30 March 2009

Spanish Slingers

Took a break from painting for a friend to do a few figures I picked up at Cold Wars. This is a pack of Spanish slingers from Crusader Miniatures. I'll probably add one of the figures from the ceatrati command pack to round the unit off to 9 figures.

I'm of a bit mixed opinion on the figures. For the most part I like them. Nice, clean sculpts. Decent proportions. But some of the faces seem a bit... Old Glory-ish. The eyes are sculpted well, but on one of the figures they are offset (one is higher than the other,) for example. The casting could have been a little better. No flash, but fairly prominent mould lines.

I'm now curious to see how some of the other Crusader figures look. I may have to do the caetrati next -- though I really need to finish the Romans and quit playing around with the fringe troops. ;)

29 March 2009

WotR Plastics

This has got me excited:


I've been hoping for some plastic medievals.

24 March 2009

More barbarians

Finally had some time to finish some more Celts & Germans, as I keep writing.

As always, click the photos to enlarge.

First is a comparison photo showing some figures I recently recieved, Celts from Wargames Factory and Renegade, and early Germans from BTD. I tried to include a couple different figures from each manufacturer, like the "fat guy" body from WF, and a command figure from Renegade. I should have included a shield armed figure from WF, but there are a couple in the next pic, below.

Styalistically, they're all over the place. WF seems to be going with smaller, more natural proportions, Renegade with an exaggerated "Cabbage Patch Kid" look, and BTD is somewhere in the middle. Each has its advantages. "Fat guy" aside, WF look the least cartoony, but then some of the detail is so small that it's more difficult to paint quickly, whereas the minimal detail and large surfaces on the Renegade figures paint up easy (with a larger brush, even.) Since I use more layering than washes when painting, the larger surfaces also allow a smoother gradient on the Renegade figures.

Still, as much as I like large detail (as previously mentioned in regards to the Foundry early Germans), the Renegade Celts start to step beyond the line as far as the "cartoony" look goes. (In their defence, however, I love the WWI Early War French that I got from them. But that's for another day...)

As I excitedly mentioned when I got them, I really like the BTD Germans. They've got a nice balance between detail and paintability. I think the Germans are more cleanly sculpted and better posed than their Celts (photos posted previously.) I prefer the Foundry shields, but I can live with these. I particularly like the pose on the guy on the right. My initial feelings about this line haven't really changed. I really like them and wouldn't mind picking up a few (hundred) more, but I'm wary about the delivery issues.

As far as the Celts go, here's a few more I painted at the same time I painted all the figures above...

As mentioned, they've got some smaller details/proportions. This isn't necessesarily a bad thing. Compare the swords, for example, to the mortar trowel the Renegade guy is carrying. (For this reason, I only ordered the Renegade spearmen.) So I like the proportions of the hands, standard, shields, etc. They work well. I think the spears that are part of some of the shields could have had slightly smaller shafts, but I just cut down the one in the second guy from the left, above. I also liked the variety and extras on the sprues. I really liked that there were a variety of weapons, including slings, in the kit. Something I hadn't thought of, but I also liked that a couple of the javelins look like little more than fire hardened pointed sticks. Simple, but nice touch.

When I stopped by the WF table at Cold Wars and talked with Tony & Howard, my first comment was that I didn't care for the seams at the arms. They are especialy noticable on the bare chested guys. But when I looked at the samples they had on their table, the seams were un-noticable. I asked about it and was taught the trick of brushing a little liquid cement over the joint, so I will have to try it. (I've always used the cheap tube stuff, though a friend has tried to get me to switch before.) This is the second or third "trick" I've learned with the WF figures. This may partially be because I'm more familiar with metal figures, but it seems that there's a small learning curve to getting the most out of plastic figures. Trimming the neck and occasionally the waist (noticed that on the zombies) really makes a big difference. It's a quick/easy fix because of the plastic, but still something I didn't initially think of.

Although in some places they seem to have improved on the depth & crispness of detail over the previously released Romans, I found the Celts to still have some issues with this, and the detail was a a bit inconsistant. The heads are the most noticible thing for me. Some of them look absolutely great. It may be hard to see in a photo, but I really liked the heads on the two outside figures in the pic above. Very nice detail, well proportioned, east to paint. The second guy from the left, though, had pretty much smooth hair. Strangely enough, I just painted a base color and then dropped a thin wash over it and it actually looks pretty good. But I would still prefer actual hair. They recently posted a pic of a WSS figure that looks like it's got better hair, so I'm hoping they're still improving on this. But still, I would have liked all the heads on the sprue to be consistant. Some of the eyes seemed a bit weird too. The head in the center looks a bit Muppet-y because of eyes too close together.

The other detail issue I had was the belts. They were just so small and detailed that it would/will get a bit annoying painting an army of them. Like the hair, it's just another point at which a little exaggeration and "cartoonyness" helps someone painting a pile of figures.

That actually brings me to something I mentioned in my review of the WF Romans -- that I think a lot of criticism is coming from people who haven't seen the figures. I will agree that the detail is a bit shallow in places, and as I state above, I've got my share of criticisms. But they're actually fairly detailed models in many places (with the exception of some places like the lack of hair I mention above). But just as I said that it's a bit of a pain to paint tiny & subtle details (more proportional to reality than the exaggeration of most 25/28mm figures), it just doesn't show in the pics. Take a look at the renders on the WF page. There's a whole lot of detail that would probably show up great if they were 1:1 scale models. So I think some of the criticism of the sculptors is a bit unwarrented, or at least misdirected. In my humble opinion, it's more a lack of translation from full size down to a 1" tall figure than a lack of talent for sculpting humans. Almost like the opposite end of the Renegade comments I made above, in which the exaggerations go too far.

So my now longwinded review ends similarly to the Roman review. After meeting the WF guys in person, I wanted to give the new figures a glowing review. But realistically, what I can say is that although they've made some steps forward, over the previous Romans (which I actually prefer due to stylitic reasons) in terms of detail, extras, variety, etc., I think there's still room for improvement. But once again, for the price, I think the figures are hard to beat. I still think these are better than their Old Glory counterparts, for example, which are actually more expensive. Anyone expecting Foundry quality is once again looking in the wrong place, but one should hardly expect that at like 1/6 the cost. (Actually, I'm not fond of the new Foundry Celts from what I can tell from their pics. I'd get some to examine them in person, but I'm too cheap to buy from them anymore, unless it's one of their uber-deals on figures I already know are good. I assume they don't send samples anymore.)

Compared to their competition for plastic Celts at Warlord Games, I think they've both got their pros & cons that put them fairly even, in my opinion. I think that one of the only advantages Warlord has is their detail. But that's a fairly important factor. Wargames Factory, on the otherhand is less expensive, has better poses, more variety and more "bits" in their kit, and less contorted orc/GW "waaagh!" faces. ;) After I paint the entire box of WF Celts I may have more to say about it. The annoying poses on the Warlord Celts was enough to keep me from buying any more, from a practical wargaming stantpoint, but I didn't see that until I painted a full box.


In light of my last entry, I've got to post this link:


For a bit of an earlier conversation (blogversation?), AT-AT joke here:


I'm still debating what to do about my Renegade cavalry. I definitely like the infantry, but I'm just not sure about keeping the cav.

Running behind on the pics I mentioned a few days ago. They will definitely be posted later tonight.

22 March 2009

Ancients horse comparison

I'm taking a break from alternating between painting (should have new pics later tonight - maybe tomorrow at the latest) and chores around the house. I figured I would take a quickie pic showing the scale comparison between Foundry early German cavalry, Crusader Numidian cavalry, and Renegade Celtic cavalry.

As always, click the photo to enlarge.

Granted, the Germans were supposed to ride mangy little horses. So maybe they're OK if they look a bit small. Compared to the Renegade Celt, though, the two look like completely different scales. The Crusader is a nice between scale.

All three are well sculpted (further review/comparison on that in the future.)

One more complaint about the Renegade, however. Most of the figures (not the one depicted) have cloaks that interfere with the back ridge along the saddle. I'll either have to cut the backs of most of the saddles off, or somehow drill/rout out a space underneath the cloak so the riders can fit without their asses"floating" above the saddle.

Actually, two more complaints about the Renegade. I haven't sorted out all 18 cavalry on the table, but in digging around in the bags it seems that all 18 horses are identical. I was a little disappointed with only two poses from Crusader, but a single horse pose will be significantly more disappointing if it's true.

21 March 2009

Battle of Gavere

I just read about the Battle of Gavere (1453) where the rebellious Ghent army was defeated when a panic spread through the ranks like a wave due to a stray spark igniting a stash of powder for their artillery.

My wargamer's mind immediately jumped to similar situations I've seen on the table, and I thought, "Wow, it sucks failing that many panic tests when your light gun rolls a misfire in the first turn."

20 March 2009

The rest of Cold Wars

I didn't take many photos this year, even though there were some great looking games. I did take a few shots of some large games as inspiration for what a real game of toy soldiers should look like.

More toys = better. ;)

The first is an ACW game I walked past the first evening. The remaining three are what I believe is a large Seven Years War game. In addition to simply looking impressive, it's a period I can only dream of playing.

As far as loot I brought home, a rough list...
  • Another box of WF Romans.
  • Roman allies from Crusader minis: Numidian cav, Spanish caetrati, Spanish Scutari command, Spanish slingers (which I discovered were mispackaged but Crusader/OG is shipping me the right figures.)
  • One bag each of OG Spanish Scutari and Numidian infantry that I spotted in the flea market for the cheap.
  • Two boxes of the previously mentioned & photographed Zvezda medievals.
  • I joined the Old Glory Army since I spent enough at the Crusader booth to make it worth while, and so I got a bag of 10+/- nice looking 18th c. figures (a duel diorama?) from Blue Moon.
  • Some deciduous trees in kit form.
  • Various dogs (from Mega Minis and IWM). I think I got an odd badger or two mixed in as well.
Rough estimate, not including the dogs & trees, is about 178 infantry and 9 cavalry. Combine that with recent mail order deliveries of 18 more cavalry and 97+ more infantry, and the barely started 32 Romans from the remainder of the first WF box and I'm feeling buried. That doesn't include the large amount of commission work that I've suddenly started on.

I may try painting a few of the Blue Moon figures as well as I can for the painting contest at Historicon if I have time. I was looking for something really eye catching on which to test my ability. I normally paint in quantity (for armies), so I haven't really pushed my skills lately. I was browsing the 40mm stuff for this reason, but abandoned that idea after I got these "bonus" figures.

19 March 2009

Cold Wars WAB tournament, pt. 3

Game 3
vs. Early Crusaders using El Cid list (Phil)

This was a blind set up and I didn't notice the location of the woods opposite me before deployment.

From (photo) left to right, the Crusaders had Knights, three units of archers with spear in the front rank, screened with two units of skirmishers, skirmishing elite cavalry of some sort, skirmishing crossbows on the hill, and more knights on the right.

The Burdundians had, from left to right, coustilliers, mounted gendarmes, crossbow with pavise, archers, pike, archers, dismounted gendarmes, and handgunners in the woods.

This first shot is taken early in the game. The opposing skirmish cavalry jumped right into a small gap in my line, and I've shot down some of the skrimishers screening his infantry. My cavalry are in the middle of a slight shift in deployment.

Most of the center and left were pretty static. I shot at his infantry, they backed off. After that it was at a point where even if I ran for the remainder of the game (4 turns), I would possibly get one turn of combat with them, but my dismounted gendarmes wouldn't be able to keep up. And I would have to run through his massed archery. I can understand his reluctance to run into my archery as well, however.

I did get lucky when his knights charged the handgunners, the handgunners managed to kill half the unit on the stand-and-shoot and the knights spent a couple panicked turns reconsidering. ;) The skirmish cav then chased off the handgunners, though I at least tied things up on that flank with a single unit.

On my left it was stand off. If I committed my cav to one side of the woods, all he had to do was run around the other. So I waited for him. And he waited for me. And I waited for him. And so on. Until the end.

I wasn't able to finish off the knights on the right or the skirmish cavalry, so once again, all I lost were my handgunners and all I managed to do was chase off his skirmishers and kill a bunch of archers/spear without effect (or points.) Another draw. I think if we hadn't done the hidden deployment, this might have turned out differently as I probably would have reversed my mounted units and my dismounted gendarmes.


I'm rethinking the dismounted gendarmes in the first place. They're nice as a small but solid anchor to a flank. It makes the archers and pike a little more secure. But in games where I'm on the offensive more than the games at Cold Wars (against English or Flemish, for example) their slower rate of move is a liability. Similarly, when the opportunity does come to take advantage of some unknown, they're once again, too slow. For example, after the knights on the right in this game panicked, I couldn't press that advantage and chase after them.

I think this is partially my own indecision in using a "combined arms" army, partially my feeling cramped in army selection at 2000 points. I may consider dropping them, though.

I'm having this strange "guilt complex" about playing three fairly static games. Part of the reason I play the BurgOrd is their flexibility in being able to play static or mobile (commends about the heavy foot aside.) At Historicon I was totally on the move in 2 of 3 games, and I've had a mix against other medievals as well. But playing 3 games in which I didn't move seems like I missed out on the "pushing toy soldiers around" part of the game. On the surface, I realize that sometimes it comes down to this, and certain other armies are entirely based around not moving. But I like to be a bit more mobile. (See also: previous army choices.) I'm going to write this off as a fluke due to playing out of period, but I can't help thinking I did something wrong. (The two draws doesn't help...)

Cold Wars WAB tournament, pt. 2

Game 2
vs. "Sassy" Persians (Duncan)

I'm not familiar with BtGG nor have I really played Burgundians out of period before, so this would be a bit of a learning experience for me. Since I haven't played anything but medievals for quite a few years, I was a bit rusty on the elephant rules, which almost turned disastrous.

First pic is in the second half of the first turn. My opponent's deployment from left to right in the photo... On the left, Uber Klibinari of Doom (henceforth UKD), a unit of bow armed militia flanked by two mounted heroes, two elephants, more Kilbinari but not the ones that get to reroll missed attacks, the general and standard bearer (both mounted), more archer militia, and more UKD.

My deployment, starting on the left... Skirmishing handgunners in the woods, dismounted gendarmes, ordonnance archers, pike with cannon & general behind, more archers, mounted gendarmes, crossbow with pavise on the hill, and coustilliers making their way around the back of the hill.

No problem, I thought. I'll blast the elephants with my cannon. Many misfires (and a 1 to wound when I finally got a hit) later, I managed to do absolutely nothing to them. Same for the piles of bow and handgun shots I unloaded into them. Waste-of-time.

So for most of the middle of the game it was a bit of a shooting match. The threat of the elephants and a rolled flank on the left kept me from advancing beyond the woods in the center & left. The Persians seemed just as content to sit back and shoot at me anyway. In hindsight, I may have done better to try playing more aggressively, since his 2+ save on the UKD, difficulty to hit his characters & skirmishers, and toughness of the elephants meant that my shooting would do little. On the other hand, his shooting wasn't terribly effective either.

On my right I chased back the UKD with my two units of cavalry before they could slip around my flank. I pressed this area of the battle quickly so that I could try to keep them from slipping away from my less maneuverable (than Klibinari??) cavalry. So eventually I sent them running and chased them down. One unit of militia also panicked, but managed to rally before getting off the battlefield.

Towards the end of the game, the elephants came forward and I hit them in the flanks, not realizing that: a) I would get no rank bonus while fighting them, and; b) if I broke them they would trample into my unit on the opposite elephant's flank.

In the end it was a draw. I lost my handgunners (his two mounted characters charged them in the woods and cut them to pieces), he lost one unit of UKD. Those were about the only casualties of the game.

18 March 2009

Cold Wars WAB tournament, pt. 1

Cold Wars 2009, WAB tournament.

Technically I was in the medieval division, but the only other player signed up was my first opponent, Chris. So our subsequent games were a bit out of period.

Game 1
vs. Teutonic Order (Chris)

Teutonic deployment, from (photograph) left to right, plate armour & pavise crossbow on hill, spear, more heavy crossbow, two units of knights screened by skirmishing crossbow cavalry. This is one turn into the game, and we've both lost some cavalry. I believe there was a unit of Teutonic cavalry on the left, in front of the crossbow that took some missile casualties and fled.

Burgundian deployment, from left to right, crossbow with heavy armour & pavise, skirmish handgunners in the woods, light gun, ordonnance archers, ordonnance pike, ordonnance archers, dismounted gendarmes, mounted gendarmes. At this point, I had lost my coustilliers, which were also on the right (the two units of gendarmes closed the gap.)

The second photo is a few turns in. My light gun was shot to destruction by the Teutonic crossbow. After that our crossbow spent the entire game wasting shots on each other. My handguns and leftmost archer units whittled down the spearmen until the archers were able to take them in combat.

The central Teutonic crossbow did a decent job shrinking the archers on the right.

At this point my mounted gendarmes chased away the skirmishers, crashed into the knights, ran them down and ended up in the woods. The skrimishers later rallied, but were again chased away by the gendarmes.

My dismounted gendarmes waited to recieve the charge from the other unit of Teutonic knights (including general and army standard). All I needed was to make the stuborn roll on the initial charge so that I could swing my pikemen in on their flank. No such luck. The Burgundians were run down, the Teutonics pursued them off the table. Not the best result for me, but the knights were effectively distracted from any further damage. Further proof that the flower of Burgundian chivalry belongs on horseback, not on the ground.

In the end it was a victory for the Burgundians.

17 March 2009

Zvezda Royal Infantry

As mentioned, I picked up two boxes of the Zvezda Royal Infantry, from their line of humans for the "Ring of Rule" game. They're basically 28mm generic late 15th century figures. My new scanner doesn't seem to work well for scanning sprues, so I tried to get some half-decent photos with the digital camera.

Click the pics below to enlarge.

Front & back of the main sprue:

Command sprue:

I've got a lot on my painting table right now, but when I get some assembled & painted, I'll post some photos compared to other fantasy & historical figures.

At first glance, they remind me a little of the old Copplestone figures sold by Mirliton (formerly by Grenadier). The detail is a little more exaggerated & rounded than GW or most metal figures. I'm curious to see how they paint up.

15 March 2009

Home Again, Home Again

Back from Cold Wars, settled in and relaxing a bit.

As usual I had a good time, and enjoyed catching up with old friends as much as playing games.

I played in the WAB tournament, had three great opponents including Duncan MacFarlan who ended up winning the sportsman award. I won "first place" in the Medieval division -- a division in which I was one of two players. ;) My first game was against Teutonics, but then I was out of period with Sassanids and Early Crusader (El Cid). I had a win and two draws. More on that later.

I learned to play Field of Glory (FoG) later that night, in a Rome vs. Rome game put on by a friend. I've got mixed feelings on it so far. I think I picked up the game pretty quick, but it seems needlessly complex in places, and has a few wonky spots in which the mechanics seem a bit out of focus from common sense. I'm willing to give it a few more tries, though, and I do have to admit that seeing all those figures in a 15mm army, even in a "small" game looked more like a real wargame and/or battle than WAB.

I met Tony Reidy of Wargames Factory & chatted a bit, and got another box of Romans, so I can field a WAB army of at least 2000 points. To that end, I also picked up a few support troops (mainly Spanish skirmishers & some Numidian Cav) at Crusader. My ever-shifting Classical era plan is this... get Romans (with allies) done for doubles tournament at Historicon. If enough people sign up for the medieval division, then I will most likely play Burgundians. If not, I play Romans again. But who knows, I'll probably change my mind twenty three more times before then. A longer term goal would be to have enough to field two Roman armies (or one large one, obviously.) I'm not certain I can get the painting done in time, but I would love to run a WAB demo type game at Historicon, either Rome vs. Rome (which would require more Romans) or Rome vs. "Barbarians" (most likely Celts with a few Germans) which would possibly require a few more more Celts/Germans.

In any case, I've got a pile of painting to do. Romans, Celts, Gauls, Spanish, Numidians.... plus GW High Elves, Swiss, Undead, and more Spanish for other people.

But wait, that's not all... I was shopping around at the booths of a couple of dealers who sell a lot of 1/72 figures, looking for the Zvezda human knights for their "Ring of Rule" fantasy 28mm line. I struck out. BUT, I did find two boxes of the "Royal Infantry" from the same line, which are essentially 15th century European infantry. They are multi-piece plastics. I'm not sure if they are still producing them or how easy they are to get in the US or elsewhere. So I asked about them and was offered a price I couldn't pass up. ;) Actually, I told him I would definietly buy one box, but would like to open it up immediately to see if I wanted the second box. I ended up buying both boxes. Initial reaction is that they're not as crisp as some of the other plastics, and a few of the weapons are a bit oversized for historicals (which is what I plan on using them for) but I think they will still make decent Burgundians or Swiss (or Germans, maybe French... etc...)

I'll have some more comments, pics and maybe some WAB battle reports coming soon. But now, back to my relaxation.

10 March 2009

Away to Cold Wars

(take two)

I'll be leaving for Cold Wars, so it looks like I'm not going to get any reviews or new pics up until after I get back.

It's been a looooooooonnnnnnnnnng and crazy week, I'm looking forward to getting away for a while. I'm just hoping I actually get to play in some games. :/

04 March 2009

Stuff! in the Mail pt. 2!

My Renegade Regiments came in. So that would be almost everything I've mail ordered in the past few months suddenly showing up within several days, all during the week I've had the least amount of free time in ages. Oh, the mixed blessing. ;)

03 March 2009

First shots

I still won't have a lot of time to do much painting or anything for a few days, but I threw together a couple of the plastic figures for comparison.

First, a plastic Celt match-up. Unfortunately, I have no more Warlord Games Celts unpainted, but I do have some that are only primed, so here they are next to a few unpainted Wargames Factory Celts...

...I'm still going to hold off on a full review until I've painted at least a few of the WF Celts. The only comment I'd like to make for now is that the scale looks pretty close on both.

The Wargames Factory zombies compared to the Games Workshop plastic zombies, on the other hand...

Not so similar in scale. Different, uh, "historical" zombie periods, I suppose, but still, not really close.

02 March 2009

Stuff! in the Mail

I received several long awaited deliveries today.

One is the group of Black Tree Design Early Germans I've been waiting on. I'll wait for a full review until I've painted some of them (and have the pics to show for it), but from taking a bit of a look at the raw lead, I really like them. Just shy of my infatuation with the Foundry Germans (but at 1/4 the price.) Better sculpts than the BTD Celts I recently posted. It's a shame I had to chase after them to deliver the figures. Not certain I want to have to go through that for a full army. Still, it's tempting.

I also received a box of Wargames Factory's Celts. Again, full review after I've painted some, but once more, from an initial examination, they look good. The details look like they've improved since the first releases and there's a nice mix of "bits" for variety.

Along with the Celts, I got a couple sprues of the Zombies they've just released. More to come on those as well.

Now if my Renegade regiments would just show up, I'd be all set and nearly* overwhelmed with stuff to paint. Good time to start a big painting commission, eh?

Pics in the next day or three. It's a busy week with non-tiny-toy-soldier stuff for me.

* Nearly in the sense that I will still be picking up more in a few weeks at Cold Wars.