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Friday, December 11, 2015

Officers and signifer party ready to base

I'm moderately happy with the cornucen, signifer, and two officers as they've come out. I've simplified down the paint highlights, and it shows. I may add a few highlights once they are based.

They will not be based together. The front pair are destined for the hastati or principes, while the rear pair will stand around in relaxed pose with the triarii. At least, that's my plan. If I read somewhere that cornucens were always in the triarii then that will change the plan.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Roman Officer (conversion)

This is the assembled conversion: head is swapped, sword from Roman Allies glued on, Esci barbarian shield added. I have yet to fill the shield boss.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Foot command element?

This is a probable for my Poly Roms. I'd quite like to feature a command type element, to sit amongst the Hastati. I have a mini from the Esci Impy Romps (centre), two from the HaT catapult plus box (top row), and I also have a potential head-swap from a damaged Hastatus to an Italian Ally mini (bottom row)which is otherwise close to the Roman Officer figure from Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Roman skirmishers make the first foray

I'm building my Polybian Roman army using HaT foot and Zvezda horse. HaT market two companion boxes, one for Hastati and Velites, the other for Principes and Triarii. If you've played Total War: Rome you will know the qualities of these types. If not: Triarii are spear-armed veterans and fight as 4Sp in DBA; Principes and Hastati for this period are interchangeable and fight as 4Bd; and Velites are 2Ps skirmishers armed with javelins.

I built the horse quite some time ago... Zvezda produce their usual high-quality, high-detail stuff which gives me the CvGen and Cv.

I decide to begin the foot with the Velites, since that's only four minis and will give me a feel for the set. The plastic is hardish and not well moulded (i.e. the two halves not married well) so there's a good deal of trimming required. Unfortunately though very little flash exists, it's often right down the middle of a face. Because shields are sculpted into the figure there are also some 'off' poses such as carrying a shield facing inwards. But the effect once painted is not too bad.

Velites based and first pass of flock

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Later Carthaginian II/32a

Finally assembled, this army has as its focus the Hannibal period, especially the Italian campaign.

1xGeneral (Cv) from HaT Carthaginian command;
1xcavalry (Cv) from HaT Spanish cavarly or elephant (El) from HaT war elephants;
1xelephant (El) ditto or light horse (LH) from HaT Numidian cavalry;
3xLibyan or Poeni spearmen (Sp) from HaT Carthaginian veterans;
[Alternative: 3xPoeni or Numidian levies (4Ax) from HaT Carthaginian command;]
1xSpanish scutati or Ligurians (4Ax);
2xSpanish scutati (4Ax); [Alternative: Gauls 4Wb are in my Gallo-British hordes]
1xSpanish caetrati javelinmen (Ps);
1xslingers (Ps).

Elephants! They have Elephants!

Later Carthaginians are entitled to up to two El, and they can be a key to unlocking that wall o' blades that the Romans become - though they are best used against Cv.

I move my existing two HaT war elephants to 60mm square Litko bases. The depth specified in the rulebook is an oddity - longer than the depth of a base width. By contrast in the smaller scales, the depth is the same as base width. The HaT Forest Elephant, as depicted in these models, is quite small and looks lost on the regulation base. Since my entire army scale is so unusual I will always be providing matched armies, I figure the move to 60mm square is forgivable!

The original paint job uses a slop-n-go patina of dark varnish-stain to create the effect of depth and wrinkles, but in keeping with my current treatment of the army the skin gets a full mid-grey coat. Then I decide that's not dark enough and wash that over with Army Painter Dark Wash, by Vallejo. These washes are new to me and something I'm still feeling my way to. Then a lighter grey for the main skin areas - everything other than folds and hollows really - then light grey for highlights. It's fashionable but doesn't really look like anything in the animal kingdom.

The howdah or turret is painted over with yellow because I want to repeat the original red but brighter. For a bright red, use a yellow undercoat, or so I was taught. I add black edges (very roughly) to give a panelled effect.

In fact the yellow looks so good I decide to keep one yellow - which requires a number more coats, because yellow ought to be basecoated white!

Highlights of bright vermilion for the red, and pale yellow for the yellow finish the Elephants off. The crew are more complicated - I keep finding more lining out that needs doing. In many ways it's a crude makeover but will do the job.

Filling the base with more terracotta color caulk, and piling on grey caulk mixed with small pebbles, is the next chore. Once reasonably dry flock is added.

The final task is to add winter-dark clumps of grass. Once those are dry-brushed I'll have completed the entire army.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is this a stretch goal? Italian allies for Punic armies

I have a vague idea that including an 'Italian Allies' cavalry element into the Later Carthaginian lineup would be a good thing. My reasoning is that I plan an Italian-themed army, so, while I do have Gallic options, Italians as an optional Cv make good sense.

The trouble is that it begs for at least one entire Southern Italian army to be built. Why not have Oscan foot as well? And if those are built, why not skirmishers? And so on.

It feels like one of those annoying stretch goals that Kickstarter efforts come up with - the unplanned, we-just-got-lots-of-money-lets-spend-it type of goal.

So for now I think I'll pack my Italian Allies, foot and mounted, away and wait until I have a Polybian Roman army built.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Numidian LH element refurbished

With the Spanish Cv element done the end is in sight!*

There are a couple of compulsory and optional elements left that I intend to have in my starting Later Carthaginian lineup, and they are two El element and one Numidian LH. My intention with these is to refurbish the existing elements, not start from minis on sprue.

The LH element is the sole survivor of my previous pack of HaT Numidian cavalry. I liked the effect of dark varnish over the medium cream plastic so much, I did very little else to them. They are based on card bases, with a mid green flock that suits their usual opponents.

But now I move them to a Litko wooden base, fully repaint the horses, and thoroughly touch up the men. I really like how the horses came out, though not so much the riders. The only things I leave untouched are the silver spear tips and the plain-varnished shields. I judge it's not worth the mistakes that could happen if I try to change those.

I get the base pretty much completed the same night, though I rush adding dry grass effect to the rocky mounds.

*A separate post will discuss the pros and cons of adding Italian Allies!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Spanish Cv painted and ready for basing

My favoured option for the second Cv element in my Later Carthaginian army is Ancient Spanish II/39's Cv General, an element that is described as three 'long shield' Iberian cavalry minis. For this I'm using HaT's Punic War Spanish Cavalry (8055).

In comparison with the Carthaginian Command these minis are a dream to trim out and assemble. The mould does have some minor errors, creating an extra rim around each shield and an uneven join that shows up clearly on helmets. But the plastic is softer and trims very easily.

The main problem, and it's easily solved, is that HaT issue around 2 caetrati (buckler) riders per scutati (long shield). I'm given the choice of having three very similar riders, or a simple conversion. I opt for the latter. I head back to my spare shields bag and fish out two more of the old Esci Barbarian shields, this time the more oval shaped. Cutting off the 'grip' each has to attach to a hand, I have two correctly-shaped shields with a hole in the middle where the boss should be.

I use the same latex caulk that I use for basing to mush that shield onto a suitably trimmed-back small shield on the original rider. It's not beautiful but effective. Later once the caulk is dried I add more caulk carefully shaped to become the missing shield boss.

I decide to leave the one original shield pretty much as is, because my experience is that if I trim to remove the moulding problem, the rim looks wrong.

I use the same black-varnish basecoat technique as before, this time not trying to do too much detail. These are small minis so less is more.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Carthaginian command paint job complete

Finally done! The Grey was an interesting exercise in paint mixing. I'd have a really white-looking grey mix, but when dry it looked distinctly grey. Once varnished I re-highlight in pure white. The same goes for the socks on the Bays.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Bays' 'red' tints come right through the varnish so no need to add further highlights.

Some detailing is done after varnish on both horses and men. On these minis I used a 'non-metallic' metal for most of the bronze and steel areas so a few extra metallic touches bring these up. I also dry-brush the helmet brushes and the Grey's tail and mane. 

I ended up using Duct Tape straps for the trumpeter's shield. Without that it would just keep falling off. You can see the result on the right-hand mini below:

I hope to get these on a base tomorrow. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Slow going...

The Carthaginian command element proceeds slowly. I was hoping to finish the entire element or at least all the painting, but by end of Monday 1 Nov only the riders are done. After accidentally smashing the shield off one I have added a LBM decal to that, and it's ready to stick back on. I may end up breaking the other shield off, since the decals are much easier to apply to shields that aren't already in place. Live and learn.

With the riders, I'm leaving 'final' highlights until everything is finished, because the durable stain I use as varnish brings everything down. Things like white tunics and purple cloaks can be given an extra spot or two of the un-mixed colour before the final matt varnish goes on.

I'm on the last dregs of 'scorched brown' a Citadel colour I find great for darker horses. I want two of the stand to be darker, one a grey. So I'm mixing Vallejo black into Vallejo 'Beasty brown' to get a very deep brown as base colour. For the grey, I mix a light grey as base. It's a colour I should probably have around but there are so many different shades of grey...

As I work the colour around the heads I observe again that these horses have mighty small heads. I'll have to re-line the harness with black, the base colour is all over it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Carthaginian command!

With the Lusitanians under control it is time to trim out the horse and riders from the same Carth. command set. The Cv Gen is minimum requirement for any Later Carthaginian, no matter which field of operation is imagined.

Again, the poor mould fit is an issue. There are some very uneven surfaces to deal with. The horses are relatively chunky - possibly due to mould fit - and the plastic is relatively hard. What started as a sharp general purpose scalpel is a rather dull roughing-out blade by the time I'm finished!

Assembly required!!!!

Although the standard-bearer is all one piece, the other two minis I will need require a shield and an implement to be added. I don't know what other modellers use but these days, on 'normal' HaT plastic, I use contact glue (superglue) reinforced by PVA and when that is dry, ensure the join gets plenty of base varnish. I use good sturdily-sprung clothes pegs to enforce the shield join, they really did not want to stay on.

The seat of each rider is loose, so I've drilled out horse and rider and use wire as a peg fit, then glue. Since I plan to use the same 'black base' approach (as I did for the previous element) I will be painting rider and horse already assembled.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lusitanians, truly

The next element for my II/32 Later Carthaginians is out of HaT's 'Carthaginian Command and Cavalry'. It's four minis - two models - that are quite obviously sculpted from the Lusitanians in Head's Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars, figures No. 113 and 114. The catch is that the sculptor decided to give them more generic heads. So they don't look particularly Lusitanian any more. If I was still a conversion enthusiast I would have done a Herr Sabel and swapped some heads back onto them, but these days I try to avoid unnecessary conversion. So they all have generic Montefortino helms.

The next little problem is that HaT provide two varieties of shield, but both are Hoplon size. Lusitanians apparently only use the caetra, or buckler. I solve this by heading down to my spares stash and grabbing Zvezda Russian Knights shields for the 'standing with javelins' mini (fig. 114 in the source) and an Esci barbarian round shield for the 'cloaked, arm upheld' mini (fig 113). They are still too big but now look somewhat believable.

I don't usually include any 'figure review' in these entries but I thought I should remark that the box I bought is plagued with misaligned mould, which results in uneven joins and requires a lot of trimming. The figures have, for example, thick shoulders where the detail is gone, and uneven helmets that are very hard to re-configure. They paint up well though and paint disguises a lot.

I've been revving up my painting ability by reading through Javier Gomez's Painting Wargaming Figures so I decided to switch techniques 180 degrees and work with black base, base colour/1st highlight/2nd highlight. And a lot of detail on the face. As a result they would go really well with my Marian Romans!

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Wow, after thinking I had this Later Carthaginian side all planned out, I've ended up with so many Numidians I have been forced to order a box of Numidian cavalry so that I can add a II/40 Numidian army as a spin-off. Talk about mission creep!

So yeah, what I had been thinking was, I need a stand or two of African foot that does not look like veterans with looted Roman gear. For battles where perhaps the Carthaginians are campaigning in Spain. But I don't want heavy African foot, I want Numidians.

I ended up with three stands, enough to completely replace my African veterans. (OK they are interchangeable with Carthaginian militia, not veterans...)

In terms of palette, they remain predominantly white. I went for a dirty/homespun look on several, but am not too happy with it. I switched techniques for their eyes, so they don't look like generic European troops.

I've also switched techniques just a little with the basing, adopting more of a 'paint it on' application of the filler I use.

This shot shows basing before any dry-brush and static grass work.

As with my Veteran Africans, I'm too chicken to try a shield design. I do now have LBM transfers, but the Carthaginian version is designed for round shields. So these will probably stay white.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spanish for Carthaginians

Finishing up the Balearic slinger duo, the Ligurian(?) Caetrati, and a stand of four Spanish/Ligurian Auxilia. I suspect I'll decide to build a lot more once I focus on an Ancient Spanish army but for now that's the minimum needed for my II/32 Later Carthaginians.

Friday, October 9, 2015

II/32 Later Carthaginians

My current project is the II/32 Later Carthaginians, with an emphasis on the Italian adventure, or (a) list if you like. It's part of a wider project: a plan to field these and their Roman enemy, and downstream, some allies for both. I've approached this in an unusually planned way. I'm using HaT minis throughout for example, and (as far as I know) have all of the resources I need before beginning.

I'm using the 3.0 list. Foot requirements are 12 spear minis suited to Liby-phoenicians (pictured above), 4 heavy Spanish foot, 2 light Spanish foot with javelins, and 2 Balaeric style slingers. I've already got plenty of Gallic foot, but will add a number of African (Libyan) foot, so that I can field Carthaginians against Gauls. I'll probably look to add two more Spanish foot elements further down the track.

Army build archives: Post-Mongol Russian morph project

Completed in August 2015: IV/44 Post-Mongol Russians

These are created to work as a morph army, based on Early Russians but swapping out some of the early-style elements for later-style ones, and adding a few more Cv elements. The new Cv are all the beautiful Zvezda Russian Knights.

I should also note that Zvezda also produce an even later set of Russian Cavalry for those looking to stretch this army into the C16. I imagine that one could also mix in later Cossack elements and keep morphing right out to the Great Northern War and other conflicts of the early modern Russian state. 

Here's a close-up showing the earlier army elements at rear and post-Mongol at front.

Finally here's a wide shot showing the full morph:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Army build archives: Medieval Irish

From July 2015: I built a Medieval Irish army around RedBox's foot of the same name. They have cavalry on the release horizon, but at time of building did not even have a schedule for it. But the LH and the Cav needed for the army are completely different. For LH, I needed barefoot, javelin-hurling, tunic-wearing minis that I could build cloaks, hoods and maybe puffy sleeves on. For Cav I looked for something rather similar to Breton or Norman knights. They all ride unsaddled horses, but the lights are probably little mountain ponies and the Cav, regular size horses.

So what I ended up using was from HaT: except I used some of the last of my old Atlantic 7th Cavalry ponies to provide the very small ponies needed here; and strangely enough, Lucky Toys Hun ponies which were so huge I didn't use most of them for my Huns! LH riders are HaT Moorish riders; Cav riders are HaT El Cid Spanish.

Conversion work: The lights get hoods and cloaks and puffy sleeves, and beard-moustache face hair. The general gets mail skirts added, his pair of riders get puffy sleeves. The Spanish lose their stirrups, of course. All horses get a 'cushion' seat-pad, and lose any girth straps. I extend the saddle blankets back a little too.

During this period my copy of DBA 3.0 arrived and I shifted from a 2.2 army to a 3.0. There was some shuffling around of figures on bases, which was unfortunate but the final result looks pretty good. The Cv appear as the rules suggest, with a well-equipped rider and a couple of support pony-riding types.

As I completed the army, the shift in thinking from 2.2 to 3.0 made me reconsider the foot. I added another Bd element (from the unused RedBox minis) and a number of kerns using Alexander's Light Troops by HaT. (In case you are wondering all the conversion work involving adding clothing and saddle pads was done with Grey Stuff. Fiddly of course, but the big advantage is that once dry it stays how you leave it, and it gives a really good 'drape' for cloaks and sleeves.)