Wednesday, 31 August 2011

WW1 scenery

If you haven't read it then let me recommend:

Its the sort of article I would love to be able to write but I haven't got the room, the time, the opportunity, the patience, the skill, the motivation.......

Some more Normans

I did a few Norman units a few years ago in which I adopted a common colour scheme. Here are the blue and yellows. Probably not historically accurate but who knows? The Bayeux tapestry does not have an opinion. Anyway I thought they looked good and the theme meant that I didn't have to come up with a brand new colour scheme for every figure.

In retrospect their faces do look a bit yellow. I was surprised at this as I do use the GW flesh tones which seem to be pinkier than the VMC ones. But otherwise I was happy with them.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Some more oldies who were also sold into slavery. These are Crusader miniatures and were great to paint. I'm quite a fan of the chunky style particularly with my ever more feeble eyesight. A couple of months ago I painted some of the Perry ACW plastics and was surprised at how small they seemed. I'm contemplating getting some of the plastic WotR or Napoleonic sets but will probably initially try them out just to see how I can cope with them. I doubt they will have eyes! Or should I get Victrix?

Anyway, here come the Normans.........

Sunday, 28 August 2011

eBay, Paypal and strange domestic habits

It has been a bit of an eBay and Paypal morning so I am obviously in a bad mood. It's ever so easy when they want to take money off you but when you need a bit of service in exchange for your cash it all becomes a bit difficult. Autoreply e mails are up there with call centres when it comes to unhelpful.

Anyway having endured the misery I had a short float around the 'for sale' bit. I was somewhat surprised to see one seller advertising their figures coming from a 'smoke free house'. I'd seen pet free houses put on a black list before and this should not have come as a shock but it did. Are there really people out there who are so discriminating that they can detect these aromas coming off model soldiers? I suppose there must be. If so, what else do they object to? I think back to my house and all the potentially harmful influences that might be lurking. I do like a bowl of peanuts every now and then but am now concerned that I should be mentioning it on my eBay ads. After all allergies such as this need to be taken seriously. Perhaps I should stop eating them?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

That's not my Dad

I don't want this blog to become an Afghan journal so I try to keep stories to a minimum. However sometimes you are confronted with a situation that rather takes the wind out of your sails.

The District welcomed back a senior Elder to its ranks the other day. He had been away, partly on family business, partly out of pique that he had not been given a prestigious role in the community. His return was marked by a general air of celebration and everyone was all smiles. He had even brought a child with him and the little lad who must have been around 10 years old hung around shyly by his side.

'Is this your son?' asked one of the international staff.

'No' replied the Elder 'he is my brother in law'


Friday, 26 August 2011

Shades of Blue

I always enjoy a good 'discussion' between wargamers/modellers on the issue of what is the right colour shade of uniform colour. The latest one, which is keeping me thoroughly entertained, is on a well known painting site and concerns what ACW infantry might or might not have worn. What I particularly like about this particular debate is that it did not start out as a discussion on colour. A proud presenter put up a picture of some very well painted figures and there then followed the usual raft of applause from impressed viewers. So far, so good until one commentator said (and I paraphrase) 'Yes, they are very good, but they are the wrong colour'.

If its possible for the temperature to drop on a modelling Forum then that's what happened. 'What do you mean?" came the somewhat icy response. 'They are the wrong shade of blue' said the commentator and there then ensued a general free for all in which ever more obscure references were quoted and flung around. At no stage did it descend into a brawl - the tone throughout was punctiliously correct and everyone was at pains to keep the language at the level of an earnest academic debate. But its the subtext that counts...

At what point does a point of detail become an irrellevance? Well, I suppose we would all probably raise an eyebrow if someone depicted the Foot Guards at Waterloo in blue coats rather than red. A grey waterbottle instead of a blue one might be pushing it. But the wrong shade of blue? It's taking it a little too far in my view but then modellers can be a tough crowd and it takes all sorts. I'm just grateful if I can get a dark blue triad that actually works - the standard VMC dark prussian blue and prussian blue combo never seems to cut it.

In the meantime, enjoy the debate if you find it. I wont post a link or be any more specific. In many ways its a discussion that has taken place before and will no doubt happen again. No comment from me other than that the figures are very well painted.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Artizan Andalucians

Here are some Artizan Andalucians that I painted a while back. I rather liked them (despite having to do quite a number of cloaks) and so felt a little guilty when I sold them on eBay. It would have been nice to have been able to stipulate that the buyer should submit regular reports on how they are getting on as a condition of sale. However no doubt if eBay added this as an option it would come as yet another cost. I’m just waiting for them to charge for having the visits counter.

Anyway, before this descends into an eBay/paypal whinge, I’ll stop. Hope you like the figures.

Market Research

I was glancing through TMP the other day and saw an announcement for WWW1 German assault figures. I didn’t realise it as I clicked on the link but the spare W in the title should have warned me – it was, of course, a range of ‘weird’ (read ‘made up’) models. Now I’ll declare my hand early on here – sci fi and fantasy, well I just don’t get it. I don’t criticise it, to each their own, but it’s not for me. Rather like fox hunting, I cannot see the fun in it but I’m not going to ban it.

The figures themselves looked like fairly workmanlike sculpts with a mix of 1914 and sci fi uniforms. But I did start to wonder about the business case the makers must have put together before they decided to start making the things – is there actually a market for these? I’m guessing that the breakeven point for a single figure these days must run in to above the thousand pound mark with sculpting, moulding, raw materials and marketing taken into account. That’s a lot of figures that need to be sold before the maker even starts to make a profit. Are there really that many people who will be into this collection?

Given the plethora of fantasy figures out there – orcs, elves, zombies, alternative histories, space ships, even WWW1 Germans – how many of these ranges actually work? I ask this in the full knowledge that the biggest team on the block, GW, runs a highly successful business based on the very genre I am talking about. But they must hoover up a huge proportion of the available disposable income that goes into the hobby making life even tougher for the more marginal makers out there.

In short, where is the market research for WWW1 Germans and the like? I am genuinely curious to know. In the meantime I saw some nice Crimean War sculpts from North Star. They look more like it....

Funny old world

We were talking with a local Afghan Elder this morning and he said that he was deaf in one ear. After the usual regrets and commiserations we asked him how it had happened. Quite matter of factly he said that he had done it when firing an RPG whilst at a funeral.

It turned out that the insurgents had murdered another Elder in an attempt to intimidate the wider population. It was not a brilliant strategy and the District great and good attended the victim’s funeral en masse. In order to turn the screw a little tighter the insurgents therefore decided to attack the ceremony itself. Fortunately the good guys had come prepared and a gun and rocket battle took place, one consequence of which was our Elder losing his right eardrum. I rather hope that the funeral was successfully concluded.

I only report this for the rather Soprano-esque nature of the incident and to highlight the culture of the frontier which is still strongly rooted in Pashtun society. Democratic elections anyone?

On a different note I stood in a queue of US Marines for an evening meal the other day. The four lads in front of me were about 18 – 19 years old and all heavily armed. And what were they talking about? Griffendor. Never mind Daniel Radcliffe growing up on screen, here were the Harry Potter generation who would have been 8 or so years old when the films first started coming out. And their common point of reference in Afghanistan in 2011 was the adventures of a boy wizard and his fantasy school.

It’s a funny old world. 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

It makes me so angry.........

After the positive stuff I thought that a few grumbles and groans regarding military modelling might be in order. If any of these come as a surprise then tell me but I bet they don't......

1. The paypal/eBay double whammy - was that your profit, sir? Well, thank you. Kerching.

2. Catering at Wargames Shows - you expect me to eat that? Do you really hate me that much?

3. GW Gamestore staff - I'm 52 years old and I'm not your 'mate' now or ever. I'm only here for a pot of paint so let me have it and I'll be on my way. And stop yelling at me.

4. Wargames Foundry - foot, shoot, in.

5. Bring and buy customers - ouch, that hurt

6. The old Wargames Illustrated - and now Part 5 of Austrian Armed River Steamers 1910-1914

7. The new Wargames Illustrated - Vietnam, surely it will catch on soon

8. Matt varnish - which never is

9. Carlist Wars - ha ha. A whole range? You're kidding me right? When were they?

10 Grumpy old men - Eh? Oh. Ah....

Kings Lifeguard

I'm quite pleased with the way these figures turned out. You'll see its the photo I'm currently using as the background to the blog but here is the whole thing. As usual they are Bicorne and Renegade figures with GMB standards. Happy to talk about paint triads if anyone wishes to know what I used.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

In Praise of Artmaster Studio

Does anyone else watch the painting videos run by Artmaster Studio? If you don't know what I'm talking about go to:

and all will be revealed. Essentially it is approximately an hours worth of a figure, a brush, a desktop, an occasional flash of paintpot and two hands painting a random figure. It is accompanied by a quintessential English voice giving you the viewer a run down on what is happening. And that's it. Put in those terms it doesn't sound very promising but it is remarkably addictive.

First off, the presenter (a chap called Toby) is a great painter and he turns out a very presentable end product. When you consider the scrutiny each figure is under when the camera is presumably right on top of it for the whole time then the quality of painting is remarkable. I find it difficult painting with two desk lamps perched over the desk, how on earth does he manage with a camera wired up to a computer? All I can say is that it must be rather irritating.

Second a figure is painted before your very eyes without you having to do a single thing apart from hook up to the internet. No stiff neck for you, no vacillating between whether to use 'burnt umber' or 'leather belt', no shaky white line cutting across from the crossbelt to the water bottle strap, no looking across at your shelves to see the 35 other French infantry you have to confront before the Battalion is finished. For an hour you can just switch off and let Toby deal with all that.

But best of all is the whole quality of Englishness about it. It's very simple and straightforward and I mean no disrespect when I say that it has an air of quiet soap opera about it. I can watch it while sitting in some hideous third world air terminal and I'm back at home. The earlier shows used to have the sound of a train passing every so often. More recently there was the saga of the squeaky chair (afficionados will know this). Wherever you are in the world, the sound of a VMC bottle being shaken will take you immediately to your own little painting cubby hole. I long for the day when I hear the whispered 'thank you' as somebody delivers a cup of tea to the table (followed by the accompanying drama when it gets spilled whilst reaching for the Warlock Purple bottle tucked away at the back).

Can it be improved? Probably. I have yet to hear a frustrated shout of 'This figure, its crap isn't it?' or '£2.50 for an unpainted foot figure? You're having a laugh'. But perhaps strong opinions are for other places and in the meantime I'll just enjoy the sound of a paint brush being swished in a cup of water.

The frequency can be erratic. Normally its on a Friday evening at 20.30 ish but there seems to have been a bit of a hiatus recently. I hope it returns and I hope that others enjoy it too. And get this, its all for free. Hats off to Toby for a great piece of marketing and I hope that AMS thrives.

Why Foresightpaint?

I did a bit of commission work up until recently and worked under the name of foresightpaint. Why that name? No good reason other than I liked the word foresight (military and proactive connotations) but there were no web addresses left with it unless I added 'paint'. I set up all the relevant accounts - eBay, Paypal, TMP etc using it and so am more or less stuck with it as I cannot be bothered to go through all the palaver involved in changing it.

Dull but simple eh?


I cannot paint at the moment as I am in some faceless FOB in southern Helmand. So in the absence of any model soldiers how about a piece of military tourism? Before coming back to Afghanistan I worked for a year in the West Bank and lived in Jerusalem. This allowed me to visit the fortress of Masada on a couple of occasions.

Masada was a fortress built by Herod during the Roman occupation. It is simply breathtaking. Perched on the top of a rocky plateau it dominates the local area and was the scene of the Jewish rebellion sometime early AD. It's accessible by a cable car but the more adventurous can follow the original donkey track to the top on foot. Careful though, it's steep. Two things I would commend to wargamers and historians alike. First is the path which the Romans built to get their siege towers up to the wall.  It's vast and looks like a 45 degree skateboard ramp. I simply could not believe the logistic and engineering effort it must have taken to get the infantry up to the top. No wonder the defenders decided to do themselves in when faced with such a determined enemy.

Second is the fact that the site is still comparatively untouched. From the castle walls you can look down and see the besieging Roman compounds all still laid out. Again its a massive effort in a climate that is both hot and humid. No energy drinks or iced water for the troops at that time. I've attached a couply of photos below which I hope give the idea. The first shows the ramp - it is the smooth pathway that lead from the middle right of the picture. The second is a view of an encampment - its the obvious enclosure to the lower left. I hope they give you the idea.

If you are an enthusiast and you get the chance then go. Its also on the road to the resort of Eilat which is, quite frankly, hideous. Don't believe the hype on that one but that's another story

Friday, 19 August 2011

An ECW Whitecoat Regiment

Testing my picture editing skills here. A whitecoat regiment with the colours of the London Auxiliaries courtesy of Body's Banners (I'm learning - it seems that if you click on it the photo comes out full size, Clever)

Donald Featherstone

I  cannot have a blog without paying homage to Donald Featherstone. I must have been about 11 years old when my brother brought home from Southampton library a copy of ‘Wargames’. Up until that point I had fought my battles using Airfix soldiers and marbles (indoors) or clods of flying earth (outdoors). ‘Wargames’ put an end to all that.

As I read the book and all the subsequent volumes (Advanced Wargames and Wargames Campaigns) it soon became apparent that Southampton was something of a wargamer’s ground zero. Not only was it home to Minifigs and the Wessex Wargames Society but the great man himself was a resident (at 69 Hill Lane I recall – it isn’t there anymore though). J joined the WWS and eventually was introduced to him as an aspiring figure painter. I first started by painting – somewhat crudely – some ECW cuirassiers for him and eventually progressed to the point where I became his part time helper on Saturday morning. My tasks were numerous but mainly involved sorting out the packing and posting of all his books that had been ordered by the readers of the famous ‘Wargamer’s Newsletter’. So if you have a signed copy of any them from the first half of the 70’s, chances are it passed through my hands!

Mr Featherstone (this was when young people knew their place) was fantastic. Friendly, funny, generous and a great supporter. He had a study lined with military books and hung up behind the door was his old battledress and beret of the RTR. Even at a young age I could tell he was immensely proud of his service. I also used to meet the wargames great and good passing through – Chris Duffy, Paddy Griffiths, David Chandler, Neville Dickenson to name but a few. It was heady stuff for a young lad.

Eventually I moved on to finding apparently better things to do on a Saturday but not before I was invited to a number of the weekday wargames nights. Read ‘Solo Wargames’ and see the pictures of the colonial setup. I can claim to have been there.

Don – I salute you.

Opening Shots

I am an occasional painter of model soldiers. I don't actually do anything with them other than sell them on or use them to line the shelves of my study. As Alan Partridge once put it 'What a man does in the privacy of his own attic is his business alone'. For example, I'm currently building up an English Civil War army (or armies) and have 6 regiments of foot and 2 of cavalry and, though I say so myself, they are not bad. However there is no ultimate purpose to this kleptomania beyond the fact that it is something I have always wanted to do. I do not want to re-create Naseby on the table top or set up a museum diorama of the storming of Basing House. So whatever the motivation I largely paint for painting alone. By the way, the background to this blog site is supposed to represent the King's Lifeguard. No doubt they are looking forlornly across the battlefield waiting for an opponent.

I'm currently working in Afghanistan, living the reconstruction dream. So this blog will not be only model soldiers.

In the meantime, I'm testing the blogging waters in both content and design. To end with here is a picture of some Pendraken 10mm figures I did a couple of years ago. I recently sold these on e Bay of which more later.