Monday, April 27, 2009

The joy of blogging

Here is a post by the always thoughtful and inspiring Bob Cordery -- a post I could have written myself, and to which I do subscribe from the first to the last line. In particular that last sentence:

I find the process of writing my blog entries makes me THINK about what I am doing, and this has helped me to DO far more than I would otherwise have achieved.

How true! Thanks Bob for giving voice to our sentiments with such a clarity!


On Friday, we are moving to a new apartment in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. With DestoFante Jr. on his way, we thought it was a good time to add a bedroom, and cut my commuting time from and to the office.

So, the past couple of weeks have been dedicated to packing all our stuff, and of course extra care was spent on preparing my wargaming collection to the relocation. I bought a few extra containers, where miniatures will find permanent home; some old boxes were tossed, as inadequate to endure the stress of the move, others were rearranged to make sense of what is contained were. Unpainted miniatures were finally organized by period. It was a nice opportunity to review the state of advancement of several projects, to update myself about the availability of terrains, and to think about what will be next.

It was also a nice opportunity to go through my library. Several books will be relocate to the office, many other will be reorganized on the shelves of the new apartment by language or topic. The craving for reading some neglected work was hard to suppressed. And finally, a small pile was set aside for donation to the library.

Bottom line: wargaming ground to halt for a few weeks as the move takes place, but hopefully by Friday night unpacking will proceed full speed in our new home, and it will not take long before I will sharing some progress! Cross your fingers, and please share any tip from your past experiences -- we have still time to prevent any major mistake!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter & Happy Pesach!

I hope all of you are enjoying a relaxing and happy day with your families and loved ones. My most sincere wishes for a special day to all my readers!

Monday, April 6, 2009

What a difference light makes

I took these two pictures last Saturday. It is the very first tank I painted, an Israeli M-60 by QRF (I believe they have recently remade their casts for several of these items; this would definitely be a piece from the "previous generation.) This work was done about one year ago.
Painting tanks is a very unusual application for somebody like me, mostly used to work on horse & musket figures. Tanks are easy to prime and to paint with the base color, and not so easy to finish with proper tones and details. Anyway, as a first attempt, I was not too displeased; a few weeks after I finished the M-60, I completed three M-113 (you may see two of them in the background of the previous post's vignette) and they definitely showed my progress in getting comfortable with the different techniques of armor painting.
Fast forward one year: this past weekend I decided to take a few pictures, and I had to wrestle a bit to get good results from my camera. Light made all the difference, as shown in the two pictures. The first is taken with natural light in my dining room; the second one was the result of flash and higher speed. Just a few hours before, I had been a little disappointed by the very light blue I got on the uniforms of some of my Marlburian armies, as I mentioned here. I believe I have now learned a thing or two not just about painting tanks, but about photography as well.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Experimenting: how to write a battle report

It is just a vignette, showing some of the IDF miniatures I just finished to base... but I am very intrigued by the idea to write my battle reports in this format...

On the workbench: Marlburians infantry

I spent my weekend working on completely different figures in a different period, but it happens that I have some nice pics showing the progress made in past weeks on my Marlburians. And since I have not posted a good, colorful pictures in a while, I thought this may well be a good occasion. None of these units is completed yet, but they are moving along the production chain, and (I guess) can already make a good showing of themselves.

First, a unit made by Essex miniatures. Painted to represent an Irish, "Wild Geese" battalion, Albemarle. On occasion, the very same uniform will also do for the Saxe-Meiningen regiment of the Palatine Electorate. (And yes, if you really have to, the Imperial Osnabruck regiment has basically the same outfit, too, with white gaiters -- and on 15mm miniatures, from 3ft away, probably nobody will notice...)

Next, a French regiment -- it may equally be Normandie, Navarre, or Piemont. For sure, not the most flashy uniform: grey and white. But these are "Vieux Regiments" who deserve a spot on my table. (These, and the following three units, are Minifigs figures bought by the always nice and incredibly helpful Tom Dye.)

Third, a little jewel. The picture is unfortunately overexposed, and it shows in light blue what, in reality, is just a medium "Bavarian" blue. These are grenadiers from the Spanish "Milano" regiment, which, as a matter of fact, is not really Spanish but Italian. Milano being the birthplace of yours truly, this unit could not be left out. Kudos to Charles S. Grant's "Armies and Uniforms of the Marlborough's Wars vol. 2" for publishing a truly inspiring plate of the Milano Regiment.

Then, the Swiss of the Stuppa Regiment. Again, the exposure is off, and a medium blue is turned into a light blue that requires some mental and visual adjustment to be seen in its real color. This unit was a lot of fun to paint. And, once again, on a "as needed" basis, these miniatures can double up as Dorrington Irish.

Last, but not least: the Tercio Amarillo Viejos! Here's Charles S. Grant is inconclusive, as he reports about contradicting sources: some put the facing of the unit in red, other authors in blue. I have not made my mind yet, but at the moment I am inclined to go for the blue option. I have to say -- the yellow turncoat looks spiffy on my table!

There are two other groups of figures I hope to showcase soon: the infantry cheaters, that is SYW miniatures partially converted to look credible on the field half a century earlier, and some cavalry. Look for the next installment in this continuing series!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Busy life

Life has been busy chez DestoFante. Between traveling and work, with a move weeks away and a baby due August 15th, I am actually surprised I can still squeeze in one hour or two for painting or catching up with the hobby. Of course, the choice is between coming here, and talking about the hobby, or sitting to the table and practicing the hobby. You guess how my time is distributed... But then, I realized that to my readers I may appear as a complete wargaming slacker! So, here a few topics for posts I promise I will write soon, if not exactly right now.
  • Cold Wars. I manage to squeeze in a cameo appearance for 36 hours at Cold Wars, the HMGS-East spring convention in Lancaster, PA. I did a little shopping, as you may expect, and also had a few thoughts about the state of the hobby. I need to write a thoughtful post about those, and share a few pictures (eye-candies always welcome!)

  • My Marlburian project continues in full swing! A couple of weeks ago I made some significant progress, short of a great push but enough to feel a sense of accomplishment. Photos to follow, hopefully soon.

  • I also saw some progress in my colonial project: there are several Abyssinian units almost ready for dipping and basing, and so several other European miniatures. It didn't help that I had to wait for almost one months to receive Litko bases, but the quality of the product is so good that the wait is worth. Of course, I got a little derailed by some tangential thoughts. I really would like to play some "Hunting the Slave Traders" games in Sudan, circa 1880. This would be more of a "Dark Africa" than a "Sudan" project, and unfortunately "Dark Africa" in 15mm doesn't offer the same variety of opportunities as it does in 25mm. I still need to do some thinking about that.

  • Further diversions. You may remember from here and here that I also harbor a closeted interest for the modern period. I have sketched some good detail about an African imagi-nation, the Republic of Lopongo, where to carry campaigns in style of Bongolesia and Ztum-Setum. That project has slowed down in 2009, but it is not forgotten. Also, years ago I began to paint some IDF and OLP miniatures from Peter Pig and QRF. I fully understand that the topic is politically charged, and I keep quiet about it; yet, this past week, I decided to take a step and I bought the PDF version of two "TooFatLardies" items, "Troops, Weapons & Tactics" and "Rock the Casbah." Once again, Rich Clarke did it for me. As in the case of "B'Maso", the quality of these products is excellent. They deserve a full review. It now seems that a "Lebanon 1982" project will be in the offing...

So many topics, so little time... I hope this will just serve as "menu" of posts to come, but in the meanwhile: back to table to get some painting and photographs done this afternoon!