Sunday, 19 June 2022

Still plodding along....

After last weekend's complete inactivity, I was determined to do something hobby related.

So Friday afternoon saw me sorting and cleaning up some more Egyptian infantry for 1967. Surprisingly, this didn't take me as long as I thought (although I am conscious I seem to have developed a problem in my left thumb; holding small figures produces intense pain in the ball of my thumb, noticed previously when trying to clean up some 15mm).

So buoyed up was I by this that I pressed ahead with trying to prime them white. First setback! An annoying wind on what was an otherwise very hot day resulted in the spray being applied too thickly in some areas, as I wrestled with the improvised spray booth, the wind and spray can.

Somewhat deflated, I considered stripping completely and starting again. However, I ended up just scraping the really thick paint off and retouching with brushed on white acrylic. I then discovered the pose mix I had chosen was different from the first batch, so had to clean another 9 figures..........I opted to prime by brushing on white acrylic.

Painting was thus delayed until today using Contrast paints. Fortunately I had written down the colours used, so didn't have to spend time working out what I'd used.

27 figures in about 4-5 hours and I'd had enough. Will check over and retouch where necessary. Also fettled about with a pair of Roco JS 3; not one of their best models, it's a very early one. It has had a new barrel and some details added. Was not happy with the turret so added a circle to raise it. Still too small, but it will have to do. The rest of the armour is made up of early Roco (T-34 and T-54) or Roskopf (BTR-152) so it's not as if it will stand out......

The Soldier King Estavian army is proceeding slowly, nearing the half way point with 12 infantry regiments and 4 cavalry painted.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Mountains of Madness? (Apologies to HP Lovecraft)

After slowly plodding through another white coated Estavian regiment last weekend, I could not face painting, so finished off some more mountain pieces I had knocked up during the week after work.

After looking at the previous mountains, I realised that for any table layout for those boxes on the Soldier King map where they feature (as a pass through the mountains - naturally fortified), I really needed some corner or edge pieces......

Several blogs including Blunders on the Danube, had a Snappy Nappy campaign featuring more "natural" shaped mountains which provided some inspiration for these:

The rear face is flat designed for a table edge.

I intend covering them all in a mix of wall plaster, PVA and sand before adding a few rocks, grass and painting grey -brown (with snow capped peaks just for David).

It's odd where the hobby leads you; I've spend a few hours looking at the various artificial snow products available for convincing snow topped peaks!

Monday, 2 May 2022

Progress report

 A quick post showing the first of the Estavian Imperial army with their varnish drying.

The first is an overview of three weeks work; second multi -coloured facings of the line infantry and combined grenadiers; lastly the first Guard cavalry and line cuirassiers with another combined grenadier regiment.

As much again still to paint with artillery, staff and light troops in addition.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Making mountains

 But not out of molehills!

As a break from painting, I decided to go with the mojo and attempt to make a mountain.

I had been mulling over creating some mountain pieces as a sort of 3d scenic backdrop. The Soldier King map has some squares / boxes  which feature a natural defence bonus which are situated in a mountain pass. I wanted to suggest something impassable that normal wargames hill methods were unlikely to convey. I could have deemed the board edges impassable, but wanted something tangible and more 3d than a flat backdrop.

There are other uses; I have an unpainted collection for WW2 Yugoslavia and mountain passes feature in many historical battles, such as Thermopolae.

I had contemplated something along the lines of the Tremorden Reddering method, but didn't need the steps for figures to stand on:

So I set to with a vague plan. Like most such projects, it was trial and error with some impractical ideas abandoned almost immediately. I had an idea of the dimensions and initially planned a flat sided series of three mountain pieces joined together. Experimentation revealed I could create something with sloping sides......

Here are the trial efforts having just received a first layer of brown paper. The shapes are just cardboard packaging (folding book wrappers are very useful with a built-in fold) cut to shape and bodged together with masking tape. I have been stockpiling materials and brown packaging paper for just such a purpose. 100% recycled mountains! They have not come out too bad and with a bit more work should be passable (inadvertent pun!)

Thursday, 21 April 2022

The Painter's Progress

Some leave has seen the opportunity to do some painting, so a start has been made on the Imperial Estavian army for yet more glacial progress on this long running project.

Estavia or more properly, the Estavian Empire does not appear as a player in the board game, rather as the unwilling victim of the Soldier Kings who have the aim of capturing enough electoral cities to have themselves elected to the vacant Crimson Throne, the last occupant having expired without an heir. Shades of the war of the Austrian Succession and the Holy Roman Empire....

Allowing the provinces to be undefended makes the game one of territorial conquest; while simple, such does not make for a satisfying campaign, as playing in a WAS Sport of Kings campaign revealed. States are conquered too easily.

There are different was to approach this; Martin SC made each province an independent state, merging some of the smaller provinces in his VnB SK campaign, but did not use them in his playtest campaign. His view was their insertion would make for a better campaign.

Despite providing him with the materials, we diverged in our approach. I created the Estavian state from the provinces of the Hereditary Lands, the Midlands and the Bravancian Marches. The rest of the "grey" provinces nominally became the Empire, with a mix of electoral and non-electoral states and thus a potential say in who becomes Emperor.

The Estavian Empire (in my campaign) is the  "Zweikreutz Reich" from the amalgamated heraldic crosses of the Hereditary Lands and the Midlands, to form a Jerusalem style cross. It's enemies and detractors call it the "Doppelkreutz" Reich as a comment on the diplomacy it indulges in....

For inspiration, it draws on the Austrian and Saxon armies, with infantry in white uniforms. There is a nod to the "crimson" of the Crimson Throne as well. I have allowed more latitude in the range of facing colours than the historical models.

Progress has been slow; not only am I out of practice, painting white on Spencer Smiths is not easy! I seem to spend a lot of time correcting and retouching. Much of the detail has to be painted on; which allows for some latitude in "reading" the figures.......

For inspiration, I spent some time looking at Charles Grant's figures and browsing the excellent Duchy of Alzheim blog:

How they painted 50+ figures per unit  is beyond me! What struck me was the variety in how to paint the bag and straps, suggest a waistcoat etc.

I will post photos when the army is done.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Sitrep Jordanian front

Well another month disappears without an update.

Truth be told busy working weeks have taken it out of me, so there hasn't been much to post as I have achieved very little in the past few weeks.

I did finish off three personalities for one each of Bravance, Arcadia and Argozia to even them out but these have already been packed away.

A chance discovery on eBay of a model gantry kit propelled me to tackling Jordanian armour.....

the Jordanians used a mix of M48, M47 and Centurions in 1967. The two armoured brigades (40th and 60th) used M48 (the 40th may also have had M47 but that's another story). 

the M48 was the early model with low cupola and unmodified engine deck. A rare beast in most scales, fortunately Roco's early model is just such a version, although with the separate MG turret. Due to shortcomings, an external fuel system was developed which is also seen on Jordanian versions; it was something of a liability with tanks being knocked out when the vulnerable external fuel tanks were set on fire - quite easily it seems with tracer ammunition.

Anyway, I had been contemplating how to model this for a while and had bought some oildrums but stored them away. When sratchbuilding (or scratch bodging) more than one model, it helps enormously to have prefabricated parts. Sadly I know of no such kits, let alone in 1:87 scale.

So to the chance discovery; looking at the sprue suggested various useful parts that could work for the "trailer" or frame which attached to the rear of the tank. I'd contemplated building the complicated structure out of plastic strip and card, but to be honest didn't fancy doing one, never mind four or more!

As a firm believer in striking while the enthusiasm is there, as soon as the kits arrived I started playing around and working out if it was viable.......current state of play below.

Saturday, 5 March 2022


The AMX-13 is one of the more interesting post-war designs. The French attempt to add a large calibre gun to the lightest possible vehicle, utilising German WW2 developments (the 75mm gun was apparently derived from that on the Panther).

The Israelis acquired several hundred and used them in the 1956 and 1967 wars, before selling them off to Singapore and elsewhere once it was realised they were no match for Arab T-54s. Exact numbers vary, but by 1967 there were around 184 in 6 units of varying size, 2-3 of which were territorial reserve (as oppose to general reserve) units (Ga'Shap).

I was initially hampered by the lack of availability in 1:87. Existing models were expensive and this pre-dated the availability offered by 3D printing in recent years. 

I stumbled across a "made in Italy" toy from an Italian eBay seller as well as a crude French toy (the real joy and usefulness of eBay) which were in the right scale. This allowed for a couple of scratch-bodge models using parts from Roco and Eko /Rospak.

My Italian seller then offered me several more. On the principle of "buy it when you see it, not when you need it" I took the plunge and bought his stock as I was not guaranteed to ever see any again (and never have).

They are toys and require wheels removing from under the model (to allow it to roll) which provide some useful parts. The tracks are solid, the turret hatch needs replacing and various details added, but they capture the essence of this quirky tank.

Progress so far on the latest batch.

Troubling times

This has been a difficult post to write, not only due to the conflicting emotions any thoughtful wargamer has when confronted with the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine, but in part due to posts on others blogs.

I have deleted some of my responses, partly due out of a wish to not involve the blog  owner in any acrimonious debate, and partly out of the fear that my response was an emotional one due to not understanding the poster 's position.

The posts in question appear to accept Putin's arguments wholesale and attach any blame to the Ukraine or the west. 

While I accept a counter narrative can be useful in arriving at the "truth" (which sadly will always be relative not absolute) and am well aware of and do not necessarily condone the UK and US (and to a lesser extent NATO) involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have found myself very conflicted at these posts, especially as I have a lot of respect for at least one of the posters.

I have studied the various wars in the post-Soviet republics and states, have a reasonable grasp of Russian history and their psyche and am well aware of some of the issues in the Ukraine and elsewhere around what happened in WW2 and the neo-Nazi movements the have sprung up in eastern Europe.

I am also cynical enough to know the media can slant a report to reflect whatever opinion they wish to portray.

Despite this, I find I am unable to accept that the invasion of Ukraine is the responsibility of anyone other than Putin and his clique. It is simply not true that he " had no other choice" or that it is due to NATO aggression. Had he sent peacekeepers into Donbass it's unlikely the west would have reacted as severely, but instead he CHOSE to invade a sovereign nation, that whatever it's faults is more democratic than Russia is at present.

if people are unable to see this, I don't know what to say to you. I doubt anything would convince you in any case. We live in a world where the internet spreads dubious and often dangerous opinions without a shred of truth or supporting evidence.

There is a truism that you should never discuss politics or religion; we should probably add belief to that, as these days there are so many "alternative facts" and it is simply too easy to dismiss uncomfortable truths as " fake news".

Whatever your beliefs it's hard to see recent events as anything other than a tragedy for both the Ukrainian and Russian people. I only hope we don't all suffer (yet again) from the actions of one man with a distorted world view, happy to sacrifice the youth of several nations in the cause of realpolitik.

Enough; this blog is about toy soldiers. Normal service will resume in next post.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Back to the "S'esses" Soldier King and Spencer Smiths...

Resisting the urge to collapse in a heap this weekend after a hard week at work, I forced myself to shake off the lethargy and do something. This was aided by some unexpected, unforcasted but very welcome winter sunshine (which always makes me feel better and more enthused).

Uncle Brian of the excellent Fistful of Plastic blog http://afistfullofplastic.blogspot. which I've followed for a long while now, posted some very encouraging comments about my SK pages, as he's a big VnB fan and is looking to produce C18th Imagi-Nation armies (he has form with his imaginary C20th middle east armies), which came as a welcome surprise. It's nice to know others share the vision of the project.

I ventured into the garden and set up the improvised spray station (a grand name for some cardboard and paper on top of an old plastic box against the dilapidated shed!)

Below you can see the results. The previously cleaned up armies of Cleve, Naevaron, Bern and Cotlas that make up the Reichs Imperial army along with an extra Imperial Estavian field gun with crew and the last batch of Fimo / Sculpy generals / personalities.

They always seem to need a going over with black acrylics in the nooks and crannies.

I note there has not been any comments in the last few posts, but a lot of people report being unable to leave comments in blogs, so it may be that rather than my posts becoming too dull!

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Painting progress SitRep

Spent the last day and a half painting Egyptians and the first trial Israelis using GW Contrast paints. Figures are all Platoon 20 now produced by East Front Miniatures. Two of the Israeli figures are actually Vietnam Kit Carson scouts converted with FNs and Green Stuff webbing. The other two have head swaps from other Israeli figures.

Reference material

Thursday, 6 January 2022

First post of 2022 - Israeli towed artillery

Here's the progress report from the first few days of January.

The Shermans were put to one side for final detailing after scratch building 10 xenon searchlights for all the Israeli armour, with a bit of research on mounts and frequency for the various tanks. They are very common on Shermans and AMX-13s, but less so on M48s and especially Centurions (only found one or two photos). Each had a unique mount but the lights seem to have been left in the original French olive drab.

Anyway, I found myself distracted by another unfinished project when finding the bits in the spares and projects boxes; being a great believer in "going with the flow" when it comes to enthusiasm and "striking when the iron is hot" if you find yourself assembling or mentally solving something, I put the armour to one side.

The Israeli army of 1967 while being keen to develop SP artillery, found itself very reliant on mortars and still had a quantity of towed artillery (mostly vintage 25pdrs). Among the arsenal were some French supplied Model 50 155mm howitzers (Obusier de 155mm Modele 50) which were also mounted on Sherman chassis as the M50 Tomat. They also developed a 160mm Soltam M66 mortar, only one battery of which existed in 1967. It too was later mounted on a Sherman chassis.

The howitzers are heavily modified Roco Long Tom carriages with cut down barrels from the SP 155mm. Modified bits from another sp gun and wheels from German armoured car. Lots of plastic rod and strip added - the model is simplified and not 100% correct but looks the part. The Soltam is entirely scratch built apart from the wheels, using plastic rod and bits from spares. All need fine details, once I can find some bits (I have enough elevation wheels for two models but know I have something suitable elsewhere).

In a fit of enthusiasm and probably misplaced optimism, the guns can disassemble into a towed version; I suspect this will be too fragile for gaming.

Before the break ends, I want to do some painting and this will most likely be Egyptians using Contrast Paints.

Still plodding along....

After last weekend's complete inactivity, I was determined to do something hobby related. So Friday afternoon saw me sorting and cleanin...