Friday, December 24, 2010

Three Pieces of Terrain

With this post I decided to showcase three homemade pieces of terrain. I was digging through my boxes of wargame supplies and felt that these should see the light of day.

1) Skull Mountain: This is intended to represent a possible stronghold. The piece was built up around a Grendel (or even older Fantasy Forge/Grenadier piece) resin cast cave entrance. Grendel is now part of Scotia Grendel Productions (/ but I was unable to locate the piece on their website. They do offer a product that is similar in design, the Ram Skull Gate (ID 10014).  The resin piece is 6.0 cm in width, 3.0 cm in depth and 7.0 cm in height. The actual entrance measures 2.5 cm x 3.5 cm x 4.0 cm.

Hero? Exit the Batcave. Figure 25mm for scale.

The entrance was attached to a artist board base roughly 20cm x 16cm in area. The hill was then built up using Styrofoam, covered with a thin layer of plaster, painted and flocked.

Darkness falls adding a more sinister apperance

2) Trench:  This trench was my first attempt to create a 3D below ground tabletop piece for Warhammer 40K. I took a rectangular piece of styrofoam and roughly cut it in two. I then attached the two piece to an artist board base (38cm x17cm) separated by 2.5cm.  Another two layers of styrofoam were added to build up the trench sides which were then coated with plaster.

Trench with Duck Boards

The top of the piece was flocked with a brown sand to give the impression of turned over or dug dirt. The lower half flocked with green for grass. A balsa wood duck board was placed in the bottom of the trench.The balsa was scored with a pencil to create planks and the "planks" were glued to two long runners.

Stand To just before dawn. Platoon 20 Modern Soviets for scale.

The total piece has an overall height of about 3.5 cm, with the trench having a depth of 2.5 cm. As you can see from the photographs, we have a very basic design. Overall I don't think the trench has enough depth, nor is it quite wide enough. As you can see from the photo even, these Platoon 20 modern Soviets are too exposed along the firing line.

3) Roman Palisade: My goal was to create an impressive table edge terrain feature.Once again I used an artist board base that was 50 cm long and roughly 13.5 cm wide. Again, a  rectangular piece of styrofoam, cover in this case with paper towel soaked in plaster create the illusion of a low rise.

Palisade with Bean for scale (or Jack Bean in Gulliver's Travels)

The palisade itself was produced from standard wooden kitchen skewers. I cut the skewers in half using a pair of pliers. Thus only every second post is a sharpen stake, while the remainders are flat top.  Each half of the fort is about 20 cm long. The skewer halves were then glued to balsa cross beams.

Unobstructed View (Front and Side)

A walkway was created from a double layer of balsa wood. The bottom layer was needed for support, and the top layer was scored with a pencil to have a "plank" effect. The walkway was glued to the top of the upper crossbeams and supported by dowel that was cut ti size. The gate was also made from balsa.

Rear View (Bean for Scale)
Troops Man the Walls

Legionniare detachment goes outside the wire on foot patrol.

Walls manned: Inside View

Year End Kudos

At this point I would like to register a special thank you to Connie, one of the owners of Old Glory Miniatures in the US and to John Olsen of  Black Tree Design in Texas.

In June I wrote to Customer Support at Old Glory. In my email I stated that I had won a pack of  what I thought was WBS-48 Cavalry Pistols and Hats. I was basing my identification of the product on their web site catalogue. A number of figures had sockets, but were missing their right hand, and their pistol. I was looking for replacement parts.

I was mistaken in my identification. I sent a scan of the figures and the staff was able to correctly id as being PIM 1 Poncho in Mexico. Connie then sent me a set of hands with weapons for the set. No Charge. Kudos to the owners and staff of Old Glory Miniatures.

Sample PIM 1 Poncho in Mexico Showing socket and hand/weapons

Reading my Blog you may think that I have a fairly good opinion of Black Tree Designs. I have read on other blogs and in some gaming forums that some people find their service to be hap-hazard. I have to admit that there have been cases were I have waited months for figures to ship, and I have mentioned this in Captain's Blog. But the miniatures have always arrived, and John Olsen has always responded to any queries that I have made.

Recently I was sizing up my Romans and realized that I was short artillery crews. I had six Ral Partha Scorpions (Bolt Throwers) that had no crews. I wrote to John at BTD and asked it it was possible to purchase crew figures without the equipment. His reply was, " No problem'. He had to check with the production line to see when the crew figures could be cast and he expected the price to be about $1.50 a figure. I ordered six sets of two man bolt thrower crew figures.

BTD Roman Artillery Crews (Cleaned and Trimmed)

  A couple of weeks later I received an invoice on Nov 30th. A week later the figures arrived straight from the factory in the UK. That was incredibly fast postal service from the United Kingdom. Kudos to John Olsen for facilitating the order and making this project possible.

Orcs of the White Hand

Since reading the Lord of the Rings in high school I have been tempted to build an Army of Darkness, that would do the Dark Lord proud. My first attempt was with Minifig half-orcs, Ral Partha orcs, Heritage Warg Riders, and etc, etc, etc. I sold this army in 1984 to help pay for my education costs. At the time it was the thing to do, and I know that this army continues to have a place of honour in it's new home. In recent years I have been inspired by the original LOTR (Lord of the Rings) line of figures produced by Harlequin Miniature (now known as Black Tree Design) and the great line of figures produced under license by Games Workshop based upon the movie trilogy.

I have a secret confession. I have slowly been massing the Forces of Darkness and Monday they shall be unleashed!! Ha, Ha, Ha......Actually, that is a bit of an exaggeration. Monday, I will be meeting with some fellow gamers to play War of the Ring by Fantasy Flight games.

I have painted a 21 figure unit of Orcs of the White Hand. The figures were by Harlequin Miniatures and were very clean and very easy to work with. This unit was put together by winning a command pack and I think at least three packages of Orcs on eBay. The command pack contained the flag-bearer, a musican (with the horn) and a commander, who has a sword in each hand. The flag was made from some foil from a wine bottle. I have to paint the design on it. As you can see from the photos even the regular troops have a variety of poses and show good animation.

Black Tree Design continued to carry these figures as part of their fantasy line of figures until very recently. They were no longer referred to by LOTR trade name.Unfortunately the line has been discontinued but figures will continue to appear on eBay for years to come. I have to admit that I prefer the look of the Harlequin/BTD orc figures to those of  Peter Jackson's vision. It would be my sole complaint regarding his world view of the JRR Tolkien epic as I have purchased the GameWorshop's Balrog, Fellowship, Cave Troll and Warg Riders. In my opinion these miniatures are far superior to any other line that has been manufactured to date.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roman Siege Equipment

My Roman Army continues to grow. I remember the first sets of Scorpions that I painted in the mid 1970s by Heritage Miniatures. I think back now to how primitive the figures looked compared to the lines that are available today. However they easily served 30 years with the Army before they were retired.

Over the last few years I have picked up a number of different packs of Roman Siege Equipment from a number of different manufacturers. I will begin with

Warlord Games

As I've blogged before, Librairie Donjon, a gaming shop in Montreal, brought in a number of packs of miniatures by Warlord Games. I thought it a fine opportunity to check out the quality of the figures, and at a great price. I paid in the realm of 40-60% to what the cost would have been to have ordered the figures directly.

Warlord Games offers a Roman War Machine Boxed Set. This consists of a large metal Ballista with crew and 2 metal Scorpions with crew.  I stress metal here, because Warlord Games also produce plastics, but so far not for this set.

Warlord Games Ballista and Crew

 Warlord Games Scorpion and Crew

One of the problems that I had with the DBA rule set was the base depth required by Scorpions and crew. Eighty millimeters was too much for my liking. Under the WRG 6th and 7th edition rules the depth of artillery was a minimum of 40mm to whatever was necessary to base the models. Thus I have decided to base the Scorpions on a 40mm deep base for WRG. I have another two Scorpions by Foundry that are situated on the 80mm deep elements. As you can see by the photos the 80mm depth works fine for the Ballista and below for the catapults.

Warlord Games Scorpions with Crew in Fortified Hilltop Camp

I chose to photograph the Scorpions on a fortified hill top. The hill was constructed by my friend Les, and came into my procession years ago. The pallisade is by Old Glory (OGSE-08), each set contains 2 styles of wooden stockades. In total 10 pieces, 5 of each style. I based 5 pieces of one style to give a fortified camp space. Each section of the camp can provide shelter to a 60mm x 40mm element. I placed some extra shields to cover the gaps. The stockade is straight and does not contain corner pieces.

The next unit is by Black Tree Designs. It is the IA1205 Onager (or Catapult) with Crew. Their website currently shows just two crew figures with the weapon but when I made my purchase I am sure that it came with three figures. It is delicate and I had problems attaching the sling at the end of the arm and ended up cutting some tin from a wine bottle to make one that works for me.

Black Tree Design IA1205 Onager and Crew

 The final two pieces are a Onager by Old Glory ( OGSE-04 Stone Thrower (popularly known as a catapult)) and a large Ballista. I do not know the company that produced this piece. Note: I had the same problem with the sling at the end of the throwing arm of the Old Glory Onager as I did with the piece by Black Tree Designs.

  Old Glory Onager( OGSE-04)

The crew figures are Late Romans by Old Glory. I believe they came in a pack of PLR-12 (4 Ballistas with Crews). I still have the Ballista/Scorpions and I have ordered additional crew figures from Black Tree Design. When I wrote to John at Black Tree he replied that  they'd cast up some figures on the side and let me know when they were ready. He estimated the cost at $1.50 a figure and they should be available in two weeks..

Ballista Unknown Make

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In memorial Jef Lauzon and a 25mm Mongol Conquest DBA Army

It has been just over six years since my friend Jef Lauzon passed away on October 27, 2004.

Over the years I leant a lot about the WRG 6th edition Ancient rules playing against him. I never manged to beat him at WRG, but I kept going back to play. Two summers ago, Annette, his widow, decided it was time to pass along some of his figures and I received a large collection of  mostly 25mm Roman and Greek figures. She keep the Forces of Darkness, and both his sons Dru and Chris selected the armies they wanted. i don't know how many times I clashed with Jef's Roman Legions, but I was extremely touched to have been selected to provide them a home.

In the box was a 18 man light cavalry unit that I always admired. I think that Jef told me that it was a unit that he won at the Origins Gaming Convention taking part in the WRG North American Ancients tournament sometime in the early 1980s. I don't know who painted them but I always liked the dusty look to them and I think they were the first  figures I saw painted with acrylites.

The only work I did on these figures was to base the single figures on to two man elements. No other work was necessary, but I ended up with a  nine element DBA army.  It had been on the back of my mind for a while that I would have to increase this to twelve elements. I ended up finding some Essex Mongol cavalry for sale on an Ebay store website (The Last Nazgul).

Two units of seven figures were available and I purchased both at a very reasonable price and the postal service from the UK rocks.

Looking at the DBA rules army IV/35 Mongol Conquest leaps out. I needed just 3 x 3CV and 1 Art to complete the horde and the 14 Essex figures I purchased fit the bill. I can always use a piece of Roman Siege Equipment as the Mongol Art.

1x 3Cv (Gen)
2x 3Cv
8 x 2LH
1 x 2LH or Art

Eastern Roman Archers by Warlord Games (28mm)

As I've blogged before, Librairie Donjon, a gaming shop in Montreal, brought in a number of packages of miniatures by Warlord Games. I thought it a fine opportunity to check out the quality of the figures. My army already contained two units of Eastern Aux Archers (figures by Old Glory) but I was impressed by the quality of the Warlord Games' Western Roman Archer Figures so I purchased a box of 16 Eastern Imperial Archers. As in those figures you receive four different poses and the figures are very easy to paint.

Close-up of Warlord Games Eastern Roman Archers

I picked up another two packs four man packs on Ebay and sold one of my 16 man Old Glory Eastern Archer. The Old Glory Figures are chunkier, and come in one static pose.

Old Glory Eastern Imperial Archers

The Roman Testudo by Warlord Games (28mm)

The Roman Testudo (tortoise) formation is probably the most recognisable battle formation in history. According to Wikipedia the testudo was commonly used by the Roman Legions during battles, particularly sieges. The Greek term for this formation is "chelone" and during the Byzantine era, it seems to have evolved to what military manuals of the era call the "foulkon"

Testudo Front View

The Testudo kit by Warlord Games is made of polyurethane resin and comes in 6 interlocking parts: front, back, 2 sides, roof and a single shield and head for the Legionary who just can't help but take a peek (2nd Rank 2nd File)!

Decals are by Little Big Men Studios Transfers and were include in the kit. I was disappointed with their waterslide shield transfers. They are not as robust as their regular decals and even though they include extras by the time I was done I was short 4 shield decals. Perhaps I am all thumbs or have a higher learning curve but I did find them rather fragile.

Testudo Side View

The kit was fairly easy to paint and I spent about 5 hours in total on it. The application of the decals took an additional hour.

The big question for me was how to base this unit. Generally I run my Romans in units of four blade elements or 16 figures. Counting the exposed shields the Testudo by Warlord Games portrays 34 figures but the figures are in six rows of six or 36 figures, but there are none in the centre to paint. So I decided to base the kit on the area represented by the space occuplied by a eight WRG Blade elements, in two columns of four. This worked out to a base with a frontage of 120mm and a depth of 80mm.

Testudo Rear View (Flap on 2nd shield from the left is glare from the decal)

Afterwards I went to the Warlord games website and placed an order for another sheet of decals. The minimum mail order is 10 pounds so I also selected a set of plastic tents (new releases- terrain) pictured below with a 25mm figure for scale.

The set includes two "pup tents", two large tents, and two Bell tents along with a campfire and stretchers. Warlord games continued its free postage for October mail orders, as I placed my order last weekend and I received the package this past Friday. just a week from the UK to Montreal. I call that excellent service.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

HOTT: Robin Hood Part III, The Normans

Last month I blogged about some of the ideas I had for a Norman (Robin Hood) HOTT Army and expressed the comment that I would have to pick up some additional troops. Ross Macfarlane, a long standing friend and fellow gamer made an offer I could not refuse. He had in his possession some old Ral Partha Norman and Crusader figures that he offered to send to me. They went a long way into filling my missing troop types. I decide I would keep the figures as painted, but I rebased them. Merci Ross!!!

BTW According to Ross the Knights and Crossbow men were painted by Peter Crane.

Somes Ideas For a Norman (Robin Hood) HOTT Army

I now need to get some crossbowmen, mounted troops and a few individual figures. I think that the obvious characters that are needed for the Norman side include

Prince John, an obvious sneaker, who will steal your stronghold (throne) if you're not careful. I ordered a figure from Black Tree Miniatures that I think will serve as an excellent Prince John figure. It is a set of figure from their feudal line.  I also ordered a set of monks, which will provide a Frier Tuck figure.

FD1010 King Stephen, Queen Matilda, Henry II and Thomas A'Beckett

The Sheriff of Nottingham. The general in charge of the army.

I selected a figure with two lions on the shield. The High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests existed between 1068 and 1449. In 1449 Nottingham appointed its own Sheriff. The position of Sheriff represnts Royal Authority in enforcing the law.

Sir Guy of Gisbourne

Sir Guy of Gisbourne (and according to Wikipedia also spelled Gisburne, Gisborne, Gysborne, or Gisborn). The hero of the Normans.

Dickon Malbete, a lurker.

In the movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood" Dickson is an assassin sent by Prince John to murder King Richard. In return he'd regain his lost rank.

The Lurker element on the left has Dickson enjoying a brew. perhaps in the presence of a disquised King Richard, while the element of Lurkers on the right, are two of the Merrie Men lying in wait in Sherwood Forest.

The Bishop of the Black Canons.

 A cleric, not neccessarily a good one, but a cleric none the less. On this Clerical Element the Bishop is joined in blessing a memeber of his flock, or is he about to crown Prince John, King?

 4 Elements of Crossbowmen/Shooters

Ross was kind enough to send a selection of mounted figures, some that represented the Norman invasion period and other figures that are more closely representative of the English Knights that were at the 2nd Crusade. I decided that with the selection provied that the Normans could field as part of the HOTT army two Elements of Knights or three Elements of Riders. The Sheriff of Nottingham Element could be either a Knight or Rider Element.

Two Elements of Knights

Three Elements of Riders.

Monday, September 6, 2010

HOTT: Robin Hood Part 2 The Normans

It has been a while since I have blogged. The summer has been good to me and I didn't do any work on my miniatures. I had the opportunity to play a massive HOTT (72 points per side) battle with Joseph when I was in Halifax.

Last year I mused about doing a 25/28mm Robin Hood (HOTT) Horde of The Things army. Ross commented with some ideas for the opposition and just before Christmas a pack of Revenge (Old Glory) Norman Heavy Infantry went up for auction on Ebay.

Four Elements of Spear

2nd View of Spear in column

The package contained 32 figures, most figures being spearmen, but it also included two casualties. These two figures were mounted on individual figures. The rest were divided into four elements of  4 Spear and 2 elements of 7 Hordes. I based this decision upon the actions and military effectiveness of the Norman troops as portrayed in various Robin Hood movies and TV shows.  I felt that two units of Hordes were not uncalled for and the DBM army lists for both the Western Norman lists and the Eastern Frankish lists in the DBM included (peasant) hordes.

Two Elements of 7 Hordes

The figures already included their weapons in hand, but the kite shield had to be attached. The shields came in two main types. One style being long and narrow and the other being a bit shorter and wider. I now have to come up with a couple of banners for the two standard bearers. I haven't found anything on the web that I am happy with yet. I may decide to go with the plain Jerusalem cross.

Casualties of War

Somes Ideas For a Norman (Robin Hood) HOTT Army

I now need to get some crossbowmen, mounted troops and a few individual figures. I think that the obvious characters that are needed for the Norman side include

Prince John, an obvious sneaker, who will steal your stronghold (throne) if you're not careful.

The Sheriff of Knottingham. The general in charge of the army.

Sir Guy of Gisbourne (and according to Wikipedia also spelled Gisburne, Gisborne, Gysborne, or Gisborn). The hero of the Normans.

Dickon Malbete, a lurker. In the movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood" Dickson is an assassin sent by Prince John to murder King Richard. In return he'll regain his lost rank.

The Bishop of the Black Canons. A cleric, not neccessarily a good one, but a cleric none the less.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Undead HOTT Part II

I went all out last week to finish painting the Black Raven Undead miniatures that I received as a gift at Christmas 2009. Since I already have a fully equipped 15mm HOTT (Hordes of the Things) Undead army my plan was to base these troops on the 25mm element base size in order to achieve a grand view of Undead Hordes.

3 Elements of Undead Hordes

I also wanted to extend  the type of units available to my Undead Army. Optional troops that are not part of the offical Army Lists. Units of Shooters and Warbands which I would use as needed.

2 Elements of Undead Shooters

2 Elements of Undead Warbands

My plan was then to start painting the 5 packages of Black Raven Figures I purchased on Ebay last year. Unfortunately, before I could start I discovered another 6 sticks of figures belonging to this first group of miniatures. I have to finish painting them before I even think of the other figures. I don't think they'll be ready for my Halifax trip.

Saracen DBA/HOTT Part VII: Arabian Myth

This was another unfinished project sittimg in a drawer for at least a decade and a half. The unit consisted of 6 camel riders. The camels were easy to paint but the riders themselves were not at all inspiring. They were really old Heritage castings and made me think of lumps of lead. Finally one evening last week in the sweltering Montreal heat, I put brush to lead and in short order the project was completed.

25mm Heritage Camel Riders Cross the Wastelands

The unit can be used across the ages by any number of armies but I decided to include it as part of my Saracen DBA/HOTT Arabian Mythos army.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Saracen DBA/HOTT Part VI: Arabian Myth

This week I had a very light class load. Tuesday was the final day of the current session and the summer session does not commence until tomorrow.  I  decided to complete some more units for my 28mm Saracen DBA/HOTT's army. It took the better part of three days to complete the work but I finished 3 elements of Warbands (two of 4 figures and one of 5 figures) and two elements of 4 man spear.

Three Elements of Warbands.

The figures are by Black Tree Designs and the spears are by Foundry. These figures were last seen prepped with a base coat added in Saracen DBA/HOTT Part VI sometime last October. I finally painted them. The bases are by Litko Game Accessories and the ground was built up using Golden Artist Colors Coarse Pumice Gel. The bases were then painted with DeSerres Raw Sienna (Series 1 No 185) and flocked using Citadel Scorched Grass.

The Red Zebra Spearmen

In the wings I still have another 40 BTD figures for this project. Twenty figures are with bow and twenty are with crossbow. They have been prepped and basecoated. They await the touch of their master's brush. They will form elements of 3/4 Bow as well as a couple of Psiloi elements.