Latest Addition to my Painting Bench

Part of the reason I haven’t done much painting in the last several months has been the frankly depressing state of my painting bench. It had progressed beyond cluttered to “under there somewhere”, and when sitting down to paint would involve first moving crap out of the way with a shovel, one naturally loses the inclination to attempt any painting…

So this evening I bit the bullet, actually did take a shovel to the bench, then sat down to reclaim some space from my ever-increasing collection of paints. There are all sorts of great paint racks and storage systems out there (this fairly recent system from Back2Bas-ixs, for example) but they all cost more than I want to spend; my wargaming budget isn’t huge and I’d much rather spend that on figures, rules and scenery! So I grabbed a shoebox lid, some extra scrap card from another box, and a roll of masking tape, and set about building a functional mockup of a paint rack.

Here it is, in all it’s cardboard glory:

Workbench with new paint shelf, October 28 2012.

The first thing I realized is that I’ll need at least one more that size to get my existing collection of paints fully up off the bench itself, but this is a start! The shelves are box cardboard slightly heaver than the card the shoebox is made of, and there’s a cardboard “toe” at the lower edge to keep it propped against the wall at a slight backwards angle to keep everything on the shelves. It holds 24 Reaper dropper bottles (the same size used by Vallejo or Foundry) and the two lowest shelves hold 10-12 GW/Tamiya-sized jars.

I’m calling it a mockup because one of the things I want to build is a much larger shelf/rack system that goes across the whole back edge of my painting bench, with lots of shelving for paints, inks, tools and in-progress figures. I can get thin acrylic sheet (ie plexiglass) fairly cheaply from a local plastic supply shop, so part of the reason for this quick-and-dirty shoebox shelf is to see what sort of proportions that project will have. (just for scale, the cutting mat at front centre of my bench is a 12″x9″ model.)

In the meantime, I’m going to scare up a second shoebox lid and bodge together another quick-and-dirty paint shelf for the rest of my paints and inks!

Dogs of War

No, not the Warhammer-universe mercenaries, but the real thing, in real-world wars. The Library of Congress’ excellent Flickr account, where they share all sorts of treasures from their huge photo archives, put this image up earlier this year:

British Ambulance Dog, WW1
"Getting bandages from kit of British Dog (LOC)" via the US Library of Congress on Flickr. Click to go to the original Flickr page to see larger images.

"The animal seeks for wounded men lost on the battle-field; he searches in holes, ruins, and excavations, and hunts over wooded places or coverts, where the wounded man might lie unnoticed by his comrades or the stretcher-bearer."

That lead to some Google searching and the discovery of several interesting articles about military dogs on the Western Front, primarily as ambulance dogs or messenger dogs. There’s another LoC image on Flickr that has some very good links in a comment just below it, a few of which I’ve reproduced here.

The fascinating Out of Battle blog has a pair of posts from 2008, one on messenger dogs and the other on ambulance and other uses of dogs, with some further links and resources. Over on the always-valuable Internet Archive there’s a 1920 book called British War Dogs, Their Training and Psychology, downloadable in the usual variety of formats, including PDF with the original illustrations and diagrams.

I’m not (yet!) into Western Front Great War gaming, but if you wanted a unique unit amongst your trenches, a dog and handler could be done quite easily with a spare infantry figure and a dog — quite a number of manufacturers make dogs in both 15mm & 28mm. From the look of the period photos, most of the dogs were collie or terrier types, not very large, which makes sense. The ambulance packs could be sculpted with a bit of milliput or greenstuff, and a messenger collar would be even easier to add.

Unleash the dogs of war!

Getting Back At It

So I promised to run a Russian Civil War game at a friend’s place on the Nov. 11th long weekend; I made the promise ages ago and suddenly looked at a calendar and realized that’s about two weeks away… and it’s been months since I’ve touched a paintbrush or even looked at most of my RCW stuff!

So this weekend it’s cracking on with the half-finished 20 or so mixed infantry, another dozen Red sailors, and the finishing touches on the mostly-painted cavalry force. I’ve also got an assembled field gun I might try and get painted and based, just to add variety and give whoever doesn’t get the armoured car in our game a weapon capable of actually killing the thing!

Right, fresh water in the pot, clear the crap off the painting desk… amazing how an underused space attracts random junk, isn’t it?

US Marines in Interwar China

Dusting off my sadly-neglected blog this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend to post a link to a very cool trio of old movies shot in the early 1930s by the US Marine Corp in China. The US (as well as the British, French and a few other Western powers) maintained military forces in China right up into the Second World War, including aviation forces.

I can’t seem to embed the videos, but head over to Leatherneck Magazine’s USMC Aviators in China article to find all three short, silent movie clips.

If you were looking for scenery inspiration, a lot of this footage is at fairly low level, and while it isn’t hugely detailed you could get useful inspiration for Chinese buildings and compounds by peering past the airplanes!

Hope any Canucks reading this are having an excellent Thanksgiving weekend. I’m trying to get back into the gaming thing after a summer and early fall of practically zero activity, so more content soon, hopefully!