NSW Colonial 15 Pounder Field Gun

A couple of months ago my wonderful wife and I made a rare flying visit to Hobart. We stayed in Hobart overnight and then made a very leisurely journey home, stopping at many of the small towns on the way back to see what we could see. One of the towns we stopped at was Ross, in the Tasmanian Midlands. Ross is an old garrison town, with a world renowned carved stone bridge. Many an illustrious British regiment had troops stationed there to guard convicts and hunt down bushrangers.

While looking around Ross, I took the opportunity to revisit the war memorial and an impressive old breech loading 15 pounder field gun that has been there ever since I can remember.  I recall the gun as being painted grey but in 2017 she was refurbished. I don’t know how accurate the restoration was but the Ross field gun is a mighty fine piece of ordnance.

Ross Gun Muzzle

Ross Gun Left

The plaques underneath the gun read:

“B. L. 15 Pounder Mark 1 No. 788 Anglo-Boer War. 1899-1902”

“This gun is one of six delivered to New South Wales circa 1898. Used by Australian Troops in their first action outside Australia. Presented to Ross township.

Range 6,000 yards – 5,490 metres;

Calibre 3″ – 76.2 mm;

Weight of ammunition 14 pounds – 6.4 Kg.

Documented by The Artillery Historical Trust of Tasmania, Northern Branch, 10th Nov. 1996.”

Ross Gun Breech

Ross Gun Right

The website of the Tasmanian Wool Centre in Ross has a comprehensive history of the 15 pounder that is really quite interesting reading and can be reached via http://www.taswoolcentre.com.au/museum/objects/ross-gun-15-pound-field-gun.

The Wool Centre tells the fascinating history of wool growing in Tasmania; it also has an excellent a local history museum attached and is well worth a visit if you are ever in Ross.

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Moulds Galore

Cavalry

I have never been one to pass up on a sale. So when Prince August had a sale after Christmas, I availed myself of the opportunity to expand my selection of moulds. My purchases were chiefly intended to round out my 40mm generic cavalry for the 18th century. To that end I bought a variant cavalry trooper, a flag bearer, and a mounted officer from the Irish Wild Geese range. I also acquired an extra advancing infantry mould from the same range. Additional moulds do come in handy when casting a lot of figures at the same time.

Officers and infantry.jpg

I also took the opportunity to add a few new fantasy moulds to my growing collection. It is a bit of a random selection involving armoured skeletons, men at arms, and goblin wolf rider moulds.  I aim to use them eventually to cast some basic fantasy armies so I can play some of the rule sets I have picked up over the years.

Fantasy

Prince August recently had another sale and once more I could not pass on the opportunity to add to my collection. So yet again I am waiting in anticipation for still more moulds to come.  In the meantime I have been searching for a new light source to replace the old halogen lamp I used to paint by. It would seem that I am getting ready to start painting again if nothing interrupts.

“Gone all Countrified”

home view

Another Christmas and New Year has come and gone since my last blog post and I have “upped stumps” and moved house. The experience of moving isn’t one I want to repeat for a very long time, if ever. However, it’s done and we are settled in to our new home in the country. We aren’t at all far from a sizable town but the aspect is decidedly rural. It is a real pleasure to watch the local livestock grazing and to look up and see an eagle fly over or to hear singing larks rise from the surrounding fields.

My toy soldier / wargaming collections survived the move without any major losses. The only casualties were a box of Vikings that I dropped from a small height. Thankfully they will mostly just need some weapons reattached and some retouching of the paint work. Only one chap was a write off, as he broke at the ankles.  Admittedly I could repair the damage but I never liked that figure anyway. He will in time be reincarnated via the casting pot.

One aspect I did enjoy about packing up my collection was rediscovering projects and miniatures that had been buried deep in storage. There were many exclamations of “ooh”,” ah”, and “I had forgotten about that!” Sadly a lot that stuff has once again been put into deep storage but there is the future prospect of a bunker / man cave where they can be stored more readily to hand or even displayed. However the journey of rediscovery has prompted much rethinking about where I want to head with gaming and collecting, along with thoughts about past inspirations.

I have made a few gaming related purchases both before and after the move. Before moving I acquired some pre painted miniatures from the long defunct Havok Skirmish game and a couple of Plast Craft Games sci-fi buildings. After our big move, I took advantage of some pre-Christmas sales and bought two rule books from Osprey and more moulds from Prince August. However most of my campaigning over the summer involves doing jobs around the house and the application of various edged weaponry to tame a heavily weed infested and over grown garden.

Unfortunately the two Osprey rule books were water damaged in transit. I contacted Osprey and they are kindly sending replacement copies. The books were the Dan Mersey rule sets “Dragon Rampant” and “Lion Rampant”. I have played the medieval set “Lion Rampant” before but didn’t own a copy of the rules. However I enjoyed the game enough to warrant buying a copy to put on my shelf. “Dragon rampant” is new to me but it seems like they will be a fun set of rules to play. I’m not sure when I will get around to reading or playing either of them as I still haven’t done anything with the “The Men Who Would Be King” rules I bought months ago.

pteravore

karn battle form

The Havok miniatures I bought were unopened “new’ old stock consisting of 3 boxes of Pteravore Razors and a boxed Karn Battle Form. I have added these to my Havok Skirmish collection that I originally acquired more than twenty years ago. As I am intending to do some generic sci-fi gaming down the track, I am attempting to build on the stuff I already have.

I have also been on the hunt for suitable sci-fi terrain. To that end, I bought the trading post and house pod to use with the Havok figures. The Plast Craft Games sci-fi buildings are pre-coloured and cut, so I only need to assemble them at some point.

My new moulds from the pre-Christmas Prince August sale are fairly diverse.  I bought an additional horse mould and mould two of the “Great Britain: 1st Foot Guards” from their Napoleonic range.  I also acquired an eighteenth century cavalry trooper and trumpeter from the PA French regiments range of moulds and a Prussian infantry mould from their Seven Years War series. Lastly but not least, I bought  the Black Watch highland regiment mould set from PA’s 54mm Traditional Toy Soldiers On Parade.

pa mixed moulds

Prince August had another sale after Christmas, so I’m now waiting for even more moulds to add to my ever growing collection. I occasionally think I am turning into the toy soldier collector / wargamer equivalent of a “prepper”, just hoarding in case of a doomsday scenario.  I did do some 40mm casting before we moved but the figures were destined to be given as a birthday gift. However if civilization should be destroyed tomorrow I will still be able to play with toy soldiers…eventually!

house

In the post-Christmas sales I picked up a ready-made cardboard house ornament in a local craft shop for five dollars. The model house with a little work and some basic painting will prove suitable for gaming in a wide range of periods. Although it is a bit big for 40mm figures it will work well with 54mm toy soldiers. I have, however simply added it to my stash of gaming stuff for the time being.

I will continue to stockpile casting and gaming stuff when the opportunity presents itself. Hopefully sometime soon I will return to painting and gaming with renewed enthusiasm. In the meantime my new home and the garden demand my full attention.

 

Upgraded equipment and yet another new mould.

In the past I have used a camping stove to melt metal for casting. However, they do have some safety issues with exploding gas canisters. My wonderful wife, concerned about my safety, urged me to buy an electric hotplate. So I recently bought a cheap double hot plate from Kmart. A quick test has revealed that it will melt casting metal, although more slowly than the gas stove. Better to be safe than sorry.

Electric Hot Plate

The new mould is a recent purchase on German EBay.  It was made by a company called Scad that produced seemingly random moulds of semi round figures depicting various troops of the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian Wars.  Unfortunately the moulds are no longer produced and the company seems to be long gone. Fortunately, it is still possible to pick up second hand moulds from time to time.

Scad Dragoon Mould

The Scad mould is a French dragoon of Napoleon III from the Franco-Prussian War and will provide me with some more 40mm cavalry for the conduct of little wars. My small collection of Scad moulds is mostly a mix of 1st and 2nd Empire French. The moulds produce nicely detailed castings which paint up handsomely in a toy soldier style but can readily be painted in a more realistic fashion. Consequently, I am always on the lookout for more.

Napoleonic Medalist

The Napoleonic Wars have fascinated me ever since I can remember and I have always wanted some token (other than toy soldiers) that directly expresses my interest in the period. A few weeks ago, I was spending some late night idle time on Ebay and came across a replica campaign medal. There had been a few bids on it but they were still very low, so I placed a throw away bid on it and went to bed. To my surprise I won it and have recently received it in the post.

Waterloo Reverse        Waterloo Obverse

The replica is a faithful copy of the Waterloo Medal that was issued between 1816 and 1817 to all ranks of the British Army and the King’s German Legion, who served in the 100 Days campaign culminating in the Battle of Waterloo on the 18th June 1815. The reverse of the silver medal features an image of Victory with “Wellington” inscribed above and “Waterloo June 18 1815” below. George, the Prince Regent, is depicted on the obverse of the medal with his name and title. It is a fairly iconic representation of Waterloo and the Napoleonic Wars in general, so I am quite pleased to have one, even if it is only a replica. I have plans of placing it in a shadow box for display at some point.

More Prince August Moulds.

PA 54mm Dragoon

Taking advantage of recent sales at Prince August, I have been most fortunate to add more moulds to my growing collection. Cavalry have been added to the small stockpile of “Traditional Toy Soldiers on Parade” in the form of moulds for 54mm dragoons and hussars. The French & Indian War collection has been increased with the French infantry mould, my first purchase from the new 40mm Seven Years War series.

PA 54mm Hussar

I have previously purchased some of the 25mm Fantasy Armies series moulds, mostly as substitutes for various Dark Age types.  I do have a few pure fantasy moulds, so an Orc mould has been added to them. The British infantry mould from the 25mm Battle of Waterloo series represents the start of an opposing allied force to the two French line grenadier moulds I already have.

PA Moulds

In the current May sale at Prince August, I have purchased moulds for the 25mm French Chasseurs of the Guard Trooper, British Life Guards Trooper and one of the Napoleonic Wars Horse moulds. So I am continuing to amass moulds whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

 

Anglo-Zulu Wargaming

Some months ago Jacksarge gave me a copy of “A Wargamer’s Guide to the Anglo-Zulu War” by Daniel Mersey for my birthday. I finally managed to get around to reading it recently. The book itself has been well reviewed around the Internet, so I will keep my own thoughts on it brief. Daniel Mersey, will need no introduction as I’m sure his output is fairly well known by now in the wargaming community.

Anglo Zulu War Guide

The book is divided into seven chapters; the first chapter gives a brief outline of the war and serves as an introduction to the subject. The second chapter summarises the armies, organisation and equipment of the Zulus and the British imperial forces in turn. So while the section isn’t greatly detailed it does provide all the elementary information needed to start putting armies together and includes basic painting guides.

Chapter three discusses the key battles of the war with the exception of Intombi. Even more oddly, Ulundi the climactic battle that saw Zulu power broken isn’t addressed. Each brief description is followed by useful suggestions on how to game the battles. The fourth chapter discusses what factors impact on wargaming the overall campaign in a playable and balanced fashion, including the pros and cons of recycling Zulus (the old bugbear).

Chapter five is all about choosing the right set of rules for you to game the war with. A list of rules is provided along with a handy synopsis for each rule set and some discussion of their strengths and weaknesses. The sixth chapter is basically a list of miniatures along with brief descriptions of each range. Neither section is exhaustive in its compilation.

Chapter seven gives outlines of scenarios inspired by actual events from the Zulu war. This particularly useful section discusses the forces, table set up, victory conditions and rules considerations for each scenario. The book also features in its centre 8 colour pages of miniatures in action.  Finally, tacked on the end is an appendix of further reading.

“A Wargamer’s Guide to the Anglo-Zulu War” packs a lot of useful information and concepts into what is quite a compact book. It is definitely a solid introduction into gaming the Anglo-Zulu War and is a worthwhile addition to the colonial gamer’s bookshelf. Overall I found the book an easy but informative read and something of an inspiration.

Indeed now that I’ve completed reading it, I have been enjoying contemplating how I would game the Zulu War and what figures I might use. I have over the years started to venture down the path of gaming the war but have never made it very far. So in my own stash I have British imperial infantry well covered. Somewhere hiding away is a box of 15mm Stone Mountain miniatures, some 28mm Black Tree (I think) and some 30mm zinnfiguren. I also have one 25mm Irregular Miniatures Zulu acquired in the now dim past.

Out of the Zinnbrigade moulds I have, I could easily create a passable imperial force in 40mm but Zulus would be a problem. Unless I could cast my own, I would have to totally rely on the 40mm colonial range from Irregular Miniatures. That is an expensive proposition even at the low prices that Irregular charge. The only thing I can be sure of is that I would want the shiny steadfast toy soldier look in whatever size / scale I chose. In any event it would be a long term project but I can make use of Junior General paper figures in the short term, so I could have the odd game and keep the dream alive. Especially as Daniel Mersey’s “The Men Who Would Be Kings” colonial rules have just turned up on my doorstep.

 

The long silence!

It has been more than a few months since I last posted on this blog and many a moon has passed since I last had a wargame. The last game I played was over a year ago. It proved not to be an enjoyable experience, so I have not bothered with playing wargames at all since. My more recent lack of posts is largely due to a sense of wargaming ennui and some real life unexpected events.

I haven’t been doing much painting either. Although I have made a little effort and daubed a bit of paint on some Tasmanian 40mm toy soldiers. Currently awaiting completion is the company of Launceston Rifles, that I started some time ago, and some Tasmanian Permanent Artillery. There is also a painted but un-based and unvarnished Viking that has been waiting to be finished for a very long time. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it as I find that I now prefer and enjoy a simple toy soldier figure style.

I have continued to develop a few wargaming related projects since my last post and have acquired a number of books as gifts and purchases. My collection of moulds for metal casting has been growing apace with acquisitions made from Prince August during their sales. I really like the idea of moulds as they are full of potential and can just sit in a box until you need a few figures.

PA Colour Party

The Prince August 54mm Traditional Toy Soldiers on Parade Colour Party was a particularly welcome addition. I have also bought some of Prince August’s 25mm fantasy moulds that I carefully selected for their usefulness in creating Dark Age armies. The cannon and crew moulds from the Prince August Wild Geese series have also been picked up to further round out my stockpile of moulds for the French and Indian War. I should probably explain that as I don’t think I have mentioned the project before.

I have long desired to do some aspect of the SYW and originally I had intended to do it in 30mm, using a variety of figures including zinnfiguren and old Spencer Smiths. However the cost of going down that path proved too prohibitive so I started to look around for an alternative. I then remembered Prince August had an assortment of moulds suitable for producing toy soldiers for the SYW in 40mm, a size of figure that I really quite like.

So I narrowed down the focus to the FIW, making the project more achievable. As a result, I have been buying and stockpiling moulds from PA’s Wild Geese, French and Karoliner series, along with moulds from the old Holger Eriksson Cowboys and Indians range. I chose these rather than the newer SYW range because they are more complete and being a bit more generic I can use them for both sides. However, I do want to collect the more recently released SYW moulds down the track.

While my focus has been on stockpiling moulds, I have had other projects on the go. Some of my hobby time has been spent making alien style plants for future sci-fi battles. My major project, however, has involved the continuing effort to gather a 54mm medieval battle host using Britain’s Herald and Deetail toy soldiers.

Britains Deetail Knights

I am a natural collector of things but these will, I hope, occasionally see some table top action rather than just be dust accumulators. I will blog about those in more detail another time. I hope to resume casting in the autumn and I am rather looking forward to start casting some figures for the FIW. So, as you can see, I am still doing hobby related stuff despite my long silence.

 

Plaster Panzers and Plasticine Hills

While I am still not in a painting and gaming mood, I am continuing to read about playing with toy soldiers and military history. Indeed my last book was one that proved seminal to the rise of modern wargaming. A little while ago I was fortunate to secure on EBay a 1972 edition copy, in good condition, of Donald Featherstone’s 1962 book “War Games Battles and Manoeuvres with Toy Soldiers”. Reading it proved to be a fascinating journey into the past and the start of wargaming as a popular hobby.

War Games

After a foreword by the esteemed Brigadier Peter Young, the book explains what wargames are and how you go about setting them up. Campaigns are broadly described and solo games are also briefly covered. Having elucidated wargaming to the reader, Donald Featherstone provides a collection of five rules for gaming periods from the ancient world to World War 2 (or Modern as it is referred to in the book). The rules are supported with exciting battle reports and photographs showing how the conflicts play out.

The first rules, by the revered Tony Bath, cover ancient warfare. These are demonstrated by the fantasy battle of “Trimsos” between the Hyperboreans and the Hyrkanians using zinnfiguren. The second set of rules address horse and musket warfare. These are illustrated by an American Civil War battle called “Action in the Plattville Valley” where blue and grey shiny toy soldiers fight over hills made of plasticine. The venerable Lionel Tarr’s highly detailed modern (i.e. WWII) rules are the next to be explained, followed by a simplified set for less rigorous games. The simple modern rules are then exhibited through a WWII “Tank and Infantry Action on the St James Road” between British Grenadier Guards, with supporting miniature tanks, and the Herman Goering Panzer Grenadiers, with homemade panzers of plaster. The last set of rules, “Close Wars”, appear in the appendices and are designed for skirmish actions in the French and Indian War of the 18th Century.  The appendices also contain instructions for making Lionel Tarr’s wargaming periscope.

While “War Games Battles and Manoeuvres with Toy Soldiers” may not be as relevant to wargamers as it was when it was first published some 55 years ago it still inspires. It certainly gives some insight into the thinking of past wargaming worthies on rules and playing wargames. The rules supplied within the book are quite playable and the thrilling battle reports are still a pleasure to read. The book also demonstrates quite brilliantly that good fun games can be played without all the frippery and paraphernalia of modern wargaming. In short, the book is a word to the wise and a tonic for the jaded.

Prince August Toy Soldier Moulds

During a recent sale on the Prince August website I was able to buy the boxed “54mm Toy Soldiers on Parade Moulds”. Indeed I was fortunate enough to have a voucher which meant I only paid a couple of dollars for the set, including postage. I’m looking forward to casting some figures from the moulds and painting them in the full splendour of the shiny toy soldiers that captured my imagination so long ago. The moulds don’t represent a move to another size of wargames miniatures; they are simply a welcome return to creating and collecting traditional toy soldiers.

PA Toy Soldier Mould Box PA Toy Soldier Moulds