Thursday 28 February 2019

11 years Anniversary of the Blog - Confessions of a Serial Flasher

Today is the 11th anniversary of this Blog and as a very special treat I am reproducing an article that was written by me for Ragnarok - the in-house publication of The Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargaming or SFSFW.

Issue 60 of Ragnarok was never distributed (although there are rumours that it was indeed printed) you can buy a PDF copy from Wargames Vault, for details see this link.

Confessions of a Serial Flasher

by Tony Harwood

(Birdwatchers are called Twitchers – Flashers are a much rarer breed - gamers who collect Flash Gordon miniatures).

As I browsed ebay, looking for some large resin Dwarves to convert into statues, I came across a mint, in-blister pack of (CH001) Flash and Ming from Graven Images a pair of 40mm sculpts by Jim Bowen that I believe to be some of the very best miniatures ever cast-up.

A bid was placed and very soon I was the proud owner of yet another set of 40mm Flash Gordon and Emperor Ming figures.

A similar pair of character miniatures were the first Graven Images or 40mm Cliff Hanger figures I ever bought from Monolith Designs and the start of my 40mm Flash Gordon adventure, which today boasts over 100, 40mm scale Flash Gordon themed figures based on Alex Raymond’s comic hero.

The original two figures quickly grew to include Professor Zarkov, Dale and some Mongo minions. With promises of more characters to come I waited patiently for Graven Images to produce more Flash inspired miniatures. And waited, and waited…..

It soon became obvious that the promised new releases would be either delayed or as it happened never sculpted. Not being one to be hampered by the lack of similar sized or themed figures, I started looking around for suitable proxy figures to increase and supplement my collection. One of the first was Thun (the Lionman) who was a simple conversion of a 40mm Werewolf miniatures from the same manufacturer, Green-stuff and Milliput were used in the modifications and basing the miniature on the same 40mm bevelled-edged or premium round base of the earlier figures I had produced my first Flash conversion. Price Barin, Princess Aura and even Klytus followed.

(By basing ALL of the miniatures on to the same style round bases, then building the groundwork and painting them in a similar style, I believe that I have been able to maintain a level of uniformity across the widely differing models and manufacturers).

Some time later another set of Mongo minions and both pairs of officers were added – all three sets modified or converted in some way to follow one of my many reference sources. The inspiration I use are numerous, firstly the Alex Raymond original comic strip, secondly the Buster Crab black and white cliff hanger series, thirdly the iconic Flash film with the fantastic Queen soundtrack and then (and this may surprise some) the Flash Gordon cartoon series. Other less well know or less well advertised reference sources for Flash Gordon include the Internet, foreign language annuals and even the film Flesh Gordon!

I knew that to increase my collection I had to be more inventive in sourcing suitable figures and started to search through current and out-of production miniature manufacturer catalogues, even resorting to bargain bit purchases from traditional toy stores and UK Pound stores. To help ‘size’ suitable minis, I converted a small plastic ruler cutting it down to credit card size so I would always have a 40mm scaling chart in my wallet (and yes I still have it!)

As well as the individual figures or miniatures, I have scratch-built a Flash Gordon Rocketship, a Sci-Fi tank (from a second-hand GW Rhino) and four large terrain boards, The Tomb, The Rock Kings Throne Room, The Amber Shrine and finally, my personal favourite – The Crashed Rocketship (see above).

So far I have the obvious character miniatures, Flash, Ming, Zarkov, Dale, then Prince Barin, Aura and even Prince Voltan. The Mongo minions and a whole host of creatures – Mudmen, Lionmen, Molemen, Beastmen, Hawkmen, etc. The collection also includes Harpy Bats, Mud Monsters, Lizard or Insectmen, Robotmen and Robots, Dinosaurs, Ice Giants and Dragons, the list is almost endless.

In addition to the original Graven Images figures, the collection includes miniatures from; Games Workshop, Mithril Miniatures, Privateer Press, D&D plastics, Superheroes, a Tescos Dinosaurs, Foundry, Hoards of the Things, Disney franchise toys, Monster-in-my-Pocket, Reaper Miniatures, Heroclix, Spartan Games, Grim Reaper, Lance & Laser, Alternative Armies, Dick Garrison, Bronze Age Miniatures, Grenadier Miniatures, Ral Partha, Flashing Blades, Dark Age, Hydra and even Star Wars. Most are converted or at least modified. The huge variation in manufacturer linked by one thing – their scale, 40mm tall or can be used alongside my 40mm tall Flash Gordon miniatures.

As well as the figures, the books, the annuals and the magazines, I have a number of ‘Golden-Age Sci-Fi or Pulp Wargame rules, however, I have still to find the perfect Flash Gordon Skirmish Rules. A challenge for the future!

You can read more about this even increasing collection by checking-up on my Blog and searching the Label Flash Gordon. For details go to this link.

The Photos…..

Thun (the Lionman) a converted Werewolf from Graven Images. Dale, a stock figure from the Graven Images Cliff Hanger range. Flash, a slightly modified Flash Gordon miniature from the Graven Images Cliff Hanger range and Doctor Zarkov again from the Cliff Hanger range.

The classical Ming the Merciless figure from the Graven Images Cliff Hanger range. Prince Vultan, a major conversion/scratch-built figure. Princess Aura, a converted Dale miniature from Graven Images and Prince Barin, another major conversion based on the Graven Image figure of Zarkov.

Mongo Minions – converted soldiers from Graven Images.

Green, Crystal Entity from Reaper Miniatures. Frost Giant from Ral Partha. Sharkman from Reaper and Monkeyman from the Monster-in-my-Pocket toy figure set.

Gorillion from D&D, Beastman from Reaper Miniatures, Umber Hulk from Grim Reaper and Rockman a Stone Golem from Reaper Miniatures.

Space Ape, a converted Werebear from Graven Images. Lizardman, a D&D/Marvel Dragonman. Swampman, a converted Swamp Monster/Troll from Privateer Press and resin Wind Elemental from Grendel.

The Robots – Dick Grayson Robot, modified Hydra Legionnaires Robot, Tomb Guard from Privateer Press and modified Salute limited edition Robot.

Happy Anniversary.


Wednesday 27 February 2019

Matt Varnish - update

This short post is really an update to this post from 2009.

I have in the past used Galleria Matt Varnish as my preferred matt surface on miniatures and terrain. I have found that mixing Galleria Matt Varnish with some Tamiya Flat Base X-21 gave a very matt finish. However a recent article in this months Airfix Model World has led to this update.....

The seven page article on constructing and painting a Griffon engined Spitfire FR Mk.XIVe suggests mixing Winsor & Newton Galleria Acrylic Matt Varnish with isopropyl alcohol for airbrushing and I thought it was worth passing on.

Please note;
I have not yet tried this technique/mix and would suggest that anyone wanting to experiment uses a test piece first.


Tuesday 26 February 2019

Resin Cottage For Sale on ebay

Here is yet another piece of my wargame terrain for sale on ebay. A Resin Cottage or House ideal for Napoleonic or Fantasy Wargaming. This time a modified and re-painted casting that featured in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy issue 91

For details of the auction see this link.

You can also find additional details on this Blog. Please see this link.


Monday 25 February 2019

Man of La Mancha - The Musical

Sue and I are planning on seeing this performance of Man of La Mancha - The Musical with Kelsey Grammer. We are just waiting to see what dates are suitable and can we get a baby-sitter for Flo.

For full details see this link.


Sunday 24 February 2019

Recent purchases

These inks and matt medium were picked up from a bargain or clearance basket earlier this month. The inks were being sold off for just £1.00 each and I just couldn't resist purchasing them while the matt medium is always worth picking up as I use it as both a matt varnish and a wash additive.

This is not the first time I have seen inks for sale - last year Hobbycraft were selling off some of their own label inks for less than £1.00 a bottle. I picked up the blue and sepia inks on that occasion.


Thursday 21 February 2019

The Pumpkin Patch - part two painting

Following on from my earlier post The Pumpkin Patch - part one construction, here I show how I painted this simple piece of Flintloque themed terrain.

The groundwork was painted in a custom-mix of Beasty Brown and Charred Brown from Vallejo then drybrushed with a slightly lighter mix of the same colour. The small section of stone wall was painted in muted grey, drybrushed with Beasty Brown to show the texture and blend it into the ground colour.

The green scrub was painted in various greens, starting with a dark green and subsequently highlighting up to a yellow-green to show the texturing of the man-made foliage used to model the scrub.

I picked out odd stones in grey which were highlighted with white.

Then 'washed' the whole base with Games Workshop Sepia and Black washes to exaggerate the sculpted detail.

The pumpkins were painted orange. I started with a brown-orange base, then Hot Orange from Vallejo and highlighted with yellow mixed with the Hot Orange before adding a small green stalk to each one.

Finally, I added some dyed sawdust or Railway Modelling flock to the edges of the base (something I do to all my terrain pieces as my gaming board is covered in the same material).

The small sign was a late addition - modelled from some scrap wood I had in my spares box. I might add some writing in the future - but for now I will leave it plain.

I have also superglued some clumps of green foam to the base for variety and to add colour.

The final image shows a Flintloque Rifleorc alongside to give an idea of the size of this simple piece of terrain.


Wednesday 20 February 2019

Tartuffe at The Royal Shakespear Company

Last night Sue and I had the very special treat of visiting The Royal Shakespear Company - The Swan and seeing a new version of Tartuffe a play by Moliere transported to present-day Birmingham. Written by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto.

For full details see this link.

We were privileged to meet some of the cast and stayed behind at the end of the play for the questions and answers session.


Monday 18 February 2019

The Pumpkin Patch - part one construction

This latest On-Line Build shows how a chance purchase in a charity shop led to a new piece of Flintloque themed terrain.

The Pumpkin Patch part one the construction.

I saw this box of seeds for sale in a charity shop earlier this year and at just £1.00 for the whole box, I thought I could use some of the seeds to build a small piece of terrain. As the box sat on my computer desk, my daughter asked if I was going to build a pumpkin patch and just two days later I have finished it.

The image above shows the box of seeds - quite a few, in fact enough for a whole farm of pumpkins!

The seeds vary from 9mm to 20mm across and look just like miniature pumpkins.

I cut out a base from 3mm thick plastic card and chamffered the edges with a snap-off bladed knife before sanding the edges smooth. I have also scored the surface, as I feel this gives a better 'key' for the DAS.

Next, I added DAS modelling clay which was added over dilute PVA glue.

The small wall section was constructed from individual pieces of blue foam glued in place with superglue and then undercoated in acrylic matt medium mixed with some fine filler. This is the second attempt at a wall. I felt the first was too small.

After doing some research on the internet, I saw that pumpkins grow over low shrubbery with thick stalks. I had some man-made hanging basket liner and using the smallest pieces, mixed it with PVA glue and spread it over the DAS. The stalk is a piece of grape stalk that I found in the fruit bowl.

I textured the groundwork with sieved stones and sand, again applied over PVA glue.

Finally, I added the pumpkins which were glued down with superglue. The base is 200mm x 120mm.

In part two I will show how I painted the Pumpkin Patch.


Wednesday 13 February 2019

Models For Sale on ebay

I have decided to sell-off some of my model terrain starting with these two buildings.

The first is the scratch-built 28mm scale Timber Framed Dovecot that featured in Wargames Soldiers & Strategy issue 87. Details of which were included on this Blog back in November 2016 for more details see this Blog post.

The model is 200mm tall and mounted on a 3mm thick plastic card base that measures 110mm x 120mm.

If you are interested in purchasing this model - please see this ebay auction.

The second model is a 28mm scale Brick and Stone Built Well and Dovecot inspired by a resin model from Hovels. A Napoleonic Wars themed model is built from blue foam with DAS roof tiles. The model is 190mm tall and mounted on a MDF base 130mm x 145mm.

SOLD 19.02.19

The Flintloque Rifleorc is included for scale purposes only.

Thank you for looking.


Tuesday 12 February 2019

Kid Wood Charity Shop Find

I picked up this pack of Kid Wood - an expanded foam modelling material from a local charity shop (where I find most of my modelling material).

I have used it in the past as the basis of various modelling projects and was wondering if anyone else uses it?

This pack has 13 individual pieces;
4 x round sections
4 x square strips
5 x sheets

It cost me just £2.00 from the St. Richards Hospice store in Pershore.


Monday 11 February 2019

Wargames Terrain & Buildings book available to order

Pen & Sword are confirming that Wargames Terrain & Buildings - The Napoleonic Wars is available for pre-order at the reduced price of just £11.99. The book is due for release on March 31st at which time it will return to the full published price of £14.99. For full details please see this link.

This book written by me is the first of a short series of books published by P&S and follows a similar format to my own self published and limited edition Dampfpanzerwagon Guides.

Please note; I still have limited numbers of Dampfpanzerwagon Guide No. 3 - Models For Wargamers available - should you wish to purchase a copy please see this link.


Thursday 7 February 2019

Models For Wargamers - Another Update

Regular readers and followers will know about by three Dampfpanzerwagon Guides, the first two self-published and limited edition books are now sold out, but I do have some issues of Dampfpanzerwagon Guide No.3 - Models For Wargamers at the reduced price of just £12.50 (plus post and packaging). For more information and details of how to order a copy please follow this link.

I am not looking to commission a reprint/reprints of these three Dampfpanzerwagon Guides - so get them while you can.

I am expecting details of the Pen & Sword book Wargames, Terrain & Buildings - The Napoleonic Wars very soon and will post details once I have more information. My plan is to have copies at Alumwell.

Thank you.


Tuesday 5 February 2019

Bromsgrove Now and Then

Another charity shop find. This time a hardback and special edition copy of the book Bromsgrove Now and Then by Alan and Sheila Richards published in 1988.

The book is crammed full of black and white illustrations and is signed by Alan and Sheila Richards, Norman Neasom (illustrator) and John Foster (Bromsgrove Society).

Bromsgrove Now and Then by Alan and Sheila Richards
Published in 1988 by The Bromsgrove Society
Printed by Avon Litho
The book is individually numbered - 20 of 258
ISBN 0 9509471 3 X

Bought for £2.50


Monday 4 February 2019

A Witchlands Hovel for Flintloque

A Witchland Hovel

This tutorial was first published on Barking Irons Online in 2012. However since BIO closed this (as well as other tutorials) had been lost to the internet. I have reproduced it here as originally presented.

My latest Modelling Masterclass features a simple Witchlands Hovel, the sort of wooden structure that could be found all over the undead frozen Steppes.  The model owes much to various postings on The Lead Adventure Forum and some images I found on e-bay. It is therefore not an original design. However with a growing Witchlands Undead Army I felt that it was about time I build another undead themed terrain pieces.


As with most of my modelling projects it started with a simple sketch scaled for the slightly larger Flintloque miniatures. The sketch also shows a larger Russian style, log or wooden church which could easily be built using the same techniques and materials.

I wanted the sub-assembly to be robust and after transferring the dimensions on to corrugated cardboard I glued the base or core model together with my hot-glue gun.  It isn’t clear in some of these images, but the basic structure is in fact two layers of corrugated cardboard covered with some cheap mounting card. This gives a very strong building block on which to add the surface detail.

TIP; One tip I want to pass on is something I came upon by accident. When using a hot-glue gun it is common to have the now cooled glue squeeze out and settle in lumps on the surface of the model.  In the past I have cut this excess glue away with a knife. On this occasion I ran the still hot nozzle of the glue gun over the excess glue and smoothed out the surface, thereby giving a very strong and smooth surface on which to start building up the detail.

Once the basic house shape was finished I moved on to cladding the walls.  I have used coloured lollipop sticks (or craft sticks) which I bought from Hobbycraft some time ago.

TIP: For some unknown reason coloured lollipop sticks or craft sticks are cheaper than plain lollipop sticks.  As the model will eventually be painted – I suggest you choose the cheapest you can find.

I started with the buildings ends, laying distressed strips over superglue and trimming the ends with a large ‘snap-off’ bladed knife when the glue has fully set.

There is no reason why you cannot use the lollipop sticks straight from the packet, however I prefer to distress the wooden sticks with either coarse sandpaper or distressing the planks with the point of a scalpel.  In addition I further distress the edges of the wooden planks by trimming and nipping the edges with a knife. Both these actions although tedious will pay dividends when it comes to painting and particularly drybrushing the model.

Once the ends were done I built up first the back and then the front of the hovel in the same way.  You will see from the images that I have drawn the door and window details onto the building and laid simple plastic card squares for the windows.

When the glue has fully set, I trim all the edges and sand the joints smooth.

The next step is to add the supports or detailing strips to the plain sides. This is done in exactly the same way as the earlier wall cladding however I have used a little bit of Milliput epoxy putty to fill gaps and smooth out the joints between adjoining wooden posts.

When dry I sanded the edges and joints smooth in an attempt to hide the joins.

The door detail is again strips of lollipop sticks and the window detail is built up from both thin card and lollipop sticks.

The roof cladding is applied in the same way as the walls, although I have varied the lengths of the strips to give some variety and visual interest.

TIP: You will see that I have not been particularly careful at joining the roof ridge joints – these will be covered with a separate piece of lollipop stick later in the construction and any carefully mitred joins would not be seen!

The decorative roof end detail is copied from a model featured on The Lead Adventure Forum and is applied in six separate strips each end.  The larger strips are in fact scrap wood cut from a Clementines or Nectarines box, they were cut with a ‘snap-off’ bladed knife and a steel ruler, sanded smooth and then trimmed to size before being distressed and superglued in place.

TIP: I am always on the look-out for scrap wood. Oranges, tangerines and sometimes vegetable are still supplied in small wooden crates.  This scrap wood is ideal for scratch-building terrain pieces, being light, easily cut and above all free just ask your local Greengrocer or Market Trader.

The final piece of main construction was to add two strips across either side of the roof. It will not surprise you to read that these too have been modelled from lollipop sticks, cut into thin strips, distresses and then superglued into position.  The small (white) additions to either end are meant to represent the strips protruding through the decorative end panels. I modelled mine with plastic card and superglued them into place.

I have commented on earlier Masterclasses that my favourite part of any terrain construction project is the final detailing, this model was no exception.

I cut four thin strips of plastic card into tiny plastic card squares and using superglue applied with a wooden cocktail stick proceeded to add rivets and wooden joining pegs all over the model.  In total I have added about seventy such slivers each of which will be picked out during the drybrushing phase.


With the modelling completed I spray painted the whole building with a cheap black spray can and when dry touched-up any bits I had missed with black and dark brown acrylic paint.

I was trying for a subdued and old weathered wood finish and therefore applied subtle dark brown and grey drybrushes across the whole model.  The technique I used was one I had observed in real life; Wooden buildings tend to have dark almost black walls near the base of the building or at ground level, more colour further up the walls and then silver/grey or bleached wood on the roof. I think I could have done with one more grey (light grey) drybrush over the roof – but decided not to as I quite liked the under-done effect.

All that scribing and distressing of the coloured lollipop sticks during construction has really paid-off as the different layers of drybrushing make them ’pop out’.

Apart from the drybrushed wooden walls there is little in the way of any detail painting.  I have picked out a couple of features with brighter colours, but overall the dull weather-beaten effect was the look I was after.

The base was first modelled from a 3mm thick ‘For Sale’ sign cut into a rough oval with the groundwork built up with DAS modelling clay, this is painted in my usual colour scheme – Games Workshop Snakebite Leather, highlighted with Snakebite and Skull White with occasional stones picked out in highlighted grey. To tie everything in, I have washed the base of the building and the groundwork around the base of the building with a ‘muddy brown’ wash,

I have flocked the edges of the base with green railway flock – to match-in with my gaming table. I have also added some static grass clumps and a couple of bits of green foam foliage that I have been wanting to try out for some time.

Once again I am left wondering if the model could have been slightly smaller. The Witchlands Hovel is 120mm wide x 100mm deep x 100mm tall (to top of chimney). If I was building it again, I would cut all dimensions by at least 10mm, maybe even 15mm. However I am pleased with my first Witchlands Hovel and plan on building a couple more – maybe even that church.

I have included this earlier Blog link which gives additional information.