Tuesday, 8 January 2013

HaT Assyrian Chariots

The Assyrian Army is proceeding apace.

I expect that pace to pick up now that I have finished the Allies and can concentrate on the regular Assyrian troops, which have a greater degree of uniformity when it comes to colours. Every single one of the 44 Allies has a different colour scheme, and that did tend to slow things up a lot.

I have made a start on a box of cavalry. Again, these are soft and bendy plastic, which I think has more drawbacks than positive features. But the figures seem to take the Humbrol cement well, and are easy to paint up too. No flash or seams to speak of, and overall a very good standard.

Sadly, the same could not be said of the first box of Assyrian Infantry I opened. Almost every one had a bad seam that needed careful trimming with a sharp scalpel. A few figures were malformed, as the two halves of the mould had obviously slid sideways before the injection run. The worst examples were the four men loading their slings, and they had a noticeable step from the base all the way to the top of the figure. Annoying.. HaT need to get a grip of their Quality Control. It's not the worst set I have seen (that award goes to a couple of packets of Revell WW1 Germans) and the figures are all usable. But it took close to half a day's work just to trim the seams and clean up the figures. The too-soft plastic doesn't not help, as when one comes to a curve or a step when trimming, the blade will either tear the plastic or slip off and leave a long strip of trimmed surplus that then needs to be cut off. Trying to scrape this off does not work, as the plastic just tears up. Thankfully other other two packets of Assyrian Infantry figures are much better, with just a couple of the bowmen having seams.

I also moved onto the chariots, and started to put together and paint the first one. Once again HaT have used a very soft plastic. Thankfully the mouldings are very clean, with no seams or flash, but there are still problems. The instructions on the back of the box showing how to fit the main beam to the chariot and the yoke are totally wrong. I ignored them and went by some photos I found on-line. That led to problem 2. The locating holes in the chariot floor for the main beam are too far back. If the two pins on the main beam are located in those holes, the triangular support for the main beam fouls the front of the chariot and it will not fit. I had to drill a hole nearer the front of the chariot and locate the second pin of the main beam into that, in order to achieve a proper fit. The plastic takes glue well, but it is so soft that tying to get the three sides of the chariot body together is a right pain, as any finger pressure just distorted the body and popped the sides out of their locating slots.

However, with much cursing it did finally go together and started to look okay. I am now in the process of painting it up, having given it its base coats. It's by no means a push-together model. It needs gluing, and even then will be very fragile on the gaming table, so I will not add the horses and crew until I can base the thing properly.

Friday, 4 January 2013

A Lucky Find

It's often a good idea to check some of the mainstream on-line book sellers every now and then, because one never knows what bargains one might find. Usually such book sellers are quite canny and have a jolly good idea of what books are going for, but sometimes....

And that's what I found last week, on Amazon of all places. One of my sisters had sent me an e-voucher for Xmas, and I eagerly went to Amazon to spend it. I did my routine searches for wargames books, and saw the usual sky-high prices for stuff that frankly amazed me.

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming for £114, anyone?


I laughed and perused further, eventually finding some Charles Grant books, again at prices beyond the dreams of my e-voucher...

And then....

I spotted something. I had to check it several times, just to make sure. There was no picture, but the title was clear.

Ancient Battles For Wargamers. Charles Grant. £8.00

Now the book was described as a paperback, which seemed odd. I didn't know it existed as anything other than a hardback. I have only ever seen one copy "in the flesh" before, and that was owned by my friend John Preece of Darkest North Wales. I have been after it for many, many years, but whenever it had appeared on eBay, the price has always gone way too high for my blood and purse.

So I took a chance and bought it, along with an ex-library copy of Introduction to Wargames (Neil Thomas) for £3.00.

Yesterday they both arrived, and LO, it was the hardback version of the Grant book, in excellent condition aside from a torn dust-jacket. I am over the moon!

The pages look yellow in the shot, but that's just the rubbish room lighting.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Assyrian Allies and Assyrian Ram

So far I have finished about half the unit of HaT Assyrian Allies, and completed one of the Orion Assyrian Rams.

The Ram was a pain. It had warped panels, unclear instructions and rather too many butt-joints for comfort and accuracy. However, the final model looks OK. I had to rig up some cotton thread to hang the ram from the internal beams, as the plastic "ropes" Orion include are a joke, being way too long and needing to be twisted at 80 degrees to hang the trunk of the Ram. They just snap as soon as twisted, even using hot water to soften the plastic first. Using thread sounds a better way around it. but in fact it's quite tricky and fiddly work.

I tacked the finished figures onto spare Warhammer 20 x 20mm bases to help keep them upright, and I shall varnish them shortly. I am going to use gloss varnish, as it brings out the nice bright colours, and I do want an old-fashioned  'sixties plastic army look for this force. The bases may be temporary, as I have not yet totally settled on using WAB rules.

Last night I started work on the first couple of spear-men from the HaT Assyrian Army box. They are a great match for the Allies, but sadly there seems to be more flash on them. This comes in the form of pronounced seams which need a VERY sharp blade to trim off, as the plastic is so soft. I have not checked the other boxes yet, but this first batch is going to need a lot more pre-paint cleaning up than the Allies did.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Bearded Meanies

I have finally started work on my 20mm WAB Assyrian army. I have got all the troops I initially planned to buy, although I might get another box of Assyrian Allies, as I think perhaps the army requires more skirmishers.

So far the project has cost me very little, thanks to the price of HaT ancients usually being heavily discounted on eBay. In total I have spent perhaps £60, which is not bad for an army that now numbers 176 infantry, 36 cavalry, 6 chariots, 2 rams and a siege tower.

Painting the little men is an enjoyable pastime. The Assyrians were a colourful bunch  and so far no two of my figures have the same design or colour scheme. The HaT figures are well detailed, but slightly chunkier than the Caesar ones. That makes them easier to paint. I am sticking to a plain, unshaded block colour style, with a little black line-ing. They look fine and in the large units I envisage will pass muster well on the battlefield. A tidy war-gaming standard is how I would describe it. In other words, it means I am happy with it and the rest of the world can sod off. ;-)

Today I put aside the paint brushes and decided to face the challenge of building one of the Orion Assyrian Rams. This is a kit with two siege engines in it, in white plastic. It's a bit tricky to build, as the mould is crude and the fit of parts not great. The instructions are also a bit unclear. But I struggled on and with a bit of carving and clipping, the first one is almost done and starting to look okay.

My New Year's Resolution is to stick with a single project until it is completed. I will finish these boxes before I buy more, and before I start on the other projects in my In Tray. 

That's the plan. Let's hope boredom does not set in and tempt me to pick up those GW High Elves...... 

Oh, and a Happy New Year to all..!!