Thursday, March 26, 2009

15mm slave traders -- OG15 SYW Ottomans?

Just posted on TMP, but I know there is a lot of XVIII century expertise here too, so I will repeat the question.

I am looking for good/passable stand-ins for African slave traders in the late 1800s. Think Gordon.

One option would be a mix collection of Colonial Egyptians, Sudanese, and Beduins, maybe with an occasion Crimean War Turks.

Another option is to look at the SYW Ottomans in the Old Glory 15 range, about which, unfortunately, I do not know anything. They are supposed to cover the 1700-1820, so I should be able to make some quick conversions without pushing the envelope too much. But what which bags should I consider? Bashi Bazouks? Nissam? Janissaries? Sekans? I am not familiar with any of these types, and no pictures are available at OG15. Anyone familiar with the ranges could provide some quick summary and/or description? Recommendations?

Thanks in advance, guys!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Building a bridge to somewhere (*)

As explained in PaperTerrain website, "There are one 3-arch bridge, two 2-arch bridges and two 1-arch bridges included in the set. Unlike most of our building models, these bridges are designed to have a reinforcing layer of foamcore or balsa wood in the side supports. The foamcore or balsa is not included in the kit and must be provided by the buyer. The bridges come in two different color stones: brown and gray. You may select all brown, all grey or a mix."

So, after I left the office, I stop at a nearby hobby store, bought one sheet of foamcore, and came straight back home to work on the smaller of the bridges in the set, the one-arch brown stone model.

As for all the other PaperTerrain models I built in the past, good instructions are included in the set, so all boils down to some skill in cutting the paper card-board. Not a big deal, and something I carefully accomplished in a few minutes.

In the case of this bridge, though, there is a tricky part: the additional foamcore board to make the structure more robust. Here's I ran into some troubles: apparently, my strong glue was not strong enough to glue anything but my fingers. After a few botched attended, I grew very frustrated and I turned back to my trusted Elmers. The problem is that Elmers is a "wet" glue, far from ideal for a paper structure -- although a strong cardboard paper, in this case.

Apparently the change in strategy worked, and I was able to complete the project. It became evident at this stage, though, that I had previously committed a sin of omission: I should have primed the foamcore in dark brown first, as now I will have to retouch some spots where the white material shows from the paper junctures. Here's a few pictures (unfortunately a little on the dark side) about the completed bridge.

I spent part of my evening on a little project that has been in the pipeline for some time now: building one of the PaperTerrain bridges.

A final note on the reinforced structure which supports the bridge. Because of the problem with the glue, I opted for some little nails to keep the structure together. I took a picture of the bridge upside down, where you can spot a nail that did not go through straight.

Conclusion. I really like this bridge, and despite a few headwinds I had to face during the construction, I think I learned a few tricks and that the next time everything will work in a much smoother way. The bridge looks good, and it will look even better after a few retouched. Overall, I recommend you to give PaperTerrain -- definitely worth it!

(*) "We don't need bridges to nowhere anymore: we need real bridges to take real people to real jobs" -- DestoFante speaking to the media in his professional capacity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Resist resist resist

I am resisting thus far, but for a long time I had been complaining for the lack of 15mm miniatures for French Indochina... well, not anymore!

Eureka has just released a full range, and it looks excellent! Both French Legionnaires and VietMinh. And the Legionnaires would look so good in French Algeria, too...

Congratulations to Nic Robson for filling this exciting niche! As for myself... I am resisting... for a while...

Monday, March 16, 2009


If you noticed a drop in the frequency of posts in recent weeks, you are right but it goes with cause...

Mrs DestoFante and yours truly announce their first baby, due on August 15th. Sex still TBA, but we will be back with an update in the first week of April. In the meanwhile, we have been working on a relocation, from the North Side of Chicago to the South Loop.

Currently, Mrs DestoFante is in great spirit and health -- she is actually performing on a Midwest operatic stage. I am also in great spirit and health, and I just completed a cameo appearance at Cold Wars. A report with photos and comments will follow soon.

On other, un-related issues: the NCAA committee rejected an at-large bid to the basketball team of George Mason University, thus denying the American public the opportunity to enjoy high quality basketball during the March tournament.
As a result, wargaming activities will continue with no further distraction during the next four weeks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Historicon to relocate to Baltimore in 2010!

Read the news on TMP.

I congratulate HMGS-East on the decision!

I was expecting to see Cold Wars move rather than Historicon, but the decision is ballsy and long due. It made little sense to have two, and for a few years three, conventions in a rural location such as Lancaster. The convention has clearly outgrown the Host, whose quality is, to say the least, lackluster, despite some recent efforts to add some variety to the food they provide.

Baltimore offers MUCH better access – by airplane, for all of us leaving away from the East Coast; and by train, if you want an alternative to driving. Hotels will likely be more expensive, but I will save money on the rental car. And I am thrilled to have the food variety that downtown Baltimore offers, compared with the modest offerings available in Lancaster. Contrary to some comments read on TMP, the city of Baltimore has shown some excellent progress in revitalizing the downtown: it is a fun, hip place to be, with excellent restaurants and a variety of activities available for the whole family.

I think the move really introduces some differentiation in what HMGS offers. Our "Northern" members will still enjoy one convention in Lancaster, if they do not want to take the trip down south; yet, Baltimore might open the opportunity to attract new people who had been reluctant to travel to rural PA.

For once, I say "BRAVA HMGS"!

The myth of "the great push"

Wargamers live with their myths, both collective and individual: realistic "rules", historical "accuracy", the most accurate uniforms painted on the most accurate figures, and so on. At the individual level, my personal, biggest myth is the idea of the "great ___ push". The "great Napoleonic push." The "great Colonial push." The "great WWI push." By this expression I mean to refer to the large quantity of half-painted miniatures I have sitting in boxes in my wargaming closet. The idea -- the dream, the myth... -- is that if I could only have 36 hours of undivided attention to dedicate to complete the project, in tayloristic fashion, I would indeed be able to complete my project "du jour." Of course, real life doesn't work like that, and the idea of a great push remains a myth. And yet it is an inspiring myth, and a comforting one. I know I am not the most systematic wargamer, I know I have tons of lead in a variety of stages of preparation, and in most cases I do really care about bringing a project to completion, at least in the sense that I want to be able to move some basic armies to the field to play some games. Wargaming projects never end, and there will always be the need for an additional unit, some more cavalry, a few more guns, a nicer officer figure, more suitable terrain, and so on. But if I could only, in one week-end sitting, through a "big push," bring to completion what I have preparing thus far for a long time, and complete a couple of armies in one long session... Ah, the myth of the great push!