Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Vignette - Progress

The heads and arms are now on the figures, soldering, filing and the attack of the Dremel have occurred, followed by polishing, and some are primed for painting. The two colour bearers still have to be fitted with their carry sash for holding the colours, hence the reason for them still being shiny. I have got on with making the base on which all the figures and the stone will stand.

I would normally cut out recesses in a plywood base so that the figure bases end up flush with the surface of the base, but this time I have glued some card together to the thickness required, cut out the recesses for figures and flagstones on which stands the stone, and stuck it to the base.

As for the stone, my old peepers are too far gone, even with my specs on, to paint the face of the granite, so, clever old me, got sonny boy to ask the unit photographer, who is a mate of his, to provide me with a photo at 90 degrees to the face of the stone, and to print it out so that the stone itself is about 95mm high. This I stuck to a piece of balsa wood and cut it out on my bandsaw, (what would I do without that old machine which, by the way, I bought in 1986?) The next stage was to make up some of my "muck", a mixture of papier mache, PVA glue and a touch of filler, which I applied to the back, sides and top of the stone, and drying it with my good lady`s hair dryer.

Left to do.
1. Finish the colour bearers and prime them.
2. Make the colours.
3. Paint all the figures, (toy soldier style).
4. Finish the rough cut areas of the stone with colour and dry brush.
5. Glue all figures to the base, and finish off the scenics.
6. Transport the finished vignette to Arbroath at the weekend, hand over to sonny boy in the knowledge that it will become part of the Corps for always.

Better crack on then eh?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Vignette - Making a start.

The photo shows the figures I am using to make the vignette for my son, his leaving present to the Sgt`s Mess. These are just some of the 54mm toy soldier figures I used to produce years ago as Pentland Miniatures, and I had to get my melting pot and casting machine out of mothballs again as I was short of the officer bodies.
I originally sculpted the masters without heads and arms, in various poses and uniforms. Three different heads and different arms made for many and varied permutations. The figures shown will be, (left to right) the commanding officer, subaltern Queen`s Colour, subaltern Regimental Colour, RSM, (the only one cast from a gravity mould as a one piece, minus head), WO2 (sonny boy) and two Colour Sergeants with SA80 at the slope. The arms for each are in front of the respective figure.
There is still some cleaning up to do before sticking the heads in place and attaching the arms, then I will give them a polish before priming them for painting. The Queen`s & Regimental colours will be the subject of another post, and the projected day for completion is Thursday night, March 1st, so I will have to knuckle down after coming home from work.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Father and son weekend.

My son John, has invited me on a father and son weekend, laid on by the sergeant`s mess at 45 Commando RM. They held one in 2010 which I attended. Arriving at RM Condor in Arbroath on the Friday, there was a meet and greet in the mess that night at which a fantastic hot buffet was provided, after which we had a few beers and a pub quiz.

The Saturday was taken up by doing various activities. We were divided into four teams of fathers and sons, and our team firstly did a rock climb followed by an eighty foot abseil, then it was off to the S.A.T. range, every little boy`s dream as it is like a massive arcade video shooting game, but using the real thing. The weapons are hooked up to a CO2 supply, simply to give a realistic recoil when the trigger is pulled. A laser acquires the target and hits are totted up by computer. A great piece of kit.

After a bag lunch, we were off for a ride in a BV, a tracked vehicle which bends in the middle. When I say "bends", it is actually one tracked vehicle towing another, but unlike the conventional towbar set up, they are connected by hydraulic bars. We were taken over the rough terrain course and through water obstacles, a wild ride! The BV will easily climb a 60 degree slope, but I think that the steepest gradient we did was 45 degrees.

The BV ride ended at the 30 metre range where we were to have a shoot as part of a competition to find the best shot among the fathers. I have fired the SA80 before at a previous F & S weekend at 40 Commando. I had, in my time in the Corps, been instructed in the SLR, 7.62 of stopping power, and knew what a recoil it had, but I was surprised to find that the SA80, even though it fires a smaller round, has quite a kick to it as well.

We were given a 30 round magazine to fire in the prone position. This was to get a group on the target, and find a point to aim off so that we were hitting the centre of the target, since we weren`t to alter the sights. On inspection of my target, my group was about the size of a 50p piece, and I knew that I hadn`t lost my shooting skills.

Another full magazine, this time standing, and we were ready to do the competition shoot, the same thing all over again, only this time at competition targets. There was a lot of ammunition left, and we just had to fire it off, but with the MINIME, a great little machine gun which I wanted to take home with me. Obviously, I wasn`t allowed to. For me, the shooting was the highlight of the day.

On the Saturday evening we attended a regimental dinner in the mess. Best bib and tucker, and all the SNCOs in mess dress, we sat down to a wonderful meal, drank good wine, and the port was passed about five times I think, by which time I was quite tipsy having had a couple of beers before the meal.

The mess president stood up and said that we were probably anxious to know who had won the shooting competition, then went about telling us in true X Factor fashion by drawing it out from fourth place to first. At the end of my shoot that day, I had four rounds left when I finished firing in the standing position, a possible 40 points lost, but not enough to keep me from getting my mitts on the trophy, an engraved pewter hip flask.

After the dinner it was back to the bar for a few more beers and games of "nails". Now to explain how the game is played would take another post, but the outcome of each game is that the loser buys a round of drinks, something which, luckily never happened to me. We got our heads down around three in the morning, got up and had breakfast and later said our goodbyes to each other. All in all a great weekend, and I am looking forward to March 4th.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Recently the men of 45 Commando Royal Marines held a service to the memory of all ranks of the unit who have given their lives in the service of Queen and country since 1971. Some of these men were known to me, and, more recently, to my son John, a WO2 in the corps at present, and in the colour party on the day of the dedication of a large granite stone, on which the names of the fallen have been chiseled.

John will be moving from 45 Commando to CTCRM in March. It is the custom to present the Sergeant's mess with a little something for the mess display cabinet, and he has asked me to make a vignette of the scene on the day of the dedication, using my own range of 54mm toy soldiers which I used to sell some years ago. Obviously, being an ex Royal, I tended to concentrate on RM figures, and still have some which I can use.

The making of the vignette will be the subject of future posts