Sunday 31 May 2020

Hey Mr Soft

The above title,as well as being a well known song, was also used in an advert for soft mints. In the advert everything from the person to the environment by way of a bendy parking meter is soft. Reader, yesterday I entered that world ...
It began as an ordinary day. In the afternoon I however was struck by a whim to build a Sumerian battle car. Luckily a box of 1/72 HaT figures was about-
I had previously done a little work on some skirmishers and a few trial pikemen and found the plastic softish but manageable. I was not prepared for the opening of the Chariot box! The above spruce was duly prepared by washing in detergent and then the elements cut off it. They were so soft, so bendy, so rubbery, I couldn’t believe it. A dry run with the battle car was already causing a lack of calm but when super glue was added to the equation it was just ridiculous culminating in me being stuck together finger wise as never before. A pity as Sumerians are my favourite ancient army ( apart from Early Imperial Romans, but everyone loves them, apart from hellenophiles ) and my favourite go to area of the British Museum. I closed the lid on the painting desk and walked away.

Saturday 30 May 2020

Maps and imagineering

Here is an example of excellent imagineering and a map used to great effect. It is by P.D.Hancock who is possibly to model railways what Featherstone is to wargaming. He created a fantastic layout and based it in an extension of South East Scotland-
 His book is a classic, relatively easily available and a terrific read. It is charming,inspiring and well worth a read,just perfect for times such as these...

Yesterday saw no progress in painting or modelling but some reading or plan was done. I read up about the practicality involved in making an outdoor railway and the rules of dba v3 which is a version new to me. As the zoom games are to be regular in the current situation I need to get a better handle on the updates. Reading wrg prose is not the easiest thing to do especially on a very warm day!

Here is a passenger’s or trains eye view of where the line will run. I like the almost overgrown feel to it. In my mind the railway is a liminal space between countryside and coast, town and country or even the everyday and faerie! 

Friday 29 May 2020

Zoom DBA

Having not played against my regular opponents since Lockdown began it was great to meet up via Zoom for a game and a chat yesterday. We played DBA for the first time in years and it was a most enjoyable experience. I had forgotten what a fun game it was. We used two chariot based armies. Took some rigging up but we got there in the end. Hopefully this will be a regular fixture.

Gardens: real and imaginary

Thursday 28 May 2020

In the Duke of Tradgardland’s Garden

Set up some photos yesterday to see how it went...

Tuesday 26 May 2020


I had mentioned these to David in Suffolk in a comment. They are Charge adaptions by Stuart Asquith and Alan Cook. As they were printed in 1981 I assume I am doing no wrong by putting these photos up here on my blog. I do so to enthuse others to use these classic rules.
 The above photo is of the organisation suggested. The one below is the play sheet.

Monday 25 May 2020

The search for scenarios- truth is stranger than fiction

I was at my books  over the stormy weekend browsing away looking for an engaging scenario to play. I am a great one for imagineering but sometimes you come across a piece of history that really gets you hooked. Anyway I was looking at Christopher Duffy’s book-
A splendid read by the way. I recalled something I had read ages ago about an Austrian renegade in Prussian service. I found the passage and was fascinated. His name was Gottfried Fabian Haube aka Carl Adolph Von Rexin .  He negotiated with the Turks on behalf of Frederick the Great, giving them bribes, Nuremberg dolls and the promise of returning the Banat of Temesvr to them. He completed a trade and friendship treaty between Turkey and Prussia in 1761. 
Meanwhile Frederick entertained someone from the Khanate of the Crimean Tartars and sent one of his officers back to see if the Tartars could be encouraged to fight against the Russians and Austrians.
A plan was hatched where a Prussian Corps would rendezvous with six thousand Tartars and “push south to the Danube.”
They would be commanded by another Austrian renegade Lt Gen Paul Werner. April 1762 saw him setting out to join the Turks...
 What a tale eh? Yesterday also saw me finally finding the Eric Knowles Tartars I had been working on before lockdown, which was most fortuitous. So the plan is to have a few games around what might have happened. It is an excuse to fight something different with unusual opponents taking centre stage. The history has more fascinating byways to share in this story but that’s for another day...

Sunday 24 May 2020

Railways from the bolts up...

I sent this to a friend recently asking for suggestions of books etc-

"I am looking for some pointers. I am going to try and build my railway 
bottom up , from characters to scenery to rolling stock. I feel if I 
give personality/roles/functions/back stories to the figures then the 
rest will follow. what I am very aware of, having watched the Pathe 
video of the chap running the station on his own (Port Victoria) with two trains only a 
day,my lack of basic knowledge of how a small country station was run 
and functioned in the twenties and thirties in particular. I wondered if 
you knew of any memoirs/handbooks etc that would give me a flavour of 
railway life at the equivalent of squad level in army terms?"

He gave me some very useful pointers but I thought I would put this out here wondering if the collective blog mind had any suggestions too...

Reading matters

I thought at the start of all this my reading time and inclination would have increased. I imagined myself getting through the paper as well as the lead mountain. Things have proved different. I am finding it hard to settle to one book or even a number at a time, if you know what I mean.I haven’t been able to get into fiction really at all preferring non fiction . One advantage of Lockdown is that I am not in WH Smith at all and so cannot whim buy hobby and other magazines. The wargaming glossies I find so disappointing these days with little depth to the articles and little inspiration too. Too much eye candy as opposed to articles which move the hobby forward. The history magazines, and to a lesser extent model railway ones,  are similar.
What has been great has been the regular monthly from the 009 society, home produced but always with good articles, inspiration and interest. A few days ago the Arquebusier arrived too with much interest in it. I really enjoy online content, have found forums and other fellows blogs great but there is something about the postman putting a physical copy through the door. 
I have also enjoyed looking on the bookshelves at what I had forgotten about , what I had not realised were there in the way of books. I have a habit from way back of writing my name, the date and a sentence about the day of purchase ( events, occasions, family outings etc ) in each book I buy. It has fascinating to come across these too.

Saturday 23 May 2020

Rules etc

This is my dice tin.I have had it for a number of years and it holds my older wooden dice and a few others I use regularly. Other tins hold the vast number of coloured D sixes and twenties some gaming requires. When I left teaching I gave a colleague my seaside tin of of dice as it is so useful in a classroom for maths games etc. I am glad to say she continues to use them most creatively.
At the bottom of the tin above is a folded piece of paper which always goes back in when I have finished using it. It contains rules Of a very basic but fun kind. I think I may have scribbled them down from something Fitzbadger wrote on his blog. Anyway here they are ready for another game-
I decided upon an 18th century game and here is the table ( probably over stuffed with figures but we will see...
By the way I use  these rules with 28mm , 40mm and 54mm. Any extra period flavour ( kept to an absolute minimum) I keep in my head.

Do you have a back of a post it/postcard set that you use?

Friday 22 May 2020

A different approach

Yesterday I set up the table with a game, figures in place and already to play. Within minutes I was aware that I had no interest in the game or the period I had decided upon. I realised there was nothing to be done but put them back in the box and completely clear the table. Towards the end of the day, having mulled things over I came up with a plan. I set the table up with scenery that looked interesting and went to bed. The idea is that the setting may suggest a game/story to me and then I will add figures. Here it is , we will see what happens...

Thursday 21 May 2020

A mappe

Map from “ Unremarkable Highland Battles or an account of diverse struggles in days gone by” Dr David Snoddie,Dundee 1912.

Mainly outdoors

 The weather was spectacular here and almost all of the day was spent in the garden. I worked on the small halt and primed the cottage. Again some area of the garden was cleared of ornamental grass to see if it could be the terminus for the garden railway. I weeded a great deal, tried to work out why the rhubarb is not giving anything like its usual crop ,tried to halt the invasion of suckers from the raspberry canes and a vigorous rambling (?) rose who is trying to take over the garden underground.
The Laburnum is beautiful at this time of year ,quite spectacular. I managed to tack some figures onto stirrers with pva ready for painting and tried to move on the 10mm figures ( Masai warriors and porters);I had popped on a base prior to painting, not the best decision with hindsight. 

Gardening can be totally absorbing or a chance to mull over hobby plans,yesterday it served both functions at various times during the day. The outdoor day ended with Belgian beer and eating together, a good day indeed,

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Joy in small things

I reuse boxes to store unpainted figures. The figures I was looking for yesterday were in a box a friend had reused when he sent me things ages ago. Peeking out from underneath my address label were part of some interesting looking stamps. I was able to remove the label and reveal these-

I was taken aback by the lovely pictures, the post box and the view, quite transported for a brief time.
Anyway the box contained something different and I am posting here my first efforts in 10mm for ages apart from a few fantasy figures. I couldn’t resist having a go at these-
It seems strange to be painting such small figures but I marvel at the detail that the maker has got in the people I prepared for painting yesterday. Any advice on painting this scale would be gratefully received.

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Progress, posters and a lesser known novel

Yesterday I managed to finish the goblins I was working on and their allies.It is a small force but sufficient for the skirmish or Portable Wargame games I want to play. Combined with the wolves/wargs them could form a bigger force for bigger games. I like the look and feel of Vendel Miniatures, their solidity and restrained fantasy feel

Whilst painting I was reflecting on what contributed to how I “see” the periods I game. For example for interwar gaming it is black and white, Pathe footage . For Middle Earth it has to be the poster below by Jimmy Cauty. I do really like the artwork of John Howe and many , many more but this was the poster I had up in my room during much of my teens and beyond. Framed I would put it up today.  For me it defines the look particularly of Gandalf .

I had others by the artist up too but this was the one. Have a look at his artwork he is a fascinating artist. Finally I was thinking also of novels that define a historical gaming period for me . For Napoleonic land warfare this is the novel I return to
If you don’t know it you are in for a wonderful adventure, go on treat yourself during the current days and get a copy.Finally, what artists and novels evoke the periods you game for you?

Monday 18 May 2020

An antidote to extreme flitting

Last week saw me begin a number of figures for painting , for example the 54mm Ruslanders and then the 40mm semi flat sailors and Askari. Great enthusiasm turned to I couldn’t bear to continue. My tendency to butterfly flitting from project to project to the nth degree. I think on reflection it is a product of lockdown which seems to do odd things to folk and effect them differently. A general unsettled feeling and this has gone into my painting and to a lesser extent my solo gaming.

So a fight back began yesterday in the form of that cliche tiny tickable targets. This week I am only going a few figures that can be used for skirmish gaming or the Portable Wargame. It also means that I hopefully won’t get jaded so quickly. I began yesterday with some Vendel orcs/goblins and Olog Hai  trolls, enough for a few Portable Wargame units or for skirmishes.
The plan is to paint a few, game a little and so on. No great hobby adventures but tiny tickable targets. This way I hope to beat the listlessness and move forward. The second hobby target is to tweak the Portable Wargame fantasy rules a little. For example reflect the accuracy of hobbits when throwing stones or firing bows and their ability to move quietly and hide. 
Finally a shot of the current game set up as the action comes to a crucial point.

Sunday 17 May 2020

Concept Albums 2

One of my favourites-

I still recall the first time I heard this
I am not too fussed by the photos but listen to the music...

Concept Albums and same period ,different scales

In these lockdown days I have been musing on music as much as listening to it. One thing I have  been thinking about was the Concept Album. Perhaps they generate strong pro or anti feelings within you. For Some of us they were and are part of our musical diet. Today I have chosen one based upon the fantasy novel of the same name by Lord Dunsany. The album cover is very attractive and atmospheric and the musicians involved tell the story well.

Here is a link to some narration from Christopher Lee and Mary Hopkins singing 

 Secondly as I set up the game below I thought about how I collect/ game Middle Earth in a number of scales- 28mm using Vendel , copplestone etc, 25mm using Minifigs Mythical Earth, 25mm Games Workshop which enables me to play against others more readily and a collection I started when the figures first came out around 17 or so years ago. Finally some 10mm figures for so skirmishes. What periods do you duplicate, if any?

Saturday 16 May 2020

The Shire invaded or The Portable Wargame , fantasy variant

Modelling and a change of plan

Yesterday saw the Araldite opened ( haven’t used it for years and what a sticky messy thing to use) and the resin halt glued together. The building fitted together pretty well and I am pleased so far.
The halt figure for scale and evidence of messy industry.

Yesterday we chatted about the garden railway and my daughters chipped in some ideas. There is a seven inch gap between the breeze block boundary wall and the fence my neighbour built. If I ran the track along the wall top there would be no place for buildings as I cannot fix anything to the fence to place them on. Secondly the train might derail into the gap and come to harm. So it has been decided to run the track through the border from the pebble beach area to the top corner of the garden. If you look closely you can see the garden cane with flower pot on top that holds a twine line I laid out to mark a route. I will investigate further during the weekend...

Friday 15 May 2020

Out of Africa and Tradgardistan

I managed some game related time amidst household and garden matters. I am currently flitting about a bit  more than usual hobby wise but taking things forward-
I marked out a one inch grid on a couple of spare squares of felt in dots. I wanted to try some simple skirmishes using
Heroic encounters Portable Wargame variant. A few figures were set up with stones from the garden and an enjoyable skirmish was had. 

I began the forty or so 40mm  semi flat sailors that I gleaned from various places in the shed. I like the classic marching pose and the running figure too. Good solid toy soldiers . I tried a very basic paint job conversion ( although the figures cap peak was removed too  albeit clumsily by me) to produce a 1914 German Askari from East Africa. Not sure I like how he turned out but I will have a think. I have enough figures for a twelve man unit if I go ahead.