Friday, July 31, 2009

28mm ACW Rebel Skirmishers

After a long break from 28mm ACW, I finished some Confederate Skirmishers this week. All figures are Sash and Saber. In retrospect, I probably went a little overboard with color variations.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July Painting Totals

This was a better month. I finished one commission, got well into another, and was able to paint some figures for myself as well.

15mm ACW Union, 12 cavalrymen
28mm Carthaginians, 1 mounted standard bearer
28mm Marian Romans, 20 infantrymen
28mm Medieval English, 6 knights
28mm Gauls, 14 cavalrymen
15mm Macedonians, 32 infantrymen
28mm ACW Confederates, 15 skirmishers

In 15mm I finished 32 foot and 12 horse. In 28mm I painted 35 foot and 21 horse. My total SPPs for the month were 409, a vast improvement over last month's 188. My SPPs for the year are 2242. I've painted the following figures so far this year:

28mm Foot: 189
28mm Mounted: 53
15mm Foot: 520
15mm Mounted: 80
15mm Elephants: 6
15mm Guns: 2

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old Glory 28mm Gallic Cavalry

Next off the painting bench is a unit of Gallic cavalry for my Field of Glory Carthaginian army. These gauls come from Old Glory packs CGW-10 "Gallic Medium and Light Cavalry" and CGW-08 "Gallic Cavalry Command." The figures are based on 60mm square Litko bases. I used Noch ballast brown for the ground cover, Woodland Scenics medium talus for the rocks, and Silflor prairie tufts for the grass. The shields are all Little Big Men Studios tranfers. The spears are from True North.

The Old Glory figures are full of character and motion. They really do give the impression of a reckless Gallic cavalry charge.

Gauls should be one of the more colorful units in any ancient army, and I took my time on the clothing, giving most figures a distinctive checkered tartan pattern, colorful stripes, or both. I also painted my shield rims and spines in very bright hues to add to the brightness of the unit.

My first two 28mm armies were WAB Romans and Britons, straight out of the WAB rulebook army lists. I painted those in the summer of 2006. I was interested to see just how my painting had progressed after three years of painting 28s, so I dug out the cavalry from that initial army.

While my painting wasn't really bad three years ago, I think I've gotten much better since then. I gave up painting eyes very soon after starting 28s, and it was a good call. My flesh painting has really progressed from a flat two tone technique to the much more vibrant three tones I use now. I started using a brown base coat on bronze helmets last year, and the result is a much richer color. I'm cleaner on the tartan pattern, and I use a highlight of the base color, which I didn't do three years ago.

So, along with the elephants I painted last fall, that's two completed units for my FoG army. At this rate, I should be done just about the time the next big ancients ruleset come out.

Bunker Hill

The gaming group met at Jon's house last Sunday for a refight of Bunker Hill. I played the part of my ancestor, Israel Putnam, while Austin played the part of Howe. Jon refereed the game, which used his AWI variant of the ECW ruleset "Ironsides."

Bunker Hill

British Assault Force

Jon Directs the Game

Austin Likes His Chances

The British had very strong units, all with strengths of 5s and 6s. The Americans all had strengths of 3. The Americans also had limited ammunition. Each unit would be able to fire six volleys, but there was a chance that more bullets would come on the board.

British Elites Assault the Rail Fence

Austin wasted no time in throwing his grenadiers and light infantry against the American militia defending the fence line to the north of Breed's Hill.

British Break Through

The elites wrested control of the obstacle from the Americans. One American regiment moved to take the grenadiers in the flank while the other two regiments counterattacked.

Americans Retake the Fence Line

The militia destroyed the light battalion and drove the grenadiers in headlong retreat.

British Storm the Breastworks

While the battle continued on the American left, Austin moved the bulk of his infantry against Breed's Hill. He pinned the Americans in front while working three regiments against the gap between the breastworks and the fence line below the hill.

British Take the Redoubt

Austin's assault was uniformly successful. The militia broke and headed for Bunker Hill.

British Take the Fence Line

Below the hill, the discipline of British regulars paid off. The Americans melted away before the second British charge.

Overall, Jon's "Ironsides" variant provided for a realistic replay of the battle. The British had a hard time taking the American positions while the militia had full ammunition, but once the British got across the obstacles, the Americans were unable to push them back.

Friday, July 10, 2009

15mm ACW Union Cavalry

When I first went to metal miniatures, I started with 15mm ACW figures. I started studying the Civil War in detail in the early 90s, and I've amassed a huge library, both of scholarly works and primary sources. My first ever miniatures game, way back in 1997, was Fire and Fury. It's my favorite period to research, paint, and game, and whenever I hit a painting slump, some ACW figures are sure to pull me out of it.

My 15mm armies have figures from a wide range of manufacturers. I started with Musket Miniatures, added some Old Glory, moved up to some Battle Honors, then filled out a few units with Peter Pig, Stone Mountain, Frontier, Battlestandard, and Minifigs. Each range has its own appeal, but the brand I just keep painting is Old Glory. They seem to me to have the best period flavor of all the lines.

These Union cavalrymen are all Old Glory sculpts, a mix from packs ACW31 "Union cavalry with pistols and carbines" and ACW16 "Union cavalry with sabers."

The cavalry regulations called for horses of the same color for each squadron. I doubt this was ever acheived, but I like the look of it. I used two tones on most colors, giving the figures a little extra depth.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gripping Beast Marian Romans

In my last post on my evolving Marian Roman army, I asked for suggestions on a manufacturer for my tenth cohort. I got a lot of suggestions, including 1st Corps, Companion, and a number of smaller manufacturers. Fortunately, I found some Gripping Beast figures on eBay for a great price and was able to build my last 20 man cohort from their line.

I painted these figures in fits and starts, squeezing them in while waiting for paints to dry on some late medieval English knights* I'm working on. Yesterday my Little Big Men shield decals came in the mail, and I was able to complete the unit this morning.

*and by the way, if there's a tougher unit to paint than medieval knights, I don't know what it is. I'm doing these for a commission, and they're really outside of my area of knowledge, but even so . . . I imagine that few people have the complex world of medieval English heraldry right at their fingertips. I have to stop painting all the time to look up some obscure heraldic device. Of course, no two figures are alike, so I can't really use my assembly line technique. I've been working on these knights for a week now, and I'm only about halfway done. And the unit is only six figures!

The Gripping Beast figures are tall and slender, with decent proportions. The legs are a little beefier than I would like, and the poses are slightly wooden, but the overall effect is excellent. I might even prefer these figures to Foundry.

I haven't painted a great many Gripping Beast figures, but when I have, I'm always blown away by the splendid detail. This centurion is a good example. Without any obvious exaggeration, the sculptor has depicted the tassels on the ends of the peturges, the individual feathers on the crest, and the chestfull of medals in a way that really rewards careful painting. The faces on all of these figures are well done, but the centurion especially has a lot of character.

So how does Gripping Beast compare to the competition? I have legionaries from three manufacturers: Gripping Beast, Wargames Foundry, and Old Glory. Here are some side-by-side shots of a similar pose.

The Gripping Beast figure is the tallest of the three, and in heft he's somewhere between Foundry and Old Glory. The pose looks a little dull on its own, but I like dull poses for my armies because the units generally look good. Soldiers standing in formation do tend to look wooden and static, but this gives the formation a look of solidity and discipline.

The Foundry figure definitely has some odd proportions. The head and hands are huge, and the leg muscles positively bulge. The Foundry sculptor had some odd ideas about Roman helmet patterns, and the typical mount for the plume is missing on all the Foundry figures. I hadn't mentioned it in my review of the Foundry figures, but I do dislike the low position of the shield. All the figures are half resting the shield on the ground. Maybe the legionaries would have stood like this when not in combat. I know I wouldn't relish holding that 20 pound shield up in the air for hours on end. Still, I would like my legionaries to look like they're ready to fight.

The Old Glory figure probably has the best proportions, but the lunging/running pose definitely isn't to everyone's taste. It's very likely that legionaries wore the plume on top of their helmet in combat, and Old Glory is the only one to include this detail. The shield boss is a little odd, and it's a shame that LBM doesn't make transfers for the Old Glory figures. I picked the best of the Old Glory poses for these side-by-side shots. Of the other four poses, one is unusable because of its huge stride (I just can't get it to fit in 20mm depth), and the other three look especially ungainly. I'd love to see Old Glory issue a second edition of its Marian legionaries.

I still haven't found the perfect Marian legionary line. Until Mark Sims decides to sculpt some of Caesar's boys, the Gripping Beast comes closest to the ideal.