Saturday, 23 August 2014


Seen this? If you haven't its 80 pages of how to paint French Napoleonic figures from a Spanish concern called 'Proyecto Cruz'. Its the work of Senor Rafael Perez who is one of the seemingly endless line of talented Spanish painters and whose collective master works can be found across the blogosphere. Oh and if you live in the UK it will cost you GBP 20.70 (inc p+p). I hate to think what those across the pond might be asked to contribute.

Is it worth it? I put it in these terms rather than 'Is it any good?' because to my weary eyes it is a splendid product. The figures look great and there are plenty of new ideas for Vallejo triads - I have to confess I am a sucker for these. If someone says you can mix Hull Red with Dark Grey Blue and then lighten with the ubquitous Iraqi Sand  to recreate French camouflage at Dien Bien Phu then I am the first to copy the idea (obviously this is a made up reference, try it at your own risk. It may or may not work). This alone had me hooked as I worked my way through the line infantry, the gunners, the cuirassiered miner, the cavalry and finally the Emperor himself.

Lots of good ideas and some nice pictures, what more could you ask? Pedants will no doubt find the curious Spanglish grammar somewhat challenging but any painting guide that includes the word 'neophyte' in its introduction has got to be worth a look. And anyway you know what they mean and if you cannot work it out then perhaps you might have tried a little harder at school. Except in the case of 'neophyte'. I'm still unsure.

Let's face it, when you trust your investment to the Spanish postal service your hopes are not high. But ola, the package arrived in 4 days. Yes it did. So all in all I was happy.

But is it worth it? You'd spend the same on a box of plastic figures wouldn't you? It would get you around 18 metal figures and you wouldn't think twice, would you? But £20 for a magazine?

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Varnish and Spanglish

I'm normally pretty diligent when it comes to varnishing a figure. Gloss is no problem - the Humbrol enamel is easy to apply and dries quickly enough (although it does tend to become unworkable after I've used about half a tin and end up chucking it away. The challenge comes when it is time for the matt.

I use the Winsor and Newton galleria range. It's very good and dries flat. No sheen or satin finish with this lot. But can I get full coverage of the figure? I put on two coats and then leave them to dry. After which I'll check the figure and touch up any gaps where the gloss is still showing. Then I repeat and repeat and repeat. No matter how often I check the figure there is always a greater or lesser shiny piece winking at me. 'Where did that come from?' I cry. It wasn't there previously but I suppose it must have been. Any hints or tips out there on how to ensure that this doesn't happen? 'Try harder' is not helpful.

I splashed out the £20 necessary to buy the Painting War booklet on how to do French Napoleonic figures. Not cheap. I haven't had the time to properly read the thing yet but will do a small review once I have. The text is however an idiosyncratic form of Spanglish which keeps the reader entertained. The front cover has a logo which looks like a footprint with the words 'In campaing' stamped in the middle. Go figure! Some very nicely painted models though.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Falklands 2

I put some Falklands photos on the blog recently and they seemed to go down quite well. So here are a few more. I thought I had more but will obviously need to spend more time in the attic. I should stress that these are all from November 82 but the major clear up had not really started. It does give you an idea of the mess.

Derelict Argentine helicopters on the racecourse which was just to the west of Stanley. I gather that an intact airframe found its way to a new paint job in Hereford. Urban myth?

The runway at Stanley airfield. For an old photo it makes the place look terribly bleak. It was!! I remember taking this and goodness it was miserable. Some C130's can just be seen lurking to the left. Shortly afterwards a Phantom took off and seeing the blue flame coming out of its engines was very impressive to a very young infanteer.

The airstrip at Goose Green with a couple of Pucara ground attack aircraft. It gives you a good idea of how flat the ground was. When you read that it was like a billiard table I hope this shows how good an analogy it actually is.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Crann Tara

Not a great picture but I've just discovered the Crann Tara range of Jacobite Rebellion figures. This man is the test run and its the first time I've done tartan in ages. Notwithstanding the painting these are a great range of figures and are without doubt the best clansmen I have come across. I'm aiming to do a few samples to build an 8 man stand. It will take me 100 years.

Saturday, 28 June 2014


BBC Radio 5 (a lightweight current affairs and sports channel ) were doing their bit from Camp Bastion this morning. It was the usual round of interviews but they did go to meet the RAF Regiment who guard the perimeter. No-one had the bad manners to talk about the loss of the USMC Harriers back in September 2012 but they did have a hilarious briefing from one of the sentry towers.

The breathless reporter asked the sentry what he could see. Instead of saying 'bugger all' the alert airman said 'My left of arc is tower 7 and right my right of arc is tower 9. To my front is a man made berm to stop vehicles'. Whilst all very true and correct it was not exactly great radio.

The reporter then asked if anything ever came across the berm. 'Sometimes you see the odd camel' came the reply.

'So what do you do if you see a camel?

'Nothing.. You can't really escalate on a camel'

Saturday, 17 May 2014


If you get the chance the WW1 museum at Amiens is well worth a visit. On the Somme river its a little bit away from the main battlefields (although presumably the French might have a view on that) but its only a short hop.

Based in the old fortress it's not big but light and well laid out. The exhibits are arranged in an uncluttered and innovative manner and whilst the style might not suit traditionalists it does allow a better view. Dont ask me why but it works.

Friday, 16 May 2014


If you haven't already seen it go and take a look at this blog site and see what jaw dropping terrain really is:

It is simply stunning and like all good models built from corrugated cardboard. How it is all stored and looked after I'll never know.

But there's always a but. If your terrain is this good, how good must the figures be to go with it? Can you imagine a column of Airfix troops stumbling up and down those cobbled paths? It simply would not be allowed. Unless you have a collection of Perry figures painted by Messrs Dallimore and Dean then nothing else does the tabletop justice and I'm afraid the village must remain uninhabited. Sorry, but that's the law of unintended consequences.

Sunday, 4 May 2014


I'm painting some of the new Gringo40's French Napoleonic sappers at the moment. Here is number one.

There's still a way to go with basing and varnish but you get the idea. These are big figures and the helmet would ensure that the lucky wearer developed strong neck muscles. I cannot decide wheher it's in proportion to the rest of the figure but the overall effect works. These are more compatible with Elite figures sizewise than the more slender Perries in my opinion.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


A week on the Somme and walking up the track from Bazentin to High Wood we came across this grenade at the side of the path. The lever and pin were still present and somehow it seemed more sinister than all the other shells left lying around.

I took the route from Serre across Redan Ridge to the Sunken lane where Malins took his famous shots of the Lancashire Fusiliers waiting on the start line. Its by far the most atmospheric spot on the battlefields I know. Seeing the fields of fire that the Germans would have had certainly lets you know why the Battalion did not get far. I'm a great believer in the revisionist school of WW1 but the Generals sometimes make it very hard for you. Whoever ordered that particular event really must have been a lunatic if they anticipated success with even a single Maxim remaining. The theory of the beaten zone was not new in 1916 so why it should have been so overlooked or ignored in the tactical planning is a mystery. The whole front line is made up of a myriad of short range engagements which succeeded for the British where common sense was applied.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


I was rather interested to see a discussion on TMP regarding samples. Essentially it was around whether manufacturers still gave out free samples of their figures to prospective clients - some said yes, some said no but most seemed to agree that, despite the risk, it was a good idea. In the grand scheme of thngs it doesn't cost much and was an effective loss leader.

But it made me think about how to approach this subject when I get requests for commissions. After all, an unpainted casting is one thing, a fully painted figure is quite another. I should stress that I am not in the high end £20 plus category but I think that what I do is pretty good and so to turn out a sample is quite a commitment in terms of time. Nevertheless if I was buying painted figures I would certainly want to see the work in the flesh.

I well recall the pre-internet days when painting services hawked their wares in the back pages of Wargames Illustrated and offered samples at £2 a go (or thereabouts). I once wrote to a certain service asking for a sample whilst offering a substantial (and genuine) order and was somewhat peeved to receive a reply stating that I hadn't included a token sum of money. Fair enough but it seemed somewhat short sighted. I know, I was the one who had not followed instructions and how was the guy to know. But still.....

These days the internet allows one's work to be sumptuously displayed at next to no cost. Should one therefore expect potential buyers to take this as evidence enough? Personally I dont think so. Models are one thing, skill with cameras and photoshop are quite another. If I can, I'll send out a sample at my own risk - I suppose I have the luxury of not being inundated with requests but it seems like the enterprising thing to do.

But if I do it would be nice to receive feedback. The worst thing is the resounding silence once a sample has been dispatched. If I'm going to take the time to do it it does not seem unreasonable to expect a response saying 'I've decided I'm not going to use you because....' But that's part of the game I suppose. Surprisingly I've offered samples and not been taken up on them but that's another story.

I should mention that apart from a couple of eBay stingings I have never been ripped off by someone over commission work. Envelopes have been pushed but there is no problem with that. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Some SYW Austrian Grenzers from Eureka that I have just done as a commission. Possibly the toughest figures I have ever painted. Well, that's not entirely true - the hussars I moved onto take that title but its a close run thing.

Eureka demand that you do a light priming coat followed by a highlighting wash. If you dont then you wont see the bits of detail that catch you out. They just keep on coming. As 18mm figures they keep demanding more input when you know its not going to work. The trick is striking a balance between what to leave in and leave out. Lace, for example. Its bad enough doing it on a 28mm fiure but in 18mm you have to hint at whats there rather than replicate it in its full authentic style. Hungarian knots anyone?

Some super detailing doesnt work. Hands for instance. Occasionally there is a little blob on the end of the arm which can only be a hand but you're lucky if you can get two fingers on.

All in all great figures but tough going.

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Great figures. The chunky style is a world away from more slender offerings and these Germans really look as if they mean business.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Fallschirmjager 2

I've just completed these as a commission (and thanks to the client for letting me use the photos). They are the Warlord German paratroopers and very nice they are too. Very crisp castings and loads of detail. I've said before that they can seem a little pricey but you certainly get value for money if these figures are anything to go by.

Tough characters too it would seem. One man is carrying his rifle, two Panzefausts and a teller mine. Quite a load.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


.....of war. I haven't done any of these in ages. These men had been in my to-do box since about 2008 or thereabouts. I bought them at the time for a little variety from the usual pea dot finish that I seemed to spend so much time on. The prospect of the greatcoat and the white helmet and winter camouflage coat seemed to offer an interesting alternative.

6 years on and they are done as a PzGren platoon with a high proportion of machine guns. I thought that a muddy green base would look better than the rather ubiquitous snow finish that seems everywhere at the moment. Next up will be the Panzer Lehr figures I bought at much the same time.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Thursday, 13 February 2014


Really pleased with this one. On eBay at


I'll get some better pictures taken but this project has taken so long that I wanted to get a first cut onto cyber space. I've put up some Company shots previously but now (apart from the standard) its done.

In the Perry French infantry picks you get 6 skirmishers based around two standard body positions. One standing and one sort of crouching. I had a number of these figures and wasn't doing anything with them until I decided to do a firing line Battalion in which I would see how many ways I could make the generic figures look different. I did cheat a little, 6 of the 24 are Perry metals and I did use some Victrix Old Guard arms and weapons but otherwise its all cutting and glueing from the basic box.

So here they are. They'll be up for sale soon so drop me a line if you're interested. I think they make a nice change from the usual march attack column and simply by spreading the bases out they do look like a skirmish line.

Saturday, 8 February 2014


A couple of Artizan figures currently on eBay at

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Eureka or AB? I have no idea what the distinction is but I recently got hold of some of their Napoleonic and SYW figures. At this point let me mention Fighting 15's, the supplier. Despite dire warnings on their website (because the figures have to come from Mars or something) they had the order to me in just a little over 24 hours. Excellent service from a company based in the Isle of Wight where I used to go on my childhood holidays. Fort Warden since you ask. It was a holiday camp then - no idea what it is today.

Anyway three things everyone knows about Eureka/AB:

1. They are neither 15mm or 20mm
2. They are incredibly detailed
3. They are incredibly expensive

The average foot figure costs about 65p although regimental packs come in cheaper. Nonetheless with a 28mm plastic figure at about 50p then its still a lot of money. But are they worth it? Judge for yourself:

He's my test figure and for a 'large 15mm' I thought he came out rather well. Give him a decent base with grass and colourful foliage and he'll look even better. A more professional photo wouldn't go amiss either. It looks as if he has been blacklined but actually I gave him a light grey undercoat covered with a brown wash which seems to work well on the  white.

But my goodness he took a long time to do. I went slowly to try to do him justice but there was little in it in terms of how much time it usually takes to do a 28mm.

Nevertheless he is a fantastic figure and I'm very tempted to go for a Battalion pack. I've just completed a French Napoleonic figure so will put up a picture shortly.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Monday, 27 January 2014


I did the following figure from Warlord as a test for the more complicated German pea dot style. I have the H&C book on WW2 uniforms and some of the pictures have some very clear detail on camouflage patterns. The challenge is deconstructing this and painting it in a sequence that creates a realistic picture whilst recognising that you are not ever, ever going to get all the dots in.

Anyway, you do not have to experiment with colour shades. Vallejo have done all the hard work for us. Their VMC range are called German this and that for a good reason. All the camouflage colours used here are straight from the bottle.

Sequence was:

1. Pale brown base layer
2. GW earthshade wash
3. Pale brown highlight
4. Beige 'splodges'
5. Occasional black-brown 'splodges'
6. Pale brown dots on beige and brown bits
7. Beige dots on brown and pale brown bits
8. Brown dots on beige and pale brown bits
9. Bright green dots across all bits but not too many
10. Job done

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


Behold! Several sheets of Foundry Roman shield transfers which have recently gone astray on the Ebay trail from UK to Belgium. I got a good price (some may say too good but I wont entertain such thoughts) for them and duly entrusted their safe passage to the Royal Mail. It simply did not make economic sense to send them as trackable and so rather like leaving a boat passenger without a safety vest, I left them to it.

The dread words 'buyer has opened a case' appeared shortly thereafter. I guarantee that everybody's heart sinks at this point. There is nothing you can do except wait and I'm willing to bet that a minority of packages are actually reported as turning up. So I steeled myself to make the forlorn journey to Paypal to reimburse the buyer. The Belgian postal system could offer no comfort and when I was informed that 'no, it still hasn't arrived', I duly pressed the right buttons and returned the complete sum. P+P as well. It's the right thing to do isnt it?

I have no truck with eBay or Paypal. I do not subscribe to 'evilBay' school of thought. I am a grown man and know what I am doing. If I assumed that eBay truly had my best interests at heart then I would be a fool. They provide a service and this comes with an associated cost. The burden of risk is a little one sided but it's hard to find an alternative. Higher commission fees? No thanks.

What really rankles is that the buyer did not even say thanks. Not even an acknowledgement. If I wasn't thinking dark thoughts before this I am now.

Now here's the thing. Almost exactly in parallel I had taken out my own case against a seller who hadn't delivered. They were brilliant and resolved the issue immediately. But were they equally suspicious of me? I hope not but I understand if they were.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


I tend to listen to Radio 5 in the morning when I'm walking the dog. It makes me suitably grumpy for the day whereas Radio 4 shifts me into angry. Anyway they had a report this morning on the Andy Murray game in Melbourne where apparently the temperature was very hot and immediately followed it with a piece about the release of the 1914-18 unit war diaries by the National Archives.

There was much hand wringing about a tennis player who had fainted, one who had vomited and one who had burnt her bottom on a piece of exposed metal. In breathless tones the idiot presenters argued whether it was too hot to make people suffer in this way. Maybe it was but I suspect that given the choice the soldiers who wrote the war diaries would have opted for the Australian heat over the wet and damp of the Passchendaele Ridge and a thousand other places. Radio 5 switched effortlessly from the tennis agonies to those of France and Flanders with no apparent sense of irony. Guess which item had the greater air time.

I dont condemn the tennis players. They appear to be getting on with it. It's the media that create the problem in their desperate attempts to report on something. Perspective, balance, common sense - they all seem to be lost. See, I told you it put me in a bad mood.

Monday, 6 January 2014


I make no bones about it - this one was inspired by the recent painting competition winner on the Steve Dean website. There were 4 Artizan Germans of whom one was wearing autumn camouflage whilst another had the more ubiquitous splinter cam. And they were fantastic. If you haven't seen them hop across to site now and prepare to be impressed. I was quite pleased with how he turned out. There's also a WSS youtube contribution on painting paratroopers which will also provide some encouragement and is well worth 20 mins of your valuable time.

He's on eBay at