Friday, 28 April 2017

Laser Cut Furniture Kits

My lack of enthusiasm for the miniatures hobby has lifted a little and even though I haven't done any painting recently, I have found my interest in designing laser cut kits has been re-kindled.

Some time ago I started work on some 28mm furniture kits that could be used for games like A Fistful of Kung Fu or In Her Majesties Name. The project got sidelined but I have wanted to finish it off for some time.

Firstly I designed three different chairs.

The first one has a classic simple design that works for multiple periods.

Design number two has a more 1960's feel to it and I plan to use this with 7TV 2nd edition.

The final chair design has more of a period feel to it and will suit anything from Osprey's En Garde onwards.

To go along with the chairs I needed a couple of different table designs.

Ideal for a household meal...

Or possibly in a French Chateau...

Once one has eaten it is of course, nice to relax. So a sofa and armchairs came next.

 The kits are all made of 1.5mm plywood, except for the Sofa and Armchairs which are in 4mm ply. I have designed the kits in sets of four chair each, a set of chairs with a table and the sofa set.

I plan to continue these sets with more household furniture and also some street furniture.

I will have a table at the Flea Market at the Carronade Wargames Show in Falkirk, between the show opening and lunchtime, so if anyone is interested in my designs I will probably have a few for sale.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Book Review: The Knights Hospitaller A Military History of the Knights of Saint John by John Carr

In an effort to kickstart my hobby work I have just read The Knights Hospitaller A Military History of the Knights of Saint John by John Carr.

I have not previously had much interest in the Knightly Orders, especially with their religious connections, but as I am planning to start playing Lion Rampant in the near future and have invested in several boxes of the lovely Fireforge Games Templar Knights, The Knights Hospitaller seem like a good fit.

Not knowing much about the period I felt some research was in order, so I tracked down Pen and Sword Books The Knights Hospitaller by John Carr. The book is written in a very easy to read, conversational style and I found it to be most interesting, from beginning to end. This is not a simple listing of historical events, but a more enjoyable journey through the history of the order. Taking the story from the inception of the Knights of Saint John (the order is known by several names, The Knights Hospitaller, The Order of the Knights of Saint John, The Knights of Malta ...) in Outremer, as a protective escort force for Christian pilgrims and hospital, through their more militaristic battle against the Ottoman Empire and right up to charitable organisation in it's modern form.

The book mainly concentrates on the medieval period, when the Hospitallers were at their height, and clearly where most readers interests will focus. The book does have a few black and white photos in the middle, but generally, this is not a good visual reference to work from (see below for a better choice on this one).

My only real criticism of the book is that it could have done with a little more careful editing. Clearly, with a history of a sizable organisation, some important moments may well be going on in different places at the same time. John Carr has tried to cover this, but it has lent to some repetition as the book flows along. With a bit more editing I feel that this could have been resolved in a slightly better way.

I would highly recommend the book for anyone interested in medieval knightly orders or the history of the Crusades.

For those looking for some more visual reference, I would recommend Pen and Sword Books sister company Osprey Books Knights Hospitaller books (Volume 1, and Volume 2) by David Nicholle. I have volume 2 and it gives me most of the information I need to get my retinue painted for Lion Rampant.

I have assembled my retinue for Lion Rampant, quite a task as the Fireforge Games miniatures require assembly and can go together in endless combinations. They very nice miniatures, but you do need to take some time to get them looking nice.

No doubt you will be seeing more of the minis in coming months as my project progresses...

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Model Making Crisis!

I have not posted to the blog, at least not with anything other than book reviews or wargames show reviews, for some time now.

I have, recently, gone through my Facebook and Google+ accounts and "Unliked/Unfollowed" the majority of figure/game companies that I had previously been following. Initially, this was a way to avoid temptation, however, I soon realised that it was very liberating and carried on until there were only around half a dozen that I have stuck with.

Also, I have become aware that I am finding it very hard to get myself to do any figure or model work at all. I have a couple of little jobs that I should have been able to complete in an evening, but I can't even find the enthusiasm to finish those. As for starting any of the other planned projects that I have lined up, I just can't see that happening anytime soon.

I have been thinking about this for a few days to try to work out why I have lost interest in miniatures, model making and gaming. Several things come to mind, but mainly the fact that I bought a DSLR camera earlier this year. I used to be a keen photographer, back when I was at uni and for a while afterwards (I worked in a camera shop for just over a year after I left uni). I bought the new camera for many reasons, including photographing miniatures. However, the main reason was because I wanted to rekindle my love of photography for its own sake. This has worked, and I find myself devouring photographic magazines and web articles as I rediscover the intricacies of manual photography. Actually, a lot of it is new to me, as the last time I used an SLR camera, it was with film, instead of being digital.

So, clearly, I have not lost my creative side, it has just refocused into other areas! Now I need to hope that this is just a short-term swing away from miniatures and model-making, and not a permanent move in a new direction. I have decided that I should stop cutting myself up about it, put all my minis away for a while and see if I get the urge to sculpt/build/paint in the near future.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Book Review: Tabletop Wargames A Designers’ and Writers’ Handbook

Pen and Sword Books very kindly sent me a copy of Tabletop Wargames: A Designers' and Writers' Handbook for review. I was very pleased about this as, like a lot of wargamers, I have,  over the years, considered putting pen to paper and trying to come up with a set of rules of my own.

The book is well written and lays down a lot of different aspects of rules writing that need to be considered. It doesn't go into the nitty-gritty of calculating all the intricate maths needed to balance a game, but it does give a few suggestions on how to approach that.

There are times when it becomes apparent that the writers are approaching things from their own experience and guiding rules writers to create similar rules to their style of games, but this is only to be expected and is easy to spot when it happens. The book does get very "wordy" in places, especially when the authors use terms that relate to specific game mechanics design aspects and then combine those into long descriptive paragraphs. There were several places where I had to read bits two or three times to get my head around them properly.

Setting these criticisms aside, the book does quite a good job of explaining the mindset needed for a games designer and also points out some of the less obvious considerations when creating a wargame that is planned for publication.

The book is an interesting read for the average player of wargames too, as it gives an insight into the mind of the designer, and answers some of the "Why did he do it that way?" or "What was he thinking?" kind of questions that most gamers have had when reading different sets of rules.

Even if I had not been sent this book to review, I would have ended up buying a copy. It is a bit wordy in places, but nothing compared to some older rules sets that are out there. In my opinion, it is well worth a read for both players and rules writers.

The book can be found at all the usual places, or direct from Pen and Sword.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Wargames Show Report - TARGE 2016

The main hall (this photo makes it look smaller that it actually is).

Last Saturday I visited the annual TARGE wargames show in Kirriemuir. I wasn't feeling particularly good as I was suffering from a severe cold, however, I usually enjoy the day and I wanted to give my support to this small, but well-respected show.
I only had one son with me for this trip (the other was at a Cub Scout Camp), and we got to the show around 45 minutes after the doors opened. The first thing that hit was just how many tables they had crammed in, both in the main hall and in the small side hall too. There were a great selection of different games on display, and plenty to keep our attention.

I will get straight in to the photo dump...

I will comment where necessary.

My son and I sat in on a couple of games. The first was this one set in Borneo with tw groups of SAS (using Commando Miniatures lovely figures) trying to get back to their helicopter from the far corner of the table. Encounters included local militia, a group of orangutans and something far more sinister! Lets just say that neither of us "Got to da choppa"!

Once again I entered the painting competition. I ended up with a second place in the Army category, so I was fairly happy with that!
The standard was very high across all the categories, as you can see in these photos.

A good show all round. I bought a little more than I had planned, although most of it was from the Bring n' Buy, so not too expensive. I also ended up with three raffle prizes, so the day finished on a high note...

Monday, 17 October 2016

Angus Wargames Club's Annual show, SKELP 2016

Angus Wargames Club held their annual show, SKELP, over the weekend. I usually try to support the local shows, so I set off on Saturday morning, along with my gaming pal Jeff Smith and my two sons. The weather was atrocious, with pouring rain for most of the day. It became apparent that this probably affected the attendance figures for the show (although it has always been a very small anyway).

The quality of the games on display was of a high standard and the entries in the painting competition were also very good.

There were a good selection of traders present and I managed to pick up stuff from Crooked Dice, Warbases, Pendraken, Graham's Wuerkshoppe and Dave Thomas.

Anyway, on with the photo dump...

 First up we a couple of Dropzone Commander games from the Glasgow Gaming Group.

A very nice Blood Eagle game with two longships coming together to fight in the middle of the table. I wish we had had time to play this one...

A GW Age of Sigmar game, which only confirmed that I am totally disinterested in the new GW fantasy miniatures.

Tanks! Not much more to say about this one...

A lovely Feudal Japanese game

RAF Lechars Veterans always put on a fun game and this time was no exception. An excellent Custer's Last Stand participation game in which the participants take on the roll of different Native American tribes competing to kill Custer...

My sons and I had a go at the Leuchars Custer game (thanks for the photo Jeff). It was a close run game, with 5 of the 6 tribes reaching Custer, and a roll of the dice to see who actually got him...

Probably the most spectacular table, had to be the Lion Rampant game put on by Kirriemuir Wargames Club, with a wonderful Gand Manner monastery taking centre space on the table. As well as the table itself, they also had a side table with colouring sheets of knights and pencils to keep the kids happy (my youngest son spent most of the drive back up the road and yesterday colouring them in). On top of all that, they had distilled the Lion Rampant rules down to a two-page play sheet, which will come in very handy when we are ready to play...

Moving on to the painting competition.

I entered my Aliens into the Open category (there is enough there to qualify as an army...).

There seemed to be only one other entry, which was a huge and very attractive 6mm army. However, I got 2nd place and the winner was apparently a zombie horde, which I missed completely. Still, I was very happy with the second place.

The Vehicle or Monster category attracted some very well painted pieces. I took this photo mid-morning, and several were added after this. I think they deserve a closer look...

Not really my genre, I am not a big robot, or manga fan, but nicely painted.

More pink robots, still, very crisply painted...

This next monstrous beasty, had a beautiful paint job (if you can describe it as beautiful)!

The chipped paint job on this next mech is very effective.

I am not sure if this Panzer III was 1/72 or 15mm, either way, the paint job was very nice indeed...

I had put my camera away by this point but managed to grab these last two with my phone. Firstly a big Tyranid beast.

THe final monster/vehicle was this scorpion-like Chaos vehicle. The paint job on this was wonderful, with some excellent blending on the armour plates.

My son entered the Junior painting category with his Hoplite figure from Crossover Miniatures (painted up as Iron Man).

He actually won the Junior competitiona and was really pleased to come away with the trophy...

The Wargames Unit category was hotly contested with a large number of entries. I entered my Colonial Marines and Predators, but the competition was to fierce for me...

The single figure category was also well supported with some very high standards.

 I managed to get this photo of some of the trophy winner (No.1 son, front and centre).

Overall we enjoyed the show, although there was a lack of things to do later on, as we had seen all we wanted to by around lunchtime. Having to wait around for the raffle and the painting competition results did lead to a little boredom setting in, but it did give us time to chat to a few of the traders.
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