Thursday, 11 August 2022

French 7th Hussars trooper in 54mm

Last February I had published a work in progress post of a 54mm French Napoleonic Hussar.  Those who missed that post can see it here. The figure has been ready for a couple of months now but being the lazy bugger that I am, it took me all this time to come round to take a few half decent pictures suitable for publication.

The figure itself is from M Model and is painted entirely with Vallejo acrylics. No oils. The figure is finished in ultra matt varnish but the horse has been finished in satin. All reins and buckles are scratch built. This is my second 54mm figure, the first one having been done quite a few years ago and can be seen here. These figures take up quite some time to finish and obviously the level of detail is much higher but they are also very rewarding when complete. And they certainly make eye catching show pieces in any collector's cabinet! 

My current project is a 1:72 scale diorama of an Avro Lancaster inspired by a recent visit to the Derwent dam in the UK. This is the place where the famous 617 Squadron made their practice runs before their raids on the Ruhr dams. The build is still in its very early stages (hampered by domestic refurbishment works) so I expect it will be some time before I will be able to present anything of this project. Until then keep well!


Monument to 617Sqdn with Derwent dam in the background


Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Another 28mm medieval knight walkthrough

Having finished the 54mm French Hussar (more on this in a future post) and not really having any particular thing going, a couple of weeks ago I decided to paint another Front Rank MAA just as a filler between projects. Rather than present the finished figure, I am posting a set of step-by-step pics showing the gradual build up to the finished knight. Now I know I’ve already done something similar in the past but I like presenting these kind of ‘tutorials’ in the hope that someone might find them useful or somehow inspirationanal. And it's my blog anyway, so there! All pics are taken by mobile phone so apologies for the low quality. Hope you enjoy anyway!

I failed to take pics of the initial phase but it is mainly black primer followed by a base coat of black brown for the horse and saddle. The caparison will be showing a rampant bear motif on a green field with a dark red border. The process kicks off by sketching a basic figure of the bear in brown earth. The first pic picks up from here. All colours Vallejo except for Games Workshop Nuln Oil wash.

The rampant bear on the right is filled in with details using a mixture of browns and buff on a field of black green. The border is black red. The basic sketch which forms the basis of the front of the caparison can be seen on the front quarter on left.

To create a separator between the rear quarters I created an ‘embroidery’ pattern with a petalled flower motif

Once highlighted, the green field seemed too bare (excuse the pun!) so I added a yellow cross of St Andrew. The ‘embroidery’ pattern is carried on around the caparison border.
The front sinister quarter is completed but the bear resembles more of an otter!

Starting dexter side now. Same process. Sketch, detail, field, border, and finally cross.

Front dexter bear rampant detailled.

Field, cross, and border all base coated. I used brown earth as a base for the yellow cross

Front caparison dexter quarter complete

A plant & flower motif is added to the interior lining of the caparison to make it look that little bit richer  

Front armour and main saddle strap added

Same stage sinister (left) side

 I added some random curly patterns to the saddle to represent wood inlay. Armour washed in GW Nuln Oil

Saddle 'wood inlay' rear view


Base is flocked and horse is complete. Note the saddle pin.

Work now starts on the figure with the face and jupon. I went for a simple linen look so as not to elaborate the model too much.

Lance arm, armour, scabbard and all leather belts still to be done

Added lance pennant and finished!   


Monday, 16 May 2022

A quick dash to neighbouring Sicily

We Maltese always complain that our geographical location is not ideal for travel. Being at the edge of the continent and on an island to boot means that you must endure a good number of hours of travel to anywhere on the mainland.  However, our location also puts us close to the uncut jewel that is Sicily, often overlooked and dismissed by quite a few people as a place to be somehow avoided.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Last week the wife and I grabbed our car and made a quick visit to this Mediterranean gem, visiting Cefalu', Savoca, and Marzamemi, driving down the Taormina coast, past Isola Bella and Naxos. A truly wonderful break facilitated by glorious weather. All it takes is a 90 minute trip by catamaran from Grand Harbour in Valletta to Pozzallo at the southern tip of Sicily. 

Snow capped Mount Etna in all its volcanic glory

Cefalu's old town is absolutely magical with narrow medieval streets dominated by an imposing Norman 12th century cathedral which is a UNESCO world heritage site.  The cathedral must have made a strong statement of Norman power after they conquered Sicily, southern Italy, and even Malta itself from the Arabs. It's heavy build must surely have been meant to advertise Norman prowess and control. Add to all this the great food and wine and you have a truly unbeatable combination!

The cathedral's imposing facade

Cefalu at night dominated by the Norman cathedral

A two hour eastward motorway drive along the north Sicilian coast takes you to Messina and thence south towards Taormina. Just before reaching that lovely town, the junction towards Santa Teresa di Riva takes you down to the shore before leading you up again through a steep winding uphill road leading to the village of Savoca. This place is just incredibly beautiful, perched on a steep hill and surrounded by terraced olive groves, vineyards and bougainvillae. The church of St Nicholas lies perched at a cliff's edge and commands views across azure waters to mainland Italy.

Savoca was relatively unknown until it featured in Coppola's first Godfather film. The church of St Nicholas, the Bar Vitelli, and the village square all featured prominently in the film, even if they were standing in for the town of Corleone. This place is an obligatory stop for any film buff but even if you're not an afficionado, this charming village is definitely worth a visit.

Savoca with the church of St Nicholas perched on a cliff's edge
A closer view of the church of St Nicholas where the wedding scene was shot.

Bar Vitelli features prominently in the film and remains pretty much unchanged today

On Bar Vitelli's front with the missus. In case you were wondering, the guy on the left is definitely NOT Al Pacino!

The last leg of our drive took us to Marzamemi at the south eastern tip of Sicily. This is an old fishing village not far from Syracuse and the baroque city of Noto. It is admittedly quite run down in places but the old centre has been delightfully converted to house an array of open air restaurants and wine bars which are quite well frequented by locals and tourists alike. Another fine place in the sun!

Marzamemi's old centre is dotted with open air restaurants just like this one

So now the scene is set for a longer visit sometime in the near future (hopefully) but when that happens we'll be going to the west side of the island. The one thing I'll say is that if you're ever around these parts, do take some time to visit Sicily - it's definitely worth it!


Wednesday, 11 May 2022

A couple of pro bono commissions

Having finally resolved my posting issues it is time to return to the keyboard. These last two months I carried out a couple of commissions to two of my gaming buddies. Two of my pals set up Jakobovo (or Klyastitsy) in 28mm and I noticed that one of them fielded Napoleon himself as commander of a meagre corps. This struck me as overkill so I enquired why couldn't he use another figure? His reply was that he didn't have any other high ranking marshal or equivalent in his collection so this set me off to provide him with one. I didn't have too many high ranking officers but I finally landed a miniature of Soult from Perry Miniatures.

A couple of days later, another of the guys asked me to repaint a handful of command figures which he had had for some time but wasn't happy with the way they were painted. There was a miniature of Napoleon, another of Blucher, and another three what seemed as staff officers - British and Prussian. As he had gotten them from somebody else, the manufacturer unfortunately remained unknown. The painting wasn't too bad but it could definitely be improved.

The following pics show the figures as they were delivered to me.

Poor Boney looked like he had just been mugged by Spanish guerilleros!
First up is 'Le Petit Caporal' obviously
A stern Emperor reviews his troops
The Guard officer is an old figure I've had for ages. Maybe Hinchcliffe?

The next figure is a British Light Dragoon officer (or so I presume). In a nod to the Ukranian situation I chose that country's colours for his plume.  The French infantryman is from Perry's plastics box.

Next up is another British staff officer. He was originally painted in blue but we all know that just doesn't fly does it? I've no idea if this is a personality figure or just a generic officer.

And next up is "Old Vorwarts", Field Marshal Gebhard von Blucher himself !


And finally another Prussian staff officer who could be anyone really.  Could be Gneisenau but he is never depicted wearing a moustache as far as I know.

Apologies if picture quality is not optimal but I shifted a few things around the house lately and the usual place where I take my pics is not available any more. So until I find a new area I had to make do with a temporary spot but unfortunately the light was not ideal. Another pesky issue to sort out............