Saturday, August 22, 2015

Robert Young Pelton

Yesterday my family and I got back from vacation. I didn't bother to take my whole painting kit to the beach house, but instead brought lots of books and box with all the stuff I would need to prepare as many miniatures as possible (more stuff than I thought). I read 1 2/3 books and prepped about a months work of figures (and heavy weapons) to paint.

The first book I read was The Hunter, The Hammer, and Heaven: Journeys to Three Worlds Gone Mad by Robert Young Pelton. Pelton is a danger seeking freelance reporter who's been just about everywhere that's been at war in the past few decades and is frequently seen on TV. He regularly updates a guide titled The World's Most Dangerous Places. This book, written ~2001, covers three war-torn areas in three parts: The Hunter, Sierra Leone; The Hammer, Chechnya; and Heaven; Bougainville. (You can easily guess which section I was most interested in.) Previous to reading this book I knew next to nothing about the conflict in Sierra Leone so I found his quick overview of the situation in ~1999 interesting. His travelogue concerning the country was written just after a peace accord had been reached so it wasn't that exciting. He met lots of odd ball South African mercenary characters that provide lots of interesting insights and there's lots of scary child soldier stories. Yup, the miniature painter in me couldn't help but think that'd be interesting period to paint. His coverage of Chechnya was much better. His quick overview of the wars up until December 1999 was lacking, but after that his description of his journey from Georgia thru the mountains and into Grozny at the beginning of the Second Chechen War was great, at times thrilling. I got a good sense of the war from his write-up and gained a lot admiration for his determination to get there. In particular I enjoyed reading about his meeting with Aslan Maskhadov. The third part covered his tireless efforts to meet up with a reclusive revolutionary named Francis Ona who has been fighting the Papua New Guinea government for control of the island of Bougainville. Eventually he meets the guy, but not before numerous failures and a section detailing the beginnings of the private army business (that part was dull). I'm glad I found the book (it didn't come up in my initial searches) and someday I might read more of his adventure books. I learned a lot with this one and now know what it is I've seen wrapped around almost every Chechen AK stock (and other weapons) ... rubber tourniquets!

Robert Young Pelton reporting for ABC News in Chechnya 1999/2000.

As far as miniature painters go I'm probably one of the slowest to prepare minis. I really like to take my time to needle file every mold line and fill up every hole with green putty. I usually find the work relaxing. Sometimes though after painting a big batch of minis I just want to plow into the next set. I can be a bit bummed when I have to take a few days to prep the next batch. Hopefully this will keep me set for a few weeks! I've also tried something new ... basing a bit beforehand so I don't spend as much time redoing what I've messed up painting the base. If it works out I might save myself a day.

Various RH Models miniatures ready to be painted.

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