Friday, December 31, 2010

Greek Trojan War Figure Completed

I finally finished the Greek from the Trojan War period. (Well, actually it is a mix of Greek from the Archaic period and the Mycenaeans from the Trojan War period, but as this figure is for Greek mythology gaming, it is all good.)

I started with a flat clothespin in order to try something different from the pawns I normally use. It painted well and you can see the build process in a previous blog entry. I've painted more details, added the shield, and added a crest from those last pictures.

The shield is simply two dowels glued together to make the figure-8 shield. The crest is a small 1/2" eye hook screwed into the top of the clothespin and a portion of the 'eye' snipped out. I then took some red yarn and glued it to the painted eye hook. Once the glue had dried, I dipped the yarn into Future Acrylic Floor Wax to stiffen it up.

All in all a simple, easy-to-make and easy-to-paint figure. The only tools required were a drill and bit for the arm assembly (see the previous blog entry), a Dremel and a sanding bit for shaping the arms and spacer (although the latter could certainly have been a nylon or metal spacer of the appropriate size), a saw to cut slices from a dowel, and metal snips to cut the piece out of the eye hook. Very little glue was used on this figure compared to my others.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

French Ligne Drummer

I have completed the second of four specialty figures for my French Ligne unit (1812): the drummer.

From a building viewpoint, there is little different in this figure from previous Fusilier figures. The pom-pom is the head of a dressing pin (although I did go a little nuts and paint an "N" for "Napoleon" in the center of it) and the shako is 1/2 of a spool. I have taken to using printouts for the shako plates, as I can draw far better than I can paint, although this is a bit taken from a picture and modified. I decided to paint the shako's leather band white, to give the figure more pizazz, as my source showed it the same gray band as the Fusiliers. Call it either artistic license, or the prerogative of the regiment's commander.

The body is a pawn, only modified by flattening the top of the head to make the shako fit better. I put some detail in the face, but not as much as previous Fusilier figures. I wanted the drummer boyish, so I painted no facial fair and gave him a cleft chin.

The arms use a new method for attaching to the body. I drill a hold through the arm part and the pawn body, then connect them using a toothpick-sized round dowel. Once the arm is in place and properly positioned I can add a little glue in the cracks using a toothpick to fix it in place.

I drilled holes in the hands to push the drumsticks through and positioned them so the drumsticks crossed, making it look like he is performing a roll on the drum. To get these positions I had to drill through the hands at an angle. Again, I went a little crazy playing with my new sanding bits for my Dremel and started shaping the tip of the drumstick. Usually you cannot see such details, but I think the picture above, because of the lighting, actually shows it pretty well. (Another reason to paint 42mm figures!)

The feet are the same as my newer figures: a 3/4" heart shape sanded down a bit.

The last piece is the drum itself, which is a simple spool, much smaller than the one used for the shako or the horse bodies. Again, I attached it to the body by drilling a hole into both the drum and the pawn, using a mini-dowel to attach. This gives more surface area for the glue, plus those pieces are not painted, so the bond is stronger.

Well, next up is a French Ligne Officer (1812) in Bicorne and Greatcoat. The final specialty figure will be the Eagle Bearer of the unit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vivandiere - Complete

I decided not to paint the braid on the jacket, and not add a little knob to the barrel's spout. I may add a strap to the barrel, but it is not really necessary. Too many fiddly details and it detracts from the main character and increases the chance of breakage.

So here she is:


The measuring beaker and cup were made from a small dowel. I drilled out the center and painted it a darker color to show the depth. The spigot is a simple dowel the size of a toothpick. The strap for the measuring beaker is nylon bristle.

All in all this was a very fun figure to build. Now to make up the rules (and point cost) for her!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Greek in the Trojan War

Here is another work in progress. I like to do several figures at once so that when the glue or paint is drying on one, I can work on another and get the momentum going. (Getting my butt into the painting chair in the first place is the biggest obstacle to me getting anything done in a reasonable amount of time.)

So, I saw "Lu" on the Wargaming on a Budget forum use a different style of clothespin than that used by Ken ("Lions Den"), so as I wanted to take a trip to Michael's anyway, I decided to look for these other type. They are flat on the front, back, and sides, rather than round, so they look more like the old semi-round figures (or thick 'flats'). As that was different than the game pieces I use now, I thought I would do a little experimenting with them and see if I liked them. I thought it might be interesting to do fantasy/semi-historical in a different style.

Here is the basic figure - sans arms, weapons, shield, and accessories - for a Greek during the Homeric period.


As you can see, it is not too bad a representation for a human shape. I took the basic clothespin, cut off the long split, added a heart shape to the bottom for the feet, then glued it all onto a 1" disk. These figures are about 38-40mm high to the eyes, and not as bulky as the game pieces, so they definitely look 'smaller' than my Napoleonics.

I wanted the figure to hold a spear in the overarm thrusting pose, so I needed to make an arm to hold it. The problem is that the head is as wide as the body, so if the spear is glued to the inside of the arm, the army needs to be glued to the body at an angle. That would leave little surface area for contact, so the glue bond would not be strong. To solve that I decided I needed to extend the body by about the width of the spear so the arm would glue flat. As shown in the figure below, I created a wooden 'spacer' to place between the arm and the body. Not only would the space have more surface area to glue (it would be flat against the body and the arm), but it would create a simple 3D effect.

Using this method of 'pinning' the arm to the body (I used a wooden dowel to go through the arm, spacer, and into the body) means that you have that much more surface area to strengthen the glue bond. I stated doing this with my Napoleonic figures too. This really helps if you have already painted the surfaces, or have glued paper to them (as with my British).


Here is the figure with the spacer, arm, and spear in place (unpainted). The dowel is strong and tight enough it all despite there being no glue applied yet.


I'll post another entry once the figure is complete. I have a 'figure 8' shield for the figure, made from two dowel slices, that goes with it before it is finished.

Vivandiere - Started the painting

I've started painting the figure, but still have some crafting and final painting touches to go. As I need a break from the painting table, I thought I would post the work in progress.

I still have the cuff details to paint, and I am still considering whether to paint braid on the jacket, but for the most part the figure painting is done.


The crafting that remains is the cup in her out-stretched (left) hand and the spigot and measuring beaker on the alcohol barrel. Maybe I will add a strap for the barrel, made out of twine, too.

The main challenge for this figure was the right arm. If I had the barrel on the side (which is made from two flat-head plugs glued together), the arm needed to be draped over it, which means a bend in the arm. Wanting to keep with the all-wood construction as much as possible - I did not want to craft an arm out of putty - I decided to see what I could do about bending a curve into wood.

I started with the craft stick, shaping it as I would any other figure's arm (although I deliberately made it so it was not as wide as the others). Then I took a sander and sanded out a rounded space in the middle of the arm, so the bend would be easier.
 To make the draping of the arm less exaggerated I sanded an curve into the side of the figure so the barrel wound be on the hip. I took the arm and soaked it in water for about 15 minutes, then started to slowly bend the arm around a small dowel. With the bend starting to form properly (the wood did not break), I pinned and glued the upper arm to the body and let it dry a bit. I then carefully glued the inside of the arm, wet the outside, then pressed it against the barrel so the arm would wrap around it. Once the glue had hardened, I filled in the gaps with Crayola Modeling Magic Fusion and painted over everything.

All in all I am very satisfied with how this figure is turning out. I've started pinning the arms to get a better bond now. More on that in the next blog entry, which shows a Greek warrior in the Trojan War period.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vivandiere - Finishing the Top Hat and Making the Skirt

I decided to keep working on the new figure while doing other things. My wife is writing a research paper, so I needed to be quiet anyway... : )

I took more Crayola Modelling Magic Fusion and made a skirt (left picture).I know it looks a little blocky right now, but I will add more material at the bottom so that it has more of a flair. I just did not want the material too thick in a single layer, slowing drying time.

I considered adding rolls of material vertically down the dress, to represent the folds. In the end I decided that the look was not good and that it would be better to keep it simple and use paint for such "effects", if I wanted them.

I added some material at the back (center picture) of the top hat to represent the scarf, wrapped around the base of the top hat's crown (it will be painted, not molded) and hanging down in the back. I too a flat piece of material shaped as an inverted "V" and glued it to the back, then took scissors and cut out a notch once the material had dried a bit.

The last piece is adding a small ball of material at the back of the head (right picture) as a hair 'bun'. Not readily visible now, but once it is painted it will be.

Boy, the more I look at that skirt, the more I really don't like it as it is. One more layer to add before going to bed!

Vivandiere - Making the Top Hat

I was costing out my various Napoleonic figures for the rules Song of Drums and Shakos, and I thought it would be interesting to try and comes up with the stats and figure for a French Vivandiere.

A vivandiere is a woman employed by the unit "as sutleresses to sell food, alcohol, tobacco, etc. to all members of the regiment, frequently accompanying their unit into action where it was not unknown for them to become casualties whilst tending the wounded." (Text and photo from Uniforms of the Retreat from Moscow 1812 by Philip Haythornthwaite and Mike Chappell.) It goes on: "They often wore 'uniforms' resembling that of their regiment and usually with features of their own design; the braided jacket and shortish skirt worn over breeches and gaiters were typical, as was the 'round hat', frequently decorated with long coloured scarves (that illustrated taken from Faber du Faur). A universal item was the barrel worn on a shoulder strap, often gaily painted with regimental devices, with attached measuring-beaker and cup, from which alcohol could be sold on the march."

My interest in this figure is purely from a uniform perspective; I love the top hat. From a gaming perspective, it would allow me to add the Combat (Medic) attribute from Flying Lead (if it is not already present in Song of Drums and Shakos, that is) and have some figure as a useful 'objective'. I envision a scenario in which she is selling goods to the troops in a picquet (picket) when they come under attack in one of the numerous actions of le petite guerre (the outpost wars). She will not only act as a loss of VP if captured or killed, but she can drag wounded soldiers to safety and possibly patch them up.

So the first step is replicating the top hat. This is the distinctive element to the piece, in my opinion. For this I simply took a 3/16" thick square of balsa wood, cut a hole in the center, and glued in onto the head of the pawn. I then drew the boundaries of outer brim of the hat and used a Dremel sander to shape it. With that complete I needed to create the 'dip' in the front and back of the top hat, so using a round sanding drum I sanded away, including the top of the head, until I got the proper depression (see the three figures on the left, below).

After that I drew the curved up sides on the left and right with a pen, and then carefully sanded away the thickness of the balsa until I got the proper shape I was looking for. Picture 3 shows this the best.

Adding a dowel on top (picture 4) shows what the basic shape will be, but as you can see, there is a gap to fill. I could have used a longer dowel and sanded it to fit in, but making perfect fits like that are not easy. Unfortunately this is not precise machining, but rather artistic hand carving with power sanders. As always I use the Crayola Modeling Magic Fusion, mostly because I still have three tubs of it. I put a generous dollop on top of the brim, mash the down dowel, and let it dry over night. Once dry, I used an X-Acto knife to trim off the excess (the right two figures). I really like it! The last step is to cover it all with white glue so it stays together. I do this in thin layers to prevent pooling. It is tedious, but you can do this while doing something else. In my case it was painting other figures.

Next time it I will focus on the skirt.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

French Legere Firing

Despite my talk about "leveling versus aiming" last time I could not help myself; I had to paint the firing figure aiming because I wanted to try:

  • Making the head lean over, and
  • Making one eye squint.
What I also decided to do is take one of the previously painted figures and replicate him in a firing pose. Although it is a novel idea, making duplicate "unique faces" across several figures is not easy. Some of the "uniqueness" is produced through mistakes, after all!

Without further ado, French Legere firing:



Despite the positioning of the hands and feet not being "perfect", I think this is the way I will go from now one. The one problem I can see with this pose is transporting it. If I am driving to a game and I have the unit in my storage box, I don't think it will be a problem (I use magnets and metal), but traveling with them on a plane is another matter. I'll have to think about that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Firing Pose

The one comment that could have been construed as slightly negative about my wooden warriors was "why are they not in firing poses when it is a skirmish game?" Well, actually there are a number of answers for that, but I interpreted the basic question as "why don't you have any figures in a firing pose?"

Why indeed! Well, the short answer is that I could never come up with a pose that felt right. I had tried several things, like: other materials (rejected because I wanted to use the same materials for all figures, and for arms that is craft sticks); two-part arms (rejected because of too much cutting and gluing and the poor fit was hard to cover up); and cover-up (rejected because it was obvious I was using paper to cover the gaps).

So, tonight I decided to tackle the problem once again. The basic problem is that the right arm is bent in a "V", thus shortening the arm, while the left arm is extended out, lengthening the arm. Further, the left hand cradles the musket stock, so it should be horizontal to the body, but the army itself should be vertical; not possible with a one-piece craft stick. Finally, the left leg should be forward while right leg stays aligned with the body. This makes the feet form an "L" shape.

To start, I have taken a flat toothpick and measured out 2", as that is the length of my muskets with bayonets affixed for a 42mm figure. I've also marked off 5/8" on a craft stick (both of the rounded ends), as this is the standard length for the figures' arms.


I want the musket butt to be close up to the head, past the cheek, so I cut a notch out so the flat toothpick would seat properly and have some contact surface for the glue. I've drawn a red rectangle to highlight the area I am referring to.

Remember that in this period, especially with muskets, the men "leveled" them rather than aimed. So I am not worried about putting the eye over the sight. You can easily do that, however, by adjusting where you paint the eyes and other facial features.

Also note that the notch is on the front side of the figure (on the right), not on the side. I have decided that the figure will fire twisting to the left. (This will become more apparent in later photographs).


With the notch made you can glue in the toothpick. Keep the musket relatively level.


A shot from above with the figure standing up. This shows you the angle with relation to the feet position.


I took the arm and slightly rounded the bottom, representing the bent elbow. The upper part was rounded more aggressively so the musket butt is visible. Is this anatomically correct? No, but it conveys a sense of a bent arm.


Here I've attached the left arm. Essentially the should is glued where it would normally, maybe slightly forward. Rather than cradling the musket I simply let the fingertips touch it. Again, not anatomically correct, but I think painted up it will look okay.


I've drawn in black lines to represent the centerline of the face vertically (the nose line) and horizontally (the eye line). This gives you a better sense of which direction the face is facing versus the body, hips, and feet.


More black lines on the body showing the hip line and the gap between the legs.


The firing pose from the side.


I could have used my old method for making feet and had the left facing forward, aligned with the line of firing. That is a trade-off everyone has to think about. Using the old method allows me to have each foot face in a separate direction, giving a more realistic (anatomically correct) pose, but at the expense of time and effort. Using the new method, with a heart shape, saves time, but looks less correct. Personally, I have no problem with the above figure.

Please let me know what you think of this method, either here in comments on on the Wargaming on a Budget forum.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MAG-Con II - First Game with Napoleonic Wooden Warriors

I decided to use the rules Song of Drums and Shakos (SDS), which are simple to teach, but give the player tactical choices to make, so it not simply a die-rolling contest. (It is, however, more susceptible to luck than the average game.)

The Scenario


The British have sent a small patrol forward, consisting of six British line infantry and one King's German Legion Light Dragoon, to patrol down the road looking to clear away any French skirmishers as the battalion is marching down the road. The French figures are hidden and initially kept off of the board. However, they are marked on a map to show where they are hiding. The figure below shows the terrain, deployment, and where the French are hiding.


The small light colored patches are crops and high grass areas. In the game they act as minor concealment (+1 to the target in ranged combat), but do not block line of sight. The round wooded area as small copses of woods, which completely block line of sight, figures cannot be seen unless they are within 1" of the edge, and the target gets +2 in ranged combat). The hills completely block line of sight if the line crosses any part of the hill, no matter whether the figure sticks above the terrain or not. (I hate "laser pointer" line of sight where people have to get their eye down to the table. It inevitably leads to disagreement, even if it ends in a friendly die roll as to who is right. Better to simply take a thread from head to head and see where the line crosses.)


The British advance down the road, with the Light Dragoon taking off looking behind the hills to the left of the road. At this point, it is certain that not more than one or two figures are hiding behind hills on the left flank, although the French may be hiding in the far left corner woods, but it is more likely that they are on the right.

Corporal Jones gets left behind a bit from his squad.
I allow figures other than officers to be Leaders, a change from the straight SDS rules. This move also shows what I like about other Ganesha Games (GG) rules: the Leader frequently falls behind the men. I think the Leader should be able to activate, give the order to the group to move out, and then forgo all remaining actions in order to move with the group. In essence you are rolling to give an order, then rolling for the Group plus Leader to act. Of course, I think that should be an option so they Leader can act either way.

One Frenchman reveals his position as he climbs the hill and takes a pot shot at the Light Dragoon from behind a bush, to no effect. The rest of the squad moves left around the hill, still out of sight. (I have revealed them here for convenience.)


The action continues with the French Legere moving to the left into the field, while Corporal Jones marches his boys into the woods, where there is better cover. Meanwhile, on the French right flank ... Chasseur LeBon shoots at the Trooper Liebenow (of the Kings German Legion Light Dragoons, hence the funny name), and his horse bucks and rears. This would not be the last time that the ornery beast could not be controlled in battle...


With the French in position, Lieutenant Louis Lebau orders his Chasseurs to fire on the British infantryman still exposed ... and he goes down!

One of the reasons that I don't do a turn-by-turn and blow-by-blow description of the action is that the British had this unfortunate tendency to fail to activate, so the picture would not change ... until the French did something. Chris (Corporal Jones) was not getting good dice while Dean (Lieutenant Lebau) was doing alright.
Trooper Liebenow finally got his mount under control and put the spurs to it, almost appearing on the flank of the French. Chasseur LeBon, left behind in the dust was heard to mutter "Wow! Chevau-l├ęgers d├ęplacer rapidement!" (Roughly: "Wow! Light Dragoon move fast!")

Note that although you can see the Light Dragoon in the picture, line of sight does not extend across the hill, so the trooper is hidden from view. But, they can hear him coming!
The British finally come alive, now that Corporal Jones has his lads in hand, and a devastating volley erupts from the woods with a Chasseur going down. Meanwhile, the trooper canters over the woods, ready to charge into the rear of the French and put an end to this ambush.


But, the British were over-eager and another devastating volley from the French Legere killed another British private and knocked another to the ground. Lieutenant Lebau, seeing the trooper approaching, rushes forward and shoots his pistol four feet from the horse's nose. Again, the horse bucks, distracting the trooper from battle.

Knocking a figure down can represent a number of different events, not just literally knocking them off of their feet down to the ground. They could be dazed, off balance, or trying to control an unruly mount. However, no matter how the result is interpreted the game effect is the same. It takes one action to recover, and if your opponent simply beats you (rolls higher) in combat, you are out of the fight.
With Chasseur LeBon huffing and puffing as he brings up the rear, things look bad for the trooper. He takes a shot and ... misses! The trooper controls his mount once again while Corporal Jones screams at Private Smythe to get up off of his arse and for everyone to reload.


Another volley by the Chasseurs is also ineffective - that woods is proving tough to overcome - but the Light Dragoon trooper is finally dispatched. Chasseur LeBon attacks from the rear and the trooper's horse kicks the sneaky Frenchman to the ground, but the Lieutenant's sword finds its mark.


Roaring to LeBon "descendre ton cul", Lieutenant Lebau flinches as the British volley roars again. With a scream, another Chasseur goes down.


Chasseur LeBon gets up and he and Lieutenant Lebau rush to the field just as another fierce roars sounds. The British, ever the experts at musketry, have started methodically going through the drill: open the cartridge, fill and close the pan, load the barrel with powder and ball, ram the charge home, return to the firing position, cock the hammer, level, and fire. The French can take no more and Lieutenant Lebau can be seen here slapping the bottom of Chasseur LeBon with his sword berating him for taking so long, while failing to kill the Light Dragoon. Surely his shirking his duty was the cause for their failure!


Summary


This game played very well with the two players - both whom had never played SDS - quickly grasping the rules and getting into the action. That, of course, is the best sort of rules for gaming conventions where everyone wants to get stuck in right away.

I think the figures themselves were also a success. They certainly elicited a lot of comment and discussion before, during, and after the game. The only problem I see is that as a figure gets taller is becomes less balanced. This is really only a problem with hills, which continue to be my nemesis, when it comes to terrain.

Preparing for MAG-Con II

MAG-Con II is a convention in North Houston, TX and it is occurring 4-5 Dec, 2010. "MAG" stands for "Mad About Gaming", which normally does not describe me, but considering it is just over 1,000 miles away (each way) from my home, some would say I am mad to go that far for two days of gaming.

My original plan was to drive, which would have been about 18 hours each way, so fours days of driving. But, in the end, I did not have enough time to prep the car (change oil, check filters and tires, etc.) so I decided to fly at the last minute.

Having been a road warrior once upon a time I had enough miles to fly free (first class!) and to have a free hotel stay. Unfortunately, I have never been good with the rental car programs, so I had to pay for that, but I found a deal for 2/3rds off with Expedia.

So, why is this in Wooden Warriors? Well, I decided to try to put on a demonstration game of Song of Drums and Shako using my Wooden Warriors and see how it went over. The problem: although I have 29 French painted and ready to go, I had two British and one Russian as opposition. So, it is time to buckle down and finish some more British.

As it so happens I have five British Line infantry with basic assembly and paint done, and the uniform printed out (the tutorial was an earlier blog entry). I just needed to do for the five what I did for the one shown in that tutorial.

I got a little ambitious and tried to do too much. Not only was I trying to finish these five, but I felt like I was woefully lacking in terrain for 42mm figures, so I wanted to build some fences and walls, and mount some trees and shrubs to bases. I was also trying an experiment using yarn for a bush (that will be a separate, future blog entry). I was just too much. I finished the bush, and 10 shrubs, but the eight fences ended up built but not painted, so they stayed home. That also burned precious time, so my British Line ended up on the plane with me without the muskets being glued, and faceless. (I would end up gluing the muskets and drawing the faces in drafting pen in the hotel the morning of the game.)


All in all, a respectable figure, I think. I am happy with the printing process and the level of detail. I could paint that level of detail on a 42mm figure, but never five of them in two days.

Off to the convention with wooden warriors in hand, ready to make their debut.

Contributors

Followers

Popular Posts

Labels I Use in Posts