Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Easy Terrain And Comic Book Soldiers

Over the years I have amassed near 2000 of those old comic book soldiers sold as "204 Revolutionary War Soldier Set" by Lucky Toys. I took some and painted them up as American Revolutionary soldiers with Warflag printed paper flags.

I also reworked those French Horse Grenadiers and finished a unit of Dragoons.

I also picked up a Woodlands Scenics set of 6 large trees. I mounted them on carved blue board insulation. I glued sand onto the base then painted it.
I have some nice home made rivers and streams done in the GW style, but I also wanted to make some easy rivers for various wargames. I bought some coloured foam from Michaels and made these two sections. I had a Dollar Store plastic bridge so I made the river sections to fit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Everyone Loves A Parade, A Petite Review

I got out more of my fictional 18th century army. Whilst my original intent was to make large 48 man units like Charles Grant's "The Wargame" had, I long ago decided to do a dual sort of system. I do make large units, but I also make extra command stands so that the large units can be broken down into 4 stands of 3 men and by adding a command stand with officers and flags and such, I can make 4 small units that are more suitable to a smaller table and in a sense, larger battles, ie., more units. One pic shows that my Grand Review drew onlookers in the way of Tabatha, a polite cat who doesn't sit on my soldiers or spirit them away at all.....

Purists will note that the flags in no way represent the units carrying them. I long ago gave up on doing it historically correct and decided on doing my own fictional units, so that explains that. Their opposition is decidedly more Prussian, and I will get to putting up some of them and their Austrian and Russian neighbors as well. Currently I have a number of Bavarianeque units on the way. Here's a close up of their commander, and one of their flags - made from hobby foam sheet and painted.

The next photo shows my HaT Industrie Horse Grenadiers. They still need some sword paint and PVA finish. These are very dark, painted black then drybrushed colours. I think it's a technique called "speedpainting". I'm not all that enthused.

The next couple of photos are of Revell's Austrian Dragoons and some converted Esci Cuirassier. The telephone pole guidon is a bit unfortunate, but I've had some problems with flag poles and durability.

Florist wire is a bit too thin, Plasticstruct rod is perfect, but it breaks, especially when you take the figures out of the box or off the shelf. They don't stand up to felines either. The cocktail stix are a temporary solution that has seemed to stay. I also bought a shop broom at a hardware store and then cut off the bristles. These are good. I used them for my Swiss style converted Germans and for my Bavarian 18th century units.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Big Buildings And Old School Infantry

I dusted off two large buildings to use as backdrop this time. They are simplicity itself. Just a block of 4x4 fence post, plastered and painted. The roofs are cardboard and masking tape that was then plastered. The large blue unit is a fictional wargame unit of 48 other ranks and a base of 5 officers and ensigns. This complies with the Charles Grant rules espoused in "The Wargame". They are sort of Gardes Francaise, or at least their flags say so. The other unit shown is a Rhienbund unit of the the Napoleonic wars. They are showing some wear. The plumes were made from pipe cleaner that was trimmed to shape and set in a drilled out hole in the shako.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Dusting Off And A Dust Up

I laid out some of my old GW styled units. Many still need painting and addition of some blades for pole axes, bows and flags. The yellow looking guys are actually supposed to become Irish, as are some of the 8th Army guys. There is a unit of Swiss pikemen that were WW2 Germans. The king in the background is an unfinished Francis the First.

Digging In The Closet, And Errors Of The Past

I'm having fun with my camera, so i did some digging and uncovered a project from some time back. Games Workshop were doing amazing things in their White Dwarf magazine, so I tried to take some inspiration in creating medieval/renaissance units of my own. The dollar store soldiers, Giant copies, and Airfix and other plastic and even metal figures were used. I also came across some of my own creations, civilians mostly, that I made out of plasticene. I coated them with PVA and painted them, but I gave them a gloss seal with ModPodge. It makes a nice crystal coating, but it NEVER hardens. It always remains tacky. So now, some 10 years later I have to try and pick the dust and fluff off of some of my toys. Anyway, you might notice some wierd "hills" full of debris and dead guys. These were made for a scenario from a GW publication that had zombies coming from the dead as a force tried to cross an old battlefield. The wagon in the background is made from wood and painted by me.
Games Workshop inspired me to make the huge banners. In the second image you can see a dollar store unit in production, with a Giant copy indian as commander with new hat, an enourmous war drum, and a man awaiting a banner to be painted. The rank and file all have lochaber type axes made fom craft foam, which is what I also used for the flags. The dog in the first picture is from Irregular Miniatures and his master is a bard inspired knight.

An Inherited Import Well Worth The Effort

About a year ago I won an Ebay auction for several groups of painted toy soldiers. They were the usual assortment of well used and loved Airfix, with shiny enamel paint slowly chipping off. In this lot were 3 groups of 20 cavalry all from converted Giant Ho scale cowboys and indians! There was a blue French regiment, a red bearskin Scots Greys looking unit, and an Austrian Uhlan looking group made up of Giant and Airfix figures with long sewing needle lances. I have long been under the spell of Messrs Charles Grant and Charles Stewart Grant, and their many published works. This wargames find was a real bit of nostalgia for me, as some 25 plus years ago I too took Giant cowboys and indians and made them into Napoleonic cavalry, a mania fueled by late night films like "Waterloo", "War and Peace", and the later "Charge of The Light Brigade".
Anyway I needed to flesh out the unit to 24 ranks and add 4 officer/bugler types.
The ranks were easy enough to accomplish, though I used florist wire rather than the murderous lances of old which have claimed more fingers since arriving in Canada than enemy soldiers. I made an officer with raised hand, a flag bearer from an indian with a raised sword from a cut down spear, an officer firing whilst retreating, and a most ambitious and fictional kettledrummer who must have been a real tartar to keep his drums going at a full gallop. The flag is suggestive of Austrian, and is a square of hobby foam painted yellow then detail added. The unit originally had plastic sprue "chapkas" made from round sprue. They were painted but they weren't 4 cornered, so I honoured the look by making the new recruits the same. The kettledrummer's tiger skin and drums set are just painted plasticne. I have yet to touch up the original soldiers paint chips. The owner painted them all in full gloss enamels, and I use flat acrylics, so I have to track down a matching tin of Humbrol. Anyways, these are a fun set and really "Old School", and I am proud to have them. Their original master was clever in painting their lance pennons as wrapped around the lance so I did the same. I might make full ones yet. You can also see in one picture they are being pursued by another such unit, the erstwhile Scots Greys, whose horses will need some attention. I also took the liberty of facing the shooting men forward, as the orginal Giant figures always fired to their sides. I glued the cut figures with JB Kwik, an automotive epoxy. I also used it to secure the spindly Giant horse legs to the domino base, which is flocked sand and painted. The buildings they are passing are carved florist foam and painted by yours truly with acrylics.

Dollar Store Soldiers

Well it has been over a month so I better follow up on my resolution to create a blog.
My first real post will be about converting cheap dollar store soldiers into ones from different eras.
I took some Airfix 8th Army copies and made them into War of the Spanish Succession era soldiers. They are loosely based on Bavarian soldiers around the time of the battle of Blenhiem.
Firstly, I selected soldiers that had a suitable pose, then I cleaned them up with an Xacto. Then I mounted them three to a base. I used wooden Dominos from the dollar store. You get 28 for a dollar, sometimes 56 for a dollar and a half. Then I add detail or rather block out detail with plasticene by making long coats, adding large cuffs and haversack/backpacks. I then paint the figure with PVA - white glue. I then start painting, usually a dark colour, then highlight with a lighter colour, leaving dark colour to show around the edges. I also add a tricorne hat out of plasticene and paint it with PVA. Then I do the cuffs, skin, the musket, pack and hat. I paint the figure again with PVA and this gives it a nice clear coat. Once dry I paint some PVA around the base and dip it into sand. Once this dries I paint it with diluted green and drybrush a light tan.
The nice thing about this sort of conversion is that you end up with a unique soldier. Also the cost is minimal, and you end up with a cheap and effective looking wargame unit.