Sunday 26 November 2023

Battleground 2023.

Yesterday was the day that the run up to Christmas began. Well it is for me as I attended the wonderful Battleground Wargames Show held between Stockton on Tees and Middlesbrough.

  Leon of Pendragon Miniatures has organised this for several years now and rescued it from extinction. The hard work this man has put in is now paying off in spades as over 700 punters walked through the doors. Other clubs should take note at how Leon has turned the show around and made it a great day out, to buy, chat, listen and just enjoy.

 Its free entry, easy access from a major road, the parking is free, there were two lectures and the food was cheap [ are you listening Leeds] and good quality. No cold bacon sandwiches here and definitely no oat milk for one's tea.  So how were the games? Well they were good, obviously not up to Partizan standard but diverse enough and interesting enough to enjoy. What I like is the table top sale which has always proved great value. But this year I managed to ignore temptation and only bought one book.

 Battleground is one of the few shows where Tiger Miniatures appear and I was able to buy some [okay quite a few] of their lovely renaissance Irish range. So another unit of Gallowglass and some great Irish horse oh and a unit of war dogs.  

 I stuck to my wish to not buy figures, for buying sake although I must admit I nearly bought about 100 well painted Mini Fig medieval figures at a ridiculously low price. So I spent more time being a nuisance chatting to anyone who made the mistake of stopping. I felt like the nutter on the bus, but without their whacky charm. 

 It was great to see a lot of old faces and know that they were still pottering about [ hello John] doing a bit of wargaming between ailments.

 So thank you Leon, for all your hard work and well done for bringing a show back to health.

Image at 1.00pm, still loads of punters milling about looking for bargains, others were listening to a lecture about the border reivers.


Thursday 23 November 2023

Today I lost Four hours of my life I will never get back.

   Life is full of disappointments, failed romances, jobs that dont work out, ambitions that are never achieved, and to be honest after a while you realise that is just how things are. The rough with the smooth, and then you have Ridley Scott's latest film, Napoleon.  

 I will admit Im a Napoleon nut. It was what got me into wargaming and over the next 50 odd years I bought ever increasing numbers of books, figures, visits to museums in an effort to learn as much as a could about the man. Eventually I realised that I had to scale back my interests and sold most of my book collection and all my armies but the interest has remained. 

 So when it was announced that Ridley Scott was making a film about the great man I was very excited. The Duelists is one of my favourite films. The beauty of the film backed by a wonderfully interesting story based on fact has always been a great film to continually return to. And then we had Waterloo, which is another of my favourite films. Yes it has its detractors, but it captured the battle and certainly Rod Steiger was a very believable Napoleon.

So today I frantically went to see the latest interpretation of the great man's life, and what a life he led.

 I had sensible expectations, I didnt expect that any battle scenes would be accurate but I knew the look would be right, the soldiers correctly attired and that the viewer would glean a little about the man.

 Sadly, very sadly I can honestly say it is one of the worst films I have ever had to sit through. Ignoring the lack of historical accuracy, the actual film is a car crash and I cannot believe that Ridley Scott actually directed the whole sorry mess. 

 Looking for excuses for him, the subject was huge and Scott unfortunately thought he could cram Napoleon's amazing life into 2+ hours and allow the viewer to come away understanding what actually occurred. He failed spectacularly on that score. 

The dialogue? Christ it was at times infantile and at other times just laughable.

Phoenix reprised his role as Emperor Commodus and introduced some very odd sounds that frankly made Napoleon sound like a nut job. At other times it was difficult to understand the dialogue which I suppose could be seen as a blessing.

 We never found out why men were prepared to follow the Emperor through thick and thin, simply because the character was one dimensional. 

As for the action, well all I can say is the uniforms were accurate.

Whoever did the advising regarding the actual battles should be taken out and shot. Did anyone know that Napoleon led a mounted charge at Waterloo, or had the military foresight to camouflage his artillery at Austerlitz? And for me the worst bit, when Wellington aka Rupert Everitt meets Napoleon face to face on the Bellephron. Yes I know its a film, but it didnt really have any purpose in the story. It would have been better to have chosen Stephen Fry using one of his funny voices and hrumpping a bit as they talked, at least it would then be intentionally funny.

 The only redeeming factor was the lady playing Josephine, oh and Miles Jupp as the King??? Francis.

 I do like Miles, he is a very funny guy. The rest? It was a pile of s@@@@. 

Oh I forgot, the end. A closing shot, a silhouette of the great man staring out to sea before tipping sideways off his seat. It reminded me of Captain Pugwash without the detail. 

 Save your money and buy a copy of The Battle of Austerlitz starring Jack Palance, at least that was funny.


Wednesday 8 November 2023

How does one answer the impossible question.

I follow a lot of wargaming blogs and one of my favourites is the Palouse Wargaming Journal written by Jonathan Frietag. I think its fair to say Jonathan is a pretty intelligent American chap who can analyse information regarding wargaming and make sense of the data. His latest post concerns information gleaned from the Great Wargaming Survey. 

By counts, less than 4% of survey respondents maintain no surplus of unpainted figures.  Almost 41% of respondents have between 100 and 500 unpainted figures.  About 82% hold fewer than 1,000 unpainted figures in their storeroom.  Still, the remaining 18% of wargamers hold more than 1,000 unpainted figures.  Why maintain a stockpile of so many unpainted figures?  When is enough "enough" to have on hand? 

    I actually complete the survey every years, God knows why, but I like to think my information could be of use to someone, God knows who, anyway Jonathan posted about that old elephant in the room, the dreaded lead pile, or to appear more relevant the lead, plastic and resin mountain. 

Unlike Jonathan I am more a pragmatic [ thick ] about the whys and wherefores of wargamers buying figures that they then squirrel away and then forget about them. When I was working I would buy figures that I honestly thought I would need when I retired, fully expecting I would have more time but less cash. Well we all know that isn't what happens don't we.

As I've matured [ ie got mouldy] I've realised that I buy extra figures for more pleasurable reasons. Like a lot of humans, we like to shop and it gives us pleasure, well until you realise you didn't really need them.

When I first started wargaming in the very early 1970's I held down two jobs, one before school and one after school, I was more interested in pleasure than education. Anyway using all of my hard earned cash I remember buying every box of Napoleonic Airfix French from my local model shop and guiltily rushing home to my bedroom where I piled up the hundreds of figures cut from their sprues. Once done I realised I needed to paint them all to make the purchase relevant. Talk about disheartening. I learned a lesson from that crazy purchase, dont buy plastic. Okay, I actually realised that one had to be more disciplined in buying wargames figures. Buying metal soon brought that lesson home, oh the cost.

And now? Well I've realised I have more painted units than I can ever use. Proper armies made up of units that have never been on the table, and yet I will still research figure producers and also second hand sources. Why? Simple gratification.

At the moment I am buying early ancient figures for my Greek and Persian armies, even though I've got two perfectly good ancient armies using a mixture of Victrix, Warlord and North Star figures. I will over time replace all these figures with poorer quality, well in comparison to most of the newer ranges, ancient figures by Garrison, Mini Figs, Hinchliffe and hopefully Warrior. The reason has to be nostalgia, an illness recognised by the troops fighting in the American Civil War, a wistfulness to return to a time when all seemed well, or in my case because I find the early ranges charming and naive without being ugly.

 Do I need any more figures, absolutely not, in fact I am attempting to move on a lot of unpainted ECW castings, by moving on I mean virtually giving them away, and yet most wargamers arent interested, and why would they when there are so many wonderful new figures out there.

I know several mature wargamers who have thousands and I mean literally thousands of unpainted castings. They are carefully boxed waiting to be painted. Sadly we all know they will never be painted and more likely will end up in a skip or simply melted down. But did it give the wargamer pleasure? Probably until they look at the ever burgeoning piles of metal gathering dust and cobwebs. 

Like all addicts and I think I am one, you always know someone worse than you, until you realise there is no one worse and you are the go to example that other wargamers point at.

So why do we do it? Why is there a need to possess more of a thing we really don't need? One of the triggers for me is when I see some well painted old figures, that have been lavished attention and love by some wargamer. Do I need them, certainly not, but if possible I will attempt to buy them simply because they are in my eyes desirable and will fit nicely into one of my armies.

Simply put, I cant let a bargain slip by and I use the word bargain loosely. My weakness will always be figures painted by the wargaming greats, Charles Grant Snr. Tony Bath, Donald Featherstone and Peter Gilder. Unfortunately these are financially virtually unattainable for me until people of my age have gone and then they will be simply scrap and of no interest to most wargamers. Bleak, but probably realistic simply because the new generations of wargamers have new heroes and certainly like other figure ranges better.

I feel I'm getting away from my rambling point which is that every wargamer is thankfully different, each has their own predilections. It is a subject that can probably only be answered by a very clever person and certainly far clever than this thicko. All I know is that I recognise the issue, feel guilty sometimes about it and then go back to enjoying the purchase and hopefully the painting of the said figures. So really my lead mountain isn't a mountain, its a painted mountain, which makes it okay then.

Oh and if any collectors feel the need to offload any of their unwanted, painted or otherwise older figures, I am your man.


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