Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween (in 28mm)

Happy Haloween folks. Both of these models come from Mega Miniatures. The witch was part of their 20 model Fantasy Town Folk set. I never thought I'd paint her, but then I had the idea for the Song of Blades and Heros game: Pilgrims vs. a witch and her monsters. I went for a bright red dress, rather than the typical black ensemble. The fire is molded plastic from an old 1/32 Marx playset.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Headless Monsters

"Another evil being best suited to terror and destruction, the Headless is indeed a creature of nightmares. Many a traveler has fled in abject horror at the sight of a headless torso bearing down upon them." —Ultima IV guide book

"This ensorcelled creature appears to be a living ambulatory, beheaded human being. It is unknown exactly how it compensates for its apparent lack of sensory organs, but it manages to do so quite well." —Ultima VII guidebook

These three headless monsters are the latest addition to my collection of Ultima-inspired models. For those unfamiliar, Ultima was a series of medieval fantasy RPGs for the PC, popular in the late 80s through the 90s. I was very fond of Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992) and Serpent Isle (1993). I have slowly been collecting and painting models suitable for the world of Britannia.

I first considered the headless in an August 2008 post. About a year later I ordered Pulp Figures' naked Neanderthal Warriors set*. The animated poses more than make up for their simple appearance (no fancy clothing, armor, etc.) It almost seemed a shame to chop off their heads, but I did! I used some very small clippers, filed, and then filled in a few cut marks with green stuff. These models need alot of flesh paint. I used a mix of Citadel Elf Flesh, Bestial Brown, and some Graveyard Earth to bring the brightness down. I didn't glue any grass on the bases, because I expect these monsters to spend much of their time prowling the dungeon.

* I beheaded only 3 of the Pulp Miniatures Neanderthals. I'm keeping the other two along with a clothed set of Neaderthals as part of my small prehistoric miniatures collection. I plan on clothing them in hides and furs using green stuff.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trees and Woodsmen

I finished a couple tree stands this week. I used Woodland Scenics tree armatures mounted on hardboard. I scattered used dried loose leaf tea (Irish Breakfast) to represent leaf litter. The leaf bits tend to flake off, so I sprayed the boards with matte varnish.

A close up of my Black Tree Design woodsmen and leaf litter. These two are from their "Good People of the Land" sets I and II.

The trees have a peg that fits into the root base. The plastic base is glued to the board, but the trees just rest in the hole. This allows them to be removed if need be (although it does leave a stump in the way).

For more tree-building articles see Iron Mitten and Cursed Treasures.

Vendel Miniatures Mastiff

To accompany my recently finished pilgrims I have painted a Vendel Miniatures mastiff. I came across an interesting passage about the colonists' mastiffs while reading The Skulking Way of War:
"The English had great difficulty killing these predators [wolves] because of their cunning and their ability to outfight even greyhounds and mastiffs. William Wood said that wolves were the 'greatest inconveniency this country hath' and that 'many good dogs have been spoiled by them.'" (page 61)

Although I have read that North American wolves are thought to be more aggressive than European wolves, this passage doesn't speak very well for the mastiff!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

King Philip's War, by Eric Schultz

I presume the majority of people choosing to read about King Philip's War (1675–76) do so out of an interest in local history. As evidence of this, the authors on this conflict appear to all be New Englanders. My schooling in Pennsylvania completely skipped the subject. We were taught about the landing of the Pilgrims (one generation before King Philip's War), then we jumped ahead 150 years to the American Revolution. I wonder if school kids in New England learn anything about it—I suspect not. It rather spoils our fond Thanksgiving story. I, of course, knew relations between the Colonists and Indians eventually deteriorated, but I was surprised at how sudden the two groups went from guarded tolerance to mass bloodshed. As soon as the first generation of English became established in the New World, their land-hungry children set about killing off the native inhabitants.

Eric Schultz's King Philip's War is a fine book to start your research. Back to the whole regional interest thing: To get a copy of this book I had to make a request through interlibrary loan. The nearest available copy came from a library in New York. That's right next to New England, but 400 miles away from me!

The text is divided into three parts. Part I sets the scene with events leading up to the conflict, then gives a chronological general history of the war.

The middle bit, Part II, offers greater detail on each of the ambushes, battles, and incidences. This section moves from location to location using modern landmarks to aid the reader. I am completely unfamiliar with the area, so this organizational format wasn't so helpful. To use this section I picked an event first and then used the book's index to find the right page.

Part III offers first person narratives of the war. Benjamin Church lead a company of rangers. He wrote of the surprise attack on an Indian town known as the Great Swamp Fight. Mary Rowlandson gave an account of her capture by Indians. The author picks out only a few of her passages. There are several editions of her journal, which I intend to read next. Finally, Captain Thomas Wheeler provides a harrowing account an Indian ambush, the escape of the few survivors, and the Indian siege of the town to which they had retreated.

What I would like to find is a book that clearly sets out the combatants. Numerous English and Indian personalities are mentioned in this text, but there is no list describing the people each man represented: Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, Connecticut, Narragansett, Pokanoket, etc. I'd also like a break-down of the various leaders: colony governors, generals, chiefs. Maybe that's a chart I should draw-up myself!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brigade Games Pilgrims 2

I just finished painting my first set of Brigade Games King Philip's War Pilgrims (this is my first post, but the models are from set #2). I wasn't sure how uniform the men's costume should be. I went for brown and black colors for woodland camouflage. Perhaps the New England milita wore proper uniforms, but these Pilgrim models appear to represent rangers in irregular attire. Indian stockings and moccasins are mixed in with the European clothes, so I presume the variety of colors is appropriate.

The blue of the the sword-wielding officer is based on a plate in Osprey's Colonial American troops, 1610-1774, Volume 2. I don't have the book yet, but there is a preview on Google Books. He wears a buff coat made of leather. This was an effective defense against Indian arrows, but not a well aimed musket shot. I had thought the model wore a cloth vest, so I'm glad I figured that out before it was too late.

Next I'll be painting the first set of Indians. They're primed and ready to go. After that I'll do Pilgrims set #1.

Colonial American Troops, 1610-1774, Volume 2, by René Chartrand.

See the Snowshoemen reenactment group for Benjamin Church's "uniforms."

Friday, October 2, 2009

October Project: Witch Hunt

Puritan women from Colonial Living, by Edwin Tunnis.

An idea for a 28mm skirmish using Song of Blades and Heroes occurred to me this evening. I was reading about 17th century New England and noticed how the appearance of the classic Halloween witch is based on the costume of Puritan women. The origin is obvious to me now (Salem witch trials), but I just never thought about it before! Halloween is in just 29 days. Wouldn't it be nice to post a battle report on this theme? So! Here's the plan: A year after the end of King Phillip's War, word comes of strange goings on in one of the abandon towns destroyed by the Indians. A witch is up to some kind of unnatural mischief, and a team of rangers is sent to investigate.

I already have a set of King Philip's War Pilgrim militia from Brigade Games. I was going to paint the Indians this month, but I'll just start on these Puritans first. I glued them to their bases tonight. Accompanying these five Englishmen will be a loyal mastiff, courtesy of Vendel Miniatures.

SBH stats for Salem Witch Hunters:
Human Leader (the chap with the sword), 60pts
Human Witch Hunter (the guy in the bandana), 50 pts.
Human Undead Hunter, 50pts
Wood Elf Archer (to represent rangers with the forestry skill), 50 pts x2
Sabertooth Cat (to represent the mastiff), 36pts
Total pts: 296

The Baddies:
I have a witch produced my Mega Miniatures (now out of business). I wasn't too interested in this model when I bought it. It simply came along with their townsfolk set. I'm glad I have it now. It just goes to show how you might develop a future interest in your unwanted models. I'm using the Lich from the SBH Undead roster to represent the witch, 86pts.

I think I'll keep the rest of the bad side a secret for now. All will be revealed when the models are painted. I know—the suspense is killing you. Will I be able to paint everything before the 31st? Will I photograph everything in time? Will I be distracted by another project, dropping this one all together? Stay tuned!

Incidentally, the book I am reading is Colonial Living, by Edwin Tunnis. The book is a brilliant introduction to Colonial America. My copy is a hardcover from 1957, but Johns Hopkins U. Press reprinted Tunnis' books in 1999. Ink drawings appear on every page. I'll have to do a proper book review soon.