Showing posts with label wargaming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wargaming. Show all posts

16 May 2020

Blue Moon Swiss Pikemen

At Cold Wars I picked up a pack of Blue Moon 18mm Swiss Pikemen (15WS-105: Swiss Pikeman Advancing), partly because I was one pike block short* for my 15mm ADLG Swiss army, partly because I really like the small handful of Blue Moon figures I already own (namely their Three Musketeers set) and also as I just wanted to spend some money with traders in what was a very quiet, "even of lockdown" trader hall.

Those figures and now finally finished, and out of the pack of 30 figures I managed to conjure up two 12-man pike blocks (on 40x40 ADLG bases) as well as half a dozen halberdiers.  

The figures all came without pikes or weapons, so I also took the opportunity to try something I'd stumbled across online where a blogger gave instructions how to make plastic spears with actual tips - a much more sophisticated approach than the 'brass rod with the end painted silver" approach I'd been using beforehand. I've sadly failed to remember where I saw this idea, but I've dug out another site with exactly the same technique.


The figures were really clean and well cast out of the packet, and I duly followed instructions and created plastic pikes and halberds for them all with 0.8mm plastic rod, squeezed at the end and cut to shape. The pikes do have proper points, whilst the halberds are relatively unsophisticated long blades on the end of a pole. 

One downside I discovered however was that with the pikes being soft-ish plastic it was impossible to force the pikes through the partly-open lower hands of the men (which you can do with brass rod). As drilling out a load of hands which are cast close to the mens bodies wasn't something I really wanted to do, these pikemen ended up all holding their pikes at the butt-end in their left hands.  


I went with a black undercoat, drybrushed white using a tip from Dave on the Madaxeman Podcast a couple of weeks ago. I had throught this technique was about getting extra depth for the colours when using semi-transparent paints, but he pointed out that a white drybrush also really helps pick out the contours of the figure and guides your painting of them, which an all-black undercoat can make quite difficult to follow. 


Here they are almost done. As usual I used a very narrow colour palette, with white and red being the first two colours onto the figures. 

I've been struggling with getting good consistency and coverage from my go-to red, Army Painter Pure Red, and so recently changed to Vallejo Scarlet and Vallejo Dark Vermillion, both of which seem much better so far. The blue is a Vallejo Game Colour Electric Blue, and the yellow is Army Painter, but always on a full white undercoat. 
 

Unlike most of my other medieval figures the Swiss I have are generally not ink-washed, as their bright colours seems to work better if they are not muted - Swiss are stand-out troops anyway so why not make them "ping" a bit more? Paul Frith's 28mm Perry Swiss army also provided some inspiration for this approach when I played it last year at a competition - although it's not nearly as aggressively black-lined as these ones are.
 

I have however blacklined them - not a technique I usually do as it's a PITA, and not really compatible with ink-washing but here it seemed necessary to highlight the different blocks of colour. 
 

To give them a little more detail I added some white-on-red crosses onto some of their backs, sleeves and trousers. These I didn't blackline - there is a limit to my steadiness of hand!


The Blue Moon figures are very clean designs, but despite being marketed as 15mm by Old Glory UK I'm much more inclined to regard them as being the "15mm/18mm" scale as they are described by Blue Moon in the USA

Stood next to some Mirliton Swiss pikemen here the difference in stature and height is obvious, with the Blue Moon men being a full head taller than the Mirliton ones - although ensuring that the pikes are the same height on both blocks of men does go a long way to obscuring the difference in stature on the tabletop. 

Facing off against the Mirliton men I think my money is on the Blue Moon soldiers to win this particular push-of-pike! 


Here the QRF pikemen join the line on the left, with Blue Moon in the middle and Mirliton on the right of the photo. QRF are also "true 15mm" and are tiny next to the Blue Moon guys - the following photo where the Blue Moon figures are unpainted shows how the addition of equal-height pikes does tone down the difference in stature though. 


 
Overall I do really, really like these figures, but they are big, and stylistically very different to other ranges so it would be pretty much impossible to mix them in the same unit with any other manufacturer. Side by side in different units is just about OK at tabletop ranges though. 

This one packet of unarmoured pikemen also doesn't quite have enough variety of poses for my taste  (there are too many flat beret hats, which when painted in a range of colours can make the unit look a little like a packet of M&M's when viewed from above!) so I'd buy a mix of armoured and unarmoured men next time and mix them together were I to do this experiment again.

The jury is very much out however on whether the plastic pike-making experiment is one I'll continue with, as I've already snapped a couple of pikes with just normal handling. They do glue back on very easily (the plastic doesn't melt with Superglue thankfully) but I suspect the problem may be that the 0.8mm plastic rod I used (from Plastruct) is either just too thin, or too brittle to really work as it should. Creating the points is easy, and very effective so I may try that part of the technique again with 1mm rod, or even go thicker for spears for some 28mm figures. 

Casting around online the more permanent solution seems to be to buy a cheap sweeping brush head, and cut off the bristles - but that's currently harder to do with online shopping as Amazon doesn't tend to say how thick the individual bristles are on the brushes they are selling!


And finally, here they are with their Gnome of Zurich leader hurling his stinky cheese at the enemy! 


* This is of course a lie. I don't "need" any more pike blocks, I have got 9 already, and a load of other medieval ones who could be pressed into Swiss service if needed. But as long as I don't tell myself I'm sure I won't realise.

9 Dec 2013

The Wargaming Compendium - Book Review

For quite some time I've been meaning to post an embarrassingly effusive review of Henry Hydes's book, The Wargaming Compendium, which I got my grubby paws on earlier in the summer soon after it came out.



Now, this sort of generic "guide to wargaming" isn't normally the sort of thing that floats my boat - I'm no hard-core grognard, but I think that I know my way around a table, have painted just a few toy soldiers in my time, and have hardly enough days in the week to read the military history and hard SF which populate the rest of my to-do book and Kindle pile. So, why on earth would anyone want to add to that something which is basically a wargaming primer on steroids?

Well, for starters, the steroids have certainly helped this little idea of a book grow up into a strapping hulk of a coffee-table-gracing tome. Weighing in at the "wow, that's as much as a decent sized tool box" level, the whole thing exudes quality from the cover inwards. And it's the innards that really cut the mustard, with over 500 pages seemingly almost all of them carrying at least one colour photo or illustration to grace the text.

The book itself is divided, FoG-style, into sections which are colour coded by a small block on the edge of each page - starting off with a colourful introduction of how the author got into wargaming in the first place (a Britains cannon that fired match sticks if you must know) through "Basic Concepts" (stuff you can use to explain to a non-initiate what is going on) and then leading right into one of the best sections of the book - a History of Wargaming which could almost stand up as a (40-page) book in it's own right, containing a nice mix of geeky historical details from the 1800's plus some bang up to date moments of "oh, yes, I had some of those!" as well.

Other sections include "Choosing a Period" (which could easily be re-titled "all you needed to know about the periods you don't currently play but have occasionally thought about, in a nutshell"), "Assembling your Forces" (a well illustrated section on basic painting techniques, with an especially useful reference section on painting horses), and then a few chapters which go into detail of periods as diverse as the Wild West, Gladiatorial Combat, a map-based game in Ancient Greece and even a fairly full-on set of rules for 1685-1845 European combat, all well presented and written to clearly illustrate how the author has built up the rules from basic concepts to the finished game. The rules bits I did admittedly skip through a little - one day I might revisit them, but the periods are not that interesting to me and to be honest I almost felt like I had squeezed full value out of the book by page 255 (where they start) anyway!

The book then moves on with a canter through "Other Aspects of Wargaming" which have not already been covered, including naval, air combat, roleplaying and pulp actions, all again with excellent photos on every page before wrapping up with a "Digital" section which covers basic figure photography, and how to use and set up a basic wargames blog or website (what a good idea...!). Right at the back there are 30 pages (yes!) of reference lists, covering manufacturers, a UK show calendar and a list of UK museums amongst other things.

Where the book impresses most is to manage, somehow, to weave the "beginner" aspects into something which even a well seasoned old git like myself found genuinely enjoyable and interesting to read - often much to my surprise.

If you wanted to nit-pick, you could say the home-brew rules are a bit, well, home-brewed and cover periods that may not be of interest to everyone... but even skipping this whole section still leaves a 300+ page book! Some readers might also get a little tired of the writing style, which on occasion veers a little too far towards "so, dear reader, as you send forth your brave miniature troopers once more on their quest for glory for your burgeoning tabletop empire...." but to be honest even this a pretty forgiveable transgression, either on the basis that it is pretty clearly a consequence of the authors enthusiasm for the subject, or even that it sometimes lends an air of "HG Wells" to the whole proceedings anyway!

Bottom line is that you probably should add this to the list of "must have" Wargaming books, whatever your interest are - and this is a pretty short list which essentially comprises Harry Pearson's "Achtung Schweinhund!" (which now appears also to be available on Kindle), a Donald Featherstone or two and perhaps not much else.

And in any case, it's Christmas soon, so you could always send one of the links below to your better half as a suggestion for your stocking!

4 Dec 2008

Loads more photos in the Ancients Gallery!

TriariiNKE BowmenNorman General

...... New photos of LKM, Lancashire, Alain Touller, Irregular, Magister Militum, Museum, Black Hat, Grumpys and 2-Dragons now added. The Supplier Listing has also been updated

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