Sunday, 5 July 2020

Return of the Menagerie

(With Apologies to George Lucas and Lucasfilms)

Well, it's been a while, but in the words of Sam Gamgee - "I'm back"

So where have I been I hear you all ask? Ok, you're not asking but I'll tell you anyway. Afraid to say I got a bad case of Blog burnout. It's all GordonY's fault for getting me started on blogging in  the first place, I was initally pretty sceptical about the whole thing, convinced that no one would be interested in my witterings but as the hits started to come on the page and the followers started to grow, I soon started to change my tune.

From initial sceptic I became obsessed blogger - I would spend the day planning what my next post would say, agonising over what would be of interest to the blog public out there, spending ages trying to take a half decent photograph on my iphone (I still haven't invested in a decent camera yet) and at the same time trying to keep up to date with what was happening with all the blogs I was following. I soon found there weren't enough hours in the day to keep the blog going the way I wanted to and it started to become a chore rather than the enjoyable experience it had been in the first few months of blogging.

So I stopped.


Hauled the blog off the web page (although I did have the gumption to at least save the previous posts) and turned my back on the whole thing.

I needed a break. Quite a long one as it turned out.

So instead, I went and saw a bit of this

Had a sail on this

No it's not the Costa Concordia and while I'm absolutely horrified at what has happened to the Concordia and I have nothing but heartfelt sympathy for those who were on the ship on the night of it's sinking, it wouldn't stop me going on a cruise ship again - it was brilliant.

And I did a bit of this

(I'm not actually in that picture, I was standing off to the right of the photo)

And I've been playing a lot of this

Actually, I must be the only golfer in the world who has actually got worse since I started playing regularly again, rather than better.......

But in addition to not blogging, I had also, more worryingly, lost interest in wargaming. I was getting totally scunnered at the amount of new, shiny that was being released, shiny that I just simply didn't have the budget to purchase (probably because it was all spent on a cruise ship holiday), or where I was able to buy something, I didn't have the time to paint it (because I was too busy blogging). So I stopped gaming too. I haven't been to a club meeting for over 7 months, didn't go to my local wargames shows in Forfar or Kirriemuir and stopped visiting wargaming web pages.

Fortunately, I did start getting interested in gaming again, sold some stuff on eBay that I had never played with or was unlikely to play and bought some new shiny. Started listening to the podcasts again and got the gaming bug back. Phew!

Still not rushing back to a club meeting but I have been playing a few games of Saga with my mate Alan and the paint brushes are back out. As Warhammer Historical had their half price sale, my bro agreed to buy me the Waterloo and Kampfgruppe Normandy rule books if I painted up his bloodbowl teams for him.

So the Humans are done, and I've started on his Orc Team so hoping to have them finished over the next week or so.

But in order not to get scunnered only painting Blood Bowl figures, I've also painted up the first of these

Santa brought me the new Star Fleet rules by Moongoose Publishing with the Federation and Klingon Squadron boxes. So once I can get a few of these beauties painted up hopefully the games room will be filled with the cry "There's Klingons on the Starboard Side!".

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Rediscovering The Joy of Six (And while I'm at it painting some 6mm armies for fun and charity!)

If you have been involved in the wargaming hobby in the UK over the last 10 years or so, and particularly in the miniatures side of the hobby, the chances are you will have heard of the Wargames Show entitled "The Joy of Six".

The show, usually held in early July, is the brainchild of Peter Berry of Baccus 6mm, a figure manufacturer specialising in, funnily enough, 6mm tall figures. In fact if it hadn't been for the dreaded C word the show would have been held this coming week-end.

Originally a show case for Baccus it quickly grew in size and now other manufacturers of 6mm or 1/300th scale or micro scale take part with a variety of display and participation games being run by likeminded aficiandoes. 

One of those aficiandoes of the 6mm figure is a chap called Per Broden, originally from Sweden but who has been living in the UK for many years now. Per has acquired a reputation for putting on some spectacular games with 6mm figures, most recently his display game on the Battle of Poltava which was the key battle in determining the outcome of The Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia in the early 18th Century (Sweden lost that battle and the War which just goes to show that Per doesn't hold a grudge). 

That is some table!

Per has appeared on a number of Podcasts in recent years, including Meeples and Miniatures, Henry Hyde's Battlechat and Gods Own Scale to name a few, and is clearly a man very passionate about the 6mm figure and works very hard to promote the scale. 

It has to said that there is a definite bias against the 6mm figure amongst certain wargaming types who tend to look down their noses at the small but perfectly formed miniatures in preference to the larger scales. And I suspect that if Peter Berry got paid a pound every time he has heard someone saying "I can't paint those - they are too bloody small" he'd probably be a very rich man.

With the lockdown caused by the C word cancelling wargaming shows all around the country there has been much chatter on the interweb about what  wargamers could do to keep their hobby interest going and online gaming using zoom calls and the like has certainly helped many people keep their wargaming sanity through the crisis. 

Many have started online painting clubs where they will meet up on the video portal of their choice and blether away whilst sitting at their respective painting tables painting their lead and plastic piles. I haven't tried that myself yet - I really should try and get the THAGGers (that's "The Honourable Arbroath Gamer's Guild" for those of you new to these ramblings) organised for such a project.

Per was due to have put on his game of the Battle of Fraustadt from 1706 at Joy of Six this year but with it being cancelled, he started applying his mind towards doing something whereby he could continue to spread the word about the joys of playing games with 6mm figures and also do a wee bit for a good cause. So he has come up with the idea of asking wargamers to help paint up a number of 6mm units to put together 2 "Imagination" Armies - The Kingdom Of Denswe and The Tsardom of Siarus, which Per and his son would then fight a campaign with, record the progress of the Campaign on Per's Blog Roll A One Then at the end of the Campaign Per will auction off the 2 armies to raise funds for the Combat Stress Charity.

So Per duly put the call out on Twitter looking for volunteers and I am pleased to say that I managed to get my name on the list and was advised by Per that it would be my task to paint Matlund's Foot Regiment for the Army of the Kingdom of Denswe. 

Peter Berry had kindly agreed to provide everyone with their respective units free of charge and my unit of 24 foot figures duly appeared at the end of last week. All I had to do was get them painted and post them off to Per and he would then base them up to join their fellow comrades in arms.

Now I have painted 6mm figures before but it was a long long time ago. In fact, when I started getting into the hobby in the late 1970's I do recall sending off for a pack of Napolenic British Highlanders from Heroics and Ros 

I did actually put paint on some of them but alas the results have not survived to this day 

The remaining figures from that very first pack of 6mm figures - still in their natural bare metal colour.

Then in the early 90's when gaming at Kirriemuir Wargames Club, there was a lengthy period of time where we played a lot of 6mm Napoleonic games. When the Kirrie members decided on this course of action I didn't have any painted Napoleonic Armies so for the first time I sent off an order to a painting service (whose name now escapes me) and they were very good at churning out in quick time a couple of corps of British Napoleonics made by Irregular Miniatures and many nights were  thereafter spent trying to get that crashing volley off against the dreaded Froggies.

With the inevitable power creep starting to occur and my dastardly opponents ordering more figures I decided that I would have to join the arms race and ordered some Heroics figures to bulk out my forces. These though, I painted myself.

Now I would like to say that I quickly painted up some Heavy Dragoons, some Light Dragoons and a couple of Battalions of Fusiliers - I did paint them - I just can't remember how long it took me to paint them.....
1st Battalion Welsh Fusiliers (honestly)

But that must have been at least 25 years ago.

And I haven't painted a 6mm figure since. I've painted 10mm, 15mm, 20mm, 25mm, 28mm and larger during that period but had never gone back to the 6mm figures.

But over the last few years with Per doing the rounds on the Podcasts and also Peter Berry doing his bit for the 6mm figure I had started to get very interested in looking again at the scale. The trick, so they said, when painting these size of figures was to paint the unit, not the man. And certainly when you look at a unit of 6mm figures on a wargames table, it really looks the part and with a large collection a battle can really start to look like a real battle. 

Having also listened a lot to Henry Hyde's podcasts I quite liked the idea of doing a couple of Imagination forces and thought this would be the ideal size of figures to build up a couple of manageable forces.

So it was with all the best intentions of the world to start a new project that I picked up from Baccus at the 2019  Claymore Show in Edinburgh, the starter set for the Wars of the Spanish Succession.

I got the figures home, spent a number of days looking at the sculpts, thinking about how I was going to base them and then....

I put them back in their box.

And that's where they stayed. 

But when Per announced his initiative, I thought this was the ideal chance to give painting 6mm figures another go whilst doing so for a good cause and hopefully get the creative painting juices flowing again to start on my own figures.

Per had sent all the painters a list of the units being prepared for both armies and with a colour guide for the uniforms and trim. For The Kingdom of Denswe he was suggesting that the coat should be blue and in the case of Matlund's Foot the trim was to be yellow. Whilst waiting for the figures to be posted out Per put up on his blog a number of helpful painting guides showing his techniques in painting each of the different troop types and I would recommend you go have a look at these as they certainly helped me -

Undercoat applied and a black wash applied

My choice of paint for the Coat Colour

Coats done and the fleshy bits added

My choice of paint for the Trim. I was a bit worried about this as that paint pot has seen a lot of winters

Adding the cuffs. Later I added some trim to the bottom of the coat and also painted the Drummer's coat yellow using the "reverse colour" scheme that was used in a number of infantry regiments.

Adding some brown for the belts, muskets and pike shafts.

White applied to the trousers or stockings and silver for the metal areas.

Starting to look like a real unit!

Adding the trim to the hats

A final wash with Winsor & Newton Nutbrown Ink

It took about 3 painting sessions to do the unit. I'm sure I could have painted them a lot quicker than that but I wanted to take my time. Also the advice mentioned above "Paint the Unit, Not the Man" really did help me keep my focus on what I was trying to do with the figures and so I resisted the temptation to try and coax out every last detail on the figures (and for such small sculpts there is a lot of detail on them). And Per's painting guides were so helpful in establishing a routine to painting the miniatures

I will send them off to Per and he is going to base them and the other units up so that he can get all the basing consistent. I'm really looking forward to seeing pictures of the completed armies. Some of the other painters have posted up some pictures of what they have done and they look amazing - I only hope Matlund's Foot can live up in their company!

So has it persuaded me to get my Spanish Succession box off the shelf?

You bet it has!!