Friday, May 29, 2020

And, once again, things spin completely out of control! UPDATED

       Yesterday I knocked together a little starfort for my 1/350 navy to shoot at. Well, forts don't just float in the sea by themselves so I started thinking about coastlines. But coastlines are pretty much endless while islands have a very limited amount of coast, so an island was the answer. But why would you build a fort on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.....thus the island needed to have a reason that people would want it, a nice harbor perhaps. From that point I made the leap from cogitation to cutting foam and this happened;

Something brand new (for a change)

I thought that my new fleet might want something to shoot at
never mind where I'm going to get 1/350 scale cannons

       OK, the real problem is that I watched that classic Burt Lancaster movie The Crimson Pirate
which feature pirates sacking a fortified town. As I was watching the movie it struck me that my newly assembled fleet had no landward opposition. Having finished the movie, and still at odds with myself over which other dusty project to complete, I began toying with the mechanics of building a 1/350 scale fortress. Not being an abstract thinker I tend to do my thinking with my hands. The next thing I knew I was cutting foam. I'm afraid that we have seen where this can lead.....

getting the bastions right is always the problem 
I think that I have finally worked that out!

in this scale even the glacis becomes a real possibility!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dusty Projects XVI; Lindberg HE-100 1/72 scale

       About fifty years ago I struck a deal with my cousin John, who was almost exactly a year older than I. We would buy each other the coolest World War Two airplane model that we could find for our respective birthdays, which were a mere six weeks apart. I took my lawn mowing money (which was paid at the princely sum of twenty five cents a job) and walked the mile and a half to the local K-Mart where I laid down almost forty cents for a model HE-100 for him. K-Mart at the time was a proper Department Store and had a Models and Hobbies section managed by a WW2 vet who was also a modeller. In return my cousin got me a HE-162 Volksjager model. We were both delighted with our gifts and promptly shot them to pieces with our BB guns. 

       I was, however, struck by the sleek lines of the HE-100 and resolved to get one as a "keeper" (i.e. it would be spared the ravages of the Red Rider and have a coveted place on the display shelf in my room). For reasons that escape me now this never came to pass, that is until a few years ago when I drove past a garage sale that was displaying a sign that said simply "Old Models", intrigued I stopped and took a look. Among other treasures I found myself a Lindberg HE-100 kit. I promptly made it mine. It had sat unattended in a box in The Vault ever since, until last week when my endless hunt for the errant Airfix Mayflower turned it up. I paused for a moment and then set it aside to build.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Book Review, The Cretan War

The Cretan War, 1645-1671
The Venetian-Ottoman Struggle in the Mediterranean 
Author and Artist, Bruno Mugnai
ISBN 978-1-911628-04-0

        I have always been a fan of obscure conflicts and I have to say that I was excited by this title as I had never heard of this war.The heroic efforts of the Venetians and Hapsburgs in protecting Western Civilization from the centuries-long assault by Islam has gone virtually unnoticed in the Anglosphere. Bruno Mugnia has produced a comprehensive work covering the Fifth Ottoman-Venetian War that continued from 1645 to 1671. The depth of his research is reflected in the four page long Select Bibliography (in at least three different languages, mind you). This is a product of tireless effort and true passion.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Dusty Projects XV, Polish Light Cavalry 15mm

       I won't bore you with the "while I was painting these" photos, you can find all sorts of that stuff further down the blog. Here they are ready to roll (that is as son as the matte spray dries) the famed Polish Light Cavalry LISOWCZYCY!  Based for Tercio rules these are skirmish cavalry that scout and pave the way for the dreaded Winged Hussars.

seriously, they are shiny because the Vallejo Matte Spray takes a bit to dry

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The final leg of the Zeppelin game

The last element of the Zeppelin game

Ships play a layered and critical role in the combat history of lighter than airships.  Several Zeppelins were actually shot down by British vessels.  Most of the Zeppelins that were shot down by the British were shot down thanks to an assist from the Royal Navy.  And of course the entire blimp side of the game arose as an effort to fight off the German submarine menace.  In casting about for some 1/1250 ships to use in scale for the Zeppelins I discovered a company called Historia Emporium (here is their website ( ).  They have hundred of 1/1250 scale preconstructed and painted boats from various high end manufacturers like: Navis, Mercater, and Hai at a wide range of price points (starting at $3 and extending over $100).  Apparently there is QUITE a market for tiny but hyper accurate models of vessels from both world wars and beyond.  I had no idea.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Dusty Projects XIVb Then The Winged Hussars Arrived!! UPDATED

       I found myself really struggling with painting these figures. They are fine miniatures despite their age, I just find painting 15mm figures to be taxing. So I put them down for a while and did other things for a bit to see about regaining my enthusiasm. Here are the results;

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Dusty Projects XIVa, Now I remember why I like 28mm figures

seriously, it's me, they are lovely figures, but I can barely see them
I should have painted them long ago when my eyes still worked!

       Three days steady work and the Winged Hussars are nowhere near done. Granted, they aren't wearing uniforms which requires a lot more switching of colors and all. But, still, this is incredibly slow. I did take this bit of work as an opportunity to experiment a bit with the Contrast paints.
       Despite dire warnings that these paints shouldn't be mixed with other paints or thinned with water I went ahead and did both. Gulliman flesh gave an interesting color over a tan base but I had already primed these minis in white; to resolve this I simply added some Americana Burnt Umber and a tiny touch of red along with a couple of drops of water. Happy with the color in the mixing dish I applied it to the miniatures with pleasingly effective results. This opens the door to some other options, sadly I will have to wait until the sorry idiot running my state decides that business can resume before I can explore this further, assuming that any of the local hobby shops surviive.

so much for following orders....

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Won't you take me to ... Zeppelin Town!

Having obtained and painted the planes and zeppelins I now needed some more or less stationary targets as "destinations" for potential Zeppelin raids.  The problem of my chosen scale (1/1250) for the Airships became clear to me quickly.  In 1/1250 scale a standard train track is about 1 millimeter wide, or basically a pencil line.  In the end I found a replacement set of building for a newer Monopoly game very inexpensively ($4) and decided they would do.  Well after a bit of a delay as I fiddled around with arrangement of the buildings I have now completed a general British town for occasional Zeppelin visits. 

Here is what I had to work with.  I purchased a replacement set of the game Monopoly.  The boards are simple mdf all about the same width and of various lengths as can be seen. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Dusty Projects XIV, Minifigs Polish Winged Hussars

cleaned, and ready to be primed 

       The Vault has surrendered one of it's oldest denizens to me. A drawer full of Old Minifigs Polish Winged Hussars dating back circa 1985AD. Tipping the scales at over three decades of patiently waiting to be painted they are still nice figures. They are a close threat to the Claude for being the longest on the "To Do" list. I will get these little beauties primed tomorrow morning and then it is back to the brushes!

mold plugs that have to be removed with real tools, 
ahh yes, I miss the good old days

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Strelets British Infantry in Attack 1701-1714 20mm 1/76

 the front of the box, it provides a good idea of the period uniform appearance

       Well, I must say that I love this set and hate it as well. I love this set because it covers a period that is barely addressed in 20mm and does it with some lovely figures, I hate it because I am just completing painting dozens of units in 28mm for the same period. Enough of my own problems. In this set we will find forty-four actively posed and delicately sculpted miniatures depicting the British Army in the period of 1702-1714. The figures depict troops that are, or are about to be, engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The uniforms are correctly depicted with deep cuffs and full loose coats without turnbacks. The only possible complaint might be the over-representation of Grenadiers, but as these troops were often assigned to lead assaults and Forlorn Hopes that point barely rises to a minor issue. The miniatures are cast in a stiff, but still pliable, rust colored plastic that holds the detail that was sculpted without signs of blurriness or mold marks. The depth and clarity of the detail will make painting a breeze. I find myself wishing that Strelets would credit the sculptor as whoever the anonymous talent that is behind these figures deserves full credit for excellent posing , anatomy, and having a feel for how uniforms drape over a persons figure, these are truly tiny works of art.

Very highly recommended.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Dusty Projects XIII, Get Him To The Greek UPDATED!

the lone figure that I finished painting back in January when I assembled them

       Having run out of of ships to assemble and paint I decided to take a step toward a different subject and a much larger scale. These beautiful Victrix Greeks have been knocking around the workshop for months now so I figured I should tick that box off and get them done. Besides, I had purchased some of the Citadel Contrast Paints before the world ended and was itching to give them a try.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Dusty Project XII, Last of the galleons

the Golden Hind in a rather bright and fanciful color scheme

and the Black Swan in an intensely dour paint ob

       After a brief pause to honor Mother's Day I once more returned to the workshop and knocked out the last two galleons; one a Pirate Ship and the other a Golden Hind.  I intentionally painted them to lok very different from the other models of their type to make it easier to keep track during a game. I won't bother you with the step-by-step of the build as they have already been covered when I first built the type; follow the links for a look at a review of the kits and my first build of that type.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Strelets Boer Infantry 20mm 1/76

front box art
this gives an idea as to clothing, the Boers were without uniforms

       Strelets has added another set of miniatures to their list of Anglo-Boer war figures. This set depicts Boer infantry in combat. With fourteen different figures all in "really-useful" poses these can be used to form a wargaming unit or to create a diorama depicting the conflict. The figures are cast in a stiff, yet flexible, orange plastic that shows no flash and little in the way of mold-lines. While these figures lack some of the detail, and the almost comical posing, of the earlier set of Boer infantry from Strelets they will provide enough figures to start your Boer Commando with just one box. Buy a box of the Boer Artillery from the same manufacturer and transfer in a couple of officers and the two lads carrying an ammo box to really round-out the look.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Of Zeppelins and "Super Zeppelins"

So here is the second installment in my Blimps vs Zeppelins oddity.  Sometimes the best ideas just will not work out.  That is really the story of the Germans in WWI and their Zeppelin forces.

This is a photograph of the L20, the first of the Q (more on what that means if you read on) class of Zeppelins and her rather ignominious fate of crashing on the Norwegian coast where her crew was interned and the ship shot to set off the hydrogen and keep it from drifting into a nearby village.

Strelets Boer Cannon 20mm 1/76

 front box-art,
even though the Transvaalse Staatsartillerie were issued sand gray uniforms 
(which faded very quickly) they probably looked more like this after a short time campaigning
       Continuing to expand their coverage of the Second Anglo-Boer war Strelets has released this set of two guns complete with crew. Although not indicated on the box the cannon appears to be either a Krupp 77mm C/96 or a  Krupp 8cm C/80  in this scale there is little visible difference so the choice is yours. With fourteen crewmen it will be possible to build an effective diorama of fully crew a wargaming unit. The kit is cast in a stiff but flexible orange plastic that show little flash and holds detail fairly well. My only concern would be the flash on the spokes of the wheels, I have never been able to find the skill and patience to remove that effectively.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dusty Projects XI, Yet Another Galleon!

the Black Swan gets another trim and paint job

       One of these days I will have to build this kit stock out of the box. Another rendition of the Zvezda Black Swan kit, this time with an all-dark hull, bronze cannons and a red deck. gives a different look to the last outing. I also trimmed away two of the three lanterns at the rear, leaving only the central one to enhance the difference. As usual the kit went together flawlessly, another fun build. I haven't come up with a name for this one yet. I did not take pictures of the build as this is the same kit from the earlier build. Two left to go before I'm done with the Zvezda kits, I still have those odd-scale Lindberg models to sort through to see if something can be made of them......

Dusty Projects Part X, Back to the boats

I have to admit that I get bored doing historical paintjobs every once in a while

       Nothing special this time, just another San Martin class galleon but I did give this one a fancy paint job. This is the last of the big ships, all that remain are two Pirate Ships and one Golden Hind. Then I will examine the chances of converting the old Lindberg Columbus's Ships into something. Failing that I might just order another Revenge and Golden Hind.........or perhaps scratchbuild something entirely different. Who knows? I might just go dig around in the Vault

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Deep into the dust, 1/72 Mitsubishi A5M4

I miss the old cover-art

       Nearly four decades ago, just after the birth of my first son, I bought this kit. The group I was gaming with wanted to do WW2 early aerial combat (using a long-forgotten set of rules). I started it right away,  but a combination of two very young children and holding two jobs placed it on the back burner. It sat in the Vault until yesterday. I had begun looking for another ship model (I'm sure there is a copy of the Airfix Mayflower somewhere in the dusty aisles of the Vault)  when I stumbled across this in a box marked "old kits". My love of fighter planes with fixed and spatted undercarriages took hold of me and I resolved to finish the model instantly.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Taking a Break From Dusty Projects

        Even though there still are a couple of models left on the "Dusty Projects" pile I couldn't restrain myself when I picked this lovely little model up from Michigan Toy Soldier yesterday. Actually, I bought three of them, they will help fill out the smaller end of the fleets for my Thirty Years War themed campaign. The models are definitely more 1660 than 1600 but are delightful all the same.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Strelets British Infantry in Advance 1701-1714

the front of the box
it provides an idea of what the troops should look like

        Strelets continues its advance into the War of Spanish Succession with another British infantry offering. This should prove a tremendously useful set of figures, I very much prefer troops in marching poses as they are easier to paint and, truth be told, troops tend to do a lot more marching than fighting (even during a battle). Another aspect is that with the simple change of colors these figures can be used to represent a good many other nations soldiers. Uniforms of the period were just beginning to be standardized and information on details can be very sparse. Strelets tends to be rather comprehensive when they produce a range so it is likely that they will produce French opponents to these minis as well as cavalry and guns but these figures will serve for any nation wearing waistbelts and coats without turnbacks.
        The figures themselves are very well sculpted, loads of detail crisply cast in a stiff but flexible rust-colored plastic that shows very little flash or mold lines. The anatomy of the models is excellent with no misshapen heads or oversized hands. The sculptor has paid attention to the way that the uniforms hang on the soldiers with folds and wrinkles that make sense and add to the air of realism. The faces appear the have been individually sculpted as well. The folds of the cast-on flags is very well done (I still hate cast-on flags because I lack the talent to paint them well). Whoever did the sculpting is a true talent worthy of recognition, these are tiny works of art.

         Very Highly Recommended

Strelets Saxon Huscarls 20mm 1/76

front of the bax
it gives a good idea as to what a shieldwall might look like

       Strelets adds to their already expansive Dark Ages range with the addition of King Harald's Huscarls. These figures represent the hard core of a late Saxon army, full-time soldiers that served the will of the king instead of some local lord. This set adds variety to the equipment and posing that is already present among the earlier releases from this manufacturer.
       The figures are cast in a stiff but flexible rust colored plastic that holds detail well and displays a minimum of flash and mold lines. All but one of the figures on the sprue will find a place in a Saxon shield-wall, the odd man out has decided to go hawking (a nice touch if Strelets were doing a set of Dark Ages civilians but rather out of place here). The equipment and weapons are historically appropriate and the detail of the chainmail and faces is very good. Some of the poses are rather flattish but that is an inescapable product of the molding process and they will still look great in a group. The depth of the sculpting and detail should make these easy to paint.  The anatomy of the miniatures is excellent and the poses are reasonable for troops fighting in a battle line. Anyone looking to build a wargaming army or a diorama for the late Saxon period in Britain would do well to start with a box of these troops.

        Very Highly Recommended

Zeppelins and Blimps and airplanes, Oh My!

Well the British Blimp/Zeppelin collection is done.  So it is time to look at what they will be bringing to the party. 

This painting of a "Sea Scout Zero" Blimp machine gunning a submarine has long been the root of this game idea.  The insanity of working over the deck of a submarine with a Lewis Gun as an attack strategy, all the while flying around at 40 miles an hour in a hydrogen filled balloon.  Is just so intimately British to me.  That combined with a former professor who once told me that the British were so out of their minds worried about Zeppelins that they actually put a 2 pounder canon on a blimp to try and shoot down zeppelins. This needs to be a game, heck this needs to be a genre of games! 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Strelets Saxon Fyrd 20mm 1/76

 front of the box
it provides a good idea of what the common folk would look like

       Another addition to Strelets already large range of Dark Age miniatures this box gives us the lesser folk; no heroic warriors here just simple people who are fighting to defend their homes from the attackers. These are the type of soldiers who would be found fighting against Viking raiders, or as back-rankers in the event of a full-scale invasion. Their equipment accurately reflects this, no or very little armor, simple weapons such as axe and spear, very few even have helmets. The miniatures are cast in a stiff but flexible rust colored plastic that is cleanly cast with very little flash and excellent detail retention. The figures are all reasonably posed and the sculptor has an excellent understanding of proportion and the way that various clothing types drapes over the figure. The position and ferocity of the sculpting makes you imagine the desperate hand-to-hand fighting from the television programs like Vikings and The Last Warrior. A few boxes of these combined with a box or two of Strelets Huscarls of King Harald would give a fine example of the Saxon force at the battles of Stamford Bridge or Hastings in 1066.

       Very Highly Recommended

Dusty Projects Challenge; Part VIII A Large Spanish Galleon

now that I look at it the sails appear almost naked 
something will have to be done

       Another entry in the Long Lost Projects Challenge. Nothing special with this one just the San Martin in a different paint job. It took quite a while because I chose a bad color combination and each color took several coats to cover adequately. This makes six models in nine days, it seems I'm falling off the pace a bit! I will have to make  a huge effort tomorrow because I'm supposed to be picking up three more ships on Monday!