Autumn is a great time to visit battlefields in Virginia–not too hot, but clear and mild weather with all the variety of hardwood trees changing colors which sets a pleasing frame to the carefully mowed fields and lonely field artillery. And since it’s not summer, there are no crowds, especially during the week days. I spent a few days this past week in October to visit several battlefields around Richmond, Virginia, and after walking along miles of paths and reading scores of historic markers and plaques, by Friday I was tired and ready to stay within the city limits.
After breakfast with my wife at the hotel, we parted ways, and I drove down to the Virginia War Memorial. The memorial was built in 1956, but more recently a visitor’s center was added, and in the basement I marveled at an extensive collection of tiny painted soldiers, some of which were set up in dynamic dioramas.
These are just a portion of the 7,000 figure collection, all painted and donated by a single hobbyist. These figures are larger than the 32mm figures I usually paint, standing around 54mm high. Some were even larger.
These display cases are only half of what’s in the visitor’s center.
The detail on many of these figures are quite incredible. The patterns on the dresses of the figures below, for example, must have been painted by hand. And on figures smaller than your thumb!
I later spent the afternoon walking along the canal and riverbank of the James. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I enjoyed coming across a very vocal songbird before doubling back to check out the old Tredagar Iron Works.
Finally played a game of Muskets & Tomahawks in the new analog gaming room! Taught the game to three gaming friends, so I may be able to get some traction for a regular campaign. Which motivates me to paint more figures and work on more terrain. The tabletop conditions reflected current weather outside–we didn’t get as much snow as some other parts of the country, but it certainly has been cool out with a bit of white stuff covering the ground.
M&T is a refreshingly simple miniature gaming system, and the three guys playing it for the first time have played other games, but caught on very quickly. And they all admitted to having fun with the game, despite doubts that playing a musket-era skirmish wargame without any cavalry could possibly be interesting.
Now it’s time to paint some canoes and add a river to the terrain options.
Inspired by some of the painted armies I saw and photographed at the Warhammer Fantasy event last weekend, I’ve been busy assembling and painting Wood Elf figures, including these “Sisters of the Thorn.”
These took a good deal of both time and patience to assemble, but it was just as well since the entire week of weather has been at least humid if not raining. Today I finally got them primed, and by happenstance I picked up the plastic base-plate of an 80’s vintage electric typewriter, one which I had pulled apart for parts and components, and I realized it would serve as a platform for spray painting and carrying figures out to the back of the apartment complex where I go to prime models. It certainly is more rigid and serves better as transport than the sections of corrugated cardboard I usually use. This is now officially designated as my model priming plate.
Received an order today of discounted miniatures by post. The cats helped me open the box and Sabine was particularly interested in the contents. Since I was home from work early and it was a warm, sunny day out I went ahead and primed some figures and got started block painting.
The Aurloks (above) are associated with the element of Earth, so I’m starting with brown and tan colors. But I want to have some fun with the feathers and may use some red & purple (it’s a fantasy setting, so why not birds with red & purple feathers). The other box of figures are catlike humanoids associated with the element of Water (the game is called ALKEMY, after all, so each of the 4 factions represent one of the four classical alchemical elements), so I want to feature just a bit of blue although I plan to have fun painting them along the lines of cats like leopards, panthers, and tigers with lots of orange and yellow….
Meanwhile, Sabine watched as I painted.