Sunday 26 January 2014


I have been thinking about making my own moulds to cast metal figures for ages and have finally got around to doing a bit of research, the result being everyone has something different to say about the method. I have heard that Tiranti is the best place to buy silicone rubber, but have also heard of a handy tool called a mould vulcaniser in which you put blanks and your master, bake it and then carve out a metal entry gate, but am not sure where I can get one in the UK.

Would any learned readers care to advise me so I can cast up more serried ranks of figures?

Thursday 23 January 2014

THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES (or what have I let myself in for now)

It's safe to say that I don't need any more projects on the go at the moment, not having enough time to concentrate on one, let alone nine  or ten , so I was astounded to hear myself saying to my 2 older sons (Thing 1 and Thing 2)"Why don't we collect the armies to re-fight the battle in The Hobbit?" Needless to say they thought it would be a good idea (particularly as I would be stumping up for the figures).

The Battle of The Five Armies by John Blanche
in A Tolkien Bestiary by David Day

We decided on 1/72 scale mainly for cheapness and there are a couple of companies producing really nice boxes of figures at about £6 for 40 odd figures. I need to sit down and work out exactly what we need to get, but I reckon we should be able to do the battle on a scale of 1:20 for under £100. Thing 1 already had some Light Alliance Dwarves on the go so these will form the basis for Dain Ironfoot's 500 grim warriors, and we have been sent a bundle of Caesar Dwarves by a kind fellow blogger (thanks Douglas).

Great figures based heavily (or copied) on the Lord of the Rings films. 

Not bad painting for a 10 year old (he's now 11, but did these last year for a Moria game).

I am thinking of doing the elves first using Caesar figures, and then there are an awful lot of goblins to do..

Sunday 19 January 2014


An interesting post by Ross MacFarlane here summed up the quandry I have been in for some time. At 45 and still buying and painting figures, I have come to the conclusion that I don't like painting deeply shaded figures in what is the generally accepted wargames style as featured in Wargames Illustrated and on forums such as Lead Adventure. Usually I am halfway through a unit or even figure in this style and I get completely bored with it, and upon basing I find the figure looks drab and dull. Added to this, the fact that my eyes are getting decidedly wonky I am thinking of changing tack.

Following the Renaissance of Old School traditional armies in the manner of Grant and Featherstone I have been painting a couple of projects using  a combination of white undercoat and/or gloss varnish and I am loving the results. I can actually see the figures, they are nice and bright and a pleasure to handle with a thick coat of yacht varnish on them (thanks for the tip Mosstrooper), and I can bang out 3 or 4 individual figures (or more if uniformed units) an evening.

I recently picked up a copy of the PSL Guide to Wargaming by Bruce Quarrie

which I used to borrow on a regular basis from the library. In it are several grainy black and white photos of Late Roman and Medieval armies I used to lust after, rows of the same pose figure, all apparently block painted or with minimal shading and a glossy finish

(how I longed for those Hinchliffe catapults, and look at those smooth shiny shields)

Over the last year or so I have tried a variety of styles and finishes 
3 x 54mm figures, block painted with no shading, from left to right 
white undercoat Klear floor polish varnish 
white undercoat no varnish 
black undercoat matt varnish

25mm Garrison Conan figures, a maximum of one highlight shading
 all black undercoat and yacht varnish

28-30mm Tradition, Tradition, Front Rank and Eureka Miniatures
maximum one highlight shading
 black undercoat and yacht varnish
(to my mind the gloss varnish suits the slender older style figures better than the more squat modern sculpts)

Some fantasy figures with shading and a matt varnish
(dull and a pain to paint)

2 x 25mm Garrison Conan figures finished differently. The shiny feller wins hands down and took about 5 minutes to paint..

So, it appears that I am favouring unipose units, simple paintjobs with little or no shading and a gloss varnish for the smaller figures (and maybe for the 54mm guys, as yet undecided). Is it an age thing?

Saturday 4 January 2014


A pleasing start to my weekend off work (I work alternate weekends). Coming round at 9am to the smell of fresh baked rolls and strawberry jam. I can't remember when I slept so late last, so refreshed and with a spring in my step I headed to the garage to knock up 3 pirate pistols that had been requested from the Things 1,2 and 3. Simple affairs jigsawed out of some wood left over from my old Dad's workshop,
They kept the boys busy sanding them down and being pirate rats all morning bawling

"We fly a banner all of black
with scarlet skull and boneses
and every merchantman we take
we send to Davey Joneses..."
John Masefield The Box of Delights

Whislt this rumpus was going on I snuck off to the attic to paint some 18c gardeners which will be appearing tomorrow when the varnish is dry. We then headed out to Farleigh Hungerford castle just down the road, a severeley ruined mainly 14c castle where I have spent many happy weekends in my youth fighting for Parliament with the English Civil War Society. 

I took a few pictures of the contents of the castle, and it struck me M R James would have found much of interest, and possible inspiration for ghost stories . For instance these sinister lead coffins in the chapel crypt

Or the grave slab of a medieval monk, excavated in the 19c and the skeleton was said to "have teeth quite perfect "
(you can just make out the monks head at the top of the slab)

There is a splendid medieval wall painting of George slaying the dragon

and much for the ECW enthusiast too. Parliament held by Sir Edward Hungerford until 1643 the castle was taken over by his Royalist half brother, who terrorised to surrounding countryside in the name of the King stealing horses and supplies. The effigy of the Puritan Sir Edward and his wife are in the chapel

despite his military dress, he seems to have surrendered or run away from any action he was involved in.

There is some armour in the little museum too

(another Jamesian touch, with " a horrible face of crumpled linen")

A nice model of the castle in it's heyday

Outside it had stopped raining hard so we poked about the ruins

The river below the castle has burst it's banks.

It then started to hail, so we packed up and went to the excellent Farleigh Road farm shop to get some provisions, back to the castle to collect a wooden pistol left in a guardroom and then home for tea and cake.