Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Review: New 2mm - Siege Equipment from Irregular


Absolutely and unapologetically excited about the latest release of 2mm siege equipment and sundries sculpted by the redoubtable Geoff Addison for Irregular Miniatures - so I took a quick run through of the majority of the items as soon as they landed at SteelonSand towers !

Trojan Horses, Siege Towers, Penthouses, Battering Rams, Trebuchets, Ballistae, Onagers, Bolt Throwers and on and on flow the latest additions - all incisively and charmingly rendered in the tiniest of scales - what’s not to like ?

In addition, we have some long-needed baggage animals, alongside pavises, mantlets, additional figures as siege engineers - even mine entrances if the mood takes you - scroll down for the ABG26 through 38 listings:

Now as with the previous creations for these recent releases, Mr Addison’s sculpting is more on the ‘organic’ side of things rather than being architecturally exact, but as before, he does a great job of adding character to the pieces, and where it is present, the detail is very good given their size - visible men pushing the fallen tree battering ram - lovely planking on the siege towers, shields and hides on the penthouses….. let’s take a look at some of the items in more detail, the only caveat being it ain’t easy to photograph stuff this small, and that everything is fresh from their ziploc baggies - no removal yet of venting remnants, flash, etc…..


The giant Assyrian-style siege tower, no doubt clad in rows of burnished copper shields, is an absolute monster - in a good way - only marred by a honking great mould line right down the front - but I think this will file down easily enough if one is careful….. the various rams and penthouses have plenty of incised detail with wheels and structure plainly moulded, and the Trojan Horse is an absolute joy - I will be happy to accept any Greeks bearing such a gift….!

 (See below with a couple of Antonine Miniatures’ troop blocks):

I think with these new additions, Irregular have filled out the kit list for any self-respecting besieger, running the gamut through from the Biblical to Ancient and on to the Medieval - the variety of bolt throwers, ballistae and trebuchets are a welcome re-inforcement for the venerable ABG25 ‘siege engine’ sculpt:

Talking of re-inforcements, we also now benefit from the new set of baggage animals, which contains pack mules and horses as well as camels - so useful in most historical periods:

Given the background squares on my cutting mat in all the photos are 1cm - these are some tiny treasures !

Talking of scale, I couldn’t resist seeing how the various items of equipment might scale against actual castle walls, so pulled out my Strength and Honour Roman town:

First up, some onagers, bolt throwers, the mantlets, engineers and a line of pavises - with the siege towers moving in - all nicely to scale, I think:

Then a look at the rams, penthouses and towers moving in for the kill:

And next, the lovely escalating steps, with one even having a lowered bridge to crash onto the battlements:

These definitely fill the mind with possibilities for all sorts of siege actions, and would grace any tabletop - I’m keen to see how they all paint up, so watch this space for more…..

I just need to find 2mm sized miniature Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas…….

Sunday, 23 April 2023

A Diversion: 15mm Terminators !


A bit of a curve-ball here, in as much as I was looking at something different from the hordes of 2mm that I have been concentrating on lately…… I wanted a small diversion that would be self contained, and relatively straightforward in terms of painting, so took advantage of Alternative Armies’ recent sale and took the plunge in obtaining some of their characterful Automata.

These are of course, wonderful stand-ins for the cinematic Skynet-produced cyborgs, and I for one, given the recent media buzz about the advance of AI, hope these small renditions will go some way in pleasing our new Robotic Overlords……

The range has a lot of very useful types, with heavy weapons, a variety of small arms, and some interesting command figures alongside metal-shape-shifting polymorphs - as you can purchase them individually as well as in value packs, I picked the ones I liked the look of, giving me a mix of things to work on.

First up, from left to right, a T-1000-esque Polymorph, the Command pack figure ‘C’ and the mini-gun bearing Heavy Weapons ‘bot - all great sculpts, and as with all of the automatons, came with no flash or clearing up required from Alternative Armies in the UK, with their usual fast service and turnaround on orders, as well of course as their renowned ‘free’ gifts with every order ! - result !

Painting-wise, I went for a quick drybrush of silver over a black undercoat - not very inspired I know, and the detail on these figures would definitely reward a more considered approach - but the sculpted depth of each was quite forgiving to my paintbrush thrashings - quick and easy…. The heads in particular have great recessed eye orbits that are just crying out for a red glow !

For the bases, I went with the plastic tiddly-winks that I used on my 15mm dungeon denizens, and built them up with some basing sand and Mod-Podge white glue, along with a mix of rubble - this was made up of tiny cuts (with nail clippers) of defunct store and loyalty cards, snapped-off shards of MDF sprue, and some offcuts of blue foam and metal sprue left-overs, with some small metal staples added to the mix - the credit card snippings in particular are effective at this scale, as they offer different colours and patterns/discernible lettering etc that look like a good modern urban junk.

 The T-1000 got a splodge of silver ‘puddle-ing’ to his base to give the idea of him re-forming, but I think I was a bit conservative with the size of the puddle, so it looks a bit underwhelming - ripe for a re-do, methinks…

Rather than making them silver as well, I decided to paint the hand weapons mostly in an ‘army’ green to give a bit of contrast - just a block colour for the moment, they would benefit from a highlight - the packs from AA offer you SMGs, Assault Rifles and heavier MGs, as well as a pair of menacing-looking flamers:

I fear for the Human Resistance when they meet these !

It was perhaps inevitable that my quick and easy project would encounter a bit of mission creep, in that I realised I didn’t really have any suitable skirmish terrain that might go alongside the Terminators -  I needed something to scale that would be suitably post-apocalyptic and ravaged - so went looking on the inter webs as you do…..

I was pleased to find how more and more small-sized 3D designed and printed stuff is becoming available,  and bought some great walls and rubble piles from an EBay seller who does smaller-scale stuff alongside the usual 28mm offerings:

The pack of 15mm walls and detritus from HeadBunny Games was exactly what I was after:

I thoroughly enjoyed painting these up, and the detailing on the walls in particular is amazing, with all sorts of cobbled together materials, tyre stacks, brick piles, oil drums etc in evidence - so will really look the part.

Now, having had so much fun with these destroyers of Humanity, I of course have hankerings to look at doing some Resistance fighters as their adversaries - so to coin a phrase, if you are wondering what will happen next - 

“I’ll be back”……

Friday, 7 April 2023

Latest 2mm Antonine Ancients - Review


Thought I’d take a look at some of the latest releases in the 2mm Antonine Miniatures Ancients range - I’m a little late to the party in that they have been available since before last Christmas, but I’ve only recently taken the plunge and bought some.

Antonine have added to the range available at Warbases in the UK, including six packs of Roman buildings with a useful variety of types, and a whole Republican Roman Legion unit alongside a pack of Phalanx Pike Blocks:

The buildings look really nice, 3D designed and printed, if it were not for already having a whole plethora of similar types as seen elsewhere on the Blog, I would definitely have taken the plunge, but couldn’t really justify the expense - so I limited myself to purchasing just the new troop types.

The Phalanxes in particular caught my eye, and I wanted to see how the Republican Romans would stack up against the bases I had already created as early Legions using the individual blocks from Irregular Miniatures.

Above you can see how the phalanxes compare with a few other miniature types, in the centre a cavalry block, a skirmisher one and a single elephant from Antonine, and to the centre right a Pike block from Irregular and a strip of Hoplites from the same manufacturer.

To use the vernacular, these new blocks are some big beautiful beasties ! - definitely more in proportion to some of the existing Legionary bases from Antonine, and very much in the Macedonian Phalanx category of things - they make the ABG16 40 man pike block from Irregular look pretty diminutive !

The view from above presents a veritable forest of pikes, with the attendant figures to the side faces, and some extra ranks at the rear - in line with all of Antonine’s output, the pikemen themselves are plain shapes rather than having any particular detail, but this does not take away from the overall impact.

All of the blocks I received were cleanly cast, with no flash present or mould lines in the areas that matter - I think in similar terms to the minis I painted before from Antonine, they should go well with a simple dots and lines paint job - although that’s still going to mean a lot of dotting in the individual pike heads !

Three of the blocks sit comfortably on the basic Strength and Honour 120x60mm bases, with two of the same matching up on my ‘get more bang for your buck’ 90x60mm basing standard:

Above you can see a work-in-progress base of some Epirote phalanxes made up of the blocks from Irregular alongside their somewhat larger Alexandrian cousins !

I think it comes down to a personal choice as to which you might find fits the image better - and in armies of differing eras, the larger Antonine might be the better choice - certainly simpler to paint and to base up, being a gargantuan single unit…..

Turning now to Antonine’s Republican Romans, I think that the new pack is an excellent representation of the same, and also superlative value - you get all the necessary blocks for Velites, Hastati etc, with of course the option to use the different types on separate skirmisher bases. Again, if I wasn’t so invested in those that I already produced using Irregular, I would definitely have gone large in using them to make as many Legions as possible, with tactical formations easily depicted with their individual, smaller blocks.

Some of the castings I received had a small amount of flash in place at the edges, but nothing major, and will be easily removed with a sharp blade or metal file.

The whole pack populates a 120x60mm base size, and anything smaller would give you plenty spare to play with - I find the small Legionary ‘century’ or maniple blocks better proportioned than some of Antonine’s earlier Roman cohort blocks, which I felt were a bit on the large size - giving, if you counted individual ‘figures’ too deep a picture of Roman ranks - these blocks could easily be combined side by side to give a flexibility in what you can depict.

Up against one of my existing Irregular bases - you can see how they might compare all together on a 90x60mm:

I think overall, these are a great addition to the existing range, and give you a whole host of options now, combining with parts from existing packs - as well as some suitably ‘heavy metal’ phalanxes should the mood take you !

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

2mm Napoleonic: Some Ruminations and Resources


I thought I’d put down some of the impressions and conclusions I’ve come to in the course of working on the 2mm test bases, and also take a look at some of the inspirational and interesting approaches to the same subject provided by others.

I’d always shied away from plunging into Napoleonics due to what I perceived as the sheer scale required to do the period justice, and was hoping that the more simplified methods of painting and basing that worked well with the recent Ancients project would make things more accessible. I think that to some extent that has worked out to be true, in as much as realistic-looking units come and go under the brush quickly enough, but there are compromises to be made in the level of detailing that perhaps take away from the martial splendour that is so attractive about the era.

Take for example, the humble Irregular Miniatures 2mm BG2 block - 24 ‘figures’ in three ranks on an 11mm frontage posing as French infantry- rudely eschew an undercoat, slap on a base coat of Prussian blue, almost dry-brush on white to pick out the legs, a blob of the same at chest level, and then at rear a drab brown spot for each backpack  - top it off with individual touches of black to each bobbled head for the shako and done…..

Given that the same block, diminutive though it is, has enough sculpted detail for you to pick out individual faces, some hands, muskets at port to their front, a flagpole for the ensign, a small flag, bed rolls on top of the rear backpack, it seems rather churlish to ignore them in the name of mass production…. 

That said, of course, none of those details would ever be visible on the tabletop, let alone to my ageing eyes unmagnified even in front of my nose - I suppose in the same way that a general has to rationalise casualties in the service of strategy, I have to admit defeat in reaching too far to accomplish the impossible.


This might lead to rude suggestions about moving into larger scales and enacting the heresy of abandoning smaller minis for the giant-sized 25/28/32mm soldiers out there….. but I can’t really countenance that if I wanted to achieve the broad sweep of battles fought by Napoleonic Brigades and Corps, without breaking the bank (ever the Hobby skinflint, me !) or becoming all consuming of both time and effort (roll on retirement !).

So I think overall, I’m satisfied with the progress so far, but I think that there are definitely some lessons to take into future production, so I thought I’d break the methods down as I see them….

First off, bases: - I’ve been using 2mm depth 90x60mm from Warbases for the majority of them, with of course the loss of 10mm strips at the rear to enable my idea of spaces for labelling - these are then textured with fine basing sand and some colour dry-brushed on in layers to resemble vegetation.

I think this has worked out fairly well - the large ‘ground’ covered by what is supposed to be an area covered by hundreds of men means the abstracted look mitigates against adding further detailing - I had initially hoped to have trees and other scenic elements, but realistically this just takes away available space from the blocks/formations themselves. The edges of the bases are completed by using a paint pen to cover the raw MDF - quick, easy and neat - but I have to say that I am finding the labelling as envisaged coming across a bit cumbersome and fiddly to do - one of the reasons that not too much of it is yet visible in the photos on here !

I am also finding the loss of space more restrictive than I imagined the strips at the rear would be - making some of the more populous Brigades look a bit crowded - one of the main reasons for going with 2mm was to enable the more accurate depiction of formations, movement, etc - I suppose I could have gone with larger bases, but getting the balance right for a smaller unit would then be problematic - they’d look a bit adrift in acres of space…..

Perhaps I might look more seriously at the method of incorporating a rare earth magnet into the basing texture to enable labels to sit on top of corner to corner detail, but then again it will only end up sitting on top of whatever units populate the space, given the size needed to show the information I decide to add, whether designation or strength points, capabilities etc…. So probably a dead end…..


Referring back to my simplified painting method, this has proved to be effective, if, as suggested above, somewhat unfulfilling….. the actual act of painting is a bit mechanical, and for individual blocks a bit underwhelming, but I think when posed en masse on the base, gives the look I was going for without the time consumption required to make a better effort - up close, slapdash, at arms length, enough colour to evoke the units, whilst representing those big battalions.

In terms of simplicity, I did have the option of doing more with the flags - perhaps even replacing them with larger, printed ones, but again this would be a drag on the production rate of the project, so a simplistic caricature of colours was used - this is one of the reasons that all of the Austrian flags are the more visible yellow OrdinarFahne, rather than having the white LeibFahne for 1st Battalions - and why I have not attempted the distinctive multi-coloured borders of the same - just too much for such a small effect !

Placing of the blocks themselves has been relatively straightforward, although some fiddly use of tweezers and superglue has been required, and I haven’t alway succeeded in keeping things straight on the ground… my approach of course, means that the minis ‘float’ somewhat above the terrain, with the small integral bases being a bit of a contrast with the basing material and colouring - I prefer the visual ‘pop’ this adds to the figures, but might it not be to everyone’s taste…. I have considered the method of sticking the unpainted blocks down prior to painting, and then doing the base as a whole, but I have found that I am too cack-handed to get any detail on intervening ranks and rear facings, although of course, the utility of this might be debatable when placing blocks close together.

Certainly one of the inspirations I took for this project made superlative use of just such a method:

I wish I had the confidence to try something similar, as it would help further in simplifying the production line method whilst maintaining pleasing visual results, but I am not that sure of getting a similarly effective results !

Talking of results, another inspiration for this project was the superlative output of Jon Bleasdale, who has really caught the look I wanted to achieve - his Blog is a great resource of of stimulating projects, and his use of colours and basing materials make for some excellent visuals effect in 2mm:

Going deeper into my list of online resources, one of the original primers for tackling the period in a effective way was the work of Thaddeus Blanchette here:

Going through various iterations over time, his methods and results show what can be achieved with a keen eye for the period, even on smaller bases and fewer blocks of minis.

Another blast from the past, worthy of consideration as another classic exponent of small scale minis, namely Nik Harwood - his clean looking and smart Austrian and French Blucher bases gave similar grist to my mill:

And bang up to date with a thread on 3D printed miniatures from 6mm Wargaming:

And also on the YouknowhatTube from Project Wargaming:

I found in all these pages, lots to inspire, and of course put my own efforts to shame !

Going forward, I think I will make an effort to tie back into my initial ambition to work on Davout’s versus Rosenberg’s Corps battle at Wagram and buckle down and get their OOBs onto the painting table and then be better able to have an overview of what might be achieved - I guess it might be easy to feel that small scale miniatures, painted simply would be a shoe-in for depicting a battle like Wagram in its entirety, but I think that has to be tempered by what I will realistically be able to achieve given the demands of ‘Real Life’ versus our hallowed Hobby !

Saturday, 28 January 2023

2mm Napoleonic: Test Bases Progress


I’ve made good progress with the balance of the blank test bases I made up for the 1809 campaign as detailed in my last posting - I’ve been experimenting with various block types and the positioning thereof, as well as playing around with some temporary labelling.

I’ve thrown in a couple of MDF rounds as Corps commanders, and also some stand-alone artillery bases on smaller sized 60x60mm squares - these might be batteries of position, or grand batteries, independent of the cannon integral to most Brigades.

For the most part, I’ve stuck to the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ school of painting, and avoided too much detailing, enabling the production of enough blocks to do the bases justice, I think, although more thoughts on that later:

Below we see a French Dragoon Brigade, perhaps Guerin’s with various squadrons from the 7th and 30th, as well as the Italian Queen’s Dragoons and lastly the Cacciatori di Cavallo -  backed up the Cuirassiers seen in the last post:

Throughout these bases, I haven’t been too fussy about which of Irregular’s cavalry blocks I have been using  - although I stuck with the BG5 close order 8-horse strip for the ‘heavies’, I’ve been mixing and matching the BG4 Carbine Cavalry with BG11 Sabre Cavalry elsewhere - adds a bit of variety to the linear strips; BG12 Cavalry Commands with guidon are also randomly included:


The Dragoons got a mixture of lighter horse colours, a uniform green topped by a gold headgear dot, and some red dashes at rear/sides of the strips for the saddlecloths - I have not been worrying anymore about being strict on the figure/man ratio as such - although at Wagram, Guerin had respectively four squadrons each from the French and the Queen’s Dragoons, and then two squadrons of the Italian Chasseurs - so you might say a strip here equates to a squadron….

In reality, I was governed by what I could fit on the base, bearing in mind the 10mm strip at rear affecting the depth, whilst wanting to give a flavour of the formations being used - not sure I am entirely satisfied by the columnar look here - on later bases I might go for a more pleasing ‘charging’ line - across the base width to give it a bit more L’Arme Blanche ‘oomph’ - they seem a bit clinical as-is.

Next up, some of the half-sized artillery bases, probably depicting heavier calibre batteries, here made up of Irregular’s BG6 pieces with various limbers, caissons or wagons to give a sense of the depth of a deployed artillery unit:

I had a fancy to think in terms of visually identifying the calibre of such batteries by the amount of pieces on each base - so the Austrian one above, with nine items, might be a 9lber unit, a quick calculation for the player’s eye - but to be honest with the labels just behind, it should be easy enough to have that information there.

Next up, a look at some infantry formations from both sides - I wanted to give a sense of the Battalion Masses employed by the Austrians in 1809, as well as the characteristic French Columns - again, no hard and fast rules in these test bases, but a trio of BG2/BG40 blocks might equate to a French Battalion, whilst three or four BG15/BG42 blocks for the historically larger Austrian units.

So, a six Battalion French Brigade above, and below a view across two Austrian ones - the centre one with some skirmishers deployed to their front - Irregular’s BG3 in this case - as before, working with more what fits on the base, rather than strictly depicting every part of a formation.

Next up, a look at the temporary labelling I printed up - I say temporary, in that just like my previous Ancients project, I eventually want to work on some magnetic labels to enable swapping out identifiers for different units, but am ‘back burner-ing’ that as it is a bit too much faff when I want to be spending the time painting troops !

Here we have the French Garde Imperial Grenadiers, using Irregular’s BG35 March columns so that they look suitably beefy ( eagle-eyed readers might recognise these as the ones I painted appearing amidst the 2mm listings on Irregular’s website - the blocks have somewhat shamefully remained un-based since I did them, what, eleven years ago ? ):

I’ve included a national flag, from the 6mm ones produced by the superlative Tony Hughes at Tiny Tin Troops, just to see how that looks on the label - which is a bit rough here, as I cut it a bit too shallow for the 10mm space….

The Austrian one is for a Dragoon Brigade, although I employed ‘heavies’ strips by mistake for the front line - although they look quite good here with a supporting battery deploying,and a small unit of Chasseurs behind:

The actual text on the labelling is something I’m undecided on - there are some space limitations, after all, if you want a font size that is easily legible at tabletop distances, and in retrospect, it seems a bit redundant to have the word ‘Brigade’ - we knew in advance that was the ‘scale’ of these bases - it might be better to use the space to add in the Divisional or Corps hierarchy, but then you’d end up with things like “ IV / Reserve/Nostitz/ Rothkirch/Dragoon or some such, which is all a bit much. 

In play, I’m more likely to say: “I’m attacking with these dragoons”, than pronouncing the foregoing word salad….. but then again, the hierarchy style would be more ‘military’-looking - definitely something to ruminate whilst poring over Nafziger et al…… !

The Corps command circles also got a small name label, although these look a bit out of scale/place to my eye - might have to have a think about these - particularly given there are lots of Austrian commanders with very long names…… Erzerhog Franz etc etc….. ! Maybe the ‘III Corps’ might be better here…. ?

Irregular’s BG24 Army Command Group appears alongside the useful 20th Century Range’s IK4 HQ base, with a BG13 mounted pair and a guard formed of a BG40 block.

Overall, I’m fairly happy with the progress so far, although I think I need to tighten up my ideas on how to decide on showing the make-up of each Brigade, whether to include skirmishers, integral artillery, etc, etc - I also think that the bases could use a bit more aesthetic appeal - it may be difficult to add trees or structures to scale in what is a large, abstracted plot of land - so will have to ponder this with the next tranche of troops.

As a personal aside, I’ve managed to bust the index finger on my right hand, so it might be a while before I put brush to mini whilst I wait for the swelling to go down….. at least I am being authentic in suffering for my Art…. Although I’m thankful I have not yet made a base with a Napoleonic surgeon - he would probably be prescribing amputation without anaesthetic !

Anyway, battle scars permitting, I’ll be returning to this test run soon…..