Thursday, November 25, 2021

And now for something Completely Different



Yes, I got cajoled into another side project.

James wanted to do another 15mm Project, one in pre-gunpowder times, and after a little too-ing and fro-ing, we settled on the Biblical Near-East, and the might of Assyria versus the rebellious confederation of Babylonian, Chaldean, and Median forces.  I got the latter team; prone to getting smashed for fifty years straight, but ultimately coming out on top.

Only 15mm he said, shouldn't take very long, he said.

Actually that was true.  Even with it only being a side hustle, I got my forces assembled and ready in just over four months:

Every nation under the sun!

The core infantry

Lydians and Cavalry

Chariots, obviously

All told it's a little over 200 pieces completed.

We've elected to stick with Hail Caesar, and each base will represent a single unit, with numbers of models further identifying small, standard or large units.  The only real exceptions being that 4-horse chariots need a big ol'e base all to themselves, and to get the impression of a phalanx over without destroying every spear tip, I put the Lydians in three ranks rather than two on a cavalry sized base.

I even knocked up a couple of regionally appropriate houses.


Illustrations for the period show a mix of courtyarded buildings, and flat roofed houses with what appears to be reed thatch and a slight lean to the walls.  So I replicated one of each, more than enough for a typically barren ancients battlefield.  The courtyarded building has enough roof space for a standard infantry base.  The hut roof is made from cheap bandage soaked in watered down PVA!

As to the minis, well it may be 15mm, and a quick paint job, but I still indulged in some detailing and fancy effects.  This unit of spearmen includes some rough blending on the shields for example.

And daisies!

All the models are Essex Miniatures.  Solid stuff, and they cover everything you need.

Our first battle is actually scheduled for Early next month, so maybe we'll see pictures of both sides soon too.  It's going to be a mid-sized game, but I can already imagine expanding my forces to a more old-school sensibility.  I'm wondering if two bases per unit wouldn't be more appropriate....

Jeez, will the hoarding never stop?!


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Through mud and blood, for Turnips...


I got introduced to the weird world of Turnip28.

And momentarily I dismissed it.

But under the first impression, the soil was good.  After a little more investigation, I discovered a fascinating world of kitbashing, freeform creativity, in a bizarre post-apocalyptic, post-Napoleonic world.  The opportunity to build skirmish sized forces using the contents of my extensive bits box eventually proved too much to resist.

Consequently, I am here so far; the bulk of two different regiments: 

Chaff of the 51st Parchdale

A Stump Gun of the 27eme Oignans Blanc du Pied

Fodder and a Toady for the 27eme

Rootlings of the 27eme

Grogs of the 51st

Bastards [Heavies] accompanying the 27eme

The models above feature a range of parts from more or less every Perry & Victrix set I've ever bought, alongside some Fireforge & Northstar bits, as D&D Cannon barrel, bits of wood, card, sprue, lots of Greenstuff, grass tufts, UV-cured resin, and foraged roots and plants from my local woods!  When the rules are simply make what you like to no more than a general theme, the world is your oyster.  It's like 40k back in Rogue Trader times!

As to the painting, we are in rather more uncharted territory.  

The paint palette here is very limited.  I chose to try a thing called the Zorn palette; in essence restricting yourself to an extremely limited range of colours; in fact ideally only four: Black, White, Red and Yellow.  Other than metallics and weathering that is all I used; except that the 27eme got a small amount of Prussian Blue added, as that is one colour the other four cannot make, and I did add a basic Green for doing the foliage.

It is remarkable what you can achieve this way, and tonally it pulls everything together.  But what really kicked it up a level into a 'Grimdark' look, is Oil paint.  Everything was finished with a number of oil washes, which can be applied and then selectively removed to give a subtle, grimy look.

Nonetheless, I've ended up, after all my griming, dusting, and weathering, with what for the genre are still rather 'Poppy' models.  Not as grim as many.  But they've been a fun diversion.

Another 20 or so models and I 'll have two full forces.  Some of the remaining pieces will be rather more wacky; but that therefore means they'll take rather longer to finish.  Still maybe in the new year I can actually put them on a table...

Something to work towards.


Monday, November 15, 2021

Malian Ton-Tigi

 Just a quick post to show off this model.  Mainly so I can get the picture out into the accessible world and to spur me to give more details in due course!

Safe to say this is a substantial scratchbuild/conversion!

More later...

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Remembrance Day


We who are left, how shall we look again

Happily on the sun or feel the rain

Without remembering how they who went

Ungrudgingly and spent

Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?

A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings –

But we, how shall we turn to little things

And listen to the birds and winds and streams

Made holy by their dreams,

Nor feel the heart-break in the heart of things?

Wilfred Wilson Gibson.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

40k? Okay, just the one...


This is what happens when I buy random models on impulse...

Grim, dark...

The full story is obviously a bit more involved; the Instagram thing has inspired me to keep pushing the painting, but also to diversify, picking whatever I fancy to paint alongside the army building.  This Nurgle Death Guard came in a semi random box, and turned out ideal as a subject for a 'grimdark' painting challenge on one of my Discord's.

I picked up a ruined Rhino model from a 3D print and built up a little trench warfare diorama.  Lots of little details.  The paint job is done with a Zorn Palette; that is to say, other than the metallics and weathering effects, only four paints were used: a black, white, red, and a yellow.  You can get a remarkable range from just those, and minimising the Palette really adheres to the aesthetic.  There are obviously no blue tones on the Chaos Marine, but this can be worked with.

The destroyed Rhino also uses extensive chipping effects, and then most everything got several layers of oil, enamel and acrylic washes, in varying volumes.

A Really enjoyable diversion, but not one that'll go any further than the display shelf.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mali mounts for Battle


Steady progress on the Malian project has been made, and I can now add two cavalry units to the roster, the first being one of the centerpieces for the army; Horon Cavalry:

The Horon provided the elite heavy cavalry of the Malian Empire, essentially its equivalent of Knights or Cataphracts.  Evidence for their appearance is limited, but I took accounts saying they wore contemporary armour - either locally made or imported from north Africa - and rode armoured horses, and combined it with the look of later troops illustrated in the 1800's from the neighboring Bornu Empire, which was a late contemporary, and from modern tribal horsemen in the region.

The standard is the Banner of the Mali Empire as taken on Hajj by Emperor Mansa Musa in 1324.

It seems some form of Bamboo was used for lances, and it provides a nice look, so...

The padded armor and other parts are green-stuff applied directly to the largely terrible base models.  More on those below.  Hide Shields were made over plasticard formers with green-stuff, there are illustrations of shields this shape, which appear to be carried behind the rider on the saddle when not in use, suggesting a reason for the unique shape.


As alluded to, these are heavily converted.  I started with a set of the Gripping Beast Goth Heavy Cavalry, and I can't say I was a fan, apart from limited build options out the box, the detail was poor and the fit, terrible.  I wasn't sorry that I was going to cover 3/4 of each model up, I'd have needed to do a load of filling and trimming anyway.  That aside, I think I spent about 8 or 9 hours just on the kitbash elements:
Rather easier, and despite their simplicity much nicer basic models, were a second unit of Hat Industrie Almoravid Cavalry, painted as allied Taureg horse from Timbuktu.

There's only one small conversion here, but compared to the GB models, these still have more horse poses and don't require any filling either!

All this brings the core of the force up to 20-24 points in Lion Rampant, but I'm not going to rest on my laurels, I need a few options, and another centerpiece is being worked on:



As should be evident, this is on its way to being a general for the force, Nobility appear traditionally to use Palanquins extensively in Africa, and illustrations of the Mande and the Empire often feature them.  This will represent a Ton Tigi, or 'Quiver Master', essentially a Malian General.  There's a long way to go on this yet, converting the foot figures into an Iman and a tribal musician respectively, adding a lot more to the already converted seated leader - an Outpost Wargames Services Inca!  With a head swap so far - and adding a bunch of opulence to his 'carriage'.  But that's all for another day... 

So far, so good..


Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Sad News...


So I can't say I knew the man well, but I did have the good fortune to spend a day on a photoshoot with him, and share a pint at one of his favourite pubs in Newark back in the late nineties.  Heck, he even bought an article off me for WI back in the day, thus marking the 'highpoint' in my publishing career until my Masters Thesis got published.

Rest in Peace, Sir.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

2021: Year of Diversions


Or, I have a problem sticking to one thing.

Progress on the Africans continues well, but there is nothing finished to show today.  However any number of other things have either been started or finished - sometimes it's hard to differentiate between the two.

so, a couple of pieces of graveyard themed terrain got kinda out of hand:

The Realm of the Dead

Yeah, I ended up doing an entire table's worth of terrain; well to be fair, enough for two tables at least.  A solid mix of GW terrain sets, parts from Reaper and Mantic, 3D prints and scratchbuilt parts; plus a terrain cloth of similarly coloured faux-suede.  Good fun and other than railings and roses (and interminable skulls) easy to do.

a Reaper Miniatures graveyard walls set, plus lots of bits

Just part of a GW graveyard set

All this is leading somewhere surely?  Well of course, by a process of leftovers from commissions and financial spendthriftery I've ended up with a pair of 2,000 point Age of Sigmar armies.  At least I've made a good crack at one of them so far; the Nighthaunts, a.k.a. Spooooky Ghosts!

Crawlocke the Jailor

30 Chainrasps

There's a few more bits done, making so far for 44 models - about half the army, but mostly of the cheapest unit cost models, so a good 1,500 points to go.  And just as GW announce another edition of their chuffing rules (these of course could be passed over in favour of Dragon Rampant, given my past opinions on Age of Sigmar!)

As to the other force, it predictably is Stormcast Eternals, as they are so common you can pick them up cheap all over the place at present.  I've done a couple of test models, but that is all so far:

It was for a painting challenge however!

So I pushed out the stops...

I also turned some eBay money last year into Blackstone Fortress, mainly for painting.  I've done a few of the models so far, but this is the best:


I'll continue to pick at these, but one of the models in the game reminded me of the Eldar I used to own (and love) and made me wish I could dabble in those again.  Well, 40K Killteams promised to scratch that itch, and soon I was working on some Exodite warriors as yet another side project:

Guardians of a Maiden World

Some ancient monoliths

Of course, they're Aeldari(TM) these days, but who's quibbling.

It's all a bit fantasy and Games Workshoppy by my past standards here.  And true, but of late GW figures are getting as good as their prices imply (sometimes!) and certainly get the painting motivation going.  Still one more 'fantasy' project kicked off and has no GW models in it, just an old-school aesthetic influence.

Turnip28* is a weird alternate history game based on a stagnated Napoleonic society infected by poisonous root vegetables, fungi and cultists.  The look is as if John Blanche was the Duke of Wellington's war artist and medieval armour was in vogue for trench warfare.  It's wild!  The Creator began with the world first, and then backfilled rules, the explicit initial intention being to kitbash models from the ranges of historical miniatures already on the market, which to gamers raised on a diet of GW and other fantasy miniatures' ranges, seem ludicrously cheap, encouraging experimentation.

Copyright: Max FitzGerald

Well, what do I have literally tonnes of bits lying around spare of?  It was a no-brainer to at least have a go:

Some Chaff

But history buffs, fear not; I still have hundreds of good proper Napoleonics to get to in time.  And as of yesterday, another historical project has been proposed, something perhaps with a more biblical bent...

I hope I can finish a few of these this year; and as the UK finally crawls out from under its COVID rock, play a few games with them too!

.*(scroll down for the free basic rules) 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Building on an Empire


Made more progress on the Malians, by painting some northern allies/subjects.  A unit of Tuareg spearmen:

Image from my Insta...

 These are Gripping Beast models straight out the pack.  I had a lot of fun with the various indigo colours for the clothes.  The shields are intended to reflect Hippo hide, which images show to be pretty dark, with a reddish-purplish hue.  The spears are brush bristles with flattened and shaped tips, I bought and cannibalised one yard brush head 20 years ago and it's still going strong, it'll outlive me!  The standard represents what is apparently the Mali imperial standard of the the period, but I can't prove that.

Of course with a burgeoning force, I need terrain; having done a bunch of palm trees, I'd been pondering how to go about convincing buildings.  I was both looking forward to the idea of some major scratchbuilds, and dreading the practicalities of doing so.

Glorious, tricky.

Fortune smiled however, and quite accidentally I came across the African range from Fogou Models.  This led to a very quick cost-benefit analysis and 15 minutes later I pressed fire on an order:

Looking good

With a neutral paint job these will be perfect for Mali, and pass muster for another 'secret' project.  The models are in a very strong resin, and dripping with texture, they should paint up a treat and I couldn't be more pleased.

All good.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Painted Malians


I know I seldom post nowadays,  but I'm not Idle.  The Malian project has seen some attention with the first two units now being finished:

Mandinke Bowmen

Fulani Javelinmen

Both units feature varying degrees of GreenStuff work, and represent my best efforts to research and represent a largely overlooked nation.  The bases are modelling clay, painted, much like the Scicilian Normans I did last year; I used a fairly exotic range of GamersGrass tufts to get an exotic feel to the bases.

Next up is a fairly simple unit of Berber spearmen, one of the advantages of Mali from a gaming and modelling standpoint is that it was a culturally diverse empire with many troop types available to it.  Down the line are cavalry and a novel command group; but they are a lot of scratchbuilding and some time away...