Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lanceros de Tortosa

I've been able over the last couple of weeks to add four new groups to my Carlist Wars collection although I haven't posted pictures of two of them since they are just add-ons to two of my 12-figure Carlist infantry units, making them 18 figures each. These additions push the collection over the 230 mark. I only have about 40 figures left to paint and then the planned project is completed.

First up are the Lanceros de Tortosa. I chose these because of the unique sky-blue tunics and red facings. Finishing this unit I found myself in a conundrum I'm sure is familiar to many figure painters. I spent some time and effort equipping these figures with the fiddly but very nice lance pennons from the Adolfo Ramos collection. I thought that these really set off the unit but as I checked my painting notes, I noticed that the pennons were supposed to be red-yellow-red. Damn, I thought...do I leave them? Probably nobody would be the wiser. Or do I rip 'em off and get the proper type? So I went back to the source and was somewhat mollified to find that it said "pennons may have been red-yellow-red" (Conrad Cairns, A Savage and Romantic War, Spain 1833-1840). OK, I thought, I can live with the ambiguity. But as I was reading the passage I came upon another note which I had obviously missed or (more likely) chose to omit when I was originally researching the uniforms of this unit. Apparently, they were supposed to have brass shoulder scales. This issue was actually much easier to deal with, since you can see from the picture below that the figures don`t have shoulder scales. In fact, to my knowledge, Carlist cavalry figures aren`t available with them. Besides, justifying their absence would be easier in a conflict in which there was a decided dearth of adherence to regulations.

I wonder how often these types of compromises are made by gamers. Quite often, I suspect. Of course, there was no need to confess the ambiguities. It would have been unlikely that I would have been confronted with someone calling me on it. And if someone were to do such a thing in one of my hosted games....well, those who know me well enough also know what my reaction would be.

Lanceros de Tortosa. Perry Miniatures with Adolfo Ramos lance pennons.

The second batch is made up of Carlist guerrilleros (or they could simply be poorly-equipped infantry). These are a motley bunch and took a bit longer to paint than their regular infantry brethren. They are akin to ACW confederates in this way. More variation in colours and types of clothing and equipment makes for more time switching paints. These are some of the Perry brothers best figures in the Carlist Wars line and they are led by a suitably heroic Big Man (waving his sword in the center of the frame). I must devise a suitably tongue-in-cheek name for this fellow!

Carlist guerilleros. Perry Miniatures with Adolfo Ramos flag.

Up next some additions to the British Auxiliary Legion in the form of lancers and rockets!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Gaming

I was able to play two games this weekend at MIGS. First up on Friday was an opportunity to put out my entire Carlist War collection. There wasn't much to the scenario, beyond wresting control of a small village from a force of outnumbered Carlists. Thanks to Alex, Steve and AJ for an enjoyable game! Some random pictures below (from Steve's camera!):

Tortosa infantry await the assault of the French and British legions.

Aragon infantry on the other side of the village, also waiting to be attacked.

A force of Cristino infantry and artillery approach the village: Marines (blue uniforms) in the foreground with a guard unit beside them.

Carlist cavalry in reserve.

The British Auxiliary Legion deploys to attack the village with the French Foreign Legion backing them up.

Second up, on Sunday, was the first test of my 1940 French force using Disposable Heroes rules, accompanied by Steve and John (thx guys!). We had scrounged together some German infantry from around the club to to go with my German armour and face the French. An understrength French platoon with one R-35 in support was tasked with blunting a German attempt to take an important crossroad. The Germans attacked with a full-strength platoon and some light armour in support. Unfortunately (for the Germans at least), the French were more than a match for the Germans.

German infantry and smoking armoured car in the foreground. The French hold the village at the centre of the photo. The R-35 that hit the ill-fated armoured car sits behind a hedge just to the left of the village. The roof of the stone building has been removed to access the stubborn French defenders within.

The view from the other side. German infantry approach the village from the left. A German Pak 36 anti-tank gun has deployed in the woods on the left and is drawing a bead on the French tank on the opposite side of the village (and ultimately missed its mark!).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Carlist mountain gun

At the risk of boring everyone to distraction, I've added yet another unit to my Carlist army for the First Carlist War project: this time around a mountain gun and crew to give the Carlists a bit of extra punch. These were small 3 or 4 lbers that could be broken down easily and transported by mule over rough terrain. I've used two Perry Miniatures codes for this gun team, deployed and packed on mules. I'll use all four mules when the gun is packed up and probably keep around the ones with the gun packed aboard even when the gun is deployed. I'm sure this group will look great struggling over rough terrain and deploying where Cristino cavalry can't get at them.

The gun team with gun deployed and ammunition mule close to hand.

The gun packed on mules and ready for transport.

The red boinas (large berets) are quite distinctive and set these fellas apart from their Northern army brothers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

1940 French support

It's been a busy couple weeks in the hobby for me. I attended Torcan and Raycon a week ago and received my hotly anticipated Perry order on Monday last. I had run out of Carlist War figures to paint and had mis-timed my order. Usually I try to get my orders here before running out of stock but there was unexpected benefit from the wait. During the three weeks that I was waiting for the Carlist figures, I pulled out my 1940 French and started to work on them (you can see some of them here). Nothing unusual about that. What caught me by surprise was the spark it ignited in me again for World War II gaming. Those who know me also know that I sold off a fairly large 28mm WWII collection some years ago. I had played a lot of games with various rule sets and, frankly, had burned out on the period/genre. Over the last five or six years since the sale, I've been waiting patiently for the interest to return. When I pulled out the Frenchies and put brush to figure the park was re-lit! Yesterday, Steve, John and I played a game of Disposable Heroes at the club on Steve's fabulous terrain (of which we neglected to take any pictures at all...doh!) and this has just fed the flames for me. Admittedly, we played with the modern supplement, so not exactly WWII (but close enough to add fuel to the fire). So the first addition (of two) to my collections over the last week are some support teams for my French platoon and the beginning of the platoon command.

French infantry platoon command, missing the platoon sergeant and rifle grenadier (Crusader figures).

French 80mm mortar team (Crusader figures).

French HMG (Crusader figures).

French 25mm AT gun team (Crusader figures).

Second up are more Carlist infantry for my FCW project, this time of a Valencia battalion. Not considered to be the best of Don Cabrera's troops, there were nonetheless "light and agile and useful for sudden attacks and skirmishing" (The First Carlist War, Conrad Cairns).

I chose to model this Valencia unit in the greatcoats more common to the Northern Army but not unseen with Don Cabrera's forces. I've also mixed in a few with red trousers. This will hopefully help distinguish them from the Aragon and Tortosa troops.

Next up for the Carlist Wars: more Carlist cavalry (this time in sky-blue tunics), a Carlist mountain gun, and more Carlist skirmishers.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raycon 2010

Saturday and Sunday last, aside from attending Torcan, the IPMS model show in Toronto, I trekked north with Vidal to Southampton on the shores of Lake Huron for Raycon 2010. Raycon is small private annual gaming weekend held at a cottage owned by Ray Martin, world-renowned journalist and philanthropist. I've been unable to attend the last couple of Raycons so Vidal and I were eager to get away for the weekend and bask in the glory of our hobby. We arrived on Saturday to a steak dinner being prepared and we quickly settled into the meal and the attendant wine. The evening was spent spinning the usual hobby yarns and imbibing.

Saturday's sunset over the lake. What a great setting for a gaming weekend! Cigars and wine anyone?

Sunday morning we set up the tables outside on the lawn and I broke out my Carlist War collection. With the soft breeze wafting off the lake, we played a spirited game of Sharp Practice in the sunshine. As you can see from the photos of the game below, the colours really "pop" in the natural light.

A general view of the table. We had a small village in the center of the table defended by a Carlist force intent on getting their booty away from the attacking Cristinos. They had loaded the valuables from the church in three ox carts (in front of the church in the center of the photo) and were trying to get them off-table.

Cristino line cavalry prepare for a charge (which was ultimately unsuccessful).

Cristino light cavalry penetrate into the town after massacring a Carlist infantry detachment blocking the road. This was the decisive action of the day!

Another shot of the Cristino light cavalry backed up by British rifles near the bridge.

Carlist infantry awaiting the Cristino assault on the town.

Carlist skirmishers use the high ground to snipe at Cristino cavalry that have approached too closely.

Aragon battalion defending a stone wall. It was this unit that was crushed by the Cristino light cavalry (the green-coated unit in the photos above). The round of Fisticuffs that resulted from the charge of the cavalry saw a record 35 dice rolled by the cavalry commander (and with only six component figures!).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Project in a Box

Following on from my thoughts of how to approach a new project (click here for that post), I've had several discussions with friends about refining the process. In that earlier blog, the defining criteria to look at when contemplating a new project were:

  • manufacturer (do I have a yen for a particular range of figures?)
  • cost (the "stay away from Foundry" factor)
  • scope (how many figures do I need?)
  • familiarity (how much research is necessary?)
  • uniqueness ("there can be only one")
  • basing (does it really matter?)

As I've been plugging away at my Carlist war project (the big order arrived a few days ago!), I've been thinking about how to transport the figures. I had already made the decision to magnetize the bases and find a metal toolbox that would fit the collection. Luckily, I was able to find what I think is the perfect box for the collection. It's an all-metal toolbox with hinged open top and two sliding drawers. This box will easily fit all the figures for both armies in this collection (about 300 figures). Having bought the case, I realized that I had actually gone about it ass-backwards. As with most gamers with most projects, I usually build the project first and then try to find a box or boxes to contain it. I realize now that this is actually counter-productive, at least within the context of my new project parameters. Rather than paint then find the box, why not find a box that fits the necessary criteria and build the project to fit the case? This also has another somewhat un-planned result: it limits the size of the project (assuming I keep it to one case). In the case of the box in these photos, I think I've found a good case to house almost any project that fits my new project criteria.

So, what are the criteria for the project case?

1) metal construction (to house the magnetized figure bases)

2) drawers or hinged top deep enough to accommodate standard bearers, cavalry, pikemen, etc.

3) smooth drawer pulls (to avoid jiggles that will upset figures)

4) solid construction that will take some abuse, if necessary

5) top handle...this is particularly important since side handles are a nuisance for me

The case I chose meets all of the criteria but of course I'm sure there are many others and the choice would be reliant upon a gamer's personal preferences. Note: If anyone is interested, the case I chose I found at Lowe's for $45.00 CAD.

The toolbox of choice. It measures 20" wide x 9" deep x 12" high.

The hinged lid open to show the Carlist War infantry. There is ample vertical space to house the standards and bayonets.

The bottom drawer houses cavalry, commanders and various artillery pieces and wagons, again with ample vertical space.

If there is any drawback to this particular case, it is its weight. Without the figures it is a substantial lift (in the context of figure cases). With the contents it is quite heavy but this also produces another effect (besides me grunting and groaning when I pick it up). When it's sitting on the floor or on a table it is difficult to move or jostle so does help to protect the figures in a way. It also is less prone to jumping about in the back of my truck while driving.

Now I just need another one for my WWII project!

Hobby Shop Questions

This past Saturday, I slipped out of the normal bounds of wargaming pursuits and attended a model show (no, not that kind of model!). My friend Jeff pulled me down to the big city to Torcan, the local show of the IPMS Toronto and Peel Scale Modelers group. Held at the CNIB building, this was small show by even Ontario wargaming convention standards. Like our cons, it had its contingent of vendors, of which more in a moment. In the same hall were the model competition displays. I must admit to some simple awe when I saw some of the entries. I've scattered some pics of some of them here, taken with my Crackberry (so of dubious quality).

Besides the competition entries, what really struck me was a conversation I had with a couple of vendors. These were young guys (under thirty, I think, thus "young") that ran a small hobby shop in Toronto. They carry the usual suspects of GW, FoW, plastic models etc. In our conversation I mentioned The Hobby Kingdom in Burlington and was met by blank stares. I then mentioned another shop, newly opened on the Queensway near Islington. They had not heard of these shops (the second in the same city as their own) and this is where my confusion is rooted. Forgive me for some sort of misguided thoughts of relatively intelligent market awareness, but if I were to own a shop that catered to a very small niche market such as modeling or wargaming, I'd make it my business to know everything about every competition shop within at least 100 km. I'd want to know everything! Where are they? Who are the owners? What is their focus? What do they sell? What is their price structure and how does it compare to mine? How and where do they advertise? And I'd want to keep my information up-to-date. To give these young guys the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they hadn't had time to scope out the new shop on The Queensway. But The Hobby Kingdom has been open for business for several years. Sure its in a different city perhaps 40 km away and probably not a direct competition but much can be learned from watching other similar operations. And to make it even more confusing, they didn't seem the least bit interested in either of these shops as I talked about them. To each his own....

Of special note was this 1/6th scale Tiger (yes, that's GI Joe scale!) with scratch-built interior. Wow!