Painting 40mm figures, and some tugs

After a long hiatus, I’ve finally painted a few more miniatures. They are 40mm metal figures from a New Zealand supplier, Triguard Miniatures, so I feel I am doing my patriotic duty to support them!

On a whim, I bought two sets of these figures to try them out. I chose two of my favourite uniforms of the 18th century. Firstly, the Gardes Françaises.

And secondly, some British grenadiers.

Each pack contains twelve figures, basically two variants of the privates, and one officer.

Here’s the final result of the grenadiers. As you can see, they look pretty good, even just quickly painted with GW Contrast paints, and with no attempt at basing.

There was a small amount of assembly required (heads, arms and swords). I really hate glueing together metal figures, as I always worry how sturdy they will be. Though I did manage to pin their heads on, so at least they shouldn’t come off in a hurry!

To face my grenadiers, here are the Gardes. The complex lace on their uniforms was quite easy to pick out in this scale.

Again, some assembly is required, and I must admit I wasn’t so happy with how some of the head-to-neck joints turned out – some of them look quite gawky!

The muskets also look rather precariously balanced on their shoulders so as to fit around their tricornes. How in the world did 18th century soldiers ever shoulder arms without knocking their hats off!

Here we see the 40mm figures arranged beside a base of 1/56th (roughly 28mm) figures by Crann Tara Miniatures. They are indeed very hefty models!

I don’t know if I will ever actually game with these large figures, but they will look gorgeous in my display case.

I’m actually dithering whether to make them look more like traditional toy soldiers by gloss varnishing them and leaving the bases untextured – something I would never do with my 28mm miniatures.

So why has my figure painting been in a bit of a hiatus, as I mentioned in my opening sentence? Well, its because I have been spending time painting pictures, a new hobby I have taken up in my retirement.

This is the tugboat ‘Natone’ moored at the Wellington docks in the very early 1900s. She was actually skippered by my wife’s great-grandfather. I did a lot of research to find photos of her, and then spoke to several steam-tug enthusiasts to get the colours right. The buildings in the background are still there today, though of course ‘Natone’ has long since gone to that great shipyard in the sky.

One of the enthusiasts I consulted for ‘Natone’ was so impressed with the final pic, he gave me my first ever painting commission. He wanted a picture of the steam-tug ‘Toia’ in Wellington Harbour during the mid-1900s.

I depicted her backing over her prop-wash as she manouevres out of the tug berth. Again, the background is researched to be as authentic as possible.

I’ve also painted a couple of birthday presents. This one was for my wife. It shows, Mount Ruapehu, her tūrangawaewae.

The tūrangawaewae is the Māori concept of tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. My wife has been coming to this mountain for skiing ever since she was a child, so it is a very special place to her.

For my 94-year old mother, I painted her childhood home in the town of Weert, the Netherlands, where she lived until she emigrated to New Zealand in 1953. Her house is the one with the round window in the attic.

Excuses, excuses, excuses! Why my wargaming has lagged

The last couple of months have seen little wargaming activity in the ‘Dressing The Lines’ household (though not absolutely none at all, as you’ll see further down in this posting). This despite the fact that I retired from my career late last year, so one would’ve thought I’d have more time to spend on the hobby.

There are several reasons for this pause, which I’ll explain here.

The first reason is that I have taken up a new hobby to sit alongside my wargaming: painting. Not painting miniatures, but pictures. I’ve already posted previously about my first efforts.

My latest work (which you can see above) depicts a church on the island of Santorini. This is intended as a wedding present for my daughter, who got engaged on Santorini just before COVID.

Another picture I completed in January is of the town of Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre district of Italy. My wife and had four wonderful days in that tiny yellow pension (‘Scorci di Mare’) during our last trip to Europe.

I really want to build my skill in painting water, so was trying something quite challenging with this picture, namely semi-transparent water. The seaweed-covered parts of rocks on the right are supposed to be under the water.

Now, before you get too excited, the above picture isn’t one of mine. But it’s what I aspire to. The reason for my earlier comment about learning how to paint water is that I would love to take up the art of marine painting.

I’m inspired by works such as this one showing Captain Cook’s famous barque ‘Endeavour’ being greeted by several Maori waka (canoes) in Mercury Bay, New Zealand.

I saw the inspirational ‘Endeavour’ painting on a plaque marking exactly where Cook landed in 1769 to observe the Transit of Mercury. This spot was just down the beach from the house where we spent our recent two-week holiday.

And now that I have brought up our holiday, this was the second reason for not much recent wargaming action. I mean, really, how could wargaming compete with spending an idyllic two weeks with my lovely wife in Mercury Bay, one of the most beautiful parts of the world?

Sand, sea, sky, uncrowded beaches – mmm. This is my favourite of the beaches we visited: Hahei, in Mercury Bay on the Coromandel peninsula. Click on the picture to enlarge, and you’ll almost feel you’re there!

Actually, we fitted in two holiday trips last month, as we also spent a couple of days in the central North Island. The highlight was a bike ride that included cycling across this spectacular decommissioned railway viaduct. Again, this adventurous activity hindered my wargaming!

Now, this pic is a blast from the past! This is me back in 1986, when I helped develop the New Zealand Police Museum. I was responsible for this display of worldwide police paraphernalia.

So why this photo? Well, since I retired from the police at Christmas, I have decided to volunteer at the museum, where I spend one day a week cataloguing their huge collection. Another chunk out of wargaming hobby time!

For those of you who want a closer look, here is the display. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, but this was before digital cameras, so this is actually a digital photo of a paper photo.

And now for the ‘piece de resistance’ for why my wargaming hobby time is depleted. Last week I managed to break my ankle!

I have to keep the leg elevated at the moment, so it is too awkward to sit and paint. Though I hope once I get used to the cast that I may be able take up my paint brush again – for both seascape paintings and gaming miniatures!

And I do actually have some figures undercoated and ready to go once I myself am also feeling ready.

Firstly, these are some 28mm eighteenth century civilians from Russian sculptor Ratnik Miniatures. They’re splendid models which should be fun to paint. I am particularly looking forward to doing the sedan chair, and then somehow including it in my fictional ‘imagi’-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia.

My other awaiting project is to paint a few 40mm figures I bought recently on a whim. Here’s a bunch of British grenadiers.

They’re from a New Zealand supplier, Triguard Miniatures, so I feel I am doing my patriotic duty to support them. I don’t know if I will ever actually game with these large figures, but they will look gorgeous in my display case.

I couldn’t resist a group of their Gardes Francaises too, one of my favourite-ever uniforms.

So, lots happening, but not too much of it has been wargaming-related. But hopefully as I settle into my retirement (and my leg cast!), I will gradually get more organised with my various pursuits.