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Κυριακή, 25 Οκτωβρίου 2015

The Yellow Boys

It's funny how we end up starting projects. Last year's visit to the Imperial War Museum cured me of historical wargaming for quite some time. Their WWI exhibit is a sobering experienced and so is the stamp collection on the Falkland's dead. I could not bring myself to paint anything historical after that.

A couple of months back, I picked up a book on the First Afghan War, more on a whim than anything else. It was 3 quid, hardly a sum to break the bank and the conflict did offer some minor interest. The book was "The Return of a King" by William Darlymple and it offered a very exciting glimpse into India and Afghanistan of the 1830s and 1840s. The description of one of the cavalry regiments, Skinner's Horse with its commanding officer Sikander Sahib (James Skinner) was particularly evocative. 


Yellow tunics, red belts and turbans, lances and matchlocks, what's not to like? I spent sometime debating whether I really needed to start collecting miniatures from another time period (seriously?) and after some debate, I spent roughly ten pounds to order three packs of Skinner's Horse from Lancashire Games. These are for the Sikh Wars where the regiment also fought, so they were close enough to what I wanted. 



Needless to say, unpainted they don't look like much, especially the horses. But the detail was there and these are aimed to mass combats, not skirmishes. Whatever faults would be hidden by the mandatory three feet of distance and the unit itself.

Not wanting to spend more time or money than necessary, I did not order an Osprey Book on the Honorable East India Company or the Sikh Wars, I looked around on the web. Lots of images around, including some from a reenactment group. Google them, they are spectacular. This however, from, the Army Museum if I am not mistaken is breathtaking.


These are probably of Skinner's Horse at the time of the Afghanistan invasion. Needless to say, the figures I have did not look like that exactly. However this has never been a problem in the past, nor will it be in the future. After about a week of work, I had my unit.


As you can see, they fall into that much maligned wargaming category; they paint up well. However, they will more than look the part on the gaming table. I am not sure I did justice to the regiment's original colours (the yellow does not look close enough to the one in the paintings but it looks closer to the one the reenactors use). The white trousers are barely visible, but these are one piece castings, and reaching all the details was not easy. I painted the saddle blankets red, yellow and white, having seen all colours used.

I like the end result. Painting Indian skin tones was an interesting exercise. So was manoeuvring my brush to reach all crevices. Will I paint more First Afghan War miniatures? Yes, they are very colourful and the unit histories are fascinating. I ordered some Bengal Horse Artillery (whose uniforms have to be seen to be believed) and some Sepoys. Will I game them? Maybe. I am thinking about getting either Colonial Adventures by Two Hour Games or Larry Brom's The Sword and the Flame. My units will be based so that they can be used with both of these systems.

That's all from the Greek Geek workbench and London.




Πέμπτη, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2015

Micro Machine Madness

Despite not writing for quite some time, things have been busy on the Greek Geek workbench. Three more warbands for Song of Blades and Heroes have been completed, but real life barely allows enough time for me to paint.

If you are marginally interested in science fiction and not been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you probably know that a new Star Wars movie is coming out right before Christmas. The franchise has fortunately been acquired by the Mad Mouse company, something that might do away with some of the political incorrectness of Episodes IV-VI but will hopefully help us get rid of the complete and utter nonsense that came to movie screens with Episode I (and the crap that followed). Another thing that the Mouse company is well known for is milking a franchise for all its worth. That means tons of merchandise, including some very useful Micro Machine sets. Now, SW and MM go way back, and searching eBay will help you net tons of figures and vehicles, some at reasonable prices, some at perfectly silly ones (but, hey, it's your money). A recent visit to the local toy store netted me a pack of three micro machines, just shy of a five-pound note. Naturally, these were washed, dried, repainted and mounted. 

Here is the first figure, an Imperial Scout trooper on his jet bike. It was an easy enough repaint and it is based for skirmish war gaming. I plan to get at least one more, as the reconnaissance element of my Imperial force, when I get around to painting one. 

The Rebel Commando was a bit trickier, as it is originally painted as Luke Skywalker. The information on Rebel Commando uniforms during the raid on Endor is not great either. I just took a look at picture from the movie and just improvised. The uniform may be a bit off, but it looks the part, and it's all I am going for.
Both jet bikes and riders were roughly 18mm in scale. That makes them large 15s or small 20s, but as they are mounted on bikes, the difference will not be noticeable under war gaming conditions.


The final figure in the set was an AT ST walker. This is closer to 6mm scale and it was based for Horted of the Things. Using some other Micro Machine sets and some 6mm figures, I think I can make a creditable effort in reproducing the Rebel and  Imperial forces for the battle on the planet Hoth. It is an interesting side project and one that won't be exceptionally pricey. 


Finally, I have started a slow return to historical war gaming. By accident, I read a book on the First Afghan War and got hooked on the history and diversity of the units involved. As a result, I ordered some 15mm lancers for Skinner's Horse from Lancashire Games. The order was small, but three working days later, my 12 horsemen had arrived. They are old school, one piece castings, with lots of character and good war gaming detail. More information to follow.