Thursday 29 August 2019

My ACW Collection - The Foundations

A Kurz and Allison print of the Battle of Franklin, 1864

First of all the biggest news surrounding this project. The balance of my Spencer Smith 30mm ACW Kurz and Allison/Old Toy Soldier inspired figures arrived yesterday and boy, oh boy are they something special! I need to base them before they get their blog post review and this will taking place over the next few days. There is 116 foot, 24 mounted and 6 guns in all - the foot and horse will be mounted on individual bases whilst the guns will be free standing. the artillery component seems rather large for the number of figures - especially when you consider that there are only 12 gunners in total, 6 for each side - but bear in mind that his collection is replicating the components of the board game Battle Cry. If I was using the maximum amount of artillery in a game then two gunners per piece would be in order (the same as Battle Cry and the Portable Wargame), if using two guns then the crews can be three figures and a single piece could have four - one has to be mindful of the aesthetic appeal after all....

As befits the basic, even crude, nature of Spencer Smith figures opting for a glossy, old toy soldier style paint job was a no brainer. You will have to take my word for it (at least until the bases are done that is) that they look lovely and I am so pleased with the end result. Again, full details will be forthcoming on the appropriate blog post.

Supporting the figures and ship models I have quietly built up a modest library of relevant titles but one must be mindful of the fact that the American Civil War is covered by the written word on a truly epic scale and the real difficulty is picking out what not to buy rather than what to buy! As a rule I tend to take a high level overview of the subjects I am interested in but will drill down further into a specific area if required. Whilst I fully applaud and admire those hardy souls that can quote to the day and specific regulation when the lower cuff button of the Umpteenth Foot's officer's mess jacket changed that level of detail is usually way beyond my level of attention!

For the Civil War the library looks something like this:

Battles and Leaders - 4 volumes plus Annals of the Civil War which was a kind of extension to the base set.
The American Civil War - John Keegan
Rally Once Again - Paddy Griffith
Battles of the American Civil War, 1861 - 1865, Kevin Dougherty et al
Thunder along the Mississippi and Gunfire around the Gulf - Jack Coombe
Ships of the Civil War 1861 - 1865 - Kevin Dougherty

For uniforms there is a very good section on the ACW in the Encyclopedia of 19th Century Uniforms which is very handy..

The above selection is very modest indeed and for sure I will add to it but only on a selective basis. I would be keen to explore anything in connection with the War in the West, especially anything river based as well as the campaign leading up to the fall of Atlanta and the 'march to the sea'. I would also like to expand the naval section where I can.

The important thing though, is that I have a solid core of books to be working with in the short term.

The games I will be playing with the collection will be Command and Colours/Portable Wargame based with the occasional foray into A Gentleman's War and Rebels and Patriots. I also envisage using the figures as units on a campaign map for when a strategic game takes my fancy so my recent acquisition of A House Divided has assumed even greater importance in the overall scheme of things.

From a practical perspective I need to think about some suitable terrain and of course a playing area. I am torn between investing once again in some Hexon or getting a dedicated gaming mat - neither of which are cheap options. An alternative will be to hex grid one of the GW playing mats I have using a permanent marker. Laborious but cheap to do and with the advantage that the off cut section could be cut into hex sized terrain pieces. I also need to think about ships. Realistically I can see me making around a dozen models - fifteen at the most - and these will be generic types rather than detailed historical models. I have already mentioned that these will be larger than my previous efforts - I am working to 5.5" grid - and that I plan to make them usable for both sides as required by the simple expedient of having interchangeable flags.

This modest collection of figures will enable me to fight wargames up and down the scale from strategic down to skirmish level and the realisation of this fact has given me much to ponder for my future endeavours.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Preparing the Ground (and the Water)

At long last I have a copy (again)! Having said that, Worthington Games are soon to be releasing their Hold the Line ACW game using blocks rather than figures - no command cards though in common with the AWI and F and I versions

I have often mentioned about my unfortunate habit of being overly ruthless when consigning a project to history. I tend to be all teeth and claws when embarking on 'the next best thing' but sadly my attention span can be far too easily swayed in other directions. I frequently end up disposing of the acquired material - usually at a loss - and then reinvesting the proceeds into something else that is new and shiny. This goes on ad infinitum and has been a major feature of my gaming career since as far back as I can remember.

The American Civil War is a case in point. My earliest introduction to the period came via Airfix but it was not until I moved to London in the late 1970s that actually gamed the period using painted armies. the figures were 15mm and the rules of choice were Johnny Reb or a set called, if memory serves me correctly, Circa 1863. I disliked both sets, Johnny Reb more so and remember some truly epic 'frank exchanges of opinion' whilst using them. It quite put me off.

I would have to say that my interest in the period was maintained throughout by virtue of the naval side until the appearance of Battle Cry. Now I have owned a set of the original version of this game and also the 150th anniversary edition but both have long since gone. I have come to regret this, mainly because not only did they give a cracking game but they also assumed a significant role in my Command and Colours enjoyment. I am therefore, delighted to have been able to track down a sealed copy for a reasonable price. My motivation for the period is far deeper now and with the imminent arrival of the 30mm Spencer Smith ACW collection I shall be set fair for some entertaining games in the coming months.

Lots of full colour side views and some technical detail - a welcome addition to the collection.

I have also mentioned previously that my particular interest in the Civil War tends to be tied to the operations around the rivers and swampy bayous of the South and West. If you look back far enough you can see details of the great scratch building project I undertook (some 50 plus models all told) where all the models had to fit on a 4" hex. Some of them even featured in a couple of games using the block armies. The models have long since gone and sadly so did the library that went with it. I have replaced a couple of titles: Thunder along the Mississippi and Gunfire around the Gulf - both by Jack D. Coombe - and have added the book you see above published by those very nice people at Amber Books. By no means is this a super detailed title but for my planned models this time around it will be more than sufficient. If I can get a copy of Gibbons work on the subject or that of Paul Silverstone it would be a bonus but it is not really essential. I have a very nice book on river gunboats and a number of Ospreys that will help. remember, the models I am looking at now will be larger and taller cartoon style ships as I was to use them alongside the 30mm figures. They will be scaled to fit a 5.5" hex grid (my Peter Pig Hammerin' Iron mat) and will be generic types.

Finally, I always intended to fight Civil War battles on a campaign basis - either as a series of linked scenarios or something more elaborate. In my mind's eye I have a kind of 'almost but not quite' Vicksburg kind of affair or possibly something set a little earlier. I have even looked at the waterways in the area I live and there is much potential for a 'not quite an actual US state' set up or, as is my preferred modus operandi the old Hollywood stand by of 'based upon'.

Now in its fourth edition - a classic strategic level game of the Civil War

A House Divided by Frank Chadwick is an award winning strategic level game of the Civil War using a point to point movement system. A version of the map appeared, I believe, in the ACW expansion for his original Volley and Bayonet rules. There is no doubt in my mind that the system could be readily adapted to suit my needs even if I decide to create my own US state to fight over.

To finish this post then all I can say is that a number of crucial elements have come together at the right time and so for the first time in a long while I feel confident about what I will be doing for the period. For sure there is still work to be done - I need to think about some terrain as well as the ships, there is even a few other figures to be added although initially these are not essential.

It has been a while getting it all together but at last I can look forward to gaming the Civil War in the way I want to and more importantly, in a way that I will enjoy.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 43

 I remember the TV series of Michael Wood's book and I have been in search of a hardback version for ages. The paperback is of a subject I am hugely fond of - both the island itself and of the WW2 story. I had not seen this book and so have immediately started a trawl for a hardback version!

What a weekend! Aside from the blistering heat there was an epic test match with a stunning victory over the Aussies, Chelsea secured their first win in the Premier League under Frank Lampard, we had a family day out with my grandson by the sea catching crabs (11 in total) with a hand line, my son knocked up a barbecue extravaganza and SWMBO and I even managed to sneak in a boot sale visit!

Dare I say it? PHEW!!

On the gaming front I managed to get a lot of sorting out attended to and the disposal of Eric's 20mm WW2 collection has begun. I also managed to get rather a lot of packing finally taken care of although there was some issues with the courier which continue to delay matters slightly. Nothing serious, just a combination of a WiFi handset and poor broadband being the likely offender.

The decks have been cleared for when the ACW 30mm collection arrives and in truth, the fourth quarter of this year will be something of an ACW fest as I am really keen to get some games in and to make a start on the ship models I am planning.

The two purchases you see above came from our preferred local boot sale and meant spending £1.50 for the two. My recent acquisition of Command and Colours: Medieval is set in the same time frame as Michael Wood's book although of course the warfare was very different. The Ariadne Objective features the personalities of the underground resistance to the German occupation on Crete during WW2. It looks good in an 'Ill Met by Moonlight' or 'Guns of Naverone' kind of way.

Friday 23 August 2019

Counting on Belisarius to begin with....

Hard to believe that this book was added to my library some seven years ago!

Way back in the dim and distance days of 2012 I devised a plan to expand the coverage of my block armies to include the pre gunpowder or 'ancient' period. The plan was that by devising some fairly generic looking blocks I could happily fight wargames from the time of the Pharaohs up until the Italian Wars. Essentially the new blocks would be covering the time span of DBA. The book you see above contains some rather nice battle maps and makes use of some very useful looking map symbols for the usual variety of pre gunpowder troop types. I got as far as drafting some basic troop type labels but abandoned the attempt - mainly because I came into a large selection of Command and Colours Ancients blocks which were rather more useful than my own efforts.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear - more expense....sigh....

The Command and Colours: Ancients system needs little introduction from me and it is what I would call a 'proper' ancients wargame, covering as it does the period from the Greek and Persian Wars up to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. Richard Borg has now taken the game system a stage further come up with the first release in the next sequence if you like - Command and Colours: Medieval.

I will be completely honest with you. When I first heard that this was going to released my initial reaction was frankly one of 'meh!' I had visions of endlessly replaying the Battle of Agincourt and dealing with hordes of Knights and longbow men - a subject that is only of passing interest in my world unless you get down to skirmish or Lion Rampant level. I should have had more faith in that the game above is obviously the first in what I suspect will be a long sequence.

In fact this has been confirmed by GMT themselves in that this initial release concentrates solely of the Byzantine Wars against the Sassanid Persians and occasionally the Moors. All of the various Goths and Franks the Byzantines campaigned against do not feature at all although they may appear in a future supplement.

As an aside one of my pet peeves with the Command and Colours Ancients and Napoleonics is the fact that later expansions also tend to include additional troop types from earlier editions meaning hat if one wants to have a complete army one has to buy each and every expansion. I realise that companies are not charities and by selling more they can produce more but it is irritating all the same. Perhaps in time GMT will sell complete army packs to avoid this but I suspect that is a naive hope!

The period from 500 AD to 1500AD saw the rise and dominance of the mounted arm and the subsequent shift in emphasis as the lowly foot soldier slowly came to prominence. For me there are certain periods within the span of the thousand years mentioned that are of particular interest. First and foremost I would say the Crusades which I am sure will feature in due course as will the period of the great Arab conquests. I like the idea of the Viking era but again, mainly at a Lion Rampant level.

For a detailed overview of the game take a look at the following: Command and Colours: Medieval - A Review

For my own part I am very excited about the potential of this latest version in the Command and Colours stable and the nuanced way that Richard Borg has taken the core system and 'medievalised' it for that all important period flavour. At this stage I cannot see myself producing armies for the game - at least not for this edition - although I do have a couple of sets of plastic figures from the Risk: Europe Medieval version that would be a cheap solution. I will say that I am probably more excited to see what comes next because should the Arab Conquest feature then sign me up!

Note: Belisarius was a famous Byzantine general of the period covered by the earlier years of this edition of the game and subject of a cracking fictionalised account of his life written by Robert Graves - Count Belisarius.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 42

A Russian machine gun in action. I always liked the Airfix version of this.

Slightly later this week due to a couple of domestic commitments - nothing serious, just 'life' stuff.

I have sorted out the unpainted 20mm WW2 Germans and Russians from Eric's collection and will try and get some pictures up over the bank holiday weekend. As mentioned previously the Germans are in winter garb and the models have been organised into an Atlantic Wall Fortress formation. Based on Rapid Fire there is an infantry battalion with artillery and anti tank support (crews only) and a brace of ground mounted 20mm cannons.

The Russians have what Eric described as a Scout platoon of around hundred or so figures and around 150 infantry of various sorts including two calibres of mortar and that wonderful looking Maxim machine gun complete with a shield and wheels.

All of the WW2 figures are unpainted and I shall be looking to list these on eBay over the forthcoming bank holiday weekend. In the meantime though, should anyone have any questions about them or be interested in acquiring any of the models let me know.

Mention of Eric's collection (the 18th century this time) has reminded me that I can now happily report that all except for the smattering of Napoleonics are packed and ready to go to their new homes. I amusing a courier for these and the only time I can drop them off is at the weekends which makes for a minor delay but against the scale of the projects being planned would probably be small beer! It will be a relief to clear a big chunk of the loft floor, albeit temporarily!

"If you go down to the woods today!" - watch out for the hordes of native Americans and their budget price haircuts! 

My copy of the French and Indian War expansion for Hold the Line by Worthington Games arrived and so completes the 18th century American set up. The expansion includes additional rules and scenarios - including some more for the American Revolution featuring the French - as well as more terrain tiles. there are a hundred plastic 20mm figures including a complete French army, some more militia, woodland Indians and some Roger's Rangers. As mentioned previously it is possible to buy some Hessian Grenadiers and Highlanders from the Plastic Soldier Company so I may add these at some point.

"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South... Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow.. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and Slave... Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilisation gone with the wind..."

The biggest news of the week though concerns my 30mm ACW Spencer Smith Kurz and Allison inspired toy soldier collection. The remaining figures have been completed and all being well will be in my hands over the next week or so. I am really excited about this and so the decks are being cleared to undertake the basing required and then I can get them into action. With this in mind I suspect that the forth quarter of the year will be very ACW facing so I had best get on with making some ships.

Monday 19 August 2019

Some Mystery Figures....Part 1

The two figures on the left are obviously dismounted dragoons - there are around two dozen of the chap at the top and a dozen of the fellow on the bottom. Three of the standard bearer and the painted chap is one of two dozen with what looks like some Hinchliffe command figures.

The rear view. The painted chap I have a feeling may well be a Tradition figures but I am really not sure.

I mentioned previously that I am now in the latter stages of sorting out Eric's unpainted late 17th and 18th century collection. What is left - and there is still three crates worth! - falls into the 'of unknown origin' category and so I am asking readers of the blog for help in identifying them.

I rather like the standard bearer but painting that flag would be the devil's own job! The muskets/carbines the two dragoons are using are very 'chunky' but they are useful figures all the same.

If anyone has any clues about the above - there will more mystery figures to follow for sure - please let me know.

Many thanks in advance.

Friday 16 August 2019

An 18th Century Interlude

The Worthington Games/PSC version of Hold the Line and not that by Toto or Maximus Decimus Meridius....

Now that I am coming to the end of the great 'Late 17th and 18th century unpainted figures disposal' I have, rather unsurprisingly perhaps, been thinking about wargames set in the period. I suppose that seeing all the models Eric had amassed brought back some very happy memories of games large and small (mostly the former if truth be told!) and I would be less than honest if said that the process of sorting all these goodies out had been less than inspiring.

There is something about fighting tabletop battles set in the 18th century. I suppose for me it was cumulative effects of cutting my wargaming teeth on Charge! or The Wargame back in the early 1970s and of taking part in a number of Eric-inspired epic games when I first moved to London. With its penchant for colourful and outlandish uniforms and modest sized armies it seemed like the perfect choice for gaming on the tabletop and a good subject for study. The study portion I have enjoyed immensely but being a slightly less than enthusiastic painter I have always ducked raising model armies in the period – the effort required being far beyond my usual attention span! Many years ago I did start painting a 25mm Swedish force for the Seven Years War using Minifigs but, like far too many of my bright ideas, it fell rather ignominiously by the wayside.

Fast forward from those early days and I am still a reluctant figure painter but the hankering for something 18th century is still there. For sure I flirted with tackling something from the figures available from Eric’s collection but the stamina required evaporated quickly. For a variety of reasons my interests tend to veer away from the mainstream European wars so things like the ’45, the French and Indian War, the War in India or the American Revolution have circled my consciousness in a kind of ‘wargaming holding pattern’.

Of the conflicts mentioned the two that would be most gameable for me are both of the American Wars which is strange given that I had made a conscious decision some years ago to leave this particular theatre behind! In a roundabout way my ACW project has given the inspiration and impetus to work backwards to the Revolution and the earlier French and Indian War. Strangely enough the war of 1812 – with the exception of the naval dimension – has never really ‘done it’ for me which is rather ironic when you consider the size of the forces involved!

The latest acquisition to the Crook collection is a copy of the Worthington Games/PSC game Hold the Line which covers the American Revolution – 34 battles from it in fact. There is a supplement which covers the French and Indian War which I currently have on order.

The French and Indian War Expansion - ideal for those Last of the Mohican moments.

For the uninitiated the Hold the Line series of games are very similar to Command and Colours but do not use command cards or special dice. This version of Hold the Line includes 20mm scaled plastic figures, rather like Battle Cry or Memoir ’44. For all intents and purposes the rules are very similar to those that I routinely used with the block armies and that were developed by Bob Cordery before the Portable Wargame – MoB or Memoir of Battle.

Some of the figures from the base game

The game contains a goodly number of 20mm plastic figures moulded in red for the British and Blue for the Americans. The French and Indian expansion includes white moulded French and green moulded woodland Indians and Roger's Rangers. There are also optional Hessian grenadiers and Highlanders. The figures are what I call 'board game based upon' rather than uber detailed and historically accurate miniatures but they are absolutely fine. There is a degree of plastic warping but nothing that the old hot and cold water trick could not put right.

Note the woodland Indian figure and the kneeling Ranger. The other figures are the same as for the Americans from the base game.

One would only need to add some command figures and gun crews and one would the basis for a pretty good set up for the period. For my own part I would not bother differentiating between the earlier and later period as far as uniforms are concerned - in fact the French figures are the same as that used for the Americans only moulded in white.

As a long term plan it would be a fun idea to replace the plastic figures with Spencer Smith 30mm figures from there 18th century range. They produce all the types I would be likely to need and with some appropriate paint conversions all the forces could be replicated in my 'based upon' style. In the meantime though I shall look forward to trying the game out.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Eric's 18th Century Lead Mountain - Approaching the Summit

Ignoring the mounted one piece castings (Hinchliffe) and the bottom row of figures (RSM) does anyone have any clue as to the identity of the standard bearers along the top of the picture?

I am now down to around three crates of figures from Eric's late 17th and 18th century collection - and this is where things start to get a little interesting!

Ignoring the top two rows (RSM) of figures I am keen to identify the manufacturer of the bottom three rows of figures. They are dismounted cavalry and I have a feeling they may possibly be RAFM but I am really not sure.

I have identified most of the manufacturers that Eric used but there are some figures left that have thus far defied all attempts for me to identify them. When Eric organised his figures into units he always filed the underside of the models base for basing purposes. Naturally this is where most figure manufacturers stamp the identity code and even a version of the company logo. None of the figures above have any identifying marks (except where noted).

I rather like the mounted one piece castings that Hinchliffe produced but these, as are the rest of the figures depicted above, are still for disposal.

If any readers of my blog have any clues about the identity of the figures mentioned please let me know - I suspect that this will not be the first time I write such a blog entry either!

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Eric and his Imagi-nation Armies....Part 1

Indian native spearmen of which there are two such units. Note the mix of figures for the command group - Eric often used figures from other ranges or manufacturers. The shields are drawing pins and are fixed into the figures. Eric would use any suitable box for storing his unpainted units!

Now that the disposal of  the 18th century unpainted figure component of Eric's collection is approaching its final stages (thank the maker!) I thought it might be of interest to shed a little light on what Eric did and why. The former is quite easy but the later we will never know and so a degree of speculation or downright guesswork is involved.

Within the collection there were two definite imagi-nations in the shape of the Kingdom of Umbriago and the Electorate of Bustenberg. I will describe these in more detail in separate blog posts As there is another force I want to highlight. This particular army is of interest in that it really showcases Eric's powers of improvisation at their best!

Eric had organised a number of units for what was described as an Eastern army of the 18th century. My feeling is that it was intended to be some kind of quasi-Mughal Indian or Princes army - to be used for the latter part of the 18th century. Naturally I have no way of confirming this and whilst the army contains plenty of infantry and a smattering of cavalry there are no elephants or other exotica. I would stake my house on the fact that if Eric had ever picked this army again in earnest then Elephants, rocket troops and camel mounted artillery would have been added, not to mention some enormous siege type guns. I have taken pictures of the units he had assembled - mostly old Minifigs - and straight away you can see that he would happily press into service figures that would have the historical purist reaching for their smelling salts or fortifying glass of a strong spirit!

Native pikemen - again notice the mixed command group

An elite pike and shot bodyguard unit. The drummers are from the Minifigs Turkish range 

A native lancer regiment featuring assorted Arab style cavalry

Peasant spear and bow armed levy including some converted rocket firing troops. Most of these are from the ancient Indian range

Bodyguard gunners converted from the pikeman figure in the bodyguard unit above

Silladar cavalry representing the commander and his immediate retinue

Native light cavalry

The diversity of figures used - many of the above are from the various ancient ranges that Minifigs produced - may seem a little quaint nowadays but once everything had been painted and based and the inevitable back story added (Eric was a great one for this) the whole then became a coherent entity. Originally the above collection also featured a unit each of Afghan and Ansar riflemen and there is also another cavalry unit as well as some extra gunners.

It is fascinating to speculate what plans Eric had for this particular collection although we will never know for sure. My feeling is that having this force would enable Eric to use it both as an ally or enemy for both his British and French collections.

One thing is for sure though. The army would develop its own personality reinforced with the inventiveness, tongue in cheek humour and story telling ability of its creator.

Monday 12 August 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 41

20mm WW2 German cavalry and artillery support from the collection of Eric Knowles

The great sort out of Eric's collection continues with the recently delivered 20mm WW2 collection taking centre stage although the 18th century has not been forgotten.

Both the Germans and the Russians contained a portion of painted figures - you may recall my mentioning that this has been a feature of Eric's WW2 collection - with have been separated out and will be heading to their new home in due course. Eric seemed to used units as 'works in progress' so it appears to be quite common for him to have a box of figures or vehicles etc with painted and unpainted elements housed together. The opposite was true for the 18th century kit as all the unpainted stuff was kept away from what was ready to use. Thinking about it there is a kind of logic in this in that most WW2 units tend to be smaller and more sub unit focused than the regiments of the 18th century. Adding a platoon here or there for a WW2 set up - especially in the Rapid Fire world - is usually a darned sight easier that whole companies or battalions!

In this part of the collection (bearing in mind this is probably only quarter of the whole thing) Eric had organised a late war German Fortress formation, complete with support, a German cavalry unit that could operate throughout the war, a horde of Russians (including Partisans) that could serve at either end of the war including support, an American late war armoured infantry unit with support and finally a late war Japanese infantry formation. In each case there are no model guns or vehicles as these were organised separately by Eric and are probably in with the models I have yet to receive.

A rather portly German NCO....

....and the 'real' thing portrayed by Gert Frobe in the D Day epic, the Longest Day.

The painted cavalry you see in the picture above has roughly the same again unpainted and still in unit sized bags. As mentioned they will be heading off to their new home in due course. Coincidentally, at least as far as the figure you above is concerned, I had been watching The Longest Day over the course of last week in which Gert 'Goldfinger' Frobe appeared and upon whom the rather portly NCO is modelled on. Bob Cordery also mentioned that this figure was based on the German actor and that it had been used in numerous games of Megablitz as a supply marker.

I rather like the infantry guns Eric used as well for the supporting artillery.

Friday 9 August 2019

Raventhorpe 20mm WW2 Figures and Rapid Fire

I have no way of knowing for sure but I believe that Eric used these rules for his WW2 games. Going by the unit organisations I have seen this would be a good shout.

Not from Eric's collection but the above is indicative of the style of Raventhorpe figures.

I had a quick sort out of the three crates of figures from Bill which represent some of Eric's unpainted WW2 collection. In truth what there is could easily fill two crates but it is easier to keep the three for reasons that I will explain. I have a crate full of Japanese for the Burma campaign, a crate of late war Americans - many of which are in greatcoats - and a crate that has both Germans and Russians. Again, a lot of the Germans and Russians are sporting greatcoats.

In true Eric tradition the figures had been organised into units and my theory is that Rapid Fire were his rules of choice for the period as the unit organisations look very familiar. For the most part the Germans have been designated by Eric as fortress troops but there is no reason why they could not be used for anything else. There are plenty of infantry support weapons, HMG, LMGs, Mortars and infantry anti tank weaponry as well as command.

There is a smattering of Wargames Foundry figures but an awful lot of the collection appears to be from Raventhorpe Miniatures. I rather like these as they are true 20mm and have a basic charm about them.

I hope to finish sorting these out properly over the weekend so that the great disposal can begin - mercifully at this stage it will not be quite as onerous as the 18th century collection!

Thursday 8 August 2019

Return to Madasahatta and a question....

Politically correct it most certainly is not - but it is a cracking read and a magnificent source of inspiration for designing one's own campaigns

One of the things that Bill and I discussed at length over the course of his last visit and numerous phone calls was the fate of Eric's collection for the legendary Madasahatta campaign - elements of which have been recorded for posterity by Bob Cordery. The above is available from Amazon and Lulu so check out Bob's blog to find out more.

Bill has been a little undecided about this part of his father's collection - should he keep it or should it go? Well after the aforementioned discussions he has finally decided the best course of action and that is that I shall be the custodian of the collection and hold the same in trust. This will include not only the painted elements of the army but also some of the custom built terrain that Eric used. At this stage all I need to do is to sort out the requisite storage space in the man cave prior to taking delivery.

Bill believes that not all the collection is in his hands, raising the tantalising question of where the rest of it may be. Only once he has extricated the models from the umpteen boxes in his loft will he have a clear idea of what remains. I recall seeing some unpainted models that had been earmarked for some of the native elements that featured in the campaign when Bill first showed me the horsebox full of material late last year. I hope that sufficient is left to be able to be used in some way - we have no idea what figures he used although as I recall the British may have been late Colonial types rather than wearing shorts. We shall see comes to pass and naturally I will post on the blog in due course.

I am hugely honoured to be taking custody of this collection as it represents a piece of my personal and wargaming history (and would for a good few others if truth be told) and it was hugely influential on how I try to do what I do in my games.

Large 25mm (closer to 30mm in fact) and exquisitely detailed

The question part of the title of this post refers to the rather lovely figures you see above. Eric raised a couple of infantry regiments of these, complete with command and grenadiers, and also a rather nice mounted officer that is a one piece casting. I believe these may well have been Hinchliffe (Connoisseur?)  originally and eventually morphed into RSM.

I shall be undertaking a full count over the weekend and so will get some pictures of the rest of the figures and the all important headcount.

If anyone can confirm who these are by I would be grateful.

Tuesday 6 August 2019

20mm WW2 and other Great Escapes....

Foundry 20mm WW2 Russian Infantry - there are rather a lot of them!

Yesterday evening saw the arrival at Chez Crook of Bill Knowles, driving a BMW X5 filled to the roof with part of Eric's 20mm WW2 collection. I say part as Bill reckons he has another car full of the stuff!

Very early in the unpacking process it became quite obvious that Eric had adopted a slightly different approach with this collection compared to his 18th century armies - and it was easy to see why.

For sure there were boxes solely of unpainted figures - plenty of Foundry in evidence - but in many cases there were units that were being expanded so there was often a usable painted portion with the unpainted figures needed to complete the unit in the same box. When we realised this a rethink was needed. For his 18th century kit Eric kept the unpainted models separate whilst the WW2 seemed to be very much a work in progress. Needless to say though, everything about the WW2 collection is on the usual 'Eric' scale of 'overwhelmingness!'

With vehicles and artillery of suitable 'Eric' proportions the whole lot takes up a great deal of space and as I am limited in that respect it meant that I was only able to take three crates of unpainted figures at this stage. A cursory glance shows an awful lot of 1941 Russians (including partisans) as well plentiful Japanese opposition for the as yet unlocated 14th army (in which Eric served).

A look at the painted part (which was in effect some three quarters of the car load) confirmed a number of things. The figures are painted in a 'block colour, no shading/highlighting or flocked base' fashion Similarly the vehicles and artillery (of which there is a prodigious quantity) are all flat colours. The vehicles are a mixture of plastic, metal, resin and die cast offerings. One thing I noticed was that Eric had used a number of Ledo 'Days Gone By' 1920/30 vehicles that had been drafted into the German Army by the simple expedient of a coat of overall panzer grey and the addition of a cross here (or should I say Heer....) and there.

In terms of the periods covered it seems that Eric went for early and late war forces. For the former there are Belgians, Germans including quite a few Fallschirmjager. At this stage I do not know what else for the Western front there is although I suspect that there are other Germans at the very least. There were quite a few unpainted Russians for 1941 so I can only assume that he planned to tackle this at some point. The late war kit included British, American and Polish paratroopers and rather a lot of Germans including a Luftwaffe field division. There are American and British tanks aplenty - loads of vehicles seems to be the order of the day across the whole collection - and the selection for the German army ranges from a Jagdtiger down to Panzer 1s and all points of the compass in between.

There is massive amount of potential with this collection. The component parts could be used in their own right or as the basis for a specific campaign or campaigns.

In the meantime I will sort through the unpainted figures I have and will post the details of what I find in due course.

Monday 5 August 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 40

A less than inspiring looking cover (the boards are slightly warped as well as the water staining) but what can it be? Read on to find out....

A rather more productive week than of late - and a couple of boot sale bargains as well!

The Minifigs 25mm Marlburian collection is now listed on eBay on a 'but it now' basis but I will be amending the listing to separate out the individual units. I have seen similar styles of listing elsewhere and as soon as I have found out how to do it I will amend the same. I will be happy to sell off individual units so if you see anything of interest or have any questions let me know.

The listing can be found as follows:

Minifigs 25mm Marlburian Figures

I will be taking delivery of Eric's unpainted 20mm WW2 collection this evening - around some eight crates worth - so will be busy over the next few weeks sorting it all out. Once I have a handle on the scope and scale of the collection I will of course post to the blog. Bill reckons that a large portion f the infantry is Wargames Foundry which makes a degree of sense as they launched their 20mm range around the time that Eric ventured into WW2 in an Eric way i.e., substantially! As well as infantry there are vehicles (mostly metal with some resin types) and artillery so it will be interesting to see what he has. If the thoroughness of his late 17th and 18th century collections are anything to go by then this will be a pretty comprehensive set up.

Research for the pirate project continues and I think I am pretty close to finalising the land side. I intend using the figures for what I like to think are 'narrative skirmish' games. I envisage using around 40 to 50 figures a game although on occasion it will scale upwards depending on the scenario I am gaming. The plan is to have character figures operating individually whilst the rank and file typically run around in units. I shall be attending SELWG and hope that Foundry will be there as I should be able to get the extra figures I need to complete the collection.

We visited our local boot sale yesterday and I managed to come away with a couple of bargains. To be honest pickings have been very slim this year so I was very pleased to pick up a brand new leather case for my Kindle for £1 and a copy of the book you see above. To be honest the book itself is in what would be called at best a reading copy or else acceptable as it is a little ragged around the edges. However that is a minor consideration as not only is it possible to obtain a digital copy but it is in print courtesy of the Folio Society.

The opening pages - note the very serious looking Frenchman....

The Buccaneers of America by Alexandre Exquemelin is one of the most important sources for the activities of pirates in the 17th century. This is something that will be really useful for my project and so the 50p I paid for it is certainly money well spent. I have seen far better Folio Society editions on eBay for quite modest amounts so will look to replace this copy in due course.

Friday 2 August 2019

"A Pirating we will go!"

The rules look pretty good and the supporting figure range is exquisite. I may dip into this for the odd personality figure but to be honest the Foundry range covers pretty much everything I am likely to need.

As the former Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said back in 1964, "A week is a long time in politics" - I do not believe he was a wargamer but if he was then he could have also easily have said that, "A week is a long time in wargaming." You may be forgiven for thinking that I am suddenly knee deep in Conquistadors and busily planning what opposition I shall be using for the Portuguese - this is partially true - but there is of course another side to the coin, or rather another side of the collection I took delivery of.

Pirates. In truth the pirates will see the light of day before anything 16th century comes along (assuming I have not gotten bored and disposed of them - one never knows!) and so I have been spending some time thinking about how I am going to tackle this from the perspective of forces raised and how I will use them. The former I have largely settled on and unsurprisingly it will entail some modest expenditure but the latter has given me some wonderful choices in respect of the rules I will be using.

To begin with all the figures will be individually based which opens up using the Rampant series by Dan Mersey. There is also the option of using Pieces of Eight by Peter Pig but replacing the 15 mm multiple figure bases with single 28 mm models. There is another set of rules I want to take a look and these are On the Seven Seas by Chris Peers, published by Osprey.

I had heard of Blood and Plunder but had not gotten around to taking a look at it. This oversight has now been rectified! The book is a large A4 sized hardback of 164 pages. There is plenty of eye candy in support of their figure range as well some welcome historical detail. An entertaining game can be had with a couple of dozen or so figures a side which is ideal for me. Another option for the period would be to take a look at Donnybrook which I know is a particular favourite of the late 17th century chapter of the infamous Postie's Rejects (he will know who I mean!).