Sunday, 22 May 2016

A West Wind blows South.

On Monday we returned from work to find that the postman had left a little red card of happiness alerting us to the fact that something awaited our attention at the local sorting office.  The Saintly Mrs. Awdry, displaying an uncharacteristic lack of gracefulness, tutted and snarled, “It’s for you again” and duly handed it over, the tone in her voice suggesting that I have probably exceeded my monthly allowance of little packages!

Given our early departure in the mornings, it wasn’t until Saturday that I was able to exchange my card for the waiting treasures – and what treasures they were.  Once again, I am in the very fortunate position of benefitting through the generosity of others.  This time I must offer my heartfelt thanks to ‘West Wind Productions’ for the extraordinarily generous gift certificate that I was able to claim for winning the 'Nostalgia' bonus round in the 'VI Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge'.
My Nostalgia round entry.
Having bought from ‘West Wind’ on many an occasion, I was already aware of their magnificent range of miniatures and so my only difficulty was deciding on which to spend my voucher - I was like a child in a sweetshop!  In the end I sampled from quite a variety of different ranges with a leaning towards all things Pulp.
So once again, a big thank you ‘West Wind Productions' and of course all those that kindly voted for my work in the challenge.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Punish Them!

A Witchfinder  General scenario.

From the outset I need to clarify something, I have a real problem with wargames rules - they just leave me cold.  I strongly suspect that it has something to do with the numbers therein, -1 modifiers for this, +1 for that and I'm gone, switched off and drifting away.  Now for someone who has aspirations of commanding his newly painted miniatures across the table top this is proving to be something of a real problem.  What I really want to do is pick up a cavalry unit, make a clippity-cloppity noise and place it somewhere else, but alas it seems that things are rarely this straightforward.

For a couple of years now, I have been tinkering away, painting miniatures, amassing terrain and generally researching all things folklore with the intention that I would, one day, be playing ‘Witchfinder General- days of Revelation' the problem is that every time I went to read the rules I would find myself slowly glazing over and gone – back I went to painting miniatures.  

It was a chance comment made by that splendid chap the ‘Dark Templar’ regarding hosting a game of Wichfinder General in the summer here at ‘Awdry Towers’ that galvanised me into taking the bull by the horns and getting stuck in.  So waiting until the saintly Mrs. Awdry was out of the house, not due back for hours as involved in a golf tournament, I quietly set up the table for the first encounter - I could do this!  I had everything I needed, miniatures, terrain, tokens the lot and when all was in place it was time to begin - but how? 

Seeing the miniatures on the table made it easier for me to visualise what I was reading and slowly the game started to fall into place.  The first scenario or encounter was entitled ‘Punish Them’ and was played out as follows.

The villagers of Skinnersgrove have become unruly, Prince Schubert of the Tyne decides to punish them and acquire sustenance for himself and his vile abominations.  Seven ordinary clubmen, four trained with muskets and a Witchfinder that was spreading the good word in the village at the time of the attack defend their homes against the vile abominations, six Noctelinger and six Barguests.  The battle is set in gloomy conditions, which reduces line of sight for the Clubmen to a maximum of 24” depending on the out of two D10+4* but after the second turn the sun would rise on a roll of d6 5+.

*There are those modifiers again, steady Michael, steady!

The clubmen were split into four groups and each group started in one of the houses with the Noctelinger within seven inches of the table’s edge and Barguests within three inches.  Ideally would have been 4’x4’ set up, but as I was commandeering the dining room table I only had a 3’x4’ and as a result the barguests were on the villagers in double quick time!  What ensued was carnage, but I have to say it was rather good fun.  This is probably the only of the scenarios that lends itself to solo play with both sets of combatants actively seeking out the other and engaging them in fisticuffs.  Tactics were minimal, but it did give me the opportunity to start to get o grips with the rules – this constituted a major breakthrough in my mind.  

Mistakes were made including not realising that there was a special rule regarding capturing the villagers and trying to remove them from the table.  The initial wanton slaughter of the Clubmen, was clearly going to anger the Master!  I know that I fudged the loose formation movement rule and will need to look at that along with entering and leaving buildings, but on the whole I was very pleased with how it went.  I like the partial IGO-UGO system that allows for some reaction to the opponent’s strategy depending on how the Fisticuffs was resolved and I was starting to feel more confident about referring to lists during the movement and shooting phases so a successful first venture.

The plan now will be to run through the scenario a couple more times so that I feel more confident with the rules.  I need to build a little more terrain to slow down the Barguests a tad and allow the Clubmen more of a chance in getting themselves organised and then we should be good to go!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Stop that Pigeon!

Hopefully by now, you will have seen Simon’s post on his wonderfully entertaining ‘Fantorical’ blog* showcasing the spoils of  his recent victory in a little side duel that we had as part of the ‘VI Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’.  Although I managed a few meagre points in this battle of the brushes they fell someway short of my fellow combatants, with Simon emerging the overall Champion.
*It seemed only right and proper that he have the first opportunity to post about the miniature – after all it is his and I only mention it here so that it qualifies to be added to my tally for the year, and after ‘Salute 2016’, I desperately need to redress the balance a little!
So this being the ‘The Pulp Challenge’, with Pulp being defined as being from 1850-1950, I wanted to paint something for Simon that fell into this category.  After much scrabbling around the periphery of the lead pile, I managed to unearth ‘Group Captain Villain’, a particularly splendid sculpt from ‘Artizan Designs’ and certainly one that would suit my needs.
On closer inspection of the miniature, I was instantly reminded of one Richard ‘Dick’ Milhous Dastardly, the much maligned ‘hero’ of the hugely enjoyable Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines**, which charted the hapless ‘Vulture Squadron’s’ efforts to ensnare the courier, Yankee Doodle Pigeon.
"Drat, drat and double drat!"
Now completely unable to shift this mental image from my addled brain, I set about trying to recreate Dick Dastardly’s flying attire as best I could.  When complete, and without thinking, I gave him a liberal coating of matt varnish, but suddenly realised that this might be not to Simon’s tastes as he is rather fond of protecting his miniatures with a wonderful high gloss glaze.
With forfeit now completed and delivered, I have put aside miniatures that might represent the rest of the Vulture Squadron, sadly lacking a suitable Muttley at this point, just in case we have a similar challenge next year!

**I should stress that this is a children’s animated program from the late 1960’s and seemingly re-run endlessly in the 1970’s for young Master Awdry to enjoy and not some lost celluloid gem; nostalgia is a wonderful thing.
Muttley, you snickering, floppy eared hound.
When courage is needed, you're never around.
Those medals you wear on your moth-eaten chest
Should be there for bungling at which you are best.

           So, stop that pigeon

           Stop that pigeon
           Stop that pigeon
           Stop that pigeon
           Stop that pigeon
           Stop that pigeon
           Stop that pigeon
           Howww?

                     Nab him

                     Jab him
                     Tab him
                     Grab him
                     Stop that pigeon now!

                               You, Zilly, stop snickering, it's not worth the chance.

                               For you'll be returned by the seat of your pants.
                              And Klunk, you invent me a thingamabob
                              That catches that pigeon or I'll lose my job.

                                         So, stop that pigeon

                                         Stop that pigeon
                                         Stop that pigeon
                                         Stop that pigeon
                                         Stop that pigeon
                                         Stop that pigeon
                                         Stop that pigeon
                                         Howww?

                                                    Nab him

                                                    Jab him
                                                    Tab him
                                                    Grab him
                                                    Stop that pigeon now!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Twoflower!


There is a generosity that pervades our cosy corner of the Blogosphere unlike anything I have seen in other communities. The frequency by which fellow Bloggers celebrate milestones with Prize Draws or giveaways is truly staggering. This is often further enhanced by random acts of kindness where little packets of lead will drop unexpectedly onto the doormat with no other motive than to pass on some good cheer; it is to one of these acts that I now refer.
'Carrion Crow’s Buffet' is a delightful place to spend some time, rich as it is in creativity, but taken in conjunction with a healthy dose of ‘Rantings from under the Wargames Table' and a smattering of 'Fantorical' you find yourself with a heady mixture of hobbyness that is truly addictive.  Just look at their most recent idea, ‘Forgotten Heroes’; an opportunity to convert and paint a miniature to represent a long lost super hero.  It is exactly this sort of fun and creativity that sees me return, time and time again and is credit to its author, who we will simply refer to as Jez.
To celebrate a year at the helm of the ‘Buffet’ Jez decided to send out little packages of joy to regular contributors as a thank you for our continued support, totally unnecessary, but a wonderfully generous gesture nonetheless. Having passed on contact details, I was duly rewarded with my gift, some splendid plastic dinosaurs! Now these will be making an appearance in ‘Dinovember 2016’, but they were not the only inhabitants of the padded manila envelope…
I think that it is fair to say that whilst a generous chap,  Jez also has a mischievous spirit and so once the dinosaurs were safely corralled, I had a closer look at what else inhabited my parcel and lo and behold, I discovered - well I wasn't sure what I had discovered!  Closer inspection revealed a primed  miniature, with fine casting and a beaming smile.   This devilishly handsome character reminded me of someone, but for the life of me I just couldn't think who?  Still a little web based research later, I had discovered that this was in fact a 'Clarecraft' figurine representing Twoflower, a character from Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels.  Now I have to confess that I haven't read much Pratchett, I've always intended to but just haven't got round to it yet, so I was a little unsure as to who or what Twoflower was.  
Having now read a little more and watched the rather enchanting 'Colour of Magic', I now know that Twoflower is an optimistic, but na├»ve tourist of Discworld, in fact Discworld's first tourist who has all manner of adventures with his guide the wizard, Rincewind.  His generosity of spirit and belief in the goodness of human nature make him a charming character, if perhaps not the cleverest!  This bespectacled, and reluctant, hero of the piece has been beautifully realised in pewter and Twoflower now adorns my painting rack, camera in hand, ready to assist with any photography assignments that '28mm Victorian Warfare' might require.

So thank you Jez, I thoroughly enjoyed painting this little treasure and he shall remind me just how lucky I am to be part of a community that really is rather lovely. 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A thank you.

Just the briefest of posts to publicly thank 'Wargames Soldiers & Strategy' for their generosity as earlier this week* the doormat of 'Awdry Towers' was graced with issue 84, the first of my twelve month subscription.  

This wonderful prize was as a result of being runner up in 'Choice of the Challenge' in the 'VI Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge' and I really am thrilled to be, once again, on the the company's mailing list.  I thoroughly enjoy this publication as it has a wonderful balance of articles, reviews and tutorials without, seemingly, being swamped with advertisements.    

A huge thank you to all that voted for my work and once again thank you, 'Wargames Soldiers & Strategy'.

*It might have been last week, busy at work so losing track a little! 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

"Usuthu! Usuthu!"


Regular readers of this most humble weblogs may recall that as part of the ‘VI Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’, I foolishly threw down a gauntlet to Martin Cooke, of ‘28mm Heroes’ fame to paint as many Zulus as possible over the winter months.  I detailed the preparation in an earlier post, 'Cetshwayo Challenge’, along with the first of my brave warriors, but sadly I just couldn’t catch Martin.  
Thanks to the very charitable handicap system we had employed I managed to make it interesting, but ultimately I fell short by five miniatures.  Martin has now received his painted Induna and I have gone away and licked my virtual wounds, but the project didn’t end there.  
Having based the miniatures individually* I needed to paint up some movement trays for ease in getting them around the battlefield.  With another quality product from ‘Warbases’ in hand, I set to work with my trusty Dremel and just smoothed the leading edge of each tray to make it appear less like a step.  The application of some Vallejo Red Oxide texture paste and a couple of stone and the effect was complete.
*Mostly due to not having a clue as to what rules I am going to use with them.
 Having painted the movement trays to match the miniatures, I am now in a position to show off the fruits of my labours.  I had hoped to add some battlefield clutter to the bases and had identified all manner of extras including shields, assegai even a discarded British infantryman’s helmet, but when it came to applying them, there just wasn’t as much space as I had thought so I will need to rethink that idea for another time.
 So although a runner up on this occasion just being part of the 'Cetshwayo Challenge’ gave me the much needed impetus to complete the original box of thirty two miniatures painted to represent the Indluyengwe (Leopard’s Den) Regiment that fought at Rorke’s Drift.**  So once again, thank you to Martin for being such a good sport throughout the challenge and hearty congratulations on being such a well deserved winner.
** Black shields and a white spot in the lower half.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

What a Lovely Day!

Another post left over from the ‘VI Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’, this time part of my entry to the ‘Gambler/Risk-Taker’ bonus round that saw me start to formulate a somewhat convoluted plan in order to use the splendid 'Westfalia Miniatures' Wasteland Survivors that I had backed as a Kickstarter. In essence this was going to be an homage to the Road Warrior himself, after all surely he could be regarded as a Gambler or Risk-Taker?
Just as I was about to hit the nitrous oxide button on the idea, I realised that I didn’t actually have a ‘not Max’ miniature and not wanting to see the idea go to waste, I did want any self respecting hobbyist would do in this situation and ordered more miniatures! Having just seen the latest instalment, Fury Road, I plumped for 'Hasslefree Miniatures' Oscar and Foxtrot.  As usual they were exquisitely sculpted miniatures, but I am afraid that I rather bottled the Foxtrot miniature, I just couldn’t face pinning the hand holding the rifle to the slender wrist and instead ordered up another variant, this time from 'Crooked Dice Game Design Studio' – what a lovely day!
My choice of Imperator Furiosa decided, it was just the small matter of painting her and this is where the delay in presenting this post has originated.  Furiosa sports a buzz cut with her forehead often smeared with axle grease perhaps as an indication of her rank of Imperator.  In essence this was all fairly easy to achieve as I just left the top of her head black, but then I went and messed about with the eyes!  Having photographed the miniatures for the challenge, I was never truly happy with the result and took the opportunity of tinkering with her a little before posting here.*
*The original version can be seen in the group shot at the bottom.

As for Mad Max Rockatansky, I simply drew inspiration from the film an opted for a series of dusty browns, blacks and greens to represent the battered and broken Road Warrior.  The detailing on this particular 'Hasslefree' sculpt is just amazing and I kept discovering elements that I had't originally noticed.  Kev White has also sculpted several options with regards to weapons and accessories, but the huge monkey wrench was just too hard to resist.  Finally then a group shot of my Post-Apocalyptic survivors, a painful reminder that I have yet to touch my 'Across the Dead Earth' miniatures and rules and have also gone and backed the recent 'This is Not a Test' hardback rules from 'Worlds End Publishing'- there simply ins't enough time! 
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