Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Six more mounted Shieldmaidens

 This time unarmoured ones.

These are also Bad Squiddo minis, and they will be joining their armoured sisters as the cavalry arm of my Shieldmaiden army.

As I have said before, I'll be using these for troops in a number of different rulesets, particularly Saga Age of Magic, Lion and Dragon Rampant, and probably for other things that I haven't even thought of yet. I am very keen on having figures that can serve multiple purposes.

These were finished a few days ago, but I was waiting for the weather to become less wet to avoid fogged varnish. As you can see, they have come out fine.

The tufts on the bases are, once again by Gamer's Grass, available from Bad Squiddo.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Mounted Shieldmaiden Hearthguards

Having finished my mounted Lagertha figure, I decided to press on and paint up the five Bad Squiddo mounted armoured Shieldmaidens that I've had for a fair while as her Hearthguard.

Firstly, here are the five riders alone;

And here they are led by their chieftain;

These are clearly going to be useful for all manner of games, particularly Saga Age of Magic (I will probably use them as a Horde), Lion Rampant and, especially Dragon Rampant, where I think a Shieldmaiden army would be a more acceptable option to put on the table than in the historical version of the rules. 

The tufts on the bases are all Gamer's Grass, also available from Bad Squiddo.

I now have six unarmoured mounted Shieldmaidens to paint, to bulk out Lagertha's cavalry forces.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Finally ............. I have painted something; Lagertha and three shieldmaidens

I posted a couple of weeks ago about why I wasn't painting, but I am getting back on track again. 

This is the mounted Lagertha (also known as Lathgertha, Lagerða and Hlaðgerðr) by Bad Squiddo. I painted the foot version of her about a year ago. 

Here she is from the other side.

To add to my existing unarmoured Shieldmaidens, here are three more armed with spears. This gives me a total of 12 spear-carrying Shieldmaidens (if I add my single armoured one as a unit leader) who will make a nice single unit for Lion and Dragon Rampant.

I am so glad to be painting again. I think that I needed to do this for my mental health, which has taken a big battering over the last couple of months.

I have eleven mounted Shieldmaidens prepped now, six unarmoured and five in mail. I will add the Lagertha figure to the latter to give me two groups of six riders, again primarily for Lion or Dragon Rampant, but they will also, together with my existing Shieldmaidens be perfect for Saga: Age of Magic.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Trying to paint again is so very hard, but I am trying.

This time, it isn't really about painter's block either. Here is the reason.

That photo is of Maisie, one of my two West Highland White Terriers, taken in 2015, about a month before her 9th birthday.

Sadly, last Sunday, October 25th was the day that we had to say goodbye to her. She had been ill over the summer, with what seemed to be a random selection of things, until she was diagnosed with diabetes at the end of August. The vet thought that she may have had the disease for a while, but something had triggered it getting worse. She was very ill and it took a week to stabilise her. She had lost a lot of weight, she was down to 9 kg, and was very weak, but with insulin injections every 12 hours it seemed like she might be OK. She was having blood glucose and other checks every two weeks but she wasn't putting on weight. Since October 2019, her weight had dropped from a healthy 10.6 kg to that 9 kg in August and she wasn't regaining it. She was very bony and was pretty weak. I was pretty worried, to tell the truth. However, the vet seemed pretty positive after her tests on October 13th.

Her eyesight had been getting quite bad for about a year, but we had put that down to age, but in the two weeks since her last check-up on the 13th it got much worse, her eyes went very milky and she was struggling to get up and down the stairs, so I was carrying her. Clearly, this was a worry, but the vet had warned me that it would take time for her to start putting weight back on and rebuilding her strength.

To be honest, I knew deep inside that something wasn't right. She wasn't her usual happy, inquisitive and stubborn self. She was tired all the time, her appetite wasn't great and we were constantly having to adjust her insulin dosage to balance her body chemistry. We didn't seem able to find the right dose. Her eyesight was getting worse, and she seemed to have lost her sight in one eye. I knew that she had her next check-up scheduled for the 27th, so I was planning to discuss these issues with the vet then. She was withdrawing into herself. This was not a good sign at all, but it still seemed possible that she would pull through because she still had her old sparkle in patches.

On Friday 23rd October, she refused her breakfast, but I got her to eat some chicken breast. I kept her on chicken on the Saturday, which seemed to work but overnight she had a couple of bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. She refused her breakfast on Sunday morning and kept on going out into the garden and hiding. She seemed very confused, sad and lonely, and her belly was swollen. To be honest here, I knew that she was really ill and feared the worst. When she started puking up yellow bile I got in touch with the out of hours vet service and took her in for an examination.

They did a physical check and told me to go home. They were going to keep her in overnight and do blood and other tests and take an ultrasound.

After they had the test results, they rang my mobile. The news was not good.

She was incredibly ill. Her blood was full of toxins, she had fluid in her lungs and abdomen, her breathing was very laboured, her heart was struggling and, probably worst of all, she had suffered kidney failure. 

Basically, her poor little body was breaking down and there was nothing that could be done for her. They suspected that she probably had an undetected cancer, too. The only decent thing that could be done was to let her go.

We went back to the emergency vet clinic and we were with her when she went into her final sleep. She was with the two people who loved her and who she loved and trusted back.  It was a peaceful end. She  didn't suffer.

It was the evening before her 14th birthday.

Maisie was a wonderful little dog. She had that characteristic known as "Westitude", a stubbornness and independence that all Westie owners know about. She was also incredibly inquisitive and adventurous. If there was a hole in a fence or a gap, she would find it and be off. I've lost track of the times I had to rescue her when she got stuck somewhere and couldn't find the way out again. I once had to crawl down a scree slope to rescue her from a ledge where she had got stuck. I hoicked her up by her collar and she happily scampered back up, leaving me to crawl back up again.

She was also incredibly loyal and loving. When I worked from home, she would always be with me in my little office and when I took voluntary redundancy because of work-related stress, she was always there for me. We used to play on the landing or on the floor, doing play bows to one another and pretend bites. It kept me alive when I was in a poor mental state. If I was up late watching TV, I'd often nod off. She would always nudge me and tell me it was time for bed.

Sadly, the real Maisie began to fade away with her succession of bouts of illness this year. Deep down, I think I knew that she wasn't going to see the end of 2020, but I kept on hoping that she would pull through. Sadly, that didn't happen.

We are both devastated and her sister Daisy is missing her sister and best friend too. They were litter sisters, so Daisy is also 14. 

Here are some more pictures of my beautiful sweet Maisie. I shall never forget her and I will love her for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

A Big Angry Red Guy

 Well, he is a giant, after all.

I wanted a BIG giant for various reasons, and it took me ages to find one who looked like the sort of giant that would work for me, seeing as I wanted one who would fit into various rulesets. I found this giant on the Miniature Heroes website, where he is described as Fire Giant (huge), which seems a pretty reasonable summary, seeing as he is around 7.5 cm tall.

He is a Reaper Bones DHL range plastic figure, which means that he is both reasonably-priced and not too heavy. He is made from a softish plastic but despite that is fairly detailed. 

The body comes in two parts that have to be joined at the waist and his arms, the two morning stars and a small chest that goes on his belt at the back are also separate. They glue together easily enough. I used Gorilla gel superglue, which I think is pretty good stuff. I also stuck him to a 5 cm square MDF base, which I gave a coating of ballast.

On the packaging it states that he doesn't need priming but that if you do prime him, avoid spray primers. I ignored that and gave him a good undercoat of Halford's grey plastic primer, which went on well with no bad side effects.

In the last picture, I have posed him with a Bad Squiddo 28mm Amazon, to give you some idea of how big he actually is. Impressive, I think, even though we all know that size doesn't really matter, does it.

As he is a Fire Giant, I wanted to use a predominantly red, bronze and brass palette, and I also wanted him to have a very red complexion too, to signify all that pent-up fiery anger and power inside him. He even has dark red eyes, to make them look blood-filled.

 Similarly, I wanted the ground he strides across to look hot and burnt, so the ballast was painted black and dry-brushed with red, yellow and orange, with some very pale grey to look like hot ashes. I think it just about works, even though the yellow hardly shows up.

I am planning to use him as Surtr in my planned Norse force for Of Gods and Mortals, which will mainly consist of my Bad Squiddo Shieldmaidens, led by the goddess Freyja.

The red colour palette might also make him suitable for my Saga; Age of Magic Otherworld band too, and I am sure that he will work for other things too, maybe a AoM Shieldmaiden Horde, and definitely in a Dragon Rampant setting.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Hopefully, the end of wargaming painter's block

 Well, I finally finished off the last of my Roman auxiliary cavalry. There are seven figures in total.

Two groups of equites.

And to lead them, a second decurio.

To distinguish these riders from the other two groups, who have red or blue neckerchiefs, I have given these green ones. I have also used one of the heads on the sprue which is supposed to be for praetorian cavalry for the decurio, and why shouldn't I? I am sure that there was plenty of variation amongst the different cohorts and we know that there wasn't really as much standardisation as Hollywood, and many wargamers too, would have us believe.

Once again, these are all Victrix plastics, on Warbases oval bases and movement trays and the excellent tufts are from Gamer's Grass, which is stocked by Bad Squiddo Games.

I still have a few auxilia bodies left, and I'll probably use some to make up another deployment/ambush point, but I really need a break from Romans for the moment. I might do some recreational 15mm figures for a change. I have some 18th century impact cavalry to do for Syldavia and Borduria, or I might finally start doing something about my essentially pointless Volkssturm project for Germany in  late 1944 and 1945. At best, they will be a minor irritation to any British, American or, more likely Soviet opponents.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

A bit of background on Orangenland, my 17th century imagi-nation.

In a previous post, I introduced Orangenland, a minor North German state of the 17th century. In this post, I will be describing the place in a bit more detail.

The origins of Orangenland lie in the early mediaeval Kingdom of Lotharingia, created out of the protracted period following the end of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire. Little is known about the early histories of the three component territories of Orangenstadt, Orangenwald and Orangenburg, although it is clear that the origins of Orangenstadt lie in the building of the Abbey of Saint Octavius the Martyr in the 12th century and the development of the town that grew up around the abbey. This town, originally known as Octadorf, grew in importance until it was recognised as the seat of the Prince-Bishop of Sankt Octavius in 1312. When the House of Chalon-Arnay acquired the three territories through marriage, they were known as Bisschoppenstadt, Osterwald and Nordburg. They were renamed following the acquisition of the Principality of Orange by the House of Chalon-Arnay. Bisschoppenstadt was renamed as Orangenstadt in 1473 when it was rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1469 that destroyed much of the older city.

The population of Orangenland is split between Limburgish and Brabantian Dutch speakers in the east, speakers of the Rhenish Franconian dialect of German in the west and some Picard French speakers in the south.

The seat of the House of Orangen is the city of Orangenstadt, which is dominated by the late mediaeval Chalonerschloss and the Cathedral of Sankt Octav, which was rebuilt on the ruins of the earlier Abbey, destroyed in the Great Fire of 1469.

Other prominent towns and cities are Nordenstadt, Catieau-Arnay, Wijndorp, Druckerburg and Salzfischstadt.

The flag of Orangenland is a golden Lion Rampant bearing a sword, on a field of red, although a standard showing a red cross on a yellow field is also carried by some troops.

The House of Orangen has long maintained friendly relations with a number of other small dukedoms and counties in the region, most prominently the County of Pirlouit, whose ruling family, the House of Schtroumpf is related to the House of Orangen by marriage. Indeed, one member of the Schtroumpf family, Armin von Schtroumpf currently serves in the Orangenland army. Although he is young and a relatively junior officer, he has gained a reputation of being a brave, if occasionally hot-headed leader, who is loved by his troops, many of whom were recruited in his homeland. Troops under his command usually wear a blue sash and occasionally blue and white plumes on their hats and helmets, these being the colours of the House of Schtroumpf.

In other news, I have acquired enough figures now to create a variety of units for my Orangenland army for The Pikeman's Lament. These are all from Warlord Games and consist of;

From these boxes I will be able to build one unit of 12 Pikemen, two units of 12 Musketeers, a unit of six Gallopers, a unit of six Trotters and two elite units of Gallopers and Trotters in cuirassier three-quarter armour. I will also be able to build units representing a Forlorn Hope and Commanded Shot, so there will be plenty of variations for the troops that Armin von Schtroumpf will be able to call upon in his battles.

There will probably be a few spare figures that I can use for other things that I currently haven't even thought about, although I am definitely planning to do Armin von Schtroumpf in both mounted and foot versions.