Saturday, January 7, 2012

An Alternative Technique for Assembly-Line Painting of Big Battalions

The Problem- Plastic figures are sold attached to sprues, just as are plastic model kits. This eliminates handling of the product during production, reducing costs. For the modeler, this has merits and drawbacks.
There are two methods used to paint large units of figures; neither has addressed all requirements.
With figures left on the sprues, washing, priming and manipulating the figures for painting is for the most part easy, and reduces transfer of skin oils to the figures during washing and painting. However, the sprue does limit the directions that one can approach and reach all areas of a figure while painting. This can leave the occasional “holiday” or unpainted spot, which must be corrected after trimming the figure from the sprue. The attachment point/s must also be trimmed and painted after removal. This requirement defeats the purpose of leaving the figures on the sprue to begin with.
The alternative is to remove figures from the sprue before prepping and painting. This enables trimming flash and attachment points before washing and painting. Drawbacks are that when washing/degreasing the figures, additional care must be taken not to wash figures down the drain when rinsing the figures. Also, with the figures separate, there is the problem of introducing skin oils to the figures while handling after washing, which can prevent paint from adhering to the figure. This can be eliminated by wearing latex gloves while painting, but is bothersome for most hobbyists. There is also the problem of smudging paint during handling. This is a bit less of a problem when painting large numbers for figures as a unit. By the time the same figure comes up for the next color, the last color should be dry. After observing various methods employed by other hobbyists, after trial and error the following addresses all of the above issues satisfactorily.
The Solution- The method I propose is comprised of a rack, which holds a number of individual bases with stems, one for each figure. Each figure is attached to the top of its base with a dab of white glue, and the stem is held in the off hand during painting. The bases rest in the rack, with the stems protruding from the bottom of the board, between applications of paint and air dry. Submitted for your perusal and edification, are the details of “The Rack”.

Parts, Tools and Equipment-
- A section of “pegboard”; plastic is preferred, as repeated overspray may cause delaminating of a pressboard one.
- Two or three squares of ½” plywood, approximately 3”x 3”. A third support is optional; it may be required to support the middle of the rack, if it is long enough to sag.
- A quantity of aluminum large-head “roofing nails”; nail length should be sufficient to allow comfortable handling of the shank. Aluminum works well as the material is smooth, and less prone to rust or corrosion when used indoors.
- Drywall screws, approximately 2” long.
- Electric drill with suitable sized bit to drill pilot holes for the screws.
Assembly- The rack proper is made up of the pegboard and plywood supports. The dimensions of the pegboard, and number of supports, will be determined by the number of individual figures to be painted concurrently. As I have been producing 48+ figure battalions, I required about 60 holes to support the “stems”. I cut the plastic pegboard to achieve five rows of 19 holes each (5x19), which allows for the rank and file plus command figures, and for extra holes through which the supports are attached. Adjust the size, and the number of rows/columns to suit personal preference.
A support is attached at each end, and one supports the middle if required. Place a support under the furthest row at each end, parallel to the short edge, and mark two holes closest to the edges of the support, with a pencil. Mark a third support, to be attached under the center row of the rack if needed. Drill pilot holes in the top edge of the support where marked, and attach through the pegboard with screws. This completes assembly of the rack.

Gather the desired number of nails, one for each figure. I chose to grind off the points of the nails with a bench grinder. This step is optional.
Drop a nail in each available hole. Assembly is complete.
Use- Prepare figures in the usual manner, including removing the figures from the sprue after washing and rinsing. Place a small dot of white glue on the head of a nail, then set a figure firmly on to the nail. Place the nail through a hole in the peg boards and release. The weight of the nail, acting as ballast, will keep the figure upright and stable while it is in the rack. Repeat until all figures are set and placed.
With the figures thus prepared and placed, use “Rustoleum” or other brand plastic spray primer to undercoat the entire unit at one time. The “rack” allows for moving and turning all figures in the unit without touching any one directly. The spacing of the holes ensures that spray paint can reach and coat each figure evenly, and prevents them bumping into each other or falling over when the rack is moved.

After allowing the figures to dry overnight, the individual painting can begin.
Remove one figure from the rack by pressing the bottom end of the nail upward with the forefinger of the painting hand, and grasp the shank of the nail above the rack with the off hand.

Hold the shank between thumb and forefinger while painting. It is surprising how easily one can rotate the figure by twirling the shank between thumb and finger. Painting the figure from any angle is easily accomplished in this manner.

When done painting, washes, stains, or clear over coats can easily be done by holding the figure inverted by the stem and dipping head-first into the wash. The figure can be held in this way above the container to allow run-off of excess coating. Replace in the rack as above to allow figure to dry.
Afterthoughts- While contemplating the above project, it later occurred that this device and technique is suitable for any scale of figure, or leads as well as plastics. The ballasting effect of the aluminum nail would be less, but still helpful.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Return from Hiatus / New regiments join the ranks!

Felsenfall- For the first time in many months, the sounds of marching boots echo down the streets of the capital today. Obrist Borsodi's and Obrist Edelweiss's musketeer regiments arrived today to take up barracks to replace the Spanish IR XX (The "Dos Equis") and del Corona regiments, whose contracts to the Duchy have expired. The foreign regiments marched out for Cadiz last week.
Our sketch artist captured the moment of the new regiments' arrival, and his work is appended to this report.

Note: The sharp-eyed observer will note that these Revell Austrian figures were originally grenadiers, but have undergone "head swaps" to convert them into "hatmen", or line infantry, just as has the von Beck regiment. This is an ongoing effort to exchange out units in kneeling or firing poses. This means that the Killian and Guiness regiments will either be renamed or outright replaced in the Duchy's order-of-battle.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Regiment Joins the Lagerburg Army

December 1st-

The Musketeer Regiment von Beck has completed training and now joins the Stroh regiment in rounding out another brigade in the Army. An artist's rendering of the regiment marching to the Ducal Estate to receive their Colours accomanies this report:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Biography of Albrecht Mordicus

Biography of Albrecht Mordicus, Austrian naval officer, later Herzog of Lagerburg-Slobbovia;

-1710 Born Trieste, to maritime family
-1725 Joined Austrian navy as Mittschiffsman
-1731 Stood for and promoted to Leutnant zur See
-1737 Posted Kapitän-zur-See, assumed command of Nova, frigate (24)
-1737-39 Engaged in raids on shipping in the Adriatic
-1739 Nova transferred to Danube Flotilla
-1739-47 Commanded Nova plus 4 galleys
-1747 Assigned to command Imperial yacht
-1753 Titled 1st Duke of Lagerburg
-1755 Defeated, then annexed Principality of Slobbovia
-1757 Present day

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Map of Lagerburg

The Ducal cartographers have just completed the first official survey of the Duchy. Here then are the results, the official Map of Lagerburg:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Raid on Gublatz- Epilogue

In the Ducal manor, Herzog Albrecht was re-reading dispatches from the garrison commander of Gublatz when his servant, Helmut, discreetly knocked on the doorframe. “Milord, General von Grunt has just arrived.”
“Very well,” replied Albrecht. “See that he receives refreshment. And Helmut, see that his coat gets a good brushing-off before he comes in.”
“Yes, Milord.”
Moments later, von Grunt stumped into the room, stein in hand, a valet trailing him vainly waving a clothes brush. The Graf sat heavily into the chair opposite the Herzog, staring at the floor.
Albrecht regarded him carefully for a few seconds, then waved a hand to the servants. “Leave us. And Helmut, close the door.”
As the servant’s footsteps echoed off down the hallway, Albrecht said softly, “I imagine that you think I’ve taken leave of my senses.”
After a few moments, von Grunt looked up. “I don’t understand this whole business. You placed a magazine and a depot in a border town with an under-strength garrison, and don’t give me enough reinforcements to hold them off, even though we have more than enough troops to do the job. That just invited them to come and make off with everything. We lost enough guns for the Slobbs to form four batteries of field artillery and enough rations to keep them on campaign for weeks. And you don’t seem particularly disturbed by the results.”
“Perhaps this will make you reconsider…” said Albrecht, sliding the stack of reports across the table. “Take a look through these.”
The general glared at the stack of papers, frowning. He placed the stein next to the papers and began to read, looking more confused as he flipped through the pages. “This is making less and less sense. The gun barrels were shot-out or poorly cast? Wet grain in the wagons? What is all this?” After a few moments, he started as if struck, then his face brightened. Von Grunt looked up sharply at the Herzog, who was smiling faintly at the general’s sudden understanding. “Why, you old sea-dog, it was a gambit! So they got nothing they could actually use…amazing!” He chuckled.
Albrecht sat back, a satisfied smile on his face. “That’s correct, my dear August. We have just been officially provoked into war. Now, when we annex Slobbovia not even Her Majesty in Vienna will bat an eye.”
“And the silver and iron mines…very nice.” The Graf nodded, impressed. Then he frowned. “But our losses. You could have told me, and I could have withdrawn with fewer casualties.”
“True, but we had to make it look convincing. Forgive me, my friend, but you had to give your best to defend the town. Besides, there’s another reason.” Albrecht lowered his voice. “As the old saying goes, ‘Too many ears tie a rat’s tongue.’ There are agents of the Prince here.”
“In the capital? How did you find out?”
“The RFJK is not only for police work and reconnaissance. There is of course “I” troop, made up of my most trusted men. It operates in secret and reports directly to me. I wanted to see if news of the depot would reach Prince Sergei; then I would know for certain that I had one of his agents here. The timing of the attack validated my guess that he was receiving reports from here in the capital, as well as confirming who was passing the information. As we speak, those agents are being rounded up and will vanish without a trace this night.”
Von Grunt shook his head. “Very surprising you are, milord. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Sergei’s palace right about now.”
“As would I, August. As would I…”

“They’re WHAT!?” shouted Prince Sergei. “Unbelievable! Not even one gun usable? And ALL of the grain is spoiled? Impossible!”
Yerboudi shook his head slowly in admiration. “He out-foxed us completely. It seems that I badly underestimated this sailor Herzog, him and his intelligence people. He must have discovered our agents and fed them false information.”
“I’ll have their heads, the lot of them! Recall them immediately!”
“Right away, sire, but I doubt if any of them will survive to return. That’s how I would handle them.” mused the Sheik.
“Eh? You seem to admire this Herzog of yours a bit much, Ali. Are you sure of where your loyalties are?”
“Sergei, please. You should know better than that. I simply grant credit where it is due. The man outmaneuvered us completely, and I can admit that. Unfortunately, we just started a war we cannot help but eventually lose. We’re in the soup now, and it’s just a matter of how long can we hold out against his forces.”
“Perhaps we can wear him out by attrition.”
“Sire, that is unlikely. However, perhaps we can salvage the situation for ourselves. We can drag out the fight enough to inconvenience him, so that when we do sit down at the surrender table we can negotiate some favorable terms for you and me. Remember our ancestors’ arrangements.”
“True, it did suit both our families well enough. But how long can you stave him off?”
“A few weeks should be convincing enough. Just so it is obvious to all concerned that you didn’t just knuckle under without a fight.”

Monday, June 11, 2007

Raid on Gublatz

The town of Gublatz is situated on the west bank of the Pisswassere, at the highest point of navigability. The river is bridged there, and the town has a small waterfront, suitable for transfer of cargoes from medium-sized vessels. The location of the town makes it a transshipment point for goods from points upriver and inland. An overhead view of the surrounding area, with South at the top, is shown here:

The town was home to a supply depot, a magazine and an artillery park. There was a garrison of a sapper battalion, a battery of field guns, and the workers required to manage the facilities, all known beforehand to the Slobbovian general. Additionally, surprising to the Legion commander, the 12-pounder sloop "Herzogen Lynnette" (20) was anchored just below the bridge in mid-stream (one broadside was equivalent to a field battery), and had embarked a battalion of Marines (light infantry). The regiment of the Lagerburg Mounted Police (RFJK), accompanied by the Graf von Grunt, had recently arrived to reinforce the garrison. Enroute to the town was a regiment of kurassiers, but it is uncertain when they would arrive (von Grunt knew, of course, but he wasn’t telling).

A Slobbovian raiding force approached the town from two directions. The Legion, commanded by Count Philipe, and comprising a regiment of grenadiers, two battalions of grenzers (light infantry), a regiment of uhlans and a troop of rocket artillery (functioning as howitzers), came from the northeast.

Don Matteo led his Spanish mercenary brigade of two line regiments and a battery of field guns from the southeast.

The marines occupied a walled farm in the forward center of the position, with half occupying the house; the balance manned the walls. The light horse took position astride the northeast road near the farm.

The sappers sortied across the bridge and formed line at the foot of the eastern approach. The field battery remained in works just south of the bridge, protected by fascines and from direct assault by the river itself. The sloop remained at anchor, its guns covering the southeast approach and the eastern end of the bridge.
The first contact was between the uhlans and the RFJK just north of the farm. As the uhlans charged to contact, the marines in the house loosed a ragged volley into the flank of the lancers that caused a few casualties. Upon impact, the melee was fierce and bloody, but the constables gave as good as they got.
When the forces disengaged, both units were disordered sufficiently to require a long rally. While the uhlans fell-in near the scene, the constables withdrew to the foot of the bridge.
One of the grenzer battalions rushed the farmhouse; after enduring a volley from the marines, they broke down the door and forced the windows. A ferocious melee ensued inside. Although the marines exacted a heavy toll on the grenzers, they were nearly done in to a man, and a paltry few escaped to rejoin the rest of the battalion in the enclosure.
Meanwhile, the rest of the battalion peppered the advancing Spaniards with musket fire. Even though behind a stone wall, a full volley from the Corona regiment felled several marines, their morale was badly shaken, and they were forced to withdraw in some disorder past the engineer battalion and across the bridge, followed closely by the advancing enemy regiments.
As both columns of foot approached the bridge, each came under artillery fire. The Northeast column had to pass the canister-loaded guns of the "Herzogen Lynnette". The sloop’s captain had to shake his head with regret as he ordered broadside after broadside to sweep the leading grenzer battalion. That unit faltered, then broke under the relentless hail of canister from mid-river. Their losses masked the following grenadiers, who approached the bridge and the waiting sappers unscathed.
The Spaniards fared better at the hands of the field battery behind the redoubt. First roundshot, then canister as well, fell amongst the advancing Dons, but very few fell. As the Coronas moved slowly forward, there began a long-range musketry duel with the engineers. Despite the artillery supporting from across the river, the disparity in numbers of muskets quickly whittled away the engineers, and shortly they too were forced to retire back across the Pisswassere.
While the main fighting was going on, on a hilltop in the rear Major Wan was in his glory. His claims for his new-fangled weapons were proved true with a vengeance! Rocket after rocket arced into the enemy ranks with unerring precision and, to von Grunt, disconcerting effect. "If only the Emperor could see this!" Wan chuckled. "There’s a lot more that Shi-Tsu’s getting blasted now," as a rocket went off in the ranks of the remaining constables, scattering man and horse. Under the bombardment, the mounted police broke and joined the exodus to the west bank.
By this time, the Carlsberg Kurassiers arrived along the road from Felsenfall to stabilize the situation. Von Grunt ordered them to form up to charge the grenadiers, who by now were beginning to march across the bridge in their immaculate column. The left-hand field gun of the entrenched battery was wheeled to catch the advancing grenadiers in flank, the Herzogen Lynnette’s gun crews now had a clear field of fire, and it seemed that "the trap was sprung" on Philipe’s hapless guardsmen.
As von Grunt gave the word for the Kurassiers to "Angriff!", the field gun fizzled and popped and the canister tumbled unbroken from the muzzle! A faulty charge, and the gun was quiet as the frantic gunners worked desperately to reload. For her part, the sloop’s guns did good execution on the rear ranks of the grenadiers; handfuls fell from the blast.
In the front, however, the grenadiers had little time to discharge even a few muskets before the kurassiers rode them down, forcing the survivors back upon the following ranks. As the horsemen paused to regroup for another charge, one of "those damned rockets!" whooshed into the rallying cavalry, killing the standard bearer, the cornet and several troopers, driving even them back from the bridgehead.
Over on the southern flank, the XXth Spanish Regiment and their supporting field battery had come into action, engaging the right-hand entrenched gun. By that time, further defense of the position was impossible, and von Grunt had no choice but to call for a general withdrawl from the town, covered by the Kurassiers. The sloop’s captain "slipped his cable", the crew manned the sweeps and she sedately moved downriver. After the kurassiers finally withdrew, the jubilant Slobbovians swept into the town to reap the spoils of victory.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chapter 7- Prelude to War

The border town of Gublatz lies on the east bank of the Pisswassere at the fall line, the most southerly navigable point. The town serves as a main trans-shipment point in the area for goods in- and out-bound along the river. This area of Lagerburg has been long in dispute with the Prince of Slobbovia.
Before and after the SofanOttoman occupation, the area was clearly in Slobbovian territory. After the anschluss, or annexation of the Lagerburg region by the Holy Roman Empire, part of the border of Lagerburg was established along the west bank of the Pisswassere River to include that area formerly within Slobbovia, to include Gublatz.
This “paper invasion” sorely incensed the Prince, and he spent many a long night planning in vain to retake Gublatz. With his limited military resources, the possibility seemed remote.
Seemingly to add insult to injury, the Herzog recently established a sizable supply and artillery depot in the town. The town was not heavily guarded. The building military presence was predicted by many as a prelude to an attack upon the Principality.
“Who does he think he is fooling, with all that equipment and stores in Gublatz?” shouted Prince Sergei. “What nerve! What arrogance! Not even a decent garrison. He thinks I’ll just sit here and let him waltz in and take over?”
“Sire, there is an alternative” replied Sheik Yerboudi, the Prince’s chief advisor. “You could strike now, while the town is unready. Think of it; you could take the guns and the stores, and return here with them. It would set Albrecht back for months, perhaps more, if he is preparing to attack. And it would give Major Wan guns to train more gunners. We would triple or more our artillery arm. The advantages are obvious.”
The Prince leaned forward in his chair, resting his chin on his hands. “I’m not sure we are strong enough now to start a war with that son of a gondolier. We have only our uhlans, a regiment of grenadiers and two grenzer battalions. And of course Wan’s rockets. Not much of an army to start a war with.”
Yerboudi smiled craftily. “Sire, as you recall, the mines have been a constant source of considerable, not to say obscene, profits for both you and I. We have been able to afford to augment our army with hired foreigners for a long time now, but until now have not had the need to do so. Anticipating such an eventuality, I took the liberty of contacting some business acquaintances in Seville. I have secured the services of some troops, a total of a brigade and a battery of field guns. They have arrived in Trieste just yesterday, and are on the march here as we speak. I can have them alter their route of march to arrive at Gublatz at the same time as our force does.”
Sergei sat up with a start. “You did what? How long have YOU know about all this Gublatz business? So, are you intending to have me done in and take over again? I should have known you planned to eliminate me!”
“Calm yourself, Sergei. Our business arrangement is quite secure, I assure you. The last thing I need is to give the Sultan an excuse to send his assassins after me. I am only thinking ahead to our own futures here. I have had spies in the town for a fortnight already, and one in certain circles in Lagerburg for nearly a year. That is how I knew to hire the Spanish troops and have them sent here.”
The prince looked visibly relieved. “All right, all right. You had me going there for a moment. So, you seem to have thought this all out already. Why not just take the town and fortify it? That would show that upstart that we mean business.”
“Not necessarily. If we take the town, then we have to use some of our own men to entrench there, and we do not as yet have trained sappers to do it. Also, it may force his hand to declare an all-out war, one that we cannot yet win even with the mercenaries. We need to leave him the town, at least for now. It will give us breathing space to form batteries using the captured guns. That will also give him pause, thinking that we can use the artillery against him.”
“All right, I’ll issue the orders to put our troops on the march. Will you be leading the attack?”
Yerboudi smiled. “I will not actually be on the field, but you can be sure I will not be far from it. I leave immediately.”

Regiments Receive New Colors!

Felsenfall- Yesterday, in a ceremony complete with cannons firing, troops passing in review, speeches and festivities, the Herzog bestowed new regimental colors to most of the troops assigned to the Duchy. Reporters are working feverishly to complete drawings to show the ardent reader what the new flags looked like during the passing-in review. Because immigrants from other regions had established breweries in the region before the anschluss, some company colors had reflected their old national origins. According to comments by His Excellency, the new flags reflect more closely the close ties with Vienna and the Empire.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Good Day,
And now, by popular demand, a Pass-in-Review of the Lagerburg army. This new selection of photos reflects the assignment of Austrian-styled colours. The General Staff, led by the Duke and Duchess:

The Guards Brigade: Crown Royal Grenadiers and Lowenbrau Grenadiers:

The "German" brigade: the regiments of Heineken and von Busch:

The "Imperial" brigade: IR Borsodi and IR Edelweiss:

The "Irish" brigade: Col. Killian's Irish Red-coats, and Col. Guiness' Stout-hearts:

The Light Brigade: Garde Jager and the Jagermeister Jagers:

Col. Stroh's Sapper Rgt:

Major Pusser's Marine Battalion:

The cavalry- Three Brigades, plus the Mounted Police...

The Heavy Brigade: Carlsberg Kurassiers and the Grolsch Horse Grenadiers:

The Medium Brigade: Anheuser Dragoons and St. Pauli Dragoons:

The Light Brigade: Reitendes FeldJagerKorps (RFJK) and Schwartz Label Hussars:

The Slobbovian Legion, made up of horse, foot and rockets/guns-

The Infantry: the Bibermilch Grenadiers, Hurlbut Battalion and Grenzer Battalion:

The Cavalry: Smirnoff Bosniak lancers, and Topvar Hussar Regiment:

And finally, the Massed Batteries:

Monday, June 4, 2007

Lagerburg's Mounted Police given their Colours!


His Excellency Albrecht, Duke of Lagerburg has today in the capital of Felsenfall presented the Colours to the Duke's Reitende FeldJagerKorps Regiment. The ceremony was coincident with the graduation of the first class from the RFJK Academy in the capital city. The Duke personally presented each Trooper, NCO and Magistrate their commissions, then each was given his assignment and sent to his post. The presence of these highly trained enforcers and administrators of the law will ensure a safe and peaceful atmosphere in the towns, cities, and the countryside. They will also provide a more secure border, reducing the incursions of rading parties from across the eastern Grenz. The regiment should not be required to assemble again except for ceremonies, or if an emergency or war should arise. The attached artist's sketch is of the Regiment as they passed-in-review during the ceremony.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Lagerburg Mounted Police (Reitendes FeldJagerKorps)

The roots of military police in the Lagerburg Army can be traced back to the Reitendes Feldjagerkorps (RFJK) of Friedrich II. Upon accession to the newly-created Duchy, Albrecht borrowed from the Prussian model to create his own police and security force. In contrast to the Prussian regiment, however, the Lagerburg RFJK was trained and employed for civil law enforcement duties as well.
The Duke made use of the most recent advances in the sciences and law in order to create a model organization. He established an academy in Felsenfall for the training of recruits; basic literacy, physical fitness and prior education were prerequisites for admission. As indicated by the nature of training, a heavy emphasis was placed on law enforcement and criminal justice. Subjects taught in the RFJK academy were:
Criminal police methods
Correspondence training
General & special police powers
Criminal, forestry, fishery, industrial and waterway codes
Passport and identification duties
Folk culture
Wound treatment
Weapons drill & marksmanship
Scouting & reporting duties
Self-defense techniques
(It may be noted that much of the training would eventually be brought together to create an Olympic sporting event, the Pentathlon.) The rank structure reflected the mainly police duties of the organization. The commander of the force held dual titles of Chief Magistrate and Colonel, each used when appropriate. In peacetime the duties of the Reitendes FeldJagerKorps (RFJK) were to enforce and administer civil law; during general emergencies troopers were tasked to conduct reconnaissance, control military traffic, carry important messages, and protect members of the ducal family.
As members of the RFJK rose through the ranks, their roles and assignments likewise changed. In peacetime, rank and file troopers were employed as police officers or constables assigned to towns and cities in the Duchy, and officers held positions as circuit judges. When the Duchy went to war, the RFJK would muster at Felsenfall to be organized as the senior regiment of light cavalry. Later a battalion of Feldjagerkorps zu Fuss, was raised to supplement the RFJK.