Friday, 16 April 2021

Of Wargaming Generosity, Sailing Ships, Stompy Robots and IKEA....

Available from Amazon and I am certainly looking forward to reading  this - gotta love some big stompy robot action!

Apologies in advance but this will be rather a long post so settle down with a cup of tea and a chocolate Hob Nob and enjoy!

It has often been noted on his blog and on others that most wargamers are a generous lot. We have all at some time or another either been the recipient or donor of items that only a wargamer would appreciate. This could be books, rules, games, figures, unbuilt models or indeed, pretty much anything we need for our hobby.

This week I have been on the receiving end of two such examples of wargamer’s largesse and so I would like to describe them for you.

Ashley Pollard, author, archer, bon vivant, with and raconteur is fond of science fiction games that involve fighting robots or anything AI related. This includes things like Battletech, OHMU (remember then?) Heavy Gear, OGRE or anything similar. After an exchange of emails  and to cut a long story short, she had a sort out of bits from her collection that were surplus to requirements that she very kindly passed on to yours truly. A box full of cybernetic mayhem arrived earlier this week that  have only just gotten around to sorting out properly. 

The two player starter set for Heavy Gear and....

....the box of goodies that Ashley sent me! Note the two hover tank sprues

For the most part the models are from Heavy Gear and I have to say that they are really nice. From the selection available I could readily field two forces for some ‘giant stompy robot’ action but I have a feeling this will be the thin end of the wedge. I would be keen to expand the selection I have and so am casting cover tours eyes at the two player starter set for Heavy Gear - as soon as funds permit.

There is a bag of personal weapons included that are designed for customising the models but I am thinking that some of these would also serve as weapons on 28mm Sci Fi figures - very handy with the imminent launch of Star Grave.

I mentioned that Ashley is an author and as I am a bit of fan of ‘gritty’ style Sci fi novels (think Aliens or Blade Runner) will certainly be taking a look at her Bad Dog series.

What can I say other than many, many thanks Ashley - this has given my Sci Fi mojo a major shot in the arm!

But it didn’t end there.....

This morning saw the arrival of the second parcel I was expecting - this time courtesy of that renowned man about town, rake and ne’er do well (actually a jolly nice bloke with a great line in amusing escapades...) The Jolly Broom Man. 

This was able that few in the telling involving as it does 18mm ECW Wofun and Medieval Cogs. There is a tale behind the latter but I will save that for another post but suffice it to say as the result of  his ‘I am never going to get around to using that’ type of clear out I am now the proud owner of a pristine copy of the base game of Black Seas: Master and Commander, together with some scenic bits and pieces - gotta love a lighthouse - and a rather nice looking resin casting of a Tudor Great Ship. Well it is ship, I think it is Tudor and it s certainly great so qualifies....

The funny thing with all this is that I now feel rather more confident about tackling an age of sail ship than I would have done prior to the great ACW build fest - despite the fact that there has been no rigging involved on those ships that have needed it! Perhaps some refurbishment may be called for in due course.

This was a most welcome addition to the collection as I have a hankering for something age of sail related  but was originally looking at building the models myself. That may still be an option but for now at least I can think about just painting and rigging some models as the building part will take care of itself.

Of the Jolly Broom Man I can say only this - many, many thanks old chap and suffice it to say the creative cogs are turning!

The two examples above of the generosity of wargamers helps to give one a warm and fuzzy feeling (for various personal reasons they gave me a huge boost this week) especially during these difficult times we find ourselves in although hopefully not for much longer. There is a lot to be said for passing on old and unwanted stuff to someone else that could be interested and so I continue to be proud to be a participant in a hobby where this incredible generosity still has a place. “Quod Severis Metes”

Of IKEA....

Just to show that it is not all rock and roll at Maison Crook SWMBO and I headed to our local IKEA at Lakeside to pick up six new chairs to go with the dining table. We only had to cue for some 35 minutes to get out and the new chairs went together easily enough with no missing pieces or bits left over.

What a week it has been....

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Preparing for the final act

Loosely based on the C.S.S. General Stirling Price - the elongated hatch cover on the foredeck will be mounting a gun in due course

 I have built as much as I can do for the ACW project in advance of the final order from Warbases. The last link you see above and so the Confederate River Defence Fleet is moving along nicely.

I have built 39 models so far and now reckon that I have a further 15 to build to complete the line up. These are all straightforward with the only tricky little number being the small octagonal casemate ironclad I have still to build. The final two models I shall be building for the collection will be the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia which is kind of fitting in a way as it was those two that really started my interest in the naval side of the ACW.

I will be looking at holding a formal fleet review once the last models have been built but for now you can see the full collection - plus the two Turkish ships and H.M.S Superb.

Union ships forming the top three rows whilst the Confederates are the bottom four. The start of the Russo Turkish War is on the left in the tray.

I have in mind an off the wall naval project - something by way of an indulgence and a cheeky way to tackle a period that I would never dream of painting the land side for....

Three Down and One to go

Two Confederates and a single Union ship. The picture serves to highlight the various permutations of build that can be employed from a modest range of pieces. There are a number of the paddle steamers built thus far that will be getting deck mounted artillery in due course and these guns are not from Peter Pig!

 The only reason that all four of the paddle steamers currently under the brush were not finished at the same time is simply because the fourth and final model has a more involved colour scheme. She will be finished later today and that will be it until the Warbases order arrives. There is a degree of preparation I could attend to in advance of the order arriving but nothing that is pressingly urgent. 

Once the final model that should have been with the batch above has been painted the collection will be at 39 models.

I wonder what steps I should take next....

Monday, 12 April 2021

Repurposed and Refurbished Ironclads

Two slim hulled generic looking casemate ironclads with a single gun port fore and aft. Had I been building these from scratch I would have opted for three gunports along the broadside of the larger of the two and two for the smaller. Within the context of my rules it does not matter as the gunnery factor is based on gun types and number and often does not correlate with what the model looks like!

 Although I started the four paddle steamers first I have finished the two ironclads ahead of them. I am rather pleased with these although the gun port are the original versions which are larger than what I am using now - 5mm squares as opposed to the old 6mm size. This means for the Confederates I have two ironclads to build from scratch and one to convert and they are finished. I am still undecided about one of the two that want to build (the other being the smaller octagonal casemate ironclad) and am looking at C.S.S.Baltic or the famous C.S.S. Virginia. If I opt for the latter I will naturally build a U.S.S. Monitor.

Once the current crop of paddle steamers are painted (which will be today) I will have four more to build for the Confederates together with a commerce raider and a blockade runner and that, with the ironclads, will be them finished.

I am getting there!

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Battling Against the Tide and Winning (at last!)

Two ironclads and four paddle steamers with the accompanying funnels, pilot houses and flagstaffs bringing up the rear on the milk carton lids! Note the artistic fusion of Humbrol and Vallejo!

 I must confess that I have found it a real challenge to push on with the latest batch of models for my ACW project. The Easter weekend, my ankle injury (now more or less healed) and the realisation that I will need another batch of pieces from Warbases (thankfully all under way now) are factors that seem to have conspired to apply the brakes slightly. We are where we are though and so after having ‘nibbled away’ at them over the last week I now have six models that should be completed over the next day or so - five for the Confederacy and a single ship for the Union.

The picture above shows the current state of play with these and I am certainly on the final lap despite the somewhat chaotic looking cutting mat. I used Vallejo black for the first time on the funnels and I have to say it is really lovely paint to use. I used it ‘neat’ rather than with water and it had a lovely and manageable creamy consistency. 

I am really keen to tackle some figures but want to get the ACW ships and the accompanying terrain finished first. The first figures I will be tackling will be for Star Saga and for practise purposes I shall use the figures from IMPACT first of all as these are quite basic looking.

Onwards and Upwards!

Thursday, 8 April 2021

The Vexing Subject of Confederate Ironclads

The two newest additions to the Confederate ironclad cause - currently a ‘WIP’ as are the metal trees you see at the top of the picture. These are 1:300th scale and are, I believe, from Heroics and Ros and yes, I want to get some more of them!

When I have completed the Confederate fleet for my ACW project there will be a round dozen casemate ironclads of various types. Half of these will be ‘historical’ ships whilst the remainder are ‘based on’ types. I have not included the pair of C.S.S. Stonewalls in this - just the casemate ironclads.

Available from the Wargames Vault and anyone with an interest in naval warfare during the American Civil War should DEFINITELY read this!

If I have learned anything about the ships of the period it is that a substantial amount number of them we have no real idea of what they actually looked like. For sure there are many period photographs of some of the more well known types but an awful lot of the lithographs that appeared in the press were inaccurate and in many cases simply made up. John Wallis in his book on the subject has details of the actual ships that served - in many cases looking quite different from the original design - as well as those that were ordered and designed but not built or those that were started and not finished. It is a fascinating read about what might have been, much the same as using Z plan warships for the Kriegsmarine in WW2. 

The six models that are not based on anything particular are more indicative of the overall type rather than specific ships. I have no problem with this as it means that the models can be used for a variety of historical ships. I have opted for the following combinations and for each pair there are two models - a larger version and a smaller one.

2 x octagonal casemate - both with a 1 1/4” beam

2 x rectangular casemate - both with a 1 1/4” beam

2 x rectangular casemate - both with a 1” beam

The two narrow versions of the rectangular option have a single gunport fore and aft and four or three broadside gunports for the larger and smaller version respectively. For the 1 1/4” beam the four or three applies again on the broadside whilst fore and aft have two gunports in each case. All will be clearer once the two models you see above have been refurbished - rather promoted from being potential floating batteries - and the final octagonal casemate ironclad had been built. The largest on my Confederate casemates will be converted into something else manning there is room for one final model - and I am torn on this between two ships - The C.S.S. Baltic or the C.S.S. Virginia (meaning I would be obliged to make a U.S.S. Monitor....).

As it stands the ‘historical’ part of the collection consists of the following ships:

C.S.S. Arkansas

C.S.S. Manassas

C.S.S. Missouri

C.S.S. Georgia

I now have a clearer view of what the final composition of the Confederate fleet will look like as aside from the dozen casemate ironclads there will also be ten side wheel paddle steamers, a blockade runner, a commerce raider and of course the pair of C.S.S. Stonewalls. I am looking at a few small gunboat types as well which will make the final total heading towards 30 models.

Can somebody PLEASE tell me what this curious phenomena known as ‘project creep’ is?

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Making Changes

The two models that will be getting a facelift. Both will be reappearing as something rather different by the time I have finished with them!

After the ankle related incident of the Easter weekend it was with some relief that I was able to once again resume using the man cave located in the loft and working on my ACW naval collection. I currently have four models being painted - 1 for the Union and 3 for the Confederates - and the order is in with Warbases for the parts I need for the final batch. To finish up the ship models for this project I decided that some of the earlier models wold need refurbishing or replacing and so far this has been completed with the exception of the two models you see above.

The Confederate casemate ironclad in the picture was the first of the type I had built and whilst she has given good service (as the C.S.S. Secessionist) she is really too large compared to the other models used alongside her. I do not want to abandon her though so I am planning to remodel her into something rather more fitting. She will need a new hull and the gun ports will need to be removed and replaced. There is also the small matter of her funnel.

I will say no more at present as this will spoil the surprise!

Similarly the Union ship - based very loosely on the U.S.S.Galena but without the curved hull - is also going to be given a rebuild. This will be rather more involved as she will be growing a further mast and losing the rather larger funnel in favour of something a little more appropriate.

Again, I will say no more so as not to spoil the surprise....

My order into Warbases features some additional hull templates and some revised gun carriages as the type I ordered originally are better suited to fortress guns rather than ship borne. The revised version will look far better. There are also some ‘walking beam’ components as a number of ships featured this as part of their power plant. Originally i planned to make use of the version available from Peter Pig but as this is true 1:600th scale it is a little on the small side for what I want. For the record I estimate that I will be looking at around six ships that will feature this.

I am confident that the ships for this project will be completed in their entirety by the end of the month which means that I can then think about the terrain I want to build to go with them.