Thursday, August 6, 2020

Back To The English Civil War

I always liked the Movie “Cromwell” with Alec Guiness and Richard Harris. I first saw it on late night tv as a kid. Yeah, once the battles were done I usually fell asleep, but those battles were pretty cool.
I especially liked the “cowboy hats” they wore as I used my Giant cowboys and Airfix Civil War Confederares in pell mell battles on the floor, pretending they were the soldiers on tv. Lacking the internet in those days, I had to rely on black and white reproductions of paintings like “Cromwell at Dunbar” in encyclopedias to get any sense of what these guys looked like for real.

As an ironic twist, now as an old man I find myself using these same figures in conversions of English Civil War armies.

Back to the movie for a moment.
I especially liked the cannons.
They were big, imposing pieces, belching fire on command.
Today, most of the 1/72 cannon available are pretty small by comparison.
It is only with the company Mars that there have been an appearance of big guns.
Here’s a recent purchase from the Ukraine:
You get 4 guns and crew per bag, but the price is getting sharp. Just check eBay.
The crew look good and the gun is beefy:
Here’s some of my cannon:
These next guns are home made, popcycle stick gun carriage and dowel barrel. 
The little ammunition cart is an idea I pinched from the movie.
What follows is a photo shoot of most of the ECW/Thirty Years War soldiers I’ve painted since I last posted. COVID was instrumental in my having sat down long enough to coat them all with Future floor wax.

This next set is cavalry made from those cowboys I bought from a Thai toy dealer a few years back.

So I’ll close out with a couple more shots from “Cromwell”.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Risk Europe

I saw this game a while back.
It said it had 22mm figures.
So I finally bit and bought a copy:
4 colours, with more than 60 miniatures each.
Here’s the meat and potato’s:
Top row has nick knacks, small crown tokens, tiny walled castles and a bag of dice.
The bottom row has the four armies plus a bag of siege weapons.

Here’s the blue army:
Archers have crossbows, men at arms have axes and shields, the cavalry look somewhat Viking-ish with large battle axes.

The green army:
Archers, standard medieval foot soldiers with sword and shield, and barded cavalry.

The purple army:
Definitely a Muslim army look to them. Turbans and scimitars.

Finally the orange army:

These guys look eastern, pole axes and barded cavalry.

The siege weapons:

A catapult, a trebuchet, a giant ballista, and three men with a battering ram.

Now the box says the figures are 22mm tall.
So here are some figure comparisons:
Next to Giant recasts of knights they fit in well.
These Giant figures are available from several toy sellers by the bag. I got mine from ATS toys.
A little pricey.

Archers next to a 1/72 Norman figure. Not a bad match. Btw, there are polish recasts of many Airfix and Revell figures showing up in bags of 100 or so figures.

Another Revell recast shows that he is taller and beefier than the game pieces.

The mounted troops are pretty small.
Here I set them on dominos to be on a level with the other figures.
On the left is a cavalry scout from the game Sid Meier’s Civilization.
On the right is a Revell Saxon.

As for numbers of figures, each army has 35 “footmen” or men at arms.
12 archers
12 cavalry
4 siege engines
1 army banner (a flag on a stick).

So was it worth it?

I really liked the blue siege piece, the three men with a battering ram.
Most of the archers would be useful.
The men at arms would have to be in their own unit or mixed with smallish figures like the giant recasts.

Anyway, the cost was about $50 Canadian, or about $30-$35 US.

Monday, August 3, 2020

I Pitched A Tent!

Well, not really.

But I bought a bag of tents:

So I thought I’d try on some paint jobs from different eras.

And with a 1/72 scale knight for scale:
As this post is sorta short, I added a few figures just to show I’m still painting toy soldiers.
The inspiration was this Historex card:
The guy on the extreme right, French Gendarmes a Pied, from made in China World War 2 American infantry:

Plain ol' Planes

Before Covid I could buy bags of toy fighter planes for $2.99.
10 per bag.

Now they are more expensive...
They kinda look like Focke Wolfs. Radial engines, the tail and aleron’s look right.
I painted one up long ago on another post:

So having a bunch of these:
I tried some basic paint jobs:

Sadly, I coated the planes with an off the shelf acrylic gloss coating that is peeling up and taking the paint with it.
Live and learn.
Some other tries. I really liked the grey and brown one, it had the look of a French Bloch type fighter:
Then I started cutting up the fighters and adding balsa wood and Tamiya model putty.
A sorta Stuka:
An RAF desert P-40:
A desert Me-109E:
I have some others on the go. A Vultee Vengeance, a Japanese Ann, and a Hawker Typhoon.

***update added August 9, 2020***

Okay, here’s my soap box moment.
I bought three war films from Amazon.
Midway (the new one), Dunkirk, and Pearl Harbor.

I’m convinced the movie makers never talked to a pilot or a historian.
Midway had lots of action and explosions, but at the Pearl Harbor attack scene, there are some Kate’s dropping torpedos nose on with the battleships, not at right angles.
And the biggest beef, with all the cgi, there are NO WILDCAT fighters on the American carriers. No Buffalos on Midway either.
And historically, the B-26’s from Midway were armed with torpedoes, not bombs.
Just my whining, but it bugged me.

Then I watched Dunkirk.
Ok, I get it.
Vignettes to capture the mood of the times.
But how much ammo was on those Spitfires?
I read (maybe incorrectly) that the RAF fighters had 6-8 seconds of firing loaded.
The guy in the film must have been pulling a trailer of ammo,
Anyway after downing four Me-109 E’s and two He-111’s, he ran out of fuel, and shot down a Stuka that tried to bomb Henry the Fifth, ... I mean Kenneth Branagh.
THEN he made a perfect landing on an EMPTY Dunkirk beach and surrendered to the Germans.

Finally Ben Affleck’s Pearl Harbor.
He gets killed in the first half hour, but he comes back.
Lots of action at Pearl Harbor.
The Vals are level bombing here.
But the real crazy thing is that after Affleck shoots down a bunch of Zeros, he gets drafted to fly B-25’s for Doolittle.
So after 3 hours he’s still alive.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

What Do You Do With A Bag of Nazis?

Prior to the covid scare, I was picking up lots of very cheap made in China toys.
Very cheap, a few dollars and with free shipping.
Now the prices have multiplied many times and there is a shipping charge.

So I ended up with some big bags of 1/72 scale World War 2 soldiers.
These guys in fact:

I was able to buy bags of 1000 for under $20.
You get about 8 poses, some more useful than others.
One pose is a copy of the second release of Airfix WW2 Germans. The officer firing a pistol.

So I got out the Xacto, some Tamiya model putty and had a go at making these guys into something else.
I looked at the WRG book about Armies and Enemies of Rome.
The Irish had soldiers with short pants, bare legs and long hair.

I also thought these rough guys might do as later Franks or Alan's with stripey clothes, axes and top knots.

This is what I ended up with:
Some guys are awaiting shields.

I also painted a Hong Kong cart, I'm not sure if I'll make chariots out of them, as I have a few. Also a couple of Esci barbarians with indigestion.

Monday, July 27, 2020

A Dollar Store Too Far

Last year was the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, and I started reading up on the battle.
I did the Cornelius Ryan book and watched the movie, listened to some podcasts, caught some interviews with Antony Beevor and watched a YouTube interview he did:


Pretty fascinating.
He concluded that the plan never had a chance, and it was Monty's folly.
Sadly it cost over 10,000 lives.

I also picked up several DVD's about this period of the war.

So I decided to start up making a 1/72nd Airborne force and started with the British first.
But on the cheap.
Model jeeps, whether plastic, resin or metal are pretty dear.
So I scrounged in my pile of toys and painted up a small force.
I also did the "toy soldier" look, given that my figures were a mish mash of makers.
(And try finding any piats)
Cherry red berets in place of the maroon, and high gloss finishes.
Definitely TOY soldiers....

So here we go...

Dollar Store Jeeps (of a kind) with torsos of soldiers added.

The heavies, dropped by glider to be sure. Atlantic anti tank gun, mortars and heavy Mg's. A mix of figures. The pack 75 is nice but a terrible kit to assemble.
Commanders trying to get the radio working. Local help from a pensioner.

The soldiers. A real mix of makers.
A bit of a close up. I have to admit, I had fun painting this lot up, but like everything else, "it's a work in progress".