25 Mar 2023

Corvus Belli 15mm Knights

 As well as the Pavise infantry that I posted a few days ago, the main reason for buying the PSC Corvus Belli stuff was to get a new refreshed set of knights for the 100YW period, as my existing set of knights were starting to look rather tired and jaded. 

I'd also seen some of what I think were Corvus Belli castings in Chris Tofalos' army at the Northern League event in Manchester at the end of last year, and really liked the bold and simple painting style, so wanted to see if I could emulate it.

The really weird thing was being able to paint the figures "on the sprue" - not something I'd really done in years, and of course not with 15mm Ancients. The sprue seemed to be cast and connected in "invisible" places on the figure, so that was a good start.

And here they are assembled and based, waiting final touching up (after I spotted the details I'd missed in this photo!)

And here are the finished figures - I've gone for bold, generally single colour quarters for the horse barding, and (slightly counter-intuitively) have chosen not to co-ordinate the shield patterns with the barding. Sharp-eyed viewers will also note the reins are sometimes in colours that clash with the rest of the barding.

Many of the riders and horses are sort of tied together colour-wise, but by mixing it up a bit it I was able to introduce a bit more variety and colour into the unit - sometimes a same-colour shield, barding and tabard combination can look a bit of a wall of a single colour, especially on such small scale figures as these.

A couple of the lances were a bit bendy, but I didn't bother with the "straighten them in hot water" thing as frankly any metal lance will bend a bit anyway and none of these were too far off the mark to make trying something as faffy-abouty as straighteneing them in hot water worth even  trying IMO. 

I did use a couple of waterslide transfers I had kicking around in the spares box on some of them - but only on panels that are visible when the unit is together. The horse at the rear here doesn't have a corresponding transfer on its front right panel for example.

They have - as with the spearmen - come out identical to metal figures, with the only takeaway from putting these figures together being that in retrospect I wish I'd based them all a little closer together on each base, such that I could then have glued the three adjacent knight models together into a solid mutually supporting block. 

This is because they do bend and flex quite unnervingly when you pick them up, especially the horses that are only attached to the base by one or two hooves, so I have a slight concern that this may lead to paint flaking or possibly some of the legs breaking off over time. 

That may be unfounded worry on my part, but if all three Knights on each base were glued together it would make it more of a solid lump to pick up and use on the tabletop without any detrimental visual effect as they are pretty closely packed already. 

So, I now have 7 bases of brightly coloured knights looking for a chance to hit the table!

22 Mar 2023

Corvus Belli / Plastic Soldier Medieval Infantry

At SELWG last year I picked up a box set of PSC's plastic re-casts of Corvus Belli's Medieval range - a set of figures I'd long admired but which had been OOP for quite some time. 

My main interest was in the mounted knights, but the box set on the Bring & Buy I saw was nominally a full 100YW French army, but the composition was a bit limited being about 20 mounted knights, 20-odd foot knights and the rest being a mix of pavise-holding spearmen and a LOT of crossbwmen - which I already had far too many of in metals. 

Whoever had originally owned them clearly didn't fancy the Siocast figures all that much once they'd opened the box though, as this £45 RRP set was on offer for just a tenner - so at that price I snapped it up as I could just use even a few of the knights and get decent value from it!  

Of course, once I got started I decided to have a dabble at painting up some (but not all) of the others too, starting with these Pavise/Spear/Crossbow infantry units.

And here they are finished, in a pavise pattern inspired by the 28mm figures of Tony Rodwell that I faced at the PAW competition in January 2023. 

Once painted they (of course...) look no different to metal figures. These have always been a nice range IMO, and I'm happy to finally have gotten hold of some. 

The Siocast debate does chunter on though, and having painted some up now I am starting to think that it might well be a case of over-selling the features and benefits of the material rather than anything else. 

Flash is the thing that does keep being mentioned, and there was a little bit of flash on these figures, but there is on metals too - because this is a soft (actually surprisingly soft - almost Airfix-esque) material it is a little more tricky to scrape off any flash, especially in hard to reach areas as you are walking a bit of a tightrope between scraping the flash and cutting into the soft material of the figure. 

However on reflection I suspect there's a different technique for removing flash from soft plastic figures to the one for scraping it off metals, so it may be "user error" here as much as anything else - again if this was made clearer then perhaps it's not a "mistake" I'd have made?   

I also primed them in black before painting - I have seen suggestions you can get away without doing so, but honestly why would you want to (or more to the point, why would anyone suggest that this is a selling point of the material)?   

You can of course paint metals with no primer too - it'll work, the paint will almost always stick onto the figure, but a primer coat is just, well, better - for paint adhesion, and for giving a base colour as well, and that's going to be as true for these guys as it is for any metal or resin range. 

Here are some foot knights, again a figure range I have wanted to have in my collection for a while. All these figures have fairly short spears and I didn't seen any of the bendy spear stuff I have read about elsewhere as a result. 

So, all in all once painted (sensibly, with a primer) they end up looking the same as metals - which is no real surprise I guess. 

But perhaps that's the issue - they are "the same" models, but because they are made in a different material we somehow expect them to be "different" (or have at least been led to believe this by some over-enthusiastic marketing). 

I'm very happy with how these guys came out, but there is still a small niggle in that I was surprised how soft the SioCast material actually was - and so for a material that feels "only a little more resilient than 1/72md scale Airfix" it's hard not to feel that they should somehow be on sale at a much cheaper price point than the current "pretty close to the price of metals", no matter how nonsensical that thought might be given the huge differences in production methods and sales volumes between a niche 15mm medieval figure range and a box of Airfix 8th Army.


18 Mar 2023

10mm WW2 German Support from Red3

I'm always happy to have the chance to pick up some stuff from Redders at Red3 when I go down to the PAW show in Plymouth, and this January with the show returning after a Covid hiatus that meant a small but perfectly formed purchase of half track support options for my existing German Panzergrenadier force.

Having managed to remember what paints I'd used to do the last lot I managed to get these three done fairly quickly - it's always motivating when the casts are so crisp and go together so well.

Here you have two late-war 251's (the single sloped back to the body apparently gives it away) with the 251/9 75mm short support gun and the longer barrelled 251/22 with Pak 40 options, along with a 250/7 with mortar team included.

As is usual with Red3, the guns and crew are a separate, one-piece casting that just slots straight into the back of the vehicle really neatly, so you can paint it before dropping it into place.

And now all three are ready to support my Panzergrenadiers as they roll into combat on a 10mm tabletop in the near future !


15 Mar 2023

The Taifa Andalusians head to the West Country

With the warmth of Spain now a distant memory, barely a week after going to Alicante with the 15mm Berbers it was time for the 28mm Taifa Andalusian army to try it's luck on Southern shores as I headed to the PAW show in Plymouth for some more ADLG action.

The army featured Almughavars, Knights, Spearmen and all sorts of other odds and ends, most of which you will have seen in the paint queue on this website at some point in the last couple of years.

Over the 4-game weekend they took on the Christian Nubians, the First Crusade and a couple of Sicilian Norman armies as well, all of which has been documented in 4 separate 10-15 minute videos in which I attempt to explain what I thought I was trying to do!

See how the forces of the Reconquista (and those who perhaps weren't so keen on that idea too) fared in these 4 reports from PAW

12 Mar 2023

Wiglaf Dark Ages 18mm Figures

I'd seen and heard a lot about the new Wiglaf Miniatures range from Dan Mersey, the rules author of several Dark Ages era games.

The range is nominally for The Age of Penda, designed for the wars of the seventh century AD Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and their enemies and is sculpted by Mark Copplestone, but with more than enough Viking/Saxon/Norman etc figures in my collection already to field a substantial European civil war, never mind a single army I'd been dithering for a while whether to pick some up mainly for comparison purposes.

Then, on Instagram, Dan popped up and said he has some sample bags available, so a quick Paypal transaction later and I soon had a set of 7 of the guys to have a go at painting them up. 

As you can see they are sharply cast models, nicely animated and with some non-generic poses. 

The figures with spears have been cast with open hands, which is always good now that so many of us have cottoned onto the idea of using wire spears or plastic broom bristles !

And here they are painted up and based - I did a kind of slap-chop approach on them in the main, with black undercoat and white drybrushing to give highlights to the paint, but with so much chainmail there's still a lot of drybrushed gunmetal on black anyway.

The chap with the fur cloak gets the wolfskin treatment in this lot.

And from the front at ground level. 

I'm not really all that satisfied with my efforts on the shields as the black lining is a bit sloppy in these closeups however all of the shields have multiple bosses, nails and metal strips designed into them which did rather cut across my simplistic painting approach, 

The big question with any new range of figures like these is "how do they compare to XXX manufacturer", so with that in mind here are the Wiglaf guys next to some Essex Feudal East European spearmen.   I think this pretty much nails the "are they really the 18mm they are marketed as?" debate with a resounding "yes". 

A few more manufacturers to compare - these are my Two Dragons Norman spearmen

Some Corvus Belli (now Plastic Soldier Company) 100YW dismounted knights

Figures from Xystons "biggest ever" (size wise) range of Roman-era Theurophoroi are about the only figures I have that stand up to the Wiglaf guys for size.

Bauda Carolingian spearmen.

So, all in all some very nice figures which are very characterful - and which I probably haven't managed to do full justice to with my painting either (althought with Steve Dean doing the brushwork on Dans own website that's also a pretty high bar to fall short of!). 

But, what is clear is that they are absolutely 18mm in height, so be careful which ranges you are looking to mix them with - or just go ahead and buy a whole army full from North Star!  

7 Mar 2023

Alicante! The Berbers Try To Conquer Spain Again

In the dark and cold month of January an intrepid band of Central Londoners set off very early one morning to head to Heathrow, and then onto the sunshine of Southern Spain to take part in the annual Akra Leuka ADLG tournament in Alicante. 

Of course, going all that way just to play toy soldiers would have been daft, so the trip had long since developed a frightening degree of mission-creep by adding in a couple of nights in Valencia, a visit to a mountaintop castle, much Iberian gastronomy and quite a few different types of alcoholic refreshment.

But, at the heart of it remained one of the biggest ADLG gatherings of the year, with 68 players drawn from all over Europe coming together for a marathon 6-game competition themed where every army list had to be led by one of its greatest historical generals ("Strategists" in L'Art de la Guerre terminology).

After much consideration I had ended up plumping for the Berbers, mainly as they had successfully invaded Spain (and most definitely not because I thought they were a "good" army under ADLG). 

The event itself then saw this somewhat scratch Berber host taking on the Ghaznavids, Timurids (twice), Byzantines, Feudal English and also the Ottoman Empire, and all of us taking on some extra pounds no doubt in the tapas bars and restaurants of Southern Spain too. 

With 6 games, a lot of tourism, a range of opponents from across the continent and an account on ChatGPT I've ended up absolutely throwing the kitchen sink at the whole "writing up the match reports" thing this time around, including video analysis, stats and odds charts, randomly generated Berber oaths, somewhat spurious pen-pictures of the Great Generals involved in the fighting, AI-generated poetry and army list analysis as well as the usual terrible jokes, irrelevant captions and other badly written nonsense you are probably already well used to. 

So, put the kettle on and brew yourself up a Sangria as now is your chance (as long as you are sitting comfortably..) to share that epic experience in the Battle & Tourism Reports from Alicante 2023

3 Mar 2023

The Idlers of March : a new podcast episode lands!

After a lengthy hiatus (since November last year!!) the Madaxeman Podcast is back with a new daffodil-sprouting episode recorded earlier this week at the very start of March 2023. 

Despite the absence of any badger-related content, we do manage to cover shopping expeditions (online and in real life), take a diversion into discussing the merits of Siocast/Warlord Resin/"I Can't believe It's Not Called Airfix" plastic figures, get into a bit of Spartacan slap-chop via an azimuth spray disaster, go all Judge Dredd, barely mention cricket nets, explain to Adam what he's been missing all this time as a sidebar to the great "Amos vs Drummer - Who's The Expanse's Greatest Ever Character (and why it's obviously Drummer)" debate, talk about castles in Spain and why the second most successful Berber invasion of the Iberian Peninsula landed in Valencia instead of Alicante, have a peek at Andy's trophy haul and (eventually) learn how he ended up out of pocket after accidentally buying his own birthday presents from his wife.

There's also a return for Andy's Quiz, with a brand new Two Ronnies-style twist this week as we accidentally give you the answers to the questions from the episode before last.

The pod can be listened to on Podbean, or by searching for The Madaxeman Podcast on any of your usual podcast providers' platforms

26 Feb 2023

The Army of Spartacus in 15mm

 A few years ago (2019 to be exact) I won an unpainted army in a raffle at the L'Art de la Guerre Worlds in Rome. The figures were from Italian manufacturer Strategia Nova, and the prize was actually an Arab army, however as I have Arab figures in abundance I asked the guy who'd provided them if I could swap for a different army. 

And, of the ones he had, the Slave Revolt army of Spartacus looked like the best bet!

I've now finally finished painting the army (almost 4 years later!), and have uploaded them all to my website in their full Cinemascope glory, complete with an added YouTube video so you can watch the pictures that are already on my website flash past you in a matter of minutes as well. 

Some highlights are:

Basing underway

The Slaves

The better armed slaves 

Slaves in captured Roman equipment 

Spartacus leading his Gladiators

Big Spartacus 

More poorly armed rebelllious slaves

The Work in Progress.

You can see more shots of the finished and part-painted army on my website via that link, or watch a YouTube video of them too. 

20 Feb 2023

3 Video Reports of the Celtiberians at Oxford

 At the end of 2021 a Lockdown-painted Ancient Spanish army had mixed (OK, hardly any) success at the Brixham Classic, so a year and a bit later I attempted to rehabilitate them in a different incarnation for the Oxford round of the Southern League One day ADLG Tournament circuit. 

This time they were playing in a theme of armies valid in the reign of Mithradates of Pontus, a 15mm period

The army I used in Brixham had relied on Sertorius and his Roman turncoat legions, but this one was a more traditional crazy warband version with Heavy Infantry Celtiberians (a part played by these guys pictured below) and an ally of Lusitanians for rough terrain.

The cavalry contingent in this version was however purely nominal, relying on the punch of the infantry to carry the day, Even so, the Burning Cart of DOOOOM made a welcome reappearance anyway.

At the event the Celtiberian Spanish were drawn against Mithradates himself, the Ptolemies of Egypt and finally the Chinese steppe nomads of the Xiong Nu, all of which are covered in 3 mercifully short video reports in which I attempt to talk you through what exactly went right, and what also went wrong with this somewhat flawed plan!

You can watch the reports on my website, or on the Madaxeman YouTube Channel - each one is about 15 minutes long.
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