Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cossacks! Urrah!

Well being banged up at home with a sprained ankle its probably time to do my monthly post. Nothing like an enforced lay-off to get productive with the hobby!  Anyhow I finally finished off my Perry Cossacks.  Lovely figures in well animated poses with an officer in a classic Cossack 'follow-me' pose leading his swarm or sotna (which sums up their battlefield tactics too!)

A scruffy-looking lot in simple blue uniforms (have I made mine too blue?) which fit the bill nicely. But as we know appearances can be deceptive for they were universally acknowledged as the finest light cavalry of the time. They are brigaded with my earlier Front Rank versions with the plumed fur kolpaks. And Platov - can't forget my legendary Cossack general! Also a rather nice Front Rank figure.

Urrah! The cossack sotna sweeps forward.
Platov and his Cossack pretty boys in the fancy kolpaks with the showy plumes (just like his!)
The Cossack Brigade
The only thing slightly out of place is the gun and crew which pedants will have noticed is of Crimean vintage. The fact it fits in at all just goes to show how little the Russian army had changed from 1812. The Cossack gunners also look very much like the Russian Opolchenie (militia) of the time - have a look at the Perry's versions in their Napoleonic Russian range. To go with them (or not) I also have a regiment of rather nice Front rank Russian lancers I've done up as the Lithuanian Uhlans. Three regiments of Russian lancers - its enough for any Frenchman to require a change of undies.

I must admit I prefer the Perry's versions only because of the poses - the Front Rank are beautiful figures but it just doesn't look very Cossacky to be just standing there holding your lance as it were! Its a pity because a more animated version would be perfect. I used the classic dark blue for their uniforms too - sans washes or highlights which may have been a mistake however, given the number of Russians I still have to paint, not one I have the time to correct!

The very bright sunlight I took these photos in make the Perrys Cossacks look like they have sky-blue uniforms in comparison to the Front Rank boys behind them - but they don't. If they look too light a blue I can always put another black wash over the uniform.

The Front Rank Platov figure - a beauty with his mace of authority and painted in the days when my eyeballs allowed me to paint theirs!  I should spruce up his base though - its a bit sparse for a commander of his stature!

To be honest I'm not unhappy with the results.  Now hopefully to get a game with them. I've got to try and get Doug lined up for a GdB stoush - he hates Russians!  Trouble is I've only got four 24 figure infantry battalions - I need to paint up another eight - yipes!  Better get cracking then!

Before I go it would be remiss of me to mention something very exciting to 28mm collectors and gamers.  The German firm Pro Gloria have recently announced their intention to release a box of plastic Landesknechts in early 2015.  Pro Gloria make some of the most beautifully sculpted late Renaissance figures around. In my opinion these figures are as good as anything the Perry's or Paul Hicks do i.e. the standard  is incredibly high - the benchmark for figure makers; the best there is! 

Also check out their Facebook or even better their IndieGoGo page: 

The latter is a very good means of funding projects over the Internet.  I'm currently examining my rapidly shrinking hobby fundage with a view to investing in these beautiful figures for my Impetus armies. They have a lot of great deals going so do yourself a favour and nip on over to their IndieGogo site and check it out.  If you spend a squillion Euros on an order they even offer to get your mug on the head of one of their figure releases!  Awesome.  Never heard of that before (although Alan Perry sculpted Michael as a squished/dead Rohan on their Muamak base) but given the standard of the sculpts they've already put up on their site, I can believe it!

Until next month, Doc out.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Not dead yet... another WWII aircraft and some Napoleonics finished

Rumours of my demise are.... rumours!  No activity on my blog is NOT a sign of my passing but is a sign of:

a) blogging bone-idleness

b) work (boring work of the post 'retirement' variety)

c) work of the domestic variety (including commissioned work from the Minister of war and Finance)

In fact I have been busy-ish with the hobby in my spare time (once more becoming a rare and precious commodity!) painting loads of figures, building model aircraft (I seem to have been bitten by that bug again) and various other projects. The only thing I haven't done recently and which I do miss is have a decent game.  When I do manage one I usually post the results on the blog.  The fact there has been nothing - nada - zip for two months  gives you an indication of the parlous state of affairs my wargaming has fallen into lately.

That said, what I've lost in wargaming I have somewhat made up in other hobby-related activities, mainly finishing off my new Austrian Napoleonic army and building WWII aircraft to finish my Greece/Crete/Mediterranean Theatre project.  My eldest bought me a few models I'd been after for Father's Day (well done lad) and I have recently completed the Gloster Gladiator biplane.  It's Airfix' new kit and what a beauty it is. The only drawback is the decals for the Irish air force or pre-war options which forced me to source stuff for the Greek theatre. Here I discovered one belonging to Gladiator ace Sqdn Leader M StJ Pattle, tragically killed over Athens in 1941 flying a Hurricane against ME110's. Turns out he was probably the highest scoring Allied ace in the war - at least in the West, and certainly among the Commonwealth pilots (he was South African born but joined the RAF before the war) with 51 confirmed kills, although private records from squadron members suggest the real figure was over 60. Remarkably that's all between early 1940 and April 1941 when he was finally and fatally shot down. He was a master of deflection shooting which meant that unless there was another witness, the gun cameras didn't catch the shoot down, as the burst was put into the space the enemy plane flew into - a pretty rare trick very few mastered - so it often looked like he was firing into thin air!

A remarkable record for Pattle, even scoring a few ME109s in his Gladiator before swapping over to Hurricanes in about February or March 1941. He was also one of the very rare 'ace-in-a-day' pilots - shooting down more than six enemy planes in two or three sorties on the same day.

Sqn Ldr Pattle bags another Italian Macchi fighter over Greece!
As you can see, I had to have a Gladiator in his colours!  Pedants would notice there's a missing letter on the side of the plane.  One of the things I have been unable to master thus far in model-building are the #$%@ing water-slide decals - particularly the old ones that disintegrate when you try to put 'em on! Hence the missing third letter!  Other than that its as accurate as I can get it of a Gladiator from the same squadron in Greece in 1940-41. That Gloster nearly completes the Allied air force - just a Fairy Swordfish bomber (another biplane - should be a fun challenge!) and a Kittyhawk to go. To finish the Axis air force I have found (again thanks to the help of my eldest boy) a rare kit of an Italian S.79 Sparviero trimotor bomber. I may also do a JU88 or a Dornier if the madness doesn't subside but there are literally thousands of figures awaiting my attention too. Which brings me to my next piece: Cossack artillery!

I picked this old Foundry set up from a bring-&-buy last year for a few dollars. It is of Crimea vintage Cossacks BUT the uniform is virtually unchanged from 1812, particularly under greatcoats!  The tall cylindrical peakless hats also match the earlier era - have a look at Perry's new Opolchenie artillery set and you'll see what I mean. It's to finish off my Cossack brigade and goes well with the other figures (painting up my Perrys cossacks now in fact). Its a great little set - I even like the shouting officer  and the superfluous running Cossack crewman ("Hurry Pavel - run & fetch vodka for Kapitan!")

Last but not least are my Perrys Hungarians - a 36-figure battalion of them. They are a lovely figure and nicely animated - should have got more of course but they are bloody expensive to import from the UK even with the boy's discount (but thanks guys!)  Still, cheaper than buying 'em here!  

Ya see folks, Tony Abbott's Australia is a bloody expensive place to live (apparently it's cheaper to live in Switzerland) and my town Canberra - one of the most costly places to live in it. EVERYTHING costs a fortune - so I shouldn't whinge about my expensive little indulgence of a hobby! 

Apologies folks, us 'semi-retired' get a bit antsy about the price of things here or as the sign that I got my dad when he retired said: 'Knows everything - now has the time to tell you about it!'  So, stressed pensioner or retiree know-it-all just gobbing off - take your pick!

Anyway, the Austrian Holy Roman Empire's Hungarian infantry.  It may have been neither holy nor Roman but their sky-blue pantalooned Hungarian infantry were the pride of the Empire!  They look the business too. 'The duck's guts' as my boy would say. I am concerned about the old WRG-sized basing which has become increasingly crowded with the 'scale creep' of modern figures BUT given I've done the lot that way, re-basing hundreds or even thousands of figures will not be happening any time soon! Besides, they still fit - just.

Sorry about the quality of some of the pics - had a bit of trouble with over-exposure in the beautiful but very bright Spring light this morning. I like to take my pics outside in natural light so after this winter, bright sunlight beats freezing your whatsits off in the back yard!

Well, that's about it. Only got another couple of Austrian units to go to finish the reconstituted army off. Still hanging out for some quality Austrian lancers though. I've been pestering Alan and Michael but to no avail - they are having just way too much fun dressing up and riding in AFVs to Arnhem (check their Facebook page out - they appear to be having about as much fun as you can have with your pants on). [Sigh] That'd be the life, eh?  Bit of sculpting. Bit of messing about in camos and armour. Bit of wargaming. C'mon boys - get cracking! Just a few miserable Poles in Austrian service on nice horses in nicer uniforms. How hard can it be? ;-)

Murat says: 'Where are those bloody Austrian lancers?!?'
Of course I'm kidding myself to think the Perrys have the time to regularly read my blog! Still, they've just put out a range of Bavarians - all gorgeous must-haves of course (I can feel another huuuge order coming on guys!) - so how hard could it be to do a few Austrian uhlans I ask?

Anyhow that's me for another month.  Reckon I'll just post what I've been up to once a month - with the exception of any decent wargames - if I ever get to have one again that is!  People asking themselves 'I wonder what that curmudgeonly old sod Doc is up to?' can now log in just once a month and find out.