Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wonderful Things!

This morning I received a parcel... it was a dog-proof box...

...and in that, in bubble-wrap and plastic bags were shiny things.

This is the fruit of the Oathsworn Kickstarter that I signed up for last September.  The figures were very attractive as greens, and they come out just as well in the (metal) flesh.

This has been a model Kickstarter.  There were many relevant updates, both during and after the fundraising (covering stuff like the design process, casting, choice of boxes and a how-to on the bases) and everything was on time and delivered as promised (in fact, they are ahead of there promise of a February delivery!).

I'd certainly deal with them again.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Painting Challenge - Latest Submission

As regular readers will know, I've been working on some more 54mm toy soldiers for The Wife's nephew.  Well after his birthday, I've got them finished and ready to send off.

They are Armies in Plastic Set 5573 'Zulu War 1879, 24th Foot' (though to be honest the only difference between the various regiments they sell is the box art and the colour of the plastic they are molded in - these are a lurid red).   

Tbey didn't quite glow in the dark

It's a nice set - 18 figures in six different poses. The UK distributor is Steve Weston - don't be put off by the poorly-designed website, he provides excellent service.

The leave me within a spit of my 500 point target.  I'm now wondering whether the raise it to 1,000 or 750.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Paint Table Satuday #12

Well, it's the time of the week to follow Sofie's lead and show a photo of the paint table.

But to tell the truth, there's not a lot to see.  I'm just about to make a submission to the painting challenge, so have taken them of the table.  My entry for the Heroes bonus round is progressing nicely but I haven't yet decided what to move onto next.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wednesday Welcome

A warm Wednesday welcome to new follower Gina of Beauty From Ashes.  Gina is a  talented seamstress, and her blog is devoted to her penchant for historical costume.  Those of you interested in Victoriana will find some good inspiration there.

As her subscription serves to remind me of my concern that the blog has been too narrow in focus in the last few months (and because it's generally a good idea to cultivate followers who make macaroons), I've had a rummage about and found the collection of cdv's of New England seafarer's and their families I bought some time ago.

But as you've decided that this year you'll concentrate on the 1920s, here's my grandparent's wedding photo

Monday, 20 January 2014

Painting Challenge Vehicle Bonus Round

There were some very impressive entries in the latest bonus round.  Most of them were even vehicles!  Even The Wife was inspired to vote.

Having had a piece almost painted for weeks (I almost submitted it for the Villains round), I decided last Thursday I didn't want to put it in for this round.  I therefore fell back on Plan B and did a quick and dirty paint-job on a Lledo van that I'd picked up for a couple of quid.

The inspiration for this was the photos of the vehicles in Roy Chapman Andrew's expeditions (he was the guy who first discovered dinosaur eggs in their nests and is cited as one of the inspirations for Indiana Jones).
His vehicles were provided by Dodge and featured in their ads.
It's a vehicle I've wanted to add to my fleet for a while.  I've also been meaning to try out mystery objects covered in tarpaulins - they make very useful plot points.  If I'd thought a little longer, I would have left them removable so I could use them  as stand-alone markers.  All-in-all, putting this one together has given me some good ideas for Next Time, and I'm minded to put another jalopy together almost at once.
I think that next time I'll paint it black and add more tools and lumber 
around the van

And more rope.  I need more rope!
I just hope that the charity shop still has the vans I saw last week.  Of the three I currently have, two are too nice to paint over (a PO Van and an RNLI Morris Minor) and the other hasn't any tires (that could do for adventures in the Land of the Scallies I suppose).

Meanwhile, I've made a start on my figure for the Hero Bonus round.

"Can you tell what it is yet?"

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Paint Table Saturday

I'm pleased to say that Sofie's initiative to get us sharing photos of our paint tables seems to be flourishing - the list of this week's participants can be seen here and she's also set up a Google+ group.

My own contribution is here:-

I've found it a difficult week for painting, as I reported the other day.

As you'll see, I didn't deliver Johnny's 54mms.  They're a whisker away from being finished, but I haven't done anything with them.  You may just see the Zulus that The Wife is painting for him.

I was dis-satisfied with the figure I was planning to submit to the vehicles round in the painting challenge, so dug something else out for a quick job - it will be revealed to the world tomorrow.

And once I finish Johnny's figures?  If I'm going to meet my intention of submitting to all the bonus rounds, I should press on  to them.  But I've a yearning to do something else.  I don't know...

New Follower

A warm welcome to Roger of the Rebel Barracks.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Deadlines, deadlines!

Today was The Wife's nephew's birthday.  I didn't get the Zulu War troops finished in time to send them off to him.  I've arranged a business trip to Cambridge on Friday and hopefully will be able to drop them off with him.  

Despite the fact that the submission for the Painting Challenge's next bonus round was 90% done when I submitted for the last one, I still haven't finished it (though, again it will be done).  

To be honest, it's been a bad week all round.  I've been quite low, which makes me tired and not feel like doing anything at all.  Today has been much better.

I've also heard that a deadline for a journal article I'd written has been shifted from mid-Jan to mid-Feb.  That's fine by me.  I'd done the text before Christmas, but I've been let down over the illustrations, so have to do a little more work sourcing those.

Monday, 13 January 2014

WWI Coins

The other week I posted about the new £2.00 coin the Royal Mint is issuing to commemorate the start of World War I.

It features Kitchener in his 'Your Country Needs You!' pose.  Rather predictably, and a sadly, there has been a backlash to this.  In my normally excellent newspaper last week someone wrote that he was unworthy because he recruited and sent a lot of men to their deaths.  Showing an unusual knowledge of history for such writers, he also pointed out that Kitchener was also pretty mean to the inhabitants of the Sudan and "invented concentration camps" (perhaps he'd seen 'Dad's Army' and 'Breaker Morant').

I'm not really here to defend Kitchener.  Those three factoids are true as far as they go, and importantly they show the level that the 'debate' about the Commemoration of World War I is at.  I find this whole Michael Gove vs Blackadder debate rather depressing.  Perhaps by the time we get to August 2014 (or November 2018), things will be a little less black-and-white.

Going back to the coins, there is now an on-line petition to get Edith Cavell on a coin.  I support this suggestion, but I haven't signed the petition, partly as it's being touted as a balance to the Kitchener coin (using the ignorant and false distinction that he was 'For' war and she was 'Against' it) as because it was almost certainly already planned for 2015 (the centenary of her death).   After the hassle the Bank of England had over not pre-announcing their plans to have Jane Austin on a banknote (and thus inviting 'Bank Ignores Women' headlines) it's a surprise that the Mint has merely responded that they have plans to feature other individuals, but will neither confirm nor deny that Cavell is among them.
On the assumption they mean it when they say 'individuals', who else will they feature?  I can't think who would be appropriate.  Let's assume there's one a year:

2014 - Kitchener
2015 - ? Cavell
2016 - ???
2017 - ? TE Lawrence
2018 - ? Wilfred Owen

My guess for 2018 is based on the fact that Owen will be a crowd-pleaser - everyone remember him from school and he also appeals to the 'War is Bad' sector.  Equally, we all know Lawrence of Arabia (and he covers 'The Treaty of Versailles Was Bad').

2016 might mark the Battles of the Somme or Jutland.  I can't imagine Haig or Rawlinson would be politically acceptable.  But what about Jellicoe or Beatty?  It would be amusing to see the 1920s Jutland controversies rehashed.

Who else features in the popular mind when considering WWI?

  • Sassoon?  Can't have both him and Owen.
  • Lloyd-George?  Churchill?  Are they too political?
  • Capt Fryatt?  Only naval geeks have heard of him, and Cavell covers the 'unjustly shot by the Germans'.
  • What about the Irish, Canadians, ANZACs, Indians etc?
  • Assuming we have the army and navy already represented, who could represent the aerial forces?  Trenchard perhaps.  

Tubby Clayton, Woodbine Willie or  Walter Tull might be interesting.  Sir Fabian Ware would get my vote.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Dr Who Figures

The children's magazine Dr Who Adventures always comes with freebies.  The latest bundle consists of the following

 The gift most likely to be of interest to us is the monster build kit.

It contains a Weeping Angel, a Sontarian, a Cyberman and a Silurian.  They seem to be about 54mm.

At £3.99, you might think it an expensive kit, but if you know youngsters interested in Dr Who (who will hopefully also like the other stuff in the bundle), it might serve as an intro to modelling or painting miniatures.

I think I'm going to make it up for the youngest of my many nephews, who's Dr Who mad.  I'll update you on progress.

I haven't done anything on the other nephew's Zulu War figures since my last update.  The Wife has decided that it would be quicker if she painted the Zulu figures.  She appears to be more of a stickler for historical accuracy than I am, and has spent a day on the internet researching their costumes.  She's finding it interesting: I might get her some figures for her to get in touch with her Boer roots.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Analogue Update

The Villains Round of the painting challenge was a good one, with a nice variety of figures and everyone seeming to be keen to up their game.

My own entries were a trio of Mad Maharajas.

They're actually Studio Miniature's Sikh Officers from their new Sikh Wars range.  Regular readers will remember that I picked them up in their Kickstarter.  For my purposes they'll be the deliberately anachronistic leaders of a movement intent on throwing the British out of India and restoring the Princely States.  As such, they could be leading troops into battle or plotting the repatriation of certain symbols of authority now incorporated into the Crown Jewels.  Anyone know anyone who produces Yeoman Warders?

They were very enjoyable to paint.  I wanted to throw a lot of red and gold at them to represent meglomaniacs' bling, but also to choose something from the palette to represent the gorgeous silks available to Punjabi royalty.

Meanwhile, the boy's 54mms are progressing well.  I'll be submitting the Brits and starting on the Zulus in the next few days.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Knight Club

I caught the end half of an interesting programme on BBC3 last night called 'Knight Club'.  If followed a group guys joining the UK Team for Battle of the Nations.  This is a medieval re-enactment tournament, with full body contact (ie, they hit each other hard - broken limbs seemed common-place) matches are played 1v1, 5v5, 21v21 and 'all against all'.

The novices seemed a mixed lot, but the star for me was a Manc who basically just wanted a scrap with some Frenchmen ("this'll pay 'em back for the toilets").  Their 5v5 team had the misfortune to meet the Israelis (who used tactics like co-operating with each other "most of them are ex-military") and the Ukranians (who were big buggers who eschwed the blunted swords and used maces to bash them).  The team enjoyed themselves, the Manc decided that next year he'd put some training in, and they won the Best Newcomers' trophy.  Over-all, Team UK (who's stars seemed to be Polish) got to the semi-finals.

If you're in the UK you can follow this link to the BBC iPlayer to watch it on-line (but only for the next 6 days).  The team's webpage is at

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Analogue Round-Up

Week three of the painting challenge is about to start, and I feel it's going well.  I'm pleased with my own progress and am impressed by the marvelous work submitted by other Wild Bunchers (that sounds as if it has something to do with ill-fitting underwear...).

Painting this week has been going fitfully - most days I get an hour or so in.  Not a lot compared to some of you, but it means I'm making an effort to sit down each evening and paint.  I managed to submit my entry for the villains bonus round on Friday, and hope I've raised my game from the civilian round.

I started the Zulu War infantry I mentioned the other day.  I don't normally do before and after photos, but these figures were such a lurid colour that I took a photo straight out of the box.

Mind you, it was quite handy for spotting the bit's I'd missed when spray-priming.   They're now looking a little different.

I've realised that I might have missed a trick when I submitted my Santa figure.  I should have used it as my Peckinpah-themed figure - 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia'.

What's in the box, Santa?

I've taken advantage of the post-Christmas sales at Wayland Games and Northstar to by some odds and ends.  The figures (a Celtic dog-handler with hounds, some dungeon monsters and a trio of snakeman) might make an appearance later in the challenge.  The Thrilling Expeditions looks a good read for 99p - it's a Wild West special.

This Week's Interesting Obits

Lt-Col John Gaff (d. 28 Nov 2013)
Bomb disposal officer awarded the George Medal
Daily Telegraph obit 30 Dec 2013

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Books and Stuff - Dec 2013

A monthly round-up of my book news.

What I've been reading...

I finally finished How to Seize A Dragon's Jewell, one of Cressida Cowell's 'How to Train Your Dragon' Series.  I'm not one of those adults who customarily reads children's books, but my wife bought me this as a lighthearted birthday present, knowing that dragons and I have a history.

There are two things to note: first, this is the tenth in the series; and secondly, the story background is different from that of the DreamWorks film.  Neither of these spoiled my enjoyment of the book (I also enjoyed the film).  I would think that it would be ideal for bedtime stories.  The chapters are a good length, and generally build up to exciting climaxes; add to this some great characters and dialogue and you've all the excuse you need to put on some silly voices.  The authors illustrations are nicely idiosyncratic too.

I'm going to look out for other books in this series and I also read the little book How to Train Your Viking.

Completely different is Paul Vallely's Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, which I've also finished.  As I studied the modern church at university, I've read many papal biographies.  It's a good rule of thumb that any biography written in the first year of a papacy is going to be hagiographical pap or a complete hatchet-job (sadly, some popes never progress any further - decent biography of Pius XI anyone?).

This is neither.  It's a well-written piece of investigative journalism that explores the paradox of Francis: how the authoritarian Jesuit Provincial in 1970s Argentina became everyone's favorite liberal uncle and advocate of the 'option for the poor'.  For Vallely the crux is the case of the two Jesuits imprisoned by the junta after they were disowned by Bergoglio.  His critics have used this case to level charges of collaboration against him: Vallely convincingly dismisses these charges, but argues that his naivete in saying that he no longer considered the men Jesuits gave the green light for the government to arrest them.  Vallely considers that Francis has been trying to atone ever since.

An important book on Francis' pre-papal career.

I also read the Journal of the Life Saving Awards Research Society (which had a couple of my own contributions in it) and started Giles Foden, Ladysmith.

What I've bought...

Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Viking - 30p

Rose George, Deep Sea and Foreign Going - £1.00
Mike Hally, Electronic Brains: Stories from the Dawn of the Computer Age - £1.50
Mike Palmer, Eddystone: The Finger of Light - £2.00

Books for free!

From the One Man and His Brushes giveaway and Christmas gifts.

Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam

Chris Martin, A Gentleman's Guide to Beard and Moustache Management
Rebecca Rushforth, St Margaret's Gospel-Book: The Favorite Book of an Eleventh Century Queen of Scots
Andrew Salmon, To The Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951
Nigel Slater, Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

For Tamsin - Happy New Year Everyone!

She was young, she was pure, she was new, she was nice
She was fair, she was sweet seventeen.
He was old, he was vile, and no stranger to vice
He was base, he was bad, he was mean.
He had slyly inveigled her up to his flat
To view his collection of stamps,
And he said as he hastened to put out the cat,
The wine, his cigar and the lamps:

     Have some madeira, m'dear. You really have nothing to fear.
     I'm not trying to tempt you, that wouldn't be right,
     You shouldn't drink spirits at this time of night.
     Have some madeira, m'dear. It's really much nicer than beer.
     I don't care for sherry, one cannot drink stout,
     And port is a wine I can well do without...
     It's simply a case of chacun a son gout
     Have some madeira, m'dear.

Unaware of the wiles of the snake-in-the-grass
And the fate of the maiden who topes,
She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
Her courage, her eyes and his hopes.
She sipped it, she drank it, she drained it, she did!
He promptly refilled it again,
And he said as he secretly carved one more notch
On the butt of his gold-headed cane:

     Have some madeira, m'dear,
     I've got a small cask of it here.
     And once it's been opened, you know it won't keep.
     Do finish it up. It will help you to sleep.
     Have some madeira, m'dear.
     It's really an excellent year.
     Now if it were gin, you'd be wrong to say yes
     The evil gin does would be hard to assess..
     Besides it's inclined to affect me prowess,
     Have some madeira, m'dear.

Then there flashed through her mind what her mother had said
With her antepenultimate breath,
"Oh my child, should you look on the wine that is red
Be prepared for a fate worse than death!"
She let go her glass with a shrill little cry,
Crash! Tinkle! it fell to the floor;
When he asked, "What in Heaven?" She made no reply,
Up her mind, and a dash for the door.

     Have some madeira, m'dear.
     Rang out down the hall loud and clear
     With a tremulous cry that was filled with despair,
     As she fought to take breath in the cool midnight air,
     Have some madeira, m'dear.
     The words seemed to ring in her ear.
     Until the next morning, she woke in her bed
     With a smile on her lips and an ache in her head...
     And a beard in her lug 'ole that tickled and said:
     Have some madeira, m'dear!
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