Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Tithe

Here's the annual Christmas package for my young relative.  I've never enjoyed painting horses before, but these were fun, especially the Appaloosa.

And a rail fence for him as well.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Good News, Everyone!

It's been hard to find time to work on my projects, hard to find the money for new miniatures, and hard to summon the energy to keep at it.  But I've been chipping away at things steadily.  The real difficulty is that it's been hard to finish units because I don't have enough men for the regimental bases, so there are two nearly-done regiments and two nearly-done command stands.  I was able, however, to complete one brigade-level command base, that of Col. Addison Farnsworth, who led the 3rd brigade, 1st division of Jesse Reno's (IX) corps.  Which means, of course, that his two regiments will follow in due course.  I like to imagine that he's a distant ancestor of that most famous of Farnsworths:

The blue jackets (and colors generally) came out a bit bright in the photos, but I may start switching to a darker blue altogether for some of the regiments to show the variety of shades of blue that would have been found in Union armies.  The dyes used were of better or poorer quality, differed in hue from contractor to contractor, and often turned lighter over time as they were bleached by sun exposure.  The base of course will get more interesting when I eventually have enough change to order the right static grass.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dungeons Deep and Caverns Old

     A big update here to make up for the radio silence of the past months.  This is the entrance to the dwarf-mine my little company of dwarves is trying to reclaim.  I began planning this project probably four years ago but couldn't get myself to stick with it long enough to finish it - until recently, that is, when I decided to discipline myself and complete it.

     I had originally planned to make one 2x4ft. board, only to realize after I'd started that it was too big to fit through the doorways in my house.  I cut it in two, but the cut wasn't as clean as I would have liked, so there is a fairly large seam between the two halves that I'm trying to find a way to conceal.  The first board (the flat, easy one) I finished a while back, long enough ago in fact that it has rather a different feel and a slightly different color from the newer mountain-side (probably dust in the static grass).

Warg-riders chase after the company as it nears its destination (seam partially visible below).

A rear-guard is formed while the sages of the company try to open the gate.

The mesmerizing blue waters of the lake draw the attention of the company's pony.

The dwarves approach the gate, furtively observed by some goblins.

Up the causeway!

The "foyer" which will connect to the next board.

There are a number of additions and slight alterations still to be made: ripples onto the streams, a way to conceal the seam, extra rocks and hillocks, perhaps a dwarf monument.  Also I will need some suitable names for the terrain features.  There are imperfections, in particular regarding the match between old and new boards, but overall I'm quite pleased.  To be frank, I was rather disappointed with myself for not having had the gumption to see this project through, so it feels good to have finished it at long last.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Birthday Present

I finished these for a young relative of mine who had his birthday a few weeks ago. Federal ordnance rifle and the 11th Mississippi.  He's getting to have a nice little ACW collection now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Goblin Reinforcements

Assorted goblins, including a shaman standing in as the Goblin chieftain.

I tried to give the troll a greenish tint, like it has in the book (the book troll also has toeless feet, but I like the toes too much to get rid of them). Unfortunately, the photos are a bit blue in tone.

I attempted to show the stone floor buckling under the troll's footfall.  Not sure how well it came out.

A bat swarm from Reaper miniatures, flying through the rubble.

This more of less finishes my goblin force.  There may be a few additions in the future, but for now it's done.  Now, to build their stronghold...

Monday, June 6, 2016

National Zouaves


     I present here the 10th New York State Volunteer Infantry, also known as the National Zouaves or, early on, as McChesney's Zouaves.  The 10th was the second regiment in Gouverneur Warren's elite brigade, which had the special distinction of being assigned to Sykes' "Regular" division, otherwise composed exclusively of US Army regiments.  At Second Bull Run, Warren's brigade arrived with Porter's corps and on the 30th remained on the extreme left of the Union line as a precaution.  By mid-afternoon, it had moved to the edge of a field off the western face of Chinn Ridge, with Young's Branch behind it.  Warren ordered six companies of the 10th  into the edge of a woodlot as skirmishers, while the other four remained to the left of their sister regiment.  At about 4PM, the Confederates with whom skirmishers were exchanging fire rose as one man and advanced, heralding the beginning of Longstreet's assault.  The six companies immediately came under heavy fire and, being in skirmish order, had no hope of resisting the advance, so they fell back rapidly and attempted to form up with the four other companies on the 5th's left.  With much of the 10th scattered across a wide front, however, this was no easy task, and the regiment soon came under a withering fire from the 5th Texas off its flank that scotched any chance at putting up organized resistance.  By this time, the 5th NY was buckling, and Warren ordered a withdrawal, which went unheeded but proved unnecessary, since the men soon broke and tried to make it over Young's Branch to safety.  During this action, the 10th got off more lightly than the 5th, presumably because it was a less tempting target; all the same, the National Zouaves suffered 115 casualties, approaching 25% of their strength.

     Here we see Colonel John Bendix, an able soldier and enthusiastic recruiter, trying to call in his skirmishers and form up on the left flank of the 5th NY.  There are only 15 models rather than my usual 18, to signify the absence of the skirmishers who could not rejoin the colors.  The tree on the left represents the scrub growth at the edge of the woodlot where the skirmish line had been posted.

     The matter of the regimental uniform was of great interest to me.  The 10th had three different official uniforms over the course of the war.  The first was a dark blue and red affair with a white havelock, which seems to have proved as unpopular with the National Zouaves as with everyone else and was soon discarded (the havelock, I mean).  In October of '61, the original uniform was replaced and the men issued with a distinctive (and as far as I know unique) color combination of sky-blue pantaloons and middle-brown jackets, along with red trim, fez, sash, and vest.  This uniform was badly worn during the heavy campaigning in the first part of 1862, and a third, fairly standard blue uniform was ordered in September '62 and reached the regiment at an uncertain later date.  So what did the 10th wear at Second Bull Run?  Had the second uniforms been totally (but temporarily) replaced by the standard Union dress? Were the men still wearing their brown uniforms?
     Brian Pohanka's writings on the action at Chinn Ridge state that the 10th was largely in regulation dress, which, since I was looking forward to something more colorful and unusual, was rather a disappointment. (I have always found brown uniforms attractive, perhaps because of all the Austrians I've painted.)  Some additional research yielded pleasing results, however.  Don Troiani's painting of the Texan attack on Chinn Ridge shows a New York casualty in regulation blouse and trousers but with the red fez of the 10th clapped on his head.  A real trove of information came in the form of a photograph (or more correctly the comments about the photograph, since I do not have access to the image proper) taken some time in '62, showing some National Zouaves in the field.  Most of the zouaves wear fatigue blouses or NYS jackets but still wear fezzes, and a few men retain (nearly) complete versions of the brown/blue uniform - in short, a real jumble of clothing that makes for interesting modeling and painting.  Since I had to remove the forage caps from the metal models, I took the opportunity to sculpt fezzes worn in the "skull-cap" fashion we see in many photographs, which some men found better-fitting and more comfortable.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


    A little diversion into the forty-first millennium.

     When I was in high school I was somewhat obsessed with 40k and more specifically the Imperium.  I never gamed or even collected a complete army, but I was fascinated by the art and the setting: the atmopshere of decayed grandeur and the mixture of the arcane, the primitive, and the futuristic.  I will try to avoid the inevitable anti-GW rant, but I will say that the recent emphasis on the epic (big war machines, big battles, etc.) has resulted in a blander, less original "space wars" feeling (which is one of the reasons I drifted almost completely away from 40k in the past three or four years).  In my opinion, the creative torch has passed from the devs and artists of ten years ago to the Inquisimunda community (see The Convertorum and Iron Sleet), who are focused on the narrative and hobby aspects rather than on scale or 'epicness.'  Before my disillusionment, I had tried my hand at this more intimate approach - with enthusiasm but not much gumption.

     While poking around in some boxes I recently rediscovered my trove of 40k bitz and semi-finished I-munda models, mainly of various Imperial citizens and agents.  On a whim I decided to revive this forgotten project and build/paint a few more models.  I've tried to achieve a Blanche-esque color scheme: pale skin and lots of reds and golds, standing out against muted background colors.  The point is to be striking rather than realistic.

Imperial administrator and a mysterious gunslinger.  These were done a few years ago.  The skull might need some touching up.


A 40k version of the medieval barber/surgeon.  I imagine he stands around on street corners offering therapeutic bleedings and the like.  

Two henchmen.

Some kind of crusader.  He's going to get a big shield on his left arm, but that will not be attached until it's painted.

     The next batch of Federals should be ready tomorrow - only the State color remains to be painted.  Stay tuned!