Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Painting objectives 2008: first update

At the end of the year, following a lunch with Giles Allison, I rather stupidly sat down to set some objectives for what I was going to paint in 2008. I said that I had no Guildford Club driven objectives so I was free to do what I wanted. I am just going to review this first four months and see how I did.

I made a list of my priority armies as follows:
Sudan British and Beja
Great Northern War Swedes
Dark Ages Early Saxons
Ancient Greeks and Spartans

Other ones I thought I might do some work on included:
Punic War Spanish
Back of Beyond Chinese
Lord of the Rings Gondor
WW1 East Africa
Napoleonic Quatre Bras
3rd Century Romans and Palmyrans
Caesarian Romans
Wars of the Roses mounted men at arms

What I have actually done is as follows:

Sudan British 27
Pretty good this and I was pleased to do the Gardener gun, although I wasn't expecting to do the Egyptian unit. Basically I am still scared of starting the Highlanders!

Sudan Beja 6
I need to get a lot more of these done but I do have another 10 under way at the moment.

Great Northern War 5
I would have hoped to have got more Swedes done but I do have another 6 under way now.

Dark Ages 13
I did finish the unit of Duguth but doing the 8 Byzantine archers came from nowhere!

Greeks and Spartans 0
This is my only priority category where I got no figures painted at all. I do have a couple of the Foundry Spartans well under way and these should be ready soon.

Of my lesser priority category I did the following:

Punic War Spanish 0
Oh dear. I was going to get some shield transfers at Salute, maybe if I did this would help.

Pulp 2
I did paint a couple of Artizan heroines but haven't made the progress I wanted on my Sky Pirates or Nachtjaeger.

Back of Beyond Chinese 0
I did base a couple of cavalry but no painting.

Lord of the Rings Gondor 6
I did get these done to build a Battle Company.

WW1 East Africa 0
Nothing done here. Instead I am basing up BEF figures.

Napoleonic Quatre Bras 0
I have started the last two figures I need to complete my first company of Dutch jaegers.

3rd Century Romans and Palmyrans 0
I have based a whole unit of Roman Infantry but no painting yet.

Caesarian Romans 0
The first unit is based but that is all.

Wars of the Roses mounted men at arms 0
Nothing on these and they are so complex I will probably do them one by one.

In addition to what I had planned I also painted the following:

Gladiators 3
Prompted largely, I am afraid to say, by buying one of those dodgy novels (about a girlie gladiator who gets tied up a lot) from the top shelf of a bookshop at Heathrow airport. I have a few more under way.

English Civil War 7
This finished off my Tower Hamlets trained band. I have four more to complete which would finish off my blue foot regiment too. I have started these.

Swashbuckler 1
I finished off one of Mike Owen's foundry Elizabethan sea dogs and have another nearly done.

Darkest Africa 20
I don't know why I started painting Ngoni and Ruga-Ruga but these are going to have to be promoted to a priority group I think.

So going forward for the next four months I think that my priorities will be as follows:

I must get those cursed Highlanders done plus some more Beja. I would like to finish the next Beja rub of 60 figures plus the camel troops. I also have an Egyptian field gun to do.

Great Northern War
Musketeer Miniatures are promising Swedish cavalry and more Russians over the next few months so I need to get more of my Sweish infantry done.
Darkest Africa
I think I will get on with the Ngoni and Ruga-Ruga plus I have based some Belgains and some Zanzibari Arabs. Darkest Africa is now promoted to a priority category!
I am not going to commit to any more than this at this stage!

Painted figures for April

April was a little better than March as I did get my 15 Egyptians done early in the month. The problem is that I have only had 2 free weekends out of the last seven and I sort of lost my interest in painting for a couple of weeks. I am now keen again and the lighter mornings mean I can even do a little before work (got some shading on my next batch of Ruga-Ruga done this morning).

Total for the month was 16:

Egyptian Infantry for the Sudan 15
Elizabethan sea dog 1

So in 17 weeks I have painted 90 figures which drops my average to 5.3 figures a week. I am now 12 figures adrift from where I should be but that isn't impossible to catch up. I have no more painting time until Saturday afternoon as I am off to Ankara and Istanbul tomorrow.

Painted figures for March

I've been so busy at work I haven't had time to put up the list of the figures I painted for March.

I only managed five Ruga-Ruga and a pulp figure, so a not very inspirational total of six. So in 13 weeks I painted 75 figures or 5.76 a week, slighly less than my target of 6 a week but still only 3 behind schedule for the quarter.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Workbench 27th April

Ruga-ruga, Ngoni and Back of Beyond at the front. Perry Sudan mid-left. Musketeer Swedes and Renegade ECW behind.

I meant to get on with some more Sudan, having had a lot of time off painting because of business trips, but for some reason I am being drawn back to Darkest Africa instead. Painting Ruga-ruga and Ngoni and basing Zanzibaris and Force Publique.
Oh well.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More World War 1

Great War Miniatures British Infantry advancing

The release of Great War Miniatures early war French has got me digging out the GWM early British I bought about six months ago.

I hadn't realised a Warhammer Historical's WW1 set of rules was quite so imminent and so I filed down and based the 12 figures I have got today. I was hoping to do some painting this afternoon as I had the afternoon off for my annual diabetic eye check (hooray, my eyes are still OK!). I had just put a few colours on some more Ruga-ruga and Ngoni when my daughter returned from school and announced she needed the computer (and hence my desk) for her homework. I'm getting her a laptop for her birthday so that should prevet this, I hope! This she managed to drag out until the exact moment the light failed. Grr! So it was this that forced me to disappear into the kitchen to base some figures, instead.

I am going to add them to the "in progress" pile and see how I get on with them in the next month or so.

I have always been interested in early WW1 since my Airfix days when I had hundreds of the German and British infantry. I used to dig trenches at the end of my mother's lawn and make endless coils of barbed wire by winding wire around pencils. I spent weeks over the summer holidays extending the trenches until they covered a front over ten feet long. Only a couple of years ago, when planting some bulbs, my mother dug up one of those plastic German stretchers which had been buried in the garden for over 35 years!

About eight years ago I bought a lot of Peter Pig's 15mm early WW1 figures. I had no idea how I was going to use them but I did paint quite a few.

Some of my Peter Pig 15mm figures
I really liked the Peter Pig figures and they have a brilliantly comprehensive range but I just can't paint 15mm.

My Renegade British. 21 figures painted; that's an army by my standards!

When Renegade brought out their Mike Owen sculpted WW1 figures a few years ago I bought French, Germans and British and even painted quite a few. I didn't have any specific WW1 books at that time so come of the colour choices are a bit odd but they were great to paint. I notice that I still have a few dozen to paint but gave up on them when they failed (as usual with Renegade) to complete the range and started to move on to late war, which was less appealing to me.

GWM spiffy officers. A couple of them look a bit dim. Probably went to Cambridge.

I am hoping that Great War Miniatures will cover some of the cavalry figures I would like to see like Uhlans and French dragoons. There were a few sharp cavalry encounters in the early days of the BEF in France which would make good skirmish games. After all it was a cavalryman, Trroper Thomas of the 4th Dragoon Guards who was credited with firing the first British shot of the war during an engagement when the Dragoons charged, at full pelt, a unit of Uhlans.

The Renegade and GWM figures go well together (or at least the British do) so although the latter figures are much more accurate as regrds kit my original Renegades may not be a complete write-off. I now have a few more reference books including the long out of print Army Uniforms of World War 1 by Andrew Mollo, which is excellent, particularly on things like webbing and equipment. I borrowed this from the local library a lot and tried to buy it from them but they wouldn't sell it to me. My wife, unbeknown to me, then found a second hand military bookseller through directory enquiries and got me a beautiful condition second hand one for a surprise birthday present!

The key thing with the British is I think I have painted them too green. Early WW1 uniform khaki seems to be a bit browner. It all depends on whether there is a suitable Humbrol paint. I probably need to get down to the National Army Museum.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Warlord Games Plastic Romans

Warlord Games plastic Roman vs Saleh Foundry

When I heard about these I was genuinely excited. More excited than by the Perry ACW as Romans is really what I am about. Also, what a brilliant idea to get one given away with Wargames Illustrated.

However, when I unwrapped my little plastic bag I was very disappointed. Not by the quality of the figure, which is simply excellent, but by the size. It's hard to tell as the figure is not standing up straight but it's closer to 25mm than 28mm. Maybe 26mm. Certainly it is dwarfed by my Steve Saleh Foundry Romans. Admittedly these are big but I bought them to go against my Renegade Celts which are also large.

Warlord vs Gripping Beast

It is certainly smaller than the Gripping Beast EIR (although much better proportioned) and even smaller than the Perry Foundry figures although these are probably the closest in compatibility. The Warlord figures have more in proportion heads, which is good.

Warlord vs Perry Foundry

Putting them next to a selection of opponents from different manufacturers they are certainly tiny. Given I have quite large painted Ancient German and Celt armies I am not going to use out of scale Romans against them.

L to R: Foundry German, Warlord Roman, Gripping Beast Celt, A&A Celt, Renegade Celt.

This is a real shame as the figure is well proportioned, nicely animated and very detailed. certainly if I was starting EIR from scratch I would probably go with these new Warlord figures, especially as the extras from the Foundry Perry range could be used for the more unusual figures.

I'm just not going to start a whole new army of Romans having already got four units. Let's hope Steve Saleh does some more EIR for Artizan although the chances of this are now small with two new ranges of plastics appearing, sadly. When is someone going to do Varus period legionaries from AD 9?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why I didn't miss missing Salute..

The Imperial Hotel, New Delhi

It is the first Salute I have missed for around ten years but it was nothing to do with my annoyance last year at the South London Warlords' inability to deal with complaints about dubious re-enactors. No, I was in India on business (hopefully for the last time!).

Now I stay in a lot of five star hotels during the course of a year but I have to say that the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi, is quite exceptional.

The Entrance to the 1911 Bar. Tasteful!

The Imperial was opened in 1936 and is located on what was then Queensway, now Janpath. Designed by Lutyens it was intended to be the most luxurious hotel in the city and succeeds triumphantly. Whilst its exterior is resolutely Art Deco its interior is a blend of Art Deco, Victorian and Colonial. Literally hundreds of 18th and 19th century artworks litter the rooms and spacious corridors.

They don't like it up 'em!

Nearly all the pictures have an Indian subject and many of them have a military theme, often showing, incongruously, gallant British soldiers from different periods of the Raj happily skewering the locals with sword, bayonet and lance.

The hotel itself is on four floors and is arranged as a square with no less than eight protruding wings, giving it somewhat the appearance of a hash mark in plan view. Unlike most hotels, considerable attention to detail has been devoted to the corridors and other common parts and they gleamed with marble and polished brass. Indian rugs were scattered about as were interesting sculptures and pictures.

Little, and not so little, alcoves and ante-rooms were placed throughout the hotel and served to show off more splendid pictures and sculptures.

The Central Corridor. Shiny!

The lobby was restrained but led to a magnificent central corridor that went the whole length of the hotel.

The Atrium. A good place for afternoon tea!

Most of the bars and restaurants led off from this corridor or the adjoining four storey atrium with its glassed-off roof, palms and tinkling fountains. In fact fountains were to be found in many places, several of them being of the barely dressed girlie variety of which I am rather fond.

The main restaurant, where breakfast was served was called 1911, reflecting the date when New Delhi took over the mantle of India’s capital city from Calcutta. It served typical international fare and was as informal as you would find in the hotel. Informality, however, when you were shown to your table by lovely sari-clad women and then served by waiters in red military jackets and turbans, was something of a relative term. In a separate section of the restaurant was a glassed off verandah which was a splendid place to have breakfast. Outside was a terrace which was a very good location for afternoon tea. Whilst the temperature was 102º when I was there a nice breeze and large green umbrellas kept the conditions bearable outside.

The adjoining 1911 bar, whilst undoubtedly beautifully decorated was too brightly lit for my taste and contained, horrors, a television which seemed to show, inevitably, constant cricket, much to the delight of the Australians who appeared to be its habitual residents. I preferred the smaller Patiala Peg bar (named after the early twentieth century tent-pegging victory by the Maharaja of Patiala’s team over the Viceroy’s). It contained only six tables, some rather daring Art Deco girlie statues and a lot of old Indian Army prints.

My favourite drink, when made properly, as here.

It was also one of the few hotel bars in the world that makes a Martini in a properly chilled glass. My barman only had to see me arrive at the dooway and he started the process of making me another ice-cold vodka Martini. What excellent service!

My splendid barman gets ready for action. Nice statue!

Daniell’s Tavern was named after landscape painters Thomas and William Daniell who arrived in India in 1786 to paint the country’s scenery. The restaurant, with its pan-Indian cuisine, is located on the exact spot where the uncle and nephew team camped to produce their painting of Jantar Mantar, an early eighteenth century observatory. I had a most splendid lunch there.

Outside, a short walk through the palm-filled gardens, was the pool, where I spent most of Salute Saturday. The palms gave good shade to the poolside and there was a small bar which could supply Kingfisher beer and delicious sandwiches

All in all I cannot recommend The Imperial highly enough and I would venture that it is indeed the finest hotel I have ever stayed in anywhere in the world.

My room

So, on Salute Saturday, when everyone was dealing with the rain and the transport problems in Docklands and seeing whether the show really was down on numbers or lacking in atmosphere I was staying in this splendid hotel. I didn't wake until 9.00 and took the lift down to the Art Deco lift lobby.

After a leisurely breakfast on the verandah, I read the Times of India in the Atrium but it mostly seemed to be about cricket.

I then wandered down to the pool and read a book, took a few not very energetic swims, enjoyed the French young ladies whose husbands were in a conference all day and had a very good hot chicken Tikka sandwich and a couple of ice-cold Kingfishers for lunch. Once it got too hot I went and had a pot of Darjeeling tea on the Terrace.

The Terrace

I dressed properly for dinner, of course, unlike most of the Australians and Americans (the French and the Italians were impeccably dressed, I have to say) and went down to the bar where my usual barman soon had a Vodka Martini ready for me. Then I had dinner in the splendid South East Asian Restaurant Silk Route (recently voted by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the ten best restaurants in the World) with a Canadian young lady of Indian extraction who was also there on her own.
So did I miss not going to Salute?

Not one bit!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The view from the workbench..

..was a bit surprising today. It wouldhave been better if I had been painting Great Northern War figures but no, Egyptians! Oh well. At least it's bright!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Blog Hit Parade: March 2008

I'm stuck in Warsaw Airport with a five and a half hour delay on my flight so the only thing to do is update the blog!

This month has seen the following monthly total followed by (total to date):

1 (2) Pulp Warriors 10,355 (15,742)
2 (1) Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis 6,605 (29,329)
3 (3) 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 2,114 (11,774)
4 (4) Legatus' Wargames Armies 1,477 (7,009)
5 (5) Spartan WAB 768 (4,566)
6 (6) Return to Darkest Africa 464 (1,588)
7 (7) Punic War WAB 308 (1,592)
8 (8) Wargaming the Great Northern War 292 (1,188)
9 (11) 3rd and 4th Century Roman WAB 237 (597)
10 (9) Dark Ages WAB 195 (1,420)
11 (10) Byzantine WAB 187 (1,411)
12 (12) Lord of the Rings: Armies of Middle Earth 81 (210)
13 (13) Swashbucklers 28 (115)

Everything stayed pretty much the same ranking wise except the 3rd and 4th Century Roman site which moved up two places. The big jumper was Pulp Warriors which overtook Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis to take the number one slot for the first time. Over 10,000 hits in a month. I'd better put the next episode of my Pulp Babes showdown up!