Monday, September 26, 2016

Renaissance Swiss Commander from the Canton of Lucerne and DIY Cypress Trees

Last week I promised an Italian Wars command stand and so with shortened breath I'm delighted to report that I've managed to deliver. In fact I even had time to gild my post with some do-it-yourself cypress trees, but more on those in a bit.

Readers with sharp eyes (and/or benefiting from week-long memories) will have noticed the drummer from my previous post is curiously absent. Well, being a fashion-forward kind of guy (cough, cough...) I realized that the drummer's rather 'busy' purple, buff, green and red outfit just wouldn't work with the clean-and-simple blue and white motif of Lucerne.  

 So, ordering a quick costume change that would make Karl Lagerfeld proud, I swapped-in a better garbed Swiss piper in the drummer's stead. La! The sartorial splendour of the Renaissance has been maintained. Phew!

The mounted figure is from Foundry's late medieval range while the two foot figures can be sourced from the Perry's somewhat vaguely titled 'European Armies' collection.  The flag is from the talented Pete, from the much better described 'Pete's Flags'.

I quite like the forked beard of the Captain. I suggested this to Sarah as a future winter look for me, but strangely she rolled her eyes and returned to reading her book, which I believe roughly translates as, 'Don't, you'll look like a git'.

Right, moving along. In the quest to make my Italian Wars tabletop look a little more, um, 'Italian' I've decided that I needed some proper cypress trees to go with the nice rustic cottages I got from Grand Manner. I looked around the webiverse and found that my friend Simon (BigRedBat) had a wonderful tutorial on this very subject. Please check out his great how-to as I, being a brainless muppet, completely forgot to photograph my work-in-progress. Suffice it to say they are made of twisted pipe cleaners, glued to washers, painted green and liberally coated with PVA and green flock. Here are 5 of the blighters, but I did up a dozen for good measure.

I look at the finished product and feel the need to order a plate of prosciutto, a glass of red and finish it all with the Medici-esque poisoning of my rivals. 

Ciao Bella!

Hope to see you soon - Have a great week!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Renaissance Swiss Drummer for a Work-in-Progress Command Stand

Hmm, the week seemed to have slipped away from me so I didn't get as much done as I wished. Nonetheless, I did manage to finish this Swiss drummer for an upcoming command stand for my Italian Wars collection. 

As you can see, this guy is a veritable riot of colour, but I think if you have the moxy to wear tights into battle then you're allowed to have a little creative sartorial expression as well.

Hopefully I can get the rest of the group done for next weekend.

Thanks for popping in and have a great week!

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Boys from Sanitation and Maintenance - Post-Apocaliptic Survivors and Terrain Inspired by 'Metro 2033'

Over the past few weeks I've been doing-up a smattering of figures and pairing them with (hopefully) relevant pieces of terrain. This has been a lot fun and I've managed to work through several lumps of resin which otherwise would have languished in The Lead Shed, unpainted and unloved.

Along these lines and to try to keep things fresh, I've decided to return to my post-apocalypse collection which is loosely based on Dmitry Glukhovsky's novel 'Metro 2033'.  

The premise of Metro 2033 is that a biological/nuclear war has ravaged the entire world, and that in Moscow, the only people to have escaped the horror unscathed, are those who were in the city metro when the warheads rained down. Twenty years later the Metro has evolved into a dystopian, poly-politic society where the survivors identify themselves with their home territory, their particular metro station, and it's homebrewed ethos (like the protagonist's VDNKh 'Exhibition' Station). Some stations are neo-Communist, some are neo-Fascist, others democratic, and so on.  In the Metro internecine warfare is commonplace and threading amongst all of this is the threat of being overrun by the 'Dark Ones' - creatures from the above-ground, who have become heavily mutated from the nuclear/biological Petri dish of the world's surface.

These figures are from Lead Adventure Miniatures.  For a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun I've painted them in the brightly coloured jumpsuits you often see sanitation and maintenance workers wear. I envision that the sanitation and maintenance people of the Moscow Metro would know all the secret in-and-outs of that labyrinthine system, and that since they repair and clean nasty things like the Metro's sewer system nothing, no matter how strange and horrifying, would make them blink an eyelash - Yup, they are rated as Level 10 in Badassery.

I've used my usual 'ash-debris and brick' motif for these guys. No grass, shrubs and flowers in the Metro I'm afraid.

The crushed subway car is produced by Ainsty Castings. I picked it up when we were at Partizan this spring as I thought would fit in well with the rest of the collection. 

I used a bit of texture gel and added some more bricks and debris so it better blends with the basework of my figures.  

I admit I went a little nuts with the MIG weathering powders to add rust, grime and dust to the subway car, but hey, I think it would have gotten pretty filthy after twenty years in the gloom.

Thanks for dropping by - I hope you all have a great week!

Next: Heading back to the Renaissance...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Spanish Civil War Headquarters (and the last of the Cottages)

For the past few weeks I've been slowly plodding through a group of Spanish cottages that I picked up from Grand Manner. I paired the first two buildings along with some Napoleonic figures, but I thought for this last one I'd place it in a Spanish Civil War setting.

Depicted here is a Nationalist command group who've set up their headquarters up in a little casa close to the front. 

The 28mm figures are from the Empress Miniatures range. I got these from Atlantico Hobbies when we were in Madrid this past spring (great store btw) - and I thought it an apropos purchase in light of the setting. (Thanks again for the day out Alf!)

These figures are listed as Republicans, but since the officer uniforms between the two sides were fairly similar in cut I thought I'd take the liberty of swapping their allegiance. 

I've seen many great vignettes of these figures skillfully arrayed on a single base, but I thought I'd be a bit of a philistine and split them up, allowing the figures to be used separately and also to reduce their footprint so they can easily fit within more confined settings. 

The sculpting on this set is remarkable. For example, the little details crisply cast onto the table - the plate of food, knife, wine bottle and the eyeglasses on the map - all really help to set the scene. 

For the map I've painted a rather impressionistic rendition of the 'Battle of Ciudad Universitaria' which took place during the first months of the war in Madrid.

Period map of the Battle of Ciudad Universitaria.

A modern rendition.

The cottage itself, like its two brothers, is a lovely bit of kit. Highly textured, charming and suitably rustic.


The recent popularity in MDF kits is amazing - their quality is excellent and their ease of shipping and assembly is certainly a boon. Nonetheless, there is something about the surface detail which high quality resin models can convey that is very hard to match with MDF. I often find MDF buildings to be too crisp, too geometric, almost too perfect. Certainly this is great for modern or sci-fi buildings, but I find MDF has a difficult time conveying the natural, yet charming imperfections we see in older structures. For example, this cottage has bowed walls, uneven lintels and less than perfect joins, yet the model has a feeling of lived-in authenticity that I don't often see in many MDF models. Maybe its because that MDF is constrained by using perfectly flat planes as its design elements, I'm not sure. I realize that much of this can be softened with judicious sanding, grinding and liberal use of filler, but that seems to defeat the inherent ease and speed of their assembly. This all being said I'll still remain a fan of MDF, as their many benefits outweigh these criticisms, but after working on this series of charming cottages from Grand Manner I clearly see resin terrain has a continuing place in the hobby.

Next up: A bit of Post-Apoc nastiness.