31 December 2010

On the horizon - 2011

Yet another year is upon us. Here at the El Grego shipyards, things have been in a state of flux. I have not done anything with my naval projects for months, for a number of reasons, foremost amongst those being a change in residence. My work bench, which once looked like this:

Now looks like this:

The work bench was replaced by an old computer table, which is about half of the length of the old one. There will be no room on the table for a wide assortment of materials, paints, and minis, but that might be a blessing in disguise as I hope it will subtly force me to concentrate more on getting projects finished.

Quite a bit more attention is needed to re-organize everything before paint hits the lead... but that will be soon.

Happy New Year everybody - your visits and especially your comments are most welcome!

25 September 2010

Austrian ironclads, part 1

Just to show that I had not forgotten the ironclads, here is a pic for you:

Erzherzog Ferdinand Max

No other progress however! I am a bit puzzled by the lack of sails for the mini - typically Figurehead ships come with enough sail pieces for each mast that needs them, but this one only has one. I will need to check with some pics of the actual ship to confirm but I am pretty certain that there should be sails on the fore and main masts.

14 August 2010

German ships, part 1

We saw the state of the Russian fleet last time - so here are the Germans:

The bases are not quite finished; those that are blue will get one more coat, and the metal ones will get two! The torpedo boats do look dark and sinister, as they should, although when I paint the wakes on the bases they will pop out more.

A broadside shot of the fleet. The closest ship, minelayer Albatross, is not nearly done, but if you look past her to the cruisers you can just see that I tried to paint the two-tone scheme that was used by the Germans in WW1. Too subtle, maybe, but in absolute scale terms probably too dark. I do like the effect so I think I will keep it...

07 August 2010

Russian ships, part 2

Long time no post - my apologies!

I have put a little time and effort into the ships - the basics of the basing is done for all of the WW1 Baltic ships. I do wish that I had put a little more thought into basing before starting... I started with a thin piece of sheet steel, a commercially available base from Wargames Accessories. After super-gluing all of the ships to these bases, I realized that they were too thin for regular handling. So, I found some old pieces of thick card and cut to size. But, with the card bottom I would not have the pleasure of easy storage using magnets! So, I found an old piece of sheet signage magnet - I have had it for many years - and cut more pieces for the bases. The bases now have three layers and are fairly heavy. You can almost see it here:

That's Bogatyr getting the final, magnet layer. The layers came out a bit uneven; my base-cutting skills are lacking. The bases are quite thick now and should be easily picked up by the average gamer! The magnet bottom will allow me to use steel containers for secure transport, and the metal top might still be useful...

Here is the Russian squadron, so far:

Adm. Makarov, Bogatyr, Oleg, and Bayan in front followed by mighty Rurik and Novik. The older cruisers are almost done, just need to finish off the bases and overcoat.

28 June 2010


These projects are slowly taking shape. My order from The Last Square arrived - mostly steel bases and one Austrian ironclad, Drache - and the bases have already been put to use.

I'm using 40mm x 80mm bases for my WW1 ships. The trio on the right are the German torpedo boats... they are a dark grey with a darker grey deck, maybe too dark! I will wait until I have the bases painted but the small boys might get another, slightly lighter coat of dark grey paint for their hulls and superstructure. In the middle you can see the backbone of the Russian cruiser force - Admiral Makarov, Bogatyr, Oleg, and Bayan. And finally, still on the painting rack: Rurik and Novik for the Russians; minelayer Albatross, light cruiser Lubeck, and armored cruisers Prinz Adalbert, Roon, and Prinz Heinrich for the Germans.

The ironclads have not been forgotten:

All of my current squadron of Italian ironclads are assembled and on bases, with varying degrees of completeness. The stack of minis on the right includes five Austrian ironclads and five generic wooden steam ships. These bases are 30mm x 60mm.

26 June 2010

Another note on Figurehead - availability

I did not realize it at the time, but in my Links section, I did not provide the correct information for buying Figurehead minis. Noble Miniatures is the manufacturer of Figurehead (among many others) but they do not engage in retail sales. However, there are retail outlets for these fine ships - in the USA The Last Square carries the entire line from Figurehead, and Magister Militum is your shop in the UK.

I am in the process of updating my Links section.

22 June 2010

A brief update

Progress is slowly clicking along here - no pics though as the batteries for the camera are on the charger.

For the ironclads, I now have 10 Italian ships assembled, mounted, and with assorted amounts of paint. This is not the entire line-up at Lissa, but is plenty for the near future. Four Austrian ships and six unarmored 'generic' ships are waiting for their turn at the shipyard. I have yet to decide if I should use some of the unarmored ships for the Austrians or use them as the foundation of an Ottoman flotilla. One point that I did notice with the unarmored ships - the sails and masts are one piece, unlike the ironclads with the sails separate. A little more work will be needed to create new masts but not much more. It is odd that they are so different from their armored brethren, unless the mast/sail combos are just pieces from Figurehead's line of Age of Sail ships. I have ordered more 30mm x 60mm metal bases for this project.

In the Baltic, more loose ends are being tied up. All of the ships involved for the WW1 Götland scenario now have some form of paint applied. I probably should not call it the Götland scenario any longer, as my version is a bit different. In my Navwar order (from long ago!) I forgot to get a mini for one of the German light cruisers. That ship is being replaced by Prinz Heinrich (from WTJ); a slight upgrade there! I am also one destroyer short, so the Germans will only have six. I might need to lighten the paintwork on these destroyers - they are very dark grey. The Russians will get to keep Novik in their OOB - some sources do not mention Novik but he will be there in my games. Bases have been ordered also - 40mm x 80mm.

I promise pics when I can!

11 June 2010

Italian ironclads, part 2

Again with the slow progress...

Just a pair of work-in-progress pics:

Principe de Carignano

Palestro, with Re de Portugallo

I only have a few more Italian ironclads after these; Austrians are next then some of the unarmored ships. I have yet to finalize a shopping list for the Lissa engagement - I know that I am short several ships especially Austrians. But the handful that are in place already will give me enough to start testing some rules. I'm looking forward to trying the ironclad version of DBSA. I also have a copy of David Manley's Iron & Fire, and his Lissa supplement.

06 June 2010

Russian ships, part 1

Not much progress here, as I am suffering from an increased work-load, and a sore and swollen left knee. My recent computer upgrade was more successful but just as time-consuming!

A small amount of work was accomplished, as seen here:

Basically, a before and after pic of the Russian destroyer Novik. The Navwar mini appears to be the WW2 version, also known as Yakov Sverdlov. I trimmed down the tripod masts and added pole masts of brass rod. It is still not quite the correct profile for Novik, but it is close.

26 May 2010

Ancient Naval rules

Lorenzo at Dadi & Piombo has a new set of rules for ancient naval battles - Impetus Navalis - for large scale actions. The PDF download is here. A brief scan of the rules indicates that you might need a copy of Impetus to use them. Some interesting concepts in there!

Another, much older set of ancient naval rules is De Bellis Navalibus - based on DBA they are simple yet subtle. I hope to give them a try sometime, or better yet convert them to a more Renaissance-era style...

17 May 2010

A new naval gaming blog...

Daveshoe has started up a brand-new blog on naval gaming - take a look!

15 May 2010

German cruisers, part 1

It has not been all Ironclads work here - the WW1 ships have been getting some attention also. And to prove it, here are some work-in-progress pics:

SMS Prinz Adalbert, ready for primer. I added some masts using brass rod.

SMS Roon.

Both minis required a bit of work with knife and file, and I see that I missed a gap in the second stack on Roon. Nothing too serious though. I do think that these will paint up faster than their WTJ counterparts, as the Navwar minis have a bit less detail. Once all of the ships are on the table, fully painted, it will not matter much.

09 May 2010

Italian ironclads, part 1

I sat down at the hobby table to try out an idea for the Figurehead ironclads. Almost all of these ships come with spars and sails set as a separate piece from the masts. Steam-driven ships would not normally have their sails set especially in a battle so it does look odd for the ships to be equipped this way. So, I have tried an experiment to make a ship look better:

Here is Re d'Italia with new spars added to replace the sails.

I used the original sail pieces to get the length of each spar. The new spar is a piece of thin plastic rod. Then, I notched the mast with a sharp knife at the location I wanted a spar, to maximise the surface area for the glue. Add a bit of super-glue, and the spar goes on. After it dried I added another small drop of super-glue to the join to coat over the entire area, hopefully to strengthen it.

What do you think? To me it looks good; I don't think that I will try to add furled sails to the spars. I am worried that they will break from handling during game-play, but hopefully the players will listen when I tell them to handle the ships by their base! I am also going to leave the jib and stay sails on the ship; that might be a bit too much...

01 May 2010

Slow progress

Just a brief update:

Regina Maria Pia with a little bit of paint applied, and


Progress has been slow through the previous month due to a really odd work schedule which should be resolved now. These Figurehead ships do seem to paint up nicely so that helps.

And the WW1 fleet has not been forgotten:

Before I set off to the balmy shores of the Med for WW1, I am going to finish off the ships for my Götland scenario. Painting is helping with my strange urge to purchase those 'lovely' French pre-dreadnoughts - I really do find the French designs to be strangely attractive!

20 March 2010

A welcome addition

Found this while shopping at the not-quite-local Half Price Books:

Not a bad find for $12. This will be moved up to near the top of my book reading queue!

14 March 2010

A brief update

A snippet or two of activity here:

The mini in the foreground is Affondatore, with Regina Maria Pia to starboard, mounted on thin steel bases - 30mm x 60mm - and primed. The bases are much larger than any I have used in the past, but I rather like them as there will be plenty of space for labeling and splash markers - many thanks to SteelOnSand for the tip!

But, I feel that in my haste to get them mounted I have made a slight error. The bases are very thin steel, which will probably lead to players, in the heat of gaming, to grab the mini instead of the base for movement. So, I imagine that I will add a layer or two to the bottom of those steel bases to give some needed thickness.

Also on the workbench:

Here is Re d'Italia in her packaging.

And the contents. You will notice that the fore and main sails and yards are separate pieces. I am thinking that I could just leave the sails off the mini, and add some yards. The staysails would require much more work to remove; they look OK to me as they are.

Now, all of this work on minis for Lissa has, of course, got me to thinking... Compared to the Baltic, there is a lot more naval action in the Adriatic: Greek triremes, Roman quinqueremes, Venetian and Ottoman galleys, all the way up to WW1 and beyond. Maybe I should be looking at the Adriatic more than the Baltic as a focus for my naval activity?

10 March 2010

Another naval gaming blog...

Scott is just starting up a ACW ironclads naval project, which can be followed at his blog.

27 February 2010

Notes on Figurehead ironclads

Just a couple of observations on the fine ironclads from Figurehead...

The first point is minor: all of the Figurehead ironclads, all of them steam-powered, have sails set. I could probably live with that point; it does not seem to detract from the models at all. But, if one wanted a bit more realism, the sails would need to go. On Regina Maria Pia and her sisters, it would be easier than others as the sails of the fore and main masts are actually separate from the mast itself. Others in the Figurehead line have the sails cast as part of the masts, making replacement of the entire piece necessary. For me, more thinking is required before getting my clippers ready.

The second point is more important, at least to me: the base is too small. I would like to put some labeling on the base itself and the included base, although sculpted with a nice wave effect, has no room for labels.

Here is Regina Maria Pia resting upon a 1" x 2" metal base. I think that a centimeter or some would be enough at the stern for the labels .

Is 1" too wide? Or maybe I should apply the label along the broadside edge of the base???

20 February 2010

Old projects, part 1 - Figurehead ships

I have been slowly sifting through boxes of hobby stuff, and some surprises have been uncovered. There are some pics of some items over at my other blog, but the discoveries have not been of a naval variety, until now:

I was quite shocked to find these! These are a nice set of Figurehead Ships ironclads in 1/2400 scale. I purchased these 9 or 10 years ago, I think, at a convention in British Columbia. The dealer had them at 50% off and I bought what he had left. Figurehead's selection is based on the Battle of Lissa, 1866, at the end of the Seven Weeks War. Now, I'm not sure but it seems that I have a good selection of Italian ships, but only 4 Austrians; not nearly enough for the actual battle. There are also some 'generic' steam ships, which I think I bought with the intention of using them as Turkish ships. Figurehead minis were originally cast in England, but they are now available from Noble Miniatures in the USA.

I assembled one of these fine minis, long ago:

Regina maria Pia, one assembled and one still in the bag. The mini is in four parts: hull w/masts, 2 sails, and a base. On the assembled ship, the base is augmented by a piece of magnetic strip trimmed to the size of the original base.

Not quite 1½ inches long including the base. The mini is very nicely detailed, with individual gunports and some deckwork.

The sails are well detailed also. In all, a fine looking mini!

This looks to be a significant addition to my list of naval projects. Although I am rather short on Austrian ships, there are enough to start working on learning some rules and then building up to the full Lissa fleet rosters.

02 January 2010

A new year...

A late Happy New Year to everybody!

I have really been slacking on this blog, and my naval project. Hopefully that will change a bit with this new year. I have had half a thought about changing the direction of my project from 1/3000 WW1 Baltic to 1/1200 ironclads (not ACW), but the historical record is a bit slim for more than just brief encounters. I'm still thinking about it, but I am leaning towards the Baltic.