Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sutton Hoo visit

I went on a weekend trip to Suffolk and just had to drop into Sutton Hoo on the way back, it turned out to be a very good idea. The site and visitor centre has had more than 3 million pounds of lottery money spent on it in the last few years, and the results are fantastic!
Here is the famous masked helmet of who they think was the High king of East Anglia, the design has been heavily influenced by Swedish and late Roman styles, worth noting is that the bowl of the helmet has been hammered from one piece of iron and not made from pieces joined together......amazing skill and craftmanship. Of course, this is just a replica but it is a very good one at that.
This is how the dead king was laid out in his cabin, in his ship, in his mound.As we can see he has his armour at hand and a gaming board for the long journey to the after life. Also at his feet is something to drink...well, it could be a long journey.

Here is another look at that stunning masked helmet; the detail is amazing. Note the Dragon on the face biting a serpent, its wings are the eyebrows and it's tail makes the moustashe. The ends of the wings are tipped with boar heads, an animal renowned for its fighting prowess. In fact the whole piece is covered in symbols of fighting figures, some very Celtic in design.I recommend dropping in on Sutton Hoo if your in the area, if your lucky, you might even get a brilliant tour guide called Tony.

Command for the VIIth started

The Legate of the VIIth turned up to see how the training was going on..........he didn't stay long!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Still recruiting

Another Cohort of Spanish levies start their long journey to becoming part of the Roman war machine. I have about 14 Spanish cavalry from the Foundry Caesarian range. By giving them Imperial oval shields I hope to bring them up to date with my other forces. These guys have never seen a cavalry Spatha before in their lives, We have along way to go.....

Celt army standard bearer

My Celts have been put on the back burner while i finish off the VII but here is my Celtic army standard, I wanted something abit different for this guy to mark him out as being special and a friend had a good idea of putting him on a here he is, again I've added some warriors to his base to make sense of the 2 attacks he gets using the WHAB rules. A Roman cavalryman has paid the price of being caught in the open but as least his horse has found a new owner.

Celtic chieftain and command

Here is my Celtic Chieftain base, still needs alittle work, i've crammed the base with loyal retainers and champions to make sense of the cheftains 3 attacks in WHAB. A champion has already put one Roman to the sword, one down 800 to go.
(the shield and helmet of the dead Legionary are from 1st Corps, and are nice little extras for these kinds of bases, the Roman is from Foundry)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Legionary of the VII Gemina

A Legionary from the VII Gemina prepares himself to do something he never thought would ever happen, to face and kill fellow Romans!
The East is marching.

The VII Gemina

The first Cohort of the VII takes to the field, their bases need flocking of course but this pic shows the shield design. For the Gemina, i have choosen Essex Miniatures. They are very old figures, probably early 80's i would say and the sculpturing is pretty basic but i like them because i have'nt any Romans armoured in this way. They have Lorica Hamata (mail) but they also have leather pteruges on their shoulders and around their wastes, i like this for my Spanish Legion for it reflects again the armour of the outer provinces, being slightly behind that of the better equipped legions. Another great thing about these old figures is, from a painters view, their shield is moulded on and covers the front of the figure saving alot a time in painting the body etc. Lazy i know but when you have over a hundred to paint, it's a god send! Also i think these old guys have alot of charm in their own way and its great to finally be using them up, after bypassing them for newer ranges for years. I knew that money was well spent all that time ago. They stand up quite well against the other legions, the shield makes them very stricking on the board........i must paint more! Their armour and shield type make them Augustan in period and so must be pass me downs from older Legions. Essex Miniatures are resculpting all their early Imperial romans and these guys will soon be phased out so if you like them you'd better order some while they're still around. (Code number wrs 3) Their pilums are from Gripping Beast, being longer than the ones that come with the Essex figures.

Germanicus strikes back

It is not very wise to upset Rome! In 14AD, Germanicus with a huge Roman army crossed the Rhine and set about putting the German peoples to the sword. In the first year he just made base camps on the other side of the mighty river. The year after though, he launched a full invasion. Rome wanted justice and justice Roman style was not a pleasant sight. He found the dreaded battle sight and set about burying the remains of the fallen which the Germans had left in the open. He is said to have wept at the battle site....he would not stop until all those involved had paid the Roman price. Justice to Arminius did not come through Roman hands though, for the Germans, in fear of what the Romans would do to them, killed Arminius themselves in order to stay the advancing armies. It would take until the first world war before the German peoples honured Arminius and made him a national hero...a defender of Germany against a foreign invader.

The trap is thrown!

For the remnants of Varus's Legions who emerged from the tangle of the German forests, worst was yet to come. Arminius had not been idle and had prepared a little welcome for his unwanted guests. They were hounded from hehind and pushed forward through the Kalkriese pass, a dreadful bottle neck between the hills and the moor. To make the trap even more deadly, the Germans had constructed a wall to help funnel the tired legions into a killing zone. Those who escaped the spears of the angry tribes drowned in the marshland. Only a handful of legionaries would live to tell the tale! All this from a people the Romans thought of as uncivilized barbarians. The 17th,18th and 19th legions disappeared for ever and were never raised again, after the massacre their numbers were deemed to be ill fated.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Teutoburger Forest 9 AD

One event in rome's history that gives me endless enthusiasim, was the carefully planned ambush led by Arminius and the German tribes in the Teutoburger forest in 9 AD.
I spend alot of time walking in woodland and so it is quite easy for me to summon up the atmosphere of those dark, dank German must have been terrifying for the legionarys involved.As we know the Roman war machine was almost unstoppable on open ground but strung out in groups among the twisted trees and tangled roots of the Teutoburger Wald they were doomed! The 17th, 18th and 19th Legions were subjected to a series of running ambushes over a seven day period, after being tricked into changing their line of march by Arminius-a Roman trained German warrior, who wanted to put an end, once and for all to the steady advance of Roman territory into Germany. With the false report of a rebelling German tribe, the mighty legions were lured deeper and deeper into the dark forests and marsh land, by the time it was over, some 25,000 men, women and children were dead."Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!!!!!!!"was the cry from a devastated Augustus when he finally got to hear of the loss. It worked though, for Romes advance was halted.....for a while anyway.
Here a Roman work party, tasked with clearing fallen trees, suddenly become aware they are not alone.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Designing the shields

Although the plain white shields on the Auxiliaries look great, for the legion I needed that little extra something, plain white didn't really look very legionary to me. It would have to be easy and quick to paint, for my legions consist of about 116 figures when finished.

So I came up with a black double laurel leaf design, which actually looks quite detailed when set on to the white of the shield and is simple and quick to paint. The great thing about white shields is that they look fantastic when dirt and mud is dry brushed onto the bottom of them. I will try to get some images up soon. Also, the laurel leaf was a sign of victory....and so these guys had had some luck.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Recruiting the Spainish Legion

I have a unit of Auxiliaries in my cabinet which I have given white shields. Over time they've really grown on me and so i thought, imagine a whole legion of white shields and how that would look on the table top, in contrast to the other legions. And so, I set about planning it me white shields look very Spanish and so there could only be one choice. The VII Gemina, that was stationed in Leon (which comes from the word Legion)
As you can see, I will have my work cut out with this lot!

Romans 'n' Celts

These are just some close up shots of the cabinet seen earlier,in this picture we see the Legate of the V macedonica,being assisted as aways by his loyal centurian, Marcus oppius Festus.He has just despatched a rider with orders by the looks of things......The messenger is a nice little piece from 1st corps,they do quite a few nice little extras,including shield stacks and battle field debris. The latter is great for big bases with lots of space to fill.
My latest venture is an army of Celts,here are just a few.....although you need hundreds to go nose to nose with Roman cohorts,so i've got about two hundred or so.They are good fun to paint because each one is different.And after painting uniformed Romans for 7 years,this comes as a nice change.I also mix up the makes of figures to give more variety in the warbands,and bend sword arms etc to add even more.My army is mostly made up of AandA miniatures ,with a few Foundry (great for standards and carnex blowers)and a few Gripping Beast (great for command figures) .I like to paint all my shields,i find it quicker and enjoy it more than messing with fiddly transferrs.Although saying that,with the Celtic love for all things detailed....i've used a few stick on shield designs from Little Big Man studios.Just one or two of these in a battle line really catch the eye, and make up for the less detailed shields. The sea of white in the background are the masses of unpainted Celts waiting their turn with the brush.
And finally ,one of my favourite legions i've painted,the III Gallica.This tough legion of Gauls was stationed in syria.I have tried to summon up the feel of the desert by giving them sand coloured shields and their lorica hamata (mail) reflects the shortages and supply problems to those far of corners of the Empire.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blood,sweat and paint

Welcome to my world,i don't really know where to i'll just start!.This is my work table,crammed as usual,i always end up working on the extreme edges of it through lack of space,but as soon as you put some paints away to make more need them i find it better to just keep everything out,and messy,.......and work on the edge.
A nice little tip for painters out there (and one i have only just descovered after 20 years or so )is to keep a small note book,(pictured left) in which i keep track of what colours i mixed etc,and what colours i used for certain figures.This little book has saved me so much time and effort and is a great way to keep track of units and the order they were painted.
Here we see my lifes work.......well, since 1998 anyway,before that it was fantasy goblins and orcs,and thousands of other crazy critters to numerous to mention.These days i've retired from the mad cap world of elves and orc boyz to the more relaxing historical eras.I'm not saying war is relaxing....but i find painting is,plus researching periods and learning what these people went through and their names and where they came from etc,is a way of keeping their memory alive,which i think is a good thing.
Phew...too deep, pull out...yeah painting!.Here we see my cabernet which houses the legions of Rome and of France,also saxons,celts,Americans and a few Germans live there too.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The trouble with painting

The trouble with painting is that there is never enough time to paint them all.I still have hordes of unpainted figures stashed away in boxes all over the house.Then again,there is nothing as satisfying as revisiting a period and painting some of those lost forgotten souls.....
And yet,i still keep ordering more.

Calling all lead heads

Hello, my name is Simon,i have been collecting and painting lead miniatures for over twenty years and it has grown into something resembling obsession.I started off as a kid collecting fantasy ranges, but switched to historical figures as i got older.
I enjoy painting armies of one type or another and so don't tend to spend ages over one figure ,although important characters such as leaders and standard bearers i will sometimes spend alittle more time on, giving them eyes etc.
I have three main areas of intrest at the moment, American civil war,Napleonic and Roman.The Roman collection is the biggest and comes about through an idea to wargame the civil wars of 68-69 AD.The great thing about collecting and painting Roman forces is that not alot is known about their appearence,and this leaves a huge gap for the imagination,and lets the painter get really creative!.
I have been painting these Romans over a period of seven years and collected a wide range of shield designs and ideas for uniforms etc. through a huge number of books,internet sites and imagination.What i hope is ,if someone out there is thinking of starting a Roman army and sees what i've done,they will will find it a wealth of ideas and inspiration for their own forces.