Thursday, September 20, 2007

Work

The last couple weeks have been extremely busy at work so my postings have not kept up with the painting table. I will hopefully catch up soon.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Basing Prep and Flock

Following up on my making of the bases for JR3 in a former entry, I thought it prudent to explain how I finish the basing.


  • Tacky Glue

  • Toothpicks

  • Black Medium Ballast (Woodland Scenics B83)

  • Blended Turf (Woodland Scenics T49)

  • 1 Bag Dark Green Static Grass

  • 1 Bag Light Green Static Grass



I begin by using "Tacky Glue" that dries clear (a bottle is shown in one of the photos) which is available at wal-mart for a couple bucks at most. I use toothpicks to spread out the glue to minimize the chance of glue getting on the figures. The Tacky Glue bottle is fitted with a nice long nosed applicator so the work needed is minimal. The next step is to dip the base in a container of the black ballast; lightly shaking or blowing off the excess. This is then allowed to dry completely. The need for this step is found in the need to even off the level of the ground. Depending on manufacture the figures could have a considerable chunk of base and simply adding flock will give the look of each man on his own little mountain.


After the glue is dry I take a toothpick and lightly rub it over the ballast to reveal any loose material and remove those. This accomplished, the bases and material are given a coat of catachan green from GW. A number of colors could be used here to give the ballast different appearances such as rocks that appear among the grass to be added etc. The paint is then allowed to dry fully.




After the paint dries I issue a coat of tacky glue again and dip in the Blended Turf. As this dries you'll see some material absorbed fully, when I observe this I will give a second dip. This avoids an "in glass" look for your flocking. Once this dries I add random spots of glue. I mix the dark and light static grass as the dark is generally too dark and the light is way too light. I take pinches of this mixture and apply it to the spots of glue, blowing off any excess. The blowing will also get some of the static to fan and stand upright.




That's it, there are many ways to do it, I have in the past mixed sandbox sand with the blended turf for a different look. For other periods I will attempt other techniques and endeavor to post them here. Good luck and I hope some of you find this useful.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dip Failure

While continuing to paint the rest of the Iron Brigade I decided to dabble a bit in this so called "magic dip" stuff. The victims were to be the 84th New York; part of the next brigade I plan to paint. I purchase the proper stain, prime white and use all light colors. The end result was a major disappointment. Not only did I have to spend more time painting then my usual method, as I had to go over and over again with highlighting paint creating detail where the poly removed it, but I also ended up with a look that seemed to cheapen the paint job. Completely unsatisfied, these minis have been stripped clean and primed again for their second go at the painting table, which should directly follow my completion of the Iron Brigade. I'm running low on spray black primer, I prefer Armory or Citadel, but since domestic law states they must be shipped ground only I'm looking for a place close by from which to order.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

24th Michigan


These figures represent my first paint job of union troops since I started gaming again. They are also from the lot purchased from Mark aka Extra Crispy at Scale Creep with state colors being carried by an AB figure. I have no reservations about recommending these miniatures to anybody. They prime and paint clean with room to play as far as how much detail you want to abstract (a common practice for me in 15mm). These particular figs were primed black and painted with craft, vallejo paints, and GW paint. This unit allowed me to find my stride as far as Union colors go. I've always been put off by most of my attempts to paint Union troops; the coats are never dark enough and the pants are always too light and blue. With these I'm very happy, the legs are a basecoat of Folk Art's Sterling Blue with a wash of Wrought Iron (has a greenish hue when thinned). I then highlighted by mixing the Sterling Blue and Vallejo's Light Sea Grey. The coats are based in Folk Art's Midnight Blue with a black wash then highlighted again with shades of the base coat.

I made the fence from square toothpicks with the ends cut off after which they were dipped in a random wood stain I found in the house.

Rather pleased with the effect produced by the cannonball hole in the US Flag.

The Postman Rang Twice...

Well not actually, but figuratively. Not only did the samples I requested from RSM show up in today's post, but also part of my first order of Perry's. This is the first time I can recall seeing RSM minis and I find them more than adequate. It's not fair to compare them to Perry's for detail and quality as few can be, but I believe I'll be able to work a few units of these minis in somewhere. I decided when I started to play the field of minis as wide as possible and although Perry and Foundry will make up 90% of my armies, I will make room for some of these. The Continentals can always use more variety and RSM's price can't be beat.

Using Perry as my measuring stick Its safe to say that RSM are a couple of mm shorter, but not much. They are a tad thinner, but this helps with the difference in height as this gives RSM a taller look proportionally. Below I've posted a few photos so you can all give them a look, I've not researched yet and no stock numbers were provided so showing my "greenness" in the period I concede I know not the exact troop classification for each model. The 4 Perry's in the group photo are 2 Hesse-Cassel Musketeers and 2 Hesse-Cassel Grenadiers.







Sunday, August 26, 2007

First Reb Brigade



Well I burned some midnight oil and finished up my first reb brigade. These are meant to represent Law's Brigade in the Gettysburg ANV OOB. All figures are 15mm Old Glory and flags used are from warflag.com. Although I have not researched the flags in in detail, when and if I find better ones to use, then I will replace these, but generally I believe these will work fine.

I've decided to use a unit marker on the back of each command stand. This contains informaion like "I/1 4th Ala ER" Meaning First Corp, First Division, 4th Alabama Regiment, and game ranking, in this case "elite rifles". These are glued directly onto the base and are void of basing material. One photo is provided in which you can see these markers.











Saturday, August 25, 2007

First Reb Regiment




Here is a look at the first reb regiment to make it back all the way from the stripping brew to the painting table and back on to my own homemade cut bases. These are painted using a black primer and an assortment of gray's, browns, and other hue's to get a good mixture but maintain some common colors, mostly in the lighter gray and prevalence of captured yankee pants. I will vary colors more from brigade to brigade, but within each brigade there will be a hint of cohesion, but not much more. For now, these pictures will give you all an idea of my state of painting, which I was myself anxious to see. Overall I'm okay with the job, but not really pleased. I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be (its been a long 10 years away), but hey, this is the first step. I had a little fun adding the blood stained head bandage and some flag dmg, both I will claim as tiny meaningless painting victories. The figures are all Old Glory 15mm and the original pre-work flags are from warflag.com.


After I finish the current brigade I will also look into some alternative painting techniques. I may try that "dip" method, although on face value I'm not expecting much. That's for the next brigade...maybe.

Friday, August 17, 2007

First Order of Perry's

Today witnessed my first order of Perry Miniatures for my AWI project. I decided to begin by doing vonDonop's musketeers along with their Grenadier for use later in a combined battalion. This is my first experience with The War Store and I'd have to say that I'm already pleased by Neal's willingness to communicate about orders. I've had a few sites not get back to me for nearly a week recently when asking about figures. Neal delivers and I can see this turning into a long customer/retailer relationship. I also picked up a few sets of Foundry paint.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Old Glory Order

Today I was able to finalize a special order from Old Glory 15's. Containing mostly specific command figure types and enough bucktails to fit the regiments in my OOB, I'm very pleased to get this done and look forward to its arrival. Jay proved extremely helpful and I also look forward to ordering more figures via special order in the future.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Orders, Orders, Orders (2)

I was informed today that the last shipment in my first round of orders has been shipped. This shipment contained the back order items of 10mm and British Grenadier from WarWeb.com.

I'd have to say that each and every one of the companies I did business with delivered with 0 complaints from me. Some went further and provided outstanding service that, in my experiences as a consumer and as an e-commerce professional, has largely become nonexistent. It was good to see it live on in some quarters.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

JR3 Basing

So far my main point of concern with the new Johnny Reb edition is that the basing has gone from 5 stands to 4. Since none of my infantry survived, rebasing is not the issue, its the effect the change has on table appeal; that which I find in smaller ratios and more lead. Finally giving JR3's concept the benefit of the doubt, I play tested the rules with variable unit frontages and 4 stands to regiment. We did so without miniature eye candy, instead we used counters to give the full weight of the experience to the rules themselves. In the end I was very happy and the tests won over a convert to wargaming, my 18 year old nephew.

Unfortunately the accepting of this change brought me face to face with a new problem. The variable unit frontages for JR3 would mean purchasing many sizes of bases. I know many out there would say "just get one or two sizes and call it good" but I'm of the notion that if I'm getting wet, I might as well go swimming, so its variable frontage for me. Litko was an appealing option, I will no doubt use them for my AWI and other periods, but for basing two entire armies with up to 5 different stand widths just for infantry I had to come up with something else. Not to mention the sizes I needed were not stock, but would have had to be custom cut. Also, I wanted to save money, if possible, on basing the ACW forces so that I can spend more dough on lead. My thoughts of Perry AWI always in my mind.

To solve the problem I looked for a constant and what I found was stand depth, which is constant at 3/4 inch. With a little thinking and a few minutes rummaging through the house examining everything in small dimension, I came upon what was to prove my solution. Popsicle sticks! Well not the skinny ones, but the large variety come in the exact depth I need 3/4.

The next issue was the cutting of said sticks. Lacking a laser I needed a solid solution that could produce consistent results. I tried xacto'ing, dremel'ing, and even gave the mini craft table saw a go. None of these worked. There was chipping, splintering, inconsistency, and every other problem under the sun. It wasn't long before I had a breakthrough. I was watching some show on tv and a guy was using a hand chisel to shape some wood. I thought to myself that if those things are sharp enough I could probably make a precise cut with one or two whacks. Sure enough, after testing a few times, the sticks proved soft enough to secure the chisel then with a couple of whacks it was cut clean. I did find that using a block of wood underneath was best, preferably a piece with a knot in it (for extra density) directly under the cutting.

The glorious upside to all of this would be that it is extremely cheap.
  • $15 chisel
  • $0 Hammer (had one)
  • $3.95 for 75 sticks or you can get a box of 300 for $3.80, but there are more irregularities in the box. These are Wal-Mart prices.
  • $0 small square (to draw straight lines. had one)

Under the basing guidelines I'm using, at the largest size stand, you can get 1 regiment's stands to a stick. A lot more if you count the smaller sizes needed. Considering the largest size only, one bag of sticks will give me 300 bases for $3.95. Below are some pictures to give you an idea. Some are darker to aid in the pencil marks showing up.

The only thing not listed here that I will do in the future is adhere materials on the bottom for magnetic storage capability.













Monday, August 6, 2007

AB

I have placed an order for a number of AB figures from Eureka USA to supplement my need for command. As their website is tempting I found myself securing a number of dismounted cavalry for future use and some kepi zouaves for the 84th NY. I actually ended up placing 2 separate orders, but they quickly realized this and refunded the shipping on one order. A+ service!

Painting Desk



Over the weekend I've been busy trying to take my painting desk from concept to completion. The frame is very basic; 2-2 drawer filing cabinets with a piece of 3/4 inch plywood cut to fit width wise on top. I glued a piece of compressed fiber board on top of this to create a nice work space. I may eventually go to a sheet of plexi-glass on top, but at this point I don't see the need. I have built a five foot, 4 tier, paint stand that will be fastened on top to display paints. I have also hung a set of four foot shop lights above the desk and slightly towards where I'll be sitting to negate shadow while I work. I will post photos shortly.

Having reached completion and primed some miniatures for its christening, I've taken and added some photos.



More GW Paints to Place


The Painting Angle


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Paints (2)

I took my daughter shopping for kindergarten school supplies today and as I'm still on the lookout for a number of paints I happened into an old hobby/comic store that at one time served as the closest outlet to GW stuff. It turns out that a few months prior to my stopping in they had decided to no longer stock any GW merchandise and had successfully blown it all out the door. However there remained a shelf the manager desperately wanted for other products that was currently home to 167 Citadel/GW paints. He let me have the lot of them for $20. It turned out that I not only was given 167 individual paints but he kept throwing stuff in the box; 3 cans of citadel spray paints/primers, 3 GW dry brushing brushes, and a couple bottles of zap a gap. Obviously there were more than a few duplicate paints, but despite this, I believe I had officially struck gold. My daughter made out very well that day as well. We found not only all her supplies, but a number of nice clothes and a lovely bean bag chair of a rather loud purple color. She also enjoyed her first taste of Moose Tracks ice cream at our favorite ice cream shoppe. Her previous favorite had been the Cotton Candy flavor.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Paints

Unfortunately none of my paints from long ago survived. This has left me with the problem of securing new ones. My old collection was rather vast and well established in colors and pigments discovered over time. I've begun by ordering a few vallejo that seemed prudent, a number of their washes, metallics and flesh tones. I've also managed to visit a few craft stores like "Hobby Lobby" and "Wal-Mart" where I was able to secure a number of colors on the cheap. One particular day saw a sale at Hobby Lobby where all craft paints were on sale 40%. I walked out with about 80 or so ranging from Folk-Art and Americana at 60 cents apiece to Anita's at 30 cents each. A few mom and pop hobby stores had the brushes on hand to fill out what I needed and I've also secured some Future at the local hardware store. All in all not a bad start, but pale in comparison to my former array. I'm looking towards getting a good selection of Citadel and at some point Foundry to fill any gaps and cover a few particulars.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Orders, Orders, Orders...

Today and yesterday I completed my first round of web orders in accordance with the decisions I've made recently.

Warweb.com:

  • Johnny Reb 3
  • British Grenadier
  • British Grenadier Scenario Booklet
  • American War of Independence by Greg Novak Vol 1 & 2
  • A few assorted 10mm OG AWI packs


GFI Online:

  • 2 packs of 10mm OG AWI

Old Glory:

  • 1 bag of confederate command figures

Scale Creep:

  • A bunch of Hardee Hat infantry with enough command to do the brigade
  • A number of Vallejo Paints

Amazon.com:


Monday, July 23, 2007

It's So Easy...

Looking far and wide for information about stripping miniatures free of paint I found a lot of information and even semi-scientific experimentation and their data. However, since Iowa is right above Missouri, I occasionally feel the twinge of "show me" and that's just what the leading contenders would have to do. Rather than use any typical paint thinner I thought it would be more fun and useful to survey the top household products.

The Contestants:


  • 300+ Miniatures of Old Glory's ACW line, primed and painted over a decade ago. Primer is of Armory black and paints are of citadel, a few craft paints, and whatever brand Stone Mountain sold back then. The sealant was of Armory, matte.



  • Simple Green



  • Easy Off (no odor variety and heavy duty original)



  • Pine-Sol (lemon odor)



  • 4 "Hard" or "Stiff" bristled Johnson and Johnson toothbrushes

Almost in the guise of a "300" movie parody, 300 miniatures are put to the test against 3 powerhouse household products!

The Contestants Posing for a Photo Op


The Method:


Three test subjects were placed individually in 4 jars along with one variety of solution. Another 3 large jars were each placed with 1/4 of the remaining miniatures and likewise with one variety of solution apiece. The individual jars were examined every hour for paint adherence, nothing rough, we are looking for penetration of paint and separation. In each case the solutions are not watered down or diluted at all.




The Goop Brewing




The Results:

Simple Green
The much talked about and celebrated Simple Green failed me almost completely. Checking hourly on the test subjects during my awake hours the first two days I saw nothing but the slightest flake. After 3 days I removed the large sample jar and attempted a scrub, 50% of the paint remained after a stiff bristle Johnson and Johnson was finished.

Pine-Sol
Aside from the pleasant odor, little was found pleasing about this product. It performed above Simple Green, but still left large amounts of paint post-scrub 3 days later.


Easy Off
The king, winner, the undisputed champion of this contest. Within 3 hours I could scrub the miniatures free of paint. After 3 days of failing me, the other products were kicked to the curb and the miniatures given under an hour in Easy Off. The result was easily scrubbed, totally clean miniatures. The jar of scent free and original heavy duty performed equally.


The Results



In summation the performance of Easy off had me remembering a really old commercial show tune of theirs. Fortunately for my manhood and pride's sake, I could only remember the "It's so easy...." part.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Decisions

Following many a good read and advice offered around the web I finally came to a few decisions. I'm going to pick up where I left off with the ACW in 15mm as well as start building up AWI armies, at this point decided upon 25mm to take advantage of Perry's line, but I will be ordering some 10mm as I'm intrigued.

So where to begin? After much debate and trepidation I've decided upon continuing along my Johnny Reb roots and will obtain the new edition. The changes in basing particularly has given me pause, along with the fewer figures required as I enjoy the massed look on a tabletop. The great Y!Group that supports JR3 has helped me, if not to overcome my doubts and fears than to at least face them with a little more hope.

I've decided to build around the ANV and AoP at the outset of the Lee's invasion in '63. This will provide for many "what if" scenarios and historical encounters. Tallying up my present lead I decided to begin with the 1st Corps for each army. Although not equal entities in strength I believe building in this manner of Corps will prove the most hassle free in the long run.

Manufacture is still a slight spot of contention. I've always used Old Glory for infantry and Essex for cavalry, but with so much out there to choose from I may play the field a bit more wide. In the spirit of this I was able to obtain samples from Scale Creep and being rather impressed I'm confident that I will be using their miniatures for my Iron Brigade. The only thing I have to look out for is that in the "advancing pose" they cover a lot of ground and JR3 calls for a 3/4 inch deep base.





One thing I am certain of; my old lead needs a bath and I need to find the right brew...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Directions

My excitment continues at the rediscovering of a much loved hobby. Magazines, books and rules have been reread. Visiting my many previous bookmarked forums and discussions I utilized the valuable information so many of you out there provide. I now face a need of direction. My main interests would include ancients, ACW, ECW, Colonials, Napoleonics, some skirmish 20th century and anything 18th century, espeicially the AWI (not much that I don't have an interest in). Having a rather large personal library of history books and biographies (my one lifelong bad habit) I have begun to reread many old passages looking for inspirational direction and anything to jumpstart old memories of games past.

My present inclinations are towards beginning again with the ACW and AWI. Further research is in order; rules, figures, paints, all are to be determined.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wargaming Archaeology

Having made the decision to wargame once again I needed to find out exactly where I was and where I wanted to go. My first acts included using the web where I proceeded to get liberal with the bookmark button. On a side note, my appreciation of a browser's bookmark feature was never fully realized until I had children. Finding many great forum's, groups and blogs I was able to find out that the hobby hadn't changed that much in the last decade. There were some new rules, some old ones had gone out of print and sure the information age had taken its toll on the genre, but for the most part, the state of the actual act of miniature wargaming was just as I had left it. Unfortunately, the boxes that I had packed up 10 years prior had not had as calm an existence.

As much of my old collection was stored in one of our family homes, much had gone missing, some had deteriorated due to dampness and freaks of plumbing/heating. All in all though I'd have to say that my excitement to rejoin the wargaming ranks produced a solid "cup half full" attitude. I found many miniatures, some of my long ago youth including some old space marine epic rhinos with their tracks still ingrained with spray flock snow for window decorations; our early attempts to recreate winter battles. I will not go into all our youthful experimentation when attempting to create atmosphere, but I will say that smoke bombs do produce a Fog of War element, even if they do cause your gaming room to be filled with smoke, eyes water and invite fits of coughing.




The search widening and the dig deepening I finally came across the treasure trove of Miniature Wargames magazines and historical material. In total I was able to find much of my Old Glory and Essex miniatures, a liberal estimate at placed at 60% their original strength. Despite metal bases and magnetic strips in containers many had broken free and been chipped past repair. Only a few stands here or there remained intact, namely a canon, a cavalry stand and one Confederate Divisional General. If my plans took me down the path of the ACW again I knew there was work to be done...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Introduction

After much time and consideration I've decided to create this space to communicate my return to wargaming as well as my interests and pursuits within the hobby. Its my hope that you will find this entertaining and maybe helpful in your own wargaming ventures. The many wonderful, informative and helpful blogs and forums which I have found, upon my return, have been invaluable to me and weighed heavily in my decision to take on this endeavor. In summation this is my own little effort to contribute to the hobby's collective information online and hopefully advancement.



As always, thank you for stopping by.