Monday, 19 August 2013

Grand Manner Roman Galley 3: Some issues with shields

Prior to undercoating

I have finished the filling and sanding on the main hull and have now undercoated it.  It's such a big model it took a full can of Humbrol aerosol to cover it!  I put on some paint today as a test and I think it will look quite striking as I am going for a yellow and red colour scheme.

I have a few issues so far. I am not brilliant at using my hands so the filling of the (quite substantial) gaps between the bow and stern pieces and the main hull isn't brilliant.  I am running out of time, however, so I just needed to get on with it.  The main problem is the one of the shields mounted down the side of the guard rails.  I really wish Grand manner hadn't done this as it sets it in a particular period.  At this time (46 BC) the Romans were using the spined, curved top scutum as depicted in the excellent new Warlord Games plastics.  The flat oval ones were used by auxiliaries from a little later (before they were universally adopted a few hundred years later).  So, the shields are wrong for the period.   

I don't have any reference books on Roman Warships (there isn't an Osprey, surprisingly, as there is for Greek warships) so I am restricted to Greece and Rome at War and Warfare in the Classical World. Neither of them, worryingly, give any information on rigging!  This illustration, from Greece and Rome at War, is based on a relief from Ostia, of about 30 BC and clearly shows spined shields overlapping along the guard rails.

This illustration, from the same book, based on another relief from Praeneste, is from slightly later.  The shields on the railing seem to have been replaced by a solid bulwark (the Grand Manner ship uses the classic Roman X rail design) with, it is thought, decorative shields painted on.  Of course, the shields my not be present because the marines on board are carrying them.

Interestingly, Warfare in the Classical World has a reconstruction clearly based on the classical original from this relief.  The interpretation of the ram here is exactly as Grand Manner have done it.  The placement of the castle is interesting as the illustrator has interpreted it as being with the sides at 45 degrees to the side of the ship's bulwark, rather than parallel.  Is this what the original shows, or is it an attempt to show perspective (which would be very unusual in ancient painting)?  Another decision to make!

Ever since I bought the Osprey Roman Legionary 58 BC - AD 69 I had wanted to have a unit of marines in this striking blue colour.  I did order some Warlord Games flat auxiliary shields to match the ones cast on the galley but I have now decided to go for the authentic shields they come with and not worry about the difference in shape.  

I went into Orc's Nest last week but they didn't have any of the Warlord Caesarian bolt throwers so I have just ordered a couple online.  Let's hope they actually arrive as the auxiliary shields never did and although the money was taken from PayPal I never received an order acknowledgement.

Anyway, more hull painting tonight as I puzzle as to what colour to paint the decks.  All the wooden decks on boats I have seen are a pale grey in colour but I don't really have the right colour. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Grand Manner Roman Galley 2: Assembly begun

Having lost a lot of weeks with travelling I have suddenly realised, with some sense of panic, that Colours is only just over a month away and I need to complete this galley and a unit of Roman marines to go with it.  I have decided to use the Warlord Games plastic Caesarians for these as I have already started them.  I have ordered some metal oval auxiliary shields for them from Warlord.

Today I have glued on some of the main parts and found that superglue really sticks resin well (as I find that it hardly sticks anything else I use it for).  In fact, so well that you only have a few seconds to position everything correctly!  I have not stuck on the starboard fence rail yet as I have run out of glue. The two oar galleries and one fence took a whole tube!  

There are quite a lot of gaps to fill and I had to do some sanding and filing to get parts to fit.  I intend to have it ready for undercoating this weekend.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Grand Manner Roman Galley 1: The main components

I got up in the loft today and managed to extract the Grand Manner Roman galley from my resin pile.  It was in a crate with the Grand Manner Greek Galley, the ruined Roman fort, a Bronze age house and some walls I can't even remember what they are for.  The hull is a really heavy lump of resin and measures over 18" long which works out at about 90 feet scale length; perhaps a bit shorter than the real thing.

Here are the main components to be attached to the deck: bow, foremast foot, castle, hatch, hatch railings, tent and stern.  There are a few other pieces too.  They will all need trimming, sanding, attaching and filling as the fit of the parts is not that great.  

These are what I call the linear components (except for the yard and furled sail).  Top we have the guardrails with attached shields.  Fortunately, Little Big Men do specially shaped transfers for these.  Next we have the side galleries (I need to get a book so I know what the proper names for all these bits are!).  The final pieces are rather curious representations of the sea into which you are supposed to insert sticks to represent the oars to then attach to the body of the ship.  It strikes me that this would be fiddly beyond belief!  Given that the scenario Big Red Bat is contemplating requires anchored vessels and that I bought the galley for use as a floating battery for actions such as the crossing of the Medway and, perhaps, supporting the legions in Scotland, then I think I can forget about oars. 

Concept painting for the Battle of Actium from Cleopatra (1963)

There is no doubt that I would love to have a wargame involving a clash between fleets of ancient galleys, as seen in Cleopatra, but it just isn't going to happen.  It's not just the cost (the Grand Manner ship is £82) it's all those fiddling oars!  Grand Manner actually make pretty all of the ship types you want, including sinking models.  I'm not interested in smaller scales either: I would want troops on the decks!  So I will confine myself to the one ship (well, maybe one more!).

First job is to clean up the hull, undercoat it and then glue on the main components.  I think that superglue may not be up to this so may have to go for something like Araldite.  Does anyone have any experience of gluing large bits of resin together?

Friday, 28 June 2013

Ramming speed!

The Legatus hasn't painted anything for well over a month now. This is for a number of reasons, not least of which being that I have been out of the country for more than three weeks.  However, there is something else: a loss of confidence in my painting ability.  Hopefully this will return.  In the meantime a suitably nautical lifeline has been thrown by Big Red Bat.  He is looking for Roman galleys for a game he is running and remembered I had mentioned that I had the Grand Manner one (unpainted of course).  So I have now offered to paint (and possibly crew - I've always wanted to paint some Roman marines) it.  This will give me the opportunity to paint something which isn't  a figure and, hopefully help me recapture my painting skills.

I've always liked Roman galleys and one of my main interests in these were caused by the fine illustrations by Italian artist Ruggero Giovannini (1922-1983) for the Ben Hur comic strip which appeared in Look and Learn magazine in 1969.  Running for a suitably epic twenty weeks it contained several fine representations of galleys.

So I plan to ascend to the loft tomorrow and locate my galley which, I am sure, will be just as complicated to build as I fear!  Its the oars, its the oars!  And the rigging. And the sail.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Marcomannic War project 2: Lucius Verus

Here is my Aventine Lucius Verus (130AD-169AD) figure which I finished today.  Having spent a lot of time in Antioch shortly before going to Germania with Marcus Aurelius, his co-emperor, we have given him a Syrian slavegirl to look after him.  

His armour and cloak are based on one of the costumes Richard Burton wore in the film Cleopatra (1963) which was designed by Guiseppe Peruzzi.

I took these pictures with the SLR which has made them look rather more squat than they are in real life.  Certainly the Warlord Games slave girl is quite willowy in real life.

Unlike the scholarly Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus was considered something of a dissolute character fond of dice, the company of actors and chariot racing.  He also had a mistress called Panthea from Smyrna (Izmir) whilst in Antioch.  Indeed, it has been suggested that he was sent to Antioch to lead the campaign against the Parthians purely to get him to back off on his debauched lifestyle and act like the emperor he was.  

It was suggested that he was also chosen for this military campaign because he was in better health than Marcus Aurelius.  Ironically, it was the robust Lucius Verus who died at the end of the first year of campaign against the Marcomanni in early 169AD.  It was said that it was as a result of food poisoning but could have been smallpox.   He didn't live long enough to see any major engagements but I think I might keep him around for a bit longer!

The Aventine figure does look like Lucius Verus who was famous for his fair hair whose appearance he enhanced by sprinkling powdered gold on it.  His mistress, Panthea, did however make him shave his beard off when in Antioch, much to the derision of the Syrians.

Praetorians next.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Romans everywhere!

Workbench today

I meant to sit down and have a good go at my Romans this weekend but for some reason I didn't feel like painting, despite the nice, bright weather.  Mostly, this is because when I have new figures it seems such a long journey before they are anything like ready that I give up before I start.  I knew that however much I did this weekend they would be nowhere close to being finished so, oddly I didn't start them until late this afternoon.

The other problem is, of course, that I had meant to start a unit of 2nd Century AD Romans but then with the arrival of my Legio II Augusta shield transfers for my Warlord plastic EIR figures I wanted to get them done and then this week I bought a box of Warlord's Caesarian plastics too.  So instead of twenty four figures to start work on I had over seventy.  Most off putting! 

In the end I did base the whole Praetorian Aventine Cohort and the rest of them should be ready for undercoating tomorrow.  I even started to paint four of them.  I only have four EIR's under way but am now working on a dozen of the Caesarian plastics.  Well, they are not all plastics as I ordered the metal command set direct from Warlord which arrived the next day, along with some LBMS shield transfers.  Taking a little longer to arrive was my second Aventine order of shield transfers for the Praetorians plus a command set and 16 auxiliary archers.  So I have no excuse to delay now.

One thing I did agonise over for a while was what colour to undercoat them. I usually use white undercoat but the Romans, of course, have quite a lot of metal on them which would suggest a black undercoat.  However, I don't really like black undercoat as I find it difficult to see what I am painting and given that I use enamels and not acrylics they don't cover so well over black.  As I am painting my Romans with white tunics I decided to stick to white undercoat.  This does mean that I will have to paint the metal parts with black which adds extra work.  Still, it's better than the three or four coats of white it takes to cover a black undercoat though.

Finally, I found a Copplestone sculpted Foundry Casarian centurion which I had painted a long time ago.  He needs tidying up (he was never properly finished -I had to rush him for the Fishbourne game) so will get him done in order to give me a nice acheivable target for this week.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Marcomannic War project 1: Marcus Aurelius

I've just finished my first Aventine figures of Marcus  Aurelius and a Praetorian centurion.  Aventine give the centurion a choice of heads, including one with the more usual transverse crest but I want all my Praetorians  with these crested helmets.  Aventine do a really good range of command figures for this period and I have just ordered the Praetorian command set and some more Praetorians for my first unit. I've also ordered some of the new archers which should keep me busy for a while.  These are really nice figures to paint but they are so big and heavy that I keep dropping them as they weigh more than I expect when I pick them up!  

Marcus Aurelius is, inconveniently, one of the few Roman emperors from the first 200 years AD about whom we know nothing of his hair colour.  Most of the other emperors have their hair colour mentioned somewhere.  I have given him black hair on the basis that his family originally came from Spain.  He was notably ascetic so I doubt whether he would have worn such an ostentatious purple cloak but he is the Emperor and probably needed to stand out on the battle field at least.  

A philosopher more than a warrior he was, nevertheless, fated to spend much of his reign campaigning against the Germans and is, of course, the emperor played by Richard Harris in Gladiator and by Alec Guinness in The Fall of the Roman Empire; both of which I need to re-watch to keep my interest going!

I originally had the centurion in a white tunic for which there is a fair bit of evidence for Praetorians but went for red in the end because he needed a bit more colour.  Red cloaks were quite likely for officers in the Roman army.

I'm not a great one for those mini diorama type command stands as I like my figures individually based but I will try to build a retinue for the Emperor.  Aventine make some nice Praetorians in cloaks so I may give him a few of those.  

Aventine's Lucius Verus

The set that includes Marcus Aurelius also includes his co-emperor and adoptive brother Lucius Verus.  Verus was a very different character from Marcus Aurelius.  He led the campaign against the Parthians shortly before the Marcomannic War but seemed to spend a lot of time partying with his "low born" mistress Panthea before marrying a teenage bride less than half his age.  He sounds much more my sort of chap.  More on him when he's painted.  The Aventine figure is quite a good likeness of him.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Ave Aventine! A new Roman army!

Marcus Aurelius prepares to lead his army into Germania!  Little does he know that he will be murdered by Johnny Cash!

Just over a year ago when I was playing favourites I opined that if I had to paint only one wargames army it would be Early Imperial Roman.  And yet, not long ago, I sold nearly all the figures I had to BigRedBat, whose Greek and Roman armies are simply awesome.

How could Romans be my favorite wargames army if I didn't have any of the classic EIR figures any more?  I looked at the plastic Warlord Games figures again but they are not very inspiring, I have decided, despite lots of supporting figures (all in different scales and styles).  I loved my Steve Saleh figures but there just wasn't enough variety for me to happily build an army: no command, no cavalry or artillery and only a few poses.

But the problem was that for the period I wanted to do (invasion of Britain in 43 AD) there were no other EIR figures I liked.  I looked at the Warlord plastics again but still didn't feel inspired, partly because there were no Little Big Men decals for the Legio II Augusta who I really wanted to paint.

My 3rd Century infantry unit

I really want to paint some Romans, though. I haven't painted any since October 2007!  Recently I have had an epiphany, however.  I was looking at the wrong period!  Now, I already have a Republican army which I finished in 2007, although recently I picked up some figures on eBay so I could push it from 12 man to 24 man units.  I have quite a few Foundry Caesarian Romans of which I have only painted one centurion.  I am wondering about the new Warlord plastics as they are supposedly bigger than their EIR figures.  I have painted two units of A&A's lovely 3rd Century Romans which I intend to pit (eventually) against Palmyrans.  I even have some late Romans from Black Tree Designs (they are much nicer than their EIR figures which have very short legs) which I am now thinking of matching up against some of Musketeer's excellent Goths.

A couple of years ago when I was bemoaning the lack of good, modern 28mm EIR figures an anonymous person commented on one of my posts as follows:  "You would be suprised. Wait some months ;-) There would be saleh style legionaries in Dacian war armour, new gladius poses, legion command, artillery etc, all in 28mm scale."   I had no idea who left this comment but now wonder whether it could be someone from Aventine Miniatures.  I knew that they were doing Etruscans but had missed the fact that they had started an EIC range or, strictly, a late EIC range because these figures are supposed to cover the period from 100AD to 190AD.  Too late for my invasion of Britain but they would work for wars against the Dacians, Sarmartians and Germans.  I looked at their website and was surprised to see how many packs they had already.  This is when I had my epiphany!  What had started me buying (initially) Peter Pig 15mm EIR figures was seeing the film Gladiator.  I also bought some Germans.  I even painted a lot of them.  Then I started to buy and paint some of Foundry's Mark Copplestone Ancient Germans.  I actually have about 70 figures painted which is a huge amount for me.  Why not go back to my original Gladiator inspiration and have an Aurelian army to take on the Germans?  The Aventine figures are just the right period (although I wish some of the figures had beards which, it seems, was common during the reign of Marcus Aurelius).

Then BigRedBat announced he was looking for unpainted Foundry Germans and we realised that maybe we were planning a similar (identical?) project at the same time.  Normally this would put me off because he is so focussed and will no doubt churn out huge numbers of (lovely) figures in a very short time.  In the meantime I had ordered some sample packs from Aventine and when they arrived they were just beautiful. Large, like the Foundry Saleh figures, and very similar in look but this time there was enough variation.  No cavalry yet but this does still seem to be an ongoing project.  

Today I have based Marcus Aurelius and a supporting primus pilus and have sixteen Praetorians to get started on.  This time I am going to do what one of the WAB books suggested; start with your commanding officer and what better way to start a  new Roman army than with the Emperor!