Wednesday, 21 April 2010


The wounds received at the battle of Zama on Saturday have now healed and once again I am about to attack those pesky Romans, this time with a paint brush, and they don`t stand a chance.

As can be seen, the first six are firmly clamped to my painting aids, so there`s no chance of them retreating from the huge, paint laden hairy object which will eventually assault them.

I`ll probably stare them out for a couple of days just to weaken their resolve, or until the bottle of Liquin which I have ordered arrives, and I make a start.

In the past I have used oil paint on minis, and I thought that these chaps would look rather nice painted in that medium. "YE GODS, HAS HE LOST THE PLOT?!" I hear you users of the acrylic medium exclaim. "IT WILL TAKE AGES FOR THE PAINT TO DRY!" Fear not good fellows because the Liquin helps paint flow but, more importantly, it makes the paint dry much quicker. All is under control. Trust me.

Tune in again for another exciting update/progress report. In the meantime you are welcome to try to change my mind and go the way of the vast majority of you who probably think I`m nuts.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Zama..How unlucky we were.

As I said in a previous post, I spent the last weekend in London , having left home in a taxi at 9.30 on Friday morning for a train to Glasgow where I boarded a coach to take me south, arriving in the capital at 8.15pm that night. My botty has never been so numb from sitting for so long in one place, and I thought that I had developed something akin to bed sores, and not a nurse in sight to help relieve my suffering, so when it came to catching the tube to Muswell Hill, I thought it best to stand all the way.

Simon AKA Bigredbat, picked me up at the other end and took me to his home where I was to be billetted for the duration of my stay, and the plan was that we would get to bed early as we had to be up at 6am the next day, to pack all the terrain and figures and toddle off to Bletchley. Craig had already arrived from Leeds and it wasn`t until much later that Keith and Adam from Ireland turned up. They had painted a load of figures for the game and we spent some time admiring their brushmanship, and drinking wine, so it was 1.45 in the morning before we got our heads down.

It was a very tired bunch who surfaced at that early hour and hit the 7.30 deadline for the off.

Now to the game. It was impressive in both size and the number of figures on the terrain, the largest, I do believe, in both respects, and throughout the day I think that everyone in the hall had come up to take photos. Now it has been many a long year since I took part in a wargame, in fact, it was back when I had hair, and what I had read of the rules, had gone into what used to be a sponge, and leaked out of what is now a collander, but I was told not to worry, Simon would keep me right.

The sides were allocated and I was given the Carthaginian left flank, a mixed bunch of cavalry and foot from light to heavy...........AND TWO ELEPHANTS....which were definitely heavy! Anyway, blethering on, it was all happening in the centre and on the right flank, and at one point I thought that we were destined to break through in the centre.....that was until the luck of the Irish kicked in, and Adam who commanded the Roman centre, started to take out two or three of our units at a throw with incredible ease. No matter that he was pushing us back, but most of the unit counters he took from us seemed to count towards their total of 18 to win the game which they did by about quarter to four.

Now I know that this is not a blow by blow account of the battle, and was never intended to be, and I musn`t forget Scipio`s (Ian) generalship which was obviously a huge factor by his use of the command cards he drew, but if you want a bit of luck thrown into a game, get an Irishman on your side.

Let`s wait and see what happens at Salute - The Rematch. My money is on Hannibal!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Trees `n` Things

I have now finished another batch of trees for Simon, AKA Bigredbat, having used some new products and gained new knowledge in the process, eg soak the Seafoam for ten minutes before use, which makes it easier to handle, especially when I use my tree making method of tying them like I would a fishing fly. I found that I could, after securing a small frond, do a figure of eight to separate the two stalks to look like two branches.

There are two products which I have used for the first time, Flexi-Bark and Scatter Grip, and I must say that I enjoyed the experience. Having soldered the trees to a coin base which I built up with Milliput, forming it into what looks like a root system, I finished off by adding some Flexi-Bark at the base of the trunks and along the roots which hides the transition from trunk to base. This product is also great for thickening up the smaller branches.

I finished the trees by giving them a good spray of dark green, a coat of brown, then a light spray of greenish grey. The bases were painted a dark brown as per instructions from Simon who is going to finish them himself to match his terrain.

When it came to adding foliage, I didn`t want to spray as I would do for trees with tightly packed branches like the olive trees, as I didn`t want to get scatter on the branches and trunks, so I bought some Scatter Grip, and was surprised at how quickly I was able to finish the foliage, and I was a happy bunny at the result.

For the haystacks I made a master from Claydium from which I made a mould using RTV101 rubber, the same stuff I use for casting white metal figures. It`s not the best type of rubber to use for a peel off mould, but it was all I had at the time and I thought it would be OK as long as I kept it fairly thin. On taking it off the third cast, it tore, so I had to make another. I used car filler as the casting medium, a big blob into the bottom of the mould, squish it about a bit to coat all the inside, then leave it hanging in a jar to cure which doesn`t take long as I tend to go heavy on the hardener for that reason. I use the same to make the roofs for buildings.

I made some smaller stacks from a couple I made and cut down, making a small mould from the first one, because, who knows when I may be called upon to make some more. All were given an undercoat of black, dry brushed with yellow ochre and finally yellow ocre/white mixed (see photo).

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A Weekend Away

It`s been quite a while since I updated my blog, due mainly to the fact that I was working away all the time, and when I did get a weekend at home, I found myself up to my ears in some DIY project thought up by my wife, she who must be obeyed!

However, since the 19th of last month, I have been jobless, and have plenty of time to get things done model wise. I have finished the trees for Simon, AKA Bigredbat, and have also made him some haystacks for the battle of Zama. Having just received a new box of Seafoam, I will be starting some more trees to help take the bareness off his terrain boards.

Now, I haven`t been a general, or any kind of commander in a wargame for some years now, but on the 16th of this month, I`m off to London to take part in Simon`s battle of Zama, in answer to his request for more generals on the day, and I must say that I haven`t looked forward to anything so much for a long long time, and it will get me away from tiling the bathroom, which can wait until I get back.

I just hope that I`m not designated to be the general in charge of collecting the elephant poop for Hannibal`s roses!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

making trees

Ihave been asked to make some trees by a friend who is heavily into wargaming. His dedication to the hobby is incredible and goodness knows where he keeps all the armies and scenics which I know he has in abundance.

I have made some simple trees before, the "bottle brush" fir type, but matey wants olive trees for which the simple approach just wouldn`t work, so getting the thinking cap on, I decided to construct them from florists wire and Seafoam, a Guagemaster product.

I tried making one, holding a piece of wire in my big fat fingers, and found it quite hard to do. "PING", it suddenly hit me! I tie fishing flies and have this great vice for holding the hooks as I dress them, why not use it to hold the wire too, it then becomes so like fly tying that I took to tree making like the proverbial duck to water.

I also use a bobbin winder to hold the thread, and start by winding on some thread up to the end of the wire, setting it there with a drop of super glue. Next I take a piece of Seafoam from the tip of a frond, and this becomes the crown of the tree, and a couple of turns of thread secures it to the wire. I will have made up some of my "muck", a mixture of Polyfilla, PVA glue and acrylic paint for colour, and it is with this that I coat the thread for the trunk of the tree. The rest of the tree is just repetition using small pieces of the Seafoam, tying it down and coating with "muck" all the way to where I want to stop.

From here on, I build up the thicker trunk with thread , cover it with "muck", and dry it off with a hair dryer. I then scrape the green coating from the wire and solder it to a coin before finishing off with a root system, a spray of fixative and then a spray of green paint.
The photos show my fly tying vice and bobbin winder and the crown of a tree secured to the wire, and some trees at the stage where they are ready for having the trunks painted, the branches flocked and the bases finished off with scenic scatter etc.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Simple Polystyrene Terrain

In the long distant past, when I wore a younger man`s clothes, I was a wargamer and heavily into 15mm Napoleonics. Even before I had a go at making my own 25mm figures from sculpting to casting, I would make my own scenics using rolled up balls of newspaper, cover it with strips of paper, give it a coat of papier mache, and paint it with whatever was to hand once the whole thing was completely dry.

What a laborious and time consuming method for making something which, frankly, had no real durability.

Polystyrene was around then, but I had never considered using the lovely stuff. It`s light, can be sculpted with just a hot knife, and when given my "special finish", has miles more durability than the stuff I used to make.

The photo above is of an Arab jail which I made and sold on Ebay. The building sits atop a polystyrene outcrop of rock, and I willl be showing how I achieve the effect in a later post.