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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas is Over.

 Well Christmas is over for another year, and I now await the arrival of my grand children. I hope everyone had a good Christmas I did, without really doing much.
 Naturally I have been unable to sneak up to my painting desk with family staying for a few days, but I was able to complete the basing of these fine chaps, The Cuirassiers du Roi.
 This unit had been in the possession of Charles Stuart Grant and painted by the great Phil Olley. I had to touch up a couple of things to make them compatible with the rest of my French army and naturally re base them. I also had to replace the flags, but nothing too drastic. So the SYW armies move on in inexorably, especially the French.  
 I must admit I am looking forward to the new wargaming season in 2015 and cant wait for the first shows of the year.Santa was very kind to me again this year, with another unit of Black hussar French, the two latest wargames annuals and David Wilson's splendid book on the French army of the WSS.
 I also took delivery of a commissioned unit of the Lancers de Saxe, painted by Tony Runkee who has made a brilliant job of them, these are part based and I hope to sneak up to my room to crack on with them. So wargaming is still alive in this period of quietude.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Back from Munich.

Well I have just returned from a long weekend in Munich, and its fair to say I'm knackered.
 What between walking the length and breadth of the city, doing a lot of Christmas markets and eating loads of meat, my senses are a tad battered.
 Still I would recommend a visit, as it is a very nice city, and the natives are friendly. But this is not trip adviser but a wargames blog so,...
The military and wars are a little problematical in Germany even after 60 plus years. I still get the impression that the whole militarism thing is difficult.
Especially Bavaria and in particular Munich, the birthplace of the Nazis. Without getting too heavy I can understand why Bavaria was receptive to Hitler,the state is a rich one, and any threat from the communists must have terrified the middle and upper classes, link this to the recession that decimated the savings of the working classes, Hitlers message must have been compelling.
 To be fair, whilst touring through Munich, the locals are no longer reticent about the past and acknowledge the role the Nazis had in the city. It probably explains why the Allies battered the place to pieces.
 Anyway that is not the purpose of the post.
Below is the famous photograph purporting to show Hitler celebrating the declaration of war in the Field Marshals Hall in Munich in 1914.
 Whilst walking around I ambled into the square known as the Field Marshals Hall which was commissioned by King Ludwig the First to commemorate the Bavarian army. Next to two fine looking lions are the statues of Marshal Tilly of Thirty Years war fame and Marshal Wrede? of Napoleonic Wars fame [ read notoriety]
 Tilly I could not argue with as a first rate commander, but Wrede....
  Napoleon famously said after the debacle at Hanau in 1813, ''I made Wrede  a Count I could not make him a general.'' as the Guard marched over the poorly placed Bavarian army.
 I think the best anecdote concerning Wrede,was during the Battle of Wagram where Wrede's Bavarian division stood in reserve. The Bavarians were sent in to support Marshal MacDonald's attack and Wrede suffered a bullet graze leading his men.
Fearing the wound was fatal, Wrede told MacDonald '' Tell the Emperor I die for him. I recommend to him my wife and children''.
 Macdonald, who was well used to wounds himself, retorted '' I think you will be able to make this recommendation to him yourself''.
Wrede miraculously recovered and continued to lead his men.
Wrede was made a Marshal in the Bavarian army in 1814 in recognition of his services to the allies
 [ read betrayal of the French] and subsequently prospered.
 Hence the statue.
 There is an old saying that ''the Devil looks after his own'' and I think Wrede is proof of that.
 God knows what I will write should I go to Sweden, and see the statues to Marshal Bernadotte, the ultimate Judas.
 I have to finish with a photograph of standard Bavarian fare. I must admit it tasted pretty good, but after several days of eating this food, one hankers for a slice of toast.
 By the way, the round object looking a little like mashed potato is actually a local delicacy called Potato Dumpling. I defy anyone to say they have found this nutritious and enjoyable, [ imagine chewing a tasteless rubber slipper] Still a good city to go to...........................

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Beauty of the Internet.

 This last month, I have been mainly painting Seven Years War troops. I foolishly thought that I had sufficient toys for this period, and sold a lot of my metal mountain at low prices. Well that was a mistake. I have now realised that I need some more. Why one may ask? Unfortunately I cant answer that sensible question, I think basically I was drawn back to the colour of the armies and wanted to paint some of the figures from the new ranges on offer, including Crann Tara, the new Minden stuff and Black Hussar from Germany. That is the beauty of the internet, the world is at the feet of wargamers. These RSM French dragoons came from the USA, even though they had been originally created in England. Minden Miniatures is now based in America, Eureka are in Australia and Black Hussar are in Germany. Gone are the days of writing a letter to a one man war gaming company and hoping that they have cast enough of the figures that you want, now you can actually see the figures real time, you can converse in minutes, and the figures can be here within days. What I think is really great is that any wargamer who has the balls and naturally some cash, can create their own range of figures. Who wouldnt want to have that special regiment, or troops from that one campaign that no company sells. Truly wargamers are blessed [ and no I haven't o'd  on Prozac]

Marshal de Saxe,has always been a character that interested me. Larger than life, very brave and clearly a gifted general he lived life to the absolute limit. By the time of the Battle of Fontenoy  his body was struggling even if his mind was still very active. When Minden Miniatures produced the figure of him in his infamous portable cart, I knew I had to have one. The actual model is very delicate and is a work of art. Unfortunately I was only able to do an adequate job on the model. I also managed to get the colour scheme of his outrider wrong, he actually should be in green pants. So a bit of artistic licence was employed. Still a great model.   

Another bonus for wargamers and the internet, is all the 'how to' advice on the net. On the WSS site, there are a series of tutorial about painting. One in particular is about how to paint standards. Nothing new, one would think. Well on this tutorial, the talented lady paints a standard using Japanese calligraphic paper. The advantage of this is that when it is wet with pva glue, the paper can be moulded into any realistic shape, without tearing, and when it is dry, it stays in that shape.This is my first attempt, obviously not up to the standard of Mark Allen, but not bad for a first attempt.

 Finally, photographs of my next three units. Firstly the Regiment Bentheim, [ Black Hussar]
 My solitary standard bearer of the Irish Regiment Rooth. [Minden.]
 and last but not least, my interpretation of the regiment Deux Ponts.[ Black Hussar]

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Great wargaming Survey.

In some respects this post can be viewed as a bit late as it concerns this months, November's wargames magazines.
 I unfortunately received my copy of Wargames,Soldiers and Strategy quite late through the post, hence this late post.
I dont want to do a comparison of the big three magazines, as really its all subjective. What I may like will no doubt not be what someone else likes.
 I did think that Miniature Wargames was looking a tad sparse and short of articles. Waragames Illustrated  in my opinion looked all fur and no knickers.
Which leads me on to Wargames,Soldiers and Strategy.
   I must admit I did enjoy this magazine this month, but then I usually do enjoy it.What I found of particular interest was their Great Wargaming Survey article.
 I actually sent in my views and I think the response to the survey was pretty impressive coming in at over 7000 wargamers taking the time to complete the survey. I think its fair to say that what came out of it should hopefully be pretty accurate.
 Certainly it is far better than the normal political poll which seems to ask the same small group of dunderheads their views, hence the wildly inaccurate predictions.
 What I found heartening was that whilst there is a higher greying wargames population in the UK and the USA, in Europe things look a lot better with the average age coming down somewhat.
   In fact Worldwide, nearly 70% of wargamers were spread between the ages of 18 and 50 years, so whilst it excludes me I now know that when I shift this mortal coil, someone should hopefully buy my stuff, and I can sleep the sleep of ages, safe in the knowledge that they will be used and hopefully appreciated. So thats a good thing.
 I found it interesting that WW2 was the most popular period. Interesting but not surprising really, given the amount of coverage SKY TV devotes to the Second World War, and in the United Kingdom just how much time is given in schools to the rise of the Nazi party.
 Obviously I think Flames of War must have had a big influence on this period initially and its popularity must have also been influenced by the excellent plastic kits available.
 I clearly sense however that Flames of War is no longer doing as well as it once was. Well certainly from the rumours I have heard about the company.
 Naturally Sci Fi. and Fantasy are the next most popular. Again the once mighty Games Workshop must take some credit for this, but similarly their star is definitely on the wane, and given the loss of talent and their pricing policy things dont look too good for their future.
 A big surprise, well for me at least, was the position of Medieval Warfare in the league. That has got to be a combination of things, including the Saga rules, Gripping Beast, and the fact that you dont need many figures to play the game.
 In fact one thing that has struck me going around the shows this year, was the number of small games on show. By that I mean games on a four foot boards with a small number of castings on show. Not a complaint but just an observation.
 I also found it heartening that the vast majority of wargamers were looking for rules that encouraged the use of historical tactics, so the history was very important and the game less so.
 I wont bang on too much more because most people will have read the article.
 Finally I thought what was particularly interesting was the figure of 72% of wargamers including those that had been gaming many years were very keen to meet new wargamers to play against.
  Now there is an opening for some enterprising chap. All they would need to create is an online wargames dating site, which would put two wargamers in touch with each other.
 Personally I think it would be a great opportunity for the less socially blessed wargamer to kill two birds with one stone and advertise for a wargaming opponent and perhaps an Eastern European partner at the same .Just a thought.....................I wonder if Taylor Swift would be interested?

                              Some colour to finish with, Eureka, Von Bruhl Saxon Dragoons.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Wild Goose,are now Geese!

 Normally I wont photograph my figures until they are complete, and the eagle eyed will notice I am three figures short at the moment on this unit [are you reading this Graham] but I couldn't help posting this set of photographs.
 This Minden unit has been sat partly painted since the inception of the range, actually started as the Lally Regiment, anyway it has been painted as the Clare regiment as part of my Irish Brigade. I originally found the Minden range quite difficult to paint, but somehow these chaps proved quite a pleasure to complete.
 I now intend to paint up the Rooth regiment to give my Irish a bit more umph, these will be from Graham Cummings excellent Crann Tara range of figures. I think I will add some battalion guns to the regiments, not that I need any more artillery.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Wild Geese.

 I think its fair to say that I have a soft spot for the exiled 'Wild Geese' who fought for the French after the overthrow of James the Second. Couple that with me attending and hopefully participating at Partizan in 2015 I have felt the need to paint up the said Wild Geese.
 This is the regiment Dillon part of the brigade. I am now painting my way through the Clare regiment, and judging from how things are going I wouldnt be surprised if I didnt do another of the regiments. It actually reads like I have no choice, which just shows you how strange wargamers can be.
 The figures are from the wonderful Crann Tara range by Graham Cummings who commissioned this figure for his Jacobite Wars. I can honestly say this was one of the nicest figures that I have painted, a real joy actually.
 Preparing for a public display has always given be encouragement to paint, and when Graham came up with the idea of Partizan, it gave me a right kick up the bum. So needing [not really] more French I thought why not do some Irish. Of course there would then be a need for Fitzjames Horse to go with the Wild Geese. It looks like its redcoats for the next couple of months.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The empty Throne.

Yesterday I took a day off work, originally it was to allow me to prepare for a night on the drink and to attend a Paolo Nutini concert in Newcastle.
 Anyway by chance I discovered that Bernard Cornwell was doing a talk at the Harrogate Historical Book Fair, so I decided to get up early and drive down there for 09.00.
 Naturally the talk would be mainly about the release of his two latest books, Waterloo and The Empty Throne.                                   The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate was mobbed by 09.00, and why would it not,considering how successful an author Bernard Cornwell is.
   I must admit I did enjoy the hour long talk, which covered not only some anecdotes from his early life as an adopted child, through his time in Northern Ireland during the troubles up until the current times. Mr Cornwell is a very good raconteur both verbally and with the written word.
 There was a Q.A session which was also interesting. My question regarding the Starbuck series was answered clearly and with no messing. There will be no more books in that series, purely because he cant face starting more research and because he recognises he is getting old. Mr Cornwell is 70.
 He has started the next part of the Alfred series and envisaged a series of 12 books in total.
 He also intends to write one more Sharpe book, going back to the late campaign in Spain circa 1813-1814.
He also talked of the BBC2 series that has started filming based on the Alfred series, and how he had no intention of reading the scripts or being on plot because he didnt want to spoil the whole event.
I cant wait for this series even though the director is the same guy that had done the Tudor series.
  During the early part of his talk he mentioned about the historical research he had to do regarding his books, and the realisation that he could not write a story and guarantee that it would be totally accurate. This was borne out by some helpful soul e mailing him to point out in the Arthur series that there were no Snowdrops in the Dark Age period! [I bet that person was a wargamer]
 Similarly during the question and answer session a voice piped up from the back with a question/observation regarding the Alfred series where Uthred nearly captured back his castle.
The questioner in a rather indignant voice wanted to know how Uthred had intended to gain entry through the inner gate of the castle, when he had no means of entry. Mr Cornwell carefully explained, and I must admit I was impressed with the authors depth of knowledge regarding his books that            Uthred knew the inner gate was never locked when he had bluffed his way through the outer gate, and would have succeed, if not for the guard dogs. One nil to the author.
 The incident took me back to a show many years ago where John and I were displaying the Battle Of Austerlitz in 6mm.
 We had made all the terrain especially for the game,painted up every unit that we knew had been there, and I had even been able to get made all the Russians in bicornes and early shakos. We even had our own lighting and a video playing of the battle, I dont think I could have done anymore.
 Until a skinny disheveled person piped up, ''I say I dont think there was any swans on the lakes behind the Pratzen Heights!'' Well of course he was correct in that the lakes were famously frozen over, but me being the anal wargamer I was then, thought that the swans may add some interest to the table for none wargaming persons, really a bit of artistic licence. It just shows you cant please everyone all the time.
  I still see that guy at various shows, and he is still the same knacker he was back then.
 Anyway I digress. So I got my Waterloo signed by Bernard Cornwell, shook his hand and thanked him for the pleasure he had given me. I would recommend that if he is in anyone's area giving a talk, go and see him, he was well worth the £11.00

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Stand To, Shildon County Durham.

 Its a very brave person who decides to hold a new wargames show in the United Kingdom. One will be competing against a lot of shows that have become established and a lot of traders who tend to pick and choose their shows carefully to save on costs etc. Anyway the Wear Valley Wargamers are to be applauded in attempting to drum up wargaming support in my county, hence John and I attended Stand To at the Locomotion Railway Museum to stage a game.

[ Caption] The actual train used in the Railway Children, NB Jenny Agutter's hat on the front of the train] I was disappointed that she wasnt there, draped across the front.
 The show was never going to be a major event, but if it helps get ordinary non wargaming people interested then more power to the show. I sometimes forget when I am in my wargaming bubble, just  how popular trains are with the public, especially children. As a result there were a decent amount of families coming through the doors to be confronted by five games, and twenty wargames traders.
 And to be fair, it seemed to work. Certainly there seemed to be a lot of fathers and their sons, [aged 8-15] [not the fathers] who wanted to find out a bit more about wargaming.  Better was the fact that World War Two is of interest to the children through school projects so the children knew something of what was going on.
 Entrance is free to the museum, and what better way to spend a few hours in a train museum and then stare at some burned out men playing with toy soldiers. I honestly think it worked, and the venue seemed perfect for this type of event. I dont know if the traders had to pay anything for a stall, but hopefully it was just a token amount as it was always going to be difficult to make a sale to the non wargaming public. Saying that I saw one trader who I have never seen before with some fantastic scaled and painted World War Two aeroplanes that seemed to be doing well.He also had some beautiul 20mmm painted dicast tanks that were perfect to use on a wargames table.

 I thought it was a good time to air my 15mm desert war units, and John suggested using the Blitzkrieg Commander rules to make it easier to play. [that was for my benefit]
 Loving losers I wanted to use my 1941 Italian army, and as usual they didnt disappoint. Saying that I achieved a record 11 blunder throws! which scuppered any chance they had. [Thats 11 double sixes by the way in the command phase]

 The gents from Westerhope Northumberland kindly made the trek south, and put on their wonderful cut price wargame for the benefit of the public [ and me]
 Here's Brian showing off the result of his 5 and 2 diet. I apparently was very rude about him in an earlier post. So I can only apologise for that, he was a very good sport by the way.
 I would like this bombard, purchased from the Pound Shop and included in a large bag of soldiers.
 The men from the Westerhope group looking quite intimidating, they're actually pussycats really, with my favourite game of the year.

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