Rehabilitating a 1983 Grenadier Frost Giant (Fantasy Lords – First Series 103)

I have loved this John Dennett figure for many years.  I know that I got it when I was back at West Point.  The main problem was that its axe was prone to breaking off, and mine of course did.  I tried different repairs over the years but to no avail.  When I used the figure, I always had to say “imagine the axe being there”!  Below is how the figure should have appeared as I purchased it.  Note that it was guarding a treasure.

10 olf fg
Grenadier “Frost Giant” 103 (from Lost Mini Wiki Page)
At some point, Grenadier recognized the problem and updated the figure with a hammer and got rid of the horns when they released this in the “Fantasy Lords – Second Series”.

11olf fg with hammer
Grenadier “Snow Giant” 103 modification (from Lost Minis Wiki Page)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my Frost Giant lost his axe, I tried all kinds of glue, but nothing worked.  In fact, some of the glue actually went over the figures hair, which obscured some detail.  At some point over the last 30 years, I came across a tomahawk charm that looked like it might work.  At the time I did not have a pin vise and the project waited, with the figure looking like this below, for at least 25 years.

1 Frost Giant Before rehab
Frost Giant before Repair
Note that I had him on a balsa wood base that was painted green.  The figure itself was chipped, as I never used varnish back in the day like I do now.  I clearly painted some parts of him too thickly, but I really did not want to strip the whole figure.  To a degree, I like to keep what I did back in the day as it was done.  However, with a repair, I decided to go a little bit further.

I used an Exacto knife to shave off the end of the tomahawk and my pin vise to drill a small hole in the shaft of the axe in the Frost Giant’s hands.  This fit well, though less appropriately than the previously missing axe.

3 Frost Giant with new axe removed from base
Frost Giant Removed from his old base with shaved tomahawk
I then removed the figure (and his treasure) and mounted them both with wood glue on a 2.5″ hex cut from 1/8″ plywood.  I prefer this as it made the figure less “boxy”.  I had used Krylon white spray primer to prep the new base and the new axe.  I used E6000 epoxy to affix the new axe.

I then began to play with some paints and inks to improve the figure.  The shaft of the new axe and the leather straps were base painted with Citadel “XV-88”.  I then mixed the “XV-88” with Armory “Leather Brown” and Americana “Raw Umber”.  I tried to see if a dry brush technique with Citadel “Prayeti White” would help the his loincloth pelt and his hair.  It did not, so those waited for other interventions.

I used Tamiya “Gun Metal” on the axe itself, as well as on parts of his belt, armor, and helmet.

5 Frost Giant rebased with new axe (better)
Rebased figure

For his skin, I applied a very light coat of Americana “Sky Blue Satin” to cover some of the chips.  I then mixed that with Americana “Snow” to add further highlights.

I changed the stone colors on his bracelet.  I replaced the pinkish color on the bracelet’s stones with two altered colors.  I used Polly-S “Demon Dark Red”, while I used Americana “Dioxazine Purple” on the other stones.  I darkened the axe and its straps with Secret Weapons Washes “Heavy Body Black” wash.  The horns I dry brushed with Craftsmart “Ivory”.

For the treasure, I used Citadel “Auric Armor Gold” on the coins.  For the skull in the treasure pile, I used Craftsmart “Ivory” to cover the white color it had.  I darkened the quiver with P3 “Brown Ink”, and used Polly-S “Demon Dark Red” on the fletchings.   All the treasure pile then got a light wash with the Secret Weapons Washes “Heavy Body Black”.

I then decided that the white pelt and boots and snow-white beard had to go.  For this, I used a combination of three inks – P3 “Brown Ink”, and “Sewer Water” and “Heavy Body Black” from Secret Weapons Washes.  This made the boots and pelt more like something from a brown bear.  For the beard, I just used diluted Secret Weapons Washes “Stone” to create a sooty appearance.  These worked well.  I then went back to the skin – luckily I had not painted that too thickly back in the 1980’s!  I highlighted the muscles and the skin depressions on the arms and the legs, and then used Secret Weapons Washes “Blue” ink to wash the skin.  I then did a second skin highlight, and used Secret Weapons Washes “Heavy Body Black” on the armor and the helmet.  I applied a light highlight on the edge of the axe with Tamiya “Titanium Silver”.

On the plywood base, I worked in air-dry modeling clay and tried to make it like real snow.  I even made footprints behind the figure.  I let that dry for a day, and applied Americana “Snow” on the entire base.  I used Citadels flocking snow with white glue to give a more snowy appearance to newer drifts.  I sealed the figure with a spray coat of Krylon “Clear Glossy” varnish followed several hours later by a finishing coat of Krylon “Clear Matte”.  I then used white glue to add some Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” to represent dead plants popping through the snow.

 

7 Frost Giant completed, front
Frost Giant after Repair
All I can say is “He’s BAAACK!”.  The figure is better than before and will last a long time on the tabletop – and he will bring along his own snowy environment!

 

 

Ziterdes Stone Bridges (11936)

I was in need of a few landscaping items for the tabletop.  In particular, hills, rivers, bridges, and woods.  I found many good options on eBay, to include a nice set of hills and rivers from Poland, a Geo-Hex set of hills that I have been looking for for several years, and two Ziterdes foam bridges.  I had just finished up 39 landscaping trees, so on to the bridges.  This was a good project to work on while recovering from sinus surgery – among others that will be posted here shortly.

As I said, these were made of foam and from Germany.  I got them from Noble Knight Games.  The detail seemed nice and the size appropriate as shown below.

1 Ziterdes Bridges in package
Front of the Packages

 

2 Ziterdes Bridges in package back
Back of One of the Packages

 

3 Ziterdes Bridges out of package
Out of the Package

 

I was reticent to prime them with spray paint and see them melt away from the acetone.  Therefore, I primed them with “White Primer” from Armory paints that I bought in 1996.  This project finished this stalwart bottle off and into retirement.

4 Ziterdes Bridges primed
After Priming

 

I then applied “Stone” wash from Secret Weapons Washes to get into the crevices and deep sections under the paving stones.  This worked but used a lot of the wash.

6 Ziterdes Bridges first wash
After First Ink Wash

 

I was not overly happy with this look, so I went to another old paint, a Polly-S “Ocean Gray” from 1984 – (yes, a 32 year old paint from a company that long ago was acquired by Testors).  It worked ok and while I tried as best as possible to be almost a dry-brush process, the colors were not yet to my liking.

5 Ziterdes Bridges basecoated
After Basecoat

 

I then went back and used the rest of the “Stone” ink wash.  I then used “Pewter Gray” from Apple Barrel (which I had left from 2000) to dry brush, and that did the trick.

By the way, if you are getting the idea that I use all my paints until they are gone, you are correct.  However, if I find them unworkable, dried out, chunky or even with mold in them (happened once), I toss them.

The final product looks pretty good.  I did not apply varnish as I am still leery of melting them.  They will work well as nice additions to my battlefields.

7 Ziterdes Bridges finished
Bridges Complete

 

8 Ziterdes Bridges on table front view
On Tabletop

 

9 Ziterdes Bridges on tablelong view
On Tabletop

The Iron Winds Metals Ral Partha Kickstarter – Orc & Goblin Legion, Briar Rose Knights on Giant Flying Bees, Dwarf Steam Cannon, & more!

Happy New Year to All!

This is my first post in a while!  With the holidays, work and more, it’s been the usual hectic season.  This year I hope to track my painting production on this blog as well.

I was happy to get my Ral Partha Kickstarter from Iron Winds Metals in late December – and is it impressive!

The Ral Partha Kickstarter is Here!
The Ral Partha Kickstarter is Here!

Added up, it’s about 254 miniatures.  For the vast majority of these figures, they are great old (1978-1986) Ral Partha figures that are great to see again!

This is the list of all I got – it came in the form of the Orc & Goblin Legion, and some additional figures:

25-427: Orc & Goblin Legion: 218 miniatures total: 24 Goblin Archers (8 of each sculpt); 36 Lesser Goblins (12 of each sculpt); 48 Goblin Shock Troops (16 of each sculpt); 72 Orc Warriors (18 of each sculpt); 18 Wolf Riders (6 of each sculpt); 1 Orc General; 1 Orc Battle Standard Bearer; 1 Orc Mage; 2 Goblin Champions; 2 Goblin Standard Bearers;  3 Orc Champions; 3 Orc Standard Bearers;  3 Orc Musicians; 3 Wyverns;  1 Orc War Machine

SG-06: Briar Rose Cavalry on Giant Bees: Contents:  6 Riders on Giant Bees

SG-11: Dwarf Steam Cannon: 1 Cannon + 3 Crew

Free Gift #5 containing: 1 Wizard, 1 Winged Panther, 1 Armored Halberdier,  1 Armored Crossbowman, 1 Winged Demon

Bonus: 1 Skeleton and 1 Dwarf fighter and a large number of bases.

This will take a while to paint and get ready, but I am looking forward to the challenge.  The miniatures were all there (I even got an extra wolf).  The quality of the figures is great as you can see from the pictures below.

When I opened the box, I was a bit concerned about inventorying all these, as while they were packed well and by type, it was difficult to see if I got everything.  Jacob from Iron Winds Metals came through (thanks Jacob!), sent me the picture guide you see here.  This helped me to separate all the types and see what I had.  I think that Iron Winds Metals wanted to get these out – but I would suggest that there was labeling on the bags for their next Kickstarter!

Orc & goblin Legion

Here are some better pictures of the different units below:

Orc Warriors with Sword
Orc Warriors with Sword
Orc Warriors with Sword Raised
Orc Warriors with Sword Raised
Orc Warriors with Weapon Option I (axe, pike or cutlass)
Orc Warriors with Weapon Option I (axe, pike or cutlass)
Orc Warriors with Weapon Option II (axe, pike or cutlass)
Orc Warriors with Weapon Option II (axe, pike or cutlass)
Lots of Weapons Options for the Orcs!
Lots of Weapons Options for the Orcs!
Two Types of Goblin Archers
Two Types of Goblin Archers
More Goblin Archers and Goblins with Swords
More Goblin Archers and Goblins with Swords
Two Different Goblin Javelin Units
Two Different Goblin Javelin Units
Goblins with Flails
Goblins with Flails
Goblins with Halberds
Goblins with Halberds
The Armory was empty - Goblins with Clubs!
The Armory was empty – Goblins with Clubs!
Goblin Champions and Standard Bearers
Goblin Champions and Standard Bearers
Very Cool Goblin Wolf Riders with Javelins
Very Cool Goblin Wolf Riders with Javelins
Equally Cool goblin Wolf Riders with Swords (and an extra wolf)
Equally Cool goblin Wolf Riders with Swords (and an extra wolf)
The Infamous Orc War Machine
The Infamous Orc War Machine
Air Supprt for the Orc & Goblin Legion - Three Wyverns!
Air Supprt for the Orc & Goblin Legion – Three Wyverns!
Orc General, Army Standard Bearer, 3 Orc Musicians, 3 Orc Standard Bearers, 3 Orc Champions, and an Orc Mage
The Orc General, the Army Standard Bearer, 3 Orc Musicians, 3 Orc Standard Bearers, 3 Orc Champions, and an Orc Mage

The rest of the miniatures were special add-on’s or free gifts:

The Dwarf Steam Cannon
The Dwarf Steam Cannon
6 Knights with Lances on Giant Bees (Briar Rose Cavalry)
6 Knights with Lances on Giant Bees (Briar Rose Cavalry)
Some Nice Freebies - a Winged Panther, An Evil Wizard, a Winged Demon, and a Julie Guthrie Sculpted Skeleton and a Tom Meier Sculpted Dwarf from the Next Kickstarter Round
Some Nice Freebies – a Winged Panther, An Evil Wizard, a Winged Demon, and a Julie Guthrie Sculpted Skeleton and a Tom Meier Sculpted Dwarf from the Next Kickstarter Round
Lots of Free Bases with my Inventory Sheet
Lots of Free Bases with my Inventory Sheet

NOW I NEED TO PAINT THEM!  As I do I will of course post here!

 

 

 

Spell Deck for Fantasy Rules – Done!

I have been working on a rewrite of my fantasy miniature wargaming rules for sometime.  I have been working this in between golf and sinus attacks since June, and am in the home stretch (of both ironically)!
In the last few months, I have been significantly influenced by the Bear Yourselves Valiantly rules from Buck Surdu, Dave Wood, Chris Palmer, and James “Tank” Nickle.  It’s a great set of rules, but for my purposes, I wanted something a bit different.  The rules I am redoing started with Buck back at West Point, and I did a rewrite back in the 1990’s.  I am aiming to make things simple, with unit and individual cards, as well as shortcut cards.  My goal is to have a game that anyone can play right away and have fun.  Magic is an important component of the game.  It’s important to me that Wizards be more interesting and less predictable in the game.  I also wanted to add a card element to the use of Wizards to eliminate use of charts.
Creating the cards has been a challenge – and one that has proved to be an interesting project.  Buck shared with me some ways he created cards, and it was a tremendous help.
As a side note, Buck has just completed publishing his Combat Patrol rules(awesome WWII rules please check them out here and buy them if  you can – THEY ARE REALLY COOL!
Buck also helped me understand how he used Microsoft PowerPoint to make his cards.  This was a game changer for me as I really was able to make good cards.  I also had some questions about using fixative and spray adhesive, about which he also was a great sounding board.
I wanted to see what I could do without hitting a publisher.  After all, this game is for playing with family and friends and my troops!
I initially thought about using templates and the like, but I came to the belief that poker-sized cards were too small for my needs, and too difficult to attempt printing on my home HP printer.  I needed simple production with good results.  I liked the idea of 3″ x 5″ cards, but the corners seemed too much like what you would use for recipes.  Add on to that that they were not thick enough for use as cards in a game, and finding ones without one side ruled at Staples was a non-starter.
A search of eBay found the solution.  A vendor known as colonialcards had 3″ x 5″ unruled cards with rounded edges!  They came in a pack of 100, and were 65/67 lb. cardstock.  I decided to use two cards to make each spell card – and thereby make each card effectively 130/134 lb. stock.  I purchased white ones for the project.
I then created the concept of the deck in Excel, and inputted the data into my master Excel game attributes deck.  Wizards are levels 1-4, and get 1 action chip (AC) per level per activation cycle.  To allocate spells, I wanted to use the Spell Deck I was creating.  In it, I planned to have three types of spells: Attack, General, and Mundane.  The Mundane Spell Cards are issued to each Wizard “free” at the beginning of the game.  Then, each player with a Wizard rolls a D4, and gets that number rolled plus the Wizard’s level of spell cards from the Spell Deck.  This way, what spells Wizards had would be variable and more fun.  I planned the Spell Deck to consist of 50 cards.  Here are the spells and how they were allocated:
Spell Class Spell Name AC Cost Range Effect Duration of Effect Nullified or Partially Nullified  by? No Effect on? Number of Cards in Spell Deck?
ATTACK Fire Ball 2 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 6
ATTACK Cold Spell 2 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 6
ATTACK Lightning Bolt 2 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 6
ATTACK Mega-Blast 3 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 5
GENERAL Nullify 1-4 AC 0-8″ Nullifies or Reduces the effects of Certain Spells Variable N/A N/A 5
GENERAL William Tell 3 AC 0-8″ Enhances Friendly Missile Fire Instantaneous Nullify or The Yips N/A 2
GENERAL Wild Pitch 3 AC 0-8″ Wards Off/Diverts a Large Missile Attack Instantaneous N/A N/A 1
GENERAL The Yips 3 AC 0-8″ Reduces Enemy Missile Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Nullify or William Tell N/A 2
GENERAL Charles Atlas 3 AC 0-8″ Enhances Friendly Melee Attack Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Nullify or 98-lb Weakling N/A 2
GENERAL 98-lb Weakling 3 AC 0-8″ Reduces Enemy Melee Attack Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Nullify or Charles Atlas N/A 2
GENERAL Thorny Devil 1-2 AC 0-8″ Creates an Entanglement 1D4 Activations Nullify  N/A 1
GENERAL Alacrity 3 AC 0-8″ Doubles Movement Rate 1D4 Activations Nullify or LSD The Undead 1
GENERAL LSD 3 AC 0-8″ Halves Movement Rate 1D4 Activations Nullify or Alacrity The Undead 1
GENERAL Walk on Water 4 AC 0-8″ Allows Movement on Water 1D4 Activations Nullify The Undead 1
GENERAL Wall of Smoke 2 AC 0-8″ Creates a Wall of Smoke 1D4 Activations Nullify N/A 2
GENERAL Wall of Flame 2 AC 0-8″ Creates a Wall of Flame 1D4 Activations Nullify N/A 2
GENERAL Suck It Up Sunshine 3 AC 0-4″ Removes All Current Fatigue, unpins or stops retreat Instantaneous N/A The Undead 1
GENERAL I ain’t a-skeered o’Ya 4 AC 0-4″ Removes Any Possibility of Fear from Undead, Monster, or Magic Attacks Game unless nullified 4 AC Nullify Elves, The Undead 1
GENERAL Marshal Ney 3 AC 0-4″ Nullifies a Unit Morale Break and No Morale Checks for 1D4 Activations 1D4 Activations Nullify or Overlook Hotel The Undead 1
GENERAL Overlook Hotel 3 AC 0-4″ Degrades Morale – Must Roll 2x for Morale for 1D4 Activations 1D4 Activations Nullify or Marshall Ney The Undead 1
GENERAL Don’t Worry, Be Happy 4 AC 0-4″ Removes All Current Fatigue, and Resets Casualty Rate to Zero Losses for Morale Purposes Instantaneous N/A The Undead 1
MUNDANE Fly 1 AC per 10″ Flight N/A Wizard Flight Instantaneous N/A N/A  6 cards – Reference only
MUNDANE His Master’s Voice 2 AC per activation controlled 0-6″ Control Beasts, Large Creatures, Large Animals, or Individual Creatures 2 AC per activation controlled Death of Wizard or Cessation of Spell Trained or Semi-Sentient Animals  6 cards – Reference only
MUNDANE Buzz 3 AC 0-6″ Control a Swarm, Reduce Enemy Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Death of Wizard or Cessation of Spell The Undead, Ents, Lizard men  6 cards – Reference only
 The red cards are Attack Spells and the green cards are General Spells.  These would have a yellow backing (see pictures at bottom of this blog), and would be consumed when used. The three Mundane Spell cards would have a white backing.  Again, the plan was for the Mundane Spells to be issued free and capable of multiple use, but the Buzz spell (which summons a Swarm) is the only Mundane spell consumed by use.  The way I made the deck was as follows:
  1. I created the spell attributes in Excel.  I have a large spreadsheet that I use for all the game data – and this lends itself to cutting and pasting tables into the PowerPoint.
  2. I cut and pasted the parts of the tables I need from Excel into PowerPoint.  (Once again, thank you Buck for your help!)  I then inserted colors, pictures, graphics and adjusted the font sizes.  This was a nice way to make cards legible. I just used clip art that I thought appropriate.
  3. I then saved each PowerPoint slide as a separate slide and separate jpeg.
  4. I set up a Word file with documents set to print to 3″ x 5″ cards for the Spell Deck. I then inserted each PowerPoint jpeg into the Word document, and adjusted these jpeg’s to fit the card.  This made printing a breeze.
  5. I printed the cards on my printer (well, my old printer – this project was its swansong).  With 68 cards in the deck (50 total for Attack and General and 18 Mundane), I had 136 cards to assemble front & back.  This supports 6 players as each Wizard gets three Mundane cards.
  6. Then I coated the printed side of each card with Krylon fixative with each card on pieces of cardboard with “blue” painting masking tape.  The fixative gave the cards a nice protective coating.  The blue masking tape assisted in easy removal from the cardboard.

    1 Fixative on cards
    Fixative Being Applied to Printed Side of Cards in the garage
  7. I then separated the cards so I could assemble them.  I made a two jigs, one for applying spray glue and one for card assembly.

 

5Gluing application jig, front
Adhesive Spraying Jig, Front Side

8.  For glue application, I affixed the card backs to popsicle sticks with blue painting masking tape on the printed side for applying spray glue (also Krylon).  These I mounted on a display piece of wood from AC Moore that had three routed slots on it.  I was able to spray 4 cards mounted on the wood at a time with the glue.  I also made an assembly jig out of 1/4″ and 1/8″ plywood for card assembly. It had a small press with the weight being old casting plugs left over from our Academy days.

Card Assembly Jig
Card Assembly Jig

9.  I then used the assembly  jig to put the cards together with no misalignment.

Assembly Jig with Spell Card Front (printed side down)
Assembly Jig with Spell Card Front (printed side down)
Inserting the Card with Adhesive into the Assembly Jig
Inserting the Card with Adhesive into the Assembly Jig

10.  The jig had a short term press, followed by using some large medical textbooks as presses.

Short Term Press
Short Term Press

 

The Spell Deck
The Spell Deck is Done!

 

Here is what the Spell Deck looks like – although they are on 3″ x 5″ cards this is the PowerPoint I used to make the deck:

WMB Cards (all) ppt

I am pretty happy with the Spell Deck.  It is legible and sturdy – and I can even shuffle it!

CHEVAUX DE FRISE (Old Glory Miniatures)

While I have been collecting many different fantasy miniatures this year, I have really wanted more terrain and obstacles for the tabletop.  I was happy to come across this out of print (OOP) chevaux de fries collection from Old Glory Miniatures.  This was acquired from Noble Knight Games which has a lot of OOP stuff.  As a former Combat Engineer, I looked forward to installing real obstacles on the battlefield!  Yes, “installing” is the word we Engineers would use – but I digress.

We have had the use of chevaux de fries in the fantasy miniatures rules for a while.  However, I was never happy with my ad hoc representations.  I have also known what chevaux de fries actually were physically in medieval days, but I was less familiar with their origin. I did some research, and I thought it would be useful to give a general historical background on them for the curious.

The term is of course French with the singular being cheval de fries and the plural being chevaux de fries.  Typically these were mainly anti-cavalry defensive obstacles, but they could slow up infantry as well on land, and there were naval versions as well.

They were often constructed using logs with iron or metal spikes or spears jutting through drilled holes.  The spikes could also be mounted on wooden frames.  They were used from medieval times up to and including modern times.

Fellow USMA graduates will remember the stories of the Great Chain at West Point during the Revolutionary War.  This was a massive iron chain with sharpened logs that was designed to deny the British Navy the ability to use the Hudson River from New York City to Canada in either direction as a means of communications.  This employment denied the British the ability to isolate New England from the other colonies.

1777 map detail showing the chevaux-de-frise between Fort Lee and Fort Washington
1777 map detail showing the chevaux-de-frise between Fort Lee and Fort Washington

Many early Civil War photographs exist depicting the uses of chevaux de fries such as the examples here from Atlanta and Petersburg during the Civil War.

Chevaux de Frise in Atlanta during the Civil War
Chevaux de Frise in Atlanta during the Civil War
Chevaux de frise at the Confederate Fort Mahone defenses at Siege of Petersburg
Chevaux de frise at the Confederate Fort Mahone defenses at Siege of Petersburg

In WWI and WWII they were used to plug gaps in barbed wire defenses.  Engineers devised the knife rest as a way to plug gaps in wire obstacles that could allow for passage through those gaps by friendly forces.  They are even used today as a way to block roads and the like.

Knife rest
Knife rest

With horse cavalry scarce as a threat, in WWII Europe, chevaux de fries morphed into “hedgehogs” that were employed as anti-landing craft defenses on beaches and anti-tank defenses on fortified lines.  I am sure that most would remember  from movies and war footage the welded steel I-beam structures such as were used by the Germans on the Normandy Beaches or the Siegfried Line.

Beach obstacles at Pas de Calais, 18 April 1944
Beach obstacles at Pas de Calais, 18 April 1944

The advent of barbed wire and the demise of horse cavalry has led to the obsolescence of this trusty defensive tool.  However, chevaux de fries have recently showed up in popular culture as well recently.  I do remember their uses against Walkers in two episodes of The Walking Dead – one to reinforce the prison gate and a second by Morgan when he was in Rick’s home town.  They were effective against the Walkers, as the walkers would impale themselves and get stuck.

Michonne got her second set of
In The Walking Dead, Michonne got her second set of “pets” off the chevaux de fries at the prison

The term chevaux de fries has its origins in medieval times.  Frisia is an area from roughly medieval coastal Holland and northern Belgium to Denmark.

frisian-map

Chevaux de fries means, literally, “Frisian Horse”.  Apparently the Frisians had little cavalry and first used chevaux de fries to defend against cavalry attacks.  Whether this was derisive or not on the part of the French or whomever no one knows – but the term stuck.

Let me get back now to the miniatures!  I found these on Noble Knight Games and got them for $14.95.  Note the misspelling on the label on the bag!

Chevaux de Frise in the Package - not sure of what date these were made
Chevaux de Frise in the Package – not sure of what date these were made

The misspelled label on the package said 8 figures, but really it was a set of 6 pairs of chevaux de fries.  Each set consisted of a log with spear-like wooden iron-tipped spikes and a wooden saw horse structure with screw-shaped iron spikes.  I got them out of the package, cleaned all the pieces with a brush and dishwashing soap, and was surprised to see how many tiny pieces there were that needed assembly!  There were also extra pieces that could have been flash or the bottom of the spikes.

I picked the best ones for stave pieces and moved on to assembling them with E6000 epoxy.  Thankfully, I was able to effectively use my pin vise to make available some of the holes in the saw horses that were not well molded.  My goal was to put these together to look as field expedient as possible – as if they were hastily made.  These would have been made on-demand as needed for a battle, and I did not want them to look too polished.

Chevaux de frise out of package unassembled
Chevaux de frise out of package unassembled

After putting them together I realized that basing them first for painting was the best option.  This would lead to some crazy angles in getting paint on the the undersides of the miniatures.  However, the models were just not sturdy enough without bases.  I decided the I would use my scroll saw to cut 1.5″ square bases from 1/8″ balsa.  I affixed the models to the bases with my strong wood glue and that proved to be a good call.

Chevaux de frise assembled on balsa bases
Chevaux de frise assembled on balsa bases

I then primed the six with black Krylon primer spray paint.  I then base-coated the miniatures and the bases.  With some nostalgia, I used up the last of my vintage 1984 Polly-S Jungle Green on the bases.  I must have used this paint on many figures over the years.  I painted the logs with a combination of Americana Raw Umber and Americana Raw Sienna.  I envisioned the sawhorses as being made from fresh lumber, so I base-coated them with a combination of Americana Raw Sienna and Americana Desert Sand, lightening and highlighting them with more of the latter on subsequent coats.  The iron rods in the saw horses and the iron tips of the staves were painted with Citadel Mechanized Gray.  The stave shafts in the logs were painted with Musket Brown from Armory (still some left over from 1996).

Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed before washing
Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed before washing

I then dry brushed the logs with Apple Barrel Pewter Gray which gave nice detail to the bark.  I the used a couple of wash applications with Secret Weapons Washes to add a a bit more realism – Red-Black on the wood logs and the saw horse frames and Heavy Body Black on the iron parts.

Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed after wash application
Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed after wash application

I then had the task of flocking and detailing the bases – on which I used three Army Painter’s products.  I used a slurry of water and Elmer’s White Glue to affix two coats of Grass Green flocking.  I then used Krylon Clear Matte spray varnish to protect the paint and stabilize the flocking before adding the final touches.  These were the addition of a combination of both 4mm Wilderness Tuft and 6mm Wasteland Tuft.  I found easier to attach these grasses with wood glue than with the Elmer’s.  I like the finished products, andeagerly await the chance to deploy some archers behind them!

Chevaux de frise base finished in circle
Chevaux de frise base finished in circle
Back of a Single Cheval de Frise  - Defender's Side
Back of a Single Chevaux de Frise – Defender’s Side
Front of Chevaux de Frise - Attacker's Side
Front of Chevaux de Frise – Attacker’s Side
Chevaux de Frise in Line
Chevaux de Frise in Line

Old West Point ’84 Classmates Get in First Miniatures Battle in Decades in Arlington, VA

As I write this it is Memorial Day, and this weekend was spectacular in it’s breadth and depth of experience.  I traveled from Albany, NY on the evening of Thursday the 21st after working at Albany Medical Center.  I drove to Arlington, VA for the promotion of my fellow F-4 classmate Chaplain (COL) Paul Hurley, to Major General as the new Chief of Chaplains of the US Army (more to blog on that later as Fr. Paul’s ceremony and after party were indeed epic!).

The drive was going well until I hit an accident-induced traffic jam at the Baltimore tolls that lasted over two hours with ZERO movement.  Finally, it cleared, and after five aggravated lanes of traffic merged into two, I made my way to our class hotel in Arlington, arriving at 2 AM.  Got a key, went to the room, only to find that someone was in there.  I felt badly that I woke whoever it was up at 2:15 AM – and made a hasty exit back to the front desk for a new key to an unoccupied room.  This is why I ALWAYS bolt the doors at hotels.  At least I knew what was going on – the poor guy in the first room only knew someone opened his door and said “sorry!”.  I then crashed and slept until 7.

As backstory, the previous Saturday, Dave Wood, my classmate and old roommate from USMA swung through East Brookfield, MA on his way back from the Huzzah historical miniatures convention in Portland, ME with his wife Brenda.  Lynn and I were happy to see then and really enjoyed spending some time with them and had a great lunch (thanks to Lynn and not me!).

Lynn Morin, Dave Wood, Mark Morin, Brenda Wood
Lynn Morin, Dave Wood, Mark Morin, Brenda Wood
Dave & Mark get together for the first time in 16 years!
Dave & Mark get together for the first time in 16 years!

While in East Brookfield, Dave and I made final plans to go to Fr. Paul’s promotion (at Ft. Meyer by the Pentagon) on Friday afternoon, which left us some time to plan to have a quick miniatures game using the Buck Surdu “Look Sarge No Charts”/Bear Yourself Valiantly system.  Flash forward to Friday the 22nd – so Dave drove down to Arlington and met me at the hotel.  After we grabbed a quick breakfast, it was on to the battle!

Dave set up everything and did a great job.  He brought a drop cloth and that went right on the king-sized bed for a nice battlefield.  The battle was between an attacking force of Elves (me) and a defending group of Ratlings (Dave).  He also had a few orc/goblin ballistae, and I had an Ent.  I do believe that Dave gave me plenty of forces and did a nice job teaching me the game mechanics as we went along.

The Battle Set Up, Elves attacking from Right to Left
The Battle Set Up, Elves attacking from Right to Left
Elven Left Flank
Elven Left Flank
Better Detail of Elven Left Flank and Center
Better Detail of Elven Left Flank and Center

I focused on maneuver and less on frontal assault.  This allowed me time to marshal forces for multiple attacks on units.  Dave of course accommodated by advancing his forces into woods that I could hit on three sides.

Elves attack into Woods and go after Wounded Ratling Leader
Elves attack into Woods and go after Wounded Ratling Leader
The Woods become a Rat Trap!
The Woods become a Rat Trap!

The Ratling defensive position on the Elven left flank became untenable, and they quickly scurried away to the next wood line.  On the Elven right flank, casualties were higher, and progress was slower.

Despite Greater Casualties, the Elves push forward on the Right Flank
Despite Suffering Higher Casualties, the Elves Push Forward on the Right Flank

Ratling morale began to falter and their leaders faced multiple morale checks as shown by the red gaming stones.  Dave’s Morale Check rolls led to retreats.

Ratling Leader Losing His Nerve
Ratling Leader Losing His Nerve
At the Second Wood Line, Fleeing Ratlings Crowd the Forest
At the Second Wood Line, Fleeing Ratlings Crowd the Forest

At this point, the end was near, and we called it over.  Dave was gracious – really he set me up for a win.  Back in the day, we kept records of all the games we played, and he held a commanding lead over me in victories.  He did concede that now I am ahead in the 21st Century!

The End is Near
The End is Near
Elven Casualties at Top (1 Unit), Ratling Casualties at Bottom
Elven Casualties at Top (1 Unit), Ratling Casualties at Bottom

I was impressed with Buck’s system (no surprise).  I was also impressed with Dave’s ability to teach me the system.  I will be incorporating some of the mechanics and concepts into the version of fantasy rules that I am updating.  I was also able to catch up with Buck on the way home to discuss them (again much thanks to Dave & Buck)!

And after the game, the promotion ceremony for Fr. Paul and the After Party! (my next post!)

Iron Wind Metals Bringing Back Ral Partha’s Chaos Wars with a Great Kickstarter Campaign

Great Goblins!
Great Goblins!

This is some great news – Iron Wind Metals has a really interesting Kickstarter Campaign going for bringing back the Ral Partha Chaos Wars and figures.   I really like the Goblin/Orc Battalion and will get that.  Go to:

It looks like my re-entry into the hobby was timely!