Saturday, June 23, 2018

Summer fun

As the song goes, it's summertime and the livin' is easy. Sort of. I still have to work 5 days a week, but the evening meeting commitments I have for parish activities are suspended until September. The days are longer and warmer—well, occasionally warmer here in the Pacific North Wet. I have more leisure to devote to the fun projects that I put in abeyance while I toiled to get The Irish Project completed for Enfilade! 2018.  I can re-focus on projects that are just pure whimsy. I won't start my pre-Enfilade! panic/death march to the exclusion of all else again until at least February.

So what's in the works? Much.

Rampant Hussars

At this point, I'm only committed to painting 12 figures for Enfilade! 2019. Rampant Canadian Doug Hamm has proposed a grand Napoleonic cavalry skirmish using a home-brewed Lion Rampant variant to be called Hussar Rampant. We've determined that it will be set in the Waterloo Campaign and we're divvying up who'll paint what. I'm planning on doing two 6-figure units of the British Life Guards. I've always fancied the hard-charging, wholly undisciplined British heavy cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars. Perry makes some beautiful figures in metal—metal, mind you—so I'm in.

I'll get around to ordering them soon, or I could postpone it till January and honor my more-honored-in-the-breach-than-in-the-observance commitment to not buy figures for new projects this year. Hmmmm...

Singing Natives

Since the day after Enfliade! 2018 I've been working on the Flint & Feather minis I picked up at the convention. They're very nice and very far along. I have 13 figures dipped and in the process of getting based.

Freshly dipped (and shiny!) and ready for basing
The remaining 16 figures are 99% painted and soon to be dipped. I just have a few fiddly details and touch-ups to complete on them.

In progress - almost ready to dip
They'll all be mounted singly. I plan to use Ganesha Games Song of Drums and Tomahawks (SDT) as the rules. SDT uses the same game engine as Song of Blades and Heroes, which I use for my prehistoric Europeanoids (who have their own Stonehenge about which to prance for their pagan solstice rites). The system has become a favorite of mine and the SDT variant is very nice. The basic rules are quite simple and allow for a 2-3 hours of enjoyable gaming with fewer than a dozen figures per player.

This project was a gross violation of my vow to start no new projects this year. Since I'm already in for a penny (well, more than a penny), I'll just go in for a pound. Not really that much, however. I'll get a few more packs. The figures I bought were labeled Iroquois. Other figures in the range are sold as Hurons. They were, in fact, part of the same linguistic-cultural group. The figures are indistinguishable. One can't look at one and say, "Yes, that's clearly a Huron." So, I'll just grow the collection with both Hurons and Iroquois and divide the figures ad hoc for games, which I what I do for the prehistoric Europeanoids, who are clearly not this tribe or that tribe.

I'll also pull some of my unpainted The Assault Group 30 Years War figures into the project. I have a pile of these and I can spare a few musketeers to use as French/Dutch/English in the New World ca. 17th century. The SDT rules are meant to cover the period from first European contact with the Native Americans through the War of 1812.

In addition to the rules, I picked up a couple campaign booklets for the period. Beaver Wars and The Pequot War. Both are from Ganesha Games and are tied to the SDT rules. There are lots of great scenarios as well as some good background material.

Kevin Smyth jumped into the Flint & Feather project and we're planning to host a game for the Fix Bayonet! game day in September at historic Fort Steilacoom. After that, I'll probably plan a game for Enfilade! 2019 based on a Beaver Wars scenario.

Revolting Rebels

As I mentioned in January, The first breach of my no new projects oath occurred in January (almost immediately after I made the oath) and I bought a pile of Perry American War of Independence minis. I have started this project with about 20 figures currently under the brush. They look like they'll paint quickly. It's odd that fully dressed men in homespun are a lot less fiddly to paint than nearly-naked men in breechclouts.

Mostly primer colored at this point
The purchases from January are mostly militia, which can be either Patriot or Loyalist. I have two units of mounted militia and 4 units of foot militia. I also have 12 riflemen, 12 Lee's Legion foot, and 6 Lee's Legion mounted.

These minis are being done in anticipation of the release of Patriots and Rebels in January. PAR is another official published variant of Lion Rampant from Osprey.

I'm not sure yet how I want to base the minis, but I have some ideas I'll post about later (yes, I will). I'd like to use a multi-figure basing scheme that is more linear-looking than the round 3-2-1 basing I've done. It seems more appropriate for the era.

I've also found a few Perry British infantry in slouch hats and roundabouts, which are leftovers from an earlier aborted AWI project. I wish now that I'd kept the rest of the minis. I'll eventually get to painting British/Loyalists, but I don't think I'll buy any until I complete the American force.

And the Rest...

Like Maryann and the professor in the original Gilligan's Island theme song, I have a lot of projects that I won't go into detail about. They're just "the rest."

English Civil War - I hope to get to these as the mood strikes. I have a lot partially or even mostly painted, so completing another few units—especially the mounted ones—would make a nice add to the units I already have.

ECW with some Dixon Grand Alliance grenadiers
Aztecas y Conquistadores - I need to flesh some units out a bit and make some forces that I can use for The Pikeman's Lament, or for more adventures with Quetzalcoatl Rampant.

What a Tanker! - I played the What a Tanker rules at Enfilade! and there's some interest among a few of us to add them to our repertoire of games. We've got a game scheduled for July 7 at Dean Clarke's house. I have several one-off 15mm tanks either painted, partially painted, or in the box. We're doing France 1940 as our first theatre. Those are in the "in the box" category, so I need to get at them pronto.

30 Years War - This is a very inactive project, but I'd like to get a tertia done for Warlord Games' Pike & Shotte rules. I'm looking to do a big Imperial tercio with a couple large (36 figure) pike units and several small (8 figure) shot units plus battalion guns. I'm not looking to paint enough for both sides of a game, just something that let's me get some units in the game when the other boys play.

Just a bit of the TYW minis in progress
The Irish Project - There is still work to be done here. I have the English cavalry, which wasn't part of my Enfilade! scenario, to complete—well, to start, actually. It's all raw lead right now. I have enough minis to do 2 six-figure demilancer units and 2 six-figure petronel units. After all the effort getting the project ready for Enfilade!, I need a break. I may get to them in late summer maybe.

The rest of the rest - While digging through my closets and the garage of wonders, I stumble on so many batches of partially painted minis, testaments to my wargamer's ADD. They're formerly shiny things that subsequent shiny things distracted me from. In some cases they're the unfinished bits of projects I mostly completed and then sold. I may get to some bits of these. Don't be surprised if I post something about finishing a project I started decades ago. The mood to get back to long-forgotten models and minis may strike any time.

Hey! Are those 28mm tanks?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Death of a hobbyist

I learned this evening that Al Ernat, an old co-worker of mine, passed away in January. I came across the news by accident on a Tamiya Models forum.

I knew Al from back when I was about 15. He started working at D&J Hobby at that time. I'd been going to D&J to buy tank models 'n' stuff since they opened around 1970. Eventually, I worked there myself from 1977-78.

Al was a consummate plastic model builder and a long-time member of International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS). I had the opportunity to see a lot of his work from back in the 70s. I was just a dabbler and his skill amazed me. He won several awards when I knew him and got a write-up about him in Finescale Modeler magazine in the 80s, I think.

Oddly, he was well known to the people on the forum because Tamiya Models gave his name to the first named driver of their scale R/C cars, the Tamiya Super-Champ.

I don't think I'd seen Al for at least 10 years. I always made a point of stopping by D&J when I had occasion to be down in San Jose. Al was still there behind the counter. The last time I was in San Jose, D&J was gone—or almost gone, or gone except for the name. The big shop was gone and one of the owners' children was running a much smaller version of the shop at a new location. Al wasn't there. I assume he'd been at the old shop until it closed when the owners retired, or maybe Al retired first. He was a bout 10 years older than me.

For me, working at D&J was my first job. It was something to move on from. I sometimes wondered on my trips back to San Jose why Al was still there and hadn't gone on to a "real" job. But it struck me that he was doing what he loved and that doing what you love can be a real job, too. In that sense, I think I envied him.

You can't go home again, Thomas Wolfe wrote. But you can, really, in your mind. And when I go home to the days of my youth, Al Ernat, with his white man's 'fro and acerbic wit is there with me chatting away a Sunday afternoon while we work together at the hobby shop.

Rest in peace, Al.