Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Something completely different (3)

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I painted up some figures as presents for my two pals in Tauranga (a city on the east coast of North Island, where my in-laws live), Valleyboy (Kerry) and Chook (Ants).  I wanted to give them 10 or so painted figures each from the same period.  I had some feel for the periods they game together but couldn't really decide on what to do.  Looking back through the posts Chook had made on various fora about periods he be interested in doing, I saw him say this "I've always been interested in VBCW but just don't have the time".  Light-bulb moment.  "VBCW" is of course the alternative pre-WW2 period "a very British civil war", which pitches various factions against each other in the wake of Edward VIII's marriage to Wallace Simpson.  It's been very popular here in the UK - there's always a VBCW game at shows, invariably in 25mm, and it's supported by a mass of figures from various companies, many of which are very inventive (gun-toting clergymen, that sort of thing).  There's no doubt that forming your own militia unit and heading off to fight the Black Shirts, Anglican League or even the 1930s British regular army provides plenty of scope for imagination and creativity. 20th century Imaginations, if you like.

The North Island Welsh
The Tauranga Medical Associators
I've never really given this period much of a look, but I saw how I could use it to have a bit of fun painting figures well outside my comfort zone, and give Kerry and Ants something a bit different to what they were used to as well.  The immediate requirement was to ensure there were 25mm sculpts that I could use as personalities figures for the good gentlemen themselves.  That proved very easy in Kerry's case - the Hemingway figure produced by Artizan in their "Thrilling Tales" range, with glasses, a moustache and a rather dapper appearance.  A figure for Ants was a bit harder, but in the same range I saw a figure carrying a bottle of wine and wearing a greatcoat.  Ants loves his fine wine so that fitted, and the long coat gave me an idea - Ants, who in real life is a doctor (as is Kerry) could be leading a sort of paramilitary medical outfit, with doctos and nurses dressed in their white coats and uniforms, with a couple of porters and perhaps some more professional friends or relatives.  So Ant's faction was born.  All I needed was a name.  Thinking back to the units raised on the American side in the AWI I decided to call them "the Tauranga Medical Associators".  While Kerry is also a doctor, clearly they couldn't both have medical-themed units.  Kerry is from Wales originally and is rather fanatical about being Welsh, and being Welsh is also rather fanatical about rugby.  So I imagined him leading a unit of ex-pat Welshmen, troubled by the events in the Mother Country and wanting to do their bit - they became "the North Island Welsh", using the form of name that some rugby teams use in England (like "the London Scottish"). 

Kerry (left) and Ants (right)

Choosing the figures wasn't all that difficult.  For Ants' unit I wanted people who looked like doctors, but I only found a couple of figures that could pass off as wearing labcoats.  Then it occured to me that many senior doctors in those days probably just wore suits, so there are a couple of chaps here who are "senior consultants".  There are two porters in blue-grey shirts and dark blue trousers (modelled on the uniform worn by militia in the NZ Wars) and then some "hangers-on".  I imagined the burly bald bloke to be the brother of the bald doctor in the white coat.  He's standing with one foot on a box, which I assume is meant to be ammunition but which I turned into a case of wine - the writing says "Mills Reef" which is the name of a winery based in Tauranga.  I tied a few of the figures together by painting accessories like scarves and ties in a blue and pink stripe, as a sort of "hospital colours"

The hospital porters
Senior Consultants
A doctor, his mercenary brother and Ants again
The North Island Welsh are just civilians and the odd bloke in some sort of uniform.  Most of the figures are from the Musketeer Miniatures VBCW range, with a couple from the Artizan "Thrilling Tales" range again.  The latter are a quite a bit chunkier than the former, but they mix ok if based individually. 
Cap'n Birdseye on the left looks very much like my father-in-law 
Unfortunately I ran out of time and didn't paint all the figures I had intended, so those extra ones travelled to NZ as raw metal.  For Ants I had added the heavy machine gun from Empress Miniatures Spanish Civil War range, which is crewed by women and so I thought this would be the nurses' unit (it also contains the standard bearer).  For Kerry I had another couple of figures and a pack of dogs from Westfalia Miniatures, as Kerry has a lovely dog who I envisaged faithfully following his master on the battlefield.  Once the figures were finished, I needed flags.  I did Ants' first: I searched the net for medical symbols I could use, hoping that either Tauranga Council of the NZ medical services would have some suitable coat of arms that I could use.  Unfortunately neither did, so I fell back on the traditional medical sign of a staff and snake, with some red crosses.  The scrolling effect looks awful - I really couldn't work out how to do it properly.  Kerry's flag was easier - it's basically the Welsh national flag without the red dragon in the middle - I decided painting that was biting off too much, really.  But I kept the "Welsh" in red lettering.  
So there you go.  The guys seem inspired to have a crack at this period.  I had assumed they'd forge their own NZ backdrop, but I gather they are building their campaign around Kiwi units landing in Wales.  Sounds a lot of fun.  The photos are a bit crappy again - they were taken in haste just before I left home to fly to NZ (I'm ashamed to say I was painting the flags while the Kiwi was doing all the packing)!  You can see other better ones taken by the lads themselves here and here.
18 figures. Painted November/December 2013.      


Scott Bowman said...

Excellent job, on lovely figures

David said...

Really like the back story there, Giles! Excellent work on the figures too!

Bedford said...

Fabulous looking mini's!

A 'period' that I've always been interested in (I bought the first book from Solway when it was published) and one that I intend to take up at "some point" too.

Are there more to come I wonder?


Ubique Matt said...

Those are beautifully painted figures and nicely reasoned logic behind the 'history'.

VBCW is a tempting period for me (Edward spent his last weekend there before his abdication at Himley Hall, near Dudley and there has always been tension between the Black Country and Brum dating back before the real Civil War) but there's a long queue of figures before I would look into in.


The Wishful Wargamer said...

Great ideas and brilliantly painted. The scarf colours appear to be that of Magdalene College Cambridge! Cheers WW.

DeanM said...

Fabulous characters - your brushwork brought out the best in all of them. Nice flags too. Best, Dean

Juan Mancheño said...

Excellent painting work; beautiful figures.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

This is a step off in a different direction, but very nicely done!


AJ (Allan) Wright said...

Brilliant! Lovely paint work as well. The faces really have unique character.

Dalauppror said...

Greate paint work !!!

valleyboy said...

How did I miss this Giles?
This really was a special gift and I feel very fortunate to own several "Giles' " now

I'm continually astonished by the character that you manage to get into the faces of figures and now that I have my own I shall at some point attempt some poor copies!

In the next few weeks I hope to expand the project but with the house being on the market I find my efforts hampered by the need to continually cl;ear the painting table for viewings
Best wishes

legatus hedlius said...

Don't know how I missed these! They certainly are different!

Excellent job as ever but the the flags are truly wonderful!