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!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Catching Up

So this is my first day off (although I had to go in early this AM to do the order for tomorrow's delivery) since Christmas and it's time to catch up a bit.

Boxing Day wasn't too horrible although my 10 to 6 shift turned into 9:30 to 6:30. But I survived.

Christmas was amazingly good. We're still restrained on the pressies, but we had the in-laws down for Christmas dinner, so my Snugglebunny made a proper Christmas feast with her tarragon stuffing. There was also cheesecake and apple pie for dessert, so rather than try and decide I had a bit of each! I can go without presents, but last year's rather bleak and penniless Christmas without my wife's usual holiday feast was very depressing.

There were a few things in my stocking this year.

I'm enjoying both quite a bit!

Herbie gets a B-echelon finally!

In my previous posting in which I showed off my 15mm WW2 Canadian army I mentioned some bits that I was missing. Well thanks to one friend scouring the Fall-In Flea Market and another willing to trade some pieces for more painting I've been able to round things out more.

So while painting up the Mad Padre's anti-tank guns I also worked on my own Canadian kit. I mix my own Canadian battledress uniform colour and highlight colour for my armour. It's easier to mix larger batches of paint all at once, so it was more efficient to do both lots of models together.

First up is a brace of Shermans. The Firefly came to me assembled and primed and was gifted by the fellow for whom I painted the Italian paratroopers. It has a resin hull so I'm guessing it's Battlefront. I just added the antenna.

The Sherman V is a Battlefront model and sits a bit taller than my Old Glory models. I added some extra stowage since Canadian armour tended to have a 'gypsy caravan' look with baggage strapped all over the deck. The hatch covers went on a lot easier with this one than my other two troop commander tanks. I'm thinking this one will be my squadron commander, so I included the .50 cal. AAMG. Or with the Firefly he can make a third understrength troop.  Of course now I find myself wanting to build a full 5 troop squadron!

Next is a pair of Humber armoured cars from the Divisonal Recce regiment to reinforce my Dingos. The one on the left is a Quality Cast model and was in pretty rough shape. I had to trim some flash, replace a wheel and repaint it. The one on the right is a Battlefront model and came the way it looks here. The original owner did a nice job on the camo and Allied recognition star so I won't touch those.

I also added four more Battlefront Bren carriers which just needed a bit of a drybrush so the paint would match my existing armour. This brings me up to 10 carriers which is enough to field the Carrier platoon or have some transport for weapons teams or 6 pounders. I could also field a very small mechanized infantry force to represent one of the combined arms mobile columns 5th Canadian Armoured Division would send out when the front became 'fluid'.

For company sized WW2 battles it doesn't make sense to have too much baggage and rear-echelon stuff on table since they'd try to stay far out of the line of fire. Even lorried infantry and weapons teams would debus in the rear and march forward to the firing line. But it's nice to have some transport and a trio of Battlefront 15cwt CMP trucks fit the bill.

I just love the angles on the CMP (Canadian Military Pattern) cabs.

And at long last I have a Typhoon! He's carrying bombs instead of rockets but I'll live. He's a heavy die cast model and I need to get him a heavier, more stable base or there will be some unfortunate crashes! He fell over during the photo shoot and wobbled for quite a while before I could take the picture.

Finally we have this nice little pontoon bridge that came to me as 'free to a good home.' So I've given it a good home and a coat of paint. It's soft plastic and I suspect came with a toy playset originally. But a coat of gesso helped the paint stick. As you can see it just happens to fit my resin river quite nicely.

While I was reading On to Victory and Terrible Victory by Mark Zuelke I noticed that Wasps kept showing up to support every company sized attack. It seems that by June or July 1944 some Wasp flame thrower carriers were organic to every infantry battalion. I'm still trying to figure out how many and where they were attached. I'm guessing they were added to the Pioneer platoon. But it seems that for battles in Holland and Germany my squaddies need a trio of Wasps to support them. Really big attacks would have Crocodiles (a flame-throwing Churchill tank) and Wasps but I'll settle for getting some Wasps.

For now...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

17 pdr Envy

I've finally finished a commission for my friend, the Mad Padre. It's only taken me since March, but fortunately he's a patient man.

He sent me a section of Battlefront 17 pounder anti-tank guns,

a Battlefront Late War British infantry platoon

and the "Sergeant Tom Stanley 6 pounder platoon" boxed set.

I have no idea who Sgt. Stanley is. I tried Googling his name and only got the colour text on the Battlefront website. But the guns come with broken bits of wall so rather than my usual flock I had to use sand to give the bases an urban rubble feel. The command group around the light post has an odd Narnia feel to it, I think.
The models are nice, if a bit crowded on the Flames of War bases. For my own 6 pounders I used the large bases and like it better. I had to really squish the crew in on these ones. Especially the gun with Sgt. Stanley directing the aim with his foot up on the wheel. To fit the gunner in between him and the breech I had to trim some bases down.

I liked the infantry platoon. They're wearing the Mk III 'turtle shell' helmet issued to the assault divisions for D-Day. The sculpts got a lot of flak on the internet for having big heads and weapons.
I didn't think the heads looked all that large. Especially when compared with this picture of real troops in Normandy.
The SMLE rifles seemed OK, a bit robust to withstand casting and gaming but not too bad. The sten guns are a bit extreme though as you can see from the close up, but easily ignored.

The 17 pounders were a bit of trouble to assemble and required patience. But they're nice big-ass guns attached from the Divisional Anti-tank Regiment, and I wish I had a pair now too.

Now I just need to get them packed and mailed off and hopefully the Mad Padre will post a nice battle report featuring these fellows sometime soon.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Merry Christmas, Now Get Out!

As I said in the previous post, Christmas is very hard on Retail Workers. Many Retail Workers actually really hate Christmas.
The lines are longer. The customers are more rushed. The customers are often quite grouchy. They may be getting more hours but that is a mixed blessing since at this time of year they too have other things demanding their time that they would like to be at and often have to miss or cut short because they are in the store serving you.
Add to that they have been bombarded by happy, jolly, cliched, trashy Christmas Muzak since the middle of November.
We were going to be at closed on Boxing Day (the Boss realizes that everyone will be eating leftovers and spending their money at the Boxing Day sales, not buying groceries). Then last week a memo came down from some Head Office fellow (who probably gets to knock off early on Christmas Eve and stay snug at home with his family on Boxing Day) All Buy Food stores will be open on Boxing Day.
Wow. Thanks.
So we're going to open the store to sell some batteries, stuffing mix, egg nog and maybe a few packets of gravy. Gee, that's going to help the GPM bunches.
At least it will be time and half and there won't be any trucks to unload.

Ready for Christmas?

Cashiers keep asking if I am "Ready for Christmas?" yet.
I know, they're just making polite chit-chat and Christmas is particularly hard on retail workers.
Of course I am not at all ready. We only just started playing Christmas music (Tony Bennet) at home last night, although it's been playing for about two weeks over the Buy Food's Muzak system. At least this year I am employed so my Snugglebunny is actually talking a tree and feast and the budget will even run to a few presents.
Some of my co-workers have been decorating since mid-November, made long bus trips to the US big box stores in search of deals and even braved Black Friday mobs.
I'm selling more baking supplies, so I imagine all across town there is a flurry of holiday baking as women reacquaint themselves with their ovens, dig out long unused baking trays and mixing bowls and search for clipped out from old magazines and filed away recipes for cookies, squares and tarts.
But what does it really mean to be ready for Christmas? 
Decorations up? Presents bought and wrapped? Food prepared? House cleaned?
Can one ever be truly ready for an intrusion of in-laws or the Incarnation of God?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Emperor Sigismund

When I want to field a German Imperial army by dropping all the longbowmen and adding more pikes and crossbows, this fellow is the commander. Essex king with falcon, (another!) Citadel standard bearer  and Ral Partha dwarf.

I painted him a long time ago. I remember the package arriving at the bookstore I was managing at the time, so that must have been at least 19 years or so.

Hmmmm.... I seem to like commanders with birds of prey.

BBC Book List

This is one of those games people play on FaceBook. Since it doesn't involve allowing a strange program to have access to my personal data and friends list, and it involves books, I opted to play.

But it's a strange list of books:

BBC 100 Books List
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.
Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES.

" Bold those books you've read in their entirety.

" Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.

Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses! (Or not, after all reading is not a competition! I'm betting that we're all well over 6 books, and I am curious to see the common ground).

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I was pleased to come in with a tally of 29 and except for the the Complete Shakespeare, I've completed everything I started. Of course a few of these I haven't read since high school and working on a Master's in English Literature certainly helped with a few others.

But it's a wierd list. Why is Hamlet listed separate from the Complete Shakespeare? or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a separate entry from the Chronicles of Narnia?

It is also a bizarre mix of the heavy and the banal. The sublime and the grossly commercial. The obscure and the truly great works of Western Civilization. I'd like to know how the list got chosen. Jane Austen and Dickens are on the list a lot. If I could include movie adaptations I've seen then I'd have many more of the Dickens and Austen ticked off among others.

Of course one of my very bookish friends has read 53 of the list. This list is another reminder that I some how managed to miss Lord of the Flies in high school, and to my youngest daughter's grave disappointment I still haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

York and Lancaster

Before I continue on I have to direct  you to a really GORGEOUS Burgundian army here.

Right. Now that I've gotten that out of my system, here's the other most common incarnation of my Late Medieval collection; English Wars of the Roses. Change the banners, change the flavour.

 In the array shown below you can see both some of my oldest and newest figures. Many of the longbowmen are from my Burgundian Ordonnance Army. I also add in mercenary pikemen, handgunners and crossbowmen from the Burgundian army. Swiss halberdiers will bulk out the ranks of billmen and the Burgundian coustiliers do double duty as English hobilars.

Some commanders with hand painted, fictitious banners. Mostly Citadel figures.

Some commanders on foot. Again mostly Citadel with hand painted banners. The banner on the left is actually a German Duchy, but I did a nice job on it so it's on the table a lot. The command figure on the left is my oldest figure which I showed you in an earlier posting.

Since the troops from my Burgundian array have a lot of blue on them, newer companies have more red liveries to try and break things up a bit. These are some Old Glory troops that I first showed you way back in the winter. A second company of archers has been added (you can see it in the big army picture at the top). Shire levy billmen and archers are in the works, plus more dismounted knights, crossbows, handguns, pikes, a third cannon and cavalry. Even a few more command groups. One can never have too many banners in a Medieval army I think.

In spite of all the unpainted stuff in my lead pile, I am of course excited by the new stuff from the Perry's, and if they ever release mounted Men-at-Arms in Gothic armour a lot of my cavalry are going to the Bring & Buy!

A Long-Expected party

As mentioned in earlier posts it's been very hard to get my friends together for games these past few years. Everyone has moved away or gotten busy. So last year I was sitting in one of my Knight's of Columbus meetings and looking around the hall, realized This would make a really good gaming venue. The meeting hall can be rented by members for the paltry sum of $100 which means it's usually booked solid for birthday and anniversary parties, not to mention the monthly Euchre Tournament. But by planning over a year ahead I got it booked and by making it an event, most of my friends were able to set the day aside and plan for it.

Eventually it was referred to as Cold Steel, to play off our spring convention Hotlead. I've been asked to plan a fall convention for a few years now, but frankly, I'm not up to it. One convention a year is more than enough. A light and casual games day with potluck for both games and food was easier. So I'm going to leave the fall gaming convention scene to MIGSCON and Council Fires.

All told about 30 people showed up with food and games from as far away as Wisconsin, North Bay and Ottawa. I added in some pizza and fried chicken and we had a gaming party. The games ran the gamut from big to small. A lot of horse and musket, but also 50s pulp War Rockets, WW2 air combat and Vietnam.

Perry snapped a bunch of pictures. Because of the large numbers of pictures I've reduced them all to small thumbnails for your pageloading ease. Click for larger views.

15mm ACW Fire and Fury game

25mm Victorian Science Fiction steam contraptions

The big tank is a converted GI Joe toy.

German jets vs. P47s and Mustangs.

War Rockets battle for the Unobtanium crystals. Or is it merely Mediocrite?

Don brought his 25mm SYW French army looking for an opponent.

25mm Napoleonic action too.

And Dave (him with the VSF Dutch army) also snapped a few pictures.

Rico's 20mm Vietnam game.

VSF flyer made by a very small girl.

Steam tank made by another youngster.

More steam tech. A locomotive cab on a Star Wars walker.

The Prussian's uberwaffen.

Which requires wearing goggles.

Four Musketeers versus the Cardinal's Guard.

There's always time to chat up a pretty tavern wench.

The tavern is a Dwarven Forge product and the figures are from Blue Moon. Loverly set up.I didn't get a chance to play, I was busy chasing the Scot's Greys around. But perhaps the owners of the game will bring it to Hotlead next year?

I had brought my WW2 stuff hoping to blood my German Fallschirmjaegers, but some others wanted to run their games and by the time we'd had dinner I was beat.

But despite the slight disorganiation and intestinal distress caused by too much greasy food and carbonation, it was good day all around. I even bought some toys from a dealer friend who was blowing out some old stock (100 bags of Lancashire Games 15mm SYW figures for $25), plus I recieved delivery of the stuff found for me at Fall-In by Peter and Brian. Some scouring of the flea market there got a trio of Battlefront 15cwt CMP trucks for my Canadians, plus Brian is trading me a nice die cast Typhoon, two Humber armoured cars and 4 more Bren carriers to paint some more German Fallschirmjaegers. Others were also buying, selling or trading too, so it was sort of a miniconvention.