Sunday, March 24, 2019

Syrian White Helmet Rescue Workers

This was my closing post for the ninth annual Painting Challenge. I wanted to return to our overarching theme of 'Fellowship' and decided to do a small vignette honouring a group of people whose selfless efforts I've admired for several years now: the Syrian White Helmets.

As many of you know the White Helmets are a group of Syrian volunteers whose mandate is to provide medical assistance, urban search and rescue, civilian evacuation, and essential service delivery to areas caught within their nation's civil war. It is reported that since they were formed more than 5 years ago the White Helmets have saved over 100,000 lives, while losing over 200 of their own people in the process. In 2016 the group was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and have subsequently been awarded numerous international accolades for their humanitarian work.

Sadly, in this politically charged region of the world, there is an active smear campaign levelled at the White Helmets, trying to besmirch and belittle what they have done for their people. Personally I think this is reprehensible, but these are the times we live in and we all have to do our bit to rise above it and fight these injustices when and where we can. 

I'm proud to say that this past summer the Canadian government was instrumental in organising the evacuation of over 400 White Helmets and their families from Syria before forces loyal to the present regime could arrest them for supposed crimes against the state. Many of those evacuated have been resettled here in Canada, along with other participating countries. For many of them it has been a heart-wrenching experience, having to flee their homeland and loved ones to live in a far away, alien place. I am happy to have them here in a safe haven, but I hope there comes a day when these brave people can freely and safely choose to either return to Syria, or remain with us as new Canadians.

As you can imagine, there are no White Helmet figures on the market, so I took a shot of bodging my own. 

As they wear a distinctive cropped helmet, which looks vaguely similar to a German fallshirmjaeger helmet, I used that as a basis to work from. 

With this in mind, I found a trio of 20mm German paratrooper command figures tucked away in my collection, repositioned their arms and heads and carefully cut and filed away their equipment to look more like the rescue garb the White Helmets wore. 

I then carved a disc of high density blue insulation, affixed it to a base, added rubble and wreckage, and then arranged the figures to depict them having just found some survivors buried in the rubble. Admittedly, it's not perfect, but the overall silhouette seems to work to my eyes. I hope it does to yours as well.


Thanks for dropping in for a visit. I hope you all have a great upcoming week!


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Pink Horror Daemons

Hi All!

Once again, something a little off the beaten path today.

This time it's some Pink Horrors from the Warhammer universe. I did up a batch of these for a few reasons. First, they're wonderfully weird miniatures, with lots of animation and tons of whacky things going on with their constantly morphing bodies - so lots of fun picking out the details with the brush and colour.

Secondly, I needed a few of these for our ongoing Dark Heresy RPG campaign. Next session the adventurers enter an ancient abandoned Imperator Titan and some of these guys pop in from the warp to make things interesting for the party. Weee!

Finally, one of these (his choice) will be going to Barks as a big thank you for being such a great minion in this year's Painting Challenge. Thanks Barks!

Thanks for dropping in folks!


Monday, March 18, 2019

LotR Warg Riders

Here are two Lord of the Rings Warg Riders. These are metal castings from the early releases and were a real joy to work on. 

Funny enough, I've had these two bad lads done since the first few weeks of the Challenge, but I wanted to bulk them out with a few more models to make a more substantial force. Anyway, I made the mistake of picking up a box of the newish plastic ones and, well, what can I say but: Ewww.  

It's not that the plastic models are that bad, but after working on the earlier, crisply sculpted metal guys the new ones really suffer in comparison. So much so that they're still sitting 75% done on my desk.  Sigh. I know I won't be able to muster the will to get them done before the end of the Challenge, so I figure I'd best run with these guys for now. 

I had a bit of fun with the fur coats on these two wargs, making them a little more punchy and hyena-like than in the drab beasts in the movies.

Maybe later this spring I'll get the other six done to join up with these, but they'll have to wait for now as I have a couple other entries I want to get done before we call it a wrap next Wednesday.  


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

NATO Scuba Assault Team

Here is a contemporary scuba assault team with their fast attack boat all ready to take down targets like a hijacked freighter, a terrorist controlled oil platform, or perhaps even a suspicious water skier.

This set is from Eureka Miniatures. I thought it would nicely compliment the German special forces frogmen I did a few years ago.

I kept the three kneeling poses on their stock bases so they would still fit in the assault boat. The other three's bases were trimmed so I could put them on clear acrylic like some of my other skirmish figures.

As you can imagine these were pretty simple to knock out: black with increasing highlights of P3 Gravedigger Denim for the scuba suits and gear. Then black again with a VMC Blue Grey highlight for their weapons and metal bits. I find the trick to blending dark tones is to use a few thin coats of Liquitex Statin Varnish (which has an added bonus of providing a nice slick look to the wetsuits). I quite like the effect and may try this with some other figures (I think it would look pretty bang-on for Sisters or Imperial Sardaukar troopers from Dune).

Thanks a bunch for dropping in!


Monday, March 11, 2019

Viet Minh Infantry and Palm Trees

One project which I'm happy to revisit is my slow foray into 1950s French Indochina. I've been working on this collection since 2013 and, heaven forbid, with this group done, I think I may actually have enough to put on a game. So yes, it may take a while, but the manic hobby squirrel eventually gets the job done.

Here for you today is a Viet Minh assault squad along with some new palm trees for them to advance through as they close in upon their French foes.
These figures are from Empress Games and are sculpted by the talented (and bewilderingly prolific) Paul Hicks. I had the pleasure of painting most of this unit while visiting with Greg in Winnipeg last month. Being pretty much an all khaki force, it allowed me to think-less and drink-more while working on them - a great, if often unsung feature of this period. :)

This squad was originally composed of 10 castings, but I felt these boys really needed a banner bearer to properly send them off. I have this pathological need to have flags in as many units as possible, especially for any modern force that had the stones to carry a flag into pitched combat. I find the whole notion of banner bearers (eagle guards, draco carriers, etc.)  all very nutty, utterly vainglorious and absurdly romantic. Anyway, I didn't have a suitable figure in my unpainted pile, so I used a model which was originally posed to throw a grenade. So a few minutes under the saw and pin vise and presto-flago: a suicidally keen banner bearer! I liberally brushed the flag with watered-down PVA and then shaped it so that it's rolled around the flagstaff. This way he looks like he's slowly unfurling his banner which he has had cased while moving through the jungle.

I freely admit that the basework may be a little over the top, but having seen pictures and film footage of the verdant undergrowth in Southeast Asia I figured I could indulge a bit with these guys. I like that when they're all bunched up they convey advancing through a rainforest.  

Finally, speaking of terrain, here are a few more palm trees to add to my burgeoning rainforest. These were made with a clustered wire armature, wrapped with glue-soaked medical gauze and then artificial fern leaves were hot-glued on the upper wires. 

Have a great week everyone!


Thursday, March 7, 2019

3mm Napoleonic Portuguese Infantry for Blucher

Hi Folks,

Quite literally, I have a small update today.

Here are a few more brigades of 3mm Napoleonic Portuguese infantry to add to the collection for 'Blucher'. 

These are 3mm Napoleonics from Pico Armor (sourced from Oddzial Osmy out of Poland). The figures are based on 2" x 1.75" MDF bases with a 3mm thickness and rounded corners. The thickness is to allow players to more easily pick them up and the rounded corners is simply because I like the look of them (it gives the finished product kind of a wargaming chit appearance).

The common base size for 'Blucher' calls for a 3" frontage, but I've decided to go with 2" as it allows for very large battles to be played on the 8 x 5 surface which we typically use. To provide a little more perspective, by using this 2" base scale each inch equates to 150 yards, so one square foot on the tabletop is equal to about a square mile in the game. This allows us to better recreate sprawling actions like Wagram or Vitoria on a single tabletop.

Examples of various unit types, left to right: French foot artillery, infantry and heavy cavalry
To my way of thinking, painting these figures requires a fairly minimalist approach, maintaining just a basic level of detail to communicate what the figures are supposed to be.

For the infantry, I base everything up, texture the base and then prime the whole thing black. From there, I drybrush everything a light grey and then start applying over-saturated colours. 

The way I see it is that these figures should simply convey their primary features, first being their national uniform colour, with only a nod to other elements (namely face, hands, trousers, shako and bayonet), otherwise you can easily get drawn into the rabbit-hole of trying to paint fine details which will never be appreciated when seen en mass - in fact I find that too much painted detail can make the figure too 'busy', detracting from conveying the main uniform colour: French should primarily be blue, British red, Austrians white, etc. I think of these bases almost as boardgame chits, perhaps more like three dimensional playing tokens.

Examples of three British infantry brigades moving through a Spanish hill town.
Perceptive readers will have noticed that, since I base and prime everything from the start, I leave out painting the middle ranks or any inward-facing detail. Yes, in this scale I only paint the front of the front rank, the rear of the rear rank and the top of their heads and shoulders. Early on, I discovered that after painting every figure, if found the interior facing detail is completely lost once the strips of figures are based up. It's a complete waste of time and effort. So now I just paint the perimeter of the formations and I find that you can't tell the difference between the 'all-figure-detail' bases and those which are more minimalist 

The basework is drybrushed two tones of brown with a khaki highlight. I then use a semi-opaque green tinted model railway emulsion to provide a base tone for the light scatter of flock I apply later. I'll often use a brown ink wash to make 'tracks' behind the formations, showing where they have trampled through the terrain. I then paint a mark on the front center which is used in the rules for line-of-sight and movement (here it is red edged with yellow for the Portuguese, but would be blue for the French, white for the Austrians, etc.). Finally, I print off a 3.5mm label to affix it to the rear corner of the base (these are so we can use roster sheets to track all the unit information).

So these five bases should cover the majority of actions where the Portuguese fought with the British in the Peninsula, with perhaps a couple more needed for the climatic action at Vittoria. 

Thanks for dropping in!

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Fellowship of the Ring in Balin's Tomb

Hello Everyone!

Well, anyone who saw my opening entry for the Painting Challenge in December won't be too shocked with this post.

Picking up from my Frodo and Sam, here are the the seven remaining Companions of the Ring-bearer. All of these figures are first-run GW metals, which were a complete joy to work on. 

The eagle-eyed amongst you will see that I swapped out the 'Fellowship Gandalf' for the one from the Balrog box set. The stock Gandalf is a terrific figure, but I preferred the more dynamic pose of the Balrog one for this scene.

When I was doing the finishing touches on the Fellowship set I thought back on the scene set in Balin's Tomb and realized that I could use the same setting to depict another fellowship, that of Ori and his few remaining kinsmen in their final stand against the orcs and Balrog in the fall of Moria. 

These dwarf models are, again, venerable figures from GWs first LotR supplement, 'Shadow and Flame', released in 2003 (I was amazed I still had a few of these squirrelled away in the Lead Shed). I'm typically not a huge Dwarf aficionado, but these models were pretty darn cool, especially the heavily armoured Khazad Guard.

So, there you have it: TWO fellowships, both making their valiant stand in the Chamber of Mazarbul.

Thanks and have a great week folks!


Friday, March 1, 2019

40K Penitent Engine

Hi Folks!

Just a small past to end the work week. This time out we have a Penitent Engine from the 40K universe.

Taking a dip into the GrimDark, penitent engines are mechanical constructs piloted by super-bad sinners serving penance for some particularly heinous crime (team-killing on Xbox Live, refusing to signal when changing lanes, not picking up after their dogs, nasty things like that). Upon sentencing they are basically grafted into what equates to a dreadnought chassis and then injected with all manner of psychotropic drugs and pain inhibitors. After a quick buff and a shine they are then pointed at the enemy and released. Weee!! Death and destruction ensues. Actually, death in combat is the only way getting out of this gig, but thankfully that usually comes along pretty quickly.  As you can imagine recidivism is markedly low in the Dark Imperium of Mankind....

This model is not an official Penitent Engine (Gasp! I know, a heresy in of itself.), but rather a nicely crafted proxy from the talented folks over at Wargames Exclusive. It's an all resin kit which went together like a breeze. It came with the option of a heavy stubber for the upper pintle weapon, but that seemed a little out of character especially when you can have a huge honkin' flamethrower instead. No contest there.

This should provide some cathartic stompy-burny fun until it's blown into self-righteous scrap. 

Thanks for dropping in and have a great weekend everyone!