Sunday, 17 June 2018

Relaxing Weekend, Peg Fun

I'm having a rest from peg soldiers this weekend as I don't want to do my usual thing, which is to obsessively work on a particular project until I burn out and get bored! So, I've been deliberately working at a couple of things completely unrelated to my usual stuff (although, still in wood).

First off, in the same vein as my little peg bi-plane I decided to explore what else I could make from small pieces of wood and peg related parts! I have always liked traditional 1930s toys and so racing cars quickly came to mind...

I have actually gotten a bit further on than the basic work seen in the above snap and reckon I will have these banged out by mid-week. I'm keeping the modelling very simple and stylised in keeping with the 'toy car' idea.

Next, I have been getting interested in RPG game like Dungeons & Dragons (in fact, I attended my first game of D&D just last Thursday) and so I thought it would be nice to see if I could make something 'Tolkien-esque' looking out of pegs. My first attempt is a little basic (most of the wok will be in the painting)...

And that's it really, a bit Molatero un-related, but it's all good practise for working with wood.

Hope you all had a nice weekend (now that the World Cup has started)!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

More Peg Prototypes - June Part 1

I'm still trying to hone my skill and style for making my little peg soldiers. Here's my latest prototypes, an 1870 Prussian Uhlan (lancer) and an 1900 British Infantryman...

I'm still learning lots as I go along but I feel I'm making some headway. The infantryman seems about there as a template for the proportions and style of painting the peg 'body'. But, I still have a little way to go with my cavalryman. Still not 100% sure about the way I model the rider's legs.

Another concern is that I'm still using aerosol spray lacquer (Wilko's brand rattlecan) and this is very wasteful. Spray-on gloss does give a lovely even coat, but it's very indiscriminate and despite the fact I use a small spray both (with extractor fan) I can fell the stickiness of the varnish on my skin when I'm done. I'm guessing about 40% or maybe even more of the varnish doesn't go on the model at all!

I've ordered a can of paint-on varnish and will knock up yet another prototype this week to test this brush on varnishing technique - will it pool and drip?

(Will have to think about getting a little display cabinet soon as my collection of peg figures is growing rapidly!)

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Sunday Update

Another nice and quiet Sunday where I can potter around doing some minor jobs (wife is sunning herself in the garden).

This week I'm hoping to make some headway by finishing off the cue of figures that need painting. So, to begin with here's a couple of primed figures that I've sketched the uniform detail onto ready for slapping some paint on...

But, mainly, I've been faffing about with my new Dremel drill Press. As I do more and more wooden projects I've ended up expanding the range of small woodworking power tools on my desk.

The Dremel Drill Press seemed a great piece of kits now that I'm trying to work out how to slot wooden components together. Not only is it a stable platform for precise drilling, the whole drill section can be flipped sideways a s neat little disc sanding station. :)

The dining room table isn't it's permanent home, you have to assemble the press and there was more space to do this on our big dinning table. The picture above shows the Dremel tool slotted into it's collar on the press and also a range of new drill bits I bough (cheaply) at Wilkos.

Disappointingly, the one thing the press didn't come equipped with was a clamping system for holding object firmly while drilling. It has slots cut out in the base for some sort of blot clamps but these are not included!

I, therefore, ended up having to fork out some extra cash on a small vice clamp...

This is the Yakamoz Universal Mini Drill Press Vise Clamp and it comes with fours screw in orange plastic pegs for holding irregular shape objects. I got use of this straight away as my daughter asked me to drill a hole in a small shell to make her a necklace...

This addition means that I am only short of two more power tools that I want to add to my modelling 'workshop'. I'd very much like a mini circular table top saw (for cutting precise angles) and a small lathe (for turning my own peg soldiers, etc), but these will have to wait as both items are fairly expensive.

Well, that's my Sunday. I'll get on with a little painting but I'm not rushing as it's back to work tomorrow. I may even join the wife in the garden - as it's sunny - and have a beer! :)

Friday, 8 June 2018

'The Purple Baron'

Here's the completion photos for my first peg aeroplane, 'The Purple Baron'. (Click on these to enlarge...)

"Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat!" Get that bounder!

Very happy with this in the end, despite it starting as just an whim of experimentation. Also, it's rather nice to do something in the Molatero theme again.

This will hopefully be the first of my little Molatarian Air Force collection. The 'Purple Baron' is a character from the 1917 Uprising and he represents a fighter from the Royalist faction in that conflict.

Above: The Purple Baron meets his demise!

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

First Molatero Warplane Painted

Just some quick snapshots of my little peg bi-plane as it nears completion.

I'm pleased as I thought I might be with the purple colour scheme, though it did take a couple of coats  as it's a bitch of a colour to get good opacity. Also, I decided to paint the 'Royalist' emblems (the crosses) freehand, so lots of painting with my tongue out!

You can probably see how streaky the first boat of purple was in the above picture. But it all came together nicely with the application of a second coat...

The photos make the crosses seem neater than it actually is! SO, I'm pleased...Hee hee.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Sunday Morning Tinkering

...I got a bit sidelined today. I was supposed to be catching up with some of my painting projects, but instead I made a little bi-plane!

The idea was to see what else I could do with wooden pegs as I am really enjoying working with wood. It's a very forgiving medium, but also very warm and organic (it's the 'arty' inner me coming out). I'm also enjoying making my own model designs from scratch (rather than buying someone else's models).

What started as aimless tinkering turned into a days exploration with wood and some of my new woodworking tools. And here's how it went...

The basic shape of a dolly peg, sanded to a point and a
cylinder of wooden dowel stuck on as an engine cowel.
The basic shape of the dolly peg lent itself quite nicely to a fuselage shape. So, the design kind of created itself really - there was no real forward planning...

All the component parts were either pegs, parts of pegs or commonly available wooden craft components (dowelling, beads, 'lolly sticks', cocktail sticks, etc, etc). I'm not as far as fabrication of parts from 'raw' wooden stock yet, but as I get more electric woodworking tools I may explore full-blown wooden toy making.

An amusing day - if a little 'off topic' - but, then I suppose this could be one of the first recruits for the 'Molatarian Air Force'! :D

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Saturday Morning Tinkering

Love Saturday and Sunday morning modelaxing (that should be a real word). Not a lot done but felt great before the craziness of the 'big shop' with the wife begins.

I've been trying to work out how to model the helmet of my peg Prussian 'Uhlan' (lancer). All 19th century lancers from all nations seemed to have a similar style of helmet, with the strange 'mortar board' arrangement on top. It's just so weird to make though, it never looks right even when it is!

I'm also deciding just how much detail to put into my peg cavalry's saddle equipment. I want my peg soldiers to be simple, but at the same time - for gaming purposes - I want to indicate that aside from a sabre or lance these cavalry did carry a carbine. It just seems more 'realistic' when I will be directing them to 'shoot' during a game.

Aside from this, do I include things like saddlebags and blanket rolls, and what about the horse's saddle straps and reigns? Hmmmm...

Maybe I'd best look at other toy soldier cavalry to see how they have simplified the addition of horse accessories and equipment...

Beautiful traditional toy Uhlan. This leans slightly more to the 'realistic'
depiction of horse equipment.
Armies in Plastic Company's Uhlans are a little more simplistic in their
approach to modelling the accoutrements.

Finally, I have to put some thought as to how I will model the lance itself and how I will attach it to the peg soldier without resorting to the inclusion a model hand (my peg soldiers have painted on hands remember).

That will be Sunday morning's puzzle.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Peg US Cavalry, For Fun

Having worked out the technicalities of putting together a peg horse and rider, it's time to do a painting test. And, as this is just an experiment I thought it would be fun to chose a subject for my painting that's a little different from my usual theme of 19th century European soldiers...

As a kid, I was brought up on Saturday morning picture show re-runs of old Westerns and for young boy at that time the highlight of any 'B' movie Western was when the US Cavalry charged in to the rescue! :)

This coincided with my getting into plastic toy soldiers and a particular favourite of mine was Tempo's strangely creepy US Cavalry. So, as a bit of nostalgia I have had a go at recreating a soldier from the old Wild West...

In practical terms, this model should help me check whether my plan for painting in the rider's legs will work. Fingers  crossed!

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Peg Horse, Final Hurdle

Sorry, this is yet another post about my peg horse tinkering. But, I still wasn't happy. I had two main gripes; the shape of the horses head and (still) the rider's legs.

Getting Ahead...
OK. I know I wanted 'simple' but I think I was setting my bar a little too low. My first few peg horse prototypes had a very unsatisfactory head shape...I just couldn't seem to capture an equine profile, but  I couldn't put my finger on why it wasn't looking right.

Finally, it clicked...Ears.

Left: My 4th prototype. Right: 5th Prototype, with ears.
An obvious omission it may have been, but I was trying not to add additional features to my peg figures. My peg soldiers have no facial features and I thought that I should carry this on with their horses. Wrong.

My first few horses looked more like the Loch Ness monster! And apart from the lack of ears I also had the angle of the horses neck wrong and I rectified this as well in my 5th prototype (I made the neck more upright and the head slightly more downward looking).

Construction Simplified
While my horse and rider's 'look' was too simple in the end, their construction remained a little too convoluted. This was particularly true with my previous attempt at modelling the peg horseman's legs, for although they looked OK I had to use a lot of Milliput to complete the figure.

In the end, the overall look of my 4th prototype was that it had far too much putty holding all the joins together and fill all the gaps in my badly measured joints. So, I thought I'd have one final go, this time simplifying the cutting of the joints entailing (hopefully) less filler...

I decided to have a go at finishing the model as a Prussian Uhlan (lancer).

The main change was the way I chose to model the rider's legs as I went for a very stylised look. Rather than sculpting a (relatively) 'realistic' form of a seated rider I broke the peg figure into two with the idea of re-joining the separate parts by painting in 'missing' upper-legs.

In Conclusion
I'm much happier with the outcome of this final prototype, having toned out al the annoying bugs to my satisfaction. So, I'll have a go at painting the model now, just to check that my bisected body ploy works!

After that, I should be able to crack on with my first peg cavalry unit.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018


Just completed my fourth peg horseman prototype (it's slowly getting there) and I was pleased enough with it - although it's still not perfect - to take this model to a near finished state. I decided to make a 'hussar', not any particular historic regiment but rather just a generic cavalryman...

I don't think I will go as far as painting this because I want to use this model as a template from which I will make - what will hopefully be - my final models, using the dimensions and cutting angles I have established here.

Still, doesn't look too bad.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Horsing Around...Again!

Still not happy with my horse design. I think what it is is that I'm trying to go for a more realistic look which is still recognisably a 'peg' toy. Funny enough, a straight forward 'toy town' toy horse would be easier to make as I'd just go for a rocking horse design or similar, but because I am going for something half way between 'toy' and 'realistic' it seems harder to pull off.

What's happening is that instead of a model that's just a few wooden components glued together I'm starting to have to add more and more Milliput putty in order to make the design work. I'm also having to saw, sand and carve more complicated shapes out of the pegs to get the components I want and to make these components fit. (But, most of all it's the amount of putty I'm having to use that bothers me.)

I really - originally - wanted something that just went together out of a few simple components, but now it's turning into more of a real modelling or sculpting job. Maybe I'm just being too critical tough, as - in the end - it's the final look that matters.

I think what I will do is to paint this one up to see how it fits in with my painted peg soldiers.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

A Horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!

As simple as the peg infantry is to make I do have a bit of a conundrum...How do I make peg cavalry and artillery?

Today I'm trying to work out the cavalry part of the puzzle, by tinkering with some ideas on how to make a peg horses and riders. What's tricky is that it's quite easy to make a 'toy soldier' horse, but I don't want these horses to turn out looking like a children's storybook or toy horse...

I want something simple and stylised which suits the peg soldier look. So I had a look around and found a nice example of what could be achieved...

Credit: Wooden Warriors
I love this stylised horse and it really suits the peg soldier aesthetic. Of course, I don't want to copy this design but come up with something that fits in with my peg soldiers. I'm looking for that 'Goldilocks' zone halfway between realism and toy

Suck it and See!!!
OK, best way (I thought to myself) to find out how to make peg horses is to just start gluing some bits of pegs to gather and hope that I come across a 'right way' to do this. So, here's some pics of the results...

Peg Horse Prototype Number 1.
Well, my first attempt was a little ham-fisted and chunky. I really wasn't pleased with the shape of the head nor the length of the body. The whole thing was a little too big really.

Peg Horse Prototype Number 2.
One of the things that worried me about my first attempt was how I was going to portray the rider's legs. Obviously, I intended the first prototype to have the rider's legs painted on, but was there a more elegant way to perhaps include the legs as a part of the model?

Also, could I simplify (stylistically) the horse even further? Prototype number 2 was my attempt to see how stylised I could make the model.

Peg Horse Prototype 3.
Well, version 2 looked a bit skinny to me (it looked like the rider was sat on a donkey), so I thought I'd work on the version 1 format and see if I could refine it.

I shortened and narrowed the body (using a smaller diameter piece of dowel rod) and worked on a better head design. Yes, this meant I was back to the idea of painting the rider's legs onto the body of the 'horse' but it seemed a quicker and easier solution.

I'm still having problems with the shape of my horse's head - I had to resort to using extra putty to get the shape I wanted - but, in general, version 3 seems to be getting there.

I'm tempted to do one more version as I like the tilted back legs of version 2 - they make the model look a little more dynamic, as if the horse is about to charge - and I just had another idea about how I could do the rider's legs. We shall see.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Funny Week, Funny Hats

Bit of a weird week this week, it seems like I've been beavering away but have achieved little noticeable results!

Really, it's been a 'house keeping' week as I have been reorganising my portable workbench (yep, I still haven't got my man cave fully operational yet). The main job has been to do some modifying to my Citadel Project Box to make it a little more 'user friendly'...

This is what I am using to model and paint at the moment. The main reason I'm using
this is so  I can keep the wife company in the front room. She's a teacher so if I didn't do
that we would hardly see each other! :)

What I'm doing is rearranging the work area so that it can accept standard A4 sized cutting mats - which are cheap - instead of Citadel's proprietary (and expensive) non-standard sized cutting mats. This involves some shaving of the plastic dividers on the work surface and replacing them with some thin wooden beading. (I'll pop a photo up when it's finished.)

Otherwise it's been small progress on several peg soldier jobs that I'm working on consecutively. But, perhaps worth mentioning might be the job I've done with my 'pith helmet' castings...

I've actually got all the separate pieces of the helmet together and have started making a couple of prototype peg soldiers (though I won't give away what kind yet). :)

And that's the update for this mid-week. Hopefully. I'll have something more interesting to report by the weekend.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Two-Part Mould - Part Two

Well? Did it work?...Yes and no. 

I think I just need more practise to work out the 'tricks' to doing this, but I think I am probably stretching the practical uses of Instant Mold by attempting two-part casting. Don't get me wrong, it is possible - with care - but I think the whole idea of Instant Mold is quick and easy press moulding really.

Two-part moulding is a slightly more complicated and precise type of moulding and - to be honest - if you are going as far as taking the time to make a properly aligned two-piece mould you will probably want to make something you can keep and use a lot of times.

So, what went right?
Well the quality of the cast was good it captured the general shape of my original object very nicely. And using Milliput mean I had a really hard duplicate that I can sand or otherwise modify further.

So, what didn't go right?
Registration. I did try to make registration dimples in the Instant Mould so the two halves of the mould would come together precisely, but I just didn't do a good enough job. The two halves slipped when I tried to put them back together again with the Milliput inside and so the cast was mis-aligned...

Now, I could rescue this casting by cutting it down the middle and realigning the two pieces again. But that kinds makes the whole process of trying a two-part mould a but of a waste of time. I might as well have just moulded the two pieces separately and then stuck them together at the end...

Alternative way of doing this (or how to rescue a failed two-part mould) is
to simply revert to doing the casting as two single part moulds and then to
glue the resultant pieces together. Perhaps? :(
The result of 'one piece' moulding the helmet parts. Now I don't have the
alignment problem BUT I now have to clean up and glue the two halves
together. Not so cool!

But the good thing about Instant Mold is you can just melt it down again in boiling water and start again. And this time I would make better registration marks (dimples) in the mould so that the whole thing aligns better (hopefully).

...And then again, I'm starting to think that I might as well invest in a proper resin casting set if I am going to start to do more complex casting from a much more detailed original. The resin mould would also have a longer life and allow me to use cheaper resin as a casting medium rather than expensive Milliput...

The Sylmasta Resin Casting Kit (£38). Perhaps the next
step in my casting experimentation?

Well, I feel I learned a lot about what Instant Mold is good and not so good for. It's ideal for one-piece press moulding but not so ideal for larger more detailed 3D two-piece casting. You can do it at a pinch, but the whole idea of Instant Mold is that it's 'instant' and you use it to copy something quickly and then re-melt it to use it again for something else.

My failed two-piece mould, melted back down to use again
for another mould. Best attribute about Instant Mold.

It's definitely a great tool to have on your workbench and I will be experimenting with it again to see what else I can copy (and I will be trying out different casting mediums, like Green Stuff and even PollyFilla plaster). But I think I will invest in a resin casting kit as well.

Anyway, to end off this post, here's my fudged two-piece (two separate single castings) pith helmet. I glued the two pieces together to make the complete helmet with super glue. It's a passable rescue of my failed (proper) two-piece mould attempt, but it will do for my prototype figure I'm making!