Thursday 27 December 2018

Natal Native Contingent

During this years Painting Challenge I am not focusing on just one army or new project. Instead I decided I would revisit some of my older armies and finally get around to adding to them like I have been saying I would for ages. The first of these additions are four of companies of Natal Native Contingent to support the British Infantry I painted in the Challenge last year.

The NNC were an Auxiliary force of mostly Basuto and Mponso troops who were recruited to fight alongside the colonial regulars. They were generally organised along the same lines as the British troops with companies of about 100 warriors with 6 NCO's and three Officers per company. They were not issued with uniform and were only distinguishable from their Zulu opponents by a red bandanna worn around their heads. Fears about arming native warriors (even allies) meant that only one in ten were issued with a rifle.

Some Imperial officers (such as Colonel Durnford, who died at Isandlwana) believed the NNC should have been used as scouts and light infantry. Less wise heads however decided these troops were only good for menial labour, believing their fighting ability was negligible. Sadly they remained poorly lead and ill used throughout the war against the Zulu's and not surprisingly their performance in battle reflected this. At Isandlwana for instance they fought hard but in the end died alongside their better armed white comrades. 

I may paint some more of these at a later date but these four companies will keep me going for the time being. 

Monday 24 December 2018

Father Grottmass!

Winter has enfolded the land in its cold embrace and magic hangs thick in the air. Now is the time of year when goblins are abroad so lock your doors, bar your shutters and stoke up the fire. Tramping through the snow Father Grottmass is just as likely to hit you over the head and take your presents than leave some under the tree. I guess that's one way of dealing with the naughty list!

Starting the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge with a fantasy figure is becoming something of a tradition for me so when I found this in my Lead Mountain I knew it had to be my opening entry to Challenge IX. This is a 28mm white metal figure from Midlam Miniatures. It came with a plastic slotta base but I swapped this for a cork 'rock' and cut a slot in it to mount the figure. This setup gave me more surface area to add some groundwork such as snow and frost covered grass. I'm getting quite a collection of Christmas themed models, but I expect I'll have to raise my game for Challenge Ten!

This was a relatively quick and easy figure to paint with plenty of detail in the model to make shading and highlighting easy. I particularly enjoyed the little details like his fake beard and the skull tassel on the tip of his hat. I was able to get most of the painting done Friday morning before heading into work, with a few hours in the evening for varnishing and groundwork. The 'snow' (from Tamiya) takes a couple of hours to set but it is by far the best snow product I have ever used. It is very easy to apply using a small spatula and can be smoothed easily with a wet brush.

So a modest opening entry but at least I have points on the board. I'm already working hard on my next entry for my Anglo Zulu War project but I don't expect that will be ready until after the holidays. So let me take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas. 

Wednesday 12 December 2018

It's Oh so Quiet

I was going to write a post entitled Calm before the Storm about how I don't have much to blog about at the moment but am non-the-less busy preparing for the Painting Challenge... and then I realised I'd done exactly that a couple of years ago before Challenge VII. It seems this phenomenon is not a one off and probably proceeds every Challenge. I am quite busy, buying, prepping, cleaning and tidying my desk and generally getting ready for the starting pistol to fire next week. I'm having fun though, because the weeks preceding the Winter Challenge always tend to be filled with buying models and materials and receiving lots of fun parcels in the post.

One thing I have been particularly enjoying is tinkering with my planning for the challenge. For the last three events I have been using a spreadsheet to record everything I do for the competition. I'm able to keep track of planned projects and ideas here as well as recording the points I score as I go along. All very boring for those that aren't into such admin geekery, but it keeps me happy. And just to add to my slice of spreadsheet heaven I have now been sent the amazing Tome of MathMagics; the shared spreadsheet used by the competitions judges (of which I am one this year) to record the points they are giving out. So now I can go into the AHPC with not one but two spreadsheets to keep me happy...bliss.

Saturday 1 December 2018

Dragonmeet 2018

PictureWay back in the mists of time (while still a callow youth) I started my gaming life as a player of Roleplaying Games. A small group of school friends and I got together and started playing the classic RPG, Dungeons and Dragons. The same group kept going for many years playing several versions of DandD and exploring a wide range of other games including my first venture into wargaming with Warhammer Fantasy Battles. We would regularly attend a small Tabletop Gaming convention called Dragonmeet but as the years passed, the group dispersed and my interests moved firmly from RPG's to Wargaming, I stopped going to the show. 

Its been a fair few years since I last went to Dragonmeet and in the intervening years it has continued to grow and prosper becoming the largest event of its kind in the UK. The show is a broad church with a wide range of demo and participation board and role play games; a bring and buy stall; a Magic card game tournament; guest panels; and traders selling games, dice, models and everything in between. In recent years my eldest daughter and her friends have started playing DandD and regularly attend Dragonmeet. Up till now I hadn't wanted to cramp their style by tagging along (I'm a bonafide old fart after all) but this year they offered a spare ticket to me and I couldn't ignore the invitation and the chance to revisit a fond corner of my gaming heritage.

The bring and buy stall. Plenty of bargains for those lucky enough to find what they are looking for.

Perry and Sarah... 2nd generation gamers.

There were lots of Demo games taking place, many featuring newly released games and kickstarters.

Shadow Warriors with their WW I aerial warfare game. 

Dice...lots and lots of dice.

Sarah and her friends buying gaming mats

More demo games... Is it me or are these getting more complicated over time? Seriously, you need an overdraft and a forklift to buy these games.

Ian Livingston signing copies of his Fighting Fantasy books. 

Meeting  John Kovalic; cartoonist, games designer and jolly nice chap.

What a great day! The show has certainly changed since my last visit, but for the better. More traders, more space for participation games and a wider selection of seminars. I was even able to pick up some miniatures that may make it into the Painting Challenge.