Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Spanish Church and Grain Store (Charlie Foxtrot Models)

These Charlie Foxtrot Pantile models are, in my humble opinion, truly superb scenery kits and really evoke the feel of a Peninsular battlefield.

A while back chum Paul showed me some lovely Grand Manner resin buildings suitable for the Napoleonic Peninsular era. As I love painting scenery (and Paul's not so keen) I offered to paint them for him. He was so pleased with the result that he asked me if I'd also do a couple of Colin's kits for him :-D  They're such lovely buildings, how could I say no? I thought I'd share the fun in a blog article. I hope you find it interesting. Before I get started here's a few more pics of the completed models.

The Church. Astonishingly similar to the one featured in Sharpe's Rifles ... ;o)

The Grain Store.

I've blogged several times about building MDF kits so I'll skip that part. Here they are built and ready to go! Note the superb resin roof sections - the casting was pretty much perfect.

One point worth noting about the church kit is that the bell needs to attached during the build - you cannot easily add the supporting post after building the top section. So... I painted the bell first. Black undercoat, followed by a heavy dry-brush of GW Tin Bitz (any dark Bronze/Copper would do) then a very light dry-brush of a GW Gehenna's Gold.

The next step is to give the buildings a good base texture using some general purpose filler. You might need to add a tiny bit of water. I applied this liberally using my finger. The aim is a rough, irregular look. Also, I added few bricks using some rectangles of thin card just to hint at the bricks and blocks that would be used for buildings like this. Keep the filler away from the finer laser-etched brickwork around the doors etc.

Next, a finer layer of texturing is added using fine texture masonry paint. It's light brown so you can easily see where I've applied it. This is also used to texture the brickwork around the doors.

The last bit of texturing is done using some basing sand. Add a few patches here and there. Don't forget to texture the gable ends of the resin roof too.

You may to want use a little bit of masonry paint to blend the edges of the sand, it's up to you, but I thought it gave a better looking result.

For the Grain Store kit I decided to only use the masonry paint for texture as the lines in the stonework are quite fine. The kit also includes some resin 'mushrooms' that the building sits atop. These were glued together using Araldite.

Here are the paints I'll be using for this project.
* GW Primer Spray
* Americana Honey Brown
* Americana Fawn
* VMC 847 Dark Sand
* Foundry Boneyard Light 9C

Give the buildings a good coat of Honey Brown followed by a heavy dry-brush of Fawn.

Next, highlight with the Dark Sand (if you can find a suitable alternative in a tester pot from your DIY store then that will save you a bit of money). In the pic below I've only highlighted the upper floor of the church so you can more easily see the contrast.

On to the final highlight, Boneyard light. Again the pic shows just the upper floor for contrast.

Here's the grain store following the same recipe.

Here's the base for the grain store. The mushroom discs have yet to be glued in place. Everything has been textured and painted as described before. The base is painted using Honey Brown, then Harvest Field tester and finally Beach Resort tester (from B&Q).

After looking at the church in daylight I decided to add a few darker areas using GW Agrax Earthshade wash.

Whilst I was pleased with the result of the wash, I felt it needed blending in a bit. So I used Dark Sand and then Boneyard light to feather the edges of the washed areas.

The various items of woodwork, doors, etc were painted as follows. Prime with GW Black Spray, tidy up with GW Black paint then Americana Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and Honey Brown. Pick out the metal details with black.

The grain store base needs a little decoration. The flock is Colonel Bill's Late Summer static grass, this has a slightly dried out look so it's ideal for arid bases. Add a few light brown tufts and a bit of clump foliage. It's worth taking the time to pick out any larger rocks and stones in Foundry Boneyard light or even pure white.

The roof sections are next. Prime the surface with your favourite light coloured primer then apply a couple of coats of terracotta. Here I've used Dulux tester pot mix "Sumatran Melody 2" very kindly given to me by Colin :o)

Next, apply a wash of thinned GW Agrax Earthshade and allow to dry completely. Give the roof a good dry-brush of the original base colour followed by another highlight of a very light terracotta. I used Dulux "Sumatran Melody 3".

Here are the completed models! I'm really pleased with them, and more importantly, so is Paul.

The full collection including the small resin house and resin windmill, both from Grand Manner.

I'm looking forward to many hours of happy gaming with Paul and friends using this scenery.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Starter Forces for Sharp Practice

With these rules I want to be able to play games that tell a story, or series of linked stories. Players can then be swept along by the narrative with each game helping develop the story and set the scene for the next chapter. That, to me, is 'proper' wargaming! So, I'll need to collect some initial forces to help make this happen

One of the joys of getting in to a new era is the plotting and planning associated with choosing your new toys and it's no exception here at the 'table. So... I decided to start by looking at the earliest era of the war; Lexington, Concord, the Boston Campaign etc. Now, if you're an AWI aficionado then please bear with me as I'm really only just starting to chip away at this rich seam of history.

My view of the forces I'd like are (for the British) a core of tough, disciplined regulars backed up by enthusiastic loyalists. The latter might be of dubious military value but "By George!" they do love their King! Here they are

The rebels on the other hand are a mix of militia and civilian patriots with a fiery zeal for their own self-governance backed by a determination to show the redcoats that they mean business.
Oops - the 2 x 8 Militia should be 2 x 10

Both forces come in at just over 40 points so I think they'll be large enough to give a good game, plus they should provide a good starter for larger forces. But, as I've not really played the game 'properly' I'd appreciate any thoughts as to whether these forces would indeed give a good game.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Building American Post and Rail Fencing

Battlefields for conflicts such as the AWI or ACW often have a very distinctive style of fencing that, in my opinion, immediately evokes the right sort of feeling for the terrain and the era.
My post & rail test piece

In reality such boundaries were easy to produce from the abundant natural resources and very sturdy. So I thought I'd have a go at a test piece before making many feet of fencing in miniature!

I began with an spare piece of 3mm MDF approx 4cm by 28cm, trimming the edges to give a slight 'chamfer' to the sides. The rails are made from kebab sticks - easily sourced from your favourite supermarket - Tesco in my case.

Mark out the holes and drill them ensuring the diameter of the hole is slightly less than the diameter of the sticks to help get a snug fit. Ensure that the MDF is on a solid surface when drilling (I didn't and the board partially de-laminated so I had to shorten it!). The holes should be slightly further apart than the diameter of the sticks as they will be laid at an angle.
Make the upright posts from the sharp end of the sticks as the taper makes it easy to insert and get a nice, tight fit. The posts vary in length from 33-44mm. Try not to make them all the same length to help give it a rustic look.

Glue the posts in place using good quality wood glue and leave to dry completely before adding the rails.

When adding the rails, trim each to the right length as needed. Again, vary this slightly for best effect. You'll also need to make some short 'spacers' to fill in the gaps at each end. The pic below shows this quite nicely. Let the glue dry completely then trim off the sharp points underneath with a pair of snippers.

Depending upon the quality of the kebab sticks you might find some that are warped or have bits missing etc. These are great for adding a bit more variety.

I haven't done a step-by-step for this simply because it's very straightforward! Prime the wood with your favourite primer then start with a good coat of a mid grey, followed by a light grey then an off white. I bought a small selection of tester pots from a DIY store for this. The important bit is to use an off-white (Soft Almond here) for the final highlight.
The base is Americana Honey Brown, then highlights of VMC 847 Dark Sand followed by a final highlight of Foundry 9C Boneyard Light.

The decoration on the base is just Noch 08310 static grass and a few tufts and bits of clump foliage.

I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out. Being a test piece there are a few things I've learned...
* Angle the corners slightly as this will make it easier to layout gentle curves to follow roads, etc.
* Make complete sets of V's so that sections align nicely. This avoids the need for corner sections.
* Figure out how to make some gates.

Hope that was helpful.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Sharp Practice Basing Dilemma

Basing figures is always worthy of some consideration I feel. So I've been mulling over various ideas for my nascent Sharp Practice II collection.

I rather like the idea of basing all the figures for each group on a single base so as to make some nice vignettes. However, in these rules figures are removed to track casualties, so I would need to devise suitable tokens to represent this, that's in addition to tokens for shock and possibly other rules too; perhaps this might result in "token overload"?

Chum Colin of Charlie Foxtrot Models makes some lovely sabot bases for a variety of round base sizes. These, I think, are the way forward! But that in turn leads to the conundrum of what base size to use. Options are basically 1p or 2p coins. This has the added bonus of being able to utilise rare earth magnets (embedded in the base of the tray) to hold the figures in place.

So, here are the two options.
British 1p bases on the left, 2p on the right.

From above for comparison.
Many people have gone for the 2p (or similar) option which does offer the opportunity to do a little more with the base. It also suits the slight 'larger' figures from manufacturers such as Front Rank. However, I'm currently favouring the 1p configuration as it seems to better suit the slightly finer scale Foundry and Perry figures I have.

Anyway, here are the figures a little more clearly.
Foundry British Regulars circa 1775
Foundry Loyalist American Militia, a lovely present from chum Paul :o)
So now you know where I'm going with Sharp Practice II, the American Revolutionary War, or as we say over here, the American War of Independence!