Friday, 24 May 2019

U Turn? Moi? A Marlburian Reverse

Spencer Smith Grenadiers painted by the redoubtable Iain Burt (whom I have not seen for many a year but I am sure he will not mind me showing these quite exquisite figures!)

Most readers of this blog will know me as a level headed, stable and focused chap - always tackling new projects with an eye for detail and seeing them through to completion....

Then I woke up....(and I can almost picture the multitude of raised eyebrows!).

Whilst I am having a minor break from sorting out the vast unpainted collection of Eric Knowles I have been able to sit back, pause, draw breath and think about the next phase of my own particular brand of wargaming madness.

You will recall that in return for my efforts with this undertaking Bill, Eric's son, had very kindly offered me some of the figures for my own use and after much chopping and changing of my mind I settled on the Minifigs portion - mainly because I thought this would be the part of the collection that would be hardest to dispose. Up to a point this is true but I have certainly made some inroads into the collection - especially for the Seven Years War and the English Civil War. I would say that half of the former and all of the latter have been accounted for and so the main bulk of what is left is for the Marlburian period with a smattering of Napoleonics.

My plan was to make use of the Marlburians (of which there is a prodigious quantity) for my planned Balkanesque set up for circa 1710 to 1720. I am now not so sure I want to do this, at least using Minifigs 25mm figures anyway. For sure there is plenty of choice of figures and any shortfall could be readily addressed by an order or two to Caliver Books who currently own and produce Minifigs. I have had this nagging feeling of 'doing it because I can rather because I should' or to be more accurate, 'doing it because all the raw material has been handed to me on a plate regardless of whether or not I actually wanted it!' I am certainly not being  ungrateful at Bill's incredible generosity but I keep asking myself do I like the period enough to invest the time and energy needed to realise it on the tabletop.

The answer is probably not and so I have taken the decision to add the Marlburians to the disposal pile. I feel better in myself having decided this as receiving this unexpected windfall in terms of huge quantities of figures at no cost sat a little uneasily on my conscience.

There is a postscript though. The one thing that rummaging through all this 18th century material has done is to remind me that it is a period I really need to do something with and indeed, I certainly have an ongoing interest in many facets of it - anything from 1740 to 1780 really. If I am to tackle a project in this period (actually that should be 'when' rather than 'if') then I have my own ideas on the matter and for a variety of reasons using Spencer Smith figures is very much at the heart of it.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

For God and Kaiser

A great 600 page plus doorstop of a tome and an excellent overview of the armies of Austria from the Thirty Years War until 1918.

I will freely admit that I am a huge fan of the BalkanWargamer blog. The reason is very simple as the blog is chock full of information about the military history of my favourite part of the world – The Balkans themselves and the surrounding area. I should also point out the BalkanDave – the author of the blog – is an all round top bloke aside from being a veritable goldmine of information about the region.

Recently he reviewed the above book on his blog (see the link in the previous paragraph) and so following on from this I decided that it would be a good investment for the library. BalkanDave has a far better knowledge of the area than I and so I was confident that it would be a worthwhile acquisition. I was certainly not disappointed! 

Austria, along with Russia, has maintained a frontier with the Ottoman Turkish Empire for pretty much all of the period the book covers so it was inevitable that I would need to look at 'the other side of the hill' to place my planned armies into the proper context. The Minifigs Marlburian component of Eric's collection has a reasonable number of Austrian figures therein and I plan to use these against the Turks in due course so having some reading material about the period, albeit very much from an overview perspective, was a necessity.

I have always considered the Austrians to have something of the underdog about them in the various wars they took part in - seemingly slow to start but getting better as events unfolded. Diverse, colourful and a list of opponents that featured just about everybody means that the Austrians will work rather nicely as a protagonist in my planned early 18th century Balkan set up.

Now that I own the hardback version I am sorely tempted to get the Kindle edition for the daily commute and my forthcoming holiday - it would certainly be easier to carry around!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 29

The classic Command and Colours game of WW2 combat....

Once again the weekend was a busy one but I have managed to get rather a lot done. As expected most of the time was spent with the ongoing disposal of the collection of Eric’s collection but even in that I had a couple of satisfying successes. To begin with the last of the Seven Years War Front Rank figures are going to be heading for a new home and I have also found buyers for the Minifigs ECW component. Eric routinely used the ECW to bolster his late 17th century armies so floppy hatted pikemen were the order of the day. I also have a potential buyer for the Essex, Dixon and Hinchliffe Ottoman Turks and Poles. This will enable me to free up a couple of crates so I will be able to head of my holiday in three weeks safe in the knowledge that the the disposal of this part of the collection is well in hand.

Upon my return from my travels Eric's WW2 and Marlburian painted armies will be next on the list, followed by his library and collection of 1:1200th scale ships.

....and its Great War cousin 

For my own part the need to get a game in is becoming more and more pressing and so I have taken the decision to fall back on that old standby of Memoir 44 and its first world war cousin, The Great War. I came across a very useful files section on the Memoir 44 Facebook group. Essentially there are some potted campaign PDFs that include a brief overview of the campaign itself and then a list of scenarios from all sources that can be found on the official Memoir 44 website (you have to register a copy of the base game to access the full content). The campaign specific PDF found in the files section of the Facebook group lists all the scenarios available in historical order so players merely download the scenarios as per the list and then fight the battles. Simple for sure but a very handy resource for those of us where time is at a premium.

Naturally both of the above would lead me quite seamlessly into Portable Wargame territory in due course. For the moment though, just opening the box and setting up a game has a an attraction all of its own although my long term plan is to '3D' the above with both terrain and models.

One more project then....

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Pausing to Catch One's Breath....

Not so much a full commercial break but more of a 'treading water' exercise

I had a long chat with Bill this morning concerning Eric's collection and I am happy to say that he is delighted with progress so far. I was able to tell him that I had probably cleared out at least a third of the unpainted late 17th and 18th century figures with roughly half the remainder being Minifigs with the rest Dixon, Essex, Hinchliffe, Greenwood and Ball etc. The remaining figures span the entire period from the English Civil/Thirty Years War up to the Napoleonic Wars with the former being used for late 17th century militia types and the latter for imagi-nation purposes. For the most part this lot (excluding the Minifigs) will be bulk listed for 'as cheap as chips' prices on eBay on a 'sold as seen' basis. I may well be taking a few crates of figures to COW in July but have yet to make a final decision on this.

This brief interlude (I am going away for a couple weeks just after Broadside in June) will enable me to sort a few things out, not least of which is planning for the next phases of the disposal of Eric's collection. Bill will be the one doing the work over the next few weeks as he will be sorting out the unpainted 20mm WW2 metal collection (around a dozen crates worth), the painted 18th century armies, the 1:1200th scale fleets and Eric's extensive library. Crucially Bill is looking to get the remaining parts of Eric's collection under one roof - his main place of residence - rather than having it split between two houses.

The plan is for the two of us to have big catch up towards the end of next month (with beers) to plan the next phase.

In the interim period I need to ensure that all the units being listed are photographed and assigned an ID number. I have drafted a template for the description and will make sure that all readers of the blog will know when it all goes live. Using the Buy it Now option means that once the units are listed they are listed they will stay on the site until sold which will take a weight off my shoulders for sure as I then only need to post out as and when needed.

The above task, preparing for listing, is easy to do but again is rather time consuming. The big advantage I have though is that I have 4 weeks to ready it all - there is roughly a hundred units or so - with pictures etc. Luckily I can spread this out and even find some time for my own 'stuff', of which the new command blocks are the obvious choice.

Although I am still working on Eric's collection it will be scaled down for a while which will enable me to draw breath and tackle some of my own bits and pieces before the next onslaught!

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 28

I have never seen a copy of this and nor do I intend buying one but it certainly looks like the kind of book I would really enjoy!

This weekend saw some fairly significant moves in the man cave. I managed to package up nearly 50 Kg of unpainted metal across 7 parcels - all heading to the same place I hasten to add - which is now winging its way to its new home. I also filled up half a large recycling bin with old Hinchliffe, Greenwood and Ball and Alberken figure boxes - all of which carried the dust of ages and scribbled notes - so at last I can see the floor in the man cave! With a couple of exceptions everything else can be re-crated and stored far less intrusively under my gaming table. Once this is done I can then hoover, dust and polish - a fact of which SWMBO has, ahem, encouraged me to do although to be fair she has a point as the entire loft looked liked something out of Steptoe's Yard!

There was thing I had overlooked. Whilst moving crates around and repacking some of the remaining units I rediscovered the Seven Years War Hanoverian army Eric had acquired. Judging by the figures used  - the customary multiple manufacturers Eric routinely employed - I am of the opinion that this is one of his earlier armies as there are a number of Minifigs S Range types present. Some are even partially painted. I shall be taking a closer look this evening and will post to the blog if there is anything interesting.

Flags for the memory (there are two sheets of the above). Rather than regimental standards I opted to use national flags. In many cases this means two or even three variants. The eagle eyed will not the use of the revolutionary war flag for the US of A with the circular 13 stars. I have the more usual version already.

Around the middle of last week a small order from Tony at Brigade Models arrived in the shape of a couple of flag sheets he kindly prepared for me. These are going to be used for the command blocks with my block armies (not the WW1 German Naval Ensign though - this the normal size I use for my ship models) in conjunction with a number for identification purposes. If you recall my plan was to use a quarter size block (roughly 15mm wide x 12mm high x 20mm deep) as a command block complete with a flag to show the orientation of the unit. Having the unit number will help with identification when using a roster to record casualties. Now that I have the flags I can press on with this stage which will mean I can use the blocks 'off the grid' so to speak although Tony has made such a good job of them I am thinking they will be used on grid as well.

This will be a simple job but it is one that I can tackle easily enough. Having the unit flags with numbers will make the battle reports far more easy to follow and will also add to the personality of the armies represented. This in turn will enhance the gaming experience. There are slightly more flags than I have blocks for but I have more than sufficient for my current needs and can get extras cut should the need arise.

The one standard I will be sticking to though is that block number 1 will always be the army commander.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

A Decade of A Wargaming Odyssey

I like to think that the picture above shows me valiantly resisting the lure of a new boardgame/book/range of figures/set of rules but the sad truth is a little different....

It is hard to believe that ten years ago to the very minute I posted my very first blog entry! What an incredible, epic and Homeric journey it has been and no mistake!

A Decade of A Wargaming Odyssey: The Wargaming Bit

I took the opportunity to take a look back over the decade to see what I was up to and how everything has developed - or not, as the case may be. I would say that the biggest single 'project' was without a doubt the block armies. I have used these for many periods and I am certainly pleased that I persevered with them. They are now one of my wargaming staples.

I have made a virtue of what I call frugal wargaming (the block armies are a very good example of this) and so tales of my boot sale and charity shop  acquisitions have been a continuous feature and to this day there is nothing like the feeling you get when you score a book or some other piece of gaming kit for mere pennies - even better when you sell it on via eBay for a healthy profit, thereby enabling some serious expenditure to take place whilst avoiding the admonishing looks of SWMBO at yet more money being spent!

Then there was the great ACW warship scratch building programme using balsa, assorted pieces of timber and plastic card - 50 odd vessels built for use along the rivers and swampy bayous of the US of A. This was enormous fun to do and I certainly learned a lot about building models other than from a plastic kit! For a variety of reasons though, these went the way of the Dodo but I shall be making some more ACW models in support of the Kurz and Allison project although not as many as previously and also at a larger scale.

Naval wargames have featured a lot and my various navies (and scales) have waxed and waned over the decade. Plans for ancient galleys were made and unrealised and lots of ideas for WW2 actions featured at various points. Then of course there was the whole Jutland thing - where I certainly missed the boat, so to speak. Currently I have a number of 1:2400th scale Tumbling Dice ships waiting for a 1914 style campaign and have some long distance plans for the ancients once more, as well as some 'wind and water' style games. Cruel Seas came and went and if I have learned anything from that experience it is that trying to add a little dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl of a rule set is destined to failure when set against the needs of big business.

Some aerial activity has featured but not for a while although I hope to rectify this at some point. I had a lot of fun with Angels 20 and Wings of Glory is always good for a laugh. Funnily enough I never seem to have gotten past Air Force, Dauntless, Richthofen's War, Wings and Air War for my air combat games - similarly with Ship 'O the Line, Jutland and Bismarck for the naval dimension. Perhaps my fascination with grid based wargames stems from my board gaming roots - who knows?

My land based games seemed to have mainly fought on a gridded basis and this has given me a lot of pleasure. I have seen the ingenuity of others take the Command and Colours system designed by Richard Borg and then stretch it more directions you could possibly imagine. I like the original board games and all the various figure based variants - they emphasise the 'game with soldiers' approach to the hobby rather than the uber-detailed simulation style, both of which I enjoy as the mood suits. I would say that the game side resonates rather more with me these days!

A Decade of A Wargaming Odyssey: The Wargaming People Bit

One of the most priceless benefits I have accrued over the life of A wargaming Odyssey is of course the people. I have made countless new friends over the last decade as well as forging closer ties with older ones and indeed, have even met a few of them! Their comments, emails, encouragement, ribbing and suggestions have been a continual source of support for which I am both hugely grateful for and am humbled by. I cannot pretend to be the most prolific painter, gamer or modeller on the planet but I love the part of our hobby universe that I inhabit. The fact that people extend me the courtesy of dropping in and out occasionally is a prize beyond value.

In closing this post I would like to sincerely thank everybody that has contributed over the last ten years and I hope to be able to continue my butterfly like progress over the next ten. I was mildly amused to read the contents of my very first blog post - especially given the projects content - so for your delectation:

Laying the Foundations 

Here's to the next 10!

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 27

Hawker Hunter ground attack FGA.9 as deployed to the Middle East during the Aden Emergency

Later than usual this week but for a very good reason! The Canadian branch of the family consisting of my brother in law and his wife are in the UK on a visit and so we were entertaining them over the bank holiday weekend.

I have mentioned previously but my brother in law, Gordie, is an ex paratrooper that initially served with 3 Para before transferring to the pathfinder unit of 1 Para. During his 11 years under arms he served during the Radfan campaign as a GPMG gunner and is always willing to talk about his experiences. He freely admits to enjoying his time with the colours and maintains contact with many of his ex comrades in arms. Time and the rigours of service have left their physical mark on him and so back, knee and ankle problems are the common lot of the ex paratrooper! As a pathfinder - incidentally serving alongside the S.A.S - Gordie was involved with HALO drops from around 20,000 feet. He has a professional respect for the RAF and regaled me with tales of when he undertaking parachute training at an RAF base - apparently the standard of RAF cuisine was far higher than that within the Parachute regiment! He also told me about the air support received from RAF ground attack Hawker Hunter FGA.9s during the campaign and how effective it was - especially the nose full of 30mm Aden!

Naturally the three days we spent with Gordie and Diane were not entirely given over to matters military and so we went out on a couple of trips, dined out and had a really good time. The invitation to visit them in Vancouver is something we will have to seriously consider!

The great packaging of the figures winging their way to their new owners continues with the plan to ship on Saturday. It is not difficult to do but it is time consuming. The good news though is that I will at last be able to see the floor of the man cave!

My order to Spencer Smith will be on its way today for the last of the ACW figures and I have also taken the opportunity to sort out the 1:2400 scale ships I have from Tumbling Dice. I am itching to get a game in at some point so all this sorting out has served to heighten my enthusiasm so I may well be rolling some dice over the coming weekend.

I am not sure what with though!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Thoughts on ACW Armies

For the Union - Berdan’s Sharpshooters in action

For the Confederates - 1st Georgia Sharpshooters in action.

After a busy afternoon tackling a few DIY jobs and the rest of the usual Saturday domestic round I was able to spend a little time sorting out my 30mm ACW Spencer Smith collection to see what was needed to finish it off. After going through the figures I was quite please to see that to bring it up to the strength I am aiming for does not really need very much at all so I will get an order together over the weekend.

I have settled on the size of the two armies and each will look something this:

3 x Mounted Officers
6 x 12 figure infantry units
1 x 12 figure Zouave unit (more about this later)
1 x 12 figures ‘Rifles’ unit (again, more about this later)
4 x 6 figure cavalry units
3 x 12 pdr cannon each with 4 x crew

This works out at 108 foot figures, 27 mounted and 3 guns. For a variety of reasons I am looking at this as being my standard army size for the horse and musket period and it represents what I would call a full strength army. Usually the games I fight contain less units but it means I have a flexible roster to work from as required. Crucially the units can also break down into Portable Wargame sized Corps level formations. 

I do not profess to be any kind of an expert on the American Civil War and so my armies will be very much ‘based upon’ rather than historically accurate - which is why the Kurz and Allison project works really well for me. I like to think of this as the ‘Hollywood’ approach! As can be seen in the above list I shall be including Zouaves for colour and the Rifle units will be green clad sharpshooting specialists. I was rather pleased to discover that the Confederates had a green coated sharpshooter unit and even more pleased to read that the historical unit served during the advance on Atlanta.

Another thing I have decided on is that the infantry units will feature a command element of an officer, a musician and for all except the Rifle units, a standard bearer. The infantry and Zouave units will have a drummer whilst the Rifles will have a bugler. The gun crew will be four figures strong - the 3 figure gunners pack and an officer.

It was a real pleasure spending some time with this collection and making plans for how I am going to use it going forward. At that remains now is to find some time to realise it!

Friday, 3 May 2019

A Portable Rebel and Patriot Gentleman's Civil War

Kurz and Allison with some very dapper looking Confederates for 1864!

This year so far has been largely occupied with sorting out the collection of Eric Knowles – so much so that most of my own projects have ground to an ignominious halt. I am not bothered by this although as the days turn into weeks and then months I am becoming more aware of my apparent lack of progress in, well, any direction other than packing figures for posting!

It is true that I have made a few acquisitions this year but to be honest, other than skimming through the various rules or books that have been added to the collection, I have invested little other than the odd half an hour or so, usually on the train during the daily commute.

However, now that I am close to a temporary break in the grand disposal, I have taken a little time out to revisit the ideas I was looking to tackle this year. First and foremost is of course the Spencer Smith 30mm ACW Kurz and Allison based collection. With the release of the Portable Napoleonic Wargame followed by A Gentleman’s War and Rebels and Patriots, I finally have the rules that I want to use for the collection once it is ready for action. These three sets of rules between them will cater for most of my immediate gaming needs as they cover virtually every scale of action from army level down to skirmish - and cover both grid based and free table usage. The first order of business though, even before the paints come out, is to acquire a few extra figures from Spencer Smith. I will also need to revisit the basing I shall be using as I am leaning very much towards individual figures rather than on multiples.

In support of this project will also be the need to tackle the naval dimension but certainly not to the same scale as previously! If you recall from some years back I scratch built around 50 assorted ships for use on the rivers and swampy bayous of the US of A. Some of these models featured in a couple of games in the games folder if you want to see them again. They were all built with one overriding rule – none of them were larger than 4” long so as to be able to fit in a single Hexon tile. The models I will be building in support of the Kurz and Allison project will be far fewer in number and larger than their predecessors. I have a Peter Pig Hammerin’ Iron gaming mat which uses hexes of 5.5” across the flat edges so the models will be built to that size. I will also be making them ‘cartoon style’ in that they will be taller than you would expect. As I intend using these alongside the 30mm figures the extra height will help with the overall look of the thing.

Once I have this phase of the disposal of Eric's collection suitably 'battened down' I shall be taking advantage of the break to address the ACW project, at least in terms of fine tuning the resources needed.

For the record I ma really looking forward to this!

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 26

One of the 60 odd pictures I have of a small part of Eric's painted Marlburian collection. 

It has been a busy week in respect of the great lead mountain sort out. The last of the Front Rank and Foundry figures have found a new home and this has made a major dent in the collection. Aside from the Minifigs the remainder of the collection consists of Essex, Dixons, Hinchliffe and various other odds and ends - including some rather nice RAFM French and Indian war figures.

After a number of discussions with Bill the plan is to now number each remaining unit box, photograph the contents and sell them as seen via eBay on a 'buy it now' basis. Naturally I shall handle any direct enquiries about anything listed with the utmost discretion....

I should also mention that Bill has come with a great idea that he and I need to flesh out in a little more detail. Basically he is planning on using his local village hall to display all of Eric's painted 18th century collection with a view to the disposal of the same. He has also agreed that selling individual units - bearing in mind his armies typically consisted of figures from several manufacturers - would be a viable option. I will keep you all posted about this but personally I think it is a great idea.

The big advantage of this is that I can condense down the remaining collection into a far more manageable number of crates which could easily live under my gaming table in the man cave. It also means that as I will be able to see the floor once again I can give the place a proper tidy up - just in time for the next lot of Eric's collection to arrive!

With the recent launch of Bob Cordery's Portable Napoleonic Wargame, together with A Gentleman's War by Messrs. Whitehouse and Foley, I am feeling fairly comfortable about my horse and musket rules of choice when I get to the armies. Both have much to commend them so I am confident that which ever path I venture down - either the Minifigs Marlburian or Colonial or Spencer Smith ACW finding the right set of rules will be the least of my worries!

This coming bank holiday weekend will see me dropping parcels of figures off and welcoming my brother in law over from Canada. I have mentioned him before but to remind you he is a former paratrooper that saw active service in the so called 'Aden Emergency'. He is great fun to have around and is never short of an anecdote or two as well as having a very colourful vocabulary of Arabic insults!

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

250 Years Later....

Foundry 8th army British troops in action

Two hundred and fifty years after my planned 1690 to 1720 historical/imagi-nation style set up for the Balkans sees global encompassing the second world war. What is the connection between the two? Well, once I have finished the disposal of Eric's late 17th and 18th century unpainted lead mountain I will then be tacking a peak of similar scale in the shape of his 20mm WW2 collection.

I had a long conversation with Bill, Eric's son, about the next steps with the disposal plan and we have taken the decision to tackle the WW2 unpainted collection first of all.

When Eric retired and moved to Coningsby he got into WW2 gaming in 20mm in a big way. When I say big way I mean big as in Cecil B. Demille spectacular big - Eric was never one that went for the 'less is more' approach! In real terms it means that I shall be receiving some dozen or so 32 litre crates full of unpainted 20mm metal figures, artillery and vehicles - the latter are mostly metal or resin and metal - for disposal. In true Eric fashion these have been deployed in units and as far as we know at present there is a lot of Foundry in the collection.

In the short term I need to strip out the remaining Front Rank and Foundry elements of the 17th/18th century collection and then organise the remainder into manufacturers so there will crates of Essex, Dixons, Hinchliffe and others. If I tidied up the crates I have I reckon I could condense the remainder down by around a half which is not bad going and of course it save me some space.

Just as well with another 12 crates incoming!

I should mention that Eric's WW2 collection covers the entire war and with multiple armies and theatres represented. I am looking forward to tackling this but it will not be easy if the earlier stuff is anything to go by.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 25

First and foremost a belated Happy Easter to all - I hope the long weekend was a pleasant one however you chose to spend it!

St. George doing what he does best - skewering the odd dragon!

Of course another celebration to day in honour of our very own Patron Saint so a Happy St.George's day as well!

It was a veritable whirlwind of a weekend including two barbecues, a boot sale, three shopping trips, a further al fresco dinner, jet washing the patio, a party in between times, further sorting out of Eric's collection.

Now that the Wargames Foundry infantry has more or less gone my next step was to sort out the cavalry. This has proven to be a major headache as Eric not only used a number of manufacturers but also routinely mixed ranges within a unit. This will take me longer than I anticipated to sort out so apologies for the delay in getting a list together. What I can confirm though is that Eric did not use Front Rank for the mounted arm - the main bulk appears to be Dixons and Essex.

The Russian and Austrian Seven Years War armies both included a large number of Front Rank infantry and cavalry all of which will be heading to their new home at the weekend. I will then be sorting out the British and French which also feature significant quantities of figures from this manufacturer.

Once the high end ranges have been disposed of  - and by that I mean Foundry and Front Rank - the next will be Dixon and Essex as there is a prodigious amount of them in the collection. These are all perfectly usable and would be a cheap way of trying out a new period as the prices are very low - 50p per foot and £1 for mounted.

These are 30mm and are quite exquisite in a Charge! kind of way.

Whilst going through the Austrian Seven Years collection I came across two infantry regiments made up using the figures depicted above. These are lovely figures but I am at a loss to identify the manufacturer. If anyone has an ideas please let me know. There are grenadiers in the same positions as well as officers, drummers and standard bearers and a quite superb mounted officer which is a one piece casting. I have a feeling they may possibly be Hinchliffe - the mounted officer certainly is - but the round base seems a little out of place.

This coming week will see me packing figures for posting but as the decks are beginning to clear, albeit slowly, I will be better placed in respect of the remainder of Eric's 18th century unpainted lead mountain. In fact it will be more like a lead hill!

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 24

I can remember owning a copy of this in years gone by but sadly it is no longer part of the collection

The world keeps turning and so the collection of Eric Knowles is slowly being beaten into submission! At long last I have been able to make a start on the late 17th and early 18th century cavalry list and am aiming to have this ready over the Easter long weekend. In the meantime though the small amount of AWI figures - a mere couple of hundred or so - Eric had acquired have been sorted and are currently on eBay awaiting a buyer. Once I have the cavalry listed I shall then be doing he same for the infantry now that the Foundry and Minifigs have been separated out. the remainder appears to be a mixture of Essex and Dixons and still accounts for a couple of crates worth.

If I have learnt one thing from this process it is that separating out figures by the manufacturer is probably what I should have done in the first place. The several hundred Wargames Foundry Marlburians were easy enough to identify and as they are largely generic it made perfect sense stripping them out of their original units. Essex and Dixons have a surprising amount in common in some cases and bearing in mind my relationship with buying 28mm figures has been minimal over the years it is no surprise I have spent so much time on this. I am not for one minute complaining though!

The famous Hinchliffe blue box. Eric has used hundreds of this for his units and they are so old that the corner tabs have lost all adhesion so when you take the lid off the box falls apart! The man cave is littered with these small brown tabs!

Mention of Hinchliffe reminded me of many things from my early wargaming days. The first metal figures I ever purchased were some Russian Napoleonic infantry advancing in greatcoats - even then I was looking at ways I could make my painting life easier! - and wearing forage hats. There were twelve figures originally and I was quite shocked when I purchased the next twelve as they had been completely redesigned and were huge by comparison! I also remember buying Russian Cuirassiers, Hussars, the inevitable Cossacks and some Moscow Militia. I painted them all (except the Hussars that Chris Hardman painted for me) and along with the aforementioned infantry as well as the grenadier units and gun crews I acquired from Tradition, it formed a useful force of around a hundred foot and thirty odd mounted. When I moved to London (this would have been early 1978) and joined the former Newham Wargames Club and discovered that nobody played Napoleonics I sold them on to Eric Knowles himself. I am unsure if these are still in the painted part of his collection but who know?

I rather liked the later Hinchliffe models as they seemed to have real character about them whereas Minifigs always seemed a little soulless. I still think that today although Minifigs have a look about them that satisfies a specific need.

I was hugely delighted to see that Hinchliffe are in fact still available courtesy of Hinds Figures and the prices are pretty modest as well - far cheaper than Minifigs.

Eric has used a goodly smattering of Hinchliffe across his Seven Years War armies as, if memory serves me correctly, they were one of the later 'large' ranges.

I am pleased that progress is being made with this portion of Eric's collection and the resultant trips down memory lane have been very enjoyable although I am conscious of the fact that I need to do something of my own as well.

Plans are afoot.

Monday, 15 April 2019

"A beast approaches, and it was King Leonidas himself who provoked it."

The climax of the film 300 - the Spartans and Greeks have been betrayed by Ephialtes and are now surrounded by the Persian host. A beautiful death and immortal glory awaits Leonidas and the remains of the 300.

Now I know as well as the next man that the battle of the 300 Spartans as depicted in the film 300 bears little resemblance to what actually happened but it is a great film all the same albeit in a comic book over the top kind of way. I thoroughly enjoyed it, 300: Rise of an Empire less so but it was still a worthy effort. Anyway, the long and short of it was that when the recently launched game by Footsore Miniatures (the company formerly known as Warbanner until the Evil Empire took a degree of umbrage…) Mortal Gods, covering skirmish level games in the Hoplite world (set after the Persian war), then I was always going to take a look at it! So I did and immediately picked up a copy.

The core set contents and yes, there are other figures available as well as sets for Athens and Sparta...

The game contains 32 28mm plastic figures from the Victrix range for the period so there are armoured and unarmoured hoplites, peltasts and slingers. I had a few problems with some of the figures as the box they come in has very little in the way of packaging so the heavy components – two decks of cards and bags of dice and stones have plenty of room to roll around. A quick phone call and all was sorted so some replacement figure sprues are winging their way to me.

The game can best be described as follows:

“Mortal Gods is a skirmish tabletop game played with roughly 15-25 models on each side. Players select their warriors before each game based around a single heroic leader, or ‘Lochagos’, and a number of loyal companions and heroes forming a single Lochos (war band).
Battles are swift and bloody as players alternate acting with one warrior or a group of warriors – moving and fighting to achieve the scenario objectives, whether that be cutting down the enemy, defending an outpost or finding and protecting an important character.
The rules are available as a box set consisting of a Rulebook, Roster Cards, Gift Cards, Omen Cards, Injury Cards, Damage Dice and Mortal Gods Dice.”
To be honest I certainly like the look of the game and there are a few folks at the club that are into this which is useful. However, in my usual way I am looking beyond the obvious and so will be expanding the figure collection to eventually produce a couple of forces the new Osprey rule set Men of Bronze – which covers hoplite warfare with forces around 50 to 80 figures per side. Obviously DBA could feature as well as the Portable Wargame or even Command and Colours should the need arise. There are also plenty of Greek mythological figures around so Dragon Rampant or HoTTs  may even feature.

My plan originally was to put this way down the batting order but it is very tempting to crack on with it as the figures are really nice and with a myriad of uses.

So much for focus....

Friday, 12 April 2019

Death in the Dark Continent or Into Africa

The latest edition of Chris Peers excellent rule set covering wargames set in 19th century Africa.

As a long time fan of the adventures of Allan Quartermain as well as various periods of African history - typically anything Colonial through to the Great War -  having a set of wargames rules that focused on the 'Dark Continent' was always going to be of interest. It is true that games set in this theatre could readily be undertaken using The Men Who Would Be Kings but these rules are far more specific in their approach. To begin with there are a pretty comprehensive selection of army lists for the European powers as well as the various tribal opposition. I like this approach as it creates a closer feel for the period as well adding to the variety of potential opponents. The terrain as well as the diverse flora and fauna of the Dark Continent  is also addressed which adds greatly to the all important flavour. In many ways I see this set of rules as a logical step up from Congo which is almost at a role playing level.

A great set of rules for low level skirmishes and almost role playing.

There are some quite superb 28mm figures available for this genre and of course the subject matter lends itself nicely to smaller armies. I have in mind a couple of ideas for use with Death in the Dark Continent although they are a long way off as the project list currently stands.

My knowledge of the various African campaigns in the latter half of the 19th century is limited in both scale and scope to the usual suspects - the Zulu War, elements of the Sudan campaign (included purely as it took place on the same continent!), some of the French adventures and the Great War so when I saw that Chris Peers had written a book that serves as an excellent reference source to his rules my only questions was how soon could I get a copy?

By no means a definitive work but a very useful overview all the same with plenty of inspiration for wargamers.

I can do no more than quote the Amazon advert for the above:

"In The African Wars Chris Peers provides a graphic account of several of the key campaigns fought between European powers and the native peoples of tropical and sub-tropical Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His pioneering and authoritative study describes in vivid detail the organization and training of African warriors, their weapons, their fighting methods and traditions, and their tactics. He concentrates on the campaigns mounted by the most successful African armies as they struggled to defend themselves against the European scramble for Africa. Resistance was inconsistent, but some warlike peoples fought long and hard - the Zulu victory over the British at Isandhlwana is the best known but by no means the only occasion when the Africans humiliated the colonial invaders."

Certainly worth adding to the collection for some ideas.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 23

A magnificent addition to the library and needless to say - the catalyst for a number of ideas....

Once again it has been a busy weekend although not with Salute featuring for yours truly. To be honest the gaming budget had been well and truly blown beforehand (see Red Alert and the above, not to mention a couple of books) and so this year going to the UKs premier gaming day was never likely to happen. I enjoyed last year, mainly because of the novelty value, but it was hard on the left ankle, knee, hip and wallet as well as the malodorous effects of the awful lighting. When I left the Excel – around 1pm as I recall– I felt worn out and ached in places I had forgotten I had (not to mention gaining a screaming headache) but, it must be said, with my gaming mojo for the most part satiated. There have been numerous blog posts from those that attended that have mentioned the same to a lesser or greater degree - perhaps our collective advancing years and the occasionally expanding waistbands are a little less forgiving than our previously more youthful selves! For the most part Salute is a little on the large side for me - I prefer a rather more leisurely pace for my browsing these days - so I will stick to the smaller events I attend although as previously mentioned, I suspect I will brave the Excel again at some point.

There was a lot of sorting out over the weekend and much progress has been made with Eric’s collection. The Foundry Marlburian Infantry has more or less gone so the next step is to tackle the cavalry – most of which is Front Rank – and the other infantry and artillery (actually gunners – there are no guns to speak of). I have taken out the Minifigs and Hinton Hunt/Higgins figures so what is left seems to be mainly Essex and Dixons. I have seen some Hinchliffe figures in the mix and also some that are unidentifiable so this will be an interesting exercise for sure.

The big news for me this week was the arrival of the set of rules you see above. I will do no more than quote the blurb from the Amazon advert:

'A Gentleman's War' is a simple game involving toy soldiers of the classic style. It is a relaxed
and relaxing game, where enough depends on the turn of a card and the roll of a handful of
dice to say that our disasters are pure chance, but enough cunning decision-making to claim
our victories as acts of brilliant generalship.

Our model soldiers are very brave, obedient, and generally do what we want them to. Players
are expected to behave in a friendly manner, and conduct themselves as gentlemen (or ladies, 
as is appropriate). There are lots of six-sided dice, saving rolls, proper distances in inches, 
and a general sense that there ought to be salmon-and-cucumber sandwiches and tea, or beer.'

I think I may have found my non grid based companion to the Portable Wargame.

Mention of The Portable Wargame reminded me of two very good blog posts Bob had written about 'A Gentleman's war' which can be seen here:

....and here:

This is going to be hugely entertaining.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Uniforms in the Age of Marborough

Thus far the only information I have about uniforms of the 1670 to 1720 period is courtesy of the two Helion Titles I recently acquired and that feature Turkey, Russia and Venice. I was also keen to acquire something that covered the mainstream armies of the period (no disrespect intended to Russia and Turkey!) and so was delighted to discover that Caliver Books had exactly what I wanted. A swift email exchange with Mr. Ryan and I am now the proud owner of a copy of the book you see below.

The current version. This is an A4 sized hardback and contains the information from both the previous volumes 1 and 2 as well as some additional details from the authors original WRG From Pike to Shot title. This is a peach of a book with some Bob Marrion artwork, line drawings and a few maps as well.

The original softback volume 1....

....and volume 2.

The predecessor to the above and one that I should like to add to the collection for completeness.

Whilst I have no intentions of producing armies for the more usual protagonists of the War of the Spanish Succession having the uniform details is important for my planned 'imagi-nation' forces for the era. The arrival of this book coincided nicely with me starting to sort out the figures I shall be working with and so I already have a few ideas to play around with.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Red Alert by Richard Borg

Dramatic stuff in a space opera kind of way rather than 'hard' science fiction but what the hell? It is game after all....

Despite saying last year that I would go to Salute again - absolutely being the answer to the question - this year I am not. I have a couple of domestic issues to attend to and to be honest was not really bothered about making the trip. Don't get me wrong, it is the premier wargames show in the UK but for me it is simply too big to really appreciate. These days I much prefer a gentle wander about and a leisurely browse rather than fighting my way through the throbbing throng (or thundering herd if you prefer) to look at a game or buy something. Besides, as you have probably have guessed, the budget for Salute has been well and truly blown....

The components from the base game

Anyway, casting my mind back to last year I had the pleasure of talking to Dan Mersey (of  the 'Rampant series' fame) who demonstrating the latest Command and Colours board game designed by Richard Borg - Red Alert. This is a game of fleet battles in space - a subject dear to my heart - and whilst I did not join the Kickstarter programme for this I was always going to buy a copy when it was released. Lo and behold a year later and the game is finally out and so, by virtue of some canny eBay disposals,  I purchased a copy of the game and all the expansions from those very nice people at the Plastic Soldier Company. I say very nice as they threw in a couple of pieces that were Kickstarter exclusives which is handy.

That very nice man Daniel Mersey in action with spaceships at Salute 2018

I will post a full review in due course and I will certainly be painting the miniatures that are included - all 92 in the base game alone. The expansions add more of the base game models but there is one that I rather liked that contains a space station as well as 8 transports. I also rather liked the playing mat that is included with the core set.

I have already seen a few comments across social media that suggest these rules could be a good basis for a set of naval rules - not surprising really as many 'space' games are naval battles by any other name. I expect that depending on the popularity of this release that there will be further expansions in due course - the background to the rules mentions a struggle with a race called the 'Krawl' so I would not be in the least bit surprised if they made an appearance at some point. I tend to be a little wary of game specific backgrounds as there always seems to be a feature that does not sit well with me. That is a little odd I know, especially when one is dealing with a fictional setting. The one that always enjoyed was the background to Ground Zero Games Full Thrust space combat rules. Of course Star Wars and Star Trek feature as being at the very least, well supported in terms of stories.

This will provide a very welcome diversion from the unremitting toil of the 18th century and the great thing is that it is pretty much ready to go straight out of the box. Indulgent? Perhaps. Fun? If the recent game at the club was anything to go by then yes indeedy - and I didn't even take part but was merely a curious spectator!

Monday, 1 April 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 22

The above is the Minifigs component of Eric's Seven Years War collection. There are some 48 units boxes covering France, Britain, Russia, Austria and Umbriago (one of Eric's imagi-nations based on the Italian States). In terms of figures themselves there are over 120 mounted and 500 foot....And that is just the Minifigs....

Busy week this week with lots going on. To begin with I drew up one of the two lists requested in respect of Eric's collection - this being for the Minifigs component of his Seven Years War set up. The second, that of the 1670 to 1720 cavalry, will take a little longer to do so apologies to those that are waiting on the same. I have to say that although listing the contents of each box (and winnowing out some odds and ends), although taking best part of Sunday, was both incredibly therapeutic and very interesting. the one bog advantage I have with the Minifigs portion is that at least the infantry are easy enough to identify as they have the ID code stamped on the top of the base rather than on the underside. Given that Eric had filed the underside of ALL the figures before organising them into units this was rather handy!

A rather useful acquisition scaled at around 15mm. This is a genuine Arabian souvenir and will serve quite readily for my 15mm Arab Revolt set up. It is roughly 75mm by 50mm and has a label on the underside that announces that the model was produced by the Bedu Centre - in both English and Arabic.

Aside from the changing of the clocks and the looming spectre of Salute, the beginning of spring also heralds the start of the boot sale season. At present out usual event is not open - it is still a couple of weeks off - so instead Laurel, Holly and I went to the local boot sale just up the road. This is very small by comparison and can be easily looked around in less than an hour. I managed to pick up the above Bedouin tent for the princely sum of 50p.

I have a couple of other things to report but these will be best served by dedicated posts so that will be the next two taken care of!

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

"I saw three (actually six) ships go sailing by...."

I have previously mentioned that Eric was a great fan of naval wargames and so in true Eric style he acquired an immense collection of ship models for his games. The South East Asia 1941 campaign being a good example. For this campaign we had the fleets of Russia, Japan, Italy, Austria, Turkey, the Royal Navy and eventually the Americans. There were models from all manner of sources - Eaglewall, Airfix, Superior, Viking, Mercator, Minifigs and various 'made in Hong Kong' conversions. Eric was a great one for conversions and so many ships took on the guise of something completely different from what the manufacturer intended. All the participants (yours truly included) contributed various scratch built models - I made a very passable Goeben whilst Bob Cordery, Neil Fox and Chris Hardman also turned out some really lovely models. It was all great fun in a silly kind of a way as the naval arms race got completely out of hand, mainly due to the prodigious amount of tonnage belonging the central powers being, for the most part, ignominiously sunk by Christmas 1914....

Note to self - never try running 1:1200th scale fleet actions on a dining table using Fletcher Pratt....

The naval portion of Eric's collection is a seam waiting to be mined in due course so I was rather surprised to find the following items lurking in a box described as 1685 Sedgemoor.

A German Helgoland class dreadnought

A German Konig class dreadnought

The Royal Navy Invincible class battle cruiser

There are two of each model and after some investigation it appears that they are early Superior models, currently available from Alnavco in the US of A.These models never saw action during the campaign and are pretty good condition considering they have been in storage for something like 35 years! All the turrets are present and correct - Eric had glued these in place - and the only damage appears to be with the masts of the Helgoland class.

They are very attractive models and would certainly have been useful during the SE Asia campaign - especially for the central powers, given their losses!

Monday, 25 March 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 21

No prizes for guessing what will be featuring prominently in this post!

This post will be more like 'The Weekend Sitrep' rather than the weekly version - mainly because the weekend was quite a busy one!

I finally managed to get some cheap storage crates to decant those parts of Eric's collection that were in crates that were battered beyond the point of salvaging. I also took advantage of the price to lay in some extra so that the man cave now looks a little more organised. Having a floor covered with assorted piles of boxes and crates constituted a health and safety issue as the floor space was at an absolute premium! The resulting 'moving and shaking' meant that I was able to separate out all the late 17th and Marlburian cavalry for cataloguing and identification purposes. For the record there is around two crates worth of horse, all of which is still in Eric's original unit sized boxes.

I have also pulled out all of the Minifigs units from across the entire collection although I fully expect to find more given that Eric often made up units with odd figures from varying manufacturers. Having done this I would say that there is probably slightly more figures from the Seven Years War than the Marlburian period but in either case there is plenty of choice - probably too much for me if truth be told. One thing that did surprise me though was the amount of ECW Minifigs that Eric had assigned to some of the armies. We are certainly not talking whole armies here but certainly sufficient to form the basis of a Portable Wargame style set up for the period.

By far and away the biggest component of Eric's Seven Years War collection was the French Army. A lot of the Infantry appears to be Greenwood and Ball although I am unsure. I will get to them once the Marlburian and earlier ranges have been disposed of as far as possible.

I also found some artillery! Lurking in the Danish and Russian collection were several packs of Front Rank field guns and howitzers. Lord alone knows how long these had been in storage but suffice it to say that the wire used for the axles had a generous coating of rust! This will be up for disposal in due course as for my own need I will be using Minifigs artillery.

A few other mysterious offering appeared - sorry, no pictures yet - including a unit of what Eric described as Serbian Scout Cavalry - there is a dozen or so of these and they look very much like early Minifigs ACW kepi wearing cavalry sporting an over the shoulder cartridge belt and carrying a carbine; a unit of what look like Wargames Foundry Crimean Russian Dragoons with dismounts and finally a box of around two dozen or so partially painted early Minifigs Boxer Rebellion Chinese.

A couple of things have surprised me about all of the figures in this collection. To begin with the only modern ranges that anyone seems interested in are Wargames Foundry, Front Rank and to an extent, Dixons. Everything from Essex Miniatures and older seems to be almost of a niche interest. I am surprised by Essex as in many ways I kind of see them as the forerunner of the trend for larger and more detailed figures. Having said that some of the models do look rather dated by comparison with the newer types.

As someone that very seldom buys figures I am probably not the best person to comment on this but that is how I see it.

The next big undertaking will be sort sort out the cavalry as I am confident that all will find a home in due course.

Except the Essex that is....

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Wellington in India, in the Peninsula and at Waterloo

"At last we meet again....the circle is now complete...."

Huzzah! At long last I have finally tracked down a copy of the first in Jac Weller's Wellington trilogy - Wellington in India.

I had a copy of Wellington at Waterloo which was swiftly followed by Wellington in the Peninsula. Both of these are first rate works and so, initially more from curiosity than a major interest, I was keen to track down the first volume. Ironically I had picked up the Kindle version during one of Amazon's periodic sales for the paltry sum of £1.19. For sure though, I wanted a hardback version as as I already owned the other two volumes in the Greenhill format it made sense to find a similar edition.

My knowledge of the period of when Wellington was in India is a little hazy, to say the least, but since I have a long standing interest in the wars of the Indian sub-continent it is a knowledge gap that needed filling! I am sure that Jac Weller's book will go a long way towards that. In later life the Duke, when asked what the finest piece of work he ever did on a battlefield simply replied -  'Assaye'. That anecdote alone piqued my curiosity about this stage of the Duke's career.

A scene from the battle of Assaye, 23rd September, 1803.

At this stage I cannot see myself gaming the period - the same can also be said for the 'Clive of India' era - but It certainly has everything I look for in a campaign - smallish forces and an exotic location to fight over. It would be 'doable' from a Portable Wargame perspective but sadly is not on my immediate horizon.

I must confess that recently I have been looking long and hard at the campaigns of the Revolutionary Wars and the British involvement therein. I always had a fondness for Napoleon's Egyptian campaign which would make for a great Portable Wargame style set up.

We shall see.

Monday, 18 March 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 20

It has been a very positive week for your truly, with lots of forward movement in various directions.

A dent has been made in the late 17th/18 century lead mountain as the first units sped off to their new homes. There has been a lot of interest in elements of the collection and so I will need to discuss next steps with Bill upon his return from the US of A. Nothing serious, just a couple of ideas to think about.

Thus far most of the Minifigs component of the collection covers the Marlburian period - hardly surprising really, when you consider that I have yet to tackle the Seven Years war! - which I am rather pleased about. Given that my early 18th century Balkanesque project is set 'twixt 1700 to 1720 this is really handy. In fact, I may even be in a position to properly organise the armies for this so that I can see what I need to add to the collection from Caliver Books.

Work on sorting out the Marlburian elements of Eric's collection is entering its final stages and so by next weekend I should be ready to draw up detailed lists of what there is which I will distribute accordingly.

As it stands at present the models that are in most demand from the collection are Front Rank, Foundry and Dixon. Essex Miniatures seem to be rather 'Meh' from the gamers I  have spoken to. As for the earlier ranges - including Hinchliffe - there has been little interest thus far.

I also made a rather unexpected discovery in one of the boxes marked '1685 Sedgemoor Armies'. I opened the box expecting to see serried ranks of pikes and mobs of peasants when in fact the box contained some 1:1200 rather battered (and non-salvageable) dockyard fixtures and two long boxes marked 'Clydeside'. Between the two boxes there contained two each of the following 1:1200th scale warships - HMS Invincible (the WW1 battle cruiser), SMS Helgoland and SMS Konig. these are unpainted and I have no idea of the manufacturer as yet. I will take some pictures and these will form the subject of a later post.

I had been after a copy of the old Avalon Hill game Wooden Ships and Iron Men for ages so I was really to picked up an unpunched copy (and with two control pads) at Skirmish yesterday. There is a cunning plan associated with this as although the game and the original miniatures rules it was based upon really cover the period from the American Revolution to the Napoleonic Wars, I am looking to make use of them for the Balkanesque project. There was a number of small scale naval actions between the Turks and the Venetians - mainly as a result of the attempted interdiction of supply routes - that would be very game able and involving not only the usual ships of the line but also a host of smaller vessels including galleys and similar. Of course ships of the period in question were not quite as efficient as the later vessels but I reckon extending the tactics and ship types associated with the earlier Dutch Wars would probably be a good base to work up from. In any event I shall consult my local naval oracle in such matters - the redoubtable Mr Fox - as I am sure he will have knowledge about such things!

Staying with the naval theme I also sorted out the 1:2400th scale WW1 ships for the 'Not Quite Madasahatta' project. I needed to add a couple of models from Tumbling Dice (duly ordered and received) and upon enquiring had the welcome news from Paul Sulley that at long last the French fleet was nearing completion. It will be rather large in terms of the range of models. He also mentioned that ideally he wants to have all the pre 1914 models completed by the end of the year.

I have always a soft spot for the French Navy of the period and many years ago owned a 1:3000th fleet that regularly used to cause the Austrian Navy of Mr Fox to have some, shall we say, exciting and  interesting moments....

It all changed though when he wheeled out the Italians! 'The Devil at the Helm' was the rules we used - very detailed and the more modern the ships became the longer the games took to fight. Good fun though.

The library has also benefited from some new additions but these will form a separate post.

Finally, I had a very helpful and informative chat with Bob Cordery at Skirmish about the whole self-publishing thing which have aided my thought processes immeasurably. Many thanks once again Bob.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

I have been to....Skirmish Toy Soldier and Wargames Show

Once again Sidcup in Kent saw the biannual Skirmish Toy Soldier and Wargames show held at the Sidcup and Chislehurst Grammar School. I always like this show as it is quite small, has a reasonable selection of trade (although not as good as in recent years), a pretty good Bring and Buy (again, not as good as in recent years) with a nice range of wargames to look at. This spring the theme was the Sudan so there were four games devoted to the same and with rules ranging from The Men Who would be Kings to Sharp Practice as well as a quite superb old school 54mm scale action.

I met up with Big Lee, Postie, Clint and Bob Cordery which is always a pleasure and as ever we discussed our various projects and how things were progressing (or not). I managed to take a modest selection of pictures, so without further ado....

The first picture from the outstanding 54mm Sudan game (based on Tel El Kebir) organised by that very nice chap Andrew Stevenson, proprietor of Replica Metal Soldiers  and Models - able assisted by one of the leading lights in the toy soldier world, none other than James Opie. The figures are of course British infantry.

The Rifles.

Egyptian Infantry.

The Egyptian position. Note the artillery deployed at the apex of the trench line.

The thin red line preparing to advance.

Egyptian Artillery deployed at the ready.

Egyptian cavalry in reserve and busy guarding the Fez in the background.

Another view of the Egyptian position. I am unsure if the gentleman in the background is at prayer or tying his shoelaces....

The ‘khaki’ portion of the army of Her Majesty - including some stout fellows representing the ‘Jewel in the Crown’

British artillery or Woolwich Arsenal’s finest....

Indian Cavalry

Andrew Stevenson and James Opie, well known toy soldier expert and author of a number of books devoted to the same - the squint of the latter was no doubt due to some dastardly Egyptian plot to ensure that the British would be advancing into the sun. For the record I would like to extend my warmest thanks to both gentlemen for taking the time to talk to me whilst I wandered about taking pictures.

Another Sudan game organised by Rainham Wargames Club (with Clint in the background). No prizes for guessing the rules being used!

Maidstone Wargames club with a Sharp Practise Sudan game

Skirmish Wargames Presents....What a Carry On Up The Nile! 28mm and check out the paddle steamer....

Described as being ‘Action at Skur-El-Mish - Somewhere in the Sudan 1884’ the steamer used for this originated from an antique shop and received rather a lot of TLC to convert it to the above. Quite superb!

First of all I should apologise for the quality of the pictures as these were all taken on my phone and the bright sunshine wreaked havoc with them. I hope that they have given you a good idea of what the show was like though and of course, there was a little retail therapy....

A real blast from the past - unpunched and with two ship control pads rather than just the one. This is the board game version of my favourite set of ‘wind and water’ naval wargame rules called Ship of the Line by the late S. Craig Taylor. The board game uses hexes whilst the original rules used squares.

Wooden Ships and Iron Men is one of my favourite board games and ‘back in the day’ I played this many time along with the miniatures version it was based on. I have a cunning plan to make use of either 1:2400th scale or even 1:4800th scale models to go with this system - being a modelling philistine there is little or no chance of me emulating the wonderful models of Mr Fox in 1:1200th so the smaller models will at least have a fighting chance of seeing the light of day. Suffice it to say that my cunning plan with the above dovetails in with the 1700 to 1720 Balkanesque Minifigs project....

As mentioned earlier in the post, I am rather fond of this show and hope that it long continues although it seemed that the number of attendees and of the trade was down on previous years. It is not a pure wargames show as such but is worth attending all the same.

All in all I could think of worse ways to spend a Sunday morning.