Saturday, March 30, 2013

Product Review: Total Battle Miniatures - 6mm Granary/Village Terrain Tile

With the Painting Challenge coming off the books I thought I'd relax a bit and do some terrain for a change. I've been contemplating doing ECW/TYW in 10mm and in order to sort out my thoughts I decided I'd work on some buildings that could fit in with the period. (I don't get too hung up on scale for terrain, in fact I often like my buildings to be a stage smaller than my figures as they seem to look better than same-scaled models). When I was at Salute a few years ago I picked up this terrain set from Total Battle Miniatures as I thought the vignettes very attractive and the quality seemed quite solid. 

When I finally opened the box this weekend I was not disappointed. The castings were pristine, with very little cast lines or bubbles in the resin. The base is a type of heavy rubber which takes paint quite well, but I'd definitely recommend that you give it a good scrubbing to remove all the release agent in order to avoid any paint flaking later down the line.

Total Battle designs all of its terrain tiles so that you can 'slot-in' a wide variety of different buildings to suit your preference - very clever. 

I originally picked up this set as I thought the granary closely resembled the one at Essling and I've been wanting to replay the battle using 'Grande Armee' for years. (I notice that they also have a church tile which could nicely serve as the church at Aspern.)

The direction sheet suggested that the models be primed white, but I went with my traditional black approach instead and drybrushed up from there. It seemed to work OK and I had a lot of fun picking out the fine details revealed in the sculpts.

Here is the tile next to a base from my 6mm Napoleonic collection.
Overall I had great experience working on this set and I can certainly see myself collecting more from the range over time. I'm already eyeing both the charming mediterranean Hill Town and the huge Walled Town sets... Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Challenge Rearguard: Sidney and Jacco - Great War, ACW & Ronin #41

It seems that the end of every Challenge creates a certain panic amongst many of the participants (me included) to get those last projects submitted under-the-wire.  Unfortunately both Sidney and Jacco sent these in after the deadline but I felt that they needed to be acknowledged for both their brave efforts and excellent craftsmanship.

First, from Sidney:
So while the spirit has been strong, I just haven’t had the time to do any more French Poilu to a finishing point – and there’s no point showing 56 half-finished Frenchmen, is there?  Depressing doesn’t come close!!  All my plans way back in December – well, they look a bit flat now, sadly.  But rest assured, I’ll be getting them all finished and done and wargame-d with as soon as I can.  That’s a promise!
So here, instead, are two small additions from my efforts.  One’s a German 77mm field gun and accompanying officer which I’d based up at the start of the Challenge and managed to finish off in late February.  
The 77mm field gun and figures on the artillery base are Great War Miniatures from their late Great War range.  
The officer is from Renegade Miniatures.  The artillery piece fits together a treat, with little fuss, although the seated gunners need a bit of care to get to the right position and in the end I pinned them in place. 

The second is my ronin, for Curt's collection.  He’s one of the old Games Workshop series, sculpted by Aly Morrison in 1984 and still as wonderful to paint today as ever.  
The Games Workshop “Nippon” range then was acquired by Bryan Ansell when he started Wargames Foundry in the late 1980s, and continues to be offered by Foundry until now I think.  The figures was modelled originally (I think) on Oda Nobunaga – not very “ronin”, but a striking pose none the less and some terrific lamellar armour to get the paintbrush around.

If there was a range which has stood the test of time, its been Aly’s wonderful samurai and ronin figures – and I’ve seen a few of them painted by my fellow ronins here!

And, from Jacco:
Too late but here they are.
The 147th NY Infantry regiment. Part of 1st Corps 2nd Division at Gettysburg.
I hope to do a better competition next year (I'll hold you to that, Jacco. ed)

Fabulous work guys! 

Jacco, you wowed us with your previous ACW entries (the Federal mortars are one of my personal favourites) and these certainly do not disappoint. What are the make of these figures? Are they from the Redoubt range? I very much look forward to seeing these fellows in action (along with Rob's lads) on Mike's blog in the future.

Sidney, again, amazing work with that 77mm German gun (I love your splinter-pattern camo). I've always liked the way you use the diffused brick dust to add that great punch of red to your bases - wonderful. And speaking of wonderful, Ronin #41 is quite spectacular in his laminate armour. I particularly like the 'sunburst' fan of his helmet crest. No missing him on the field of battle! Thanks so much for this!

So there you have it. We have the valiant rearguard safely within the fold in order to close the 3rd Challenge 'campaign'. Well done Sidney and Jacco and thank you!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

'Renegades' - Canadians serving in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War

Between 1936 and 1939, over 1,500 Canadians defied their government and volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War. As it was in the midst of the Great Depression many of these men left behind punishing lives in relief camps, mines, and urban flophouses in order to confront fascism in a country few of them knew much about. 

Members of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion with their banner. Libraries and Archives Canada

These Canadians ultimately fought as the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion (The 'Mac-Paps'), serving within the 15th Brigade of the International Brigades. They were heavily engaged in several campaigns across Spain and paid a heavy price, not only in fighting Franco's fascists, but also internally, suffering from the unwanted attentions of fanatical political commissars that plagued the Republican forces during the later part of the war.

Canadians showing a bit of bravado for the camera.
These 28mm models are from Empress Miniatures. 

I've kept the colours of the Brigadiers clothing fairly varied as they were often indifferently uniformed and equipped. The officer with the rifle and the political commissar are dressed in a brown-khaki which I understand was a common colour for Republican uniforms.

For the Lewis Gun LMG team I cut some thin plastic rod to replicate spent shell casings, in an attempt to give the impression that the team are in the midst of laying down fire.

Again, like the others I have featured on the blog, these are fabulous sculpts to work with (I believe Paul Hicks work). 

Lanky, nicely posed and well defined, I found the castings to be clean, crisp and a breeze to prep for painting.

Of the 1,546 Canadians that served in Spain well over half were made casualties, with 721 of these listed as being killed - most without any known grave or record of how they perished.

The survivors returned home to a nation whose people pointedly ignored them, and whose law enforcement agencies earmarked them as troublemakers. They were often vilified as communist agitators, 'premature anti-fascists' and dangerous renegades. At the onset of the Second World War a few of these men managed to enlist to continue the struggle, but many were denied the right to serve, with some being harassed for years afterwards because of their political affiliations and stigmatized by their decision to fight in Spain.

A very good recent history of the Canadian involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

To this day the Canadians who died in the Spanish Civil War are not included in the Books of Remembrance that are housed in the Canadian Peace Tower in Ottawa and their sacrifice is not officially observed at our national war memorials or commemorated within our official Remembrance Day services. Those who survived the war are not even entitled to veterans' benefits. 

To me this is a shameful, self-inflicted stain to our country's honour. In light of this, as my own small personal observance, I proudly wear my Mackenzie Papineau pin next to my poppy on November 11th and make sure to raise a glass to those Canadians who chose to help the people of Spain to defend their government against the repression of fascism.

So, to those who not only fought the good fight in Spain but also to those who continue to struggle for our fundamental rights and freedoms, both from without and within, I can only say: ¡No PasarĂ¡n!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

3rd Annual Painting Challenge Prizes & Awards!

Okay, now that we've all put down our still-smoking paint brushes I want to talk a bit about the Challenge prizes and awards.

First off I need to make a correction regarding the top scoring finishers. Ahem. It seems that in my sleep deprived state, after doing 25 previous entries, I inadvertently awarded extra points to Ray for his final submission. I know, 'why did I lurn all this edumication stuff if I still can't do any basik cipherin'?!' To his credit, Mr Rousell pointed out the error for which I give him great credit as a sportsman. Anyway, this changes things a bit as the readjusted points tally will secure KevH back in 3rd place. My apologies to both Ray and Kev for the mix up.

Ok, back to the Prizes & Awards:
1st place - ChrisP: A $25 give certificate with J&M Miniatures and 3 figures chosen and painted by me.
2nd Place - JamesB: A $20 gift certificate with J&M Miniatures and 2 figures chosen and painted by me. 
3rd Place - KevH: A $15 gift certificate with J&M Miniatures and 1 figure chosen and painted by me.
I'm also painting another figure for Ray to acknowledge his good sportsmanship, I'm calling it 'The Little Ray of Sunshine Award'.  ;-)

Some of you may remember from my post announcing the Challenge I stated that, in addition to the prizes for the top three finishers for the points standing, we also have four additional award categories:
Challengers' Choice: This award will be determined by those who took part in The Challenge. So, to all Challengers, please browse through the entries from December 20th to March 20th and send me an email with your selection. 
Judge's Choice: This will be my favorite submission of all entries submitted during the Challenge (myself excluded of course!).  
People's Choice: This is for our visitor/commentors to vote for their favorite Challenge submission. So, to all of you who enjoyed following the Challenge, if there was an entry that you particularly enjoyed please leave me a note in the Comments area of this post. I have temporarily reset my blog settings to moderate all comments so your choice will be private and only known to me - I will not publish 'People's Choice' selections.  
Sarah's Choice: This award is sponsored by Sarah who will award a prize for her favorite non-military figure or vignette. I am organizing all the entries for her to review so she will be quite busy over the next few weeks. (Note: Due to the large number of submission this year I ask that all those who submitted a figure for this category please send me a reminder of your work to make sure she sees it.)
I will announce the winners of all the categories at 3pm, Sunday April 7th (Saskatchewan Time).

Again, for all those who've enjoyed following the Challenge please vote for your favourite entry. If you are new to this blog please take some time and peruse the Challenge submissions (again, from Dec 20th to March 20th), enjoy the excellent work exhibited by the Challengers and join in the fun by sending in a vote.

Speaking of cooking the books, here is some fun statistical stats and projections from Miles (our in-house numbers Uber-Geek):
The total points tally for this year's challenge is 42,079! 
That's the equivalent of 8,373 28mm infantry figures 
From an economic value to the industry, I think it's safe to estimate that assuming a cost equivalent of $6.38 US per figure (see below) your little contest has contributed almost $54,000 US to the wargaming economy. 
Figure $2.50 
Paint 0.30 
Basing 0.25 
Painting Time 3.33 (assumes 20 minutes per fig at $10.00 hour) 
Total $6.38 
Now let's factor in that all of us buy at least 3 minis for everyone we paint and now you're talking about over $200,000 US you've created for the Wargaming economy - we as a group are a 28mm scale economic stimulus!

Thanks Miles (you're such a geek...)

'The Final Cut': The 3rd Annual Painting Challenge Concludes

Whoa. It's a little past 2:30am and I have to say I'm completely tapped. Knackered. Kaputnik. Exhausted to the core, but also very, very happy. 

It was a great Challenge. It was made great by having over 40 excellent people who shared, commented, painted, jeered and laughed their way through three months of hobby-filled madness. You folks are brilliant.

I'm not sure of the numbers yet, but I think I posted over 400 entries over the duration of Challenge, and at around 20 minutes per entry... well, lets just say there was a lot of time  spent beavering away in front of the computer! 

Anyway, as my final salute to my fellow Challengers I present to you the last entry, 'The Final Cut'. It's a wonderful set of castings from the Perry's that I've had for years but have never got around to getting done. Nonetheless, as soon as the 47 Ronin emerged in my fevered mind as a Challenge theme I knew that The First Cut would kick-off the Challenge and that this would be the final entry.

I have to say that it's not quite done as I simply ran out of time in the flurry of the last few hours. It still needs more highlighting, some cleaning up and a few other details (The poor fellow is going out without a final poem written on his page, for shame!), but I believe the core sentiment is there. 

So, no points for me on this one, instead I dedicate 'The Final Cut' to all my Ronin! 

Thank you all for making the 3rd Challenge such a great success.

With warm regards,


From ChrisP: 28mm ACW, Taliban & Ronin #6 (368 points)

From Chris:
Just like the title says, more American Civil War, more blue bellies.
This time we have the 56th Pennsylvanian to complete the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Corps, along with a skirmisher stand.
Then we have the beginning of the Iron Bridge, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Corps resplendent in their Hardee Hats. These are Perry Plastics, which have been given new heads from Steve Barber Miniatures. The command figures also come from Steve Barber. I do like the changing of the heads, it makes them nice and different from the other (hordes) of Union infantry. These two units will represent the 6th Wisconsin and the 2nd Wisconsin.

The 1st Maine Cavalry gets represented too, just union blue troopers on horses, nothing extraordinary! The 1st Maine Cavalry were the provost guard for the 1st Corps at Gettysburg.
Lastly we have three of the major Union commanders from Gettysburg. On the left, Hancock who commanded 2nd Corps and who was with 1st Corps briefly on day one. In the centre, Meade himself, riding a white charger, saving the day (and all that). If I cared to, I could have found out what colour his horse actually was, but I liked the idea of him riding to save the day! On the right, we have Abner Doubleday who was in command of the 3rd Division, 1st Corps. He was also briefly in charge of the entire Corps, when Reynolds was killed.
Then to a lonely Taliban with an RPK light machinegun. I needed another one of these guys for Skirmish Sangin (LMGs are great), so I picked one up when I did the order from Eureka for the NVA previously seen here.
Here is my 10th Helicopter, this one to support my Modern US and British armies in Skirmish Sangin. To be fair, you don't strictly need to have the helicopter, but you know what? It looks way cooler to have the model!
This is an AH-64A Apache helicopter, which has been upgraded with the Longbow Radar equipment. The kit is 1/48 from Academy, and was a bit of a pig to make actually. There were needlessly complicated pieces (4 parts to make something which could easily be one) and there was also no pilots given with the model. But, it looks damn cool, a couple of decals to make the it looks less drab, it is ready to go, with it's 30mm cannon, hellfire missiles and rocket pods!

Lastly is the Green Samurai, another Eureka figure. He was originally red, but I just couldn't get excited about the colour scheme. So, here he is in a nice earthy green. Should be enough to pay my way, right Curt?

This will probably be my last entry, there is one thing I am working on currently, but i am not sure it will get done before 7pm tonight (kiwi time). So, thank you Curt for running an excellent competition once again, thank you for making me get off my lazy ass and get painting, I have completed projects which have been looming for years, started some new ones and thoroughly enjoyed sparring with James with the top spot!
I am most happy with...Refinding the enjoyment of plastic kits, that HMMWV was great fun to build and looks damn good too.
I am most annoyed about...Putting big fat thumb prints all over my MH-6 helicopters. Although it made me do better with the Huey, so it had a purpose!
Next time I will...Paint my Thirty Years War! I had so many plans to get them done! But I got distracted by EVERYTHING ELSE.
Great work again Chris. You've got a great start on your Iron Brigade which I'm sure you'll have done within the week. :) Ronin #6 is fabulous. I really like the green and light yellow combination (and a great sculpt to boot!).

This great selection of figures will give Chris 368 points securing his place at the lead. 

Thanks again Chris for treating us to your blistering pace and tremendous enthusiasm for the hobby. Bravo to you!