Thursday, 16 February 2012

More Saxons

There's been a bit of talk on TMP recently about the Gripping Beast plastic Vikings and Saxons. I bought a box of each way, way back on pre-order, and while I haven't got the Vikings done yet, I finished a bunch of the Saxons off a couple of weeks ago. I am intending to use these as Ceorls for the minute, although when the new unarmoured plastics come out, I'll buy some of them and use these as spear and shield armed Huscarls; all my Huscarls so far have 2 handed axes. I think they are lovely figures, they paint up well and look great with LBMS decals on them. Anyway, here they are:

The whole lot, 16 Ceorls or 2 points' worth.

In smaller groups - I appear to have forgotten one figure as 16 / 3 is not 5!

The great thing about taking these photos is that it shows up all the glaring faults. These were all painted quickly and using the dip for a "fast and dirty" result, but that doesn't mean I don't care at all about how they turned out. The white around the shield rims has since been cleaned up.

Some shots of individual figures, showing just how good the plastics are; if you didn't know you would never be able to tell which of the 4 figures above is metal (and for those who don't know it's number 2 - it came with the pre-order).

Finally a shot of how I store my figures. A long time ago now, Simon of BigRedBat fame posted about Really Useful boxes and how he uses them, so I took a look. He's right, they're great. This box will eventually be my "Huscarl box".

Thanks for looking, as usual, comments and criticism welcome.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Vaubanner Flags - a review

I recently made a purchase of some flags for my SYW project from Vaubanner in Canada. Since I haven't seen much of them on TMP (it was a sort of sight unseen buy for me) and people on this side of the Atlantic at least may not have had the opportunity to see them, I thought I'd post a quick review for you.

The complete order

When I started my SYW project the first the around, I cast around in the hope of finding a manufacturer who would be able to supply me with everything I need for both sides. My first stop for flags, GMB, has an incomplete SYW range, and I don't think it's likely to be filled out any time soon.  I did make enquiries about whether more flags would be done, but Grahame Black let me know that it wasn't likely in the near future. It was the same problem at Maverick, and while Stuart is exceptionally quick to respond to customer requests, I didn't really know how long it might take him to do everything I needed. I discovered that the Flag Dude, though, has a very comprehensive range, so I bought just a few of his excellent flags to get me started. Shortly thereafter, however, I got seriously sidetracked, and the project got put on the back-burner.

This time around, when starting again, I re-examined all my plans, and decided to take a look at the flags again. I wasn't unsatisfied with what I had, but I stumbled cross a couple of threads on TMP about this company I had never heard of before, Vaubanner, out of Canada. There were a few, indistinct, pictures, but there was a lot of praise, and most importantly a complete range, so I decided to take the plunge and order everything I'd need in one go. Brian Homenic, the owner of Vaubanner, was polite and easy to deal with and even registered the delivery for me for just a few extra C$s. 2 weeks later an envelope arrived, sans duty (hooray!), and I got my mitts on what can only be described as miniature works of art. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Here are the Prussian flags, with a couple of Foundry figures to give you an idea of the scale of them. The fantastic detail is absolutely clear.

The Prussian flags

Below are the Russian flags I purchased, along with a couple of other flags from other manufacturers for comparison.

The Russian flags

The red French Napoleonic 3rd battalion flag on the left  is by GMB. I have a lot of GMB flags and I love them; they are a sort of gold standard for a lot of people I think. Here you can see the difference between Grahame's and Brian's flags. While the GMB flags tend to have shading worked into the design, you can see that this is not the case with the Vaubanner ones. On the other hand, the colour saturation of the Vaubanner flags is amazing, much higher than the GMB one. I really like the look.

On the right is an instantly recognisable flag from Rick, the Flag Dude.  Rick's flags come prepared already on the flag staff, with finials  and ready to go. They are also a lot larger than the flags from Vaubanner, as can be seen above. All of these things score points for the Flag Dude in my eyes. Some people may not like the animation he gets into his flags, but I love it. I'm also in favour of oversized flags - I want them to be seen not hidden away. And any work done by someone else is work I don't have to do, so it's all good.

Why then have I decided to swap and go with Vaubanner flags for my SYW project? Quite simply, the beauty of these flags is the main reason. The print quality from Vaubanner is just outstanding, and the difference is noticeable.  I also found a few discrepancies between the Flag Dude flags I received a while back and my (admittedly very limited) sources. Finally, while the Flag Dude range is undoubtedly less work, I can put flags on poles and paint finials myself, although I admit that I have yet to get anywhere close to the motion that Rick captures in his flags. That's something to work on. The only regret I have is the smaller size (the Russian cuirassier colours are tiny!), but I know that's in line with what they should be - I just like large flags.

I hope this has been of use to someone. If you're vacillating over which flags to get for your own SYW troops, don't! Order up some of these little beauties. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

IR19 - WIP

Despite having a fair few distractions, I have managed to start work on my SYW project by painting the first 6 figures in  IR19 Markgraf Carl. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to choose regiments on the basis of having an interesting mix of facings and colours. IR19 has an interesting set of colours with a Maltese cross, and I have the added interest of having seen the originals in the Heeresgeslichtliches Museum in Vienna. The waistcoat and breeches are also straw rather than white so this has given me the chance to try getting the colour "right" there. I used the two darker colours of the Foundry Canvas triad, and then washed with GW Gryphonne Sepia to give a bit more depth of colour. I think it's come out ok. I also had to paint on the collar as the Foundry figures without lapels come without collars too. I didn't actually realise (well, ok - look) until I'd started painting, or I might have tried some greenstuff to make collars, but I am happy enough with the result. I have not bothered with the shoulder straps - so sue me!

Anyway, painting the figures has made me realise that I still have a load of unanswered questions, so I'll be posting on TMP later in the hope of getting some answers. Here is what I have done so far; if you see any glaring errors, please let me know. Bear in mind that the figures are not finished yet. I have yet to tidy up and highlight the black,  the buttons on the gaiters are unpainted, and I seem to have completely disregarded the fact that the tip of the scabbard should be brass. Luckily they are all quick fixes.

If we have a look at a close up, it'll show the areas which I am not too sure about...

Not being able to find out about sword knots is driving me crazy. I know that it's a small detail (like the shoulder straps) but I don't care - I want to know. I can't seem to find anything on Kronoskaf, Mollo and my Greenwood & Ball reprint don't have anything either. So, do I buy the Pengel & Hurt (I hate the (dis)organisation of the ones I have about the Russian and Austrian armies) or do I splash out on Englemann & Dorn? I am also making assumptions about buttons - I have interpreted "white" as white metal and painted them a pewter colour. Would that be right?

Here I have more "problems".  The musket sling should be red - I have seen many very bright reds on peoples' figures on the net, but I can't quite believe that this was the case. I have painted them terracotta, and given them a wash of GW Baal Red. It looks ok to me - but perhaps someone who has actually seen a sling might be able to put me right. The next problem is the cartouche. I'd read in Greenwood & Ball that the plate was in brass, but then I noticed this:

As can clearly be seen in the bottom right, the cartouche plate is in silver. Was this just a special feature of the I. Leibgarde, or were all cartouche plates in the "colour" of the regiment's buttons? Enquiring minds wish to know (well, this one does at least).

Finally, I have the problem of basing. With units of 24, I have 18 privates, 1 officer, 1 sergeant, 2 ensigns, a drummer and a fifer. The question is how to base them. I want to have 4 45mm x 40mm bases of 6 figures, but I have a feeling that overloading the command base with 5 or even all 6 of the command figures will look horribly unbalanced. How do others get around this?

On an unrelated note, I have just taken delivery of my first ever Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes - unfortunately too late to do most of these figures. Oh. My. Word. I've been using Foundry, Army Painter, GW and able brushes from |Maelstrom Games up to now. No longer. The paint actually goes exactly where you want it to! And you can load the brush up with paint without getting a huge blob of it anywhere. I wish I'd bought some years ago; quite simple, astounding!

As always, thanks for looking, and comments, suggestions, criticism and advice most welcome.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Scheltrum Miniatures

Last year at Salute I got to play SAGA. It just confirmed that my Dark Age project was what I wanted to do, so in addition to my Gripping Beast figures, I trawled the hall, looking for some terrain pieces to buy, as I had little in the way of appropriate table decoration. In addition to the Architects of War pig sty and some more stuff from GB, a stall run by Scheltrum Miniatures caught my eye. Well, I'd never heard of them before (they do have a website at, but it doesn't really do them any favours), but I liked what I saw, and decided to add some stuff to my pile of purchases.

I picked up these terrain pieces, along with a couple of the houses in the range (which I have yet to paint up). Both are painted mainly with craft paints and a few oils. These are a little different from the run-of the-mill A Frame houses provided by most manufacturers and I think add a bit of character to the table. See what you think.

First up is the cookhouse. I'm not sure the "kiln" is the right colour, and I don't like the thatch - it's not grey enough - but I'm pretty happy with it otherwise. I added some Vallejo pigments for soot and ash which I think worked out ok.

Next the latrine. This is my favourite piece of terrain ever! It's just so ... I don't know, cheeky. This really was an age when men were men - there's no way I'd be happy using these "facilities" in the dead of winter (I type this as it's -21 outside with wind chill, so I know what I'm talking about). No weathering here as I think you can take things a bit too far...

So there you go. I hope these are of interest - I like them and I don't think they have the exposure they deserve.