In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


So a bit ago I won a prize on The Miniature's Page. One of the prizes I could choose was a $10 gift certificate for Black Cat Bases. Coolness. Black Cat Bases have all sorts of nifty things. Maybe even too many to choose from. But in their varied catalogue I spotted these. 15mm gabions. Gabions, being big wicker cylinders filled with dirt were the 18th century version of sand bags, making them awfully useful things for a growing Austrian army. 18th century armies were always entrenching and earthworks were prominent parts of several Seven Year's War battles. I had been wanting some earthworks and artillery positions for my SYW armies for a few years.

Row of 'Black Cat Bases' gabions

I had been trying to figure out how to scratch build them, but anything involving dowels would just look like tree stumps or worse. So I used my coupon to get myself some, ordering 8 sections of rows of gabions and 4 with a cut out for artillery. My currency converter told me that $10 would get about 6 pounds. So I thought I'd end up paying for about half the 12 pound order. When I popped in the coupon code to cash out it credited me for 10 POUNDS! Too cool.

I then started eagerly checking the mail box.

When the 'dispatched' email came through a few weeks later I got really excited. (Yeah, I don't get out much.)

The box finally came and I didn't get exactly what I ordered. I assume there were some problems with the artillery gabion rows, so they made some substitutions. I ended up with this:

Not what I ordered!

12 rows of gabions, 6 corners and 2 artillery positions (which I have yet to find in the catalogue).

This was rather bold on their part I think. Some customers might get rather pissy about not getting exactly what they ordered. But I'm quite happy. It wasn't what I ordered but it is what I actually wanted.

[Edit: Jo at BCB had been trying to contact me about the artillery section issues without success. Problems with both email and 'phone, although the email got through before and after- weird. After a few weeks delay she decided to just go ahead and ship. So it all worked out in the end. Exemplary service.]

This past weekend while ignoring the Royal Wedding and missing out on the demise of Osama Bin Laden, I painted up these and my Gallia earthworks purchased at Hotlead. I started with a brown ink wash, then dry brushed with sable brown for the dirt. For the wicker work I dry brushed on a golden brown. The boards in the Gallia battery were dry brushed khaki tan.

Austrian artillery demonstrate the 'Black Cat Bases' battery.

'Black Cat Bases' battery from the rear.

I thought about just leaving the dirt brown, but that looked too stark, and the Black Cat batteries were smooth while the Gallia pieces were more stippled. Thinking of the weeds in my garden that spring up very quickly in any exposed dirt, I figured that weeds and grass would start to grow within a week or two. Plus the soldiers throwing up the dirt wouldn't be too careful about how the sods landed. So I glued on some scattered flocking and the green from the flock helped make the yellowish gabions jump out a bit more.

The Gallia battery comes with a log to cover the firing apertures. I can't decide whether I like it on or off, so I left it unglued. It sits in place well enough.

'Gallia' earthworks

'Gallia' battery log removed.
'Gallia' battery from the rear

So I now have 50 inches of gabions to entrench with,  plus the three batteries. That's enough to span the width of my table. This will be a nice force multiplier for my outnumbered Austrians. I'm thinking Frederick may be attacking a fortified bridgehead or camp in the next battle.

Austrian artillery try out the 'Gallia' battery.

Prussian view.

Austrian infantry try out the earthworks.

Notice the handy corner pieces.
In between commission work I've also gotten a start on my SYW supply train. So here's a preview:

'Blue Moon' Great Northern War Swedish ammunition caisson. The off-side horses are on a separate base for ease of painting.

One of the scarey old wagons with new wheels and a fresh primer coat.

'Essex' wagon. I hate empty wagons so I made a covered load with green stuff. It is removeable.


  1. Nicely done sir. Now smite those pesky Prussians.

  2. I love the horse sculpt on the water wagon....

    Separately - has anyone done any size comparisons of the Blue Moon figures against other ranges??? What's your view?

  3. Well done on the win from TMP, and a great purchase by the sounds of it!! I've just bought several bags a singular gabions from Essex, I didn't realise Black Cat sold them, they do look nice, I can feel a burning in my wallet.......

  4. @Steve: the water/beer wagon is a Museum Miniatures piece with new wheels. But I 'm pretty sure their 'Medieval' baggage are the same wagons but with spoked wheels. The riders and horses on the Blue Moon caissons compare well with my Essex wagons.
    @Ray: only 1 pound per section, so I think that's pretty competitive. The wicker detailing is really nice and rewards a bit of effort.