It’s not the Willow Run Ford line (but I’m trying)

Willow Run

The B-24 assembly line at Willow Run during WWII.

In 1943 the Ford production line in Willow Run, MI wasn’t making cars, it was producing B-24 bombers for the USAAF.  They went from producing autos with a couple of thousand parts to producing planes with about 1.5 million parts each. Workers could produce about 1.5 planes per hour. Not one Liberator completed from beginning to end in less than an hour, but once and a half planes rolling off the assembly line every hour.  Pretty amazing.

At this moment I am also producing 1/300 B-24D’s for my Enfilade game. I don’t have nearly as many parts per plane, but I’m a lot slower. These are for the Ploesti game Dave Schueler and I hope to be running May 23rd.  The game calls for 18 planes for six players, but I hope to have 24, so we can take a couple more just in case more players are interested.


One of Phil Bardsley’s most excellent B-24’s for the earlier iteration of Ploesti with Paul Hannah. No, mine won’t be nearly as nice.

Before I proceed on my how-to, I need to make it clear that Ploesti has been done before by two dear friends.  At least a fifteen years ago, Phil Bardsley and Paul Hannah worked with Dave to run Ploesti using the Mustangs rules.  They were both superb painters and their B-24’s are excellent. Their planes were painted in USAAF “Desert Pink.”  Not an official color, this was actually USAAF Desert Sand that oxidized in the North African condition to a lighter, pinkish color.  They mixed their own colors for their planes and did a fabulous job.  Phil passed away a few years ago and I bought his bombers.  They are little pieces of art.  My planes won’t be Desert Pink, they’ll be USAAF olive drab, and while they’ll be well-painted, I’m simply not as good as Phil.  There were plenty of both on the mission.

The Ploesti bombers flew B-24D’s with the big plexiglass greenhouse in the nose.  Later Liberators had the big nose turret.  Not many B-24’s available in 1/300 and Scotia makes the only B-24D. Thankfully, it’s a really nice miniature.  The dozen I ordered were are very nicely scribed, well-cast, and didn’t come with their very long wings tied into a pretzel. They were reasonably inexpensive at only four pounds (4.61 a whack at today’s ridiculously low exchange rate.)

What you notice looking at them is, again, the long thin wings, the chunkiness off the fuselage, and the size of those twin tails connected by the large horizontal stabilizer.  It will become a big deal for the modeler because they feel unbalanced, and holding them or maneuvering them around a paint brush is challenging.

When I started working on my planes the first thing I had to do was prep them for paint.  Wings had to be straightened.  It wasn’t severe but took some time and second looks. The twin tail and stabilizer likewise needed some time.  Just apply counter-pressure and there isn’t a problem with breakage.  There are some mold marks to deal with, especially down the fuselage. I scraped those off with a sharp X-Acto knife, but you could also use a needle file or sand paper.  The latter might give you the best result, but I’m impatient.  Paul always used to sand his planes, which eliminated pits in the castings.  Again, I probably should have done that, but I’m kind of a loser.

Before moving on and priming, I decided to drill out locations for the flexible machine guns that festooned the early Liberators.  I not-so-carefully identified the sites for these and drilled them out with a Dremel tool and a wee, tiny bit.  You could use a pin vise, but the pewter is kind of resistant to slow turning drills. After I was done and cleaned out the holes I glued in toothbrush bristles, cutting them to size with a pair of floss scissors. Used CA glue for the adhesive

Moving on to primer, I used the Army Painter white spray primer.  It’s a little spendy but it really covers well and a can lasts a long time. However, after the first four planes are completed I’ll be topping the white primer with Vallejo’s USA Olive Drab Primer.  It will make working with my preferred paint so much easier.  If it isn’t available at your local bricks and mortar store, you can order it from Amazon in a 200ml bottle for less than twenty bucks.

The paint scheme is pretty simple: olive drab over gray.  There are lots of different colors you can work around.  My preference is to use the Vallejo Air Colors series whenever possible, because they are matched most clearly with the historic colors. USAF Olive Drab is included with the American CBI Theater set.  You get six bottles in each of the many sets available for about twenty bucks. It also includes an USAF Light Grey, which is also a great color for the undersides of wings and fuselage.

B-24's 5

The first four B-24’s in base Olive Drab, awaiting dry brushing. The journey begins.

But I don’t you to go grab these and not know the risks in using them.  These colors are designed for use with an air brush.  The pigments are ground very fine and they simply don’t cover very well.  I believe there are four coats of USAF Olive Drab on each of the first four bombers.  I’m super happy with what I have, but it wasn’t easy, and I ordered two more bottle at almost eight dollars a whack to make sure I had enough to finish my project. I ended up not sticking with the USAF Light Grey and switched to Vallejo Sky Grey just because of the coverage issues.

I spent lots of time getting the base colors down, lots of coverage, lots of drying, then a the first of many shots of Dullcote.  Painting planes this large means handling planes, and I didn’t want to rub anything off. I decided early on the big planes needed some weathering, so I mixed 50-50 olive drab and Vallejo Light Grey to get a nice lightened, but not too bright color. Then I carefully dry-brushed the wings, engines, tails, stabilizer and fuselage. More Dullcote.

Next up the lining.  I used a charcoal rather than black over the olive.  I used Vallejo light gray on the underside.  Yes, it’s tricky but not impossible.  You can always paint over egregious mistakes.  Paint the motors and then it’s on to the black leading edges.  This was actually a bit trickier, and I had to paint over some mistakes.  The tail fin edges were particularly difficult because there is no scribing to give me a clue.  In the end, I think my lines are too thick, but I’m gonna live with it. Dullcote again.

How much more detail do you want to include?  From here it’s probably safe to paint the metal spinners on the propellers and proceed directly to decals. Because Phil’s planes include nose art, I decided to try my hand.  His planes have such legible, clear hand-lettering and there is no possibility I can pull that off, hard as I might. I did some research on B-24 nose art, and tried my hand at Flak Alley, Doc, Hard Hearted Hannah, and The Goon.  Are they great, no, but they’re good enough.  These are all painted on the left side of the nose in front of the cockpit.  On the right I painted the symbol for the Flying Eight-Balls, which are really hard to make out.  I left room for a two digit number on the right.

On to the decals.  Phil used the red-bordered star roundel with bars, which was a Pacific insignia.  Pictures show just a roundel, often in pretty mangled condition with the yellow “Torch” band. I bought the latter from Flight Deck Decals.  They are fast, reasonable and do some great work. Oddly, these American planes use an RAF tricolor tail flash.  I had zillions of these from I-94 Enterprises. I stopped there.

That left just  the numerals to paint and the tail letter for each plane.  I painted the numerals white and the letter in Vallejo Golden Yellow, per the photos I’ve seen.  That wrapped up the first four of twelve planes.

It was a terrific learning experience.  I started the four before I left for San Diego, and it’s really taken most of the rest of the week to finish them.  Hopefully I’ve learned some lessons along the way and I might be finished with the remaining eight by the end of the week.


A Productive January

It’s been a great painting month.  I spent lots of time focused on those Enfilade projects I’m working on.  I’m kind of a procrastinator about most things in my life, but not about getting convention games ready.  I’ll never forget watching some guys painting figures at their table for their weekend-long Battle of Gettysburg game.  That is not me.

I began the month working on figures for the Rebels and Patriots game David Sullivan and I are hosting.  It’s based kind of loosely on the retreat to North Carolina across the Dan River, leading to Guilford Courthouse.  Sort of like Weitzel’s Mill.

Two of the units I wanted to paint were light companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards that are part of the British pursuit. The figures for both units are Front Rank, from their Light Infantry in slouch hat group.  It’s a pretty thin batch of figures, so there’s not a big mix to choose from.  As I’ve stated before, these figures are very fun to paint, very easy to paint because they’re large and kind of blocky.  They remind me of working with a coloring book, because the lines are so clear. No facing colors or lace to speak of.  I did give the officers Scarlet coats instead of the Vallejo Flat Red, so they could be in regulation dress and be better targets for the American riflemen.

Front Rank Light Infantry in southern dress.  These are painted as the light company for the Coldstream Guards.  Their device is painted on many of the figures’ backpacks in the photo upper left.

Though there’s not a lot to dress them up, I decided to paint their backpacks with crests for each of the different regiments.  The Coldstream Guards were pretty straightforward.  The Grenadier Guards not so much.  Every guardsman was not a recipient, but the majority of figures have their respective crests.

Grenadier Guards light company.  Their devices were more of a challenge to paint and I skipped trying to paint the royal script inside the garter.

I also painted Kirkwood’s Delaware light infantry.  These are Front Rank figures in 1779 regulation dress.  Again, fun to paint.  I didn’t quite get the figure mix right.  Was hoping to add some figures in hunting shirts but didn’t order correctly.  My bad. The biggest distinction for Kirkwood’s troops is the yellow hat lace, so at least I could see them coming.  As their white overalls wore out they resorted to bed ticking for trousers.  I was hoping to have a few more examples of this and remembered what a terrible pain in the ass it was and called two examples good enough.

Robert Kirkwood’s Delaware Regiment was really part of the old Continental Line that served throughout the southern campaign.  It’s the closest Nathaniel Green had to an elite unit, but though it had only 80 or so men.  Kirkwood was a soldier’s soldier, serving through the Revolution, only to die on the Wabash battlefield in 1790.

Back in December I went to the Perry Miniatures site and put together an order for the remaining figures I need for this project–British Legion figures for the loyalist South Carolina Dragoons, Lee’s Legion dragoons, and a handful of riflemen.  Four weeks later, having not received them, I went back and looked at my order, only to discover it tidily sitting in the site’s shopping cart.  Sent in my order the next day, and shipped immediately from the Perry site.  Still waiting, but am watching the mail daily.

While waiting for the Perry’s to arrive I decided to switch gears and begin work on planes for Ploesti.  I don’t have a ton to do but they are big ol’ Scotia B-24D’s.  The models are nice but large, which always poses a bit of a challenge.  The planes often come with their uber-long wings pretzeled and their large stabilizers and double tails needing careful straightening.  I set into this task one evening, only to realize the B-24’s I ordered back in August weren’t the early D version of the bomber that set upon the Romanian oil fields at all, but the later B-24J with the power nose turret.  Still a nice model I can make use of, but it took another order to the UK to retrieve the situation, so I am still awaiting the whims of the Post Office.


This Scotia B-24D is one of ten I acquired from the late Phil Barsdley.  They are spectacular in every regard, including the guns Phil added.  The paint, including “Flying Eightball” emblem and nose art I’ll never be able to equal.


Scotia B-24J in all its raw metal glory.  Note the nose turret. They’ll paint well.

With the R and P figs and the required planes unavailable, I’ve been working on some figures for my Philippine scenario. Because there is a coastal element to the game, I gotta have marines and sailors.  I think I’ve already shared my U.S. Marines.  Like those figures the sailors are offerings from Old Glory.  Not a tough job–because they are in white uniforms with white sailor caps.  Managed to knock out both units this month.  As figures go, they are pretty simple and straight-forward.  they seem a bit small.

Sailors 1

Well, no they aren’t a lot to look at, but if you’re gonna be afloat you gotta have sailors.  Two units of Old Glory Sailors from their Spanish American War range.

They are a pretty simple paint job.  I used Vallejo Grey-White as an undercoat and then painted highlights in straight white.  That’s really all you gotta know.  Simple but reasonably effective.

About the time I thought I could start another unit I got a raging four-day case of the flu.  When I could bring myself to actually go back in my den, I decided to paint some of the heavy weapons I’ll need for the Philippine scenario.  There is a mountain howitzer and crew and a Colt machine gun in both the firing and moving position. I’m about 50% finished with those figures


This bunch is from Tiger Miniatures and include crews for Colt Machine guns as well as a breach loading mountain gun from their Spanish American War range. Under construction.  Hope to be done with the lot by February 2nd.

If I’m able to finish those figures by Friday, I’ll have done 72 figures in the month of January, all 28mm, which is a whole lot for me.  And honestly, it was truly enjoyable.  It’s nice to have about three hours a day to paint.  I can get a lot done.

And the really good news–my Perry order arrived today.


My small, but anxiously awaited Perry order.



I Got Stuff Done!

Late Sunday night I was still struggling to get some stuff finished for the week, despite putting in a fair amount of painting time for the week. But, it finally happened.

Let’s be clear, I do have some busy distractions right now.  In early October Lorri and I are going on vacation to Hawaii.  We’re excited.  We’ve never been there before, so it’s a big hoo-hah deal.

While we’re gone we are doing a major remodel at Chez Smyth. The remodel will require moving all the furniture out of the living room and dining room.  We’re renting a POD to store furniture, but I have about 700 books and 300 records that will have to be packed so bookcases and record storage can be moved.

It’s a job.  The benefit is that I’ve been able to weed out some of my books, which will create better storage for other books I’d like to move to more desirable places and creating a bit more storage for other things.  Like miniatures.

But, I have gotten some painting done.

Washington 2

Washinton’s 3rd Continental Light Dragoons is one of my very favorite units from the War of Independence.

I completed my first mounted unit for Rebels and Patriots.  I’ve long loved William Washington’s 3rd Continental Dragoons.  They fight everywhere throughout the Southern Campaign.  Washington, a cousin of that George guy, was a terrific leader.  Even though his unit totaled less than a hundred men, they always seemed to be in the right place.  At Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse, key counterattacks really turned the tide of those battles. Unfortunately, Washington’s luck ran out at Eutaw Springs when he led his cavalry into wooded ditch defended by British regulars.  He was unhorsed and captured.

My figures are from Front Rank.  I’ve had them for a while, and I’d like to start painting a lot of these stray figures.  As will al Front Rank figures they are pleasingly chunky.  If I have a quibble, it is that the troopers all have their carbines out, which I think is dumb. The British light dragoons don’t have their firearms out.  They have swords, like any proper light dragoon. When Washington wounded Tarleton at Cowpens, trust me, he wasn’t slinging a musket stock.

I love the white coatee with blue facings.  It is white, with Vallejo Light Blue Grey.  I gave the officer white pants, the others have Vallejo Desert Yellow.  I could have opted to do the coat in Vallejo Grey-White and done a bit more with highlighting, but I didn’t. I did highlight the horses, which left them a little lighter and redder than I would have liked. I also highlighted the horse furniture and I’m really happy with how that turned out.

Washington 3

The Eutaw standard, which really isn’t much of one. But it was fun to paint.

The standard, called The Eutaw Flag was the one carried by the 3rd Continental Light Dragoons.  It was made from the tablecloth of Washington’s fiancee. I hand-painted that baby, yessirree. Not a major strain, I assure you.

From here, I’ll pick up the continuing saga of the HMS Orwell.  You’ll recall it is a plastic kit I was struggling a bit with.

Orwell 2

Orwell in Light Sea Grey before the camouflage is painted on.

After spraying it with Humbrol light grey, I took on the real paint job.  Think of the spray as a primer coat.

Orwell 3

Orwell after camouflage. All that is left are a few decals, and then glue the model to its clear acrylic base.

First I painted all the decking with Ceramcoat Charcoal Gray.  Then I went back and painted the hull and all the non-deck places Vallejo light sea grey.  The camouflage, taken from an illustration of another O class destroyer, the Obedient was applied in Vallejo Black, and Vallejo Light Blue Grey.  Yes, it was all done by hand, and no I didn’t use any kind of mask because I’m basically a lazy sluggard.

All that’s left to do is the decals and there aren’t many of those.

From here, it’s on to finish up some U.S. Volunteers in the Philippines, and I’ll begin assembling my remaining transports for the Museum of Flight convoy game.

Painting On My Own Time


Old Glory Marines about 60% completed (right) with some Perry AWI figures remounting for Rebels and Patriots

Tuesday the June 24th was the end, period, it’s over.  I am an official free agent.  My time is my own.  Life is very good.

I always envisioned retirement as a mix of days when I would get together with Dave Demick, we’d hang out at his place playing White Bear, Red Moon (Chaosium Game, ca 1976), go out for awesomely bad pub grub, and the rest of the time I’d paint little men.

I’m not saying this isn’t what’s going to happen, it’s way too early to tell.  In fact a certain amount of it is already happening.  Dave, Tim Barela and I played some board games, ate terrible (meaning it really tastes good) pub food at Terry’s Office Tavern in the Proctor District, and had a generally good time.

I’m sure there are many more such occasions in my future, with far fewer obstacles to navigate around, and I’m truly looking forward to them.  I’m hoping to become involved with Tuesday night gaming with the Olympia guys, Truant games with the guys in Steilacoom, and of course my regular group of friends.

I’m truly not sure what my future offers in terms of long-term commitments.  However, I’m really sure that in the short term it’s gaming, but three other areas will take my time.  One of those is pretty household related, and that is minimizing our (Lorri and my) collections of needless crap.  Another area is of personal interest and that is fully organizing and cataloging my record collection.  That includes a full cleaning of all 1,500ish LP’s.  Last, and probably most important from a passion standpoint is painting.

I laid out some of my painting plans in my last post. But I also think it’s worthwhile to set out short term painting objectives too.  I am a routine-driven person.  Ask my wife.  I’m also an early-to-bed-early to rise guy.  I plan to take care of my missus in the morning, as I fondly wave good-bye to her as she departs for the hell that is her commute, and then I’ll get some painting done, an hour or so, until eight to nine o-clock, when I’ll troop out to work in the backyard, at least until the weather turns and we enter the “great darkness” of the Northwest winter.

I’ve always tried to set goals for myself.  I usually do something new every year, though I think those days may be over. In years past my goal is to paint an average of a single figure per day.  (Just for the sake of ease of understanding, a figure is a 28mm figure, a plane, a ship, a whatever model of whatever.) That’s seven figures per week, or 365 figures per year. I’m going to change that to 12 figures per week.


This is the current state of my painting table. Though I have a great space about 48″ X 30″, it is utterly cluttered with paint, brushes, and stuff, leaving me about 6 square inches to work. Does everybody else have this problem?

And to be truthful, I know I can do more than that, and still have lots of time leftover for other things–like remounting all those figures for Rebels and Patriots, or building terrain for the Philippines. Or writing the rules for the Buffalo Hunt. It’s all doable.

Week of July 8th goals–Finish 12 Old Glory U.S. Marines for the Philippines.  Paint eight Dixon buffalo.  Remount one unit of Continentals for R and P and one six figure unit of riflemen. Hope to have five total units for our game on July 20th.  Longer term goal is to get all the buffalo finished for August.  Want to run Buffalo Hunt at Gene Anderson’s game gig on the 24th, but it will need a play test before that.

What am I listening to–Hope to include this in more frequent posts.  I am not a huge country music fan, but as I get older, I’m more willing to listen to a broader range of stuff.  An artist I’ve come to appreciate more is Johnny Cash.  I really like the honesty of his songs, and nowhere is this clear than in the recordings he did with producer Rick Rubin at the end of his life. Entitled American Recordings, vols I-VI, they typically feature Cash and a guitar and very spare production.  Artists sit in with him, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Cash mostly performs covers–some really well known, like “Solitary Man”  by Neil Diamond and “Bird on A Wire” by Leonard Cohen.  But sometimes he throws in a surprise, such as Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage.”  Always interesting, and never a disappointment.  Worth a listen.

Last of the Gunfighters


With the Concord grenadiers, I was able to get some time to do something–anything- different.  My go to is always some planes, so I reached in my box of many-unpainted-winged-objects and pulled out some F-8 Crusaders from Raiden.

These planes were given to me by George Kettler last year, and I really wanted to paint them for several reasons.  First they are are a sign of good faith to George that I truly appreciate his generosity.  There are many more to come, including some A-4F’s that are probably next on my agenda.

The Crusaders are also a down payment on my promise to paint planes for a Vietnam project.  I’ve changed my original intent to focus on just planes for Rolling Thunder (1965-68) to something more inclusive that will also include planes for the first Linebacker missions  (1972). What does that mean?  It means I can paint a wider variety of plane types for the both the Navy and the Air Force.  Of course that means painting more planes. Imagine that.

I already painted a handful of F-8’s for an earlier project-13 Days Goes Hot. The seven planes I painted this month were those I had.  I’d like to add one more to make an even eight.  I also decided I wanted to paint planes from the air wing of the U.S.S. Forrestal.  The late senator John McCain flew his A-4E from the deck of the Forrestal, and he was almost miraculously saved when he was caught in the middle of the infamous fire on that ship in 1967 that killed over 150 crewmen.

The Raiden Crusaders are among my favorite miniatures.  They are straight and very properly proportioned.  They do come with an annoying mold mark on the nose that must be filed or scraped off. But once that’s done, they are quite nice.

If I have a criticism of the model, it is that the canopy seems just a little too bubbly. Or, at least when I paint it, the canopy seems a a little too bubble shaped-not in a cartoonish way-instead of the sleek, nearly flat design I see in pictures.

F8 2

I painted my planes in the standard navy dress of the mid-1960’s. The overall upper surfaces were painted with Testor’s acrylic Gull Gray.  I used two coats, well-stirred, to get it to largely eliminated brush strokes. I tried to use Testor’s acrylic gloss white on the control surfaces and underside, and I just couldn’t get a decent cover, even with multiple coats.  I decided, after two coats of each to spray with Dullcote, and went back over the white surfaces with your basic Ceramcoat white, and re-painted with Vallejo gloss varnish.

I painted the canopy Ceramcoat ivory.  No, not some form of light blue.  Sorry that’s who I am. If you see planes on a board with ivory colored canopies, you’ll know it’s my junk. Nose and canopy bindings are basic cheap-ass craft black.

I chose to do the VF-103 Sluggers, assigned to the Forrestal from 1960-65.  I chose it primarily because the arrow markings on the tail were angular and paint-able, though I still managed to mess it up on some of the models.  I used Vallejo Deep Yellow for the main color, and followed up with black edging.  The AJ is also hand-painted, again, with mixed success.  In 1965, the Crusaders were joined in VF-103 with F-4B Phantoms, so I have a template for painting them, down the road.

U.S. national markings, and Navy markings are by Beacon publications,manufactured and sold by I-94 Enterprises.

Unfortunately, my planned Forrestal template is a little haywire because CV-59 was assigned to the Mediterranean from 1960-65, and switched to the USS Saratoga the same year.  Oh, well.

Overall, however, I’m pretty happy with how the little minis turned out.


Starting the new year off right

An overall glimpse at a portion (the tidy corner) of my painting table.  The nearly finished Hibernia Regiment fusiliers, the barely started Grenadiers and the 54mm Abraham Lincoln in the background.

An overall glimpse at a portion (the tidy corner) of my painting table. The nearly finished Hibernia Regiment fusiliers, the barely started Grenadiers and the 54mm Abraham Lincoln in the background.

We’re nearly two weeks into the new year, and it feels like time is racing by. Even so, I feel like I’m in one of those creative zones, when I can’t wait to paint in the evening, and on the weekends I can easily put in three or four hours a day. I’m nearly finished with the fusilier company from the Hibernia Regiment, an Irish “wild geese” unit that served in the Spanish army, and periodically made its way to America. They appear quite different from the other Spanish units because of its red coat and yellow tricorne lace. Eleven figures.

A tighter view of the Hibernia figures front

A tighter view of the Hibernia figures front

Another view of the Hibernians from the back

Another view of the Hibernians from the back

I have the Hibernia’s grenadier company next up on the painting docket, and then I’m goind to take a quick little departure from Louisiana. I’m going to paint up the 54mm Imrie Risley figure I’ve had of Abraham Lincoln for some time. I glued him to a base and primed him up. I’ve begun working with the black base coat that will be most of his attire. The challenge is to take this simply dressed figure and somehow make it come to life, either by focusing on his face, or lots of shading and highlighting. I’m not quite sure which route to take.

Imrie Risley's Abraham Lincoln.  I've only just begun working on Abe.  Expect to see a finished version and more 54's as the year goes on.

Imrie Risley’s Abraham Lincoln. I’ve only just begun working on Abe. Expect to see a finished version and more 54’s as the year goes on.

Unfortunately my excellent progress may be a bit stymied for a week as we cruise into deadline. Probably no painting Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then on Saturday Lorri and I take some time away, board the dogs and spend Saturday and Sunday in the little town of Stevenson down on the Columbia River.

2013, the Year in Review

London War Room Cuera mounted Spanish militia.  Used on the frontier mainly to fight Comanches and Apaches, they are a large mounted element in my Louisiana project

London War Room Cuera mounted Spanish militia. Used on the frontier mainly to fight Comanches and Apaches, they are a large mounted element in my Louisiana project

It’s been a different year for me.  I tend to be fairly reclusive and hide in my house up on the hill.  Well, that didn’t change, but even so it’s been an interesting year.

My most important measure of the year is always what did I get done vs. what did I buy.  Normally I’m a pretty careful purchaser of lead. In years past I accumulated big piles of lead against future projects.  Bladensburg is an example of this.  I bought four boxes of Victrix figures three years ago, and only just finished almost all of them.  I have more painted Hundred Years War figures than any of other era with about 700 figures painted.  But I have at least that many unpainted. So, as with many of my friends and miniature wargaming colleagues, I’m a figure whore.  I’ve been better over the years.

I have painting goals of 400-600 figures per year.  These get harder to reach every year.  I tend to spend a little less time painting each year.  In years past I’d guess I painted an hour and half a night 320 nights per year. A bit longer on the weekends.  I would guess I’m down to about 250 days of painting per year.  Why?  My work schedule-newspaper deadline nights makes it tougher.  I have more fatigue–I don’t sleep particularly well many nights so I’m just too tired to paint.  Some nights I’ll just plop myself down in a chair and read.  But there are times when I really, really enjoy what I’m painting and I’ll paint until I’m just too tired to go on.  7:00-9:00 p.m. is my painting prime time, but I often am all in by about 8:30. I’ll have the Mariners on, unless I’m really frustrated with them, or the season is over, or be watching something on Netflix and just paint away.

I didn’t keep up with my painting log this year.  Tried, but just fell off the wagon.  My guess, however is that I didn’t meet my goals.  I believe I finished the year with about 350 painted figures.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  One is the fewer hours devoted to painting.  Another is that I only paint 28mm figures now.  No more 15’s, so no more cheapies.  I count a figure as a figure.  No bonuses for mounted figures, no bonus for extra size or extra effort. A tank, a 1/285 airplane, a cannon model, a terrain piece are all equal to a figure. So I fell short of my goal.

I’m going to keep my painting goal for 2014 right at 400.  I’d like to think my painting can be equal to about one figure per day. I fully expect my work will be mostly 28mm figures, but I may reinvigorate my DBA projects and try to at least paint a few of the six or seven armies I have.  Most of all my time will be spent working on my Louisiana Project.  I probably have about 200 or so figures left to paint.  I find them pretty fun to do, and they paint up fairly quickly, even the mounted figures.  However, I don’t have a deadline with them.  They don’t have to be done until they’re done.  It will allow me to drag something else out to work on, whether those are my Irish Civil War figures, some AWI units, my 1/600 ACW ships, or something else. My Enfilade obligations are largely painted, though I still have a bit more fiddling to do for Bladensburg.

Cuera were multi-armed with lance, shield, carbine and pistols.  So burdened, they were often unable to keep up with their more lightly armed enemies.

Cuera were multi-armed with lance, shield, carbine and pistols. So burdened, they were often unable to keep up with their more lightly armed enemies.

Two items I definitely want to work on aren’t particularly wargame related.  A couple years ago I bought the Perry “Death of Gordon” vignette from their Sudan range.  I love the movie Khartoum and admired the G.W. Joy painting the vignette is based on.  It is something a little bit different to work on, and I’m preparing it on my work table now.  The other item I really want to paint is a 54mm Imrie-Risley figure of Abraham Lincoln I’ve had for quite some time. I actually a lot of the “big boys” stowed away for quite some time, and some day I hope to paint them in my dotage.  I’m an admirer of Lincoln.  He is my favorite president, both for his principles and his ability to work within a greater understanding of what was needed to get things done.  Because Lincoln dressed very simply, usually in black, the challenge will be to bring life to the figure.

Something I didn’t do a great job of is managing my buying this year.  I was pretty good until August.  I earned some extra money for my work at J-Camp, and I promptly started spending like a drunken sailor.  Figures for the Louisiana project, the Perry Volunteers of Ireland, some War of 1812 Americans, command figures for the British for Bladensburg, and more I can’t even remember.  My goal is to at least break even with figure purchases-no more figures purchased than painted.  I don’t know if I did that this year.  I purchased some figures for Bladensburg, but many were for sheer spec, and I don’t like to do that.  My purchases should be for “just in time” production purposes and I feel like I failed.

These figures are armed with carbine or escopeta.  These figures are a bit crude, but highly paintable.  I really enjoyed working on them.

These figures are armed with carbine or escopeta. These figures are a bit crude, but highly paintable. I really enjoyed working on them.

I have a couple of New Years resolutions.  The first is to set some painting goals.  I would really like to finish all of my Louisiana figures.  There’s not really a deadline on this.  I’d like to run a game at Enfilade, but honestly I probably already have enough figures to do it now.  Realistically I’d like to have everything done by Drumbeat in September. I have nearly all the figures to do this.  I think I need a few more of the mounted Cuera militia, and a few more foot officers.   I think this also leaves me some time to pick away at some other painting along the way.  I have an AWI unit or two I’d like to paint.  Maybe some of my Irish Civil War figures.  Ships.  Planes.  My dance card is wide open.

My second resolution regards game play.  I don’t do nearly enough.  Mostly it’s my choice, so I am putting my choices out on right now. I want to play at the Game Matrix DBA nights twice per month.  My hope is I can morph that into a bit more than DBA, focusing on DBX gaming.  I’d love to, for example, play Sluys again.  In addition I’d like to commit to playing on the NHMGS game days the third Saturday of the month.  These are absolute musts for a couple of reasons.  First, I need to get off my damned hill and get with my gamer friends.  Don’t know why I’ve been so reclusive.  I also have way too much time and energy invested in my projects to not be playing with my figures.  I know I can do better.  It’s as though I’ve just become a bit of a hermit.

In any case, 2014 is shaping up to be a good year, and I’m looking forward to it.

At last, summer break

Today is the day all teachers look forward to: the beginning of summer vacation.  My duties at school will end at about 1:00 this afternoon.  All the grades are submitted, my classroom is nearly cleaned.  Things are coming along nicely.  Actually, I’ve voluntarily delayed my summer beginnings by a day because I’ve opted for a class tomorrow morning, but the end is clearly in my crosshairs.

So what does that mean for game projects this summer.  First of all, there are the Truants, our summer game group that will meet every other Friday at the Game Matrix.  That should allow me to get some gaming in at least every other week.  I promised to host an ACW naval game some time in July so I better figure it out.

Lorri is currently unemployed and she has some duties for me to perform.  We have two major room renovations we’re doing, but I’m hoping those might be done by July 1st.  I’ve also taken organizing the WJEA Journalism summer camp.  This work has already started, but not much so far.  It will doubtless kick into high gear next week as student applications begin piling in.

I’m most interested in my painting projects, however.  The big game on my horizon is Bladensburg for Enfilade.  Here are the units I need to paint for this game

Three British line units @ 32 figures each

One British light infantry unit @ 48 figures

One American militia unit @ 24 figures

One American line unit @ 24 figures

My goal is to pare this list down considerably.  I’m in the middle of painting the militia unit, and could probably have them done in a few days IF I can make myself focus a bit more on painting.  I’d like to turn to the British line units.  Victrix figures, ugh.  I’ve started doing some assembly, but there is considerably more to do.  If possible I’d like to complete all three units before our first deadline begins in October.  To keep myself interested I’ll also be working on other projects.  I have some HYW French knights, foot and mounted, on the painting table, as well as a few planes and some 15mm fantasy figures I’d like to get done as well.

Yesterday my order of Spanish figures arrived from Dayton Painting Services.  I really like these figures, and I’ll offer up a review in the next few days.

Just For Fun

I’m usually a very focused painter, but I’m taking a little break to do some fun stuff.  Ever since Enfilade (last May) I’ve been a good boy and painted figures for the Hundred Years War and the War of 1812.  All in all some 50 HYW figures and 56 War of 1812 figures.  I’ve decided to just do some stuff that is fun and different.

Old Glory Crossbowmen may be my last HYW figures until after the first of the year. These are the last of the crossbow figures I have and fight in the vanguard at Poitiers. Hope to finish basing them today or tomorrow.

These 30 Black Raven orc archers will make six Sk stands and six Bw stands. Nice start on what I hope will be progress on Orcs for the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

First, I’m going to paint up some 15mm orcs.  Yes, orcs.  I’ve been hanging on to a bunch of 15mm fantasy figures for many years.  They’re intended to help me portray the Battle of the Pelennor Fields from the Lord of the Rings.  I just cranked out 30 archers.  I’ll be using a DBx basing for the stands, and will combine the figures for Bw and Sk.  I have loads more to paint, and am pleased to get a start on them.  My Rohan army is already complete, so I’m anxious to have somebody to run against.  I think I have all the figures I need except for the Black Raven Foundry Witch King figure.

Collectair Lancasters with their base “earth” paint job. The color scheme isn’t real difficult with the earth, green and black basics. It’s getting every thing to line up properly that’s tricky.

I’m also preparing to paint five 1/300 Collectair Lancaster bombers from WWII.  They’re primed and I hope to finish painting them over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Four are armed with the Tallboy bombs used to sink the Tirpitz in Norway in 1944.  They aren’t super challenging to paint, but they do have some pretty straight lines to manage.  I’ll do my best.  I’m even assembling nine (9!!) C in C Ki-61 Tony fighters I picked up at the NHMGS auction and there hasn’t been one of those in years and years.  It’s kind of fun to revisit this old, old stuff and make something happen with it.

The C in C Tonys are little gems. Assembly is super easy. I’ll paint five up as home defense fighters from a “ramming” squadron. Fun stuff eh. Become a fighter pilot. Ram a B-29. The rest will be interceptors defending the empire.

Crappy pictures courtesy of my iPhone.

I still have plenty of War of 1812 and HYW figures on my radar.  I’ve still got 20 French men-at-arms partially painted that I’ll tackle-when I feel like it.  Just can’t face dealing with heraldry right now.  I also have twenty Maryland militia artillery primed.  Probably sooner rather than later.  But right now I just need to have some fun by doing something different.