Sunday, December 30, 2012

A neat "Longstreet" opportunity!

Hey all!

Okay, a really neat story... After playing a test of Sam Mustafa's upcoming ACW rule set "Longstreet" and annoying all present by taking a bunch of photos, Sam asked if I would be interested in doing some photography for the rule book (or whatever format, I am just assuming it will be a book) itself!

Obviously I said yes... I love taking photos of toy soldiers:). Anyway, that should be a lot of fun!  I do hope I don't stink at it:)

So!  Neat news! :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Death of Nelson

Hi all!

Well... my greatest work, complete!

For those of you who saw that keep up with the blog, you may have seen my plans mentioned a few months back about a Christmas gift for my father.  My father, who was the one who started my love of toy soldiers with plastic Afrika Corps sets and amazing handmade forts, is a HUGE naval history guy, and like all naval history guys is obviously a fan of Lord Nelson.

So I thought I'd do a Christmas present for him based on Lord Nelson!

I've done a few miniature based Christmas gifts before... there is, of course, my Harry Potter gift for my wife (the only 25mm Harry and friends I've ever seen) and an AWI display for my father in law, but this was a pretty huge project compared to those.  It consisted of upwards of 20 figures, equipment, and most of all touched on a part of a period I know NOTHING about.  This made it very hard, and in the end I really had to go with display attention to detail instead of historical attention to detail.  For example, I had all of the blocks and tackle and line for rigging the guns (my boss is a ship model builder) but in the end it was just too much for me to tackle (no pun intended!)  Also there are fewer decks than the actual Victory, the colors might not be right, the decks are FAR too tall (this was on purpose... my hands are big and clunky and I was afraid of working in too tight a space) so... well, cut me some slack as far as the accuracy of the model:)

I did work in a lighting element... or two, actually.  First, in the bottom of the scene I rigged a yellow light that focuses on Nelson to draw the eye, as if there is a lamp above him.  The top photo is a shot, completely in the dark, with only that light on.  The photo does NOT do it justice:)

I also rigged up some flashing orange and red lights on the OUTSIDE of the ship INSIDE the box, which, when flashing, look like artillery fire outside of the ship.  It is hard to capture on film, but at least you can get an idea.

Anyway... let's get to some photos!

Here is the whole scene, with the front removed.

Here is the top deck, with the men preparing for a boarding action.

The first gun deck.  Love the powder monkey figure, even if he isn't very "kid" looking.

The next gun deck.

The orlop, with Nelson being attended to by his officers and doctor.

The whole scene, closed up.

And here is a shot of the whole thing with the lights on and low light outside... unfortunately, because of the shutter speed, the outside just looks red.  With the bare eye it actually flashes and looks like cannon thundering away.

So, that is my Christmas gift for my dad!  Hope he, and you all, like it!:D

Oh, and coming up... some fun ACW news!  Don't worry, I haven't forgotten you guys!:)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My greatest work, just about there...

Just a teaser...

More tomorrow.  Best thing I've ever done.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hi all!

Well, the basic framing is done (and actually some of the painting, but no photos until that is done!)  Yes, it is not correct, but it looks roughly correct, and that's good enough for me!:)

There are still a number of details needed, and yes, as one comment suggested, I am going to do a grate on the top deck as well, as I think that would just look nice... I will have to be a bit careful cutting it, but it should be doable.

Anyway... oh, and the rest of the crew is painted and dipped.  This thing is chugging along nicely!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Okay... some serious work on the naval scene to show

Okay!  Well, I am working a bit on the scene.  First off... be kind.  I know it is so completely illogical and ahistorical.  I know that bottom gun would go falling through the grate if it fired.  I know.  But it is what it is, and that's all I can do:)

Still... at least some work is getting done!  The guys in the shot above aren't all in the right places... I have to work on the gun crew layouts a bit.

Here you can see the guys waiting for paint... largely gun crews, but also a few officers, one for a gun deck, and a few for standing below around Nelson dying.

Here is the approximate layout of the guys who will be gathered around Nelson as he dies.  I might mess around with it a bit.

I still have a LOT to do, I know... the block and tackle for the guns in particular scares the crap out of me.   I also have to plan the background scene... should I use a painting?

Anyway... be kind!:)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

25mm British sailors dipped

Howdy all!

Okay; the photo turned out craptastic.  But I finished up and dipped the British sailors I've got here (a buddy of mine is clipping the bases off another group of them for me... nothing like an antique bone clipper to get the job done!) and frankly, in person they look AWESOME.  They are definitely dark, but I think that will look nice in the diorama itself... I'll just have to be sure that the ship itself isn't too light colored, making the guys really stick out.

I'm also going to play a bit with the light in the display, and using the figures around it to help show off the light and dark... the parts of the figures that are in shadow will be painted a bit darker, and the parts in the light will be given a nice light highlight to show it off.  I won't actually be doing object source lighting, but...

Anyway... more updates as I have more done!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

25mm British sailors begun...

Hi all!

I know it has been a long time since I've mentioned it, but I am working on my Christmas present for my father; a diorama of the death of Nelson.

Now, I will say... I've been totally stagnated.  I am not sure why; I think that the boat design is just SOOOO far outside of my comfort level that it's been disheartening.  I am not sure what I am doing, or how it should look, and frankly I've almost given up:(

But I thought I didn't want to totally give in, so I got some paint on these fellows!  They will be VERY simply painted and then dipped, as they won't be THAT visible, so a bit more and they will be ready to go!

It is a shame I've struggled so with the project... such a neat idea, but I just don't think I have the knowledge or skills to pull it off the way I'd like:(

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some 25mm ACW testing of "Longstreet!"

Hi all!

While there are a few downsides to living in New Jersey, one upside is having Sam Mustafa of wargaming rules fame living not too far away!

I've had the pleasure of meeting Sam and the rest of the northern NJ wargaming crew on a number of occasions, and they've been kind enough to include me in a few games that they've played.  Well, I got another chance tonight, as I took command of a Confederate brigade in a playtest of Sam's upcoming ACW rules, "Longstreet!"

Anyway... I can't say much about the rules except they were fun... following on the heels of Lasalle and, more recently, Maurice, you can see the bloodlines of both systems in Longstreet.  I also can't help but love the idea of a commander, and wargames force, that changes over time and reflects the actual trends of the ACW... I feel like it makes our regular games look like the "battlegames" they are, whereas this is truly a "wargame".

But enough yapping... it was also an excuse to take photos of toy soldiers, which I love... so here are some photos!:)

Here we are, before the start of hostilities (and the opening of wine!)  My Reb brigade of three regiments and some artillery was on the near flank.  The center was held by Joe Sr., and the left side (and the farm, which was an objective) by Sean.  He was faced by Joe Jr.  The center of the Union line was commanded by Phil, and opposite me was General Rob.  The Union were the aggressors (isn't that the way it always is?!)

My brigade, on the near flank of the first shot.  Three units of infantry, including one elite regiment on the far left, and a battery of Napoleons.

A huge group of new Union recruits across the way.

My troops aggressively push forward in an attempt to stymy the Union attack on the near flank.  In the center you can see the farm that was our objective to hold.

Go get'um, boys!  The best defense is a strong offense!

Meanwhile in the center huge masses of boys in blue plunge through the woods and prepare to cross the river into the face of Reb muskets!

My boys immediately get over the hill and, with a great rebel yell, plunge downwards!  I had overwhelming superiority in this combat due to a number of circumstances... but holy cow, an ABYSMAL set of rolls saw my men beaten back, rather than sweeping through the Union flank as hoped!

My boys settle into a prolonged firefight with the Federals opposite them.  Whoever could take this flank might be able to turn the enemy!

Here you can see the Federal attack in the center nearing the fields, as my men try desperately to turn the near Union flank, much to the chagrin of a nearby Union commander.  This was the MOST useable photo, btw, of several that were taken at this time.

A mess at the center, as the commanders focus their attention on an important melee!

Meanwhile, my boys reach the crest of the hill and begin to punish the Federals in front of them, some of which were eager to fight but simply not that well trained.  Finally the smaller unit of boys in blue evaporated under my boys fire, leaving a single newly recruited Federal unit facing three units of Reb veterans on a hill... not a good thing for them!

At roughty the same time the Union attack in the center began to falter...

And the main attack in the center finally crumbled.  While the Federals had more troops capable of moving in, the Rebs in the center and on the far flank were unblooded, and my own troops on the near flank looked ready to turn the Union line, and so the Union commanders conceded rather than spend more of their boys lives.

Overall, a great time, and thanks to Sam and John and Rob and Phil and the Joes and Sean for a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving eve!

"Generation Kill" - great modern 'background' TV show!

Hey all!

So... everyone knows that HBO shows are just the best on TV.  "Band of Brothers," "The Wire," "Game of Thrones," "Rome," "Deadwood," "The Sopranos"... it just doesn't get much better than HBO

So I thought I would pass on a little-known HBO show for those people interested in some inspiration for modern wargaming!

The show is called "Generation Kill."  It has a FANTASTIC pedigree... it was done by David Simon and Ed Burns, the guys who did "The Wire" (which is the second best piece of media ever created, behind BoB) and based on a book by a Marine who was in Iraq during the Second Gulf War.  It follows a Marine Recon unit through the invasion, combat with insurgencies, and of course some winning of hearts and minds and rear echelon sort of stuff, as well as giving us a good glimpse into the decision making process that goes on behind the scenes.

The show has a lot of strengths.  Most importantly for this blog post, the production value is first-rate... humvees and LAVs and Abrams and A-10s abound, and the show is FULL of third-worldy cities and farms.  Visually it is like watching a documentary filmed in Iraq, which is pretty impressive.  The whole show was filmed in parts of Africa, so the look is just spot on... and is some GREAT inspiration for scenery making!  There are some fantastic rural AND urban spots that are just DYING to be made in 15 or 25mm.

I get the feeling the show is particularly authentic when it comes to representing both the horror of combat and the actual young men in our armed forces.  There is a LOT of civilian and accidental death in the show, as much as many of the Marines try to avoid it, and it is not pretty.  And frankly there are a number of young men in the show who I wouldn't trust to mow my lawn, much less get in a firefight alongside me.  As much as we idolize our military, I do get the feeling that there are these types scattered among the precise professionals who you find in the ranks of our military, as some slip through who might not meet very high standards.  Unfortunately, this show makes them very visible.  Thankfully, there are plenty of competent soldiers to keep the damage the idiots cause to a minimum.

One place where I do get a little doubtful with the show (although being that it is based on a book maybe it is accurate?) is the general ineptitude of the officers.  Now, I know any grunt will always complain about the officers above them, but one or two of them are portrayed as SO inept that I cannot believe they would be allowed to lead men.  Maybe in the rigid hierarchy of the military these guys get into positions that it is hard to get them out of, and certainly the stories are filled with men like this (for example, Lt. Dike in Band of Brothers) but I did find it a touch annoying that almost every officer seems like an idiot.

Overall though, "Generation Kill" is a great show for those modern wargamers out there who want a little visual inspiration, or some background for when you are gaming.  It only lasted one short season (seven or eight episodes I believe) but it is available on HBO-GO.  So go give it a look!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some modern painting and scenery work photos

Hi all!

Well, a buddy of mine came by tonight, and we knocked some more paint onto my 15mm Moderns... namely, the market stalls. 

Here are the stalls, with a few different colors slapped on them.

We also did a few rugs hanging from a stall, and off one balcony (not pictured).

Here you can see some US troops moving up the street.

Here are some of the buildings which we put posters and such up on.  I made the posters using a few random bits from the internet and some random colors.  Here is the image for them!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some basic paint on the 15mm modern buildings

Hi all!

Well, a bit of Battlefield 3 and some "Generation Kill" got me in the mood, so I threw some paint on my 15mm buildings, just as a start.  There is obviously a lot left to do, but at least they look better than plan MDF!:)

Plus, I picked up that Stryker in the middle at Fall In (the loot post is yet to come) and I wanted to get that going:)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fall In- The Game I Played (Borodino!)

Hi all!

Okay, time for Part 3 of my Fall In posts!

I usually play at least one game at fall in, and I did play one game at Fall In this year.  I had done a little asking around for recommendations over on TMP for which game would be a visual treat, and everyone pointed to the usual suspects; the Carnage and Glory guys, led by Nigel M. and Dave B.  This year they were doing a big, three-part refight of Borodino.  So I figured... what the heck!

And as a special, added bonus I took a BUNCH of photos of the game right next to ours, which was another one of the Borodino games.

So.  For our game, I was one of four Russian generals.  Our objectives were to hold the hill on our left, and if we can the woods on our right.  We also had to kill a lot of French and their Polish allies!

We had, if I recall correctly, four divisions at our disposal.  I would start the game in command of just the jager company in the woods on the one side of the board, whose main division was holding the hill.  I would attempt to delay the enemy advance if possible and tire them out, and then drop back to the hill, assuming command of a newly arrived division at that point.

Here are our boys, advancing through the wheat field towards the battle!

Here you can see my four regiments of jagers.  I threw them into open order to prevent too much exhaustion... open order is vulnerable to charge, but keeps you moving in trees!

And here you see the enemy advancing on us through the woods.

A close up of the Polish troops opposite me!

They got in and beat on my guys pretty badly.  My troops eventually crumbled, one group routing, the other three withdrawing in relatively good order.  I was a bit indecisive, and that cost me; the enemy attacked with three battalions, and while I HAD four I only had two on line.  This was a mistake.  This left the woods contested.

Thankfully some friendly reinforcements in the form of another Russian division quickly moved up through the wheat towards the front!

So... I was given command of the center division after I turned over command of my jagers back to their original division commander (who is holding the hill at the top of the above photo, the Russian left.)  You can see my division in the center, along with all those guns, and the Russian Guards division to the far right, which moved in to hold the woods. However, before I snapped a photo, a questionable move on my part opened a hold between my own division and the Guards division, which our enemies quickly attempted to exploit!  They began to pour men into the breech.  My artillery, however, worked wonders, pouring cannister into the Poles and forcing them back as Russian reinforcements advanced to plug the gap.

Here you can see both my own division and the reinforcements beginning to plug the gap, as more men from the Guards division in the woods swarm out from the other side.  The French and Allied troops in the gap looked to be in bad shape.

As my guns fired away (the right of the photo) I also rushed men up to the hill to help plug gaps, and as I crested the hill I plunged right into the face of the enemy, who had already been battered by artillery in their long advance up the field!

Here is a shot from above and behind our lines.  From Russian left to right, you can see us holding the hill all the way to the board edge.  Then you can see my own division with the guns in the center, some of them swarming down the hill, throwing the Polish down before them.  You can see the gap, as columns of Russians are thrown into to plug it, and then the "knuckle" of the Russian Guards in the woods.

Another shot from roughly the same spot.  You can see some of my men pouring down the hill, screaming and stabbing as they go!

A shot of the French and Poles as they are thrown back out of the gap, leaving many dead and wounded behind, including a captured General and a captured flag!

The French and Poles attempt to take the hill, but are struggling, as my own men, bloodthirsty from their bayonet work on the hill, countercharge down into them!

Another shot of the French and Allied lines, with my own Russians actually among them!

We did end up winning the game convincingly... while we didn't hold the woods (the woods were actually quiet as both sides just faced off but were more intent on keeping their opposites pinned in place and unable to help the center) we DID hold the hill.  Plus, we inflicted a LOT of casualties!

Now, as an added bonus... here is some eye candy from the Borodino game that was happening at the very same time, right next to us!

Big thanks to Dave Bonk for a fun game, to the other generals (if you read this, please say hi!) who played (and helped this relative newbie out of a lot of jams!) and to the folks who supplied the fantastic figures and scenery.  THIS is what a game should look like!:)

French pouring out of the woods.

The Russian defenders.

The French attack the Russian positions.

Yikes... that's a LOT of Russians!

But there are a lot of French on the way!

Battle is joined in earnest!

Not sure who won the game... but it sure looked nice!:)