30 November 2011

No More Crusader US

Just read at TMP...


...Crusader USA (Old Glory producing Crusader figures in the US, under license) will be gone at the end of the year. I'm a big fan of Mark's figures, and buying domestically was so much more affordable than ordering overseas from the UK. Especially when working in Old Glory Army discounts.

Many (most, with the exception of the plastic Romans) of my ancients are Crusader, and I had planned on expanding on my previous purchases from several ranges (especially Spanish) as well as getting a few new (to me) figures (like Thracians.) I may rethink my plans, now. Because of the holidays I won't be buying before the end of the year. I hadn't ordered from A&A, for example, because it was less expensive to order domestically.

Not to sound even remotely nationalistic, but I really do wish there was more domestic choice. I'd like to see more options in the US miniatures market. The cost savings, being able to buy at shows, etc. would be great.

At any rate, the point is, I'm sad to see the agreement between Old Glory and Crusader at an end. It's been my favorite source of ancients.

The Might of Rome

Neither of these photos are mine, I found them both while looking for something completely different. But I thought I'd share them, as my mind is spinning with modeling & gaming ideas... :)

29 November 2011

New Reading Material

Well, more like reference material, though I have started reading through it from the start.

My book (per Captain Brown's recommendation on Warseer) arrived today. Condition on Amazon was advertised as "Very Good" but the book that arrived was in virtually new condition. The spine hasn't even been bent. Bonus!

I looked up the illustrator (Bob Pearson) because the name sounded familiar. Found his web page with a CD of color illustrations for sale. Might look into purchasing that at some point.


I have also been following the blog (and referencing the web page) of W. I. Boucher.


27 November 2011

The Riddle of Steel

...which translates to painting as well.

I stumbled across a painting blog tonight. Not miniatures, but watercolors, which is another interest/hobby/pursuit of mine. And on this blog there were questions from people, several of whom claimed to be novices, asking very specific questions about which brushes, brands of paint, etc.

And I don't think that's necessarily a good idea. And that goes for miniatures painting as well. Reading that made me think of painting miniatures, as I thought those sorts of questions were unique to this hobby. I always see a lot of beginners asking about "recipes" for painting certain colors, etc. But in a Riddle of Steel sort of way, I think that the hand, eyes and mind pushing the brush and paint around are infinitely more valuable. The technical specifics? That's something that should be left for later. Fine tuning, I think.

I guess the two things on my mind are... One, that while I could probably fine tune my technique and improve by spending a fortune on the best brushes, paints, etc., I can get by pretty well with something cheap. And, Two, that knowledge, and the skills built up to support the previous statement, come from just trying different things out for myself.

If I tried reading some of the painting forums, CMoN, etc. as a totally new painter, I would be under the impression that I would need to invest hundreds of dollars just to get started in painting if I wanted to "do it right." But I would argue that this is far from the truth. While quality materials are important, I think you can learn a huge bulk of your early lessons (and skill development) on a far smaller budget. I also think that you will learn far more along the way and that the best way to achieve a solid footing in any skill  (painting or anything else) is to have a broad understanding of it from the ground up.

Mind you, I'm not the best painter around. But that's my point. I see a lot of painting instruction that's more suited for the top fraction of painters. But new painters shouldn't necessarily start out there. They should build  decent foundation down here, with those of us in the common dregs of the painting pool. ;)

25 November 2011

Hail Caesar, DBA and Fall In Loot Collection

Had a #000000 Friday mini game day. Well, very mini, just four of us and it the games only lasted a few hours.

First up was our first trial game of Hail Caesar. Metellus Pius and his Romans on the left, Lucius Hirtuleius with a mixed force of Spanish, Celtiberians and a pair of Roman legions. It was a small game with two commands on each side.

On the far end of the battlefield, the Celtiberians broke, but not after wearing down the Romans including the one unit of veterans. On the near side, the Roman led Spanish smashed through the Metellus' nameless (and incompetent) subcommander's division.

The Sertorian faction stays in control of Spain... for the moment.

There were a few bumps in learning the new rules, but we still finished in less than 2 hours. Overall, I liked the rules. I'd like to see some larger games, especially after getting to know the rules a little better. Overall, though, I like Hail Caesar so far. Not sure if I'm as instantly fond of the rules as I was with Black Powder, though.

Next up was a bit of experimental DBA, Alexander v. Porus. The brown strip was actually a (muddy?) river, which turned out a bit difficult to cross. The Indians won a cheap victory by raiding the Macedonian camp and taking down Alexander.

I also got to pick up the loot I had a friend pick up for me at Fall In: "Last Argument of Kings," some landsknecht casualties from Artizan (they were out of the looters) and a 1/72 Esci SE5a. I also took the copy of "Trench Wars" that he didn't sell at the flea market off his hands.

20 November 2011

New Paint for the Pup

I tried a new color of paint on the Pup. I also managed to pry off the nut on the bottom of the DR.1 and reposition it so it fit better on the stand. Decals still to come. I actually did this earlier in the week, but haven't had time to take a photo. My weekend was more or less shot, so no work on anything. I'm lucky to get time to post this brief update.

17 November 2011

Pup Painting

I picked up a couple of paints for the Pup today. I took the Airfix colors, looked up the equivalent Vallejo Colors on the The Ultimate Model Paint Conversion Chart and got something that looked not entirely dissimilar from what I expected based on illustrations, profiles, etc. Not really happy with the colors. The fuselage/wing color seems too light.

I haven't even bothered to show the bottom, as the color looks more "banana" and less "clear doped linen."

On the other hand, now that there's some paint in it, I like the rigging better. The glue joints are too pronounced, but I do like the rigging itself.

Still more touching up and finishing to do. And decals, of course. I'm not a huge fan of waterslide decals, so I'm probably going to postpone for a bit and then do several kits at once.

In other news...

I've started putting together the Eduard Fokker DR.1. for a friend and I've got to admit that it's a huge step up from the Airfix kit. Hopefully I can do it justice. I'm looking forward to working on the paint scheme (Lothar Von Richthofen)

12 November 2011

The Flight Stands Have Landed

I received the two Omni-Stands I ordered from CorSec Engineering. I got the 5" bases. They are clear acrylic but come with paper backing on both sides -- which I suppose makes one of them "fronting" -- and a metal threaded receptor in the center. The paper is still on in the photos below. The two telescoping rods have spherical magnets on the top, one 1/4" and the other 3/8".

I had a chance to spend a couple hours at my stoodio between running errands today, and couldn't wait to test them out. They are exactly what I'm looking for.

I've used small nuts glued on the underside of the planes, as close to the center of gravity as I could get. I don't remember what size (saved the label in the container in which I'm storing them.) The smaller, 1/4" magnet is just strong enough to hold the planes in position. The larger magnet is almost a bit too strong, but I think I may keep a couple of those around in case I end up with some larger/heavier planes.

One mistake I made on the Fokker DR.1 was that I glued the nut appropriate for balance, but not far enough back from the plane that spans the landing struts. So it fits a little awkwardly. I'm not certain I can fix that at this point.

Almost done with the first DR.1. Not sure I got the colors & effect exactly right. Should look better with the markings on it.

So I'll definitely be picking up some more of the Omni-Stands.

I'm also looking into the hex map issue. The two current options under consideration are 72" x 48" felt European Field map from Hotz Mats, or having my own design printed locally on 72" x 48" outdoor banner vinyl. The former is about $60, the latter is $140.

EDIT: It looks like CorSec makes some potentially nice looking mats as well. I'll take that into consideration too.


09 November 2011

Regarding Rigging

A follow up to my previous entry, in which I questioned the issue of rigging for WWI planes.

I found & read this article, along with quite a few other articles, forum discussions, blog posts, etc.


Again, it's coming down to a scale issue. If I was doing 1/48 scale planes (or larger) a lot of this seems like great info. In fact, I may try a larger display piece in the future just to have a shot at some serious rigging. But I'm not certain how well it would work on 1/72 planes. For example, the shrinking method will require the heat source getting close to other parts of the plane, due to the size of the model.

Still, so far I do like the look of the rigged plane. I would like it better if I didn't screw up a few parts. So right now my instinct is to keep doing it, at least for another few planes.

08 November 2011

Dogs & Birds (Pup & Albatros)

Almost finished with the rigging on the Sopwith Pup. I screwed a few things up, and it's not the cleanest bit of modeling, but it's my first one and 1/72 scale isn't exactly large. I forgot a second (forward) tail stabilizer on each side.  I will go back and finish that.

I also put together (minus pilot) the Albatros D.V. This is the last of the original 3 Airfix planes I had.

So, my question is... do I continue rigging all the planes? Some of them are far more involved than the pup. I'm trying to weigh the time & effort involved (which is significant, but not a horrible experience) with the fact that these are for playing games, not just display. So I've got some concerns about durability as well.

Here's a comparison shot.

Still waiting on the batch of allied planes. Lost out on the German planes I was hoping to get on eBay, but I did stop at the semi-local hobby shop (Wings Hobby Shop in Lakewood, OH -- no web page). Like just about everything else in this damned city, it's on the opposite side of town from where I live. The selection of 1/72 WWI planes was predictably small, but they did have some. I grabbed a Fokker D.VIIF and two more DR.1's (one for me, one for a friend.)

The manufacturers are Eduard and Roden, and I can already see that they are better than the Airfix DR.1 and Albatross. The Airfix Pup was really a nice plane and of similar quality to the new ones I got, though.

Ordering a (some) flight stand(s) tonight.

As I've been inhaling all nature of unhealthy fumes while working on that first plane, I've been wondering... Why does Snoopy fly a Camel rather than a Pup?

06 November 2011

Sopwith Pup - Rigging & Mounting

I've started the rigging on the Pup. I've done the cross bracing so far. I've used 28 gauge steel wire. The rigidity helps make it easy to assemble. But it does look a bit thick.

In order to help work on it, I got impatient for working out a way of mounting. So I glued a small #40 nut on the bottom of the plane, roughly at the center of gravity. I then cut  few 4" lengths of 1/2" wood dowel, with a small wood screw in each end. So I can use RE magnets to hold the plane on the dowel, and the dowel on my steel work table. Hopefully the nut works with the Omni-Stand I'd like to use. Based on the strong bond with the magnets I've already got, I think there are some other options as well.


Did some easy terrain this weekend. GW fences and signs from the fortified manor.

04 November 2011

Fokker DR.I - Assembled

I've been working late at night, squeezing in an hour or two of hobby stuff after a long day of watching my daughter and work. Not that I mind either of those, I enjoy both my new role as father and my new job quite a bit. But my hobby (and other interests) time is more or less limited to the last hour or two of the day - late at night. So I didn't feel up to working on the Pup's rigging tonight.

Instead I assembled the Fokker DR.I. Like I said previously, it really isn't even close to the quality of the Pup. But it was still a pretty quick assembly. If it was molded better, it would have gone more quickly. But in the end it looks OK, as long as you don't examine the detail (like the guns or engine) too closely.

This time I did leave the pilot separate. Sadly, there are cockpit details, as there were on the Pup.

The third model I already have in my possession is one of my favorites (and I don't know why, exactly) in the game, an Albatross D.V. Again, another Airfix model, and again it's got some soft detail and mold lines, like the Fokker, and not near the quality of the Pup. Maybe this is a British bias against German planes showing through? ;)

Over the weekend I hope to at least install the rigging on the Pup (none on the DR.I). With a little luck I will assemble the Albatross, too. Hopefully next week the next wave of planes will arrive here, as well as my first flight stand.

03 November 2011

Sopwith Pup - Assembled

Here's my first plane assembled, a Sopwith Pup. It's an old Airfix kit. I thought I would try assembling the whole thing first, then painting. In hindsight, I should have left the pilot out and painted him separately. But this is the first plastic non-gaming-specific kit I've done since I was a kid, so I was just following the instructions.

It was a little trickier than I thought. The cross-piece for the landing gear was missing, so I used brass rod and had to guess at the length. The upper wing was a pain in the ass to attach, as all its held on with are the struts connecting to the lower wing. But it turned out OK for a first try. I need to touch up the engine cowling a bit with some filing and maybe a bit of putty.

Unlike some of the other planes, this one is probably not going to be terribly interesting to paint.

I just cracked open what may be the next plane, a Fokker DR.1. It's another Airfix, but the quality is horrible compared to the Pup. More to come as I continue...

edit: As I just posted in a reply below, I found this site with some great photos to use as a reference for the rigging: http://www.werkost.com/Pup.htm

01 November 2011

New Project Takes Flight

I've played Blue Max, and more recently the further evolution, Canvas Eagles, with friends for many many years. In fact, since I met & joined the Twinsburg Wargame Association back maybe 15 years ago. (Wow, has it been that long?) In fact, I posted some photos from our recent Game Day last week.

So after years of consideration, I'm biting the bullet... I've got some 1/72 plane kits and I'm going to gather together some more, along with flight stands, hex map, etc.

I'm ordering a magnetized Omni-Stand from CorSec Engineering to see how well it will work with the 1/72 planes. I've got a mat from Hotz Mats, but unfortunately it's got a 4" hex pattern on it rather than the 5" I need. So I may order another from them, or maybe try one from CorSec. I've got a small selection of Allied planes, but I'm looking to expand the meager two Central planes in the collection so far.

These will be the first plastic aircraft kits (or any non-game company kits) I've built since I was a kid. Back then I was interested in the then contemporary jets of the '70s & '80s. Since then I've become far more interested in the early days of flight, which has further nudged me (for a long time) to start my own collection for Blue Max/Canvas Eagles.

As I mentioned previously, I enjoy the game quite a bit and think its appeal spans between both hardcore wargames and casual or family games. So another part of my reasoning for this project (besides just enjoying the planes) is to not only get more games in, but maybe recruit some new players.

Naturally, I will update my progress here.