Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Toy soldier painting test & 'Vulgarian' uniforms

I'm having a bit of a Funny Little Wars flurry at the moment while I continue to decorate and organize my man cave (and my new spray-booth/airbrush workstation), so fear not normal 1/72 WW2 service will be resumed as soon as possible! :)

(I find I can easily work on this larger scale on a tray in front of the TV!)

Anyway, first painting test. I had bought a cheap set of plastic soldiers from the Pound Store to trial painting, but in the end it just didn't feel right - the colourful Edwardian uniforms on 'moderns' was a no-no. So I sacrificed one of my AIP Egyptians to test the 'toy soldier' painting technique, and try out my desired uniform colour scheme.

'Toy Soldier' technique...
OK, this ISN'T as easy as you might imagine (or as I imagined I should say). I thought 'easy, flat colour areas', and while that's basically true I *think* there is a 'look' that you have try and achieve  For a start vivid colours are the key - I guess this is for identification at a distance when war gaming on the lawn!

But painting toy soldiers for Funny Little Wars is more than that - I am sure Tim and the other FLW veterans will pull me up if I am wrong - but there is a 'feel' to vintage toy soldiers that I want to capture too. If you look at the old Britains' tin soldiers the first thing you will note is that they are not too neatly painted at times - well, these things were mass produced after all. Sometimes the paint didn't stay 'inside the line'.

In short, unlike painting any other war gaming figure, painting FLW toy soldiers was - I found - more akin to sign-writing than model painting. There is lots of single stroke line painting with the brush, and if that stroke goes slightly over your intended area, well that's all part of the charm.

Colours - designing a uniform...
As I said, Edwardian uniforms for FLW are colourful. At first you might think - as I did - too colourful at times! But there is method in this 'madness'. Obviously I suppose unit identification is one reason, but also if you are creating an imagin-nation then you want your units to differ from the historical red, blue or green jackets that we instinctively associate with historical nations. ALthough - conversly - FLW is designed to be used with existing historically painted toy soldiers which can be used to represent semi-fictional factions like 'Army Red' or 'Army Black' (no prizes for guessing which real nations these are based on)!

(Phew! Again, as a complete novice in the art of FLW I concede I am speculating here and may - in all likelihood - be talking complete nonsense!)

Incidentally, despite this soldier being an example of my Marmeluke Marine (see below) I have used a more Western flesh pink as I want to experiment with a little facial detailing (not too much though). And I have not glossed this figure yet.

I think my green isn't vile enough and my plum purple is too dark, and I need some contrasting detail to make it more interesting. But I guess that's a good reason why you should do a test figure before undertaking a whole unit!

Long Live Vulgaria!
(Note: At this early point I was intending to use the name 'Vulgaria' as my chose imagi-nation, butas it turned out someone was already using that name. So I later chose Molatero.)
My preferred imagin-ntion is Vulgaria - Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang made a big impression on my as a kid! -  mainly because there were some interesting uniform and costume designs done in the film. The primary colours were the traditional movie 'villain' scheme of the time - notably purple, black, white and vile green, which while not being as bright as some FLW schemes might be interesting enough.

So I drew up a sketch of how I might handle these given the models I had in mind using for my Vulgarian army (and it's colonial forces).

This sketch was modified based on my practice paint job pictured at the beginning of this post and I decided to add a little more contrasting detail to pick up the scheme a bit - epaulettes and collars and cuffs, etc.

Edit: Dear me! I nearly forgot to mention and give a big thank you to the Funny Little Wars Yahoo Group whose member gave me a lot of sage advice on how to approach this project: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Funnylittlewars/

Finally, here's how another FLW enthusiast (James from the Dancing Cake Tin blog) tackled his AIP Egyptians, here in the form of 'Tarbooshians'!

I dug around in my paint box and found a couple of Tamiya pots that I forgot I had...

The green is still a wee bit dark I think, but the alternative I have is shockingly bright. But anyway I think the purple is spot on what I want so I did a bit of repainting...

And the final version...
Still wasn't happy - the green. It looked OK 5 or so inches away from my face, but at a distance it was still too dark. So I went for it and tried the really bright (and vile) green I had, and would you believe it - it worked...

This is a learning curve for me, so I guess the idea is that - so things look right at a distance - choose the colour you want, then lighten it a couple of shades lighter for effect. (Maybe?)

Anyway, I'm happy now.

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