Sunday, January 5, 2014

Announcing The Second Fortnight Theme Bonus Round: 'Villain(s)' & Curt's 'Winter of Discontent'

Well, our first Fortnight Theme Bonus round was a rousing success with many amazing entries illustrating the 'Non-Combatant' theme. This week's focus is 'Villain(s)' and I can assure you that we have many stonking entries for you to feast your eyes upon. So, please follow this link to see the entire gallery of submissions.

For my own part I decided to be a bit more abstract in my idea of 'villain' for this fortnight's theme. Being born and raised in the Canadian prairies I have a tremendous respect for the power, danger and desolation of winter (it's -51 today with the windchill btw). I  distinctly remember as a teen seeing 'The Duellists' and watching the section on the French retreat from Moscow and thinking that Ridley Scott and his cinema-photographer had done a brilliant job conveying the horror of being exposed to sub-zero temperatures. 

The Grande Armee began its 1812 campaign crossing the  Russian frontier with over 600,00 men in its ranks, but within six months less than 35,000 Frenchmen had returned to the safety of Poland. I have Charles Minard's graph of the French retreat hanging in in my den and it provides a horrifyingly stark visual analysis of the destruction of the Grande Armee and the power of winter.

Minard's Graph: Tan goes in and Black struggles to return...
So for my entry I have defined Winter as my Villain with the following Napoleonic French troops illustrating the misery of being a poorly equipped soldier in such a pitiless climate.

All of these are 28mm castings from Perry Miniatures. I must say they are some of the best miniatures I've ever worked with. It's evident that Alan Perry, in preparation for sculpting these figures, spent some time studying people's postures in extreme cold. I've shown the models to several people who were here over the holidays and they all remarked how grimly realistic the poses are.

These figures took quite a long time to complete for some reason. I guess it was because I mulled over each one of them, wanting them all to be unique in their assortment of scrounged coats, hats, shawls, etc. I also spent a bit of time working on their bases as I knew the whole 'winter-as-villain' effect had to be strongly reinforced through the basework. For several of the bases I sank shakos, muskets, belts and other accoutrements into the snow to convey the idea that the men are walking behind an army which was jettisoning anything that could slow its retreat to safety.

Snow can be a bit tricky to pull off in miniature. Personally, I find many 'overthink' snow too much, using materials such as crystals, glass and powder flakes, but I often find their effect doesn't work in small scale. Snow in sub-arctic environments packs down hard and is almost smooth - there is no slush and it is not flakey or fluffy. Any texture it has is how it forms into 'snow drifts' which are formed very much like sand dunes in deserts. For my bases I wanted hard-packed snow that has been trodden on by hundreds of feet so I used a dental tool to depress marks in the half-cured gel to mimic well-trodden ice and snow.

The other thing about winter is the buildup of frost on anything remotely warm. For men with beards frost quickly forms into clumped ice on the moustache and chin whiskers. It actually forms on anything near the mouth such as scarves, hats and high collars of coats. So when painting these figures I wanted to give their faces and scarves a liberal coating of frost.

Also, with the texture of heavy wool fabrics, like the greatcoats common to this period, you would see the skirting of the coats becoming fouled with snow and ice as it clung to the coarse weave of the wool. This rim of ice on the coat skirts will get quite stiff and heavy depending on the weather conditions. Accordingly I liberally edged these figures's coats with ice and frost to try to convey the misery of being out in the elements.

I know that Stefan's group is developing a purpose-designed set of rules for the 1812 retreat, and I very much look forward to getting a copy of those, but in the meantime I'm going to use a modified version of 'Muskets & Tomohawks' so I can get these chilled fellows out for a game or two.

These poor, long-suffering Napoleonic Poilu will provide me, in addition of the 50 point Theme Bonus, 115 points. Woo!

Next up for this little side-project will be the obvious: Urahh!! Cossacks!

From TamsinP: 15mm Thirty Years War Artillery (40 points)

Tamsin submits a group of ten regimental guns for her Thirty Years War collection.

From Tamsin:
After the mammoth efforts of the Swiss halberdiers and Korean missile troops, followed by the highly detailed work on the coureurs de bois, I fancied a quick win. Looking around the mass of lead I had primed ahead of the Challenge, my eyes fell on two projects  - a bunch of 10 regimental guns for my 30 Years War army and another project.
I wasn't expecting these to be ready quite so quickly, but the basing gunk had dried by Saturday evening so I decided to finish them.

These ten guns are 15mm from Donnington Miniatures. In FoG:R they are quite handy attachments for infantry units (where permitted by army lists) as they give an extra dice during shooting and impact phases for very little cost. 
These are mounted on 25x25mm bases as they are treated as markers rather than bases. I've included a couple of pictures of a marker with a unit of pike & shot.

Very nice Tamsin. They look very cool when combined with your pike and shot units, though perhaps a lone gunner with each piece would help to complete the picture? 

These ten guns will give Tamsin 40 points to pop her over the 500 mark - great work!

From GillesW: 15mm Ancient Libyan Archers (216 points)

Gilles sends us a veritable tribe of Libyan archers for us to enjoy.
A big post this time! Not a great quality but a great quantity.
108 Early Libyan archers (15mm Essex) coming from a new experiment I tried recently, a result of a dive in the 'Jester’s Bath'. 

This is a white undercoat, then a painting session for the details, a satin varnish spray on them, and the longest part of the work:” the basing”.

Hope you like them.

Yes we do! Great work Gilles, I really like the detail work you did with their cloaks and headdress - it makes for a very interesting (and colourful) army.

These Libyan archers will give Gilles a very tidy 216 points to add to his total. Well done!