Vikings Season IV

September 8, 2016

I am a big fan of the show Vikings.  I get the skewed time line and why the writers chose to do it.  They’ve compressed the Sagas and arranged them in a way that works logically without obliterating their essence.  Just started season 4 and the first two episodes have made me wonder if the writers have gotten lazy.

Season 3 dealt with the great raid on Paris.  Now, Paris at the time (845AD) was a town on an island in the middle of the Seine.  There were no walls.  Just a river to act as a moat to keep the would-be raiders out.  In real life this worked in favor of the Norsemen and after a brief battle up river, they occupied Paris for a time until Charles the Bald paid them off with an enormous sum of loot.  There would be a repeat of this raid in 850s (or there about).  Now, the last raid occurred in 885 when 3 Norse leaders including a guy named Rollo (Yes.  That Rollo.) tried to sack Paris a third time and wasted their armies against the Parisian walls.  The Vikings left and it was only Rollo and his men left behind.  At some point he settled in Normandy and eventually agreed to play nice with the Franks becoming the Count of Rouen. Whatever the case, the writers chose to wrap all the events over the course of 60 or so years into one action.   Fine.  It’s TV.  I get it.  So you are wondering why I am telling you about Season 3?  Well read on.

In Season 4, we see that Rollo has in fact chosen to be left behind.  he does get married to Princess Giesla (not the historical Judith) but still fine.  He does not, however settle in Normandy.  Now, his men, who also chose to stay behind with him, start getting bored.  They want to talk with the newly minted Frankish noble, Rollo as to what the heck is going on!?  Rollo agrees to meet with them but brings along a horde of crossbowmen who, along with another Frankish noble, mow the entire camp down.  Wait.  What?  I guess it becomes expedient to drive the story along.

I am not optimistic about how the season is going.  It is starting to feel like Vikings is trying to be Game of Thrones Lite.  There is some freaky bondage scenes (Count Odo and the random noble woman) and some of the fights seem to be set to simply eliminate a plot obstacle.  I am still cautiously hopeful that the next few episodes will right this sinking ship.  I said cautiously.

Goodbye, Yahoo

July 25, 2016

Today, with the announcement that Yahoo has been bought by Verizon, I have taken the liberty of taking down my yahoo groups.  There are two reasons really.

  1. I am not a fan of Verizon.  They have given me such intentionally poor customer service in the past that I just assume never use one of their products again, even if it is free.
  2. The group has been quiet for a while.  I originally set it up to host my files.  WordPress has been allowing multiple file types for several years now, thus eliminating the need to host a file on another service.
  3. I have been getting hit by spam.  I suspect it originated from Yahoo and now I am on some spammer’s list.  All of this occurred because Yahoo simply could not provide adequate maintenance of their products.

So there you have it.  If you want to stay in touch, come on by my blog and say “hi!”  I’ll still be posting.  Hopefully, I’ll have more to say as the summer draws to a close.

An Unexpected Party

November 21, 2015

Last Saturday was Jack’s wargame birthday party.  There were 7 kids ages, ages 7-9 at the party.  The craft went well and the kids enjoyed the figure painting.  The challenge came because several were a bit unruly at first so it was difficult to explain the game, as simple as the rules were.  The object of the game was to kill monsters, each other and gain treasure for fighting and searching.  It was a simplified version of Jack’s Rules of war.  The warriors were basic hitting on a 3 or less.  The archers hit on a 2 or less but if they missed, the enemy did not get to fight back until their turn.  The hero hit on a 4 or less and also could take 2 hits before being “defeated.”  I did not use the word “kill” because I did not want them to get the impression that I glorify war and that this was a simple strategy game.  Some pictures below of the action as it unfolded.

There was miniature painting.

There was miniature painting.


And the results. Not too shabby!

And the results. Not too shabby!



The table before the carnage began.  The castle is another card model by Toshach Miniatures.  It was originally scaled to 10mm but the image was high res and I increased the size to 1/72 scale.



Me explaining how to fight. Strangely enough, it started around the hobbit hill. And here I thought Hobbits were peaceful! Card model by Fat Dragon Games.



There, of course, was cake!


And more fighting. Jack (right) stands with 2 of his friends. The girl won with 3 coins.

And more fighting. Jack (right) stands with 2 of his friends. The girl (name withheld) won with 3 coins.

Several of the kids really enjoyed the game and several others could take it or leave it.  Good times were had by all!  I’d call it a successful day!


How tall is Beorn?

September 28, 2015

How tall is Beorn from the Hobbit? The book does not explicitly say but we can figure out the rough height of the bear-man in human form.

Step 1: A point of reference. Beorn wore a tunic that hung to the top of his knee.  “As for Bilbo he could easily have trotted through his legs without ducking his head to miss the fringe of the man’s brown tunic.” (From Queer Lodgings) So we know that Bilbo was knee high to Beorn.

Step 2: How tall is Bilbo? We assume Bilbo is of average height. A hobbit, according to the book The Hobbit is “about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves.“ (From An Unexpected Party) This is a somewhat sticky point because in the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien changes things up and makes the average Hobbit about 3 feet 6 inches. For our purposes, it’s better not to mix and match. So we shall stick with the size from The Hobbit. Now, a medieval man is about 5 feet 8 inches tall or 68 inches. A WWII man, fortunately, is also about 5 feet 8 inches tall. So we don’t actually have to know what “man” Tolkien was referring to. We can safely assume Bilbo is about 34 inches tall. So the distance from the ground to the top of Beorn’s knee is also 34 inches..

Step 3: Compare to a real world person. The distance to the top of my knee is 24 inches. We an figure out the multiplier to increase my height to figure out how tall Beorn is, assuming he has my height proportions. 34 / 22 = 1.416666667. My height is 72 inches. 72 X 1.416666667 = 102 inches. That works out to 8.5 feet. I’d conjecture that Beorn is somewhere between 8 and 9 feet tall….in human form.

Step 4: (Optional) If you are looking for a miniature, you simply need to apply the multiplier above to the size of your “man” size in mm. For instance, my figures are about 24mm tall. So 24 X 1.416666667 = 34mm. Fudging that, most modern 28mm figures could fit the bill as they are usually 31mm+ tall.

As for Beorn in bear form, he was described as follows: “He came alone, and in bear’s shape; and he seemed to have grown almost to giant-size in his wrath. The roar of his voice was like drums and guns; and he tossed wolves and goblins from his path like straws and feathers.” Any werebear that is at least twice the height of your man sized miniatures should do. Mine is the Dwarf Werebear from Dungeons and Dragons miniatures but since I’ve done my research, I am kind of sorry I did not get something a bit bigger.

Left to right: Boromir, Foundr Viking (Beorn in human form maybe?), Bilbo, Beorn in Bear form

Left to right: Boromir, Foundry Viking (Beorn in human form maybe?), Bilbo, Beorn in Bear form.

My Beorn holds an ax which is not really an accurate description but it is a great looking miniature and will work nicely with the rest of my figures.  I’ll be looking at some of Reaper’s offerings for Beorn in human form as their figures are on the large size.  The one I found in my collection is a bit undersized.

Slayer of Brushes? No More!

March 20, 2015

pinksoapI am one of those unfortunate souls who does not know how to keep a paint brush in a healthy shape.  Someone on TMP recommended a certain kind of brush soap and swore it would extend the life of a paint brush for quite a long time.  I don’t remember the brand but could not find it at my local craft store anyway.  What I did find was Pink Soap.  There are no directions but I assumed that it was a simple application to the index finger.  You then can work it gently in to the bristles with your index finger and thumb.  Then rinse the brush and store properly until the next time.   I have to say the results are quite impressive.  I’ve had 4 paint sessions with my latest set of brushes and there is no sign of wear what so ever.  Normally, I would have destroyed at least one brush by the 4th session.  The bristles have maintained their color without a trace of pigment.  I’d highly recommend brush soap to anyone who paints, anything (miniatures, pictures, ceramics whatever).  A little bit goes a long way.

Napoleonic Serendipity

March 17, 2015

While reviewing my collection I found that my Chasseurs a Cheval did not have a standard bearer.  They did have a musician and an officer.  I guess he had gone AWoL sometime over the past 35 years or so.  Quite a bummer as nobody seems to sell single figures in 15mm.

At cold wars a couple of weekends ago, I came across a gent selling some 15mm Napoleonic figures including some Brunswick hussars.  I snapped a few stands up as they are on the menu of items to paint as well as 24 Brunswick light infantry.  I was going to order 24 more but now there is no need.  As I went to rebase them, I discovered I had a couple of extra command figures including 1 standard bearer!  These are Minifigs which are very close to the Chasseurs I have so after a quick paint job, I shall have a standard bearer for that unit.   The extra officer will now be the Duke of Brunswick.  Lucky me!

Now for the tricky part.  I needed two replacements.  I happened to have a few extra Chasseurs.  The only think they needed are tall plumes.  A little green stuff and even my meager sculpting skills have made some decent replacement figures.  I used some very thin florist wire for the skeleton, essentially a straight stick.  I rolled the putty around the stick and cut it to the right size.  I drilled a hole in the hat about where the plume will go and added a tiny amount of putty to be used as cement.  Finally, I pressed down the narrow end to the hole and the wire stick went right in, pressing the putty together.

In all, this segment has been a successful operation.  I will show off the Brunswick legion soon with a few pictures.  Please don’t point out that I purchased the easiest to paint Napoleonic  troops rather than painting them myself.  I am trying to bask in my glory.

Got Trees?

January 25, 2015
JTT HO Trees

JTT HO Trees

Our hobby can be expensive.  These days, it is hard to find inexpensive terrain.  I have noticed tree manufacturers are still selling, but at a premium price.  There was a kickstarter not long ago for a company called “War Trees“.  They were making resin trees ready for the battlefield.  The pine trees did not look like much but the deciduous trees looked like they would do.  The problem was that each tree cost about $4US.   Sadly, the funding was unsuccessful as they did not generate any interest.

The other day, I was up near a local hobby shop and popped in to see what they had in their model railroad scenery.  I found a bulk back of 24 HO scale trees (3″-4″ tall) for about $30.  This was the best deal I had seen in a long time.  I decided to take a chance.  The trees are made from natural material and come with small plastic bases.  The bases are inadequate to hold the tree up reliably on their own.  So some wider bases will have to be manufactured.  The plastic bases can still be utilized as they are molded to look like the roots at the base of the tree.  The flocking on the tree also seems to shed pretty easily.  I remedied this by giving each tree a generous coat of dull coat.  I am not finished basing them yet…who am I kidding!  I have not even got them started!  I’ll post some pictures when I get them done.  There are also other bags of 36 N-Scale trees (2″-3″) and 55 micro scale (1″-2”) for the same price.  Company website is here.