18 May 2022

Charlemagne - The Emperor has Arrived!

 A Carolingian army has been sat on the to-do shelf for a couple of years now -  I bought it partly to see what Baueda figures looked like in the metal, and partly as I had already bought 1 dozen of their mounted Carolingian archers with a vague thought of adding them to some generic Gothic cavalry and cobbling together a morph army at some stage. 

Digging into it a bit more I had soon realised that the whole army needed to be, well, "Carolingian-looking" though, hence the purchase. 

Over the past year I'd added some more Forged in Battle cavalry through a few eBay purchases, and that had both bulked out the army and made it harder to begin to paint as well.

However after a road trip to Aachen, seat of the Carolingans and interment place of Charlemagne himself I became inspired enough to pick up the spray can, and to give them a quick and colourful (mostly Contrast) paint job to get them table-ready, in part as I had to paint something to get away from rigging more little ships, and in part as Aachen Cathedral is so fabulous that I convinced myself I didn't need to paint the soldiers all in Middle Ages style duns and tans, as this dude had some style, and also some money to splash around. 

The end result is a fairly over-enthusiastic and colourful army with all of the possible options;

These are Baueda - their horsemen don't mix with FiB's very well as the Baueda ones have very narrow horses and V-shaped riders legs to fit on them, and the FiB ones are chubby beasts with suitably arch-shaped riders legs - so the two manufacturers provide (mostly) separate parts of the army

This is the same unit from the back. There seemed a lot of red and blue in some of the contemporary depictions of the Carolingain military I found, so I felt comfortable giving these "better quality" guys a bold uniform red cloak look. 

FiB horsemen in leather armour, as Medium cavalry. Of course, LBMS shields.

The Horse Archers - a Baueda special, painted ages ago and now rebased to the same scheme as the rest of the army

Armoured cavalry from FiB (maybe a couple of Baueda boys sneaking in there too)

Baueda infantry, apart from the unit in the centre front, who are FiB with the more distinctive Carolingian helmets. Because the Baueda chaps are fairly non-specific they may appear as Saxons or something at some point in future too.

From the back the Contrast Paint style really shows up well. 

FiB Light Horse. I only needed 2 bases, so mixed in a few of the other riders with the Medium cavalry

Javelin skirmishers. Fairly weedy dudes, not sure how long their ankles will survive in-game handling TBH

And, the whole set - 38 bases including Generals. I suspect some Vikings will also freelance as mercenaries at some point when they finally get on the table too.

There are even more photos in the 15mm photo gallery of these dudes. 


14 May 2022

Victrix Fireflies... at last...

 What with Victrix selling their 1/144th scale tanks in rather unruly packs of 6, and already having some of their "standard" Shermans the OCD Wargamer in me has been dithering for quite some time about whether I should replace my perfectly servicable (..yet not quite the same as the Victrix ones) Fireflies, I think from PIthead, with some from Victrix to match the rest of the fleet. 

Having been unable to find any on eBay at a sensible price, this had been going on for some time until finally a mate suddenly decided he wanted some too, so the possibility of a pack-split became the solution to my tight-fisted dilemma

And this is the result:

Yes, three rather spiffy British Firefly Shermans, with 17pdr long barrel guns painted in Vallejo Tank Colour Bronze Green. 

The guns were so long - and also so thin - that I managed to break one in half while putting the transfers onto the front of the tank hull, and then a second one also snapped whilst showing it to my webcam when recording the latest Madaxeman Podcast. 

So, I replaced the barrels by snipping them off flush with the mantlet, drilling a hole (very easy with this plastic) and glueing in place a length of broom bristle. They were pretty much exactly as thick as the barrel supplied with the tanks, and are flexible enough to never break. 

The final touch was to add a smoke extractor at the end of each barrel. 

This I cheatingly got away with by just dabbing a blob of extra paint on the end of the bristle, which at this scale gives a bit extra thickness that does actually look close enough for government work to being a muzzle brake smoke extractor thingy.  

Job done!

9 May 2022

3D printed miniatures - the future has arrived (in the post..)

 So... first off I'm nowhere near even thinking about getting a 3D printer. I have far too many armies already, and I have no inclination to pick up what I suspect would be an entirely new additional geeky OCD-generating hobby to complement those I already have! 

Having said that, I have bought a handful of printed 10mm vehicles in the past, some of decidedly "mixed" quality and I have also been watching with interest various discussions online (and even in our own Madaxeman Podcast) about when 3D printing will, seemingly inevitably, start to impact the traditional world of metal (and plastic) production casting of wargames figures.

It was with that investigative mindset that I recently bought a set of 3D printed figures from a seller on Etsy (Small Scale Prints), from the Hannibal vs Rome range designed by Warprinter from Germany. paying a rather remarkable £12 + P&P for some 60 figures.

The range was originally designed for printing at 10mm scale, but the helpful chap at Small Scale Prints was happy to scale them up and print them for me at 15mm size

And these are the models that arrived in the post - printed on strips of 5 in a grey plasticy and rigid material

I'd ordered a mix of the Etruscans and Samnites, planning to use them to bulk out some of my existing Early Roman armies into other Latin states of that era - armies that I was unlikely to use all that often, but which the completist in me fancied trying anyway a couple of times. 

For that sort of thing I wasn't ever going to spend a fortune on, say, Mirliton minis just to leave them in a drawer after a couple of outings, but the idea of having an excuse to take a look at what 3D printing could offer at the moment, and picking up a load of simple to paint minis to bang out quickly was exactly what I was needed to prompt me to buy on in there.    

I went for a white (Halfords spray) undercoat, which took really well - I didn't clean the minis before spraying at all, and then started blocking in the flesh areas, and also putting a black undercoat on the  spots which would end up as metallic.

The material (resin?) used really impressed me - it's light, but very robust, and has just a little flex in it without actually being bendy, and it seems to take paint really well as well.    

The "quick and easy" plan meant that my limited stock of Contrast Paints got the majority vote, so most of the chaps ended up in pastel colours from the GW range. 

The exceptions are the "grey" ones (2nd from right in the row nearest the camera and a fe win the 2nd row too) who are done in a Warlord Games Speedpaint called Holy White, that I quite like the effect of.

From the front they still look pretty chubby and cartoonish at this stage - sort of like Lamming figures of old, but scaled down to 15mm from 25's.

Adding a few more colours - and the inevitable shield transfers of course - has however really made a big difference, and they are really starting to develop some character at this stage. 

The close-up shows a little more shading is still needed

Here they are next to some 15mm Hoplites from Essex and Magister Militum, which I had swapped out the spears from and replaced by broom bristles. The contrast makes the 3D printed spears look huge (and to be fair they are over-sized), but the original Essex metal spears woudl have been much closer visually to the 3D ones. 

From the back they are still "different", but not as much as they looked when they started off. 

Here's the almost-finished guys next to some Old Glory Romans - their most likely allies and opponets on the tabletop. I still needed to do a few more think washes on the feathers and faces at this stage

And ta-dah - the finished article, fully based and painted up ready to go to war in ancient Italy! 

Yes, they do still have an air of “Lego” men about them for sure, but I think in some ways that also makes them kinda cute and gives them a real likability factor too (reminscent in some ways of the Lamming 25mm range from back in the day). Stood next to Old Glory 15mm Romans, and at wargaming distances they don't - to me - look all that out of place at all. 

Maybe the best summary is to say that "They are what they are" - simply-designed, low cost figures sculpted for 10mm and scaled up to 15mm, and on that basis I think they succeed admirably. 

I'm really happy with how they have come out, however almost the more interesting thing for me is that having these guys in-hand, I've begun to see just how easy it is soon going to be for gamers - even using fairly basic 3D design skills - to begin to start playing around in 3D, mixing and matching even simplistic "lego-style" body parts to suddenly cook up entirely new, bespoke, limited run armies and figures to add to their collections. 

And, I wil stress again, these guys are not trying or claiming to be anatomically accurate works of art - they are just cheap and cheerful "get em on the table" figures. Other 3D printed options out there, such as the March to Hell armies from 3D Breed , and the 28mm Caballero figures too (of which I have a few in the painting queue as well bought from Fenland Miniatures..) look to be a whole different kettle of fish 

Interesting times indeed!

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