Sunday, March 31, 2019


For a couple of years I've been listening more to audio books and podcasts when painting soldiers and building models. This way I can get two things done at once. I think I'm probably actively listening about 80% of the time but after an hour or so the mind can still drift - mine anyway. Over the past weekend I've been accessing a Conan adventure through YouTube. But here's the thing ...

The speaker is the all important ingredient and sometimes I just can't hack it (no Conan pun intended). If the accent is too powerful and mismatched then it destroys the feel for me. For example, I'm an Australian with what might generally be referred to as a 'received' accent - other Australians pick up that I spent some time in England (Kent) during my childhood. If you watch the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) newsreaders then that's the sort of accent I have. So, when I'm listening to a similar voice or someone from certain regions in the UK, I barely register there's an accent at all because it's largely my own.

I generally find broad English or American accents need to be relevant to the subject matter. So, (for me) a range of distinct northern English accents are going to be fine in an English historical context and a strong American accent fits in perfectly for American military subject matter. What I can't take is a broad Californian speaker delivering Shakespeare or a Scotsman reading an account of Custer's Last Stand.

There are two other problems for me with many audio readers. The first is intonation or how dynamic the reader is. Some of them are so very, very, very monotone. They are boring and they put me to sleep. The other problem is the single reader's inability to impersonate. The Conan adventure I was listening to has a cast of characters, male and female but the reader I had (an American) only had one 'other' male voice and one female voice when switching from narrative to dialogue. This is both amusing and confusing. Some readers have truly silly female voices akin to Terry Jones standard 'woman' screeching SPAM, SPAM and when there's a romantic exchange like in the Sharpe novels, it's just wrong!

Most of my audio book collection is non-fiction historical narrative anyway so provided the reader is good, characterization is relatively unimportant. I really do think that the audio book recording industry as a whole needs to consider multiple readers and audio editing to raise the bar. I'd actually like to see (hear actually) novels presented more like radio plays with sound affects and voice performers. It would engage the listener completely and I could get lost in other worlds whilst painting my soldiers.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Caesarean Testudo: Part 2

It was quite the effort but the experiment is complete and I declare it a success. I now have the first of several Roman Caesarean testudo.
Having undertaken the mock-up (see previous posting) I them fixed the figures to craft sticks in their order for painting. This prevented me from mixing them up and to ascertain how much of each figure would be exposed so I only needed to paint the outside. I won't do this again as it made painting difficult and I think there's a better way of numbering them to enable painting individually.
Painting this set of shields was also more difficult than being able to get in close and personal with each individual shield but I can't see a way around that. The decals also needed cutting away where it appears they tuck in under the overlapping shields.
Once painted to their matte coat stage, I then glued them to their base.
Later on I cut the centurions gladius arm off - it didn't fit and you couldn't see it anyway.
I had to cut away the corner shield holder's stand away to get him in close enough to the front rank. It's a tight fit in there.
 Then I built the unit back from the front rank.

I then fixed a section of balsa dowel to support the shield canopy. This and the interior including the figure bases were painted dark grey to conceal them from view.
Once built, I spray coated the whole model with my matte picture varnish and then painted the metallic finished on shield boss, mail, gladius and helmets.
I've learnt a few lessons in this approach but they will be refinements to a process I feel works really well.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Caesarean Onager: Now it's an Army!

In most wargaming army lists I am familiar with, there's a ratio imposed on fielding war machines. In Hail Caesar it's 3:1 for units to machines. I always figures that a scorpio must come first and I have two of them so they got built first. Now that I have eight cohorts completed, I figures I'd stretch to my onager model ... so here it is.
This little ripper is a Warlord Games model and like so many war machines manufactures and supplied in our hobby, it doesn't come with instructions. Well I didn't get any. Thankfully I have plenty of reference resources and there are a lot of very detailed drawings available on the web ... so no problem.
The model comes with three crew (I suppose that's obvious) and a cast pile of stone shot. I tend to roll left over Green-stuff into little balls and my chance both to hand were the right size so I augmented them - dumb luck.
The model is all white-metal. A trick for next time is not to glue the throwing arm-axle before gluing the winch-axle ropes. Mine aren't quite a taut as I'd have liked them to appear.
Back to my original reference, if you haven't built enough cohorts to earn your onager, you don't have a real army - you have a mere detachment.


Caesarian Romans: Cohort VI Legio XI

My first whole unit produced this year includes a few new features for my Roman army. After a prolonged shipping process I received and incorporated some of the last Wargames Factory models available from their now defunct late Republican Roman 'Caesar's Legions' range of plastic 28mm figures.
Wargames Factory Caesarean Roman legionary

The earliest of the 28mm plastic figure revolution, these Wargames Factory miniatures definitely finish in second place to the Warlord Games figures. The detail is shallow and the depictions are ever so slightly slighter built than their Warlord Games counterparts. I have always loved the Warlord Games Romans but I didn't realise how much until I painted the Wargames Factory figures.
Wargames Factory Centurion

Having said that, whilst I didn't enjoy the process of painting them, they come up better than they look in their raw state and better than I was predicting. They did satisfy my desire for greater variety and as far as I'm concerned, they look just fine. I will; however, be relegating the remainder to my testudo models.
I do like the Wargames Factory Signifer
Only I can see it I suppose but I swapped arms and weapons between both figure ranges within the unit and gave the Signifer a shield.
I also equipped the entire cohort with metals shields from Aventine Miniatures. I did this because I'm hording the plastic shields for my testudo models - see my other posts. You will see I've also included some raw shields with completely stenciled covers for the first time.
It might simply be because they are just that little bit different from what I've been getting used to, but I love these Aventine Miniatures shields. This is my eighth cohort in a little over twelve months (I think) so that's 192 uniformed Romans - I'll take what variety I can get.
I will be including two more posts on my evolving Caesarean Romans - the onager and my testodo model which is nearing completion. I'm giving my Roman project a rest of a while as I seem to have run out of my MDF bases. I'm home in May and will cut more but for the time being, it's on to other things.