Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Dragoon of the Second Empire

The latest addition to the Kinch bookshelf is this rather dapper Second Empire Dragoon. This chap is a metal figure with surprising heft for such a dapper fellow.   I love his white gloves and the insouciant tilt of the chin. Our man in Budapest has done a really cracking job. The blending on the uniform stands out as very well done. 
Bloody stuff stuck on with glue

One of the reasons that there hasn't been a rush of wargaming is that there has been quite a bit of 1:1 scale terrain making going on.  I've been scraping old wallpaper which was stuck on with glue and took an absolute age to get off. Fortunately, it's finished now and the Cats Bedroom is looking barer, but ready to progress that little bit further. 

"'Grog's ready!' came from below. Bunching myself for the descent I found to my astonishment that all trace of litter had miraculously vanished, and a cosy neatness reigned. Glasses and lemons were on the table, and a fragrant smell of punch had deadened previous odours. I showed little emotion at these amenities, but enough to give intense relief to Davies, who delightedly showed me his devices for storage, praising the 'roominess' of his floating den. 'There's your stove, you see,' he ended; 'I've chucked the old one overboard.' It was a weakness of his, I should say here, to rejoice in throwing things overboard on the flimsiest pretexts. I afterwards suspected that the new stove had not been 'really necessary' any more than the rigging-screws, but was an excuse for gratifying this curious taste."
The Riddle of the Sands, Erskine Childers. 

I have been indulging a similar taste of late. I think Childers may have had the right idea. There is something gratifying about it and the shed is now clear. What ever shall we do with all this space?

Monday, May 23, 2016

If you're British and loyal.... might try some Royal Marine. 

Sweeney Todd is probably the most Brechtian of Stephen Sondheim's work. The story of a wronged man descending into madness and wrecking a terrible revenge on his persecutors, society as a whole and frankly any poor soul that happens to get in his way. The story is good, the music is enchanting and the ideas are interesting. 

I much prefer Sondheim to Brecht as he is funnier and cleverer. Brecht's ideas of alienation and distancing are not without merit, but to be honest, I think Sondheim is rather more successful in getting his ideas across to a wider audience. "Pacific Overtures" is a particular favourite and probably one of the best meditations on the differences between cultures that I have ever come across.  I forget a Brecht play half an hour after it's finished*, but can remember Sondheim shows that I saw once ten years ago.  

Funny old thing memory. 

But with that rather tenuous connection to Royal Marines out of the way, let me present some poorly lit shots of what I'm working on the moment. 

I finished my exams on Friday and while they were not an unalloyed success, I am very, very pleased to see the back on them.  I'm happy that I passed five of them, the sixth chap might be a little close. Fingers crossed. 

The day after, Mrs. Kinch tootled out to work, while I sat on the couch and contemplated my hangover. I also did some work on these fellows, touching up the white crossbelts and because wasting time is fun, I painted the individual panels on their sun helmets. 

This was probably surplus to requirements because the helmets were already white and had benefited from a light grey wash to bring out the detail. More to the point, they should have been a light brown as they were stained with tea, but I like a nice bright white pith helmet and carried on regardless. 

I've done nineteen of these chaps, rather more than I need for Egypt, but I thought that since I was painting them anyway, I might as well do enough for a full platoon of troops in The Sword and the Flame.  Irritatingly, I seem to have lost one along the way, so I shall have to dig out another. 

*I am actually struggling to remember the details of Mother Courage right now and failing miserably.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On my command, unleash hell!

Recent additions to the army of Tribune Davidius Gourmandinius Bibulous

Young Du Gourmand has been putting together some figures for Command & Colours Ancients.  I don't hold with that sort of nonsense really, but I got my paws on some Prince August moulds last year which included a fantasy catapult. 

Command & Colours Ancients does actually use some siege machines, so I cast up two for his Romans and gave them to him for Christmas.   The models themselves are scaled for old style 25mm figures and are therefore close enough to the 1/72 plastics he uses.  I had promised to paint them and only got around to finishing them relatively recently. The mould itself is decent and produces nice crisp castings, though the wheels are a little fiddly. 

Hopefully, we'll see them on a table before too long. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Prussians outside Liege - Work in Progress

An officer type and a marching line infantryman

There's something rather delicious about playing hookey from your hobby.  I'm generally pretty good about sticking to a plan, focusing on what I should paint next so that I can play games sooner rather  than later.  I enjoy playing with friends more than I enjoy painting, but I do enjoy painting and every so often it is a pleasure to let ones hair down and just paint something silly. 

From the rear 

I picked these up a few weeks ago.  They were actually a joy to paint, as I know very little about the uniforms of the period and they came with instructions. I didn't agonise about colour choices or anything, just the simple pleasure of slapping paint on lead (or in this case zinc) and doing it with reasonable facility. 

This chap is some kind of Jaeger officer I think 

From the rear, it's a very odd pose. 

A Prussian Line infantryman and an officer who looks like he is short a DJs headset and decks

If I ever use these for anything it will surely be Little Wars and I think I rather prefer the late 19th century to the early 20th from that point of view. With that in mind, I made the supreme sacrifice of heaving my bulk up the stairs and pulling Michael Solka's German Armies 1870-1871 (1) Prussia off the shelf.  Having found an illustration of a line infantryman that I liked, in fetching blue rather than the grubbier feldgrau, I powered ahead. There are not too shabby either, if I say so myself. 

I should also mention Darko Pavlovic, the artist who illustrated the Prussian book.  Not quite in the same league as Angus McBride (but who is), but a lovely clean line. 

I'm quite happy with the blacklining on the canteen. 

I don't hold much with blacklining, but the Devil took hold of me and I dabbled with it a little bit.  It doesn't look too bad actually. 

That pose makes a little bit more sense now, doesn't it? 

The figures are part of a mini diorama with the officers gathered around a map table.  I'll post a few more pictures once I've got them varnished and fit to be seen in good society. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Looking for direction

In times of trouble

Life is a magnificent thing, but often confusing and contradictory. One finds oneself looking for answers and not be quite sure where to find them. Usually the thing to do is to make the best of it and try and muddle on as decently and honestly as one can.  

Recently, I found myself find with a problem and after much reflection, I had to ask myself one question. 

Gun artillerymen in kepi 
(image tealeafed from Bob's blog)

What would Bob the Painter do? I'd been puzzling over the conundrum of what colour to paint my French Crimean era artillery and I was having some difficulty coming up with some straight answers. I had consulted my usual first port of call, Wilkson Latham's "Weapons & Uniforms of the Crimean War", but I could find nothing of particular interest there. My Osprey collection covered the British and the Russians, so there was no help there either. 

However, to my mind the premier Crimean Wargaming site, is Bob's Douglas Miniatures - 20mm Crimean war. Bob has been painting a collection of vintage and recast old school 20mm figures for this Crimean project for the last few years and they are just lovely.  Painted cleanly and finished to a high gloss, they have a charm and simplicity all their own. 

Consequently, when ever I have a question as to how I should paint something Crimean, I turn to Bob's blog and see how the maestro has done it. 

French Artillery in shakos
(image halfhinched from Bob's blog)

Unfortunately, my painting time has been quite circumscribed of late, so what painting I get to do is late at night after work or class, while Mrs. Kinch and I watch an hour of something on the telly. I had saved some pictures from Bob's blog on my phone to refer to when I got a chance to paint my guns. 

My shiny new guns

However, as you've probably noticed some of the guns are in green and some are in a light blue, a fact which escaped a tired Kinch who painted the lot blue in a single sitting. Sigh.  I shall fix that when I have time. 

It just goes to show.  It doesn't matter how good the directions are if you don't read them properly. 

But the moral of the story is - hie thee to Bob's Douglas Miniatures - 20mm Crimean war blog. It is a treasure chest of beautiful things. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Royal Marines at Battle of Kafr-el-Dawwar

A Royal Marine 
from Donald Featherstones Tel el Kebir, published by Osprey

I've been looking at the Egyptian Campaign of 1882 recently, mainly because I thought it would allow me to pit my Zulu War British against my Crimean War Turks.  There were only a few engagements, but while I was noodling around on wikipedia, I came across the battle of Kafr el Dawwar.  This an interesting engagement, not least because it was essentially written up as a win by both sides.  

Kafr el Dawwar is not a name familiar to English speaking ears, more used to the bombardment of Alexandria, Kassassin and Tel el Kebir.  It occurred at the beginning of the campaign and  was essentially a British probe of the Egyptian works (which were considerable) outside Alexandria. Urabi Pasha described it was a victory where the British were driven off, while the General Alison described it as a reconnaissance in force. Both sides were of the opinion that they achieved what they came to do - it's an interesting illustration of a situation that would never arise in a wargame. 

HAT Zulu War British infantry, 
soon to be joining the ranks of the Royal Marines

I haven't been able to find a map for the battle, so I've been trying to piece things together from General Alison dispatch and some other sources.  There aren't any Egyptian sources that I can find, but I've had a look at the battle site on googlemaps. 

The engagement/battle involved some British mounted infantry, some line infantry, an armoured train and some Royal Marines. Normally, I wouldn't be that concerned about the RM as I have red coated British troops, but it appears (at least based on Featherstone) that they wore blue in Egypt.  I didn't have any uniform reference as the Blandfords do not cover the RM. I was in this, as in most things in my life, blissful in my ignorance. 

There's no rational explanation for why, now that I know that the uniforms were blue that I won't be quite happy until I've arranged some RM in blue. It's like an itch that I can't quite scratch. 

Good thing I had some spare infantry lying around.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

French Cannon

Du Gourmand has been muttering about taking the French to the Crimea for a while now. Now as I'm reliably informed that the French may have had a few chaps accompanying Lord Ragans army, so I suppose I shall have to add some French to the collection eventually. 

I have a set of Strelets French artillery which comes with about fourteen or fifteen gunners and two guns. As my batteries are representational at best I only use three gunners per unit and needed to draft in some extra guns to make use of the extra figures. 

Rattling around the spares box were some italeri ACW artillery which are a reasonable match for French guns of the time. A quick coat of PVA later and these are heading to the painting table.