Tuesday 31 January 2012

Blog Stats

February 2012 sees this Blog celebrate it's 4th anniversary, however January 2012 saw some special landmarks that I feel need marking.

800 Posts to date

289 Followers so far

Over 10,000 page views for January alone

Thank you to all my followers (official and those who just stop by for a browse). I started this Blog as a means of record my modelling (and painting) projects but it has grown to be something of a labour of love and something that I really enjoy. It was also started as a bit of therapy as during this four years I was made redundant and the daily writing has helped me through this period. 

In addition Dampfwerks (once again thanks to Steve Blease for the name) continues to bring in money, although I have now learnt not to post WIP shots as it can cause aggravation to the commissioner.

I hope you enjoy reading the Blog as much as I enjoy updating it.


Saturday 28 January 2012

Cannon Ball

Earlier today I had to visit a house in Worcestershire to do with work and got to talking with the owner about my hobby of constructing historic building which are then cast in resin and sold as wargame scenery. Before leaving he showed me a small cannon ball - about the size of a cricket ball which he says came from an old fish and chip shop in St. Johns, Worcester. Could it be from The Alfred Taylor House, St. Johns? See this link

The cannon ball was similar to the one illustrated with a knobbly texture and grey/brown colouring. There were no obvious markings. It was difficult to assess the weight, but certainly not something you would want to get in the way of.

Any ideas as to its weight or poundage based on these sketchy details?

It is always interesting to see such an artefact 'in the flesh'. On the way back I also saw some beautiful old wood/stone barns and expect I will take a drive out later this year with my trusty camera.


Wednesday 25 January 2012

Architecture of the Russian North

Earlier today I accompanied my Wife into Worcester City Centre to pick up some new clothes that she had ordered for an up and coming wedding. Once we had finished shopping I had a quick look around the charity and discount book stores to see if there was anything new.  I came across a second-hand, hard-backed book called Architecture of the Russian North 12th - 19th Centuries published by Aurora Art Publishing, Leningrad in 1976.

The book was slightly water damaged but made up for this by being crammed packed with beautiful and evocative colour images of various Russian buildings and landscapes. At just £2.50 I fell in love with it and just had to share some of the photos.

The text is English, with some additional notes and reference pages in Russian. Of the 200 pages plus there are photos of churches, official buildings and even peasant huts all of which just cry out to modelled. My collection of architectural reference books mainly cover Great Britain and Europe so this is a very welcome addition.

Kargopol district, Village of Liadiny, St. Blaise's Church.

Church of Presentation.

Architecture of the Russian North - the cover, 270mm x 210mm.

Village of Permogorye, Church of St. George.

Bolshoi Klimetsky Island, Village of Korba.

I enjoy searching charity book shelves for suitable reference material/inspiration and when I find something as great as this it makes it all worth while - I hope that you enjoy them as much.


Additional note;
It appears that a number of images have been hand-coloured. Either that or the photos have been taken with some very old Kodak film!

Tuesday 24 January 2012

The Pledge 2012

Last year I entered a regiment of 16 Limited Edition, Alternative Armies/Flintloque Dwarves in the Lead Painters League Season five, see Princess Juliana Chaseur Elite - This year, in fact last night I read that season six has just been announced, full details and revised rules are available here

My immediate reaction was to start painting in anticipation of all ten rounds, but common sense finally got the better of me. I just have too much on my plate at the moment and to place myself under this much time pressure would be silly. Even so it was a close fought thing with imagined units of Flintloque Undead, Todoroni and even a set of Tolkien inspired figures planned.  However I have come up with a compromise one that I hope gives me the impetus to paint up a little more of my famed 'Lead Mountain'.

I PLEDGE that throughout 2012 I will model, base and paint ten groups of miniatures (between 5 and 10 figures) and record the results here on this Blog.  "My name is Tony Harwood and I AM a Wargamer!"

In addition to the promised Masterclass Articles on Barking Irons Online and various commissions I will start this pledge with another group of eight Flintloque Dwarves in February, some Undead Savant Bog Orcs in March and either Todoroni or Ferach for April. Other Pledge projects will include some Ostrian Hounds and even a dusty old box of Lowland Rats. Keep tuned-in for more details.

Where as I feel the Lead Painters League may be too much, particularly over the next two to three months a longer time scale and this list of stalled or old miniature painting projects is just the kick-start I need.

So, who's game for joining me. I suggest that we all have similarly stalled miniature painting projects - let's make 2012 the year that all that bare lead finally gets some paint!

The clock is ticking.


Monday 23 January 2012

Studio Ghibli Nausicaa Book at Forever People

Earlier today my Wife and I had a day out in Cardiff. After meeting up with my Mother-in-Law and Sue's Brother and Sister-in-Law for lunch, Sue and I had time to window shop before making our way back to Worcester.

I had the opportunity to visit Forbidden Planet on Castle Street (just opposite Cardiff Castle) and saw some fantastic Studio Ghibli books. The first being The Art of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, while another was The Art of Porco Rosso as well as others. Each of the hard-bound books were on sale for £25.00 each and although out of my price-range were crammed-packed with stunning black & white and colour illustrations. Real eye-candy! It is difficult to do a full review on just a couple of minutes browsing, but my impression of each of these books was WOW, just beautiful and I would love to have any one of them adorn my bookshelf.

A simple GOOGLE search will give some ideal of these fantastic animated feature films and books which are well worth checking out.

I am aware that posts so far this year have been a little scarce. However I have not been idle and promise that all of my work over the last month will soon be published here (and elsewhere). Sorry that I am unable to say any more but I assure regular readers that each and every project will be worth the wait and I am now awaiting clearance to post links to this Blog.

Surprisingly the last two or three months of 2011 were quiet with a lot of my time being devoted to personal projects, all this changed as 2012 started with a Bang and although I am not complaining - if only the commissions and project were better spaced out.

Keep checking back for more information.


Saturday 21 January 2012

"Why Flintloque?"

Over the last twelve months I have been asked by a number of people "Why Flintloque?"

It is strange but until asked and having to think of an answer, I had never given it much thought. Like most gamers the inspiration for choosing one period, one scale and even one army when it comes to wargaming is usually a very personal decision and as such will obviously be influenced by many things.

I've already written about my model making heritage - my Father building balsa and tissue aeroplanes then ships in bottles - something that I have always admired. Then my Grandfather and his huge model railway layout running round and round the spare bedroom. I have fond memories of seeing The Lord of the Isles chuffing around the rather bare terrain! Then my Uncle who built beautiful 1/72nd scale planes and in particular American jets.

All this is a little round-about. But then in the early 70's I was introduced to wargaming. As a spotty schoolboy I was allowed to join a wargame club at Swansea University and gamed with hundreds of early Airfix American Civil War figures mounted on to beer mats which were moved over green dyed sheets with chalk roads and rivers.

During this formative period I first played Dungeons and Dragons. My introduction to Role Playing.  In addition as a member of the club I took part in a huge re-fight of Waterloo where I took personal command of a battalion of British Readcoats.  This game covered the whole floor of a Senior Common Room floor and took three days to complete!

Much later I played Warhammer (Mk. 1 - the edition with three separate soft bound books) and became a regular reader of Games Workshop's White Dwarf.

Once again a little around the houses. Fast forward - and married, moved away from Swansea and now the proud Father of two I still painted and collected toy soldiers, mainly GW Dwarves which are still one of my all-time favourites.

It was about 10 or 12 years ago that I first became aware of Flintloque - the original Flintloque boxed set, but at £20.00 I preferred to test the water with a couple of blisters of Orcs which were painted with bright Goblin-green skin!

I was hooked and very soon I had the original boxed set with all figures based and painted - based on 2p coins and not the square metal bases - something I have stuck to. I also picked up quite a few discounted sets from the now defunct model store Beatties. Beatties in Bristol. Do you remember them?

My very understanding Wife couldn't understand what I saw in these Ugly Miniatures, her words and not mine. And something that she still can't understand.

My collection grew with regular purchases and even the odd themed terrain piece - although in the main I made do with my existing Warhammer terrain. At about the same time I became aware of the Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargamers and their in-house magazine Ragnarok as well as the original Flintloque Yahoo site, where as Dampfpanzerwagon I was introduced to like-minded gamers.

Dampfpanzerwagon was the name given to some Flintloque steam tanks that I had built and which feature in Ragnarok issue 41. A very rare publication!  Some of the comments and images have appeared on this Blog and if all goes to plan - should be re-published soon.

I think the next major leap forward was the conception of my Dwarf or Great Sauerkraut War background where I envisaged a Dwarf vs. Dwarf Civil war using Flintloque rules and miniatures but a distinctly new background. The 2nd Sauerkraut Wars took on a life of its own with many regiments of Dwarves being painted up and based in readiness to take to the battlefield. The project remains active and one day I hope to not only game the background but campaign it as well.

So moving on from the Ragnarok article, joining the Yahoo group and paining hundreds of miniatures - two things happened. First I was asked to model some terrain pieces and in payment I was given a huge box of Flintloque miniatures - hundreds of blisters and boxed sets which I have now either painted, swooped or sold. Secondly I started to construct Flintloque scale terrain pieces. The original Flintloque miniatures were closer to 1/48th than 28mm.

So here endeth the history lesson.  But still "Why Flintloque?"

I think I enjoy the quirkyness of both the figures and the rules.  The back stories appeal to my sense of humour and the fan-fiction is even better - just take a look at any of Rogipoo's posts on the new Flintloque Yahoo site - The Notables to see what I mean.

I also believe that Flintloque has a cross-genre appeal. Napoleonic/Fantasy - even Undead/Fantasy that just presses all the right buttons for me.  I am sure that 'serious' Napoleonic modellers must look-down-their-noses at some of the Flintloque combinations but for me this is what I like about the game.

In addition the chunky or even ham-fisted miniatures have an appeal that I enjoy collecting and painting. In fact the very chunkiness that some criticise is one of the very reasons I enjoy collecting them. The over-the-top sculpting compliments my similarly over-the-top painting style and as stated so many time - this is a personal hobby and I enjoy myself.

Finally - the friends - some whom I meet in person others who I have only ever spoken to via the Web, Blogs and Yahoo sites are such a strong and supportive bunch of characters, many of which I would never have met if I had not taken that plunge back over a decade ago and bought that single blister of Orcs in Redcoats.

Thank you Flintloque.


Thursday 19 January 2012

Ray Harryhausen an Animated Life

Another post listing some of the presents I had this Christmas.  This time the Ray Harryhausen book An Animated Life by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton.

The book was a gift from my Brother-in-Law, my Sister-in-Law and my Nephew and Niece from Hastings.  Thank you Dave and Fee.  It is a huge coffee-table book full of black and white images and over 300 pages full of interesting illustrations and notes.  According to the Official Ray Harryhausen Web Site this is the fifth book in the series written by Ray and Tony.

I had previously seen the Art of Ray Harryhausen in Waterstones and loved the illustration but at the time was not able to afford the list price. In addition I quite like the Ray Harryhausen's Fantasy Scrapbook all of which are detailed on the Official Web Site.

As a visual treat this was one of my favourite Christmas presents and nearly one month on, I still love to browse the images and text. Maybe it's just me but every image conjures up a childhood memory - King Kong, Jason fighting the Skeletons, the Kraken appearing from the sea or Talos coming to life. Great memories all well detailed in this great book.

Any Google image search for Ray Harryhausen will reward you with hundreds of fantastic images.

For full details;
Ray Harryhausen - An Animated Life
Witten by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton
Published by Aurum
ISBN 978-1-84513-510-0
List price £18.99

I thought that I would finish this review with a short quote which can be found on the back cover of this book;

"...one of the world's great manipulators." Kermit the Frog


Monday 16 January 2012

Sabotage and Subversion by Ian Dear

I have already written about some of the books I had as gifts for Christmas. This was a 12 O'clock present from my Wife who had picked the book up in a remainder book shop in Bromsgrove.  I did not start reading it straight away, but picked it up about a week ago to have a browse through.  What a revelation and a great read.  The story of both SOE (Special Operations Executive) and OSS (the American Version) during World War 2.

The small paper-backed book is split into logical sections with the first few chapters dealing with the set up of both operations and how they recruited, trained and equipped their operatives. The next chapters each deal with a separate action or activity, including the background to the Heavy Water Factory sabotage and the Chindits in the Far East.

For me it reads like a real Boys-Own adventure story, well written and informative and a real first class book on a subject that gets very little emphasis.

Since reading the book (and in preparing this short Blog entry) I have come across a number of more detailed reviews of the book (and in fact the series of books by Cassell). This is one that I have no hesitation in recommending.

Full details are;
Sabotage and Subversion by Ian Dear
Published by Cassell
ISBN 0-304-35202-0


Thursday 12 January 2012

(Even more) Grand Manner Building on The Lead Adventure Forum

Grand Manner buildings are once again featured on The Lead Adventure Forum, see this link

Most of the masters for these Napoleonic and Medieval buildings were built by me and cast in resin by Dave at Grand Manner. I still get a thrill from seeing models I built, painted and displayed on such a fantastic gaming board.

This image is of the Forge NAP 11 model which has been painted by GM.

I am always interested in seeing painted and ideally displayed Grand Manner buildings - so if you have any please contact me.


Monday 9 January 2012

Wargame Shows for 2012

For Christmas I was given a comic calendar to try and keep track of my part-time work hours. This morning I thought I would update it by adding some Wargame Show dates to it;

Penkridge Wargame Tabletop Sale
Sunday, January 22nd from 10am - 1pm  I am looking at attending, although at this time I cannot be certain.

Gloucester Show
Sunday, January 29th with full details yet to be released  I saw initial information over on the Lead Adventure, once again I cannot be certain of attending.

Alumwell Wargame Show
Sunday March 11th.  I have visited this particular show every year since it moved to the Alumwell Sports Centre and have every intention of attending this year. I have often written about how friendly this show is and it is my opportunity to meet up with old friends and have a chat.

Salute 2012
Saturday 21st April  In all the years that Salute has been at Excel I have avoided it as I do not like the venue or the length of time it takes to get to this side of London from Worcester.  With the Olympics and the improved road network I am actually thinking about making the trek this year.  Still not certain, but do not be surprised if I actually get there this year!

Games Expo, Birmingham
25th, 26th and 27th of May.  Once again a show that I have followed for the last four or five years and enjoyed every one of my visits. I would expect to be there on the Sunday, but this may chance and if it does I will update the Blog.

Scale Model World, Telford
A Must-See show for me and one of my hobby highlights.  In previous years I have attended on the Sunday and expect the same to be true this year. For any modeller who has not seen this particular show - I would recommend that you book the time off now and allow yourself a very special treat.

Other shows maybe added as the year progresses, but for now these are my show priorities in 2012.


Saturday 7 January 2012

Silly Week 2012 on Aircraft Resource Center

Once again Aircraft Resource Center have featured another Silly Week, for full details go to this link and search for Sunday January 1st 2012.  The Silly Week is a regular feature on ARC and allows modellers to be a little creative with both model construction and back ground stories. Check it out - I am sure you will enjoy the entries.

This Image is on a Wart Hind, modelled by Hal Elsberry and can be found on Friday 6th January.

This image has been used without permission, to illustrate the type of models featured on ARC Silly Week.


Tuesday 3 January 2012

Stone Barn - A 28mm Masterclass

Barking Irons Online has just uploaded my latest Masterclass Modelling Article - a Stone Barn, full details can be found here The following four images show the finished model while details of the planning, construction and painting are detailed here 

Modelled to accompany my Flintloque miniature collection, such a simple model could easily be used for games from a wide variety of historical and fantasy settings.

These two images were taken at Games Expo 2011 which was held in Birmingham (UK) and shows a simple stone barn that was featured on the Warmachine Tournament gaming table. It was the inspiration for my own Stone Barn.

I have no hesitation in admitting that this is my favourite Flintloque themed building to date. I got a real buzz out of first drawing the plans and then building the model.  I hope you enjoy the article.


Sunday 1 January 2012

2012 - Looking Forward

Around this time of year there are many Blog posts looking back at the year just finished and listing various New Years Resolutions. I thought I would be different and look forward to 2012.

I hope to continue with this Blog detailing forthcoming modelling projects and commissions. When I first started, I was unsure as to how the postings would develop but actually I have enjoyed the different paths it has taken me. My goal of at least 12 posts per month has been attained and rather than try to increase this target I would expect it to continue at around 12 - 15.

Commissions have been quiet this year but work has also been busier and in truth, I think the work/pleasure or work/hobby balance has been about right. In 2012 I would expect this and Dampfwerks to 'potter-along' at about the same level.

The big change in 2012 has been the increase in magazine or On-line magazine articles that I have penned. In 2012 I expect this to become an even more important part of my modelling life. As I have written on many occasions - I am a modeller first, a figure painter second and a wargamer third.

The stock-pile of Barking Irons Online (Web based magazine) articles has taken quite a bit of my spare time but has been hugely rewarding. In addition my short story writing has also developed, but as even I admit - could be better.

One development of 2011 was my un-official goal of trying to reduce the huge 'Lead Mountain' I have and this one small step has been very satisfying, allowing me to model and paint a wide variety of 'toy soldiers'.  Without setting myself a firm goal or target - I would hope that this could continue in 2012.  In addition I would recommend a similar goal to other figure collectors. It is very rewarding.

On a personal note my part-time job has developed and now accounts for about 25/30 hours a week - a figure that I can only imagine increasing in 2012. The time I spend modelling or painting model soldiers varies with the temperature - as I do most of my modelling in a shed-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden and when the water freezes I tend to come indoors and watch TV!

Finally I have recently started studying colour theory, the practice of complimentary and harmonising colours and how to select colour schemes that compliment rather than clash. I would hope that this interest and skill improves both my colour choices and painting skills.

As stated at the beginning, this was never intended as either a look back or a list of resolutions for 2012, just a clearing of the mind in the hope that this New Year I become a better Blogger, Modeller and Figure Painter.

Happy New Year.