Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A New Project - The Franco-Prussian War

A new project...28mm French troops for the Franco-Prussian war - figures from Wargames Foundry.

Any sane or rational analysis of my hobby affairs would conclude that I need a new period to collect and paint about as much as I need another hole in the head.

Good thing my approach to gaming is neither sane nor rational! With that in mind, I introduce you a new period of interest - the Franco-Prussian War.

"La Ligne De Feu" by Pierre-Georges Jeanninot - 1886 - painting of French infantry in action during the battle of Mars-La Tour

For a good chunk of the past two years my painting interest has primarily been GW's Horus Heresy/30k setting - and I've loved it! But late this summer I wanted to take a break from the 30k brush mayhem, and, well, any time I lean back from one period or setting, you just never know what I'll do next. Enter this new project...

More artwork from the Franco-Prussian war...there is a lot of amazing artwork out there for the period

The Franco-Prussian War, known sometimes as the War of 1870, started in July of 1870 with a declaration of war by France (helpfully torqued by the machinations of Bismarck) on Prussia.  As the power of the Prussian state had been growing through the latter period of the 19th century, a conflict between France and Prussia had appeared inevitable.  A dispute related to the succession of the Spanish throne provided the pretext (as a side note, WTF is with the Spanish throne? Can't they ever manage to hand that thing off properly? Sheesh!).

A battalion from the French 74th Infantry regiment.

The coming war would prove to be a disastrous one for France. In a short period of weeks the French Imperial Army would be broken apart, isolated, encircled and destroyed.  The Imperial government of Napoleon III would be swept away, and a Republic would arise to take its place and try to carry on the struggle.  Paris was put under siege, and the battle continued through the winter and into the spring of the next year.  But France could not win, and the Treaty of Frankfurt concluded affairs with the annexation of Alsace and the humiliation of France.  Germany would be unified under Prussian leadership. Seen in a very broad historic context, the Franco-Prussian War was a short war, but one with significant consequences and ominous signs for the future.

Battalion from the 50th French Infantry regiment.

Why game this period? For starters, just check out the uniforms! Kepis! Baggy red trousers! Zouaves! Epaulettes everywhere! And the Prussians are all wearing those goofy spiked helmets! A cavalry charge called "The Death Ride"!  The incomprehensible idiocy and indolence of the French senior officers! The incredible bravery and sacrifice of the French line troops! The mitrailleuse! The numerous near-disasters of the squabbling royals on the Prussian side! The scheming machinations of Bismarck! Lots to get hooked on here...

Just for the look alone, I was drawn to this period.  Toss in the drama and the tragedy and you have a very compelling setting, one that is not all that common on wargaming tables. I was hooked on the idea of eventually doing a Franco-Prussian War game for the group.

Aerial view of my first brigade for the French.
What scale to do? The set-piece battles of the Franco-Prussian War were pretty large affairs, so that would point towards smaller scales, like 6mm or 10mm.  Baccus has a tremendous and complete range in 6mm, while the excellent Pendraken and Magister Millitum offer very complete ranges in 10mm.

But I am so hooked on the uniforms, and this in turn dragged me toward 28mm. Much less choice here. The only range that is even close to comprehensive is the Wargames Foundry collection, which were sculpted by the Perrys.

(I should note here a new range, for skirmish gaming, is on the rise from an outfit called "Eagles of Empire" - they have beautiful figures, but they are closer to 32mm in size, and the range lacks the elements required to truly represent battalions etc. in brigade/battalion gaming.  I'll have more to share about these figures in a later post...)

Officer in the foreground will serve as a Brigade command figure in games of "Black Powder".

All options appealed to me - I couldn't decide. I didn't want to just roll a dice, but I did leave it to fate. I ordered a little bit of everything, just to see what might grab my passion.  In the end, my course would be fixed by three words many hobbyists dread - "cast to order".  This is a business trend that many figure manufacturers are compelled by market circumstances to follow.  But it also means for long, long lead times when you want to purchase figures.

Basically, in the time it took between placing my order with Pendraken and receiving the figures, I was able to place two orders with Wargames Foundry and get about 20 of the figures painted...(Baccus, meanwhile, has yet to arrive as of this posting but should be here soon).

Skirmishers to the front!
And so 28mm it is! I have decided on relatively small infantry units - 24 castings, 20 of which are based and four are out on rounds.  The four individual models will represent the deployment of skirmishers, which was pretty common.  I'm hoping the increments of 24 figures will allow a fair trade-off between large-ish units on the table while still being small enough to make decent progress adding new units.

For cavalry regiments, I'll use 12-figure units - more on those to follow later.

For rules I'll use the ubiquitous and very-flexible "Black Powder".  The Franco-Prussian War runs right up against the end of the period covered by those rules. The infantry are armed with single-shot, bolt action rifles (including the incredible French "Chassepot" rifle) and the Prussians are sporting steel breech-loading rifled artillery - it's the very sunset of the age of linear tactics on European battlefields, and using the large size figures will stretch the distortion of time/size scales on the table to the limit (I doubt I'll even have much Prussian artillery on the table, as the range would be huge).

We'll never play Mars-La Tour in 28mm, but a smaller action using "Black Powder" rules is something I'll figure out. 

Will I just decide to paint some of the other size figures at some point? Of course! I'm terrible at focus, and the only way we will ever play, say, the Battle of Froschwiller on a table around here is in 10mm or 6mm.  But for now, I'm stuck in with the 28mm figures...

I have finished only two French infantry units so far, so this a long, long, long way away from appearing on a gaming table.  But the journey is underway - and Curt's next Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is almost here.  I hope the Challenge will see me complete a fair number of units for the period.

And who knows how long I will last before I paint some more 30k stuff?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Colonel Barnaby for the Sudan

Another lovely morning in the desert, hunting Mahdists..Colonel Fred Barnaby from Perry Miniatures

Just a lone 28mm figure to share in this post - this is a 28mm figure of Colonel Fred Barnaby sculpted by the Perry Twins. The figure came along with an order I made to Perry Miniatures a while back, and since a lot of my recent hobby-ing and painting has been involved with my 28mm Sudan Revolt collection, I thought it would be fun and quick to paint this lovely figure.

Another great sculpt from the Perrys...
Barnaby is something of a larger-than-life hero of the colonial era.  Much smarter people can tell you about his rather amazing life.  Barnaby's adventures took him to the Sudan, where he participated in the campaign around the Red Sea port of Suakin, and was later killed in action at Abu Klea during the campaign to relieve Gordon in Khartoum. For my part, I thought the figure was lovely (as all the Perry sculpts are) and it was fun to keep in a bit of practice for the Sudan as Curt's next Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge looms.  

This figure will now wait for another game in the Sudan...

I think Barnaby will make either an excellent command figure or just some manner of bonus token or marker within a British square during games of Black Powder. The sculpt is wonderful, and I have really been enjoying painting different Perry miniatures through the fall.

So there you have it - a lone 28mm figure, not a heck of a lot to share. But I have been painting some stuff for a new period, and I hope to tell you more about that soon...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

From Will, Cometh Faith - Heresy Era Iron Warriors Deimos Rhino and Legion Medusa

Back again with another Iron Warriors update... this time it's some vehicles: a Deimos-pattern Rhino APC and a Legion Medusa self-propelled gun.

First up, the Rhino... I really like Forge World's modern take on the old MKI Rhino. Callbacks to the original design include the front glacis shown above...

...as well as the external exhausts and round side doors, as well as the hatch-mounted storm bolters. Tasty!

This model actually assembled quite easily and quickly. The only real challenge I had was sticking together the top doors - I didn't glue them down, as I wanted to be able to paint the passenger compartment of the vehicle, or use the vehicle as the "Razorback" variant by substituting another plate and adding weapons.

I assembled the model so the back door could open, also.

Here's a great view of the original detailing.

Top doors are detailed with chevrons.

Next up was a bit more challenging build - a Legion Medusa SP gun.

While I used to really prefer the Armageddon pattern, the Legion variant does have its own appeal as well. Those side exhausts are pretty cool...

...and the exposed crew compartment to accommodate the included Space Marine gunners in MKIV armour is a great detail.

Just for the record (and as an aide-memoire for me) here's how I painted both vehicles:

  • Basecoat of Leadbelcher mixed with craft black
  • Brass details with Brass Scorpion
  • Chevrons craft black and Averland Sunset
  • Allover wash of Nuln Oil
  • Sponge with Ironbreaker / craft black on chevrons
  • Tracks Leadbelcher, washed with Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade
  • Rust streaks with watered down Doombull Brown
  • Hull/tracks weathered with dark brown craft paint and Steel Legion Drab
  • Lenses done with Ice/Lothern Blue
  • Decals chipped with hobby knife

Love these crew models!

Just a bit of detail to paint in the crew compartment.

"Though my guards may sleep and my ships rest at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire."

Well, it was fun to get these vehicles done, but IW production is a bit bottlenecked because I've gone and lost my FW decal sheet... likely taken out with the recycling at some point - grrr. Anyway there's a few Marines stacked up that need decals but are otherwise done (including a lascannon heavy support squad) and it'll be good to get those into the roster. Next to be painted will likely be more tactical Marines. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Imperial Fist Terminators and Contemptor

Another couple of units completed including a few Elite options and a badly needed HQ for the Fists. The Fists first outing wasn't as brutal as I thought it would be. They suffered the brunt of the Iron Warriors heavy firepower, but they managed to keep them occupied until the end of the battle.

All from the Calth box I believe.

I'll use this figure as my HQ choice for now. I have a proper HQ unit assembled, but not primed.
The first of 3 Contemptor's with Forgeworld decals.


Up next is a Sicaran tank and Proteus Land Raider.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Bolt Action Second Edition Battle Report: Dunkirk

The Bolt Action set of rules for WW2 skirmish games have been popular around Fawcett HQ since they were published several years ago. We recently played our first game of Bolt Action, second edition and got a chance to see for ourselves what improvements have been made.

I came up with a scenario loosely based on the opening scene of the film Dunkirk, in which we follow "Tommy" (Fionn Whitehead) as he flees the Germans, ending up jumping over a sandbag barricade defended by some French soldiers. Our game follows the French and British defenders of a village outside the Dunkirk beachhead and the German attackers attempting to punch through the Allied defences to reach the beaches.

Here's the terrain set-up. German table edge is the long edge at top right. The Dunkirk beaches are off the table to the lower left. The Germans have to take the crossroads to enable their breakthrough to the beachhead.

British reinforcements move up.

Defending the barricades.

Germans infiltrate the village. Why is there an English sign on the French cafe???

Frontal assault on the barricade as the Germans roll up their 37mm PAK gun.

German HQ element rushes up to support the attack.

Firefight about to erupt in the village - British soldier just barely in view at top centre.

German HMG in support.

That's the spirit! German Pzkpfw. 38(t) crashes the barricade!

British and French AT guns prepare to engage!

Engaging over open sights!

One Jerry tank brews up in spectacular fashion!

I guess the Allied war correspondent must've been captured at this point because there are no more pictures of the action...

In any event it was a fun and good-looking game and the lads seemed to enjoy BA 2ed. The main change we noticed was the ability of officers to activate other units as well as themselves, which really enables some tactics to be used in supporting attacks. In the original BA rules, you'll recall, multiple unit activations are entirely at the luck of the draw. You could have had a meticulously planned supported assault planned but execution was at the whim of the dice gods, depending on you drawing the correct coloured die out of the cup. BA 2ed alleviates this somewhat because when you activate an officer, he can pull more dice out of the cup and activate other friendly units, enabling supported attacks or other combined tactics. I'm sure there were some other changes but that was the major one that we felt helped the flow of the game.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Elfin Knights Project Takagi Blade Runner Blaster

Okay, so this post is only tenuously related to the usual wargames content on this blog, but it has to do with painting at least...

So, assuming you're still tuned in, I'd like to introduce a small project - a repaint of the world's most awesome water pistol - Deckard's blaster from the original Blade Runner!

The story of the BR blaster has been told many places - the original prop was an unholy union between a Charter Arms .44 cal. Bulldog revolver and a Steyr-Mannlicher .22 cal rifle with some extra greeblies and LED lights sprinkled to taste. Long thought lost, the original prop resurfaced in 2006 at a fan convention called WorldCon. In the meantime, several prop makers had turned their skills to producing more-or-less accurate replicas of the blaster based on screen caps from the movie. However, the emergence of the "WorldCon Blaster" in detailed photos has lead to more definitive replicas being produced, one of the most popular being made in Japan by Tomenosuke and retailing for nearly $1,000.

photo: eBay
I'd always wanted to have a BR blaster of my own but $1K is just too much. Enter the Takagi "Elfin Knights Project" M2019 water blaster! Injection molded in translucent black and amber plastic, it's an amazingly faithful replica of the film blaster, at a knockdown price.

However faithful it looks, though, a plastic water gun is never going to have the have the heft of a full metal (or even resin) prop. I fixed this by plugging the holes in the molding and filling it brimful with clean sand - weight is now over 800 grams or almost two pounds. I then masked off the grips and primed the piece with satin black spraypaint.

After priming, I painted the upper receiver and triggerguard with a mixture of GW Leadbelcher and craft black acrylic, and the buttplate with a straight Leadbelcher. The rest was carefully weathered, mostly with a sponge technique using Leadbelcher, concentrating on the parts that would contact the holster or hand of the user. I also did some fine edge highlighting and light chipping on the metal parts using GW Ironbreaker and a fine brush.

I glued two metal BBs on each side of the piece to represent the red LEDs and painted them Khorne Red highlighted with Evil Sunz Scarlet. The molded in LED underneath the gun was painted similarly. The LEDs on the cylinder rod were painted GW Caliban Green highlighted with Privateer Necrotite Green. All LEDs were finished with a gloss coat.

"Made in China" apes the WorldCon Blaster's "Made in Austria" gravure. Serial number matches the real prop

Lastly, I had my friend Byron of Northern Lights build me a fantastic clear acrylic stand for the prop. This will look pretty cool in my collecting room - although after having painted this one, I'm thinking of buying a resin kit to do up with working LEDs... crazy? who knows.

That's it for now, and all there is left to say is "have a better one!" :-)