Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Addition to the Family

We made the plunge and acquired a used puppy over the weekend. We have an older dog, Hobbes, who is not doing well. So obviously the best thing to cheer Hobbes up is a sweet young puppy to mentor.
Phoebe, 4 months, Great Pyrenees
We called the Pyrescue, where 4 out of 5 of the Pyrs have come from, and they did, fortuitously, have a stray puppy that had just arrived from somewhere in MO. We grabbed two of the other dogs, Hobbes can't really travel at this point, and traveled down to Peyton CO to make a visit.

Everyone managed to get along so we headed home with three dogs in the Jeep, so it was a bit crowded (fortunately we had elected to take one of the JK unlimited jeeps and not the red two door TJ).

Phoebe is about 4 months old, and is just starting to lose her puppy fur, so she is still very fluffy. You can see her adult coat starting to come in on her back. She is a very laid back puppy, but quickly managed to claim all the dog toys in the house as her's.

The rest of the clan

A younger picture of Hobbes, now somewhere between 10 and 13, Great Pyrenees

Sadie 8 years (and my son's dog so a frequent visitor), Catahoula Hound/Australian Heeler mix

Peyton, 5 years old, Flatcoat Retriever/Border Collie mix
Kahlani (Lani), 2 years old, Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd mix
She's a big girl too pushing 120# now.
Those that have come before

Porthos, Nov 1996 - Nov 2008, Great Pyrenees

Babe, July 1996 - June 2008, Great Pyrenees

The pair together, almost inseparable.
And Larry
Larry in the middle of the bed, Lani looking forlorn

Okay fine, you can have the bed if I can have a corner

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ACW Project - The Cavalry Arrives - Nineteenth Century Miniatures

I took a big breath and pulled the trigger and ordered the cavalry I needed to play the first day of Gettysburg at the regimental level if I so desired. Its a lot of cavalry, I'm guessing that I won't need anymore cavalry unless I decide to do Brandy Station and someone else will need to provide the Confederate Cavalry for that one! The choice for these troops was between Blue Moon and Old Glory 15s from Nineteenth Century Miniatures. I put pen to paper and grabbed the calculator and figured out that the Old Glory 15s were the best deal for me, and yes I did calculate the army discount from Old Glory Miniatures, but since I didn't purchase it the first time through I had to add the $50 cost of that back in. It was made even easier since the bulk of my Union army is already made up from Old Glory 15s some dating back to the original production runs back in 90s when they were first released.

After much trial and tribulation on the shipping they arrived on Saturday. The shipping issue was totally my fault, I managed to merge my new address with my old address and created a brand new does not exist address. So the package was actually returned to Nineteenth Century after spending about a week in Denver. Fortunately I was watching the tracking information and sent the right address and Nineteenth relabeled the box and turned it around quite promptly so kudos to Nineteenth Century for covering my screwup.

I also took this opportunity to do a quick comparison in size between Blue Moon's "The Blue and the Grey" miniatures and Nineteenth Century's ACW Old Glory 15s.

Its not all cavalry. I filled out my artillery with 12# Napoleons, 3" Rifles and 10# Parrotts. There are also a four bags of infantry including a bag of Zoaves just for something a little different.

From the Cavalry Command package; bugler, officer and standard bearer

Also from the Command package; dismounted officer, standard bearer and bugler

From the dismounted cavalry package; four horses and a horse holder. Old Glory 15s only includes two horse holders and four horses total in a dismounted cavalry bag. Fire and Fury rules call for four horses but by just going with two horses per marker than I will have plenty of horse holders for the dismounted versions of each regiment.

On the left and Old Glory 15 horse holder, on the right a Blue Moon horse holder. Its a pretty significant difference and I had always considered Old Glory to be large. For this reason I'll probably just use Blue Moon miniatures for markers on the battlefield rather than troops.

On the left are the Old Glory 15 horses, on the left are the Blue Moon horses. Again noticeably bigger. I only ordered one bag of horse holders from Blue Moon through Old Glory Miniatures they should slot in just fine with the rest.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Painting & Modeling Tools - Paint Station

I have decided that I could get more painting and modeling work done if I wasn't isolated down in the workroom. This would require some kind of painting station that will be easy to transport from room to room. I found a nice one from Hobby Zone and discovered that I could get it through Amazon. I decided to give it a try and it arrived on Friday. I didn't have time to put it together till Sunday, but I things it going to serve the purpose. Another one that I was toying with was from Gamecraft Miniatures. It had a couple of extra things you could add to it and I decided that might defeat what I was trying to achieve so the Hobby Zone one won out. If I had to order from Poland that might have been a different story.

I like that the paint rack is not just a bunch of holes, but a long slot. I think that's a more efficient use of the space in a small area. I'll never use those holes for the brush holders though. I just don't store my brushes like that. I will have to clean up the painting desk a bit too, I want to be able to just slide it in and out of place without any disruption which means I have a desk paint rack that will have to go because its just to deep, which means I'll have to figure out something more space efficient to hold the rest of my paint. Probably a sheet of plywood cut to fit and some u channel of some kind will work or I can get lazy and see if there is something commercial that will fit the bill.

Here is a look at the new paint station assembly process:
Straight out of the box. Pretty well packed.

A single sheet of instructions.

The parts all laid out. The ones at the bottom are wings that go on the sides to hold in progress miniatures. I'm not going to use them they add to much to the total width and really don't serve a useful purpose, at least for me.

The piece of MDF is gently bent and glued into the slot, there is another one on the base plate. Seriously bend it gently it will work, if you bend it to hard its likely to snap, MDF has that tendency.

Fitting the top rack into the slots on the back wall. This one had to be done by sight though there are no marks to tell you exactly how it should go so I just made sure it was centered.

Then the bottom rack is glue into place. The instructions suggest using "paper tape" to hold things together while the glue dries. I thin they are actually referring to masking tape. I only had painters tape available, it worked but not as well as masking tape.

And from the other side. Remember the bigger rack goes on the bottom! I actually didn't make that mistake although it would have been a classic one for me.

Here I'm gluing a side piece into place and holding it in place with the painters tape. Larry is providing supervision at this point.

Everything assembled, just need to glue it to the base now. You can see the tan areas on the base plate, that's where the rack sub assembly is glued. The white surface is quite slick, although I'll still use some kind of cutting surface on top of it. I'm sure it wouldn't hold up to a lot of cutting.

Everything glued together, at this point the Titebond Glue that I use should provide enough strength to hold the base to the rack assembly, however, I'm considering adding some small screws from underneath anyway. I would use screws instead of nails because its MDF. Nails tend to split MDF, so some pilot holes and screws are definitely in order.

Still in the drying state. Those are the wing pieces that I don't think I'll be using. I might drill some holes in them and experiment with them as extra spots for water or maybe glue bottles.

Here's where it needs to live though, the basement work room:
There is a Horse Glider wing sitting on the paint rack in this shot. But that rack goes all the way to the back. Its a roll top desk so I can keep Larry off it when I'm not working.

To the right are the racks with other paints, minis, inks, basing material etc.

To the left, my main cabinet above the airbrush station. There is another cabinet to the right of this which is for long term storage as its a little harder to get to.
The main light for this used to be a florescent fixture, I recently replaced that with a 4200 lumens LED fixture, the difference is amazing.

Monday, August 7, 2017

World War II History - Guadalcanal 75th Anniversary

Today is the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Guadalcanal, the US's first offensive in the Pacific. There is plenty of material out there if you are interested in this battle, a seesaw 6th month battle for an island in the Solomons. It featured just about everything, intense ground combat, amphibious landings, naval battles (there is a reason the area off the coast was nicknamed Iron Bottom Sound), and air to air combat.

This campaign has a lot of interest to me, first because my father served in the Marines, so the Corps is always near and dear to my heart. And my great uncle, Donald Johnson, fought on Guadalcanal as part of the 164th Infantry Regiment (nicknamed the 164th Marines) as part of the 23rd "Americal" Infantry Division. He would survive this campaign and continue to fight in the Pacific till he was killed in the invasion of the Philippines (the family is not a big fan of MacArthur).

There are a lot of artifacts to be found on the island, including these that are part of an open air museum on Guadalcanal.

Friday, August 4, 2017

World War II Project - Characters - Stoessi's Heroes

I have been looking at the miniatures from Stoessi's Heroes for a while now but was just not interested enough to pull the trigger on an order, partially because there just wasn't enough that interested me to make an overseas order. That is until I saw these two packs of minis:

I have had my mind on a small diorama featuring the characters from Hogan's Heroes for a long time. These are the first miniatures I have found based on the TV show. I think I can manage to find one or two more minis that I can convert to do a couple of the other characters and I will be all set to go now.

Since I was going to make an order I decided to get some American and British paratroopers to bulk up the character of those forces as well.

I think these are pretty high quality miniatures, detail is crisp and mold lines appear to be pretty light. They are not cast with integral bases or even tabs, not a problem for me since I would be cutting them off to go on my own bases anyway. I'm looking forward to getting these into the painting queue!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

ACW Project - Union Army Goals and Blue Moon Miniatures

I have been thinking about my ACW Union army again as I work, slowly, on the AWI project. Here is a little background on the state of the ACW. Its been a while since I have done anything with my Union Army and its been a while since its seen the table, far to long! I'm not moving this work up in the priority list but I am trying to make sure that I at least have everything I need when I'm ready to get moving on it again. Of course that's the reason we all have lead mountains to deal with, there just aren't enough hours in the day anymore.

I have played the original Fire & Fury rules since it came out back in 1990 and it has been my go to ACW rules ever since. Prior to that I played a lot of Johnny Reb (1st edition and 2nd edition) so the simplicity of Fire & Fury has always appealed to me and its a great rule set to introduce people to the period. I eagerly jumped on the Fire & Fury Regimental rule set when it came out and have played several games using it. I really enjoy the regimental level of engagement especially for a period like the ACW. Right now this is the ruleset I intend to use for the AWI project as well, those battles tend to be smaller and really lend themselves to the larger 28mm miniatures.

I was thrilled with the release of the 2nd edition of Fire & Fury for the brigade level which is what set things to simmer again on the ACW front. I have even toyed with getting into 28mm, but I'll keep that thought on the back burner for the time being. I have two goals for ACW, both focused on the Gettysburg orders of battle. I would like to be able to have enough troops to fight at least portions of the 1st day, and be able to fight Little Roundtop on the 2nd day. 

For the first day I get to use the Iron Brigade (I know, everyone has painted the Iron Brigade but since I my family is from Wisconsin I feel an attachment to it). A good chunk of the painted Union Troops I have are for the Iron Brigade in the Hardee hats, which would be the 2nd, 6th & 7th Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana, the 24th Michigan wore the Kepi. For Regimental FnF I need 45 total stands for the Iron Brigade; 40 stands of Infantry and 5 Command stands (one for each regiment). I have enough for the 2nd Brigade as well (50 total stands; 44 Infantry stands, 6 Cmd stands). I can even field the 1st Brigade out of the 2nd Division as well. However, to really fight the 1st day you need cavalry, lots of cavalry and I don't have any. Until I did some research I had no idea how big Buford's two brigades really were. Gamble's Brigade will take 38 stands of cavalry (35 Cav Stands and 3 Cmd Stands). Devin's Brigade will take 31 stands of cavalry (27 Cav and 4 Cmd stands). And to complicate matters you need dismounted cavalry and markers for the horse holders. For that I need 50 dismounted cavalry stands, 7 dismounted cavalry command stands and 15 horse holder markers. Putting the cavalry together will be the biggest part of the project.

For the fight at Little Roundtop I have enough infantry stands if I dig into the Iron Brigade stands. Which really isn't a problem although I would like to be able to leave those dedicated to the Iron Brigade. As it stands though I can put everything on the table that I need. The only thing I would like to do is have the right command stands. I need to sort through the command stands and see which regimental flags I already have. Its been long enough that I don't remember anymore.

I went ahead and ordered flags from GMB for the cavalry and the Fifth Corps divisions and brigades. I'll do another order when I have the infantry stuff figured out. I placed a small order with Old Glory to get some Blue Moon ACW miniatures since everyone raves about them and I don't have any in my Union Army yet. My current Union troops feature a mix of Stone Mountain, Minifigs and Old Glory (the original now produced by 19th Century Miniatures), so I am curious on how the Blue Moon minis will fit in.

For this order I acquired the 4 Wheeled Ambulance, Union Personalities, Union Generals, Union Horse holders and Union Casualties. These are good castings and nicely sculpted but I'm not sure that they are really any better than the Old Glory that I already have. It is hard to look at a raw metal mini and really tell how nicely it will paint up. There certainly won't be a problem integrating them with the current mix. However, I think I'm going to make a large order to 19th Century for everything else. I can get the same discount for a large order from them as buying Blue Moon from Old Glory and paying the $50 dollars for a membership to get their discount. So I'll actually be getting more miniatures from 19th Century because I don't have to come up with that up front $50 to become a member and this is likely to just be a one time order for me. Had I joined Old Glory's program when I made the first order (which didn't make financial sense a the time) that might have been a different story. The 19th Century order will be for all the cavalry (mounted and dismounted), a bit more infantry (and command) and artillery to start to round things out. I also need to make a concerted effort to paint up the various types of markers (hence why I bought the 4 wheeled ambulance to serve as the heavy casualty marker).

Here is a look at some of the Blue Moon miniatures that I picked up in this initial order

Five packs of Blue Moon ACW from Old Glory

The Horse holders come with two horse holders and eight dismounted horses. I do like the horses

The ambulance which is very nice and comes with plenty of different components that you could create the illusion of a field hospital.

A better overview of the contents

Surgeon at work, stretcher bearers with casualty

Two casualties, a preacher, two women caretakers (I don't think they were nurses at this time), the main body of the wagon and the drivers in the background

The four horses and the wagon. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

World War II Project - Books - The Wartime Jeep in British Service

I have been looking forward to the arrival of this book. Since I have plans for the two British Rubicon Jeep kits this is one of the reference books that will get that project moving along. The Warlord Games jeep will become the signal jeep and these two will become recon jeeps. This book is filled with black and white photographs from the North Africa to Europe. Its an amazing collection of pictures, well worth the effort it took to find it. I think this book maybe out of print, but the one I found is basically new, so a little searching should be worth it.

Highly recommend this one, especially if you are a jeep fan!