What I’m Up To

I’ve nearly made it to one of every teacher’s favorite time of year-Christmas break. I’m exhausted.  Really.  Adding yearbook to my newspaper duties is wearing me out.  I love it, but it’s hard and stressful.

In any case I’m a couple of days out. and I couldn’t be happier. I’m looking forward to time for my Pensacola project and one of my goals is to be ready to playtest by the time I go back to school.

Of course life would not be Smyth without a complication or two.  This time the complication is that my wife, the lovely and talented Mrs. Smyth, is going to have rotator cuff surgery on Dec. 30th.  That’s right your basic shoulder rebuild, which may keep me from gaming for a while. It will definitely keep me out of a Lion Rampant gig on January 2nd.

Mostly I’ve been working on the Pensacola project.  I’ve nearly entered the terminal stage for preparing “stuff” for the Ironclads game.  Spoke with David Sullivan about the game on Sunday and we’ve definitely decided on Enfilade Sunday as the game date.

Morgan and Gaines

Thoroughbred Morgan and Gaines.  Same model for both ships.

I’m wrapping up work on a bunch of Thoroughbred miniatures for the game.  I finally wrapped up Morgan and Gaines.  I’m pretty happy with them.  I gave them a really simple rig to finish up.  It was more than a little bit of a struggle to do the very little rigging. Dunno what the deal was. I actually remembered to stick a flag on these babies too.  Something I’m bad at.

I also finished Miantonomah and the little Casco light draft monitor as a torpedo boat.  The Miantonomah was a double turreted monitor mounting four 15-inch Dahlgren smoothores.  Never played with one in a game, but I’m sure it would be nasty and a half. There were several in its class and it was followed by the even larger Kalamazoo class.A friend gifted me my Thoroughbred Mianatonomah. Not to seem ungrateful, but I reprimed and repainted it so it would fit in better with my paint scheme.

The Cascos were a class of light draft monitors that were less successful than their predecessors, the Passaic and Canonicus classes.  Intended for service on rivers, they saved weight with their very under-powered engines.  Most of the ships in the class were turreted and mounted a pair of 11-inch Dahlgren smoothbores.  However five vessels went turretless and carried a single eleven inch gun in an open mount (yikes) and mounted a spar torpedo.  Unfortunately its max speed was about 5 1/2 knots, which makes its effectiveness as a torpedo deliver device somewhat suspicious. Like all Union ironclads in my collection it is painted neutral gray.

The Modoc, which is what I’ll name my miniature, is a very nice model. With the torpedo removal device on the bow, the goofy armored tower, the 11-inch open mount which sits between two ventilators (making firing directly forward impossible.) A bit more interesting than your basic monitor. However, I have little question it would be pretty terrible in a fight.  Under armored, under armed, too slow, pretty much all the cards are against it, but in a game who knows.

I have a few more Thoroughbred models I’ll finish over the break. The Confederate ironclad Tuscaloosa will finish the Mobile Squadron.  A nice, simple model, smallish for an ironclad.  Maybe a different take on the Richmond class.  In addition I have a pair of the five gun earthworks that will be options for the Union defenders to share.


Confederate ironclad Tuscaloosa didn’t have engines in time for the Mobile Bay action, but for Pensacola–who knows?

I don’t think I can overstate how much I enjoy working on the T-bred ships.  They are solid, realistic, and I know what I’m getting.  While I think the Bay miniatures are also very good they are more impressionistic-a work of art that always seem to challenge my limited modeling skills. The ranges complement each other, and I would be oh so disappointed if something happened to either company, but the Throughbred line is still my favorite.

T-bred earthworks

Two Union earthworks by Thoroughbred

With the break now here (it took me a couple of days to write) I’ll finish these miniature and move on.  I have some 1/300 British WWII planes from Raiden miniatures to begin painting for the Channel Dash, and I’ve gotten a bit of a start on my Irish Civil War figures from Footsore miniatures.

More later.

Music to Paint By

BlondieI’ve finished my Blondie mini-collection.  Yes, everyone knows “Heart of Glass” and maybe “Call Me,” they are two quite good singles, but Blondie is so much more than that.  The final record to acquire with my record store sales is their 1976 self-titled debut. Blondie is New York punk/new wave.  The songs are relatively simple and up-tempo and a lot of fun. Though it has the distinctive new wave beat, their is definitely a canny pop sensibility.  It also has Debbie Harry’s sweet voice in contrast to the often harsh vocals of their contemporaries-The Ramones, The Patti Smith Group, and others.  But the songs, sung by the tough chick with a heart of gold, are anything but sweet.  Lots of good songs on this record, but my favorites are “In the Flesh,” and “Rip Her to Shreds.” The original Private Sessions pressings can be spendy, but the Chrysalis reissues are a bit more affordable. Very good stuff.

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