Saturday, June 3, 2017

Marching off to eBay

Now that my retirement is on the near horizon, my wife and I have made the decision to downsize. Our home for the last 15 years goes on the market next weekend.  We've done some packing for storage and getting rid of stuff.  But my undisciplined style of collecting over the years means that I personally have a lot to do towards making the move happen.

I've decided to prune my collection as much as possible to the following:
30mm flats - Ancient, 1680-1720.
40-45mm flats/semi-flats ca. 1830.

Anything else is fair game.  All of the figures in this post are now on auction at eBay.  Much as I dislike selling on eBay, it's a matter of necessity.  Not to turn the blog into a shameless commercial enterprise, but if readers see anything they'd like to have from what I've posted over the years, please fell free to comment on that particular post and we can take the discussion offline.  My eBay nom de guerre is "sc_tin_man".

I also have many 40mm casting molds, unpainted flats and military history/toy soldier books like the Wollner compendium below so feel free to contact me at "cpl_trimATyahooDOTcom" about your wants.

Speaking of 45mm, some very nice Heinrichsen flats ca. 1840 will be up soon in the next post.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Artillerie Royale - Toy Town Soldiers 6

I've had this artillery set completed for some time now but never got around to posting it.  This is the Toy Town Soldiers horse artillery group.  There's also a limber set with crew but I don't have it.

I do like these, except for the smallish gun.  Let's see how it stacks up against the Prince August 6-pounder.

And with the crew.  Better, I think.

I've been inspired to take up my Toy Town Soldiers again. After fiddling with the Lego figures for quite some time, the prep work of a few minutes filing made for a nice change of pace.   I just ordered some more cavalry and the gunners in shakos without the piece.  I'm committed to the PA guns from here out, for the foot artillery at least.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Minifigs - 18th Century 2

A couple more custom figures have been completed.  Here's the grenadier:

For my not-quite-French Celtican army.  The cap and bayonet are from Woody's Minifig Customs shop on Shapeways. I like the bayonet, it attaches directly to the musket as opposed to the extra clip needed for the Brick Arms bayonet.  I thought a smoldering fuse on the grenade would be a good  touch but didn't come up with anything yet when making the figure.  I can always retrofit something later.  In illustrations for the period one generally sees the musket slung diagonally across the back but it interfered with the grenade throwing arm so I compromised on that.

And the cavalry trooper:

He was actually a bit easier to make as no work is needed on the coat, due to the Lego design where the figure stands inserted in his saddle.  I did cut down the legs a bit as to my eyes one of the flaws of the Lego horsemen is they stand a bit tall in the saddle.  Lego actually makes a short leg piece, will have to try some.

And of course, the fact that the figures stand in the saddle as opposed to straddling it was an understandable design choice even if it looks goofy until you get accustomed to it.  But I wonder how it would have sold had Lego chosen to sell an optional saddle piece with legs on it which you just plug the torso into ?  The sword is also from Woody's, oddly cast with the flat of the blade perpendicular to the hilt. The blade is also huge, wound up cutting it nearly in half for the length shown here. The tricorne and blunderbuss are from BrickWarriors, the rest (including Green Stuff hair) was up to me.

I'm satisfied with both of these as prototypes for future units.  Lego also makes a stocking cap so dragoons are a possibility as well.  Also artillery, I have a gun but the carriage needs some modification.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Brandenburg,1690-1700: 30mm Flats

For a change of pace from the Lego figures, here's a few flats for the Nine Years War period.  These I painted recently.

First up, infantry.  Pikemen and musketeers from Kieler, brilliant figures engraved by a master, Ludwig Frank.

You may have noticed the musketeers are not as crisply cast as the pikemen. I got the latter on eBay years ago and I've often wondered if they were pirated castings. Not Spencer-Smith caliber vague surely, but they do call for some estimation of  how to execute the details once the paint goes on and further obscures what lies beneath.

And as painted. As always, with acrylics.

And a couple of mounted figures.  Left casting is Scholtz, the in-house line sold by Berliner Zinnfiguren,  On the right, a Kieler dragoon.  An Austrian judging by the canteen on the other side, I like him better but I have only this one.  The dual tail on the Scholtz horse is a nice touch, adding a little variety to your formation depending upon which way you cut. I wish they'd done likewise with the hat brim.

And the Scholtz figure as painted.  These actually belong to a set, The Great Elector Landing on Rugen Island, 1678.  Which, as usual for Berliner Zinnfiguren is pricey.  I don't have it, bought enough at a reasonable cost from Alexander Wilken to paint a smallish squadron.  In the military fashion sense they bridge the gap between the 30 Years War and the War of the Spanish Succession but can pass for 1690-1700.

Not my best painting with all these, but certainly adequate for standing in a battalion or squadron.  Next up, I have finished the Lego minifig grenadier and cavalry trooper.  These turned out nicely and I'll post them shortly.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Minifigs - 18th Century

 Here's a few of the 18th Century "Lego" minifigs which I've done.  I put Lego in quotation marks because a true Lego Pirate range Imperial faction soldier for the period looks like this:

A tricorne, stock torso with lapels & crossbelts, add a musket or sword and call it a day.  My approach is different.  And a lot more time consuming, I must admit.  In fact, the prep work takes darned near as long as the paint job. The figures start with these materials:

To my eyes, a stock Lego minifig comes up lacking in 18th Century style.  The bulky coats and cuffs of the early 1700's are more the look that I wanted.  The cones are used to create the cuffs.  Drilled these out with a Dremel tool and bisected.  The Indiana Jones messenger pouch when cut down works quite nicely for the cartridge box.  Waist belt front and back is styrene.  From the waist down the coat is made of cardstock.

The stock Lego musket is toylike but scales out better than the more realistic BrickWarriors or BrickArms replicas. Also, the curve of the stock allows it be grasped by a minifig's inflexible hands.  Added a bayonet, cut the sword length down and re-attached to the hilt.  There you have it.

And several as completed, above and below.

Having run short of the messenger pouches, I used the downtime to create an officer.  Lego has a lot of women's hair accessories, this curly one makes a serviceable periwig. For the rank & file, I used ponytail parts combined with green stuff.

Coming soon, flats !

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Going Medieval

Here's more Lego minifigs I've worked on of late.  The Middle Ages is one of the best periods for these with plenty of equipment, stock Lego minifigs and affordable Chinese clones, and of course castle sets for the builders.  

I'm still working on this and that, the longer term idea is two warring armies, one high Middle Ages and the other Renaissance.  Naturally firearms and artillery say advantage Renaissance but a wizard or two helping out the knights should balance things nicely.

Unless otherwise indicated, these are my own painted MOC's.  First up, some archers.  The initial impulse was to go with BrickWarrior longbows but the stock Lego bows (frowning figure in the green tunic) are about as good and a lot cheaper.  Spotting with a Sharpie pen for the chainmail look was tedious but worth it.

And some traditional knights at the top and below, sporting Brickwarriors arms and bascinets. I modded the horse with some barding.  Doing things like this probably doesn't endear me to Lego purists but where's the fun in just buying stock figures ?   Well, to each his own.  One nod to tradition here is the yellow skin although my preference is for "fleshies" which I use for everything else.  

Moving on to the Renaissance guys, here's a hand painted officer, reviewing the Imperial crossbowmen at the bottom. The crossbow figures are a good example of the stock minifigs, in this case the Chinese Enlighten brand.   The small buckler held by the formation leader is from BrickWarriors.

And a man at arms. He also sports BrickWarriors arms and armor. I was shooting for the look of the knights in the Triumph of Maximilian engravings.  I'm not sure adding the legs was worth the effort but he did turn out fairly well I think.

I've also completed some 18th Century figures, photographed and ready to post but saving for the next one.  And I'm cleaning up some unfinished business with the flats as well, more about that before long.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Confessions of a Lego Convert

I have to open this very belated post with an admission, I've neglected this blog most shamefully.  No doubt readers (if there are any left) have written Castles of Tin off as just another blog abandoned without a clue why, consigned to the dustbin of the internet.

Suffice to say that I'm still alive and kicking but went through months of a deep funk where I couldn't summon the motivation to work on any of my numerous half baked projects.  Yes, I dabbled with this and that but accomplished little worthy of actually putting together a blog post.  I also dropped out of the blogosphere - a tactical error in denying myself the inspirational effect of viewing other's work.

Personally I've been doing well enough.  Although an unwelcome occurrence this year was the onset of a slight tremor in my left hand.  I had it checked out, the neurologist said it didn't herald the onset of some degenerative disease like Parkinson's and for that I'm grateful.  That said, it's impacted the painting a bit.  Although I'm right handed, holding the object in my left hand can make for a shaky target.  It seems to wax and wane, perhaps I don't have the precision of old but I can still paint !

Oddly, what got me back on track was the gift of a Lego Speed Champions kit from my stepson.  The car is an Audi Prototype racer, in truth not a great replica (not to mention to mention the P1 cars are Batmobile ugly these days anyway).  But I did readily see the appeal of Lego.  That is something American kids growing up in the 50's missed out on. We had to make do with Lincoln Logs or Erector Sets.

 Naturally, I got interested in the military side of things.  Lego themselves are a peaceable sort of toy company, but plenty of others have stepped in to fill the void. And I discovered a whole new world of Lego military groups on Flickr.  Certainly a most vibrant community although you're inclined to encounter a few of the same sort of button-counting pendants who frequent wargaming forums, in this case laughably critiquing toy figurines for small inaccuracies in their kit.

A pink baby awaits the whims of his master
Yes, your basic minifig has the proportions of a toddler, a cartoon face, stud holes in the back of his legs and arms totally unsuited for wielding a rifle in any realistic manner.  What they do have is (aside from a few outlier companies like Cobi and Sluban) a shared common scale and design, thus the multitude of available weapons and accoutrements fit any figure.  Genius !

Capped only by the size of your budget, you can build an army from ancient times up to the modern era.  At present, there's a lot of gaps in what you can get off the shelf, but the Ancient, Medieval, World Wars and Modern eras are well enough represented. Particularly the modern era, perhaps in part due to the popularity of Call of Duty/Battlefield online video games with young people these days.  As you can see below, I've taken a stab at a few different things.  And unlike many collectors, I do really enjoy painting the figures.

At present, the modern era is really where it's at with these things.  And particularly so given the relatively cheap and plentiful figures and armor kits on Aliexpress and elsewhere on the web. You can buy sets of modern infantry with all their accessories for around $1 per soldier.  Turning back the clock to something like Ancient Rome is going to be costlier as once you purchase separate armor, shields and weapons, a single figure will run ~ $5.

My overall objective here is to build up some squads with a few vehicles per side for some toy figure gaming.  My project is a variant on Green vs. Tan, with the Aquilonians (almost NATO) vs. the Hyrkanian Empire (almost Russian).  Let's look at a few of the Hyrkanians, I've done so far. First up is the basic conversion, out of the box guy on the right, my own version on the left.

Here's the first squad, posed with the Winner anti-tank vehicle, pretty much a BRDM and the T-90 tank.

Now for some Aquilonians, Sluban APC and tank in the background:

Painted  the vehicle, a Lego sacrilege of the first order !

I haven't picked the rule set yet, but I have a number which could fill the bill.  Little Cold Wars may well work as well, although these figures look a bit more contemporary.

To sum up, it feels good to revive the blog at long last, and a Happy New Year to all !