Thursday, 23 March 2023

Nothing to say, me?

I haven't posted recently because unusually [for me ] I didn't think I had anything to say. I say unusual because normally I can talk the legs off a donkey as it were. But I had a couple of old school friends come and stay with me a couple of weeks ago and whilst reminiscing as one does I pointed out to one of my old school mates that he had given me, my first metal wargames figure. Before that I had used Airfix, but after a very long game of Diplomacy, Nic my mate had suddenly produced a mounted metal Napoleonic figure.    
I remember it was a Hinchliffe French hussar, mounted on what I later discovered was a Hinchliffe charging heavy horse. Even back then I could tell the horse was too large for what should have been a light-horseman. I painted him as a trooper of the French First hussars and thought Id done a pretty good job. No doubt it would look horrendous now. Sadly I lost him many years ago after his sabre broke off. No flattened pins back then I'm afraid. It just showed me how profound that small act of kindness was and how big an impression it made on me, well over fifty years ago. 
  Strangely I also remembered how enjoyable I'd found the game of Diplomacy on the same day. I never played the game ever again, probably because I had no one to play with me. And before anyone thinks how boring my life must be if I was reminiscing with old school friends about a metal toy, we did get through a lot of alcohol and also discuss how one of my friends experimented with fertilizer bombs and blew up an old shed as he prepared to start an anarchist rebellion. Ah those heady days of the early 1970's. No doubt we would have all been on remand or the reform programme. 
What I am attempting to say is even back then wargaming had a huge impact on me as I attempted to understand what it was all about, I do know I never painted up any other First hussars made by Hinchliffe and opted for Mini Figs for my French light cavalry. I wonder where they ended up?
To be honest I seem to have been busy pottering on with other things, and found little time for painting. I did have a cracking Hail Caesar battle with John using the new revised rules. I was impressed, very little has changed, but what has makes the game flow.
  Naturally I lost, but it was close. Unfortunately? I now want more Gallic warbands so I am trawling through my stuff looking for figures to paint. I did paint up this organ gun for my Burgundian's. I didnt need another one but I had purchased the Games Workshop, Da Vinci figure and wanted to paint him.The gun is a Redoubt piece that I glued upside down. Super glue is a bugger to separate, especially from ones fingers but I finally managed, not my best work but its done now. 


Monday, 20 February 2023

A Little Rant, part two.


As promised in this months Miniature Wargames the subscriber was provided with the pleasure of David Hiscocks, Wargaming as escapism until it isn't. I dont know what the readership is for the Miniature Wargames, but one assumes it will be several thousand, hopefully more. The magazine was such an important event for wargaming in the early 1980's. and when Peter Gilder, Alec Gee and Duncan Macfarlane put their time and money where their mouths were, the release of the first issue transformed wargaming. 
Thats quite a claim, but in all honesty to have a dedicated and professionally producer wargames magazine chock full of iconic photographs, well written and interesting articles and available in the mainstream shops boosted the hobby exponentially. No doubt like many veteran wargamers the first thirty or so issues will be re-read over and over again. And now???
I still subscribe to the magazine, simply because I occasionally find something of interest and naively I hope the hobby will be better for the Miniature Wargames existence. Yes, I am that naive. Sadly however people like David Hiscocks will come along and give that hope a bit of a kicking.
As I stated previously I dont know the guy, and he is probably a very nice person who loves his mother and is kind to animals, but like many worthies nowadays, they insist on taking to the media in all its forms feeling they have something meaningful to say that they probably believe is worthy of reading or hearing. A bit like that ginger royal fool and his jailer, stating the blatantly obvious but in a manner that is intended to make them sound profound or whatever.

 The synopsis of this months effort is basically that wargames is a place of refuge, [no shit] and basically harmless., until when it isnt. He could have left it there, but oh no, like so many people nowadays they introduce their insightful knowledge, and of course this concerns the subject beloved of politicians, experts and the media..........mental health. Apparently as he states, 'so long as we portray our hobby in a respectful manner then we should not feel guilty for enjoying our leisure activity.'
Apparently we shouldn't take the hobby too seriously, our miniatures are not hurting anyone and the majority of wargamers are very inoffensive individuals [ well that's reassuring to know, until someone picks up one of my figures and then proceeds to drop and break it, then things may get fraught. ]
But of course he cant help himself, [cue soft violin music,] 'Nevertheless,  if you are struggling to maintain your enjoyment of the hobby in light of what is happening in the Ukraine then there are a number of techniques  and strategies that can be called upon.'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The reader is then given 'advice' [and I use that term loosely ]  on how to cope with the stress of the Ukraine war occurring whilst they attempting to remember why exactly they love wargaming. He goes on in that vein and like so many worthies nowadays, they dont know when to stop. He then offers up the sage like advice of seeking out friends in the wargaming community. Of course he also recommends that due to the upset of the war in the Ukraine,you can actually take a break from wargaming if one finds it just a little bit stressful! Wargaming that is, not the actual stomach churning with fear, Ukrainian conflict. Apparently,  [he goes on, naturally] wargaming is supposed to be a source of relaxation but it can become a source of stress because of associations with contemporary events. 

I could go on, as Mr Hiscocks does ad-infinitum, but to be honest the reader may recognise that Im just a bit underwhelmed by the whole sorry affair. TWO whole pages, for which no doubt he will have received a monetary reward   [ which I would hope he has given to some Ukrainian charity ] of NOTHING.
In a former life I was a Family Liaison Officer, trained [but never enough ] to help families deal with and handle sudden death and absolute misery. If I had used any of the suggestions offered up by Mr Hiscocks I would have been asked to leave by the survivors, and rightly so. 
 The question that keeps reverberating in my head is what sort of person thinks this drivel has any purpose to anyone, never-mind wargamers. 
Imagine if a poor Ukrainian volunteer actually read this crap?
I could understand the purpose of the upset if one has relations fighting in the Ukraine, but to honestly think that we have a right to be truly upset and unable to enjoy our hobby because a country is fighting for existence feels very, very crass and dare I say it entitled. Its not all about us, but of course it appears that certain generations believe it is, God save us from these worthies............... 
On a lighter subject I managed to complete my mounted long-bowmen for my Burgundian army and also paint up another six Garrison fantasy knights. Yes they are true 25mm but I still think they are brilliant. Tiny amounts of goodness.
Anyway, I think I've made my views known. Hopefully a quick read of some Wargamers Newsletters will bring me back to my safe place.

Monday, 6 February 2023

York Wargames Show, 2023.

Yesterday was my yearly trip to the York Racecourse for their wargames show.Being the sad individual I am, I couldnt sleep the night before and arrived at the show an hour before opening. Given the trends last year I reckoned the day would be very, very busy, and for once I was right on the money. For many wargamers this would be their first show for a long while and with the added attraction of the return of the Tabletop Sale I suspected we would return to pre Covid numbers.  
The York club, in an effort to prepare things a little better allowed the first tranche of would be table toppers? an early entry into the show to allow them to be ready for opening time. I thought this a cracking idea, and thought about finding a few empty boxes to get in even earlier [ just joking]
Being number one in the queue, [yes I was that early,] I headed straight to the tabletop sale and because John was selling stuff I had been tipped off about someone selling some unpainted Brettonian archers. He wasn't wrong and I picked up a box of archers for what was effectively pennies. As I carefully trawled the tables I was surprised how few punters there were entering the room. Given past experiences I expected the area to be mobbed by 10.30. But it wasnt. 
I will try not to crow, but because of stuff I had bought I had to leave the show to take it back to my car and as I did so I realised just how long the queue was to get into the building and how slow the numbers were going down. Never one to pass up an opportunity to buy second hand stuff, I was quickly back up to the sale, and yes I ended up buying figures I didnt realise I needed.

 It became obvious that things weren't going well for the punters when I was able to find a table and settle down to the obligatory sausage sandwich without any trouble at all. Being the empathetic git I am I began to feel really sorry for the would be punters and the actual organisers as they tried to get things moving.[ honest]

I was able to have a nice chat with Charles Grant before things really became busy. After that it was into the fray bumping into various wargamers I hadnt seen for ages, and regular visits to the table top sale. Please forgive me for going on about it, but a lot of wargamers are downsizing their 'collections' and although I should be doing the same, I kept finding stuff I wanted. A special call out to the reprobates from Westerhope who bought me a cup of tea. It just shows you what persistence can do.
So what about the show. Well the trade seemed very busy although I only came away with some of the new Vallejo equivalents of the GW. Contrast range, a few expensive brushes and the new Hail Caesar rule book, which my wife was buying me for my birthday. Caliver had knocked a couple of pounds off the cost. 
And the games? Well the games were pretty good but one got the impression they were of secondary importance at the show. To be honest the show at York had been heading that way for several years and it didnt trouble me too much. I go to Newark to check out the games. York now has the feel of the old Northern Militaire in many respects, effectively a trade show with a few games to prove its about wargaming. I accept that, and for me its fine. I know others wont agree.
So did I enjoy the day? Damn right I did and for many reasons. It was great to see the place buzzing, it was great to meet up and talk about the hobby and of course the sale was a real bonus for me, as witnessed by the fact I spent way more than I intended. 

I am already looking forward to next years event.

 No doubt if one had been stood in the long queue for over an hour it may have dampened ones enthusiasm and Im certain there will be many complaints etc. Im certain the York group will sort things out but Ive got the feeling that Salute will replicate the York event, for numbers anyway.

Because I didnt take any pictures I thought one should see the latest stuff Ive been painting. Yes, old Games Workshop Space marines, for Xenos Rampant and my first batch of Garrison 25mm knights for Lion Rampant. I haven't totally lost my senses honest.
And just to prove I am still fighting historical battles, a couple of images from todays wargame involving a Roman civil war. Unfortunately John gave me a proper stuffing. The rules were the excellent Sword and Spear and gave a great game.


Saturday, 21 January 2023

A Little Rant.

 Now and again, well most days actually someone will say or suggest something that elicits a response from me.The response is usually to shout at the television or throw the newspaper in the bin. It seems the 'normal' reaction nowadays to some crass stupidity, invariably from some politician, academic or 'influencer' desperate to gain notoriety. 
Sadly the wargaming fraternity has such people who luckily are still in the minority, well I hope they are.  

I was reading and I use the term lightly the latest edition of Miniature Wargames magazine [478 ] and made the mistake of reading 'The Last Word' this month and unfortunately also next month by David Hiscocks. Now I dont know  the guy and would like to think he's alright if a little wet.
As I measure a persons worth by 'would I go for a drink with them' I probably would decline the offer of a pint and chat with him. Anyway this worthy has produced more words on a subject that has popped up with boring regularity in the wargaming firmament since the early 1970's. The subject of wargaming, its ethics and does it glorify war? 
Being of a certain age it felt like I was subject of some dystopian Groundhog Day. His argument, if one can describe his article as that concerned his unease with wargaming whilst the Ukrainian war is still underway. Apparently since the start of the Ukrainian invasion '' some of his wargaming friends have been talking about how they have started to  FEEL GUILTY  for enjoying their hobby due to the association with the violence ongoing in the Ukraine.''
 According to his argument this war is different because this is the first large scale conventional war fought in Europe since 1945???

I am always suspicious whenever politicians and the like, cite the term 'some' without actually providing details of how many, who they are and whether they are what could be termed ' a full shilling.' For me 'some' is a trigger word. 
For example the other week the media declared that 'some people' are very seriously concerned about the so called cost of living crisis and that they are not hopeful that things will get better.
Of course they omitted to state that the people questioned were the poors souls who daily attended a Salvation Army food bank. So naturally they were concerned given how their lives are always in such a tenuous position, but to use this straw poll to describe the rest of the country is frankly pathetic, but of course it fits the narrative the media want to create.

So getting back to Mr Hiscocks. 
He continued in a similar vein  before in the final paragraph stating that some of his wargaming friends said they felt ashamed or guilty for sharing their hobby in public places ie the digital media. 
He concludes the first part? of his article by stating; when the conflict is in living memory or has a particular contemporary relevance then such debates can become understandably intense.'' Apparently next month he will conclude his thoughts on this tricky subject. [I cant wait ]

So what is the issue? Well for me there a few observations. The first one being that I naively hoped that the wargaming press was there to actively promote the hobby and its wonderful benefits of which there are many. I dont need anyone to look at his navel and decide that they have 'issues' with the whole glorifying war thing. Been there and definitely done that. Wargamers of a certain age can remember the clowns from CND protesting [and I use the term lightly] outside of a couple of wargaming shows claiming we were wargamers and therefore the spawn of Satan or worse.

I remember how Sweden banned all war toys and plastic guns in the 1970's in the belief this was going to steer children away from violence. Well it didnt work for Andres Behring and certainly given the huge rise in extreme groups in that country it looks like as a social experiment it failed dramatically. 
Amusingly enough, a couple of years ago a couple of so called Labour activists thought it amusing to label me a warmonger after they saw images of my toy soldiers. I found it funny because I hadnt heard that term for years which I thought very 1970's and somehow quaint.  
 But I didnt feel I should stop collecting my toys, in fact if anything it made me more determined to carry on, but then I can be an awkward bugger.

As for the argument that somehow the war in the Ukraine made our hobby shameful because of the size of the forces involved was for me laughable and to describe its impact as even more of a tragedy because it is taking place in Europe and was causing certain wargamers to be uncomfortable because it is a reminder of the reality of what our leisure activity portrays was actually pretty pathetic.

Looking back through my life, I can remember the Vietnam War, the tragic Biafran War, the terrible wars right across Africa of which there are too many to list. There were two Arab Israeli wars, two Gulf Wars, the wars in the old Yugoslavia that involved planned genocides,. And of course far closer to home the Irish conflict which dragged on for years killing thousands, and lets not forget the Falklands War, and Afghanistan all of which impacted heavily on families in the UK.
I know for certain that there are a good number of ex servicemen who have embraced our hobby and if they can handle it, Im certain I can.

Perhaps Im not sensitive although I do seem to tear up every Remembrance Sunday but I managed to paint, collect and play with my toys through all this terribly tragic conflicts. As Ive stated before, wargaming has been the bedrock of me coping, of dragging my sorry backside out of bed to face another day, whilst knowing I always had a refuge to escape to should things become truly difficult.  Have I ever felt guilty? No. Well apart from when I overspent on some such book or figures when I knew things were a bit financially tight. 
Have I felt ashamed. No. 
Ashamed of what exactly?
 That somehow my researching the military history of man was somehow condoning violence and war? That painting toy soldiers and then playing at war was somehow reprehensible and deserving of social protests? 
 To take Mr Hiscocks concerns to the extreme perhaps his friends should campaign to ban all war toys, and any associated games etc that are linked to war, ie Games Workshop in order to salve their guilt and shame. I dont play computer games but do know that the levels of violence exhibited in many of these games is extreme. Do the creators worry about the effect on the users of such games? Sadly I doubt it.

If these 'some' people are ashamed of what they do especially when posted on digital media outlets, I think we all know the answer, dont post anything or get another hobby. I hear Macrame is popular.  Perhaps they would feel better if they donated to the Ukrainian war effort or helped some of the families currently staying in our country, NOW that would be a great thing, and guilt free.

So without an iota of guilt these are some of my latest toys. The crossbowmen are part of the Burgundian ducal guard, with a 'new' mounted Charles to lead them.

I was lucky enough to obtain some Garrison 'fantasy' knights from Rob over at the Eastern Garrison. I have always loved these figures and wanted some for my Lion Rampant forces. They are true 25mm so perhaps are a tad small but I have enjoyed painting them. Sadly my matt varnish malfunctioned and left a chalky effect on them. Hopefully they look okay now. So there you go, and not a sniff of shame anywhere.


Monday, 16 January 2023

New Burgundian organ gun, sort of.

And now a post to probably give some pedant the vapours. My latest organ gun. The crew are two of the new Eureka Miniatures Burgundian artillery crew. The gun? Yes its an original Games Workshop Hellblaster [ie metal] I always liked the piece and thought why not.
Yes its a fantasy piece with an ornate gremlin?? on the front of the gun, but I really like it, so thats my justification. They are fairly hard to locate [ ie expensive] but I really wanted it. 
Yesterday John and I attended the yearly Oldhammer bring and buy in Gateshead. It was busier than ever with a queue outside which was new. I foresee all the wargames show's being very busy this year now that we are finally free.
So did I make any purchases? Naturally. GW paint for 2.00 a pot, an lot of unpainted Space Marines and Wolves? I want these for a project that involves my grandson and the new Xenos Rampant rules. Some people will say that Ive been into fantasy for a longtime given some of the units in my various armies.
The sale had a lot of stuff on sale, mostly at reasonable prices which are negotiable. The only disappointment, no bacon sandwiches. Apparently they weren't too popular last year. Who are these wargamers I ask?? Bacon, egg, sausages. It should be the motto of all wargamers.


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