Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Why I wargame: Ross Macfarlane's statement is spot on

I have been following Ross Macfarlane's blog BATTLE GAME OF THE MONTH for a long time, and even had the pleasure of meeting him when Sue and I visited Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2013. He is slightly younger than me, but we have both been wargaming for roughly the same amount of time and share a lot of common wargaming interests and outlooks.

In a very recent blog entry he wrote about his current interest in wargaming the early stages of the First World War. Included in the text of this particular blog entry was the following statement:
The real point is that, while preparing an old Crescent 18pdr for repainting in grey, it occurred to me that my recent enthusiasm for WWI figures and books and plan for a Centenary Homage game may have unintentionally given the impression that I might be on the cusp of reverting to being a bona fide historical miniature wargamer. Let me assure everyone that this is not the case; I remain a proponent of the Little Wars approach. Not the specific bit about shooting toy cannons but the general approach of studying history but playing a game with fictional armies of toy soldiers.
I have emboldened the last two sentences because Ross's statement encapsulates my approach to my solo wargaming. I still fight historical wargames with the other members of Wargame Developments and the Jockey's Field Irregulars, but when I am at home fighting my solo wargames I am always happier using the armies of historically and fictionally-based imagi-nations.

In his most recent blog entry, Ross Macfarlane mentions that he owns a tinplate castle that is very similar to the one I found during the recent sort out of my shed. I have now done some research and it would appear that the castle was made by Crescent Toys and was sold in at least three boxed versions:
  1. Gatehouse, small square towers, and walls
  2. Gatehouse, large round towers, small square towers, and walls
  3. Gatehouse, large round towers, small square towers, walls, and a selection of Knights
Mine appears to be the second of these versions, although the small square towers – which I remember owning – seem to have been lost at some point.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Little Wars: My 'Danish' Royal Life Guards

A LITTLE WARS session had been planned for COW2014, but unfortunately it was cancelled. This was a pity as I had decided just beforehand to 'recruit' a new unit for my 54mm-scale collection. The figures were old plastic British Guardsmen that I had been given, and I decided that with new mid blue trousers and white belts they would look rather like the Danish Royal Life Guard Regiment (Den Kongelige Livgarde) in their full-dress ceremonial uniform.

The real Danish Royal Life Guards look like this:


My toy soldier versions look like this:



Not 100% accurate ... but good enough for my wargaming needs!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Les Higgins Miniatures: Seeing them in the flesh

John Cunningham (AKA Old John) has very kindly sent me some links to The Old Metal Detector blog where it is possible to see some painted Les Higgins and Douglas Miniatures in the flesh.


The links are:
The detail on the Les Higgins Miniatures is quite phenomenal when you consider that they are 20mm-scale. They are also more anatomically 'correct' that some more modern figure ranges.



Saturday, 26 July 2014

Les Higgins Miniatures: Marlburians and other War of the Spanish Succession ranges

After one of my recent blog entries in which I mentioned Les Higgins Miniatures, I received a very nice email from John Cunningham (AKA Old John) about the Marlburian and other War of the Spanish Succession ranges that were modelled and produced by Less Higgins. I understand that John has the moulds for the following Less Higgins Miniatures as well as several other smaller ranges of compatible figures:

Figures
  • MP 1: Grenadier march attack
  • MP 2: Grenadier at ease
  • MP 3: Grenadier throwing grenade
  • MP 4: Grenadier port arms
  • MP 5: Grenadier standing firing
  • MP 6: Grenadier advance/thrusting
  • MP 7: Grenadier charging
  • MP 8: Grenadier loading
  • MP 9: Grenadier kneeling firing
  • MP 10: Musketeer loading
  • MP 11: Musketeer march attack
  • MP 12: Musketeer standing firing
  • MP 13: Musketeer kneeling firing
  • MP 14: Musketeer advance/thrusting
  • MP 15: Musketeer at ease
  • MP 16: Musketeer port arms
  • MP 17a: Grenadier Officer waving sword
  • MP 17b: Musketeer Officer waving sword
  • MP 18a: Musketeer Drummer
  • MP 18b: Grenadier Drummer
  • MP 19a: Officer with spontoon
  • MP 19b: Senior Officer (fat)
  • MP 19c: Standard Bearer
  • MP 19d: NCO (same as 20c)
  • MP 20a: Gunner with scoop
  • MP 20b: Gunner with rammer
  • MP 20c: Gunner NCO (same as 19d)
  • MP 20d: Gunner with linstock
  • MP 21: Dragoon tricorne mounted
  • MP 22: Trooper of Horse mounted
  • MP 23: General mounted
  • MP 24: Mounted Grenadier
  • MP 25: Imperial Grenadier at ease
  • MP 26: Dismounted Dragoon cap kneeling firing
  • MP 27: Dismounted Dragoon tricorne standing firing
  • MP 28: Mounted Dragoon cap
  • MP 29: Cuirassier lobster pot helmet, pistol
  • MP 30: Hussar
  • MP 31: Cuirassier in tricorne
  • MP 32: Mounted Trumpeter
  • MP 33: Cuirassier Officer tricorne
  • MP 34: Musketeer Drummer variant, different coat
  • MP 35: Musketeer no weapon, general use
  • MP 36: As MP 35, musket over left shoulder
  • MP 38: Musketeer charging
  • MP 39: Officer on foot, ornate coat, waving sword
  • MP 40: Pikeman/Standard Bearer
  • MP 41: Musketeer Drummer variant
  • MP 42: Charging fur fronted cap
  • MP 43: Musketeer advancing
  • MP 44: Grenadier charging full mitre cap
  • MP 45a: Charging fur fronted cap (small)
  • MP 45b: Charging fur fronted cap (medium)
  • MP 45c: Charging fur fronted cap (large)
  • MP 46: Officer variant of MP 19a, slightly different sword hilt
  • MP 47: Officer variant of MP 19a, more ornate wig
  • MP 48: Drummer variant fur cap with tassel
Horses
  • Type A: Standing/walking
  • Type B: Galloping
  • Type C: Trot
  • Type D: As Type A larger pistol holsters EP 23
  • Type E: As Type C larger pistol holsters EP 24
  • Type F: As Type A with food/loot bags EP 27
Artillery (Gun set consists of gun barrel, wedge, gun carriage, 2 wheels, ammo box)
  • A 1: Gun barrel medium
  • A 2: Gun barrel large
  • A 3: Gun barrel small (ECW)
  • A 5: Gun Carriage
  • A 6: Wheel
  • A 7: Ammo box small
  • A 8: Ammo box large
  • A 9: Wedges for guns
  • A 10: Wheel (ECW)
I used to have a small army of these figures, but most of them were sold when I was trying to raise money for the deposit on the first house my wife and I bought. All I have left are the few that I photographed recently.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 376

The latest issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post this morning, and I spent a very pleasant hour reading through it.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Hollow village: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts: Towers, Transits and tentacles by John Treadaway
  • Forgetting the point: Points systems are rubbish – so get BUSKing by Andrew Rolph
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Advance on Budapest '44: Panzergrenadier Deluxe in Ostfront action by David C R Brown
  • Bridge for the taking!: Make a model of Pegasus bridge by Jeff Brown
  • The Mongols in Europe 1237-1241: Part 3: the Hungarian Campaign by Mick Sayce
  • Brunkeberg 1471: Militia defeat professionals outside Stockholm by Jan Kärrman
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • Escaping Cromwell: The Salisbury/Banbury Mutiny, May 1649 by Graham Burke
  • The business vanishes: Why is running a wargames business so hard? by Martin Stephenson
  • The Secret Eye Candy Page: Battlegroup North, Elvington by Mark Phillips and Tim Waudby
  • Recce
  • Card games: The cheapest entry point for wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
I particularly liked the free model of Pegasus Bridge and the surrounding buildings (which I have visited) and the article about running a wargames business. I ran my own (non-wargaming) business for twelve years, and can attest to the fact that it is not easy. I seemed to spend more time filling in forms for and making payments to the HMRC than I did running the core business. If I had tried to do that for a business that was also my hobby, I doubt that I would still be a wargamer!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A breath of fresh air ... or I have been to ... Severndroog Castle

My wife Sue decided this lunchtime that what I needed was a breath of fresh air and a bit of exercise to help me get better ... and so we paid a visit to the newly reopened Severndroog Castle.

Severndroog Castle is a folly that was built by Lady James as a memorial to her husband, Commodore Sir William James. Commodore James achieved fame in April 1755 when he led a force that attacked and destroyed the Maratha fortress on the island of Suvarnadurg (which was pronounced Severndroog by the British). The island fortress was situated on the western coast of India between Bombay (Mumbai) and Goa.

The folly has a triangular floor plan and was designed in the Gothic-style. It is 63 feet (19m) high, and on its roof there are hexagonal turrets at each corner of the triangle. Its prominent position atop one of the highest points around London has meant that it has always enjoyed excellent views across London and the surrounding counties of Essex and Kent. In 1797 the castle was used by General William Roy when he made his trigonometric survey of Southern England, and again in 1848 when the Royal Engineers conducted their survey of London. The Castle is also reputed to have served as of the one stations on the Admiralty semaphore system between London and Chatham during the Napoleonic War, and was a fire-watching station during the Second World War.

The Castle was purchased by London County Council in 1922 and it was a local visitor attraction, with a ground-floor tearoom serving drinks and cakes. This closed in 1986 and the local council took over care and maintenance of the site. In 2002 the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust was set up with the intention of renovating the Castle and returning it to public use. After mounting a very long and sustained campaign, the Trust received £595,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding, the necessary work was done, and the Castle was officially reopened to the public on 20th July this year.

The Castle






The views from the top
(These are quite large images. To see them in detail you are advised to click on them.)

The view from the top of Severndroog Castle looking towards the south and south-west. 
The view from the top of Severndroog Castle looking westwards towards Central London.
The view from the top of Severndroog Castle looking eastwards towards Kent.
The City of London.
Some of the City's newer landmarks: the Cheese Grater and the Gherkin.

Laid low by a bug

I had hoped to spend Wednesday doing some more sorting out of the contents of the crates I took out of the now-defunct shed ... but it was not to be.

During Tuesday afternoon my stomach felt a bit queasy. I took some antacid but this seemed to have minimal effect. By the time I ate dinner at approximately 8.00pm I felt very bloated and uncomfortable, and nothing seemed to relieve the pain and discomfort. By 10.00pm my temperature was going up and down, and I decided that the best thing that I could do was to go to bed and to try to sleep.

I had been lying down for about ten minutes ... and then I had to rush to the bathroom where I was was violently ill several times. Afterwards I cleaned myself up and went back to bed ... but I woke up at 3.30am and was ill again. I finally managed to sleep through until just before 10.00am. When I woke up I had no appetite, a terrible headache, ached all over, and had a raging thirst. After a long shower and a shave I felt a bit better, and my condition gradually improved as the day went. I managed to eat some dry toast for breakfast and some chicken soup for lunch, and by late afternoon – and after a very pleasant hour or so dozing in front of the TV – my headache finally disappeared.

The twenty-four hour bug was very unpleasant whilst it lasted, but after a good night's sleep I feel almost back to normal ... and now I can get back to the contents of those crates!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My Hungarian World War II army ... and other 'finds'

Inside a file box that I found in one of the crates that was in the shed was a small Hungarian World War II army.





I created this army at a time when I was considering using Frank Chadwick's COMMAND DECISION rules, and they represent a Hungarian Infantry Regiment with some supporting artillery. In the end I never used the rules, and the figures went into storage ... although I have vague memories of having lent them to another wargamer for a time.

The figures were originally Spanish Civil War infantry that were sculpted by the late Dave Allsop. I modified some of them so that I could field heavy machine guns, machine gun crews, and gunners . I also scratch-built a field gun and a light anti-tank gun, which I used as masters from which I was able to create a silicon rubber mould.

The bases are looking a little 'sad', but I think that it will be possible to rebase the figures so that I can use them for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.

I have also made some other 'finds' during the great sort out. These include a number of 1960s/1970s-era pre-assembled and painted model British military vehicles manufactured and sold by Denzil Skinner ...



... and a complete hard plastic 1920s/1930s-era wargames army created with figures from Fijumi, trucks from an unknown model railways supplier, artillery tractors scratch-built from Airfix US half-tracks, light tanks scratch-built from various bit and pieces, and artillery scratch-built from Airfix Napoleonic field guns and a Napoleonic board game.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The Shed ... has gone!

After lunch yesterday (and before the storm arrived!) I finally emptied the shed, unscrewed the bolts holding it to its concrete base, and tried to demolish it.

I tried taking the shed apart, but many of the self-tapping screws that were used in its construction were so rusted that they proved impossible to move. In the end I managed to remove the roof ... and as a result the walls lost all their rigidity and I was able to split them into two separate sections.

This morning I telephoned a local scrap metal dealer to come and remove the old shed ... only to be told that the company had changed owners and name, as a result of which they had had to reapply for new operating licences in all the local government areas they serve. Unfortunately the London Borough in which I live – Royal Greenwich – is one of the few who has not yet issued a new licence, and I will have to wait for about a week or so until the new licence is issued, at which point the old shed will be collected and removed.

I could not wait that long before replacing the shed with a new garden store, so I moved the remains of the shed from the bottom of the garden to the driveway that runs alongside our house. The bits of the shed can stay there until the scrap metal dealer can come to collect them.

Once that was done I cleaned the concrete base as best I could ...


... and then assembled and installed the garden store on it.


Whilst I was clearing the shed I found several plastic tool boxes. I assumed that they contained tools ... although I could not, for the life of me, remember having that many tools.

I was right; I didn't!

Two of the toolboxes contained my very old O-gauge Hornby train set. The tracks are very rusty, as are the locomotives and rolling stock ... but I suspect that with time and quite a bit of effort they could be restored.

The third toolbox weighed a ton ... and when I opened it I found that it was half-full of more wargames figures ... some of which appear to have been painted.

I am not sure what I am going to do with this latest find ... but I suspect that sorting out the contents is likely to take done time.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Shed: The rest of the contents of the box of mainly painted figures

I have finally finished sorting out the rest of the figures that were in the box that I found a couple of days ago ... and a mighty odd collection they are.

Firstly there are some of the lovely figures produced by Les Higgins. These include some English Civil War pikemen and gunners, some Malburian standard bearers, and some interesting-looking infantry figures.


There are some Rose Miniatures American Civil War figures painted in an odd-looking brown uniform. I think that they were intended to be used for an abortive South American imagi-nation project.


The rest of the figures are 15mm-scale American Civil War Minifigs painted to represent Union Infantry ... and three Confederate gunners.


There is a story behind these figures. Back in the early 1980s I became very ill as a result of stress, and undertook six weeks of treatment as a day patient at a local mental health unit. Each night I came home and painted figures. I started with some Confederate Infantry and Artillery, and when they were finished I gloss varnished them and based them. I then began work on the Union forces ... but by the time my treatment was over and I was deemed fit enough to return to work, they were still unfinished. I put them away ... and forgot about them ... although at some point it would appear that I did paint some additional details on some of the figures, probably so that I could use them as French Garde Mobile in a planned Franco-Prussian War campaign that never came to fruition. I never used the Confederate troops, and some years ago I passed them on to an old friend.

When I saw these figures again for the first time in over thirty years, it was a bit of a shock ... but now I want to finish them as it will – I hope – enable me to draw a line in my mind under that unhappy time. I already have a couple of ideas about possible uses for them ... but I think that they can wait for another few weeks or months until I get around to turning my ideas into something practical.