Thursday, March 19, 2015

War of the Spanish Imaginations - 45mm Wooden Flats




No doubt some of you are familiar with Wooden Wars toy soldiers made by the very talented Thomas Foss. as seen on his blog Skull and Crown.  Lots of good reading about them, but suffice it to say they're larger scale and beautifully done Napoleonic flat toy soldiers used to introduce children to wargaming.  And no doubt bowling them over is fun for adults too.. 

When Thomas unveiled a WSS era figure as a part of 54mm commision project, and showed a "45mm" figure alongside it, he really got my attention.  Particulary since I have the 45mm Schmittdiel flat infantry in frontal poses, so possibilities for actually getting some use out of them in conjunction with the wood figures came to mind. I contacted him about it, resulting in what you see here.

Please bear in mind that these are still prototypes, and the figure on the left below is the only good one.  The other three are rejects from the laser tuning process which Thomas sent along as practice figures.  That's why they look rather blurry because indeed they are, and the laser scribed detail is rather deeper than on the good one.  But it does serve to give a small preview of how they'll look in formations.


 
 
The bayonet scabbard is also something I painted on, if it's not good that's on the painter and not the designer.



I'll delve into some of the challenges involved with scaling these down from the kid's toy soldier size in a subsequent post, and as Thomas and I work through continued development.  Besides pushing the laser process at the lower limits, another issue is this:  although they're "flat", they are also multi-part figures glued together in layers. So what works quite well visually at 54-60mm doesn't necessarily work as well at 45mm when the thickness remains the same and the ratio of height:width:thickness now altered.

More to follow. I also got reinforcements for the Toy Town soldiers, and am still working on those.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Horse - Toy Town Soldiers 4



After completing the newly sculpted horse master shown above, for better or worse it was into the casting fires.  I was definitely concerned about being able to mold it but it turned out okay.  The main problem was the base collapsing under pressure. Otherwise it cast to the extremities well enough.  Certainly I encountered none of the problems with the impression as I did with the Toob horse mold. I gave up on the cast base, just sawing off it off at the hooves and making new bases from 1mm styrene.  As the scribe and break is easy, that's the way forward.

One other issue, couldn't free the right leg from the mold after the first casting. I cut some of the silicon rubber to free it up but clumsily cut a bit too much, leaving metal residue to be cleaned up on all subsequent casts, but the results are tolerable. At some point I'll make another mold but this will suffice for now.

So how does the completed horse look ?



And in comparison with the Toob pony.

Steve's horse left, Toob horse right

One last shot.



I'm reasonably happy with it. If I had a do over, I'd have made it smaller but at this point I'm not about to spend more time sculpting another.  I think the same horse can serve for the heavy cavalry, just need to file the shabraque into a rectangular shape. And now I'm out of riders until the next shipment from Eureka. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Scuplted a Horse - Toy Town Soldiers Part 3

The previous post showing the Toob horse that I used to replace the standard Eureka horse stimulated some quite interesting comments.  Thanks to everyone who contributed and it caused me to have a something of a rethink.

The more I look at the Toob pony, the less I like it. I think primarily because it's so chunky.  Then too, the comments that it wasn't toy-like enough to match the style of the Toy Town men made a lot of sense.  So what's needed is probably something that splits the difference stylistically.  My next move was to search thoroughly on eBay for something suitable. I found a few things, such as the Hallmark rocking horse Christmas ornament.  Way too small, unfortunately.  Nothing else was the right scale either.

What to do ?  Time to take a stab at sculpting something myself.  My thinking was this: although I've dabbled with Green Stuff modifications, I had no experience at sculpting anything completely from scratch.  Therefore whatever I did was probably going to look rather toy-like from lack of sculpting skill and experience.  And so long as it turned out better than a pathetic green blob, I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot.  The other benefit would be a fresh start, getting away from the casting and assembly headaches with the Toob pony.

Here's what I came up with:


I think I whiffed on the toy horse objective.  I have the same problem with the ships, just can't seem to do simple and abstract no matter what. Perhaps my brain just works too literally.  On the plus side, it's recognizably a horse and not a bad one.  So I'm encouraged by the attempt and it gives me some confidence that I can try scuplting other things in the future when necessary.

And for size:

 

Perhaps a bit large for a light cavalry horse but a bit more svelte than the Toob pony so I think she has the makings of a good replacement for it.   I plan to proceed with adding the shabraque and tack.  She is also thinner which should ease the mold making task a little.  More to follow.

Oh, and a salute to the 100th Follower of this blog, Andrew Palmer ! 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Toy Town Soldiers - Part 2



In the previous post, I mentioned that the children's play horse cavalry mounts in this range were not quite to my liking. Thus my attempt to create an alternative.  Using Toob toy horses seemed a possible alternative.  Of course, they have no saddles and other tack for a cavalry horse, bring the Green Stuff into play.


And in comparison to the castings.


This would challenge my modest mold-making skills more than a semi-round figure where all the extremities are close to the center line of the mold halves.  Rather than have something go wrong with the legs recessed into the mold cavity with little visibility as to how to salvage it, I decided to cut off the legs and mold these via a separate drop.  While they cast well enough, I erred in removing the legs with a straight cut. Much better to have cut them in a v-shape to facilitate a stronger bond and easier fit upon assembly. 

So lots of extra filing and test fitting headaches from this mistake. Compounding the problems, the left side of the horse's body cast beautifully but for some reason I couldn't get a clean impression on the right.  The second try was a little better but then I had run out of mold making compound.  So not only is there fiddling with attaching the legs, but now one side of the casting has to be patched with green stuff to salvage the deformed head and gaps in the reins.  Arrgh ! 

Was it worth the hassle ?  Let's take a look.  In comparison with the standard horse, on which I cut the wheels off and shimmed the base a little.



And relative to an infantryman:



Pickets of the Celtican Chasseurs à Cheval.

 
 
 

I painted the eyes for a more toy-like look but overall I'm not sure if the chunky proportions of this pony hit the mark for a light cavalry horse.  Seems like he'd make a better mount for the cuirassiers but perhaps I can file the legs a little.  Then too the rider's boots should at least be level with the horse's stomach but perhaps our rider is a bit short-legged because overall he looks reasonably in proportion with his mount.

I'd like to get your opinions on using this horse or Eureka's.   Honestly, I'd be tempted to just go with Eureka here but for the marked shortness of the toy horse fore & aft. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Toy Town Soldiers - Part 1



Eureka’s range of “28mm” Toy Town Soldiers have exerted a pull on me since first seeing them posted at TMP when the range was first launched.  Come to think of it, that’s going back to 2006 !  

 I think it was a combination of things that kept me from actually taking the plunge for all these years.  First, as I recall they seemed overpriced to me for the amount of metal you get with a  28mm figure.  Perhaps the cost has dropped in the interim because when I got around to calculating the price of the infantry, the AU$ exchange rate is comfortably under $3.00 per figure in US currency, not cheap but not prohibitively expensive either.  Secondly, while I really liked the style of the men, at least in photos the look of the nursery room horses didn’t quite do it for me.  But as I’ve grown a bit more adventurous with the figure modifications, perhaps something could be done there.  And lastly, while the uniforms effectively evoke the 1840-1850’s, the soldiers seem most suited for imagi-nations which took me quite a while to buy into.

So why not give them a shot ?  From Eureka USA, I ordered a dozen shako infantry plus command, a ½ dozen light horse and an artillery set.  Rob at Eureka USA said it would take about 12 days to get the figures from Australia and he was as good as his word. Inside of two weeks I took delivery on the figures. The first reaction ?  Delightful, really.  And also pleasantly surprised at the size and heft of the figures.  They actually measure 33mm from eyes to feet and seem even taller on account of the exaggerated shakos.   A few quibbles, nary a cross belt and cartridge box for the infantry which would have made a good alternative to the epaulettes.  And as expected, the horses didn’t thrill me, more about them shortly.

So how are they to paint ?  With the simple style and raised detail, easy !  




I told myself no shading on these and I’m stick to my guns there.  Gloss coating naturally suits and with the blank faces and amusing cylindrical nose (n’er-do-well Pinocchio swept up by a recruiting party), the rosy-cheeked look suits them just fine.   

 

Now about that cavalry.  I know what the sculptor was aiming for but to my eyes, even a toy cavalryman should look a bit more imposing relative to the foot.  I first thought about something like Gumby’s horse Pokey but a set of these toy horses on Amazon caught my eye.  Here's some examples for size comparison purposes, stock horse second from left.


 
So, it’s the smaller ones potentially fitted out for war and all the rest go back out to pasture (or to be precise, into my 2-year old granddaughter’s toy bin).  I’m not 100% sold on these, quite possibly not toy-like enough but certainly okay for a cheap experiment.  Not to mention a big cost savings if I can mold one.  More about the cavalry coming soon in the next post. 

For the meantime I’ve had the most relaxing and enjoyable painting sessions with these Toy Town soldiers in quite some time, enough to entertain the thought that I might actually sustain the resolve to paint two armies to do battle with.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prussian Uhlans of 1830 - 33mm Flats



Here's painted samples from a nice set of Rieche uhlans which I've had on the back burner for some time now.  No particular project in mind here, it was just a good set of castings for which curiosity finally got the best of me to see how they'd look with the paint on.

Rieche Brothers was a flats firm located in Hannover.  Love their figures, beautifully engraved and well animated. Nominally 30mm, they all seem to measure consistently at 33mm.  I have two other sets of 19th Century infantry from this maker, one painted and the other as yet unpainted castings, both very appealing as well.  The factory was destroyed by Allied bombing during WW2, unfortunate collateral damage so far as flats collectors are concerned.  I'm no Rieche expert but their sets do pop up on German eBay and the Berliner Zinnfiguren Flohmarkt now and then so apparently they produced in enough volume that the figures can still be found.

This set of castings contains 11 figures, an officer, two buglers and eight lancers. No standard bearer although one of the buglers could be converted. 



I originally had in mind some other army, but they match the figures illustrated here so exactly that I just painted them as Prussians.



How'd they turn out ?




Although not exactly posed for battle, they're still quite lively and I do like this set.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Spenkuch French - 35mm Flats



I'd bought this set of Spenkuch French infantry from Berliner Zinnfiguren a couple years back.  As well as pretty much splitting the difference between 30mm & 40mm, they also fall between the two camps of semi-rounds and flats as they're quite flat but retain elements of semi-round style.

My first reaction upon receipt of the figures was disappointment.  Primarily due to even the lowly privates being shod in officer's boots. So they remained in their box until recently when I thought of using them for this possible project for the Italian Wars. Giving them another look, they seemed not so bad as I remembered them, so let's see what can be done about the problem with the high boots.

Yup, green stuff to the rescue.



And these are the test figures I modified first.




The figure with the lowered rifle remained French. The other figure was a test conversion to Piedmontese.  Uniform details have been surprisingly hard to pin down for them but apparently they campaigned in 1859 wearing overcoats even in the summer months.  Thus the conversion wasn't difficult, just a matter of bulking up the kepi into shako form with the green stuff (sorry, the photo of these two figures in pre-painted state came out unacceptably blurry). 

So, I think this now becomes a usable set of figures.