Archive for the ‘Pirates’ Category

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Jolly good!

October 14, 2017

This is another quick piece I finished some time ago. Whether pirates or redcoats, you can’t stay on your ship all the time, so you’ll need a boat to reach the shore.

It’s a Playmobil boat that came with a larger ship I bought. I’d been meaning to make something out of it, but it just kept slipping to the back of the queue until one day I just happened to pick it up and finished it fairly quickly. After chopping off all the Playmobiley bits and making a new deck from cardboard, I added planking from coffee stirrers. I then put in a small swivel gun I picked up as part of a pirate lot earlier this year, and…that’s it, actually. Nice and simple.

The finished jolly boat looks quite decent and comfortably fits six miniatures on 28mm bases. I kept the style very neutral, so it works equally well with pirates and more legitimate types.

Picture of a playmobil jolly boat

Click for a larger version

Picture of pirates in boat

The pirate queen makes her landing

Picture of boat with soldiers

Captain Pemberton-Smythe and his troopers accompany the governor

I’m currently working on my new gameboard that has plenty of shoreline, so this boat will definitely see use, and I’ll likely get a few more. Maybe I’ll be able to recreate this wonderful scene from Black Sails:

 

 

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Bark bark bark

October 12, 2017

It’s terrain time! Lately I’ve been working on a variety of fairly low intensity scenery builds – pretty much things I can work on while watching Killjoys and The Expanse.

I picked up the idea for these somewhere online, as these things happen. Someone had used bark to make rocky outcrops, and as I was about to head to our summer place, I figured I’d pick some up and give it a try. Pine bark is plentiful in Finland, and after a few days without rain it was easy to gather up more than enough dry pieces.

The whole process was delightfully simple. I chucked the bark pieces into the oven for a 20-30 minute bake at 200°C. This not only dried them out and got rid of all sorts of teeny tiny little critters, but it also gave my apartment a lovely wood-fired sauna smell.

I glued the pieces to large oval mdf bases I picked up at a local convention, and went to work. After sealing the bark with watered-down PVA, I started painting them. Using mainly cheap craft acrylics, I first painted the pieces black, and then followed it up with progressively lighter shades of grey, drybrushed on, up to pure white. A quick Agrax Earthshade wash followed, as well as a few licks of green wash here and there.

Before and after

Finishing touches were done by adding in a variety of decorative stones, sand, tufts and shrubs, some undergrowth cut from an Ikea plastic plant and static grass. The end result is…surprisingly nice! I feel these just might be some of the nicest scenery bits I’ve ever produced. I snuck in a secret hatch in one of the pieces, made out of coffee stirrers. An old, battered hatch hidden in the bushes under a rocky outcrop – it just screams “pirate” or “smuggler” to me.

Rocky outcrop made from bark

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Rocky outcrop made from bark

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Rocky outcrop made from bark

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Hidden hatch under a bark rock

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Captain Pemberton-Smythe leads his men on a hunt for pirates

A special mention goes out to Tajima1 Miniatures, who manufacture wonderful tufts and shrubs for miniatures. Fellow blogger Paul of sho3box fame somewhat gushingly recommended these to me, so I decided to give them a try. I’m happy I did! They’re the first tufts I’ve tried that actually live up to the claim of being self-adhesive, and they look lovely to boot. I’ll definitely be using plenty of these.

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From the painting desk #55 – Big guns

July 21, 2017

A special double feature this time, somewhat shoehorned into matching a theme! So, big guns it is! Sadly, there’s no sexual innuendo here, nor is it an AC/DC reference. Instead there are just two big guns and a rambling intro.

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First up is a cabin boy from North Star. That’s not even a very big gun, except in relation to his tiny frame. This was a quick mini to paint and fairly fun to boot – although poses with anything lifted in front of the face are usually a bit irritating. The model also had a really unfortunate mould line running through his hair, and I couldn’t get it out entirely as I didn’t want to destroy the hair texture.

I figured that the cabin boy would be a little runt with little respect shown to him. That meant no fancy clothes, although he appears to have been given a mighty fine pistol – or maybe it’s just something for him to play around with, with no powder or shot? Or maybe, just maybe there’s action going on and all hands on board are needed.

Small minis are quite fan to paint, on account of being, well, small. Very little surface to paint, and with no fiddly details, excessive pouches or suchlike, this was a delightfully easy paint. I’m quite happy with him.

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The second one is a highwayman by Outpost. I loved, loved, loved painting this one and I like to think it shows. You know how sometimes everything just seems to click, the mini is a joy to paint and you pretty much get everything right on the first go? It happened with this one, and I think it resulted in one of the nicest pieces I’ve painted this year.

I kept the palette simple, with the red scarf and exposed skin acting as focal points in an otherwise muted mini. He wields a blunderbuss – an early form of shotgun that for some reason I can’t articulate is one of my all-time favourite weapons – so definitely fits the big guns theme. The sculpt is nice and clean and lends itself well to painting. If you’re into the genre, I definitely suggest picking up some minis from Outpost.

While originally a highwayman, I intend to use the character as a lackey of the merchant shown in the previous post. Just like with the governor’s henchman, the distinct look of long coat, raised collar and tricorne hat gives out a nice, faceless menacing feel perfect for hired thugs.

They bring this year’s painting count up to 14.

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From the painting desk #54 – Foul capitalist

July 12, 2017

I recently finished another civilian to inhabit Port George, a wealthy man from Blue Moon Manufacturing. He’ll likely be one of the main antagonists, a rich trader with ambitions for extending the sugar industry to Tyburn island. He’s another characterful sculpt, something I appreciate in Blue Moon’s output. His haughty, grumpy look fits the character concept well.

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I went for rich, clean colours to make him pop. As the red coat is reminiscent of the colour scheme of my soldiers, I threw in some additional colour to distinguish him from those.

While painting him, I had a very distinct mental image of the kind of person he is. A main inspiration is the character of Cary Warleggan from the highly recommended Poldark tv show. He’s a cruel, greedy banker and utterly despicable.

The picture says it all, really

My time here in Dublin is drawing to an end in a few weeks, and that’s crazy! Seems like we got here just a few weeks ago…

Oh yeah, the merchant is painted miniature #12 this year.

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From the painting desk #52 – Maroons

June 18, 2017

Maroons were former enslaved Africans who had escaped captivity. The latest character I wrote for my pirate sourcebook  is a maroon leader, and writing that piece of fiction inspired me to paint a few of my Foundry maroons. I’m glad I did!

They’re great examples of the things I love in Foundry minis, as they were easy and fun to paint, simple but not boring, somewhat uniform but still characterful and unique. Formerly enslaved, I kept their clothing drab and a little dirty. They should contrast well with both the neat, colourful look of wealthier citizens of New Port George and the bright, sometimes showy clothing of my pirates.

Two Wargames Foundry maroons with muskets

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While the maroons will eventually be their own faction, they’ll be a part of my pirates for now. They’re this year’s painted minis # 9 and 10, and I’m starting to see why my unpainted minis pile keeps growing.

Oh yeah, Maroons was a pretty awesome hip hop group as well.

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Outpost highwaymen size comparison

June 14, 2017

Last week the postman brought me some lovely new minis by Outpost Wargame Services. They’re part of their highwaymen range, which also includes victims as well as characters from the City of Vice TV show. As the range features plenty of suitable minis for my pirate project, I’ve been eyeing them for a year or two now. One thing that has kept me from taking the plunge is the lack of comparison pictures available. While there are some here and there on various blogs, I wasn’t able to find a proper size comparison. This post will obviously remedy that and hopefully help out other people who might be wondering about the size.

Now, this isn’t a comprehensive thing by any means, as I’m just using the miniatures that I happen to have at hand here in Dublin. It does cover a fair few of the most typical pirate ranges though. Also of note is that there is no lovely, handy measuring tool here, nor have I standardized the minis in any way – they are just plonked down on 25mm slottabases with their integral bases intact. The exception to this is the Black Scorpion pirate who doesn’t have an integral base.

Click for a larger version

As you can see, the best matches are Blue Moon and North Star, as Outpost minis are on the chunkier, more cartoony side. This means that Galloping Major and Redoubt 18th century stuff should fit nicely. You can see my previous size comparison with those two manufacturers in this post. Like usual, I will happily use them all together as I’m not picky about 100% size or style matching.

Short and sweet this time, I hope this is of use! I might offer this to OWS just to save others some trouble.

 

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Looking ahead

May 26, 2017

Billy Bones by NC Wyeth

Last night I got to thinking about the future of my pirate project, and figured I’d share some of my plans with you. That way I’ll have them down in writing, too. Having the book project on the go really helps – miniatures inspire me two make up fiction and characters, and vice versa. This stuff might and probably will change as new ideas come up, as these things tend to do. In no particular order:

Port George and New Port George

Instead of having a nice side of town and a shady side of town, they will be two different towns in the fiction. After the original Port George was struck by a heavy epidemic of yellow fever, the better-off residents fled to somewhat higher, drier ground and re-founded Port George, leaving the old town to those too poor or ill to build new houses. In time, pirates and other types settled in and made the old town their own. While the towns are near each other, the residents of New Port George rarely have reason to visit the old town, unless there’s more or less shady business to be done. Even then, they’ll bring protection.

Modelling-wise, I’ll keep on as before. New Port George will have larger, plastered brick houses and a small fort, whereas the old town will have more wooden plank houses, as well as more dirt and decay in general. This way I don’t have to worry about fitting two different styles together.

Maroons

Another faction on the island is a group of maroons – escaped slaves – who have taken up residence in the old, ruined Spanish mission. They mostly keep to themselves, although they do some trading with the pirates. With the new industry plans for the island (see below), the maroons are more than a little riled up, and are bound to cause all sorts of trouble. For miniatures I’ll be using the Foundry minis I bought at Salute a month ago:

© Wargames Foundry

They’re sweet minis, and will find double use as pirates too. My voodoo queen will likely be tied in with them too.

The Spanish mission

Spanish Caribbean buildings with their red pantile rooves are a staple of pirate visuals. I wanted to include them, but also wanted a British town. The solution? Put in an old, deserted 17th century mission town. Not only is this historically plausible, it also gives me the chance to build some Spanish style houses and model an overgrown, somewhat ruined town now inhabited by the maroons mentioned above.

Horrible capitalists

These will be some if not the main antagonists in the setting. They’re wealthy traders who are looking to set up sugar plantations on the island, with all the horrible things they bring along. While I want to address the concept of slavery in the project, I don’t want to dwell on it too explicitly. However, having the drive for building plantations – or maybe the plantations being built – creates suitable tension in my opinion. The traders are trying to pressure the governor, the pirates are disrupting slave trade, the maroons are attacking traders and under construction plantations…there’s plenty here! I have some great minis from Blue Moon that I also bought at Salute, they look haughty and rich and should be a great fit for the job. I might need some henchmen for them as well.

While I don’t want the book to be overtly political, in reality a lot of the pirate issue was about class and race, trade and capital, and I want the book and the project to reflect that – not only for ideological reasons, but historical accuracy as well. It also allows me to posit pirates as the protagonists, which is something I want to do. And of course rich slave traders make for wonderful antagonists.

So, that’s what’s in store. Over two years with this project, and more and more hyped – wonderful!

Pirate illustration: Billy Bones by NC Wyeth, public domain

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