Thursday, 6 December 2018

Duchy of Marginalia on Instagram

Just a wee mention of a fantasy medieval world l am currently creating with an instagram account. If you want to follow the fun search for The Duchy of Marginalia. Looking forward to seeing you over there at the edge of the edge...

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Shiny happy lead people 

I got rather fed up with their drab uniforms so l repainted them-

I used a bright blue and then gloss varnished them, finishing off with flocked bases. A colour was  presented to one of the officers and lo and behold some Hungarian troops of the early part of the twentieth century. I am very pleased with how they have turned out.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Winter comes to Albion

Winter has come to Albion. The rains of autumn have given way to the snows of winter.

A cold general leads his troops back to barracks past decorated houses through snow covered streets. The palace guard has been changed.Soon all will be safely home enjoying mulled ale and pies. The trudging through the snow will soon be forgotten as hands and feet regain their warmth and voices once more are raised in song or laughter.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

What l am working on: the Fenian Raids 1866

I am currently working on some figures to depict the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866. The Fenian troops ( not to mention some splendid rail fencing) were sent to me by the Mad Padre some time ago. I have added some Minifigs and am currently working on four units each of twelve figures. There are many more rail fences to be flocked which will provide some great scenery. I am indebted to Mike for sending me these figures etc which have awaited TL C for nearly two years.

To oppose the above l intend to buy some Perry figures depicting the Canadian forces of the period. Some time later l want to expand things to look at what ifs and other Fenian Raids scenarios. This project will work towards the release of Mersey & Leck’s forthcoming “Rebels and Patriots “ rules due to be published in January 2019.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Minature Wargames 410 411 418

Tried to buy the back issues of these last night but only available in digital format, which I am afraid to say is not what I want at all to read. Would anyone lend me the above issues for a read and then I will return them to you paying postage both ways? I want to catch up on the 1st age elves articles I missed. The one on mounted elves in the current issue is inspirational. Thanks in anticipation.

Monday, 5 November 2018

What l am working on...

I am working on my 25mm ecw collection , partly shown in the photo above.They are Minifigs of various vintages but work together. The figures remind me of a stalled tyw project based on the army of Tilly l had on the go circa 1976. Using Gush’s renaissance book I drew the flags and painted the figures only to hit problems with the varnish which went white on flags and figures alike. Unperturbed l repainted but eventually gave them to a friend’s boyfriend who collected ecw Minifigs with his brother.

The current project contains figures l bought from eBay ( l like to retain their original paint job on normally ) as well as those l painted too. I have 28mm ecw Scots too but l still prefer these old school warriors. I have known this style of castings for over forty years and they seem the part for me. In looking back l move my collection forward so to speak.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018


Many thanks for your really helpful comments and emails. I have tried to take your suggestions onboard. I finished a project using a forthcoming game to work towards. This was my VBCW Army. They took the field on Monday and lost in what was a most enjoyable game. I painted some 54mm old toy soldiers and moved them along. I am trying to enjoy this great hobby of ours and not the opposite. A question,l bought these years ago painted. I rarely used them. Does anyone recognise the manufacturer and who they are painted as?

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Where we are now

l haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. I have enjoyed reading about your plans and seeing your progress. To be honest l thought that when l retired l would be able to embark upon and persevere with projects l had long wished to do. This has not been my experience so far. I have started things,all fired up with enthusiasm only to stall,to be overwhelmed by the lead/plastic before me. At times l can’t see the point of it. At other times I,to quote a fellow blogger, have six new ideas before breakfast. All the above seems to lead to frustration, dissatisfaction with the lead mountain around me and to a feeling hardly bearing to open the paint desk lid. At other times a frenzy of  hobby related work begins only to falter and leave me feeling underwhelmed with my efforts.
Don’t get me wrong l have really enjoyed games l have played , my walks and my short course etc recently and been stimulated by them.  Yet I not sure what to do next hobby wise about my malaise.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

New recruits 


A couple of machine guns and crews for my Interwar project.

New gun crew with a Britains gun ( still in good matchstick firing order) l retained from my 1960s childhood.

Once l can get some spare Britains arms and heads with tin helmets  to repair my broken figures l will be able to get this project moving onto the tabletop.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Meanwhile in the Empire...

video The Queen of the Night reviews her troops as they march against The Duchy of Tradgardland and her allies...

Thursday, 4 October 2018


One of the joys of being retired is to do something a little different. I have started taking a weekly short course at the University of Edinburgh. Here l am at home reading the notes we are given-

This term l am looking at Medieval Manuscripts and illumination. It is a fascinating course with an excellent lecturer and people willing to discuss whilst sharing their insights. This week the theme was about the process of manuscript production. I learned a great deal about the practicalities of medieval life and art. Fascinating indeed.

One of my wargaming projects l am working on is using “Song of Shadows and Dust” by Ganesha Games to depict small scale conflict between different factions in a late medieval town. There will be inter guild rivalry, the Night Watch and other parties. The rules were first published in 2013 and l have long wanted to use them. Well worth checking out for  gaming the “break down in civil order which plagued the great cities of the Mediterranean in the first century BC, these rules are suitable for any pre modern setting from Babylon to Bruges “ as the blurb on the back says. They are based on the “Songs of Blades and Heroes “ system. I hope to use the knowledge gained from my course to add flavour to both factions and scenarios.  

Come Spring l will being doing a course on the art of fifteenth century Burgundy,can’t wait.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Somewhere in Hyboria...

The Temple is under attack by invaders from across the border. Hopolites have gathered to defend the sacred precincts aided by local farmers. The eastern invaders under the command of the satrap wish to sack the temple and make off with the sacred vessels whilst losing as few men as possible. Let the dice and “ Developing the Portable Wargame “ decide...

Wednesday, 26 September 2018


I mentioned my recent purchase of some Napoleonic figures and Michael asked to see them. So here they are:

They are as they arrived minus the packaging. They will be an excellent opponent for my Swedes and l am sure l will conjure up some back story,possibly commencing with Sir John Moores expedition to aid the Swedish. In my world things went even worse than in reality...

Now all l need do is sit tight and wait for the Napoleonic Portable Wargame coming in a few months.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

An interesting Kickstarter

There is currently an interesting Kickstarter for figures based on medieval marginalia-
I have signed up. Go over and have a look. I have no financial interest in this but merely wish to bring a good idea to the attention of others.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Inspiration comes in many forms 

Two things recently caught my imagination recently and the picture below neatly sums them up-

I accompanied my middle daughter to Cornwall as she began a Masters year of study there. As a boy l went to Torquay on holiday but had never been further west. Although my visit was brief ( photos of the trip are on my phone and l cannot access them currently so you will have to make do with the picture of the bag of leaflets and a book l picked up whist there) l was smitten by the countryside. I feel that at some point l would like to game some actions set in Cornwall,we shall see.

The second inspiration was the local charity shop find ,this book containing Rodney Matthews artwork. As a boy l had the Elric dragon poster taking pride of place in my bedroom and many Lps featuring artwork too. I wonder what wargames figures were produced with a Rodney Matthews vibe to them? Let me know what you think...

Finally l took delivery of a prepainted Napoleonic force to oppose my Swedes when the Portable Napoleonic Wargame is published later this year. I realised that l have neither the skill or energy to tackle Napoleonic figures and so found myself a reasonably priced option. I look forward to seeing them in action soon.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

On the workbench Vendel Miniatures 

I read that ,the other day, Vendel Miniatures (recently called Bloody Day) are no longer available. I am saddened to hear that for l felt the figures were full of character and charm. When they were no longer available here in the uk l sent over to America to get some , l wish l had bought more...

Here are two giants with fantastic haircuts , wonderful shoes,patched tunics and business like clubs. They remind of the artwork of Pauline Baynes and the Mythical Earth giants by Minifigs. I am working on wood elves and goblins too. The heavily armoured dwarfs were an ebay bargain which arrived today. They look like they mean business. I do hope one day that Vendel Miniatures will be available once more even if the mounds were getting old. 

Friday, 21 September 2018

A "Battle Of Machines" - Longer Version. (1930)

Saw this on Facebook today "Salisbury Plain. A 'Battle of Machines' is the feature of this year's Army manoeuvres - when 'Southland's' army of 150 tanks and 15 armoured cars invade 'Northland' with its 50 tanks, 35 armoured cars and 2,000 cavalry!" Sounds an interesting scenario for a game...

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Painting advice please...

I bought these superbly painted figures from their painter Jim Duncan last year-

I quite fancy having a go at painting some opposition for them but have no idea how to replicate such painting. I am therefore looking for some advice/ tips about where to start. For example can you line them with a pen? All help gratefully received.

Monday, 10 September 2018

An Marc Sluagh - restoration on a cavalry figure

Restoring a figure to represent the Blue Hussars ( An Marc Sluagh) of Army Green White Orange. Mainly drawn from the artillery they were a ceremonial unit which also appeared at horse shows and gymkhanas. This figure will be a cavalry scout unit for my interwar games.

I am trying to replace the missing horse legs with pins and masking tape covered in super glue. It is an experiment,we shall see how it goes...

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Matters of scale and taste 

I ordered this and it arrived today in a lovely blue box-

A thing of joy to behold ,pressing many nostalgia buttons for me. Here it is (1/72) with some 54 figures on my gaming cloth-

I like the look of them together and feel it gives the result l am after , a game aesthetic based on 1930s toy soldiers ,vehicles and home made scenery. I would however be very interested to see what you think.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

New recruits 

These were waiting for me when l got home today:

The top row has two mounted figures with steel helmets for use as interwar cavalry. There’s also the camel mounted one too...

I particularly like the highly animated highland infantry in kilts. Any help with suggestions for identifying the figures very much appreciated.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Restored hollow casts etc a 54mm venture

Yesterday l finished the first lot of Britains etc for my interwar project. I based them very plainly on circular bases as l felt that these non square bases better represented the loose formations of the period.

I maintained the broken weaponry of these figures but will get some new arms for others. I mixed ww1 looking figures with ww2 ones.

The ones nearest the camera are dismounted cavalry. I have some steel helmeted mounted troops coming.

The chap with the binoculars was a broken machine gunner who l added two plastic tubes to his broken hands. The  broken standing firing figure had a thin nail inserted up his leg to help him stand.

The command group in the garden ( Britains hedging and wall from my childhood) stand in front of a house painted last year on the outside of a breakfast biscuit box.  They are watching proceedings carefully before popping indoors for a cuppa.

All in all I am pleased with how this lot have turned out. Next step with the project is to get some replacement heads and arms , await for the new arrivals to mend and to try and bid successfully for Dinky tanks on eBay within a reasonable budget.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Army Manoeuvres (1935)-inspiration for 54mm figure project

Found this footage today. Lots of interesting interwar hardware on show- wee tankettes, carriers even an autogyro! Do have a look. Working on my Britains etc figures today and hope to post some photos this weekend...

Thursday, 30 August 2018


Jan’s third anniversary today. A walk with the girls,coffee and pottering about are on the plans to get through it.
Rest Eternal ...

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A question of compatability

As RAFM Blue and the Grey ACW figures are no longer available in Europe can anyone suggestion figures that would be compatible with the ones I already have from the Mad Padre? I don't wish to build up two big armies but am trying to build up small forces  for skirmish games.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Ideas for trolls?

I am looking for suggestions for trolls to use against my 40mm dark age Norwegians , any suggestions?

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Battle of Hook’s Farm part one

Farmer Hook woke up,yawned and opened the curtains and looked out. To his surprise the Danish Army were still there. Furtively he placed the telescope to his eye and noted as follows- mainly infantry,a few jäger,cavalry and a cannon. Hurriedly the farmer scribbled a note ,gave it to his son and told him to deliver it to the Tradgardland general. The boy left and the farmer thought of what he would do with the coins he had just earned...

The situation a few hours later. The farmer has locked himself and his family in the farm cellar for safety,the Danish Army climbs the hill to take positions around the farm and Firefly church. End of turn one.

The woods on the left flank are occupied by the Danish jägers,they have sustained casualties in the process. Hook’s farm is the scene of heavy fighting and melees occur on the right flank. End of turn two.

35 years after and a battlefield 

Last night l played my first game of Dungeons and Dragons in 35 years. It was using this setting-

My fellow gamers were more than patient as l created a character and came to terms with the sheet to be completed. One chap was particularly helpful in showing me what to do. We all eventually created our characters and game play commenced. I felt a tad rusty but got into the the swing a bit. Many thanks to Richard ,our DM, for a great evening,for inviting me along and l look forward to continuing the adventure in a fortnight.
My portable wargame of my previous post was a bit of a mess( too many troops and no room for manoeuvre) so no battle report was was worth writing I have prepared a game for today using the map of Hook’s Farm from Bob’s book “ Developing the Portable Wargame “ -

Battle report to follow...

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Portable Wargame

Set up a very simple Interwar battle between the Duchy of Volare - Cantare and The Imperium. Simple chess board and 20mm figures. Rules are those from “Developing the Portable Wargame” book.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Claymore 1994- Battle of Winwick Pass display 

Claymore  2018 was most enjoyable. The three games that stood out for me were two Napoleonic games and the Suez one. Another to mention was a 42mm game complete with a Russian renaissance wagon fort, it looked splendid. I didn’t take any photos but was shown  afterwards a photo of a game l was part of , a display for the Pike and Shot society in 1994 . Jan painted the standard on a sheet for us.  Photos were taken of the actual battlefield,terrain made and figures painted. A team effort.Happy days.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Close Wars

Having done some chores,proof read for daughter number one , supported her through ict issues and worked/ tided at the painting desk I set up a game-

I will play it through later today and tomorrow. Victory lies in destroying the enemy or getting at least 50 per cent of their force on to  their enemy’s baseline.

Friday, 3 August 2018


Looking out inspiration from the Ducal library old favourite from 1991, an Osprey from 2005 and a book featuring artwork from the Carolingian Empire.


I had a most enjoyable holiday staying with friends in Yorkshire. We went to Reivaulx Abbey which was fascinating but l felt the interpretation of the site was neither informative or engaging and included dreary illustrations of medieval monastic life. A 3D printed replica of a weathered stone left me cold, the printer lines being distracting. On Saturday we went to Skipton castle and enjoyed an excellent show by 1715 redcoats from queen Ann’s regt l think. They looked fantastic,were informative and a pleasure to talk to. All this inspite of rain. Sunday saw us at St Margarets Ilkley a beautiful Anglo Catholic Church with friendly folk and uplifting worship.

On my return l played a most enjoyable game where myself and my fellow general G were celts trying to stop Hannibal crossing a mountain pass. A most exciting game ensued where we eventually beat Hannibal ( commanded by P ) and sacked his baggage train. Dbm continues to serve us well as we just don’t have an inclination to learn a new set of rules for big games.

A small amount of hobby stuff has been got in but life has been busy what with catching up with friends over coffee and my youngest Freya turning 21 yesterday. We enjoyed a family day in St Andrews eating at a lovely Thai restaurant called Tanon and generally wandering about. Incidentally the coloured interpretive panels at St Andrews Cathedral were much better done and thankfully not computer generated. Old school illustrations at their best.

Plan is to work on my 28mm Carolingian Army ( beautifully painted by Jim Duncan and bought from him last year) adding to it in make a reasonable size force . I cannot replicate Jim’s lovely style but I try. Twenty cavalry are on their way and once they are painted the army will take the field. I am considering peasants which have little fighting ability but for whom l have a soft spot. 

Saturday sees Claymore ,a show filled with memories of putting on games and attending for more years than l care to remember. I hope to be inspired and not too distracted purchase wise.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018


I have done little or no gaming this week and little painting/modelling either. What with the heat and other stuff to do or think about time has passed by quickly. Here’s the state of the painting bureau:

In the foreground are some old lead fellows undergoing renovation and the early stages of painting. I am pleased with the 54mm toy soldiers waiting patiently to take the field using the portable wargame rules and Ross’s Square Brigadier. Towards the back at the bottom are some 18th century Tradgardland folk and Ottomans. Perched on the plastic box containing static grass is a very old figure of  Henry viii which has lain around for ages, does anyone know the manufacturer? Beside her is The Empress whose white clad troops are the scourge of The Duchy of Tradgardland. When painted she will have a chance to review her forces patiently await her arrival on the parade ground.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Dettol- the result...

Having soaked in Dettol since Friday l got the figures out of the jar-

The Dettol has worked wonders on them. I cleaned them next with washing up liquid, neat as per instructions. I am delighted and would certainly do this again. Have a look back at a few posts ago and see the GIs prior to the soaking. The figures that had not worked with paint stripper previously are clean thanks to Dettol too.I am free to appear in commercials for a suitable remuneration.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Upon my return 

I am just back from a family wedding. The postman had left these for me-

They are a very mixed bag and not in great condition. As ever can you help identify these figures. There are some fellows amongst them l have never seen before . Thanks for your help.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Testing times 

I found the jar of figures l had unsuccessfully stripped with brush cleaner-

I then added the new figures prior to adding the Dettol. I will leave them overnight and see what happens.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Currently reading and need your help...

I got this mixed bag online this week for a very reasonable sum-

Can anyone identify the figures? Thanks in advance.

These are the books that I am currently reading. I would recommend them unreservedly to you. The novel is beautifully written and engrossing whilst the non fiction one is a mine of fascinating facts and shines new light on the subject.
Finally good luck England for the game tonight, l haven’t been as caught as l am for ages.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Hollow men 3 imagineering etc

I have been looking around for options for the game and in doing so recall toy soldiers of my childhood. I always had two sides Britains v Timpo and the rest when using 54mm figures. The Britains were the good guys and the Timpo ones the baddies. I thought the Timpo ones were fine and was happy to have a variety of them but to me Britains were much superior. I think I have retained that view ever since.
I have been thinking of a background to my interwar gaming partly based on what l have available and partly on Pathe News footage l have viewed for inspiration. So we have Army Red v Army Orange,White and Green. Army Red are the King’s Army and  ArmyOWG are their celtic speaking neighbours. Relations between the two countries are cordially, since the OWG fellows gained their independence peacefully but occasional disputes occur. This was established by the fact that I had some AIP figures about who would pass as 1930s Irish. I am still doubtful about mixing the plastic and lead but considering the price of Dinky tanks l need to save money somewhere.

As this is the World of toy soldiers there is absolutely no political element to my choice of sides,after all it is fantasy and merely a conceit for some fun modelling and gaming . I wish to offend no one. So here it is . A game built from plastic,lead ,celluloid and paper nothing more.
Finally all the best to England for this afternoon’s game from everyone here in Tradgardland!🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Hollow men 2: the look of things 

I am going to use my 7.5 cm square cloth. I wanted to see how the Britains figures looked in that sized square-

Four figures looks a little crowded for my liking so l will probably settle for three. Assuming l can get one at a reasonable price l will use Dinky medium and light tanks. They are a different scale but I think they will give a pleasing effect with the figures. As l am meeting a friend for coffee this morning and the World Cup is on later l don’t think l will get much done today but that’s ok l think.

We are the hollow men...

These arrived today ,an online purchase-

They are certainly walking wounded but , in my opinion, are full of charm. A few new heads,arms (Dorset miniatures perhaps) and they will serve admirably. I thinking of Portable Wargame/ Square Brigadier game with toy soldiers of the time set in the interwar period. Possibly using armies in plastic too although I am uncertain of the old and new figures mixing, we shall see.  A little wars look for the jazz age?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


I have enjoyed Man of Tins recent posts on repairing old toy soldiers. He uses a combination of skill and technique to great results. I found these laddies waiting aid on my desk top -

I will see how l get on. The feet replacement is okish but I am not so sure about the missing head. Perhaps a wee sculpting challenge to build it up in milliput?

Monday, 2 July 2018

We’re going on a boar hunt,we’re not scared. Late Scandinavian Bronze Age Tradgardland 

I got these rules recently and they are well laid out and interesting. I am going to try them out with a small boar hunting expedition.

Incidentally I was thinking about magazines l used to read and recalled A W N U T S made up of splendidly whimsical model railway. Sadly when l downsized 21 years ago the magazines couldn’t be kept. I’d love to read them again . The odd copy appears on eBay but with £15 postage charges. Just too much for me. Any thoughts on where to get copies?

Friday, 29 June 2018

School’s out for summer 

Last day at school prior to my retirement. I was presented with a leavers hoodie with words others had chosen relating to me-

I was delighted with this thoughtful gift. Retirement starts now...