Thirty-three percent of 2020 has Past (Passed)

Passed or past? For the grammar Nazis reading, I will plead a moments confusion. I do use “passed” as the past tense of “pass” but as time passes, has it passed or is it in the past?

I will admit, it is not quite 33% at the moment, but it will be at the end if next week so near enough. Back on 9 February I noted that One Twelfth of 2020 has Passed. Back in January there were three COVID-19 cases only in the Philippines  and life didn’t look like it was going to be too inconvenient.

Today we have been in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for 38 days with technically another nine days only to go. However there is talk now of adding at least another 15 days to the period, to ensure that the curve that is being flattened here is well flattened, doubly as important in the Philippines as there are many less hospital beds per million of population that in developed countries.

Should the ECQ be extended to 15 May then it will have been a full two months in Metro Manila. Some Barangays and Cities here have been put under full lock-down for periods ranging from 48 hours to seven days, generally because residents are not following the rules of the ECQ. In fact, a few days ago the Police had warned 130,000 ECQ violators and arrested 30,366. So many folks re not following the rules which maybe why the extension.

On that previous posts, I noted that since being in the Philippines I can tick off from my list:

  • typhoon
  • earthquake
  • volcano

To that list I can add … pandemic!

Work-wise, it has been both good and bad working from home. The bad is basically being locked up and not able to get out and just take a walk and the like. The first month was super hectic as well getting work from home organised for staff. The second month has been hectic as well but more for completing tasks. Currently I do not have a good area to work in but rather share my painting table (which is actually a mobile computer table). That keyboard is not my laptop but just a Bluetooth keyboard connected to my laptop which sits under the table. When I want to paint, keyboard and mouse are moved. Later this year I will, I hope, have an actual room I can use which will be much better.

Back in January I planned on getting the book reviews completed for the three books I have read and post those reviews here. I have achieved that for three (Battle of Manila, Miguel Miranda – ReviewArmies of Celtic Europe — 700 BC – AD 106 by Gabriele Esposito — Review and In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN — Review).

I planned to finish that damned 1/35 scale tank and paint it and then get back into some figure painting. Well, I finished the build but have not started the painting yet. The Anglo-Saxons I was working on are basically unchanged as I have not put a lick pf paint on them, although I have looked to add then to another project.

I kept reading the historical fiction and as expected, that has led me down the path of yet another project (Damned Historical Fiction – Sub-Roman British and Arthur!) And, since I have been locked down here in Makati, I have not spent any time with my local family. By the time I get to see them it will have been three months or longer.

So, overall, it has not been the greatest year in my 65 completed so far but we live in hope for the 66th year!

Damned Historical Fiction – Sub-Roman British and Arthur!

I knew it would happen. I was reading David Pilling’s Ambrosius for my midnight read with a glass of Dr. Feelgood before retiring for the evening. I thought I could control the urges but the addiction was too strong.

We’ve been in Enhanced Community Quarantine here not for 37 days with at least 9 more days to go, but also with many rumours that the government will extend for an additional two to four weeks.

So in those evening hours, after a glass and a read and just before drifting off to sleep, one’s mind turns to thinking about … Sub-Roman British.

I’m thinking, “it can’t be too hard and won’t require many figures, after all I have a fair spares box from the Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start project which interestingly is a project I started one year ago, then got distracted with some ships.

So, I thought that I could use the the left-over Ostrogoths from that project and use them as your fairly generic hairy barbarian types. That project also provides some barbarian cavalry and archers as well. Once the post returns to normal I would just need to get a few Late Roman types for some of the cavalry and the more Roman looking infantry. Of course that purchase would need to wait until post is flowing freely in the Philippines again and Baccus 6mm recommences moulding. The Anglo-Saxons for the Viking project can be re-purposed. In the Sub-Roman Britain time they were all basically dense warband in wargaming terms. In the Viking times, they had become a little more organised and had a few warband but must were densely packed spears. Voila, instant transformation.

And I was going to eave it there, honest guv’nor, I was.

I started to read book 2 off Pilling’s Leader of Battles Series and started to think back to the Sub-Roman British of Ambrosius’s time. The same army would do for Ambrosius or Artorius, however, why not reproduce Vortigern’s army as well?

And if I cam going to do Vortigern’s, perhaps I should consider the hairy Scots, the Irish, Welsh and Picts of the time. Yes six armies would make a lovely campaign set again, with Ambrosius and Vortigern sometimes combining to see off the Scots and Irish, at other times facing each other across the field of battle.

So, another project to plan and an excuse to rifle through the leftover boxes on the weekend to see what I really need to purchase later to complete this set.

What is worrying is that there are three more books in the Leader of Battles series following. Still, I am resisting the urge for Artorius to travel to Gaul and assist against the Visigoths … I would need more figures for that and as a responsible wargamer I could not consider doing that … yet!

Plan B – Battle of Lissa on Hold

So the other day I noted that I was looking at the Battle of Lissa as a new Project. Over the last couple of days I dragged the fleets out of the boxes and had a look at them. Decided I would start on the Austrians first and the Radetzky and sister ships first.

A close examination of the Redetzkys suggest there will be a lot of work here, especially from the age of the moulds and the poor pouring when cast – see the images below for examples.

So, given the enhanced community quarantine here currently and the fact that I would need to get some green stuff to work on these, it is time for a plan B. Another planning session is in order this evening. And in the meantime, I will at least do some more reading and research into the Battle of Lissa and in fact, the war at sea in those times.

This could, of course, lead into a more full-on attempt at the Third Italian War of Independence on land as well, which was the war between the fledgling Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire fought between June and August 1866, where Lissa was the unexpected win for Austria. The conflict paralleled the Austro-Prussian War and, like that war, ended in an Austrian defeat, with Austria conceding the region of Venetia and the city of Mantua to Italy, the Italians having been persuaded to war against the Austrians by Otto von Bismarck.

My worry is that this will ultimately lead into a desire to look at the Schleswig-Holstein War between Prussia, Austria and the German Confederation on one side and the Danes on the other. It is then only a short step backwards to the Second Italian War of Independence with France and Italy squaring off against Austria and then it all concluding with the Franco-Prussian War, a long forgotten project from my past, which I had started using Heroics and Ros 6mm figures.

Oh dear, time for my anti-megalomania pills again!

Time for a New Project — the Battle of Lissa

Enough plastic for the time being, and regardless of how great the detail is on those 1/3000 plastic vessels from Fujimi, it is time to return to the Real Man’s Wargamer MaterialTM … metal!

David Manley’s Broadside and Ram, published by Long Face Games, was purchased from Wargame Vault when there was a special on some of their other rules.

Sitting here in the enhanced community quarantine, I thought to myself, I have some ships here for Lissa somewhere. A rummage through the lead pile turned up two boxed sets of the Lissa fleets, from Houston’s Ships. I had no recollection of when I purchased these fleets, so a hunt through my emails and I discovered that after trading some emails with friend Doug, I ordered these when I was living in Singapore, on 2 January 2012!.  He was working on his Houston’s Ships in January 2012, mine have remained in the lead pile since.

The Broadside and Ram rules provide a brief history of the naval campaign between Austria and Italy 1866. This resulted in the largest ironclad fleet action in history, just off the island of Lissa on 20 July 1866.  Apart from a brief history the rules also include:

  • a campaign system
  • fast play rules
  • a complete set of ship data for the rules

The two boxed sets I purchased have been carried from Singapore to Manila and remained untouched in the lead pile for the past 8 years. The length of time figures have remained untouched and simply stored in the lead pile can usually be measured by the thickness of the dust layer on the top.

These had recently been cleaned off as a result of a deep clean of the apartment here in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. My cleaner insisted on cleaning everything in the condo … twice.  My grumpiness made no difference, nor did my grumpy explanation that COVID-19 does not live in dust layers on old books or unmade wargame models that have been sitting on the shelf for years, so in the end I simply ran the white flag up the pole and assisted the cleaning a little here and a little there.

The models and therefore the moulds they were poured from are old as well and you can see the amount of metal flash that needs to be removed from around the models to the left.

Houston’s Ships are no longer readily available with the exception of the American Civil War range. Great Endeavours (where I purchased these from) stopped making them sometime in 2017 and the range is dying away as moulds deteriorate. These models are therefore old. Houston’s Ships were always a little dodgy with regards to scale but they do have a lot of character and once the masts are gently straightened out, and the davits and lifeboats, funnels and ventilators are added, the ships will then be begging for paint. Prior to painting, the vessel will be added to a sea base, either like the ones I make for my 1/3000 scale vessels or made using acrylic gel, which will be a new technique for me.

The reference for these vessels is Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1860 to 1905. This is one of four volumes covering fighting ships from 1860 to 1995 and this volume, originally published in 1985, is still available from specialist booksellers with prices ranging fro US $98 to $125+. If you ahve any interest is warships, I can thoroughly recommend obtaining all four volumes from wherever you can source them. They are so good that my Conway’s 1906 to 1926 volume was stolen when I lived in Mongolia in 2005 and even then it was the devil’s own job to get a replacement volume.

Painting reference for these ships will be courtesy of Mr. Google. There are photographs of many art works of the battle in museums and galleries in Europe and they are available to view online.

So, time to put the other projects away and break-in a new one.

18 days to go … and wash your hands!

Day 25 passing, 20 days to go (hopefully)

It seems to grow so quickly. Definitely looking like I have been trapped on an island for months now. I think there will be a trip to the gentleman’s hair lounge (Covent) when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is past.

Today is Good Friday, and along with yesterday, which was both Maundy Thursday and the Day of Valor holiday here in Manila, makes up a four day long weekend.

I packed my bag for a four day break away, grabbed my passport and took the long trip to the lounge room! Of course, being in ECQ, the only difference about today and the preceding 24 days is that I can ignore (mostly) work emails.

The plan for the four day break was to avoid work as I have had a lot to deal with over recent weeks, and spend time sorting, building, painting, packing things away and generally getting ready to be able to play some games in the apartment — either on the coffee table or what serves as the dining table.

Yesterday was starting to get my eBook collection in some order and located in one area on my harddrive and in two clouds — then load the library to my tablets for reading. Damn, I have a lot of books, magazines and rules in digital format.

I need to determine what my eBook readers will be into the future. Kindle is one of course and both my Kindle and the readers on my phone and tablets get good use. Amazon Kindle in particular is my go to location for pulp fiction, science fiction and what-not. Non fiction tends to be a mix of hard copies, ePub, PDF, and Kindle where appropriate. I need a good ePub/PDF reader. Any suggestions I should try? I am an Android user.

Today I decided to knock out some more 1/3000 scale ships (see to the left here). These are from set 30 of Fujimi’s 1/3000 scale modern Japanese Navy – flotilla 1 of the fleet in recent years. I will look to base them tomorrow or Sunday, ready for paint on Monday.

Some of the pieces are remarkably small and delicate and bloody annoying to put on. I really have had to use tweezers for  these but I will admit to a satisfaction when the peg slowly slides into the hole and the piece is glued on.

The detail on these vessels is remarkably good, and I am looking forward to not only painting these beasties but also putting together more of the World War Two vessels that they have. For those interested, I obtained these from Hobby Link Japan, who have an excellent mail order service. A search for “fujimi 1/3000” in Google will return many results of where the vessels can be purchased from.

Now the next question is what else to look at doing tonight? Do I:

  • build more little ships
  • finish the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s
  • paint the 1/300 scale Tupolev SB-2s
  • read a book
  • paint some 6mm ancient Anglo-Saxons
  • build a large kit
  • start of new wargaming project?

Ah, the joys of being a wargames tart (which I am sure is an oxymoron)!

Anyway, have a safe if boring Easter. I believe the Easter bunny will still be out and about but social distancing and as I understand, in Australia, toilet paper is considered more valuable than hot cross buns … the hot cross bun shelves are still well stocked in supermarkets!

Be safe, relax, keep your distance and wash your hands!

Painting Lessons

With the recent entrapment due to COVID-19, I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos in the evening, after all, there is only so much Netflixing one can do.

Many of the videos were dealing with painting, both air brushing (a skill I am yet to develop) and brush painting (where I used to think I was somewhat of a dab hand). Now I am still a wargames painter at heart and mediocre modeller at best and many of the videos discussed blending and shading and turning out masterful figures, especially in the vein of Games Workshop. There were several, however, that covered some of the most basic of techniques.

For example, I knew that regular paints from Vallejo and Army Painter would require thinning before air brushing but it had not occurred to me that thinned paint came off the brush easier and provided better coverage, especially over large flat aircraft like 1/300 aircraft and their flight stands.

With Easter coming up and a four day break here where the biggest decision will be whether to spend it in bed or on the lounge, I have a hankering to actually get of my rather expansive butt and try some airbrushing. As for my other painting, more to be published here in the not too distant future when I think I will have the Winter War air wargame set finished!

In the meantime, I did find this YouTube painting tutorial from Owen very helpful, even painting wargame figures and 1/300 scale aircraft:

Feeling a little like Robinson Crusoe – Day 17 of Community Quarantine

Needing a beard trim and a haircut … or a coconut palm and a Man Friday!

Needing a beard trim and a haircut … or a coconut palm and a Man Friday!

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719, so 301 years ago this month. It was one of my favourite novels in my late teen years but now I am starting to feel like Crusoe, and indeed look like Crusoe. 

We have just completed 17 days of extended community quarantine here in Manila where we are working from home and only permitted out to collect food, medicine, see a doctor, or in my case, walk to the office if there are machines that need resetting. My only exposure to the outside currently then is the daily collecting of a can of beer from the local convenience store and to collect dinner from the Grab food delivery guy around 6:00 pm. Funnily, it is very tiring in this environment but hopefully, once we get past Easter here, we will be able to get out and about more often as restrictions ease up. Hopefully also we will have “flattened the curve” and life will be safer for the elderly and those with medical conditions.

Now, all I need is a visit to a gentlemen’s hairdresser – or a beach, a coconut palm, and a Man Friday!

Sea Bases

Magnet attached to Base

Making the Sea Bases is a fairly straightforward, although slightly messy process. To be totally honest, I stole the method from the GHQ website but adapted what was there for the bases under the vessels. I also used Vallejo or Citadel paints for colouring the bases then varnished with Vallejo or Army Painter varnishes.

The method, starting from scratch. I found some brilliant board in Art Friend, Singapore, that I have not found elsewhere . It is, I am sure, a plastic of some sort but behaves in many respects like a cardboard. If you are reading this Doug, I seem t recall showing you a piece in Canberra one or two lifetimes ago 🙂 

Anyway, the process should work well with MDF or other materials as well although I am not sure I would try with cardboard (does anyone base on cardboard anymore?).

Magnetic strip is added under the base for those times transporting. The Navwar metal ships are probably robust enough to handle some bouncing around during transport but Fujimi plastics, and I guess GHQ Micronauts are a little more fragile with more parts that can break off.

Flex Paste spread across base, ships pressed in

The next step is to spread some of the flex paste across the base. This is kind a hit and miss at the start until you get used to working with it but I reckon a depth of approximately 1mm is good. I then wait a couple of minutes for it to start to dry a little. 

Next step is to lightly tap a finger across the top. This will add the wave shapes to the surface. the surface can be shaped as well to make a more regular wave pattern or wakes for the vessels (remembering the Kelvin angle of 19 degrees from centre line).

The ship can then be pressed into the surface, perhaps even sliding it forward a little to add a little dimension to the wake on the bow.  

If not able to get Woodland Scenics Flex Paste, which is great for this and some other modelling tasks, maybe the same can be achieved with something like Polyfilla, although I have not tried that. This jar of Flex Pastes has lasted me about 5 years so far and has not dried out greatly yet.

Ship on base. The paste is usually enough to hold it in place

Taking a closer look to the image to the right and below and you can see the rippled surface.

At this point, I leave the vessel embedded in the base overnight to let the Flex Paste dry properly and cure. I have not had any warping on the bases of any of the ships I have based this way.

I guess it would be possible to paint after a couple of hours.

I should add as well that when doing this, it is useful to have a damp rag handy to wipe finger on as the Flex Paste will build up there. I have not had any problems either just using a naked finger and/or a coffee stirrer to do these bases. 

A better close up of the surface prior to painting

For painting the bases, firstly I undercoat the base and the ship in water undercoat suits the painting style I am using. For recent vessels this has been grey. I then use four colours in the following order:

  1. Dark blue
  2. Light or fluorescent green
  3. Light blue
  4. White

The process is to first paint the base in dark blue as a foundation coat. Next the green is thinned down, to almost invisible – say 1:5 or 1:6. The base is then washed in the green. When that dries, a dry brush of light blue followed by a light dry brush of white.

Paint the ship, then using white again, run it down the side of the vessel, letting it thin as you drag it down to make the wake on the side of the ship. When dry, the sea can be varnished, other in satin of gloss varnish, depending on what you prefer. The vessel can also be varnished, in matt or satin. Voila, you have a ship that looks like it is at sea.

The final result – in this case, satin varnish on the sea surface

Two Weeks Locked Up, Two Weeks to Go!

Two weeks of extended community quarantine have now passed and while the daytime has mostly been taken up with work from home tasks, late night to relax I have been working on some 1/3000 scale Fujimi models of modern Japanese warships.

These are delightful models, full of character and detail. When compared to the humble Navwar models I painted a couple of years ago, well, there is no real comparison. Admittedly these are somewhat more expensive, maybe 1.5 times the cost of Navwar and plastic so lack the reassuring heft of metal models, but the final result of a little work, and they look absolutely wonderful.

The decals that come with the models really make these too, even down to hull numbers on the vessel, something that is far above my painting skill. 

I am becoming a big fan of decals for 1/3000 scale models and the flight deck decals that are produced for the 1/3000 scale Navwar aircraft carriers are brilliant, really making the model stand out, however, they are really only available for aircraft carriers.

The decals for these Fujimi vessels perform the same magic, marking the landing spot for the ships’ helicopter(s).  This box represent the first flotilla of the modern Japanese fleet, circa 1995. I have another box of Fujimi ships that represent the same flotilla several years advanced, including a full-on helicopter carrier, a DDH that is currently under conversion to become an aircraft carrier.

As for the community quarantine, it is tough residing in 42 square metres. In the afternoon I walk to the local convenience store for “food” – in my case, a large can of beer. It is my only outside time unless I am called into the office. I do hope that after the month that Metro Manila, indeed, Luzon, has spent locked up flattens the curve enough for us to rejoin the world outside, and safely for us old-timers.

So, for sanity’s sake, my late evening, after work, was spent adding just one colour to the models, followed by the can of beer then sleep. Last weekend was the first one off as well and that allowed me to finish the vessels. You can see the progress below:

Next task, in the late evening, tidy up my work/hobby table. Yes, it is a shared space. Then decide on the next painting project.

Prisoner — Inmate No. 6

The Statistics from 00:30 on 20 March (Philippine Standard Time)

With apologies to Patrick McGoohan – trapped, inside the idyllic Legaspi Village — actually, not entirely sure how idyllic, however this COVID-19 “community quarantine” is starting to get on my goat a little as we stretch into Day 5 here of the extended quarantine. Firstly, I find that I am becoming addicted to the statistics, and each morning before ablutions and breakfast, I check the stats.

Last thing at night, yep, check the stats again. I will also confess that I check the buggers at lunch time and dinner time as well (now, at lunch today, 12 hours after the stats on the left were taken, the total cases has hit 244,517 cases – with the US rocking up the charts, having overtaken the French they are now rapidly closing in on the Germans).

Legaspi Street these days

As the apartment I am in is a massive 42 square metres in size, and as the amenity area in the condominium building is closed for “disinfecting”, cabin fever* sets in fairly quickly. For those unaware, “Cabin Fever” (according to Wikipedia) refers to the distressing claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended period of time. A person may be referred to as stir-crazy, derived from the use of stir to mean ‘prison’.

To relieve that, each day I slip out on to Legaspi Street, normally a busy thoroughfare, and head to the local convenience store where I buy 1 can of beer. As beer is food for Aussie, if stopped by police or military I can claim I am merely outside getting some food!

Ayala Avenue – where the office is

The cable guy … sorry, network guy, from the office is stuck outside of Metro Manila and can’t pass through the checkpoints. This results in me heading up to the office from time to time in shorts and t-shirt, to act as first junior assistant trainee network engineer and follow to the letter his commands over the phone.

No air conditioning in the office, and basically the building is deserted except for a few people and the security guards so I feel safe from viral infestation. 

The “community quarantine”, a lock-down by any other name, is restrictive and designed to slow the spread of the virus so the medical system dies not get overloaded.

Ayala Avenue – the other way

The main conditions are:

  1. No public gatherings
  2. Remain in home and work from home where possible
  3. Metro Manila is closed to the rest of the world now with international visitors banned (except Filipinos and permanent residents and families) and no domestic travel in by land, sea or air. Police and Army are manning checkpoints at the entry points to ensure rules are followed
  4. Cities within Metro Manila may also close their municipal boundaries
  5. A State of Calamity over the entire country has been raised by the president

Emergency and front line services plus necessary deliveries can pass through the checkpoints (doctors, nurses, police, food deliveries etc) and grocery, supermarket, convenience and drug stores have been asked to continue operating. Shopping malls however, are closed. And all this is to last until 12 to 14 April (just after the Easter break). The bottom line is, stay at home and maintain social distancing of a metre (in Australia, 1.5 metres, 2 metres in the US).

Condo Management Assisting with Social Distancing

The condominium management, I guess they are living in now, have been assisting with social distancing. Last night I arrived back from my network support and beer run to see the elevators had been enhanced.

Not quite a metre apart and to be honest, I thought it would have been more efficient to have the foot prints all facing away from each other for that reduced social distancing to work … I have not heard of transmission from bum to bum bumping!

To break up the day, after shower and breakfast I change into dark shorts and t-shirt. When it is quitting time for the day, I change shorts and t-shirt again. sort of breaks the day up between work and me time.

Two modern Japanese Warships (Izumi and Kirishima)

For relaxing in the evening, I should be painting a pile of half painted aircraft however some small (1/3000 scale) plastic ships were delivered to me from Japan Hobby. The ships are kits, small kits I will admit, but are quick to build. The detail is superb so I am thinking of building them all this week, then paint, then sell my older metals hips.

Best, these ships are also quite inexpensive relative to other similar models. The image below will give an idea of the size and scale of these vessels. 

In the meantime, stay safe, take care and wash your hands … again!

Mag-ingat at tandaan na hugasan ang iyong mga kamay.

Japan Ship Izumi – model about 9cm long, fat thumb mine