Monday, November 24, 2014

DBA 3.0 Greek Hoplite Army

This is my first completed army for DBA 3.0, and the first project of any kind that I have completed in the last three or four years. It is I/52h Aitolian or Akarnian Hoplite Army 668-449 BC, consisting of 1x4Sp (General,) 3x4SP, 8x2Ps. Commentary on figure and color choices can be found here: A New Beginning

The army overall



More Spears, including one with her shield on her back

Final Spears, with a back-shield, and a left-handed Hoplite

A representative Psiloi element

Another Psiloi element

A New Beginning

OK, so when the dog killed my laptop, it took most of my notes and plans for my Imagi-Nation project (as well as many other notes and plans.) That really took a lot of wind out of my sails for all things hobby-related for a while. I also had an occupational injury in there which limited my abilities for a while.

When I did start up again, I started helping my daughter Maria assemble the Wargames Factory Amazons that I gifted her for her birthday (I also gifted Diana, who is 13, a box of the same for her birthday; she never even opened it, they outgrow things so fast!) She had tried to do them on her own, but found them much more fiddly than the GW High Elves she had previously finished.

Wargames Factory Amazon Warriors

So, it became a Daddy-Daughter project, with her deciding on poses and equipment and me doing the actually assembly (using tweezers as necessary lol!) The plan was to base them individually, and play Song of Blades and Heroes with them. Before we even finished assembling them, Maria lost interest in hobby gaming. Ah, the terror of unlimited data on an iPhone in the hands of an 11-year old!

Now, what I wanted to do was finish working on my armies for De Bellis Antiquitatis (referred to as DBA hereafter.) I had been halfway through a New Kingdom Egyptian army and an Early Libyan army themed on Amazons before I ran out of funds to finish them. But now, I had a discarded box of soldiers to work with... could I do a Greek-themed Amazon army with it?

A New Kingdom Egyptian chariot in front of my Built Up Area.

You see, I am a bit obsessed with historical/legendary Amazon armies. My research has shown that there were two actual possibly historical Amazon societies in antiquity. One was in the Libyan desert, based on some rock art. This was the inspiration for the Amazon theme of my Early Libyan army. The other was on the south coast of the Black Sea, on the Thermodon River. These would be based on a Skythian army list in wargaming terms. But the bulk of Amazon army ideas seems to be greek, so I always fancied doing a semi-historical Hoplite DBA army as Amazons. And now I had my chance. Previously, my only colpeted Amazon armies had been in 15mm, one for Hordes of the things, and one for DBA v1.0 using the Early Libyan list.

My 15mm HotT Amazon army, using nude females from Museum Miniatures and loosely based on early greek armies.

I looked through the DBA 3.0 draft lists for Early Hoplite Greeks to see if there were any greek armies that would have come from northern Anatolia, and after some questions on TMP I discovered that Asiatic Greeks (DBA 3.0 list I/52g) were exactly what I was looking for. And, since I had all the army lists on my phone, I could sort everything out while at the doctor's office or in line at the grocery store. It rated as 4 Spear elements including the General, and 8 Psiloi elements that I arm with bows, since a big part of the greek Amazon legends was their archery.

Libyan Amazons, converted from Shadowforge Tribals with Wargames factory Amazon Warrior heads, based on rock art found in Libya.
So, it was all good. I went about and organized the Amazons, realized I needed a few more, and my older daughter volunteered her box to add to the army on the provision that they could both use it when the time came for gaming. Everything was assembled and primed, I cut my bases so they would be ready when the time came, and I started painting. I did Psiloi first, since that was the bulk of the army and there would be less to of them to complete in order to show more finished elements. It's my way of fooling myself into thinking I have finished more than I actually have.

Around the time I had finished six of my eight Psiloi elements, I sat down to start writing this blog post about my progress. I opened up the army list on my computer, and much to my surprise the Asiatic Greek army entry indicated 1 Cavalry element as a General, 9 Spear elements, and 2 Psiloi elements. Somehow, while looking at things on my phone screen, I had missed a line and built my Amazon army as the I/52h Aitolian or Akarnanian army instead. I had no idea who the Aitolians or Akarnanians even were. As it turnes out they, they were a league of city states on the west coast of Greece, about as far from any historical Amazon settlement as possible. But, it was were I was already headed with the army, and short of buying another box of Amazons, it was what I was going to finish with.

When it came to painting, I decided to go with one of my favorite color combinations, bronze/gold and black. I was somewhat inspired by the new Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot in the upcoming "Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice" movie:
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
I also decided to hand paint all of my shields individually, with varying degrees of success. For pictures of the Amazon army, see DBA 3.0 Greek Hoplite Army

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Some Thoughts On Painting

Yup... still posting from my phone. I am in the process of getting one of the old desktop computers up and running, so hopefully I will be back to normal posting soon. In the meantime, I thought I would share a few short thoughts about painting miniatures and getting older. No pictures this time, just a small wall of text.

I am getting older, and my close-up eyesight seems to be going. I can still hit 20/15 at the doctor's office, but I just can't seem to focus on the little details like I used to.  About six years ago, I decided to switch wholesale to 15mm miniatures. But about a year ago, I realized I couldn't see the details enough to paint them. I bought a pair of reading glasses, then another stronger pair, but it was hopeless. I switched back to 28mm so I could see what I was painting. In part, this blog is a result of that; I had plenty of 15mm War of Spanish Succession miniatures that I wanted to use for my Imagi-Nation skirmish project, but I could not paint them. So, I decided to make a fresh start on it all with new miniatures, and share the progress here.

But as I have been painting, I realize I still miss the details. I can't do buckles on straps or shoes at all any more, and faces are looking a bit odd. I used to be a pretty good painter, I made first cut at Golden Demon Los Angeles around ten years ago.

I have to accept that I am never going to be able to paint like I used to. I have to accept that my newer miniatures are going to only look "good," not the little works of art that each one used to be.

There are a lot of things that I should be accepting at this point in my life. But somehow I can't let it all go. I keep thinking that I will somehow revert to my mid-30's, and magically be at that point in my life where my mind and body were both at their best.

It seems I had one set of ideas when I started writing this, and it mutated before I was done. Hmmm...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Dog Ate My Homework

So, yeah... the dog got a little excited and wiped out my computer. I can make small posts from my phone, but the big, sweeping, photo-heavy pages will be waiting for a while. I will probably post more often, but just little things like links to good pages, or customer service reviews. We will have to see.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Interlude, With Airplanes

Today, I want to take a break from El Principade de le Comadreja, and take a little walk back to last summer, when I embarked upon a new hobby path. Or picked back up a very old one, depending on your point of view.

By June of last year, I realized I needed a break from wargaming miniatures. I hadn't painted anything in a while, but I was always organizing, sorting, and making grand plans for the remainder of my collection. I would alternately pull out and pack away again my various 15mm, 28mm, and prepainted collections trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Nothing ever really got done, and I realized I just needed a break from the whole model soldier thing. All of a sudden, I had some spare time and no idea what I wanted to do with it.

As it turned out, I wanted to build model airplanes. I had an old P-40 Warhawk and a P-70 Nighthawk, both in 1/48 scale, still in their boxes awaiting some attention. So I decided that 1/48 WWII aircraft would be my new hobby. At least for a while. As a child, I had built airplanes in a variety of scales, usually haphazardly and with minimal interior detailing or painting. So, starting in October of last year until very recently, I puttered with my airplane kits, slowly assembling them before moving on to the next. I think I had better airplane assembly skills back when I was a teenager, because all of these kits gave me trouble in one way or another. But I am more patient now, and fully painted every sub-assembly before it was attached to the next step. So, even while the assembly of these kits leave a lot to be desired, the overall effect is better than what I was creating back when plastic models was all that I did.

Enough commentary, on to the pictures!

P-40 Warhawk

The P-40 was a bit of a workhorse for the USAAF, this one is painted for North Africa and ios loaded for some ground attack missions as well as air superiority. The kit was an old AMT one, but it went together smoothly and was probably the perfect plane to get me back into the groove of building plastic airplanes.

P-70 Nighthawk

The Nighthawk was a variation of the A-26, modified to be a nightfighter and reconaissance craft. The baomb bay was replaced with bigger guns and a huge ammo hopper, and various fun things like radar was added. I think it is remakably big for a two-seater. It was an old AMT kit, and gave me very few problems except for the landing gear, which was a nightmare. I think I re-did the struts five or so times, and finally just dripped superglue over them and held them in place until the plane sat level.

J2M3 Raiden

An cousin of the A6 series Zero, this interceptor was fraught with design problems from the intial prototypes to the final producion models. However, I have built so mmany Zeros over the course of my life that I wanted a different kind of Japanese plane. I really wanted a Betty bomber, but in 1/48 scale they are prohibitively large. Besides, this was under $15 which is a fine price for a weekend project. This was a Ta,iya kit. Tamiya had always been the benchmark for quality when I was younger, and this one did not diappoint.

J7W1 Shinden

And when it comes to different kinds of Japanese planes, I have to say that this has got to be the craziest looking plane I have seen from WWII. It was designed with the pusher-prop so that it could be replaced with a jet engine when the technology became available. Even by my modern standards, this looks like it comes from outer space. It did not enter production quickly enough to see service before the end of the war. The kit was Hasegawa, and was perhaps a little beyond my basic assembly skills. I muddled through and am happy with the result.

He 162 Volksjager

The last gasp of Nazi airpower, this jet fighter was designed to be built of plywood and intended to be flown by Hitler Youth Corps pilots trained in to fly in gliders. They saw one engagement with experienced pilots at the stick before the end of the war. I think they look a lot like what a goblin would be like if one were an airplane. A goblin plane, if you will. The kit was from DML, with photo-etched brass parts. I had never worked with photoetched brass before, and I do not want to do so again. The whole thing was a damn pain in the ass to put together, and in my opinion less due to my lack of skill than this was just a poor-fitting kit. My next project will be either Revell/Monogram, or Tamiya. Those are where I need to be in terms of fit,  complexity, and skill.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Minatures Have Arrived!


My little box of soldiers arrived in the mail. I bought a single box of plastic War of the Spanish Succession Infantry, manufactured by Wargames Factory. This gives me 24 models in marching pose, and 12 of optional configurations. But before I can very excitably start assembling these guys, I really REALLY need to know which forces I am building, and how they will be organized.

To start with, I wanted to figure out exactly what I was doing with the troops of El Principado de la Comadreja. Since they are nominally from the Spanish Netherlands, and heavily influenced by the Holy Roman Empire, I decided to use the Prussian soldier listing from the core Songs of Drums and Shakos rules. To make it really easy, and to keep my “everyman” feel for the force, I decided on basic line infantry and a NCO. With a target size of about 300 points, that neatly gave me a group of 10, with 9 soldiers and an NCO all equipped with muskets and the NCO additionally with a sword. Literally, I was up in the middle of the night working on these things, I was that excited to be working on them. It has been FOREVER since I have started a whole new project like this, and by the time I got my miniatures in hand, it was time to get started. I got a little happy with the multi-part soldiers, using four of them to make the NCO and three troopers, the other six were all the marching poses. I used a variety of Tricorn heads for them, exactly the look I had envisioned. These were EXACTLY what I wanted and damn, I am happy with them. I can’t remember the last time I was this pleased with what $20 had brought me.

I had forgotten to decide something important before assembling my models; namely, how I was going to base them. It wasn’t until after they were finished that I decided I wanted to trim the integral bases off, and pin them to 25mm round plastic bases. So I went ahead and prepared the bases, while those were drying up I removed the bases from the feet of the figures. I lost a few swords and a head or two while doing this, but nothing that could not be re-attached easily. A quick coat of white gesso to prime them, and the first group of soldiers for El Principado de la Comadreja were ready for painting.

My favourite color combination is black and yellow... originally I just thought it was pleasingling wasp-like, but I later learned that those colors are associated with suicide in Freudian psychology; now, it is my absolute favorite! So a nice black uniform, with yellow stockings, cuffs, and scarf sounds just the trick. And the waistcoat and trousers in dark grey, just to break it up a little. And as a final touch, white powdered hair and/or wogs far ahead of their time, just to make a nice contrast to all the black. And then, as I started to do the detail work, I slowly remembered what an absolute pain in the ass it is to paint yellow...

My immediate follow-up was my second assembly project, which I had been really looking forward to. I was going to build El Conejo Malo himself, the Lacepunk Punkrabbitt. I have gotten pretty good over the years at removing the feet, bunny tail, and head from a variety of Ral Partha’s Leaper and Thumper models, and then re-attaching them, Frankenstein-style, to plastic models. This time was no different, but I really wanted him to have a tricorn like the rest of my models. Fortunately, the WSS Infantry set come with plenty of extra heads, so it was no problem to remove the head from one and drop it onto the bunny head of my new conversion piece.

Except… except it looked too big. I don’t have a picture of it, but it definitely didn’t look right. So, I decided on a tiny tricorn, more like what a lady would wear in the city, but easily available from some leftover Essex 15mm WSS Dutch I had bought a lifetime ago and never finished. So I clipped the little hat off a dragoon, tried it on for size, and it looked perfect on his head. A little putty work for hair and I have a new tabletop avatar!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

El Conejo Malo!

One of the things I always like to do when I start a new period is to create my own personal avatar, a Punkrabbitt miniature appropriate to the setting.

I have done Pirate Punkrabbitt:

I have done  Space Pirate Punkrabbitt:

 And I have done  Post-Apocalyptic Punkrabbitt:

So I really must, MUST create one to go with my Imagi-Nation project. And while “Age of Reason Punkrabbitt” or “Lacepunk Punkrabbitt” (with apologies to John the OFM) doesn’t have quite the same catchy ring to it as the others, I certainly plan to create this model. Probably as the first thing I do once I get my box o’ plastic miniatures.

On second thought, I do like the sound of “Lacepunk Punkrabbitt.” But I digress.

As I mentioned in my last posting, I realized I need to learn something about 18th century warfare. As it turns out, this is a surprisingly difficult subject to research on the internet (especially if, like me, one does not have a good frame of reference of even how to start researching something like that.) I came across one (yes, just one) dedicated research site about the Seven Years’ War, which was later than I was really looking for, but provided some good insight. Check it out at Kronoskaf  Largely my information about European warfare circa 1725 came, again, from The Miniatures page. I went through literally YEARS worth of postings to come up with some concrete ideas on how to organize my little groups of soldiers. Of particular interest, despite what I had presumed from the Song of Drums and Shakos rules, is that small skirmish groups of soldiers would most likely be all of the same basic type. Thus, a group of 3 line infantry, 2 Grenadiers, 4 Hussars, and a Dragoon would be HIGHLY unlikely. Thus, when I get around to actual troop organization, I think my “special” troops will be grouped along national lines; the French may be all Grenadiers, British might be Dragoons, and the average Line Infantry will be reserved for El Principado de la Comadreja, as they are my Everyman, my protagonists. As time goes on, I may include a new group for various nations here and there. We will have to see.

Yes, this one was short. But you got to see cool self-referential miniatures of mine, so I think it’s a fair trade.