Friday, October 30, 2009

Books, books, books, books . . .

I love books. I'm a total book geek. It's gotten to the point too, where I don't let them own me, I actually read all my books. This is incredibly necessary because I've pretty much maxed out my bookshelf space, so I don't buy nearly as many as used to.

Nevertheless book buying is one of my chief vices, so I'm pretty picky about what I get. This week I ordered two books. One is used, in fact it's out of print so it had to be used. I picked up a copy of "Now We are Enemies," by Thomas Fleming on Bunker Hill. It's supposed to be a great read, and Fleming is an interesting writer. Not sure it will vault right to the top of the heap in my reading queue, but it's definitely a good mid-winter's read.

The other book, which arrived today from Amazon, is a bit more central to my current painting projects is Kevin Kiley's Uniforms from the American Revolutionary War. I've only thumbed through it, but it was definitely worth the investment. It's so difficult to know what units looked like during the AWI and most illustrations are just speculative. There is no truth, at least not for the Americans, and even for British units in the field. Kiley's book is a bit more wide-ranging than Mollo's classic little book on AWI uniforms, and supplemented by Don Troiani's book on soldiers of the Revolutionary War, I get a little bit more to think about. The books offers illustrations of British, American and Provincial Units, as well as French, German and Spanish troops. There are even illustrations of cannon, ships and examples of flags.

If you're desperately in need of knowing exactly what James Coffin's sixty mounted South Carolina Royalist dragoons wore at Eutaw Springs (as I am) this will not solve your problem. However, if you're groping in the dark at what units might have worn at various times during the Revolution, this will offer some suggestion. The book that tells it all simply hasn't been written--and likely never will be.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Agincourt: Mud Marchers

It's taken me five months, but I've finally gotten this pile of dismounted French knights finished. It's a 48 figure unit, the largest allowed under the Crusader Rules.

These are Perry figures. They are gorgeous and a lot of fun to paint. Well, fun except for the command figures which have embossed heraldry which are fairly tricky to paint amid the folds and etc. One would think it would make things easier, but it doesn't. The fleu-de-lys and other assorted symbols fade into the white primer.

The flags were actually printed from the Warflag page and then I painted over the print job. The big red and green flag was a pain to glue together. It is the Oriflamme, the sacred standard of St. Denis. When the Oriflamme flew it was the symbol of no quarter.

I re-took these pictures today, Sunday the 1st. The last pictures were of poor quality with bad lighting and I didn't use my tripod. (Readers, of course, could tell from the macros). The first pic shows the full 48 figure unit. The right hand picture is focused more Boucicault, the Marshal of France.

At the present time I have three units on my painting table. They are all from AWI-a North Carolina unit of Continentals, the 64th regiment, and a tiny battalion of the DeLancey Regiment--44 figures in all. I'd like to have them all done and mounted by the end of November. We'll see. I've also got quite a few stands I'm rebasing, including the latest cool figs from Doug. I'll photo them when they're ready and post 'em.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Agincourt Controversy

I was doing my daily perusal of the New York Times this morning and noticed an interesting article on the reaction to the Ann Curry's reinterpretation of the Battle of Agincourt. Curry's thesis, for those who haven't been reading along the last couple of years, is that the outcome of the battle was decisive, but the the English were not outnumbered as wildly as Shakespeare suggested, or as historians have represented.

Curry's ideas were covered in her excellent book, Agincourt: A New History, released three years ago. As the President and the army try to make decisions about fighting counterinsurgency and the nature of war in Afghanistan, they've consulted works on the nature of the Hundred Years War and the execution of that conflict by the English. Interesting stuff.

The article also interviews a couple of American medievalists I really respect, Clifford Rogers and Kelly DeVries. Rogers seems to have aligned himself with the traditionalists. There is also a fascinating link to the Soldier in Medieval England database, providing considerable information on those who fought in France during the Hundred Years War conflict (1337-1453.)

What makes all this incredible, to me at least, is how the very active historians have made this really interesting conflict vital, interesting and relevant.

Nice map in the NYT.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Deadline This Week

Monday through Wednesday:
Paper has to come out which means little time for anything else. Ho-hum. I'm wrapping up the standards for my big unit of French HYW men-at-arms for Crusader Rules/Medieval Warfare. This project is coming along. It's just going to be slow.

I did manage to finish basing some AWI stuff this weekend, mostly militia. On Friday I finished the 63rd Regt., but they still need basing and flagging. I also started one of the three North Carolina regiments at Eutaw Springs--but at twelve figures its pretty dinky. More next weekend, I hope.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Museum of Flight Game Day

Yesterday was our annual Museum of Flight game day. I've often repeated my personal preference for the Museum above all our other venues, even Enfilade. I think it's something about being surrounded by the planes and the visitors, but I also think it's nice that we are only responsible for hosting games, and the Museum really likes us.

I hosted our annual Golden Age Air Racing game. We had seven players and it was a great game. It is always interesting to see how these games will turn out. Mark Waddington led for most of the game in green and gold Super Solution, but ran out of gas as he sputtered around the last turn and had to glide across the finish line, while his competitors raced by him. Denny Hartung won with the Me-209, narrowly pursued by Casey Smyth in the blue Super Solution, Casey crashing as he crossed the line. Steve Winter thought he was the winner in the Seversky SEV-2, but watched, appalled as Denny and Casey edged him by a half hex. Arthur Brooking, Joe Waddington and Bill Vanderpool also played.

Dean Motoyama and Dan Proctor hosted their beautiful Sharpe's Skirmish game. Steve Winter ran a nice looking Axis and Allies sea battle game. Jeroen and Hendrik Koopman ran a gorgeous 15mm WWII game, and Lloyd Bowler, Dave Mebust and Dan Carter from Astoria ran an energetic series of Wings of War encounters. Not to be outdone, the DBA guys from NAGS ran games including Andy Hooper's Humberside War of 1812 game.

I have pics from my own game--got some wonderful air racing pictures because the game was so tight

The pics from top right is the tight grouping of planes sailing out of the first turn. Mark Waddington actually led in the green and gold Super Solution, but has already moved, but Joe Waddington is a close second in the white Howard Ike. Unfortunately Joe stalled his plane in the first turn, and the left picture shows Joe standing over his plane, which is now in last place.

At bottom, Casey has just been cursed by another pilot for the second time. He's not a happy camper, but his blue Super Solution is still in the leader group of four. At right is Mark Waddington who has happily led the entire race. He's coming into the backstretch turn on the final lap and is explaining to Dave Schueler that fuel hasn't come into play at all. He's about to draw an event card that will cost him the little fuel he has left. The last picture shows the leader grouping heading into the final turn: green Super Solution, SEV-2, Me-209, and blue Super Solution

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old Dogs and New Tricks

I'm not sure whether this is good or bad, but I've gradually been changing my painting method. For the last twenty years or so I've used what Bill Stewart lovingly called the "slop" technique. It's one that works. I start with a white primer (actually I use Testor's flat white spray enamel.) From there painters use a system of washes over the white. The wash is heavier than a black wash; it's enough to add color and fill in creases in the clothing. If it's too light then the painter can simply add another coat. Using a clear matte stablilizes the pigment and makes the wash or stain color less likely to separate. I use a Liquitex clear matte-I think I have a lifetime supply.

The last couple of years, however, I've been headed in a somewhat different direction. I've continued with the white primer because of how it brings out the color. I've started doing more traditional painting with highlights and dark colors in the creases. One of the reasons I went this way is because so many of my favorite colors disappeared. I used to use Polly S, and then they changed a lot of their color formulations. I was also fond of many Ral Partha colors, but they might as well be gone. I'm pretty much left with Vallejo-which I like a lot, but they're pretty expensive, even if they do last forever. Craft paints, such as Ceramcoat, are okay, lots of colors, but not a lot of pigment to cover with.

I dunno. Some of my favorite figures work fine either way-the Front Rank AWI figures are full of uniform creases and valleys; they do really well with the slop, but they are great with highlights too. I've been painting Perry HYW and AWI figures. The AWI figures aren't so great with staining. They're delicate with very fine creases, so highlighting is best with those figures in order to create a contrast.

I've pretty much taken to highlighting for bright colors-blues, reds, and greens, and I'm still staining browns and grays. My very best figures were my AWI figures from Enfilade II some 18 years ago--they were all stained. It's interesting, that as I can ready to paint some more Americans from that same period, I'm trying something altogether new. And I'm excited about it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Good Times With Trader Doug and My Obsession with the American Revolution in the South

I engaged in a long distance swapping match with Doug Hamm again. Doug is letting go of his painted AWI figures. Once upon a time Doug was the recipient of a big bounty of Front Rank figures when the Sentry Box went out of biz years and years ago. He painted up a bunch of relatively small units in his beautiful black primered fashion. I'm going to part with most of my raw War of 1812 lead for his painted Queens Rangers, British Legion horse, and a few American light infantry.

I'll work the figures into units or stands that work for me, and I'll reduce my pile of unpainted lead. I'm pretty focused on the American Revolution right now. I have about 50 figures I'm either working on or piled together ready to begin work on. I'm painting the 63rd Regiment, which fought at Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs, then a unit of North Carolina continentals from Eutaw Springs together with a stand of Virginia Light Infantry that was attached to Kirkwood's Delaware lights at Guilford Courthouse. Then it's on to the 1st De Lancey provincials that fought at Eutaw Springs, and a unit of converged grenadiers-they fight at Guilford and Eutaw Springs.

None of these units are very big-none over sixteen figures and DeLancey is only eight. Remember, my scale is 1:10-if it was larger, say 1:20, these units wouldn't even be a blip. In the coming weeks I'm hoping to create a record of the units needed for each of the five battles I want to be able to run-Cowpens, Weitzels Mill, Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs-and where I am in the painting of those units. Many of the units-particularly the Maryland and Virginia Continentals appear in almost all the actions; they just get smaller and smaller.

I've got a couple of decent pictures of my second Hamm unit, the Loyal South Carolina Regiment. These guys fought all over the south after Cornwallis deserted the state following the debacle at Guilford Courthouse, but most notably at Hobkirk's Hill.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Volunteers of Ireland and other thoughts

It's been a wonderful weekend. Aside from the fact that I struggled with my insomnia, I had absolutely nothing I had to or places to go aside from a few errands. I took the opportunity to watch the Huskies' heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame and both Mariners' wins to end the season. Together with lots of sports watching I did lots of painting. Mostly I worked on finishing my 48 figure French unit of Perry men-at-arms for HYW. These guys have been on my table since June, so I was pleased to wrap them up. As soon as the basing and standards get done I'll get pictures up.

These figures are one of two units I got from Doug Hamm in our June trade. They are Volunteers of Ireland, a provincial unit that served throughout the south in the period that interests me, 1780-81. They are all Front Rank figures, and serve in summer linen. I was a bit challenged as I painted up a couple of figures to fill them out to sixteen-my figures are mounted in foursies. It's even more challenging because Doug black primes everything and mine are white primed. I did the best I could and I think you would be pressed to find which two are mine.

I've had the opportunity to really inventory my piles of unpainted AWI lead, and I've made some plans regarding how to organize and paint it. I have enough figures to paint up numerous British units, the small one that show up at Eutaw Springs and Hobkirks Hill. I have enough American figures to paint up the 1st Virginia and 2nd Maryland at their Guilford Courthouse strengths, which together is 72 figures. Throw in the Welsh Fusiliers and the Von Bose regiment and I have lots I can paint.

But first I'm painting up a bunch of SCW machine gunners before launching into the 63rd Regt., at its Hobkirks Hill strength of about 160 men (16 figures.)