Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More 6mm ECW

The photos aren't great, but here are the next three units of 6mm ECW infantry finished. Figures are from Baccus. I'm getting a bit excited about how they look en masse....

Monday, April 28, 2014

Brewing Up

While standing in the queue at the post office near work I spotted this mug.

At present it just adds to my nerd cred at work, but I'm looking forward to deplying it during a future game. Not sure about this 'when we were young' nonsense though.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

6mm English Civil War

Here's my first effort at painting up a unit of 6mm Baccus figures for the English Civil War. I'm pretty pleased with the result, and they were fun to do! I don't think it will take too long to paint up a couple of armies, with the plan of using them to try out different sets of rules.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marshall Ney Review

Welcome to my 300th post!

The stunningly beautiful figures being sculpted by Alan Perry for Napoleon's retreat from Moscow have certainly succeeded in seducing a number of people to paint their first 28mm Napoleonics, and I'm certainly among them. Inevitably, painting up a bunch of 1812 French is going to make some of us want to tackle a figure of Marshal Ney himself, reputedly the last member of the Grande Armee to leave Russian soil. This post is a review of the 28mm figures available to represent Ney during the retreat of 1812.

Actually, as far as I'm aware, there are only two manufacturers who make suitable figures: Gorgon Studios and Eureka Miniatures. And here they are. In the facing photo, Eureka Ney is on the left, with Gorgon Ney on the right.

To begin with, I have nothing but praise for the customer service of both. When I put in an order with Gorgon Studios for the Ney figure and some of their lovely Western figures based on characters from True Grit, their silly online cart quoted me an obscene postage cost. I emailed them to query this, and heard back straight away with a more accurate quote, and after I completed the order they even chucked in a couple of extra figures, so one very happy Dux.*

As for Eureka, the Ney figure doesn't even feature in their catalogue, as I think they originally made it as a convention figure of some sort. However, when I contacted Nic from Eureka, he very obligingly went out of his way to track one down for me and send it off.

Comparing the figures themselves, both were beautifully cast and required almost no clean up. Eureka Ney had a little flash due to the undercut between his legs, but that was it. Gorgon Ney came with a slotta base, and I must say that I really liked the metal he was made out of. It clinked, which I suppose indicated a high tin content. I know I'm sad, but he really did clink.

Turning to the sculpts themselves, scale-wise they both mix perfectly well with the Perry retreat from Moscow figures, as should be apparent from the comparison photo of both Neys with a Perry dragoon. Eureka Ney is perhaps a tiny bit shorter, but I think that's mainly due to his leaning pose. The poses of both are full of character, and detail is superb. I think the detail of Gorgon Ney is more apparent when looking at the bare metal, and I only fully realised the superb detail of Eureka Ney when I started painting him.

It's when we come to some of the uniform detail that I think Eureka Ney has the edge. Both figures are clearly based on the famous painting of Ney commanding the rearguard by Adolphe Yvon, which was painted decades after the events it depicts.

Eureka Ney is a pretty faithful rendering of how Ney appears in the painting, with his coat open to show details of his uniform underneath and decorations. Gorgon Ney may well be a more plausible version of how Ney might have looked, with his coat done up against the cold and his collar turned up. The one thing I did find difficult about Gorgon Ney was the sculptor's (Mike Owen, by the way)decision to model Ney wearing his sword belt over his coat. I'm ready to be proven wrong, but I'm not sure this would be likely. Sadly, from an aesthetic point of view at least, Gorgon Ney is missing some of the details on his coat that appear in the Yvon painting. The sculptor of Eureka Ney has also clearly consulted other more contemporary portraits of Ney to model details of his uniform and decorations.

So there we have it. Two lovely miniatures that do their subject proud. Both were a joy to paint, and either would fit in beautifully with my Perry figures. But since you press me, if I was on my way to a desert island and could only take one, I'd grab Eureka Ney. I certainly hope that Eureka make him more generally available; he is a great figure who deserves to grace many a tabletop.

*Parenthetically, what is with some of the e-commerce sites people use that quote ridiculous postage? Gorgon followed up my query really well, but I'm sure many potential customers just wouldn't bother contacting them and would just give up instead. While we're on this, I had a completely contrasting experience when I attempted to order some figures early this year from Blue Moon. The amount their site added for postage was absurd, and I contacted them to query it. I rapidly received a reply telling me that, yes, the site always quoted very high postage which was corrected when they actually completed the order, and that someone would get back to me to give me a more accurate idea of the cost. The days turned to weeks. A dog barked in the distance. Nothing more was heard. Blue Moon didn't get my money, and I failed to add another stratum to the lead mountain.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Things We Learn from Taxi Drivers

I should start with a bit of a disclaimer. Taxi drivers clearly have a very challenging job. They work lonely shifts in anti-social hours, and often see human nature at its worst. I should also say that I have met some great cabbies - helpful, interesting people working hard to look after their families.


I am regularly struck by the proportion of taxi drivers I encounter who hold bizarre and parochial opinions. Of course there are the classic unwanted racist observations, you know, along the lines of 'This used to be a nice area didn't it mate? Until THEY moved in.' I guess driving around all day listening to the imbeciles on talkback radio would do that to you after a while, but I seem to have hit a rich vein recently of star graduates from The Cabbie Institute of Bollocks Opinions. Disaster often looms when they ask me what I do and I'm unwise enough to tell the truth about being a history teacher. Suddenly I'm being told that the Persian Empire actually won the Persian Wars, or that the allies couldn't have defeated the Nazis without the help of Brazil.

Recently however I had an outstanding driver who really raised the bar. Here's what the Duchess and I learned during a short trip:

1. Noah's Ark was grounded in Macedonia, making Macedonia the cradle of civilisation.

'\ 2. Macedonians colonised Europe after The Flood, including Scotland. This is the reason so many Scottish names start with 'Mac'.

3. One of the reasons our driver knew all this was because of the fact that he could speak 11 different languages. When asked, he gave his proficiency in Scottish as an example. After I politely enquired whether he meant Gaelic, given that Scottish isn't actually a language, he demonstrated his linguistic prowess by starting to speak in a theatrically offensive and inaccurate Scottish accent. Cockney was also one of his alleged 11 languages, and we heard a fair bit of an approximation of that as well.

4. Our driver had not worn underwear since 1989.

Shortly after this revelation, we arrived home, happy indeed that our trip wasn't any longer.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fun with the Mad Padre

The Mad Padre (along with Stanley the Cat) is running a fun caption contest over on his blog. Entries close Easter Monday!

Check it out here.

British Armour for Battle Group Overlord and Fall of the Reich

Today I finished my first batch of late war British Armour for Battle Group. Apologies for the dark photos, but here is what two boxes of the lovely 15mm Churchills from Plastic Soldier Company look like painted up.

I loved putting this lot together, and it was also the first time I tried out the new PSC Army Sprays paint. I was impressed - the British armour spray covered well and left an excellent finish. The tanks were all covered with extra track links from some spare Sherman sprues, along with some tarps and other impedimenta from SHQ, Skytrex and modelled from wine bottle foil and greenstuff.

These Churchills are nearly all from the Coldstream Guards, part of the much-photographed 6th Guards Armoured Brigade, and are based on their appearance in early 1945.

Churchills executing a Top Speed order in BG(FotR) while a 17pdr Achilles remains on Reserve Fire

The individual tank names in the 6th Guards are well known, making this a nice unit to build. For detail, see this excellent site.

For my force I've made the tanks from three troops (Nos. 11-13) of C Squadron, 4th Battalion Coldstream Guards. No. 11 and 13 Troop are made up of Churchill VIs, while No. 12 Troop (identifiable from the lack of crew figures) is made up of Churchill IVs, armed with the 6pdr. I have no idea in reality which tanks were IVs or VIs, but my understanding is that the 6th Guards contained both types in order to retain the superior AP qualities of the 6pdr with the better HE of the Churchill VI, which was armed with the same 75mm gun found on the Cromwell. Indeed, I think I'm right in saying that the Mark III and IVs were all replaced by Mark VIs in late 1944, but some were brought back to give the units better anti-tank protection. By early 1945 some of these tanks should probably be the better armoured Mark VII, but unfortunately the turret and hull of the later mark is sufficiently different that PSC couldn't fit the option into their box, despite the fact that the box art actually depicts the mark VII! The BG rules reflect the slightly better AP quality of the Mark III and IV over the Mark VI, so it will be fun to try to use my specialised Troops in cooperation with each other.

First up, No. 11 Troop, with Bandit, Buccaneer and Bulldog.

No. 12 Troop, of Dreadnought, Defiant and Dauntless.

No. 13 Troop, with Minotaur, Minerva and Medusa

The tenth tank is an AVRE from the 79th Armoured Division, but I'm still waiting on some decals to make this apparent. On the subject of decals, all the vehicle names and unit markings are from Dom's Decals. Dom has a pretty comprehensive range of decals for the British in NW Europe in several scales, along with all sorts of other great stuff. Delivery isn't quick, but they are worth the wait.

Well that wraps up the Churchills. Off the assembly line today were also two Skytrex M10 Achilles. I'm slightly baffled as to what markings to give these, although most of them are probably covered by stowage anyway. The 6th Guards didn't have organic tank destroyers, so when they appear working together (as in the photo above) they must have come from some independent RHA unit. Anyone have any clues?

I'm liking the fact that in BG the survivability of Churchills will depend a lot on their ability to act as part of a combined arms team, maneuvering under the cover of tank destroyers, for example. Quite a different set of challenges to, say, those of the Germans in Battle Group Kursk, whose tanks are much more versatile.

Time now to get stuck in to some Ram Kangaroos that are in the painting queue. But of course, Happy Easter to all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


The last couple of months have been pretty awful, and I've been stressed out of my tiny mind and somewhat despondent. I blame this state of mind entirely for a moment of weakness a couple of weeks back. After a long and busy day I was trawling around the internet and drinking beer. Instead of drunkenly deciding that I was the answer to a Lonely Russian Beauty's prayers, I found myself seduced by some shiny things on the Baccus website. My guilty secret duly arrived yesterday - the awesome Baccus ECW starter set with two armies, Polemos rules, some lovely resin buildings and bases. Yay!

This now makes three scales that I have ECW figures for. Yay me!

So go on - what are your moment of weakness internet purchases (apart from the Lonely Russian Beauties Looking For Love)?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Battle Group Markers

Here's a brilliant thing - a set of situation markers for the Battle Group Games made from laser-cut MDF by Commission Figurines. These are excellent little tokens that will make our games a lot easier. They also make full sets of Battle Rating tokens for Kursk, Overlord and Fall of the Reich, and you can even choose from a range of different finishes.

I owe these to the generosity of Man Cave Paul, who was kind enough to pick me up a set. Thanks Paul!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

SAGA at Leviathan 2014

While many of you lucky sods in the UK were off to Salute, I had an enjoyable day yesterday at the altogether more modest affair of Leviathan, the annual convention put on by Sydney's Western Suburbs Gaming Society.

Many thanks to Matt from the Hall of Heroes for sponsoring the day's SAGA tournament. I took along my Pagan Rus, winning one game out of three. I was super chuffed though to win the best painted army on the day, which won me a gift certificate from Hall of Heroes (promptly spent on some PSC Panzer IIIs) and a trophy which will arrive in due course.

I've never been attracted to tournaments, but so far every experience I've had of playing SAGA with strangers has been incredibly positive. There is something about the game that tends not to attract dicks. Instead, everyone I've played has been much more focused on having fun than winning at all cost. My most enjoyable game yesterday was against a Viking player, with both of us essentially leading our warbands in the way that we thought Vikings would have, which led to much slaughter and shouts of 'Odin'. Gamesmanship definitely took a backseat. The other thing I enjoyed yesterday was seeing how well the more 'basic' warbands, such as Vikings, hold up against the more complex factions that have come out in recent supplements.

So congratulations to the winners on the day, and thanks everyone for a fun day.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Plastic Soldier Army Spray

I'm off tomorrow for a couple of days bivouacking in the rain and leeches with Army Cadets, but I did manage to make some progress this weekend with my British forces for Battlegroup Fall of the Reich. With everything assembled I gave the horde a spray of white primer, then tried out the new British Armour Army Spray from Plastic Soldier Company. I must say I was very pleased with the result. The paint seems a little more viscous than other sprays, and I think it would be unforgiving if you tried to spray on too much at once. A couple of lighter coats is definitely called for.

The finish and colour is really nice - and it's great to see all that plastic, resin and metal looking green.