Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dark Age Warriors

I haven't had much time for painting as of of late, but I have finally managed to finish up a unit of Dark Age warrior for my Anglo-Danish force for Saga.

As with my Huscarls, these are part of the plastic Saxon 4 Point Starter Warband from Gripping Beast/Renedra and have been completed with LBMS decals

Compared to the Huscarls, I'd have to say these figures are not as well designed. The left hand is cast on, limiting the variety of poses.  Three of the five poses also have the arm cast right up against the torso, resulting in what I call the "dysentery walk" look.  The shields help hide it, but it is also makes it difficult to fit the shields against the torsos properly, especially when the head has a beard (which is most of them). There are no additional pouches, knives, etc. to place on the belts and only 7 different head types (unless you mix in heads from the armored frames), further limiting your ability to create varied looking troops.

While I think the completed figures looked pretty good, I'm not sure I'd recommend buying the stand alone box of these unless you need a lot of warriors on the cheap.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

More Anglo-Danish Huscarls

The construction of my Anglo-Danish force for Saga continues with 3 units of Huscarls. These are made from the plastic Saxon 4 Point Starter Warband from Gripping Beast/Renedra. I found my set on eBay for $30 US (including shipping), which is a good deal for the number of figures you get (32 in total).

Though the pack advertised two units of Thegns/Huscarls, you can actually make three units if you are willing to combine the two figures on the command frame with the ten bodies on the Thegns/Huscarls frame.  Since I already have a metal Warlord, I went with this option.

The kit comes with a dragon banner, but I opted to replace it with a Little Big Men Studio banner mounted on metal wire with an attached plastic spearhead.  I really like the LBMS decals, but for some odd reason they leave the space between the two banner sides blank, so you end up having to paint it in. The shields have also been decorated using LBMS transfers. 

One of the major complaints against plastic figures vs. metal figures is that the details can get soft on the sides of the figures, and you can see some of the seams where the pieces join. While that is present to some extent here, especially in the chainmail, I don't think that it is glaring enough to detract from the figures.

The frame has a good variety of arm and head options, and the choice of heads can be further expanded using the bare heads from the dark age warriors frames.  The two figures below use the same body (there are five armored body designs in the kit) and as you can see, they end up looking fairly different when assembled.

Overall, I am quite happy with these figures; they have a lot of character and are relatively cheap compared to their metal counterparts. If you're a wargamer on a budget, this is definitely an option you should explore.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Chinese Hutong Buildings in 28mm

The New Year is off to a good start with the completion of the first siheyuan block for my hutong project. I've been wanting to have some urban space for my Back of Beyond and 2nd Sino-Japanese War games, so I though a hutong would be a good option; it has a lot of local flavor and gives you cramped fighting conditions without taking up a lot of vertical space.  I plan to make several blocks of buildings and ruins on 25x25cm foamcore that can be laid out in a variety of patterns.

The first block consists of two residences with an attached tea shop and garden. There currently aren't much in the way of options for buildings of this type in 28mm, so everything here has been scratch built. 

I didn't have the funds (or want to spend the time) to try to cover everything with textured plastic sheets, so I've opted to use OO scale paper textures from enlarged to 120%.  These have been supplemented with Chinese architectural details that I've accumulated here and here (all free for personal use).  Though not as nice as what Jimbibbly is able to produce, I think it still looks effective and not too flat.

The buildings themselves are built from Woodland Scenics 1/4" Modeling Sheets C1176 and art board. The sheets were a real find (I'd been struggling to locate high density foam in thin sheets locally) and finally gave me the opportunity build some thicker walls without the hand strain of cutting up and stacking multiple layers of art board.

In the garden, I've used a Woodland Scenics tree with dry brushed foliage and some Walthers/Noch SceneMaster plants. For ease of construction, the garden was built on a stand alone piece of card and then glued into the appropriate spot.

I plan for fighting within the alleys and buildings to be a significant part of the action, so I've made lift off roofs for the main buildings and added some simple interior details.

I didn't want everything to be flat, so I have used some plastic tile sheets on top of art board to add some depth. The wall has been trimmed with O scale (1:48) Spanish Tile, while the roofs use Ridged Clay Tile; both were obtained from  One sheet was enough for me to complete all the roofs on the block.

The center roof spines were made from various thicknesses of hard plastic tubing with the ends sealed with glue. For the front facade on the tea shop, rows of tiles were cut in half and the tube placed down the center.  This tended to cause the tiles to stretch and flatten out, so I had to bend them back into shape and also decided to glue them onto an art board base to help with sturdiness. 

I did take a few design shortcuts on the roofs to make things easier on me.  First, I decided to go with flat roofs rather than curved. While this doesn't look as nice, I couldn't figure out how to make curved ones that would be study enough to survive being taken off and on. I also was having trouble figuring out how to create the elaborate end caps you often see on the roofs, so ended up just stacking various thickness of art board covered in concrete paper texture.  Not 100% accurate looking, but I'm hoping it still gives the flavor of the real thing.

For this particular block I decided not to add a ton of clutter to the alleyway and garden, but thought a few potted plants would give it a bit more life.  Not able to find 28mm Chinese pots, I managed to locate some beads at the craft store that look reasonable enough.

Finally, here is a shot of a few figures in front of the tea shop to give you a sense of size.

Working on and off, this block took me about a month to complete, but that also includes learning time on the construction and locating and modifying the architectural elements.  My hope is that the future blocks will go together much more quickly.