Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert – Review

Andy Singleton is a professional figure painter. After some encouragement, he has penned Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert. This has been published by Pen & Sword Military. It contains around 200 illustrations over its 157 pages (ISBN: 9781526716316, published on 7 May 2019).

Singleton has broken the book up into two main sections, the first part dealing with the basics, and the second part dealing with specific forces from within the war in North Africa, namely the armies of:

  • Britain and Commonwealth
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Afrika Korps

The last two sections in the book deal with Camouflaged Uniforms and Basing.

Each section is split into three levels of complexity, “conscript”, “regular” and “elite”.

Conscript is like the beginning painter level and will get armies onto the table quickly. As the painter develops their skills, or for readers who have painted figures before, the regular and elite levels provide greater degrees of complexity in painting of the figures.

Singleton covers both plastic and metal figures and while all the illustrated figures in the book are either 20mm or 28mm figures, certainly the techniques could be used for figures of 10mm or larger. 6mm and 2/3mm figures require a different approach to painting altogether.

Andy uses much the same techniques in the painting sections with a little variation. The paints her iuses are the popular Army Painter and Vallejo ranges of acrylics and for each figure he is illustrating, he provides a paint bill of materials for both Army Painter and Vallejo paints.

I will admit that my preferred size for World War 2 gaming is 6mm (1/300, 1/285) and as mentioned above, painting figures of that size requires a different approach to painting.

However, recently the publications of Too Fat Lardies for Chain of Command and What a Tanker have me considering some 20mm or 28mm forces. North Africa seems a reasonable location to try those rules, especially with the early war equipment from the Italians and Commonwealth Forces, then the Commonwealth and Germany followed by the introduction of the USA and some Free French forces.

The section on Basing is perhaps the simplest section in the book given that the setting for the forces is North Africa where we are dealing with sand, sand and more sand … except for the dust!

I do think that the softback of this book is a shade expensive for, although if puchased in the context of a club library, would be a good edition. The Kindle or ePub version is better value I think.

The painting advice is good and following Singleton’s suggestions will have the gamer producing either quick armies at Conscript level or very well painted forces at Elite level.

Singleton also has a Painting Guide out for Early Imperial Romans (released in November 2019). Keep an eye out for Andy Singleton’s next book as well – Painting Wargame Figures: Rome’s Northern Enemies due for release in June 2020. Both these books will fit nicely for those of us considering the Too Fat Lardies new rules, Infamy, Infamy!

 

Virtual Wargames Club

Last Saturday night (or rather Sunday morning for me) I joined the Virtual Wargames Club’s second meeting. I heard about them from friend Doug so contacted the organiser, Phil Olley, and asked to join. He enrolled me and sent an invitation for 9 May meeting on Zoom. After seven weeks in Enhanced Community Quarantine with between one and three weeks likely to go, I was hanging out for some wargaming company.

I really enjoyed the time, talking with wargamers from England, Scotland, and the USA.

It’s always fun looking at other boys toys, and particularly impressive was Chris’s Stalingrad table. Turns out Martin lives just down the road from Doug (small world moment) and the main topic of discussion, apart from the odd ribbing and teasing, was which was preferred, metal, plastic or resin figures with the consensus being metal over plastic over resin. I am guessing if there is a discussion on the best scale, that could turn into the never ending story.

Doug’s Indian takeaway lunch looked delicious and beverages ranged from coffee (for the Americans it was breakfast time) through to the odd beer or two for those of us at the leading end of the time zones.

I have been thinking about/toying with starting another project (yeah, I know) and was thinking of using Commission Figurines 6mm MDF American Civil War figures. Paul kindly let me know that the quality is as good as in the photos so once I get my job sorted out, I will look to getting enough figures for the two sides.

Lastly Martin liked the name of this blog, “Thomo’s Hole”. I must point out that the name for this came about when I first had a presence on the Internet, around 1996 so now Thomo’s Hole has been around for 23 years. I noted this in a post here in 2012, Thomo’s Hole is 15 Years Old.

It was around 2001/2002 that I moved the blog into my eldest son’s domain, coldie.net, hence the URL of thomo.coldie.net.

Back then, 1996-1997 when the Hole started, a time before Google, the main search engine was Yahoo, and searching Thomo’s Hole at the time brought up early gay websites more often than my homepage. Now I have enough relevance apparently to appear at the top of the search results.

I digress (again!).

I am looking forward to the next meeting.

Day 49 passing, 13 days to go (hopefully)

It’s grown some more!  Tom Hanks and Castaway definitely comes to mind. There are two photos side-by-side showing the increase in hair length due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

25 days into ECQ 49 days into ECQ

Allegedly hair and beard grows at about 12mm (1/2 inch) per month although my heads current position seems to suggest that statistically, my head is an outlier! It is larger than average head size, one reason I do not often wear a hat as it is difficult to find one that fits.

This weekend is another holiday weekend but it comes on top of a stressful period at work. More on that latter when matters are clearer. Inertia, at least in my non-work life, has been the battle this past two weeks. Most of what I planned to do last long weekend, I never got around to doing. Of the planned items, I started to get my eBook collection in some order and located in one area on my hard drive and in two clouds. I have not loaded the complete library to my tablet yet, but I have started getting it in one place. I have also been looking at eReaders but I still have not finally settled on one. I think what I would like is a hybrid of about three of them. 

I also had a look at multi-platform Apps for cataloging my physical book collection. I have two possible favourites at the moment, just trying to decide which one provides the best multi-platform support – or at least Android, Windows and Linux.  

Last month I listed possible tasks for the near future. They were:

  • 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?

Of those tasks, I have been reading a book (which is pushing me more and more towards a new project) and working on the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s – these are almost finished, requiring just a few more decals (see to the left).

I am determined this weekend to finish setting up Linux on one laptop here and using either IBM or gnucobol, work on brushing up my COBOL skills. I will also clear a table so I can at least game a little over the next week or two.

If all goes well, the ECQ will be raised to a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in Makati (Metro Manila too maybe) on 15 May, although this is by no means guaranteed, given that Quezon City is a local epicenter and the largest of the 16 cities comprising Metro Manila. There has not really been a significant period of falling new cases in the National Capital Region although some the provinces around the NCR are doing my better (Local figures can be seen here https://covidstats.ph/cases). The only downside I can see of the GCQ those under 21 and over 60 (or pregnant for that matter) are required to stay in the home unless absolutely necessary to be out (food, medicine, permitted industries) 😦

Be safe, relax, keep your distance and wash your hands! I leave you with my Cousin Itt look!

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!

Planning

I am currently in the middle of something all wargamers love to do … plan something. Normally it is a new period, or a battle reenactment, or a new army for competition, or a painting schedule, or something similar. So, I am planning something.

The last couple of nights as I have been thinking (OK those 10 minutes before sleep), I was thinking that blogs still provide a good, easy to search, record of something, especially something that changes over time. Of course, being as I am a boomer, I can still do things like add numbers in my head and use a pen and paper. Them young whippersnappers these days, well, they are all into Vlogs and such. I have a couple of favourites I will admit. Some I watch for fun, some for wargame painting and terrain building technique and ideas. Others are more along the line of a series that would not be amiss on TV as part of the History Channel or similar.

I then got to thinking about the past – the episodes of Callan where our hero was painting figures or playing an evil enemy across the wargame table, or BBC 2’s Time Commanders and one or two others.

Lastly, it occurred to me that once something is on the Internet … it never truly dies. Whether it is a blog on a shared service that lives on long after the writer departs, or as an echo from the past in the Wayback Machine, or from being shared by people who enjoyed it and it ends up copied across many social media platforms, it just seems to survive.

So, I thought I would combine the best of a both worlds at the moment. Wargaming, especially figure gaming, is something I can talk about. There are other things I can discuss, such as economics, business practices, banking and such, but to do that I would need to get clearances from my employer, so wargaming it is. I have been blogging in one form or another since the late 1990s (OK, so back then it was a home page with new content added when I could get around to writing it in HTML). Over the past year or two I have also started to upload a few videos to YouTube. These have been rough and ready affairs and mostly covering parcels received from various figure suppliers.

I am going to start to put an effort into the Videos. They will cover my view of wargaming and my general interests and occasionally, anything that pops up and gets up my nose. At the same time, I will back the videos with blog posts here. I will keep book reviews on the blog as well as any bizarre travel tales or food stories. The YouTube channel will mostly be wargaming.

So, Thomo’s Hole will expand. As I am almost out of space here in WordPress, I am also looking at buying more space and maybe going back to self hosting so there will be plenty to keep me busy in the evening hours, er, when there is not a good Aussie Rules or Rugby (either version) match on and a beer on the bar! Oh, and I am not planning on trying to monetize the channel, not unless a bazillion subscribers turns up! 😉

Curse You Bob Flywheel

Damn, there I was the other day quite comfortable with the state of my 1/300 [1/285] Aerial Wargaming. I had rules and aircraft for the Winter War – the Finns were complete and the Soviets would not take long. I had decided that Bag the Hun from the Lardies could be added to the rules library and I had even made a cursory look through the free scenario book, resisting manfully adding any more lead to my collection this year*.

Then you had to mention Korea and visions of MiG Alley spring to mind, as well as some interesting aircraft. I could see some B-29s (does anyone still make them in 1/300 [1/285] scale anymore) trundling along on a bombing run with some MiG-15s and/or Yak-15s trying to attack them. Enter some UN support – P-51Ds and Meteors of the RAAF, F-80s, F-82s or F-86s of the USAF not forgetting some F-84s.

Add some Yak-9s and La-7s to the mix and not only are there some interesting games possible but a fine collection of aircraft for the display shelf as well.

Of course, as one would have some B-29s available, late World War 2 air raids over Japan or Japanese held islands by the USAAF are a possibility. The P-51Ds (admittedly in RAAF colours) could be repurposed as escorts for the bombers in WW2. Attacking them would be some Japanese Nakajima Ki-44s (Tojo or Shoki) and some Mitsubishi J2Ms (Raiden) to attack them. Throw in a Shinden and there is another set.

Some early WW2 combat collections have been popping up in my head as well, in part the fault of the scenario book from the Lardies, in part from Bob’s off hand remark about the Korean Airwar.

When will this wargames megoalomania end?

This has been an insight into how a wargamer’s mind works! Curse you Bob Flywheel!


* there are some orders for lead under way at the moment but they had all been ordered, online and via Australia Post, prior to the start of 2020.

Old Books … Just in a New Way

I have some of the older wargaming books, such as Don Featherstone’s Wargames and the like, on my bookshelf at mum’s. Over the years, however, time has not been kind to some of them, or they have been lent to friends unremembered who have never returned them, or they have just been lost.

Cruising Amazon Kindle recommended reads last night, one book from John Curry popped up, Donald Featherstone’s Lost Tales: Including Wargaming Rules 300 BC to 1945. At $8.27 for a Kindle version it was impossible to resist.  Another 10 minutes “browsing” the recommended reads from that purchase and I had acquired Kindle copies of:

So for less that $50, some classic reading and a copy permanently up in the cloud so I won’t lose them again!

I’m resisting browsing there again until after next payday!

 

2019 … That’s a Wrap

I was listening to podcasts on the drive from mum’s at Macksville to Sydney to catch a flight back to Manila. One podcast I listened to was the last episode (number 283) of Meeples and Miniatures (https://meeples.wordpress.com/). This podcast has been running for 12 years and whilst I can’t say I have been listening for the last 12 years, the last couple of years have provided a great deal of wargaming amusement.

In this last episode Neil Schuck (Twitter – @TheBrummieDwarf) and Mike Hobbs (Twitter – @HobbsThe Gamer) discussed their 4 or 5 best games. It was pleasing to note that I had at least one of the games they had mentioned. The podcast finished just prior to my arrival in Sydney so I spent the rest of the trip considering wargaming tasks for 2020.

As many of you will know, I have an interest in matters nautical as well as a commitment to 6mm. Two things that amazed me while at mum’s. First was the number of books that I will need to ship to the Philippines, I am thinking that maybe it will be 2/3rds of the collection that needs to be eventually shipped. The second was the commitment I had to 15mm Ancient wargaming. I will need to decide at some point whether to sell those collections or ship them.

That is not what I am talking about here though. Currently in Manila I have literally thousands of 6mm figures to paint – some sets have been discussed here previously. I also have hundreds of ships in both 1/3000 and 1/1200 scale. There are also aircraft, principally the Winter War collections, Finnish aircraft having graced my Instagram account.

I decided to reduce my Christmas gifts to myself then to just the following:

  • Terrain items and buildings from Irregular Miniatures
  • Racing Chariots from Irregular Miniatures, enough to cover the Blues, Greens, Reds and Whites
  • Ancient British figures from Baccus 6mm as one additional opponent for the Imperial Romans – DBA sized
  • Bag the Hun from Too Fat Lardies
  • General d’Armee from Reiswitz Press from Too Fat Lardies – Napoleonic Wargaming

Later in the year I may add some 6mm Napoleonics to the collection or perhaps 6mm American War of Indendence. I will make an order for some 1/1200 modern aircraft from Magister Militum to finish the modern 1/3000 naval collection. I may also buy some more rulesets … but just to plan for 2021 😉

This year then will be one for painting and finishing collections (and maybe getting off to Makati Marauders to play some games). I will play some more boardgames (more? I haven’t played any for about 20 years). I have many books to read and review on the table and hope to get two or three of those off in the next two weeks. Lastly, I want to start some more research and writing, and I am looking at both my admittedly poor YouTube channel and considering some podcasting.

So, 2020, the year of getting on top of things!

Late Addition (1 January 2020): Of course, I did neglect to remember that I had also sent some readies off to Warlord Games for copies of Black seas and Black Sails – just the rules as I have a collection of 1/1200 coastal vessels and it would be a shame to not get them on the table at some time. In addition, I have some 1/2400 and also some 1/3000 sailing vessels that need a reason for painting and then an outing. And I will be sending an order off tomorrow to Magister Militum for some 1/1200 scale modern aircraft to complete the modern naval fleets.

Any other pruchases in 2020 will be rules, books and, maybe, occassionaly, some figures to finish out a set I am starting to paint!

Inclusiveness in Wargaming – Women

Back in September this year I wrote a post about Inclusiveness in Wargaming and Tastelessness. This week the guys at Little Wars TV along with Jasper from Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy looked at one of the items from the Great Wargaming Survey, made more interesting as now there is five years data available for comparison.

This YouTube video looked at Women in Wargaming and less than perfect attitude of some male gamers. It is a short video and well worth the time to look at … and maybe if more folks see this, we may also see an increase in the umber of women involved in Wargaming.

I hope we have come further than the comment from H. G. Wells on wargames, in that they were “a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books,” and now, wargames are now a game for people who ust like to play with toy soldiers and all that entails. Do watch the clip below.

Success or two!

So, I had only just posted that I’ve got a spare Pikeman … or two! and what should turn up at Makati Central Post Office but a book! And what a book.

This is Volume 1, covering all our favourite diadochi, like Ptolemy, Antigonus, Seleucus and Lysimachus, to name but a few. Mithridates of Pontus even rates a mention.

Is this the start of a new project?