Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Science Museum Ship Models Part 2

More views from the Science Museum Model Ship collection now, with a firm bias toward the interesting group of early Torpedo Boat Destroyers that are on display.

As I said in the previous post, these models cover a whole range of subjects, but are united in the attention to detail and quality of materials that have been used to build them. I suspect that some of them may have been made as engineering models or apprentice pieces at a time contemporary with the original vessels, so here and there, and with the best will in the world, there is the odd piece of sagging rigging, or pile of dust that has invaded the display cases. To me though this just adds to their charm, whilst the unusual subjects, particularly those pictured in this post, are really interesting.

I find especially with torpedo craft of the pre WWI era, it is sometimes difficult to get your head around exactly how and where various torpedo tubes and launchers were positioned, as well as the secondary armament of quick firing guns - this is often of importance in various rule sets - so these models are a real boon!

To whit: HMS Daring of 1893

HM Torpedo Boat No 17 of 1907:

The amazing looking HMS Lightning - just look at the rails for loading the torpedos - now that's got to be another good candidate model for a VSF scratch-build!

and even more obscure, a Rumanian Vedette Boat, built in Britain for service on the river Danube in 1906 - equipped with a movable arm spar torpedo/ explosive charge dropper at the bow, and torpedo dropping gear at the sides - would have loved to see this in action!

Next, the super-fast Russian Sokol, again built in Britain:

and finally, just for variety, the Vasco de Gama, a Portuguese Box Battery ironclad, reminiscent of the vessels used in the War of the Pacific, 1879:

Now that's enough photos - go and enjoy them yourself next time you're in the vicinity!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

3mm ACW: Quick Cavalry base update

A quick update on the progress of the 1/600 ACW Cavalry figures, which have now joined the Infantry in having been based and given their first basic application of flock; this has put me in the position of being able to turn to some detailing and clearing up when I next have time, and hopefully turn out some pics of all of the units looking pretty together!

This time around, I smeared the filler onto the artist's card first, hoping to be able to 'bury' the individual bases more into this surface, and then placed the individual figs into a blob of superglue gel that I had placed onto some aluminium foil in advance, before transferring them to the base and squidgeing them down.

This seated them a little better than those I had done before, but I think this is going to come down to a matter of practice - too much filler could end up overflowing the bases of the figures and ruining your paint job, too little and they become little islands...

As I discussed in a previous post, I wanted the Cavalry base to represent a deployed group, with a combination of mounted and dismounted, taking advantage of the great little riderless mounts and the horse-holder figures:

So up front, then, we have a skirmish line of kneeling dismounted, with their mounts to the rear, and to one side, directed by a single mounted command figure, a few riders galloping into position. This is on a 50x50mm base, giving it the same footprint of the Infantry regiments already completed. I was quite pleased with this, but somehow couldn't ignore the urge to do an exclusively mounted unit, so went for a dozen riders on a half-sized 50x25mm:

The photos aren't the best, but I assure you that when painted up, the Cavalry figs look pretty splendid, with even sword scabbards visible in the sculpt - my paint job was deliberately on the simple side, but if you so desired you could put a lot of detail in with horse cloths and saddle colours etc....

Again, there is more work to do to get these finished, but I think once this is done, I shall move across to the Union side and get up a comparative force of a Brigade or so each plus supports, so that they will be nearer to gracing a tabletop in the near future than my usual sprawling 'must paint whole armies before gaming' approach.

To round off, a view of a Command stand glimpsed in my last post - a couple of foot commanders out front (These could probably do with a nice 1/6ooth map table between them), a clipped down standard bearers strip for the identifying flags, a pair of mounted officers, and of course those horse-holders to complete the picture, all on a 40x30mm base:

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Hidden Gem: Model Ships at the Science Museum

A recent trip down to South Kensington in London, and the triptych of V&A, Natural History and Science Museums saw me stumble upon some hidden gems amongst the latter's collections.
Tucked out of sight at the furthest far end of the second floor away from the entrance, the Science Museum has a large collection of model ships in a number of scales, principally around perhaps 1:50th or so, spanning maritime history from the ancient to modern.
I say modern, but the reality is that in stark contrast to the cutting edge high-tech parts of the main museum, this collection is charming in its old-worldliness, with most of the exhibits having been built or donated in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries.

Away from the bright lights of the main halls, which of course have much to entertain the scientifically minded, and more importantly away from the hordes of over-excited kids, is a small haven of naval-themed tranquility, which has much to interest those who have a yen for military shipping.

There are of course, models of civil interest, but I'd thought I'd share some photos of the more interesting naval items to whet your appetite, and recommend it as a good place to duck into if you ever have to visit the museum with family in tow; leave the tiny terrors to explore the cutting edge stuff and indulge yourself in yesteryear.......

Above we can see the charismatic HMS Arrow of 1871, which was from a class of river and coastal gunboats equipped with a 10inch MLR gun that could be raised and lowered to aid stability - the weapon had to be layed by using the rudder, so rather like a maritime version of a self-propelled gun, I suppose - anyway it would make some nice inspiration for a VSF craft, I think!

From the small, we move up the scale a bit to HMS Monarch, and below her the HMS Queen Elizabeth and then the Vanguard of 1944, the last battleship built in Britain:

These are all cracking models with a lot of detail, and are accompanied by others that include everything from 17th century galleys to Napoleonic warships and beyond - there is even a nice submarine display:

Of course, I made a beeline for all things Steam and Sail and Pre-Dreadnought in nature, but I think you could find something of interest whatever is your period of choice.

Highlights for me included HMS Eclipse of 1867:

HMS Albion:

and the pre-eminent ship of her time, HMS Warrior:

I thoroughly recommend discovering this somewhat dusty and neglected corner of the museum for yourself - I know I certainly enjoyed these relics of a gentler age whilst the rest of my party was in the 'Interactive Internet Interconnectivity Zone' or wherever......

Stay tuned for some more pics from what was on show, next time with Pre-Dreadnought era torpedo boats very much to the fore.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

3mm ACW: Basing Progress

The basic work on the Confederate 1/600 Brigade has been done, so I thought I'd share some photos and my thoughts on the process so far.

Previous 2mm projects have seen me using a method with pre-painted bases, where the blocks pretty much sit on top, patches of small flocking adding ground cover, but for these larger 3mm figures, I wanted to texture the bases, and to some extent, disguise the integral base parts of the minis, particularly where individually clipped figs were being posed.

I wanted, however, to avoid swamping the strips, so rather than using 'basetex' type materials or sand and PVA which are useful for 6mm sizes and above - I went with a smooth fine surface filler that was coloured with the same paint I used to shade the bases of the strips, smeared onto 1.6mm depth Artists card, as usual, backed with magnetic tape.

In order to accurately place the strips, I used a rough paper template to go around the base, and with a superglue Gel, stuck down and aligned the figures where I wanted them. I found it was useful to sort out the figs onto another empty base in the formation required, making sure that they were all facing the right way around, and then move these individually to the actual base I was sticking down onto.

I then worked the surface filler around the minis using an old brush and small scrap of wood.
I found that the original white colouration of the filler meant that the bases dried lighter than I really wanted, and also on examination, I realised I had been a bit too timid in the depth of the filler around the strips - I was concerned not to slop any over onto the figs, but this meant that the bases are still a bit visibly pedestal-like; something I can hopefully correct when doing the final flocking of the bases.

Eventually, I went around the strips and individual figs with a darker earth tone before moving on to the first layer of flock.

This is the first rough and ready application, where using PVA glue diluted with water, a mixture of colours was laid down:

The strips are still somewhat isolated-looking - the perennial difficulty of working the glue up close without actually ending up brushing it onto the figures themselves, but the gaps will be filled on a later application, probably with some small-sized static grass.

I'm currently working on painting up some Cavalry to accompany this Infantry Brigade, so will wait until those bases are at the same stage before finalising the whole lot - some small logs, bushes and maybe some trees, etc, should help liven things up a bit....