Saturday, 25 June 2016

Perry ACW game set update number 1

This is the second post that looks at getting the Perry ACW 28mm Battle in a Box set done, with a view to getting a bigger scale onto the kitchen table and evaluating it as a starter set.

As this is the first monthly update and with a commitment to doing a unit a week, I should by now have four units fully done .... Please hit the 'read more' button for the rest of this post to see how things have progressed.

Well, domestic distractions have meant that I have spent less time on the project than I had hoped, so I am slightly behind schedule, having painted and based three confederate infantry units with the fourth and final one on the painting table. So that's not so bad, but I have lagged behind in getting any terrain done.

This has been substantially off-set by terrain purchases that I made at the recent Phalanx wargame show (see resource section below).

Taking a single 18 man unit as a standard piece of work, I recorded the amount of time that the various processes required to get an overall time for the completion of the unit from sprue to table. The following is just for the benefit of those, who like me, are not natural painters and worry about not being able to do the scale justice - I would say don't worry, even a basic painting job looks good, the figure does half the work for you and this is all about personal enjoyment and playing, not showcasing - if you like the scale, have a go.

Stage 1 - Gluing the plastics together and preparing them ready for priming. The unit was Confederate, using action poses rather than the alternative of marching poses. I made a contraption that allows each figure to be attached to a short piece of dowel for ease of handling when painting and when drying they rest in a block of wood with drilled holes. The block was given 18 positions to give a discipline of painting batches of 18 figures at a time. I borrowed the idea from Ringo Simpkins from one of his regular Monday Musings videos (link to his channel at the foot of this post). Time taken - 1 hour and 45 mins.

Managing painting is easier with these dowel Sections

Stage 2 - Prep for painting. The Confederates got a light grey primer (Vallejo), followed by a spray coating of a slightly darker grey as a base coat. All the figures were then washed with GW Nuln Oil (ink shade). This is the first time that I have taken this approach of covering the figure by spraying with the common base colour of the uniform and it is a real time saving boost. Likewise inking everything at the start of the process rather than the end is new to me. Time taken - 40 minutes.

Stage 3 - Painting. The figures were block painted and some highlights were returned to the grey uniform. Instead of just covering the figure in Soft Tone ink at the end (used as sort of dip), which is what I usually do. I went in and did some selective inking, so flesh and earth tones got the soft tone, the grey uniform got a further treatment of Nuln Oil where needed. Whites were avoided. Highlights were again put back in on the greys, skin and the satchel. Once done a flag was glued and wrapped around the flag pole. Finally all the figures were given a coat of Vallejo mat varnish. Considering I started off with a figure in base grey, they took longer than I would have thought and I am guessing that somewhere along the line there is a way to speed up the technique, but the results are certainly a step up in look from my previous stuff. Time taken - 8 hours and 35 minutes.

EDIT - for the second group, I tried a slightly different technique. This only shaved around 40 minutes off the painting time and then I spent that time going back into the figures as they looked a bit shabby compared to the first set, due to excessive ink staining.

Stage 4 - Basing. Using the Perry's Firepower rules, the infantry are based on 15mm frontages with three to a 45mm base and enough bases are provided to build a mix of single and double depth bases. These are fine and will do the job, however, my previous experiments with some Napoleonics and Wars of the Roses figures left me feeling that a 50mm base frontage (by 40mm deep), just gave that bit extra space to allow the figures to breathe a little more, so I went with some pre-cut MDF bases instead of the supplied plastics, I doubt the extra 15mm frontage on a unit will make that much difference, even on our small table.

First down onto the base was a paste mixed from artists modelling paste (Winsor and Newton) and a tad of black acrylic paint to kill the white. This goes around all the bases to blend the figure bases away. When dry, it is drybrushed with Vallejo Iraqi Sand (unecessary as I covered it in flock) and then finally PVA is generously dabbed on the base to take the flocks and stones etc of choice. My own flock mix is really just the gatherings of previously used flocks that fall to the paper when the model is tapped off, over time it gets a nice blended effect with various shades and textures. This is supported by gravel chippings, flowers, bushes and grasses. Time taken - 2 hours and 5 minutes

Stage 5 - Tidy up any glaring mistakes and put a quick light blast of matt varnish over the whole base to further protect the figure and fix the flock. Time taken - 15 minutes.

The total time for all 5 stages to give a single 18 figure 3 base unit was 13 Hours and 25 Minutes (that works out, all in, at just under 45 minutes Per figure). Using that as fair average to estimate the time needed for doing six units per side ( accepting that cavalry will take a little longer and artillery a little less) will take close to around 150 hours. Yikes! that seems a lot of hours, but I sat looking at my tray of (much more numerous 10 / 12mm) confederates, which would probably roughly occupy the same table space and thought that they took quite a while to do anyway.

I am also pretty sure that I can cut that time as technique and style improve with experience (wrong ..... see edit above! But I think other people could go faster than I do and still get good results).

The flags are included in the box, but that sheet also has all of the uniform pictures and descriptions on the back, so it seems worthwhile to photograph the uniform side of the sheet before cutting any flags. The flags are on heavy paper, but I used plenty of PVA glue and as I worked the flag, I found some of the flag ink came off through it getting wet and creased while being formed into a natural shape, so some care is needed when adding them to the figure - but they do look good and a few dabs of paint here and there makes the flags good again.

For a terrain contribution this month, I have gone for trees, adding some taller ones to pad out the existing collection. The first one (left in the photo below) was inspired by the wire home made model as shown by Mel The Terrain Tutor (link below), which took a bit of time, but I liked doing it and have enough supplies to do a few more. The Lichen that I used was very light, so some green was sprayed into the foliage.

This turned out to be a sort of stage 1 tree, as later in another video, he modified it by spraying glue on it and rolling it in coarse turf - looking very good indeed, but I am fairly happy with this scruffy old thing as it is.

The second tree (middle tree in the above photo) was of the type available in Woodland Scenics kits (below photo), which I have struggled with in the past, due to trying to use their tacky glue to get the foliage to stay on the tree armature and failing. This time I used my trusty assistant, the hot glue gun and some Copydex glue, it seemed to work fine, with everything locked down afterwards with their scenic cement (I am guessing this is watered down PVA with something added to reduce surface tension), followed by a blast of hairspray. The clump foliage is a very uniform dark green, so to give some leafy contrast, I passed some lighter green spray very sparingly over the outer foliage.

The third set of trees (right in the tree photo above) came from 4-Ground. they sell this pack of 3 poplars with MDF bases and a sabot to create a grouping for £13. I used a bit of Milliput to hide the trunk / base join and used a hot glue gun to give the effect of exposed roots. I also added a paste for texture to the whole base, which also helped cover the sabot edges, though it all got covered in flocks anyway.

I quite like the softness of the foliage. All three types of trees step outside my standard 'loo brush' type trees and bring a likeable texture to the table, though the size of them takes some getting used to (in a magnificent sort of way).

Anyway, not a bad opening to the project, at least we have got it started and the look of the units really motivates me to continue - I love how these figures are turning out. It is worth saying again that anyone who might shy away from 28mm believing they can't paint to the 'required' standard' should really just jump in and paint for their own enjoyment.

Storage wise, I picked up one of those draw sized 'useful' plastic boxes with a lid that has handles that clip onto the lid to close it down (they are on offer at the moment in Rymans - UK). They are deep enough to take the 28mm scale including flags and cavalry figures and will hold around 9 units, which seems fine to have one for each of my small armies.

Here is a closer shot of the contents to date, I am really liking these, surely they will roll plenty of sixes for me!

More problematic are the big trees. They need much deeper storage than my smaller ones, but then I will need less of them on the battlefield. The boxes for these have grown from 4" deep to 8" but their impact on the table is significantly different. When done, it will be interesting to compare the total storage increase for this bigger scale, having regard that there will be less actual pieces on the table - an interesting angle to pursue.

The terrain that came with the Perry kit (the general store building and snake fencing) still awaits construction. Hopefully the fencing at least will be something I deal with for the next update.

I will blog again in another months time with another update and hopefully will have more done in terms of units, meanwhile please enjoy the following resources.


Link to the initial post to this project, that itself provides some interesting links - LINK

Link to my COMMANDERS web site that takes a weekly look at things - LINK

Link to Ringo Simpkins Monday Musings - LINK

Mel the Terrain Tutor doing trees - LINK

Blog post to the Phalanx wargame show - LINK



  1. The pictures of your troops look great. The 18 man unit size looks about right. Peter

  2. Thanks, I have never really enjoyed painting, but have liked doing these.

    The 18 man unit in two ranks really does have enough presence to look 'unit like', while giving me the best shot at getting a game out of a 4' X 3' space.

    I am really looking forward to getting some shots of them against some decent terrain.

  3. The figures look really well done to me. Good job!

  4. I shudder to think how many hours I have spent painting - though yours look rather nice.

    Keep moving on squire.

  5. Nice looking bunch of you have there!