“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.

 

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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.

 

 

Reading Roundup

Summer is now long past but I haven’t as yet resumed painting toy soldiers and I don’t have much inclination to do so at the moment. However, I have acquired some new books over the past few months. The first of these was “Great Military Disasters from Bannockburn to Stalingrad” by Julian Spilsbury. It proved to be an accessible read that gives some interesting perspectives on how great military disasters arise. While the causes prove to be many, good old human incompetence tops the list. Of course the book equally demonstrates how great victories were achieved by the opposing forces, and it certainly proves what a perilous undertaking it is committing your forces to battle.

Great Military Disasters

Next on my list of new books is “Wargaming an Introduction” by Neil Thomas. As the name suggests it provides an introduction to wargaming the major periods from Ancients to WW2. It also provides some excellent rules for gaming each of those. I read this book some nine years ago when I borrowed it from the local library. I enjoyed reading the book then and appreciated the elegance of the rules. The book still stands up as an enjoyable read and rules are still well-designed even all these years later.

I was prompted to buy “Wargaming an Introduction” after reading some online reviews of the WW2 rules it contained. I had been looking for a set of WW2 rules that weren’t too tortuous to play. I have played the WW2 rules contained in “One Hour Wargames” by Neil Thomas and enjoyed them immensely but I wanted to try something that could handle larger and more varied forces. I haven’t as yet used the “Wargaming an Introduction” WW2 rules but I look forward to doing so.

Wargaming an Introduction

“The Battles of Tolkien” by David Day I picked up in a local bookshop. It is a beautiful book to behold with its many gorgeous illustrations and faux tooled leather cover. The book came plastered with the warning “This work is unofficial and is not authorized by the Tolkien Estate or HarperCollins Publishers”. However, it proved an interesting read that more addressed what inspired Tolkien’s depictions of warfare in Middle Earth than an analysis of the weapons and structure of the forces involved. More care should have been taken in the preparation and production of the text in “The Battles of Tolkien” as there are some issues with its clarity and typography. The battle maps could also have been clearer. Despite that, the book is a handy reference and would bejewel any bookshelf.

Battles of Tolkien

My most recent acquisition is “The Soldier” by Chris McNab and was procured from ABE Books for a tiny sum. I bought this book after reading a very comprehensive review of it on the Man of Tin blog. The edition I have was only published last year and is very up to date. The book endeavours to describe the personal experiences of soldiers from the Seven Years War to present conflicts. It is a really well put together book filled with useful information and excellent illustrations and detailed colour plates of uniformed soldiers. It is best described as an “Eyewitness Guide” style book for adults.

The Soldier

Napoleonic Voltigeurs and a Small Mishap.

I completed the 40mm French Napoleonic voltigeurs some time ago but only finally varnished and photographed them in December of last year, so I thought it was about time I actually posted them. I am very pleased with how they turned out as they capture the shiny toy soldier look rather well. The figures are home cast from Zinnbrigade moulds and painted with acrylics and then gloss varnished.

voltigeurs-front

voltigeurs-rear

The voltigeurs will join the nascent French army opposing the equally growing Tasmanian and Imperial forces.  They will of course, and despite any anachronisms, participate in future battle games involving a fictitious Victorian conflict after the fashion of “The Great War in England in 1897” by William Le Queux.

voltigeurs-march

voltigeurs-advancing

On a more frustrating note, a few hours before I prepared this post I was moving stuff around and managed drop a tin full of the 20mm WWII British that I posted about last November. It proved to be something of a disaster as I now have a tin full of figures with chipped paint and bent weapons. There is also one figure that will probably require some deft work with the soldering iron. The temptation is simply to ditch the figures and buy replacements to paint or to strip them back entirely and repaint them from scratch.

I have, for the moment, set them aside until I can do an assessment with a calm analytical eye. I may simply get away with careful retouching of the damage but it is still immensely disheartening. Needless to say it will be a long while before my WWII British will be ready to take to the field again.

A Bevy of Books.

It has been a while since I have been able to update this blog, so I thought I would write a quick post about my book purchases over the past few months. I have read a couple in full already and will gradually read all of them as time and inclination allows.

First up: “World Uniforms and battles 1815 – 50” by Philip Haythornethwaite and Michael Chappell. It is a book with which to while away time looking at fabulous uniforms of the post-Napoleonic period until the middle of the Nineteenth Century, before uniforms started down the path to practicality. The many colour plates and descriptions provide plenty of inspiration for toy soldiers. This second-hand book was published back in 1976 as part of the excellent Blandford Colour Series on military uniforms. This series provides my favourite “go to” books on military uniforms.

world-uniforms-and-battles

Another second-hand purchase was “An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Military Uniforms of the 19th Century” by Kevin F. Kiley and Digby Smith.  As the name suggests, this book covers in reasonable detail the uniforms of the combatants in the various wars of the Nineteenth Century. It is beautifully and lavishly illustrated and is sure to provide further inspiration for toy soldiers.

military-uniforms19th-century

I found “Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles” by Bernard Cornwell at a local bookshop and bought it on a whim. I am very familiar with Bernard Cornwell’s “Sharpe” series and was quite intrigued how his first foray into factual history would go. I found it a very enjoyable but informative read. It is an accessible and refreshing look at a battle that has probably had more books written about it than any other.

waterloo

“Napoleonic Infantry” and “Napoleonic Cavalry” by Philip Haythornethwaite from the Napoleonic Weapons and Warfare series, published by Cassell, were a serendipitous find in a local second-hand bookshop. While I have not read these as yet, the books endeavour to provide an overview of the weapons and tactics of the mounted and foot arms of Napoleonic armies.

napoleonic-infantry

napoleonic-cavalry

I picked up “Generals: Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World” by Mark Urban on the sale table of a local bookshop.  I have only just started reading this but it seems a quite interesting history of a selection of generals from Monck to Montgomery.

generals

From the same sale table came “How History’s Greatest Pirates Pillaged, Plundered, and Got Away with It: The Stories, Techniques, and Tactics of the Most Feared Sea Rovers from 1500-1800” by Benerson  Little. The title says it all. I have read a few chapters of this entertaining book, despite the over the top title.

pirates

I hope after this little literary interlude to have some more toy soldiers to show,  it is simply a matter of me getting motivated enough to apply the final finishing touches to them. In the mean while I am greatly looking forward to attending a concert by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards next month.

Veteran Imperial Guard Voltigeurs

It has been a while since the last update to this blog but I haven’t been entirely idle in that time. Since my last post I have completed a unit of second generation Miniature Figurines Imperial Guard voltigeurs. They were bought second hand some time ago and required a few physical repairs before being repainted.

Young Guard Voltigeurs

Young Guard Voltigeurs Command
I have also been working on building the old Airfix 1:76 Bren Gun Carrier and 6pdr Anti-Tank Gun plastic kit (no pictures as yet). This is almost complete and it only remains for me to apply the decals and then a coat of matte varnish when I get around to it. I have further completed some small terrain features and have been doing a bit of home casting but all that will feature in another post.

One Hour Wargames Double Feature AAR

I have previously reviewed on this blog “One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space” by Neil Thomas. Last week I was at last able put some of the rules and a couple of scenarios from the book to the test with my friend John of Jacksarge’s Wargames Ramblings. Our field of battle was a round dining table just under four feet in diameter and covered with a green blanket and terrain features. We played two games; one late morning and one in the early afternoon. I photographed both games, although some the pictures are a bit blurry they do show the general course of the battles quite well.

WW2 Game
Our first action of the day was fought using the World War 2 rules and scenario 14 from “One Hour Wargames”. The premise of the scenario is the static defence of two terrain features; one a hill and the other a town. The defenders had to remain in control of both for fifteen turns, with two units always within 12” of each of the features. Both sides consisted of six units of 1/72 tanks, support weapons and infantry. The resulting game was an all-out firefight that ended by about turn 8. John had the British force while I had the Germans.

At the start of the game the British occupied the ruined town with one infantry unit, with support provided by the nearby mortar and AT gun. One infantry squad held the woods in the centre of the table, while another was held in reserve near the hill at the back of the battlefield. A Cromwell Mk IV held the hill.

Turn one after the Germans have deployed.

Turn one after the Germans have deployed.

First turn of the WW2 game saw the Germans deploy onto the table and immediately come under heavy fire from the already deployed British. Turn two saw a general German advance with one infantry unit attacking the British occupied town, while the other two attacked the defended woods. The two stugs moved forward to engage the lone Cromwell.

Turn two and the Germans attack.

Turn two and the Germans attack.

By turn four the British had eliminated one of the attacking German squads. One German unit had entered the ruined town and attacked the British unit entrenched there. A second unit entered the wooded area and took on the British there. The two German Stugs had moved forward and engaged the Cromwell on the hill top doing significant damage but failing to destroy it. One Stug was destroyed by return fire from the Cromwell and the rapidly redeployed AT gun.

Turn four and the German attackbegins to falter.

Turn four and the German attack begins to falter.

By turn six the second Stug had fallen prey to the combined fire power of the Cromwell and AT gun and the German squad fighting in the town had been destroyed. Turn eight saw the last German infantry squad eliminated and a British victory.

Turn six and the German attack is stopped.

Turn six and the German attack is stopped.

Turn eight and British victory!

Turn eight and British victory!

Napoleonic Game
After a quick change of scenery we played the second game using the horse and musket rules found in the book. We used the army generator also found in the book to create both forces of six units each of 15mm Napoleonics. This game, scenario 9, was a double delaying action based on the Battle of Wavre. John’s British had the difficult task of remaining in control of the town while withdrawing 3 units. A unit had to be withdrawn of the table by the 4th, 8th and 12th turns respectively. The French were tasked with delaying the withdrawal or seizing the town. This game was hard fought and ran almost the full 15 turns, with final victory for the British resting on the success of one last volley.

The British began the game already deployed with one unit of skirmishers and one unit of infantry in the town. A second unit of skirmishers occupied the woods further up the river, overlooking a ford. Support was provided by another infantry unit near the ford. A gun battery was placed on the hill to the rear of the British deployment zone and a further infantry unit straddled the road to the rear of the town.

Turn one British positions.

Turn one British positions.

During turn one the French arrived on the battlefield and immediately advanced three units of infantry towards the town. An artillery battery held the French centre while a unit of French cavalry and a unit of infantry advanced towards the ford. The British responded by opening fire with the artillery and the units deployed in the town and further up the river.

Turn three saw the French flanking force reach the ford, putting the cavalry within striking distance of the British infantry situated there. The British infantry unit reacted by forming square. The British defending the town kept up the exchange of volleys with French infantry endeavouring to assault the town.

Turn three and the French reach the ford.

Turn three and the French reach the ford.

The fourth turn saw one of the French units involved in the attempt to take the town destroyed. One of the other remaining French infantry units was sent to support the more successful advance of the flanking force. The British infantry in square was also eliminated by the fire from the French flanking force and the artillery battery. The British infantry on the road withdrew off the table in accordance with the scenario requirements. The French cavalry, after crossing the ford, kept up their advance towards the British artillery on the hill.

During turn five the British skirmishers in the wood retired towards the hill at their rear. The French cavalry charged the British gun battery, while the rest of the flanking force followed on. The town remained hotly contested. Over the next couple of turns the French cavalry repeatedly charged the British artillery and were repulsed. The British skirmishers continued their withdrawal to the hill.

Turn five and the French Cavalry charge!

Turn five and the French cavalry charge!

The British battery withdrew off the table during turn seven and was replaced on the hill top by the skirmishers. These were also able to beat off a further attack by the French cavalry before continuing their own withdrawal off the table. The British skirmishers in the town succumbed to French artillery fire, leaving only one British infantry unit holding on.

Turn seven and the French flanking force breaks through.

Turn seven and the French flanking force breaks through.

The French infantry unit attacking the town from across the river was eliminated by turn eight. With turn nine the French cavalry left the table in pursuit of the escaped British, while the remaining French flanking forces and the artillery turned their attention to capturing the town. Despite being out numbered the British stoutly defended the town and inflicted punishing casualties on the attacking French during turns ten and eleven. The French artillery limbered up during turn ten and forded the river.

Turn nine the French attack the town.

Turn nine the French attack the town.

Turn twelve saw the intense fight for the town continue with one of the remaining French infantry units being eliminated. The limbered French artillery kept up their advance. By turn thirteen the last British unit was only three points away from its break point of fifteen. However they managed to survive the French fusillade and in return delivered a devastating volley that destroyed the last French infantry unit. So with the French no longer able to seize the town, the British were victorious.

Turn thirteen and the British die hards are victorious!

Turn thirteen and the British die hards are victorious!

My Further thoughts on “One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space” (see my earlier review).

“One Hour Wargames” proved great fun. The rules, although simple and relatively abstract, do manage to convey some sense of playing a particular period while delivering a fast paced game. The scenarios provide some depth to the games and present real challenges to the players. “One Hour Wargames” are a very practical solution for those wanting to play an engaging wargame to a conclusion, while having a good laugh. “One Hour Wargames can also be a useful “toolbox” for those wanting to produce more detailed but still (hopefully) fast play variant rules such as those currently to be found on the Ancient & Medieval Wargaming Yahoo Group which is the discussion group for all of Neil Thomas’s rules and books.

Napoleonics “Flagged and Flocked”

Some photos of napoleonic miniatures that I have recently completed painting or refurbishing and that have received new flags and basing (Flagged and Flocked). Most of the miniatures are second-hand and veterans of other armies but have now found a home in mine. All of the figures have had either some retouching or total repainting before being varnished and rebased. However a few of the miniatures are brand new and have of course been painted from scratch. These were to fill out otherwise incomplete units. I take great pleasure in buying old and second hand miniatures and giving them a new lease of wargaming life. They represent not only the armies of their period of history but also part of the history of wargaming.

The first photos are of brigaded French line grenadiers in bearskins. The fanion should not have an eagle but I am loath to remove figures that already possess one. So I will pretend that their colonel had deep pockets and provided them with a non-regulation one.

Line Grenadiers 1Line Grenadiers 2

The next images are of Westphalian Guard Jagers, these received very little retouching before being revarnished and based.

Westphalian Gd Jagers 1Westphalian Gd Jagers 2

The third group of photos are of the completed Joseph Napoleon Regiment that I have previously shown on this blog as a work in progress. The miniatures are total repaints and the flag pole is a replacement made of brass wire. The original eagle came broken and I used it to provide one for some dragoons.

Joseph Nap Regt 1Joseph Nap Regt 2Joseph Nap Regt 3

The fourth set of images is of some French light infantry.

French LI 1French LI 2

The fifth and final lot of photos is of French dragoons that I bought from Italy off Ebay. The eagle is the replacement made from brass wire topped by the broken eagle from the figures that became the Joseph Napoleon Regiment.

French Draggoons 1French Dragoons 3French Dragoons 2

A Few Old Books

I was fortunate to recently receive a voucher for a second hand bookstore that gave me the opportunity to add to my library of books on military history for a very small sum indeed. My purchase included “Armies of the Napoleonic Era” by Otto von Pivka (the nom de plume of well-known author Digby Smith) and “Weapons & Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars” by Philip Haythornthwaite. Despite their age, both of these books provide an absolute mine of information regarding the weapons, equipment and tactics of the various combatants of the Napoleonic Wars. My other second hand purchase was a copy of “Renaissance Armies 1480-1650” by George Gush. Although published in 1975 it is also a really useful book that, unsurprisingly, outlines the tactics, dress and equipment of Renaissance armies.

Renaissance Armies by George Gush

Renaissance Armies by George Gush

Weapons  and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars by Philip Haythornthwaite

Weapons and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars by Philip Haythornthwaite

Armies of the Napoleonic Era by Otto von Pivka (Digby Smith)

Armies of the Napoleonic Era by Otto von Pivka (Digby Smith)