All Square!

This weeks post is a guest post by the very talented Chris Kirk. Chris has recently ‘converted’ to Napoleonics and is in the process of building his army. Like most of us, he has agonised over how many men should be painted to form a Battalion and then how best to base them. There is of course no correct answers to these questions. It largely depends on what rules set you have decided to use and even then, there is usually some flexibility. After much thought, Chris had decided that he would like his battalions to be made up of 32 figures and that to make life easier on the Wargames table, he would put his figures into a movement tray, complete with Battalion name plate and space for casualty and disorder markers. We had these trays custom made for him by those clever people at Sarissa Precision and they were based on the smaller 12 man trays that I use for club night games.

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As he was building British battalions, they would spend much of their time in Line formation so the need to take them out of the tray would be mainly limited to when they were forced into square when using Black Powder rules. In the course of discussing this, Chris decided that rather than take the figures out of the movement tray, he would make some ‘generic’ square markers that could be used to replace the line if forced into square during a game.

If this seems like a lot of extra work, it is, in the short term! However, Chris really enjoys his modelling and painting and the option of making some mini dioramas was too tempting for him. Rather than paint another 32 figures for each square, Chris decided on using a 120mm x 120mm movement tray to represent the area would then build & paint just enough figures and scenery to give the impression of a square. In doing so, he needed plenty of casualties and the following sequence of pictures shows how he achieved this. I hope that you find it as instructive and useful as I did. I have now added another project to my list!

casualty 1l_IMG_7008The start point for a casualty – a Victrix standing figure.

Remove the base, leaving as much of the boots as you can!

Remove the base, leaving as much of the boots as you can!

casualty 3_IMG_7013Cut V’s into the backs of the knees. this will allow bent legs at the knees. Remove feet at the ankles to reposition as if gravity is taking over the limp body.

casualty 4l_IMG_7014Re assemble legs and flatten the back so that the figure lies flush with the ground.

casualty5l_IMG_7017Add a suitable head – this one is actually from a Warlord Ancient Briton set!

casualty 6Add the arms – once again, gravity is king! Whilst there will still be some finishing touches, once the polystyrene cement is dry the figure will be roughly correct and ready for filling.

casualty 7_7020A selection of casualties made using the same procedure. All waiting overnight for the glue to really set hard before more filing down to ensure that they are flat and any cleaning up to be done.

Green stuff on_IMG_7024Trimmed of flashes. Green stuff applied to gaps. Heels of boots created where needed. Arm sling and head bandage added.

The Square takes shape!

The Square takes shape!

I hope that this has been useful. As you can see, it is a work in progress and once Chris gets the rest of the figures to complete the square and of course, paints them we will return with the finished article.  I think it shows how useful Plastic figures can be when it comes to making your own units. I know that some wargamers have very fixed views when it comes to plastics versus metals. I like both and when it comes to converting, I think that this article shows how plastic figures can be adapted and remodelled far easier than metals.

If you would like to try your hand at conversions, we have a massive selection of fillers and tools to browse through here:

FILLERS AND TOOLS 

You can get Victrix plastics here:

VICTRIX MODELS

and Glues and Adhesives here:

GLUES AND ADHESIVES

Scenery for Samurai

It’s funny how once you get into a groove, it’s difficult to get out of it, particularly if you are having fun! I had finished all of the original Test of Honour figures as detailed in last weeks blog and my intention was to go back to painting my beloved Napoleonics. I did mention that I fancied painting some buildings but they were going to have to wait. However, having had a couple of really fun games of TOH at the club, I decided to get on with making some scenery.

I had some plastic aquarium plants that my brother had sent me, kicking around the back of my work bench and I had long admired the Sarissa Temple Shrine so I thought that I would make both bits of scenery. It may seem like a strange combination but sometimes two slightly different projects are as fast to do as one. Whilst one piece is drying or setting, you can get on with the other. Having just two projects is about right for me as I don’t loose my concentration!

'Bamboo grove' assembled.

‘Bamboo grove’ assembled.

The ‘bamboo patch’ was the first on the work bench. I already had an idea how I would make it and stole an idea from John Grant at the club, who uses old DVD or CD’s as his bases for scatter scenery. I’ve got plenty of these kicking around as they were giving out DVD’s with some newspapers in the past. Quite why I thought I would need a documentary on Pilates escapes me now but at last it was going to be used for something useful. So using the label side as the base I partially covered it with milliput, pressed three pebbles that I had grabbed from the garden (I didn’t even bother to wash them!) and just stuck the tall aquarium plants straight into the milliput as shown above. I used some cut down pieces at the edges to taper the height but otherwise, assembly was as straight forward as it looks.

Building the Sarissa Precision Japanese Temple.

Building the Sarissa Precision Japanese Temple.

Whilst the milliput was setting, I turned my attention to the Sarissa Temple. These laser cut buildings are just superb in my opinion and actually look fantastic whether painted or not. I like to ‘pimp’ them up a bit and in this case I had decided to paint the building and add some tile effect to the roof. Before assembly, I lightly sprayed the back of the interior pieces with black primer. This was just to keep the inside of the building black as I didn’t want the MDF showing through the windows. It’s not a necessary stage but does improve the finished model. If you plan to paint the interior, now would be a good time to do it.

Before I assembled the roof, I used the panels as a cutting guide for the textured plastic sheeting that I was going to use. It is actually ‘O’ Scale or 1/48th scale Spanish Tile textured plastic card from JTT products. It’s thin enough to easily cut with a sharp scalpel and the only thing to bear in mind is to make sure that the tiles are running the right way on the roof, ie. downwards! I then used super glue to attach the sheet to the MDF roof pieces, although a contact adhesive would have been a better option – my tube of Bostick had dried up though, so super glue did the job. I then assembled the roof as per the kit instructions.

Tile sheets glued to the roof.

Tile sheets glued to the roof.

Once the roof was assembled, I used 1/8th evergreen tube pack 224 to fill the corners. The picture above shows my progress, with the tube blu-tacked into place to test fit before gluing to the tile sheet. I then covered the tube with a strip of single tiles cut from the tile sheeting. At this stage, I used standard polystyrene glue as you can see from the picture. I assembled the rest of the building but did not glue the centre to the platform so that it was easier to varnish. I used the red mahaogany woodstain shown in the picture straight from the can and applied it to the MDF without any preparation. It took around four coats to give me the gloss effect that I was looking for.

Applying the varnish

Applying the varnish

In the meantime, I got on with painting the building itself. I used a Vallejo yellow ochre although the last coat was a mix of 50:50 Yellow Ochre 70913 with Beige 70917 to lighten the effect as it looked too yellow to me. I painted the door and window with the woodstain and then the timber with Vallejo Mahogany Brown 70846.

yellow ochre applied

yellow ochre applied

In between coats drying I went back to my Bamboo scenery piece and once the milliput had dried, coated the base with Vallejo dark earth Textured paste. It was easy enough to apply using a small spatula and a brush to get in between the plants. Once this was dry, I painted it Vallejo Chocolate Brown 70872 and I was ready to start dry brushing!

Ready to dry brush!

Ready to dry brush!

I had sprayed the roof tiles black as I wasn’t keen on the terracotta effect. With hindsight a dark grey would have been a better choice. So it was a case of dry brushing the roof with a mixture of greys and the bamboo base with a chocolate Brown/Iraqi Sand mix.

Dry Brushing complete - well not quite - more grey needed!

Dry Brushing complete – well not quite – more grey needed!

The picture above shows the shrine assembled with the posts painted a bright red 70947 to match the Tori Gate that I have previously completed. Once I had taken this photo I decided that I needed to go heavier with the grey as too much black was showing through the roof. I had also painted the base of the house in Chocolate brown ready for some scatter. The bamboo looked OK – some additional grass scatter & texture was needed.

Temple & Bamboo finished

Temple & Bamboo finished

The Picture above shows the two pieces completed. I have added some brown ballast to the temple base and my usual mix of scatter & tufts to the Bamboo scenery. I perhaps will add another highlight to the roof tiles but I think that the lighting in the picture doesn’t show it at it’s best. So, now that these two pieces are complete, I really must get on with my Napoleonic Cavalry brigade. However, the Geisha would look nice as part of the shrine….

I think I have my next TOH project lined up....

I think I have my next TOH project lined up….

The commercial bit.

Most of what I have used is available post free at the time of writing to most worldwide locations from my shop. Some items may go in and out of stock – we only list what we have in stock ready to dispatch- the links take you to the correct sections in my shop but if you are having trouble finding anything  drop me a message.

For the range of Sarissa Japanese Buildings and other Samurai items, including the Test of Honour sets click here:

ARCANE SCENERY SAMURAI RANGE

For Glues and Adhesives;

ARCANE SCENERY ADHESIVES RANGE

For milliput

ARCANE SCENERY MILLIPUT

For Texture Paste

VALLEJO TEXTURES

For Vallejo paint

VALLEJO PAINT RANGE

For textured Plasticard

PLASTICARD, PLAIN AND TEXTURED

The woodstain came from Boyes hardware shop and the pebbles from my garden! I’m still trying to source bamboo!

The Last Samurai

No, it’s not a reference to the Tom Cruise film, although I do quite enjoy watching it, but an indication that I have now finished all of the models that came with the original Test of Honour boxed set. Yes, all 35 are complete as well as the limited edition unarmoured figure, that was the first model that I painted. I have to say that given the set was just £35.00, I think that I have already had more than value for money both in terms of modeling and painting time and fun had whilst playing the game. If there are awards for Wargames product of the year, then Test of Honour will get my vote. Now I do have a slightly vested interest, being a retailer of said product but given the number of products that I see, I dont think that it is an unreasonable claim. It certainly takes something special to prise me away from painting and playing Napoleonics! Anyway, enough of the frothing and on to the modelling.

Completed Ashigaru Bowmen -Bow strings attached!

Completed Ashigaru Bowmen -Bow strings attached!

I had completed the 20 Ashigaru figures that came with the set and had been using the metal Samurai that I had painted, the afore mentioned unarmoured samurai and a free figure that came with the ‘Painting War’ Fuedal Japaness issue. I had assembled and painted one of the plastic samurai but I wasn’t happy with the result and had put the final four figures to one side.

My usual Samurai Team. A Limited Edition Samurai from Painting war and one from the set.

My usual Samurai Team. A Limited Edition Samurai from Painting war and one from the set.

That changed when I was browsing through the Test of Honour Facebook site and a couple of posts had given me fresh inspiration. I then happened upon some really nice pictures on Pinterest and the combination of ideas gave me the push to build the last samurai figures in the set. That energy coincided with a bit of free time at the weekend and in record time (for me) I completed the figures.

As there were four Samurai left, I decided to make them into two pairs of similar models. It would make painting easier but I could also either use them in a game as a pair or mix them up. Here’s the models assembled.

Assembled Samurai ready for Priming

Assembled Samurai ready for Priming

I stole the idea of one Samurai holding a severed head. It’s pretty gruesome but will make a ‘talking point’ for the army! I also liked the Samurai with the straight arm draw – again, a pose that I had seen elsewhere. I used a Black colour scheme for the two samurai with the conical helmets and red for the other two so primed them accordingly.

Primed and ready to paint

Primed and ready to paint

I used slightly different techniques for each pair of models. For the guys in red, I went straight to the paint and blocked out the main colours. I was using my trusty method of block paint & quickshade to bring out the detail. I wont detail all the colours other than to say I had decided that the background colour scheme would be brown, so there is about five different shades of Vallejo brown used. Once the block painting was done, I painted the models with Dark Tone quick shade to bring out the details in the armour. I’ve also tried to add detail to the plates by dotting them with gold. Close up, this looks a bit messy but from table distance I think it’s OK! While I was in the mood for painting dots, I also added some to the tunic arms as they looked a bit bland.

Red Samurai gold dots on the armour and quick shaded.

Red Samurai gold dots on the armour and quick shaded.

For the Black Samurai, I went back to using a dry brush technique to bring out the detail on the armour. I used quite a light grey Vallejo 70990 and tried not to be too heavy with the drying brush. I then used 70901 pastel blue to represent the stitching. Again viewed up close, it looks a bit rough but with my eyes, it was good enough!

Black Samuraio dry brushed & light blue stitching added.

Black Samuraio dry brushed & light blue stitching added.

As you can see, I only added the stitch to one of the samurai – the other has a cloak and I thought that this would be enough colour without making it look too ‘busy’.

I used Dark Prussian blue for the tunics and highlighted these with Prussian blue. I had considered using a nice dark purple but I didn’t have this to hand and so went with what I had on the paint rack. I also decided to paint the face masks in Brass just to make these Samurai different from the others that I had done. Once the main colours were done, the figures began to look ready for the table.

Nearly complete

Nearly complete

So it was just a case of touching up some of the detail and correcting any obvious errors and then adding some tufts and flowers to the base and the Last Samurai are ready to take to the table.

Samurai charge!

Samurai charge!

Black Samurai close up

Black Samurai close up

You may have noticed that I don’t usually paint eyes – the exception in this case is the poor guy who has had his head chopped off – it just seemed to emphasise his fate – glaring at his mates who failed to save him!

Red Samurai close up

Red Samurai close up

As well as the figures in the set, I also used some of the spare parts to make some objective markers – I have previously posted these on facebook but it’s worth showing them again.

Objective Markers

Objective Markers

So the full Warband looks like this.

Full Samurai War Band!

Full Samurai War Band!

My next project will be to build a bit more in the way of scenery. However, I’m going to take my time. I have a Tori gate, so the next piece will be the Temple shrine. As for figures, I think that some mounted Samurai will be next followed perhaps by the Peasant bowmen. I really enjoyed building and painting the bowmen in the TOH set so a few more wont hurt and I might just go to town converting them into more dynamic poses now that I am familiar with the kits. That all said, I have seen the next batch of figures that will be released in the TOH collection…..they are simply awesome! So the collection will continue to grow!

Ashigaru Bowmen unit

Ashigaru Bowmen unit

 

The commercial bit:

Test of Honour and the current expansion sets are all available from Arcane scenery, along with Cherry trees, Sarissa Scenery and other useful accessories. We also stock vast ranges of paint, glue, basing and scenic materials. At the time of writing it is available (aerosols excepted) post free to most worldwide locations. Click below to go to the Samurai section:

ARCANE SCENERY SAMURAI SECTION

To have a look at my Samurai Pinterest board click here:

SAMURAI PINTEREST BOARD

To keep up to date with new releases, my modelling blog and other projects, like the arcane scenery facebook page here:

ARCANE SCENERY FACEBOOK 

To see the rest of my blog entries regarding Samurai and Test of Honour, click here:

SAMURAI BLOG

All of the links should open a new window, so you wont lose this page. Have fun!

Tankfest at Bovington part 2

Continuing my review of Tankfest 2017 held at Bovington, in my last blog entry I had just stopped for lunch and I was taking a tour around the Museums whilst the displays in the Arena were having a break. First stop was the main hall, where the story of Tank development is told. The very first Tank, ‘Little Willy’ is on display as well as a selection of WW1 tanks moving through into the interwar years.

Mark II Vickers Tank from the interwar years.

Mark II Vickers Tank from the interwar years.

You soon get to the Second World War, and of course this is where tank development really starts to take off. The Germans opted for sophisticated, highly engineered designs, the Russians & USA adopting a more pragmatic approach based on manufacturing capabilities – simple and effective. The British Tank development appears to have stuttered and despite inventing the concept, our tanks lag behind, being either under gunned, under powered or both.

The A13 Mark III Cruiser tank, armed with a 2 pounder was serving in 1940.

The A13 Mark III Cruiser tank, armed with a 2 pounder was serving in 1940.

The story of the development of the tank is expertly told, both with the many tank exhibits and Audio visual displays. It is just a joy to be able to see for yourself the different style of tanks and compare size and design.

The Zenith of German tamk design and perhaps the best tank of WW2, the Panther Ausf. G

The Zenith of German tank design and perhaps the best tank of WW2, the Panther Ausf. G

From the Second World War it was onto the Post war and Cold war period. Most boys of my age will fondly remember playing with the vehicles shown here as they were issued as Dinky toys die cast models in the 50’s & 60’s!

Ferret, Scout Armoured Car. Asfast in reverse as going forward, a very necessary requirement once you have found the enemy!

Ferret, Scout Armoured Car. As fast in reverse as going forward, a very necessary requirement once you have found the enemy!

Centurion MkIII

Centurion MkIII

From the main hall we drifted into the latest addition to the museum, the Tiger Hall, where for the first time, you could see the Tiger 1 alongside the Tiger II (pre-production and production versions), Jadgtiger and the only Elephant that survives in the western word, temporarily on loan to the museum. Awesome just doesn’t do these tanks justice! They are magnificent! As you can see from the pictures, it was very busy here. However, the spectators help to show just how monstrous these tanks are!

Tiger and Elefant

Tiger and Elefant

Preproduction King Tiger & Jagdtiger

Preproduction King Tiger & Jagdtiger

King Tiger - the new Arcane Scenery Company car... I wish!

King Tiger – the new Arcane Scenery Company car… I wish!

We then stepped through to the Word War Two Hall – Wow! What a collection of vehicles. I was actually so distracted, I stopped taking photos as we were running out of time, so it was off to the the WW1 displays. War Horse to Horse power, telling the early story of the Tank in WW1 in detail.

Mark IV with Fascine

Mark IV with Fascine

By now we were all tanked out so it was back outside for … more tanks! We quickly made our way to the Tank park to look over the vehicles that would be running later in the day. There was a nice mix of the modern and older tanks to see.

Centurion

Centurion

Chieftan

Chieftain

Challenger and Challenger recovery vehicle

Challenger and Challenger recovery vehicle

Some of the veteran tanks were also on display, unfortunately not all were able to run. The Jadganther suffering from engine trouble – not surprising for a vehicle that is 63 years old!

Jadgpanther - static display today!

Jadgpanther – static display today!

 

We were then cleared out of the Tank park as the afternoon programme was about to start in the arena. First up, the modern recovery vehicles, followed by a parade of WW2 vehicles.

Kettenkraftgrad -

Kettenkraftrad – coping well with a churned up Arena

Panzer III - still running well!

Panzer III – still running well!

Matilda mkI

Matilda mkI

Home guard arrives!

Home guard arrives!

And on to the grand finale, a re-enactment of the D-Day landings, with plenty of smoke, flash bangs and noise!

US Forces take the high ground!

US Forces take the high ground!

At 6.00pm, I was ready to leave the museum and having had yet another look around, although I felt that I had had my moneys worth, there was still plenty that I had not seen! The good news was that my ticket is valid for a whole year so if I can get myself back down to Bovington, I can enjoy another look around when perhaps there are not so many people around!

I hope that the pictures inspire you to visit the museum. They are just a small taste of what was on display during the day. If you can get there, it is certainly worthwhile and very inspiring. I have said that I will make my photos and videos available but so far technology is defeating me…You can see some of the video that I shot here, on Arcane Scenery’s You Tube channel:

ARCANESCENERY

I will be adding more videos and the next job will be to sort out the picture hosting – watch out for an announcement on Facebook.