Thursday, March 22, 2018

Folding table idea

We're finally winding down the various little repairs and fixes around our new home - and there were plenty of them. The gardening season is yet to start, so since there's nothing pressing to do in and around the house, I can now turn my thoughts to getting my gaming table set up.

My first thought was for a permanent table base with storage racks beneath, similar to those used by model railway enthusiasts. After fixing shelves and such I found I have at least adequate storage space for figures and models, but what I don't have is much floor space. This will change a bit when the better weather arrives. I can clear the last of the junk from our garage and transfer some stuff from gaming room to there. Even so, the lack of floor space remains a problem.

So, after a hunt around internet sites like Pinterest I found a solution to the problem in the table design shown in the photo.

It should be fairly cheap and easy to fit retractable legs to my existing table boards. Four sturdy bolts and an eight feet length of two-by-four will do for making the four legs, and a couple of lengths of four inch wide plank will work for the cross beams. The casters I found during our move turned out to have bent shanks, but I scored four nice solid brass casters at the local Habitat store for $1 each - bargain! They'll allow me to move the table around when it's set up. When not in use it'll fold up and stand against the wall.

I have a two-feet extension piece that turns the table into an eight feet long version. It bolts to the rest of the board through wooden battens and should be strong enough, but I'd prefer it to have some kind of support underneath for those absent-minded moments when I lean on the table. I've yet to work out how to do this. For now I'll be content with a six-by-four table for a while.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Girls of the SWA

Real life got in the way at times these last two weeks, although it's always a pleasure to cook in my own kitchen after waiting so long for our place to become available. (Dutch-style brown bread is baking even as I write). I even like to do various fixes around our new home - obstinate bathroom cabinets notwithstanding. This weekend just gone we did get to attend Cleveland Concoction, a nice SF/Fantasy convention at a new venue in Aurora, Ohio, finding the place without trouble even though a sudden blizzard descended on the area. The 'Lake Effect' snow stuck around all weekend, but by the time we left it was in bright sunshine.

I did manage to finish the VBCW 10mm figures for the Socialist Women's Alliance (SWA) platoon today. Although I'm not the world's greatest figure sculptor and my painting skills seem to have atrophied over the last few months, I think they look okay.

From left to right, back row - Medic with patient: 2" mortar crew: Two Lewis gun teams. Front row, left to right - Four riflewomen: Boyes AT rifle.

The figures are crafted from Sculpey and the teams are mounted on fender washers. I covered these with liquid nails and pressed dry tealeaves into the soft glue, letting it harden overnight before giving it a blast of 'Holly green' aerosol paint and finishing with wet-brushing on lighter green craft paints.

This addition makes up the numbers to two full sections, ready to take on all comers.

Then there's this...

My sainted brother-in-law left a toolbox behind after one of his visits. He does that kind of thing. He's a nice guy, but he'll vanish over the horizon following a family visit and afterwards we'll find a few boxes, bags and other bits-and-bobs that he 'forgot' tucked away in obscure places. I suspect it's his way of craftily de-cluttering his house at the expense of our living space.

But I digress. During the move I noticed a toolbox stuck in a corner of our spare bedroom. When I picked it up it sounded like it had a few things rattling around inside, but I didn't have time to investigate, just sticking it away in a space on the van and leaving it in storage with the rest of our stuff. Yesterday I came across the toolbox in our garage where the moving men had left it. I opened it and - found another whetstone.

*Head Desk*

Thursday, March 1, 2018

UK wargamers - public service announcement


Due to local adverse weather the police have closed access to Newark Showground. Therefore Hammerhead has been re-scheduled for 28th April 2018. Please share.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

And then there's this

One of those perpetually irritating things about moving house is the way things can vanish in transit. When we last moved over five years ago, my whetstone disappeared. Hunt high and low as I might, I could not find the blasted thing. I always forgot to buy a new one when we visited the hardware store, so I've done without.

Yesterday, while moving a chest of drawers, the whetstone appeared. I swear I searched for it in that chest of drawers half a dozen times along with all my other Man Cave furniture without success. And here it is, all dumb and innocent.

It's a useful item to have, and cheap too. A drop of mineral oil or baby oil on the stone and a few quick swipes back and forth restores a Stanley knife or modelling knife blade quite nicely, extending their life and reducing the need to buy new.

So, I don't have to buy a new stone. Now, if I can just find my inks...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

AVBCW Sculpey session

A change of pace from Dux B now. My Sculpey had been in long-term storage along with all my other modelling stuff and I wanted to see if it was still usable. It is. What to sculpt? Well, I have been mulling over an idea for a Chain of Command ladder campaign based on a VBCW scenario located near my old home town. The stalwart ladies of the Socialist Womens' Alliance (SWA) are due to hold an area close to the River Bure which will see an attack by the local Flegg Fencibles LDV.

My current batch of SWA figures are based on 10mm Pendraken Miniatures SCW milicianas, of which there is only one pose. I bought a pack of ten, and converted two Home Guard figures to a female leader and standard bearer with judicious use of Sculpey and PVA adhesive.

The lack of poses posed something of a problem so I sculpted some additions for the force, making it up to two full sections with support weapons. Luckily the milicianas wear utilitarian overalls which are not hard to sculpt. The basic result is shown below.

From l-r, 2-inch mortar and crew, two prone riflewomen, medic with patient, Boyes AT riflewoman, two more prone riflewomen, and four Lewis gun pairs with spare ammo drums.

These are still a work in progress. The figures have been baked, and the next step will be to add some weapons, belts, ammunition cases and so on.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Armed Might of Gaius Menusius

Aaand we're done!

Comanipulari to the bottom of the photo, Milites alongside them, with the numeri/levy bringing up the rear.

Tribune Gaius Menusius leads the charge.
All the shield transfers are on and the Romano-British army is ready to contest the Saxon invaders' attempt to conquer their homeland.

For some reason there are sixteen round shield designs in the LBMS set, but only one round shield in the Splintered Light Dux B pack the transfers are intended for. There are not enough for the oval shields. Since I was short four transfers for the champions and nobles, I painted those freehand. Luckily a few Chi-Rho designs are a lot easier to reproduce on a 15mm shield than later heraldic devices! I gave the natty little targe-type shield to the standard bearer, Fred Heckmonthwaite the Red, Pride of Spagthorpium*.

*Spagthorpium: Believed to have been founded in AD79½ as a small colonia of retired legionaries in what is now Yorkshire. The site fell victim to reverse coastal erosion in the 17th century. Sighted heading northwest in the vicinity of Leeds in March 1922, its current whereabouts are unknown.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dux B Shields - halfway-ish

More progress with the shields today. The levy/numerii are sporting theirs already. Now they can form shield wall, they're ready to take on the Saxon raiders in the brutal struggle for Britain.

So far the E6000 adhesive is holding well. It has good immediate 'grip,' and I was able to stand the figures up after only a few minutes. The label says 72 hours for full effect, so it should be fine.

The shields on the piece of card are drying off before the coat of gloss varnish goes on, which I'll probably apply tomorrow. These are the most colourful designs, suitable for the twelve Milites and six Comanipulari figures since they represent warriors with the cash to spend on fancier gear. I have seven shields left over, more than enough to equip the Lord, his sub-nobles and champion, but no transfers left to apply to them. At the moment I'm thinking of drawing the shield designs freehand. I could give the Lord the targe-like shield with the yellow design, but it seems a bit wussy for such a personage, so it could go to the standard bearer instead. We'll see.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tackling the shields.

A bit of progress on the shield transfers from Little Big Men Studios...

The instructions do warn they can be fiddly to apply, and yes they are, but not unduly so. Each sheet is covered with a clear layer of plastic. After cutting out the shield transfer with a sharp craft knife this layer has to be removed, exposing the sticky surface of the transfer beneath. The holes for the bosses are ready-cut, which is a thoughtful move. It allows you to align the transfer sticky side down with the shield. I use dental picks, tweezers and the craft knife blade to maneuver the transfer into place before dabbing it onto the shield surface. A drop of water to moisten the paper, thirty seconds countdown and off the paper comes, leaving a nice neat shield pattern. Once dry, the next step is to give the shields a coat of gloss varnish followed by one of matte to protect the design.

Easier than painting the designs, I think.

So far I've achieved good results, with only one transfer going slightly wonky. This was easily covered up by a touch of brown paint. If it goes really bad, LBMS advise scratching the transfer off and trying a new one. Touch wood I won't need to do that.

I selected the more monochrome designs for the levy, with a couple of colourful ones to break up the pattern a bit. Another feature I like about these transfers is the artist has included battle damage in his design. Exposed boards, scratches and dents are distributed nicely across the sheet, allowing for a slightly beat-up look to the groups and formations.

The next step will be to tidy up the shield edges with a bit of paint, then they'll be ready to glue to the figure. Lacking anything else I'll use E6000 industrial strength adhesive. It's necessary. My previous record of gluing shield onto figures is not too good. My old Seleucid pike phalanx shed shields like Autumn leaves.

Now, if I can work out a way to hold everything in place while the adhesive dries, that'll be great.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Victor Milán, RIP

A break from my normal posts about gaming and such now. Some of my readers may know my wife and I are regulars at Archon, the Midwest's premier SF/Fantasy convention held in Collinsville, Illinois. Sadly, one of the towering personalities of the con, Vic Milán, passed away yesterday.

Vic was a friend of ours, a genuinely nice guy, prolific fellow author, and associate of George R R Martin in his Wild Cards series. A veteran of Archon almost from its first years, he served as MC for the famous Archon Masquerade, where his wit, patience and kindness to the contestants, many of whom are nervous at appearing on the public stage, are legendary. Vic always had a smile and a word for everybody, and we'll miss the many times we spent chatting around the table in the con's green room.

Our condolences to his family and friends on his passing. The world of fandom is the poorer for it.
* * * *
I'll post about my progress on the Dux B shields another day. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dux transfers

Okay, so I wasn't exactly hovering by the mail box this last week, but I did keep a watch on it, anticipating the arrival of the shield transfers from Little Big Men Studios. They arrived yesterday, and very nice they are too, with beautiful detailing for both Romano-British and Saxon forces.

They came nicely packed with clear instructions for use. I can see I'll have to use my 'cheaters' (reading glasses) to work with them, but it shouldn't be a problem. Some preparation is needed on the shields themselves before the transfers can be applied, so I'll be working on that this next week or so. Hopefully it won't be long before the stalwart chaps of the Romano-British army are equipped with the stuff to make their famous shield wall from!


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