Monday, 18 May 2015

NZ Wars - Maori (4)

Here we have the final 4 Maori figures that I painted recently, all from Empress Miniatures pack NZ14, "Maoris with shotguns".  I painted them exactly the same way as with previous Maori.  A note on the skin colour: yes, I know that it is not quite right.  Maori would be darker than this.  I explained on TMP that the reasons for my colour choice are: (1) practical ease – the Foundry palette I'm using is there, available and seems the best of the bunch, and I don't like mixing my own colours, to be honest; (2) I tend to use lighter-than-life colours on 25mm anyway; (3) a lighter flesh tone shows off the tattoos more clearly and that to me is the thing that distinguishes these figures as Maori; and (4) I remember seeing an exhibition of Gottfried Lindauer portraits in Auckland a few years ago and I was surprised at how light he'd painted the maori skin on some of his maori portraits.  An example is below - it was pointed out on TMP that Lindauer may have painted what he wanted to see, or thought he'd seen, which could well be right.   Lindauer was born in Bohemia in 1839 and moved to New Zealand in 1874, apparently to avoid being conscripted into the Austrian army.  He settled near Wellington and become well known for his portraits.

Anyway, that's the reasoning behind the decision. It's not a perfect colour, but at least I've rationalised it in my own mind!I didn't add much in the way of skirt decoration, as I wanted these figures to have clothing that was less ornate than that worn by the chiefs I painted earlier.

That's it for the NZ Wars for a while.  I have a couple of packs left to do - some more militia and the RN 24-pounder and crew, but I'll wait until I pick of the other new-ish packs from Empress and paint the lot together.  I still have a backlog of painted units to post about - 3 AWI regiments of American infantry, some French Napoleonics, First Carlist War Isabelinos and a couple of other things.  I'm hoping to have all those posted up over the next couple of weeks - it's just a question of finishing all the basing and then taking photos.  On the workbench are, amongst other things, the last few figures for the 2nd South Carolina Regiment and some more 1815 stuff to celebrate the bicentenary.   This year I've been trying very hard to reduce my leadp/plastic pile and not buy anything new.  So far, I've bought about 5 packs' worth of figures, and acquired a free box of Warlord plastic 1815 British infantry from my Wargames Illustrated subscription.  I'm determined to make a conscious effort to run down those piles this year.  I feel I should be painting lots of Napoleonics and I still have plenty sitting at home.     

4 figures. Painted March 2015.

And a couple of group shots with some of the figures I painted a few years ago:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Rotorua - Flora and fauna

After I returned from my last trip to New Zealand, over Christmas 2013/2014, I posted about the Maori buildings and other bits and bobs at Rotorua (see here).  We also visited Paradise Valley Springs wildlife park, which despite its rather cheesy-sounding name is a beautiful place with plenty of birds, animals and trout to admire and a rather spectacular "treetops canopy walk".  It was during that walk that I took some time to look at the forest to try to work out how the NZ bush might be modelled - with extreme difficulty is probably the answer, but I thought I'd post some photos and a couple of observations.  While the trees come in all shapes and sizes, it is of course the ferns that make the landscape distinctively New Zealand (at least to English eyes), and naturally there are many different types of ferns. 

I think these are black tree ferns, which are NZ's highest and can grow to a height of 20 metres.  


I think this a "Wheki Ponga" or tree fern, which grows up to about 6-8 metres.  The trucks are very thick and are used for building materials.  The fonds are quite symmetrical and look a bit like a shuttlecock:

Low-growing ferns are "Kiokio" or palm-leaf ferns:
Then you have all sorts of other trees, fuchsias, white pines and bushes alongside the ferns:

I thought these little prickly-looking flowers were interesting, although I didn't catch their name:

And here are just a couple of more panoramic shots, including what a path through the forest might look like (with Hugo doing his best Haka impression)

I forget to take photos of the new Maori figures I painted recently so those will appear at the weekend.  I'm just finishing off a new Continental Regiment using Perry plastic figures, and I'm half way through the 2nd South Carolina Regiment (plastics again).  Also on the painting table are 1815 French infantry and a couple of vignettes.   

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

NZ Wars - 58th Foot (2)


I meant to keep on posting daily over the bank holiday weekend, but it proved to be very busy and so apologies.  What we have here are 6 further figures for the 58th Foot, who I previously wrote about here.  The 58th arrived in New Zealand in March 1845 after spending a couple of years on garrison duty in New South Wales as part of a large reinforcement desatched from Australia in response to the sacking of Kororareka (modern Russell in the Bay of Islands, north of Auckland).  Other troops were sent from the 96th and 99th regiments of foot and the Royal Marines.   The 58th fought in the south of North Island as well as in the Bay of Islands.  Apparently, when the battalion returned to the UK in 1858 some 300 of its number who were due for discharge decided to remain in New Zealand. I also gather that the 58th has the distinction of being the last British infantry regiment that carried its colours into battle, in 1881 at Laing's Nek during the First Boer War.  35% of the battalion's strength was lost during that battle, including 5 officers who successively carried the colours.

These figures are from 2 Empress Miniatures packs, a command pack and then a "British regular officers and skirmishers" pack.  Personally, I'd like to see a full pack of skirmishers - I can see a need for several of the chaps lying down but less such need for the officer and sergeant figures that go with them.  As I noted before, these figures also work for the British Auxiliary Legion in the First Carlist War so I expect I'll pick up another couple of packs in due course to bulk out my BAL command stands when I get around to doing them.  In fact, the reason why I didn't paint the command figures back in 2011 was that originally I was intending to use them for the FCW.  The trousers on these figures were painted in a similar way as for the Royal Navy, so "Foundry palette "British Royal Blue 74" and then an extra highlight of "Deep Blue 20B".

Six figures, painted March 2015.

The other figures in the unit were feeling a bit left out, so here's a team photo:

Friday, 1 May 2015

NZ Wars - the Royal Navy (2)

I had intended to post some more maori today, but I realised I'd only photographed half the pack, so those will have to wait until the weekend.  So time for some Brits instead!  Empress have released several packs of Royal Navy types for the New Zealand Wars.  I painted up a rocket crew last year (and some Indian Mutiny types I used as stand-ins) and have now finished the 3 packs of tars on foot, one of which is a command/characters pack (see left).   These are crisp figures, pretty easy to paint.  Information readily available in print or on the internet as to  the precise uniform of the RN in the 1840s seemed pretty thin.  There's some useful information in the old Osprey MAA "The Royal Navy" and Roly Hermans has a lot of good stuff here.  Unlike Roly, I chickened out of the light blue collars and decided to add some variety to the colour of the scarves as well.  I suspect that the scarves were black, but I wanted to have a non-uniform "been out on campaign for years" look and so gave some figures red and light blue scarves.  A couple of the sailors also have off-grey shirts to add more variety.  The lieutenant and petty officers are in regulation dress, though - black scarves all round.   The blue used is the Foundry "British Royal Blue 74" palette.  Once varnished, this goes quite dark and the highlights becomes pretty subtle, which works well for RN uniforms.

These are useful figures.  I'm sure they could be used for the First Carlist War, which saw British sailors deployed on land several times, and probably most periods from 1820 to the late 1850s.   In the 1840s NZ Wars, sailors hauled cannon off their ships to be used in sieges of pas, but they also fought as infantry (in effect), particularly in the defence of Kororareka and the attack on Ruapekapeka.  The latter battle involved some 340 men drawn from four Royal Navy ships and one vessel from the East India Company's fleet.

Twelve figures. Painted March 2015


Thursday, 30 April 2015

NZ Wars - Maori (3)

It's New Zealand week again! Just over a year ago I did a series of posts on the New Zealand Wars of the 1840s - see here.  It;s taken me a while to return to the period, but over the next few days I'm going to do another series of posts on more Empress Miniatures figrues that I have painted recently.  My earlier series of posts described the history of the war of 1844-45 and I won't repeat that.  Instead, I'll concentrate on a few uniform and painting notes and I'll add some more factual snippets from my last couple of visits to New Zealand.

First up are some Maori chiefs that for some reason I didn't get around to painting last time.  These figures are from a chieftains pack (together with a Hone Heke personality figure) apart from the chap at the end on the right, who is from a characters pack.  Lovely figures in good, dramatic poses and, as always from Empress, very clean sculpts.  The illustrations I have seen show Maori cloaks and clothes from this period as being largely brown and beige in colour with limited woven geometric patterning.  I added some coloured borders to the cloaks to reflect the status of these men (taniko is the word in Maori, apparently).  Zig-zags and chevrons seem to have popular patterns and these are pretty easy to paint.  There are various words for the weapons used by the Moari.  The two greenstone weapons here are probably kotiate rather than mere clubs, and the former were usually made of wood or bone rather than jade or greenstone.  However, again I wanted to make these leaders distinctive and so decided to paint them green (using the Foundry "Bright Green 2"5 palette).  The long club that the chap on the left is brandishing is a tewhatewha, and it was customary for those weapons to be decorated with bird feathers.  Rifle stocks often had carved decorations and I have tried to reflect that as well.        

As explained in my earlier posts, I paint Maori skin with the Foundry palette "South American Flesh 119".  That may be a bit light, but it is suitably distinctive to my European colour scheme.  Anything darker and the tattoos would be less noticeable.  Those I paint with a dark blue colour rather than black (Foundry "French Blue 65A").  I have seen portraits and photos of old Maori whose faces are covered in tattoos.  With these figures I have tried to add a few more tattoos than I do with "rank and file", but still adhering to a "less is more" approach.

More Maori tomorrow, then the Royal Navy and British infantry.

Four figures. Painted March 2015.


Monday, 27 April 2015

Salute 2015

I've failed to live up to my blog intentions yet again, but I do have drafts in the works and I'm determined to make more of an effort now.  Salute took place on Sunday and already you can see dozens of photos of everything on various sites and blogs.  I've added 30 or so more below. I arrived at about 11.15 (which realistically is the earliest I can get there from Chelmsford)  and there was no queue at all, and even better there were still plenty of freebie bags being handed out so I didn't miss out on the show exclusive Perry plastic Agincourt figure.  The hall itself initially felt very cramped and crowded; indeed walking around for the first half hour felt quite oppressive.  But things then eased out as people moved around the hall and while many trade stands were completely mobbed by customers (a couple of traders told me at the end that they had had very successful days) it became easier to move around after midday.  The main thoroughfares were bigger, there were more tables to pause at to re-arrange one's rucksack and I thought that this year the Warlords had really cracked how to maximise the Excel space.  It was also useful that just down the corridor was a Sherlock Holmes convention, with many attendees in period costume - so we wargamers didn't stick out in the Excel Centre as much as we usually do.    

I walked around the show with my usual gang of mates - Malc "Little Armies" of the Ten Figures a Week blog, Timmo and Ronan the Librarian/Supercilius Maximus, and chatted to Eclaireur, Levied Troop, Martin at Foundry, Martin from the Warlords and the Loughton guys on the way.  I finally managed to meet some people I've known "virtually" for some time - Steve Jones, whose outstanding Guilford Courthouse game won an award, and John Fletcher, the guru behind "Liberators!" and wargaming the South American wars of independence (the subject of my very next post - honest!), who gave me good advice on the look of terrain for this period.  I thought that while there perhaps not as many "stand out" games as usual the general standard was higher than last year.  Certainly the terrain used was generally very good - green baize seems to be history now and most of the games had bespoke terrain to some extent.  A lot of the games seemed tied to either a particular set of rules or a range of figures (sometimes both) - nothing wrong with that.  I also thought there were more children and families - I'm aware that I always say that and perhaps I notice them more now that I'm beginning to think about when it might be worth bringing Hugo and Monty.   My purchases were light - renewing my Wargames Illustrated sub, some Foundry paints, a couple of packs of Perry figures (the Ewart Waterloo vignette and the AWI camp set), another box of Perry plastic 1815 French infantry and a Maori warband from Eureka.  Malc kindly gave me two bottles of his company's recently released Fonseca "Waterloo Edition" port (see a glowing review here).  YUM.     

There were two AWI games this year.  The first was Guilford Courthouse, a magnificent effort that I thought looked perfect: just the right number of trees; plenty of space to move around; soggy-looking fields in front of the American first line; beautifully-painted figures.  The whole table is shown at the top of this post, and some other shots are below. 



The other AWI games was put on by the Essex Gamesters - a typically enormous game featuring Ron Ringrose's 25mm scaled ships.  The game was based on the Penobscot Expedition of 1779, dramatised by Bernard Cornwell in his novel "The Fort".  I failed to take a grand sweeping photo of the whole thing, but here are some details (not sure why there's a Hessian joining the Continental assault in the 7th photo).  I liked seeing pretty much every 25mm 18th century figure that's ever been released in this game, and also some Foundry Wild West "Mountain Men" which looked pretty good as militia types.


Here are photos of some other games.  As always, I'm aware that I missed some games completely (such as Dalauppror's Stockholm 1392 and the Two Fat Lardies' game) and didn't take photos of all those I did see.  So apologies to those not featured below.

Here is the Warlords' "Liberators" game, the battle of Araure 1813, using a variety of 20mm plastic figures with ingenious conversions.  This was one of my show highlights, and Martin Gane and the Warlords did a great job on advertising this colourful and exciting period.


Wargames Illustrated had several games.  Here are three of them.  The first is Beersheba 1917, with the Australian Light Horse charging a Turkish position.  Lovely terrain and figures; sadly the only photo I took of the Australian cavalry was badly blurred.


Secondly, here is the Battle of Evesham 1265 in 25mm.


Thirdly, a "Cold War Gone Hot" game.


Scarab Miniatures had a Nagashino 1575 game in 25mm.:

This 1914 game in 10mm by Real Time Wargames had lovely terrain and showed what can be achieved with smaller scales.

This is another small figure WW1 game, I think First Ypres from Wyvern Wargamers.

CTK Wargaming's "Zap the Zepp" WW1 game.

This was Wyre Forest Gamers' beautiful Great Northern War game, Fraustadt 1706,  with fantastic snow-effect terrain.  Again it demonstrates what 6mm can do that is very difficult to replicate in 25mm.

Dunkirk in (I think) 25mm; unfortunately I didn't catch who from.  Again, the terrain and detail were superb.  I thought also that this sort of WW2 game, where there are a small number of figures facing armour and superior numbers really bring home the terrifying reality of WW2 battle.    

The Royal Air Force Wargaming Association had a brillant game of "Sharpe's Waterloo".  This was a game of the making of the television show rather than Waterloo itself, so the table had camera crews, a canteen van and other associated vehicles.  There was a card system for random events, such as Sean Bean leaving the "battle" to chat up the female producer.

This Agincourt in 15mm from Ancient & Modern Army Supplies and Donnington Miniatures was superb.  I loved the ploughed-up look of the terrain and the space created - the waves of French were clearly delineated.

More stunning terrain from Southend Wargames Club with their 10mm Napoleonic siege of Rosas 1808.  Lovely mdf ships and played with Capitan Games rules.

Loughton Strike Force had their usual 25mm Waterloo loveliness.  This particularly appealed to me because the final attack of the Guard is the part of the battle's orbat that I've slowly been painting up over the past few years.


Blitzkrieg Miniatures were showcasing their Panzer Battles rules with two WW2 games, including this 25mm desert one.  When I first saw the tanks and vehicles I thought they were mdf!

Another wintry scene, WW2 Ardennes action; unfortunately I didn't catch the name of the team responsible for it.

Simon Miller had Cremona AD69 in 25mm.  Once again, lovely terrain and you can't beat a bit of Roman civil war.

Last, but very much not least, we have the 25mm Agincourt from the Lance and Longbow Society and Simon Chick.  Simon wasn't there when I passed by, but the figures and terrain were, as ever, stunning.


4Ground had various mini-games to showcase their mdf sets.  This WW2 one looked very nice.

I'd been tempted by the 4Ground La Haye Sainte mdf set when it was released but Timmo had warned me that it was big.  It was out for inspection at the show and it really is massive.  In all the rush to release mdf kit buildings, it seems to me that little thought has been given to table footprint and gaming practicalities.  The size of this model means it can only really be used for a scenario based purely on the fight for LHS and then at a low figure/man ratio, as even at 1:20 the garrison would be dwarfed by the model.  4Ground's middle eastern buildings looked pretty good, albeit again a bit on the large side.

That's it for another year.  Salute is the only show I get to these days.