Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Unloved figures anyone?

The beauty about unloved but painted wargames figures is that they are usually cheap to buy, unless its some clown who puts them on E Bay and describes them as professionally painted masterpieces.
 I always keep an eye out at shows and on the internet, to see if there is something I can buy and re use. I was lucky last year to buy a large amount of Austrian cavalry, which 'were of their time' that is painted but needing a bit of a makeover. There  is always a risk that due to age and use, the figures are missing the odd bit off them, usually a tail, musket, or horse's leg.
Anyway, if they are cheap, what have you to lose. As they are pre painted, one can save quite a bit of time, with no undercoating and fixing them to their mounts, and occasionally the original painting just needs a little bit of work. As can be seen in the before and after photographs, the original painted figures weren't too bad, and with a bit of effort look pretty good to me. But then beauty is in the eye of the beholder. All are Hinchliffe figures, which is still one of the best SYW ranges.

I unfortunately missed the AMG game at Partizan, where I had hoped to meet up with various members of the group. In anticipation of the game I eventually missed, I had painted a few commanders for my Irish and French contingent. Maybe they will make an appearance next year, now that a venue and date has been sorted for a weekend of social chatter,drinking and wargaming.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Herding Cats

Well I'm back from the USA and another shorter break. I always feel I've failed if I don't post a regular item on my blog. I know that Henry Hyde in Miniature Wargames recommended little and often, which is easier said than done, but I did need a break.
 Anyway following on from my last post regarding what I would see as a perfect wargames show, bugger me if The Amateur Military Gentleman group haven't pre empted most of my suggestions and are planning what I see as the opportunity to have such a ideal wargames show/convention.
 Except, wargamers being the individual breed that they are, the members are all pulling in different directions, like herding cats.
 The group for those who dont know are based on persons who have bought the John Ray book, which contains an account of an eighteenth century officer, the book however is heavily illustrated with the wonderful John Ray collection. [ Oh to win the lottery]
 Anyway, after the success of their first outing at Partizan, the group want to stage a weekend show where they can get together and wargame, talk, swap ideas and buy a few choice items from some selected trade persons who are also members of the group.
 Simples? Well yes and no.
 First their is location to sort out. Then there is a suitable date, then cost, then an aim, etc, etc.
 I couldnt help myself and suggested a venue in the North East of England. It was in all seriousness, but any suggestion of leaving the bubble that is the Home counties does seem to cause gasps of horror. I suppose its the fear of no electricity and no clean water. [ Maybe one day civilization will reach us]
 I have every confidence that things will be resolved, but not everyone will be happy, but then when could that ever be achieved?
 Still the show offers up a great opportunity to see if a wargames show can be more than the normal events on offer. I know I'm wittering on as if the idea hasn't been done before, when clearly it has, but small and beautiful may offer up chances to come away from a show, inspired and full of ideas, whereas most normal wargames shows usually only leave you tired and skint.
 Anyway, hopefully the cats will all go in one direction, and a weekend of wargaming bliss may be enjoyed.
A couple of examples of John Ray's wonderful collection.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The best wargames show ever?

 After reading the latest post from Andy on his blog, Glorious Little Soldiers, about what we want from a wargames show, it got me thinking about what are the best bits for me and what I class as a successful show. In no particular order I think that what I class as a good show, are
 [1] A varied amount of trade, whereby I am able to see their latest stuff in the flesh, and then able to buy from them.
[2] Traders that I normally dont see, and which then allows me to buy their stuff, ie Eureka and Bicorne Miniatures would be good examples.
 [3] A really well run bring and buy, which is selling a varied amount of items that I just might want.
 [4] A decent and good value cafe/ eating establishment.
 [5] A well lit venue, which allows me to see everything clearly and not a place clouded in Stygian gloom.
 [6] Some well produced and inspiring wargames, run by people who are happy to talk the legs off a donkey.
[7] Free parking, a difficult one nowadays.
[8] A painting competition, with a lot of entries.
[9] A show where I meet other wargamers for a chat.
 So really basically what a majority of shows provide now, with varying degrees of success.

However after a bit more thought, I realised that one of the best shows I had attended had also been one of the smallest and also one that hadnt really ticked many of the boxes in the list above. However at that show, because of the wonderful weather I ended up sitting in the sun just jawing to a group of wargamers about the hobby.
 This then got me thinking about the shows in general, and how their format had changed very little in the last fifty years.Which led me onto the accounts about the very first wargames convention staged by Donald Featherstone at his home, where I believe about twenty or so people attended to talk, play and talk some more about the hobby.
The key for the success of that meeting appeared to be a bunch of like minded people who just wanted to meet, play and talk about the hobby. Now could that be transported forward into the 21st century.
Ideally such an event would be staged in either a suitable wargames club, or a decent interesting venue, preferably near a decent transport link and perhaps a selection of B and B's.
 In order to make such an event worthwhile I could see three or four keen wargames traders being invited to not only enjoy a weekend, because that's really what would be the aim, but also to bring along some of their stock relevant to the main interests of the other attendees, to sell to the group.
Do you see where I'm going with this. Ideally there should be at least three or four tables on offer, with decent terrain on them, and also some first rate toys to push around the tables.
I'm certain that the offer to fight a battle in two or three periods would appeal to most wargamers.
 To make things more interesting if one of the attendees was wanting to try out a new set of wargames rules, then even better.
 To add further interest to the small event, I would encourage one or two of the attendees to give a short presentation on either a historical battle with models to assist [that's toys, not women]
and perhaps insist that all attendees enter at least one set of their figures to be judged in a competition. Size wise, I think no more than 30 attendees would be allowed, but that could be open to negotiation.
 Of course there would have to be a cheap and cheerful meal involved with drinking and talk until we all fell asleep.
 Now THAT would be my best wargames show.
So is it pie in the sky, or is it doable? Collar and tie would not be compulsory though.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Sheffield Triples Saturday 2015.

 John and I have been attending Sheffield Triples since it was originally in the city centre near the railway station. For us it was probably THE show, as it was full of trade and lots of games. It reached its pinnacle when it was based at the University and was filled with loads of excitement,[ well its seemed that way to me]
Since its move into the Sheffield Sports centre [sanitised building full of gym bunnies and security] I have felt it lost its way.Still I didnt sleep too well on the Friday night due to childish excitement.
 So did the show continue its slow downward slide into extinction?
Well yes and no. I dont wish to denigrate the efforts of the Sheffield Group, as any show organiser has a lot on their plates. I will list firstly the things I feel are bad, and then end with the positives.
 Several weeks ago on the WD site someone was whining about the cost of tickets to attend Salute, ie £15.00, or £10.00 if you bought an advance ticket, and this is for the biggest show in Europe.
By my calculations it cost £9.20p to attend Triples, which is really not in the same league size wise as Salute. This includes the parking fee to leave your car in a field.I understand this did allow you entry for both days, but I was never going to travel two days running.
 I was going to pay this anyway so can't really complain, but it is a fair amount of cash.
Secondly, the venue, I really hate the majority of venues that are used to stage wargames shows nowadays. I understand one is limited in suitable buildings, but the modern venues are really soulless places, usually shared with fitness classes, children's creches, breeze block buildings and large badly lit halls.Still they do have bigger car parks, which was a problem at the previous Triples university venue. [I am trying to find positive things to say]
Thirdly, Triples when it was at the University was chock a block with wargames. I remember games in every room, from the average to the well made exciting game. This year, its fair to say the number of games is shrinking, and by quite a number. The games on show, were of a good quality, and some were really fine looking games but there was less of them, by some way.
Fourthly,wargames shows spread over two days are finished. Granted I dont attend two day shows anyway, but Triples which was a two day event due to the large number of competitors can no longer justify this. I reckon if there were 20 wargamers entered in the competitions then I am being very generous. A two day event can only really flourish if there is a very good reason to attend both days. Most wargamers cannot afford to give up two days of their time,whether through family commitments or because of financial reasons. I really think the Sheffield group need to look at this, because listening to many of the traders it was clear that they weren't getting the returns for a two day commitment, and lets be right they are the main reason for wargamers attending shows currently.  
Attending on the Saturday, it was noticeable to me that numbers were down, yes there was quite a queue to get in, but I reckon by 12.00!,  people had drifted away, and it was quite obvious by 13.00 that the place was pretty empty.It reminded me of Saint James Park on match day.
 Thats not wholly the fault of the show organisers because this is happening more and more at all the shows, but again it emptied pretty dramatically.
Anyway onto the positives.Both John and I agreed that we had had a good day, in both the buying and selling of figures. The Triples Bring and Buy has always been a good place to sell stuff, but again this was pretty quiet with none of the old rush and push of old.
 As I walked around the games on show, there was some nice games to see, and its always good to talk to other wargamers about their games.
My favourite was this Mahdi game. Lovely painted figures, a well made terrain and some good crack from the lads who hailed from Sheffield. I know that they had got Adrian Walls to make the boards, but I wanted to take part in the game, which is how I tend to judge a display game.I may be wrong with which group it was but I believe it was the Beasts of Bolsover, who have always put on quality games. Anyway, well done.

Beautifully painted Bashi Bazouks, pity about their maorale though.
The gents from Ilkeley Old School displayed Placenoit in 28mm, using a version of a sand table which again I wanted to take part in.I hope some members of South London Warlords attended the show as it was refreshing to see a couple of displays commemorating Waterloo. Perhaps the battle wasnt that important a thing. 

There was also a Mad Max participation game which was very well done, with some great models.
Unfortunately I didnt get details of who put the game on.
So will I attend Triples again? Of course I will, especially as I understand that the date is returning to March, which would be a sensible thing in my opinion. As a show was it a success? On a personal level yes, from a wargamers view point in general, the answer would be no. I really think the Sheffield group need to sit down and think carefully about what works and what no longer works. Otherwise I can see my favourite show heading the way of the old Northern Militaire.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The End of an Era?

 I've been quiet on the post front since Salute due to personal circumstances. Basically I am retiring after 36 years as a police officer, of which 30 was in the role of a detective. I still havent got my head around this, but circumstances beyond my control have forced me to do something I should have perhaps thought about much earlier. Whilst this has little to do with Wargamimg, I must admit that it is the hobby that has actually kept me sane whilst I move out of the job that in the main I have loved.
 No doubt there are people out there wishing that they could retire to spend more time on their hobbies, but I think one has to find a balance between doing a hobby you enjoy and working, albeit for whatever reasons, be it because you have to work or from a more social point of view. I have had some sort of job since I was thirteen, and to suddenly be confronted by the prospect of not working, and not feeling useful fills me with dread. Hopefully this will change, as I find a new routine, and perhaps do the things that I wanted to do, but never had the time to do.
 Anyway away from the maudlin. Plagiarising Colin's basing idea, I have finished my Fusilier de Morliere's and based them skirmishing amongst some fencing. I must admit they do look alright. I found these figures a tad delicate, and managed to snap the hand off one of them, hence only a 11 man unit, but these figures from Crann Tara are very good.
 I'm not particularly happy with the standard, and couldn't get the fleur de lys right but until I decide to change it, or find a company that produces the standard it will have to do. The cottage in the background if from Tabletop World, not cheap, but still very good quality.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Salute Wargames Show 2015, Part Three.

 Dont ask me what it was, but this model was a stand out piece of gear. I can only assume it is a Star Wars vessel, but as a model it was fantastic. There are some very talented modelers about.

                  Again another first class fantasy/sci fi game. Everything about it showed quality.I really think the fantasy/ sci fi groups showed the wargamers how to do a show.

                    Again a brilliant sci fi game, this was was a Dystopian Wars battle. I think.,

The game below is my personal choice for best of show. Everything about the game was quality. The snow covered terrain was perfect, complementing the 6mm figures.It show s me that 6mm if done well is as good as 28mm.But this is a subjective viewpoint.

A Lion Rampant game, with various contingents. The game was very pretty with some well painted miniatures on show.

                                 A very tidy Samurai game, everything about it was neat.


                                    A well done representation in 6mm of the Battle of Ligny.

 These gentlemen were very funny, and had a first rate game on display. Its the first time Id met a bunch of American Essex people.

  A modern wargame, again based in a winter environment, but it was really done well.

  Again a battle in the snow, this time the Battle of Eylau. A stylised rendition of the battle. It still looked very playable.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating