Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dark Ages Levy

My Dark Ages collection continues to grow, the newest addition is these plastic levy troops from Gripping Beast. As a long time collector of fantasy figures, most of them the finely detailed examples available from GW, I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed when the promo pictures for the levy were first released. I had waited for them for so long, then eventually gave up and bought metal figures. However, when xmas came around I received a frame of these new plastics from gaming buddy Matt as a gift - my one and only wargaming gift of the season!

Looking at the frames the quality of the casting and mould lines is very good, as you would expect from Renedra. The sculpts are okay, the bodies are stooped a little and the heads are dominated by the older inhabitants of the village, but decent enough for levy. Assembled with spears I think they are passable, certainly better than the Wargames Factory plastics, though I remain unconvinced by the slinger poses.

They are easy to paint up, a few washes and they are done. With shields attached and assembled en-masse they look pretty decent, certainly as good as many of the metals on offer. Their biggest advantage is the cost. Forty figures to a box, that's five points of warrior quality troops in Saga terms, for about twenty pounds. Add in a blister of metals and a warlord and you have a six point warband. They are pretty generic so could be used as Vikings, Saxons, Danes, etc. If you are not too fussed about historical accuracy you could probably count them as just about any of the Saga factions warrior or levy troops. A good way to add numbers to your collection.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tanatus Saxon Archers

It's been a few weeks since I previewed the Saxon archers by Tanatus Miniatures (original post here). Now that they are painted and based, I will reiterate what I said then, that these are finely detailed historical miniatures. They paint up really nicely with a few washes and glazes. I was sufficiently impressed to go a little further with them and add bow strings, using human hair double twisted for strength. They don't score any more hits on the battlefield, but they look like they mean to!

As usual with my dark age figures I have based them on pennies, which are magnetic. This means I can use them on their round bases in skirmish games like Saga, or I can build a movement tray for more conventional unit based games, most likely Hail Caesar at some point.

I have more dark ages metals on the way, coming to me all the way from Salute. When I have those ready I will take some pictures to compare the different manufacturers in my collection.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Do Not Attempt This At Home!

Following on from yesterday's quizzical post, I was indeed cutting out tiles for the roof of my new building. It seemed like a good idea at the time, it's made from strips of card, with slits cut for tiles. I stupidly decided to cut off the corners of each tile, it took me well over an hour to do the whole roof, which even for a rainy Sunday afternoon seemed like a very silly thing to do. It was only after I had finished that I searched online and found that Warbases made tiling sheets. At least I know for future projects! This is the state of play at the part painted stage. I texture painted the walls, then brown stained the timbers, before I assembled the building to save time. This was before the very silly roof episode.

I quickly painted the roof and weathered the walls earlier today. Now that it's finished, it does look rather nice and will be particularly suitable to games of warhammer and medieval historical. At this stage, those of you that actually pay attention to this blog will be thinking to themselves, hang on a minute, I thought this building came with teddy fur for the roof and that it was going to be used in a dark age setting. And you would be right. Both of you. But fear not, I have a cunning plan that will enable me to use the thatched roof as well as this one. Which partly makes up for the excess of snip, snip, snip that has got me to this stage, but I have to say that it's not the best way to tile a roof. So please remember, this stunt has been performed by an expert, do not attempt this at home.

Sunday, 6 April 2014


Apologies if you are expecting some discussion of the 1980's ska revival band, creators of songs such as One Step Beyond, House of Fun and the classic Baggy Trousers. No, the madness I refer to is that which we sometimes undergo as we partake of our hobby. It's probably more obsession than madness, but then a blog post named after a perfume didn't quite have the same dramatic punch (though obviously it did have some aromatic advantages).

I know many players feel that some parts of the hobby are challenging, difficult or just plain tedious. Some complain of cleaning and assembling plastic figures, I have more of a dislike of metal preparation. I know that painting is a huge hurdle to many, for me it's the whole point. But occasionally there is a task to be performed that most muggles (i.e. non-hobby folk) would consider a little obsessive, even insane. That is what I have been doing today. Can you tell what it is from the picture?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Timeline Miniatures Buildings Review Part 1

I recently stumbled across yet another producer of mdf terrain, Timeline Miniatures on ebay. I thought the product shots looked very promising so I bought a couple of items from the store - a Saxon house and hut to add to my growing dark ages collection. I ordered them on Wednesday evening, they arrived on Saturday, so just a couple of days to wait, which is excellent service.

The items arrived in a padded envelope. Each building is flat-packed in a plastic sleeve, with mdf components and teddy bear fur included - yes, teddy bear fur. Opening up a pack there are mdf parts for the walls and roof, doors and a base. There's also a set of  very simple instructions included, which explains the obvious bits - don't force out the parts from the frame, do a dry run first and use pva glue and acrylic paint. It would have been helpful to have some guidance on the more difficult bits - for example, some of these parts have to be removed from the "sprue", there's usually a corner that has not been completely laser cut and requires a final cut with a sharp blade for the bit to pop out of the frame. It's obvious to experienced builders but maybe not as much to newcomers to mdf materials.

Assembly is pretty simple for the most part. Four walls and two roof sections - how hard could it be? It's worth noting that there's an integral base which also helps guide you in deciding which way around walls fit. My other buildings are free standing and so I decided not to use the bases. This meant I had to cut away the tabs that slotted into the base. I used a sharp blade and a steel rule, scoring through the mdf tab several times until it came away cleanly. Without this (self-imposed) extra step I could have had the hut built in five minutes, it's that easy. I decided to part assemble mine, paint the walls and timber sections separately to hopefully make the painting a bit easier.

The final step is the application of the roof. This is where the teddy bear fur comes in. And this is the bit that I feel is missing from the instructions. The idea is to glue the fur on, trim to size, coat in dilute pva glue and allow to dry. The fur stiffens and can be painted, weathered, or could just be left as it is I suppose. I have a handful of buildings already thatched and will use the leftover fur on these buildings, to maintain consistency across all my roofs. The fur in these packs I will use in some other terrain project.

That's it for part 1 of the review. The buildings are well made and well packaged and go together quickly, though I do think that the instructions could be more informative on the roofing material. On the whole, they come highly recommended. In part 2 I will be looking at roofing, painting and comparing them with alternatives, hopefully some time next week.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Fantasy adventuring figures

Here's something I noticed on the Lead Adventure forum the other day, a set of four adventurers from Statuesque Miniatures. The first thing I thought when I saw these was not Heroquest, as I suspect most would, but Talisman. I guess that reflects my entry into the world of fantasy gaming, I played Talisman with my brothers and mates for many years in the late 1980s and early 1990s before I attempted anything as complex as a minis game.

One of the interesting things about these sculpts is that they are digital, yet they have a classic, old school look and feel - though to my eyes done with much more refinement and finesse than many a hand sculpted figure. I can understand wanting to recapture the freshness and excitement of early gaming days, though I fail to see why so many hunt down thirty year old sculpts which are often very crude and poorly done, and pay a premium for them to boot. It takes all sorts I guess.

I liked the look of these figures so much I pre-ordered a set at a discount price. It was quite telling that some on the Lead Adventure forum complained about the price - they are £19 plus shipping in the introductory offer. It just goes to show the huge price differential across the different wargaming communities. Four quality fantasy sculpts for less than £20, imagine how ecstatic some sectors of the gaming world would be if prices returned to that level - it would be like going back to the 1990's for them again.