Friday, April 27, 2012

Play Ball ! - Ajax 54mm Plastic

Just finished painting these, plastic baseball players from the long-defunct Ajax company.  These date to the 1950's I believe.  They came molded in hard plastic in bright primary colors, wonder if they would have held more sales appeal in home white/road gray ?  In any case, they must have been produced in volume as they continue to pop up on eBay with regularity. I'd had these sitting in a box for quite some time waiting for the right mood, and the opening of the 2012 season this month gave me the motivation to give them a go.

What I like about them is their old-fashioned style.  Cut down the cap bills a bit and they fit even as dead ball era players, suitable for any time after collars went out of fashion. This book, illustrating every Major League uniform from 1900-1993 provides a good painting guide:

Mixing things up a bit, the batter is a St. Louis Cardinal, wearing 1916-1917 home whites, the catcher a 1918 New York Giant. The familiar Cardinals logo didn't come in until the early 20's.  Players seldom wore numbers until the Yankees started the trend for good in 1929.  As a fan, evidently you were expected to know who was who from their positions, size and mannerisms.

Interesting that the sculptor left the "back" of some figures with a rough and chiseled look.  The faces are rather blandly generic but the poses are nicely executed.  Overall, they look right.  I'm very fond of reading about the old era of baseball. ca. 1900-1920.  I firmly believe it was a more exciting game in those days because it was played at a much crisper pace than today's dawdling marathons. The box scores don't lie, the average 9-inning game 100 years ago was completed in less than 2 hours.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mold # 48 - 40mm Prince August

Here's a minor conversion I have experimented with for my upcoming Great Northern War project. As with Holger Eriksson's infantry, the Swedish/Karoliner cavalry are well-represented, the Russians not so much.  With the exception of a few horse grenadier units, Peter the Great's cavalry were 100% dragoons.

What to do ?  First, I have the two new molds "Kropotov Cavalry Man" #'s 1&2 en route from Ireland. They're horse grenadiers which seemingly renders them of limited utility, but the style of the figures (without turnbacks) will suit well and I anticipate being able to make head swaps. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say headgear swaps.

For the meantime, the older (flatter) series Mold # 48, "Cavalry Firing Pistol" has potential, but a few flaws to deal with. First, the sword hilt is very oddly done, a rare mistake by HE if he was indeed the sculptor.  It's oversized and badly misaligned with the scabbard.  Little can be done about this.  Secondly, the pistol casts short for me with the mold in the original configuration.  This I have addressed by hollowing out the mold a bit.  Thirdly, no carbine or musket - that's a problem if this figure is to be used for a dragoon.  Here's an example I painted a couple of years ago.

In the following comparison shot, I have added an extra shoulder belt and converted the turnbacks to a straight coat with green stuff.  I have a mold which casts 40mm swords & muskets, cut down the barrel a little and glued this to the figure.

And the final result.  Satisfactory, I think.  The other good thing about this mold is it gives consistently good casting results for me, something I wish I could say for other PA cavalry molds. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Karoliner Artillery - 40mm Prince August

Here's something I painted over the weekend. The 6 pdr.gun was sitting primed and ready to paint for what seems like a couple of years, had these gunners already cast so it was an easy thing to do.

I like Holger Eriksson's older, thinner figures for the most part, for certain figures I prefer them to the 900 series reworks.  But when it comes to the artillerymen, the 900 series gunners are hard to beat. The figure with the slow match is 900 series. The other three are cast with the older style molds, details less defined and harder to paint.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Anti-Karoliner: Prototype 40mm Semi-Round

One pleasant by-product of starting a blog has been the interaction with people from around the world who share the same enthusiasms.  Amongst those contacts, I value my recent acquaintance with John Bertolini: wargamer, talented part-time sculptor and full-time gentleman.

Recently John and I fell to discussing what we'd like to see new in the world of semi-round toy soldiers. I said it would be great to have some enemies to oppose Holger Eriksson's host of GNW Swedes, the Karoliners.  No question the Karoliner series is great, the uniquely styled creations of a master. Problem is, they make fine Swedes but if you intend them for use as soldiers of other armies, it's inevitably going to involve some compromises.

John reckoned that he had the same desire to see some 1700 era troops attired in full coats without turnbacks, suitable for just about any other army. And, he has the sculpting chops to do something about it.  Now less than three weeks from the discussion, I have received his prototype figure, kindly offered to me for a test paint.

Naturally, I've painted him a Russian.  I like the look of this soldier, with a vigorous and pleasing march-attack pose. No doubt John has improvements in mind for any subsequent figures, but I think he's gotten the essentials down, right out of the gate.

John hit the sweet spot for the semi-roundness, his figure below sandwiched by an original HE grenadier left and more fully rounded musketeer of the later Prince August 900 series right.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Remember the Maine - 1/600 Old Glory

I've been busy of late building a 1/35 BMP-3 IFV for my Tan army. In the meantime here's two versions of the USS Maine.

The original Maine, of Havana harbor fame.

And the second, BB-10.
I love this ship but OG/Merrimack didn't quite get it right.  To my eyes, the freeboard is too low (even with shimming the base a little with thin plywood), the upper works too towering.

I took these photos primarily for eBay purposes.  As I don't have a ballroom sized space to play on, now it's time for these to sail off to a new owner.