Friday, September 4, 2020

Malakand Field Force prep 6d: Painting Brits

I am pleased with how these are looking. As I finish up the final painting of objects, the next step will be lots of cutting in on the straps and other spots where the paint slopped over. This step will take a bit longer than others, but as it is exciting to see how the fig is turning out, it tends to go fast.

This fellow ended with a Snidely Whiplash sort of 'stache.

The officer needs a few touches here and there, shiny buckles and such.

Very pleased with the Lee-Metford rifles - they highlight easily. The brass studs on the bayonet handle also popped right up.

 Close up showing the brass butt plate on the rifle.
 More straps and buckle work, that's what this pic says to me!

Over white primer, both flesh tones look good. The grey is an intermediate stage for the dark blue of the winter Home Service trousers. They'll also get the red stripe.

As for the wet palette, it definitely keeps paint for several days. I think I put too much water in it at first. You can blot excessive water out by picking up the parchment paper and blotting the paper towel under it. Easier to add water than to remove it, however!
The black and tan [right] have been there a  few days. The brass and dark brown in the middle were also still damp [hadn't dried out] but I added color to change the tone.

A few thoughts:
- overall, these are pretty quick since the size makes it easier to paint accurately. However, one has to avoid the desire to add too much unnecessary details that aren't visible from more than a couple feet away.
- most of the objects have enough depth that you have to paint the sides [straps, water bottle, etc]. This requires cutting in later.
- definitely possible to paint these to a high standard, like good 28mm figs. The choice is yours. If you're just painting up a few dozen for skirmishes, then you're looking at a $30 project or so, that still fits on a modest dining table.
- don't prime excessively, and I am not seeing much benefit to the water/PVA glue mix thus far.

Looking forward to wrapping these up in a couple of days.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Malakand Field Force prep 6c: Painting Brits

Well, if this is your period, I hope you like to paint...STRAPS!
Above, I needed the originals on hand to see how the sculpting was done as my priming process was a bit too thick.

Painting Mojo has returned...was a bit rough getting started, but I'm now about halfway done with this batch of 10. They look a bit rough now, and it was very tempting to go the route of John Y as he paints the same figs at 54mm or Fight! [CLICK], painting up small batches of 3-4 figs to completion. But, I really want to get them all done, and it is helpful to keep in mind how a strap falls, or how a canteen is covered, etc, figure by figure, to stay focused.

Probably the toughest part for me is that I really do like to paint in lots of little details, and with this project I need to relax, let the little toy Soldiers be Little Toy Soldiers, and just do a clean, solid job that looks great at 3 feet [that's a meter for you French revolutionary types].

Below, you can see pretty well the scheme in progress. Black boots, dark olive puttees, dark brown equipment, white haversack...
 ...and below, light grey gunsling, ochre canteen cover, light olive canteen strap. I think that with modern uniforms that have a host of neutral tones one needs to accent any difference possible lest the sculpt be washed out in a palette of "all the same". Also, gear weathers differently, anyway.

Bit closer on the back. You can see how the straps are layered upon each other and then run under the waistbelt.

I think the painting light washes out some of the subtleties that are more apparent live.

Another closer shot. I think that the figs will really look good when the final details are upon them. That's part of the "small batch" inspiration - seeing how good a few figs will look.
 But hey, it's only ten figures! I'll Soldier on through it.

Nice close-up. Am seriously considering a miracle dip for these fellows, but perhaps a bit thin and not very dark.

Some of the detail has been lost or muted due to the excessively thick priming process I used. I will have to modify that post and show the results.

Below, you can see that the Pathan with a thinner vinyl paint cover has better details. Still, it was inevitable that the first batch of figs wouldn't be just right, no matter how much research I put into it. This is a very "crafty" hobby after all.

Well, I hope it is fun to see this moving along after all this time. My present goal is to finish the 20 Pathans and 10 Brits and get some games in before I depart for a warfighter in SEP. Then I can fine-tune my rules a bit based upon the results. Meanwhile, I'll be running around with the Army for the weekend, so probably no painting until next week.

Tune in then!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Malakand Field Force prep 6b: Painting Brits

Two Good Sources

Well, I have feelers out for more information from various websites [whether I'm a member or not], but using these two above sources primarily, this is what I've gathered. I will update if there is additional info provided by visitors direct by email.

Below is a combination of both specific and general notes on uniforms for 1897 to facilitate the miniatures painter.

India: Greater uniformity due to early introduction of khaki.
* Exceptions to all-khaki outfits are kilts, hose and spats of Highland Scot regiments and the tartan trews of Lowland Scot regiments. Scottish BN khaki frocks had cutaway skirts like their scarlet frocks ["cutaway" means that the front doesn't overlap much, and is rounded off, unlike the right angles and overlapping of the usual coat]. 
* Sewing of cartridge loops above the breast pockets fairly common - 10 easily accessible rounds. 
* Shoulder chains worn by British cavalry, copied from Indian Cavalry - silver on white cloth, atop both shoulders.
* "Undress" uniform worn in field - "dress" is for parade, e.g. the modern "dress mess" formal jackets.

Helmets: white [!?], with khaki covers. May have distinguishing insignia, such as a scarlet fold in the puggaree [cloth helmet cover] of the 2BN Northumberland Fus, or the bronze badge of the 1BN Buffs, or a red color swatch [square] with white letters/numbers. Enlisted helmets could vary in shape between battalions, but officer's purchased helmets were usually the same shape. Chinstrap was brown and worn up or down, brass button.

Drill frock [jacket]: Khaki, brass buttons, khaki cuff with a point [up] like a chevron - can draw in dark brown pen.

Equipment: By 1897 rising, 1888 Slade-Wallace equipment in buff for most British BN.  The Sam Browne belt of officers, [Oxfordshire Lt. Infantry] was also brown leather, in which case the braces and canteen strap match, but the haversack was still off-white. Northamptonshires stained their equipment khaki. 
*1894 pouches could be grey, off-white or white.
Haversack: always off-white.
India pattern canteen: khaki, brown strap, metal stopper with white string.
Mess tin: dulled metal, could have black cover.

Guns: usual medium brown varnish with metal "blueing". 
Gunsling is off-white, white or grey [dirt, bleaching].
Sword: newer had steel guard, older a brass one.
Bayonet: black scabbard with brass fittings, steel bayonet with brown [wood?] grip.

Trousers: khaki, or blue dungarees. But in winter could be dark blue serge with the infantry red stripe of home service, Also cord breeches [reinforced on inner thighs] and canvas gaiters for mounted infantry.
Puttees: darker khaki, blue for mounted or Royal Artillery, could be "quite pale" with a contrasting tie atop.
Shoes: black or brown, usually black. Sole may have some shiny silver nail heads showing, scraped against the terrain, i.e. "hobnail boots".

Rank: Captains two brass stars or "pips", Lieutenants one pip, 2nd Lieutenants none.
Rank Chevrons [points down, upper right sleeve only!] Sergeants have gold chevrons on red [removed from scarlet jackets?] while corporals had white. KOSB and Gordons followed earlier practice of wearing red chevrons on khaki or white. 
Good Conduct Chevrons could match, red on khaki, point up on left sleeve above cuff.
Badges such as Signaller would be worn above Good Conduct Chevron.
Rifle BDE at Tochi: dressed as English infantry but with black accoutrements and puttees.

Unit Selection
1BN, Northamptonshire Regt. heavily engaged.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Striker Post #2: Priming, Research, Inspiration, etc

Hoping you all had a blessed Mother's Day!
 This is Home-6 with her two claims to motherhood. Came out better than I thought!

This national day of celebration was actually inspired by a home front civil war heroine, Ann Jarvis, daughter of a preacher who married the son of a preacher [click]. All this is largely forgotten, of course, like so many meaningful things. For those of us in the military, perhaps we remember it better that we serve at the sufferance of the wife.  As a son and husband, I do think there's something special about "Mom" and I believe my son would agree!  

As for Father's Day...doesn't move me.

High Tech Infantry Set #4 and set #5 Imperial Infantry experiment. I found some mossy green satin spray paint, and thought it would be an interesting change from the usual colors. I tried it out  and also gave some of the figs a quick wash of Vallejo German Reflective Green so see how they would look. Overall wasn't thrilled with the tones and the paint was a bit thick [which could have something to do with application, hard to tell]. I dunno...
Pic with much better lighting. Something about the paint itself I don't like, I think.

Green experiment in the background, Vargr up front. This Vargr Mercenary Unit, Set #7 came out well with first coat of a Tamiya spray. Bit dark...but just to get started.
The whole pack together - flash washes it out a bit.
Another pic with different lighting. 

Set #3, High Tech Infantry, cleaned up nicely in Pine-sol, with a bit of black left in the crevices - can only help, really. Some of my favorite poses, I really hope I can get more.
Same, in a lighter Tamiya grey. A thinner coat from nice quality paint, I think it is just right.
Also dusted the Vargr with the same paint. These popped quite a bit!
As for painting them, came across a great reference for Traveller in general, and plenty about Vargr: They are at least as fun as I figured they'd be. Inspiration for their faces and such should be real wolves, I think.

Wolf pics - mostly interested in getting the face colors and patterns right.

As for the moss green experiment...after quite a lot of staring at them over several days, they ended up in the Pine-Sol. Uncertain what color they will end up now, but favoring a brown base tone.

Gordon R. Dickson "Childe Cycle" books, better known as "Those Dorsai books" to some. I had to get rid of all my cheap paperback versions due to their aging badly, mustiness, etc. Fortunately, they haven't gone out of print. Below is a very good copy of a compilation that I had in some other print runs. These were what inspired me to be interested in Striker in the first place, hence why I never got familiar with Traveller.
These are cleanly written in both style and substance. I could read them to my 10yo. Even the cuss words are not written out [is there a Soldier story without cussin'?]. Altho one can always argue about how realistic speculative fiction [aka science fiction] is, suffice it to say that this is a lot more realistic than 40K or any of that nonsense. And thankfully, there are no nuns with whips immolating sentient beings. Dickson has too much intellect and class for that, and it shows. And the splinter cultures are interesting in both theory and storyline.

Recent inspiration, if another old book. It's just the right level for wargame inspiration, and if all aspects of it aren't believable, you can always tweak the story line. There is definitely something to be said for taking a "Queen Victoria's Little Wars" approach to this "period". Strong narrative, historical parallels, and plenty of character way out in the fringes if civilization. Characters are nicely developed. Has a lot of the David Drake "Hammer's Slammers" style since it is also written by a Soldiers.
There are three books in the series altogether, and the second appears to also be worth reading. Again, like many older books, PG-13 seems to be where it's written, e.g."frosty" is a unit substitute cuss word for one more common and cruder . And there are some funny intellectuals in the group [Frezza was a staff officer]. Recommended for you Drake fans.

Finally, the Striker '81 Player's Aid is coming along. It is hard not to streamline it a bit as I can't motivate myself to write out all the niggling mechanical details of the RAW knowing I won't be using them. And of course a few didn't make sense or were unclear anyway. But hoping to get it close to the original feel and key mechanics before I remake it according to my own needs. More on this soon!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Retro Sci-Fi: Frank Chadwick's "Striker" 1st ed, 1981

Well, the 1980s are retro to me, anyway... least the books held up well - 40 years later, binding and pages are intact!

I bought this as a box, and various miniatures in blisters and bags from Martian Metals and RAFM / Citadel from the dearly departed hobby shop at the mall. I loved it when mom dropped me off there while she went shopping. I got my micro games, pocket games, and more there. At some point, I bought the Striker box and miniatures, and even did some cleaning, priming and painting. Then these went into boxes for about 30 years, and are only now seeing light again. I find the Martian Metal figs varied - I like some and not others. The RAFM figs are really nice sculpts.

Official Citadel Guide to the Traveller / Striker 15mm sets. They were sculpted by the Perry Bros, who said they were great fun to do, when I asked them. They are a bit bulkier than lots of other 15mm which gives them stronger visual presence on the table. [CLICK] The unit sheets were included in the bag and are from the Citadel Guide in the link.

There are questions, some of them raised and answered here, much as I hate to steer anyone to TMP, aka "Toxic Miniatures Page": 
but another great link to the figures is here: 

Below is my quite battered Vargr Mercenary Unit sheet, Set #7. 

And this is what looks like if it wasn't 40 years old! I loved these little diagrams and the info - made it a lot more real and also helped steer you in the direction of "author intent".

I may not know much about the Traveller Universe, but I know a cool sculpt when I see it! The Vargr  are nicely animated and generally in sensible "action" poses if not prone, kneeling or otherwise taking cover. Their sergeant and medic are especially nice. There are just too many jokes about them to not use them in a sci-fi force. I think they'll make a great sneaky force; after all, they are wolves, right?

Mine had a bit of aging, but cleaned up just fine and are now ready for priming. I'm favoring a grey primer and then highlighting in grey, white and brown patches, as wolfy as I can get. Maybe a couple of the officers will look more like huskies, just to show that dogs are class-conscience, too - waddya think??  Below, the medics, officers, sergeants, and the plasma gunners.

Below, the two Soldier poses - running or standing at ready with Gauss rifle.

These are definitely my favorite of the High Tech Infantry. Great poses, would like more of them. At the moment, the 20 I have will have to be the scout platoon for the grunts below.

And here are my 20 painted set #3 in Pine-Sol. The black was just too dark. They were originally supposed to be Mercs from the Friendlies, the religious types from Gordon R. Dickson's "Dorsai" series of books. I painted the stripes to match their weapons, both to look cool and to make them easier to figure out on the table. Will have to revisit that and switch it to rank, perhaps? They will be some sort of green-grey, I think.

These guys and the one's below will be the "line" troops. I've one bag of each for 40, with 17 each of the "line" pose. I'm hoping to mix them up with some additional purchases and make some squads that are sensible. These guys are very close in appearance and weaponry to the next set.

Presently, they've white primer - dunno how or when I put that on...

Ditto these dudes - but their screens had a mold line that I had to file off. Notice the detailed sculpts and the nice shaping of the armor and other aspects of the figure.

In an unexplainable burst of interest and output, I've been working on producing a player aid for Striker 1st Ed., which I'll probably just call "Striker '81" from here on. The rules do have some overly complex mechanisms in places, and are also a bit vague in important areas - they remind of the "British Hand Wave" approach to handling conflict [HERE] whether in rules or space opera. Overall, the rules are a skirmish level [insanely, they suggest a battalion could be played with experienced players - not!] but use Teams of 4 or so on a base, and in fact the basing is almost identical to Flames of War.

I do think the rules have some promise, and they already have - according to their own tech fiction - nearly anything one might want. Their main issue is that being designed in 1980 they have no vision of the development in computers that we have today. Fortunately, much of the ground-pounding military has little use for the computers that we have today, so it isn't as bad as it might be.
But I have to say...if one posits the sort of ridiculous power outputs that are needed to move thru space in a timely fashion, then having comms problems - without enemy interference - seems nearly impossible. 

I'm thinking that this Mosaic Warfare concept might provide an interesting platform to game - it could be granular while also being fluid and fast-moving [CLICK]. It also presents some lower tech approaches to tactical thinking, and that might work well. For historical scenarios, some worthwhile small actions from Afghanistan can be found [HERE]. These also might provide the needed framework of limitations for small actions to operate within.

In any event, it is time to get these figs cleaned up, primed and on the table!

Friday, April 17, 2020

More Ars Victor - Even less S**K!

We got back into Ars Victory pretty quickly, a couple of days later, but it's been a bit busy to do much posting. This game went even smoother and easier as we are getting used to how to do things. We played the same scenario as previous post, but switched sides. I was now commanding a horde of junk and Mr. Winkie had a small, elite force with loads of firepower - Shootalicious!

Turn 1. Red deployed first, heading to the center and right objectives. There's more cover there for his units to lay down a base of fire so a good choice. I chose the center and left, since he wasn't going for the left it was a freebie, and the center was the next closest over so my guys had mutual support.

Turn 6. I've secured the left objective and am contesting the others. Having bodies helps. If you can't concentrate firepower in this game, your quarry will likely run away if it of any quality. If it is primitive, then you have a good chance of shooting it down completely. I have more primitive stuff!

Turn 14 or so. I've managed to hold Red's ground and even drive Blue off some objectives, but he re-took the one on my right [far side] and then drove me off the left one! I don't have the bodies to retake it, so I'm trying to push at the center and right now, using reinforcements of my larger force.
My scavengers manage to deal a death blow to his Cavalry Unit on the center objective, which is also his command unit! That really helps...

As game draws to a close, it is very very close! He has 3 Glory and I have 2. If either of us knocks out one unit, we will win immediately. If not, holding objectives removes 1-2 points of Glory from the opponent a turn if we can swing 1-2 Objectives. Everything is very close and no one has any clear advantage or a solid enough concentration of forces.

With the game ending, I make a desperate bid for the right objective, playing a good card with lots of activation points, and all my firepower hits his Heavy unit.
He is forced off the objective by Retreat results, and I occupy it with my Assault Unit!
On the left, I make a "what the heck" attempt, roll hot and destroy his Cavalry - game over! I have ONE Glory point left, and he has none...can't get any closer than that!
Final view of the game from Blue's side. His smaller force got spread out, and the cavalry forces are mobile but weaker, and proved no match for my extra bodies. I pretty much won by destroying them altho I generally lost more Glory because he used the Cavalry to hold more objectives more often.

This was another good game. It is a bit difficult for a 10yo, but not insurmountable. He does like the illustrations which I think are a great change of pace from the "dark future" blah blah style that is also a bit laughable when it isn't too creepy or salacious. Overall, this is probably a game for 12 and up.

I'd like to try some different missions, will probably have to work on a few of my own. Still, a great game, nice components, clean rules, easy to understand and port over to anything. You can easily steal the system, use regular playing cards, and convert to miniatures for nothing. But it is nice to be able to put down an attractive game on a small table and have a great time.  

Can't wait to try out the "not-Eldar" forces!