Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brigade Games Indians 1 & King Philip

So, after 5 months of inactivity I finally painted something. In August I finished my WWII book, so now I can use my spare time to for my hobby. Picrured above is King Philip from Brigade Games King Philip's War range. This is a really nice set. The flared musket barrels (almost a blunderbuss) mark these as 17th century Indians, but they would work well for 18th century warriors.

These five models here are from Indians set 1. The war paint and beaded strap & bag offer an opportunity for some eye-catching paint work. For reference I used American Colonial Ranger by Gary Zaboly and a brochure of Robert Griffing's paintings, which I snagged from a gallery in Gettysburg, PA.

See my painted Pilgrim set 1 from last October.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trevor Pask's Airfix Kits, book review

Airfix Kits is a sharp little book about the venerable British model kit company. It's a brisk 56 pages with oodles of color photographs. Written with experience and humor, it's apparent that the author is a long-time modeler. The book traces the hobby's history back to the first crude kits in the 1930s and brings the reader to the Airfix company in 2009. Pask writes about production technology, marketing, box art, logo & packaging, and Airifx's context within the broader model kit business. The most important and innovative models are picked out to chart milestones Airfix's history. An overview of Airifx's many other kits appear through the book's seventy color photos and captions.

There are more voluminous and focused Airfix books in print (these are referenced in the bibliography), but Shire Books' Airfix Kits fills a niche. Readable in one sitting, it's a concise history at a low price—an ideal book for the hobbyist wishing to save time and money for that next model kit.

P.S. Histoire & Collections is released the English version of Les Petits Soldats Airfix, by Jean-Christophe Carbonel. The Airfix Little Soldiers was a limited edition and is now sold out. Hopefully there will be a new edition soon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Poison King, by Adrienne Mayor review

Traditionally the West's dominant view of Mithradates came from his Roman enemies, and in recent times there has been virtually no view of the forgotten king. Adrienne Mayor does history a great service by countering that imbalanced knowledge. In The Poison King Mayor strips the skewed Roman accounts to present a story closer to the truth. Her story is supported with alternate contemporary sources and modern archaeology. As a result, the reader views Pontus' royal family and Rome's Mithridatic Wars from the probable perspective of the king. Mithradates' intelligence and personality shine through Adrienne Mayor's text. Her writing is highly engaging, appropriate for such a dynamic character.

Regrettably several descriptions of military equipment were in error. Roman swords were not at all like machetes, as the author described them. Armenian and Parthian Cataphracti were more typically armored in lamellar or scale, not chain mail. As annoying as these mistakes are to someone knowledgeable of ancient arms and armor, they have little bearing on the thrust of this book. Mayor intends to convey the general events of Mithradates' battles and their effects on his life. Although I would love to read a detailed description of his troops' armor, weapons, unit types, training, tactics, etc., this specialized subject is outside the scope of The Poison King.
P.S. For a military account of Mithradates' reign I plan on reading Mithradates The Great, by Philip Matyszak.
P.P.S. And what a brilliant book jacket design! You have to see it in person. I love the shimmering metallic ink, the coin's embossed hair is a great effect, and the overall classical imagery contrasted with modern typography is appealing. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award. That's lovely for the author, but the large ugly seal on the cover is an unfortunate distraction.