Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Retrospective


This was an interesting year.  I took on two large commissions, caught fire on my own projects this summer, then saw my painting grind to a halt when I went back to work full time.

I started the year with a gigantic commission, a complete Commands and Colors Russian Napoleonic army for Glenn Drover.  84 horse, 220 foot, and 10 guns rolled through my painting station between January and June.  Then I spent the rest of June on another commission, also for Glenn: 205 AWI foot figures.

I had taken a few little breaks in there to work on some figures for myself, mostly to clear my head and regain my spirit.

Starting in July, I turned to my own figures exclusively.  I painted 28mm AWI British, 28mm ACW, and got started on a few 15mm figures.

Then at the end of August, I went back to my day job.  This year's teaching schedule is the most challenging I have ever had.  I took on two new classes (well, new to me): AP U.S. History and College Prep Ancient Literature.  I started the year with 176 students in six sections, although those numbers are down a bit now.  And because my school does not have a classroom for me, I have been teaching in the cafeteria.

Between preparing lessons, writing materials, and correcting essays, I have been working between 60 and 70 hours a week.  I get up at 5:30 AM, get myself and the kids ready, teach all day, pick up the kids, make dinner, get the kids bathed and to bed, correct essays and write materials, and stumble to bed around 10:30 PM.

That, unfortunately, leaves little time to paint.  Over the last four months of the year, I painted 50 28mm figures, 38 15mm figures, and 84 1/72 figures.  Ugh.  And those 1/72 figures got just the roughest of rough paint jobs.  That, my friends, is a painting drought.

It was accompanied by a gaming drought.  I like to get together with my friends and push lead around in my free time.  The only problem is that I have not had any free time.  From gaming once a month, I went to playing NO games between September and now.

Here is what I managed to complete this year:

For Commissions:
28mm Napoleonics, 220 foot, 84 horse, 10 guns
28mm AWI, 205 foot

For Myself:
15mm Romans, 32 infantrymen
15mm Gauls, 100 infantrymen
15mm ACW, 38 foot, 10 mounted generals
1/72 Trojan War, 84 foot
28mm AWI, 114 foot, 4 mounted generals
28mm ACW, 150 foot, 5 mounted generals
28mm Napoleonics, 33 foot, 5 mounted generals

That gives me a yearly total of 1127 figures.
28mm Foot: 722
28mm Mounted: 98
28mm Guns: 10
1/72 Foot: 84
15mm Foot: 170
15mm Mounted: 10

Under the Analogue Hobbies Scoring System, that makes for 5,456 points of painted figures this year.  About 5,000 of those points came before August 15th.


I plan to do what I always do when I hit a painting drought: work on some 15mm ACW.  I received one large order just before the holidays, and I have another coming.  Do I really need more 15mm ACW?  No, not really.  But I do like to paint them.

I would also like to add to my 15mm Napoleonics, my 15mm ancients, and my 28mm ACW armies.  Chain of Command has definitely piqued my interest in playing some 28mm WWII games.

But my biggest goal for the new year is to play more games.  It won't be easy.  I don't see my work schedule getting any easier, especially since I will be taking classes this summer.  My wife and I have a third child on the way, due in March.  And my five year old and two year old require pretty constant attention.  So this may the latest in an annual tradition of failed goals.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

1:72 Achaean Foot

Here is the complement to my 1:72 scale Trojan figures: the Achaeans who besieged and captured Troy.  Figures are all soft plastic from Caesar Miniatures.  Some of the poses are not to my liking, and one of the weapons broke during sealing(!), but the overall effect on the table should be pretty good.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1:72 Trojan Foot

Today I finished basing my 1:72 plastic Trojans.  These were quickie paint jobs, with the dip applied over them.

Now on to the Achaeans!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Project 1:72 Trojan War

I haven't had much time to myself since school started up, but luckily I am able to combine work and play with this project.

I am teaching Ancient Literature for the first time this year, and the reading schedule is ambitious.  We started with The Epic of Gilgamesh, moved on through some of Plutarch's Lives, and then tackles The Iliad.  The kids have a quiz tomorrow over book 18.

Of course this book of bloody battle has me itching to revive my school's gaming club.  I bought a few boxes of Caesar's Trojan War figures in 1:72 scale, a cheap entry to a new and interesting period.

The figures are actually pretty good.  They are not metal figures, by any means, but they do have nice proportions, and the equipment and clothing looks spot on for the period.

Trojan missile troops and heroes

It has been a looong time since I have painted any soft plastic troops for myself, but I do remember a few old tricks to keep the paint from flaking.  I've also learned a few new ones over the years.

First, I cleaned all the figures with liquid dish soap and hot water.  This washes off the mold release agent and gives the primer a fighting chance to adhere to the figure.  Then I primed with Rustoleum flat white plastic primer.  The paint supposedly bonds with the plastic while giving good tooth for the subsequent colors.

I block painted the figures with craft store acrylics.  I don't have a lot of time here, so I banged these figures out very quickly, maybe spending 10 minutes per figure.

Trojan slingers 

Then I brushed on some Minwax Polyshades Tudor Satin.  This both acts as a wash and provides a flexible sealer for the figures.  Even if the plastic bends, the Polyshades should bend with it, keeping the underlying paint from flaking.

This is not quite my first attempt with the dip, but it is my first try in about a decade.  I'm pleased with how the figures turned out.  I won't use the sip in place of my usual style in most cases, but for these quickie paint jobs, it does very well.

Trojan unarmored archers 

I picked up Peter Connolly's The Ancient Greece of Odysseus, which seems clearly to be the source the sculptor worked from.  All my Trojans will have purple plumes and sashes, but other articles of clothing will be varied and colorful.

Trojan armored archers 

I painted all the armor with Vallejo's "Old Gold," and that's all I plan to do.  I want the armor to look like straight bronze without ornamentation.  This is the Bronze Age, after all.


I wanted the two heroes to stand out from the rank and file, so I used Vallejo's "Gold," a much brighter color, for their bronze.  I also mounted them on 1" circles instead of 20mm squares.


I have not yet found a good set of rules that checks all my boxes for this period, so I probably will end up writing my own.   They have to be simple and fun to hook the kids into miniature wargaming, but they also should have a lot of period flavor.  All of these kids have read The Iliad, after all, cover to cover, and if the fighting on the table top does not match the fighting in the book, I imagine they will be pretty disappointed.

So the project has begun.  I hope to complete my Trojan army by the end of this week.

Friday, November 8, 2013

18mm ACW Blue Moon Zouaves

Here are the latest figures off the painting table, and yes, they did take a long time!

I painted my Blue Moon zouaves as the 146th New York, with their distinctive sky blue dress.

I deliberately painted the sky blue in a lighter color than it was in life.  It's close, but a little brighter to help them jump off the table.

The Blue Moon zouaves come in four poses, and this is just enough variety to keep the unit from looking too disciplined.

Flags are from GMB.  I cut away the telephone pole flag staffs that came on the figures, drilled out the color bearers' hands, and inserted brass wire.

I painted twelve bases, which is a good unit size for Regimental Fire and Fury, representing 480 men.

The 146th New York fought in every one of the Army of the Potomac's battles from Fredericksburg through the end of the war.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

28mm Union Skirmishers

This weekend I took a little time off from lesson planning and correcting essays.  I had been painting these 38 figures for the past month and thought it was about time to finish them.

The figures are all from Sash and Saber, my favorite line of Civil War troops.  As always, flags are GMB and bases are Litko.  I went with 1" frontage for each skirmisher.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

28mm Union Generals

I do not think I have ever painted so little as I have this past month.  Between working 50-60 hours a week at my teaching job, taking care of kids, and covering while my wife was out of town, I had only a handful of hours to devote to painting.

So this is the sum total of my September: five mounted Civil War generals.  Three are from Foundry, and two are from Sash and Saber.

(L-R) Doubleday (S&S), Meade, Sherman, McClellan (Foundry), Buford (S&S)