Friday, September 30, 2011
And just last night I was looking at my AWI again, making out lists of what I'd like to order when budget allows, and there was a box of Perry British grenadiers I didn't know I had. No need to order any of those!
So how about it? Anyone ever order duplicates of things without realizing it? (And no, having twin girls is not considered a mistake! ;) )
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I just got off the phone with the guy at the machine shop where I dropped off my Mustang engine. And true to form, his estimate came in a full 50 percent higher than I expected. But, it's gotta be done, and these guys have the reputation of doing it right, so here we go.
He said he should have it done by the end of next week. I am actually taking next Friday off for a me sanity day, so with any luck I will be able to spend the morning picking up the motor, taking the transmission out to another shop and checking in on the body guy before heading down to Flint for an AWI game with Big Jon.
I already have Calvin's '82 Wildcat, which is superb in every way. And I recently sent in a pre-order for Lance's '63 Novi driven by Bobby Unser. Now if I only had time to build these things!
Oh, and if you didn't "get" the headline, it's just one of the many catch phrases of legendary track announcer Tom Carnegie, the voice of the Speedway.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
One weakness was definitely maps. At the time I did not have anything approaching the skills or the technology to do electronic maps. Not that I would be much better today, but I am thinking about taking a stab at some. Mostly all I have left are printouts of the scenarios, and I would have to reenter everything to make some sort of collection.
I guess my question is, would there be any interest out there in that sort of thing? Should I recreate them, take a shot at some maps, and post them here? (Or in a more devious sense, try to create a scenario book and put it up for sale?)
Just a few that I can remember off the top of my head were Eutaw Springs, Alligator Creek, Hobkirk's Hill and Gloucester Point. I seem to also remember working on Princeton, Bunker Hill and others.
What do you think?
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
There's not much there yet in terms of content, but I would really like to go through my collections and sort things out, if for no other reason than I need to remember what I have.
It's oft quoted, but it makes sense when talking about the population in the 13 colonies: 1/3 were for independence, 1/3 were for remaining loyal to the crown, and 1/3 really didn't give a damn one way or the other. So here's part of the 1/3 for the King, a very small unit of Loyalists.
As I've noted, I haven't painted up too many British forces, having long relied on a fellow conspirator for that task. But I do have a start, and this is a part. It appears the two fellows on the left are from Dixon, while the other look like Front Rank. No flag or anything, I'm thinking they would be just at home in New York as South Carolina. Gotta love the green coats at any rate.
I pull these out today because, wait for it... They may actually be part of a game tentatively planned for next week! But as we know, the best laid plans, right? But it is possible you will see some more AWI posts in the near future.
Monday, September 26, 2011
I guess it's about time I put up some pictures of the Confederates I've done. I like to give Confederates sort of a ragged, mixed bag look with a variety of greys and browns. These are not representative of any specific unit, just a generic regiment that can fill in almost anywhere. These are all Dixon minis, with the usual mix of Testors acrylics and Vallejo paint.
In a way, they are easier to paint than Union troops because any color really will work, but in a way they are harder because they are not as uniform and I am changing colors frequently. One of these days I will do a full count, but I think I have about nine regiments, all about this size.
As for my weekend plans, of course I didn't get as far as I hoped. I did get the sand down on the bases of a couple more Union regiments, but I need to drybrush and add grass yet.
Friday, September 23, 2011
With some luck, I'll base and flag a few ACW units this weekend. Or I should sandblast some car parts. And mow the lawn. And set up a new exhaust system for my spray booth. And start clearing out the garden. You get the idea.
Anyway, after it's toy service, it sat for years in a box. Shocking, really, that it never got tossed. At one point I think I thought someday I'll restore it, but never really got to it. Until about a year ago.
As you can see in the before and after shots, it was quite a transformation. Amazingly, most of the parts were still either on the car or had migrated to my spare parts box. I had to do some scratch work on the headlights, and a fellow modeler on a model car forum came to my rescue with a set of mirrors from his parts box. (Don't you love the modelling community?)
Some automotive pewter paint seemed to match, add in some Fred Cady decals, and voila. The glass is still in kinda rough shape, but it'll have to do. The only other thing I might still do is get some seat pattern decals that pop up on ebay from time to time.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I did this unit several years ago. It's a nice break from the light blue/dark blue Union parade. This one doesn't represent any specific unit, rather it is intended to fill in for pretty much any Union zouave regiment.
Figures are all Dixon. Paints are as always a mixed bag, Testors acrylic and Vallejo, mostly.
I do have another Union zouave unit in the "to do" pile - that one might become specifically a New York Fire regiment. On the painting bench at the moment (along with multiple other projects) are some of Wheat's Louisiana Tigers so I can get some Confederate zouaves as well.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Here's a brief look at what's going on over at Up the Creek Brewing (motto: We can get you there from here!) Several years ago I received a Mr. Beer home brewing set, and have had rather good success with it. At least so far as none of it has been completely undrinkable! One of the latest to come out of conditioning is this Pilothouse Pilsner. I usually go for stouts or dark ales, but this looked good and I'm glad I tried it. A nice late summer beer.
Next week my True North Maple Wheat (made with maple syrup, though it's somewhat difficult to detect) will be ready. Last weekend I bottled something new for me, an apple pie flavored beer. That's carbonating right now. Generally beer brewing is a six week process: Two weeks to ferment in the keg, two weeks to carbonate in the bottles at room temp, and two weeks to condition in the fridge. (Though the apple pie took three weeks to ferment.)
I told you I have too many hobbies. Cheers!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
As I've said, I don't get a chance to actually play very often. In fact, these photos represent the last time I did get to play - way back in March. It was a fun game, though.
My old-school AWI fellow aficionado Big Jon brought up some of his redcoats to take on my patriots in the Battle of Weitzel's Mill. This was one of the precursor's to Guilford Courthouse. A description, shamelessly copied from another site:
The situation of Cornwallis was full of peril. The country around Hillsborough was speedily stripped of provision by his army, 18 and he found it expedient to fall back and take a new position upon the south side of the Allamance, west of the Haw.
On February 27, Brig. Gen. Henry Lee and ?? Pickens, with their respective forces, joined the main body of the American light infantry, and the whole corps crossed the Haw, a little below the mouth of Buffalo Creek. Greene, with the main army augmented by the North Carolina militia, crossed above Buffalo Creek the next morning [Feb. 28.], and encamped between Troublesome Creek and Reedy Fork. It was an ineligible place; and, hoping to gain time for all his expected re-enforcements to come in, Greene constantly changed his position, and placed Colonel Williams and his light corps between the two armies, now within a score of miles of each other. Tarleton occupied the same relative position to the British army, and he and Williams frequently menaced each other.
On March 2, the latter having approached to within a mile of the British camp, Tarleton attacked him and a brief but warm skirmish ensued. This encounter was sustained, on the part of the Americans, chiefly by Lee’s legion and Preston’s riflemen. About 30 of the British were killed and wounded. The Americans sustained no loss. In the mean while, Greene’s constant change of position, sometimes seen on the Troublesome Creek, and sometimes appearing near Guilford, gave the impression that his force was larger than it really was, and Cornwallis was much perplexed. Well knowing that the American army was augmenting by the arrival of militia, he resolved to bring Greene to action at once. On March 6, under cover of a thick fog, he crossed the Allamance, hoping to beat up Williams’s quarters, then between that stream and Reedy Fork, and surprise Greene. Williams’s vigilant patrols discovered the approach of the enemy at about eight o’clock in the morning, on the road to Wetzell’s Mill, an important pass on the Reedy Fork. Lee’s legion immediately maneuvered in front of the British, while Williams withdrew his light troops and other corps of regulars and militia across the stream.
A covering party, composed of 150 Virginia militia, were attacked by Webster, with one thousand British infantry and a portion of Tarleton’s cavalry. The militia boldly returned the-fire, and then fled across the creek. The British infantry followed, and met with a severe attack from Campbell’s riflemen and Lee’s infantry. Webster was quickly re-enforced by some Hessians and chasseurs, and the whole were supported by field-pieces planted by Cornwallis upon an eminence near the banks of the stream. The artillery dismayed the militia, which Williams perceiving, ordered them to retire. He followed with Howard’s battalion, flanked by Kirkwood’s Delaware infantry and the infantry of Lee’s legion, the whole covered by Washington’s cavalry. The day was far spent, and Cornwallis did not pursue.
It was claimed the British were not able to follow up the victory due the Americans’ superiority in cavalry. Tarleton, however, later criticized Cornwallis’ not continuing and resuming the action. Col. William Preston’s and Col. Hugh Crockett’s Virginia militia left Greene’s army after the battle based on the charge that Williams deliberately exposed them to protect his Continentals. The check forced Greene: “to retire over [to] the [north side of] Haw river, and move down the north side of it, with a view to secure our stores coming to the army, and to form a junction with several considerable reinforcements of Carolina and Virginia militia, and one regiment of eighteen-months men, on the march from Hillsborough to High Rock. I effected this business, and returned to Guildford court house.” Greene to Washington, 10 March 1781. Tarleton states the Americans lost 100 men killed, wounded and taken, while the British suffered 30 killed and wounded. Joseph Graham, who was present, gave American casualties as 2 regulars killed, 3 wounded and between 20 and 25 militiamen killed or wounded. Boatner speaks of each side losing 50. Webster, as he passed over Reedy Fork with his men, almost miraculously, escaped being shot by some of Campbell’s riflemen -- who had been posted in a log hut close by -- only to be mortally wounded at Guilford Court House a few days later.
In essence, our replay was a classic case of trying to cover too many river crossings with not enough men. In the photos, you can see my outnumbered dismounted dragoons valiantly trying to hold the redcoats at bay. But over there is Jon's large column marching to hit this weak point, and his artillery positioned on the hill where he could hit almost anything with impunity, me having no artillery to fire back. All-in-all it turned out about how one would expect: He made it across, but I made him pay for it.
Oh, as for rules, we use the The British Are Coming! Easy to grasp and play, they have always given us a good game, and the outcomes are always about what we would expect. It's not difficult to translate almost any battle into the context of the game. Now that summer is winding down, and eventually outdoor activities and car work will slow down with it, I can get another game in. But at this rate, it will probably be after Christmas!
Monday, September 19, 2011
It was mostly a car-centric weekend. Cruise night downtown Friday (following a trip out to the fairgrounds to watch the hot air balloon launches), the actual car show downtown Saturday, and working on my own Sunday.
My brother-in-law came over yesterday to help finish tearing down the motor. I had gotten it as far as my skills - and available tools - could take it. We were actually able to finish it in a couple hours and get it ready for the machine shop.
Gonna have it hot tanked, most likely rebored and get the manifold surfaces planed. Probably get new pistons and new camshaft. Then all kinds of bits and pieces to put it all back together. I'm hoping to get in and out of there for under a grand. I'm hoping to get out it out there this week.
I also talked to the guy who is working on the body. He's had a rough month. Started with kidney stones, then he had to have his appendix out. So he hasn't gotten very far. But as you can see, this motor is no where near ready to back in, so I'm not really worried about it.
And yeah, that oil pan is gonna be fun to clean out. Not to mention the three broken bolts still in the block.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Start 'em young, right? Here's one of the twins, Kate, "helping" dad paint a (what else?) Kate from my Check Your 6! collection. And she got to play with all of the other little toys on my desk. Hmmm. What have I started here?
I got into CY6 last winter after playing in a jet age game at a con. I didn't do so well, but was intrigued enough to order some WW2 Pacific aircraft. This is really the ideal wargame for people like me. You don't need that many "figures" painted up to get a good game going on the table, and essentially zero terrain. Just a hex mat and you're pretty much good to go. I use the blue mat from Hotz, and I did start making a green foam island. I've also toyed with the idea of getting some ships, but I can't really decide between 1/700 models, or the smaller metal game ones. Or just print out some paper aerial shots and call it good. Probably that.
I haven't had a game since spring. Maybe I can hunt down an opponent this fall.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It's always exciting to start in on a new period, and to get that first package with all those fresh, unpainted figures. I'd had my eye on these South American Wars of Independence figures from Grenadier Productions for a while, and a 25% off sale over the Labor Day weekend ended up being just the push I needed.
I bought the first book in John Fletcher's series a while ago and was quite impressed, but hadn't taken it any farther until now. I must say I am doubly impressed. Great resource books that tell you almost anything you would want to know about uniforms, organization and individual battle scenarios. And the figures as sculpted by Mike Broadbent are outstanding. I haven't painted 15s in a while, but the detail on these is so nice I am really looking forward to it.
Given my usual pace, it will be a while before I have anything close to a game, even if I can find an opponent!
The bulk of what you see here is based on the British Legion setting. I have some British, some Venezuelan regulars, some llanero militia and some Royalists, as well as some artillery. I need to do some more research as to where to start, and undoubtedly I will ultimately need some more to fill some holes. But for now, aren't they nice to look at?
(Photos are the overall collection, Royalist General Pezuela and staff and some British legionnaires.)
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The ACW is probably the period (along with WWII) that really got me into history. Reading the American Heritage book with the maps depicting tiny soldiers will do that. That and actually visiting battlefields while heading south to Florida to escape Michigan winters on family vacations.
I'm not 100 percent sure how the collection started, but I suspect it had to do with the fact the FLHS had Dixon 25 mm figures in stock. These were the days before the internet, and even before I had ready access to catalogs for mail order. And I didn't have much money at any rate. Over the years it has grown, but Dixon has remained at the core. Somehow even with the Princess Leia hair they have a charm all their own. I do have some Foundry, which are very nice, of course, and even some Redoubt. Curiously, I don't have any Old Glory. I admire the Perry minis and may get some, and I also have my eye on some Sash & Sabre. But I have so many Dixon in the box to paint, I can't really justify any new orders on these yet, especially with the other things going on.
As for rules, I've never really settled on a set. Not that I ever play, anyway. I have taken part in some 15mm games at cons, but my own minis haven't seen a table in years. At that time, we used a home-brewed variant of The British Are Coming! and called it The Rebels Are Coming!, and it worked out OK. I have Johnny Reb III, which while I've played it at cons, I just never quite latched on to as "this is it!" If I had an immediate prospect for regular gaming, I'd be tempted to look at Regimental Fire & Fury.
Anyway, here's a taste of what I have. I've done up both Union and Confederate units. One of these days I'll do a roll call and post up exactly what I have. While many of my Union troops are of specific units (Iron Brigade, Irish Brigade, etc.), this is just a generic group of guys in blue who can fill in for almost anything, from early to late war, Eastern or Western theater. Oh, and General Hancock.
Monday, September 12, 2011
If you'll allow me to get philosolophical for a moment...
Yesterday marked another birthday, another complete orbit around the sun, if you will. It used to be a cool birthday, 9-1-1 I'd tell people. Easy to remember. Nowadays, not so much. I tend to try to just let it slide by. I can't tell you how many times someone has looked at my ID or noted on a form and said, "Oh, I'm sorry." It's not really something requiring condolences, it's just a coincidence and a date subject to the ravages of time and history, like any other date. I know several other 9-11 birthdays, including two relatives, one of whom died much too young before 2001. It's just a day.
Anyway, to bring it back to hobbies, my wife did buy me a book I'd had an eye on, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. It's described by the author as a "combination travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir. The book is an exploration and celebration of fantasy and gaming subcultures — what they are, who are these game-players and fantasy fans, and what explains the irresistible appeal of these fantastic adventures."
I'm sure I'm not the only one who was introduced to gaming by D&D back in the early 80s. Now north of 40, I'm looking forward to reminiscing with Ethan Gilsdorf about not only the various underground (and above) adventures, but how it fit in the larger social context of our youth. It's more of a nostalgic thing with me, I suppose. While I haven't played D&D in 20+ years and have sold off some of my stuff, the core red and blue boxes remain, along with all of the old Grenadier minis. I still get one out every now and then and give it an updated paint job if necessary now that my skills are, well, now that I actually have skills. While today's sculpts are certainly fantastic, there is nothing like a little glob of lead from 1983 to bring out the pure joy of painting. Which reminds me, I need to go get some photos of some of those...
Friday, September 9, 2011
Eventually I'll go into more detail on how I got interested in WW2 skirmish, but suffice to say I have had delusions of getting enough early war British together to take on the German juggernaut in Norway and hold the line against the blitzkrieg in France. And this is as far as I have gotten on that little adventure. Just a handful of Crusader minis done. There are several more in the pile, even a couple that have some paint on them, so hopefully one of these days this project will simmer to the top again.
My plan is to use Arc of Fire as well as the Skirmish Campaign books. For these, the books on Norway and Dunkirk are of course most appropriate. One of my main hangups on WW2 is vehicles, both in terms of cost and ultimately storage. Given my limited gaming opportunities at this point, it's hard to justify either one. And so, they wait.
Before closing, I have had my eye on some minis and vehicles from BEF Miniatures for a while, but see they have been sold to Warlord. Must keep an eye on that.
The 17th Light Dragoons, as I think they would have appeared early in the AWI. Though for the life of me I can't remember why I painted some with buff and some with white breeches. I don't have any mounted British painted yet, but these still cut an imposing figure even dismounted, with their distinctive skull and crossed bones helmets. As I recall I used the figure in the Osprey Boston campaign book as a guide. The figures on the flanks here are definitely Dixon, and I think the middle stand looks like Front Rank. A slight size difference, as you can see, but not enough to worry about, in my opinion.
Let's start the gaming portion of this program with an era I have probably put the most time and effort into - and played the most games over the years: The AWI in 25/28.
Truthfully, the vast majority of my AWI figures are American. I really have very few British, as one of my very talented colleagues took up the task to paint up that side of the conflict. We don't see each other often anymore, but did get together in March to play out a good game of Weitzel's Mill, a precursor to Guilford Courthouse. It was a case of me trying to defend too many river crossings with too few troops, and some good tactics by my worthy opponent carried the day. Alas!
Anyway, as I said, I have rather few British, and pretty much you are looking at the only line troops I have done. While I like to depict actual units whenever possible, especially with specialist units like Dragoons and such, for basic line troops I don't worry about it so much, especially with the British. I mean, a red coat is a red coat, right? So essentially these chaps will do for any early war unit with green or blue facings.
A word on figures as we go on: The bulk of my AWI are from Old Glory, but I also use Front Rank, Dixon, Foundry and Perry, as well as Battle Honors, which is what these happen to be. I don't think you see too many Battle Honors, but as I was very pleased with the WW2 figures produced by them, I thought I would give them a shot. I think they paint up quite nicely. The only problem as I recall is some of them had epaulettes, which I simply filed off.
I had hoped to get some of the Americans posted, but they were stashed pretty deep in the stash and I didn't feel like digging to get them out for their photo op. Soon.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Here it is. The 1965 Mustang. Restoring an old car came about in a roundabout way. My wife's (well, technically at the time girlfriend) grandfather had a bunch of Mustangs stashed away out in a barn in mid-Michigan. Six of them, various years, various stages of condition. I had actually never seen them.
At one point, her brother, now my BIL, bought one, another '65, which left five. When he died, I wasn't aware of what was happening, but they were offered up first to the kids. My wife's uncle took a '67 fastback, but there were no takers on the others, so they were offered up to the grandkids. Coincidentally, there are four grandkids, so they each got one. We got the last one. The runt. My wife wasn't sure, but I was nudging her along and said at worst we turn around and sell it. One simply does not turn down a free '65 Mustang, even when one knows very little about how to fix it.
But I have learned. A lot. Fortunately, my brother-in-law is there to help immensely, and my father-in-law runs an import car business with a full garage. Handy, that.
Anyway, after years of fits and stops and starts, this summer I put forth a big push to just get it done. This photo shows the body loaded on a trailer to haul to a body shop, where it will get some new quarters and fenders and probably doors, along with various other bits and pieces of new metal and patches to get rid of the rust. Especially in the cowling. They don't call them Rustangs for nothing. I had new floors put in last year.
Meanwhile, the engine - a good 'ol Ford straight six - is in my garage. I've stripped it down as far as I can go, and am waiting additional expertise to finish it. Then it's off to the machine shop for some boring, etc. And somehow I think I can get this all back together by next summer. We'll see.
See, I told you my hobbies were all over the map! At one time, I was pretty heavy into WWI aircraft. My roommate at the time and I churned them out pretty regularly. This was one of my favorites, a Fokker Eindecker E.III as piloted by Kurt Wintgens, as far as I know the only pilot who wore glasses. After becoming an ace and ultimately achieving at least 19 kills (some say 22), Wintgens was killed in action in September 1916. This is probably close to 15 years old by now, and if memory serves I built it with the 1/72 scale Revell kit.
1973 is often regarded as the worst Indy 500 ever. It took three days to run due to rain, there were multiple fatalities over the month and they finally called it after 133 laps, declared Gordon Johncock the winner and sent everyone home. Most everyone was just glad to get out of there after a miserable month. Still, the era does represent some of the coolest looking cars, what I call winged monsters. Here is Gary Bettenhausen's McLaren Offy that started fifth and finished fifth. This was built from the vintage AMT kit with just a few modifications to the wings. Decals are from Indycals, which if you are into this type of thing, are second to none. Far better than what came in the kit. Not that '70s vintage decals had much of a chance anyway.
And there are more hobbies that will certainly sneak in from time to time, such as home brewing my own beer, tracing the family tree, fishing, etc.
Over the summer, the focus was on the Mustang, but that's stalled out at the moment (no pun intended) for a few reasons. Mostly because the car itself has been taken to the shop for body work I can't do, and the motor is torn apart about as far as I can take it without help. Fortunately the brother-in-law has the talent for that, and hopefully will be over this weekend. But also the days are getting shorter and cooler and it's time to start up on indoor activities - modelling and painting.
I've been working on a '87 A.J. Foyt Olds, but discovered the right side roll cage is broken. Don't you hate that? I've salvaged an old part from a kit I built as a kid and need to strip it down and do a little scraping, but it will work. In the meantime...
I dug out some minis to paint! I like painting minis as it is something I can pick up and spend just a little bit of time here and there. Did I mention I have two-year-old twins at home? So yes, you take the time when you can, mostly after bedtime and early in the morning. I've gotten back in the routine this week of being able to spend 30-45 minutes each morning before the babysitter arrives and I have to go to work.
I'll get more into the periods I'm interested in in future posts, but suffice to say it's a lot. It's a wargamer's curse, I suppose, to lack focus. I've been painting some 25mm ACW this week, but also took advantage of a recent sale to jump headfirst into a new period: South American Wars of Liberation. If you are a gamer and haven't seen it, John Fletcher's Liberators! materials are top notch. More when my order arrives...
That's a lot of ground covered in a short space. I've been inspired by other gaming blogs like Giles Allison's and Steve the Wargamers, as well as various model sites and restoration blogs. Hopefully you'll find something interesting here!