Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Tribute to Miles - Jon Bullock, Able Seaman

This Tribute figure is for the Challenge's resident arch-mage statistician, spreadsheet guru and top-of-the-heap brushmeister, Mr. Miles Reidy. 

Miles has been an enthusiastic participant of the Challenge since it's second incarnation, back when I only accepted historical submissions (can you imagine the cheek!). On top of being one of the most prolific painters I know, Miles is also incredibly generous both with his time and encouragement to others. Being a 'financial services professional' he is also a shameless enabler.  I believe it was last year that he sent me several pounds of espresso to tide me through the Challenge. I still have some residual muscle twitch from that...

For Miles I've painted this rather pugnacious Napoleonic British seamen who is in the midst of boarding an enemy vessel. I've named him Jonathan Bullock, Able Seaman. He's seen here in close action, armed with cutlass, pistol butt and 5-days growth of stubble. 

In an attempt to fit in with the rest of Miles' collection,  I've clipped away his metal base and mounted him on a plain MDF base, which I simply scored with a hobby knife to resemble a ship's deck.

Thanks so much again Miles! Your work was instrumental in ensuring our record-keeping was in fighting trim (despite my best efforts to muddle it up with outlier entries).  Also, congratulations on making it to the top of the points heap this year - that was no small achievement considering your worthy compatriots. 

I hope Jon Bullock finds a good home clearing the deck on the USS Wasp. ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Italian Wars Landsknecht Pikeblock - My Last Entry to the 6th Painting Challenge

This past week saw the conclusion of the Painting Challenge and I knew I'd be knackered wrapping things up, but I also knew I wanted to get in one last 'charge of pike' in my 'Renaissance Men' duel with Peter before the Painting Challenge ended, so here it is.

This is an Italian Wars period Landsknecht pike block. It's composed of 33 figures and one casualty.  These are 28mm models sourced from Foundry, Pro Gloria (now Warlord) and Artizan. 

I've painted a lot of models in my time; Napoleonics, ECW, Fantasy, Imperial Space Marines, Samurai, the works, but I tell you, Landsknechts are probably the hardest figures I've ever tackled. Historically they had  no real uniform, but their clothes were incredibly complex, with multiple layers, puff and slash sleeves, ornate codpieces (!), stripes, AND on top of this, were seen in a veritable rainbow of colours. In painting terms, every figure should be unique, without a design being repeated. So basically a huge gong show for a painter. Nevertheless, one-by-one I pecked away, took my sweet time and ground ahead - there are no shortcuts with these guys.

The irregular shaped bases seen here I designed myself and had sourced from the good folks over at Warbases. The banners are from Pete's Flags, depicting an Imperial colour (in yellow) and another that is conjectured to be of 'The Black Band' or 'Black Legion' (basically a bunch of German hooligans who holidayed in Italy until they were pointedly told to leave (i.e. virtually killed to a man at Pavia)). 
Addendum: Yes, yes, I understand that these flags may be 'incorrect' in their combination, but this is what I have come up with to date, and I simply liked the look of them together (the two flags can be separated from one another to mix and match with other bases).   

What you see here is two thirds of what the final unit will look like. I have a central portion of bases that will add another 16 or so figures to the unit, so it can be fielded as larger pike block if the scenario requires it. The trick was to have a few flags on the flanking bases in order to allow me to scale the unit up or down as needed, while still having some banners for the smaller unit size. I think it worked out okay, but I think it will be even better with the central section done with another two or three banners crammed in there.

One troop type prevalent amongst the Landsknechte were the Doppelsöldner or 'double-pay men'. Often these loons would be tasked to fight in front of the forward rank, wielding two-handed swords, halberds or an arquebus. Their job was to get in tight and disrupt the opposing infantry pikemen. Either by sweeping aside their pikes and/or disrupting their lines in close combat. If the accounts are true then they must have been the badasses of an organization of badasses and so I imagine they earned every florin they received.  

I have placed two Doppelsöldners ahead of the pike block, one is armed with a halberd, going in hard, and the other is giving fire with his arquebus, hoping for the best. 

I also have a couple of Italian mercenary crossbowmen about to come out of the rear ranks (From what I've read, 'military subcontracting' was fairly common during the period). As I understand it, missile troops would typically lurk in among the pikeblock until an opportunity developed for them to come out and wreak a bit of havoc. 

I was hoping to get the whole unit completed but, hey, you know the story - work, life, blah-de-blah. I'm just happy to have completed these lads in time for the close of the Challenge. I'll fill in the rest of the ranks in the coming weeks.

But what they really need now is a bit of fire support. On it!

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Tribute to Tamsin - Penelope McFadden: Pulp Adventuress

Tamsin's been a great supporter of the event ever since her first Challenge (back to the 3rd edition, I believe). As many of you know, she's quite a competitive lass and very driven to succeed. Over the past four Challenges she's participated in she's accumulated 7946 points. Yeah, no matter what scale you divide that into that's a huge heap of painted miniatures. This year she's done a terrific job in stewarding the Tuesday group and we've all enjoyed her great sense of humour, unflagging enthusiasm and good will.

My Tribute figure for Tamsin came to me quite easily. Last year I was in on the Kickstarter for RAFM's new range of Cthulhu miniatures, and one of the character figures from that was an excellent sculpt of an adventuress which you see here. As soon as I looked at the figure I said to myself, 'Oh yeah, she's definitely a redhead. Tamsin would get a kick out of her.' I also thought Tamsin would like the figure as it's a little off the beaten path, not being an especially well-known range.

When I was painting her I thought she'd make a great 'Penelope' and with her red hair I thought a good Scots-Irish name was in order. So here is Penelope McFadden, adventuress extraordinaire.

The figure is quite charming, very willowy and elegant in her pose. To me she seems very self-possessed and unflappable - quite ready for the next thing to come her way. Much like our Miss. P I think!

I hope you like her Tamsin. Thanks again for all your help this year, you made our Tuesdays terrific . :)


Friday, March 18, 2016

My Tribute to Greg - Imperial Scribe/Archivist

This 'Tribute' figure is for my great friend Greg - our hockey-loving, plastic-hating, crayon-snapping though highly entertaining Friday adjudicator.

To be honest, I'm usually okay with plastics, and not so wild about hockey (that is actually a Stanley Cup sized understatement), but Greg and I do share a deep affection of the original 40K 'Rogue Trader' universe of the late 80s and early 90s. To us (and I imagine many like us, who were teenagers at that time), there was something deeply compelling about the creepily dystopian vision created by Rick Priestly and backed-up by the wonderfully disturbing art of John Blanche. 

At this time 40K was still a fresh and largely undiscovered genre. Games Workshop was basically led by hippies, and had not yet become the Kafkaesque corporate nightmare which now weirdly mimics the fictional dark Imperium it created. In those early days very little of the 40K universe was explained; so much being shrouded in shadow, mystery and completely open to conjecture. This, in turn, created a fevered playground of creativity, which allowed players to fill in the blanks with our own imaginations, where we were actually encouraged to use surrogate figures, bodged vehicles and sometimes devising our own rules. Of course, the reviled point-driven tournament system killed all this, but for a brief time there was an amazingly fun, dark universe called 40K... 

Anyway, I blather. Suffice it to say that many of us have grown perversely nostalgic and guardedly paternalistic about the 'early' Imperium of Man and its host of foes. 

With this in mind I am happy to present this figure of an Imperial Scribe to Greg. Some may know that I work in the archival profession and so I thought It apropos that Greg receive from me a phlegmatic, self-important civil servant to add to his impressive 40K collection. I figure that somebody has to keep these rivet-headed, gene-tweaked Space Marines in conformity with the infallible Imperial creed and its catechism of organizational perfection - so he's the man to do it.

Being an archivist I am ashamed to say I have absolutely no provenance backing up this figure other than knowing it's a GW figure and it's at least 12 years old. Nonetheless, it's a great model and think it's as iconic to the 40K universe as the Space Marines themselves.  

Greg likes to portray himself as a meat-and-potatoes painter (which many will smile at when you look at his amazing brushwork), and so he often smirks at 'fancy' paint techniques like non-metallic metals, zenithal highlighting, and modulated shading. Accordingly, I broke from my regular trope of 'kabuki style' painting and tried my hand at gradated blending, multi-hued glazes and I even went so far as painting the freakin' eyes! Well, I'm happy to report that I've been cured of any of further pretensions of artisanal skills and skip gleefully back to Greg's camp of curmudgeonly brush Luddites! :)

I hope you like him Greg! Again, thanks so much for helping out this year - I couldn't have done it without you.