Monday, May 12, 2014

Casting Season

 It's casting season here at the Lead Gardens. The weather has "springed up" and it's perfect for getting
outside and starting on some summer casting projects. Outdoor casting has the advantage of keeping the  nasty metal fumes out of the house.

I purchased three of the new 40mm Prussian molds from Prince August. I found the new moulds to be a nice change from the sometimes awkward poses of PA figures. The apparently have listened to those of us who war-game with these big guys and need a versatile figure that will paint up to most 18th century types.

Here are the wargame friendly features of the new molds:

1. The mould will cast two figures at a time, effectively halving casting time---particularly if you go for big units (mine are established at 40 figures) I got this new unit done in about 5 hours in two sessions over a weekend.

2. The moulds have two separate heads-- the basic infantry mould has both a musketeer in tricorn heads and grenadier heads in mitre two each so casting the mould will supply the optional heads as well.  The officer, standard bearer, NCO, drummer molds have tricorn and fusilier heads. I bought all three moulds so I've got lots of spare heads now (to do a fusilier unit will take a lot of officer casting because the fusilier head only comes in the drummer mold)

3. The detail is more accurate for the Prussians.

4. The pose matches the older infantry advancing pose, though I hear they will be coming out with a march attack pose later.

5. The heads cast separately but are very easy to attach thanks to a nice sturdy peg cast on the head in conjunction with a plastic rod that is inserted into the mould before casting. This ensures that the hole for the peg in the body of the figure is perfectly sized.

 I went with a unit of grenadiers that will represent one of the units from my Imagi-nations. I have been upscaling all of those figures from my original collection of 30mm RSMs.

The only downside of the casting session was having to do a bit of vent cutting to get the heads to cast properly. That is typical of PA moulds so not a big deal really. The only thing I had real trouble with was getting the officer's sword and had to cast (it's a separate piece)…but I think it's because I use old figures for my metal and I'm guessing if I used some of PA's higher quality casting metal, it would make things easier.

I'll be posting progress on the painting of this unit soon.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Gateway Drug

If there is an "old school" of board games PanzerBlitz must be it!
 (with some upgraded rules and counters it's not bad at all)
Here the 11th Panzer squares off with a Russian Tank Brigade

Given that I had sold most of my boardgames many years ago, and the fact that I love playing with "daddy's little men" as my son calls them. I would never have thought that board gaming resurgence would have occurred here at the Lead Gardens.

But I am here to tell you that the improbable has happened. Given that I have been unable to get any gaming or painting done for almost a year not to mention blogging, it turns out that boardgames have been the gateway drug that has brought me back from non-gaming oblivion. Since there are some great new game designs out there and many are quick to set up and play, I have used them to get back on the horse ….and now after a crazy couple of months of buying and re-collecting some of the classic titles, and even attending a boardgames con in nearby Charlottesville VA,  I have now started to eye my miniatures with renewed interest.

I'm about to order some of the new Prince August Seven Years War moulds now that summer is approaching and some outdoor casting sessions are becoming possible and hopefully soon some new units to paint.

Thanks to everyone who contacted me about my return to blogging and I'm really enjoying getting to look at all your great blogs again.

(The PB counters and Variant Rules can be found here and here)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We Are Back!!!


Ok so this is a bare bones post but this is just to let everyone know that I managed to get back onto my blog after a long slog with old passwords and accounts. But as of this evening:


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Back to the Front

It seems that I have been skulking in the rear here at the Lead Gardens, since my last post on Dec. 22!? ... a age ago in blogging terms. So I've resolved to quit paying so much attention to work, family and career and get back to what really matters—pushing great masses of lead around around "the Green Mile"!
I hasn't been all work over the past few months and I did get bitten by the Wings of Glory bug to the tune of a few hundred bucks...(psst...don't tell the missus...)
Jasta 37's new machines just arrived at the front. These Albatri are destined for a repaint to make a complete unit.
and my son and I have been shooting each other's spindly crates down for the past few weeks with reckless and delighted abandon.
Though mostly it's been mine that have been shot up. The added cool of having the option of playing the game solo using the excellent solo AI from Richard Bradley (herkybird) has made the game all the more seductive. The Richard's solo AI charts are available for free on the Tyneside Wargame Club site.

For me, the best part about jumping into a new gaming period is the reading and the free offerings on Google Books of out of print texts on WWI flying have been keeping me up nights into the wee hours.
So as usual, it's the too many projects, but what the hell it's fun madness here at the Lead Gardens.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Box of Britians


I have a box of old Britains that have been with me for the past 11 years. I got them from my former girlfriend's father for Christmas and they are still with me even though the girl is not (she ran off with an Italian chef....but I think I may have got the better deal ;)!). Her father was a collector of toy soldiers and some of his collection wound up in the huge collection of Malcom Forbes, so he was a pretty serious collector at that. I managed to get some single figures and a partial "Queens Coronation set" one Christmas from him that are really nice even if a little less than pristine collector quality. As a gamer, I always have a bit of a "beef" against the high prices that those figures are bringing these days.

As I currently struggle with my pencil, pad and calculator to figure out how to make two "Little Wars" armies of the new Spencer Smith Little Britons happen here at the Lead Gardens, I took a few of these old figures out of the box for a bit of inspiration.
A Bengal lancer, of my favorites!
If you look close you can see Her Majesty herself.

...after many years of service, this fellow is in need of some rest...perhaps in a nice RTV rubber mold
This fellow in the pic is an old Britians that I found at a flea market almost 20 years ago with a few guardsmen in home service uniform. I think his is a pretty old vintage as the oval bases I think are pre 1940s.

I always loved this figure because of the stalwart pose and simple lines of the sculpting. I think the figure was repainted by a prior owner. I was thinking about this guy and wondering if I might try to make a rubber mold and try to recast a unit of these. These may be a bit hard to cast at home without a spin casting set up so I'm going to have to do some research to see if is at all possible. I think the horsemen would be difficult as I think they would require a three part mold.

All the figures in pretty tattered shape but they have stayed with me because I don't have the heart to sell them on ebay (even though I would probably sell them if I ever got an offer...)

I'm hoping all of my readers have a peaceful and fun holiday season. I'm splitting time shopping with my wife/taking care of kids with some progress gaming and also making some organizational changes in my gaming space to make the gaming a little more pleasurable and less disrupting to the household.

It seems this time of year is really a time for reflection and remembering the good stuff.
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Musketeers!

 Just finished a new company of 40mm Prince August Homecast...these fellows will do service as a unit of my Imaginations. I'm gradually scaling up my Imaginations collection to 40/42mm to fit in with my French and British so I'm taking my already named units and imaginary history and up-scaling them for my home-casting project.
finished unit with the miscast muskets ready for repair...
These castings are from the newest PA molds that came out last November. As always the PA casting is pretty easy except for some musket barrels that did not cast to the right length. So I used my flat toothpick fix that works really well for most PA musket sword casting repairs. It works as well as the round toothpick solution for wagon/gun wheels.
 I also did a few minor head modifications to get better three dimensionality and some more extensive mods to make a standing flag bearer...but the PA figures (particularly the artillery castings) do well as a base for unusual conversions.

The toothpick fix...super glue works as both the adhesive and as a way to seal the wooden toothpicks.

All painted up, the toothpicks are pretty convincing!

And as a unit, the fix is almost undetectable!

Ready for the field!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Odd Idea

 I was reading the classic "Little Wars" a few nights ago (something I do from time to time to get re-inspired), and an idea was rekindled in my head regarding how to make woods on the gaming surface. H.G. Wells had a set of large rectangles of wood planks that, when stacked, served as hills. Though it's not mentioned in the text (but outlined in some detail in his "Floor Games"), his approach to making woods involved having the hill boards drilled in a grid to take short branch cuttings from actual trees to make his wooded areas. You can just make out the grid of holes in the pictures in "Little Wars". I've always wanted to give that idea a try but never had the wherewithal to tackle it given that it seemed like a bit more than was necessary to produce woods. But the idea still hung around my thinking and finally ran into an opportunity to give it a this is an odd idea for sure as it involves "damaging" a game I own...but I still thought it had good possibilities so I decided to give it a try.
A Reb unit assaults a wood defended by Union infantry and a battery of artillery. (The game board is a bit shiny and I was thinking a quick coat of matte spray might make the whole look of the game a bit more like a tabletop wargame rather than a boardgame.
Basically I took the idea of drilling the game surface to accept trees to one of my "Battle Cry" game boards to try a way of producing wooded hexes without having to use the flat tiles included in the game.

The result is kind of cool, but perhaps a bit "out there" if one wants ever to resell the game. And maybe just a bit too "fiddly"....I just drilled each hex vertices using a small bit (1/16") and sized to take the trunks of some nice little wire trees I got on sale at my local hobby shop. I forget the manufacturer of the trees but they are simple twisted wire trees with some clump foliage glued on. But when you stick them into the board surface it gives a fairly good alternative to the woods tiles. (I think this idea would work even better if you laid the gameboard on a piece of blue styrofoam insulation so the trees would hold better in the surface.

I'm still not completely sold on this idea. I just drilled a corner of one of the two Battle Cry boards I own just to experiment with it. I have to give it a few days to see if I really want to drill all of my boards this way. it just seemed to me that if I was painting the figures I should do a little more with the terrain. It kind of warps the boardgame idea...but the effect is pretty good.

I also want to do the full treatment of this idea for my 40mm homecast horse and musket stuff by doing up some layers of boards drilled to H.G. Wells specs. (...and not to mention the new Spencer Smith 42mm 'Little Britons" has got me on full alert... with calculator in hand trying to work out how to afford a classic set of "Little Wars" toys soldiers! (Many thanks to Ross for the link!)

Nothing like some experiments to get the gaming juices flowing!