratch-building a model of the galley (by Jeff Staudt) here:

And here is Langton's 1:1200 model:

Here for size comparison the model is seen with several other Langton kits. To her left is a small schooner with a pivot gun, to her right a gunboat. To the rear is a 24 gun frigate.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Warlord Games 28mm Praetorians

Here is a unit of 28mm Praetorian Guardsmen that I've just completed for a commission. These are some of Warlord Games' plastic offerings, and I think they are very attractive figures. Each one is comprised of 5 parts: body, weapon arm, shield, head and crest. Detail is pretty crisp, and there are some nice touches, like the 5 different faces included for the regulars. There is also a new arm pose not included in the regular legionary box set - an upright javelin held close to the body.

My only complaint about this set is the shield decals. The graphics themselves are perfectly fine, but in every other way they are extremely frustrating. They have too much "flash" of clear film around the edges, they had to be soaked too long to remove them from the backing paper (I tore several even after soaking more than 45 seconds) and - probably because of that - adhesion to the shield is extremely weak. They started curling off immediately, and I had to develop a routine where right after applying the two halves to one shield I would immediately coat it in matt varnish to get it to stick. It made for a slow, excruciating process, which is not how decals have to be. I've only had good experiences with other brands.

Still, they do make for a nice looking unit, and are an economical option.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

La Vengeance - GHQ 1:1200

Here is a model that I finished some time ago, but am only now getting around to posting: GHQ's 1:1200 La Vengeance, a 40 gun frigate.

Vengeance was a heavy frigate launched in 1794. She is best remembered for her duels with HMS Mermaid (1796 - inconclusive), HMS Seine (August 1800 - at which point she was captured by the British), but especially - for American audiences - for her bloody, indecisive duel with USS Constellation in February of 1800, during the so called Quasi War between France and the young United States.

I've rebuilt the bowsprit out of brass rod, mounted on a Langton base with a wood and a magnetic layer under it, used Langton brass ratlines, and rigged with nylon bristles.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

1/2400 Tumbling Dice First Rate Ship - War Artisan Graphics

I was pretty happy with the way the War Artisan graphics look on 1/2400 Tumbling Dice models, so I have gone ahead and done up a second ship in that manner.

This is Tumbling Dice's 1/2400 1st rate ship of the line, with War Artisan graphics rescaled for application directly to the hull. Again, it's not quite as simple as scaling down from 1/600 to 1/2400, because the War Artisan graphics are more accurate in their proportions than the Tumbling Dice models. The two dimensions had to be scaled independently of each other to fit the miniature correctly. But once that is done the process is pretty straightforward.

Again I have replaced the topgallant masts and bowsprit with brass wire, so that they are much thinner than the cast metal. And I have rigged with nylon paintbrush bristles, just as I would for a 1/1200 model.

Again, you can find the War Artisan graphics at the address below. Definitely worth checking out, and you can download a free sample kit to try your hand at them first.

The stern graphics, visible here, have their own separate scaling. The Tumbling Dice models are rather chunky in the stern...

And here she is alongside the 74 gun 3rd rate, done in the same manner.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

1:2400 Tumbling Dice 74 Gun Ship - With War Artisan Graphics

Every now and then I return to a scale I've only dabbled in so far. 1:2400 scale ships are a great gaming scale, but Ive never really been satisfied with my attempts to paint them in the past. It's always frustrated me that I couldn't create a nice looking checkerboard pattern at that scale, no matter how I've tried.

But recently I was working on some of War Artisan's excellent paper ship kits, when it occurred to me that they might be the solution to my frustrations in this scale. The kits are purchased as digital files, ready to print, which means you can scale them however you like in whatever graphics software you use.

I scaled the 74 gun kit down to 1:2400, then cut out the side panels and glued them directly to a Tumbling Dice model. Actually, I had to first alter the length and width ratios of the graphics, as War Artisan's kits are much more accurate in their dimension than the Tumbling Dice models. The stern pieces needed a totally different set of ratios, as they are very oversized on the metal miniatures.

I've been much more pleased with these results than any I have achieved with my own brushwork in this scale so far. It was a simple process to scale, cut and mount the graphics on the miniatures, and I'll definitely be doing this on more 1:2400 models.

I'd encourage anyone interested in the subject matter, whatever scale you may enjoy using, to check out War Artisan's catalogue of ship kits. They are extremely well designed, and very reasonably priced. When you purchase a kit you can print up as many models as you'd like, which makes them economically very efficient. And each kit comes with multiple color schemes, letting you add a lot of variety to your fleets. You can find them here:

And here is the Tumbling Dice 74 gun ship with War Artisan graphics. Rigging is done with nylon paintbrush bristles, just like with the 1:1200 scale kit's I've done. I also cut off the uppermost masts and the bowsprit and replaced them with brass rods, which are more in scale.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shatterlands - New Fantasy Skirmish Game from Stonegate Forge

I recently had the pleasure of painting up some miniatures for Stonegate Forge's upcoming skirmish game Shatterlands. The figures were sculpted digitally by the clearly very talented Bobby Jackson, and produced by Iron Wind Metals. I was extremely impressed by the level of detail, the very attractive proportions, and the excellent casting. Stonegate Forge is a small family run company (though with a lot of experience in the industry - Mark Rubin's credentials go way back to his Ral Partha days) and they clearly prioritized quality in the production of the figures.

The setting of the game is the fantasy world of Atelon, in which two peoples with radically different cultures and ways of life have clashed for generations. One is a technologically sophisticated people, the other a more fanatical society of magic-using forest dwellers. However in the territory between their homelands where they clash - the "Shatterlands" - neither the most sophisticated technology of the one nor the magic of the other functions as they are accustomed to. The result is a "black powder" fantasy world where the struggle takes on the dimensions of a French and Indian War skirmish game.

The really distinctive aspect of game play is in the character cards that represent each figure. Each character's ability in any given task is represented by a color-coded die of few or many sides.  As you are generally trying to roll low in the game, a more capable character will use fewer-sided dice, making it easier for him to accomplish a task. As the character takes wounds or stress or becomes exhausted, he is penalized by having to use more or bigger dice. Wounds are attributed to specific areas of the body, and have specific effects on abilities. He took a major wound to the leg? He's not running anywhere for the remainder of the scenario, and may not even be on his feet any more, though he may still have a role to play.

The designers had the very interesting idea of using pre-printed cards with scratch off elements that allow most of the in-game wounds to be temporary matters that heal when the scenario is done, while letting more serious injuries become permanent changes to the character card. Experience-based improvements are also permanent. So the implications for campaign play are pretty powerful. If you take good care of your characters they will improve with experience. Bad luck or bloody-minded decision making will take a heavy toll on them.

The game is currently being kickstarted (it was demoed at the Fall In convention in Lancaster PA this past weekend) and you can learn more about it here: