Thursday 20 June 2024

20mm - WW2 British 14th Army - Burma - AB Figures


A jump forward in time since posting my Spartans last time!  I have long had an interest in the war in Burma and the increase of books in my book case for this period has probably seen the largest growth on any shelf in recent years.  I think George Macdonald Fraser's book 'Quartered Safe Out Here' was the one greatest inspiration to wanting to learn a lot more.  

The publication of the 'Far East Handbook' by the Too Fat Lardies, was the final inspiration to really get this project underway. I had been holding on for it.  I like 'Chain of Command' a lot as a rule set.

Of course this leads to which figures to purchase for the project (unless one buys the figures first and then gets the books to find out more!).  

I think for me it was always going to be a skirmish game for this period. It just fits better with the short range actions which seem to be a frequent occurrence in the memoirs.  A platoon sized action or a company at maximum.  

I was looking to use 28mm figures at first but found few ranges which really interested me. I bought a section of Warlord Games Chindits, but found I needed to do work to make them look half decent. I might have been unlucky, but there were damaged guns, flashing issues, an absence of slings on rifles and LMG's etc.   I thought the figure range limited too.

Having operated in a jungle environment for 7 months on a deployment, I learned 3 things.  Moving through jungle is HARD.  You need both hands at times just to move - rifle slings are a must.  The other two things are: - jungle is frequently uphill or downhill (usually up!), and the other is the mud - it's everywhere, slippery, clingy, sticky mud.  I guess I could add other things, being constantly wet and exposed skin will be bitten, cut and bitten some more!

So I wanted to have figures who had a 'look' about them. Like they actually had been in that environment.  I saw these figures by AB Figures and realised they were the ones (they have slings too - the small details make me happy!).

I hadn't planned on going to 20mm. It's almost like it's the scale that wargamer grow out of when we move on from Airfix. Yet, as I am discovering, the scale has so much going for it.  Not least the perception of a lot more table space as the 20mm figures appear so much smaller than 28mm.   I can also use plastic kits for vehicles etc.

The AB Figures are fabulous.  I just wish the range was larger even though they really have a lot covered. The support weapons and choice between helmets and bush hats should really be sufficient for me.  There are no Japanese troops that I can see, but Eureka who stock the range in the UK have their own figures which are also very nice indeed.

One thing I really like about this scale is that washes can do a lot of the work. This is good as I am more 'time poor' these days than probably ever before  (I really must retire early!).  The sculpting really helps as it is well defined.  I was determined not to over-do work on these and ignore anything that did not need painting.  Washes and dry brushing did pretty well everything.  

I applied Vallejo Green Grey 70.886 as the basic colour for the uniform and webbing.  I later searched online (after painting the troops!) to see what other's use for the uniform and was pleased to see the same shade was chosen by others too.  I was keen to leave quite a lot of dark wash in the folds. Sweat will leave the shirts almost black green anyway. Webbing will lose colour and blend with wet and sweat. Dry brushing picked it out well enough.

I didn't darken the skin too much other than to apply a flesh wash over the basic Foundry Flesh 5 B.  I found in my own experience again, that troops go very tanned in rear echelon locations, but those who have been in the jungle for a while come out looking very pale indeed. Probably an effect of constantly wet skin too as well as lack of sunlight.  I read of the centre of Burma being largely open, with dusty plains too. It's easy to over think this stuff when putting paint on figures and picking the right shades!

I really like the support options.  The mortars and Vickers MG's have ammunition boxes etc on the bases or added to include.  This really adds interest and realism to it for me.

Below we have a 2" mortar team, A Bren team and a PIAT.

So when will I get these on the table? Well I will almost certainly be using Chain of Command so I won't need too many troops. I have followed my usual method of painting leaders with different coloured base edges for quicker identification during the game.  I have yet to formally organise these troops into sections yet but I will do. I just painted them up by the bag as I opened them!

I should start on the Japanese I purchased, though as the typical wargamer, now I have painted greens and bland colours, I really feel the need to paint redcoats and lace and all those good things!  

Wednesday 22 May 2024

28mm - Spartan Hoplites - Victrix


Staying with the Greek theme from last time's post, I have further added to my small collection of Spartans.

I painted up some Spartan Hoplites last year, but I wanted to complete the fine box of Victrix figures. 

I always tend to put more detail in than I need to. Again, I scraped off any trace of footwear from the figures before I started painting as the Spartan's were noted for their contempt of those who felt the need to wear shoes.  

I was going to paint them with a suitably stoic bland undecorated linen armour, however, I could imagine that the Spartans would be happy to show off their equipment captures from the Athenians.  Also all soldiers like to show off a little bit of individuality and colour when they can.

The Victrix figures always go together well, but it does take me a long time to de-flash and prepare the figures for painting. With something like 8 x pieces per figure to assemble it means a box of 40 plus figures is going to be around 400 pieces.  That's like assembling a large complicated model aircraft kit, the ones with engines and spark plugs etc.  There were times that I pined for lead figures when I made these!

I do like the detail though and there is a nice variety of poses.  I only managed to break three spears up to the final assembly.  I notice that the thing with wearing bi-focal glasses now is that arms length (the general 'picking up the figures' distance), now means that the longer distance lenses are now too long and the shorter distance is now too short. Figures at arms length are thus at risk at being clumsily handled when attempting to pick them up as I misjudge the distance...a short crack sound follows and another spear breaks in half.   Superglue does its thing though.

The shield transfers are by Little Big Man Studios. Following their advice on putting their transfers on curved shields, I found that they went on trouble free.  As usual I painted over the design to blend them in a bit and to show highlights etc. 

I couldn't resist seeing the 27 figures I had just painted alongside the Hoplites I painted last time.  They do make a fine looking phalanx I have to say.

Now on to the next project. I went to Partizan at the weekend  at Newark and came away with some new shiny goodness. Fast forward two and a half millennia...!

Monday 15 April 2024

28mm - Greek Light Cavalry - Victrix


A change from Napoleonics for sure!   Yesterday I completed a unit of Greek Light Cavalry made by Victrix.   These were certainly a lot easier to paint than the Napoleonics I have been mostly painting this year. 

There are 12 plastic cavalry in the Victrix set and with enough spare heads wearing later style helmets to cover Alexander's Macedonia.

There are also plenty of arms, so there are sword options as well as shields.  I opted for the classical Greek Light Cavalry of the Peloponnesian War era.  I rather liked the additional left hands clutching extra javelins. This meant a sleek Stanley knife amputation here and there but it means this unit looks like it wants to shower it's foe in javelins!

The figures and horses went together really well. The horses needed a little filling on the rump but this was straight forward. Other horses only had one hoof in contact with the stand. This made them a little wobbly. I used the basing material to try to grasp another hoof to add a little more strength.

The fit of all other parts was generally very good.

It was fun to paint these. Although the clothing is simple, I was still able to add a variety of colours and the addition of bronze always adds interest to a figure.

Some of the horses have a furry creature's pelt upon the back of it instead of saddlecloth. I wasn't too sure what the animal skin was initially.  As I was applying wolf colours I thought I could make out a lions tail.  A little further research and I discovered that Lions were around in Greece until around 400 AD.  This changed everything for me!  Lions aplenty for another 800 lion pelts they became.

I was most interested to read Wargames Illustrated and be inspired by the article about Simon MacDowall's new rules for the period called 'Alala!' published by the Society of Ancients.  There is a lot to be said for period specific rules.  I have spent a lot of time making generic period rules be more time-frame specific.  Rules that cover the nuances of a particular period are becoming more interesting to me.  I was very keen to try them so made the purchase!

The rules have a lot of elements that really appealed to me and having read the rules several times now, I am really looking forward to trying them out.  This gave me encouragement to finish the painting on these Light Cavalry.

I have several things on the painting desk at the minute. I have spent the last month or so rebasing and re-organising and even painted four 'Bloodbowl' fantasy figures (Fantasy...whatever next!). It was actually a really nice change to do something totally different, though at times I felt very much out of my comfort zone!   I'm not sure what to paint next...but it will be fun for sure!

Saturday 17 February 2024

28mm - Napoleonic French - 13e Regiment de Chasseurs a Cheval


As if finishing one cavalry regiment recently wasn't enough, I have now done another one!  This time a regiment of Chasseurs a Cheval, equipped and painted as the 13th Regiment in the Peninsular War.

The figures are from the Perry's box set of 14 very nice plastic cavalrymen.  As so often, the Perry's have given a lot of extras and options, so that the unit can be a little more parade ground or dressed in the later Bardin reform Spencer coat.

I opted to go for the earlier Kinski coat and gave the unit a campaign look with covered shakos  and a mix of trousers.  These are either the issued pattern or the locally Spanish fabricated versions in brown wool but with the leather trim and buttons.

I chose to represent this regiment because it was in so many of the Peninsular War battles.  At Salamanca it appears to have had the most squadrons in the field of any French light cavalry formation.

One of the added bonuses of painting this unit was the magnificent contrasting facing colour of light orange which really sets them off. I really like the trumpeter in his reverse facing coat, one benefit of going pre-Bardin reform.  The orange shade probably looks very light due to the camera flash (the daylight bulb went bang this evening!), 

The Officer was a joy to paint also. His uniform is also quite magnificent.  I bought an Osprey book just to assist me with some of the small details, though it does not take much in the way of reasons for me to purchase an Osprey uniform book!

I decided to paint the unit with pom-poms for the 4 x squadrons.  As I wanted to base the figures in pairs (I have tried them in threes previously but found it made the bases unwieldy on the board), I had to have stands where the two cavalrymen are from different squadrons.   This is something that I am ok with. When the unit is acting as a regiment I only have to place the the mixed stand between the others and it works.  The pictures of the regiment together demonstrates this.

Numbering on saddle rolls is something that I'll hold off on until I can get some transfers.  Badly painted numbers would spoil the effect, and I don't trust myself to get the numbering looking correct (my handwriting is bad enough, never mind painting digits!)

Paints used were a mixture of Wargames Foundry and Vallejo.  

I really do like the character that the Perry's sculpt into the faces of their figures. It is not to excess but they do have character!

I still have a large coffee jar of cat litter which I use for rocks.  As I probably place about 50 or so rocks in total per regiment, I might consider the coffee jar to be a lifetime supply!

I normally spray the horses with a matt varnish. I do wonder if they are little too dull and a semi-gloss sheen might be of benefit.  I guess the dust might tone down the sheen in reality. I don't spend time around horses to know how much effort it takes to make them go as shiny as a racehorse.  I might have to research this further.

The Elite Companies always look something quite special.  I kept the colpak and plumes as befitting an elite squadron who undoubtedly would want everyone to know they are the elite of the regiment.

And it was left to label up the magnetic base with the regiment details and take photos for the blog.

I'm not sure I can paint any more cavalry regiments at the moment.  The effort of painting two up  in a couple of months was quite hard going.  I fancy doing something completely different now, something a lot simpler!