Friday, November 29, 2013

I wanna tell you a story..Tales with toy soldiers WATER FEATURES

Badly sited guns? Boggy ground behind a battery 1709
Water is interesting on figure bases. Over the years I have messed about with it quite a lot. I have also been asked fairly often 'how do you do that?'

So here are some examples of water on bases. In order to achieve similar effects ensure you have sealed the portion of  base designated to be 'wet'. Do this by applying a layer of gloss varnish over it before doing anything else to it.

In the hot above, Swedish Dragoons splash through a particularly waterlogged portion of ground. The shot below shows the piece from a different angle.
Leave the area free of basing materials and smooth. Paint and finish the groundwork of the base first. Having completed this, paint the water/wet area as you wish. I normally coat it in black or a very dark blue- green. I then work out from the dark centre area keeping my paints wet and blending successively lighter areas of blue and green towards the edges. You can add a little yellow at the very rim.Having let this dry coat it in gloss varnish. I suggest yacht varnish. A couple of layers will be best. The results are, as can be seen, quite pleasing.

Same piece again but from a nice angle showing how the positioning of the figures can draw your eye to the basing enhancing the overall effect.

Just a little piece of  water can still provide an interesting touch. If it is a multi base unit make sure all of the bits of 'wet' join up to form something coherent and are not simply random patches of wet. That WOULD look odd!

Occasionally I'll have a few objects floating or half submerged in the water. Drums are good for this. You could try barrels, bodies, pieces of clothing or similar. It all adds to the interest of the piece.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Barry Hilton - This part of the series details less conventional(from a wargames manufacturing perspective) Russian troop types from the Great Northern War. First up is in my opinion the most spectacular sculpt of the 10 protos.

#4 RUSSIAN OFFICER in kaftan
The uniform is very ornate and the colours I have chosen are very dramatic with high contrast not just in the colour tones but against each other such as red/black  red/blue.
Frankly, I didn't want to stop painting this guy! The layers of red are 5 deep with a blend of 4 different shades plus black. The collar and cuff detail I chose to show as gilt lace although equally it could be a more prosaic colour.
The pole arm is a fine piece of work and I am sure will find its way into other arms in other armies! More than a hint of Vlad Dracul in the way I lavished colour onto this important man!

A final view. When we release this chap I am certain you'll enjoy painting him!

#5 RUSSIAN MUSKETEER early period/or recruit
In many ways the most humble and ordinary figure of the 10 but one of my personal favourites. I love the pose and the detail. The apostles have been expertly fashioned and were actually a real joy to paint. The strings attaching them to the cross belt as so well defined that a rope effect is possible with a 00 brush.
I used very muted colours with this chap. He is poor, his equipment is not of the best quality and he is serving in severe climatic conditions winter and summer. He is meant to look worn physically and mentally.
Two huge things that leapt out when I first viewed this very utilitarian sculpt:

1. His usefulness for the period 1675-1700 in other theatres: Sedgemoor, Ireland, Flanders Skane wars. Of course head swaps are required and the addition of French ribbons on shoulders for Louis XIV's Army etc. But this chap will get maximum usage in the Warfare range.

2. He will complement the Apostle equipped infantry sculpted by Steve Shaw which are now selling very well. Not only will my Killiecrankie battalions be in firing lines, they can now be in a new pose.

So, what's next? Clibinarium is forging on and applying the lessons and experience gained through this 10 sculpt test to the production figures which will shortly follow.

Keep with us, we'll have product out in early 2014.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BATTLE PHOTO FEATURE: Killiecrankie 1689

Just before the... THUMP!!!!!
Barry Hilton - A few years back Steve Rimmer, stalwart of the now defunct General Accident (Perth) Wargames Club asked me if I'd help him out running a demonstration wargame at Perth Museum. I remember that Saturday morning very well. It is about 70 miles from my house to Perth. The weather was what we Scots describe as dreich. 

For those who want to improve their understanding of we Scots, let me give some further descriptive words associated with DREICH: black, bleak, cheerless, chill, cloudy, cold, comfortless, dark, depressing, depressive, dire, desolate, disconsolate, drear, dismal, and gloomy. We are a people who know how to get the maximum use out of a single word! This Perth morning offered sleety, horizontal rain, freezing wind and bone aching damp. That is why Scots are such cheery folk!

The museum was marble and cold and empty. The billing was: A wargaming representation of the famous Battle of Killiecrankie. This action saw a Williamite army of around 4,500 men cut to pieces by a force of Jacobite Clansmen and Irish soldiers. The Jacobites flew down a very steep hillside and into the static ranks of infantry.

Either their ferocity or the instability of their enemy resulted in an almost total collapse. Much of the 'Highland Charge' mythology stems from this truly impressive deed. Whether it was accident or design will never be truly understood.

The leader of the Jacobites was a man immortalized in song and legend now... John Graham of Claverhouse... Bonnie Dundee or Bluidy Clavers depending on your point of view. He epitomises a true Jacobite hero... Protestant and fighting for a Catholic King. A man who like many of us, would have had to make decisions and sense of the mixed up world in which he lived. It proves that not all men made their choices on the basis of religion in an age when it to a greater extent than now, defined your fortune or lack of it.

Anyway, enough of the philosophising, here you can see our game. Large units in order to make the clans seem more than a handful of models. The terrain was cobbled together at short notice and so the ground behind the Government Army lacks the drop to the River Garry which caused so many problems for the routing redcoats. I took these pix without the usual care and attention which goes into my photography but they give a nice idea of the set up.

We answered questions from bemused members of the public, ate sandwiches in the cold, quiet of a grand but fadingVictorian edifice and chatted about wargaming... we live exciting lives Steve Rimmer and I!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Barry Hilton - I painted the five Swedish figures first as my wargaming leanings are towards the Swedes. I enjoyed that very much but realized that as I got into doing the 5 Russian models in two sittings that I was enjoying them even more!

The poses are interesting and the uniforms are quite different to those of their opponents. Clibinarium had pretty much free rein to sculpt what he wanted in this first batch just to immerse in the uniforms, feel, anatomy and postures. This creative freedom has I believe paid back many times already when you see these outstanding models.

#1 RUSSIAN MUSKETEER marching or advancing

The pose is very natural. The equipment is simple but well detailed. The weapon detail in particular is exceptional as are its proportions relative to the man. I have put on a short sword with no bayonet frog. We intend to modify the equipment to suit.

This shot catches the body position perfectly. I am particularly happy with the green shade used for the coat. It is sufficiently dense and dark although it has two highlights
A real sense of movement is apparent in this view. He appears to be striding through the long grass. You can just hear the dry grass stalks brushing against his shoes and legs.
Clib has captured an interesting face. Perhaps fulfilling the stereotype of a Russian in the 18th century. We have some minor mods to do on this chap such as pocket shape which several people have commented on. Otherwise He is pretty fine.
#2 RUSSIAN GRENADIER firing line
I have counter intuitively used brighter colours than intended when painting this guy. The pose is dramatic and very natural with a lean in to the shot.
 This view allows more of the face to be seen. Again, I did not use accoutrements with a bayonet frog for this model.
The exquisite detail on the grenade bag can be seen in this shot. That level of detail is something which really lifts these models to the next level.
#3 ENSIGN with colour
Of all the Russian models I painted this chap last. I had not intended to lavish too much attention on him but it was unavoidable as the level of sculpted on detail is astonishing.
The proportions of the model are perfect. This rear view gives a nice perspective on his body position.
The colours are a little experimental and I am sure someone will argue with the shade of blue but this young officer is meant to be from the Semenovski Guard Regiment.

In part 2 we'll show two less common Russian troop types...

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Abbey of Vaca Sagrada - Part Four

Clarence Harrison - I use 1/2" high density insulation board for most of my terrain projects. It comes in 4x8' sheets at most hardware stores. For this particular hill, I wanted to portray a steep, easily defended ridge so I decided to go four levels high. This means that models will not easily stand on the slope, but for the purpose of this project, that wasn't really important.

A: Plastruct card (HO scale Random Stone), B: Plastruct card (O scale Spanish Tile), C: Thin cardboard, D: Masonite hardboard, E: 3/8" foamcore, F: 1/2" Insulation board. All of these materials can be found at your local hobby and hardware stores.

I set up my building on the summit, including the walls that would form the courtyard, and traced the outline of my building on the board. Then I drew a rough circle around the building to use as a guide for cutting. My favorite tool for shaping insulation board is a Hot Wire cutter. This is basically an insulated handle with a sturdy wire attached to it. When you plug the tool in, the wire heats up and will go through the foam like the proverbial hot knife through butter! However, you need to use it in a well ventilated area because the fumes from the foam are mildly toxic. After each layer was finished, I simply laid it on the next piece, drew another guide, and kept cutting until I had four. I glued them together with PVA glue, set a heavy book atop the pile, and left them to dry overnight.

To make the hill I set up the abbey and the walls on a stack of insulation boards.

I traced the outline of the abbey and then drew a rough circle around it to mark the summit of the hill.

I used a Hot Wire foam cutter to cut out the shape. You want to hold the tool at an angle so you end up with a slope and not a cliff (unless of course you are trying to make a cliff).

Place the trimmed hill section on the next level and trace the shape as a guide for the next cut. Repeat this as many times as necessary to achieve the height of hill you want.

Well, it's starting to look like a hill...

I use PVA glue to glue insulation foam. Stack each layer then place a heavy book on top to ensure a strong bond when it dries.

The next morning, I moved the construction process to the garage since the next steps make a fair amount of mess! One of the great things about the insulation foam is that you can sand it. I used a sanding block to remove sharp edges and blend the levels smoothly into each other. Then I placed the hill on a masonite base and traced the outline to serve as a guide for cutting with a jigsaw. It's not necessary to base terrain in this fashion, but it will provide more support for all of your hard work and protect the edges of the foam.

The great thing about insulation foam is you can sand it. I used a sanding block to remove any sharp edges and blend the stack of shapes into a single smooth hill.

You don't have to mount the foam on a base, but the piece will be much studier if you do. I use masonite and mark the shape of the hill with a heavy black marker.

I use a jigsaw to cut out the base and a sanding block to smooth the edges.

I attached the hill to the board with PVA glue, applied more books, and went back up stairs to turn my attention to the roof...

Friday, November 22, 2013

I wanna tell you a story.. Tales with Toy Soldiers

Barry Hilton - For many years now I have attempted to steer as far away as possible from ranks of identical toy soldiers evenly spaced, and painted exactly the same. I agree that units of this type can look hugely attractive and were the inspiration for almost everyone of my generation to get into the hobby. I also accept that a cloying nostalgia exists for this retro look and that many people seem to have caught the bug for that. I am not sold on the plain, emulsion coated boards and shiny lead men with rosy cheeks. It is quaint but not for me.

Before the last charge... Poltava 1709 Swedish Lifeguard

I am not sure when I started deviating from the serried ranks into something a bit less rigid but last night, I opened an old briefcase in which I keep wargaming related papers and found a photograph taken around 1990 of some older design Front Rank ECW models I had painted. Although those figures were sold more than 20 years ago clear evidence of my need to tell stories within the bases is visible.

Sad death of an old friend

This ongoing series of articles is going to focus on how to create tiny tales of war on a base which can be considered on its own as a piece of work whilst at the same time fitting into a larger unit. I will try and pass on as many ideas as possible without the articles turning into full blown 'How to's'.

The articles are likely to evolve as the series unfolds and will not necessarily follow a weekly schedule. I have not yet planned how many pieces will appear but each is likely to be photograph heavy as I believe these will say more than accompanying text.

Åke is hit!

 I will focus on aspects such as Incidents - something that clearly has just happened and is captured in the base, Implication - something that maybe suggested by the positioning of the minis, Height - how much can you realistically hope to use height differential in a small area, Water  - features such as puddles, pools and the like, Men - the figures themselves. How many, what poses, conversions and substitutions.

Cold Russian wind

The rate limiter on the article will be trying to keep it in context with the period which is the focus of this blog. Occasionally to illustrate a particular point I may have to include the odd piece from beyond the pike and shot era but mostly we'll try and stay in the boat!

God is with us!

As a starter for 10, this launch piece is peppered with some vignette pieces from my Great Northern War collection each which tells a little tale.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Barry Hilton - This post details two other preliminary Swedish sculpts for the GNW project. This is a privately funded range which will be comprehensive and less conventional than the norm. The 5 Swedish sculpts featured on this post and part 1 were preliminary works which will become commercially available.

Warfare customers who order in the run up to Christmas may find some have crept into their parcels!

#4 Marching Musketeer
It is our intention to pose the Swedes in 'classic' view positions. This marching figure will do equally well for a unit on the march or advancing to combat.
The red contrasts nicely with the muted blue I have used here. Again the detail achieved on pouches and weaponry is exceptional.
There is an energy about these models which really conveys the sculptors love of the subject matter and his mastery of his art. Wonderful feel to this model I think.

And finally..
The Warfare GNW range will feature winter/ campaign dress for both Russians and Swedes. This veteran knows how to protect himself from the cold northern winds.
The angle of this shot really tells the story of the figure. His body position is extremely realistic.
I very much enjoyed doing all 5 models which were completed in one sitting of about 7 hours. The Russians will follow next.

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