Monday, 14 January 2019

Dark Ages village growing

More progress on the viking longhouse - I have replaced the mdf roof supports with twigs from the garden. These were leftover from a prune of my birch trees. The twigs were dried in the microwave, then roughly cut to size. I trimmed off the bark as I figured it would just drop off anyway over time. I chose a random size and positioning along the sides of the building, but the front has slightly straighter and thicker "tree trunks" to make it an imposing entrance for visitors. I might add some decoration on these entrance pillars. The work on this building is now almost complete, just the roof tiling and ground texture to add.

Two plastic buildings are also ready for priming. The lake town house I modified slightly by covering the leaded windows with wooden shutters made from coffee stirrers. There are still a few bits left over from the house boxset, which I will be using as walkways through the muddy ground. The other building is a Renedra ramshackle barn, which I built straight from the box with no modifications. There's also a cart, this was another Sarissa kit which I modified a little with balsa wheels and harness.

That's three quite imposing buildings to start my viking settlement, I think I need some more basic dwellings next, which I hope to scratch build. I also want to add more extras to really bring it all to life - fishing nets, benches, cooking utensils, and such like. And fencing, lots of fencing.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Viking Longhouse

I had quite a few viking gifts for Yuletide, one of which was the Sarissa Precision longhouse. It's a really characterful building, though as with all mdf kits can look a bit flat, something I wanted to attempt to remedy. So I decided to add some texture to the building walls, in the shape of wooden coffee stirrers. These are easy to cut, trim and glue, it just takes a little extra time to add some basic beams to make the building more lifelike, less flat pack.

If this had been a standard building, this could have been the end point, nice and simple to do. However, this is a longhouse, the residence of the jarl and it has a very fancy roof, which complicated matters a little.

The new beams made fitting the side roofing a little more challenging. The usual precision fit was affected by the addition of the coffee stirrers, resulting in some gaps where pieces would normally have butted together. I also had to trim some of the roof supports because the coffee stirrer beams had covered some of the holes where they were inserted - I had mistakenly taken these to be window slots. Not a catastrophe by any means, just a little extra work to get it all together. The roof gaps I filled with wooden poles from an incense jar. My vikings don't like the smell of manure, they prefer the sweet smell of lavender and pine.

With the roof poles added the build is nearly complete. The roof tiles will have to wait, I will probably buy some from warbases. When these go on I will make sure they fit right up to the walls, so all current gaps will disappear.

I am really happy with the end product. The little modifications have taken me some time, but I think it's well worth the effort. As I said, without the complication of the side roof it would have been really easy to do.

I think more modifications are needed, as the roof corners each need a pole to support it. And I am toying with the idea of replacing the rather uniform struts with something a bit more rustic, it shouldn't be too hard to do. Something to make it look more like the Trelleborg viking longhouse.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Middlehammer Elf Army

January is a good time to make plans, start new projects and revisit those that have stalled. Before all that, I thought it would be a nice idea to look back, way back in this case, with some pictures of my first elf army. Based on the contents of the boxset fourth edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle that I bought in 1992, it was a few years before I had the courage to attempt to paint it. It would have been the mid 90's when I finally completed it. I took it to many a tournament on the circuit, including Sheffield, Preston, Manchester as well as Warhammer World in Nottingham. I came second place in painting at a tournament there and had the army photographed by the studio, but alas it was never printed in White Dwarf. I did finally grab a best painted army trophy in 1999, at a tournament in Sheffield. Twenty years ago!

These would have been the first figures I painted. I always started an army with a unit or two of infantry, a habit I have kept to this day. The spearmen and archers are the original monopose plastics from the boxset. The spear command group are metals, they were sold three figures in a blister for three or four pounds at the time. Note they are ranked up four figures wide, this was legal in the earlier edition of the game. The mage and bolt thrower were both metals, the colour scheme almost certainly copied from the pages of White Dwarf.

More infantry in a large block of swordmasters. These were metal figures, I think they were originally sold at three to a blister for five pounds. As with the spearmen, the banner is paper, hand painted and then fixed to the pole. I designed this banner myself rather than copy from the army book, a bold move at that time. 

The mounted mage is an oddity. I think the rider was originally part of a wood elf sorceress on unicorn model. I think I replaced her hat with sculpted hair and modified the staff, though my memory on this is a bit hazy. I was obviously gaining confidence, metal conversions!

I was always hesitant to add cavalry to my armies, I had a slight phobia about painting horses. I did actually buy a box of the caparisoned Silver Helms, but never plucked up courage to paint them. These are Ellyrion Reavers bought later with the newer style horses. The riders are painted nicely enough, the shields are transfers. A unit of fast cavalry like this were essential, to gallop round to the enemy's rear and knock out the inevitable battery of artillery pieces. 

This chariot is a little bit odd, for some reason I have mounted it on a huge base. I don't think this caused any problems at the time, probably doing myself a dis-service by allowing so many strikes back. In that version of the game, the horses, crew and chariot all had their own profile. 

Finally the commanders of the army. Eltharion the Grim on his griffon Stormclaw - how I loved the fluff for this mighty hero back then. In tournaments I tended to use the more points efficient hero on pegasus, tooled up with a no doubt nasty combination of magic items. I remember being particularly pleased with the griffon base as I had built it from milliput. The fact that these pieces were taken to many a tournament without damage to the wings is probably a bigger achievement - metal wings feel so heavy in the hand now.

As I said in the intro, the first parts of this army were bought in 1992, so that's nearly 27 years ago. It was all painted within five years and then played with repeatedly, before I retired from the tournament scene. It's my oldest surviving army, the rest have been sold down the years, but this is my first love, my firstborn in a sense. It seems completely bizarre that it's a quarter century old. Right, that's my nostalgia trip complete, it was nice reminiscing, though I do feel quite ancient now!

Friday, 4 January 2019

A new adventure

A new look for the new year. I am ditching the old Hobby Horse name and replacing it with Nord's Painting Saga. And with that change I have added a new header, colour scheme and background to the blog. It feels like a good time for a change and it ties in with my social media activities - find me on facebook or instagram if you are that way inclined.

Last year was not a productive one for the blog. In fact, I posted fewer entries than every other year for the past eight years. This reflected a massive reduction in my gaming and a change in my painting - fewer items painted to a higher level. Hopefully the new year will bring new fortune and new opportunities to blog. Rather than dwell on the past, I have a few things already planned for 2019. In true Saga fashion, there will be vikings, elves, trolls and dwarfs, among others. Let the new adventure begin...........

Friday, 28 December 2018

Lake Town Fun

As you can probably see from this photo, one of my gifts this year was a Lake Town House from the Lord of the Rings range. I had thought it had good potential, as the architecture style was generic enough to be used as a Rohan, Viking, Victorian era or general fantasy building. The walkways could be used as in the box, as a harbour side, or in a muddy village setting as pathways (I got this idea in a recreated Danelaw village in Yorkshire). The boat would have lots of uses and there are quite a few little extras like baskets, barrels and such like. Here you can see the house built, with the square wooden platform intended as the house base, instead used as a dock/jetty.

As I was building the couple of barrels I remembered I had a set of Renedra barrels squirreled away and cracked them open too. My dock area quickly filled up and I was just about to throw away the used sprue, when it occurred to me that it could be a useful frame. A little bit of work cutting and glueing coffee stirrers to the used sprue and I had a second dock area. They could also be used to make elementary shapes, to make planked buildings like small sheds or animal shelters. Fun times.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Last Vikings

As it's the last Thursday (Thor's Day) before the xmas festivities take a hold, I have to concede defeat on completing the whole bondi unit. There's just one left to finish, oh so close. I would not usually spend so much time on "grunts", but these models are so well sculpted and have such lovely details that it seems a crime to rush through them. So here we are, one (not two) more spear armed bondi added to the mix. He's second from the right, wearing his winter mittens!

I also photographed some previously finished axemen in a group together. These are grizzled veterans, they have seen many a winter and perhaps look a bit out of shape, but you can be sure their experience on the battlefields of the past will see them through.

These groups are actually two of the sets sold by V&V Miniatures. I have said it before and will say it again - they are superb figures and if you are in the market for top quality sculpts and casts, they are your number one option.

So that's a wrap on the vikings for this year. I will get the lone bondi finished for sure and I do also have a special guest character I want to paint before year's end. I also have lots more viking goodies on the way, part of a special yule delivery - I made a list of the things I would like and sent them out to family, not sure which I will get as yet. And I have some plans to make some terrain, develop some background, a little art perhaps.......all for next year of course.
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