Monday, 29 August 2016

You Know How You Get These Ideas?

I've always loved the look of the Age Of Reason, more specifically the Marlburian era.

I think it goes back to the Wednesday night down at Sheffield Wargames Society, when the scholarly, gentleman wargamer John Armatys, invited me to play a game using his wonderful Marlburian English and 7YW Prussians, using his fast play rules (Musket, Fife & Drum' I seem to recall).

John's English army was I think, made up from the Stratagem range, and was painted in a wonderful traditional style, with intricate renditions of the Grenadier's mitre cap front plates, meticulously researched.

This is one of my favourite armies of all time, and I would happily pay Mr Armatys a very tidy sum for that army, I can tell you... (If he ever offers me the opportunity, you'll read of it here)

Anyway, despite painting many for other folk, I've never owned a 25mm army for this period, thus, I decided to rectify that and I've ordered two armies from Ebor Miniatures, with the plan to have them both painted for me.

I had decided on a Bourbon Spanish to comprise:

14 infantry regiments

9 Horse regiments

Half a dozen guns

And because a bit like group sex, one is never sufficient, I decided to also order a Piedmont-Savoy army which comprises:

12 infantry regiments

8 horse regiments

4 guns & crew

I'm really looking forward to seeing it all on the table. The process of getting it all painted will take about 2 years, but if they are anything like the last year, they will just fly by.

Now, if I could tempt Mr Armatys with an opening offer of £600...

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A New Layout Arrives At The Dark Tower

This Wednesday past, I had the joy of receiving my latest layout from the talented Steve Hornsey of Lincolnshire.

I cannot sing his praises highly enough, as once again Steve has turned my sketches and disjointed email rantings into everything I envisaged and more.

 I am a painter of miniature figures in my day job, but when it gets to the end of the week, I really don't want to paint wargames figures (my 35 year hobby) for myself. So, I thought a model railroad in N scale, was a great way to 'keep the hand and eye in'.

However, I am useless with electrics and the thought of track laying for me, is a horror scenario.
Therefore I had the trackwork and basic groundwork done for me. I will then add the buildings, scenery, trees and things of that ilk.

I am aiming for 'sometime in the 80s' and the two layouts are set just either side of the U.S/Canadian border, in a fictional 'Amalgam U.S.A' tradition, derived from growing up here in the UK on a diet od 70s and 80s National Geographic magazines, Snoopy cartoons and those 80s films where it always seems to be Autumn.

The smaller shelf layout which you've seen before, I know, is 6 feet by 13 inches and Represents 'Dogpile, Alberta'. It's a kind of backwater town and the layout is a small yard on the edge of the rough side of the tracks, populated by down and outs, train hoppers and the seedier type of humanity. It's wired for dcc with manual turnouts.

The larger layout is 12 feet by 30 inches. As you can see it's essentially late Summer into early Fall. There'll be a LOT of seafoam trees and I have a 60 litre box of the stuff under the tables. The foliage you can see is simply scenic padding.

To the rear are the yards at Asenath, while to the right is an industrial area (probably the most 'modern' area on the layout at Lovecraft Bend. To the front is Whateley Point, which will be a scruffy and characterful harbour. I'm mixing red brick with older wooden structures, and aim to use DPM and Bar Mills with a tickle of Artitec and Modeltech, as well as lights by Woodland Scenics. This layout is again DCC with automated DC turnouts this time due to the size of the layout.

I'm really looking forward to bringing the work of Steve Hornsey to life and I hope you'll find my w.i.p post to be a fun distraction.

I reiterate, that I am trying to get a lot of 'American Character and Charm' into the layouts and ithe layouts are not based on any single real place.

Anyway, here are a few pics of the starting point layouts, installed in their rightful places in my studio, with fittings, curtains and DCC all finished.

This project cost me £1300 plus a few bits that I paid for and asked Steve to include, and the smaller one was about a thousand less. Both are powered by my NCE Powercab with an additional CAB06 engineer's throttle to allow for two or three operators on the layouts. Turnouts are operated by stud and probe switches.

I am guessing that I will need 75-100 buildings for the large layout, which at an average of £35 each, is going to be quite an undertaking indeed, but one which intend to relish. This railroading lark makes wargaming look like a weed habit compared to one of angel dust.

Lighting is going to be expensive, but I made a start on Friday when I saw the TAG Models in Doncaster was offering the Woodland Scenics 'Just Plug' range as a 3-4-2 deal, which meant I saved around £30 on this little lot:

Now, if you will excuse me I need to go and soak in a hot bath with an improving book, as it is my 23rd wedding anniversary (28th year together) and we are going to go out and celebrate with a good Thai meal this evening.

Enjoy your weekend!


Praise Of The Highest Order For Ebor Miniatures

Now, here is an example of superb customer service and relations, which is always something to be praised.
Ebor Miniatures had quoted me a price for a large 28mmSpanish WSS army comprised of 12 regiments of foot, 8 of horse and 6 guns.
So, upon reflecting on this, I said I'd double my order and then some, and add a Savoyard army, for a total of 15 horse, 26 foot and 16 guns
Today I was sent the bill, which seemed a little high by 3 figures, and so, I questioned it and just got a reply that the amount was indeed correct, but Nick at Ebor had realised that he had transposed the figures on one of the prices in the original quote, which made that considerable difference. 
But he said, it was his error and the price would be honoured.
So, he can bet his bottom dollar that I will be a returning customer in the future, and I'll more than make up for his goodwill, I am sure.


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

In Possession Of 25Kgs Of Grass...

So, I'm asleep, enjoying my holiday when, at 7:20AM the first delivery of static grass arrived from the manufacturers. 
But, because I love you all so much, I dragged myself downstairs without the aid of a coffee and dug out one bag of each colour to show you.

It's worth noting that because 'S.N.A.F.U'  know modellers and wargamers are an appreciative bunch, we had all but one made in matte format and the other (white) in a semi-dull finish.

The quality has really impressed us. Remember, I use static grass every day in my other guise of a full time figure painter. I have always used Mininatur/Silflor, but I can confirm that I will be switching to my own brand as each new project begins for my account clients.

In short it's top quality with none of the supply issues which I've had with Mininatur in the last 12 months or so.

And of course it also means that I can supply direct to the customer at pretty amazing prices.

This is why 'S.N.A.F.U' is retail supply only.

Right, now if you will excuse me, I need coffee and to get back to my vacation :)


Saturday, 20 August 2016

S.N.A.F.U - Flock You!

Greetings all,

I just thought I’d share the latest news regarding the initial release of flocks from Conflict In Colour, branded as ’S.N.A.F.U’  ( Situation Normal All Flocked Up ).

We have decided on 15 initial products which in brief are:

0.5mm - 3 colours, chosen for adding a ‘ground cover’ effect when blended in with other colours. In the case of white it can be used as snow or mixed with other shades to create a slightly frosted grass effect.

2mm - 10 colours including two ready mixed grasses for those who want to just ‘flock and go’ and 8 ‘solid’ colours which can be used for a more uniform look or blended. In particular there 5 green tones which we suggest are great for creating tonal blends when mixed together with other shades.

4mm - 2 colours which will work either on their own or blended to represent grassland which has started to 'grow out’.

We aim to add more colours and custom mixes over time, as well as longer fibres.

We also aim to be price competitive with a 20g bag retailing at £1.75

We can also supply larger volumes by arrangement, P.O.A.

We have selected to focus initially on 2mm as it is by far the most useful ‘off the shelf’ length of fibre for all scales, giving great coverage and a pleasing finish, even without a static grass applicator. 

All Conflict In Colour basing is done with 2mm, apart from where a customer specifically requests otherwise, and does not involve an applicator. It is this considerable experience with the 2mm fibres which has driven the decision to launch the S.N.A.F.U range with this length at the core.

The range will ‘go live’ in early autumn 2016, and photos of all the colours ‘in situ’ on bases will be available shortly.



Conflict In Colour

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sir Nigel Isn't Looking Well...

To celebrate my birthday today, my wife and I drove up to York to the National Railway Museum.

To be honest, with the exception of the Coronation Scot, it was much less inspiring than the last time I went, around 35 years ago.

One interesting element was the workshops where the public can watch restoration work being undertaken.

I was watching the operation being undertaken on an engine, and it was only when I changed my angle of view that I realised it was the venerable Sir Nigel Gresley, who seemed to be rather thin, compared to when I last saw him.

Poor Sir Nigel...

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Smoking Marlborough...

I mentioned, I think in my review of Britcon, that I'd picked up a rather expensive (but fair) copy of the C S Grant classic, 'From Pike To Shot'.

Well, I was browsing the net of interconnectivity the other day, when I found that a similar pair of books had been written by Mr Grant essentially bringing 'FPTS' up to date and adding excellent colour plates by Bob Marrion. What was more, there was a second edition which amalgamated the two earlier volumes int a single A4 sized glossy hardback, seductively priced at £35 direct from Caliver Books.

As it is my 48th birthday on Thursday, I ordered it, as a birthday present to myself.

It was delivered today, and boy dies it have the 'wow!' factor.

The book is a really high quality  throughout and it's more than just a re-hashing of 'FPTS'. It seriously expands the  sections on the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese armies with both uniform specifics and the stunning Marrion plates which make the whole thing 'pop'.

If you have any interest at all in the War Of The Spanish Succession, then this is the book for you.  Ignore the £35 price tag, because quite honstly you will thank yourself when you open this 128 page cornucopia of tricorne-wearing goodness.

Go on... You owe it to yourself!


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Coming Soon From 'Conflict In Colour': 2mm Static Grass

Late Summer will see the release of a range of 2mm static grass by Conflict In Colour.

2mm is the ideal length for all wargame scales from 2mm to 28mm and of course for model railroads in N and OO scales.

We decided to focus on 2mm as it gives a great finish which does not overpower the figure, covers really nicely and does not require the dreaded static grass applicator.

There will be a very wide range of shades to satisfy both historical and fantasy/sci-fi fans, and prices will start at just £1.45 for approximately 20g.

Check out in the coming weeks for more details.

Day Two Of The Holiday And Tears Were Shed... In Praise Of Steve Hornsey.

Now, I am by nature a cynical, critical and generally flinty-hearted bastard. I do not apologise nor make excuses for this fact.

You may recall that last year, I commissioned an 8ft model railroad, which, when it turned up after almost 9 months was frankly a major disappointment. It never ran, looked bloody awful and I think that the control panel was completed by a 6-year old.

And then, earlier this year I found Steve Hornsey, and a ray of sunshine burst forth upon the Dark Tower.

You will no doubt remember that I spoke very highly of the 6 foot shunting layout which Steve built for me and which, lives in my studio, and over which I fawn regularly, caressing the fine ballasting and stroking the wonderful back drop.

Well, I commissioned Steve to take on what I understand is his largest project to date, in the shape of a 12 foot by 2.6 foot North American themed layout in N scale.

It was a bastard of a brief:

1. No continuous loop but a lot of room for different operations with multiple controllers.

2. Hidden storage

3. A late summer into early autumnal theme

4. Stormy skies for the backdrop

5. A harbour or dock

6. Full automation of points and DCC wiring

7. No buildings, but, 'Hey Steve, leave room for those buildings I'll be doing.... No I don't have a fixed footprint in mind.'

8. Space for town and local industry and yes, a lighthouse.

And blow, me if Steve didn't just send me an email this morning which genuinely and with no hyperbole, moved me to tears with pleasure.

Now, I may not be a 'well known face' in the model railroad hobby, but I am an accomplished military miniature painter, with magazine and TV appearances and thus, I know 'top drawer' when I see it.

Let me say for the record:

1. I trust Steve Hornsey 100% to interpret all of my needs and what's more to do it straight off the bat.

2. The quality of Steve's builds are second to none.

3. When he says he will do something in a given time, he damned well does it, even when you tell him there's no rush.

4. He is in my opinion a man of professional pride and integrity.

So, if you want a nice new layout, I would not hesitate for a second to direct you to Steve. You can often find his micro layouts on eBay and they never fail to sell, nor have I hear another owner of a Hornsey piece give anything other than praise.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Triples To Return But Not As Triples?

Rumours circulated today that a new one day show will be run by Sheffield Wargames Society in 'a couple of years'.

At this time I cannot substantiate these claims, but two traders mentioned the same thing at Britcon.

We shall see... One of those traders opinions, I cannot repeat, and indeed will not.


Britcon 2016 - The Trade Show

In opening, let me say unequivocally that I love Britcon.

It's an hour's pleasant motoring over the Woodhead Pass and the views in doing so are great. The show is free to get in and you can get a damned fine breakfast sandwich and hot drink for £2.50.


Sloppiness is creeping in, in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the organisers are at risk of' stacking' too many companies who sell pretty much the very same stuff and what's more the manufacturer from whom much of their stock comes also has a large trade stand at the show themselves.

How many stockists of Black Powder and Bolt Action do you need?

If this stagnation of variety continues the trade show will become pointless...

Secondly, the bring and buy was a little bit 'lost' today. By that I mean that several people noted and commented that lots were being bought by, if not those running the stand, someone who was behind it. They were then being broken down, rebooked and sold.

OK, it's not against the law, but it's a poor fucking show to do so!

As a former bring and buy organiser, I had a few hard rules for those behind the counter, and that was you could buy something, but you did not put it back on straight away, although it could be sold the next day (although the staff on my stall never did that more than twice in 20 years). Bugger the fact that the stall can make two sets of commission, it not playing the game.

'Sharking' leaves a foul taste in my mouth and when it is so blatantly done, it breaks down the trust between sellers and those running the stall.  I also hate bring and buys who are hand in hand with dealers, but that is by the by.

My dear Britcon, you are beginning to look a little sordid. You really need to smarten yourself up lest people talk.

The competitions looked to be as busy as ever and the general demeanour of those taking part seemed very friendly indeed. I am not personally 'into' competitive play, but I can recognise a well run competition, and Britcon is exactly that.

I went in with a very narrow spread of wants, in particular a new copy of From Pike To Shot by Charles Grant and some 28mm Marlburian models.

I did get myself a nice copy and haggled it down to a very reasonable £30 (thank you for that).

Lunch was taken at the excellent Tops Buffet on Portland Street, five minutes walk from the venue. £8.99 got a superb lunch, including Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and Italian choices, and a solid (+ out of 10 from the group of us. Of particular note were the slow braised belly pork, and the seaweed in rice wine vinegar, with the crayfish salad coming in in a strong third place. The Mongolian Lamb and chilli fried squid were also singularly toothsome. One of my dining companions commented very favourably on the Italian selection. We will be going back again, next year.

Then we headed back for a cursory last circuit of the show, where Dave and I picked up a pair of unpainted 10mm Franco Prussian armies for £35 on the bring and buy. There was nearly a box file fill and so although we'd not planned to buy this scale or period, we snapped the deal up before heading home in glorious summer warmth.

So, once again, Britcon delivered, but I do hope that the points raised above are addressed, particularly the B&B, because a perceived 'rotten' bring and buy can seriously affect a show.


Friday, 12 August 2016

More From Conflict In Colour

Just a few more pics of commissions I've undertaken for clients in my work as 'Conflict In Colour' ( )

First up are more 15mm:

And now a few 10mm:

And to finish, some 28mm: