In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reinforcements Already! Warlord Legionaries: Review

These chaps arrived in the mail last week for me to review:

Warlord Game's new boxed set of legionaries. You now get 20 legionaries and a scorpion. (The old 30 legionary box is still avaiable however from the webstore.) The box contents are:
  • 1 sprue of 10 legionaries
  • 1 sprue of 7 legionaries and 3 command figures (centurion, cornicen and signifer)
  • 1 sprue of 1 scorpion and 2 screw
  • 1 sheet of shield transfers.
Some sprue shots:

Legionary sprue front
Legionary sprue back
Command sprue front
Command sprue back
For a shot of the scorpion sprue go to my review of the Scoprion Battery here and pictures of my painting a pair of them here.

The details are all nicely executed. There is a little bit of flash that will need to be trimmed. Most of the figures are pretty simple; body, one arm (choose either pilum or gladius armed) to glue on, add shield and head. There are some nice extras on the sprues, extra empty helmets, extra pila and a few extra small shields which will be handy for making casualty markers or adding to vignettes.

For extra fun, they also included this blister pack of beauties:

The Roman slave girls. Nice sculpts. Reasonable proportions. Good detail. They look nice without going too far into male fantasy land. I have no idea right now what I'm going to do with them, but I'm sure once I have a camp or fort they'll look lovely attending to the Prefect.

Stay tuned for how I get on with painting the legionaries up.

1st Cohort update

In between work and doing a Distance Learning course for my Basic Officer Training I've been beavering away at the painting table. I've pretty much done the 1st cohort of auxiliaries, which I've aptly named 'Cohores I Gallia Victrix' (at least I hope they'll be victorious, might be a tad premature). 16 figures. I tried just the basic block painting and dip approach I've seen advocated. It was a bit frustrating actually. The plastic figures have a lot more undercuts and recesses that are hard to get at and still be tidy. I'm going to go back to giving everyone a brown base coat first, so any missed bits are brown 'shading' instead of glaring white primer!

The one ranker popped off his nail while I was removing the excess dip, but at least I didn't loose him into the can! After a bit of knocking against the rim of the can I use a brush to brush away the excess and keep it flowing. I also learned I needed to shut off my task lighting (I have a work light on a tripod that I position just beside me to shine on my work area) since I think the heat from the bulb was causing the dip to dry quicker. I just need to touch up a few spots where the Army Painter puddled, add the shield transfers and base.

I also did those scorpions I assembled:

As you can see the Tribune has been removed from his old base and I gave him some shading in a few spots. All in all I'm pretty pleased. I think some legionaries next.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The CadPat Rabbit

I have now been issued with a surprisingly large amount of clothes in varying shades of green.

Two weeks ago I was down at CFB London [edit: I've since been informed that this installation is now called "ASU (Area Support Unit) London" but I still call it Wolesley Barracks! It provides logistic, engineering and administrative support for all the Reserve and Cadet units in the 31 Brigade region] Clothing Stores getting my first issue of gear.
I was a bit nervous having never been on a DND base while actually a member of the Canadian Armed Forces before and what was I to do if I ran into the Brigade Cmdr in the men's room or something? I wasn't sure where to go and wandered into the RCEME [edit: now apparently just called EME] shop at first. Plus the QM Sergeant was a bit sharp when I called to make my appointment, not being at all happy that I wasn't able to take the first opening offered. Some of us do have day jobs after all. Fortunately it was a very pleasant M/Cpl manning the shop when I came in.

Trying out the new cadpats
The M/Cpl [edit: they've taken out the slash now to save on ink I guess, it's just MCpl] takes a calculating look at me, disappears into his stores lockup and returns with a set of 'cadpats' (Canadian Digital Pattern combats).
"Try these on"
They fit pretty well. "Gee," I say. "I thought the army only had two sizes; too big and too small!"
"We've got 4 inch increments now."
He then starts piling up a vast array of olive drab, medium green and cadpat gear; combats (2 sets), rain gear, winter combat jacket and pants, bush hat, beret, belts, insoles, knit toque, gloves, scarf, socks (wool, grey, itchy, 5 pairs), thermal underwear (2 sets) and fuzzy polar fleece sweaters and pants (2 sets, apparently worn under the rain pants in the fall and early spring). 2 pairs of combat boots. 2 voluminous duffel bags to fit it all into.

Plus I was fitted for my DEUs (Distinctive Environmental Uniform- what CF members normally wear in an office environment and colour coded by branch of service) which is what I will wear for most of my CIC career. He takes me into the stores locker and has me try samples on while writing down the sizes. I put on a tunic and he gives me another calculating look and a satisfied nod; "I like it."

Earlier this week the M/Cpl calls me at work to say my DEUs are in. I was excited. Mrs. Boss was excited for me, but then she likes clothes shopping and figured this was very similar. So I went down this morning to get them and have the final fitting on my dress tunic and trousers.
I have to fill out paperwork and cannot remember my service number. The QM Sgt. gives me a stare that she probably saves for errant children and new Officer Cadets. There's more stuff. More underwear. More socks (wool and cotton). Dress shirts, long and short sleeved. 2 pair trousers. A sweater. A top coat. A rain jacket. Another beret. Another belt. Two pairs of dress oxfords plus a pair of drill boots (which I probably won't wear after my BOTC is done). I now have more pairs of footwear than my wife. I have to try on the tunic, trousers, shoes and a shirt and go see the tailor.

The tailor is a nicely dressed older woman (probably Italian or Portuguese judging by the accent) in a back work room with a large sewing table and machine surrounded by spools of dark green thread, gold officers braid and charts of how things go on. She is quietly pleased and tells the M/Cpl "The tunic looks good." So just the pants need a bit of hemming and my tunic needs it's flashes and rank braid. Might be ready next month, or maybe September. It is the summer and she does take a vacation.

When I was enrolled my Training Officer and oldest friend gave me a nice cloth cap badge. Today I got the tailor to sew it on my beret. Needless to say when I got home I wanted to shape my beret.

Everyone in the CF has told me to cut the liner out of my beret to get a better shape. Otherwise the liner pushes the foldover up and it looks like you have a pizza on your head. So I'm about to cut the liner out of my beret.
"WHAT are you doing?" says my wife.
I explain.
She thinks it's all very silly. Surely the Department of National Defense designed the berets with a liner for a reason. Keep your head warmer. Protect the beret from your greasy hair. Protect your head from the itchy wool. Something. They could save about 50% of the cost of berets if they had them made without liners if we're just going to cut them out.
"But you can't get the right shape if you don't."
So she carefully unpicks the liner from the foldover side and carefully wets the wool. I form it and wear it around the house (wearing it now actually) while it dries into shape. So while I've got it on I decide to play 'dress-up' and put on the rest of my cadpat uniform. Mrs. Rabbitman thought it all very silly. But it's made things more real now.

Of course I notice that my cadpat shirts are older and more faded than my brand new pants. So there's an interesting point for those obsessed with getting the right shade when painting their miniatures. But at least everything fits.

Now we just have to figure out where to put it all. Plus I've got boots to polish.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Instant Army! Just Add Paint!

I hadn't meant to build an Early Imperial army this year. Honest. I've got Caesarian/Late Republican and Late Imperial armies in 15mm already. An army for the Early Empire/Principate had it's appeal obviously, but if and when I built an army of the Principate logically it should be in 15mm, right? Yeah well, Opportunity knocked, so I thought it behooved me to answer the door.

So obviously I've been fondling my new found Legions a lot lately and mentally sorting them. I've got a very good start on a decent sized army. The Warlord Starter Army contains:
  • 60 Legionaries
  • 24 Auxiliaries
  • 20 'Veteran' Legionaries
  • 20 Praetorian Guards
Add to that the 24 Auxiliaries from the boxed set and the 3 Scorpions. Plus there is the very nice Centurion that came with my copy of Hail Caesar.

I also discovered in my unpainted stash that my thoughtful friends have brought back from assorted conventions 16 of the Warlord sample Legionaries. That's a decent sized unit! While working on some WW2 Russians the other night I also remembered that on my book shelf, guarding my copies of Caesar's Gallic Wars and Goldsworthy's The Roman Army was a sample figure I got from Navigator Miniatures years back and painted up for fun. He's a nice Tribune from the Punic Wars who probably never thought he'd be commanding anything, let alone Imperial Legionaries! But here he has become the first painted figure for my new project! I want to rebase him (I'm thinking all my command will go on round bases) and do some shading on the cloak but otherwise he looks not-that-bad:

Currently I'm thinking 16-20 figure standard units. 4 figures on a 40mm x 40mm base (50x50 for cavalry and artillery). This would give me:
  • 3x 16 figure cohorts of Auxiliaries
  • 4x 20 figure cohorts of Legionaries (including the veterans)
  • 1x 16 figure cohort of Legionaries
  • 1x 20 figure cohort of Praetorians
  • 3x Scorpions
  • 2x Commanders
I am of the opinion that one should have at least 50% Auxiliaries in an Imperial army, so obviously I need more, at least 3 cohorts. I need more shooty bits too, so some cohorts of Sagitarri (archers) are a must. Especially some Eastern ones, just because their uniforms are different. Also a cohort of Funditores (slingers) would be very useful against just about anyone.

Obviously I need cavalry. 3 or 4 8-10 figure alae of your basic javelin armed Auxiliary cavalry. Cataphracts are very nifty but they didn't enter the Imperial Order of Battle until the reign of Hadrian. Of course I'm probably going to want to use this army for battles from the reign of Augustus right up to Marcus Aurelius, so maybe some cataphracts and eastern horse archers wouldn't be wrong.

I also need more commanders. A mounted Legate or two, with some other staff types to add to their bases would be nice.  In 15mm I have some nice command stands with the mounted legate surrounded by trumpeters, a standard, and a few junior officers. I'd like to repeat that in 28mm. The cohorts will also need more command groups so that every unit has at least a signum and a centurion. I also need an Eagle! I mean what self-respecting Roman army doesn't have an Eagle?

Baggage too. As readers of this blog are aware I'm quite partial to having a supply echelon for all of my miniature armies. I do have some 25mm baggage mules and wagons in my Medieval collection that I could co-opt if I can come up with some suitably Roman looking drivers.

To fight them I am fortunate in that two of my friends are also building 25mm Romans. There were certainly lots of civil wars to inspire scenarios until somebody can build a German or Persian army.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Plastic Legions of Doom!

My doom marches upon me with the tread of tiny plastic hobnailed caligulae.

It looks like I'm going to be busy for a while!

Warlord Roman Auxilia Cohort: A Review

Another new set from Warlord is their box of Roman Auxiliaries. This is a very nice set as well. The boxed set contains 5 sprues of plastic rank and file, a sheet of shield transfers and a metal comand group of Centurion, Trumpeter, Signifer and a very serious Optio.

All 5 sprues are identical. Each sprue has everything you need to make four soldiers.

Front view
Back view
 The metal command group is fairly standard, but nicely animated. Flash was minimal but there were lots of little vent stems to trim off. These little bits of pewter are annoying, but they are a neccessary evil to get all that detail in the casting.

The trumpeter is blowing the charge on a straight tuba (or it could be the shorter salpinx) and is one piece. The Centurion is charging with his gladius ready to thrust into the face of an enemy. He comes with a separate shield. The Signifer comes with a choice of two standards; a signa and a imago (bust of the Emperor). The Optio is a big Celt with long moustaches and a braid. He has a separate shield and his spear arm is separate as well to allow for the more animated gesturing as he encourages his troops to get stuck in.

Assembling the troops too a bit longer than the artillery. There is not as much option for the builds either. The arms go with particular torsos, which I found fairly logical and figured out by matching the flat surfaces for joining, but when I was onto my third sprue I noticed on the back each torso was numbered and the arms also had corresponding numbers. (You can just make these numbers out on the Back View above, located on the sprue stems near the pieces.) Because of the construction of the mail sleeves there isn't as much scope for varying the pose without getting into cutting and green stuff. One figure is thrusting with his gladius, another is thrusting with his hasta, a third is throwing overhand and the fourth has his hasta tucked under arm for some more forceful poking. There are five heads to choose from though, giving some variety. Care must be taken when gluing the hasta in the hands to give room for figures behind to rank up.

This unit is definitely attacking though! No standing about with their spears up for these fellows.

Ironically the metal command group were harder to assemble than the plastics. The super glue I was using was total rubbish and didn't bond. The parts were too small to use 5 minute epoxy and clamping. After a bit of searching I found my 'Gorilla Glue' brand superglue and that did the trick. Although I reinforced around joins with some epoxy wherever I could. The biggest disappoinment  was the staff on the nicely detail signum breaking in two places on me! So you'll see in the picture above my Signifer is now waving a vexilla pinched from a sprue of Wargames Factory figures. But that's OK. I've always maintained that any Roman army should have loads of Auxilia and different standards with each unit is nice.

Definitely a worthwhile purchase for any aspiring legate.

Warlord Scorpion Battery: A Review

These showed up last week:

A lovely box of the new Roman Scorpion Battery by Warlord games. In the box are three identical sprues.

Each sprue builds one scorpion with two crew; one kneeling ammunition handler and one standing to sight or cock the weapon.

These go together very quickly. I think it was a matter of 10 minutes to build each machine and it's two crew. There are multiple head and arm options so you can get some variety out of your artillerists. I did my first two on the right in bog standard loading poses. The hands on the lever are nicely done. The lever is molded into one hand and the other has a socket in it. I recommend slotting them together first before gluing the arms on at the shoulders. Make sure your scorpion is built first so you can position the arms so the lever fits into the crank when the glue sets!

The next pair on the left I opted for a more relaxed waiting pose on the loader while the gunner has removed his helmet and is shielding his eyes with his hands for a better sight.

The details are all nicely executed and the hands on the figures are very delicate. There is also a set of very tiny Optio's feathers to turn one of your figures into the battery commander. The arms are pretty interchangeable thanks to the big shoulder plates on the lorica segmenta, giving lots of options for how you combine them.

You can't see them in the background but there are big quivers of bolts to put on the ground beside the loader. Another nice detail is the metal face plate on the mechanism of the scorpion which matches archaeological findings. There are also some extra bolts to have loose on the ground or you could add them to a bigger wicker basket if you've got one. A final nice touch is the addition of some plastic sudes, or stakes, that the legionaries used for building camp defences. There are three singles that you can glue together into an X, or jack, like those WW2 beach defences and a section of 5 roped together to form a barrier at the top of an earthen embankment.

A must for anyone wanting to recreate the Siege of Jerusalem but also very useful for field battles. The Romans weren't shy about using artillery in set piece battles. Scorpions were quite accurate and deadly, being able to pierce the stoutest shield and  pin two men together.  Although the exploding napalm missiles from Gladiator are a bit over the top!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So, What's This About Rabbits in My Basement?

Vain fool that I am, I like to check the stats on my blog. I also check where the hits are coming from.

Occasionally among the traffic sources (mostly The Miniatures Page, The Lead Adventures Forum  or other gaming blogs) and search words (mostly about war games or something I reviewed), I find someone searching about rabbits.

Especially "can I keep rabbits in my basement?"

OK fellow rabbit-lover and seeker of wisdom, this blog entry is for you.

So yes, I have rabbits in my basement. Four of them. Used to have five, but one died last winter. But not, I should hasten to add, from living in the basement.

We started with one. A lovely 6 or 7 month old grey doe with long ears we adopted from the Animal Shelter and named Nigella. We kept her in a roomy cage in the living room where she could be with us. My girls tried to make friends and get her slowly accustomed to us.

Two weeks into her new life I was working midnights. My wife wakes me up; "Guess what Nigella has for you?"

"No. You're kidding me right?"

"Go take a look." Why does all the weird crap happen when you're on midnights?

So I stagger downstairs and Nigella has made a nest in one corner and given birth to four squirming bundles. She's in the opposite corner looking as surprised as we are.

So we hit the books and started researching the ins and outs and how-tos of having baby rabbits. After a few hours we realize she's getting pretty frazzled being in the cage with the kittens. New mothers do need a break from their babies and mother rabbits need more than others. In the wild rabbits leave the nest unattended all day and come back in the evening to nurse.

So we made a run with some chicken wire and out she hopped, went to furthest corner from the nest and promptly lay down for a nap.

Nigella and the kids at a few months old.
 A friend came over with his circular saw and with the chicken wire, some 2x4s, some screws and a staple gun we made a couple of six foot fence sections connected by a hinge. We used these to block off the corner of the living room. The kittens grew and started exploring further from the nest. Watching the little furballs romp about was better than TV (and this was before we cut the cable). We started adding boxes, tubes, potted plants and things to give them more to play with.

The thing with rabbits is they have teeth, and anything fibrous (like carpeting) they will chew and rip. They will also nibble at anything loose (like wallpaper). Male rabbits also start spraying when they hit adolescence. (I only pee on you because I love you.) Actually it's a handy way to tell which are bucks and which aren't. So within about 5 months we had a corner of the living room with torn up, urine stained carpet and shredded wallpaper.

A few months old. When they all got along!
Well we had wanted to repaint the walls and replace the carpet with laminate flooring.

See? say the bunnies, We were helping!

So they pushed our planned redecorating ahead a few years, but I had a good job and we'd been saving for it. But we had to remove the warren to the basement so the flooring guys could do their work. We had previously moved their cages to the basement during heatwaves as well.

Our basement is dry with a cement floor. They have their cages up against one wall. The wall studs are covered over with chicken wire and then sheets of card (mainly to keep their scattered detritus from getting through the chicken wire) so they won't chew the wiring. Then the barriers are used to form a roughly 6x6 foot section that they take turns romping in. Mom and one daughter still live together and get along OK (most of the time). But the two bucks are separated and even though they've been fixed, they still fight, given the chance. 

 So everyone takes turns. Nigella and Lennier get out when I get up for work and they romp all morning. When my wife comes home after lunch they go home (encouraged by the filling of the food dish). Biggles is then let out for the afternoon. Then around dinner time Gordie takes his turn. Chloe used to be allowed out all night. She had mobility issues and we figured she needed the most opportunities for exercise. She was also the least likely to get up to mischief. But those issues finally caught up with her last winter, so now we don't have a night shift in the Warren.


They aren't left in the dark. We have a compact fluorescent light set up by the Warren. There is a communal litter pan which most of them use as sort of a Bunny Scent Network Message Board. But Nigella and Gordie like to dig. We also try to keep a couple of boxes with hay in them for nesting, nibbling, exploring and relaxing.

Nigella and Lennier relaxing.
Chloe's cage is empty now. But it is guarding a weak spot in the wire, so we 're leaving it in the Warren. Gordie's old cage is on top, also empty, to prevent Lennier from jumping up there. We moved Gordie into a more spacious cage outside of the Warren because he seemed down in the dumps. Being glared at by his homicidal brother all day wasn't terribly relaxing. Biggles lives on top of his mother's cage so that way the boys don't fight through the bars when one of them is out.

We had planned to move the gang back upstairs after the redecorating was done. We were looking at linoleum sections to protect the laminate flooring from scratching claws and urine. But during all of this we discovered that my youngest daughter is allergic to rabbits and had developed asthma. Having 5 fur producers up stairs (plus the dust from their hay) was aggravating her condition. Also the heat from the back doors during the summer months stressed the bunnies out. Staying in the basement just seemed better for everyone. On my daughter's good days she still goes down to visit and give them treats. They also get regular interaction, ear and nose scratching, pats, claw inspections and opportunities to sniff us and find out what we've been doing during shift changes in the Warren.

For diet they get Kaytee Timothy Hay which we buy in the large 96 oz. bag and they go through almost one a week. They also get a quarter cup scoop of Martins Little Friends brand Adult Rabbit Feed. It has more fiber and less protein than their rabbit pellets designed for younger bunnies. They also get spoilt regularly with slices of apple and pear, grapes and cherries, bits of lettuce etc. They got more when Gordie was upstairs regularly advocating for snacks (he would go into a very alert intense stare every time he heard me in the kitchen slicing up an apple). We also regularly bribe them with some treats from Kaytee. These are little balls of seeds stuck together with something they like. But the ball format makes the portioning easier. Also every year when we prune our apple trees we save the sticks for them and they love to chomp on those and eat the bark and (when they're fresh) the leaves.

We really need to get our rabbits an endorsement deal with Kaytee to help defray some of the costs! We also like to give them a change of pace with a mix of Oat, Wheat and Barley hay from Alfalfa King. We always leave a pile inside a box so they can munch and relax. Biggles really enjoys this product and looks forward to it when he gets his turn to romp.

We've tried various options for bedding. Cat litter, although they loved to dig in it, was too dusty, couldn't add it to the compost pile (too much clay and we live on heavy clay already!) plus Nigella was eating it which didn't seem too good. Traditional wood shavings got everywhere, were expensive and you can't sift the droppings out. We then found ground up corn cobs and have stuck with them. The corn waste material is ground into little pellets that absorb the urine but can be sifted if dry to remove the droppings and leave the bedding.

But I like rabbits as pets. Some of them are quite bright and learn behaviours and benefit from routines. If one says the word 'grape' anywhere near the Warren then four sets of ears immediately perk up! They're very quiet, pretty undemanding (except when Nigella wants her nose and ears scratched, then I've got an all day job if I wanted) and if you have to clean up animal feces (which you do with any pet), rabbit droppings are probably the least offensive.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

28mm WW2 Canadians

I just finished this commission for a friend; a company's worth of 28mm Bolt Action British/Canadian infantry. I was quite pleased with the detail of sculpting and lack of flash.

For paints I used Tamiya's Khaki for the uniforms, and Americana Khaki Tan for the webbing. Games Workshop Boltgun for the gun metal and Americana Lampblack for the boots. Cermacoat Burnt Umber for the wooden stocks, boot soles, hair and bases. I then coated everyone in the Army Painter dip. the dip does leave a gloss finish on the figures but it does give a good hard protective coat. One figure fell onto the cement floor during the photo shoot and received nary a scratch or chip!

A couple of NCOs and a Medic
Ron has a nice little company. His two 32 man platoons are amply supported by a 3" mortar from No. 3 platoon, 2 Vickers guns from the Divisional MG battalion and a pair of sniper teams from Battalion HQ. There are enough extra figures to give a Company HQ with Company commander, medic, a CSM, a pair of PIAT teams and a couple of HQ runners. Each platoon has an officer, an NCO with sten gun and three 10 figure sections, each with a bren team and a sten wielding NCO.

The troops all seem to be in heavily camouflaged late war Mk III 'Turtle' helmets. The NCOs and one officer are all carrying the sten. These details make them perfect for North West Europe from D-Day onwards. Ron will have to ignore these things when they fight his Italian paratroopers. For some other opposition he had me paint up  a rather outnumbered quartet of Volksturm, including one old buffer in his WW1 pickelhaulbe. I hope they get some hidden movement!

PIAT teams
The PIAT teams came in both firing and moving. He had me base the prone team on a large GW round base. The brown khaki actually blends into the green flocking rather well.

PIAT team fro another angle

Vickers MMG teams
The Vickers teams came in two variations. The one on the left has the gunner and gun as one casting. With the team on the right the gun was cast separately from the kneeling gunner.

The mortar was nice but like all mortars I found it a bit fiddly to put together.

Scout and Sniper teams

Squaddies with bren team
The riflemen came in a nice variety of poses. I thought the Lee Enfield rifles seemed a bit thick and the Bren guns seemed short, but I haven't been around a real Bren gun for a while. I don't know if these lead figures are still in production actually. They may have been replaced by the new hard plastic set.

An assortment of squaddies

More squaddies
Here are the defenders of the Fatherland. The WW1 veteran even has an Iron Cross on his jacket. I painted that black so it was outlined, then picked out the raised detail with silver and then filled in the center with black again. They need some bicycles for transport and a few panzerfausts too! Or maybe just some white flags...


Friday, July 1, 2011


The announcement of this release, an 18th century supplement for Black Powder, has just splashed all over the war gaming web. I'm excited.

I'm surprised they didn't do the larger Napoleonic or American Civil War eras first, but I shan't complain.

It appears I have something else to try and save my pennies for now. But at least a book doesn't add to the lead pile!