Thursday 30 April 2020

Garden railway plans and possibilities

I have read magazines and books about garden railways for more years than I care to recall. I have thought about ideas but never done anything about it. Now seems a time to remedy that. The emphasis will be as much upon the buildings and folk as upon the trains. Fulfilling my model village, railway, miniature landscaping interests in one. The idea is to do something not too intrusive but future plans may change that. Just a single track with halts for the present along with battery powered train. Low key but engaging. The track will run along the breeze block walling not on the ground. It will be easier to see and involve less bending and kneeling amidst plants. Here are my photos and notebook jottings
 My original sketch to show the lie of the land, I’m no artist but enjoyed the process.
A view from indoors. As this area of the garden has a beach theme the terminus here will be at an imaginary village on the coast.

My daughter held the tape measure for me to enable me to add measurements to this rough plan.

Horribly annotated picture that hopefully makes my simple plan a little more obvious. I will mull things over in the coming days.

McVities Gurkhas etc

Yesterday I finished these Gurkhas which are Copplestone Castings. They were in the shed with the figures I posted here yesterday. They are splendidly sculpted and cast. I really like their uniforms.
They will form part of Tradgardistan Force. They are commanded by Captain McVitie, a Scotsman from the Lothians. 
When I was growing up I often went to my father’s office to get a lift home after school. One of his partners was called Mr McVitie and he had commanded Gurkhas during the war. Sadly I never found out any more about him or asked him anything, it just wasn’t the done thing.  So I have named my officer after him.
I also finished the opposition so far-
I am pleased with how they came out. One or two additions have been ordered to allow a small but hopefully entertaining Portable Wargame to take place. Tradgardistan Force will be getting some kilted infantry, a radio on a mule ( just couldn’t resist) and a carrier mounted machine gun. Air support is here already in the form of my interwar biplanes purchase of some time ago. The locals will be getting some more riflemen and a mortar. 

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Return to Tradgardistan

I was in the shed the other day and found some Empress Miniatures from their Jazz Age Imperialism range of 1930s figures. They are lovely figures sculpted by the very talented Paul Hicks. As I needed a change in what I was painting and fancying a different focus I came upon this old travel poster-
A little research reacquainted me with this place, how it had originally been a Danish Colony sold to the Duchy of Tradgardland and then came under the protection of the British Crown. That was enough to encourage me to have a go at the figures with a view to some Colonial Portable Wargame games. Here are those I have painted so far. Firstly some fearsome locals-
Time for some figures depicting the Tradgardistan Police-
Note the mix of uniform and non uniform in this unit. Hopefully I will get some more painted up in the next day or so , I can almost feel the stifling heat of the Tradgardistani hills...

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Natural history

My youngest is a great fan of animals and natural history documentaries. Sadly I have hay fever and am allergic to cats and dogs which make my eyes run and I sneeze awfully. I did grow very fond of her guinea pigs and enjoyed the way they squealed when hearing my tread on the path when returning home with a wee treat for them often in the form of dandelions. I do really enjoy the garden birds here and have done so for years and years. With quieter streets their singing is an utter joy.
 I am really enjoying the blue tits and their use of the nesting box this year. They have had tussles with a large solitary bee that seems to have an eye on the same place as they do. In fact the bee and blue tits have jostled in mid air a couple of times. I never read natural history books but have been fascinated by this book below which I picked up second hand this year to tell me a little more. It has been an excellent purchase and really enhanced my appreciation of the blue and great tits in the garden.
On other matters now. I have put some different figures on the painting table as I felt in need of a change, more on this later. Secondly as I hand weeded for much of the morning yesterday I hatched a plan for part of the garden. As holidays are out for the foreseeable future I am planning an outdoor distraction for the top/bottom corner of the garden. Early days yet but enjoying thinking about it. More news on this in the coming weeks.

Monday 27 April 2020

Model Villages

I have always liked model villages. There are some black and white photos of me in one as a boy and later some cine film ( now on dvd) of a sixties or seventies trip on holiday to visit one. I think it is Bourton on the Water as my parents were keen on the village. The footage shows the village church l think with a wedding going on and a general look around. I was delighted by this recent purchase-

It is a most enjoyable read,just the thing for lockdown. It reminds me of those splendid Shire books which seem to cover everything under the sun ( I have ones on garden gnomes, Georgian garden buildings  for example) and serve as an excellent introduction . The model village book has led to some enjoyable time ferreting about on the internet. I would recommend this to you for some distracting and diverting reading.

Sunday 26 April 2020

TLC for tribesmen

I took some time to base these figures yesterday. I find them easier to work with them  based rather than holding onto the flat figure’s own metal base. Flats are very light and a tad fragile. It goes without saying that you only have two dimensions rather than three, almost like painting on paper,to deal with. These Celts are beautifully animated, most armed with those big swords that they had to flatten out at times  in battle.
As they came with sandy coloured bases I have made the card that colour too. It is a change from green and one I find pleasing. They will form two units of twenty figures in each. I am not repainting them completely but just touching up where spears have lost their paint and arms too. Just a few touches and they will be ready.
The next to be worked on are the warriors from the Land of Flowers who have an Aztec vibe to them. I think I may add more variety to the feathers colour wise but we will see. As for their spearheads and weaponry I am in two minds whether to repaint them green/black to represent obsidian or not given the way they would have had access to bronze and iron weapons in my Bathesque setting. Perhaps a mix would do.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Reading etc

It was a particularly sunny day here in the Duchy yesterday and I spent most of it in the garden. I had put some of my birthday money towards a book and yesterday was a chance to explore it. The book in question was “The Oxford Handbook of The European Bronze Age” and it is a formidable tome at around just under a thousand pages. It is accessible to a layman like me and filled with fascinating facts and insights not to mention theories. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the period.

Later on in the evening I acquired card from my  daughter and produced some bases for the flat figures. The ruling of lines and cutting of card is surprisingly absorbing and I will base the figures this morning.

Friday 24 April 2020

Unboxing and imagineering.

Spent the majority of the day in the garden. In the afternoon I unboxed some zinnfiguren bought second hand. They will be added to armies for the Tony Bathesque campaign. They are painted but not to the fine standard of the last lot. I cannot make up my mind whether to completely repaint, touch up or just leave.
Packed in layers around the edge of foam board they traveled well and safely.
These are from the East Mark. The look solid and dependable spearmen. The forts on the Great River are manned by soldiers similarly equipped. They control the movement of amber,spices and other 
goods by boat.

Cavalry from the West Mark. The West Mark has had problems with invaders and continues to do so .Patrols scour the borders to keep what remains of the West Mark safe.

These warriors from the Land of Flowers value feathers and flowers  above all else. They trade for these luxuries which they also grow themselves. War is engaged in both for sacrifice and for conquest. They are beginning to establish trade with the other inhabitants of the region but are also aware of their reputation as fierce warriors. Alliances may be sought soon.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Today’s challenge- two books that bring the past alive for you

Today I want to share one fiction and one non fiction books that bring the past alive for me. I will try and say why in two sentences.

Marvellous, evocative  photos from one of the premier re-enactment groups
A prologue  that transports you through time and space to the Sea of Grass , hooking you in.
So please , here or on your own blogs, tell us about your two books in two sentences with photos being optional.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

The look of the thing, setting up a fifties trial game.

Set out the table for a wee trial run using these rules-

Will play today and/or tomorrow with the possibility of adding some militia (poor quality unit) later.

Crafty folk

I watched the channel four daily craft programme at 17:00 with Kirstie Allsopp with one of my daughters. The presenter engagingly and with skill demonstrates Crafts people can engage with using things they have around the house. I was impressed by the infectious enthusiasm and good ideas presented. She talked about the help that being engaged in such things can be, meditative and therapeutic. So true and true of our hobby too. One loses oneself in painting etc. We are lucky to have this hobby of ours.
Anyway ,enough of this musing. I had a very productive day in the garden ( although seeds planted seventeen days ago under glass have yet to do anything) as well as a useful rake in the shed. I was musing about the need for some militia types for the 1950s and found some figures including some I had been given by James from Australia some years ago. Here are some of them-
Very basic changes but interesting for me to try. The one on the left is the Britains figure from the job lot of a few posts ago. I have given him a Scaletrix head. I will paint up his battledress as overalls. The middle one is a Scalectrix photographer with a replacement metal head ( tin helmet found by him in the loft and pressed into service) and a rifle will be added. A local paper photographer recording events . The figure on the right is a modern Britains farmer with cane removed and metal head replacement. I will work on these today. I have one or two other civilians about but can’t find them. Any suggestions for other figures to use, particularly with a fifties vibe would be appreciated. I’m enjoying keeping hands busy and getting lost for sometime in another project.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

A bit of a panic on the streets of Albion..

It was known as the New Elizabethan Age, a time of optimism ,of looking forward. The Festival of Albion had been a roaring success and enjoyed by all!

Who would have thought that Her Majesty’ authority and that of the Government would have been challenged within years of the glorious exhibition?
That Albion’s peace would be threatened.

That the country would be divided in a very fifties civil war.

In other words an excuse to game in a 1950s setting with post war kit and more...

Airfix diorama and sundry adverts.

 I saw this and thought you all might enjoy the article and adverts.

As a teenager I was lucky to get given some Rose Miniatures to paint. I had a Gaul/Celt standing in a relaxed way and a couple of others I cannot recall .I enjoyed looking through the range and catalogue in the Toy Tub Raeburn Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

Minifigs of that rare and ancient breed, lovely

Monday 20 April 2020

Spruce up

Worked on these figures yesterday. I put the Airfix  light machine gun figure on a coin to make him fit in more and painted him up in a similar way. I retained the black and silver guns as they came that way.A little spruce up, gaiters,webbing, packs painted etc prior to covering in pva. I darkened down the helmet covers too.
A little TLC whilst retaining the toy soldier factory feel about them. More on the way...


This picture comes from the fly leaf of a book about Elastolin I got in the eighties. It shows what it briefly describes as a diorama for the Masada exhibition.
It is made up of 3000 40mm plastic Romans! I have tried to find out more about the picture but with no success. Can you tell us more?

Sunday 19 April 2020

Different images of the Late Scandinavian Bronze Age

For sometime I have been collecting images about this period as well as reading about it. Here are some I found recently-
An old representation which I think might have been used for propaganda purposes.

One familiar to many of us from the “warriors and weapons “ book.

Two pictures from a Danish book of the 1950s. The girl showing an  ancient costume is so fifties looking that it made me smile.

A relatively modern imagining of the period above and finally below a depiction of the period from a cartoon history of Denmark-
Different images of a fascinating society possibly saying as much about when they were made as they do about ancient times.

Unboxing a lucky bag

I always enjoy the mixed bag,broken figures lots on eBay. A look see what is there and time to spend thinking what you might use them for.  An important thing for me is also seeing a number of figures that make it worth a bid. One or two or more that you have been looking for for that project.
This was the lot that awaited my intervention, filled with potentially. Here’s the first sorted groups

The main attraction was the number of 54mm German paratroopers which would fit into my Homeguard game. Just enough to provide  a suitable opposition. Airfix I imagine as are the German infantry in the middle row, always useful to have a few in the plastic pile. The bottom row has some medievals for my ongoing collection to use with plastic knights and a few recruits for the Maple Leaf games. The fellow with the bow is a figure I have never seen before.

A better view of the mixed medievals including repairable Herald archers at a cheap price and some exotic Saracen looking fellows. A solitary metal 40mm Napoleonic is at the bottom along with an Australian. On the right are useful Guards and Lifeguards which will either serve as conversions or as  dismounted cavalry with the addition of a new rifle arm. Can’t have too men of these ceremonial figures in the plastic pile or spares box.

The final picture has a couple of Timpo figures.I  had quite a few as a boy but ,sadly to say, I wasn’t a big fan of the Cowboys,Mexicans etc. They were always the baddies who fought against the Britains who were the goodies. Above the Timpo figures are the other main attraction of the Lot the Herald infantry figures. I am getting some together to use in a very simple 50s/ 60s game where three figures     will represent a section or squad with heavy weapons represented by two figures and command by two also. I am still working out what each unit will represent entirely. A simple fun game to use these figures. I will mount them on coins were they have missing bases . So here we are at the end of my chatting through the contents. A few more battered Herald infantry are due to arrive.mI am wondering about converting a few very simply with heads in berets or without headgear but we will see. ..

Saturday 18 April 2020

Blogger wah !

I was looking at others posts this morning and find some of their pictures missing and replaced with a white rectangle with a minus sign on it in a circle. I now found this on my blog here! Can you tell me what is going on and why!

The Portable Colonial Wargame (on Mars)

Bob’s new book has arrived in the Duchy from Lulu. “The Portable Colonial Wargame “ is well produced, pleasing to look at and filled with gaming ideas. Possibilities for splendid games in all scales abound as well as pointers to conflicts, further reading and more. Although I cannot say I have given the book the time it deserves yet I would recommend it as just the sort of book to enjoy and stimulate your gaming in these strange days. Go on treat yourself to a copy!
I have , as I already have mentioned here, two armies for 1898. However I wanted to try the rules out with my Martian figures. Firstly to celebrate Kev’s returning to health after a big op and secondly because Marines / Naval Landing parties versus Martians is not beyond the potentialities of the rules. Not the Martians of H G Wells or the exotica of E R B but a Mars where soldiers of the Queen encounter inhabitants organised for war with a mix of spears,rifles and rifle armed skirmishers. Here are the forces arrayed before the game over the weekend.

I am looking forward to the game. I will use stone chips from the garden as terrain features and will let you know how it goes...

Friday 17 April 2020

A little light cartography etc

This moleskin notebook was given to me ten years ago. I mainly use it for writing down hobby jottings and plans. Yesterday I decided to try and map very roughly my initial thoughts for my Tony Bathesque zinnfiguren campaign. I found the process to be absorbing and although I am not good at drawing at all I was quite pleased with the results-
I debated what each country would be called but in the end  I stuck with simple names as at times I get mixed up with exotic names. Having spent  most of my ancient wargaming avoiding playing against non historical opponents it was really liberating to  leave that behind for this project and let imagination go wild . So here goes version 1-
Lurland- Late Scandinavian Bronze Age in terms of material culture .
West Mark- vaguely Roman looking , the remains of a once proud empire fallen on hard times.
East Mark- Frankish, Carolingian feudal in nature,haughty proud nobility.
The Tribes- Gallic/Celtic / Germanic barbarians who squabble a lot amongst themselves and beyond.
South of the the West Mark is still to be decided ( suggestions please)
Land of Flowers- well organised newcomers to the area with highly organised society, an unusual take on warfare, liking for chocolate drinks and a penchant for cities on lakes.
The Great River- main trade route for goods of all kinds. Its length sees vineyards , trading communities and petty castles in the hands of competing warlords.

And that’s it so far. Basic forces have been recruited  ( and still en route) in the form of  second hand and new flats, some painted and some to paint. Your comments are welcomed as ever.