Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Holidays! from Primus Pilus Posterior Titus Pullus

One of the Christmas presents from Santa, was a professional photo booth for quality minis picture taking.  Here are some pictures of my shots of my first painted Centurion of the 2nd Cohort.  Although, I still plan on re-basing him once the package arrives from Litko, I like these pics.  The amazing thing about these types of photos is you see all the little "mistakes" you made.  And a perfectionist like myself has to immediately correct (e.g. like the tip of his leather sword belt wasn't painted and the spot on the back of his harness)!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cavalry has Arrived!

The Equites (Cavalry) arrived from the UK today (it took almost 17 days for them to arrive from across the ocean, I'm guessing due to the holidays).  Immediately upon inspection, I notice that once again Aventine makes remarkable minis!  There are no flaws, very little to no "flash" and the horses look truly amazing!  I cannot wait to begin painting and assembling them.

I have 18 riders total for now.  A command team of 3 and 15 regular riders.  These will serve as my scouts and dispatch riders from 8th Legion HQ to the 2nd Cohort.  

Additionally my package from Foundry arrived from the UK.  It was the Roman Scorpio Crew with 3 weapons.  Sadly, the minis are no where close to being the quality I've come to enjoy from Aventine.  The arms on the weapons are sheered off or bent to the point of non-use.  The crew minis are so full of flash some of the heads are literally attached to their arms.  I am contacting Foundry to discuss options.
Update (7 Jan 2013): Alex at Foundry is shipping freshly molded weapons.  I will post a new pic once they arrive.

Re-Basing - Grrrrr!

Here is 1st Century of 2nd Cohort starting to come together. But I am not happy with my decision to use individual plastic 30mm round bases.  The reason is simple... the Shield Wall.  The bases don't allow the minis to be grouped-close properly.  As you can see in the bottom right, even placing 2 minis on a 40mm round base doesn't solve my issue.  So I've ordered 100x 30mmx60mm rectangular bases from, made of 3mm micro-plywood.  Also, I ordered 50x 30mm squares and some larger 60mmx80mm rectangular ones.

It will be a while before they I arrive I guess.  More to follow...

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Signifer

About to add the earth material to the base for the Signifier (the Century's Standard Bearer).  The spackling has dried and Woodland Scenic's Glue as been applied about 50-50 with water mix.  I just "paint" glue on with an old brush.  Then I place the mini into the container and just ensure an even spread of the fine grit.  Then I turn the mini over and just tap the bottom of the base a few times.

Once I brush off the extra static grass, it will be ready to be matte varnished and its finished!  I really like this figure a lot.  The bear skin pelt I base painted with P3's Battlefield Brown. Then darker washed it with P3's Umbral Umber (with a water and P3 Paint Medium mix) and then highlight the raised areas with P3's Bloodtracker Brown.  I ensured the ears got a good highlighting and the nose stayed black from the primer coat.

Of Note:  The Signifer mini is holding the Roman Signum Standard.  This type of standard is just as widely recognized as an icon of Ancient Rome as the Legion's Aquila (Eagle).  Each Signum was unique to its Century and was composed of a number of Philarae (disks), along with a number of other elements mounted on a pole, topped with a "Manus" (human hand) image (this reminded Legion soldiers of their oaths).  The Manus standard designated the "Prior" (first) Century of a two-century Maniple formation; while the spear top indicated the "Posterior" or second century of the Maniple.  When the Cohort system replaced Maniples during the Roman Empire, the Manus standard continued to be displayed within Imperial Legions.  It is unclear what the phalerea disks actually represented, but it is thought to represent the Century units within the Cohort.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Centurion

The Centurion underway.  These views show him almost completed.  I still need to paint the eyes (with a toothpick dipped in P3 Menoth White Highlight) and pupil with a fine gel pen.  The shield is dented and chopped up (using a Dremel tool) to show battle scars.  He still needs to be matte varnished with Testor's Dull Cote and weather dusting his shield (awaiting shipment of the  weathering powder from Forge World UK).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Optio

The Optio in beginning paint stage, I used P3's Menoth White Highlight for his crest.  For all my Roman minis, I am using P3's Skorne Red for their tunics and red parts.  P3's Bootstrap Leather is used for all leather footwear, straps and breeches.  Wooden parts are painted with P3's Beast Hide. For flesh I use several different colors by P3; Ryn Flesh, Khardic Flesh and Midlund Flesh.  The Optio is painted with Ryn - the lightest of the flesh colors.  I like the Khardic shade for legionaries from the Spanish region of the empire (Caesar's preferred racial stock of soldiers).  Sword scabbard highlights are done with P3's Molten Bronze. Gladius (sword) handles are painted with Menoth White Highlight. Scutum (shield) rims are painted with P3's Brass Balls and the boss is painted like the armor - Pig Iron and Cold Steel/Quick Silver highlights.

The Optio is about to be dipped into Army Painter's Strong Tone Dip. The gloss polyurethane varnish has dried and acts to seal and protect the model.  This is important as the dip will get under the shield decal transfer if not applied.  At first I was actually dipping the mini into the dip and shaking off the excess, but now I use a large old brush and "paint" the dip onto the figure.  (Note: I found this today on a nice website named 1000 Foot General, "...Army Painter Strong Tone worked very well.  Be careful not to let it pool too much.  I prefer the result from a brush as the results from a dip is rather dark.  Dipping is also very messy.")  That is exactly my what my experience taught me!  And to be fair, it is also on the instructions on the back of the AP Dip can.

The Optio closeup prior to dipping. Once dipped I use a brush and apply Better Way's Brush Cleaning Fluid and Oil Paint Solvent (a petroleum-based product) and lessen the overall amount of the dip that is on the model (especially skin areas).  This is like a wash process -- the dip is maintained in the creases and low lying areas, but raised areas return to the painted color.  I like this process a lot.  It adds a depth to the model that would otherwise take much longer to achieve using  paints alone.


Once this dries, I will then base it and spray the model and base with a matte varnish to remove the glossy areas and further product the mini and its base for handling.

Basing the first batch of Pilum men

I am using a product called Smart Non-shrink Wall Fix, it is a very low-order, low mess interior wall spackling. I love this product. It goes on easily and dries fast.  I attached the figures to the bases using a Loctite product called GO2.  It is far superior to the 2-part epoxy I was using.  The epoxy was messy and the mix was never right - so some would dry pretty fast while other bases would dry much slower.

The bases are P3's Warmachine Brand, 30mm circular bases (slotted).  I really think they are top-of-the-line bases.  I tried a few others and I really liked these.  They are lipped - which is nice to have that clean line of separation for the spackling.  The slots help because the minis have some modeling flash left on the bottom that "groves" nicely into the slots.

The next batch of Pilum men starting with the armor dry-brushing. P3 Pig Iron, Cold Steel and Quick Silver paints are used in a layered method.  Once dry, I apply the flesh tones - using the 3x P3 paints I've selected for flesh. Once most of the painting is completed - I paint the "business end" of the Pilums with Vallejo's Model Air Metallic - Steel.  These are very nice metallic paints - I recommend them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Starting on 28mm Legionaries figures

I begin to assembly the figures. I super glued using Zap & Loctite products, the Pilum (javelin) into the hands of the standing men.  And used poster sticky tac and large arts & crafts wooden sticks for handling them during the assembly and painting process.

I sprayed the minis (after washing them in warm water and with some dish soap) with P3's excellent Black Primer spray paint. The primer goes on super nice and isn't too thick - a nice fine spray. I let them dry overnight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Package arrived from England!

I opened the first package of soldiers.  Aventine's UD-44 16x standing soldiers with Pilums.  As you can see some assembly will be required. Thinking Loctite gel super glue will work. First, I'll wash the figures with warm water and Dawn.  Next will be removing any "flash" from the molding process.  Although, I have to say Aventine has very little "flash" cleaning required - which I think is really great.

I intend on priming the figures with Pirate Press's P3 Black Primer.  Armor painted first, then Flesh will go on next. Then red for garments and silver highlights for the armor. The plan is to use primarily P3's line of great acrylics. The shields I will prime with white (with cheap Krylon white primer) - then paint the backs a wooden brown and then apply the shield decals and paint the rim and boss. I intend to also wash "dip" them in Army Painter's Strong Tone Dip Wash once painted and sealed. Finish with matt varnish.

A summary of my planned painting process: Step 1. Prime, Step 2. Paint, Step 3. Intial Deep Paint Wash & Dry brushing, Step 4. Gloss Poly Coat, Step 5. Army Painter Dip, Step 6. Dry brush highlights/Touchups, Step 7. Base minis and then Matte Poly Varnish

Friday, November 2, 2012

54mm metal Roman Legion Centurion - paint method testing

A closeup of the armor dry-brushing process.  I used multiple layers of P3 Pig Iron (base), Cold Steel and then Quick Silver to highlight.

A closeup of the painting prior to the "dipping" into Army Painter's Strong Tone dip.  I sprayed the figure with clear Poly varnish beforehand to seal it.

Here is the beginning of the basing process. I will have some minor touch-ups to do and then I will matte varnish the entire figure and base.

I began painting my metal 54mm Centurion I recently purchased off eBay  I figured this would give me a chance to practice and shake the rust off my painting technique and figure out the best techniques overall for the 28mm minis.  After priming with P3 Black Primer, I began dry brushing P3 Pig Iron and Quick Silver on to the figure's armor.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cohorts were the building blocks of the SPQR

Cohorts were made up of about 480 Legionaries, divided into six Centuries.  Each Century consisted of 80 men and a leadership team.  The 80-man Century was led by a Centurion (Company Commander), seconded by an Optio (XO) and with a Tesserarius Watch Officer (1st Sergeant) and a Signifier (Standard Bearer), plus a Cornicen (Bugler).  10 Cohorts formed a Roman Legion army; roughly 5,500 men total.  Each Legion, in addition to the core heavy infantry included associated siege equipment (~60 men operating primarily ballistas), a small medical team and the cavalry (called Equites--drawn from Rome's upper-class: ~120 men mainly for scouting & dispatches).
The Cohort was commanded by a Tribune (Battalion Commander) who could be a military experienced leader, but often the Tribune position was purely a political appointee from the Senate or Emperor (i.e. a younger "elite" male who was on his way to being a Senator).  Due to this factor, the senior Centurion (the 1st Century of each Cohort) would run the day-to-day operations of the Cohort.  The first Cohort of each Legion would be double in strength; roughly 800 men (consisting of five double-strength centuries).  This extra-large Cohort would hold the position of honor and be the key pivot/anchor formation on the Legion's right wing.  A Tribune, if he was smart, would rely heavily on their Centurion of the 1st Century of his Cohort for battle and training advice; these most senior Centurion of the larger 1st Century of the 1st Cohort would be called First Spears (Battalion XO) and as they "aged out" of direct combat duties would be promoted to Camp Perfect (Command Sergeants Major).  The Perfect would be in charge of Cohort  camps and Legion garrisons (especially important during the long winter encampments when Legions would do mainly nearby civil engineering tasks, e.g. cobblestone road construction called Via's and refit/train).  The Legion was commanded by a Legate (Brigade Commander).  The Legate was normally a purely political or wealth-based consideration, although rarely a seasoned, battle-tested military officer would be promoted up to Legate.  The Legate's staff would include up to 6 Tribunes and many scribes/clerks; the Tribunes would rotate duties with the primary one being Cohort command.  The most senior Tribune would serve as the Legate's second in command (Brigade XO).  Roman armies made up of several Legions would be commanded by Generals (Division and Corps Commander).  Fast Recap: 5/6 Centuries = 1 Cohort, 10 Cohorts = 1 Legion, multiple Legions = Roman field army.  Every Roman field army would also have attached to it numerous units of auxiliary troops from around the empire (e.g. archers, cavalry and infantry cohorts).

Back to the Century: each Century had 8 squads (aka "Tent Groups") of 10 men; led by a Tent Sergeant (Squad Leader) who was literally in charge of the large tent the squad would all share during the campaigning seasons.  He'd also work with the Watch Officer or Tesserarius, to ensure guard duty rotations were followed and challenge/passwords were set.  Each squad would also have their assigned section of the fortified marching camp to build each night.  The Century's Signifier (Staff Sergeant) would be charged with keeping the unit's finances and burial fund straight.  The Century's Cornicen (Corperal) would sound and relay the commands of the Centurion and had a slightly higher pay than the average soldier.  Starting around 85 BC, each Legionary would now carry his own complete kit (cooking pot, canteen, etc.) on a yoke (thanks to Marius--hence the nickname Marius' Mules), but the large tent would follow the Legion's marching formations on a cart in the baggage train.

This Cohort-based design was implemented by Gaius Marius following a devastating military defeat for the young Roman Republic at the hands of several Gaul tribes (two Roman armies with 10-12 legions + 40k auxiliaries were totally destroyed circa October, 105 BC; at The Battle of Arausio).  Marius was on the verge of becoming a very popular Roman general (he would go on to be Consul of Rome many times) and he quickly realized the Roman army needed a major overhaul immediately (especially with the goal of conquering North Africa).

This major overhaul included every aspect of the Roman army; such as its size (to larger, more self-contained units), recruiting methods (switching to a highly disciplined, volunteer professional army with a 20-year retirement system), better equipment (e.g. from spears to throwing javelins and from heavy leather tunics to segmented chest armor), improved tactics & formations (i.e. transitioned from the hoplite/phalanx and manipular/3 offset lines formations, to a Cohort-based system).  These numerous and sweeping changes, named in history as the "Marius' Reforms", would help the Roman army become the world's greatest military power for the next 400+ years and be an outstanding source of historical legend and myth. 

Rome's improved Marius' Reforms (enhanced even further by arguably Rome's greatest leader--Emperor Augustus, 1st Century AD) were so good in fact, that most of today's professional military forces around the world still use the building block unit system he created as well as the many military traditions and rules/regulations set forth by Roman Armies.  Lastly, we have so much knowledge of Rome's ancient military and its history today because embedded in their ethos was a focus on recording everything--especially Julius Caesar himself.  Interestingly enough, Julius Caesar was set-up to be so successful largely due to Marius' military genius 50 years earlier and once combined with Caesar's amazing military engineering prowess, he was virtually unstoppable.  Rome's military in fact conquered so much of the civilized world it's truly amazing and their place in history was cemented for eternity.

Pax Romana or Pax Augustus
The Roman Empire would reach its Ancient World zenith under the 13th Emperor, Trajan.  He conquered most of the upper part of the middle east (by defeating the Parthian Empire) and brought it into the empire (circa 117 AD).  He was succeeded by his adopted son, Hadrian (famous for the wall across Rome's Briton territory).  Much later (post 450-500 AD) Rome on succumb to many problems, primarily pressure from various barbarian tribes and internal strife, and split into western and eastern empires.  Eventually these too would fall and morph into other kingdoms/military factions, but the Roman Empire's amazing legacy lives on.