Friday, March 25, 2011

AWI American Militia

American Militia figures from Fife & Drum Miniatures. Click to enlarge.

I am posting a few pictures of the eight new American Militia figures that we will be offering for sale shortly. I'm not going to promise any deadline, because the production end of things is out of my control. Hopefully, we will have them sometime in May, along with the British Guards and the British Light Infanty.

Close up view of the four firing figures.

In the firing group, we have one fellow kneeling firing, two variants standing firing, and one fellow cocking his musket. The tricorn wearing figures could probably also be used in the armies of those who have "Imaginations" forces, in addition to their intended use as militia.

Rear view of the same figures, showing the detail of their equipment.

The four advancing poses, including the Militia officer.

Rear view of the advancing poses.

That gives you an idea of what the eight poses look like and how they turn out once they are painted. I found that they were rather easy to paint and had fun working with them. Over the next week or so, I will increase this to a 24 or 30 figure unit for my AWI armies.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

AWI Light Bobs

Some of the new Fife & Drum AWI British Light Infantry

I received a couple sets of sample figures of our new Fife & Drum miniatures AWI figures and am posting a couple pictures of the British Light Infantry. These are not ready for production yet, but I thought that everyone would like to see how they look painted.

My first reaction upon painting these was "Sweet Monkeys, but these are nice!"

They are really a joy to paint and I can't wait to get them into production. By the way, Richard Ansell is currently working on some AWI Continentals for us - 13 figures and one standing horse (for the mounted officer). When I look at those redcoats, I can start to envision how this range of figures will look when we have all of the basic combat arms completed and then I can get down to the task of using them in wargames.

Today I was working on painting one each of the AWI American Militia and I expect to have them finished within a couple more days and will probably post some pictures mid week. They look like they could be used in some of the Imaginations armies that people are building all over the world.

After the Continentals are done, we will put the British line infantry and a mounted officer next in the queue. After that, we will focus on the artillery pieces and some crew for each side of the conflict. At that point, we will have the basics into production and then we can go back and add in various other uniform types for both sides. Personally, I'm drooling at the thought of Ansell-sculpted Highlanders one day.

Another closer view of the British light infantry. The fellow kneeling is a little bit out of focus, but I was in a hurry to get some nice piccies up on the blog this evening. I really like the two poses on the second stand from the bottom - standing firing and NCO pointing.

Well that is all that I have for Show & Tell today. I'm sorry that I can not give everyone a date for when we will finally go into production, but I hope that we are ready to go in about another month.

By the way, it seemed like the End of The World today in Hesse Seewald what with the strange weather we have had. It started with torrential rain showers, then a lightening storm, then hail stones the size of ones thumbnail (scary stuff, that). Then that was followed by a short break, which enabled me to dash outside with the dogs before the next wave of storms came in. Then it was pitch black in the middle of the day and more hail. I half expected a cloud of locusts to descend on us next.

Oh well, I have some American Militia waiting for me downstairs at the painting table. So I will see you later.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Minden Hussar Horseholder

Minden Prussian Hussar horseholder, painted as HR5 von Reusch, or better known as The Black Hussars or Death's Head Hussar regiment. Click pix to enlarge the view.

Since I am no longer a slave to a painting deadline, I decided to work on a couple of vignettes over the weekend. The first is the set of Minden Prussian Hussar Horseholders that I've had sitting on the work bench for awhile. The only conversion work that I had to do was to drill very tiny holes into the muzzle of the two horses, shown above. This would accomodate a short strand of florists' wire that I passed through the holes and into the hands of the hussar, to simulate the reins that he is holding.

Another, more distant view of the same vignette.

I have a box full of the new dismounted hussars in mirlitons that are winging their way across the Great Pond and should be arriving at any day. I will add the dismounts to my Black Hussar regiment plus a few more horse holder stands that I can set on the table to indicate where the horses are being held while the men skirmish on foot. As I was painting the shabraques, I was having trouble painting the fine white lines of the "Van Dyking" pattern on the saw tooth red edging of the shabraque. Towards the end of the painting session, I hit on the idea of just painting one white dot at the tip of the red tooth rather than attempting to paint in all of the edging. I think it looks better and only wish that I had thought of this before I was half way towards completion of the Van Dyking. I will use this technique on the next batch.

Mounted Austrian Grenadier Officer Conversion

Original Austrian mounted colonel (left) in tricorn and the same figure with a new grenadier head (right). Click pix to enlarge the view.

Now that I have two converged grenadier battalions in my Minden Austrian army, I decided that I needed a mounted grenadier officer to command this little brigade of grenadiers. Since each musketeer regiment has a mounted officer, so too should a pair of grenadier battalions. Alas, Minden does not make a mounted grenadier officer, so a conversion was necessary.

Out came the Exacto fine tooth hack saw and I immediately set to work in sawing off the head of the mounted infantry colonel figure. Then, I selected the German Grenadier NCO (because it has no musket to interfere with the head removal) and removed his head in the same manner.

The next step was to take a pin vise (a miniature hand drill) and drill a hole in the torso of the mounted officer, where his head had been, and then do the same thing to the grenadier head. Then I found an offcut from North Star wire spear to use as a pin to secure the head to the torso, sized it up and made sure that the new head fit snuggly onto the torso of the officer. I had to do a minor amount of filing under the grenadier head to get a tight fit, but things lined up rather nicely (even the pigtail or que on the back aligned up nicely with the new head). Then a little bit of Zap-A-Gap super glue and I was done.

A close up view of the original figure and the converted mounted grenadier officer.

I had never done a head swap in all my years of wargaming and painting and modelling, so I was not sure of how this would turn out. I think that the pictures show that the results were very good. I would have to say that this type of conversion is very easy to do. So in the future, I would not hesitate to do this type of conversion if the situation required it.

Thank You For All the Kind Comments

I want to thank everyone who left a comment on my last blog post as well as those who sent me e-mails for providing their support for me and my decision to change the focus of my wargame hobby. It is really gratifying to know that I have so many friends out their on the internet and it really helped me to "get out of myself" and let go of the baggage from the past. I felt like a great weight has been removed from my shoulders now that I don't have to burn both ends of the candle trying to get the last figures ready for a game. I feel even better knowing that I do not have to "compete" at a convention in order to derive some fulfillment from this hobby. My fulfillment comes from tinkering in the basement on some new vignette or adding another regiment of infantry or cavalry to my Austrian and Prussian armies and sharing the results with my followers on this blog.

best regards to everyone,

Der Alte Fritz

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SYW Potpouri

The death of Captain von Kleist vignette. Foundry casualty and Minden Miniatures jager. Oh, and a couple of Silfor tufts too.

I was working on another battalion of Austrians for my Minden Project game at this year's SYW Association Convention and think that I might have finally hit the proverbial wall in this hobby. It is the first week of March and there are three more weeks to go before the convention. So should I go all out balls of fire painting to finish all the things that I would need for the game, or should I just give up and run the game some other time?

A good general knows when he has pushed his troops to the breaking point and if he is smart, then he backs off so that he does not destroy his army. I guess that I am a good general, because I decided that there was no way that I could finish all of the artillery support wagons and limbers, two more battalions of Hungarians, and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, I could probably pull it off, but at great cost to my personal life. So I threw up my hands and said, "I quit!"

I don't want to end up like the unfortunate Captain von Kleist, above; so I have cancelled my games at this year's SYW Association convention. In fact, I am not even planning on attending the convention at all. Furthermore, I am going to take a long break from running convention games at all. Too much work and not enough appreciation for what I do. I have been running games at this convention for 25 years now, and everyone of them was a beautiful game with well painted figures, superb/realistic looking terrain, easy rules and fun scenarios.

You won't have to look at anymore cruddy games like this at the SYWA convention. This was my game at the 2010 convention.

Or this stinker, a skirmish game, that I hosted at the 2009 SYWA convention.

I think that I have set such a high bar for myself that people have become rather blase about my SYW presentations, to the point where they pay them no heed. With that in mind, I feel that it would be best not to attend the convention and give my armies a rest. I will let others pick up the colours and contribute to the convention.

Are we gamers, painters or collectors?

The wargaming hobby has a number of different facets to it. I started in the hobby back in 1985 because I was captivated by the visual splendor of watching a SYW game hosted by the original owners of RSM Miniatures. I couldn't paint worth a lick, but I really enjoyed playing wargames. So I started out in the hobby as strictly a wargamer.

After awhile, I had the desire to start painting some of my own figures and so I started out with Austrians, figuring that guys in "all white" would be easy to cut my teeth on as I learned how to paint. Over the next 25 years my painting improved. The more figures I painted, the better my efforts became. In fact, I can almost say that I now prefer painting figures to actually playing in wargames. I certainly spend a greater proportion of my hobby time painting figures than I do in running games at conventions these days.

At some point along the way, I made the mistake of painting a few Napoleonic figures and ended up with thousands of them. One of my friends started ACW armies at 1:10 using the original Dave Alsop-sculpted Old Glory figures. Ah yes, those were the glory days in my hobby life. So I built up some huge 28mm ACW armies at 1:10 ratios. Then I ventured into the ancient world with Late Romans versus Barbarians. I had evolved into somewhat of a collector of wargame armies. I was acquiring armies and figures, but I did not seem to be gaming with them very often.

The ultimate thing for me was the appearance of Frank Hammond's Minden Miniatures range of SYW figures. The lifelike sculpts of artist Richard Ansell were just the thing that I was looking for. I had grown tired of figures that were charicatures of the human body. No more over-sized heads or baseball mitt hands or 'strong faces' for me.

A Minden dragoon officer painted as a Jager officer. I acquired this figure from Ioannis to add to my collection.

At about the same time, I became acquainted with John Ray and I really admired the way that he could stick with one historical period (in his case, the AWI) and really develop his collection in great depth. I then realized that this is what I wanted to do with my favorite historical gaming period -- the Seven Years War. So I resolved to start all over with my SYW armies and rebuild the Austrians and Prussians using the superb Minden Miniatures. Not only was I going to paint battalion of infantry and vast regiments of cavalry, but I was also going to work on historical vignettes, as inspired by such people as Phil Olley, Barry Hilton and the master, John Ray.

So that is how I evolved into a collector of historical miniatures. I intend to foresake wargames at convention settings, but continue to play the occaisional game with my gang up in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. So I have not given up gaming completely. You will continue to see battle reports and glorious photos on this blog, but you won't see me running convention games for awhile.

I will continue to work on my Minden Project, but now that I no longer have the pressure of artificial or real deadlines, I can enjoy the painting part of the hobby and add more units at my leisure. So you will continue to see the progress of these armies as I add to them and as I drill down and work on more vignettes. For example, I would like to develop the camp scenes in even greater depth, add a cavalry encampment with stables and the cavalry regimental commander's headquarters tent, etc., a pontoon train and a number of other bits and pieces that occur to me along the way.

So for now, I am a painter and a collector and my hobby will be something that I pursue at a slower, more measured pace to ensure my own relaxation and enjoyment, rather than a frantic arms race with paint brushes and tin figures.