Sunday, November 27, 2011

Drummer - work in progress

Brown moleskine trousers, very fetching

I haven't had much chance to work on anything hobby related over the last few days, mainly because the house has been demanding attention. Getting our heating fixed is a definite priority. As to why it is broken? Well, therein hangs a tale...

...which does not concern us now.

As you can see I've started making some very timid steps with my new large scale project. I read Stokes's article on painting white uniforms in the Wargamers Annual 2012, available from Caliverbooks, and asked the author a few questions online. The idea is to paint the uniform grey and use that as a sort of blacklining. Then paint a basecoat in tan, which you then cover with thinned down white paint.

Everyone is wearing white this year

I was skeptical about the grey undercoat, mainly because I've found that it, much like shading, doesn't do large scale figures much credit. So I started as you can see above with a tan basecoat on a test section of the figure. I then gave that a quick coat of very thinned down white. The result looked dirty and a bit blotchy, but the technique calls for several coats, so I expect that result will even out once its had another lick of paint.

And that is a problem for another day as I'm up for work in four hours. Goodnight.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thinking the unthinkable

A Newline Designs French Pioneer,
a touch more expensive than your typical infantryman

Human tragedy is regrettably my stock in trade and while violence is generally one of the most memorable aspect of many incidents, there are plenty of other sources of hurt. When I worked for the Church I dealt with a Canadian couple who were visitors to Ireland. A hand bag had been stolen from the lady which she was understandably very upset about. But what upset her the most was that it contained the last picture she had of her son alive. The money was immaterial, there were some things that cannot be replaced.

Paddy Griffith told me once that his home was burgled in the early eighties, toy soldiers were taken. What stung most of all was that the burglar was obviously not a casual criminal, but a fellow traveller. The key point being that the collection was mostly made up of Airfix plastics leavened with metals. The humble Airfix soldiers were left, but the more expensive metals were torn from their bases. Not the sort of fine distinction made by the typical second storey man.

I know that I would be gutted if my collection were stolen or damaged. But while my men are full of associations for me and are irreplaceable, if they were lost I would like to fill the hole somehow. I was reflecting on this while investigating a burglary some time ago. I was making notes in my notebook, establishing the likely point of entry and mentally working out which members of the parish eleven were not behind bars at present and therefore were likely suspects, when the house holder began to list off what property had been stolen. She did this with such aplomb that I stopped taking notes for a moment and began to evaluate her claim critically. By a curious coincidence it happened that very little of this property, much of which seemed to be particularly valuable, could not have its existence independently verified.

After work I applied the same logic to my own home. Mrs Kinchs jewellery and some of my rarer books are recorded on the house insurance, but beyond that there is nothing beyond the usual contents insurance. My collection of toy soldiers which has absorbed so much time and trouble, to say nothing of money, is not listed. I have visions of dealing with a hard nosed insurance assessor who will treat my claims as to how much my collection is worth with some skepticism.

But how much is it worth? Some collectors make astonishing claims as to what such-and-such a figure is worth, but travelling down that route could be problematic. I decided to approach the problem from a rather more prosaic angle - how much would it cost me to replace?

I buy most of my figures from the UK so I'll be working in pounds sterling for this exercise. Through a variety of means I have fixed on the figure of twelve pence as the cost of a plastic infantryman.

Outfitting him with magnetic basing, static grass and such adds approximately another three pence.

Painting him is the largest cost. My own painter does the job at a very reasonable 85 pence per man plus ten percent to post him. So 93.5p for uniform and kit.

Which means that the final figure is per infantryman is £1.08.5.

A unit for Command & Colours Napoleonics which consists of -

16 Other ranks

1 Subalterns

1 Non Commissioned officer

1 Bandsman

1 casualty figure

Cost £21.70 not including the cost of a metal sabot base.

This simple calculation suggests that the end result will be a considerable sum and that therefore the exercise is not without merit.

Even so the very idea of losing my boys makes me nauseous.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sword of Stalingrad

The Eponymous Sword

In 1943, a sword was presented by Winston Churchill to Josef Stalin. It was forged at the order of King George VI as a recognition of the heroism of the people of Stalingrad. A sword forged at the order of a constitutional monarch given by a Tory to totalitarian, who claimed to represent socialist.

Strange bed fellows indeed.

In addition and perhaps more importantly, it gave its name to the Memoir '44 scenario pack for Stalingrad which played last night. We were having too much fun and it completely slipped my mind to take pictures, but we got Boomer, Ceire, Andrew and Oisin around the table and played through the Rats in a Factory scenario twice. The results were a very comfortable Soviet win (17-9), followed by an equally comfortable German win (8-17).

The Soviet Command rules, whereby the OC Soviet forces must choose his cards a turn in advance, are very frustrating and time and again as Soviet OC, I found myself trapped in a decision cycle that was just that little bit too slow.

The City Fighting rules were interesting and like all Borg rules were all the better for being seasoning, rather than a main meal. These are a deck of special cards that are played in conjunction with the normal Command cards and that all players to do special things like moving troops through sewers, bring on reinforcements, call in airstrikes or give a bonus to troops who are assaulting a built up area.

Intelligent use of two of these cards were key the first Soviet victory as they allowed the Soviet artillery to put some stick about.

A great night, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed playing games with Andrew.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Drummer 1st Dublin Volunteers - Mr Johnston - Part 1

A rather ham fisted photograph of a rather special figure

There are some debts that can never be repaid, but it behooves us to try. Mrs Kinch's uncle rescued us when we were in dire straits some years ago. He's a man who appreciates a large scale model soldier. I had purchased some 120mm figures for him a while ago, but when I saw this, I knew I had to get it for him.

This is number 8 of 200 specially made resin figures made to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Irish Model Soldier Society. Mrs Kinch's grandfather and great uncle were founder members, but Mrs Kinch the uncle hasn't attended in years. The figure is a drummer of the 1st Regiment Dublin Volunteers. These were territorial troops raised during the 18th century to stave off Frenchy while the proper redcoats were off in America. A muster of the Volunteers was painted by Dennis Wheatley and the figure was modelled on one of the men pictured. The chap in question has been identified as a Mr Johnston, who later became a porter at Carton House. The picture currently hangs in the national gallery.

I took the pieces apart and gave them a wash with warm soapy water and then trimmed each piece with a stanley blade. I must say this was a great deal easier than my last effort. The resin cut more easily, the detail was finer and the model required hardly any filling at all.

Mr Johnston, ready for undercoating

You'll notice I've placed a small blob of blu-tack at Johnston's waist. His drum attaches by means of a pin and I thought it best to mask the hole so that when I do glue it in place, I won't be gluing it to paint and I should therefore get a strong joint.

With most of the work that was so time consuming with my last figure done, I'm looking forward to launching straight into painting.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Command & Colours Napoleonics: Rolica 17th August

Gorman helping in his own inimitable way. We discovered that we were short a few impassable hills just after laying out the field, so I rambled outside with some foam, quickly did the business and we were back in action within munutes, the scent of spray paint assailing our nostrils.

General Du Gormand glass of Argintinean plonk close to hand surveys the battlefield.

For those of you unfamiliar with the battle of Rolica, I shall summarise. Both Spain and Portugal had risen against the French invader and he was having a hot time of it. The British had landed in Portugal at a spot called Mondego Bay. They were led by Wellington or plain old Wellesley as he was at the time and began to march on Lisbon, pursuing a French force under Delaborde.

Wellesley was very keen to get weaving because he was due to be replaced by more senior officers being sent from England. Delaborde took up a strong position by the village of Rolica and was booted off it on the morning of the 17th of August. He fell back in good order and took up a second position, again on a ridge line, but one that could only be approached by several steep ravines.

So there you have it; an almost complete reversal of the traditional Peninsular battle. The outnumbered French sitting on a hill while the British come for them with the bayonet.

One of the ravines, the British infantry have to advance on a narrow frontage towards the enemy position. The hills marked with stones are impassable.
The view from the French lines. Gorman held is cavalry reserve back until late in the battle and punished my Portuguese troops with them. Note the use of foam offcuts to mark impassable hills. I must come up with a more elegant solution.
The advance continues. The French ration their cards while I spend mine trying to advance of a broad front. Getting the guns forward proves almost impossible.
Cat stops play. Sissi surveys the advancing redcoats. Despite her Austrian background, I can't help but thing she is rooting for the French.
Sissi lines up a shot. Traditionally French general acoutre their female "ADC"s in hussar uniforms. General Du Gormand falls down on the job again.
You there! Dress that line!

Sergeant, take that man's name!

And that's quite enough of that.

As my forces inch forward, Du Gorman continues to pummel me with gunfire chipping away at my infantry.
The guns in question. The British infantry start to close on the French position, bloodied, but unbowed. The French infantry are still fresh though.

Finally, the redcoats close the distance after a great deal of punishment. But will they have sufficient strength to take the position?

Even as I ponder this the French left begins their counter-attack.
Musketry crashes up and down the line. Some Frenchmen fall and the issue hangs in the balance.

With the infantry fight in the centre still in doubt, the French cavalry begins to move forward ready to take the centre column in the flank before the troops on the right can come up.
Frenchmen are falling fast in the centre, but will it be enough?
As the Kings Royal Halberdiers arrive at the mouth of the ravine, they are greeted by the sight of bodies everywhere.

The counter-attack develops completely now, the French line smashing the heads of the British columns.
And it's all over., With the centre column destroyed, the French advance to contest the mouths of both ravines and their cavalry (off camera) pick off a Portuguese regiment to take the game 6-5. Close, but no cigar.

This was a good game and the second of two Rolica scenarios we played. General Du Gormand (his choice of female companion not withstanding) was a canny opponent, who played his hand well and made careful use of his artillery to weaken units for infantry counterattacks. His use of the cavalry at the end of the battle was devastating.

In retrospect, I think I tried to advance on too broad a front and I should have been willing to endure a certain amount of waiting to get my guns up. I relied too much on Gough style Tipperary tactics.


Friday, November 18, 2011


The fruits of my avarice.
(as always click to embiggen)

I've been in something of a brown study of late and as a result there has been damn little blogging, though certainly not for any lack of things to blog about.

At last count the list included.

- the second half of my how to make rivers tutorial.
- pictures and battle reports from my ongoing Napoleonic campaign.
- pictures and battle reports from Gaelcon.
- a scenario I've been working on.

But none of those are going to be covered in this post.

Mrs Kinch and I haven't seen each other for three days as she's working days and I'm working nights, so when a parcel arrived a few days ago, she put it in the wargames room for me. As I'd been sticking to a relatively strict eat-work-sleep routine, I didn't see it immediately and it was a real treat to find it this morning. A surprise on Christmas morning sort of treat.

Pictured above are some Falcata Spaniards which I received thanks to the good office of Clive Smithers of "The Lone S Ranger". I stayed up after work this morning sorting them and working out how many units I could muster using them. The Falcata figures are little gems which I've blogged about before. Keen readers of Foy's Prometheus in Aspic will already be aware that these wonderful figures have recently been re-released.

Those who aren't keen readers of Prometheus in Aspic have some explaining to do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to make a hex river, part one (fixed)

There are plenty of tutorials, some of them very good, on how to make rivers for your wargames table. I have a slightly trickier task as my river sections need to fit within a hex system. To that end, I've started making straight sections using MDF bases from Products for Wargamers.

I've posted about this before, but not a step by step tutorial. My apologies for the repetition, but this hopefully this will make the process easier to follow.

These are cut exactly to size and fit the hex perfectly, making curves is going to be a little trickier though.

I use standard Vallejo model paints for my river bed. The darker blue gives an illusion of depth and using a particular brand out of the pot means that I don't have to rely on matching things by eye, which is a particular problem when mixing paint by hand.

Paint the base Prussian blue but make sure to go out a little further than you expect to. There is no difficulty covering some paint with filler, but you can run into problems if there is a gap between the blue of the "water" and the river bank, so don't be stingy.

Then mix a few dabs of blue-grey with your remaining Prussian blue and dab along the side. This will lighten the edges and give the illusion of depth. Do this as quickly as possible, ideally before the Prussian blue has time to try. I find using an old brush and stabbing directly down on the paint surface the best way to do this.

(I have broken my heart trying to fix the above picture,
but to no avail. It shall have to lie as it is.)

Then using a plasticard offcut or a piece of card, add filler to the side of the base being careful to ensure that there is no gap between the paint and the miller. Also run a straight edge along the sides of the base so that no filler is protruding over the edge as this can dry and make it more difficult for your section to line up.

Allow to dry and we'll get to the next bit in part two, which will include making bends and "water".

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembrance Sunday

God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

For those as have prayers to spare, please think of this young man.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An experiment with river making

I have done quite a bit of work on my terrain of late. I have sufficient trees for my purposes for quite a while. I also have plenty of buildings. All the remains are rivers and hills.

My hills, while they are not pretty, are perfectly functional for the time being - but my rivers are a disgrace. Chopped up felt will not do - so I've decided to start work on something a little better. Above is five inch by two inch MDF base from Products for Wargamers which fits my hexes perfectly. I chose MDF as previous experiments with card warped badly and cutting the pieces to size consistently would be troublesome.

The wonderful thing about hex systems is that they are modular. Unfortunately because they are modular, they need to be exactly right.

To the MDF I added some of my usual basing filler. I painted the river with Vallejo prussian blue and lightened the sides to give an illusion of depth. The riverside is Vallejo khaki with a white highlight. I'll add static grass and other brush later, but in the meantime I set to work on something else.

Woodland Scenics have a product called Liquid Water, which is available in my local model railway stop. I'm sure it's good - but I balked at the €26 price tag. I decided to try my own experiment with some distinctly more affordable PVA glue. I placed two strips of plasticard at either end of the river section. Each one was coated in vaseline so that the PVA would not adhere to it and I filled the section with PVA.

The plan is that the PVA will dry clear and provide a suitable water medium. If that is the case, I will be able to make a dozen or so river sections that can be assembled in a variety of ways and with some rocks, fallen trees and the such like. I will have to work out a way of producing consistent 30 degree bends.

The PVA after being left overnight. This is still tacky to the touch, but I think it will dry clear though it is taking longer than I expected to do so. If this works, I forsee a lot of river making in my future.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There’s a regiment a-comin’ down the Grand Trunk Road

The Battle of the Boyne by Jan Wyck

Pictures of Salamanca will have to wait until official war artist Donogh McCarthy RA finishes with his ten shilling paint box, but in the mean time I must mention a project young Gorman and I have taken on.

Traditionally there is a charity auction at Gaelcon and they've become rather well regarded internationally. I did my bit at the auction for a charity close to my heart.

In addition, young Gorman and I volunteered to walk to the Boyne battle site, a distance of some thirty one miles, and play on the anniversary of the battle a wargame of the battle.

Probably before one or both of us collapses of a coronary.

I've done a little bit of route marching, though Gorman has had little call to, I think the training for this one will be of interest. Johnny Cunningham has said that he'll help us with the figures required.

This will be a interesting July.

Should you wish to make a donation, you may do so here and please mark it "Battle of the Boyne Walk".

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Johnny's Lanc has had part of its tail shot off, but is swinging into position to drop a bouncing bomb.

Very long hours at work and domestic demands have meant that there has been no blogging of late.

Gaelcon was a success despite considerable obstacles, not least the flooding of the venue four days before the convention was due to begin. The Gaelcon committee and staff worked tirelessly and they accomplished something special.

I ran two games over the weekend, my Command & Colours: Napoleonics Salamanca setup and a Space 1889 LARP. Both went well and I'll post details in the fullness of time.

More Lancasters over a somewhat circumscribed "Tirpitz"

Johnny C made his way over and I had a good time introducing him to the Irish convention scene. I wasn't entirely sure what he'd make of it as there is comparatively little historical miniatures wargaming in Ireland, but he seemed to have a good time and gave us a very good writeup on his blog. It was good to see him and we gave of our best at Salamanca.

Johnny also met our newest addition Sir Harry Flashman VC, who I suspect sensed a kindred spirit.
The view from one of the Archie positions as J for Johnny begins its run

The idea was that a group of Lancasters, Mousquitos and British submarines were to make their way into a German held fjord and destroy the dam at the end. The fjord also happened to hold the Tirpitz, a heavy water factory, the Tirpitz, a hydro-electric facility and a Karl Gerat as well as a not insubstantial amount of Archie.
A long shot, showing only one half of this magnificent board

My attempt did not go particularly well, but I think you'll agree the photo reconnaissance was rather good.