Sunday, January 03, 2021

New beginnings, or Progress? First Malian's


 Hello 2021 and all that.  Eff off 2020!

So, some way back I was talking up a project, and doing little else.  But I finally made a start.  Figures have been purchased, all destined for some degree of conversion to satisfy my needs, and the first handful have been prepared.

So what we have to show today is merely that stage of progress, but with a little discussion beside. 

Mandekalu Bowmen

From the limited historical records I've found to date, it appears the bulk of the Mali Empire's military strength was in infantry, predominantly armed with weak bows, javelins or spears.  Leather, and possibly iron helmets were issued amongst the infantry, but most other items were personally provided, with poisoned arrows being standard to compensate for the strength of the weapon.

My starting point here is some of the Wargames Foundry African natives with bows, decent models which have the advantage of the right sort of bone structure.  You may raise an eyebrow to that, but West Africans from what I can deduce do not look like Zulus or Sudanese, the two other readily available selections for African figures in 28mm,  These look, well, as right as is possible without attempting a lot of sculpting.

Then again, as is obvious, there is a fair bit of green stuff going on here, based on the handful of statues of these warriors and one good reconstruction by Angus McBride:

Mandinke by McBride

I added a selection of details to get the look, some had the more complex garments added, some helmets, and all the knife, sheaved on the upper arm.  The latter further augmented by sculpting and casting tiny knife models in UV-activated resin.  More on that another time maybe.

As a little artistic license, the unit commander gained some exotic feathers on his helmet, and they were done.  All ready now for a lick of paint.

But that will have to wait until some more financially rewarding tasks are finished...



Sunday, December 06, 2020

TML's new home


Anyone who follows this blog may recognise yours truly has moved around a lot; it's not as a result of my 'Career' or anything, just, well; life.  Hopefully life settles down now, and part of the relative silence of late has been due to the efforts to move and set up the new TML Towers:


The new venue is a permanent dedicated space in my new shared home.  Shared with my partner that is.  Lots of shelving allows for storage of all my miniatures, games, books and art materials; alongside the work computer, a smart TV, PS4, record player.....

Yeah, pretty nice. 

But also, maybe most crucially, a permanent 6'x5' table surface; extendable to 8'x5' when required.

We can have some proper games, when the world allows again.

Fingers crossed this tower is built to last; I'm already rather fond of it!


Thursday, December 03, 2020

Painting from lately....


Hello, occasional readers.  This is your, now, very occasional writer.  This is just some progress photo's for those who haven't switched to stalking my Instagram (see below).

Reaper Bones Stone Circle terrain piece.
One of a set of Ogres, painted using undershading techniques

A Warhammer Underworlds Medusai

This lovely model got me featured on the Warhammer Community Twitch stream; which certainly felt like a feather in the old cap!

Age of Sigmar Nighthaunts

A Banshee
Chainrasp Horde

Lord Executioner

The Nighthaunts are on eBay presently, but I may yet pull them and add a another model or two.  If they sell, they sell.

However, the main effort of the past two months has been the moving of TML towers to another new fastness.  This time we hope it's one that will stick, as we have a permanent dedicated studio/games room.  But more on that in another post...



Wednesday, November 11, 2020



The Messages (~1918)

"I cannot quite remember.... There were five

Dropt dead beside me in the trench – and three

Whispered their dying messages to me...."

Back from the trenches, more dead than alive,

Stone-deaf and dazed, and with a broken knee,

He hobbled slowly, muttering vacantly:

"I cannot quite remember.... There were five

Dropt dead beside me in the trench – and three

Whispered their dying messages to me....

"Their friends are waiting, wondering how they thrive....

Waiting a word in silence patiently....

But what they said, or who their friends may be,

"I cannot quite remember.... There were five

Dropt dead beside me in the trench – and three

Whispered their dying messages to me...."

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson




Tuesday, September 29, 2020

New Media Ventures


Everybody, lets jump on the Hype train

[Hype train has left the station]

Yes, whilst I felt like an early adopter of Blogger, after close on 15 years on here, its not the platform it once was, in as far as it isn't the prime channel it used to be.  TML isn't going away just yet, but I've decided to expand my channels, specifically for miniatures painting at least. will now be a new venue to see some of what I'm doing, with some projects that don't really fit on TML at all being exclusives to there, it looks like I can experiment with videos and other things on there too, but for narratives and those rare thought pieces it's less than suitable.  Be assured all gaming material will still show up on here in due course.

Please feel free to check it out, if you are already cooler than me and all over Insta!


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Researching Mali....


Is not that easy.  Of course, if you want material on Western military history; or to a slightly lesser extent Arabic derived Muslim armies?  No problem.  Step south of the Sahara, and the material relating to before the colonial period is rather limited.

First off there are few good books on the subject, partly as there are few if any written histories or contemporary accounts out there.  It is possible there is more in French, but at this early stage in my project I've not been able to track that level of material down.  I've grabbed a couple of the limited English language material available; W.E Conton's West Africa in History Vol.1 and John Parker's African History: a Very Short Introduction; but beyond those there seems to be a split between material for the very casual reader and heavy academic volumes little concerned with military history.

At this point you have to give a nod to Wikipedia, who thanks to the enthusiasm of amateurs, and the inclusion of chunks of knowledge from other languages, can off a decent primer on many subjects.  It's generally reasonable material, as long as you check your sources!

No surprise, there are no ranges already available for the period and region, my intent now being to produce an army for the Manden Kurufaba, or Mali Empire, I have no obvious shortcuts to a fair amount of conversion work.  I did discover an article on the Mali Empire in Wargames Illustrated, issue 375, but the writer had done scarcely more research than I've managed in the past two weeks, and the mandatory pictures of figures were simply of Muslim warriors with vague 'I guess these would do with a different paint' statements attached.  Harrumph.

However, There are lots of models for 'Darkest Africa'  And some of these will work as a basis for some of the forces; also undeniably some Arab styled models will work as a good starting point, for cavalry especially.  However few if any of the plastic figures out there appear to meet my needs...

Image research was my next stage, to see what inspired, get some history together, and to work out how I could use the models out there. I'd direct the interested parties to my Pinterest board of West African Images: