Saturday, December 11, 2010

Biting off more than i can chew

Well, here I am again, and as promised I’ve got some pics of a Spitfire 1a and a teaser for my WWII Hungarians. I’m almost finished the second of four planned 10 man rifle sections, and am about halfway through a StuG platoon so will post more pictures in a future update. For now you’ll have to content yourselves with the picture on the right, which is my first ‘Big Man’, Százados (or Captain) György Takács, conferring with a motorised rifleman in front of a Toldi IIa light tank. Tank and big man are from Shellhole Scenics, grunt is from Liberation minis and tank commander is an AB Italian.

Tomorrow I’m going to be getting on with some commission work, hoping to get most of a 12 man unit of Late Roman Legion, the Legio Fortenses, completed.

Considering that 2010 marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and all, I decided to go off on a painting tangent and paint up an Airfix Spitfire. Building the kit took me back, as I haven’t built a plastic airplane kit since I was about 14! I am pleased to say that I managed to complete the build with considerably less gluey fingerprints on the canopy than I remember.

I spent a fair amount of time painting up the pilot, who was then all but hidden in the cockpit. Oh well, I’ve posted a WIP picture of him so you can see him in all his glory. I stole the idea for the flight stand from a modelling forum, and am happy at the way it turned out. I’m going to eventually get a brass engraved plate with the squadron, airfield and date of the plane. Which by the way is No.234 Squadron based at Middle Wallop in August 1940.

In amongst all of these tangents, I’ve been busily planning my D-Day Ouistreham/Riva Bella setup. I’ve picked up some 2’x2’ 6mm MDF board to use as a base for the foam, and have drawn up a rough overview of what I plan to build. I have a feeling that I may be biting off rather a lot to chew, but as my great-uncle Tom used to say ‘aim high, if you don’t quite make it you’re still pretty well off. If you aim low and fail, then you’re in a spot of bother.’

So, if any of you can decipher my scribble, you’ll see by the plan that I’m going to be building up a series of 2’ sq boards, 3 deep and four across. These will represent the area from the German defensive position, or Wiederstandnest 10(b) at Riva Bella through to the mouth of the Caen canal. Even at this size, I’ve had to take a lot of liberties with the layout, and Ouistreham find itself a lot smaller than in reality. I’m going to start with the Casino board, then move onto the WN10b board with the anti-tank wall. Big project, but I don't go back to uni till the end of February so i have to do something to occupy myself, right. :)

I really want to include a selection of the different bunker types, as well as the Casino the 17m high artillery observation post, the flak tower and the light gauge ‘chemin de fer du calvados’ railway with Riva Bella station. Most of the bunkers and some of the buildings will be constructed from blue foam and then coated in filler, stippled and scored before painting. I’m also planning to have them with removable rooves and basic interiors to give Jerry somewhere to hide. I’ve already started on the Casino itself, which contrary to Mr Zanuck and The Longest Day, only consisted of fortified foundations, the superstructure having been removed by the Germans.

So, where am I getting all this from? Firstly, I'm using photos I took on my travels around the area and reprints of the original BIGOT 1:25000 scale maps for Ouistreham and Sword Beach. For bunker layouts, the guys over at the Atlantic Wall forums have heaps of info, including diagrams, of pretty much any bunker you need. I’ve thus far done up plans for bastardised versions of the H644 bunker (with an armoured MG turret), the H626 (with a field gun) and personnel shelters. For anyone interested, the forum, mostly French language, can be found at

In addition to online sources and the Osprey and Battleground Sword Beach books, the fantastic Gold, Juno Sword by Georges Bernage published by Heimdal has been my bible. This book has amazing detail, and is really a must for anyone even slightly interested in the British and Canadian beaches. It gives a great overview of the German defences and the forces involved – including commanders and 2ICs for the individual companies. The description of the action is very detailed, and the book is packed with loads of rare images. Can you tell I’m a fan?

Anyway, a reminder to check out my eBay listings, and I’ll be back soon with some more Hungarian pictures, and hopefully another legion.

For now, here are some pictures of my plans for the first two Riva Bella / Ouistreham boards, as well as the H644, H626 and shelter bunkers. The figures and guns are Britannia 20mm.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My first 15mm work - and a Christmas Clearout

Hello all, hope you're all having a not-too-stressful lead up to Christmas. This post looks to be a bit of a hodgepodge, so please bear with me. First up, i've finished painting up my first Flames of War miniature, a German SdKfz 251/1D halftrack. I was pleased with the moulding, and think they came up well. The 15mm splinter camo almost drove me insane, as did my very temperamental airbrush. Anyway, while i do like the figures, I'm not converted to 15mm or the FOW rules, and intend to stay with IABSM and perhaps Rapid Fire in 20mm scale. This 'lil guy is off to flea bay, but more on that later.

Well, the silly season is well underway, with Laura's birthday, as well as our 5 year anniversary, my sisters birthday and a friends wedding all having taken place since my last update. While all the crazy spending has meant I've had little time, or money, for my own painting, my birthday is coming up on the 16th so hopefully I'll score lots of goodies for my IABSM Normandy project. I've been eying off the crazy 21st Panzer stuff from Raventhorpe and Skytrex, as well as some of the superb Najewitz Modellbau 1/72 buildings. Between the birthday gnomes and Christmas, i'm hoping that i'll get enough to get this project underway.

Speaking of the project, I ordered a 1200 x 2500mm (4' x 8' for you imperialists) sheet of what i thought was 5cm thick 'blue' extruded polystyrene foam. As delivery from Revesby in Sydney to home - about a 90min trip - was going to be 180 bucks, i managed to get a loan of Laur's sisters car, as our '93 Honda Civic would be hard pressed to fit in a 4" x 8" foam sheet in, and headed off to Western Sydney. Upon arriving at the factory to pick up the foam, i found out that the original quote was incorrect, and that the order was actually for regular polystyrene. While i was a little let down, that did explain the rather cheap price. Anyway, I'm going to base the foam with some MDF board and see what i can do with it - i've seen some pretty impressive setups from regular old foam, PVA glue and sand.

As for the figures, the Plastic Soldier late war German box has solved my conundrum regarding which supplier to use for my Germans. Although, i'm a little confused as to whether they have actually been released, the website says that they were to be released on 3rd December, and i had a box on pre-order but haven't received any notification of dispatch. I spose we'll see if they turn up. Whatever reservations i have ordering a box sight unseen is offset by the quality of the Russians (excluding 'that' grenade throwing guy), and the ridiculously cheap price!

As i mentioned a few times now, Christmas is just around the corner and owing to my semi-poverty stricken student state, I've decided to have a little bit of a flea bay bonanza. I've gone through the lead mountain and grabbed some stuff from abortive projects - 'non-starters' in corporate speak. I've decided that these are far enough down the 'to do' list that they're going to have to go.

I've got a bit of painted stuff, all 28mm WW2. I'm pretty sad to see these guys go, as they've been in my display cabinet for the last two-or-so years, but as i've downsized WWII to 20mm, out they go. So, for those of you interested, here is the list of what's going along with links. I do ship internationally, and shipping to UK and US is actually pretty reasonable. Oh, and i combine postage, obviously :).

15mm FOW SPW 251/1D. As described above, painted in acrylics, weathered with pigments and matt varnished.

Modified and repainted 28mm Corgi Churchill III. This tank is painted up with acrylics, weathered with oils and pigments and matt varnished. I've made up some decals, and it is marked for B squadron, 4th Grenadier Guards, part of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade in Normandy. The crew figure is from BAM/Warlord.

28mm BAM/Warlord Canadian Infantry. These five figures are painted up with acrylics and matt varnished. They are painted as Canadian infantry, with the greener uniform, and with insignia for 3rd Canadian Division which landed on Juno Beach of D-Day.

28mm BAM/Warlord and Artizan Figs. The two BAM Brits are painted up from 15th Scottish Division, and the Artizan German is painted up in a sumpfmünster or swamp patter camo smock. All painted with acrylics and matt varnished.

15mm Eureka French Napoleonic Inf Bn (42 Figures). Unpainted. 42 of the excellent Eureka miniatures figures, enough for a full battalion for almost all rule sets, more in some. The voltigeur company (6 figures) is doubled up, to represent them skirmishing or in close order. These figures are in the bardin uniform, so suitable for 1812-15. There are some AB figures in greatcoats mixed in.

28mm Perry Miniatures French Napoleonic Young Guard Bn (24 Figures). What it says on the box. Unpainted, 24 figures march attack including command and porte fanions. Enough for a battalion in most rule sets.

28mm Artizan Cowboys. 10 Artizan designs cowboys. Included are Pinkertons, some 'not-deadwood' figures and some Texas Rangers. Some figures undercoated in GW black.
28mm BAM/Warlord British Paratroops. 11 figures sculpted by Paul Hicks. includes command, Rifles and Sten gunners. Some figures undercoated in GW black.

28mm Chieftain Char B1 bis. White metal kit of early war French Tank, also used by the Germans. Cleaned of flash and mould lines but unassembled. Tank commander figure included.

28mm Chieftain A13 Tank. Resin and white metal kit of A13 early war British tank. Includes parts to make BEF versions and up armoured Mk III-IV for the Western Desert. Paul Hicks sculpted BAM tank commander figure included.

28mm Chieftain Mk IV Tank. White metal kit of MK IV light tank. Includes parts to make models a-b with the twin Vickers mg, or IVc with the heavy 15mm MG. Paul Hicks sculpted BAM tank commander figure included.

28mm BAM Humber IV armoured car. Assembled and painted BAM/Warlord kit. Painted with acrylics, weathered with oils and pigments. Wheels etc still need to be painted. Paul Hicks sculpted BAM tank commander figure included.

28mm Crusader Vikings. 15 x unpainted Crusader minis vikings. Some figures undercoated in GW black.

54mm Tradition SYW Prussian Dragoon. 1 x 54mm Prussian dragoon by Tradition of London part painted as 5th Bayreuth Dragoons Unassembled white metal kit.

54mm Tradition Napoleonic Dutch Officer. 1 x 54mm Napoleonic Dutch Officer, painted in acrylics and oils. Unassembled white metal kit.

28mm Coppelstone/TAG Moderns. 5 x Copplestone figures, 12 TAG figures. Included are SWAT types with Shotguns, MP5s and M4s, and US Delta figures. Originally intended for a Stargate SG-1 project, they're equally suitable for any modern or sci-fi skirmish.

28mm Sash and Saber Napoleonic Austrian Infantry Command. 10 unpainted white metal Sash and Saber figures in the plumed helmet. Included are officers, flag bearers, NCOs and sappers. Suitable for 1800-1810.

28mm Elite Napoleonic Russian Infantry. 22 unpainted white metal Elite miniatures Russian line infantry and artillery figures. Suitable for Austerlitz, Eylau, Friedland and 1812.

Anyway, that pretty much clears out the cupboard. If you have any questions, give me a yell at

Next update, a battle of Britain spitfire and some WWII Hungarians. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Comission - Late Roman Infantry

Well, it's been some time since i've posted anything on here, but i've actually been really busy painting a whole hodgepodge of stuff. I've completed, not an any particular order:

- 2 bases of 28mm French Foreign Legion (Askari miniatures i started over a year ago!)
- Some 20mm Second World War Hungarian infantry and armour for IABSM
- A 1/72 Airfix Battle of Britain Spitfire, 70th anniversary and all that.
- A 15mm Flames of War SdKfz 251/1D - for Ebay
- First 20 figures of an ongoing Late Roman commission.

I've also got my marks back for uni, and i must say I'm very pleased. All up, out of 8 subjects taken this year I've managed to score 5 high distinctions (85%+) and 3 distinctions (75-85%). Laura has taken to calling me übernerd. :)
I believe the term is well-chuffed. :) Bring on second year - although i'm more than a little apprehensive about going on my first prac in a Central Coast high school. Heres hoping i don't get one of the rough ones. :/

Pics of all the painted stuff will be coming up soon, but for this update iv'e got some images of the first batch of commission Romans. The client is building up Julian's army for the battle of Strasbourg in 357 CE. I'm not 100% sure what basing system he is using, but to my untrained eye it looks like FOG. I've gone for a more muted basing style than my Impetus Romans, trying to give the impression of a location near the rainy Rhine river.

These are all 28mm Black Tree Design figures, the heavy infantry is the Primani Legion, the archers are the Sagitarii Iuniores Gallicani. I've taken the shield patterns from the Notita Dignitatum and they are hand painted. I've also strung the bows with very fine gauge wire and added arrows made from iron needles. Overall i was really happy with them, and so was the client. Next up in the commission is another 12 man Legion, the Fortenses, and an eight figure light infantry unit, the Exculatores Britanniciani. I'm aiming to have these done by the end of the month.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Schools out for summer!

Well, I've officially finished my first year of uni! The assessment period was pretty intense, but I've managed to get through it. Now just to wait for my marks!
Needless to say, with all this crazy uni business, I've not had a lot of time for painting, but as I'm not going back to study until the end of February, I've got a little time to catch up. :)

These guys are the first of two bases of Franks i need for my Basic Impetus Patrician Roman army. The figures are from gripping beast, and while i would have liked to include a few helmeted figures, I'm actually really happy with them. I've gone for colourful-yet-dirty look for the tunics, as the sources are universal in disparaging the barbarians for their ostentatious dress, which was generally seen by the restrained Romans as effeminate. The shields patterns are from LBMS.

So, I've only got two more bases to complete this army! Very scary indeed. At the moment I'm about 80% of the way through a commission of Late Romans, so might post some pictures of them when I'm done. It's a 12 man unit from the Primani legion. After that, i'll be finishing off the last two bases, another lot of GB Franks and some of the fantastic Goth cavalry by Bill over at Musketeer miniatures.

What with all this spare time, while I'll mostly be busy with commission work, I've also decided to set myself a new project to stop myself going mad. Back in 2008, i spent a few months travelling around Europe with my girlfriend Laura. We spent a bit over two weeks camping in Normandy. Besides enjoying he fantastic food and great cider, we visited quite a few historical sites. By the end of the two weeks, my very patient girl was, shall we say, a little over bunkers. Still, i made it up to her by a few days in Saumur in the Loire valley.

Anyway, perhaps the most captivating and emotive place I visited was Sword Beach, particularly Hillman battery, located just inland above Colleville-Montgomery. I've always wanted to do some kind of project based around the landings on Sword, originally in 28mm.

Well, inspired by TSM's great Sword-related terrain over on the Guild and the SD forums, i've sold off all of my 28mm WWII figures, and am diving into 1/72, or 20mm WWII. I've dug out my copy of the Too Fat Lardies 'I Ain't Been Shot Mum' company level rules, and have decided that i'll base my project around these, as i really like the 'big man' philosophy of Rich's rules. I bought IABSM a year or so ago for a WWII Hungarian project that's still at least partly in the lead mountain.

So, my initial plan for Sword is to do up some terrain based around capitaine de corvette Phillipe Kieffer's Free-French commando attack on Ouistreham, specifically the Ouistreham casino and the huge Observation Bunker. I visited the Observation bunker, which is now a great little museum about the Atlantic wall. The bunker itself is a very imposing structure, and provides a great view Sword beach from the top. I've included a few pics i took of the bunker below. In the one of the view from the top, the modern casino is the blue roof in the centre of frame. Over on the french language Blitzkrieg forums, I've found a very inspiring 20mm Ouistreham casino by Captain Yaputo. As was the case on D-Day, despite 'the Longest Day' and a fair few premade scenery items, Yaputo has modelled the bunker with the casino building demolished and with the AT ditch and fence. I'm going to use this for inspiration.

As far as forces go, I'm initially looking at painting up a Commando Troop of around 60 figures, and a couple of opposing German platoons. Being 20mm and WWII, they'll take a lot less time than intricately detailed 28mm Late Romans!

While AB make the figures I need and look fantastic, my crappy student income means that the majority of my troops will be coming from Britannia, possibly with Battlefield commandos. I do really like Britannia figures though, and some of the guys over on the Guild forums have shown just what can be done with these figures.

Anyway, enjoy the pics of the Franks, and i'll endeavor to have some pics of the Primani up early next week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Le Grand Fromage

Here i am back again with another update. The final assessment period for this semester is in full swing, but amazingly I'm still managing to keep up some semblance of progress with my painting.

Here are some pictures of my latest base, (actually finished around the time of the Equites Batavii) representing the Magister Militum of the Patrician Roman Army, the Patrician warlord himself. As the Impetus rules call for more than one general, i decided that the foot general would not really cut it as the overall commander, and so decided to paint up something a bit grander. The figures are Gripping Beasties, and i must say i love the pose of the general.

The very ostentatious clothing on this guy I copied from an illustration of the 'last of the Romans' Flavius Aëtius, the patrician warlord who faced down, among many others, Attila the Hun. As usual, i've taken the shield pattern from the Notita Dignitatum, this pattern is that of the Equites under command of the Comes Domesticorum, the Count of the Household troops of the Eastern empire. I figure it is as likely as any to be used by a Late Roman Magister or perhaps even the Augustus himself fighting the Persians in the east. Either way, the bloody angels and lovehearts almost drove me insane! The banner is hand painted over a laser printed Burgundy coloured template i made up ages ago. I just had to have something with the ubiquitous IN HOC SIGNO VINCES (in this sign, conquer!) i've seen on countless miniature army banners.

I figure that this base will be suitable to be used for a late Eastern and Western Roman army as well as the Patricians, and even for Justinian Byzantines. On an aside, if anyone is looking for a great boom set in the later empire, I've started reading Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome series which I'd highly recommend.

Next on the painting list, the first base of Frankish heavy infantry are finished and varnished, and i've just been putting the finishing touches on the basing. Hopefully i'll get some pictures up in the next couple of days, i'm very happy with the GB figures, and with the LBMS shield transfers. I had used LBMS transfers before with some Crusader vikings, only to have them shrink. I've discovered my mistake, failing to gloss varnish the shield before and after applying the decal, and not waiting for the transfer to dry before applying matt varnish. :)

Anyway, next up on the painting bench are a bunch of Late Romans, BTD figures i'm painting up as the Legio Primani for a commission. I'm also hoping to have time to get the base of Musketeer Gothic heavy cavalry completed, but it all depends on how conscientious i am with my uni work.