Sunday, 18 March 2018

Painting a Peg Soldier

Well, it's Sunday evening (that last bit of relaxation before the work week starts all over again) and I've managed to find time to blaze through - 'blaze' for me that is - my first commission. So, this seems a nice opportunity to do a little photo walk-through of the process (without my usual waffle)!

All that's left is the varnishing.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Portable Wargame Project - Bases

Having been impressed with Mike Lewis's Portable War-game demonstration game, I thought I'd like combine my current peg-soldier making with some unit making. I'd love to see a whole unit of my peg-soldiers together. So...

I found some nice laser cut MDF bases - in a wide range of sizes and shapes - at

I've chosen some regimental trays that follow the unit composition as used in Mike's demo (6 troops per infantry unit) so got some 2 x 3 25mm circular base trays to go with a few packs of 25mm bases.

Additionally, I thought I would try out magnetising the trays and bases. Though, stupidly, I bought 3mm deep trays when I've been using - and am happy with - 2mm deep bases (so I had to order some 2mm trays, what an idiot).

Anyway, this will be a first so I hope the magnetising works out, and anyway it'll make storing and transporting the units easier. (The 5mm x 2mm Neodymium rare earth magnets are also available from

I have it in mind that I'd like to try out a Franco-Prussian War themed game...All I have to do now it make the peg-soldiers!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

First Commission - Peg Grenadier

Funny things just happen sometimes. No sooner had I started my latest toy soldier efforts than I had a request to make one up specially on commission.

I was asked to reproduce my initial '42mm' peg Grenadier...So, off we go again! :)

Reproducing an exact copy of one of these peg soldiers does highlight some interesting issues which should be given some consideration, especially if you intend to make a miniature army.

Take the rifles, for example. For an 'army' I will have to make exact copies of the simplified rifle shape so I will have to come up with a easy way to replicate these shapes. Initially, for my prototype, I carved the rifle out of a wooden lolli stick and I don't fancy doing that every time (and that's not the only part I will have to duplicate; there's the hats as well).


Anyway, on with the 'job'! LOL (Really flattered somebody likes my stuff!)

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Mini-Nutcracker Soldier - Part 2

I'm playing this - as with most everything I do - somewhat by ear. So far I have refined my design for the mini-nutcracker soldier by sketching the figure's proportions onto the pegs that I am using. In the following photo you can see my first attempt on the left - which had balanced proportions - compared to my final attempt with more stretched and stylised proportions...

I have attached the hat and hanging thread on my final design. It actually took a while and several tests to find the 'right' sort of thread to use with this (my original idea of using thin wire just didn't look right).

Additionally, I have these pegs sitting in the custom ring stands. Although I mean these are Xmas tree decorations, I kinda like the idea that they could also be places on the mantlepiece if I so desire (so alternative versions I have on the drawing board are a candleholder or place name holder for the Xmas dinner table).

Priming and Painting
As this is my first test of the nutcracker style of wooden soldier - especially in this miniaturised form - this is where things could go a bit wrong! In fact, I'm pretty sure they will as I will be experimenting  with my own ways of doing things like the facial features...I am not altogether confident. :)

It's bit frustrating that I will only know what has 'worked' once I finish this model, so I have to persevere and carry on to the end. Then I can use what has worked on the next model.

(I'm maybe being a little impatient here!) :)

Anyway, the uniform design is a fantasy 'toy soldier' one (nothing historic about this one) and I'm still using my Vallejo paints. The cheaper craft acrylics I have are OK, but don't apply quite as smoothly as the slightly more expensive modelling ones. I think I will try out some furniture paint next, but in the meantime I have a wide range of Vallejo colours so I will stick with them.

The next tricky issue will be how to make the hair...

The real Christmas Nutcracker Soldiers have a distinctive mop of white 'hair', and the tutorial I have for the mini peg version suggests that you use 'fluff' (soft-toy stuffing flock) to create the rather crazy looking 'powdered wig' look of a 17th century soldier. I was lucky here, as we have a family dog who has a intense grudge against soft toys and so we have a regular supply of newly toy innards to hand!

Left: A traditional Nutcracker Soldier displaying a head of hair. From what I remember this was 'fake fur', which poses the question of how I recreate a similar effect on a smaller scale?

I just had to give some thought on how best to stick the fluff to the peg-soldier. In the end, I decided to finish painting and then apply the gloss varnish to the model *except* on the part of the head that the 'hair' will be attached.

There'll be no beard. I just had the feeling that gluing fluff on for facial hair would end up looking like the nutcracker was foaming at the mouth! :)

 I would then use PVA glue to stick on patches of fluff until the bald scalp was covered. The tutorial suggests to stick on more than you need, initially, and then trim the hair into a neater style when the glue drys...

I have to admit, I'm not really a fan of the fluffy hair (it's difficult to stick on securely, and too loose and fibrous and pulls out far too easily) so for my next test I may try out something a little different - solid stylised hair. I found a picture of a full-sized nutcracker with this sort of hair-do...

This would entail my making the hair out of modelling putty (Milliput) which sounds like a lot of work, but if I wanted to reproduce lots of these I would probably cast and mould copies from resin.

But, now, the finished mini-nutcracker test model...

Obviously, I've had to stand the soldier up using a ring base, but it would
look far better hanging from a Christmas tree, as intended (I just wasn't
willing to put up a tree just for this photo)! :)

I have a few niggles with this prototype, but it's nearly there so I'm confident I'll rectify the problems with my next attempt. It's all good and I'm getting better with each new test model.

Anyway, onto the next project test...

Next up: More 'Midi' Peg Soldiers (my mid-sized pegs, but in historical uniforms).

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Portable Wargame Rule Book

I've been hearing things about this simple rule system for a few months now and it sort of piqued my curiosity. You see I'm not a ver good war gamer, I struggle with most rule systems even if they are advertised as being 'easy and quick to learn'. I just seem to have a mental block (it's the same with D&D, try as I might - and I'd love to play it - my brain just zones out when someone starts to explain to me the rules)...

Anyway, I happened upon a piece on the 'Little Wars Revisited' blog where they had setup a demonstration game based on Bob Cordery’s 'Poratable Wargame' rules...I was captivated!

The chaps from the 'Little Wars Revisited' blog setup a wonderful rendition of the
Portable War-game at the Cavalier Wargames Show in Tonbridge, Kent in Feb 2018.
 The figures were 54mm scale and the scenery was scratch built...Superb!
Picture credit: Mike Lewis - the 'Little Wars Revisited' Blog

I immediately did some Googling and found 'The Portable War-game Website' which give a very nice little history of the development of the rules as we as the rules themselves...

Although this resource is all you might need to get the gist of the rules and get you started, I am a bit of a traditionalist and like a book sat in from of me when learning new things. So I nipped over to Amazon and blew a Fiver on Bob Cordery's book on his game. This arrived today...

I was pleased to note that the book fleshes out some of the concepts discussed on the website, and - furthermore - gives some very interesting 'game reports' which show the rules in action.

Another nice thing is that these rules aren't just for the 'Funny Little Wars' (19th Century Armies) enthusiast, the rules cover various different types of warfare from several different historical periods. Really the rules are just a framework from which you can customise and include your own interests - there is no reason, for example, that you cannot conduct a science fiction or fantasy warfare battle using Bob's rules.

However, I am - it so happens - interested in 19th Century military campaigning and the idea of a short format game which is able to fit on the dinning room table appeals to me. I also like the idea - discussed in the book - that the rules can be modified to facilitate solo play!

I'd really like to make a couple of 'peg' armies and have them battle it out using these rules.