All posts by briansmaller

I live in rural New Zealand and work for an international IT company. My interests are many but mainly involve rural life, politics, history and wargaming - not necessarily in that order.

Monday Music: In Der Fuhrer’s Face

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This is a great piece of comedic World War Two music.  Spike Jones and His City Slickers released this in 1942  Spike Jones was sort of early Weird Al Jankovic, parodying popular songs of the day. In Der Fuhrer’s Face is a parody of the Horst Wessel song – a Nazi anthem of sorts. The song was very popular and even made an appearance in comic book form and was used in advertising to sell War Bonds.

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The catchy tune was used in the famous Donald Duck cartoon (1943).

28mm Napoleonic French Cavalry Division

I recently rebased a lot of old models – mostly painted in the 80s (and it shows) and also painted some French Chasseurs a Cheval that I found in a box. I had acquired them in 1985.  The models are a mix of Connoisseur, Hinchliffe and Hinchliffe Foremost ranges. The horses are Connoisseur, Hinchliffe and Essex I think.

Two regiments each of Chasseurs, Lancers and Dragoons.

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French Line Lancers. Connoisseur models.

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French Dragoons at Rest (mostly Hinchliffe and Foremost). Note the trooper second from right in the back rank with a scythe. Must have been out foraging.

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French Dragoon Brigade Commander.

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French Chasseurs a Cheval. They are all Connoisseur except for the Elite Company officer and the bugler who are Hinchliffe.  Again the horses are a mix of whatever I had. I am not even sure who made some of them – the result of buying horses at Bring and Buys at conventions over the years. I always figured it was cheaper to ship just the riders from the other side of the world to New Zealand than to bring their mounts with them – so I have a huge remount depot available.

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Monday Music: D-Day Dodgers

I have always loved the saccharine sweet Lili Marlene in almost any language I have heard it sung. I have copies in German, Hungarian, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish and of course, English. The song was parodied during the war by Allied servicemen in Italy who took exception to a supposed comment by Lady Astor that those serving in the Italian campaign were ‘D-Day Dodgers’ – having an easy time away from the real fighting in France. The bitterness in the lyrics is still there after all this time.  My father served in Italy and he loves this song. When I hear it I picture the young man he was then.

I think that it is highly unlikely she ever said it and she herself denied it and there is no documentary proof of such an utterance.  However, the supposed slight was the genesis of a great ballad. One that my Dad want’s played at his funeral. There are versions galore of this song, so I present to you two different interpretations.

and a version that is probably more like what the lads sung.

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Paint Transportation Module.

My life is somewhat nomadic. I live week about between the Woolshed (Oeta Homestead) and Wellington.  This map shows the relative locations.

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That means that I am away from home between 5-7 days at a time and living at my other home. This is how I have been transporting my painting gear for the last few years. Actually, this is an improvement because for most of the time I was using an old cardboard banana box.

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It is a pain to carry, to find anything in and where-ever I leave it it looks messy.  Today I acquired this – an old Sewing Box.  This will be my new retro Paint Transportation Module.

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I was amazed – it is exactly what I needed. Takes up bugger all space, has a handle, little legs and even better it was full of old wooden cotton reels.  I use these to mount my figures on for painting.

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Not sure what I will keep in the fold out bits but I am sure I will think of something.

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A quick sand and re-varnish will have this old Sewing Kit – sorry – Paint Transportation Module – looking tip top.

Monday Music: 55 Days at Peking

One of my all time favourite movies is 55 Days at Peking, starring David Niven, Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner.

I am always looking for something else to waste my hobby spend on and did a little search on what was available for this period in 25/28mm. I have not looked at what is available in other scales but there sure seems to be a lot of 15-20mm stuff available if that is your preferred scale.

In no particular order:

Boxer Rebellion figures from Old Glory. They cover the Great Powers and there is even a set of civilian volunteers. The Boxers are covered quite well with a dozen or so sets including Chinese Regulars and Tartar Cavalry.

Boxer Rebellion by Redoubt Enterprises.   This range covers all the Great Powers, the Boxers and even the Relief Column that broke the siege.  The Redoubt catalogue has photos of pretty much all the figures in the range. The International Gun “Betsy” is one of my favourite pieces in this range.

Cellmate Miniatures have a Boxer Rebellion Range in 25mm.  I have never heard of these guys before.  Figures are pretty basic but cheap and there are plenty of photos. The web site includes a pdf ruleset for the Boxer Rebellion.

Irregular Miniatures has some Boxer Rebellion miniatures in their Colonial range. The Boxer infantry look quite nice.

Kennington Miniatures has early Chinese. I am not sure who owns these now but I think they are available from SHQ.

Matchlock Miniatures available from Caliver Books has a late 19th Century Colonial range. No pictures of models that I could see but a large range.

Ral Partha Boxer Range. The only place I could find these was at Great Endeavours in the UK. Plenty of pics of models too.

Studio Miniatures.  I cannot say anything about this range because my virus and firewall told me that the site was dangerous – it had a thing called Blackhole Exploit Kit lurking on the main site. Read about that here.

Oshiro Model Terrain has some really nice Boxer Rebellion Japanese. Worth a look.

Castaway Arts make some very very cool Chinese of the period. Definately worth a second look.

There are others but I have got bored looking. Short attention span strikes again.  If you know of others please leave details in the comments and I will update this post accordingly.

And if you want to watch the whole movie it is on YouTube.

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28mm Spanish Militia (Volontarios des Cuidad Rodrigo)

My latest unit and the first of my 28mm Spanish Napoleonic project. These figures are from Brigade Games.  The codes are Spanish Rebels I, Spanish Rebels II, Spanish Rebels III and Spanish Rebels Command 1. The Officer commanding is a single model code Spanish General.  I also brought Spanish Rebel Woman with Musket but did not include her in this unit. She will be painted separately as part of a guerrilla unit.  She bears more than a passing resemblance to “Teresa” from the Sharpe TV Series.  These models are fabulous. Nice detail, no flash worth mentioning and pretty easy to paint. I did not use any reference material for these guys so just painted them how I thought they should look. The Brigade Games range do not have a standard bearer so I converted a guerrilla who had a pistol in his left hand to instead be holding a flag.  The flag is one I found on the internet, re-sized and printed.

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The models are based on laser cut mdf bases from Australian company Back-2-Base-ix.

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Some more Wild West buildings

Back in Wellington for the rest of the week. I have almost finished the first battalion of Spanish for my 1808-1812 Spanish Army – the Voluntarios de Cuidad Rodrigo. Just the basing to take care off and they will be done.  In the meantime, some pics of some of the early buildings I made for my Wild West town.

First off, the Freight Office. A couple of local farmers, Gunther Meyer and his neighbour  John-Boy Thomas, are loading their wagon. These figures are both Blue Moon from their Tombstone Civilians set (Available from Old Glory Code BMM-512)

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Here we see two of the town’s luminaries chatting on the street outside the Cattleman’s Exchange and Social Club.  Mr Hawkins the Bank Manager  (left) chats with A.W. Jones, Proprietor and Editor of the Trinity Pioneer. Mr Hawkins is a West Wind London Gentleman from the Gothic Horror/Jeckyll and Hyde series.

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Next door to the Cattelman’s is the Mining Claims office.

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Across the other side of town lives Old Ma Baker. She and her clan live in adjoining cottages.

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Ma Baker does not appreciate interlopers in her backyard. She is another from the Blue Moon Tombstone Civilian set.

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If anyone persists in arguing with her blunderbus, her three boys will rush to her defence. Shorty, Bobbie (Bucktooth) and Big Joe Baker are all Crusader figures. Molly the goat is a farm set toy and is always nervous.

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Finally, one of the local watering holes.  This was the first building I ever made and it shows – but I have a fondness for it none-the-less.

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And finally, finally. Some of my real Wild West critters.  Future freezer fillers.

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Too Hot to Paint

It is insanely hot.  Too hot to paint. I tried and it was hopeless. So I lay in the shade instead and listened to the dulcet tones of someone over the river blasting seven types of hell out of something with their shottie.  I read on Scott McPhee’s blog that it was too cold where he is to undercoat. Right now I would swap. Maybe.

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Wagons Ho!

I have no idea what the cost of a wagon was in terms of 19th century incomes, but when it comes to 28mm models they are bloody expensive items – especially when they are generally used as little more than a bit of cover for gunfighters in 28mm skirmish games.  I had brought a couple of the excellent wagons from the Blue Moon “Wagons Ho!” range (available from Old Glory). These were BMM1302 Covered Wagon and BMM1312B Flat Bed Supply Wagon with Spoked Wheels.  What can I say about the Blue Moon wagon range?  They are just fantastic. Beautiful little models and I am sure I will get a few more in due course.  The following photos are of those two models. I still have to do the reins and traces…another project.  The driver is from Knuckleduster. (Forrest Harris threw them in with another order I made – I am not sure if they are a separate code or not but you could always just ask him like I did)

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But as much as I liked these models, and even with the discount from Old Glory Army Card, I knew that making an entire wagon train would be pretty expensive.  So I began looking around for an alternative.  What I found was this.

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It is a cheap die-cast pencil sharpener. It had real possibilities. You can buy them in bulk for about US$2.50 a piece. I landed a dozen here in New Zealand for about $5 each in our money.  So, without further ado….

The canvas cover (which is molded brilliantly – even looks like canvas) just pops off. I removed the pencil sharpener from the guts of the wagon and then built up the sides and front with scrap pieces of balsa wood to make a driver’s seat and footrest.  I added a wooden tongue, hounds and the doubletree thingy that the horses harness will eventually be attached to. The rear of the wagon also got extended and a piece of cardboard covered the hole where you would have stuck the pencil in.

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A quick check that everything fit. The driver sits OK and the cover is still all good.

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Undercoated with black spray paint.  The cover was just drybrushed with some off white.

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The almost finished product – still have not done the reins and traces. Horses are spares available from Old Glory.

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The next one will be a bit more tarted up but I was pretty happy with this first attempt.

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The next project is this stage coach which is sitting on the workbench.

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Thanks for looking.  You can find a good range of pencil sharpener wagons here:

http://sharpenking.com/jk/coaches_pencil_sharpeners.htm