Sunday, June 21, 2020

2mm Napoleonic Terrain and Units for Waterloo

Hi All!

Last summer I began a 2mm Napoleonic project using 3D designs sourced from Forward March Studios. During that initial burst of productivity I managed to create two decent sized forces, one for the French and another depicting the Anglo/Portuguese of the Peninsula.

As June 18th marked the anniversary of Waterloo I thought it would be fun to revisit this project and add a few more units and terrain specific to that campaign.

After snooping around, I picked up a batch of building sets from Brigade Models which depict several locations that are iconic to that battlefield. So what we have here is the chateau of Hougoumont, the walled farm of La Haie Sainte, the church at Plancenoit and the inn of La Belle Alliance. Everything except La Belle Alliance has been based on 4" MDF squares as I wanted each base to act as a 'sector' for gaming purposes.

For Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte I wanted to include their formal gardens and orchards as they played an important role in the battle. For the garden walls I used thin plastic sheeting and for the hedges I glued down trimmed figure packing foam (the stuff you find in blister packaging) which I thinly coated with Liquitex before painting.

La Haie Sainte with its attached Orchard
La Haie Sainte with French columns and a square nearby.
Hougoumont being attacked by a French battalion in line.
The village of Plancenoit became a critical battle within a battle. I have the first base done depicting the village churchyard. Historically the possession of the churchyard seesawed between the Prussians and French throughout the late afternoon - a real charnel house. I plan to add another two bases to better reflect the entire footprint of the village.

Plancenoit's churchyard mocked up with some extra buildings and plasticard bits.

Plancenoit's churchyard with two French columns approaching.
Finally, the inn La Belle Alliance. Napoleon used the inn as his headquarters the morning before the battle and it was nearby to this location that Blucher, the commander of the Prussian forces, met up with Wellington in the evening of the 18th upon their victory over the French.

La Belle Alliance with a penny to give a sense of scale.
And, dug up from the photo archives, here I am at La Belle Alliance, er, Le Caillou  when we visited the battlefield in 2008.

For La Haie Sainte's formal orchard, and for the odd individual tree here and there, I decided to create my own from bits found around the hobby desk. After a bit of experimenting, I used the same packing foam I used for the hedges and trimmed them into roundish shapes using small topiary scissors. 

I then pierced the foam with 1/2" brad nails dipped in hot glue to serve as the tree trunks. Once they were set up I coated the foam in Liquitex and then painted them up using craft paints. 

There you go, fast and easy microscale trees.

I also added a few more units to my British force, battalions in line, column and square.

Here's a unit of British infantry in column. It's interesting that the Brits had their colour party positioned in the center of their formation as opposed to the French, who had their's leading from the front.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of two differing column formations. See how the French formation is more compact due to the three-rank doctrine? Neat. To me this is one of the highlights of doing this in 2mm as one can convey, basically in 1:1 scale, the wide variety of formations that were used by the various powers. Pretty cool, eh!?

The same goes for the line formations. In this scale we can see the British two-rank doctrine creates a formation that is substantially longer than an equivalent sized French unit in three ranks. You can see that unit discipline and firepower is the focus here.

Here is a British battalion drawn up in square formation.

And finally, you may have noticed the smoke markers that I've used in some of the previous photos. I've discovered that in large games we often need a visual reminder of what units have fired from those who've not, so I had these MDF markers made up by Byron over at Northern Lights Terrain based on some sketches I bodged together. 

The markers are simply three irregular shaped layers of MDF glued together to give the impression of gun smoke. I find that they're easier (and less messy) to use than pillow ticking. 


There you have it! Thanks for sticking it out to the end. These were a lot of fun to work on and I'm looking forward to using these when we can all get back together to game in-person. 

Remember, be excellent to each other.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Resurfacing, a Mine Entrance and a Construction Project

Forgive me hobbyists, for I have sinned. It's been over a month since my last submission...

Excuses? Yes, work has amped-up, there is that, but in fact it's more about the wonderful spring weather we've been having that's stolen me away from the hobby desk. While our winters in the Canadian prairies can be brutal, the other three seasons can be glorious, and when this happens the paints, brushes and figures play second-fiddle to the dogs, deck and yard stuff. 

Nonetheless, while I've been shamefully absent from posting to the blog, I've still managed to keep involved in a few hobby-like things. 

First, this protected mine entrance for my Siege of Malta project. 

During the siege, the Ottomans made very clever use of sappers who dug shafts and mines in order to collapse the island's outer defenses. I thought this would provide a nice  centerpiece for a scenario where the defenders sally out to try to disrupt the besiegers.

This is a one piece vac-formed terrain piece from Vatican Enterprises (previously Hudson & Allen).

The other hobby project, one that has been absorbing a lot of my spare time, has been the planning for the construction of a hobby-studio on our property.

Having a dedicated gaming space has been a long-held dream of mine. Our home, while very comfortable, is limited in its layout in providing a dedicated space for gaming and hobby stuff. I typically host games on our dining room table (with all the frantic game preparations and laborious tear-downs that entails), and my hobby storage is limited to where I can find nooks and crannies around the house to squirrel things away. 

One scenario had us looking for a new place which could accommodate our various wants and needs, but we found the search next to impossible as we've grown quite attached to our existing home and were reluctant to leave our neighbourhood. So the resulting compromise was to construct a structure on our property that could serve as an additional space for games and hobbies. So we contracted a wonderful designer who took in my various ideas and provided a few concepts for us to work from. Below is the one we went with.

A few views from the architectural plans of the proposed hobby studio.

It's a bit of a Q-Ship really. For the purposes of getting a building permit and local tax assessment the structure has been declared as a 'detached single-car garage', which it certainly is, but in reality the interior will be kitted-out for full-on hobby geekery (i.e. loads of shelving, figure storage and a decent sized game table). With us living in Canada this project involves lots of infrastructure considerations like heating, cooling, venting, vapour barriers, water drainage, property line setbacks, the works. It's really like building a separate mini-house.

One of its best features is that it features a 12' bank of glass sliding doors which will overlook our deck and garden. This will provide lots of light and give us a nice place to step out have a drink or two during games. 

Anyway, the building site has been cleared and we're just awaiting the city's go-ahead to begin foundation work and construction. To say I'm very excited would be an understatement. My plan is to have the basic structure up and enclosed by autumn with the finishing work to be wrapped up next spring. Wish me luck!


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Siege of Malta, 1565 - Barbary Corsair Spearmen and Archer Command Stand

Okay! So, switching tack from the Grim Dark Future to the sun-kissed Middle Sea, I thought I'd finish off a few more figures for my 1565 Malta project which have been sitting half done since the winter Challenge.

Here are half a dozen spearmen to add to Turgut Reis' slowly growing contingent of fierce Barbary corsairs.

These models are from Footsore Miniatures' excellent Caliphate range. Similar to my previous efforts, I had great fun using a lot of colour with these guys. I may get another pack later to bulk-up the unit, but this group will stand as a good start.

The full unit of spearmen.
I also did up a command stand for one of my corsair archer units which was bereft of one. 

The piper and standard bearer are from Brigade Games, while the leader is a Footsore model. I did a small modification to have him holding a crossbow along with a small targe, just to make him a little more distinct from his bow-armed comrades. 

The archers with their new leader.
At first I just had the three figures on the base, but for a bit of additional colour, I decided to give them a banner as well (I figure you can't have enough flags on the tabletop).

These 9 models will give me another 45 points, for a grand total of 135.

Thanks for popping in for a visit!


Monday, April 20, 2020

Gregor Eisenhorn and Cherubael

I'm a big fan of Dan Abnett's writing. I find that his treatment of the 40K universe being the best aligned to that of Priestly and Blanche's original dystopian vision. 

Of Abnett's many characters, my favourite is Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn. (Spoiler alert: The next few paragraphs give away some of the core bits of the novels, so you've been forewarned!)

Over the arc of the Eisenhorn books, the nature of Gregor's character, with his no-holds barred struggle with the enemies of Mankind, becomes irrevocably compromised as he slowly shifts from being a puritanical and dogmatic posterboy of the Inquisition, to something that is far more dark, ruthless and morally questionable.

Probably one of the most damning things that Eisenhorn does is his binding of the powerful daemon 'Cherubael' to an unwilling human host. He rationalises this act as a foul means to an end, a repugnant-but-necessary tool to assist him in his fight against the forces of Chaos. 

This decision ultimately results in him being excommunicated by the Inquisition, hunted as a fugitive by his former colleagues and forever haunted by his uncompromising decisions. 

Eisenhorn is a wonderfully complex, compelling antihero - a breath of fresh air in a setting which is often portrayed as a simplistic, binary struggle between good and evil. A rollicking good read, I recommend it to anyone who has a passing interest with things GrimDark.

The middle-aged Eisenhorn I have here is a 'Finecast' miniature from Games Workshop. While the Finecast 'recipe' has greatly improved over the years, it still has a hard time standing up to some of the resin offerings you can get from other manufacturers. Case in point is the model of the Daemonhost, 'Cherubael', which is from Artel W Miniatures. This model, essentially a 10-part minikit, is absolutely exquisite, with the resin needing virtually no preparation before assembly. While I typically prefer working on metal figures, I can see how the complex posing and intricate detail of this figure necessitates it being done in lightweight resin - like Eisenhorn's decision, it was a necessary evil. :)

Thanks for dropping in to take a peek!


Sunday, April 12, 2020

1812 Moscow Opolochenie

Just a wee post this week to keep me honest.

I'm revisiting a project I began a few years ago - Napoleon's 1812 retreat from Moscow. I thought that since we're firmly in Spring's thawing embrace (well, almost), it might be safe to do something that is quintessentially 'winter' in theme.

So here is a trio of Moscow Horse Opolochenie

Who were the Opolochenie I hear you ask?  Sorry, folks, I have no freakin' clue. I only know they're Russian, they look rather cold and they seem to be dead set on doing some righteous (meaning deadly) work. (Postscript: Actually, a blog friend let me know that they were part of the people's militia who fought alongside the regular Russian formations during the French incursion - Thanks Martijn!)

Oh, and they have wonderful hats.

These boys have been sitting half-done on my hobby table for an embarrassing amount of time, so I thought the Quarantine Challenge the perfect vehicle to finally get them done-up and put in the cabinet.

You'll have to forgive me in this last shot. I indulged myself by excavating a few more models from this collection for a 'Duellist' inspired action shot.

Thanks for dropping in!


Sunday, April 5, 2020

'Baba Yaga' - John Wick @ 1:05:48

When I saw that Spectre Miniatures had issued a limited edition figure of John Wick I knew I had to snap one up. While I've not been especially enamoured with the overall trilogy (silly assassin meta and increasing bloat), I really enjoyed the first movie's brutal simplicity.

While I was cleaning up the figure, getting it ready for priming, I was trying to recall what Wick's shirt colour was when this scene was shot. I knew he wore a white collared shirt in the earlier bar scenes, but I though he may have changed to all-black later in the film. 


So, for a bit of fun, I decided to spin up Netflix and watch the movie again to see if I could both sort out the shirt colour and also spot the moment where the pose originates. Sure enough, at 1:05:48 he's seen swapping his assault rifle for a pistol wearing his iconic black suit.

For painting him I used thin layers of dark grey over a black base. It should have been easy, but it was actually fiddly as heck.

One more whine: trying to photograph black on black is pure evil. I must have blazed through a hundred shots to get something workable. Thank goodness for digital cameras!

On a related note, a few people have asked what process I use for working on clear acrylic bases. Well, you can definitely use normal superglue to mount a figure, just be sparing with the glue and keep the finished work away from any moisture while it's curing as it will frost the acrylic base. A more fire-and-forget approach is to use this GS E600 glue as it doesn't frost and gives good adhesion. I don't know what it's made of (I suspect ground unicorn horns and distilled pixie tears), but it works. I picked my tube up from GreenStuff World.

Thanks for dropping in!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Pak 40 Anti Tank Gun

I was casting about my hobby room trying to figure out what to work on next, when Nick came to the rescue by tweeting me, asking what was going on with my 20mm WWII Italian Theatre project. The quick response was 'well, nothing actually', but it did make me think and prompted me to uncover a few half-completed projects I had been working on; one of them being this German Pak 40 that has been sitting on my desk for the past year or so.

This is fitting as I had done up a trio of Canadian Shermans from the Three Rivers Tank Regiment a while ago and thought that they needed some opponents to give them a bit of pause. 

This is a plastic kit from PSC. They do a very nice job on the gun, with lots of nice extra bits, but I found the figures to be a bit soft in detail. No matter, as we all know, everything looks better with a lick of paint, right? 

I had some extra MDF wall bits left over from Byron's excellent Italian buildings he designed for me and so decided to have the gun nestled in a wrecked structure, waiting in ambush. This will provide a nice anti-tank option for German players in our ongoing Italian theatre games.

Next Up: An Action Hero!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Loo Roll HazMat Team

I'm still undecided if this post is in very poor taste or ingeniously apropos... No matter, I'll put my head down, brass it out and hope for the best. I present to you a quartet of  special forces operators in badly clashing hazmat gear. 

To my way of thinking, in a perfect world, these would be the guys we'd call in to 'have a chat' with the loo roll hoarders and those tw@ts who refuse to take 20 seconds to wash their hands.

Some may think those backpack canisters hold oxygen, but I think they are just clever toilet paper holders...

These are Ebob sculpts offered through Hasslefree Miniatures. Great minis to paint, with lots of foldy relief and neat details to have fun with. I thought I'd save time using yellow contrast paint, but it all just ended up with me layering them similar to my normal method. This being said, I still enjoy the funky colours you can achieve with these paints, depending on how you mix them and on how you prepare the surface (i.e. use of various shades of grays and whites as an underlay to skew the colour saturation).

I was originally planning to put them on clear bases like my other modern skirmish stuff, but I thought that I had run out of stocks, so I muddled along without them. As it turns out I had scads of them in another drawer (facepalm), but being lazy I just dashed ahead as is. Sigh. I think they look okay.

Thanks for dropping in for a peek!


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Analogue Hobbies Quarantine Challenge

Hi All!

A few weeks ago, when the world was realising that the Covid-19 outbreak was escalating to be a VERY serious thing, we were just beginning to wrap-up the 10th Annual Painting Challenge. With more and more people going into isolation, keeping safe and taking care of those around them I thought it might be helpful to provide a space for people to keep in touch, post their hobby projects and to simply unwind. So here I present 'The Analogue Hobbies Quarantine Challenge'.

- Curt

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Maltese Militia, 1565

The 1565 siege of Malta is often seen as a contest purely between the Turkish Ottomans and the Knights of St. John. Nonetheless, the realities of the campaign were much more complex and interesting. 

The 40,000 man Ottoman host was not only composed of Turks, but also drew upon the many ethnicities from its sprawling empire. Greeks, Bulgarians, Algerians, Libyans, all along with a smattering of coastal corsairs and assorted religious fanatics were allied with the Turks laying siege to the island. This provides a veritable feast of character and colour for hobbyists to represent on the gaming table. 

Also surprising (well, to me anyway), was that of the 6,000 defenders, the Knights themselves only made up about 500 of their number. Another 2000 were composed of marooned Spanish sailors, along with various companies of 'Gentlemen Adventurers' from Italy, Spain and Greece. The largest contingent of defenders (at least half of the total number) was made up of the humble Maltese themselves. 

A small number of the Maltese would have been previously trained as militia, whereas the vast majority were simple island folk, rising in defense of their island. A few of them would have had the means to possess a studded shirt and a morion helmet, but a large proportion would have fought in their civilian dress, bare limbed, indifferently armed and reduced to mere rags by the end of the siege.

The histories indicate that the Maltese were often organized into large units with a Knight or soldier of fortune acting as their leader. Several accounts depict their local priests and women sharing the risks with them.

Gaming wise, one can find many suitable figures for the Knights and gentleman adventurers, but no one that I know of that has a range of figures which specifically depict the Maltese militia. Nonetheless, like the brave Maltese themselves, there are good proxies out there that can be pressed into service. The best figures that I've come across are the Portuguese Conquistador range from Eureka Miniatures. They are wonderfully sculpted and hit the highlights of what I think a Maltese fighter would look like: bare legged, lightly armed, scruffy and most importantly: scrappy.

Eureka Conquistadores
Common weapons amongst the Maltese would have been half pikes, short swords, long knives with maybe a smattering of firearms, bows and crossbows.

A couple other figures I pressed into service (a Foundry German barbarian (left) looked just fine for a slightly hirsute Maltese)
Undoubtedly the most powerful weapons in their arsenal would have been the incendiary devices which they created in an attempt to fend off the large masses of Ottoman infantry. 

One of these were the use of pimkins, basically earthenware jars filled with an incendiary concoction (some sources say Greek Fire) with a simple fabric fuse. A rudimentary grenadoe, these pimkins would be thrown into the Ottoman ranks in the hope that they would shatter and catch fire upon impact. 

Another weapon, quite ingenious in its brutal but effective design, was the use of reed hoops that were coated with an incendiary paste. The hoops would be lit and then, using long tongs, would be thrown, or rolled towards the Ottoman formations. This weapon was  particularly nasty as it would entangle the legs and long robes of the Ottomans during their advance, causing havoc in the ranks.

I made a rendition of the burning hoops by coating a circle of florist wire with texture gel and teasing it to look, well, sorta flame-like. I made a set of them laying flat on the ground and another set with them rolling along like demonic hula-hoops, which while neat looking is probably a bit fanciful. 

Finally,  the Maltese also employed what was called the 'Trump' (I know, really...). Not much detail is recorded regarding these weapons, but it is understood that they were hollow tubes filled with incendiary fluid mounted on half pikes. 

When lit, they would gout out flames for 2-3 meters, like a crude, short-burn flamethrower. Unreliable and incredibly dangerous to friend and foe alike (and so quite appropriately named), these would be used to block off weak points in the fortifications, or in point defence to help turn back Ottoman assaults. 

Flame effect made from a 3D print.
I also picked up a few wall sections from Vatican Enterprises to represent the walls of the various Maltese strongpoints. 

Though they are not a perfect match to the Hospitalier designs (which were more blunt and angular) I think they do a good job in conveying the overall sense of the fortifications of the island, and could be used for gaming other historical periods as well (Constantinople, Vienna, Badajoz, etc.).

I especially like the damaged sections as I think they will provide great set-dressing for a a wide assortment of breaching/sally scenarios.

So there you have the beginnings of my Maltese militia, along with a bit of terrain for them to defend.

Thanks for dropping by!