Thursday 30 April 2020

People who influenced your wargaming. 2

 Like all young wargamers I was desperate to be part of the hobby but knew basically nothing. Magazines and my local library were a key source for me but in the late 1970's and 1980's wargames magazines didnt seem to last long. Strangely especially given my mania for collecting Wargamers Newsletters nowadays I knew nothing of Donald Featherstones actual magazine back then.
My local pet shop which seconded as a model shop did have the odd Miniature Warfare magazines but I couldnt afford to subscribe to the magazine. Once I had a job I would buy the odd Military Modelling and then the excellent Battle but they only offered small morsels of wargaming and I wanted more.
Then in 1983 this magazine appeared like a bolt of lightening. Even now I paw my way through this original issue to enjoy each image and article. So for me I would like to highlight the wonderful work Duncan Macfarlane did for wargaming.
  He was editor of this magazine for 48 information packed issues before he lost control of the magazine but I remember eagerly waiting for the release of each issue wanting to enjoy each  coloured photograph and dream of having massive armies like Peter Gilder, Phil Robinson, Mac Warren and other talented collectors who seemed to be centered around the Hull firmament. My favourite articles in this magazine were many and varied although I always enjoyed the poetic descriptions by Wally Hearl of various battles I knew nothing of, and then there was the most excellent Andy Callan and Gilder himself. The magazine seemed to be bursting with all sorts of wargaming goodness.

Duncan was not new to wargaming and also had the honour of being the first wargaming guinea pig to be seen on television fighting a wargame for the viewing public to watch. His appearance re fighting Edgehill for the legendary Battleground series whilst hardly riveting viewing for the general public but was jaw dropping for yours truly. 
He had also been a keen competition wargamer and a member of the Society of Ancients during the period when members included Peter Gilder, Tony Bath, Charles Grant and Ian Dickie. He clearly knew his stuff and was lucky enough to own ancient armies painted by some of the best in this country.

Whilst editor of Miniature Wargames I would bump into Duncan at various shows carrying his wares in a large holdall, willing to talk to any saddo like myself. It was Duncan that introduced me to the excellent MWAN magazine which he sold me in large numbers. Im embarrassed to say I was always badgering him to photograph my armies which he sensibly declined.
 I am probably wrong but I attribute the success of the Partizan show down to the knowledge that if one staged a wargame at the show it would inevitably appear in the magazine.
John and I finally managed only one image courtesy of Duncan, but even now I am proud as punch for having made the magazine albeit as a filler and not at Partizan.
 We also received our first acknowledgement of wargaming existence in an early issue of the magazine courtesy of a show review by Gary Norman. Fame at last.
 I once managed to get a few minutes with Duncan where he explained how he had been virtually press-ganged into becoming the editor of  Miniature Wargames by Peter Gilder. He was picked because he had once worked in a library, such was the professionalism of wargaming press back then.
After losing control the magazine Duncan produced the excellent Wagames Illustrated magazine  which for me was a great magazine but somehow lacked the life that had filled the early issues of the Miniature Wargames.
 Yes the images were still wonderful but somehow it wasnt the same. We all know where the magazines have progressed to nowadays and although I still collect them, the magic has simply gone, but that might be nostalgia spoiling that viewpoint.

  But in the period 1983 to 1987 Duncan and his magazine fueled my enthusiasm and gave me ideas probably way above my wargaming station as I struggled to balance a real life and a time consuming and expensive hobby.

 For anyone to edit a magazine it is clearly stressful work and I would imagine relying on wargamers for you content it must have been doubly stressful, a bit like herding cats I assume.
 But each month Miniature Wargames would appear crammed full of brilliant articles and images courtesy of Gilder.  So I would like to thank Duncan for all his efforts and all the pleasure he gave to me.

Sunday 26 April 2020

People that influenced your wargaming 1.

 During the lock-down there have been various lists compiled on social media platforms listing such things as best albums, paintings etc. Best lists are very subjective and personal but sometimes its found that a lot of people are influenced by the same choices.
  So I got to thinking about the wargamers and wargaming personalities [hate that word] that made a huge impression on me and my early wargaming days and basically helped me to make progress in the hobby.
 These people could have written a book that changed ones life and put you on the road to wargaming madness.They could have sculpted a range of figures or wrote some articles for a magazine that fired up you enthusiasm or they could have simply done something that triggered you to join the hobby.
 For me I have considered the people or events that steered me in wargaming and my pursuit of wargaming nirvana.
 So in no particular order I would like to start with George Gush who in the 1970's and 1980's was very active, especially if one was interested in the Renaissance period. Gush was also an active Ancient wargames exponent and member of the Society of Ancients.
 During the 1980's and 1990's I was deeply interested in wargaming the renaissance period but like so many others I had little information to help with my interest.
 Luckily I discovered George Gush.
 For me his Renaissance Armies book was and still is the go to book for getting some basic information regarding armies and periods in Renaissance warfare. When the book was first published I was desperate to own it but couldnt afford the expense.
  In the end I was lucky enough to negotiate a hire purchase deal? to buy the book from my local wargames and model shop. Imagine that happening nowadays, a shop owner taking pity on some poor guy and allowing them to buy a book in installments.
 Gush regularly produced articles for the various modelling and wargames magazines but in 1979?? he authored the wargames rules for Wargames Reasearch Groups Renaissance period.
 John and I played these for many years and my copy is a well thumbed battered mess. I loved the rules even though they contained the dreaded tables for firing, melees and morale.Eventually we stopped using them simply because we tired of the endless tables. They are still a great set of rules and of their time.

Naturally there were army lists produced by WRG for the rule-book but Gush clearly attempted to produce no super competition winning armies but historical ones instead.I still have and re-read my copy looking for inspiration.

   George Gush wrote a lot of articles about renaissance wargaming in the Airfix Magazine and it was logical that he should contribute to their series of booklets for wargamers and modelers. This is still an informative read after all these years and another book I return to frequently.

During the 1970's and 1980's quite a few books were published regarding wargaming. It was a period of rapid expansion of the hobby and I assume George Gush was approached to produce one.
 A Guide to Wargaming was just such a book. For me its a  lovely generic wargaming book with a cracking image of a Hinchliffe heavy gun on the front. What was not to like. One should remember at the time we wargamers struggled for information and books like this and articles by Gush were simply gold dust. He never disappointed in his concise and informative accounts of the Renaissance period.

One  such article and one of my favourite wargaming features was written by Gush for the Battle magazine and concerned his re fight of the Battle of Pavia. John and I pawed over the account and naturally used it as the basis for our refight.
 I seem to remember that George Gush spoke of publishing a book regarding the Eastern nations during the renaissance period but sadly it never surfaced and sometime in the 1990's George Gush disappeared from the wargaming firmament and never contributed anymore great articles about the period that he had so actively promoted or about a hobby he clearly enjoyed.
 I would like to think he is still wargaming his beloved renaissance period and finally editing his next wargaming book.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

A Proliferation of Green Uniforms.

 Well today's latest offerings are green. The first are some lovely figures from Crann Tara Miniatures of the Chasseurs de Fischer. I think I may have made a couple of mistakes with the painting of the actual uniforms but green and red are so complementary that if they are incorrect I would argue that a  certain Colonel Fischer would have liked his troops dressed accordingly.
 Because I have other French light troops for the WAS and SYW I only wanted a half regiment of these chaps.They are very fine sculptures and now that Ive become used to painting older and dare I say it cruder figures I found them a chore to paint. But I do like them now they are finished.

My second offering of green is this regiment of the London Trained Bands. The regiment is a composite unit of Mini Figs, Hinchliffe and in the main Garrison pikemen. Finding Garrison ECW figures has been hard and they rarely seem to surface on E Bay. Although it wasn't their biggest range it was one of their best, well in my eyes it was. Ive managed to find a few badly painted chaps and have used them for this regiment and part of a Royalist one.Like my ACW armies I think this will be the last Parliamentarian regiment for my ECW armies.
 I must admit as the crisis continues I am finding it increasingly difficult to pick up a brush and slap a bit paint on a figure. Im not certain why especially as I still have a lot of figures that need painting. Thinking about it, I think its because wargaming is more than painting in isolation. There is the research aspect which is good if one is researching some new period or regiment.But social interaction for me is key. Throwing crap dice can be addictive and one does miss watching your lovingly painted regiments legging it off the end of the table. Anyway on a happier note, I am expecting a delivery of some new troops for a new little project that will hopefully give me a kick up the proverbial. So stay safe and keep on wargaming.

Sunday 19 April 2020

My final Union Regiment and thank heavens.

So these are my final Union regiment hopefully. I picked them up from E Bay and touched up bits of them. They are Connoisseur figures and I somehow feel it fitting that Peter Gilder should be responsible for this final unit. If I had been financially able I would have used only Connoisseur figures but they are simply out of my budget. I had to sneak in a Steve Barber drummer to make up the unit but he looks okay.
Gilder clearly lavished some love on the sculpts for this range. I have a couple of his zouaves that encapsulate the ethos behind the regiments. I was looking at an image the other night from Miniature Wargames where there is a beautiful unit of Union zoauves that had been owned by Gilder. In my eyes they were perfect.
So on my table at the moment are a couple of Mini Fig and Garrison ECW units and some lovely Crann Tara Fischer light troops.  All are lovely figures but in different ways. Its very noticeable the number of wargamers who have rediscovered the beauty of Mini Figs and Garrison figures recently. Its great that they are going through a revival. So is a nostalgia thing or something else?
I plump for nostalgia which is natural in these troubled times. There is something very reassuring about using figures that are from an era when all was safe, summers were long and hot and I could fit into 32'' jeans. God that was a very long time ago. So stay safe and keep painting.

Thursday 16 April 2020

61st Pennsylvanian Volunteers.

Well I have finally finished this unit of Union troops sculpted by the talented Steve Barber.These represent the 61st Pennsylvanians but given the causalities they are incurring they are clearly ripe for disbandment.
I decided to check just how many regiments I actually had in my ACW collection and have realised that I have enough, well certainly enough for a decent sized game. I have one more Union unit to base and I will call it a day on building the armies up. Like so many wargamers building an army is like painting the Forth Bridge it never ends.It doesnt help that I dont plan a project. I used to make lists many years ago but then realised it became off putting as one saw how many figures you 'needed' and how much it would cost.So I stopped and simply just started painting until I got sick or ran out of storage boxes, and it is usually the latter.
The figures arent the most practical as regards pushing them around a wargames table but there is a lot of life in the sculpts and Steve Barber is a very talented chap.

Sunday 12 April 2020

A Turkish Grand Parade.

 During the lockdown I've taken to reading several books at once. Well obviously not all together but you know what I mean. One is Charles Oman's classic The Art of War in the Middle Ages, part three which concerns the renaissance period. I have always been fascinated by the Turkish invasions of the West and the heroic battles to try and stop Islam taking over the Hapsburg empire.
 One battle in particular has always interested me and thats the Battle of Mohacs where basically the Kingdom of Hungary was overrun following the defeat of the Christian army. During the lock-down I have been adding various small units of Akinji and Azabs to my collection to build it into a decent sized army. Today I couldn't help myself and decided to have a bit of a parade of the Turkish army as it would have possibly been at their victory at Mohacs.
 Sometimes one needs to see your toy soldiers en masse and just enjoy the spectacle of colour. I had forgotten just how nice the army was and would love to take credit for the beautiful painting of the vast majority of the figures, sadly I cant as they were  lovingly painted by my nemesis John Reidy who put a lot of effort into the units.
 These were painted by master painter and all round good egg; Tony Runkee. They are Artizan Spahis.
 So sorry for the ego thing, but I needed to actually see what I had in the army and decide if I needed to paint some more units.I think I have enough and can stop planning more.Now I just need to find some suitable hussar figures to use for the Hungarians and perhaps locate some peasant types to fill out the odd crossbow blocks.

 At Mohacs the Turks chained their guns together to make things even more difficult for the Hungarians. Unfortunately the heroic charge by the knights failed to reach the hill where the guns were ensconced.
 The vast majority of the figures is Hinchliffe with a smattering of Mini Figs and Campaign Miniatures.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Brain freeze anyone?

 I think I probably speak for the majority when I say some days are better than others during this enforced incarceration.One can only watch so much tedious television before one is ready to scream at the stupidity of the so called entertainment. Sadly the constant media coverage is even worse as the so called journalists attempt to create a story by asking some question hoping the poor sod answering has brain freeze and does a Dianne Abbott. Its then I thank Charles Grant, Charlie Wesencraft, Donald Featherstone et al for introducing me to wargaming and the wonderful escapism that the hobby generates.
 As I may have mentioned before my painting has slowed down because of the virus, but I am still dabbling with various painting projects. These lovely chaps arent one of them but are actually a rebased unit I picked up from E Bay. I would love to claim credit for them but no, they were well painted by another talented wargamer, and a very nice unit they are, except I already have this regiment in my Union army. But being a daft wargamer I just had to have these lovely Hinchliffe figures as well..

I dont like to show part painted units but I thought I should at least prove I am still putting paint on figures. These are Steve Barber figures which are very nice sculpts with a lot of backstory attached to them. Yes they are fiddly at times but they are very good. Unfortunately for some unknown reason I have overdone the number of causalities in the unit with THREE! soldiers suffering musketry.
 I have other Steve Barber figures and enjoy painting them, he is a very clever chap.
 I must admit that I have been overusing E Bay lately looking for things I never knew I wanted but suddenly discover I need. I keep hoping to locate some long lost Peter Gilder masterpieces painted by him and being sold for pennies. I then realise Im having an attack of incarceration fever and have to walk away from the screen. Still I have managed to locate some bags of self raising flour and amazingly a few tins of bully beef. Anyone for a corned beef and tatty pie?

Sunday 5 April 2020

A bit of forward planning?

From a bygone age, when I could fit into size 30 jeans, drink ten pints and walk a straight line. It was a re fight of the Battle Of Hanau from a show at Chester le Street. 
Well the sun is shining through my window which hides the fact we are still in lock-down. I hope everyone is staying sane and beavering away at this wonderful hobby which I still think is enjoying a bit of a golden age.
 Of course it is increasingly difficult to apply oneself to a painting project when there is no pressure to complete the unit you are currently working on.
 That was the beauty of wargames shows for me when I was actually staging games at the shows. It was a great incentive to hit the deadline, with some newly painted units completed for the big day.
 Sadly all 'big days' are on indefinite hold given the current crisis.
Most of the big wargames shows are postponed until 2021 and the ones that take place at the latter part of this year must be looking increasingly suspect and apart from Reading are the more modest shows.
 And yet...... A lot of solo wargames firms and I use the term lightly must be under intense pressure to keep going. I would argue that even the bigger ones must be suffering especially when our postal service is heading for a three day week which I predict to be announced early next week.
 So in an attempt to look at the potential positives wouldnt it be great if the wargames clubs and individuals  in the various regional areas of the UK  could put provisional plans together to stage wargames shows for the latter part of this year in anticipation of the enforced isolationism being lifted, which it will.
 I fully appreciate that hiring halls and venues is a big financial commitment, Im not talking about something the size of Salute, York or Partizan, more the size of a large community centre hall or the like.
 Given how quickly I am using up my store of paint, glue, bases and figures I expect to be scratching around for something to paint within a month. I suppose I could always take a brush to my garden shed after that but I class myself as better prepared than a lot of wargamers who actually have a life outside of wargaming and couldnt stockpile the necessary prior to the lock-down.
 By the summer I can see a lot of very desperate wargamers pining for some serious retail therapy and a fix of toys being pushed across a wargames table.
  I cant remember how many wargames shows are currently penciled in for the late summer, autumn time but Im certain its not enough to satisfy the demands of wargamers and certainly wont help a lot of the small traders who wont be booked in for these few remaining shows.  So perhaps its time for some forward planning from any would be wargaming entrepreneurs and anticipate the return to something like normality later this 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