Thursday, February 20, 2014

More hoplites with hand painted shield designs, Welshmen, and a scratch built stone circle

These Gorgon miniature hoplites are the second set that I've based with careful, deliberate thought as to how they could sit on their bases without spearing or shield-bashing one another. And it's working: here we have a fairly well organized phalanx (Hail Caesar only requires two ranks, praise Athena).
 I'm torn on the issue of eyeballs: some of these fellows' helmets make eyeballs impossible, but on others, I could put eyeballs -- but it ain't easy and you run the risk of making your men look cartoony.

Top eight (couldn't limit to five) shield designs: Front: Poseidon, Owl of Athena, Centaur, Grapes, Woman Running Naked. Back: Grape Vine, Woman playing Lyre (you may have to squint), Octopus. If anything looks cooler in classical art than that old octopus design, I don't know what it is.
Here are both of my "sensible" phalanxes (planned basing) side by side. The Wargames Factory Greeks in Heavy armor are a bit bigger than the Gorgon hoplites. I'm not losing any sleep over it. They're mounted on Litko trays and I'd like to mention how nice the people at Litko have been to me. There was a mistake with my order and they're sending me new product quickly and free AND letting me keep the stuff they sent me in error. I like the way you do business, Litko.

For Saga, eight Welsh warriors. It bugs me that so many Dark Age warriors get interchangeable shields (right? Vikings, Saxons, Welsh: everybody has a round shield with a metal central boss?) so I had to give these boys some smaller shields with visible wood (less decorative because Warriors, in Saga, are relatively poor men). Nothing too special about these fellas.
I've got a Saga game planned with some work friends tonight (which I consider dangerous territory, bringing people from your work life into your fun life) and I decided to make some nice Northern European terrain. Trying for a standing circle, I roughly hewed these pieces of regular packing styrofoam and glued them to the disc. Styrofoam of this sort has its own texture, composed as it is of many little balls, and I was hoping that texture would translate into a sort of composite-rock look as I primed and painted.

But then, as I primed, I realized that the spray paint was eating away the styrofoam, causing it to wither and shrink (and probably release toxic gases). For a minute, I thought this project was going right down the tubes, but I thought, what the hell, let's paint those standing stones anyway. It wasn't until I was highlighting/drybrushing with a lighter gray that I realized how the spray paint's withering effect was a happy accident (felix culpa). The texture of semi-melted styrofoam is very believable as eroded, perhaps igneous rock (if you read this blog and happen to be a geologist, I would love your opinion). Add some flock and grass, and presto, you have an ancient stone circle (with most of the stones toppled or broken.

Finally, a Wargames Accessories (?) well, which I got as a multi-setting decorative piece. I didn't create it, so I don't have that much to say about process here. It painted up very quickly and looks good to me.
You might have noticed that I got some new flocking material. I'm beginning to think it's too green.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Easy stucco house with tile roof

A little bit of my own ingenuity, a little bit of stealing ideas from the Internet, stir together, and I've got a pretty good formula for a nice Mediterranean looking house.
This is just some cut up foam core board. Two of the sides slope and are identical;the nonsloping sides differ are the same width but differ in height by about an inch.

Applying regular Elmer's glue to one side of each wall. I'm going to smear them around with some water on a paintbrush.
Sand has been applied to two of the walls to give it that bumpy stucco quality.

Genius that I am, I allowed for windows but forgot the door.
Peel back the top layer on a piece of corrugated cardboard to reveal this wavy, bumpy texture.
Now you can see the four walls, assembled and spray painted white, and the cardboard, backed on more cardboard, cut into strips just slightly overlaying each other.
And this is the more or less finished product: two shades of terra cotta paint for the roof, a last minute door made of wood strips mounted on a piece of black cardboard to create the illusion of depth (and compensating for my forgetting a sandless space to mount a door.

I just love this little guy; it was as easy as pie and will work great for an urban environment in most Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cityscapes.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hoplites with freehand shields, peltasts, Cretan archers

Hoplites require planning. If you don't consider the other models in the phalanx while you base and arm your men, they'll end up stabbing each other with their long spears and nudging each other off their bases with their big shields. This is the first phalanx I've done for which I've been wise enough to place these hoplites on their bases with forethought. And the results: a phalanx where all the rear rank's spears rise gracefully above the shoulders of the men in front. 

It might be the best phalanx I've painted, and that's surprising because these are Wargames Factory Greeks in Heavy Armor, plastics, which aren't my favorites. But these guys have done a lot to restore my faith in plastic. 

And you know I loves me some hand-painted hoplons. Here are the top five: a dolphin; the letters theta, eta, beta (he's from Thebes); the letter mu (he's from Mycenae), an octopus -- and this octopus is the pick of the litter, it looks even better in real life -- and an amphora.

 These guys are brand spanking new, never seen battle. These next units are a little bit older; they were around for my last battle against the Romans. Warlord games makes these Cretan archers and I'm happy with the final product although I wasn't crazy about the figures. Warlord metal figs are small and scrawny. They aren't too bad as archers (and Cretans are small people in real life) but for most types of soldier, I'm going to be steering clear of Warlord as a general policy.

And finally some peltasts, manufacturer unknown, bought as a lot of eBay.

I'm doing another 16-man phalanx, metal Gorgon miniatures this time, and then taking a break from Greeks.