Dragon Rampant down payment

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Mithril Rohirrim, painted and finally seeing the light of day after about two decades of darkness. Nice to get them done.

March is always a slow month for me.  Actually the middle of February to the middle of April is difficult because so much is going on at school  The newspaper usually has a deadline week.  There is loads of preparation for the national convention in April.  With the addition of the yearbook there are more deadlines.  Students need letters of recommendation.  It’s just busy.

And at home it’s not much better.  Sunday is the first day of spring.  I haven’t mowed my back yard yet and there is tons of stuff to do.  Gah!

So, I know I’m behind in my posts and I haven’t painted as much as I’d like to.

However, I have finished my first Rohan unit.  As promised, I finished my old unit of riders, and they are by Mithril figures.  I pried these out of their boxes about 20 years ago, and chopped away their leg supports and they are now quite fragile.  I really enjoyed painting the horses, but the miniatures, though they too are pretty nice are a bit fiddly and I painted the riders after mounting them on their horses.  Some of the detail was super hard to get at, so I may need to reassess this.

Even so, that’s the first of about eight or nine units I’ll paint of the Rohirrim. I have them all, mostly plastic, I just need to buckle down and paint ’em up.

On the painting table

I have a couple of things I’m working on.  The first is ten civilians for the Irish Civil War by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures.  I bought two sets and they are pretty nice.  They really come from their Very British Civil War range, and as such look a bit more from the 30’s than 20’s, but I don’t think anyone will notice.  They are nearly done, which will leave about 30 figures more to paint for the project. I will have some vehicles to paint–a beautiful Lancia armored truck no longer available from Musketeer, and a pair of Crosley transports by Company B.  We’ll see how good I am at this vehicle business.

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A nice variety of civilians by Musketeer/Footsore miniatures. They were designed for the Very British Civil War range, so they look a little more 30’s than 20’s.

I also have a pair of Thoroughbred Passaic class monitors primed and ready to go.  I’ll be offering them as potential Union naval forces for the Pensacola game.  I have a third that is painted that needs to be remounted from its original balsa base, and I’ll probably do that over Spring Break, which starts next week. I’ve already decided to paint the two new ships as the Lehigh and the Nahant with its black and green coloring respectively.

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Three Passaic class monitors by Thoroughbred Figures.  I’m going to repaint my older ship so they’ll all fit together.

Less is More. 

March has not been a smart month for NOT buying miniatures.  I haven’t gone absolutely nuts, but I’m really interested in building Conquistadors and Aztecs for Lion Rampant.  David Sullivan and I have both dabbled in rules and have similar ideas.  David has also been buying figures. In any case, I sent off an order for a dozen figures from Eureka and when I was at Panzer Depot, I bought another dozen.  I’ll be painting some Spanish arquebusiers.  In any case, let’s just say my net positive has taken a hit.  I started with 25 figures + the 6 Rohirrim= 30-24 =6.  That’s not so good, though I’m nearly done with the ten ICW civilians, and should be done with the monitors before the break is over.

Music to Paint By

Metallica

I’m not a heavy metal music fan.  It just doesn’t appeal to me as a genre or subgenre. But I love “Enter Sandman” and “The Unforgiven” by Metallica.  There’s just not getting around the lure of great songs. Though I could see adding the band’s 1991 eponymously titled record to my collection, the problem was it falls into the vinyl “sweet spot” as the industry was ending production of records and stepping up the production of compact discs.  With only one LP pressing, the starting value of Metallica is about $175.00.  So when I was trolling the new records at my local shop and there was a bright, shiny new copy, I snapped it up.  I was not disappointed.  If you like these songs on the radio or MP3, you’ll really like them on vinyl.  I paid about $27.00 to support my local record store.  You’ll pay about $25 on Amazon. Worth every penny.

 

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Bostons and the Irish cops

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I’m having a great painting month.  And with a four day weekend approaching (for this teacher, at any rate,) and nothing much planned, I’m looking forward to a great painting weekend.

First on my completion pile is the C in C Boston bombers.  These are American built bombers built by Douglas.  Primarily light bombers or attack planes and given the designation A-20A, many were flown by the Brits as Boston II’s.  I chose to paint them in a North Africa/Mediterranean scheme.  They are my entire British RAF representatives for this theater.  Maybe I need more. It will encourage me to paint my GHQ Hurricane II’s I’ve had sitting around for decades.

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The miniatures are by C in C. The minis have lines that are really clean and I like that.  However, they are bit short of detail.  Overall nice, but lacking a little bit, or the scribing so light for the control surfaces I simply painted out the detail The camouflage is Vallejo Desert Yellow as a base, with Vallejo Military green.  I dry brushed over the whole business with white to lighten up the colors a bit and then black washed the lot. The undersurface is painted with Vallejo Light Grey.  The paint scheme is out of the book Flying Colours.

I’ll probably add two more at a future time so I have four planes to work with.  That’s the minimum.

I’ve also completed nine of the Musketeer/Footsore Royal Irish Constabulary figures. These are figures I really enjoyed painting, probably because they are really easy.  With their dark green 20th century uniforms, there isn’t a whole lot to them.  I used Vallejo Military Green as the base color and did my best to highlight them, but they are still pretty dark. I painted their cartridge belts black, which may be a no-no, but I have no photos to refer to for this equipment, and all other belting was black and the Auxies most definitely wore black cartridge belts.

What’s on my painting table?

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From the RIC to WWII at sea.  I’ve assembled and primed four of the Skytrex-now ROS/Heroics-Siebel ferries.  I had a couple I purchased during our St. Nazaire prep last year. I added a two more in December. They’ll go with my 1/600 coastal collection.  They served in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the Channel coasts.  A unique catamaran vessel they were designed for the invasion of Britain in 1940.  They were designed as amphibious landing craft, and could carry about 100 tons of cargo, including trucks and tanks.  Experimentation with propulsion systems included truck engines and aircraft engines. All were armed at least with light AA weapons, and some were armed with multiple 88mm guns.

After that, it’s on to a couple of much larger vessels, the German Wolf class torpedo boat we’ll use in the Channel Dash scenario. The second vessel is a British V & W class destroyer.  I’ve decided to do the Wolf in light gray with a white bow wave camo.  The British destroyer I’m going to color up a bit in a Western Approaches color scheme which includes a white hull and markings in pastel green and light blue gray.  No point in tedium.

After the ships it will be on to do the first unit of Rohirrim for Dragon Rampant.  These will all be Mithril miniatures I bought during the early 1990’s, so needless to say they’ve been waiting around for a paint job for a while. Then it will be hydroplanes and assembling some Crosley tenders for my Irish project. I have one model by Sloppy Jalopy and two more by Company B miniatures.  I’ll cross my fingers and trust to luck.

Less is more

I did make one purchase.  I picked up a pair of Passaic class monitors from Thoroughbred.  Just wanted to fill out what I have. This will give me three monitors from a class of ten. I won’t need any more.  I suspect another order in the not too distant future-probably a Canonicus class monitor and the Civilian Purchased Screw steamer variant of the always useful Yankee Gunboat model.  Any variety of steamer I can put my hands on is a bonus.

That makes me a +11-2 for this time, and a + 19 for the year.

And a quick plug

I’ve been buying 1/600 scale ACW ships from Throughbred Figures since they issued the Albemarle almost 25 years ago.  I’ve always loved owner/designer Toby Barrett’s work. It is of high quality, sturdy and for an all metal miniature, very fairly priced.  Now Toby has added superb customer service.  I ordered my monitors on Monday and they were in my mailbox today (Friday.) For the record, Virginia Beach, the home of Thoroughbred Figures, is about as far as one can be from beautiful Puyallup Washington, and remain in the continental United States.  Check it out here.

Pages afloat

Normally I would be sharing some awesome music with you.  Unfortunately my listening habits have been detoured by my decision to binge watch The X-Files.  Sick? A waste of time? Absolutely, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. But for the next post, I promise I’ll share a review of Zephyr, by the band of the same name.  Haven’t heard of them?  Well, you will soon.

However, I have bought a few books recently, all of them related to naval warfare in a couple of different periods. Note:  I have read none of them yet, but two are relatively new, and worth knowing about.

51j13gnZ0mL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Henry V’s Navy: The Sea Road to Agincourt and Conquest 1413-1422 .  by Ian Friel To suggest that books about the Hundred Years War at sea are as rare as hen’s teeth may be giving too much credit to the hens. The only other book-length study I’m aware of is 2011’s Edward III and The War at Sea, 13227-1377 and is pretty much worth a king’s ransom (and somehow I missed it when it came out, sniff.)  I determined not to be shut out when this book became available on February 1, and promptly ordered a copy.  The small volume was not over-priced, and I’m hoping to read it soon. Henry V was a noted shipbuilder and vastly increased the size of the fleet that virtuallydisappeared during the reign of Richard II.

51CezmtWcJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Civil War at Sea by Craig Symonds.  Symonds’ name may ring a bell.  He’s a prolific writer, best known for his military atlases, but he’s written about many military topics, including the naval aspects of the Civil War.  He tackles this massive topic thematically rather than chronologically, focusing on the changing nature of ships and armament, the blockade, commerce raiding, war on the rivers, the attack on ports (using Charleston as an example) and the success of the Union naval strategy. The book has only 170 pages of text, so it tends not to get hung up on detail, so if that is your desire this may not be the book for you.  But as a thematic interpretation of the Civil War on the water, it could do the trick.

61yXPXIuvrL._SY454_BO1,204,203,200_The Confederate Steam Navy by Donald Canney.  I have only ordered this book and haven’t received it yet.  But I have been angling for a copy since it was released on December 9th.  Canney’s book on the Confederate Navy is supposed to mirror his brilliant two volume study of the The Old Steam Navy that went out of print in the ’90’s.  These are books I constantly consult and I believe the new book will be just as useful.  So much of what is written about the Confederate Navy is conjectural while Canney’s work always seems to be anything but.  It covers all types of vessels from the ironclad rams to blockade runners, and as with his previous work, will be crammed with illustrations and photos, some not previously published.  I’m excited.  Hoping it arrives from Amazon today.

 

Musketeer/Footsore Irish Republican Army

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14 IRA gunmen by Musket Miniatures, now Footsore Miniatures.

Being of Irish heritage-my much missed grandfather was from Cork-the Irish Rebellion and Civil War 1916-22 is of great interest to me.  A few years ago I bought figures from Musketeer Miniatures for this period, a British company, who had an American distributor in the U.S. Unfortunately Musketeer changed hands last year and is now part of Footsore miniatures.

They weren’t my first figures for the Irish conflict.  The Australian company, Cannon Fodder also got a start on the period with a group of very nice IRA gunman, a very nice Auxiliary figure and a British soldier.  Unfortunately they didn’t get very far with the range before Cannon Fodder became Blaze Away miniatures.  Sadly, Blaze Away is now gone and so are 20th century figures from the Cannon Fodder line.  Pity.

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A little tighter view of the Lewis gun, left, with his loader.  There is a nice variety of figures in the range and the figures themselves are pretty good. A little bit of breakage, however, and some mold mark issues as well.

I’ve decided to focus on my collection of figures for this period as one of my painting projects for 2016 and yesterday I finished my collection of IRA gunmen–14 in all.  When I bought my Musketeer figures I was very excited about them.  I’m a bit less so now.  Let’s be clear, they are still nicely proportioned, historically correct, and dressed in a variety of period attire, but they have some production issues that make them a bit less than I’d like.  First, they have very breakable gun barrels. At about two bucks a figure, the last thing I want is to get figures that aren’t usable because their gun barrels are broken. Some also had unfortunate mold marks.  Well-detailed pewter figures are hard to clean, and I found these with just a little too much flash in hard-to-get-to places for my liking.  If I was rating them, they’d get maybe a 7 of 10.  Good, but not brilliant. Cleaner than your average Old Glory figure, but not as good as the average Perry figure.

Nothing fancy to paint these guys.  They are a combination of Vallejo and Ceramcoat colors. I did make sure to do some highlighting before washing them with Vallejo black and brown wash.

What’s on my painting table

I’ll be taking on my first Dragon Rampant unit.  I have twelve orcs from a variety of manufactures, including Mithril, Ral Partha, and Alternative Armies.  They work together size wise, plus, as we learned in Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring, orcs are manufactured in a variety of colors and sizes, so–no problem.

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Watch out!! My first Dragon Rampant unit is on the painting table.  It’s a mixture of Ral Partha, Mithril and Alternative Armies figures.  It’s actually a pretty nice mix.

I’ve also dredged up a pair of C in C Boston II’s from my aging airplane stash.  I’m still assembling them, which is not always an easy feat.  They’ll be completed in a camo for the British in the Mediterranean.

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The very nice C-in-C Boston II’s.  I like forward to painting these in British colors for the Mediterranean.

Looking way down the road my next Irish Civil War unit will be the green-clad Royal Irish Constabulary figures by Musketeer–there are seven of them.

Less is More

I’ve given up the idea of tracking each of my purchases and painting on a running basis, but I have come to embrace the idea that finishing figures is a good thing, and completing more than I purchase is also good.  So I’ll try to keep a running total right here in Less is More. Just in general, I’m not buying new stuff–well sort of.  I did buy some planes for the Channel Dash as well as additional jets for a future Cuban Missile Crisis project. I also have some stuff from ROS coming, some day in my lifetime, that I’ll figure into this initial entry.  The goal is to finish the year with more painted figures than purchases, way more.

Purchases

  • From 1-94 Enterprises  28 airplanes
  • From ROS  6 airplanes 2 Siebel ferries

Painted

  • 20 airplanes
  • 14 Irish Republican army figures

Net

34 figures painted (January) – 36 purchased (December) = net of -2 figures.  Still a week to go in the month and no additional purchases planned.  I fully expect this will be the only time I register a negative number.

Music to Paint By

When I graduated from college in 1978, one really popular album was the debut by Van Halen.  It was like nothing I’d ever heard before.  One of the songs Eddie and the boys covered was a Kinks song “All Day and All of the Night.”  They destroyed it with Van Halen’s smoking guitar and David Lee Roth’s incendiary vocals. And one of the things it did was to inspire the Kinks and their lead guitarist Dave Davies, Ray’s brother, on to some flaming guitar heights of his own. Listen to their 1980 live album, One for the Road, and you’ll know what I mean.

Dave Davies

Most importantly, it encouraged Dave, the less well-known Davies brother, but a fine guitarist, to go out on his own.  His first solo effort is AFL1-3603. This is a good record.  All the songs are written by Davies.  He also plays almost all of the instruments. Most of the tunes feature some heavy-handed guitar work. From the opening song, “Where Do You Come From,” there is no mistake you’re listening to a rock and roll record.  But there are other songs, that are also quite good, notably “Visionary Journey” and “Imaginations Real.”

Don’t get me wrong, though this is guitar focused, it is not a record of aimless solo guitar-noodling.  Rather, it’s a product of its time, the guitar is loud, it’s very raw, but supports the song structure without wandering about by way of the third moon of Saturn only to return to what’s important three minutes later. C’mon, it was released in 1980, we’re done with that shit.

I guess my overall verdict is AFL1-3603 is solid, with consistently good songs and good performances.  It won’t remind you of Lola vs. Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, or really not much of the Kinks catalog at all.  But it’s a good record, with a very cool cover, and a worthwhile addition to your colleciton

My summer of figure gluttony

I’ve made a big deal of not falling into the gamer’s trap of amassing huge quantities of new minis to decorate my considerable pile of unpainted lead. I am not holier than thou, trust me,I have lots of unpainted miniatures. Thousands for sure. But I’ve made some rules for myself-no new projects, and buy ’em as you need ’em. My goal is to paint 400-600 28mm figures per year. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not. My ultimate desire is to slowly reduce the number of figures I have stockpiled.

This summer I’ve failed. Yes, I’ve continued to paint. I’m still immersed in my Victrix nightmare, but making slow and steady progress. However, sometime in May, my common sense rapidly fled the reservation.

I’ve made several sizable figure purchases this summer. The first came in May when I purchased some of the very nice IRA range of miniatures from Musketeer Miniatures. I bought about 40 or so figures plus a beautiful Lancia armored lorry. I got all the different IRA minis, plus some of the Royal Irish Constabulary figures.

Though it is fairly fiddly, the Lancia Lorry by Musketeer Miniatures is a thing of beauty.

Though it is fairly fiddly, the Lancia Lorry by Musketeer Miniatures is a thing of beauty.

Musketeer offers a couple of nice packs of civilians for this range included in it's Uncivil War line.

Musketeer offers a couple of nice packs of civilians for this range included in it’s Uncivil War line.

The Musketeer IRA range is very nice.  The IRA with Shotguns figures are fairly fragile and I managed to break off a barrel.  The figures aren't cheap, so that's a disappointment.

The Musketeer IRA range is very nice. The IRA with Shotguns figures are fairly fragile and I managed to break off a barrel. The figures aren’t cheap, so that’s a disappointment.

When we knew Lorri was receiving a sizable severance package, she passed on a few bucks to me. One of the projects I’m really interested in broadening (once I’m finished with Bladensburg and escape my Victrix hell,) is giving attention to my hypothetical War With Spain 1797-1807. To that end, I picked up about 80 figures from the Dayton Painting Consortium. These are nicely proportioned miniatures, maybe a tish small by today’s standard. I picked up musketeers and grenadiers, as well as a unit of dragoons to balance out my growing numbers of American troops.

Though they're hardly state of the art, this range of Spanish figures by Dayton Painting Consortium are very serviceable and highly paint-worthy.

Though they’re hardly state of the art, this range of Spanish figures by Dayton Painting Consortium are very serviceable and highly paint-worthy.

After I worked at summer camp, as I do each summer, I invested some of my stipend in miniatures. I made two orders, one to the Warstore, the other to Old Glory 25’s. in the spring the Perry Brothers released the Loyalist Volunteers of Ireland for their AWI range. The VOI have a distinctive uniform with their funky bearskin headwear and their oddly laced tunic wit green Brandeburg knots. I ordered 24 figures of this unit which fought at Hobkirk’s Hill and Eutaw Springs, two of my battles.

Half my unit is backordered but, these Volunteeers of Ireland will make a nice addition to my American Revolution in the South project.

Half my unit is backordered but, these Volunteeers of Ireland will make a nice addition to my American Revolution in the South project.

The OG order was aimed at fleshing out a few of my projects. I need American line infantry and British commanders to wrap up Bladensburg. I ordered French mounted commanders for the Hundred Years War. I also added more Americans to the War With Spain project.

Lots more unpainted figures. Kind of embarrassing. The good news is I continue to paint regularly. I’ll have a painting update on my War of 1812 Brits in the next week. My goal, which I believe is quite achievable, is to have two finished Victrix line battalions, plus my completed 85th light infantry by the first day of school, September 4th.