Sunday, 25 October 2015

More Suebi Arrive at the Muster!

It's taken a while, with other projects holding things up, but the final draft of Suebi have finally arrived to support the Batavians in their revolt against the Romans.

The rear ranks of the Suebi warband are made up of a mixture of Warlord Games' Warriors of Germania and the beautiful Black Tree Design Ancient Germans.

The Warlord figures have all been fitted with the metal top-knot heads which come on sprues in the Warriors of Germania boxed set. I'm still not really sure about the debate over top-knots! In the end I decided that it would be a good way to differentiate between Batavians, without top-knots, and Suebi, with them!

As before, some of the shields are painted, with fairly simple geometric designs...

While others come from various sets of transfers I've gathered together over the years. Apologies to the V Macedonian Legion, who have supplied captured shields for more than one of my hairy barbarians.

The axe wielding chap, behind the clubman, is one of the superb Black Tree Design German warriors. If they had greater variety in their range, I would happily build my entire army with these figures, but the Warlords give you much greater variety because of their multi-part construction. Of course, being metal, the Black Tree figures are much more expensive per figure, but you can often pick up a really good deal through the regular sales they have on their website. The original figure here didn't have the top-knot, so he had to have one added through the medium of Green Stuff!

The final ensemble! The 24 figure Suebi warband, all with top-knots, ready to go into battle. I've really enjoyed putting this unit together, particularly the rear ranks, which involved all sorts of customization to avoid as much repetition of poses as possible.

A more head on view of this fearsome bunch charging into contact. This is what those poor Roman legionaries will see... just before they turn tail and run!

Back to more Batavian Auxiliaries next, as the IX Cohort gets an application of paint, ready to join their colleagues on the field of battle.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Painting Victrix Napoleonic British Infantry.


I've started painting Napoleonic figures so many times over the years, that I couldn't possibly name every incarnation... my first ever attempt at painting wargames figures was back in 1968, when I tried to paint up some Airfix French Napoleonic artillery, even though I only owned two pots of enamel paint at the time! I've tried 15mm Spanish, French, British and Austrian, 28mm Spanish, British and French and at least two goes at Russians. For me, the trouble with Napoleonics is that they just take so long to get all that fancy stuff painted well enough to look like you've done a good job. The thought of painting enough figures to make a decent sized army is enough to put even the most patient painter off. 

Bearing all this in mind, the only way I was ever going to paint a Napoleonic 'army' was to do just enough figures to put on a skirmish game. A dozen figures a side ought be achievable, even for a complete defeatist like me! Well, time will tell! The figure on the left below, took me about a week to clean up, build and paint; clearly, even a small skirmish force is going to involve a major investment in time. Nor surprising then that I am prepared to try any strategy to cut down the painting time and effort, while maintaining the quality of the finished product.

The thing that slows me down most with Napoleonics, is the trouble you have painting things like lacing and belts accurately when other things like arms and muskets are in the way.

Hence this attempt to make the whole process of painting some Victrix Napoleonic British flank company easier by leaving off the head, arms and back packs (to begin with at any rate!)

The advantage of painting this way is simply that you can get your brush far more easily into areas that are otherwise difficult to reach.

Once the legs and torso are painted, it is a simple matter of attaching the missing body parts, undercoating and carefully completing the paint job. I say carefully, because the problem I found was painting areas like the shoulder wings and the body side of the musket.

All in all, I think the two painting methods are equally fiddly in their own way and, if you're going to paint Napoleonics, you just have to live with the fact that it's going to be a tedious, frustrating and time consuming business. Once they are completely finished, it's nigh on impossible to tell which method you used to paint them. I have to say that I really like the Victrix figures, especially when all the trimmings have been added and I'm determined to paint up at least a dozen or so British and French to use with Song of Drums and Shakos, but I'll need to be really motivated to paint any more while I've got my lovely Warlord Ancient Germans to keep me entertained!

The finished articles... two different methods of going about the tricky business of painting Napoleonic infantry. I don't think either method has any major advantage or disadvantage over the other. Painting Napoleonics requires a unique combination of skill, patience and perseverance and I don't think it matters how you do it, it's just going to strain every ounce of  stamina and fortitude you have!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Suebi arrive to support the Batavians!

I have reached the halfway stage of the second German warrior unit for my Batavian Revolt army. Because the warriors are classed as ‘deep’ formations in Sword and Spear, each unit needs to have double the base depth of a normal combat unit, which means painting twenty-four figures instead of the twelve needed for troops like Roman legionaries or auxilia. The final brush strokes were applied to the twelfth Suebi warrior early this morning, so I’ve taken a few snaps before moving on to the second half of the unit.

To avoid possible dispute, I decided that I wouldn't mix warriors with top knots and those without, in the same unit, so this time I've been able to use all those wonderful top-knot heads that come in the Warriors of Germania boxed set!

I've tried to get an altogether more aggressive feel to this unit and set the figures in poses to represent them hurling themselves into the fray. I have also included more men in mail armour than the previous one, with five of them surrounding the tribal leader.

The Chief surrounded by his armoured nobles!
Shield designs are a mixture of transfers and hand painted designs... bet you can't guess which is which!

The standard bearer is one of the metal figures that comes in the boxed set.
As is the carnyx blower... a brilliant figure to paint and adds a real bit of drama to the scene!
Well, back to the painting bench, but I'll be taking a short break from the Suebi, as I need to complete some Wars of the Roses figures ready for an up-coming sale!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Wargames Factory German Cavalry Update!

Well, I just couldn't leave them alone! Having posted my last lot of photos of my first German cavalry unit earlier this week, I had to go back and change some more of those heads. In the end I decided to leave the hairy chap at the back of the unit, but the standard bearer and the swordsman on the flank had their Factory heads popped off and the search began for more suitable replacements. I have plenty of Warlord German and Celtic heads in my bits and bobs box, so they were selected to go top the shoulders of the two headless horsemen. As with the ones I did earlier, I had to make a neck for each of the heads using green stuff and was a bit concerned as I was working on a figure that was already painted. As it turned out, I ended removing the figures from the base to make working easier and one of the riders came away from his horse anyway! Re-painting the replacement heads had to be done pretty carefully, to avoid spoiling the rest of the figure, but proved to be a lot more straightforward than I thought it would be. Anyway, lesson learned, I've already sorted out six more Warlord heads ready for the next unit.

The New Model Army! Re-headed with Warlord heads.

All in all, I'm a lot happier with my first cavalry unit, although I wish Warlord would start producing some plastic German (and Roman Auxiliary) cavalry. Hey ho! Back to the painting table, I've got another twenty Suebi warriors to do to finish my next infantry unit!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Wargames Factory German Cavalry.

I've bought Wargames Factory figures before and had mixed feelings about them, but when I was searching for German warrior cavalry to paint for my Batavian Revolt army, I couldn't find any others that were in my price bracket, so decided to give these guys a go!

The six horsemen, painted but not based.
In your pack you get enough bits to paint up twelve figures, which fits in nicely with my chosen organisation for an army using Sword and Spear rules. I'm putting six cavalry figures on a 12cm by 6cm base, so I get two units for the £14.50 plus £2.50 p&p that I paid for the pack. I bought my pack from the Veni Vidi Vici website, which was the best value for money I could find on the day I ordered. The packaging contains pictures of painted figures and a set of general construction tips, but no specific instructions on how to fit all the various bits together.

The boss! Wargames Factory figure with a Warlord head.
What I really like about the WF Germans is the horses. A lot of ancient period horses on the market look as though they have come straight from the stables of a race horse trainer training a horse for the Grand National! These little beasts fit in much better with what I imagine horses of the period to have been like. They are more rough, hardy, semi-wild ponies than thoroughbred race horses. They clean up fairly easily, with a sharp craft knife taking away the casting seems, which are in all the obvious places. Each sprue has six half ponies which, I think, can be paired up in any combination. I'm not that au fait with horse anatomy, so I put the halves together in as many different combinations as possible, without any particular regard as to whether the resultant pose was anatomically feasible or not! They look o.k. to me! The halves fit together fairly snugly, although I did treat the first two I assembled to some green stuff along the seams to fill in any gaps. With experience, I discovered that being a little more generous with the plastic cement (to aid the melting of the plastic) and filing along the seam with a micro file before the glue had time to harden, had the same effect. Each horse sprue also contains four different horse heads, which give you loads of combinations to make your unit full of variety. The heads simply glue into a slot created by sticking the horse body parts together. For me, the jury is still out as to whether or not the join around the head needs to be filled with green stuff, I did on some but then not on others!

The addition of Little Big Men Studios' shield transfers make a big difference!
The riders for the horses are not quite so impressive! The torsos come in two basic poses; one with the shield arm tucked in close to the body and the other with the shield arm slightly away from the body. There are lots of heads to choose from, but these were the most disappointing part of the set for me. The detailing in the casting is very shallow, which is a bit of a disaster if you like to use ink wash to bring out the detail; basically, there isn't a lot of detail to bring out! Unfortunately, I constructed three riders for my first unit, before it dawned on me that I could use spare heads from other sets I'd bought for my Batavian army. Because of the slightly odd way WF have designed their heads to fit the bodies, you need to build a neck before you can attach heads from a Warlord set. I used green stuff and made a blob to fill in the recess in the body and then carefully pressed my chosen Warlord head onto it. This made a clean fit for the head to attach to and, once the green stuff had hardened, the excess 'fat' around the neck was trimmed away with a craft knife. With an application of super glue to attach the new head to the neck, the job was done and now, I'm just deciding whether it's worth the effort of removing the heads from those first three chaps and replacing them with something better. The torsos themselves look a little bulky and angular and the belt is well out of proportion, looking a bit like a child's rubber buoyancy aid! The riders are glued to a separate saddle, which is excellent if you like to paint your riders before attaching them to the horse. Again, I experimented with both options and both work equally well, although traditionally I prefer to build the whole model and paint it complete. I toyed with the idea of drilling a hole through the saddle and into the rider to put a small screw through to aid holding while painting, but in the end, it seemed a bit too much like hard work!

The same figure from the front. I like the horses and prefer the substitute heads.
The sprues have various weapons you can arm your warriors with and a slightly odd looking horse head standard. I lopped the head off my standard and re-attached it to a longer spear, which looks in better proportion to me, although I can see the logic in having a short standard pole when you are riding a horse; it must be a lot less unwieldy. The sprue has a whole load of weapon arms, which gives you all sorts of options for arms up or down. There are two types of shield, a large round one and a hexagonal 'coffin-lid' type. The good thing about the shields is that Little Big Man do sets of shield transfers for them! I kitted my first unit out with the hexagonal shields and I'll give the next lot the round ones. I've also utilized some of the spare shields (complete with LBM transfers) in the unit of Warlord Suebi warriors that I'm currently working on.

Substitute head in the foreground and original behind.
All in all, the Wargames Factory horsemen are good value for money. They are not going to win any awards for casting detail or quality of anatomical proportioning, but they will fit in nicely with the rest of the army and perform a useful role alongside the auxiliary cavalry, once I decide the best option for those!

Probably the best of the original heads from the set.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Batavian Update

I thought I'd upload some pictures of the units I've painted so far for my Batavian Revolt army. None of the units are based yet, as I'm totally focused on getting more troops painted. I suppose I'll have to take a painting break at some point in the not too distant future and have a mega-basing session to get them ready for the battlefield. So far, I have completed a deep German warrior unit of twenty-four figures, two cohorts of Batavian auxiliaries and a cohort of Legio I Germanica

Time for some pictures...

The German Warband... mostly Warlord Games Warriors of Germania, with a few Black Tree Design thrown in for a little variety. The shields are mostly hand painted and I've tried to get that 'under fire' look with the figures in the first couple of ranks.

Close up of the Warband leader and the only two armoured warriors in the unit.

The Third Cohort of Batavians. I've been experimenting with cohort standards and this is one of the earlier attempts. The standard is made from green stuff, with the wording printed, stuck to the green stuff and then painted over to blend it in.

Close up of the officer, with a head borrowed from the Roman Legionary box!

The Seventh Cohort of Batavians. My favourite unit so far, with the bright blue shields and a little bit more individuality than the third, as I began to get a bit more adventurous with experience!

A development in the experimentation with cohort standards... this version is printed onto to fairly thick card, which looks a little more 'wooden', but works an awful lot better than the green stuff version.

The reluctant legionaries in my Batavian army... the first cohort from Legio I Germanica. I'm planning to add  more of these in the future, both from from this legion and Legio XVI Gallica. Pretty much standard Warlord Games with water slide shield transfers from Battle Flag.

The 'Boss'!

Somebody's not happy about how these legionaries have dressed their ranks! I suspect they are being told. in no uncertain terms. to close up ready for action.

I'm currently working on some cavalry for my army. I decided to try Wargames Factory's German horsemen... after a fairly disappointing start, I've started to really enjoy working on them. Should have some pictures and a bit of a review up for your perusal in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, 3 May 2015


Have I found it at last? The perfect wargames army for someone who has the attention span of a gnat...

My problem is that, by the time I've finished painting a unit for an army, I don't have what it takes to start all over again on another unit which will be virtually the same as the last one. Different colours maybe, slightly different poses maybe, but, to all intents and purposes, more of the same. NOT THIS TIME!

A German army(ish) of the Batavian Revolt of 69-70 A.D. ,so far, seems to have enough variety to keep even me interested. I've painted a unit of twenty-four German tribesmen, a cohort of twelve Batavian auxiliaries, two command stands and am currently half way through a cohort of Roman legionaries, with no sign of my notoriously fickle enthusiasm abating to the slightest degree!

Now I've dug into this period, usually referred to as 'the year of the four emperors' a little bit further, I can not understand why I haven't tried it before. The suicide of the Emperor Nero triggered a global brawl amongst various Roman generals from around the empire for the title of top dog. Prior to the outbreak of this Imperial furore, Gaius Julius Civilis, a prince of the Batavi tribe, who had served under Augustus in the invasion of Britain, was falsely accused of treason and sent to Rome to face the judgement of Nero. The invasion of Italy and subsequent proclamation as Emperor of Servius Sulpicious Galba, lead to the release of Civilis and his return to his Batavian homeland. A series of unfortunate events followed, including the dismissal of the Emperor's German bodyguard, regarded as untrustworthy owing to their previous allegiance to Nero, and Civilis' re-arrest on more trumped up charges, all of which contributed to an eruption of violence in Batavia. With the onset of the Empire's domestic convulsions, Civilis took the opportunity to revolt against his former masters in a bid to create a niche for himself outside the control of the Roman Empire. Other neighbouring tribes soon joined Civilis, including the Cananefates under their leader Brinno, and combined with probably eight cohorts of Batavian auxiliaries and two, more or less reluctant, Roman legions (I Germanica and XVI Gallica) to create a formidable fighting force to face any attempt by Rome to re-instate control over the area. Indeed, one such attempt by V Alaudae and XV Primigenia legions resulted in a humiliating defeat for Rome in a battle near the modern Dutch city of Nijmegen.

The first of my two command stands completed, represents Brinno, the leader of the Cananefates tribe, and his trusty standard bearer. The figures are simple composites from various boxes of Warlord miniatures. Brinno himself being made up from parts of the Celtic sprues which come from the Warriors of Germania set(!) and the masked head of a Roman standard bearer. Being a true Germanic hero, he wields the severed head of a Roman centurion to cast fear and dread into the hearts of his enemies! The standard has a Cesarean period shield attached, just to show how long the Germans have held sway over their Roman neighbours!

Brinno's cloak is actually from Fireforge Games' Mounted Sergeants set, but I liked the way it flowed and brought some movement to the figure.

To create Gaius Julius Civilis, I used one of the command figures from Warlord's Early Imperial Roman Officers set. The original figure is helmeted and basically looking the wrong way, so I removed his head and replaced it with one of the metal hairy heads you get in the bag of goodies that come with the Warriors of Germania boxed set. The standard bearer is from Black Tree Design's brilliant Ancient German range, with the original spear removed and replaced with a standard from Warlord's Ancient Celt sprue. 

The Black Tree figure is much taller than Civilis and looks like a true tribal warrior hero serving dutifully alongside his warlord!

I read somewhere that Civilis was joined during the revolt by a Priestess of the Bructari tribe, who predicted that the Germans would be victorious over the Romans. The Priestess was called Veleda and was the inspiration behind the wailing ladies on my command stand! The figures are from Wargames Foundry and I am indebted to David from the United States, who contacted me after I put a plea for one of these figures on the TMP website. I didn't want to pay the £12 that Wargames Foundry charge for one of their 'collections', when I only wanted one of the two kneeling ladies. David sent me both of the figures and some other bits and bobs from the collection for a fraction of the cost of buying direct from Foundry. Amazingly, the whole transaction, from posting in the U.S.A. to arrival here in Nottinghamshire took less than a week!

Valeda and one of her sisters are now wailing to invoke the Gods to bring success to the Batavian revolt. All that is left to do is get some basing material on the stand and Civilis will be ready to bring doom and destruction to the Roman Empire!

And as if by magic...   some shots of Civilis and his wailing ladies!