Tuesday, 16 September 2008


At last the first unit of my converted Perry figures is finished. This is the regiment of the Cuirrassiers von Stolzhuf, the first completed regiment of my imaginary Mendelstadtian "SYW" army, converted from Perry ACW cavalry.

(More photos and relevant history are on the Mendelstadt blog).

As an exercise in conversion, this proved quite time-consuming. On the TMP group, I was called "mad" for doing this, and I think that viewpoint has some validity. However, I've very much enjoyed doing it. And I've produced a unique regiment which also, because of the work involved, feels very much a personal endeavour, meaning I identify with them much more than if I'd merely done a decent paint job. (Which almost certainly means they will turn tail and run at the first opportunity on the battlefield: C'est la guerre, chez moi.)

I've learned quite a lot about how to model with greenstuff, and developed a few ideas for possible future work. You'll perhaps see that I've modelled flames around an eagle (Napoleonic French, I think; or perhaps Austrian) on the head of the flagstaff to turn it into the phoenix of Mendelstadt. Little touches like this make fanciful warfare a la Tony Bath that much more interesting.

Of course, this is not for everyone. I'm simultaneously developing the 10mm and 15mm World War Two collections and these are as close to authentic as I can be bothered to make them. I had my first taste of Flames of War the other day (I'm usually well behind the fashions in rulesets) and was quite taken with them, though I did find the complexity of looking things up in rules, helpsheets, army books and so-on rather too reminiscent of the worst excesses of Games Workshop. I don't know which generation of 40K it was, but I remember with irritation and frustration old games where more time was spent cross-refencing different variants of the rules than actually playing the game. (Needless to say, I gave up playing 40K a long time ago).

A couple of posts ago I mentioned a comment from Adam pointed me towards some Youtube videos which show how to make a mould and cast simple components in green stuff. Thanks, Adam, for this really useful suggestion.

Essentially the process is like casting in metal, except you use green stuff both for the mould and for the casting. Adam's idea was that I could make some of the parts of my figures, such as the hats, this way and thereby speed up the process and ensure a higher degree of uniformity. (You'll see, if you inspect the cuirrassiers, that their hats are quite varied, and the turnbacks, not really visible in the photo, are different lengths, too).

I've found that, once I had my turnback mould I was able to produce 10 pairs of turnbacks in about 15 minutes, a massive increase in speed. And they were pretty similar to each other, meaning that once I'd figured out how to attach one pair, I knew how to attach the rest.

I still needed some judicious filing to make it work, so the process is not yet ideal, but I think with a little more forethought, I shall be able to produce my conversions pretty quickly now.

Which has inspired me to think about sculpting my own masters on a dolly, and perhaps casting my own figures. I've not yet taken this step. But....watch this space....

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Nearly back in the saddle

Sorry there's not been a post for a while. The Protecteress of Pelarcona and I went touring Northern England and lower Scotland. Firstly we went to the Lake District, touching many of our favourite spots. Grasmere is probably top of the list, but this is Aira Force, near Ullswater.

Then onto the Borders of Scotland, up to Edinburgh, then Durham and the seaside resorts on the east coast of England, of old the host to my childhood summers and, some years later, those of my own three children.

Amongst other places, we visited Abbotsford, near Selkirk, the gothic "castle" built by Sir Walter Scott which bankrupted him. Here he wrote "Ivanhoe", amongst others of the Waverley novels, in order to pay off his debts (which he did, shortly before he died). The house was built in the 1820s, so is hardly an eighteenth century edifice, but it strikes me as the kind of building that might exist in Mendelstadt, my ImagiNation, where everything is a little over the top and off the wall (can you be both these things at the same time?)

Although we passed several battlefields, especially in the much-disputed Borders, we only stopped briefly at one, Redeswire Fray (1575), to see a mist-drenched drizzly moor.

Passing Hadrian's Wall is always interesting, too. Many years ago, in the days when the wall was much less policed, and much less visited, we walked its length, walking actually on the wall for much of its length (not allowed now). Sometimes we camped in the vallum (the ditch), once in a field with a Roman fort, once we awoke to find ourselves snowed in, once had the guyropes wrenched away in a thunder-storm. Simpler times. Happy times.

If you ever get the chance, you must visit Hadrians Wall and the Roman sites nearby: Vindolanda, Chesters, Housesteads. Even if ancient warfare is not your thing, there is nothing like the sense of history you get merely from seeing the wall.

Whitby Abbey, which we also visited, is another dramatic place steeped in history.

As is Scarborough Castle (Scarborough is my favourite of the British seaside resorts, preserving very many of its traditional pleasures). The Castle was held by the Royalists in the ECW, and besieged by Parliament with cannon sighted in a local church (where Anne Bronte's grave now is). You can see the scars. Then in WW1 it was fired on by a German destroyer. You can see the scars of history in its walls.

Anyway, 700 miles of travelling meant that nothing got painted, modelled, converted or, indeed, read! But I hope you like the photos (all taken by my dear Protectoress, except Abbotsford, which was mine.)

Now, the troops of Mendelstadt beckon me..............