Sarissa Precision Medieval Cog

You may have seen a number of blog posts and post to the Bill Hooks Facebook group regarding our new venture ‘Never Mind the Boat Hooks’, a set of wargames rules based on Medieval naval warfare. Many of the boats that we are using are models made from the Sarissa Precision medieval Cog. My ‘fleet’ currently includes two, so I thought that it would be useful to give a brief review of building the kit and show readers some of the modifications.

One of our early play tests – the sarissa precision cog The ‘White Hart’ has run around in the top of the picture!

First of all, a couple of disclaimers. The kit is a representation of a typical medieval cog rather than a precise scale model. It’s a very good representation and designed for 28mm wargames figures, so it is very practical and robust for table top use. If you are looking for a more accurate model there are some very nice ones out there – the Zvezda Cog in plastic, for example. However, you will find that they are far more expensive and less robust or practical when it comes to gaming. That said, from what I have read in the limited research that I have done, there are no plans based on actual designs that survive. Most of what we know is based on contemporary pictures and descriptions rather than actual plans. There are a few surviving ships that have been recovered but I think that it’s fair to say that our knowledge is limited.

The Sarissa cog fully assembled and rigged

The Sarissa Cog comes with full building instructions and I recommend that you read them first and familiarise yourself with the pieces before you start to build the model. I found that the model went together very well and in some places the pieces were such a snug fit, glueing wasn’t required! However, to be on the safe side you should assemble with glue. I used Expo thick Cyanoacrylic super glue. A good white PVA would also be suitable but I was impatient and the thicker super glue glue gave me sufficient working time. A quick blast with an accelerant made things even faster, once I was happy that the pieces were in place.

Note that the ribs with the ‘eye’s in the top fit to the rear of the boat!

A word of caution when building. It is worth checking and then double checking that the ‘ribs’ that will support the grey board sides are assembled in the correct sequence and that you are clear as to which ones are on the stern end of the boat and which ones fit to the front or bow. The same goes when you fit the deck – ensure that you are clear which is the bow and which is the stern! Otherwise, I found the assembly very straight forward. A bit of patience and care is required when fitting the greyboard sides. This is where I found that super glue was better than PVA due to the fast grab and set time.

The deck and stern castle deck in place. Note the winch goes to the front of the boat.

I assembled the mast but did not glue it in place as I intended to replace it with a ‘fighting top’ for my archers. The mast is snug enough to slide in and out as required.

The completed Cog – original mast is just in place temporarily.

Full rigging instructions are included but I decided that the rigging would restrict access to the deck and get in the way when gaming so I went for a simpler solution. I made a replacement mast with a fighting top from a piece of 10mm dowel. You can pick this up from your local hardware store for about £3.00 for a 3 metre length so you will have plenty spare! Using a saw I cut a slot in the bottom of the new mast so that it would fit into the existing mast hole. Next, I needed to make a fighting top.

I’ve used two different methods of making a fighting top. I have a square one for the ‘White Hart’ ( see above) and I have a round one for the ‘White Lion’ – see below.

New mast and Fighting top added

Both of these fighting tops are made using 40mm bases ( round or square as you prefer). I’ve then made the sides with coffee stirrers cut to size and attached to the bases.

New fighting top and spar

If you look at the top picture you can see that there are some very simple ways of making a fighting top – look carefully and you might just identify a certain fast food outlets’ sauce container!

With the new mast and fighting top completed, my Cog was ready for gaming. However, I wanted to use the original mast with a sail for display purposes. To make the sail, I simply cut a piece of old sheet to size. I then asked for some help from my next door neighbor, Carole, who is an expert with a sewing machine to run some panels into the sail. To get the design of the lion onto the sail, I printed off a picture from the internet and taped the sail over the picture onto my patio window! I could then trace the design onto the flag.

The Sail ready for finishing

As you can see, I then placed the sail over a balloon and liberally coated it in PVA. Once dry, it was easy to peel the sail off of the balloon and it would now keep it’s shape with a bit of ‘belly’ in it!

The sail receiving it’s coating of PVA!

It was then just a case of carefully painting the sail. I used standard Vallejo paints but I ensued that each coat/colour was very dry before completing the next one.

The ‘White Lion’ with its sail !

The anchor that you can see was from Expo – we usually have these in stock, as well as the chain, although as I write this I am waiting for more stock as I have used them all for my projects!

So my cog is ready to take to the table. I will publish a follow up blog, where I will detail how I have painted the model – although if you have followed my blog, you will be aware of my preferred method of painting to simulate wood. If you are able to attend Partizan in Newark on May 22nd, I will be there with Andy Callan and we will be running a game of ‘Never Mind The Boat Hooks’ – you are welcome to come and join in and if you have any questions regarding the construction of the boats, I will be pleased to answer them.

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

If you would like to purchase the Sarissa Precision Cog you can see it here:

MEDIEVAL COG SAILING SHIP

We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:

NEVER MIND THE BILL HOOKS!

To see our range of Naval accessories, click here:

NAVAL ACCESSORIES

To see our range of glues, click here:

ADHESIVES AND GLUES

You can find all the Vallejo Model colour paints here. If you don’t want to browse, just enter the paint number into the shop search bar;

VALLEJO PAINTS

Happy Modelling!

Gallowglass

I’ve been aware that in my recent blogs have focused on what I’ve been doing without giving too many details of how I’ve been doing it or why! Part of the problem is that I have a number of threads and projects going on at once. One of these is to produce an Irish contingent for my War of The Roses army. I don’t have a special affinity for Irish warriors,(although I do have an Irish Saga band). My interest lies with the appearance and involvement of some of the Irish nobility at the Battle of Stokes Field on 16th June 1487.

Stokes field – the view to Hoveringham and the Trent

I have visited the Stoke Field battlefield on a number of occasions – it’s just down the road from where I live! If you would like to know more about the battle and battlefield, my earlier blog article has plenty of pictures and some useful links:

THE BATTLE OF STOKE FIELD

It’s also interesting to note that as well as the main battle, a number of smaller engagements took place before the main event, including three days of skirmishing through Sherwood Forest, where Lord scales’ Cavalry force delayed the rebels advance. Andy Callan used these events to come up with a fictional prequel to the main battle and wrote an article for Wargames illustrated ( issue 394) which involved the Irish, German and Rebel English coming into contact with an advance guard of the Lancastrian (Tudor) army. You can read our battle report here:

STOKES FIELD – THE PREQUEL

According to the chronicles of the time, the Irish troops were mainly lightly armed Kern. However, I’m guessing that the nobility had brought along a few more heavily armoured Gallowglass. That said, compared to the plate armoured nobility in the English army, even the Gallowglass would look lightly armoured, wearing at most, long mail shirts over padded or quilted jackets. The most famous contemporary depiction of Gallowglass that I am aware of is the Durer picture:

Gallowglass, as portrayed by Albrecht Durer.

I was delighted to find that Antediluven Models has produced miniatures base on this picture and in addition had a nice range of both Irish Gallowglass and Kern. I had already had a number of packs of the Perry miniatures models in my army, so the chance to add a few different models was too good to miss.The Antediluvian models are about the same size as the Perry’s and the two mix well together. This would allow me to complete two blocks of 12 Gallowglass and still have some figures left over from previous acquisitions to make up a couple of command bases. I ordered three packs of Gallowglass from them ( including the Durer models) and prepared and primed them ready for painting.

Antediluvian Gallowglass – block painted

The castings that arrived were excellent, requiring very little preparation other than a scrape of the odd mold line. I primed the models in black and then painted the flesh with vallejo Flesh 70955. The mail, helmets and weapons were painted with Army painter plate mail, the quilted jackets in Vallejo Buff 70968, belts boots and scabards in Leather brown 70871, the axe hafts in panzer aces old wood 310.

Figures with an ink wash

I then gave the models a good wash of Army painter soft tone, except the flesh areas, which I used the Vallejo Flesh wash as a shade. Once the washes had dried, I highlighted the models with the same colours to bring out the details, leaving the darker wash in the recesses. The faces and flesh were highlighted with Flat Flesh 70955 and then Basic skin tone 70815 for an extra highlight.

Basing in progress – texture paste and ballast added

As usual, I based the models with Vallejo dark earth textured paste and added some ballast for detail. The bases were then painted in my usual style, using Delhi Bazaar emulsion as the base, highlighted with Iraqi Sand and then a touch of white. I then added some grass scatter and some Gamers grass tufts to finish.

The ‘Durer’ models painted – I added some detail to the red cloak after seeing this image.

When it came to the Durer models, I tried to follow the colours on the Antediluvian site as well as referring to the picture above. Although the colours were different, the process was the same – block paint, shade with inks and highlight with the original colours, with a bit of Off white 70820 or Iraqi sand 70819 added to give an extra layer. It’s worth mentioning that I also used Vallejo Yellow Ochre 70893 as a base for the yellow cloth and for the lighter coloured quilted jacket, Deck tan 70986, works really well.

So with another 12 Gallowglass models completed, I now have a nice force of 24 of these heavy hitters ready to take to the table. Next up for the Irish will be some more Kern.

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:

NEVER MIND THE BILL HOOKS!

You can find all the Vallejo Model colour paints here. If you don’t want to browse, just enter the paint number into the shop search bar;

VALLEJO PAINTS

We don’t stock Antediluvian miniatures you will have to go direct to their web site. I’m very happy to recommend them, the service and turnaround time on my order was excellent and the miniatures superb:

ANTEDILUVIAN MINIATURES

Happy Modelling!

A Visit to the Battle of Bosworth Battlefield

Back on the 12th March, I found myself with a free weekend – the Missus was off for a long weekend with her sisters, so it was my opportunity to visit yet another local battlefield. Accompanied by fellow Bill Hooker and war gamer, Pete Harris, we made the 50 minute drive from Bingham to the Bosworth Heritage centre. The weather was kind to us as, although a bit breezy and chilly, it was dry and sunny. We arrived at the Bosworth Heritage Centre at around 11.30am

The map of the site and battlefield.
The Visitor Centre Courtyard

I had already pre booked our tickets for both the visitor centre and the guided walk. So once we had booked in and collected our tickets, the first port of call was the Tythe barn Tea rooms for a cuppa and a sausage roll! It’s worth noting that we found all of the staff to be really friendly and helpful through out the visit. In addition, the tickets to the exhibition are valid for a year, so if I fancy another visit in the summer, I can pop back.

The Tythe Barn Tea Rooms

As you can see, the Tea rooms are very nice, clean and welcoming. The food is good too! The cakes are particularly nice…back to the purpose of the visit! Once we had finished our ‘Second Breakfast’ we started our tour of the visitor centre.

Diorama in the reception area showing the two main protagonists

There’s two really nice dioramas in the entrance to the exhibition. The one shown above, is, I think, a 1/12th scale model of the two main protagonists, King Richard III and Henry Tudor. The model that really caught my eye, was of the medieval cog – great reference for ‘Never Mind the Boats Hooks!

A rather lovely model of the Medieval Cog that brought Henry Tudor back from France to fight for his crown.

The exibition itself was excellent, with plenty of background to the battle as well as an explanation as to why the Battlefield may have ‘moved’ from it’s original location and the research that has been done to establish what is now believed to be the correct location. Of course, of greatest interest to me was the exhibits of weapons and the likely dress of the warriors involved.

First, choose your weapon!
Typical foot soldier or bill man with Gambeson and Bill( with a passing resemblance to Robert Mitchum…)
Man at Arms in armoured Gambeson and Mail
For the richer men at arms – a full suit of armour!

We took about an hour and a half to look around the exhibition and after another quick pit stop for lunch, it was time for our guided walk of the battlefield. The walk started from the visitor centre courtyard, with a brief overview of the two sides and then we proceeded to the site of King Richard III’s camp on Ambion hill. From here we had a great view of the area and could just about make out where Henry Tudor would have camped over night and where the Stanley Brothers set up their camp. The tour skirted around the battlefield as much of it is on private land. This meant the we kept to the public footpaths but it did mean that the walking was nice and easy!

Ambion Hill
Our Tour guide – his name escapes me.

Our tour guide was extremely well informed both about the battle and the period and explained the back ground to the battle, who the main characters involved were, the politics of the time and how events unfolded.

The fight for the crown!

Our guide was dealing with various degrees of knowledge in his audience, from those who had no idea as to why the battle had taken place to ‘smart Alecs’, like the two wargamers that were tagging along. To be fair, Pete and I kept quiet and listened! I did take part in a mini re-fight of the battle, representing William Stanley to illustrate how the combatants were positioned! All part of our guide trying to involve the audience and keep them engaged.

This monument covers the well where Richard III allegedly took his last drink.
The view across the battlefield

The tour took around and hour and a half, so it was just after 3.00pm when we returned to the visitor centre. We visited the shop and I treated myself to a book on the battle and a few souvenirs. Whilst the selection of books was very good, I was a bit disappointed with the souvenirs. I suspect that the shop was still recovering from the problems caused by COVID but the selection of post cards etc was not great. There also wasn’t any sort of guide book or leaflet that I could find. I consoled myself with another visit to the Tythe Barn and finished the day with a hot chocolate and massive cherry and almond scone! I had to replace all those calories burnt on the walk…

Back at the Heritage Centre with ‘Never Mind The Bill Hooks’.

Overall, I had a great day. We left the centre at around 4.30pm, even though it actually closed at 4.00pm, the cafe stayed open whilst we finished our drinks and snack. Once again, the staff were brilliant – there was no rush, they left us to finish up! So, if you are able to get to Bosworth, I would very much recommend a visit to the battlefield and exhibition centre. It certainly filled a day and even if you don’t sign up for the guided tour, there’s nothing to stop you wandering around the beautiful Leicestershire country side and enjoying a picnic! As I have mentioned, my ticket will last for a year, so I think that I might just pop back when one of the many events are on to have a second look around.

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

To see our selection of soldiers and accessories for Never mind the Bill Hooks, the rules set designed for War of the Roses, click here:

NEVER MIND THE BILL HOOKS

Happy Modelling!

The Death of Nelson

Whilst I am still very much involved with producing my own Medieval Naval force, It’s good to have a break in between projects. For me, this involves painting something from the ‘Lead pile’. Regular readers will know that I am somewhat obsessed with reducing the number of unpainted figures in the ‘heap’ and the one minor benefit of the recent lock downs has been that I have made some progress.

The Death of Nelson – he certainly doesn’t look well….

So whilst I was in a nautical mood, I decided to have a go at painting a small diorama that I had acquired years ago. It is the Moments in Miniature model of the Death of Nelson issued by Wargames Illustrated Magazine. It’s a lovely piece, well sculpted and includes a nice resin base. A deep dive into my back issues of Wargames Illustrated and I found the original article that accompanied the release of this piece. I simply copied the pictures that accompanied the article. Well, up to a point. The article was by the master painter, Matt Parkes and showed how to paint the model as though it was illuminated by yellow lantern light. That was too fancy for me. I just wanted to paint the piece for my cabinet!

I’m fairly pleased with the result, although I have received a number of comments regarding how ill Nelson looks. I guess the clue is in the name. Poor Nelson is not going to recover from his wounds!

Men of Gondor!

I have also been steadily working through the Battlegames in Middle Earth magazine figures and I have now reached issue 23, having completed the Men of Gondor and Gimli, the Dwarf.

Gimli

Which brings me back to the lead pile. I have decided that my lead pile consists of three categories of models.

  1. Models that I have acquired from friends who didn’t want them or through the business. They might come in useful one day but I had no real reason for having them other than I didn’t want to throw them away and I was too greedy/polite to refuse them.
  2. Models that are just excess to requirements. You know, you buy a box of 60 Infantry and only use 24 of them for a particular project and the rest go onto the pile.
  3. Models that I really liked and wanted to paint but didn’t fit into the particular project that I was working on at the time. Perhaps one day I would sit down and paint them.
The Fellowship of the Ring is gradually taking shape!

Well, my focus now is on Category three. I’m not going to worry about category one any more, other than to sort them and either get rid of them or put them into deep storage. As for category two, it’s just an inevitable part of the hobby. You will always have spares and bits. They are now sorted by category and if I need a type of figure for a project, I’ll check my stash before I buy but I’m not going to worry about painting these until I need them.

So, Category three will get my attention. That is in between the painting and modelling that I need to do to complete my latest project. And when it comes to my latest project, I have resolved only to buy what I need and can paint in a reasonable time scale. In other words rather than buy a whole army that then sits there whilst I summon up the energy to get on with it, I’m just buying one or two units at a time and painting them before buying anything else.

The fleet grows!

Meanwhile, as you can see, my Medieval fleet is still growing, I’m going to add at least one more cog and some smaller row boats for support.

We need a bigger boat!

Which reminds me, I might just scratch build a great ship to lead my fleet in action…

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

Happy Modelling!

Naval Gazing!

It’s almost a month since my last blog and my attention has been focused on a new project. My gaming buddy and ace rules writer Andy Callan has come up with a new variation of ‘Never Mind The Bill Hooks’ – ‘Never mind the Boat Hooks’. The game is based on Naval warfare in the middle ages and inspired somewhat by the Battle of Sulys that took place in 1340. Although this pre-dates the Wars of the Roses by some 100 years and in fact was part of the 100 years war, this type of Naval warfare continued for some time into the next century.

Grace Dieu – the For castle is 52 feet high!

Henry V’s flag ship, Grace Dieu, launched in 1418, although one of the largest ships of her time, carried only 3 cannon and her design was primarily to allow the English to over come the formidable fleet of Genoa by providing a high platform for the archers to shoot down on the lower Carracks used by the Genoese. Towards the end of the 15th century, gun powder based technology began to become the prime armament but even Henry VIII’s flag ship, the Mary Rose, launched in 1511, still carried a number of archers as the secondary armament to the 78 – 91 guns on board. You can see from the picture that the high Forecastle and Stern Castle would facilitate fire down onto the enemy ships and the netting over the main deck ( which may have contributed to so many casualties when the ship foundered) was there to prevent boarding actions by the enemy.

The Mary Rose – Note Galleys in the background

So for a period in the late middle ages, the primary method of naval warfare was to grapple with the enemy ships and board them with a view to putting the enemy to the sword! In effect, a land battle fought on the decks of the ships. This allows the adaptation of the Never Mind The Bill Hooks rules to Sea Warfare, without too many changes to the basic rules engine.

Medieval ship to ship warfare!

The detail regarding fighting ship design for this period is about as comprehensive as the detail of the battles of the Wars of the Roses. That is to say, scant, at best! Much of what we know seems to be based on pictures from coins, pictures in manuscripts and carvings in churches. I have purchased the rather lovely book by Susan Rose ( no relation to Mary !) and whilst I am yet to read it properly, the summary seems to confirm that we are very much in the dark as to how Naval combat was fought in detail and how the ships were constructed or operated in battle.

Englands Medieval Navy by Susan Rose

However, before you can have a battle at sea, the first thing that you need is some ships! For the first play test, Andy made some ships up from wooden blocks and cardboard! As you can see, the ships looked pretty effective and not that far away from some of the contemporary illustrations and as a result we were able to play test the new rules.

First play test with ‘mock ups’

I then realised the Sarissa Precision have a very nice medieval cog in their range! So it was time to start building a fleet! You can see my first attempt at building the Sarissa cog in the picture below. I replaced the original mast with a fighting top. The replacement mast is just a plug in piece so I can revert to the original if I please.

The Sarissa Cog with replacement Fighting top

I also wanted to add some galley’s to my fleet but as there was no suitable kit, I decided to have a go at scratch building one. I tried looking for some sort of plan without much success but found plenty of picture references. In the end I decided to build something that looked like a galley and that would be practical when used on the table. The result is certainly not a scale model, nor is it based on an actual galley but is meant to be a representation of the sort of Galley to be found around that time. To be fair it is more like a Mediterranean Galley than an English one but I will use it as a Burgundian Mercenary crew!

My Fleet is growing Galley and Cog ready for battle.

As I’ve had no plans, I have to admit to making it up as I’ve gone along and I have made some more changes to the galley by adding some flags and a mast. I also have a second galley and cog on the work bench. I do intend to publish a step by step guide to making and painting both types of ships and I intend to make a more ‘English’ looking galley based on a Viking ship type hull.

The first two ships are ready for battle! You can see another Galley is under construction.

For now, this Blog entry is more of a taster of the project than a detailed guide. If you fancy having a go at making the Sarissa Cog, I’ll put a link below. The good news is that should you decide that you want to have a go at building your own fleet, Peter Dennis will be releasing a selection of Medieval ships and Galleys in his Paper soldiers range, so you could build a fleet for a very reasonable outlay. I will also publish the plans to the galley along with a step by step guide as to how to make one, either on this blog or possibly in Wargames Illustrated Magazine. My balsa Galleys have cost less than a fiver to make!

Our latest play test!

I’ll also get a battle report from the next play test published that perhaps will give an idea of how ‘Bill Hooks’ rules work in a naval setting. One final thought. There’s no need to build or paint any more figures. We are just using the War of the Roses figures, as you can see. They may not be strictly accurate for some of the early period but the idea is just to have some fun!

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

To see our range of Never Mind The Bill Hooks merchandise click here:

NEVER MIND THE BILL HOOKS

To go straight to the Sarissa Cog, click here:

MEDIEVAL SAILING COG

Happy Modelling!

Workbench Round up – first of the New Year!

My output continues at a steady pace, with my new war room and hobby station making my hobby life easier. The only issue is that there is no over arching theme to my modelling output. I continue to follow the threads from last year. So I have completed a unit of WOTR Pikemen, two characters from the Lord of the Rings collection and a Bren Carrier!

Another unit to add to the army!

The Pikemen were kindly given to me already assembled and primed ( thank you Jaz!), so painting them was straight forward. I used a white and green livery, for no other reason than I liked the combination. This Livery is mostly associated with the Welsh Tudors, although there were plenty of other Welsh houses who sided with the Yorkist cause and indeed, quite a few minor houses in England that had white and green as their colours. I’m not too concerned that my units should represent a particular faction. I’m happy to play fictional battles and scenarios rather than re-fight actual battles. So don’t be surprised if you see this unit marching with Sir Harry Hotspur!

Foundry Pikemen from Duncan’s collection

I’ve also re-based and re-touched another unit of pikemen that came from Duncan Mcfarlanes collection. I still need to add the pikes as the originals have been lost but I have replacements ready. I think that they are Foundry figures and I hope that they will continue to do battle in Duncans memory.

Ugluk of the Uruk-Hai
Grishnakh – basing not quite completed in this photo

I’ve continued with my ‘Battle Games in Middle Earth’ project, painting another three character figures. Ugluk, Grishnakh and mounted Eomer are now completed and in the cabinet. Of the three, I found Eomer the most challenging. Painting his armour was quite difficult as it is fairly intricate and his horse is also a strange grey – dark grey at the back and light grey up front! I’m not entirely happy with this model but he will do for now! I’ve now reached issue 18 of the Magazine and as issue 19 came with paints rather than a figure, I am about 20% of the way through the collection. When I complete the figures with issue 20 ( more Goblins), I’ll have a round up of my progress.

Eomer – basing to be finished

The bren carrier was the next on the work bench and was bit of a trial for no other reason than my airbrush seems to have developed a fault in the compressor. I just about managed to get the basic colours on the Carrier before the compressor gave up. The model is from Curteys 1st Corps and although not as precise as, say , the Tamiya 1/48th kit, it builds into a nice replica and of course is ideal for the wargames table. The markings, as with all of my WW2 armour are conjectural and not based on an actual vehicle. I have hand painted them, apart from the vehicle serial number.

Bren Carrier

Whilst purists might not like the idea of making up markings, it’s my way of ensuring that I get models finished rather than endlessly researching them to get every detail exactly correct. For me, the models are simply a representation of their type rather than an exact replica. Whilst I have total admiration for those modellers that are able to produce museum quality replica’s, exact in every detail, I have very little time for those in the hobby who seem to know everything but produce nothing – their hobby is different to mine!

Bren Carrier side view

To be fair, it’s this attitude that allows me to get my projects off of the work bench and onto the gaming table. I have been largely cured of my desire to seek perfection by my wargaming buddies, who favour practical solutions over fancy models! A great example of this is the latest game that we are playing – Never Mind The Boat Hooks – Billhooks on the sea! Andy Callan has very cleverly adapted his rule set and produced some Medieval Cogs from wood and corrugated card board. This meant that we were play testing and having fun rather than still thinking about how to make the models.

Never Mind The Boat Hooks…coming soon… early play test

Here’s a sneak peak but in my next blog I hope to show you a bit more progress!

The Sarissa Precision Cog on my work bench.

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

Happy Modelling!

Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year!

I may be a bit late with my New Year blog and end of year review but better late than not at all, I guess. I had hesitated when trying to decide how I would write a review of the year, hence the late entry. There have been some challenging times during 2021 that I have had to navigate. It felt like that even in a modelling blog, I should set my hobby in the context of some of these events. After much thought I have decided against this approach. Those that know me personally will be aware of them and those that don’t, will not need to hear of the personal challenges that I faced. I am sure that they have had plenty of their own ‘dragons’ to slay.

One consistent help through all of the year has been my hobby. It provides me with a respite and escape from the ‘real world’ and some semblance of control over at least a small part of it. I can only wish that you enjoy your hobby as much as I do and derive the same sense of satisfaction. So without further introspection and with time to fill on a rainy Saturday morning, here’s how I spent my time at the hobby work bench in 2021.

The Gaming year continued to be dominated by ‘Never Mind The Bill Hooks’. Although I had thought that my WOTR army was complete, I still continued to add to it. Without the need to produce units for actual gaming, I was free to take on some side projects such as Artillery, Baggage wagons and some of the more unusual troop types.

Bombard complete!
Completed Landsknechts
The finished Kern War band
The ox cart for my baggage train

As well as the War of The Roses, my attempt to paint all of the miniatures that came with the Part work/magazine ‘Battle games in Middle Earth’ continued. As of last night, I had reached magazine number 16 and completed Ugluk, the Uruk Hai Captain. He is pictured below – not quite finished as the basing needs to be completed. I’ve also pictured some of my other models for this collection.

Saruman – issue 14
Boromir
Ugluk – with his bren carrier….

As you can see, I am also gradually adding to my Word War Two collection. This year, I added a Cromwell, Churchill and Beaverette Armoured Car as well as a couple of Home Guard units – A Northover Projector and a Blacker Bombard.

Churchill ready for action.
Cromwell!
Beaverette Armoured Car

Ny Napoleonic collection wasn’t entirely forgotten. I added some commanders, a Vignette and a Battalion of KGL.

Secure the Colour!
New Command bases added.
8th Battalion KGL

And finally, I manged to paint Mr Giraffe, who had been stood on the workbench for over two years…

Mr Giraffe!

Those are just some of my favourite models The actual count stands at 170 infantry figures, 8 Cavalry, 14 Personalities, 4 Artillery pieces, 3 Wagons, 4 Draft Horses, 4 Oxen, 6 Pavises, 3 Tanks, 1 Armoured Car and 1 Giraffe! All painted and based and housed in their new home.

Which brings me on to the most important development of the year in my hobby life – My very own war games and hobby room. Yes at the tender age of 64, I finally have my own hobby space into which I can relax and paint and game. It’s been a long time coming but is certainly a highlight in the year. I still have work to do to finish it but it is gradually taking shape. Even better, I have a home for my collection.

My new painting station.
My Figure cabinets – nearly filled already!

To bring this blog to an end, I must add that I have also managed to enjoy a fair number of games, both with my regular Gaming Buddies, Pete and Andy and with other good friends. Perhaps the highlight for me was the Bill Hooks Bash, organised by ‘Other Pete Harris’ over in Derby. The day encapsulated the very best of the social side of the hobby. A full day of gaming against various opponents , all of whom were friendly, gracious and made the day inspirational. As the song goes, ‘One day like this a year will see me right’

Billhooks Bash

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Command Bases and Vignettes

If you follow my blog, you will know that I have now occupied my purpose built ‘war room’ or hobby room. In the process of moving my figure collection into it’s new home I came across a number of unfinished projects and some unpainted figures in my cabinet. I thought that it was time to get these figures completed.

First up was the ‘Secure the Colour’ vignette from Perry Miniatures. This set depicted Captain Clarke and Corporal Stiles of the 1st (Royal) Dragoons capturing the 105e eagle at Waterloo. I had already completed the other Vignette that the Perry’s make for the British at Waterloo, ‘A Hard Contest’ with Sgt Ewart capturing the 45e eagle, so it made sense to complete the pair! You can see my attempt at the Sgt Ewart vignette in my earlier blog here:

A HARD CONTEST PART 1

A HARD CONTEST PART 2

My version of ‘A Hard Contest’ – I still need to add the flag!

You can see how far I have progressed with the next vignette ‘Secure the Colour’ in the photograph below. It’s still not quite finished as I need to add the long grass and flag. I have ordered both the 45e and the 105e flags from GMB, so once they arrive, I can finish off both vignettes.

Secure the Colour!

The other projects that were nagging at me were the command bases that I had started some time ago for my Black powder army. I have a number of Wellingtons and Pictons in my collection, but I thought that it would be useful to base them on 40mm round bases, along with another suitable figure to make ‘brigade commanders’ for my army. I had a couple of nice figures from Trent Miniatures, given to me by Duncan and it was time that they were painted and added to my collection.

Warlord Picton with Trent Miniature Scotish Fencible officer

There are actually three bases that I have made. One with a Front rank Ensign and the other two with the Scottish figures. The Trent Scots figures are designed for an earlier part of the Napoleonic Wars – one is a Scottish Fencible officer, the other represents Sir John Sinclair who raised the Rothesay and Caithness Fencibles, the first of the Highland Fencible corps. The Caithness Fencibles would go on to serve in Ireland during the rebellion of 1798. I was happy to paint the Officer with the raised sword as an officer of the Black Watch and Sir John Sinclair was given a Cameron Tartan. It seems unlikely that these officers would have been dressed as such for the Waterloo campaign but they make a colourful addition to my army.

Sir John Sinclair and Wellington

You can see from the pictures that I have once again used home made ‘sabot’ bases for the figures. Should I wish to change the setting in the future, it is an easy process to transfer the figures and replace them with something else.

By the way, if you would like to see just how many models of Wellington that I have, I have covered the issue in my blog here:

HOW MANY WELLINGTONS DOES IT TAKE…

Just to finish off, here are pictures of my new command bases/vignettes.

The completed Sir John as a Cameron Officer with Wellington
Picton and Friend from the Black Watch!
Yet another Wellngton and Front Rank Ensign!
All three bases together

STOP PRESS!

I’ve received my flags from GMB, so I was able to complete the ‘secure the flag’ set:

Captain Clarke and Corporal Stiles take the Eagle from the 105e
The view from the rear.
Another view with enhanced lighting! It makes my painting look sharp!

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The War room is finished!

Well, the building work is and I have now started to occupy the new space! The final task was completed on the 16th November, with the new floor being laid. The next stage was to get my cabinets and figures moved in from the shed and to purchase and build a desk. It’s worth reminding myself as to what I was trying to achieve. It wasn’t just a case of converting the garage but part of a plan to improve the house generally and to de-clutter my hobby. Like most of my friends that are involved in this strange hobby, I had accumulated a large collection of books, board games and a considerable ‘lead pile’ and heap of miscellaneous ‘stuff’ that might come in useful one day…. Of course you can add to that a large collection of painted figures.

The war room is finished – now to start moving things back!

The other issue was that I was painting at a work bench in the garage, perched on a bar stool, sometimes in the freezing cold and certainly not in the most comfortable or inspiring environment. So when planning the conversion, I had three objectives in mind. Firstly, I wanted a pleasant space in which I could model and paint and perhaps sit quietly away from the hustle and bustle of the house and do some research and planning. I also wanted to bring my collection of painted figures together and display them, as much for my own pleasure as anyone else. Finally, I wanted to create a space in which I could run my own wargames.

The desk is built and everything is moved in – just needs sorting out – Oh! and I need a new chair!

After two weeks of ‘put and take’, I finally have my figures in their new home and I have bought and built my new desk. There is still much to do, as you can see from the pictures. This has meant that I have done very little in the way of painting or modelling other than the occasional repair as I moved everything around.

My painted figures and models now have a new home!

There’s still much to do though. I need to upgrade my storage, particularly for my scenery and most of my book collection is still out in the shed. Something that I need to remedy quickly before they spoil in the damp and cold. So I think that I will be spending more time in IKEA and B&Q whilst I continue to work out how to get everything in it’s place and cull the stuff that I don’t want.

Just a part of my GW collection – theres another cabinet full of Space marines and Imperial guard in my office upstairs!
My Necron Collection, including a few conversions!
More Necrons – I still have some in the lead pile to complete…one day they will be back!

One of the many diversions that has occurred as I have moved everything is that I have been reminded of all the projects that I have started and perhaps not quite completed. This has given me the urge to revisit some of these ideas and perhaps finish them, in as much as you can finish anything in this hobby!

My Japanese collection. I have plans to expand this army in the future! ‘Never Mind the Bushido’ is bubbling in the back ground!

As I moved my Necron collection, I started to think about some of the new models that had caught my eye. But then I was saved from this madness when I started to move my Napoleonic collection and realised that I still had plans to expand into some of the other allied nations and then there was my Japanese collection….Of course, as I moved the ‘lead pile’ I came across plenty of models that I have had for years. Maybe it’s time to complete them.

My Early WW2 cllection – the home guard are ready for battle!

So, what about the wargames table? Well that will be one of the last things that I will either build or have built for me. I have a cunning plan to make something that is easily stored when not in use but will give me a reasonable playing area when I need it. If my plan comes to fruition, I will of course show the final results on my blog.

My growing collection of 1/48th scale tanks – the sheep have just lost their way!

For now, here are some more pictures of my collection! Now I must get some painting done!

Napoleonic Collection – a couple of vignettes
The Light Cavalry
A rare French subject for me – Napoleons coach! and some of my wagons and limbers.
The naval and Caribbean contingent
A few more for Napoleon to fight!
My latest obsession – War of the Roses
I have more than enough troops to play Never Mind the Bill Hooks but I keep finding excuses to add to my army!

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Mystery at Carisbrooke Castle

Well it’s a good title for a crime thriller but a bit misleading for my blog. However, there is a bit of a minor mystery to be solved and any help from the wargaming community would be welcome. My Brother, Pete, lives on the Isle of Wight and has a couple of allotments just down the road from Carisbrooke Castle. The google earth picture below shows the position of the allotments in relationship to the castle. The distance is about half a mile ‘as the crow flies’.

The Castle is in the bottom left quarter of the picture. The allotments are marked with a blue flag in the top right quarter, just above the Southern Housing group.

Cannon Ball and Musket ball

Whilst digging on the allotments he has found a number of what we presume are cannon balls or gun stones of various sizes. The most commonly found size were the larger of the two in the picture – these have also been dug up on adjoining allotments.

Size comparison with my WOTR artilllery piece – figures are 28mm perry’s!

It looks as though the ball has been fired as there is a noticeable roughness on one side, compared to the almost perfect sphere of the rest of the ball.

Cannon ball with ‘firing’ side to the right

So the question is what are they? There are some clues and our casual research has revealed that the last action near to the castle was the siege of 1377 when the French besieged the castle. According to local legend, an archer, Peter de Heynoe, shot and killed the French comander with a single shot from his bow. I think that it is unlikely that these cannon shot date from that period though.

A more likely explanation is that George Carey, persuaded Queen Elizabeth 1 and the local citizens to pay for the creation of a modern artillery emplacement at Carisbrooke that was completed in 1602. The concern was that the Spanish would attempt some sort of landing or invasion Although never required in anger, it seems likely that some test firing would have been made.

As well as the cannon balls or gun stones, a number of fragments of clay pipes, including intact bowls have been recovered on the allotments. These look to be 17th century – unfortunately , I do not have pictures.

Finally, the allotments are sited on the position of an old quarry. Is it possible that the stones were being produced here for use else where? It could be that this was an old storage area. However, the indication that the stones have been fired, seems to make storage not quite so likely.

If you do have any information, please contact me through the Arcane Scenery shop page. Unfortunately, I have had to turn comments off on the blog due to the high number of spam message etc.

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Ox Cart – Final touches

The final part of the project was to paint the ‘crew’ and base everything. Painting the figures was fairly straight forward – as they are supposed to be civilians, there was no need to worry about whether the figures would be in livery or not! I did check pinterest and Google images for pictures of medieval clothing and the general impression that I had from these sources was that the clothing would be mainly muted colours.

Passengers block painting in prgress.

So the driver was painted in Gold brown 70877 for his leggings, and deep green 70970 for his jacket. The finished figure was actually brighter than I intended but he looks OK and adds some colour to the diorama. The female figure (the driver or drover’s wife?) was painted with a light grey 70990 apron over a burnt red 70814 dress. The baby and her hat were painted white to add interest and to show the baby off. The little lad was painted with black grey 70862 leggings and a khaki 70988 smock. I gave him a bright red hat to make him stand out against the luggage!

Edith Cavell – the free figure from Partizan 2021

You may have noticed that there is a WW1 nurse in the picture above. It is the Edith Cavell figure that was being given out at Partizan this year. It made sense to paint her at the same time as the passengers, as I would be using similar colours. She is not included in the final diorama but here’s a picture of the finished model that I have added to my collection!

All aboard!

Once the figures were completed, they were based ( in the case of the drover) or added to the cart. The lady with the baby looks as though she’s is in a precarious position, perched right up on top. I’m sure that the Health and safety executive would not be pleased! However, this is where she is designed to go and from an artistic perspective, looks good!

Sabot base under construction
Test fitting everything.

The next stage was to construct the base. For some reason, I have a tendency to go for ‘sabot’ style basing for my dioramas and vignettes. It allows me easier access to paint the bases and should I wish to change things in future ( I have no idea why I would want to….) I can do so. I used a piece of MDF for the base – I think it was part of a discarded movement tray that I had in my ‘bit’s’ box. It was then a question of using Plasticacrd and some spare renedra bases to block in the spaces around the wagon, Oxen and drover. The picures show how I did this.

Texture paste added

Once this is done, I covered the whole lot in Vallejo Dark Earth texture paste. I also added some ballast for some extra texture on the edges. I used my sculpting tools to stipple up the earth where the oxen would have walked, and created the cart wheel marks in the cart base.

Painted and dry brushed

When dry, everything was painted with my choice of emulsion ‘Delhi Bazaar’ and then dry brushed with Iraqi Sand. I was going for a dry look to the base rather than a muddy winter or autumn finish.

Green Turf added

I then added some green scatter from the woodland scenics range, a blended green Turf.

The finished diorama – oops! I need to touch up the sides…

The final touch was to add a variety of tufts and flowers. My friends say that I use too many flowers on my bases but I like the colour that they add! I think that it adds to the rural look!

The final result with the edge of the base touched up!
The view from the other side!

So the Ox wagon is compete and added to my collection. There is just one more thing that I will add. I need a length of chain to connect the front oxen team to the wagon but unfortunately, I am O/S of the size that I want and more annoyingly, I’m sure that I have some buried out in the shed somewhere! For now though, I’m calling this done and it’s on to the next project!

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Painting the Ox Cart

In my last blog, I showed you how I assembled the Ox cart. Now, on to the painting. I primed everything with Army Painter Leather Brown to give a good base for the paint. I then followed my usual procedure for painting wooden carts. With hind sight this was a bit of overkill for this opened frame cart but the results are acceptable. I started by painting the cart and Oxen Yoke Vallejo Chocolate Brown 70872.

First coat – 70872 Chocolate Brown.

I also picked out some of the wooden pieces of luggage in the cart load with the same colour. Next, I used Flat Brown 70894 to ‘wet brush’ over the same parts. A wet brush technique is like a dry brush technique but there’s more paint on the brush and it’s a bit heavier. The idea is to leave some of the darker brown in the shadows.

Flat Brown coat – again, the luggage is also coated

The next stage is to use a heavy dry brush of Flat Earth 70983 to lighten the wooden frame. This time, I’m not going so heavy with either the paint or the brush. I’m trying not to cover all of the previous coats.

Flat Earth dry brushed on. I’ve tried to avoid the luggage, to keep these a darker colour.

The next colour that I dry brushed on was Orange Brown 70981. This is a lighter dry brush than the other coats and the focus is now the high spots on the wagon, wheels and frame. I tried to avoid the luggage, although any mistakes and over brushing ( as you can see on the sacks) will be corrected when I paint the luggage.

Orange Brown starts to give the ‘wood’ some texture.

Once the Orange brown is done, yet another dry brush is layered on. This time, I used yellow ochre 70913 and I am aiming at the high spots and edges. Incidentally, I’m not waiting for the different highlights to dry. I just layer them on one after the other and I think that this helps to blend them.

Golden Brown layered on and we are nearly done!

You could stop there but there is one final dry brush, this time using 70815 basic skin tone. It seems like the wrong colour to use but as a very careful edge highlight, it works. I have learnt this technique from the ‘Painting War’ Holy War issue. It very effective on on larger areas of wood. Here’s a link to a previous blog where I use this technique for the first time to paint a trebuchet:

TREBUCHET

Flat flesh top highlights – not essential, you could stop at Golden brown if you are happy with this effect

The next task is to paint the luggage and detail the wagon. All the iron work on the wagon and luggage was painted in 70950 Black. I may go back and paint the wheel rims in gun metal as I think that the paint would quickly wear off. The Bindings were painted in Light Brown 70929 and later painted with Iraqi Sand ‘stripes to give a bit of detail.

Iron work and bindings done!

When it came to the luggage, I use a variety of colours, Stone grey 70884, Iraqi sand 70819, Kahki 70988, Black 70950, Deep green 70970, Off white 70820, and my new favourite colour, Deck Tan 70986! Once the colours were blocked on, I gave everything a wash with Army Painter Soft Tone. Once this was dry, I went back over every thing with the original colour, carefully leaving some of the shadows created by the ink, to add the highlights. The top Highlights were done with the original colours but with a bit of Iraqi sand added to lighten the original colour, I find that Iraqi sand can be less ‘harsh’ than adding white. Deck Tan is also very useful for this. One final thought. As I was struggling to paint the details on the luggage at the sides of the cart, if did occur to me that it might have been easier to paint it separately and add it to the completed wagon.

Luggage with first highlights added

Onto the Oxen. I am no expert on painting Oxen. I did google a few pictures but decided to just copy the picture on the Perry web site as I liked the effect. I painted them with Off White, Vallejo 70820 and then picked out the pattern in Flat brown 70984. After a good liberal coating of soft tone, I repainted the white bits and used the flat brown to highlight the brown areas, although it’s not particularly noticeable. Eyes and noses were painted in matt black and the horns in Iraqi sand. I highlighted the horns with off white and used a black grey 70862 to blend the noses!

Oxen block painted before adding soft tone

I then based the Oxen in pairs on 40mm x 40mm renedra bases. I had left them unbased up until now as it allowed me easier access to the insides of the Oxen teams. This did lead to a bit of chipping as I moved the animals around. So once based up, I touched up any errors and finished off the yokes with black and Army Painter plate mail for the top off the bolts.

Oxen based, shaded and completed

So that’s it for the wagon and Oxen team. The next task is to complete the passengers and base the set. I’ll show you how in the next blog but here’s a teaser of progress so far!

Its, nearly there! Just the basing to complete

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

To see our range of Vallejo paints click the link below. To go straight to a colour, type the paint number into the search bar:

VALLEJO PAINTS

To go straight to the adhesives and fillers section. Click here:

Glue. Fillers and Paints

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Happy Modelling!

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