Now, this could possibly go under “Collecting Toy Soldiers” or even “Conversions” alone… a post I deleted and going to use in part to show what I mean for conversions.
Life is not perfect sometimes (we all learn to live with that), and mistakes or omissions appear in your collecting hobby. For example on my last order to Andrew (REPLICA METAL SOLDIERS&MODELS 54mm) I did not specify that I wanted my 92nd Highlanders pipers 1878 with pith helmet (Khaki)… to my surprise they come with a different headgear… a bit out of place when campaigning in Afghanistan… but not historically imposible… anyway after much thinking about it I have decided to change those heads. Andrew did loyally commented that they were (and are) one-piece castings, so the process would be “cutting off” and drilling a new hole o the neck to acomodate the new head (painted and supplied by Andrew) which of course implies the use of special tools I did buy long time ago for doing the same thing in 25/28 mm scale.
For once, I am going to post the pics as it goes instead of a posteriori, just to see if it helps some of you. In fact the idea occurred to me as a result of asking Andrew for a small order (Only 4 toy soldiers) because you can always try to improve displays… I asked for the second ensign of the 92nd (with the Regimental Yellow Colour), a RSM for the 92nd, a bugler with pith helmet if you please!, and an extra officer for my guns at the time of the Zulu War or Tel el Kebir it does not exactly matter. Then I asked Andrew to provide three plug in heads: two for the pipers and another for “Bobs”. To come already painted in toy soldier style.
They would probably be here sometime in July if all goes well.
I decided to create a Blog – obviously and not originally named https://www.mytoysoldiersandme.com – because “My Toy Soldiers and Me” was the title of my book autoedited in amazon. It is a mean to communicate with the rest of the wargaming/collecting world -and a posteriori with my grandchildren- and specially with my small band of readers!
I have created today 28th October 2020 a Facebook Group evidently enough called mytoysoldiersandme.com for you to ask questions etc. This present blog does not permit it to avoid spam. Sorry about that. But it is the only way to communicate or solve doubts, anyway a month later nobody has written in it about this semiblog…
You must forgive me because this is NOT an orthodox Blog, in fact it does not function at all as one, it is more a collection of Posts. I do actualize those Posts when I have an idea or change my opinion about something, but not in the usual chronological way someone would expect. What is more I put them in order at my whim thinking how I would like to read them myself.
I even wrote a book about it once, by now, a bit out of date about my recent adventures, specially concerning 6mm ACW armies… so here is the way to explain what happened next -after 2016- quite a lot of things in fact!
This book was what it started all. Well, to be exact -as it says in the caption- in fact this is the English second edition.
Table of Contents (or Chapters):
quote: …/… There are collectors who never play, wargamers who have not painted a figure in their lives, experts in military history who do not even think for a second about buying toy soldiers, and finally professional painters of figures who do it for others and do not wargame or collect themselves. …/…
Between those extreme limits we live and thrive and in the span of life sometimes indulge more in one aspect and then another.
.- I .- History as the First Step.
quote: …/… For those of us who go on to recreate conflicts on tabletops, however, whether those conflicts are ancient (history) or imaginary, or we simply enjoy collecting toy soldiers (whatever the scale), the ability to suspend reality and obviate the more disageeable aspects of our favourite periods is essential. …/…
.- II .- Basic Influences.
quote: …/… Who in their childhood did not read adventure books? Or at least got his hands in an epic comic, or saw a swashbuckling movie or a war film? And then, after the experience, went to the toy box, whatever the size of it, and recreated the story with little or no care about matching exactly uniforms, weapons or other details in general? …/…
“an adult who plays is a child who has survived”
.- III .- Wargames and the Question What If?
quote …/… Among those who have indulged in wargaming, the percentage of time actually spent gaming on a tabletop is very low compared with the total time dedicated to the hobby as a whole. We spend a lot of time thinking about it, reading books, organizing and building armies, searching manufacturers, comparing scale benefits, painting figures, basing them, pondering which terrain we are going to use, and so on. …/…
.- IV .- Wargames with figures. A brief Historical Introduction.
quote …/… This book is maybe an exercise in self-satisfaction. But if some of you profit from my experiences and avoid making the most obvious mistakes I commited in my lifelong journey, so much the better for you. And always keep in mind that even after more than sixty years in this hobby, I still do heavily blunder sometimes. …/…
.- V .- Miniature Scales and the Suppression of Reality.
quote: …/… After so many years of buying, converting, painting, mixing and selling parts of my collection, with all the alternatives in between (like sending figures to a professional painting service), my personal experience is inclined to those counsels given in function of your particular situation. Remember that only what YOU think counts in the end. …/…
.- VI .- Scaling Down. Proportions, and the concept of Multipurpose Unit.
quote: …/… Believe me, specially at the beginning, and if you build your army slowly, the big temptation is to paint a favourite elite unit – maybe the Chasseurs a Cheval de la Garde Imperiale 1805-1815. We have all done it. Would it influence you if I said that the more time you spend in the hobby, the better your painting efforts will get, and that the order in which you paint the units is important? Why? Simply that you run the risk that the last unit you paint – e.g., an obscure militia unit you needed to paint because it was present in the field and you want to be proportional – will look better when painted than the first elite or fetish unit you painted a long time ago. …/…
.- VII.- Playing with other people or solo: Wargames and the Tabletop
quote: …/… Sometimes, I guess, the discharge of adrenaline that occurs during civilized tabletop games diminishes or helps control the aggressiveness of real life, or at least I like to think so. But I also think that the best wargames are those played in your head in anticipation of the actual game. I don’t know why, but things always seem to depart from the initial plan after the first move. …/…
.- VIII.- The Battle: Historical ORBAT, Army Points and variations.
quote: …/… One of the recurrent fears of the dedicated wargamer is being anachronistic, fielding on the tabletop units that were nonexistent at the time or simply not present at the battle. Everybody knows that there were no Polish lancers of the Imperial Guard at Austerlitz, and what is more, they did not have lances at their disposal for a long time. Nor did they have lances at their famous uphill charge at Somosierra in Spain in 1808. See what I mean? …/…
.- IX.- Figures, Terrain and Accessoires.
quote: …/… Before you fall in love with a particular size of wargame figure, keep in mind that if you are going to indulge in different periods, as we all do, then you will also need to choose carefully all the buildings, rivers, roads, barricades, trees, bridges, pontoons, mule trains, wagons, horses (to dismount cavalry), and many other things if you are to use them in multiple periods. If you do have armies in different scales or sizes, you will need to double up the scenery. So in a way, sticking to a wargame scale is also a money-saving process. …/…
.- X.- Hexagons, Grids or a Metric Ruler?
quote: …/… As with everything else in the hobby, it is a matter of gusto, personal experience, or even a function of the period played or the rules used. Try them all, and in the end you will stick to the one you like the most. But keep an open mind. Sometimes you find the best games where you least expect them. …/…
.- XI.- Rule sets and gamesmanship. Where’s the fun?
quote: …/… I must clarify that in many years of wargaming, I have collected many sets of rules, mainly but not exclusively dealing with my periods of interest, always searching tips that work here and there – Napoleonic, American Civil War – nearly anything concerning the nineteenth century and also Ancients intermittently. …/…
.- XII.- Collecting.
quote: …/… You will also learn that a collection is seldom a “quite thing”. You will have the tendency to exchange, sell, and buy items to consolidate the part you love the most, even if that entails discarding items no longer part of your main interest. With time, you will concentrate on some parts, expanding them or specializing in a theme, or you will change your objective, and that will affect the composition and structure of your collection. …/…
.- XIII.- Painting the figures, or the Painting Service Alternative.
quote: …/… As with everything else, there are various options when it comes to painting figures. There are the wargamers who paint the figures themselves, and some of them are very good at it. Others prefer to use professional painting services. A third possibility is those who simply buy the already-painted and based packs of figures available in the market, be those first or secondhand. …/…
.- XIV.- The Conversions.
quote: …/… I am not going to be a bore and harp on this particular subject, but here is the place to mention the astute mnaufacturers who have developped ranges that permit easier conversions, casting upper torsos, legs, and heads so that you can design your own figures. These include Dorset Soldiers (and REPLICA model soldiers) in 54mm and Redoubt in 25/28 mm. …/…
.- XV.- Museums and Public and Private Collections.
quote: …/… Those changes of location and “on” and “off” dates of visit are frustrating, so it’s always better to confirm beforehand. After all, a trip is expensive enough itself without indulging in deviations from the planned route to see nothing …/…
.- XVI.- Megalomania has its necessary limits.
quote: …/… Finally, let’s mention what I consider the most common sickness of the wargamer – the “if I only had another battalion” syndrome-. It is at the root of the very large armies built by wargamers, who are always thinking about a second or third chance in the game. …/…
.- XVII.- Summing up: To avoid mistakes.
quote: …/… It sound logical enough, but you will be amazed to discover how we all make sorry mistakes, especially at the beginning. Temptations are great, and you won’t be the first to do things in great disorder or without perspective. …/…
.- XVIII.- Playmobil.
quote: …/… Then suddenly I started to look at Playmobil figures in detail. With time and subsequent evolution, those crude toys from 1974 were slowly becoming less and less childish in design. I have to confess that …/… having in mind that I am a curious person by nature, I detected wargaming potential for adults. …/…
.- XIX.- Conclusion.
quote: …/… Enjoy whatever you do, and be your own guide Learn from others with more experience, copy whatever you like, adapt to your taste, convert to your needs, transform and work your own ideas to the last, but overall have fun with it, because any hobby is about having fun from beginning to end …/….
.- Update to the Second English Edition (Outro).
quote: …/… As it is, and especially from a certain age onwards, the “it is done” syndrome is present. At least this is what I thought around the month of August in 2008; at last I have finished my collections and pet projects, and I have written a guide about it. It’s a kind of self-help book for beginners, or “toy soldiers for dummies”, as those books are generally titled nowadays. I thought it was a fitting end, but as usual, time has proved it was not the end at all …/…
Reason of this Blog actually!
.- Acknowledgements and Final Note.
quote: …/… I think that the last words of the text need to clarify that entertainment with imaginary wargames on a tabletop is one thing, but real wars are a quite different thing. I have always admired the common foot soldier of any country, tribe, or nationality, – those who in history textbooks have been callously called “cannon fodder”- and I do include in this concept absolutely all of them. And I absolutely agree with the Duke of Wellington’s words after Waterloo: “Next to a battle lost, the saddest thing is a battle won”. This is why I love toy soldiers: they never die.
(Each Chapter has 4 or 5 colour pics at least).
The “white book” was the second English edition three years after the “black book” fiasco. By now I am quite proud of it, it is quite self-contained and exhaustive about the Hobby. But from my perspective it is becoming slowly obsolete with no mention of the current trends and times… it does not mention LITTLE WARS TV for example (podcasts!), neither my current passion for the ACW in Baccus 6mm with Baccus and Leven scenery (renewed interest for a period). And some other collateral interests like the NWF, North of Africa Colonial French, LBH, Second Punic War -“counters” for a board game- Death Ride in the FPW etc. But this Blog hopefully makes up for it. In fact it complements the second edition in English nicely enough as an update.
As it is, I first wrote the book in Spanish because I was born in Spain and that was my first language.
In fact I thought this “blog” would be useful because I can edit, add, reorder or delete!- and post the link to the blog in FB or twitter. I am having a lot of fun… started in December 2019 the blog has had 30.000 visitors and 144.500 visits… (counting robots&would be hackers! in them visits, and from 136 different countries… ) not bad as a whole for such a minority interest!
I once (quite recently) started a more orthodox Blog in one of the Posts but I did not liked much the result… I was giving away too much personal thoughts and snipets of me you do not need to know at all… after all I am quite an introvert person and would not like to publish a Diary at all…
At last 2020 is gone!… what messy times… a terrible year.
a.- I have finished my project in 6mm ACW Baccus (and some Rapier)… now I can refight any Battle at Brigade level. Must adapt some 6mm rules for my SOLO games and that’s it. Well, the last parcel from REVEILLE is here. And some Infantry Brigades and Skirmishers + Officers of Artillery for all Batteries!, and also Divisional Commanders for both sides. This is an ended project . My heterodox approach includes officers for Artillery Batteries and caissons for each gun&limber. Have also many “special” stands for skirmishing and cavalry different formations.
b.- Andrew at REPLICA METAL MODEL SOLDIERS 54mm has sent (and it has arrived) the second order of 2020 to finish my second afghan/british war collection… That would put an end to my 54mm collection of classic toy soldiers (in fact have ordered 4 more extra figures to give the last touch to it!). Andrew is a very nice chap but it is a unipersonal business and sometimes delays happen matter of fact… messy times again due to Covid. Finally got it without problems… nothing broken in transit… minor paint chipping I repaired quick enough!. And asked for an unpainted mounted general with wolseley helmet going to be painted by Greg at Mersey Wargames Painting services!… And THAT is all. For the moment… one never really knows. Some of the pics in Andrew’s web page keep nagging my brain!
c.- This part is kept here as an explanation of how to do “Special Stands”, they are already in my cabinets… Once upon a time I thought I have finished the Baccus 6mm ACW Armies… including “special stands”… No way… it was a only a matter of time for me to have “the itch” again. I am not surprised… it has been always like this. So I am going to explain it in this post and let you see how things evolved. In fact I am NOT through the ACW… I fear I am addicted to those Brigade bases 60×30 mm specially for the ACW… because they look like my old units of 25mm Minifigs.
I guess I am going to concentrate in the ACW period and leave it at that (meaning no other periods are going to be built). Better do one properly than disperse my actions with new periods. Have already sidetracked enough as it is… so at this moment ACW is paramount in my thoughts… A deep analysis of Altar of Freedom ORBATS manifests the sorely need to get 13 new Union Infantry Brigades and 9 Confederate new Infantry Brigades… that way I can play even Gettysburg (again)… The clear point is that what matters is the base and not what’s on it, so I am going to design new ways of glueing the minis on them and the way I placed them. By now they are all here at home and collecting ACW is finished (until Peter thinks of something else).
Examples: 1) Gaps in the lines; 2) Three Regiments per Brigade stands 6 in two ranks/one man gap/ 8 in two ranks with the flags/ one man gap/ 6 in two ranks… only minor changes in colour schemes; 3) Rear rank with less minis (attrition and filling the first line); 4) More space in the flanks of a brigade, have enough brigades with two lines of 12 minis… will go for some brigades with two ranks of ten; 5) A mix of all the afore mentioned. I love variety on the look of them. Will probably get them by the end of October 2020.
Updated 4th November 2020: Got the parcel from Greg at Mersey Wargames and have added the flags and actually doing minor painting modifications with POSKA markers (really slight retouching).
1.- New Project priority: Be able to solo play wherever I am… confined or not… that means reorganizing my wargaming life if science and medicine gives me a second lease of life… sounds a lot like a “saving throw”. 14 months of confinement gives you time to think a lot.
2.- I am using smaller bases for projects like the French Foreign Legion and guess some characters deserve to be in single stands. Nearly Role Playing you will think… in 6 mm?… well, why not? … Got them and are very playable for small games.
3.- No access to my 6mm figures makes the wait frustrating in this field. Those pics below seem very old to me.
Finally got my camera/tripod after a trip to my office, the Military Modelling post was done thanks to that. As Zinderneuf in 54mm.
Today 27th of February the Reveille parcel arrived!… Very good Zinderneuf Fort and legionnaires based in twos and singly (smaller bases by Pendraken), also trees stands, bocage or impassable terrain in 60x60mm bases and a Mill Building for the ACW!… as usual Daniel Hodgson does the best scenery around, but still very good painting minis too mind! have to do proper pics… in due time… access to my 6mm collection still restricted.
4.- Long, long, long ago I decided that I have not love lost for Dervishes, Fuzzy Wuzzies, Afghans, Zulus, Redskins etc. specially NOT in 54mm (But neither on 6mm). I still have temptations in 6mm… but so far I have avoided the minis… puffs of smoke here and there and dice throws will suffice… To each his own manias… I love MY Armies but do not have empathy with the enemy at all… wish there was a Wargames Club nearby sometimes … The only exception to the rule is the ACW (built both sides and love them all).
5.- Have a couple of pics from Replicamodelsoldiers Andrew… he has nearly finished my order for last December (2019) by now… January 2021…
In those four pics you can see part of the Infantry, the lancers, and the rearranged/reshuffled cabinet to liberate a shelve for them. By now the RCMP is gone to the other cabinet and two shelves are liberated, in fact after putting the Royal West Kent’s in “close order” I managed three shelves instead of two!
So in a nutshell those are “the moves” actually happening, in the meantime reading a lot of books as usual, Little Big Horn, ACW, Western “classics” , a BD (read Comic Strip with French text) on the Maximillian Mexican War (splendid drawings by Meynet) and a wonderful English edition of War&Peace by Tolstoi (actually ended it and no wargaming use for it at all I am afraid… lol ) Actually in page 700 he mentions Blue coated French Dragoons to my everlasting surprise and disgust, at least the editor could have provided a footnote on the page explaining that French Dragoons were Green coated… (redundant and farfetched comment just for those who still think that is a new set of Napoleonic rules). Just bought the book ROSEBUD by Paul L. Hedren on amazon.co.uk because it seems interesting to wargame… in fact it is a very good read and I can recommend it!… also have finished volume 4 of Daniel Greene’s Northern Wolf… and rereading “Sharpe’s Eagle” (Bernard Cornwell of course) and Beau Geste/Beau Sabreur/Beau Ideal by P.C.Wren yet again, reread the whole Caspasian adventures due to the new one on kindle, and then went on to read BLACK HAND and the first Harry Brown book (fan of Anthony Conway/Nigel Price)… and indulging in some yet read again of Zane Grey.
And here we are… waiting for a vaccin to be developed or a cure (read drugs anti “the thing” that works)… any of them will do I guess. Not finding funny the comments on the news that only kills over seventy (been 69 puts you too near of the front line I guess).
Today I Added a Post… Playmo-pics.
Currently finished reading The Moon Tree by Anthony Conway/Nigel Price… great outpout BTW. (Rosamunde Pilcher with three shots of testosterone). Very quickly I read The Queen’s Gambit (well written) book always better than TV.
ALL the books mentioned above have been read cover to cover… today’s reading Sears ANTIETAM book…(finished) nearly as good as his GETTYSBURG… next CHANCELLORSVILLE (finished too). Going to read Junger’s Steel Storm for a change (really an horrid thing WWI!) finished it and then read All Quiet in the Western Front… (NO WAY I am going to wargame WWI !!!) currently reading TO THE GATES OF RICHMOND (Sears)… and have read again Rutland’s Curse (Roger Carpenter) (Second Anglo/Afghan War), a funny thing is that I finally read the novel Little Big Man (much better than the histrionic movie!) and curiously enough I loved the Little Big Horn chapters (to my surprise because I was prejudiced against by the film) I can recommend the book!.
In my time I did indulge in Military Modeling, but not that much really, as I wrote in my book I have tried all the approaches to the hobby. Those chaps in Matt finish look very nice indeed but once you have finished them they are eminently “decorative” meaning by that there is no way to play “games” with them. Some I painted myself, some I bought already painted and based in a shop.
I will show next a mounted officer from the Spanish Army in the same scale as the Highlanders.
And finally a Greek Warrior, Prince Valiant and Richard Sharpe all in 54mm.
I stopped collecting them because they are quite fragile and when cleaning the bookshelves they are exposed to heavy damage, not if I clean myself mind, but sometimes the “hired help” are not careful enough. Did do some repairs on them several times.
I also have a Custer Last Stand model but I deleted the post Little Big Horn.
By 2016 I had sold my 25/28mm collection -a hard but sound decision- , as a result of a deep crisis with that scale, I still like them mind, in fact I liked them so much that I already considered them Military Modeling stuff of the first order. The standards of painting had improved in a way that you can extend this to 15mm and lower, but let’s leave it at that. They are too expensive and beautiful to be handed and grappled (to do not say dropped) by uncaring hands. For me, by now they are minis to be displayed in cabinets. They seem to do some lot of skirmishing nowadays. The point is clear.
Since then I have built a small collection of 6mm, it is small because of the scale but also because I concentrated on some periods and I did not ” let myself go” as I did in my youth/middle age adopting now a more prudent way of amassing minis. They are mainly Baccus because of the sheer quality of the minis and because they suit my taste, but another reason is that the range -catalogue- is quite extensive (which permits proxies) and growing which is a bonus (and a temptation). But not exclusively, I have some Rapier ACW too. Curiously for such small things they do not seem to mix very well, but this is just a matter of taste, do your own thing, it’s ok. It is always a matter of taste and in my case of “numbers”, I own now more ACW minis that I ever got in 25mm -and have BOTH Armies when in our youth my brother build the Confederates and yours truly the Union- My 25mm ACW troops went to the collection of my brother and where reunited with the opposition once and for all. Even in 6mm there are differences of measure so check compatibility before buying. Adler seems to steal the show with Napoleonics (some say the are big-headed minis… but for what I have seen in FB they look superb), got problems ordering from them BTW, I placed a small order of ACW minis and after quite a long wait (for me) it got returned to them… was not refunded and that was the end of the story, I must say -philosophically- that”shit happens”, but emails from them are not in the same level of friendliness as Baccus one’s.
ACW is my more orthodox approach to wargaming.
Me going to 6mm was a slow process: I already had the Crimean Light Cavalry Brigade of Tennyson fame (Baccus Napoleonic proxies). But after a stop or pause of several years I steadily built other periods. First of all I ordered from a painting service -more about that in an specific post- Roman Republic and Carthaginian Units to use in a board-game grid of a very old game (Metauro) whose 54mm plastic original figures had disappeared from the Earth after several generations of my family playing with them. I was pleased by the look of them Baccus -Up to that moment I had doubts about the quality/presence of Infantry minis in 6mm scale!-
All right then, I went Colonial British Khaki, I specify so because I am not doing some of the periods I used to enjoy in 25mm and on the contrary going for some who were neglected for lack of time or cash or space. It is important to say for your info that I do not build the Opposition anymore, gone are the days of painting hundreds of Zulus, Dervishes, Fuzzy-Wuzy, Pathans, Afridis, Ghazis, Plains Indians and what not; I never preach or try to impose my ideas and do not believe in proselytism so as a mainly solo wargamer it is my decision and that’s that. Talking about “cash” I did self-imposed a condition to my wanderings, or several as it is: 54mm toy soldier collecting will not exceed the volume of the cabinets that exist (and not going to build more “cabinets”) meaning if I want to buy something… other parts must go to make place. And the funds raised by selling my 25/28mm stuff and a large part of my Playmobil Collection will pay for the 6mm venture (not that in the end I do not indulge in investing more in a monthly pocket money basis), but I seem to keep financial matters under control… more or less.
So, Colonial Brits with Bengal Lancers and Indian Regiments, Custer’s 7th (only Custer battalion), The French in North Africa aka XIX Corps late XIXth Century were added to the Crimean Cavalry, also a one off Von Bredow’s Cavalry Brigade from the Franco-Prussian War (the famous Death Ride) and last but not least the ACW with both sides present, meaning Billy Yank and Johnnie Reb. The ACW was my first love and a period played extensively with my usual wargames companion, my little brother (ten years younger than me and steadily going to sixty!). I think it was the Prussian General Von Moltke who said he was not interested -in the ACW not the age of my brother- because it was an affair of “two mobs chasing themselves in the woods”, I respectfully disagree. I will detail why I love it in subsequent posts.
I started again buying Baccus figures with Colonial British in mind, but with a change of colour, I went khaki because a read of the book MAIWAND made it compulsory -we wargamers are like this-. By then I had already decided to use a painting service -or several- not because I do not know how to do it myself, just because when you are near seventy years old… time is a factor and that was not the only project in mind. In fact due to real life work pressure I did use painting services in 25/28mm in the late old days of that scale unable to snatch the time to do the painting myself, so it was not a new experience at all.
I was lucky, the painting service provided by Mersey Wargames, Turbil Miniatures and REVEILLE (found them on eBay) has been excellent: the ratio price/quality, the basing they use, and quite a quick turnaround. Sometimes the packing is a bit loose but that with 6mm is not a problem -never ever had nothing broken in transit- I have already mentioned that I put the flags myself and do retouch the final aspect with POSKA markers. Yes! the 66th carried their Colours at Maiwand… (I did a quick conversion to get the Ensigns with the Colours using dressmakers pins).
I use – of course – the same minis to fight Maiwand, the North West Frontier and The Sudan. It is a bonus of 6mm. One of the main attraction of Baccus is the quite complete Catalogue, but of course it is never complete for maniacs of a certain period, then you use proxies. I had the lucky strike to get (from the WWI range) the minis with turban head I needed to my project -a coincidence in time mind, I had already started blindly when Peter added those figures to the Catalogue!- he did graciously acknowledged the point! in a private email saying something about how sometimes -not frequently- small pieces seem to get into place to make someone happy! A great chap Peter Berry.
So lets do a quick survey of the Baccus Catalogue for Colonials: The packs I used have the following references: CBR02 British Infantry-Firing (only problem the bugler comes with the marching infantry pack); CBR24 Highland Infantry-Firing (again the pipers are on the Marching pack); CBR04 Lancers (great pack no problems there); CBR05 Royal Artillery 7 pdr. , I used limbers from the ACW range -finally having 6 horses per limber- never managed that on 25/28mm! mind that I do not duplicate the stands I simply use my ACW limbers!; CBR25 Royal Artillery 2.5 RML Mountain Gun simply excellent, I also dissembled some mountain guns and glued them on mules from the mule pack and a perfect stand!; CBR26 Royal Navy – Gardner Gun did the same with them but with pack camels; and CBR08 Mounted Officers excellent again… have bought several because I use them as converted standard-bearers too. Somehow that ends the “normal” packs then as proxies: WWI range Indian Troops GWE10 Indian Infantry Advancing – GWE11 Indian Infantry Firing – GWE12 Indian Vickers Guns and Crew – GWE13 Indian Cavalry (excellent Bengal lancers) and GWE15 Indian 2.5″ RBL and Crew. Of course it is very important in that scale to have the transport baggage so I bought packs: EQU03 Pack mules (used too on the Little Big Horn project, the trick is NEVER use figures on the stand!); EQU01 Waggons; EQU12 Pack Camels (ABU KLEA in mind); and the Naval Brigade using Confederate from ACW08. I even managed to build a Hussars with Swords Cavalry Regiment using CBR03 and a bit of cutter work modifying carbines into swords and a bit of work on the scabbards too. Really satisfied with the result.
This period is completed and does not need new additions, as other minor “one off” themes quite self-contained.
The one imposible to control up to today is the ever increasing ACW project!, but that is my particular pet subject.
After taking a peek at the Outro of my book I guess it is time to say that 6mm won. The decade or so that I toyed with Playmobils is gone forever, mind, it was FUN and no dealing (well a bit) with paints and rigid figures (lead toy soldiers have a definite “position” and you can not change it) was a novelty for me -of course I could not resist painting some extra details on them- but what was really amusing was to dissemble them and do other figures exchanging parts- that way you could get the soldiers Playmobil never produced (even if they produced the parts!).
So, the movements Up & Down in scale after a deep crisis with my beloved for years 25/28mm ended with an exclusive dedication to 6mm. I sold or gave as gifts to my grandchildren the vast majority of Playmobils and kept some for good old times sake. Currently in my office Cabinets there are only the Trooping of the Colour set, and the complete 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn (1/5 aprox scale)
Baccus 6mm has won the contest without doubt and it is a scale I am really satisfied with for wargaming purposes. Gone are the days of detail obsession, fear of derision at doing something wrong on the painting scheme (never painted “eyes” on my 25mm), the ever present search of the perfect set of rules, and other aspects that were nagging me as the lack of room to maneuver, the always secure flanks, the difficulty to present the tail of an Army, Lines of Communication and so on. There were intelligent tricks to represent all this on the tabletop in the larger scales… but got fed up with them in the end: dice to see if that flanking troops arrive!; dice to see in which place of the table!; take a chance card! etc. It was becoming Monopoly.
Maybe I should have explained earlier that for me not all the fun comes from winning a wargame, not anymore, it is equally interesting the disposition of forces in a marching Column, its movements, the scouting ahead and the flanks and rear, and the correct orders and ways to attack or pin down and flank an enemy position that a battle head to head so many times done in 25/28mm. I can move troops in 6mm! Suddenly couriers and vedettes have a meaning, where the troops “are placed” also, and moving them around is a serious business I enjoy. This of course is mainly done in small Colonial periods aka Punitive expeditions in the NW Frontier, Desert warfare in North Africa with the XIXth Corps (French you know), Tamai affairs (Osman Digna), Custer’s Battalion movements (an interesting mystery), Doomed Charges of Cavalry (or not), they all have the BONUS of space in my old tabletop. Of course that not exclude big battles as in the ACW period but are today less of an obsession and not the only target.
So, to sum up and end this post 2016 actualization:
1) I have a nice -for me- 54mm traditional New Toy Soldier Collection on display and add items to its themes very very slowly and carefully!… It is real interesting when I find a firm as Replicametalsoldiers&models (Andrew Stevenson) who can do “special things” on demand. No change of main themes in the offing, but toying of with my own version of A GENTLEMAN’S WAR with 54mm… will keep you posted about that (a 2020 project).
2) Playmobils are in my past. But I still skirmish or parade them when my grandchildren are in the mood… not often enough.
3) 6mm is my actual passion, I keep saying to myself: This is the last order… this is the last parcel to the painters… I have to write down some really good rules for 6mm just in case my brother turns up unexpectedly and we have a game like in the good old days… only reason why I built those ACW Rebels!.
4) The old Boardgames of my childhood have new figures (METAURO has Baccus 6mm), and Little Big Horn has kept the only 25/28mm figures I own today a mix of Dixon’s for the 7th and Old Tradition of London for the Native Americans… Nowadays waiting for the release of the Hostiles by Baccus to get even another possible way to game the LBH outside the limits of the old boardgame. Incidentally I must mention that I have over one hundred books about the LBH alone… quite obsessive about it! And even a couple of Hex based Boardgames like my brother enjoys!
And I hope that makes clear what I am up to at the beginning of 2020!, finally decided to build a 54mm force to “play with” NOT a cabinet display unit… jus a FUN purpose game. Blame Mr. Howard Whitehouse book “A GENTLEMAN’S WAR”.
For old Napoleonic good times sake let me recommend to you those imprescindible books by HEIMDAL… The French Line Infantry is due in May 2020. Still wondering if I will indulge on the period again… OMG!.
ACW was my first love, it still is, and thats that. The main reason of wargaming again the ACW (must be my sixth try), this time in 6mm, is because it is well balanced and a “compact period” 1861-1865.It all started with John Ford and the movie “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” which I saw so many times when a child that it left an everlasting impression, and I did not dig all the nuances until I was older, for me it is a masterpiece of condensation, nearly everything on the ACW is there. If you add to that my old 54mm soldiers, AIRFIX 20mm period, MINIFIGS, FOUNDRY. DIXON, TO THE REDOUBT, PLAYMOBILS and finally BACCUS… Well… Recurrent is the word you are looking for…
Of course it was not only the movies… I enjoyed reading SHELBY FOOTE three Volumes, a real tour de force! So packed with information that I had to read slowly to digest it -meaning I read a lot of other books at the same time- even about the ACW too!
Of course refighting historical battles as they do in LITTLE WARS TV is Ok, but I always enjoyed “doing my own”… it is very hard to simulate in the Tabletop the disinformation of the real Generals (The overestimation of The Southern Armies numbers by the Union Generals -aka little Mac- is a well know fact!). Still even so Bull Run (1st Manassas) is a favorite up to a point… But to be honest I mainly I build a scenario with a bit of fog of war, try to enlist some generals from my brother downwards and that’s it. Fictional battles are for me so much more fun after-all, in real war you can not pitch Stonewall Jackson against U.S.Grant for example… in real life they never fought each other.
But, apart from other lines of entertainment with Baccus figures, at the moment it is the ACW who wins all bets. I have the Armies, the scenery and the will, but must write some easy to understand home rules for my grandchildren, always have loved simple rules but with a twist some place.
So, to sum up my progression: I started wargaming when a kid in a rudimentary form on the floor with 54mm “rubber” soldiers (1). I then -in my early twenties-discovered the plastic AIRFIX whole range in 20mm -in fact 4 different boxes; Union Infantry (blue), Confederate Infantry (grey); Artillery (medium brown) to be used for both sides; and finally US Cavalry (Blue) that you had to paint for the Rebs- and went for them boxes like the quest of the Grail! (2).
In due time I discovered MINIFIGS 25mm, then based at Southampton, so I graduated to “metal” and their Catalogue (which I still have) was my companion for years! (3). I still recall the sorrow when a Zouaves unit got “lead rot” and become unusable… of course I dutifully bought them again and painted them even better… those were my painting years. Afflicted by a bout of Napoleonic megalomania I swapped my 25mm Union Army for my brother’s Napoleonics (same trade mark) to do not have to transport them up and down because we lived 200 Km away from each other. It was a satisfactory solution, and I went to complete all Napoleonics nations as a result.
Then FOUNDRY started an ACW range and I could not resist buying ACW UNION Cavalry under “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” influence, by then I was mixing riders and horses (Dixon) and making conversions -nearly military modeling- one thing lead to another and I got some Artillery… and then why not? some Infantry -you need some at Brandy Station I reasoned- of course I bought the Confederates too… That was my fourth effort! (4). Finally, crisis struck again and my faith in 25/28mm was shattered… regretfully I sold them all. Some of them -those Union painted by me- became property of my brother who had the Rebs and no crisis of confidence with that scale. We even exchanged some Napoleonic’s for them… I kept the 25mm Napoleonic’s longer than the rest… but they were sold too in the end!
With the funds obtained I started building Playmobil Armies for my (then) first two grandsons… once organized I thought it was a way to confront brother against brother in a too realistic way and scratched out the project… Sold them all again. (5) And went “tricorne era” fictional Playmobil Armies much more clean in spirit, and much more toy soldier like, a la Charles Grant Jr.
And where was I?… Reading Practical Wargamer… and there I found Baccus ACW Cavalry on the cover of one number!… nothing less than East Cavalry Field (again)… months of musing about it… I bought POLEMOS ACW rules from Baccus… and fell in l love with the color pics (eye candy) -Rules as it is I prefer my own as always- And then to make a long story short I went Baccus ACW 6mm for both sides (6).
Do not pity me!… I had tons of FUN in the whole process that lasted years and years… and I am certified as SANE.
So there you have it, I have build six times the period and have read a long list of books about it, by the way Paddy Griffith is very good at it!. There are two very good books to own by him: BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR Generalship and Tactics in America 1861-1865 with stunning artwork. And then BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR. As per uniforms information the best to my knowledge apart from the Osprey’s, old Blanford, and Troiani’s and Kuntsler’s and Rocco’s paintings the best single volume is: La GUERRE de SECESSION Les armées de l’Union et de la Confederation- by HEIMDAL in France.
Now, as I have in my modest collection enough troops to have fun -megalomania is a pest to avoid- and all the references of the Baccus Catalogue! I am satisfied. I must confess the range is splendid and one of the best in Peter’s production.
I use the ACW limbers and caissons also in colonial affairs mind, and also the horses for dismounted Cavalry. I even have some Rapier Union Infantry to add a bit of variety to the collection and also Rapier Cavalry on both sides. I even mixed minis from other periods getting French with kepi from the Franco-Prussian Baccus range too… anything to add variety. Im my opinion one of the best Baccus packs is ACW7 because it has hat and kepi figures and some with rolled blankets across the chest -always a favorite of mine- so, if I started anew building Baccus ACW Armies I would surely get all the packs but ACW7 would have the lion’s share of the purchase (the only drawback is ACW7 has only one standard-bearer!).
If you are new to the period I can recommend:
ACW Filmography: GONE WITH THE WIND, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, GODS AND GENERALS, GETTYSBURG, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, GLORY, MAJOR DUNDEE, SHENANDOAH, THE FIELD OF LOST SHOES, CLASS OF 61, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL and THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY… to name about a dozen… real fans should also see THE BIRTH OF A NATION and THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton) both silent movies.
ACW Bibliography: THE CIVIL WAR (Shelby Foote), THE CIVIL WAR (Bruce CATTON’S trilogy), CLASHES OF CAVALRY (Thom Hatch), BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR (Paddy Griffith), BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR: GENERALSHIP AND TACTICS IN AMERICA 1861-65 (Paddy Griffith), DON TROIANI’S CIVIL WAR, BATTLEFIELD ATLAS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (Symonds), All Ospreys on the subject MAA and Campaign, “THE” Blandford book about Uniforms: UNIFORMS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR 1861-65 -the first one I ever bought myself!- LA GUERRE DE SECESSION (HEIMDAL Jouineau-Mongin), THE QUEST FOR ANNIHILATION (Cristopher Perello), GETTYSBURG (Stephen W, Sears), GETTYSBURG: THE STORY OF THE BATTLE WITH MAPS (David Reisch and David M. Detweiler), THE CIVIL WAR: THE STORY OF THE WAR WITH MAPS (same), and of course hundreds more…
And as an afterthought on ACW Historical Fiction: THE KILLER ANGELS, SHILOH, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, CONFEDERATES, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THE MARCH, STONEWALL’S GOLD, UNTO THIS HOUR, THE NORTHERN WOLF SERIES (5 books I guess) RUTLAND’S BLUES AND GREYS, CIVIL WAR STORIES (A.Bierce)… Frank Yerby, John Jakes, even the great Bernard Cornwell did 4 novels (probably not his best novels though) about it!
Well, this is the end of the ACW project. On the pics above you can see the results of pestering painters (and paying them of course!) the last two years. This is my more orthodox project so far, even have the POLEMOS rules (in fact it all started with a pic in the cover of Battlegames (nº15) featuring East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg!) then I bought the Polemos rules got hooked by the colour pics and the rest you know how it goes.
Well, here they are after the POSCA treatment, Greg provided them with dark blue kepis and grey kepis, so far so good. But after reflecting a bit and perusing the HEIMDAL book I decided to change the colors of the headgear because there were units like that -obscure militia maybe but they existed- So that gave me a sort of “twin” units or “mirror” stands, now I have Blue clad Confederates with red kepis and sky blue kepis, and Grey clad Union stands with red kepis and sky blue kepis… as you can see in the pic. I thought that this permitted more flexibility and the stands are going to be used not only in First Bull Run (First Manassas) but also later on in the big battles of 1862 and even 1863… after all the flags are all important in 6mm scale.
There you can see how easy it is to “customize” a bit, and it is really fast I assure you.
I wanted to explain -yet again- why I find so interesting the ACW. A quite modern Republic, with a great Constitution and not even a Century of existence torn apart by a political argument (and two very different ways of life). Was a State paramount in legislation inside his border limits? or do the Central U.S.A administration superseded those and could prevail over the State decisions?… in fact that was the original dispute brewing for years until it exploded. Of course the matter of slavery was a very important issue but it was “used politically later on” because the Constitution allowed it! Of course it was also the time of abolition everywhere around the world and the Confederacy “way of living” or economy if you prefer was doomed as it was.
You have a war to wargame that starts at Bull Run / First Manassas with similarly clad (some Union Regiments wore grey and some Confederacy wore Blue) amateur Armies. And from then on until Appomattox you have practically all, Attacks, Defenses, Infantry entrenching, Sieges, Cavalry Raids, Cavalry Battles, Mini-Campaigns as Jackson’s Valley one!, Outflanking moves by whole Armies… the change from Napoleonic Warfare to nearly WWI tactics and above all a list of colorful characters, General Lee, who was offered command -and refused loyal to Virginia- of the Union Armies at the beginning of the crisis -tell me which other war has that characteristic- General Grant who understood modern war and was all business, Sherman (a total war believer), Sheridan, Longstreet, Beauregard, JEB Stuart, Custer, Kilpatrick, Gregg, Buford, Meade, Picket, Hood, Johnston… I could go on and on. Even fanatics of naval warfare can have their day. Railways, Telegraph, Balloons, Ironclads, it is really a fascinating period…
Rules aplenty exist -I work my own as usual- but some commercial one’s are very good, I used Fire&Fury with great satisfaction. You will pay your money and get your choice. I am quite liberally minded and do not preach or ask for proselytes -perish the thought- One of the FUN of the period is the sheer incompetence of generalship -not exclusively in the Union side- political appointed Generals who could not command a corporal’s guard. I love chance cards in my games, you know what I mean, you throw a six and have to turn a card… lol… The First division has lost its way and would not come at all; The ADC with the orders has been shot and you know nothing of the change of plans; A fall from a horse has injured and incapacitated the leader of your Cavalry; and so on… but all this is not “original”.
Been solo has its rewards too. But a multiplayer game is real fun.
I fondly remember a Napoleonic game (Yes I was a Napoleonic geek for thirty years) I staged for several people -my brother and his friends from Barcelona- a long time ago… Aspern-Essling it was (but the players did not knew)… As the umpire I decided (or ruled) that commander and sub-commanders could only speak to each other when in base contact… all other communications where via couriers galloping with written messages!… I nearly died laughing seen the expressions on the faces of the Generals when reading messages!… puzzled does not even begin to describe it! long time friends did not understood the written instructions!… we had FUN!… lots of FUN and that is what is all about.